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02/12/2009

Space Marine special character tactica and analysis



The Space Marine codex has been out just over a year now so you should be familiar with it. When it was released it brought something new to the table top, it had a bucket load of special characters which change how a army was formed and played.

Marneus Calgar

The big daddy of the Ultramarines and most costly special character in the unit, this guy is the same points as a Land Raider and then some more if you decide to take terminator armour!

I don't think Calgar is that good, and definately not worth the points cost. He has orbital bombardment, but you need to stay still to do that. The God of War special rule allows all squads on the table to chose pass or fail any morale test, not leadership tests though. This is good while in a fight, but Space Marines have a high leadership value anyway, but as a army using Calgar would still use And They Shall Know No Fear rule, they still decide to fall back if they wish and auto regroup.

The twin power fist jobby looks good on paper, and gives plenty of attacks making Calgar a beast in combat. Though, ultimately, Calgar doesn't add a whole lot to the army besides allowing to pass all morale tests and at 250 points he costs a lot.

Cato Sicarius

Another over rated Ultramarine character in the background, at first Sicarius seems the man and having a decent amount of wargear to make him tough in games. He has super sword which causes instant death, a plasma pistol and artificer armour which gives feel no pain. Thats really about it.

What Sicarius does for your army is allow you to re-roll the initiative, this isn't that good for 200 points and a -1 would have been better perhaps. Also one tactical squad can have the choice of having counter-attack, infiltrate or tank hunters special rule. I personal find none of these massively useful, especialy for one unit. Counter-attack is just for assault, Marines can hold in assault but not a assault orientated unit. Infilitrate is ok, but Marines do well in a mech force and you cannot infilitrate in a transport. Tank hunters isn't that useful as only one weapon (the heavy) in the squad could be used for real armour, ok bolters can do damage on light armour but do you want to waste tank hunters on a low armoured transport?

I think for 200 points there are better HQ choices out there which can be more of a benefit to the army.

Varro Tigurius

The third Ultramarine character in the codex, and certainly not the last. Tigurius is the ultimate librarian, and compared to a standard Librarian you get the extra +1 WS and the extra wound but more importantly Tigurius has all the librarian's powers and can use three per turn. Add in that his force weapon is master crafted too, so you can re-roll to hit and use that force weapon to wipe a model from the table.

Army wise Tigurius allows failed reserve rolls to be re-rolled, particularly useful if using army using reserves. Tag team Tigurius with Kor'Sarro Khan and you could make a army which can outflank and re-roll reserves - nasty!

Ortan Cassius

Cassisus is nothing more than a suped up Chaplain with +1 WS, T6 and a extra wound. His wargear is a master crafted combi flamer which uses hellfire rounds. That's all Cassius is.

Cassisus is nothing more than a fancy HQ, and if you put him in with another unit his T6 is wasted because the rules work for majority toughness, which would be T4 for Space Marines. Cassius doesn't add anything to a army, and is nothing but a fancy Chaplain which you pay a extra 25 points for to get a few improved stats, a combi flamer and hellfire rounds.

Torias Telion

Telion is the second new Ultramarine character in the codex and one, if not the cheapest. While Telion is just a pumped up Scout sergeant stat wise, its what he brings to the unit which counts. Telion has a long range bolter, which can be used to snipe special characters as one of Telions rules allows the own player to allocate wounds - is that Tau Etheral annoying you? Or that Eldar Farseer getting on your nerves? . Another nice special rule is Telion fore go his own shooting attack and lend his ballistic skill 6 to another model in the squad, fancy that krak rocket hitting near enough every time?

For 50 points Telion is a good buy and sure to compliment the unit he is with and can help taking wounds off special characters.

Antaro Chronus

Chronus is a tank upgrade and basically ignores crew stunned and shaken results and gives the tank a ballistic skill of 5. Chronus is 50 points, but that puts a tanks points price up a considerable amount, and thinking about it daemonic possession on the Chaos Space Marine codex is 20 points and ignores crew shaken and stunned results. So for a extra 30 points your getting ballistic skill 5, quite a a expense considering the tank has ballistic skill 4 anyway.

Bad news is if Chronus' tank gets popped he is on foot and cannot join another tank, so you can quite easily disable Chronus and claim another kill point off him.

Chronus seems a bit of a over priced waste to me, I wouldn't both with even if taking a tri-lascannon Predator and having it hit on 2+ sounds good.


Pedro Kantor

A new special character in the Space Marine codex, and unlike many of the Ultramarine characters actually brings something worth while to the table.

Kantor is 175 points and as he is a chapter master has orbital bombardment, has a power fist and a funky AP4 assault 4 storm bolter, perfectly matched for killing Orks.

What Kantor does is brings a lot for your army to the table, but your army will need to be taliored to get the benefits from him. First he replaces combat tactics with the stubborn rule, so your marines will stay around a little bit lnoger, but that isn't a bigger. He also allows Sternguard to count as scoring units (not as troops), this is good as you can have another scoring unit and keep troop slots free, so you have at least 3 scoring units if you take the minimum troops - basically the Sternguard become to force slots for the price of one. The best bonusof all is the Inspiring Presence rule which gives all friendly units within Kantor +1 attacks. Ever thought of a Assault Terminator with lighting claws with 5 attacks on the charge? Nasty stuff. This rule also makes Kantor flexiable as the rule says friendly units, so if you're having a multiple army game it will benefit any player who is on the same side of you.

Kantor is a reasonable priced special character and brings a lot more to the table than some of the over priced Ultramarine characters which don't benefit the army as much.

Darnath Lysander

Lysander is a returning special character from the previous codex, and if my memory is correct one of the only other special characters which isn't a Ultramarine character, along with Shrike.

Lysander is a tough as nails and comes with a S10 thunder hammer which gives +1 on penetration rolls.

Like Kantor, Lysander gives the stubborn special rule to the entire army, which could be of use. While he doesn't offer a huge benefit to the army as whole, Lysander compliments a unit a great deal. His bolter drill special rule allows any failed to hit using storm bolters, heavy bolters, bolters or bolter pistols to be re-rolled. Throw Lysander in with a Terminator unit and he will cause hell, but if needed he can attach to another unit for a turn to make sure the job gets done.

Lysander is a beast in combat, doesn't give much to the army but can benefit the right unit.

Kayvaan Shrike

Like other special characters Shrike's army giving abilities mean the army has to be build around him. All units within the army use fleet special rule, nasty for a very orientated assault force. But to make this work maximum Terminators would be needed, possibly Assault Squads and maybe minimum troops. He also gives the infiltrate special rule to any unit he is attached so, infiltrating Assault Squad could be deadly, if used correctly.

For 195 points Shrike is a ok buy, perhaps could be cheaper. You get rending special rule when using Shrike in combat but thats all Shrike own abilities are. I'd rather have Kantor which is cheaper, and allows another FOC to count as scoring and give extra attacks. Sure fleet would come in useful, but mass assault units are needed to benefit really.

Vulkan He'Stan

One of the new special characters in the codex flying the flag for the Salamanders.

Vulkan, unlike many of the special characters gives a huge benefit to your army. Though, still like others the army needs to be taliored around him. Vulkan allows all multi meltas, meltas, flamers and heavy flamers as twin-linked and thunder hammers to count as master crafted. Now that isn't a huge amount of talioring as who doesn't take melta and thunder hammer terminators are the don anyway.

Throw in that Vulcan has decent wargear himself. He comes with typical Space Marine Captain stats along with a 2+ save, 3+ invulnerable save a heavy flamer and a master crafted relic blade. If you take a normal Captain and give him more or less the same wargear as Vulkan the Captain comes to 175 points. Vulcan is 200 points so for that extra 25 points you can re-roll to hit with melta and flamer weaponary and also thunder hammers, nasty!

Kor'Sarro Khan

Genghis Khan on a bike has arrived!

Khan is basically the same as a Captain and comes with a instant death relic blade. Also, like a Captain if you pop Khan on his fancy Moondraken bike then bikers can be taken as troops and Khan can use the run and fleet special rules.

Khan himself doesn't boast plenty of wargear, but he makes that up with what he can do for the army. Khan allows the entire army to outflank, including transports! Could be a fun army having things appear on the table as and when, but it could mess up any battle plans hoping the luck of the dice will be on your side to bring on the correct unit.


In summary I think Vulcan is the best. For 200 points you get a well geared HQ which brings a lot to the table for your army, after all you're going to most likely have melta weaponary and possibly flamers at least. Throw in thunder hammer terminators which nearly everyone takes and you've got army ready for Vulcan, not Vulcan ready for a army.

Kantor and Kharn come in a joint second. Khan allows the entire army, including transports to outflank, but the downside of this is hoping you get the right reserve rolls and units appearing on the correct side of the table when needed. Kantor boosts untis capibilities mostly, but without any force chart movement allows Sternguard to claim objectives, and everyones loves Sternguard. Though, Kantor himself and the abilities he grants seem more orientated towards fighting against Ork armies - gives extra attacks, special storm bolter etc.

Shrike rolls in at third. Fleet is nasty for Assault Terminators and Assault Squads, but Tactical Squads or Scouts won't benefit as much.

Lysander comes in at forth. He doesn't give a lot to the army and is a unit utility. While a slayer in combat and comes with a mega thunder hammer of death, he costs 200 points and doesn't give much back to the army and not a great deal to the unit itself.

Tigurius arrives in a joined fifth with Telion. He is the ultimate Librarian and allows re-rolls of reserves along with using three psychic powers per turn, so allows you to use that force weapon along with a psychic power. Telion can be great for a unit, but doesn't offer a huge deal besides sniping special characters and that long range bolter shot.

The rest come in last, which in a sort of surprising way are the Ultramarine characters. All of them don't really offer much, or any benefits to the army as a whole and are mostly suped up units, particularly Cassisus. Chronus is useless once his tank is popped, Sicarius gives abilities to one unit which are meh and Calgar is over priced and allows you to pass or fail morale tests, but Space Marines can fail morale tests if they want to anyway.

Ultimately I'm not a special characters man, but Vulcan really gets my attention followed by Pedro. I think what they do for the armies and units around them are worth the points and both come with decent wargear to hold their own in a game. Unlike other special characters, which offer a army ability or a character abilitiy both these guys have it balanced.


If you have any thoughts or comments please let me know.