Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of a Space Marine Player in 6th Edition

I've been playing Space Marines for about as long as I've been playing 40k (around 15 years if you want to know).  Throughout all those long years wasting my hard earned money I've played all flavor of Marines; from the over-zealous Black Templars to the emo rocker Blood Angels.  Throughout the 4th and 5th edition Space Marines enjoyed a fairly consistent power level ranging from mid to top tier tournament placings.  Sure they got lots of flak from the online community for having a better than average stat level and getting the lion's share of GW attention and why not?  Space Marines are essentially the bread winning member of the household and are about as iconic to Warhammer 40k as you can get.  Honestly, if I read one more asshole on BOLS comment about a Space Marine release with 'SPEZ MARINZ' I would shit my pants.  And not in a good way!

Having become tired of the repetitive nature of the 5th edition tournament scene (Space Wolves or Grey Knights for the win? Yes) I had taken a break towards the end of it's life cycle.  After learning that the 6th edition was coming out and the promise of endless army composition and combinations due to the ally system, I took my marines out of the closet and prepared for battle.  At first, things didn't change much.  My Space Marines were holding steady and in many ways seemed to have gotten better with the changes to 6th edition.  Their rapid firing bolters gained range and their basic troop's abilities to take and hold objectives was game winning in an objective dominated game system. I was happy.  Then the sky darkened.....

I looked up into the air and beheld the fall of an empire.  A beast which breathed fires hot enough to melt through power armor like a hot knife through dog shit.  Cover could not protect me.  I tried to be sneaky and run behind the great behemoth as it flew overhead, but was dismayed to learn that it could also breath the fire out of its asshole.  Whole squads of my beloved Space Marines where annihilated by the hellfire of the Helldrake.  Chaos Space Marines were released and the Emperor wept.  With no viable way to shoot it down, I turned to twin linked weapons with the hope that THEY may fell this foul beast.  It worked. That is, until they decided to take 3.....

My beloved Astartes were reinforced by the valiant Dark Angels.  Surely GW would give us some tool to fell these great Dragon Turky beasts (which were soon joined by flying Croissant-like things) and we would no longer rely on our puny Imperial Guard allies.  This was not to be.  We received Flakk missiles that cost 25 points and were strength 7.  You could certainly take 4 of them in a Devastator Squad, but that would just ensure the Hell Drake knew which unit to fry first.

When Chaos Demons were released I truly learned how weak the Space Marines were in combat.  It took the Demon players about 10 seconds to learn that multiple large units of fast moving rending units would make mince meat out of Space Marine units twice their point cost.  My Assault Marines gather dust.  The basic Herald could annihilate an entire squad themselves.  The only defense against the initiative 6 rending machines was to hold in cover and take the charge, hopefully killing a couple of them before they get into you turn 2-3.  Flying units laugh at our unreliable anti-air abilities.

The Tau Empire got a much needed release and the 40k community learned what it is to play a shooting game without any cover saves.  The plethora of high strength plasma and missile shots ensure that our 3+ cover save is obsolete.  Even the basic strength 5 pulse rifle wounds our hardy Space Marines on a roll of a 3.  Yes, you get an armor save but how many 1s and 2s will you roll on 12-15 dice?  Want to deep strike those Terminators?  Army wide interceptor will ensure that you'll lose 220-260 points in no time!

The sneaky Eldar were next.  Army wide rending once again makes our armor save obsolete.  Eldar special move run shoot rule makes sure you'll be outmaneuvered and shot to pieces in short order.  Surprise surprise, Eldar have a plethora of cover ignoring weaponry.

So where are we now as Space Marine players?  It's certainly not any easy road to the top tournament tables at the moment.  The plethora of high strength low AP weapons is exasperating as is the increasing amount of cover ignoring weaponry.  We DO have some good things going for us at the moment. The great thing about the Dark Angels 6th edition codex is that we see the point costs for future Space Marine units.  Surprise surprise, the things that I list below as being GOOD mostly happen to be the things that got cheaper.

  • Land Speeder Typhoon Squadrons.  Especially near a psycher that can Prescience them to gain Twin-Linked.  These guys are now auto include for me and the amount of damage (especially twin linked) that they can put out is staggering.
  • Librarians.  These are a great primary or secondary HQ, especially for their abilities in buffing your other units.
  • Whirlwinds.  Barrage weapons have gotten really good in 6th edition and the once 'useless' Whirlwind is now a much feared unit for the Space Marines.
  • Thunder Hammer Storm Shield Terminators remain to be boss.  The Invulnerable 3+ save goes a LONG way in the Strength 7 AP 2 ignore cover world of 6th edition.  Blood Angels can get Feel No Pain to make them even more survivable.
  • Bikes.  Toughness 5 fast moving units are nothing to sneeze at.  Unfortunately the Helldrake will kill an entire unit fairly quickly.  Dark Angels is really the way to run them since they can be scoring, but Blood Angels can get Feel No Pain.  
  • Null Zone still rocks face.  Oh, please re-roll those invulnerable saves Demons.
  • Thunderfire Cannons.  Again, taking away cover saves is pretty rad in 6th edition.  Put THEM on the receiving end for once.
So, what do you guys think?  Can Space Marines (and their variants) survive 6th edition tournaments without allies?  What are some other great units to take?

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