Space Marine Tactics for Warhammer 40000 8th Ed

Pre-heresy Dark Angel Space Marine

Space Marines! The legions of the Adeptus Astartes – the Angels of Death (and remember that these are the good guys!), the defenders of mankind (ignoring the Imperial Guard, the Inquisition and all). These are the guys that will save the galaxy from the clutches of Chaos (just as long as they don’t succumb to Chaos themselves)!

Space Marine are easy to play in Warhammer 40k,and you don’t need many of them to make up an army. This means that they are very popular as a first army for new players. Easy to play doesn’t mean weak either! Space Marines are definitely the army to beat. If you win a game against them then you know that you have done well!

Space Marines come in many verities, some are different enough to have their own Codex. Examples are Blood Angels, Dark Angels, and Space Wolfs. However there are many Space Marine chapters that follow the standard rules for Space Marines as set down by the Ultramarines, or close enough to use the standard rules with minor tweaks. These are called the.’Codex Space Marines’. Codex Space Marines include, but are not limited to; Ultramarines, Imperial Fists, Salamanders, White Scars, Raven Guard, Iron Hands, Crimson Fists, and Black Templars. In this section we will look at the Codex Marine, their rules and tactics you can use when playing Space Marines in Warhammer 40k 8th edition games.

To make use of these pages you will need to own, or have regular access to the main Warhammer 40000 8th edition rule book and the Codex: Space Marines additional rules.

General Space Marine Tactics

Space Marines are generally very tactical units. By that I mean that units are able to fulfil several roles on the battlefield. They have good armour, good shooting weapons, and are capable of fighting hand to hand. Equipped with an armoured personal carrier (Rhino or Razorback) they can act as fast blitzkrieg / shock troops too. To aid this multi role you will find that most Space Marines are armed with long ranged shooting weapons (Bolters), short ranged Bolt Pistols, and hand to hand Chain Swords.

Common Ability: They Know No Fear

'They Know No Fear'Many Space Marine units have a common ‘They Know No Fear’ ability. this lets these units re-roll moral tests. This is most useful in the Moral Phase as it can mean that you loose less troops to failed moral checks. However be aware that there are other times when moral checks are needed. An example is when you are on the receiving end of some psychic power.

Battle-forged Detachment Abilities:

To encourage you to create ‘well formed’ detachments you get extra special rules that will help you to win. ‘Well formed’ means detachments that contain only Space Marines, and conform to the ‘battle forged’ formation structures found in the main rule book. For the ‘Defender of Humanity’ Spacial rule you can have a mixed bag of Chapters in your detachment, but for the ‘Chapter Tactics’ special rules you have to have just one chapter present.

Defenders of Humanity

Capturing objectives, or markers on the table makes up an important part of winning most 8th edition games. To capture a marker you usually have to have more models contesting a marker than your opponent does. With this special rule you can grab the objective with a single TROOPS unit regardless of how many enemy units are there. Note that all the other codexes released so far give other armies well formed the same special rule. If both players have units with this special rule contesting an objective you go back to counting the number of models in those units. The player with the most models with this ability wins it.

Notice that this ability only effects TROOPS units, not HQ, ELITE, HEAVY SUPPORT, FAST ATTACK, or any other unit type. For the Space Marines it means that it’s effect is limited to Tactical Squads, Intercessor Squads, Scout Squads, and Crusader Squads. So if you are contesting an objective and you have one Tactical Squad in 3″ of the marker, and your opponent has three ELITE Terminator Squad and a HQ Captain there, you still will the objective even though you seem to be outnumbered!

The Defenders of Humanity special rule boosts the value of TROOPS units way above the actual points cost. If winning games is what you are after, you need to see that you need to place the TROOPS units at the centre of your strategy. In a Space Marine army you will be helped with the ‘Combat Squads’ special rule and Dedicated Transport units. More about those later!

Space Marine Chapter Tactics

To add flavour to the Space Marine chapters, different chapters have been given some special rules that fit the back stories of those chapters. In game terms it allows you to have a look at the different chapters and see which special rules fit your style of play and adopt that Chapter, or a made up successor chapter.

  • Ultramarines: Codex Discipline. Ultramarines add one to leadership characteristic and you can shoot even if you Fall Back.
  • White Scars: Lightning Assault. White Scars can add 2″ to advance moves, ands can charge the same turn they fell back.
  • Imperial Fists: Siege Masters. Imperial Fists ignore cover saving throws and can re-roll failed wounds when targeting buildings.
  • Black Templars: Righteous Zeal.Black Templars can re-roll failed charge rolls.
  • Salamanders: Master Artisans. Salamander units can re-roll one failed wound in the shooting or fight phases.
  • Raven Guard: Shadow Masters. When shooting at Raven Guard from 12″ or more, the opponant must subtract 1 from the hit rolls
  • Iron Hands: The Flesh is Weak. Iron Guyard ignore wounds on a 6.

Space Marine HQ Tactics

Every army needs a leader to lead it to great victories! Well mostly, as in Warhammer 40000 you can get away with not having a leader for your army, but it is a good idea! If you do take a leader, you will find them in the HQ section.

You can take several HQ units in one army if you wish. If you do then you will want to nominate one of them as your general. It is usual to choose the biggest and strongest character as your general, but the choice is yours!

Space Marine HQ Units include:

Chapter Relics

Chapter Relics are free upgrades that you can give to a Space Marine Character if your Warlord is a Space Marine. Note that you can not upgrade a ‘Named Character’. The character could be, and usually is your warlord himself. You can find a full list of the relics and their special rules on page 200 of the Codex: Space Marines.

Space Marine Troop Tactics

5 man Dark Angel Squad with Assault WaeponsThe core of any Warhammer 40K army should be the Troop units. You should have enough troop units to make sure that you do not get out numbered.

The Space Marines have 3 main options . The Tactical Squad, the Scout Squad and the new Primaries Marine Intercessor Squads. Black Templar marines get the Crusader Squad, but not the Tactical and Scout Squads.

As mentioned above with the Defenders of Humanity special rule troop units have a much bigger role in the game.

  • Tactical Squads: The core of the Space Marine army. A Tactical Squad can do it all. It can capture objectives, give a good fight in close combat, and take on monstrous creatures with bolters, meltas and heavy weapons.
  • Intercessor Squads: Get use to S4 bolter weapons! Armed with the 30″ bolt rifle this unit can lay down a lot of fire over a good distance. Look to the upgrades to make this unit more tactical. Primarice Marines also get an extra wound and extra attack in the fight phase.
  • Scout Squads: Trainee Space Marines. Used to infiltrate and grab objectives before the first turn. However lightly armoured so die quicker. Scouts can be armed with close combat or heavy weapons.
  • Crusader Squad: Special Black Templar troop unit. This squad mixes both scouts (Neophytes) and tactical marines (Initiates). Crusader squads are very flexible in thier configuration and can have up to 20 Marines in a unit.

Space Marine Elite Tactics

Warhammer 40000 Space Marine Terminator SquadThe Space Marine army has a number of Elite unit choices. It is very tempting to dive in and have a lot of elite units in your army. However beware! Elite units  cost points. If you have too many then you will find that you do not have enough points for Troop units and become out numbered very quickly. You may want to keep to two or three Elite units in a 2000 point game.

  • Primaris, Chapter, Company Ancient: Banner carrier Character for the army. Use to be part of the command squad. Has extra wounds and minimal wargear upgrades. His banner does improve the leadership for nearby Marines from the same Chapter.
  • Chapter Champion: Close combat specialist character. Comes with a big sword but no shooting weapons. Get him in to combat quickly and often.
  • Honour Guard
  • Apothercary, Primaris Apothercary
  • Company Champion
  • Company Verterans
  • Seritors
  • Reiver Squad
  • Aggressor Squad
  • Terminator Squads, Cataphractii Terminator Squad
  • Terminator Assault Squad
  • Tartaros Terminator Squad
  • Vanguard Vertran Squad
  • Sternguard Veteran Squad
  • Dreadnought, Ironclad, Venerable, Contemptor, Redemptor Dreadnought
  • Centurion Assault Squad

Space Marine Fast Attack Tactics

Space Marine unit with jet packs

Fast attack units do what they say on the tin. They move around the table quickly adding support to stricken units or strike at an enemy’s weak spot. Fast attack can be useful for grabbing objectives if there aren’t any enemy troop units around.

Make sure that your Fast Attack units have support. They can make easy targets if they rush up the board unsupported.

  • Bike Squad
  • Assault Squad
  • Land Speeders
  • Attack Bike Squad

Space Marine Heavy Support Tactics

The game is not all about rushing forward and killing the enemy. Having a good back line too.

  • Devastator Squad
  • Centurion Devastator Squad
  • Hellblaster Squad
  • Thunderfire Cannon
  • Hunter, Stalker, Tanks
  • Whirlwind Tank
  • Predator Tank
  • Vindicator Tank
  • Land Raider, Land Raider Crusader, Land Raider Redeemer Tank

Space Marine Dedicated Transport Tactics

  • Rhino, Razorback Tanks: Rhinos are great for getting 10 man Tactical Squads around the table quickly. Razorbacks Transport 6 but has a big gun to support the troops too. Razorbacks are good for zipping Honour Guard and Veterans, or 5 man Tactics Squads around with a spare space for a Character to ride along!
  • Drop Pod
  • Land Speeder Storm
  • Repulsor Tank

Space Maine Flyer Tactics

  • Stormhawlk Interceptor, Gunship
  • Stormtalon Gunship

Space Marine Lords of War Tactics

Lords of War are extremely powerful units that can unbalance smaller games. For this reason Lords of war are usually banned from games under 30000 points.

  • Roboute Guilliman