New 8th Edition Space Marines have Landed: We’re Feeling out the Strange, New Meta!

Excuse me it’s been a while since I did a battle report but I soon discovered with the new codex that… there’s a lot to discover! In this article I will share some of my early findings (positives and negatives) while sprinkling in some various shots of games (not just my own.)

One of the various Ultramarine lists that feature more marines (troops) than ever before. A welcome change to the codex!

I’ve been playing a lot of games whenever possible and doing a lot of experimentation. There’s a lot of small things that make this codex better, stronger, and more flexible than ever before. And while it does rustle my Chaos feathers of change quite a bit, I have to admit this codex appears fairly flexible. The “duds” of old are harder to find, and there’s more ways to play your marines than ever before.

Fire up those modems boys! It’s time to update that codex and start kicking some Xenos butt again!

During my own experimentation I’ve been feeling out the local meta, and touching base with friends abroad. The bottom line is it’s still early and we’re all feeling things out. Some units and strategies that used to be mandatory, simply aren’t anymore. Some strategies that simply did not work seem plausible, and the same goes for some units you wouldn’t be caught dead using before this new 8th edition codex dropped.

A different mechanized Ork army takes on an Imperial Fists successor.

Above: A very fun, basic army list construction that just liked to throw a lot of bolt type weapons at you just became notably better. (Imperial Fists Bolt shots explode on 6’s on top of Combat Tactics for some added punch.)

A lot of people are finding their very basic lists got a boost. You can afford to be a bit more thematic without completely getting pummeled. Some times we get wrapped up in what’s going on in the ‘competitive scene’. I think we forget that the core of Warhammer 40K rests firmly in the grasps of people who love thematic games, and army lists. This type of playstyle got a huge, must needed boost.

And while this is true, it’s also true that old stand by, competitive units just got better. Since Chapter Traits and Combat Tactics extend to all units with the appropriate key words, the multi (or single) Forgeworld Dreadnought lists are extremely potent. So don’t expect Leviathans, or Deredeo’s to go anywhere soon. In fact with the new rules and strategems, they got strong boost. (It does make you wonder if Games Workshop is thinking of swinging the ol’ nerf bat at Forgeworld units. This could really hurt competitive Chaos which leans heavily on a lot of those units).

I experiences games with new rules on old Leviathans that became better than any time I can think of in 8th edition. More surivivable, and potent. But the entire codex is still slightly better across the board. I don’t believe at this point Forgeworld is mandatory.

“Blood Ravens” vs. Eldar Airshow! The boogeymen are still out there!

Above: An Astraeus Super Heavy tank based Blood Raven’s army desperately needed first turn to have a chance vs this Eldar Airshow list.

As improved as the codex is, the top contenders may not be dethroned just yet. Old standby’s like the Eldar Airshow above are still very potent (especially in ITC format). If you don’t build, specifically for this type of juggernaut, you may be packing your army up very quickly. (The game above was ultimately over on the top of turn 1.)

But the exact opposite is also true: Genestealer Cult is something I always found to be a difficult match up with my Marines of any kind. Same with Orks. Recently the games have been decidedly lopsided in my favour and I’m at a loss for why.

Calgar deploys a large denial footprint that gives genestealer cult a difficult decision.

Above: The new codex promotes more bodies. “Functional” bodies. This means a larger footprint, and the immediate ability to threaten with all the Infiltration and Drop Pod type mechanics coming back into play. Genestealer Cult had a little more difficulty getting in to the meat of the Ultramarines.

Many of the changes are subtle, but extend to the whole army list. The Combat Doctrines don’t really seem that huge on first glance, but it’s the multiplicative effect they have combined with the much improved Strategems, and unit options.

Speaking of units…. how about double firing Thunderfires, or Whirlwinds? (As of this writing that would include an extra round of shooting out of the Scorpius “Whirlwind” as well!). How long has it been since you pulled out a Typhoon Land Speeder? How about Drop Pods?

So it’s not just about the new (Primaris) Marines. These changes may bring a lot of old, dusty models off of your shelf and back on the table. The idea of an old school, aggressive, alpha strike Marine army is very plausible again. Drop Pods add a sense of previous editions we haven’t seen in a while. At 65 points Drop Pods open a lot of doors. (No pun intended).

I smite Thee Muscle Beach!

Then there’s the characters themselves. Sure Guilliman got knocked down considerably, but most of the community (myself included) would agree it had to happen. He just made it too difficult to balance a codex when his secondary To Wound rolls multiplied the effectiveness of the simple Heavy Bolter too much. Now he’s reasonable, and perhaps maybe not going to see very much competitive play at all. Time will tell.

Meanwhile characters are so much better. Shock Assault alone made some units MUCH better. Why do you think Thunder Hammers went up so much in cost? How about a simple Death Guard Flail now? (3 attacks for each base attack). Character To Hit Aura’s got much better by ignoring the ‘pre modified’ rule. (Why didn’t they change exploding plasma though? It’s such a groaner to know your plasma guy died just because he rolled a ‘2’ to hit an airplane. Insert eye roll here.)

Pull us out of your bitz bin! We are MUCH more killy now!

The Good and the Bad.

What all of this means is we may be looking at a meta change up for a good 2-3 months. We know if history tells us anything there’s a very strong chance when the Xenos are revisited they will become kings of 40K again. But for now, just perhaps, Marines will have a real shot at it… and without soup.

For the meantime it seems we are still figuring it all out and it’s going to be a fun time to be a marine player…at least for a while. So enjoy it!


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