I've been playing Warhammer 40,000 since the last year of 7th Ed and I've had some extreme problems with Space Marines since the swap. While the army was still in 7th Ed, it worked great: 3+ or 4+ saves all around, lots of boots on the ground, could reach out and touch just about anything that i came up against (aside from Belial cheese lists) to the extent that i won about as many games as i lost. With the change to 8th Ed they lost about all of their advantages: AP reduces the armor saves instead of ignoring them on certain thresholds, the detachment and price updates reduce the number of units on the table and BOTH of these utterly kill the my ability to reach out and touch whoever-the-heck. I've tried just about everything with these guys; cram a captain, lieutenant, apothicary, ancient and a few command vets into a vehicle and give them multi-meltas while the rest of the army distracted the enemy (didn't work), built a screen of 6 scouts while 3 sniper squads and the rest of the army fired from behind them (didnt work), built an army with deepstriking terminators with Cyclone rockets and chainfists that killed the big stuff while snipers, thunderfire cannons and librarians took on the little stuff (didnt work either). Just about the only useful thing i learned while trying to make these guys work is that StormTalons are a 174 point unit that kills a maximum of 2 units before it's promptly crushed under the shear mass of fire from everything shooting at it.

I spent a good deal of money on my collection and there's simply too much on my person to even THINK about getting anything else, and i truly want to make this army work, so how are you supposed to field the run-of-the-mill Space Marines?

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    Would this not solely be dependent on your strategy? Like do you use short range combat or rely heavily on Heavy Bolters and plasma rifles? Im not overly experienced with 40K but I do love spacemarines and believe they are best at range (minus a few ranged units such as assault marines) Mar 9, 2018 at 9:31
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    Honestly I feel like as statedthis question is too broad to have a proper answer. Are you playing a narrative game? Tournament? Friendly Matched play? What army are you playing against? Do you need to WAAC? What models do you have? Which units do you like? There is no single army list that is "correct" and even if you come up with a list that seems to always work, either someone else will come up with a counter or it's the ONLY thing anyone will play and it'll get nerfed.
    – aslum
    Mar 9, 2018 at 19:38

2 Answers 2


TLDR, Have around 7 units for every 1000pts and give each unit at least 3 things that make them threatening

I'm writing this because I'm sick of waiting for someone else to answer this and I recently found A way to play Space Marines, though it's highly possible that it's not THE way to play Space Marines. Whatever the case, if this answer gets around 10 votes before someone else writes something and is right, then this will be my accepted answer.

Back to what my findings were, I believe that for every 1000pts, there should be 7 units in the formation and each should have at least 3 qualities or weapons given to them that make the opponent take notice of them. For example, you can give a scout squad shotguns, camo cloaks and a Landspeeder Storm. Instead of "just a unit of scouts" this unit becomes "a Toughness 5/Wound 7 model that moves 18" base, has fly, shoots up to 13 Strength 5 shots plus d6 Srength 4 shots on most turns and spawns up to 5 Scout Marines with a 2+ Save in cover when it dies". Attaining enough units that either have extended descriptions like this, or produce immediate reactions like a Landraider, creates a psychological advantage to your army I like to call The Actuality Effect. The Actuality Effect hinges on how effective your army is despite taking losses, such as a 10 man unit of Devastators loosing 5 units but still having its maximum output of heavy weapon shots. As for the effect itself, it is a mounting stress that occurs when the opponent is loosing units and is dealing seemingly ineffective damage to you. It's crucial to steadily build this tension in your opponent because, like in most strategy games, stress is the great obstacle your opponent must overcome. Stress makes you forget things, makes you focus on some things over other things, pushes you to chase or flee certain situations. Having enough units on the board, ergo unique places that DEMAND your opponents attention, will be enough to tip the odds in your favor.

Since building my lists this way, I haven't lost my last 3 games (2 vs Blood Angels, 1 of which heavily used Primaris units, 1 vs Orks). I won't guarentee that this works 100% effectively, one of my wins left me with 8 models on the board, but it performs drastically better than any of my previous lists this edition. Weather or not this is the best way to play Space Marines in general will be decided in time.


I have been pretty successful with my space marines lately. TLDR - crimson fists - whirlwind ftw - command points

Here is the list I ran this past week at 1250 points. crimson fists- jump pack cap w/burning blade, cap, lietentant, 5 man tac w/heavy bolter, 5 man scout w/heavy bolter, 5 man scout all snipers, 7 man terminator w/assault cannon, razorback w/twin heavy bolter, sb, hk, 2x whirlwind w/ castellan launchers, storm bolter, hk, venerable dreadnought w/ missile launcher and twin lascannon.

running the captain/lieutenant combo or a chapter master has been devastating. whirlwinds have also been my saving grace. I've been fighting armies with mostly longer range guns than me. The 5ft 4d6 s6 shots rerolling 1s on hits and on wounds that don't require los *all for 103 points!! Tenderizing gunlines while I get into range. Throw in the venerable dread that hits on 2's with rerolls = 97% accuracy. Heavy bolters with the hellfire shells has helped deal out mortal wounds to armor. and the bolter drill on a terminator deepstrike has netted me 3-5 bonus shots on that list being 30ish stormbolter and 6 assault cannons.

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