Codex: Space Marines, 5th Edition
Today I had some free time and I was bored so I decided to head up to Games Workshop and take a look at the new Space Marine codex. I must say my jaw dropped when I first saw it, the sheer size of the thing is awe-inspiring when you compare it to any of the books that have come before. It is packed with background material, both old and new, and loads of beautiful pictures. Some of them people will recognise from the 4th Edition book and some of them are from many many years ago. Then there’s the new ones, which don’t look half bad. New characters, new weapon types, and new options for old troops, I can’t think of a single one at the moment that won’t be worth trying out, even if they later turn out to be worthless.
As for me personally, I was quite intrigued by the new rules for Kayvaan Shrike and I will probably end up doing the Raven Guard as my next army. In order to make it as fluffy (background friendly) as possible, I have to keep the following things in mind:
– The Raven Guard are a highly mobile strike force that prefer to employ covert tactics over direct engagements, only using the frontal assault when there is no other option.
– They favour rapid-reaction forces that move at high speed – this means jump pack-equipped troops, bikes, and footsoldiers in transports of some kind, as well as scouts that are able to act independently.
– If Shrike is used, the Chapter Tactics rule supersedes the Combat Tactics rule, thus making my options different but not necessarily restricting them.
Based on recommendations from a good friend of mine, I’ve decided to try out a few different troop types that were not in use during my days with the Blood Angels. The first is Scouts, whom the Raven Guard make good use of. Considering that they will be able to take cameleoline cloaks and given the new rules for cover in 5th Edition, they become fantastically survivable, with the only major issues facing them being massed small arms fire and flamer weapons. I do quite like this idea as it will force my opponent to devote significant resources to dislodging one unit that continues to be a thorn in their side. That said, the reduction of Scouts’ shooting effectiveness is a significant blow to this strategy but I think that their newfound “resilience” is reasonable compensation. With any luck I should be able to bring at least two units to bear against a single target at any given time.
The second element of my army that I will be using much more of is Drop Pods, especially with the release of the official Drop Pod model with the first or second wave of new releases once the codex comes out. These will contain Tactical Marines, Dreadnoughts, and Sternguard Veterans, a new addition to the Space Marine arsenal, and be prepared to deploy whenever the Scouts make contact with the enemy in order to lend additional fire support. When combined with Shrike’s Combat Tactics, the power-armoured troops should have full control of the board and be able to attack or defend from any angle, given their unprecedented mobility at cost.
Finally, to hunt down and mop up isolated units that just happen to escape either my roving bands of Scouts or heavy drop pod assault, I will be making good use of a classic staple in my Space Marine armies: Assault Marines. The key difference between how they are used in my Blood Angels list and how they are used in a Raven Guard list will be a matter of target priority. In the Blood Angels army, you have Assault Marines as Troops choices and so they can be used as a rapid take and hold force while simultaneously chopping things up in close combat on the side. However, I always found that the Assault Marines in my Blood Angels were used more in a holding or distraction role with the Death Company running rampant through my enemy’s lines and causing most of the destruction. As a friend of mine so aptly put it, they have the same effect on the opponent’s army as a sawn-off shotgun would have on the opponent himself. In contrast, with the Raven Guard army, the jump pack troops do not have the same offensive power and are not best used in a head-on attack. I imagine them as my ace in the hole, a reserve that will be deadly if and when it is unleashed, especially with a captain in the lead, and overall they play a more reactionary role.
These will be the core of my force and when I feel like it, or have tested my army to find the holes in my strategy, I can add some of the more exotic choices, which seem more and more appealing the more I read the book. I’d be interested, for example, to try a unit of Vanguard Veterans and see how their Heroic Intervention rule affects my planning, knowing that I can pop up and neutralise one unit of my enemy’s units at any time. Perhaps I will try including a few heavy vehicles, even if it doesn’t usually fit with the Raven Guard combat ethos. The Master of the Forge with a Conversion Beamer or a Librarian with some of those juicy new psychic powers? The possibilities…