With the updating of the Tau and Necron Codices, Codex: Space Marines is now counted among the three oldest Codex’s left in the game, behind only Black Templar and Eldar. While it is still a competitive army, it is certainly starting to show its age compared to codices such as Grey Knights, Necrons, or even the older Space Wolves codex. How do I approach building my army list with an older Codex and still remain competitive? Read on!
Codex: Space Marines is a generalized army, it always have been. C:SM cannot outshoot armies such as Imperial Guard and Tau, it cannot out-assault armies such as Space Wolves and Daemons, and it doesn’t have the numbers like Orks and certain Tyranid armies. What C:SM does have is a range of solid units that are “ok” at just about everything with one or two that specialize in either shooting or assault (but still not great compared to dedicated units from other armies). Additionally it also has two of the best special rules (in my humble opinion) in the game; And They Shall Know No Fear & Combat Tactics.
What I have learned playing Space Marines since the release of 6th edition (and even in the twilight of 5th) is that you cannot spam two or three units and expect an easy game. Typically every game will be an uphill battle. When building my army list I always try to envision every unit I select having a specific role, and there must be balance between assault and shooting.
For example, with my Tactical Squads I run one as a dedicated anti-armor unit with a Powerfist, Combi-Melta, Melta, Multi-Melta. The second is dedicated to killing MEQ with a Power Axe, Combi-Plasma, Plasma, and Plasma Cannon. If I run a third Tactical squad I’ll typically use a Combi-Flamer, Flamer, and Missile Launcher for hordes. These three units, costing 600 points total, gives me coverage for three specific types of enemies I will encounter while at the same time providing me with 3 (potentially 6) solid scoring units. Additionally Tactical Marines aren't GREAT in assault but will still put hurt on the foot troops of non MEQ armies.
My local gaming scene typically plays 1850pt army lists, so I now have 1250 points left over to use. Obviously my HQ is first up and lately I’ve been having a lot of fun running a Librarian with terminator armor and storm shield. Rolling on Biomancy this guy can become a beast in close combat (I have him modeled with a Force Stave so S6 AP4 concussive) if I get Iron Arm or he can be supportive to another unit if I get endurance.
Another “auto include” for me is the Thunderfire Cannon. I have ALWAYS used it in my lists since it first came out, but with the artillery rule changes in 6th edition it became that much better. The amount of damage it can deal to enemy units (even MEQ if you get numerous hits on a clumped up unit with S6 shot) is a steal for 100 points, plus the “bolster defenses” that comes with the Techmarine is just too good to pass up.
I’m now at 840 points and have a solid HQ choice, 3 solid troops, and heavy support. Well, 6th Edition herald in the age of flyers and I have already constructed two Storm Talons with Twin-linked Lascannons. I use the Lascannons because I’d rather have that one S9 shot going after a A12 Storm Raven or Heldrake than two S8 or three S7. Call me crazy but I’ll choose the Lascannon every time. Two of these add an additional 310 points to my list.
The rest of the army is really a tossup. I’ve been known to run ten assault terminators with six TH/SS and four LC’s on foot for fun. Not only do they cause a fear factor to most opponents, they are something you HAVE to deal with. Therefore my enemy is shooting at the terminators and leaving the rest of my army unmolested (for the most part) or they are allowing a Deathstar to get to their lines.
I’ll not babble on in my list making process, but I’d like to hear what other C:SM players do when they are creating their armies!