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New Space Marine Codex 6th Edition Review Warhammer 40k - Part 1

Updated on October 13, 2013
New Space Marine Codex Review
New Space Marine Codex Review


The most popular army in the Warhammer 40k universe is the Space Marines. The Adeptus Astartes. They are the saviors of humanity, grandsons of the Emperor himself, and the subject of dozens of novels. After a year of 6th edition Warhammer 40k, the Space Marines are back and ready to conquer the galaxy once again.

While leaked information about the new codex has abounded for weeks, the codex has now officially been released and we have the official rules in hand! Don't trust the rumors! What did they miss? What did they leave out? We will discover this together.

First, the new Space Marine Codex is a massive book, filled with beautiful art, original "fluff", and several pages dedicated to each of the First Founding chapters. Yes, fans of Iron Hands will rejoice (though they still don't get a special character... not yet!). Other than variations in the points cost of wargear and units, and the inclusion of a few new special units, the greatest changes are to the army rules that will affect space marine armies of different chapters.

This article will introduce those new rules and chapter tactics, and future additions to this article will look at new units and changes to existing characters and units. Let's dive in!

New Space Marine Codex Review
New Space Marine Codex Review

Combat Squads

The first rule listed in the new Space Marine Codex is Combat Squads. This is the old standard by which marine players have been building armies for years. It's a great little rule lets a marine players adjust his army based on the mission or your opponent.

Basically, 10 man units can be split into two, 5 man units called Combat Squads. These squads are completely independent of each other for the rest of the game. As a cool exception to the standard rule for transports, these combat squads can be deployed in the same transport, but are separate units (and remain separate) for as soon as they disembark. The 6th edition update to this rule says that you must declare which units are splitting into Combat Squads immediately BEFORE you roll for Warlord Traits.

This means that, if your opponent is deploying first, you cannot wait to see how he sets down his units and then Combat Squad. You have to do it before Warlord Traits and declare to your opponent which units are affected. This actually gives your opponent a little edge because he will have an idea of how many small units he's going to have to deal with.

You can also use Combat Squads with full strength biker units. A squad of 8 bikers and 1 Attack Bike can be split into one unit of 5 bikers and another unit of 4 bikers and the attack bike. Again, you must decide this right before you roll your Warlord Traits. Speaking of which . . . .

New Space Marine Codex Review
New Space Marine Codex Review

Warlord Traits

The 6th edition Space Marine Codex introduces a list of new Warlord Traits. Unlike some earlier rumors, each chapter does NOT get its own list. There is one list, but they are pretty good. As always, an army can either roll on one of the charts in the main Warhammer 40k rulebook, or the chart in their codex. It is important to note that most of the Special Characters in the codex have a Warlord Trait chosen for them from this list.

Space Marine Warlord Traits:

  • Angel of Death: The Warlord, along with his unit, have Fear. This is nice because the whole unit gets the rule.
  • The Imperium's Sword: Once use only. Declare at the start of Assault Phase and the Warlord + unit gain Furious Charge for the round.
  • Storm of Fire: One use only. Declare at the start of the Shooting Phase. One space marine unit within 12" of the Warlord can re-roll failed To Hit rolls for that phase.
  • Rites of War: For all Morale tests, space marine units within 12" of the Warlord can use his Leadership instead of their own.
  • Iron Resolve: Add 1 to assault results if your Warlord is engaged in that combat.
  • Champion of Humanity: If your Warlord kills the enemy Warlord in a challenge, you gain an extra d3 victory points.

Some players are not big fans of Once Use Only traits, but I think they give a player an interesting tactical choice to make, and these traits are often quite powerful. Having Strength 5 marines on a charge is pretty great and can easily turn the tide of battle, as can re-rolling To Hit rolls in shooting for a single squad that needs to destroy a target. Even the +1 to assault results in nice because, even if you already won the combat, it gives a further -1 to your opponent's leadership check; again possibly being the difference between an enemy staying in combat or getting run down.

Now let's look at what the different space marine chapters will being to the battlefield.

New Space Marine Codex Review
New Space Marine Codex Review

What's Missing?

Before I move on to the Chapter Tactics, I have to explain that the marines actually lost a cool special rule. They no longer have Combat Tactics.

In the old codex, space marines could elect to fail a morale check to stay engaged in close combat, offering them a chance to withdraw. There was no risk in this, as with their And They Shall Know No Fear rule, they were not destroyed if caught by a Sweeping Advance. Thus, if a tactical squad was engaged in an assault, but lost, they could disengage and be free to shoot 'em up in the next turn. If they were caught in a sweeping advance, they just stayed locked in combat and were no worse off than before.

This was a frustrating rule for many opponents because even dedicated assault units had a hard time keeping marines locked in combat, and were in turn shot up turn after turn.

For better or for worse, however, Combat Tactics no longer exists. Erase this rule from your memory and if your are playing against marines, be sure to politely remind the marine player that he can no longer do this.

Also removed are the old Chapter Tactics attached to Special Characters. Yes, Special Characters still have rules that can modify your army, but they are in addition to the rules that each chapter gets for simply being a chapter. This is all explained below.

New Space Marine Codex Review
New Space Marine Codex Review

Chapter Tactics

So here's the best part about the new Space Marine Codex for 6th edition. You no longer have to take special characters to get access to flavorful rules. In the 5th edition codex, the need to take special characters really messed with the flavor of space marine armies. Players might have an White Scars army on bikes, but then take the Salamander characters so they could have master-crafted flamers and meltas. It worked. It was legal. It just didn't allow for competitive armies to retain their chapter flavor.

This has been fixed with the 6th edition codex. All of the First Founding chapters have their own Chapter Tactic that you use without needing to buy any special character. All secondary founding chapters must pick the Chapter Tactic of their parent chapter (with one exception that I will explain below). For instance, Crimson Fist space marines will use the Imperial Fist Chapter Tactics. For those armies that do not have a clear founding chapter, then the player must still pick ONE Chapter Tactic from the list (this has the advantage of being changeable from game to game).

For your Primary Detachment (your main army), you can only have one Chapter Tactic and you MUST pick one. How does this work for Special Characters? Each Special Character is tagged with a specific Chapter Tactic and can only be included in a Primary Detachment using the same Chapter Tactic.

Using the Salamanders' Chapter Tactic for your army? Then you cannot buy Captain Sicarius for your army (he's tagged as an Ultramarine). The cool thing is that each Special Character does have a host of special rules, some of which DO further modify your army's Chapter Tactics in a unique way. Thus, there is still an advantage for taking a Special Character, but it is not required, and you can no longer mix-and-match special characters to get crazy combos of different tactics.

If you are playing a second founding chapter, such as the Raptors (a fledgling chapter of the Raven Guard), then you can STILL purchase a special character of your founding chapter. Thus, a Raptor army (using the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics) can still purchase Shadow Captain Shrike for their army. Fluff-wise, Shrike is not actually a member of the Raptors' army, but a similar enough character exists in the Raptors army so the rules will fit.

One more note . . . Allies. A space marine army with a Chapter Tactic may ally with another space marine army with a different Chapter Tactic. Yes, marines may ally with themselves now. Both detachments (Primary and Allied) can use their Combat Tactics, but those Tactics will only affect models/units in its own detachment. Thus, you may take a Raven Guard army as your Primary and Iron Hands as an Ally. All Raven Guard units will get the Chapter Tactics from their own, but they will not benefit from the Chapter Tactics of Iron Hands (and vice versa). There are certainly some powerful combinations to make here with Allies, but at least it is more fluffy on the battlefield than it used to be.

Alright, on to the Chapter Tactics themselves!

How amped are you about Space Marines?

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On to Chapter Tactics!

I am running out of room on this page, but never fear! Simply click the big link below to navigate to the next page and read all about the new Chapter Tactics. Not only am I listing the Chapter Tactics rules, but I will be putting my two cents in as to their usefulness and even which Special Characters will modify the rules. Click below!

Before you go, however, why not take the poll to the right. It's a fun way to gauge how other players are feeling about the new codex. Alright, see you on the next page where we get down and dirty with the new rules. Thanks for reading so far. Murphy Out!


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