Space Marines Introduction: Lore, Units, Tactics, and more

Space Marines are the poster boys of the Warhammer 40k universe. A bulwark against Chaos within the setting and one of the original factions, Space Marines stay the most popular Imperium-aligned faction.

The unique trait of this faction on the tabletop is their all-rounder nature which is further enhanced by their chapter choices. Each Space Marine army picks one chapter to be a part of, offering army-wide bonuses.

Space Marines Lore and Background

Space Marines were made by the Emperor of Mankind, a powerful immortal who reunited humanity after its collapse. Augmented both genetically and mechanically, these powerful soldiers are far more powerful than any regular human being.

Space Marines are involved in just about every great battle from their creation in the year 30,000 until the current 41st millennium that the setting’s lore is at. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Great Crusade
  • Horus Heresy
  • War of the Beast
  • 13th Black Crusade

Of course, with the plentiful chapters come some important figures. The most important ones being the primarchs. The most popular of these include:

  • Roboute Guilliman
  • Leman Russ
  • Vulcan
  • Sanguinus
Introduction to the Space Marine Faction. Chapter Organisation (Image Source)

Space Marines Units and Models

An army of Space Marines includes all sorts of specialist squads. The infantry of these superhuman warriors covers all fronts with different units.

The key units are still Devastator Squads and Intercessor Squads. 

Devastators bring in heavy support even Tau would be envious of while Intercessor Squads represent some of the greatest basic troops in the game.

Vehicles are no less elite in their stats and function. The attack bikes especially offer units some considerable speed for maximum maneuverability. 

Bikes are the most useful in White Scars armies but will still perform well in any army, especially if you mount an HQ on one of them for easier buff use.

Of course, heavier support is always appreciated. Vindicator tanks and Dreadnoughts are welcome on any Space Marine list.

As far as special rules go, even the base Space Marines are stocked with a slew of useful ones. These rules include:

  • And They Shall Know No Fear: The morale phase is made easier as your units ignore any modifiers when rolling a morale test.
  • Bolter Discipline: Rapid Fire bolt weapons shoot twice if the unit hasn’t moved, is within half range, has either Terminator or Biker trait.
  • Shock Assault: Units gain +1 to Attack stat when charging, being charged, or if they do a Heroic Intervention.
  • Combat Doctrines: Your entire army gets a new doctrine each turn for the first three turns. These are powerful army-wide buffs that enhance certain types of weapons.

The first one is the Devastator Doctrine which enhances heavy weapons. The second turn activates Tactical Doctrine which enhances rapid fire and assault weapons. The third and last one is Assault Doctrine which boosts your melee and pistol weapons.

Tactics and Strategy

The best Space Marine tactics are:

  • Maximize doctrine use by firing as many of the current one’s respective weapon type.
  • Choose a mixed loadout for maximum efficiency.
  • Your terminators and attack bikes easily flank enemies and use them to threaten certain units.
  • Constantly advance with all but most long-range units, this will help units gain ground on the battlefield and get use out of Assault Doctrine eventually.

Space Marines Playstyle

Space Marines are all-rounders but the kind that engages with each phase rather than choosing one to enhance. 

Even chapter choices will leave you with an army that plays every range throughout the match.

Strength of an all-rounder in a game such as Warhammer 40k stems from the importance of versatility. Space Marines can work against any army with most of their loadouts due to their innate versatility.

The weakness of Space Marines is their lower model count. 

Losing a unit will feel far more hurtful than it would be for an Imperial Guard player. Likewise, your power will fall off faster no matter the chapter at play.

Hobby Aspects of Space Marines

Space Marines are a good start for those looking to collect miniatures. They have quite a lot of diversity in terms of bits and pieces available, with each new Games Workshop announcement bringing in a few more.

Additionally, Space Marines are generally easier to paint. 

Their models will provide a great start for new painters, especially with smaller armies. Speaking of, Space Marine armies have fewer units than something like Imperial Guard and their equivalents, making it easier to get the entire party painted.

Space Marines have another advantage in the hobby. The way Space Marine chapters and their successor’s function in lore allows players to fully customize the models. This goes for appearance and paint jobs alike.

Any heraldry you can think of fits, as each chapter generally has its own. It’s a fun extra to playing Space Marines, allowing hobbyists to flex those writing muscles as well for some fun fiction writing about their own Space Marine chapter.

Additional Space Marines Lore or Tips

All loyalist Space Marines follow, to some extent, the Codex Astartes. This is a sacred tome of tactical and organizational information for each Space Marine chapter.

The Codex Astartes documents many strategies and important moral behaviors of a Space Marine. It’s the organization proposed in this book that now has Space Marines split into about 1,000 chapters of 1,000 battle brothers.

These numbers are inconsistent. However, it’s still canon to a point, with a lot of loopholes. These include examples like Black Templars having about 5,000 active Space Marines due to always being on a crusade.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Space Marines are all-rounders with some specialization in the form of chapters. However, they remain active in every phase of the game. Their models are great for beginner painters and due to the lower model count, painting the whole army won’t feel as daunting of a task.

Those who wish to play the Space Marines faction should look into the Combat Patrol boxes available. There’s one for each chapter, so pick up the one you like the most. Alternatively, check out a codex or two to get a full feel of the army.