Matt’s Root Cause Analysis: Ultramarines!
Hey guys! Matt Root here. Welcome to another of my articles, Matt’s Root Cause Analysis, where I look at competitive lists and tell you what you need to know about GT winning lists!
Space Marines. Wow. Talk about a meta-defining army. These guys have shifted from a joke to the demons of the competitive 40k scene, and they are likely to stay that way for a while. Marines now emulate their fluff and are properly terrifying on the table – furthermore, each of the chapter supplements is so vastly different in their strengths, it’s like the book is eight armies in one.
Before we get started, let me spell this out in crystal clear terms.
THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.
THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.
THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.THIS IS A GATEKEEPER ARMY.
What is a gatekeeper army you might ask? It’s an army that you NEED to have an answer for if you’re trying to be competitive at a tournament. Other examples of Gate keeper armies are Eldar flier spam and Knights. Point is, you’re going to be seeing a lot of SM in the future.
Today, let’s talk about the boys in blue! Smurfs Ultramarines!
Bobby G and the Boys Ultramarines are first on the docket of marine armies. Although a strong army, I am hesitant to suggest that this chapter will dominate the meta, especially when compared to other, unnamed supplements *COUGHIRONHANDSCOUGH*. Nevertheless, Ultramarines in the right hands are a nasty army, and can largely be described as a toolbox army. They also have the largest array of special characters to pull from.
Most of you are familiar with the basics of marines – scouts, tactical marines, rhinos, yadda yadda. However, they are a few new items which we should discuss in particular:
Roboute Guillman (who I affectionately refer to as Bobby G) is largely unchanged. Although he only allows the UM player to reroll 1’s to wound now (instead of all wounds), he gained the ability to re-roll any hits, meaning that he doesn’t care about your modifiers anymore. Otherwise, he’s still the giant beatstick he has always been.
Chronus is a badass tank driver who basically makes it so that the vehicle he operates always hits on 2s. Always. Even when damaged. He is often taken in a Relic Whirlwind Scorpius, which can shoot three separate times if it doesn’t move and by using a stratagem. That’s 9d3 str 6, ap-2, 2 dmg shots, hitting on 2s. Ouch.
Chief Librarian Tigurius (aka Tiggy) has been buffed since his last iteration, and now not only re-rolls psychic tests, but also adds 1 to his tests and his deny rolls. As a bonus, he also picks a unit on the UM side every turn – you are always at -1 to hit it. Take that, Eldar.
The Invictus warsuit is a giant robot suit that is, apparently, somehow able to sneak around the battlefield. The warsuit comes with a 2d6 shot heavy flamer with extended range with a decent amount of anti infantry firepower. It also has THE FIST OF THE HEAVENS a dreadnought close combat weapon that is a flat damage 3 Ap-3, str 14. It’s also decently hard to kill at T6 and 13 wounds with a 3+. Not too shabby.
What really makes the Invictus warsuit tick, however, is its ability to deploy like a scout: 9” away from the enemy line. This is particularly nasty in the blueberri bois Ultramarines for one reason alone: It can redeploy. For 2 CP, after determining who goes first, the Ultramarine player can decide to move three invictus warsuits out of harm’s way, which removes the one weakness of the Invictus warsuit: overcommitment. Most other armies take a risk by deploying the warsuits on the line, but UMs don’t give a single solitary poo.
Aggressors are now more…. aggressive. They gained a wound, and more importantly, they benefit from Ultramarines because of the unique Tactical Doctrine, which is that Ultramarines can move and still shoot as they are stationary. That means that aggressors, which were previously annoying enough, can now move and double shoot. That means a 200-ish point squad dumps about 114 shots that are ap-1 on the doctrine. That’s about 2 pts per shot. They also have power fists in combat because reasons.
In short, Ultramarines are mean.
Marines may hit like a truck, but they are also surprisingly fragile. 3+ armor may seem good, but in reality, it dies to most anti-infantry things. They army usually functions in a way where it will come in, absolutely wreck your face, but then will have spent its load and be out of stamina. This is the key to surviving marines: expect them to drop like a hammer, but if you can survive the initial strike, they’re easy to kill.
Most Ultramarines don’t like being hugged. Sure, they can fall back and shoot, but if they can’t fall back, they have to wriggle in combat a bit which isn’t their forte. Invictor warsuits may hit like a truck, but they only have 3 attacks (4 which shock assault), so at best they are killing 4 dudes a turn. The same is true of Sgt Chronus, thunderfire cannons, and most troops (notable exception of Incursors). Ultramarines are much scarier in assault then they used to be (because of the +1 attack they get when charged), but they’re less scary there than in shooting.
Ultramarines tend to be kinda slow. With the notable exception of Invictus warsuits being dropped on your doorstep before the game begins, most of the army tends to be either vehicles that want to remain stationary (thunderfires, relic whirlwinds) or infantry that moves 6” a turn (scouts, intercessors, eliminators). As such, they love to lock you in your deployment zone so that you can’t escape, but if you can move past it, they have some juicy stuff downtown.
Tricks to be careful of:
A lot of UM players are under the impression that they can deploy the Invictus Warsuit in their own deployment zone, and after seeing they go first, use the redeploy strat to move 9” away from your lines. This is incorrect. In the Shadowspear FAQ it says that units that have an ability to deploy in a specific manner (e.g. concealed positions) can only deploy in their own deployment zone. The UM player can start his Warsuits 9” away and then redeploy them back in his own deployment only, not the other way around.
Nullzone deserves a special mention: it got significantly buffed. Previously, it was models in 6” that didn’t get an invul save, now it is UNITS in 6”. Be wary of this, as this means your giant plaguebearer squad doesn’t get a save as long as one dude is 6” away from that libby.
Remember that the ENTIRE army has to be Ultramarines (or a single successor chapter of UM) to get the special tactical doctrine of I’m-never-ever-counting-as-moving-ever. If they have any allies, it doesn’t work.
You should also know that UMs have a relic that allows them to reroll hits AND wounds against one particular target. If you play Knights, except to see your stuff marked by this relic. It sucks.
Finally, watch out for Ultramarine overwatch. For 2 CP, they can pick 3 other units within 6” (for a total of 4!) that can overwatch against your charging unit. That’s right, UM is not only Eldar and Orks, they’re basically Tau, too.
How to beat it:
Marines are an interesting army.
Due to the nature of how expensive marine models are in points, they tend to build towards a very specific kind of army. It’s hard to fit anti tank AND anti infantry AND speed AND assault AND board control with a marine army; the points just don’t work out. As such, every marine army tends to have one particular aspect they suck at.
For Ultramarines, this tends to be assault. Again, Invictor warsuits sound scary in close combat, and the UM player wants you to think they are, but they’re not. At 4 attacks each, it’ll take them at LEAST three player turns to kill a 10 man cultist squad. The rest of the army – scouts, whirlwinds, Tfires, eliminators – are far more efficient in shooting than they are in combat. Remember that the UM player can fall back and shoot, so getting into a unit and wrapping it will save you bodies in the long run. It sucks to charge Ork Boys into scouts and give them an extra attack in melee, but it’s far better than being shot by 200+ bolter bullets. This is true even of Aggressors: although they have PFists, they only have 3-4x attacks each, and these are -1 to hit. That’s gonna hurt in close combat, but if they fall back and shoot, thats 110+ attacks from range rather than about 15 attacks in close combat.
The exception to this rule is Bobby G. Stay the F away from Bobby G if you can. If you have the ability to Death Hex him or smite him down, DO IT. Otherwise, avoid him.
It is important to take advantage of the short movement of the UM army. Use your speed to stay away from their shots and maximize the use of terrain to prevent him from hurting you. Make HIM come to YOU.
You should also play to minimize damage. Ultramarines are going to kill your stuff, there is nothing you can do to avoid it. They just hit too hard. But remember that marines tend to require commitment to do this. To hit you with aggressors? He has to be 18” away. To shoot with you bolters? He has to be 24” away. To smoke you with Invictor warsuit flamers? He has to be 12” away. This middle range of 12-24” is where Ultramarines really shines, so bait him closer with pointless units you don’t care about so you can punch his vulnerable self, or stay the hell back and shoot him from range.
If all else fails, play marines yourself. If you can’t beat em, join em, right?
Hope this helps guys! As always, this is Matt Root as part of the Nights PRO to provide you with list breakdowns and tactics. If you’re looking for more info, all you do is contact me on facebook.
See you next time on Matt’s Root Cause Analysis!