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New Space Marine Codex 6th Edition Review Part 2 - Chapter Tactics

Updated on February 15, 2014
New Space Marine Codex Review
New Space Marine Codex Review

Welcome Back!

In my last article, I reviewed the new Army Rules for the new Space Marine Codex for 6th edition Warhammer 40k. We looked at Combat Squads, Warlord Traits, the missing Combat Tactics (now extinct!) and the rules for how Chapter Tactics work within the army, Special Characters, and Allies. If you missed that article, click the link below to read it, and then return here.

In this article, I am going to go chapter-by-chapter to look at the Chapter Tactics and how certain Special Characters will modify them. Let's go!

Ultramarines Chapter Tactics Review
Ultramarines Chapter Tactics Review

Ultramarines Chapter Tactics

An Ultramarines detachment actually has three tactics that it can use during a game. Each tactic is a one use only ability and must be declared at the start of your turn, the effects lasting until the start of your next turn. You may only use one tactic per turn, so no combos!

Tactical Doctrine - All units with Combat Tactics in the detachment (vehicles do not have Combat Tactics as a special rule) may re-roll To Hit rolls of 1 in the Shooting Phase. However, Tactical Squads may re-roll ALL failed To Hit rolls in the Shooting Phase.

Assault Doctrine - All units with Combat Tactics may re-roll their Assault distance. Assault Squads, Bike Squads, and Attack Bikes gain Fleet . . . which means they can re-roll one or both dice instead of re-rolling both. Think about it; keep that six you rolled, but re-roll the 1.

Devastator Doctrine - All units can re-roll Snap Shots (and Overwatch fire). Devastator squads gain Relentless, unless they are disembarking from a vehicle that turn.

Murphy's Take: These three doctrines give Ultramarines players (and their successor chapters) a lot of tactical flexibility. I dare say that it makes the Ultramarines a little interesting and possibly fun to play! What it also does it guide a player into taking a mix of infantry squads: tactical, assault, and devastator to represent a balanced forced, very much fitting with the fluff of Ultramarines.

Marneus Calgar is the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines. He has a host of wargear and special rules all of his own. However, one special rule modifies the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics. His God of War ability, among other things, allows you to use a combat doctrine TWICE in the same game. You don't have to declare which one you're going to use until you use it for the second time. Very nice!!

White Scars Chapter Tactics Review
White Scars Chapter Tactics Review

White Scars Chapter Tactics

Just so I can say it one time and be done with it, the Ultramarines (above) are the only chapter that has One Use Only tactics. Everyone else gets Chapter Tactics that are on all the time. So let's get into that with the Mongol-inspired White Scars, who are quickly becoming one of my favorite chapters.

Born in the Saddle - All White Scars units of the Bike unit type automatically pass all Dangerous Terrain tests that they would normally have to take. Also, they gain +1 Strength to their Hammer of Wrath ability.

Fight on the Move - All models (except Terminators or either Centurian type) gain the Hit & Run special ability.

Murphy's Take: Wow! First, realize that Bike units are not slowed down by difficult terrain, but they normally must take a Dangerous Terrain test when passing over it. The White Scars ignore this, so their bikes can zoom around the board unimpeded by terrain. That makes them incredibly fast! Can I share a side note about bikes and dangerous terrain tests for a second?

I once played a game with a big unit of Ork Bikerz and I moved them over a pile of rubble in the shape of a long wall. After I moved them, I rolled and FAILED 2 dangerous terrain tests, thus losing 25% of the unit. They were forced to fall back towards my table edge, which, you guessed it, was back over the rubble wall! I moved them, rolled for Dangerous Terrain and failed 2 more. I had wiped out half of my own unit by moving over a single wall. Waaaagh!! Note, this was in 5th edition where armor saves were not given for Dangerous Terrain tests, but they STILL!

Back to White Scars... having the whole army gain Hit & Run is also amazing. You will most likely be choosing where to strike your opponents, and when you make contact, you will often be able to fall back and strike again... even with infantry.

Kor'sarro Khan is the White Scars "Master of the Hunt". Beyond his own wargear and special rules, he also modifies your White Scars army in two ways. As a Space Marine Captain on a bike (which you must buy for him extra), he makes all Bike squads of 5+ into Troops. Yay! Secondly, in your detachment, all units of Bikes or that have Dedicated Transports have the Scouts special rule. Wowzers! Remember that the Scouts special rule also gives you Outflank, so you will have incredible amounts of tactical leeway with this fast, hard-hitting force!

Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics Review
Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics Review

Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics

The Imperial Fists are the defenders of Terra, stalwart guardians of humanity's birthplace. While they are a remarkable defensive force, they are also well suited to siege-breaking, bringing down enemy fortifications as readily as they can construct their own.

Bolter Drill - A reminder that this rule is on all the time. All models in the detachment can re-roll To Hit rolls of 1 during the Shooting Phase if they are shooting any kind of bolter (storm bolter, heavy bolter, combi-bolter as a bolter, etc). This does not apply to special ammunition, though.

Siege Masters - Devastator and Centurion units have the Tank Hunter rule and gain +1 to Building Damage table rolls.

Murphy's Take: The fact that their Bolter Drill rule is on all the time is what makes it stand apart from the Ultramarine's special rule. Considering marines only miss on a roll of 1 or 2, and 1's are now re-rolled, Imperial Fist units are going to be a very efficient shooting force. Yes, heavy and special weapons don't benefit, but now their heavy hitters will get bonuses against vehicles and buildings, so it works out!

Captain Lysander does not modify the Chapter Tactics at all, but he does allow all Imperial Fists within 12" to re-roll failed Morale and Pinning checks, keeping them in the fight to use their Tactics more efficiently.

Black Templars Chapter Tactics Review
Black Templars Chapter Tactics Review

Black Templar Chapter Tactics

Good news and bad news for Black Templar players: your codex has been folded into the main Space Marine codex. You already knew this, I'm suspecting. Yes, you did lose a dedicated book and some of your flavor, however, much of the core has been brought into the new codex. It also allows you to use nearly everything in the standard space marine army (with the exception of Librarians!). Thus, instead of waiting another year for a new codex, you can start playing 6th edition rules with an expanded army list right now. I suspect that there will be Supplements down the road to bring some of the flavor back, too!

Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds - A character in a challenge re-rolls failed To Hit rolls and gains the Rending special rule.

Crusaders - All models in this detachment gain the Crusader and Adamantium Will special rules. Also, it opens up a special Black Templars Only squad called the Crusader Squad. This squad type allows you to mix Initiates and Neophytes into a single squad of up to 20 marines, much like the old codex... and allows you to buy an extra power weapon to hide in there!

Murphy's Take: I think Black Templar armies will be just as effective to play as before, if not more so because their rules are updated and expanded to allow for more unit types. They still get some cool stuff all to themselves, as the Crusader Squad and the Emperor's Champion character which only they can take. Their special rules will allows them to move across the table quicker, and when winning assaults, to mow down their fleeing opponents with greater ease.

High Marshall Helbrecht give you an amazing boost. Once per game, he grants all Black Templar units with Chapter Tactics the Furious Charge and Fleet special rules! This is basically an Ork Waaaagh for space marines!

Chaplain Grimaldus provides another boost. All Black Templar units within 6" of him gain the Zealot special rule, which gives the Hatred and Fearless. Put him in the middle of your army and your wave of black-clad knight just got a little more angry!

Iron Hands Chapter Tactics Review
Iron Hands Chapter Tactics Review

Iron Hands Chapter Tactics

After reading a few of the latest Horus Heresy novels which have featured Iron Hands characters, I am in love with these guys. They are tough, no-nonsense tech guys with an affinity for cybernetics. What's more, they haven't really been written about much over the last 20 years, so they are kind of new territory! I think their rules are going to make them an interesting force, and I suspect that they will be brought as allies for more than a few armies.

The Flesh is Weak - All units with Chapter Tactics in this detachment gain Feel No Pain (6+). If anything gives them a better version, then use the better version (they do not stack).

Machine Empathy - All characters and vehicles (they are the only chapter to have tactics that directly affect vehicles) gain the It Will Not Die special rule. Also, techmarines and masters of the forge gain a +1 to their roll to repair vehicles!

Murphy's Take: At first glance, a Feel No Pain of 6+ doesn't look that great, but then realize that it's applied army wide! Think how many marines you might lose over the course of a normal game and then put 1/6th of those back to the battlefield. Not only that, but your characters are healing wounds back 1/3rd of the time and your vehicles are repairing themselves. Pack in some techmarines and a defensive force with vehicles is going to be pretty sturdy.

Unfortunately, the Iron Hands have no Special Characters in this codex, so we will have to wait for a supplement! Still, I really like this chapter, as there is a lot of potential for growth, character, modeling challenges, and cool rules.

Salamanders Chapter Tactics Review
Salamanders Chapter Tactics Review

Salamanders Chapter Tactics

Though monstrous in appearance, the Salamanders are the greatest champions of the common man. They weren't featured a lot in 40k when I first got into it, but they have definitely developed a giant following and a great story over the last 20 years!

Flamecraft - Models in this detachment can re-roll failed saving throws versus any Flamer weapon. Also, they can re-roll and failed To Wound or Armor Penetration rolls with Flamer weapons.

Master Artisans - Every character in this detachment (including sergeants) can upgrade any one weapon (even one they buy extra) to be Master Crafted, at no additional cost.

Murphy's Take: To be honest, these Chapter Tactics seem a little underwhelming when compared to re-rolling all 1's to hit in Shooting. However, I think they are great for establishing the feel for the army. It's a note towards story and theme, rather than power gaming. You could also develop this into an aggressive tactic on the battlefield by putting as many flamer weapons as possible into your army and perhaps drop-podding right into the enemy's face! Also, with Master-crafted weapons on every character, you will be more efficient in combat and challenges.

Vulkan He'stan bumps this army up a notch. If he is included then every melta, combi-melta, and multi-melta wielded by models in this army gain Master-Crafted. As a special note, it does not limit this bonus to units with the Chapter Tactics trait... it says "models in this detachment". This means that even vehicle mounted meltas will gain this ability. Now we're cooking! Considering that melta weapons' biggest draw back is that they are usually only throwing a single dice to hit, you miss a bunch of times. No longer!

Raven Guard Chapter Tactics Review
Raven Guard Chapter Tactics Review

Raven Guard Chapter Tactics

The spec-ops force of the space marines, the Raven Guard melt from the shadows and strike fast. Often outnumbered, they use their special training and superior maneuverability to hit their opponent where it will inflict maximum damage.

Strike from the Shadows - Models with the Chapter Tactics rule gain the Scout special rule (including dedicated transports!), which also gives you Outflank. Also, on the first game turn, models gain the Stealth special rule. In either case, Bulky or Very Bulky units don't gain this ability.

Winged Deliverance - Jump Infantry are allowed to use their jump packs in the Movement Phase and also in the Assault Phase. Also, they must re-roll any failed To Wound rolls with their Hammer of Wrath hits.

Murphy's Take: Very similar to the White Scars army, these rules allow your Raven Guard to get close and personal very quickly, redirect units to Outflank, or even shift your entire battle line to confuse your opponent. The jump pack rule is particularly hard-hitting (pun?) because you will be moving 12" in the Movement and ALSO re-rolling your assault distance. Once you get in contact, you are then re-rolling Hammer of Wrath, so you will be inflicting more damage. There's some great strategy to be had here, especially with some Iron Hands allies to bring some vehicles?

Shadow Captain Shrike is captain of the 3rd Company. He gains the Stealth and Infiltrate special rules, which remember, he gives to the unit he joins. Before the game starts, he is allowed to join a Jump Infantry unit before the game (and no other type). So with Shrike, you can scout most of your units, perhaps Outflank with some, and then you can Infiltrate a single jump squad to get in close. If you go second and have infiltrated into some ruins, you can weather some fire with a 3+ cover save and then jump out for a first turn assault!

Which Chapter Tactic is the most exciting?

See results

New Units!

See that poll to the right? Why not stand up for your favorite flavor of space marine and tell the world which one's the best? I would if I were reading.

All kidding aside, this brings us to the end of Part 2 of my new Space Marine Codex Review. This is a giant codex with a few new units, many special characters, and tons of selections. I will be pouring over the codex this weekend and writing more articles as I'm inspired. For instance... New Units!

It would help out if I knew what people wanted to read about. Wargear? Special Characters? Unit descriptions? Let me know by adding a comment below. You don't need to register, just post as a guest!

In the meantime, feel free to check out some of my other Warhammer 40k articles below:

As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Space Marine articles. Murphy Out!

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    • profile image

      Ray 4 years ago

      I like boosts like that, but i like the iron hands spec rules the best, as i'm a bit of a defencive player, and iron hands seem like the best chapter for defence.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      they're vanilla marines with some all round boosts, basically their tactics aren't subjective to different opponents, which will help in tournaments.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      I can't think of any specific tactics with Imperial Fist, but only because their chapter tactics just work great with any shooting unit. Load up on bolters and devastator squads, and a solid foundation of TH/SS terminators. Good to go.

    • profile image

      Ray 4 years ago

      Like i said i don't know anything about space marine tactics, and imperial fists do fit well with standard, i think.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      Ray, isn't that normal tactics? Put units up against their prime targets?

      I agree with the competitiveness of Imperial Fists for the average player however, suddenly plain squads are hitting a little over 11% more often (78% hit rate on average) and whilst building damage is more situational, an AP2 weapon will be one-shotting any building half the time on a penetrating roll. Nasty statistic there.

    • profile image

      Ray 4 years ago

      I don't know any actual lists, but i'd leave infantry hunting to tactical squads, cc to either terminators or vanguard vets, and tanks to devastaters or centurions. The finer details will be left to someone who knows anything about space marines.

    • profile image

      Jonah 4 years ago

      Im a personal fan of the Imperial Fists but am trying to think how to balance a descent list with them amd Lysander with the bolter drill tactic.

    • profile image

      Ray 4 years ago

      Your right with the samamanders tactics, but most people who used them in the past or want to use them like those tactics, otherwise why would they run salamanders.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Good news! If you run Marneus Calgar in your army, then you can use one of your tactics TWICE in a game. It sucks that they are typically only one-use, but I love that it gives a UM army a lot of tactical flexibility and it makes you think.

      Compare that to Salamanders... with their chapter tactic, you basically want to get in close and use flamers and meltas (if you bring Vulkan). This is great, but it will be your tactic every game.

      With Ultramarines, there are more options and I really like that.

    • profile image

      Imperial Agent 4 years ago

      To be honest, I forgot that the Ultramarines chapter tactics are one use only and that does bother me a bit but I still like the flexibility it gives you, and besides, I already have 4 of the ultramarine characters and I intend to get the rest. P.S the ones I already have are Marneus Calgar, captain Sicarius, tank master Chronus, and scout sergeant Telion.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      StupidWaldo, I wish that were true. For a model to use Chapter Tactics (re-roll wounds with flame weapons) it must have the Chapter Tactics special rule in its description. Vehicles do not have Chapter Tactics as a special rule.

      However, Vulkan has The Forgefather special rule. It is not a Chapter Tactics. His Forgefather rule states that "all meltaguns, combi-meltas, and mult-meltas wielded by models in his detachment have the Master-crafted special rule."

      In summary, Chapter Tactics will only work on infantry models (who have the Chapter Tactics special rule, vehicles do not). while Vulkan's rule will work on "all models". It's quite powerful if you equip your vehicles and dreads with melta weapons.

    • profile image

      StupidWaldo 4 years ago

      Using your take on Vulkan's power, that means by the wording in the codex, that the regular Salamanders Chapter Tactics also applies to 'all models in this detachment' giving re-rolls on wounds and armor penetration to Redeemers. This would make them even stronger, wiping out entire marine squads in one shot and being able to reasonably hurt light vehicles (That re-roll actually does something for the flamestorm cannons against armor)

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      I love your username! I think your feelings sum up the current stat of Black Templars. It's not all bad, but you did lose some character. A lot of that can come back with a supplement. How did the Master of the Forge get nerfed bad? I'm not doubting you, I just never encountered one on the tabletop before.

    • profile image

      OnFenceTemplar 4 years ago

      Mix of good and bad. Loss of individuality (which can be fixed with a supplement) is a pain, but it's not the end of the world. To some extent, you create your own individuality, and it's not difficult to make a characterful list (Vanguard Vets as storm brethren , never taking scout squads etc). My favourite addition has to be Ironclads, which scream templar. The problem is our main source of individuality is characters, all of which are a meh competitive-wise.

      The biggest disappointment for me is the monstrous nerf to Master of the Forge, meaning my converted tech-marine will never see the light of day :(

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Prodigal Player and SEG... I'm also loving the Raven Guard rules! They are almost like a finesse army, but with bolters and power armor! My biggest complaint is that I don't like painting all that black, which is why the Raptors intrigue me :)

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      Raven Guard are great, they'll now be the most tricksy non-xenos army out there, getting that move in the assault phase is great.

    • profile image

      Prodigal Player 4 years ago

      Super excited that Raven Guard finally have some special rules, and I think that they are actually quite good! My Raptors will benefit...

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Thanks, Dan, for the suggestion. I was considering something very similar, writing up some lists and tactics for the various Chapter Tactics. Obviously, veteran players will already have an idea, but newer marine players could use a guiding hand. . . Hmm, this could be an interesting project! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • profile image

      Dan 4 years ago

      I would love to hear unit descriptions/tactical analysis of said units, with possible combos. I personally am not a power gamer, but love using units in a way that fits with the fluff of the force. Right now I'm considering a Salamanders force, just because I feel they really hit the nail on the head combining fluff with play-ability. Great read BTW, I always love your articles.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      If I were a Black Templar player, I'd probably be pissed. I think the new codex will work great for them, but it is at a loss to individual attention. I'm just trying to be positive :) I think the Sisters of Battle are going to get thrown in with the next Grey Knights codex, which will likely be something like The Inquisition. But is that better than never being updated? Probably.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      Really dislike what GW have done to the Templars, regardless of giving them an update, they've lost a lot of individuality.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Ray, a dreadnought character for the Iron Hands would be very interesting. The Space Wolves have one in their codex, so there is a precedence for it. It fits with their background perfectly. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Tim, thanks for the read. I will definitely be adding to the review as time allows this week :)

    • profile image

      Ray 4 years ago

      So glad the black templars got a kind of suplement codex it's felt like they've been getting the short end of the stick in things. Also hopeing for an iron hands supplement codex, they deserve one and a special character, maybe a dreadnaught.

    • profile image

      Tim 4 years ago

      Thanks for the review! It was really fun to read. I am looking forward to more of your posts.