Even the most casual observer will note that Space Marines are everywhere in 40k. They make up around a third of the playable factions, despite the fact that they are supposed to be exceptionally rare canonically. However, this is not surprising, as for the longest time they have been the poster boys for the 40k hobby, perfectly capturing the feel of this dark and dismal future that knows only war.
Many of us in the hobby will have (at some point) collected a Space Marine army, whether the vanilla Ultramarines and the like, a band of traitorous Chaos Marines, or a specialist force such as Grey Knights or Deathwatch. After all, who doesn’t want to be in command of an elite force of genetically enhanced super soldiers that can spit acid and tear a regular human apart with their bare hands?
Well, that’s how it’s supposed to feel. In reality, Space Marines, for the most part, are fairly mediocre on the tabletop. That’s not to say they’re bad; far from it. But when you compare how the authors of the Black Library interpret these demigods of war, their tabletop counterparts seem to be but mere shadows of their true glory.
In the lore, a single Marine can smash his way through a squad of guardsmen, crushing armour and bone with bolter shells and his bare fists while las-shots bounce harmlessly off his reinforced power armour. On the tabletop however, that same squad of guardsmen will probably take down two or three Space Marines with a volley of rapid-firing lasguns due to some sub-par save throws.
This is unavoidable, as with any tabletop wargame you must balance the models of each faction in order to make the game somewhat fair. After all, if all anyone needed was five Marines to dominate the competitive scene, then the game would get stale rather quickly and no-one would be interested in playing anything else. And so, Space Marines can and will feel less than the suped-up killing machines we all expect them to be.
However, there are those of us who want to feel that godlike power of ripping through squad after squad of meat shields with the ease of harvesting wheat. To see ten or fifteen Marines on the table facing down a hundred weak and feeble xenos and think, “we got this.” To know that each of your soldiers is a match for an entire squad of ‘regular’ infantry. For those people, there are the Movie Marines.
Movie Marines is a term given to an army of Space Marines that play and feel like their book counterparts. These are usually over the top rules that are intended for fun, casual games rather than serious (or legal) tournament play. However, with the army constructing freedom afforded by 8th edition 40k’s detachment system, it’s possible to field a force of these Movie Marines in your local meta. How you may ask? Three words. Supreme Command Detachment.
Supreme Command Detachments allow you to field 3-5 HQ’s and up to 1 Lord of War in a single detachment. That means you can run a Space Marine Captain (one HQ slot) and four Lieutenants (two additional HQ slots) as a single detachment, which the discerning of you will note perfectly represents a five-man tactical squad. Give them all jump packs and you have an assault squad, or upgrade them to primaris marines and you have an intercessor squad.
The great thing about this is it doesn’t even break the rules for the number of data sheets you are allowed to field in matched play, as if you were to take a primaris squad, a tactical squad, and a unit of terminators (mixing regular terminator captains and Cataphractii captains), you would still only be using, at most, three of the same data sheet in games over 1,000 points. Throw in Roboute Guilliman to lead them and some Elites like a Redemptor Dreadnought and you could easily get up to 2,000 points or more.
But it’s not only vanilla Marines who are able to field Movie Marines. Why not mix Brother Captains and Grand Masters to field a squad of Grey Knight terminators. Or how about mixing and matching Chaplains, Liberians, and Captains to make your own top-tier Deathwatch Kill Team. Even the ruinous forces of chaos can get in on the action to make an elite warband of renegades.
You don’t just have to field a pure Movie Marine army either. How about adding a squad of Blood Angel ‘vanguard’ marines to your Astra Militarum to contrast the sheer destructive force of your marines (as well as giving them some much-needed command points). The only thing holding you back is your imagination. So why not try playing Space Marines how they are supposed to feel.
If you do end up trying out some Movie Marines, let us know how you got on in the comments below. If you have enjoyed todays article, consider liking it and subscribing to the site to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics. If you want to support us directly, you can join our Patreon for as little as $1 a month. And remember, imperial citizen: “Honour your Chapter.”