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Space Marine H.Q. Tactics

An army needs a leader, and the H.Q. choice is where they are found. Remember that you leader cannot win the battle on his own. Give him plenty of support with normal troops.

Leaders work best when they are leading from slightly behind the first rank of troops. This is where their leadership, weapon skill, and ballistic skill advantage is most effective.

Space Marine Hero Tactics

Warhammer 40000 Space Marine Hero

Heroes are veteran solders that have proven their skill through many campaigns. The points value of the different grades of Hero accurately reflects their usefulness. By that I mean that there are no bargain Hero's that are a 'must have'.

You do not have to buy a special figure as your Space Marine H.Q. Heroes can look just like any other Marine, Just paint markings on him so that you can spot him in the army.

The Codex does not say what the Hero's come with as standard. It is presumed that they come with Power Armour and no weapons. Also the Codex does not say that the Hero has to have any Wargear. I believe this to mean that if you are happy for him running around the battle field unarmed, you can. Doing this does not make any sense, your Hero will be much more effective if you give him the tools for the job. The pros and cons of each weapon has been detailed in the Armoury section.

Getting the tools for the job brings up a new question, what job do you want your Hero to accomplish? If you have followed by suggestion from the General Strategy General Advice, you will have a basic strategy outline for each scenario, and from this you will know what role you want your H.Q. to take. If you have not not done this, then now is a good time to do it.

Hero's can be an Independent Character OR have a Command Squad. I will discuss the pros and cons of this in the General Strategy chapters. Details on the Space Marine Command Squad can be found bellow.

Space Marine Leader

A Leader has the same stats line as a Veteran Sergeant. He can be an independent character or have a command squad, and he can have stuff from the Armoury, in the same way as all the Space Marine Heroes can.

The advantage that a Leader has over the other Space Marine Heroes is that at 30 points he far cheaper that the other two options. This gives you extra points for the rest of your army if you want extra troops, or points toward a tank or Rhino. For example, I usually play with a Space Marine army that has a lot of heavy weapons. The idea is that I shoot all the enemy before they reach hand to hand combat. Because of this the extra abilities of the more expensive Commanders and Force commanders would be wasted. I use a Leader to lead my army and use the points for extra heavy weapons.

Space Marine Commander

The Commander is has better statistics than a Leader, but not as good as a Force Commander. He is better in hand to hand fighting and better at shooting, and he has two wounds. I believe that the Commander is the best value for the points cost of all the H.Q. Choices including Librarians, Chaplains and special H.Q. Characters.

The Commanders improved marksmanship means that he only needs 2+ to hit. If see your Commander has having a mainly shooting role, give him a Storm Bolter of Combi-Bolter to maximize this skill.

The Commanders improved weapon skill, initiative, number of attacks, and number of wounds makes him formidable in close combat. He will strike first in most cases and hit more often. If you do see him as having a close combat role in your army I would suggest that you attach him to a squad of close combat troops instead of having a normal Command Squad. For example have an Assault Squad as part of your army, equip your Commander with a Jump Pack and close combat weapons from the Armoury. Place him 2" from the Assault Squad at the start of each game and declare that he is attached to that squad. If you have spare points consider giving you commander Artificer Armour, a Power and an Iron Halo (in that order), as these bit of equipment will greatly improve the Commanders abilities. Stay away from Power Fists for your Commander. Power Fist always strike last, so you waste some of your Commanders fighting ability. Leave the Power Fists for the Veteran Sergeants.

Space Marine Force Commander

The Force Commander is the most expensive of the standard Space Marine Heroes, and not worth the extra 15 points more than a Commander. That 15 points could buy you an extra Marine and give you an extra wound, an extra attack both in hand to hand and in shooting phases, and by increasing the size of your squad reduce the number of leadership tests you will require. This will also increase the chance that the squad will be over 50% strength at the end of the battle for extra victory points).

The only reason that you might want to include a Force Commander in you army is for realism if you have an army over 3000points.

Space Marine Librarian Tactics

Warhammer 40000 Space Marine Librarian

Choose a force weapon if you think that your opponents will have multiple wounds. A force weapon has no special effect on single wound victims.

Psychic Powers

Psychic Hoods

The Librarians Psychic hoods can stop your opponents psychic attacks. If you think that your opponent will be using Psykers then a Psychic Hood may be worth having. Generally the 'return on investment' for Psychic hoods is too small (i.e. they cost too much).

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Space Marine Chaplains

Chaplains are the keepers of the faith within the Marine Chapters. They have a high leadership value. His 4+ invulnerable save and multiple wounds makes him very resilient. All in all, Chaplains make a good choice to lead an army.

Like other independent characters, Chaplains and can be mounted on a bike. This allows them to support troops in greatest need, moving from one side of the battle to the other with ease.

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Space Marine Command Squad Tactics

H.Q. characters can have a command squad. These Marines are more expensive than Tactical Marines but still have the same statistics. The benefits come from having the ability to upgrade with Terminator Honours and the ability to upgrade some of the Command Squad to being a Apothecary, Techmarine, or Standard Bearer. You can have all three in your Command Squad if you wish.

Space Marine Apothecary

A Space Marine Apothecary can have equipment from the Armoury including equipment only available to Apothecaries

Space Marine Techmarines


Space Marine Standard Bearer

Command Squad Transport Vehicles

Command Squads can have Razorbacks and Rhinos. The hints and advice that I written there apply here too.

Command Squads can have a Land Raider instead of a Rhino or Razorback. This is in addition to any Land Raider you buy for your heavy support choices. This means that you can have four Land Raiders in an army. I have detailed Land Raider tactics in the Heavy Support section and what is written there applies here too.

>> Jump to: Land Raider

>> Jump to: Transport Vehicles

Heavy and Special Weapons

Instead of being able to have up to one heavy weapon, and up to one special weapon, like the Tactical squads, the Command squad can have either up to two heavy weapons or up to two special weapons, or a mix of one each. Note that the Heavy Weapons cost 10 points each more that those carried by Tactical Marines and Flamers are half the points cost.

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Emperor's Champion

As of the Space Marine Codex corrections all Chapters can take an Emperor's Champion as an additional HQ choice. So in a standard force organisation chart you must have at least one 'normal' HQ choice (Hero, Librarian or Chaplain) and can have up to two 'normal' HQ choices plus an Emperor's Champion (three HQ's in total).


The Champion has some choice Wargear; Artificer Armour 2+ armour save, Terminator Honours extra attack; Purity Seal; Iron Halo for 4+ inv. save; Master Crafted Bolt Pistol; and a 'Black Sword'. All this makes the Champion a very good close assault character. I highly recommend adding one to your army when you can.

Remember: You can not have more that one Iron Halo in your army. If you have an Emperor's Champion then no other Character can have one.

Special Rules

The Black Sword

The Black Sword can be used one handed to give you an extra attack (two single handed weapons) S5 I5, or two handed giving you 2 x S8 I1 attacks.


If you think that you can take on a Character in the assault you are in then have your Champion issue a challenge. Characters models with individual stats lines like Veteran Sergeants or HQ type models. Test your Champion against different characters and you will see just how good he is in close combat.

When you make a challenge you Champion can not be attacked by any other model. This means that he will not be out numbered and killed shear weight of numbers.

Always Independent

The Emperor's Champion can not have a Command Squad, but he can join squads. If you need to provide a command squad then attach him to the command squad of another HQ. character. A popular tactic is to attach the Emperor's Champion to a Chaplin and his Command Squad. This gives you a very hard hitting assault squad. Load them in to a Rhino or Land Raider (Crusader?) for speed.

The Space Marine Armoury

Your H.Q. Choices will need weapons and special equipment to make them fully effective.

On your army sheet, make sure that you clearly mark down the equipment that you have given your characters and the costs. This is to reduce the number of misunderstandings at the battle table and to remind you what you have given each character so you remember to use the equipment. I have see veteran players curse themselves because they paid for some special equipment and failed to use it. Most equipment has to be shown on the model, but some times it is not so obvious, like swords / power swords; master crafted weapons; grenades; and etc.

All characters can have Armoury weapons. This includes Veteran Sergeants unless stated on the Armoury Item.

One Handed Weapon Tactics

A model can have two one handed weapons. As you can only shoot one gun a turn, I suggest that one gun and one close combat weapon is the best option, and the most normal.

Bolt Pistol


Lightning Claws

Plasma Pistol

Power Fist

Don't give your Characters these as Powerfist go last. This will loose any advantage gained by having a high I score. Give your Terminator Characters Lightning Claws or Power Sword.

Power Weapons

Storm Shield and Thunder Hammer

These weapons are listed in the one handed weapon list, but they are normally used together. There is nothing stopping you tooling up your Terminator Hero with a Thunder Hammer and Storm Bolter

Two Handed Weapon Tactics

All the Two Handed weapons are ballistic (Shooty) weapons. Almost all of the H.Q. choices have better Ballistic Skills, hitting on two's. Take advantage of this by giving them a good weapon.

You put all your eggs in one basket if you choose a Two Handed weapon for your character. You gain extra fire power at the cost of flexibility.

Your HQ's improved weapon skill will still be used if you need to hit the enemy with the blunt end of your gun.


The bolter is a good general purpose weapon. This is the weapon of choice if you wish to keep points costs to the minimum. I believe that Characters would be better off with a Storm Bolter or Combi-bolter.

Combi Weapons

Storm Bolter

Storm Bolters are to heaviest hitting weapon that a Character can have. They are great for long ranged fire fights.

Space Marine Wargear

Comments to Ben Fleeson. This page was updated 29th January 2003.
 Copyright David Haynes 2005
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