The Space Marines have a large array of generic characters to choose from, with characters that have distinct roles in an army list and fulfill them admirably. The Captain and Chapter Master are combat-oriented heroes that can allow army list manipulation when certain wargear options are chosen, while Librarians, Chaplains and Masters of the Forge are primarily geared to varying forms of support. The addition of Chapter Relics and the streamlining of wargear costs leads to tougher choices than previously for which character to lead your army; gone are the days when a Librarian was a default choice due to Null Zone and the like. Now, there are intrinsic benefits to employing a Chapter Master in place of a Captain, and so on, rewarding your choices in a considered fashion. As well, the differing Chapter Tactics certainly boost the viability of individual choices by considerable margins!
Part Two of the Generic Characters section covers the Librarian, Chaplain, Master of the Forge, Techmarine and Servitors.
Overview - Librarians are the cheapest HQ choice a Space Marine player has access to, and it is rare indeed that one would say they don't justify their comparatively minimal investment. Each is a psyker that can be upraded to Mastery Level two, with access to four of the main rulebook psychic disciplines; the only exception, sadly, being Divination. This limits the Librarian to comparatively mediocre primaris powers, while disallowing Space Marines from gaining ease of access to a reliable and incredibly useful form of twin-linking. It goes without saying though that the other disciplines can be quite strong as well; Biomancy and Telepathy can provide some strong blessings or maledictions each, for example.
Each Librarian comes stock with a force weapon of your choice - all of which have their various uses, to be discussed later - though they lack the number of attacks, Initiative or Weapon Skill to truly worry most monstrous creatures and characters. You should never rely on a Librarian to provide a strong melee presence, though some builds can be quite cost effective and durable in combat - notably a Terminator-armoured Librarian with a storm shield that runs just on the triple-digit mark. They are otherwise rather fragile with a mere two wounds and no access to an invulnerable save outside of terminator armour and subsequent upgrades, or an expensive Shield Eternal that is most definitely wasted on a two wound model. The Librarian is your cheapest means of unlocking the devastating Command Squads filled with special weapons; massed flamers or meltaguns in a drop pod with Salamanders Chapter Tactics, or massed grav rifles on bikes with White Scars Chapter Tactics? That cheap Librarian on a Bike gives you some good love here.
How to Equip Them - Unless you plan on running them in a Rhino, or you want to save points and aren't too concerned for their safety - running them bare to get a Command Squad is not unheard of - I would generally recommend either the Terminator armour or Bike upgrades to give them extra potential mobility and durability at a low cost. Taking the former also allows the Librarian to take a storm shield, which is laughably cheap for a model with a mere 5+ invulnerable save or lack thereof otherwise. Adding a combi-weapon of your choice bumps the Librarian up to a respectable low triple digit cost, but makes them a versatile, decently tough, and even quite nasty HQ choice that also provides extra random effects in the form of psychic powers. Remember that even Terminator-armoured Librarians can fit in Drop Pods provided there are two spots free for him; factor this into taking units such as Sternguard or Command Squads and the like.
Where to Put Them - The best aspect of a Librarian is their versatility; they provide any unit with a decent force weapon, a probable good armour save and thus a miniature wound tank, as well as one or two powers from differing disciplines. That a Librarian can choose from one of four different tables when determining their powers allows you quite a deal of freedom to adapt to enemy armies and tactics. Terrify, Invisibility and Hallucination are always great powers from Telepathy, but Fire Shield or Enfeeble can change the game in a pinch by either providing a unit with a strong, reflective cover save or reducing the instant death threshold of pesky monsters and infantry. For these reasons, there are very few "bad" places to put a Librarian, particularly if you gave them either a bike or Terminator armour. Generally speaking, they work well for drop-podding units by providing some extra alpha strike potential in the form of either a combi-weapon or a nasty power such as Psychic Shriek. Similarly, you can use them on foot to provide bonuses such as Endurance or Invisibility to ground units that require it.
Best Uses - Generally speaking, with the lack of access to Divination and thus having less reliance on a great Primaris power, I would keep the Librarian cheap and don't focus on a particular strategy with them specifically. Instead, think of how they can provide either a nasty Command Squad toting some special weapons on Bikes or in Drop Pods, or whatever you fancy, and of how cheaply you can fill up your Warlord slot. Of course, a two-wound character is unlikely to survive any real punishment, so this is a risk you must consider when determining whether a single Librarian fills out your HQ choice acceptably. I would usually either mount a Librarian on a Bike or put them in Terminator armour, and attach them to a unit of your choice to match the wargear selection. Librarians aren't amazing and it is unlikely they will do anything ground-breaking, but they provide some potentially great psychic support powers, some extra melee punch with two or more force weapon attacks at Weapon Skill five, and even a clear target for enemies afraid of a psykers' potential. For an army that wants a cheap support commander and isn't too afraid of the big bad monsters inflicting instant death on him, I think a Librarian is the HQ of choice - particularly in smaller games where their abilities are more pronounced.
Chapter Tactics - Unlike say the Captain or a Chapter Master, Librarians don't really benefit as much from any specific set of Chapter Tactics. They don't have enough wounds to capitalize on It Will Not Die from Iron Hands, nor are they truly suited for challenges where Black Templars ply their trade - not that you will ever see one in those colours, Abhor the Witch and all. Salamanders give them a free master-crafting which can be certainly helpful for a combi-weapon or their force weapon, while a Bike-mounted Librarian obviously gets a bit of a kick from the White Scars detachment rules.
Overview - Billed as the intermediary between the combat-oriented Captains and support-oriented Librarians, Chaplains combine some watered-down elements of both choices into an affordable but generally less than spectacular package. A Chaplain has slightly boosted durability compared to a stock Librarian as he has a 4+ invulnerable save, though he still has a mere two wounds and a 3+ armour save. His higher base cost than the Librarian means that this bonus evens out, as the Librarian can get a 2+ armour save and 3+ invulnerable save for quite a bit less than a Chaplain. Instead of a force weapon, a Chaplain has an inferior power weapon, and though some might complain that it is specifically a power maul, these are statistically the best power weapons overall. The Chaplain is intended as more of a combat support character than the Librarian; though his damage output will usually be similar or less than a Librarian, the Chaplain actually buffs his unit in combat with the Zealot special rule. Fearless isn't that big of a boon on Space Marines who already have And They Shall Know No Fear, as there are always some units you do not want to engage, or combats you want to get out of on specific turns.
However, re-rolls to hit on the first round of combat due to Hatred can be quite helpful for a dedicated melee unit. Of course, this presents an obvious issue with the Chaplain that the Librarian does not share; a Chaplain needs to be attached to a dedicated melee unit to really make the most of his Zealot special rule. This is then compounded by the fact that Space Marines lack great dedicated melee units aside from Honour Guard; Assault Terminators aren't so great in 6th Edition due to mini-Rending Eldar shooting, massed high Strength firepower from every army, and more AP2 than has even been seen before. Even with storm shields, there is simply too much rate of fire to put them down quite quickly; besides, getting them near an opponent without investing in an expensive Land Raider can be difficult enough as it is due to deep strike scatter. Vanguard Veterans and Assault Marines certainly aren't bad choices, but probably not the kind of unit you would really want a Chaplain joining. The two jump units really aren't cut out to compete with units such as Screamers, Flesh Hounds or the flying monsters that popularize the 6th Edition meta. This leaves the much improved Honour Guard, though you have to sacrifice a HQ slot anyway through a Chapter Master to access them in the first place. This leaves Chaplains without a great unit to really benefit, and the Chaplain doesn't even provide such stellar benefits as a Librarian potentially would anyway; their sole advantage is that their abilities are guaranteed, not random, and thus far more predictable in the army list creation stage.
How to Equip Them - Seeing as Chaplains already come stock with a 4+ invulnerable save, Terminator armour isn't as worthwhile an upgrade on them as it is for a Librarian; that they pay more for this upgrade is rather silly, indeed, as they make less benefit of it overall. Like any other HQ choice though, a Bike is always a great upgrade - particularly in a White Scars army - this gives any commander a welcome boost to their survivability, as the extra point of Toughness can function more or less as an extra wound against most enemies. Besides, the mobility alone allows your melee-support Chaplain to get into combat that much quicker, and while Bikers may not defeat "hard" melee units in combat, the addition of Zealot should let them overpower typical enemy forces in Troops and so on. You can add a cheap combi-weapon on to the Chaplain to give him a one-shot chance at crippling a key enemy formation, though I feel this is an inefficient use of a dedicated melee HQ - or at least one that wants to make you believe it is one. Much like Librarians, they have access to the Chapter Relics, but I would advise against them as they are still two wound models without great saves unless you pay through the nose for it. This will merely leave you with a points inefficient character that would simply make you wish you had invested a similar amount of points in a pair of cheap Librarians or a kitted our Captain. Either keep the Chaplain stock, or put him on a Bike to make the most of his rather mediocre abilities.
Where to Put Them - A Chaplain suffers from its focus on boosting melee units; he wants to be with your best melee unit, or with a unit that could really use the boost. While it is fair to say Tactical Marines sure would like to be better in combat, taking a rather expensive and comparatively fragile HQ choice to fulfill this purpose for such a unit is not conducive to building an effective overall army list. You need to maximise the effectiveness of each unit as much as possible, and this means attaching the Chaplain to a strong assault unit. With the changes to the meta in 6th Edition, players are moving away from Terminators and the like simply because torrent of fire and massed AP2 weaponry dissuade even storm-shield wielding Terminators from taking the field of battle. For dedicated melee units, this leaves you with Command Squads, Honour Guard, Vanguard Veterans and Assault Marines. Assault Centurions are too expensive, slow and reliant on an expensive transport to make an effective melee unit in any sense, particularly with a costly character add-on factored in. Bikers can't really be classed as a dedicated melee unit, but are ironically one of the best units for a Chaplain to join overall because they provide the Chaplain with a tough and deadly bodyguard - Relentless grav rifles! - while he gives them an added melee boost and Fearless to reduce the risks with their close assault tactics.
Vanguard Veterans can be deadly, but incredibly expensive, and either require a transport or jump packs which boost the price of a unit up quite quickly. Even then, they don't compare favourably to some of the alternatives. Assault Marines are one of the cheapest options, but lack the real punch to deal with opposing dedicated assault units. Realistically, a Command Squad is best served in shooting due to the recent FAQ changes, particularly as Honour Guard are quite simply the most points-efficient melee unit in the codex that doesn't really shoot either. This leads you with some pretty tough choices to make, though they really aren't the good kind; the fact of the matter is that the Chaplain simply doesn't provide the kind of bonuses an army such as Space Marines would like to have. Though assault is hardly dead, Space Marines aren't an army that does it particularly well in any sense; though they are utilitarians, they are far more apt at shooting and more likely to do great damage there. Besides, a Librarian offers more potent direct combat support, particularly in protracted combats; the option to still flee as necessary from enemies such as Wraithlords, and random albeit stronger potential abilities through their psychic powers.
Best Uses - Chaplains are yet another method of getting a Command Squad into the fray, and it can be argued that the advantage Chaplains have over Captains is that they don't need any more wargear aside from maybe a Bike. They are there to give a unit Fearless and Hatred, while providing some additional power weapon attacks. There is very little to change from that generic mould, and thus this limits the uses of Chaplains quite severely; they cannot do much except be decent combat support characters. Compounding the issue is the lack of units that really benefit from a Chaplain's ability; if they were in an army that included assault units of similar offensive capabilities to, for example, Flesh Hounds or Wraithblades, this wouldn't be such an issue. While Assault Terminators and the like are hardly bad units, there uses in game are limited by the very nature of 6th Edition; it punishes elite armies, particularly elite assault units, like few others. For this reason, you are best attaching a Chaplain to a Biker unit or a 'hard' assault unit of your choice; I feel the former is a more effective use of the Chaplain to ensure the Biker units can destroy their chosen targets. The latter, however, will still work in themed lists and will at least provide those melee units with some potential boosts to even the playing field.
Chapter Tactics - Like the Librarian, the Chaplain isn't really geared to get a lot of personal benefit from any of the Chapter Tactics, though when combined with his power maul, the Accept Any Challenge special rule for Black Templars can be quite handy, if uninspiring. It won't elevate them to higher levels of combat prowess, but it helps; much as Salamanders will help them out with a free re-roll to hit. As it is, you can comfortably take any of the Chapter Tactics and not feel like you are wasting the benefits of any particular choice.
Master of the Forge
Overview - One of the hidden stars in a codex filled with glorious heroes, a Master of the Forge is far more than a simple lord-styled Techmarine. Rather than charging head-first into combat or casting psychic powers to prove his worth, the Master of the Forge is truly a ranged character that, helpfully, doesn't compromise on melee capabilities either. He provides your army with a welcome defensive boost by upgrading a single piece of terrain to provide a bonus +1 cover to its regular cover save. For these reasons alone, a Master of the Forge is well suited as the Warlord or supporting commander to a gunline-oriented force. He boosts cover for Devastators and the like to ply their deadly trade in safety, or even your scoring Tactical Marines and Scouts. Additionally, as you would expect of any form of Techmarine, he can repair vehicles of any kind with his servo-arms; restoring one of a lost hull point, a destroyed weapon or an immobilized result. Obviously, this is an invaluable asset in any army featuring a handful or more of vehicles, particularly for Iron Hands who both provide the Master of the Forge with bonuses to Repair rolls, and the vehicles themselves with It Will Not Die.
The Master of Forge, while primarily a support character that is already useful enough, can be quite damaging as well in the right circumstances; probably in a well protected bodyguard unit and out of base contact with enemy models. With three power fist attacks base at Weapon Skill four, as well as the ability to fire two weapons if he doesn't try to repair a vehicle, the Master of the Forge is as likely to do some decent damage as a Librarian or Chaplain. Their servo-harness affords them with a twin-linked plasma pistol, effectively, and a flamer. Add a standard boltgun, combi-weapon or even a Conversion Beamer to the mix, and you have a character that can really worry light vehicles, light infantry and even heavier units at range, depending on wargear choices. That the mechanical genius himself has a 2+ armour save and two wound stock is pretty handy, especially considering his price, as he can be used to soak up troubling AP3 wounds for power-armoured units as necessary. Additionally, he can tank power swords and the like quite well in challenges, though the lack of an invulnerable save can be irritating against enemies such as monsters or plasma weaponry; not that you should ever willingly engage these, of course.
To add to the Master of the Forge's already rather extensive list of traits, he allows you to take Dreadnoughts and Ironclad Dreadnoughts as both Heavy Support and Elite choices, significantly freeing up the Elites slot to allow you to take strong units such as Sternguard. This works best for a drop-pod assault based army, due to most of the Heavy Support units either being invalid or not really conducive to the effective use of such a force. Otherwise, you may find your Heavy Support choices more contested than your Elites, due to the sheer strength of the units available there. Regardless, that the Master of the Forge allows you to change up the army list in such a way, while already being a very cost effective commander, seals him as one of the best HQ choices that you have access to.
How to Equip Them - Though you would logically think that a lord of the armoury would be one of the best equipped models in the force, you really don't need to upgrade a Master of the Forge that much to make them more effective. A conversion beamer is very much a preferential choice, though I would think it relies too heavily on deployment type and the size of a game board to be a consistent performer due to its evolving profile based on range. I would avoid the power axe as the Master of the Forge already has a free power fist in the form of the servo arm, unless it is for model purposes. Putting him on a bike and giving him a combi-weapon is about the limit I would push the Master of the Forge to, as he really doesn't need anything else to be a great choice that supports your army in an ideal fashion. If you have the points spare, giving him the Primarch's Wrath while mounted on a bike is a smart and fluffy choice to add to his decent assortment of ranged weapons. Of course, a smarter choice would be to take a conversion beamer on a bike to make the most out of being mobile and Relentless! Keep him as cheap as you can, as he already gives you some sizable boosts just through his inclusion in an army.
Where to Put Them - There are a few primary methods to utilize a Master of the Forge, and each works well in their own associated army list variant. The most commonly seen is to mount them in a vehicle or on a bike riding just behind a vehicle, using them to repair it as necessary. Land Raiders are ideal for this, particularly in an Iron Hands army list due to boosted repair rolls and It Will Not Die. You can even put them in a Drop Pod as a means of getting an extra combi-weapon into the alpha strike, and to repair your already rather tough Ironclad Dreadnoughts. Another is to simply put them in a squad on foot or on bikes and provide either static or mobile ranged fire support as well as making full use of Bolster Defences.
Best Uses - I think that a Master of the Forge is ideally used in a vehicle-heavy Iron Hands army list led by a trio of Land Raiders of some variety, or any other kind of list featuring more than five or six tanks. The sheer utility and damage control provided by the Master of the Forge is simply priceless. In an edition where stripping hull points remains the primary method of dealing with vehicles of all kinds, safeguarding them from such damage by giving those units two chances to recover hull points in the same turn can be utterly ridiculous if exploited. Maximising its potential is best served by employing as many high-armoured vehicles as possible whom massed strength seven attacks would struggle to put down in one salvo, such as Ironclads in Drop Pod lists, or Predators, Vindicators and Land Raiders in mechanized lists.
Chapter Tactics - Though there may be a clear winner here, it is pertinent to point out the advantages of the various other beneficiary Chapter Tactics. White Scars help out any Bike-mounted Master of the Forge - even allowing him to grant Scout to allied units! - while Salamanders give him free master-crafting and re-rollable saves against template weapons, making them an awesome wound tank against Heldrakes. Still, it needs to be said; Iron Hands are tailor made to make a Master of the Forge into an incredible commander at dirt cheap prices. They give him a bonus to repair rolls, the ability to grow back wounds, a slight Feel No Pain save, and, most important of all, they provide immense benefits to the same vehicles a Master of the Forge is best suited to supporting. They really are the master artisans amongst the Loyalist Astartes.
Overview - The cheaper, more generic equivalent of a Master of the Forge, a Techmarine doesn't provide the same bang for your buck potential Warlord choice, but makes up for it by not taking up an HQ slot. You can take one for each other independent character - excluding Techmarines - HQ choice you take, and as independent characters, they can be joined to a wide variety of units. The differences between them and a Master of the Forge are quite significant, as the Techmarine has but a single wound, only a servo arm and not a full servo harness, and reduced access to wargear such as conversion beamers and the Primarch's Wrath. That the Techmarine is also Leadership 8 as opposed to 10 lessens the benefits they provide to a typical Space Marine squad, as even despite And They Shall Know No Fear, sticking in a particular combat or passing a given Pinning test is still very important and can change the game. Basically, you take a Techmarine(s) either as the cheapest Repair option you have, or because you don't have a spare HQ slot to fit in a Master of the Forge. Generally speaking, they are also a cheap method of adding Bolster Defences to an army, which can be quite useful in limited numbers; you don't want to spend too many points on abilities that may not see use on terrain-light game boards, after all. They become far more effective in a mechanized army list so as to spread out the repair rolls that receive the handy +1 bonus in an Iron Hands list - the favourite of mech Space Marine armies.
How to Equip Them - You are probably off leaving a Techmarine bare if you want them to support vehicles, as they can stick inside transports until their servo arms are needed; otherwise, you can put them on a bike to give them some much needed extra durability. With only one wound and a 2+ armour save, they are very easy to kill and as such you shouldn't invest any more points in them than absolutely necessary. You can replace their servo arm with a servo harness, but it leaves them only marginally cheaper than a Master of the Forge that has a wide range of advantages, so I would leave such gear for them unless you are playing in a list that requires multiple 'mechanics'.
Where to Put Them - Techmarines are, like Masters of the Forge, best placed either in a transport or on a bike to support vehicles and make the most out of their Blessing of the Omnissiah special rule. Unlike the Master of the Forge, you can't really get away with using them in a bunker unit as effectively as they lack a servo harness, and are too close in price to a Master of the Forge when upgraded with one.
Best Uses - I would keep Techmarines reserved solely for a mechanized list, as unlike a Master of the Forge, the Techmarine doesn't really have much utility outside of reparing vehicles, particularly as he doesn't potentially eat up your mandatory HQ slot. A Master of the Forge does this and more, including moving Dreadnoughts of all kinds to Heavy Support and being quite a bit tougher to kill. When paired up with Iron Hands Chapter Tactics and moving around with Predators, Vindicators, Land Raiders and the like galore, there aren't too many better investments than a Techmarine.
Chapter Tactics - Though I feel like I am beating a dead horse, having the Iron Hands Chapter Tactics really benefits Techmarines - and by extension, Masters of the Forge, vehicles and so on - the most given their role in a typical Space Marine force. Making full use of those abilities really demands the use of Iron Hands, and so that would be my stock recommendation. Other handy choices are Salamanders to master-craft a combi-weapon, or, indirectly, Imperial Fists to give tank-hunting Devastators a nice 3+ or 4+ cover save in your deployment zone.
Overview - The cheap companions to Techmarines and Masters of the Forge, Servitors are a unit specifically designed with Blessing of the Omnissiah in mind; each has a servo arm, providing large bonuses to repair rolls and, hilariously, providing cheap ablative power fist attacks and wounds. With a 4+ armour save and stats befitting a typical Imperial Guardsmen, Servitors are cheap for what they do and useful to maximise your repair rolls. They can even be used to add heavy weapons at low prices to your force, though these are unreliable and pale in comparison to only slightly more expensive Devastator Marines. Where Servitors start to shine is an Iron Hands army, or more loosely, a mechanized force; the sole purpose to take them is to make sure your repair rolls are successful, as any other use of them is inefficient compared to regular Space Marines or even Scouts.
Unfortunately, the unit proves to be rather less useful than initially thought as they preclude the Techmarine or Master of the Forge from joining another unit. Though they are cheap, with their middling Toughness (that extends to the character if two or more are taken due to majority toughness rules), mediocre stats and 4+ armour save, they do not protect already comparatively (to Captains and Chapter Masters) fragile characters all that well. That their squad size is a mere five means that you can't even provide that many ablative wounds for the characters, and outside of some power fist attacks at Weapon Skill three, they really can't do much else. Additionally, if you want to make your repairs on the fly, taking Servitors precludes your character from being mounted on a bike. As an unlocked unit available to Techmarines and Masters of the Forge, Servitors aren't anywhere near as impressive as Command Squads or Honour Guard. This is not just because they can't do as much damage or protect them well enough, but because those characters already have a high enough success rate with repair rolls to not really need the help of Servitors. When Iron Hands - best pals to the Omnissiah's servants - are thrown in as the chosen Chapter Tactics, the need for Servitors is almost completely eliminated due to the +1 bonus to repair rolls already gained, and the vehicles all gaining It Will Not Die for free.
Where to Put Them - Given that they cannot take any kind of mount wargear, and are quite fragile themselves, I would always place them in a transport, preferably the one you most want a character with Blessing of the Omnissiah to keep in the battle. Land Raiders are good uses for such tactics, though it does bring into question the viability of using a Land Raider to ferry a unit of Servitors and their master.
Best Uses - Ignore the heavy weapons, and use them in transports, or hide them behind cover, so as to best repair either mobile or static vehicles. These are the sole reasons you take Servitors; even despite their power fist attacks, you can't even really use them as a counter-assault unit in the backfield due to how mediocre their profile is.
Chapter Tactics - Ironically, you probably don't want to see Servitors in an Iron Hands army list simply because a Master of the Forge with those Chapter Tactics already fixes vehicles on a 3+, and that is even before mentioning the It Will Not Die rolls those vehicles obtain. This leaves them best suited to bodyguard duties for Techmarines in other Chapters, as you can have four plus the Techmarine himself for the price of a Master of the Forge and have a guaranteed repair roll.
Did you find this an entertaining and insightful read? Please let us know in the comments section below - we appreciate any and all feedback. Cheers!
"They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war I shall forge them."
- The Emperor