The Ultramarines are Back! Some Thoughts on Codex Space Marines for 9th Edition.
What follows is a combination of conversations covering my involvement and history with Ultramarines, and some quick takes on the new Codex units.
It took some time, but they are finally back in my possession. For some context, let me say I have painted and sold a ton of armies in my time, and yes there are some regrets along the way. I only paint armies I truly love and enjoy playing so parting with any of them is difficult.
In this case however, it was the 3rd or 4th Ultramarines army I had painted and sold. (I honestly can’t remember anymore!) I know the first large (pre Primaris) Ultramarines collection I had was sold to MiniWargaming.com as they wanted a big collection for their video Battle Reports. Most of the Battle reports you see there featuring Ultramarines are painted by me (pre-primaris).
The next one I sold (I believe number 2) Ultramarines army I painted and sold was pure Primaris, and I had just won a GamesWorkshop painting competition with them. I will be honest I felt I could do a bit better job and sold that entire army with Guilliman painted as well.
Finally we get to this army. As someone who loves Ultramarines, I was never looking to sell this army until I received a message from someone who really wanted them. He was willing to pay for them, then I would ship them. It was the only way I was willing to part with the army.
Fast forward a few months and I really missed them. I started my Eldar in the meantime, but I was getting fatigued at painting these 2.000-5,000 point armies and just missed the boys in blue.
Well since this is starting to get long, let me skip to the good part; it just so happens one day the purchaser of the army is wanting to sell them back because he had been transferred to a different country. I know he could have sold them for more money, and he generously said he wanted me to have them back and so I bought them back! (The only caveat being he would keep Guilliman.)
Finally to the fun part… pictures. I managed to mix in my new Indomitus models into this picture which captures -most- of the collection.
I really was anxious to field them in whole again as I had started painting them from scratch again, but I have to be honest, since the release of Space Marines Codex 9th edition, they absolutely crippled some units like the above pictured Repulsor Executioner. Why GW? You know we will buy the Gladiator tanks without you having to take this unit down so hard!
As I write this, there is a good argument for Eradicators being one of the best units for the points for Marine players to field. I would argue that First Born bikers, with Multi-Melta attack bikers thrown in are very potent. Let’s not forget the Multi-Melta Dev squad in Drop Pod. A very hard unit to defend against. At least I did get 3 Eradicators finished in time.
Speaking of nerfs, the Aggressors were certainly turned down a notch, but still remain a good toolbox of damage. I have played with them since they got clipped by GW, and they still feel (for better or worse) like a very integral part of my Ultramarines lists.
Flamers or Boltstorm? That is the debate. Some still like the Boltstorm, but I don’t believe that is how I will play them as my games with the now 12″ flamers have been very good. Keep in mind we are advancing and shooting with Auto-hits. This is more powerful than ever since 1) the table top is smaller in 9th, and 2) the Chapter Master/Captain Aura has been taken down a notch!
This means by using Flamer gauntlets, you are hitting 100% of the time, as opposed to using your Chapter Master re-roll aura to re-roll all of the “to-hit” rolls. (This leaves you to use the Chapter Master aura to other units.) So it’s like having 2 Chapter Master aura’s per turn in a way. Further to that, the ability of Ultramarines to involve multiple squads in overwatch, makes this auto-hitting 12″ flamer squad extremely potent in defensive situations.
Note that arguably the big winner in the picture above is the Apothecary. I think Ultramarines are strong benefactors of heavy infantry lists, and the Apothecary (with the minor points upgrade) becomes a lynchpin to any core of Infantry. I never leave home without him in my Ultramarines.
Taken into account the nerf to Chapter Master Aura’s and the fact Marneus Calgar has been processed through the rubicon and come out the other side as a “Gravis” wearing Primaris, you have to question if he is worth it. I would not blame anyone playing hyper-competitively for not using him anymore. As I write this he is awkward to transport, has less of a mega-aura, his offensive output was ironically not helped, but he retains his halving of incoming damage. I use him because… he is Calgar. ‘Nuff said.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s great value in the Indomitus Bladeguard Captain, and I’ve used him several times in some competitive games and he’s probably point for point, the better value. I’m just a sucker for the iconic characters in 40K!
So a minor nerf to the Master of Prescience ability means only a “Core” unit can benefit from the -1 to hit ability. In the past this was something I always put on a Repulsor/Executioner, etc. Now I’m using it on clusters of elite units when appropriate. The change makes sense, and still makes Tigurius worth taking. But wait, there’s more…! The new Psychic Fortress power from Librarius Discipline is a Blessing (Aura) giving ‘friendly’ units within 6″ a 5+ invulnerable save! NOTE: this is not a “Core” related ability.
There are times where a 5+ invuln will feel utterly useless, then there are those games where you save a ton of models with the buff. I just had a game where I had 1 turn where it saved something, but subsequent 2 turns of not making a single roll.
I thin the fact this ability sits well with Tigurius makes it worth taking all the time since he can only cast 2 powers but “know” 3. Don’t forget in 9th your powers have to be taken in the muster phase. IE: prior to knowing your opponent match up.
NOTE: As good as Psychic Fortress is, it is worth noting that Null Zone is really nasty for all players involved! Every unit within 6″ of the caster loses their Invulnerable Save. This makes Bladeguard (or even anything with a stormshield better because you’re still getting +1 to your save even while losing the 4+ invulnerable. Note 2: An interesting secondary effect of Null Zone is opposition Psykers within 6″ halve the amount of Psychic tests they can take.
As a side story, I have used the new Null Zone in a situation that was pretty hairy… a larger squad of Necron Wraiths (3++) charged into me. They cut down a lot of Aggressors, and of course in return the Aggressors did only 1 kill. It was Tigurius’ casting of Null Zone next turn that easily changed the tide. (At the time we played this my opponent was not comfortable with new Necron rules, and used the 3++ invuln). It’s worth noting that if it isn’t obvious, Psychic Fortress and Null Zone are in direct opposition of each other. This is why having 3 “known” powers is key here. This frees up Tigurius’ 3rd power as something that compliments Smite, or another utility ability like Might of Heroes (which is limited to Core and Characters.)
At the risk of this blog entry getting too long, I am going to wait until I have the -other- new units in hand, and playtested before posting observations. I’m never a fan of theory hammer, and prefer to try and test all options myself. But before I sign off on the review portion of the codex…..
Final Quick Takes (this does not include the more detailed review of units covered above):
- Centurions: Big losers here. NO CORE… possibly the only infantry to not get that keyword, and yet they lose bolter discipline!
- Repulsor Exectioner: Another big loser. I sense this comes from the need to sell Gladiator chassis’. The shooting is turned down far too much, and the Repulsor special rules are either gone, or require a Stategem to use.
- Repulsor: Not as bad as the Executioner, but fairly debatable at its current point cost.
- Impulsor: (Seeing a trend here?) All existing models of the “repulsor chassis” have been notably turned down, but in this case the highly coveted 4++ Dome Save is reduced to 5++. Yes a minor point decrease has been made, but this unit is far less valuable since there are other ways of protecting your infantry now and it never could hold Gravis anyway.
- First Born: Big winners. Anyone complaining previous to this release about first born should be really happy. One shining example of this is Bikers. In certain builds, they actually should out produce Outriders (especially while Outriders have such an limited build.)
- First Born Weapons: Just when you thought it was safe to get rid of Plasma Cannons, Multimelta’s, and Heavy Bolters these items are definitely worth keeping in your lists.
- Grav Weapons: Massive losers. GW loves swinging things from ultra-good to ultra-bad. Historically I’ve always been miffed at GW’s seeming logic on handling such problems. Kill the Gravatic Amplification Strat? Sure. Kill the weapon as well? Ugh. Kill one of the best units that carry it (Centurions)? This is the tri-fecta mega whammy of that weapon. (While boosting everything around them.)
- Dreadnoughts: Big winners. They get the built in strat to reduce incoming damage by 1, and they get the Core keyword. Yes! An iconic unit in 40K which punishes its finest warriors by trapping them in a fridge with arms becomes a great choice!
- Terminators: Yes, they fall in the first born categories, but still worth mentioning with such great mixed weapon abilities, enhancements to claws, and still with Deep Strike ability. That 3rd wound alone puts them in ‘winner’ category.
So what’s next?
As I close this out, I want to end this post with my next big project: Painting my 3rd Guilliman! He must be done, and he’s somewhat controversial right now.
It is a fact that Guilliman has been turned down, in almost every iteration of his rules. He has become expensive, and the introduction of the “Core” rule set means in fact he does, by virtue of a nerf to Chapter Masters, become a bit better option.
I haven’t played him in 9th but most competitive players seem to be writing him off as a non-competitive option. Personally, he’s a great character, and I love the Games Worksop background setting for him and will be painting him shortly. (Hopefully with batreps to come!)
Until next time.