With the new Space Marine codex coming out this Saturday its time to find out the coolest marine character combos. Can anyone unseat the Smash Captain?
Well, a lot! The biggest change is to the current meta pick in the Space Marine book, the Smash Captain (Smash Cpt). If you are unfamiliar, the Smash Captain is a marine Captain with a jump pack and a thunder hammer (plus usually a storm shield). Normally he is run as a Blood Angel due to their amazing character buff stratagems and their chapter trait. This has been nerfed, however, as the thunderhammer option has went up to 40 points. That takes the average Smash Captain from 124 points to 145 points. There is also a slight increase to the captain with jump pack model itself.
While the Smash Captain was nerfed, other marine characters have gotten a lot of buffs! To begin, all marine characters are getting an extra attack on the charge through the new Shock Assault rule, giving Space Marine melee characters a lot of potential. Many of the marine warlord traits have also gotten stronger. The big winners are the Salamander trait giving +2 str instead of 1 and Imperium’s Sword giving +1 str and an attack on the charge. Couple these buffs with a new stratagem to give a bonus warlord trait out and you can get a crazy marine character without taking your only valuable warlord trait! Lastly, marine relics have also been upgraded. Many that we are used to, like the Burning Blade, have gotten buffed, and some new relics are incredibly good. Combine these buffed relics with a 1 command point per relic strat (rather than 1CP for 1 / 3CP for 2) and marine players have gotten some serious love from GW.
Taken together, the addition of Shock Assault, the better warlord traits, better relics, and extra access to these traits and relics, you have some amazing possibilities for new smash characters to take alongside or replace the meta standard Smash Captain.
Slaplin\Chaplain Smash\ Smash Chap
A Chaplain using the self-buffing Litany with
Warlord Trait: Imperium Sword
Relic: Relic Crozius
Base Output: 6 attacks at str 8 ap 2 damage 4, plus bonus mortal wound on wound roll of 6. All hitting on a 2+!
Very cheap at 90 points, making him one of the best point-for-point melee models out there.
Damage 4 attacks are very useful. When combined with a free mortal wound can kill many premium characters, such as captains, with 5 wounds with only one attack (assuming you roll at least one mortal wound).
Poor defenses, with only 4 wounds and a 3+/4++
Can possibly fail his litany though will still generally be str 8 and damage 3 without.
Do not take the self-buff litany, instead opting to take a buff for other units. Yes, the +1 to hit at range IS amazing.
Without the self-buff litany you start at Str 6, so you need to take Imperium Sword and rely on Might of Heros to get to str 8. Or you can take the Salamander Warlord trait to get to str 8. Yeah that’s strength 9 with Might of Heroes if any of you are counting. Read it and weep Knights!
This build forgoes some of the kill-y power, but also give the Slaplin a powerful buff to give to other units.
Entry 2: Black Templar Slash Captain
Captain with Jump pack, Chainsword, Stormshield
Warlord Trait: Master Swordsman (Black Templar trait from Sword Brethren formation)
Relic: Teeth of Terra
Specialist Detachment: Sword Brethren, using Suffer not the unclean stratagem every turn.
Output: 10 str 5 attacks at ap 2 damage 2. These hit on 2’s with rerolls, 6’s turn into 2 hits.
This model can also reroll failed wounds.
Uses field commander to get WL trait so can be used alongside another character using the badass Imperium sword.
Incredibly reliable with rerolling to hit, rerolling to wound, and rerolling to charge.
He’s also 40 points cheaper than the average smash captain, with almost the same output.
Easily the best at killing hordes (while still being amazing with heavier targets thanks to Str 5 and rerolling to wound)
CP hungry! Needs to be taken in a specialist detachment (1cp) and needs a stratagem (2cp every turn).
Can’t take other chapter tactics, so requires a Black Templar detachment These aren’t necessarily bad, but it does reduce list options.
Can’t be buffed by librarians as BT cannot take them and the buffs are now keyed to <Chapter> for those of you just trying to take a librarian from another chapter.
Build 3: Sword Captain
Captain with jump pack, power sword, and storm shield
Warlord Trait: Imperium Sword
Relic: The Burning Blade.
Output: 6 str 8 attacks at Ap 5 damage 2, hitting on 2+’s with rerolls.
Buffability: Benefits a lot from Might of Heroes giving him str 9 to help kill tanks, and a bonus attack.
Huge Ap helps him killing targets without invulnerables, like Eldar flyers or Knights in combat.
Starts at str 8 on the charge without any help.
Damage 2 isn’t that amazing, especially when the slash captain has almost double the attacks.
How do these different options stack up against some general targets that exist in the game? In this section I will show the average number of models killed for generic multi model unit profiles, followed by the average wounds done to two single model units: Knights and Tt4 2+/3++ characters. The second chart will show the point/wound ratio, to show how each model stacks up against its point cost. The three builds listed here will be compared to a BA Smash Cpt (with 8 attacks from his various abilities and strategms).
|Slaplin+ MoH+ Hit reroll||6.81||4.92||3.4||13.23||8.7|
|Sword Cpt+ MoH||5.67||5.67||3.78||9.07||3.78|
|Slaplin+ MoH+ Hit reroll||13.22||18.31||26.45||6.8||10.35|
|Sword Cpt+ MoH||18.87||18.87||28.3||11.79||28.3|
As you can see, without outside buffs, the Slash Captain has the highest damage output against everything but the heaviest targets. The Blood Angels Smash Captain is still the king of killing knights. If he fights twice he will kill one on average, pretty hard to argue with there. Things change a bit when you consider cost however. Interestingly the Slaplin keeps up fairly well killing most characters he runs into and doing 7.5 wounds to a knight. When looking at the point/damage ratio the lowest is best (we’re talking about the second chart now). We can see that the best bang for your buck is always the Slash Captain. An interesting note though is that against Knights he is tied with the regular Smash Captain, but hey he is still better in every other case.
Once we throw in buffs the story changes. In the tables above you will see 2 prevalent buffs added into the mix. We’ll be adding Might of Heroes (MoH) from a librarian (unavailable to the Slash Captain and the BA Smash Captain), and a reroll of ones to hit (on all of the captains because of themselves). Once these buffs are in the mix you can see that the math changes. The Slaplin becomes far more of a BEAST with just the addition of MoH and incredibly powerful with both figured in. Even without a to hit buff, he is the best point per damage model on the list. Fully buffed he practically matches the regular Smash Capt against Knights.
Marine players have received a massive buff in the killiness of their characters but should reconsider the builds they use. While the smash captain is still great into big targets, other, less costly packages exist that are far better into other profiles and still do amazing damage. One of the most consistently amazing models is the Black Templar Smash Captain. Players should keep an eye out for this model, especially once the Black Templar get the full supplement treatment. Packaged with Imperial Fists maybe? They should also consider the buffability (yeah that’s a word now) as the new Chaplain rules have created an incredibly cheap model that with the right support is potentially the best melee model in the game for its points.