Four guys who want to win at painting... AT ALL COSTS!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

6th Edition Space Marine Tactica


... or How to Have Almost Every Advantage!

If you follow the blog, you'll know I'm more of a hobbyist than a gamer. I don't do a lot of gaming-related articles. Still, my Space Marine Tacticas, incomplete as they were, are some of our most highly read posts. And not that I'm doing this just to generate site traffic, but it sure don't hurt! Kidding. I've actually had this rattling around in my head for a while, so I figured I should put it on paper.


It all started with a post I did on out local forums, trying to help out a fellow team member for the league. Read it after the break:
Now this post was designed specifically for this guy's 1250 escalation list, but a lot of the principles apply to ANY Space Marine army. So let me post up some new, you could call them revised thoughts on 6th edition Marines, which I honestly believe are a truly under-rated, potent army. Sure, they don't have all the bells and whistles of a Blood Angels or Grey Knight army, but I know local guys that lean on the 'tricks' of those two armies so much that they basically don't know how to play the game at all, and just play their special rules. Sad, sad, sad...

So what would I add to the advice below? You'll see that in red in the actual entry.



"Here are your tactical points: (or, the TEN COMMANDMENTS OF SPACE MARINES!!!1!!one!!!)

1. The Chapter Master is there to fire the defense line, so make sure it is in your deployment zone. NEVER put it out in the middle. Any turn he's running to it, he's not shooting with it. Plus it has a 48" range, it doesn't need to be closer. That just gets it killed faster. Here's the fun part. If the enemy outflanks or comes in from reserve, you get a free shot at that unit. You can't fire THE GUN in the next turn. That's the time to drop your Orbital Bombardment. So you are only gaining an extra round of shooting, and losing nothing. This is true for ANY HQ. Make sure they have a back-up weapon, or psychic power, they can throw out if your enemy brings on reserves. My honest opinion is that the Aegis Defense Line is hands-down on of the best investments ANY army can make. It not only handles fliers, but also takes pot-shots at any reserve units in range, and can still fire at regular troops. For that 100 points, it's three times as good as a similarly-equipped Dreadnought, and the Dread costs more. It's a steal for it's price. Another trick with it would be to combat squad a Devastator Squad. First squad is the 4 heavy weapons, the second 4 guys and the signum sergeant manning the quad-autocannon. The signum sergeant then boosts a regular guy's BS and it's like getting 2 more autocannons (twin-linked and hitting on 2's, no less) in your Devastator squad. CRAZY GOOD.



2. Combat squad all the Tactical squads. Run the flamer and Sergeant up to an objective and park them, keep the Lascannon and the other 4 at the back (likely behind the defense line) to pick off targets. Again, take advantage of that 48" range. And a Lascannon is 25 points cheaper if you take it in a tactical squad as opposed to a Devastator squad. PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT combat squad if you are doing the 'Purge the Alien' mission. You're just giving away free kill points. Marines aren't hard to kill, don't believe what you've read in the novels. They aren't that much tougher than an Eldar Guardian (I'm speaking metaphorically). Really, there is NO reason not to combat squad in every game except Purge the Alien now. Even if you run those combat squads side-by-side and treat them like a single unit, it still forces your opponent to choose who he's hitting, giving a form of 'cover' to half your squad. And with the new ruling of combat squadding an embarked unit AFTER they deploy at the beginning of the game, it's so much goodness it blows my mind! If I hadn't used every Rhino chassis I own on my Space Wolves, I'd Rhino up every Marine squad in a heartbeat. Unless I had drop pods. Drop pod are AMAZING now. They don't come with the down-side of 'Free First Blood point' like a Rhino does, and with the super-lax new reserve rules, it's not very hard to get your whole army on the board by second turn.



3. Combat Squad your Devastator marines, but keep them together. Keep them far back (again, maybe behind the line, or in area terrain). Fire the first 2 missile launchers, if they fail to take down their target (and the first one fired should ALWAYS be the unit with the Signum Sergeant), then fire the other 2 at the same target to bring it down. If it goes down with the first 2, you've freed up 2 shots. But always plan to have all 4 Missiles firing at the same target. Trust in failure, so you are never let down by a lack of success. That may sound all emo, but it's really just hedging your bets and maximizing your chance of winning. PLEASE NOTE: As above, DO NOT combat squad during 'Purge the Alien', same reasons as above. I touched on this in point 1.



4. Use your Terminators to tie up scary things (deathstar units, those uber-expensive characters that everyone wants to take), deep strike them right beside (preferably in the path of whatever they are going after), fire everything, make them a nuisance, and hopefully a kill priority. If they ignore the Terminators, run after the unit and charge it next turn. They aren't there to win a combat. They are there to hold up something scary while the rest of your army does the heavy lifting of killing everything else he has. Terminators are better than ever now. Less things bypass that 2+ armor save. Which is great, but it doesn't make them invincible. Not even close. Statistically speaking, a terminator NOT in close combat is still going to die at the same rate as he was before, since ranged weapons didn't change at all. Only things like power weapons did. So they aren't actually that much better than they were before outside of combat. But don't tell anyone that. Most people are still convinced a 2+ armor save is the same thing as being unstoppable. My terminators were drawing so much fire-power it was crazy. I went through 2 games where they were basically the only units being shot at, and my Tactical ran around DOMINATING the field, with no reprisals. Never under-estimate the power of fear. Psychology is a very potent weapon in this game.




5. Speaking of uber-characters, you are wasting A TON of points on your chapter master. Storm Shield is not worth it. 15 points to go from a 4+ invulnerable to a 3+ is a waste. Digital Weapons is a giant waste. The Grenade launcher even moreso. The points you save by keeping him cheap buy almost an entire third Tactical squad. Boys before toys. This is one I can't stress enough. My local scene is FLOODED with special characters. Half the time I wondering if I'm not playing Warmachine. There are a grand total of three players at our club that don't use special characters. Everyone else jumps right in. I actually faced a Guard/Grey Knight army with three special characters a couple of weeks ago (Coteaz, Pask and Yarrick... it doesn't even make sense why they'd be there together, let alone being almost half the guy's army ). Holy Crap! I could have bought 3 Tactical squads for the points wasted on special characters. Don't take them, they are a crutch. Learn how to play your army without them, then once you are confident in how to use your army, add them in ONCE IN A WHILE to mix things up. There's a guy at our club who is an amazing player, but leads his Ultramarine army with Lysander ("it's fit's my chapter master's fluff better"... LAME). He could still win without him, but seriously gets Lysander to do 3/4ths of the work. CRUTCH. That said, Lysander is point for point for best character in the game, and can basically beat anything. But paint your damn Marines Yellow if you're going to take him. C'mon...



6. As I said to you on Wednesday, ALWAYS choose to fail your morale tests (unless you are really close to the board edge). You get to back up, and they have to move farther to assault you. Despite the fluff, Marines don't want to be in combat. They want to use their fantastic, incredibly well-priced ranged weapons to rip a squad apart, then mop up the remains ONLY if it makes more sense (ie. it stops them from charging you, and you outnumber them). In assaults, you lose nothing by falling back, and gain everything if you mange to get away. EXCEPTION: Do not fall back when the other guy's turn is next. That means he'll get to charge you again. Fall back only when your turn is coming next so you can escape, regroup, move again, and maximize you rapid fire while increasing his assault distance. Let me clarify: Always fall back when shot at. Only fall back when your turn is coming next. Otherwise stick in. Also don't fall back if you're within 10" of your table edge. Any other time it's a no-brainer. It keeps you safe and let's you use your guns, which are the true strength of Marines.



7. Chainsword and Bolt Pistol (or any other combination for that matter) is a waste on Sergeants. ALWAYS give them bolters. A bolter has 2 shots (attacks if you will) at 12" that ignores 6+ and 5+ armor. It also always hits on 3+ no matter what. A close combat attack (the 'extra' one you get for 2 assault weapons) hit on a 4+, and always gets a save against. Always accept challenges with your sergeant, EXCEPT when the challenger is by himself. You deny his (usually) super-killy character a chance to eat your squad, increasing the chance the unit survives. Yeah, your Sergeant in a Tactical squad should just be another squad member who can speed bump killy things in challenges. I know some people talk about power sword and melta-bombs being a more efficient choice than a power fist, but the most efficient choice is don't bother. Don't put your Marines in combat unless you absolutely have to. Or there's no way you can lose. They are always more dangerous with their bolters than with a combat knife. Let your Sarge soak up a challenging Warboss's attacks while the rest of your unit works down the mob he's with. With a power sword you're wounding that Warboss on 5's and have to get through 4 wounds, which you don't have enough attacks to do. Just let him take the hit and save the points for more marines. You can thank me later.



8. DO NOT EVER charge you Chapter Master into Combat. EVER. PERIOD. Keep him behind the defense line and keep him alive. Deny your opponent the Slay the Warlord secondary objective. If your opponent deep strikes something nasty near him, throw those tactical squads into them to tie them up. By that point in the game, they should have done their job anyways, which is to use the Lascannon to take out the big scaries. Aside from Lysander, there isn't a single HQ choice that should be in combat in the Marine list. EVERY other combat-oriented HQ out there is better than you. So you're just giving away a victory point. Don't do it. Just don't. The way to win is to make sure you get more victory points than the other guy. You can't do that if he gets those secondary objective. Deny, deny, deny...




9. Your target priority should always be, in the following order: Large blast tanks (especially anything AP3 or better), Transports, anything going after your objective-sitting Tactical Squads, and scoring units. Once those criteria are met, shoot at whatever you like. NEVER be tricked into firing at a deathstar, or some 'fearsome' unit, like Wallshammer's Rokkit Buggy. Never let emotion play the game for you. Keep a cool head and prioritize your targets. I'll share my secret. I put one big scary thing in every list I make. And 75%+ of the time, my opponent is so busy crapping his pants over that one unit, he doesn't realize until it's too late that the rest of my army has dismantled him. Feed Deathstars cheap units to keep them busy, or avoid them the whole game. This is another benefit to combat squadding. Sure you lose 5 bolters, but you stop that death star unit from eating your HQ, or something important. Treat your Tacticals like the cheap, disposable bolters that they are. The novels make it sound like one Marine should be able to dismantle an entire Ork horde by himself. On the table, that model isn't a space marine. It's a bolter with an armor save. Never confuse the two.


10. Never fight fair. You don't throw 200 points against his 200 points, throw 200 points, then another 150, then another 100, however much it takes to get rid of that 200 points. Focus fire and get rid of targets. Don't spread out your shots if you don't absolutely have to. Again, prioritize what has to die. 40k is not a game of tabling your opponent. Play smarter than that. If there is no reason to shoot at something (like a Rhino in a non-Purge-The-Alien' game), then don't bother. Get rid of threats and scoring units first. Don't get goaded into giving away units "For the Emperrah!" Fight with what needs to be fought, ignore the rest. If you need to move off an objective to get at a pesky grot unit, it's not worth it. If you need to force that Grot unit off an objective, it's worth it. Never throw away models (or units) unless you stand to gain something from it. Let his stuff live if it's not threatening you. Another one I can't emphasize enough. You see something that needs to die, you shoot it until it dies. If you miss your first couple of shots, don't give up and move on. That's the stupid part of your brain that wants immediate gratification. Stick in there, take that target out, and make the back half of the fight easier. Never go for the short gain. You more often than not lose the long gain because of it.

Holy crap, writing that out makes me want to play my Marines."



There you have it, folks. My new words to live by for Marines. I'd playing my Marines right now if I hadn't have put all that time and effort into the Space Wolves. I honestly think that regular Marines are far more flexible and efficient than Grey hunters, no matter what the internet tells you. Now get out there and prove it to the internet! For the Emperrah!

Once again, I take no credit at all for the pictures used in the article.  Funny story though.  When I went to google image search space marines for some pictures, a bunch of them came up from this site... craziness!  And I don't know why all of the pictures are stuck to the left margin.  The formatting just went psycho today.  Ah, computers...

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