Are Primaris Marines the End of Small Marines?

By Jack Stover | July 28th, 2017 | Categories: Editorial, jstove, Primaris, Space Marines, Warhammer 40k

New 40K Primaris Art Wal

Will Primaris replace normal marines? JStove is here to tell you a tale of why that will not happen. So, sit back, relax, and cuddle a small marine for him.

JStove here and, before I start pumping out more satire articles about Primaris Marines, I want to give the internet an Op-Ed about the current 8E punching bag.

Half the internet thinks that the Primaris Marine is going to be the death of the standard marine.

Let me tell you why I think that’s wrong.

First, it’s no secret now that the 8E box is all Primaris, all the time. This actually surprised me a little. When the Primaris Marines were first spoiled in that teaser video with Robootay Gillyman, it was specifically said in the lore that they would not completely replace traditional marines. Even if there’s less than one marine for every world in the Imperium, that’s still too many to completely phase them out. I was personally under the impression that Primaris Marines were just going to be another throw away extra unit in the already fat-as-heck marine codex. Some people would use them, some people wouldn’t. They’d be like Centurions and hunter/stalker tanks – flashy and new – but not everyone would be all in on them all the time.

Primaris Meme

The Primaris Marine has two real purposes.

1 – To provide a lower model count force for lazier hobbyists who want fewer, bigger, fatter marines instead of more smaller marines, because they’ll be quicker to paint.

2 – To be the heroes of the 8E box looking all big and studly against the rotten diseased Death Guard hordes, which no surprise to anyone, contains a unit of Nurgle Poxwalkers (the new flavor of Nurgle zombie cultist) for them to bully the crap out of. GW knows what they’re doing when it comes to making a hero to sell to people. The Primaris is the shiny, buff badboy and he’s gonna curbstomp the gooey, bad guy hordes. It’s like he’s playing his video games on a PC and the Nurgle goons are console game playing subhuman neanderthals. CHEAPSHOT –cues MLG Airhorn

40K has never been good to high cost, low model count, specialized marine units since 3rd Edition.

Space marines are the 31 flavors of the dark future. Whatever you want, there’s a marine for it. Vampire marines, in-the-closet-traitor-marines, Egyptian statue marines, fat rotten marines, heavy metal Judas Priest marines, marines wearing bigger marine suits with more guns strapped to them, marines riding pound puppies, etc. Whatever you want, there’s a marine for it. But the truth is, most of them are really hit or miss. As a general rule, the more crap you bolt onto a marine and the more specialized and costly you make him, the less effective he gets.

The classic example is Terminators. After 2E, Terminators almost went extinct. Will a sick new shooting phase, going first on a charge, and 2 wounds be enough to bring the Terminator back from the brink in 8E? We’re going to find out. I certainly hope so. But in every edition since 3rd, it didn’t make sense to use these guys. They were so expensive that it hurt too much when they died and they weren’t that hard to kill.


A newer example is Death Watch. They’re cool but I don’t hear a lot about them winning. Death Watch isn’t exactly an army for performing in the game, it’s an army for marine fans that like shotguns and Mark 8 armor. Blood Angels had a huge identity crisis in their last codex switch and Blood Angel armies that leaned too hard on Death Company and golden pretty boys tended to have a hard time in an edition with devastating shooting phases.

The biggest loser however, are the Grey Knights. These are guys who have everything a marine could ever want. Psyker? Check. Force weapon? Check. Storm bolter? Don’t really need it, but hey, it’s bigger than a normal bolter, right? Look at all the extra cool stuff that guy picks up over any other marine. He’s the best of the best. Except for 5E, when he had a top tier codex, he was a chump. He was too expensive to be effective and nobody actually used Grey Knights. They used psy-ammo riflemen Dreadnoughts, Inquisitorial troops, Coteaz, and rad-grenades. When the Grey Knights got their new codex and kicked out Coteaz and all his henchmen, the army took a nosedive. All the best stuff in the book wasn’t marines, it was Coteaz and friends. Draigo is a chump!

Kaldor Draigo MemeThe Primaris Marine doesn’t look like he’s any different. All the stuff that already kills normal marines kills him just as well and it’s the exact same math. If you can have ten one wound marines or five 2 wound marines, they die to the same number of wounds. Whatever gun kills ten normal marines will kill 5 fatty marines. If the Primaris Marine was so good that he absolutely replaced normal marines by being superior in every conceivable way, I’d worry about the future of the normal marine. But with the rules we’re seeing spoiled, it doesn’t look like he’s going to be that much better off than the marines you already own, which will either cost the same amount of points for more bodies or be cheaper.

In the end, my guess is it’s going to be just another flavor of marine to add to the menu in the ice cream shop. Buy them because they look cool but don’t be surprised if you don’t see them at every top table game at Adepticon. There’s a better chance of Khorne Berzerker Rhino rush lists happening than that.

Barclay Nurgle Wrapper

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