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Tactica: Space Marines

Over the recent months I've been doing tactica and analysis for various units in the Space Marine codex. As I have covered quite a lot and majority of the codex I thought I'd compile it all into one tactica guide. The guide will include tactica but will have links to discussions i.e Land Raider Crusader vs Redeemer and links to sample army lists.

This tactica is mainly for the generic Space Marine codex though many of the sections tactica will apply.


The Space Marine codex is choc full of HQ choices. You've got your generic Captain along with Librarian and Chaplain but extra HQ slots have been expanded with the addition of Chapter Master, Command Squad and Honour Guard. Also the HQ section is so big because of all the special characters which are chapter unique and each have benefits for your army acting as a utility, though are better than others.

Now before I start talking about HQ choices I'm going to tell you that I am not going to discuss the special characters. The reasons for this is because this section will be choc full but also some people don't like special characters (myself included) though some of the Space Marine characters are very juicy! However do not frown, here is a link to a Space Marine special character article:  Space Marine special character tactica

Chapter Master & Captain

I'm doing both the Chapter Master and Captain together because they're the same entry. Both have the same wargear options and same profile. The only difference is the points, which the C.M is 25 points more than the Captain and brings orbital bombardment to the table, just except it's not very good. The orbital strike is pretty fearsome but the C.M cannot move if you want to fire it and it's only once per game plus to add salt to the wounds it will scatter full distance - so over all always take a Captain over a C.M because the extra 25 points cost isn't worth it.

Both the Captain and C.M are pretty decent in close combat but that's all they add to the army, except the Captain who can allow bikes to be troops. Although bikes as troops is only handy if you're doing a biker army, other than that neither offer army or unit benefits such as a Librarian for example. You can make both more better in combat by tooling them up with artificer armour which gives a 2+ save and go that little bit extra for a storm shield which gives 3+ invulnerable - you now have a Captain which is like a Terminator but can sweeping advance.

Close combat weapon wise you can take a power sword which I wouldn't take a shield with so you can get that extra attack, but the Captain is S4 so keep that in mind. A power fist maybe S8 but you will strike last which is the same for a thunder hammer. A relic blade cost the same as a thunder hammer and while you don't get the extra attack, which isn't a problem if you have a storm shield you do get S6 and it's still a power weapon. In my opinion the relic blade is probably the best close combat weapon a C.M or Captain can have as it gives +2 strength is a power weapon and you keep your decent initiative.

Other options such as melta bombs, digital weapons, hellfire rounds and aux grenade launcher your mileage may vary on. Both aren't designed to attack tanks and are best against infantry so melta bombs probably aren't much use. Digital weapons may help if you take a power weapon, though with a strong relic blade against majority infantry you'll wound on a 2+ anyway. Hellfire rounds will only work with a bolter and most wargear requires you to drop that or if you do take it you lose the bonus attack. The grenade launcher may have its uses as you could take a relic blade and storm shield and still have a ranged attack.

You can upgrade the power armour to terminator armour but this costs a whooping 40 points though you do get a power weapon and a storm bolter. Personally I'd rather take artificer armour for 15 points and a power weapon which I'd get the bonus attack because of the bolt pistol. You can take additional weapons like lightning claws, thunder hammers and combi weapons with the terminator armour but these do cost a fair bit.

The C.M and Captain can become more mobile with either a jump pack or bike. These are quite expensive though the bike is the best buy giving the extra toughness and allows a Captain to take bikers as troops.

In a nutshell best stick to the Captain as far cheaper, though keep in mind the Captain only adds to close combat and doesn't benefit the army unless taking a bike. If you want something hard hitting and survivable take a relic blade and storm shield. If you want something cheap then a power weapon would do fine.

Honour Guard

You get these guys as a free HQ slot if you take a Chapter Master and like the C.M they're not worth it. For 115 points you get a 3 man unit with 2+ save which are meant for close combat but have no invulnerable saves. These guys cost 35 points per model extra if you want to expand on the unit. Sure they do come with power weapons but without a invulnerable save any elite c.c unit will destroy them, like Terminators, which are actually a better buy.

Command Squad

It appears that the free HQ slot choices which follow the Chapter Master and Captain match there counter-parts. A C.M and Honour Guard are over priced and don't do a lot different while a Captain and Command Squad don't add a lot to the army. The difference though between the C.S and H.G is that the Command Squad is more flexible and isn't one dimensional like the Honour Guard so don't rule them out just yet.

Firstly don't think of making your C.S for close combat. You throw power weapons on the veterans and the squad will cost 175 points and they're still in power armour and lack a invulnerable save. You start throwing on storm shields and it gets silly. You want close combat take Terminators.

Shooting and as a support unit is where their strength it; however other units can do the job better at the end of the day. Adding some combi weapons could be fun or mass plasma pistols be interesting for transport wrecking, remember you have feel no pain in case you fail your armour save from gets hot anyway. Throw them on bikes makes them a fast support unit and good for hunting vehicles with combi weapons, but this makes them costly and once again it's something else another unit can do for a much cheaper points cost.

Chaplain & Librarian

I've done a discussion in the past about Chaplain and Librarian. Instead of typing it all again here is the link: Chaplain vs Librarian discussion .

In a nutshell I'd rather take the Librarian. The nullzone psychic power is a much bigger benefit then the Chaplain's re-roll to hit. Other units within the army can make use of the nullzone power, though of course it affects other armies better than others. While the Chaplains re-roll to wound is nice if you get stuck in close combat the Chaplain just becomes another body.

Master of the Forge

The MotF is a army utility HQ choice which plays with the force organisation chart. While the MotF isn't the best HQ choice profile wise it's the benefits which he brings to the table. What you can do with the MotF is take a Dreadnought heavy army, as the Master allows you to take Dreadnoughts as heavy support - that's 6 in your army in total, nasty. Another benefit is that one piece of terrain can be fortified which gives a +1 cover save, so 3+ cover isn't bad.

The MotF isn't the strongest HQ and doesn't have many toys but he does have one; a conversion beamer. As this is a heavy weapon pop the MotF on a bike for that increased toughness so he sticks around longer but also can move and shoot the heavy weapon as bikes have the relentless special rule. Throw in a Captain which can take bikes as troops along with Dreadnoughts in elite and heavy support slots makes a nasty list, here is one I wrote sometime ago: Dreadnoughts & Bikes with a hint of Drop Pods List


Tactical Squads

I did some tactica for Tactical squads and also a discussion on weapon load outs. They can be found below:

Tactical Squad tactica

Tactical Squad weapon discussion


Scouts are cheap and cheerful and I always have a soft spot for them. In this codex they have taken a bit in the weapon and ballistic skill department, though to be fair they're trainees so not going to shoot or fight as good as a battle brother.

Scouts come with a bucket of special rule which makes them versatile for a number of situations. They get infilitrate and scout which firstly gives them the outflank special rule, particularly useful if they're in a Land Speeder Storm. While you cannot infilitrate in a vehicle it can allow you to get closer to the enemy but as Scouts aren't the toughest and weapons in there armoury don't exactly need to be up close there might not be much benefit to this. Only benefit would be to use a teleporter homer but you're still hoping those Scouts are around by turn 2 and after for the homer to be used.

Best bet is as mentioned above; outflank in a Storm or use the scout special rule to zoom ahead for a free movement. Depending on what wargear you take this can benefit you greatly allowing a first turn alpha strike or a sneaky outflank attack.

You can trade the standard boltgun in for either of three things; shotgun, combat blade or sniper rifle all which can be useful. Shotguns are assault 2 and have a 12" range so do the most damage in the same range as a bolter (strangely the Imperial Guard ones are S3?) you could blast away and then assault hoping to tie up a unit for a turn; the Scouts acting as a speed bump. However the shotguns lack AP so even a Ork will get a armour save, although it is 6+ ;) . If you're thinking of assaulting Scouts however I'd take the combat blade which gives you the +1 attack. Drop them out a Storm and send them packing; however 5 Scouts in combat may not last long. Sniper rifles can come in useful against monstrous creatures but you do need 4+ to hit and to wound and lacking a AP targets will get a save. Boltguns are probably the best all rounder.

Something you could do is give the Scouts sniper rifles and camo cloaks; the cloaks gives the stealth special rule. Add in Telion if you wish along side a missile launcher and you've got a nice unit which can blast away at tough targets and with Telions BS upgrade the launcher will hit on a 2+ instead of a 4+. This can also be useful for anti troop though if the frag blast misses Telions BS will come in handy here also, though not as much as a straight shot.


A Drop Pod tactica and discussion for Razorback vs Rhino can be found below:

Drop Pod tactica

Rhino VS Razorback discussion


As most of the elite units are point and click I'm just going to talk about them briefly. They all have one dimensional roles (mostly) and do one job and it's pretty obivous what to do with them.

Firstly though, here is a link to Dreadnought tactica which covers all Dreadnoughts: Dreadnought tactica

Terminators & Assault Terminators

Terminators are the tough cookies of the Space Marine world bringing standard Space Marine profile with a 2+ armour save and a invulnerable save. And they can deep strike.

The standard Terminators are a bit "old fashioned" now and you don't see them as much as you used to. As Terminators are a assault unit they really should be in a transport to get those power fists into range, however as they have storm bolters deep striking them wouldn't be too bad because they have ranged defense but if you do that 1. Make sure you take a teleporter homer and 2. Be prepared for everything to shoot at them.

Because standard Terminators are more viable to deep strike they have some decent wargear selections when are ideal choices. The heavy flamer and assault cannon both don't have massive ranges; the heavy flamer can soften units up before assaulting and the assault cannon boost the units ranged shooting. I wouldn't take a cyclone because it has a 48" range but Terminators will either be in close range or in a transport where it won't fire all too often.

Deep strike as mentioned is a problem as the squad has to stand and take it next turn. Every lascannon will be aiming at those Terminators which will bypass the 2+ armour save and force the 5+ invulnerable save; which is old hat these days. Don't expect to roll many of those or have a lot of Terminators left standing.

This is why Assault Terminators are now more viable. Terminators need a transport to get into the fight and as Assault Terminators have no ranged weapons they're not being wasted sitting couped up in a Land Raider. Deep striking as mentioned isn't good and definately is a no-no with Assault Terminators. The best thing about Assault Terminators is they can swap lighting claws for thunder hammer and storm shield which gives the S8 attack like a power fist but also brings a 3+ invulnerable save which now makes the Terminators a whole lot more survivable.

So if taking standard Terminators deep striking is probably the best bet so you can do ranged shooting, but expect to receive a torrent of fire next turn from any tactical player. Assault Terminators roll up in a Land Raider, if you think about it the L.R has assault vehicle rule so you can jump out and assault. So the Land Raiders moves 12" the Terminators bail out 2" and then have a 6" assault move which is a total of 20" assault move. Now just think if Shrike was in the army which gives all units fleet!

In a nutshell Assault Terminators are better because deep striking isn't that good for Terminators, however they need a Land Raider which adds a 250 points price tag on at least.


I can't stay much for Sternguard as they're a point and click unit. Bringing the special ammo to the table makes them excellent anti infanty. They've got AP3 rounds for power armour, long range rounds, rounds which don't allow cover and rounds which wound on a 2+. This guys just have it all.

Best thing to do with these guys is pop them in a Rhino and send them on there way firing from the hatch. You could give the Rhino dual storm bolters to add to the anti troop of the entire unit.

Combi weapons are very useful on Sternguard I honestly wouldn't replace any of the bolters because you lose the special ammo; which is what you're paying for. Sure they're one shot but come in handy. I'd probably take combi melta more than anything as the Sternguard have rounds which ignore cover already and have enough fire power to give hordes a good thrashing. Plasma is handy, but AP3 rounds wreck power armour and getting close to a monstrous creature to deliver full pain or even get out the Rhino to unleash full squad power might not go according to plan. Just keep Sternguard as anti troop unit; combi meltas are useful for popping tanks if required.


I don't think a Techmarine is that useful anymore; not even in a mech list. There just seems to be more better choices and need ones in the codex. Perhaps I am not looking at the big picture?

The Techmarine can repair vehicles but it's only on a 5+ to not a great roll. Also the Techmarine must be in bass contact with the damage vehicle which means putting the Techmarine at risk. You could give a bike which means him tougher but one bike will die easily and needs support which in turn leads to more bikes and less mech units which is the whole point in taking the Techmarine - to get the vehicles working again.

In combat the Techmarine gets a extra power fist attack thanks to the servo arm or harness but that's about it. He has another attack in the profile and can take a thunder hammer or power weapon but the Techmarine isn't a combat monster.

The only true benefit from a Techmarine is to bolster defences like a Master of the Forge but for 50 points and taking a valuable elite slot I don't think is worth it or viable.

Legion of the Damned

Ok let me look at this. Space Marines with slow & purposeful, deep strike and a 3+ invulnerable save. I'm not really sure what these guys are meant to do. When they deep strike they'll be subject to torrent fire and will die 3+ invulnerable or not and without a transport they cannot get any where thanks to S&P.

Honestly I am not sure the point in these. They don't add anything to army and don't do anything funky or have a particular role. They're just deep striking Space Marines with a 3+ invulnerable save.

Fast Attack

Land Speeder tactica including Land Speeder Storm can be found here: Land Speeder tactica

Assault Squad

Tactical Space Marines with jump packs which means these guys can assault 18" which is good considering what they do is a clue in their name. However they don't seem to be that brilliant at assaulting.

Firstly is Space Marines aren't brilliant in combat, though these get a extra attack because of the ccw and pistol. But they lack punch from power weapons (which only the sgt can bring) so they can only tackle lowly infantry like Guardsmen and Eldar. Tougher infantry like Chaos Space Marines won't be too fussed about them and a real assault unit say, Genestealers for example will make a meal out of them.

It's always best to take Assault Squads in pairs the reason is because they get blown out the sky easily so you have two units for multiple threat and unit redundancy. If you do this you'll find that instead of that single unit been blown to pieces then perhaps either both units will arrive fairly intact or one will suffer the brunt of the fire power. You can hide them behind a transport however, but torrent of fire will still get them and if you hide them behind a Land Raider which will more than likely block LOS altogether it will let them survive longer but have no point as more than likely Terminators are inside which cost cheaper and do a better assault job.

Wargear take some flamers a template weapon which can move 12" and then blast away is cool. Taking plasma pistols is ok as you can tackle transports and then assault the survivors. On a sgt a power fist is useful in case of vehicles, walkers and tough monstrous creatures etc which will be sent to counter a Assault Squad. Don't take a combat shield as even for 5 points this is a waste - 6+invulnerable lol put the wounds on the Assault squad rather risking losing the sgt, or better yet get a storm shield you have enough bolt pistols which aren't exactly the pinnacle of shooting anyway.

Vanguard - while Vanguard are a different unit entry they're same as a Assault Squad. These guys I cannot much about as they're essential Assault Marines which cost more and don't come with jump packs! You have to pay extra for them! These can be custom built but they cost a damn lot and the only benefit they have is they can assault after deep striking. If you just take a basic squad of 10 Vanguard with jump packs its costing 325 points which is about 100 points more than a standard full man Assault Squad and all you get is a extra attack and the mentioned special rule.

Honestly, IMO, don't. They're only mediocre at combat like Assault Marines so either stick with A.M or go Assault Terminators.


I thought I'd cover the three biker units here and they're pretty much the same.

Firstly the Bike Squad costs 90 points for 3 men and then 25 points for every one extra. For a Space Marine which moves 12" has relentless and increase in toughness this isn't a bad buy. If you think a full squad of 9 including a attack bike costs 255 points which isn't too bad.
Bikers can do a variety of roles. You can equip them for high speed tank busting and because you can take two special weapons that means dual melta death. Throw in a multi melta and perhaps a power fist just in case or even a combi melta and you've got a very fearsome high speed tank hunting unit. Because the Biker Squad can move quickly the gap between tanks will soon close and be in melta range.

You can also take them for anti infantry and throw them into combat as that extra toughness boost will make sure they survive. Again the dual special weapons is a benefit and should always be taken in pairs if and where possible. People do say about combat squading the bikers, take a mix of Attack Bike and special weapons giving you two particular role units.
The Attack Bike is like a normal bike except it can carry a heavy weapon and bikes being relentless is a huge bonus. Taking a multi melta makes this a fearsome tank hunter, perhaps take 3 of these and you've got a good tank hunting unit for 150 points or a anti infantry unit with heavy bolters for 120 points. Add in that the Attack Bike gets 2 wounds as well as being T5 and these are difficult to put down.

With all Biker Squads decide what role you want to do with them and then turbo boost them towards the target. They will get a 3+ cover save (but remember cannot go through terrain) and with the high toughness should survive very well. Moving 24" will definately get them in tank or infantry busting range. The bonus of combat squading them as mentioned early is you can make each squad for a particular role, so tag team the two combat squads together and get one to bust a transport and them with the anti infantry part of the combat squad destroy the survivors - rinse and repeat!

Scout bikers have a slightly different role to normal Biker Squads. The extra toughness certainly helps them making it harder to wound so you don't need to worry about that 4+ armour save; especially when turbo boosting gives you a 3+ save. Unlike Biker Squads there roles can limited, they come with shotguns which are good for anti infantry dishing out some serious punishment (though are AP-) and can add grenade launchers to give them more punch.

Scouts are best taking a teleporter homer and then turbo boosting ahead so you can use that teleporter homer next turn to deep strike those units in. Because they can move quickly you can reposition them to get your deep striking units in exactly where you need them and plug the gaps. And, like normal Scouts they won't get shot up so much and don't need a Land Speeder Storm which is a brittle transport and has limited carrying numbers.

Heavy Support

Devastator Squad

Devastators don't seem to cut the must any more as there are more attractive options in the Space Marine codex. What brings Devastators down is they're like normal Space Marines and can die as such, this means for every heavy weapon you really should take a bodybag. Working on that basis a squad of 9 Space Marines all with missile launchers would cost 214 points which is a fair whack of points. But don't rule them out just yet...

To make the Devastators slightly last that bit longer combat squad a full squad taking two heavy weapons in each squad. You still keep the same amount of fire power but just now giving two targets. Sometimes 4 missile launchers aren't needed to do the job for example. Also this will still give you bodybags for the heavy weapons.

Another trick is keep them low cost and give them a Rhino or even a Razorback. Take a minimum size unit with multi meltas in either a Rhino. Roll up and pop a tank and only two can fire out the hatch anyway - though two should be enough. The Razorback will give the Devs some armour transport but best thing to do is pop the Devastators in cover and just use the Razorback as a supporting fire pillbox, adding a lascannon on it will will work out cheaper than a full unit of Devs and just be as troublesome.

As for sgt don't bother upgrading wargear. Just use the sgt as another bodybag (though signum can be useful) anything like a power fist is a waste because these guys shouldn't be in combat if you can help it, and if anything does deep strike close by then let them have it!

Thunderfire Cannon

There isn't much to say about the Thunderfire except its obviously for anti infantry and for 100 points is pretty cheap. Not only does this sucker fire loads of blast templates in various forms but also comes with a Techmarine. The Techmarine can bolster defences like before, which can be useful as because the Thunderfire is artillery this means it's armour 10 and can be destroyed by any glancing or penetrating hit.

So using the bolster defences pop the Thunderfire in cover and bolster the defence giving it a nice 3+ cover save. Or be sneaky and place the Thunderfire so it can draw LOS and place the Techmarine in cover, after all they form, a unit and 50% of the unit must be in cover to grant a cover save. You can then use the 3+ cover bonus else where if you want.

You can take a Drop Pod for a Thunderfire but it's not worth it as the cannon has a 60" range for every shot. If you want to do things like that then pop a deathwind on the Drop Pod for some large blast nastyness!

Land Raider

I've covered Land Raiders in the past which can be found below along with a discussion on Crusaders vs Redeemers.

Land Raider tactica

Land Raider Crusader vs Redeemer

Predator, Whirlwind & Vindicator

I thought I'd cover the last of the heavy support choices all under one heading as they're pretty simple.

The Predator comes in two forms either a "dakka" Predator which is autocannon and heavy bolters or the "tri-las" which is twin-linked lascannon and lascannons. The latter is very expensive at around 160 points; it's the twin-linked turret which makes this points up. All in all I don't think it's worth it because Space Marines don't always need twin-linked and the Predators weakness is its side armour, which is 11. This makes the Predator easy to ouflank and attack the weak rear and side armour and because it sports lascannon death it paints a big bullseye on its hull - all in all I wouldn't bother with this. The cost is too expensive.

The dakka Predator is a nice cheap anti troop tank which costs 85 points. It can deliver a high volume of shots which decimates weak troops and hordes. For 10 points I would throw on a storm bolter this enables you to fire a second weapon (storm bolter is S4 so defensive weapon) if you move 6" which doesn't exactly make up for the loss for firing two weapons but at least you can bring more fire power.

Some do like to mix and match weapons. Really I say this is a no-no as often they do not suit. Firstly heavy bolters are anti troop and light vehicle but that is even at a push, with a lascannon which is anti tank they just do not suit. The other switch is lascannon sponsons and autocannon which maybe more feasible but you at monstrous creatures and the lascannons score wounds and autocannon will probably be saved or against hordes you just haven't got the fire power or against vehicles the S7 autocannon still struggles even against armour 11 the autocannon needs a 5+ to penetrate while a lascannon needs a 3+, a significant difference.

The Whirlwind can be a handy little tank against hordes but that's all its good for. It fires two large blasts which are barrage, so you can hide it away which is very useful considering it is not exactly super strong. One blast is heavy bolter profile and the other blast is bolter profile which allows no cover saves. Neither are massively threatening to majority armies and only the weaker units will feel the pain; pretty much everything else will laugh it off.

The Vindicator excels at both anti infantry and anti tank. Sure you can scatter off a vehicle but that is the same with troops and it is S10 so you get 2D6 for busting armour. Sure it's not AP1 but who cares? S10 2D6 armour pen and pick the highest, going to scare most armour out there and put the shakes in some Land Raider owners.

These tanks are weak having Rhino side and rear armour so always make sure you have them protected and always take them in pairs. Vindicators are highly destructive when they hit and are always a prime target.

If you're going to take any upgrades a storm bolter, perhaps. As it's ordnance it cannot fire any other weapons so a hunter killer for example will be wasted as you should be firing the demolisher cannon. The point in taking the storm bolter is if you suffer weapon destroyed then the cannon will obivously picked but taking a storm bolter adds some minor threat, if anything. Better than a empty tank driving around tank shocking units all the time! A siege shield is only useful if you're unlucky with terrain tests or play with a lot of terrain.

Well, I think that is about it. If you have any comments or suggestions hit me up!