Thursday, 12 September 2013

Mind the Gap (Space Marine Allies)


The new Space Marine book is out, and while it’s definitely an improvement, time will tell if the new lists people are coming up with are enough to make a Pure Space Marine army competitive.

Perfect for filling multiple Gaps ?

However one of the biggest things that they bring to the meta are perfect allies.  Space Marines seem to have good units in every slot, and have units that are good at particular aspects of the game, eg. tough troops, flyers, anti-air, anti-tank etc.  Not only that but there is normaly multiple units across different force organisation slots that can perform the same task (eg, Stalker in Heavy Support & Storm Talon in Fast Attack).  This makes them very good for filling the gaps in other armies.  This is magnified by Chapter Tactics which allows you to pick the Chapter tactics which benefits the gap you are trying to fill.

Lets take a look at my armies; both Space Wolves and Tau can ally with Space Marines as Battle Brothers.  One of the big weaknesses of Space Wolves is their anti air.  Now the Space Marines can bring some brilliant anti air in the form of either a Stalker or a Hunter, plus a Storm Talon.  When combined with a Quad gun it gives a Space Wolves chance to compete against multiple flyers a bit easier.

No more huddled in cover from flyers at the end of the game for Wolves ?

Space Marines bring some nice firepower when used with the Imperial Fists Chapter Tactic, which allows shots with Bolter Weapons (excluding Sternguard special ammo) to reroll 1’s to hit and give Devastators and Centurion Devastators Tank Hunters.  For 144 points you can have 6 Devastators with 4 Missile Launchers, which should contribute 2 HPs against Wave Serpents (before cover saves) a turn.  Now this is not quite  as good as MissileSides or Deathrains (dual missile crisis suits), but is good if you gave run out of Heavy Support slots, as Hammerheads, Skyrays & Riptides all compete for the same slots as Broadsides and Deathrains.  It also allows you to spread your long range anti tank across another unit, making it harder for the enemy to eliminate all of your long range anti tank quickly.

Tau lack an in your face distraction unit that will distract the enemy from advancing towards the Tau.  Basic marines in a drop pod, can be a great distraction that doesn't break the bank.  A full tactical squad with Heavy Bolter, Flamer and Combi-flamer in a Pod is only 200 pts, and if played right can be a thorn that is hard to get rid of that demands the enemies attention.  In some games the distraction and the damage they can do coming down turn 1 can win the game there and then, by giving the Tau elements the extra breathing space they need to decimate the enemy.

Another unit to distract and get in the face of the enemy fast is Space Marine bikes, which got cheaper, access to multiple Grav weapons (which are great on relentless platforms) and can still be made troops.  Again picking the right Chapter Tactics (in this case White Scars) can make these allies even better at their job.

Normally Chapter Tactics will make some of a pure marine army better (sometimes the majority of the list if it is built well, but that risks making the list unbalanced), however when picking only a few units to plug a gap you can choose units which will all benefit from the Chapter Tactics you are picking, as you are not picking a balanced Take All Comers force, but only units to fill a specific requirement.

Overall Space Marines add a lot to the game, before you even consider the new units (eg. my Riptides will target Devastator Centurions with Grav Cannons with extreme and excessive prejudice !!).  Whether they can really affect the top armies will take a bit of time to see.  The next tournament I am going to will be allowing the new codex, so it will be interesting to see the effect they have.

How do you think Marines will change the meta ?  Are you tempted to use them as allies ?  Do they add enough as allies to take points away from the main detachment (and in the case of Tau using the excellent Farsight Enclaves supplement) ?


PS. It’s been a while since my last post, but I’m hoping that after my hiatus things will get back to a more regular posting schedule.  Upcoming post will include:
How my Space Wolves from my last post (here) got on, and my learnings
How my Dark Eldar have got on over the year, including a one-day tournament win
My experiences facing Eldar and in particular the Wraithknight & Wave Serpents
And finally my Tau, which I am busy expanding so they can attend their first tournament in a couple of years.  As a tease my list has no rail weapons, no pathfinders, no plasma and no gun or shield drones (all stables in my previous lists).


  1. I really hate the Allies system. GW really just threw up the white flag on balance between the armies with the answer just buy more models.

    Anyway, looks to me like for your anti air you would want to use Iron Hands and use the techmarine to bolster some defenses and repair your anti air as well as making them a little more survivable.

    For the Tau maybe ravenguard with shrike plus some jumps infiltrating and then a tac squad with a rhino or razorback scouting or outflanking.

  2. I think GW has been moving away from making 40k completely balanced for some time, they seem to look down on tournament gamers wanting balance accross the codexes. However allies does put some of the older codex on a better footing by allowing them to fill any glaring tactical gaps in the codex with allies.

    I haven't used allies yet, but I'm tempted to add some to my Space Wolves.

    Your tip on Iron Hands is a good one. I like the idea of a the HQ slot techmarine, instead of the libby I was thinking off because bolster defenses is indeed very good, and I think a conversion beamer would be good sitting back with devs (or mobile on a bike). I'm not sure the better repair rolls are that good, since I've started this blog in all the casual and tournament games I've played in and seen I've never seen a sucessful repair. Granted I haven't seen many tech marines on the board that weren't on thunderfire cannons, but normally a vehicle is just killed rather than left half dead if a techmarine is nearby.

    Having an assault threat in a Tau army is a good idea, but I would probably scale down you suggestion (isn't it about 550 pts), as I'm worried about how much it would take away from the main Tau army, however it's an excellent idea to try out to find the amount of allies that is effective that I'm also still happy spending the points on.




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