Space Marine Troop Tactics

In this section we will look at the Space Marine Troop choices and their tactics.

With the Space Marine army it looks like you are short changed when it comes to troop choices. Most Space Marine Chapters have two Space Marine troop choices, the Tactical units, and the Scout units. Where as if you are taking a Black Templars army then this drops down two just one option, the Black Templars tactical unit.

Is it a problem that there are so few options? In my mind there is not. The reason for this is that the Tactical Squad is tactical! Tactical means that they can adapt to just about any situation.  You can read all about the weapon options and the best way to tool up your squads to beat any foe!

Space Marine Tactical Squad Tactics

A WH40k Space Marine Tactical Squad

A Warhammer 40k Space Marine Tactical squad

The Space Marine Tactical Squad is the basic troop of the Space Marine army. It is made up of 5 to 10 Space Marines. Ten Space Marines is the optimal number as this allows you to have heavy and special weapons in the squad, and allows you to use the ‘Combat Squads’ special rule.

The 2015 Space Marine Codex has been released. For the Space Marine Troop units this means greater access to Gravgun special weapons and Gravcannon heavy weapons.


Space Marine Tactical Squad come with power armour, frag & krak grenades, bolt pistol and a bolt gun as standard. You do not have to pay any extra points to get these options. This is one way that the new Codex Space Marines makes life easier, and the Space Marines a few points cheaper than in the previous Codex’s

Space Marine Boltgun

The Boltgun (or bolter) is a good standard weapon. It has a 24″ range strength 4 and AP5. This means that a standard marine can take down most tanks by shooting at the rear armour.

Space Marine Bolt Pistol

The Bolt Pistol is not normally shown on the Space Marine model but it is important that you remember that you have it. If you are assaulting, The bolt pistol is a 12″ assault 1 weapon. This allows you a pot shot at the target before you get in to close combat.

Number per Squad

You can have between 5 and 10 Marines per squad. So what is the best number of Marines to have in squad?

The case for a 5 man Tactical Squad

5 is the minimum number of Space Marines you have in a quad. This means that it is the cheapest option. Two 5 man squads fulfil your minimum troop choices. This is a bit more expensive in points than two Space Marine Scout squads, but you will find that tactical squads are much more flexible. Cheap troops squads means that you have more points to spend on HQ or Heavy Support choices to create a specialized (cheesier) army list.

A 5 man Space Marine Tactical Squad with a tooled up Sargent make for an effective assault squad. Add a Razorback to give the squad some extra speed and fire power.

The case for a 6 man Tactical Squad

If you play tournament rules, you get victory points for reducing a squad to below half strength. If you have a five man squad, that is achieved by killing three models. With a six man squad, four Space Marines will have to die to get the points. Other than this all the benefits of a 5 man squad apply.

The case for 7 to 9 man Tactical Squads

Extra Space Marines in the squad adds resilience to the squad. I think that the extra points would be better spent on having two 5 men squads or one 10 man squad.

The case for 10 man Tactical Squads

The 10 man Space Marine Tactical Squad is by far the most flexible squad formation. It not only gives you access to heavy and assault weapons, but you get to use the Combat Squads special rule too.

Combat Squad Tactics

Space Marine Tactical Squads can split up in to ‘tactical squads’. This means that you can split your 10 man Space Marine Tactical squads in to two 5 man units. A common usage for this is to have the heavy weapon and 4 other Space Marines in one unit, and have the Sargent, armed with close combat weapons, a Space Marine armed with an assault weapon, and two other Space Marines in a second unit.

The bonus of splitting the squad like this is that you have two units that now have a definite roles, one as a heavy weapons team, and one as an assault team. The downside of splitting the Tactical Squad like this is that both teams are now quite small. Smaller units, it is easier to kill off.

Tactical Squad Transport Options

Tactics often require that the right troops are in the right location when you need them. Giving your troops transport will mean that you can ferry them around the table quicker and capture those all important objectives.


Warhammer 40k Space Marine Rhino

Warhammer 40k Space Marine Rhino troop transporter.

The Space Marine Rhino is the most basic and cheapest of the transport options. At 35 points for a 10 man APC ( armoured personnel carrier ) it is a steal. Usually to keep the points cost down I keep the upgrades down to a minimum too. Usually this means that I only add a plintal mounted storm bolter ( so it has two storm bolters ), and nothing else.

The Rhino is so basic that is comes with a ‘ Repair ‘ special rule. This means that if you do not shoot there is a 1 in 6 chance that it can recover from a immobilized damage. This does not happen often as the Rhinos are usually destroyed before they get a chance to recover, but when it does work, it is very useful!


If you have a 5 man squad, the Razorback offers some close support as well as troop transportation. It is not so good if you like to keep to 10 man squads though. However if you have a 5 man squad ( using up points? ) or if you like to split your squads in to 5 man combat squads. then the Razorback could be well worth considering.

Space Marine Drop Pod

Space Marine Drop Pods are making a big come back in the 7th edition of Warhammer 40000. The need to move around the table quickly to claim tactical objectives that change through the game means that being able to start in the right place gives the Space Marines a significant advantage.

Space Marine Land Raider

Tactical Squads can have a Land Raider as a transport option, however this is usually over kill. Keep the Land Raiders for the Terminator assault squads that can make best use of the Assault Vehicle feature of the Land Raider.

Scout Squads

Warhammer 40k Space Marine Scout Squad

Space Marine Scout Squad with bolters and sniper rifles.

Space Marine Scouts are trainee Tactical Space Marines. As such they are cheaper in points, have less access to weapons, and don’t have such good stats or armour.  They do have some good skills though, they light armour means that they can infiltrate and slip through terrain easier.

 Space Marine Scouts are usually used in one of two roles, either as light assault troops, or as more heavily armed troops used to hold a position. The role you choose for them will depend on the mission and the terrain. Again, the more you know about the match ahead of time the better.

Light Assault Troops

Armed with close combat weapons (replace bolter with 2nd close combat weapon), Space Marine Scouts make very good assault squads.

Hold the Ground

Using the infiltrate rule, Space Marine Scouts are very good at being placed ahead of the main battle lines to hold a strategic location. This may be a marker or a building with a good line of sight etc.

If you want to have the scouts holding the ground then you want to arm them with heavy weapons, bolters, and/or sniper rifles, depending on the opponent.

Special Rules

Space Marine Scouts have special rules, so you get infiltrate and flanking special rules. These have been covered in the section above.

Crusader Unit

If you are thinking of taking a Black Templars army then you only have the Crusader Unit as a troop choice. However the Crusader Unit is very flexible. The reason for this is that you can mix cheaper (10 point ) scout / Neophyte with squads of full Space Marines ( Initiates ). The main benefit is that you can lace the Neophytes at the front, soaking up wounds, leaving your more expensive troops to like for later in the battle.

Another big bonus is that you can have a heavy weapon  +and+ a special weapon in a 5 man squad. That’s a lot of firepower in a small space!

If you want to add Crusader units to your army then just paint standard tactical and scout marines in Black Templar colours.