The Primaris Marines: Some thoughts

Hello everyone, Danny here to talk about the newest kids on the block: The Primaris Marines (we call them Primmies ® here at TFG).  Should we get dirt in our hair? Let’s see!

So, not that we are good at it, but we definitely theorized about 2 wound Space Marines, and well, here they are.  Let’s get the fluff bits out of the way: The Primmies are a secret project by Gulliman and Cawl, a project that started shortly after the Horus Heresy and finally ready for action in a time of great need.  Rowboat is gathering his forces to reunify the Imperium, and the Primmies are there to reinforce some chapters that have been pretty bloodied.

Really, this is a cool narrative escape out of the fact that most of the Space Marines chapters have been pretty devastated as of late, so they need a way to ensure that there are plenty of meat for the grinder that is going to be 8th edition. How many times have we joked that the most elite army in the game is typically run as a horde in 7th edition?  Well, now we have some fluff justification for why there are suddenly Marines everywhere.

With that out of the way, the models themselves appear to be True Scale Marines, meaning no longer are some newer models like Greyfax, a normal human, about the same size as a regular Space Marine.  The Sergeant is even on a 40mm base, which is pretty beefy all things considered.   We’ve only see one squad spoiled, but I am sure we are going to see much more soon, and I think the safe money is that these Primmies are going to be in the 8th edition Starter Set (probably against Death Guard).

A big note is that their Faction keywords mean that they can belong to any Imperium army, including any Space Marines armies like Dark Angels.  This means if you buy some Primmies, they get to benefit from one of the <Chapter> keywords in your army.  They are essentially plug and play with any Imperium army and any Space Marines specific army.

So let’s look at their stats:

Off the bat, the big difference is that each Primmie is 2 Wounds and the Sergeant is 3 Wounds!  That is twice as resilient to small arms fire than the standard Marine although any high quality weapon like a melta or lascannon is going to pick them up just as easy as a Marine, but that at least makes sense.  Not many things should be able to take a Lascannon to the face and go on about their day.  The real uptick in survivability is not just the extra wound, it is that they are still infantry, which means they will get cover saves far more easily, so that 3+ becomes a 2+.  Again, Primmies are going to quite tough to crack with just small arms fire.

They also come with 2 attacks base (3 for Sergeant), so they are also twice as effective in melee than the standard Marine.  While they don’t seem to have any special melee weapons, just having 2 attacks base means they are not quite as chumpy as normal Marines.  It is pretty likely that we will see a melee oriented version at some point, and they could be decently robust depending on the weapon options.

The other big change is that they do not use bolters but rather bolt rifles.  At 30 inch range with AP -1, these weapons definitely make bolters look a bit silly, and well, 15 inch Rapid Fire range is pretty good, and for any AoS fans, -1 armor saves is quite meaningful.

Will they be good?

It is hard to say as right now, their standard squad is very much a “take and hold” unit that is good at camping an objective in cover and laying down some anti-light-infantry fire.  With 2 wounds, a good range and AP on their weapon, and 2 attacks base, they can reach out and do damage, and a weakened unit may not be able to easily overcome them in melee.  A dedicated melee unit will gobble them up, but that’s par for the course.  In terms of shooting, a 3+ armor save that goes to 2+ easily enough means that it takes real resources to shift them at range, and as spoiled earlier, a multi-melta is 27 points, so we can expect to see big hitter guns being far from cheap. This again forces an opponent to use precious resources on them.

Their big weakness (and why Tactical Marines are not obsolete) is that they have no real customization. They do not get access to special or heavy weapons, so you can’t have a toolbox unit that is capable of handling multiple threats.  A Tactical Squad with a Lascannon and meltagun is able to bring pain to big targets while also thinning down hordes, but a unit of Primmies is really only going to be effective at taking on horde units.  With the way that 8th appears to be shaping up, this is not a good thing for Primmies as combined arms armies are going to be far more common.

We don’t know anything about cost yet, but I would theorize that 20-25 points per model is the sweet spot.  Cheaper than this, they are likely too good, and more expensive, they are too much of a points sink. Assuming they cost 25 points (just shy of twice a marine), a unit of 5 is 125 points that is really best at camping an objective while for the same points, you can get a unit of marines with a rhino and maybe a special weapon.  It is an interesting trade off, but we’ll see how much they actually cost and how much Marines actually cost.

Did we learn anything new?

We know the standard Grenade profile now too with 6 inch range and D6 S3 shots for Frag and 1 S6 -1 AP D3 wound Krak.  Again, with the spoiled weapon profiles, we can really start to see the logic in the conversion algorithm, so we can start to speculate much more accurately about what other weapons will do (I am hoping for 2 S10 AP-3 D6 wound for  the Rupture Cannon on my Tyrannofex).

Also, we have seen spoiled now a lot of Faction Keywords like <Chapter> or <Sept>, which seems to suggest that each army is getting specific Sub-Factions (like Chapter Tactics) to make them more characterful. That’s not a bad thing at all.

Anyway, don’t get too ruffled by the new Primmies.  Unless they are super undercosted, I don’t see them replacing standard Space Marines in an army.  The humble Tactical Squad offers a lot of versatility that the Primmies don’t.  Perhaps the Primmie melee or heavy ranged units will be a bit more valuable, but the core of a SM army should still see a lot of Tactical Squads.

Thanks as always for reading, and be sure to check out Salty John and Adam play some Bloodbowl on Twitch live on Thursday, 5/18/17, at about 8 PM.  Yes, we have a Twitch feed, and this may be relevant to your interests.  Also, be sure to send us pictures of your sweet, sweet Kans for our 100th episode contest! Lastly, all these amazing prizes aren’t cheap, so you know, show us some love on Patreon.