Marine Manefesto

By High Marshal Jim

My very first Warhammer 40K game pitted my newly-painted tyranids against a marine army. Knowing very little about the rules, I simply charged his dreadnought with my strength 3 termegants and ran my genestealers blindly across the field. Needless to say, it was brutal. The one happy moment in the game for me was when I charged his land raider with my Hive Tyrant, blew it up in the first turn, then made a meal of the terminators it carried. However, my respect for and fear of Space Marines was seeded and would only grow with each game I played.

After filling my tyranid force out to 1500 points and playing a few more matches to get the hang of the game, I decided it was time for a second army. Although Master Hive Tyrant Gary has proved time and time again tyranids are a force to be reckoned with, I did not enjoy playing with them. So, until the codex release, I put my ’nids on the shelf and set to the task of picking my next army. After much debate, and many codex purchases, I decided only the rock-hard, fanatically-loyal, superhuman Space Marines would do.

Many people questioned why I would start a marine army even though so many others already played marines. I started my space marine army because they have it all. They have access to awesome weaponry, tough power armor, tanks, skimmers, dreadnoughts, infiltrators, wargear, assassins, you name it! They are versatile and even your basic tactical marine is a tough nut to crack. A ballistic skill of 4 and 3+ save were a welcome relief to my poorly-armored, BS 3 tyranids.

Picking which chapter was simple. I wanted a straight marine force, not one with special rules, and the Black Templar looked the meanest. Black power armor with white shoulder pads and the bold iron cross, nasssssty. I decided to use a fair amount of red as accent color too, especially on elite figures and units. My decision made, I prepared my wife for the coming painting frenzy, and began.

Force Organization
Many players see “vanilla” marine chapters as weak. The reason is many marine players have a poor mix of troops and do not use their points wisely. It has taken me a good amount of time to determine my favorite mix of units. I own almost three thousand points of Black Templars and so can field a wide variety of troops based on the opponent’s army in a 1500-point game. To follow are some general and some very specific theories on how a marine army should be set up.

Small Squads
I would rather field more five-man tactical squads than half that number of ten-man squads any day. The reason is simple, more heavy weapons. My tactical squads are the heart of my army and I never play with fewer than four five-man squads. Each squad has a heavy weapon and plasma gun. Heavy weapons are cheapest when given to tactical squads, and the additional members soak up casualties before the heavy weapon and assault weapon marines fall. Don’t go through too much trouble hiding your tactical squads. Be concerned with field of fire more than cover, but if you can have both, great! Keep your tactical squads as far from an assault-based enemy as possible, right on the table edge even, and just whittle the enemy down as it approaches. Remember small units of Marines do not have to worry as much about morale like other armies, which brings me to my next point...

And They Shall Know No Fear
Ah, a marine player’s best friend. This rule guarantees marines will rally, regardless of casualties. That is an incredibly powerful advantage. Just watch out for those crossfires (another good reason to set up on the table edge) and your opponent will have to kill every last marine before that heavy weapon stops firing. I run. I rally. Next turn I fire the heavy bolter (or missile launcher or lascannon). Last man standing test, I pass, I fire the heavy bolter... Now the enemy will have to devote an entire squad of firepower to kill that one pesky heavy weapon marine while the rest of my army continues its barrage!

More is better
I am a big advocate of giving the enemy more targets than he knows what to do with. Rather than high-point cost units, field more cheaper units. I see many players try desperately to preserve their big, expensive, elite units. Hiding them at the cost of impacting their firepower and tactical position on the board. You’re a marine, man, act like it. So the enemy took out two of my tactical squads in one turn. That’s ok, I have three more, not to mention my landspeeders, razorbacks, whirlwinds, HQ... And if they don’t kill every marine in the squad, the last two to go down will be armed with a heavy weapon and plasma gun!

Heavy Duty
For my heavies I always take tanks of one sort or another. Against opponents with armor of 4 or less, nothing says I love you like a pair of well-hidden whirlwinds. Works great against open-topped and/or poorly-armored vehicles too! Against well-armored opponents or those who rely on tank-like transports to deliver deadly assault troops, I trade in my pair of whirlwinds for a predator with three lascannons (turret is twin-linked). Sometimes the predator pays for itself just by the amount of enemy firepower it draws. With a front armor of 13, it usually takes a licking and keeps on ticking. If anything draws more fire than a predator it is a vindicator. Boy does that strength 10 ordnance blast scare the pants off most opponents! I personally prefer the 48 inch-ranged triple lascannons over the 24 inch-ranged demolisher cannon in most situations, however.

Devastator squads are far too expensive for my philosophy. As soon as the unit starts taking casualties you start losing heavy weapons which cost double what they would cost in a tactical squad. If you beef up the unit with extra marines who don’t have heavy weapons (so you can remove them first as casualties) and screen them with other troops, you may do well with them, but give me a tank or two over a 5 man squad any day (150 points for TWO whirlwinds vs. 155 for five devastators, 4 with missile launchers).

Death Comes on Swift Wings
For me, there is only one fast attack choice, landspeeders. I have heard many complain about how fragile they are. That may be true, but for 50 points, a vehicle with a heavy bolter which can move 12” and fire, secure table quarters, cause crossfire, only suffers glancing hits, and can generally wreck havoc is awesome! I field up to five depending on who I play. There is only one variant on the landspeeder which makes sense to me and that is the tornado. I am not yet convinced it is worth the extra 25 points for a heavy flamer, but the psychological effect of roasting a unit of snipers hiding in the trees is too good to pass up. Like all my vehicles, I “pin” my weapon variants on, not glue them, so I can field speeders with or without heavy flamers. Multi-meltas on landspeeders or tornadoes are a good option if you are fighting lots of vehicles, but I prefer to target troops with the heavy bolters instead.

Assault troops with jump packs have also acquitted themselves well in aggressive marine armies I have played against, but are too expensive to fit into my tactical philosophy. After all, two assault troopers gets me another landspeeder! Bikes are a waste of points. Essentially 35-point marines that can rapid fire their bolters even of they move. The toughness of 5 helps them survive, but only a little. Far too vulnerable for the cost. Attack bikes are better because of their 2+ save, but again, too many points for my philosophy and still vulnerable to lascannons and the like. If you use bikes, use them wisely as mobile support and do not just charge them headlong into battle. Then again if you are going to do that, might as well use landspeeders. Landspeeders do not break, have an armor rating, ignore terrain, can move up to 24'' to accomplish mission objectives, and if they get assaulted, the opponent needs 6’s to hit!

Even with all this firepower you will just be a sitting duck if you do not include some units that can pack a punch in hand-to-hand. Most of my points are tied up in shooty units, so I usually use a counter charge tactic with just a few hard-ass units (see part II of the Marine Manifesto: Tactics, coming soon). These are my HQ and elite choices. My HQ usually consist of two command squads of five, one led by a chaplain the other a commander with a power weapon. Each squad usually has two flamers, a tech marine with a combi-flamer, and a veteran sergeant. Each one is mounted in a razorback, with turret weapons appropriate to the enemy army (ie lascannons and plasma guns for heavily armored and vehicle-heavy armies and heavy bolters for lots of low-armored troops and light vehicles).

For my elite choice I use a dreadnought. While I sometimes question their value (they always seem to blow up) they are very flexible, and usually draw a lot of enemy firepower before they go boom. The twin-linked autocannon option makes them decent at long-range tank busting, and the heavy flamer and dreadnought close combat weapon make them a nightmare to most troops in hand-to-hand. Against dark eldar I would use two of these behemoths to tie up those strength 3, pesky wyches. If used in a coordinated assault with my two HQ squads, the blow I deliver can be devastating! Six flamers, six bolters, two heavy flamers, two twin-linked autocannons, then the assault...splat!

While we are on the subject of charging, the topic of troop transports should be addressed. Razorbacks are an awesome bargain. They provide your assault-driven HQ units with a safe place to hide until the enemy gets close enough to pounce on, all the while providing long-ranged, twin-linked support in the way of heavy bolters, lascannons and/or plasma guns. All for just under 100 points with upgrades, what a bargain! True, Rhinos can carry ten instead of six marines and cost less, but lack the serious firepower a razorback provides. I always take extra armor and smoke launcher upgrades. This way if I get hit with a “can’t move, can’t shoot”, I have the option of firing my smoke launchers (penetrating counts as glancing) and can still move and disembark my nasty HQs into assault (thanks to extra armor). And for a single point, all my vehicles (except landspeeders) have searchlights for the dreaded Night Fight.

Scout it Out
I sometimes field a small unit of scouts depending on my opponent. Against high-toughness wraithlords, wraithguard, talos, etc. sniper rifles are “crack”. True, they still get their save, but for 18 points, the fact that you can actually do some damage to a wraithlord is sweet (I would field two or more sniper squads against eldar if I had the models). The extra 12'' range over bolters also comes in handy sometimes. I usually hide my scouts behind a few layers of tactical squads or they are the first to be targeted by those crafty eldar players. I have seen several players use scouts as cheap assault troops and seen it work quite well (a nod to Wilson).However, I put the bulk of my points in tactical squads where heavy weapons are cheaper and I get that 3+ save. Remember, heavy flamers make BBQ of scouts, even if they are hiding in the woods.

Keep it Cheap
On a final note, I would say my philosophy can be summed up in three words “keep it cheap”. Standard marines are hard dudes, so before you go adding upgrades, wargear and the like, think carefully if it will really be worth the return. If you can get another one or two marines instead, it better be. And as for assassins and terminators, they can be very deadly, but why tie up so many points in one figure or squad? Keep it cheap and you can field more units than your enemy can deal with.

Created by: ZiggyQubert. Last Modification: Sunday 25 of January, 2009 12:54:31 PM EST by ZiggyQubert.

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