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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Newbiehammer #2: Picking the right army/ Army overview, part one: Space Marines

Ghevrix here, better late than ever and back from a small hiatus with a brand new post to my fledgeling Warhammer guide for new players, and the subject is one that will effect your gaming experience during your entire time playing this game: Your army.

As I said in my last post, Warhammer 40k has a ton of armies to choose from, each with it's own units and style of play. Since all the armies and their units are so different and have a number of strategies available to them, I'll have to stick to a short overview of the army and their strategies. Some armies have an asterisk (*) next to their name, these denote an army that hasn't had their codex rulebook updated to the latest rulebook. This doesn't necessarily make them worse than the rest. I've seen plenty of killer army lists made from races with outdated rules. That said, they may not take advantage of the rules the in the same way as they used to. Remember the real thing that matters in a choice of army is how much you like it and have fun playing.

Today I'm providing a list and quick description of each army here, as well as starting my slightly more in-depth overviews of the armies after Since there are so many armies, I'm going to break it down over multiple posts.

-Space Marines (Including Blood Angels, Dark Angels*, Space Wolves, Grey Knights and Black Templars,* who have their own books)

-Chaos Space Marines (All the awesome of Space Marines, but a lot more evil)

-Inquisition* (Hunters of aliens, heretics, mutants and traitors against humanity, or anyone they perceive as such)

-Imperial Guard (Standard humans, lots of tanks, artillery and large squads for meat grinder, attrition-style warfare)

-Daemons of Chaos (Hordes of inter-dimensional, bloodthirsty beasts driven to destroy)

-Orks (Pretty much the same Orks you get when you think of fantasy orcs/orks, just in space. And with guns. They use weight of numbers and sheer aggression. Also they pay in knocked-out teeth and believe vehicles painted red go faster. One of the only armies with a sense of humor)

-Tau* (As high-tech an army as you can get. A highly-advanced alien race with laser carbines and battlesuits. For the Gundam lovers out there)

-Tyranids (Slavering, numberless hordes of extra-galactic beasts here to eat your entire planet and all it's neighbors. The least human of all the armies, and the most fang and claw-reliant. That makes them no less hard to kill)

-Eldar (Space elves. Yep. You heard me. The last of a dying race that used to rule the galaxy long before humanity came along. One of the most advanced armies to play, these guys are heavily reliant on inter-unit synergy and extremely mobile skimmer vehicles to win)

-Dark Eldar (Evil Space elves. Pirates and raiders who live in dark, corrupted cities on hidden worlds, leaving only to collect slaves for their twisted pleasures. They fight understandably similar to regular Eldar, using skimmers to cart lethal but fragile troops around the field, however that's pretty much where the similarities end)

-Necrons* (Ancient zombie robots from space is the prevalent theme here. Legions of metallic skeletons making their way inexorably across the field, laying waste to anything they come across. The only army more sturdy and harder to outright kill than Space Marines, since after these things get killed, there's a 50/50 chance they come back from the dead the next turn)

Now for the army overviews. I'll just to Space Marines this time but I may do multiple armies in a single post in the future.

Space Marines

Space Marines, or Adeptus Astartes, as some of the ubernerds will occasionally refer to them as, are the classic posterboys for Warhammer 40,000. Eight foot tall, relentless post-human supersoldiers, genetically and surgically enhanced and armored with humanity's best arms and armor for the express purpose of securing mankind's interstellar empire. These guys are taken in as preteens, enhanced, and heavily trained to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and there is no gum in the grim, dark future of the 41st millenium. No gum anywhere. They're organized into Chapters of 1000 men, each Chapter an army unto itself. It may not seem like much, but a full company of 100 is usually enough to bring an entire planet and it's neighbors into compliance.

Space Marines generally don't field large numbers on the story battlefield, but what they do bring to the table is bigger, stronger, faster, angrier, and a whole lot harder to kill than almost anything else in the story. This is well reflected on the gaming table. A Space Marine army is smaller and more elite than most other races, however the standard troops have the best armor of any unit in an equivalent position in other armies. They can field elite units that can fill a variety of roles, from rapid-moving bike and Assault squads to heavy weapon-toting Devastator squads to stalwart, heavily-armored Terminator squads. In some cases there are special characters who will give the entire army special rules, affecting the entire play style of your force!

Story-wise there are over a thousand Space Marine Chapters, with it's own style of warfare. On the table, there are multiple ways to paint and play these guys. Some prefer to armor up and flood the field with mobile tanks and ground units, others prefer to focus on infantry and bringing weight of fire from protected positions, while in other players still prefer to play aggressively and focus on getting into close combat with their jet pack or Terminator-armored warriors. More often, you'll face hybrid armies that mesh some or all of these different styles of play. Best thing to do is to identify their lynchpin unit, the squad(s) or unit(s) that do the heavy lifting, so to speak for his army, and take it out of the game as efficiently as possible. Normally this will be the leaders or special characters of the army, or a particularly badass close combat unit or vehicle. Whatever it is you'll figure out fast simply by the amount of damage it does, which will be far and away that which their standard units could put out.

Units to watch for:


The cream of the crop, literally the elites of the elites. These guys come in two flavors, the close combat specialist Vanguard and the more tactically-oriented Sternguard. Vanguard are equipped with jetpacks, like a normal Assault squad, but can hit much harder and faster than anything a standard Assault squad can dish out. Sternguard are an entirely different flavor of beast. Instead of relying on close-in fighting, these veterans like to take their foes down at range, using a variety of specialized ammunition that has a much more lethal effect on their targets. The best, most general advice I can give to take on these units is to not engage them in their preferred method. In short, shoot the ones that like to assault, and assault the ones that like to shoot. Vanguard who can't get close can't use their big fancy swords and Sternguard that are stuck in close combat can't use their special ammo.


Basically a Space Marine that proves himself to be a badass among badasses and actually manages to get messed up bad enough, he may be chosen to be put in a Dreadnaught. A Dreadnaught, or just a dread for short, is a two story tall bad day on two legs. Half life-support system half tank, this thing is hard to kill and can be equipped with a huge variety of weapons that can let it fill any role from anti-infantry, anti-vehicle, to one of the heaviest-hitting close combat units available. If you see one of these things in your opponent's army, first thing to do is take a good look at what weapons it has equipped. If it has one or both arms ending in a fist-looking attachment, avoid close combat unless you're sure you can break it open, because if not, it will have a fun time doing the same to you. The second thing you should do is hit it with anti-tank weapons, because standard weapons won't scratch that armor.


Black-armored, skull-faced warriors. These guys are the spiritual guardians of their given Chapter. On the field, these guys are close combat monsters. Usually attached to another unit, Chaplains buff out the entire squad they're in with their special rules. These guys are almost never running around alone. The only chance you'll have to get at him is to whittle down the squad he's in and gang up on him. Flood him with armor save rolls and he'll go down eventually.


Put the idea of the quiet bookworm out of your head, because these guys can cause some commotion. Librarians are psychic warriors who use their abilities to reinforce their already prodigious combat skills. On the table, these guys are wild cards. Each rulebook has a list of available psychic powers that the Librarian can use every turn, which can do anything from directly damage enemies, to reinforce other squads, to warp whole units across the battlefield. You can never really know what to expect from a Librarian until he starts using his powers, but whatever you do, keep your big, scary single-man units away from them, because their close combat weapons can instant-kill anything that it causes a wound to.

-Special Characters
The head honchos of the Space Marines. These guys take no nonsense from anything. Invariably harder than anything else in the army in close combat, and usually have special rules that they can pass on to certain units in the army or even the whole army. These guys are a priority target in almost any case, but there's pretty much no easy way to bring them down.
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Tips for playing Space Marines:

-Don't think your units are impervious
They are famous for being hard to kill and knowing no fear, but they are not impervious, they can and will die. Especially if you get too enamored with their awesomeness and send them out with no support. All 40k armies rely on inter-unit teamwork to win, Space Marines are no different. Using one unit to soften up an enemy unit before sending another in to finish cleaning up is a common tactic.

-Don't be afraid to gang up on units

Seriously. Causing a few wounds to a bunch of enemy squads is a lot less useful than causing a lot of wounds to one or two.

Tips for facing Space Marines

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-Definitely gang up on units
It bears repeating. Doubly so for facing Space Marines. Unless it's below half strength, chances are a given Space Marine squad is a threat in some form or another.

-Watch for elite units

Reread what I said about lynchpin units. If a Space Marine army loses it's focal point it loses the main ability to do damage. Even so, don't underestimate the army, because there may be more than one lynchpin and even if not, Space Marines are still deadly.

-AP3 or higher weapons are your friend

This is for newer players who have at least browsed the rulebook. For those or haven't, AP refers to a stat of weapons that determines how well a weapon bypasses armor. Basically a scale from 6 to 1, the lower the better. AP 3 is enough to get past Space Marine armor. Some good examples are plasma guns, which are AP 2, or an Eldar weapon called a Reaper Launcher, which is AP3. Weapons like these will not give Space Marines the chance to use their armor to protect them from getting damaged or killed.

-Don't dance to his tune

This is pretty much the same advice for facing Veterans: Don't let him play to his strengths as much as possible. If you see a unit made for close combat, shoot the hell out of it. If it has a big, scary gun, tie it up in close combat. Unbalance your opponent and keep him on the back foot, reacting to your moves instead of simply reacting to his and you'll have a lot easier time of beating them.
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This is far from a comprehensive list of the units available to Space Marine players. I may go into the units from the Chapter-specific codices, the Blood Angels, Black Templars, etc., in the future, since these armies play differently enough from generic Space Marines to warrant their own books. However, no matter what Space Marine army you're playing or playing against, these units are always a good idea to pick up to use or, conversely, keep an eye out for on the table. Tune in next week for a breakdown of the Chaos Space Marines and their twisted tools of destruction.

All pics/art are copyright to their artists or owners. All Warhammer 40k stuff is copyright Games Workshop

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  1. That's AMAZING! *__*
    Also I really like that concept art!

  2. wow, this game looks amazing. How much does each piece cost? And do you know if they ship the game to south east asian countries?