Warhammer 40,000 Faction Focus: Non-Codex Space Marines

With the release of the brand new Warhammer 40,000 this weekend, Reece visits the Space Marine Chapters who take the principles of the Codex Astartes somewhat less seriously than some of their brothers.

Reece: Today we’re going to explore the savage Space Wolves, furious Blood Angels and taciturn Dark Angels as well as touch on some of what to expect with Grey Knights and Deathwatch. We’ve got a lot to go over, so let’s get to it!

The Adeptus Astartes are the iconic faction in the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium. For many players, they are the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about Warhammer 40,000. But there are more than just the Chapters of Space Marines who largely follow the Codex Astartes, there are many non-codex Chapters, too. Some of which are renowned for not only their independent natures but also their accomplishments in battle.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the First Legion; the Dark Angels. My first miniature was a Dark Angels Captain from way back when. The Dark Angels have had a long and storied history in the lore but a bumpy ride in terms of their performance on the tabletop. They’ve often struggled to find their niche when compared to Chapters like Blood Angels and Space Wolves, who are fairly easily defined in comparison to Codex Chapters and have often been top contenders.

Dark Angels in new Warhammer 40,000 are simply exceptional. They have so many tools, so many different ways to play effectively, that the Dark Angels player’s biggest problem will be choosing which of his units to use! Azrael, Chapter Master of the Dark Angels, is hands down one of my favourite characters in the game now. He’s got a plethora of tools with his only shortcoming being his relatively slow speed – but even that is easily mitigated by using a Transport vehicle. What he provides though, is fantastic. He gives Dark Angels models within 6″ a 4+ invulnerable save which by itself is incredible. But on top of that, as with other Chapter Masters, he gives a ‘re-roll misses’ aura that works in the Shooting and Fight phases for friendly Dark Angels. Additionally, he grants you a bonus Command Point and packs an almighty wallop in both shooting and melee.

He is just one of many character options available to the Dark Angels player as well. Dark Angels also have a host of specialised units to choose from. Deathwing Knights are one of my favourite melee units available to any Space Marines Chapter, and Black Knights as ever, will strike fear into your opponent with their vicious Plasma Talons and Corvus Hammers.

Similarly, Blood Angels distinguish themselves through their unique units and special rules. What I love about Blood Angels is the wide variety of auras they can overlap on units to take them from good to great. For example, Death Company who begin with base 2 Attacks, and gain 1 on the charge, can get another Attack using the Blood Angels psychic power Unleash Rage for a total of 4. On top of that, a Sanguinary Priest can give them +1 Strength with his aura. Astorath provides further bonuses with an aura that lets them ignore morale, and provides re-rolls to hit in the Fight phase. But wait, there’s more! The Sanguinor can give them another Attack with his aura…wow. You can end up with Death Company boasting 5 Attacks each on the charge, re-rolling hits at Strength 5. Give them Power Swords and nearly nothing in the game will survive a full strength charge from them. A truly scary unit.

Space Wolves have options galore but I am immediately drawn to their exceptional troops. Both Grey Hunters and Blood Claws provide great utility. Grey Hunters have the unique ability to take a boltgun, bolt pistol and chainsword for every model, making them very flexible. They can take 2 special weapons in a 10-man squad (in addition to a plasma pistol on another Grey Hunter) and a combi-weapon on the Pack Leader, meaning they also pack a punch at range. The Wolf Standard lets you re-roll 1’s when you advance or charge for greater speed and, if you want, hey, you can put the Pack Leader in Terminator armour, too!

Blood Claws are similarly fantastic and make your choice to fill Troops slots a tough one. While they cannot take a boltgun, they do come standard with a chainsword and bolt pistol and can be taken in squads of up to 15 to really maximise the oomph of your bonus auras. They also get +1 Attack on the charge while still retaining a 3+ to hit in melee – they deliver a lot of punishment for a low price tag. A Wolf Priest who grants re-rolls to hit in melee and a Leadership boost goes exceptionally well with these hotheaded warriors.

There is still so much to talk about but we’re running out of space. I will give you a little information on the Deathwatch and Grey Knights, though. The Deathwatch remain a force all about customisation and flexibility. Their Special Issue Ammunition lets them take down xenos scum of any variety.

Grey Knights have incredible damage output. Nearly all of them are Psykers, able to deal mortal wounds, and pack around double the firepower of a standard Space Marine. In melee, they wield deadly Force weapons which can cut down even the foulest of enemies.

Unfortunately, that is all of our time for this article. Hopefully, the information provided piqued your interest in these non-Codex Chapters as they are all characterful and tremendously enjoyable to play.

Reece helps runs some of the biggest independent Warhammer 40,000 events in the world, including the Las Vegas Open and the recently announced Southern California Open. Like Frankie, he’s also been part of the playtest team for the new edition of Warhammer 40,000, putting in hundreds of hours to make sure this new edition will be great for all you gamers out there (Thanks Reece!).

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