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6 best Space Marine chapters in Warhammer 40,000: Ninth Edition

Since the first edition of Warhammer 40,000, Space Marines have remained at the forefront of the franchise. Also known as the Legion Astartes, Space Marines are genetically modified superhuman soldiers and the greatest defenders of Humanity. Through association with Warhammer 40,000 overall, Space Marines continue to be popular as a human-facing faction with a wealth of sub-factions (also known as chapters) available.

Best Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine chapters

There are roughly a thousand Space Marine chapters with about a quarter named and described, all illustrated within the lore. Even that number is in question, though, as the Eighth Edition Codex points out the Administratum's bookkeeping is too inefficient to get an exact number. Ironically, you could say their administration of record-keeping follows the overall grimdark tone of Warhammer 40,000.

You don't have to worry about the countless chapter options, as Games Workshop has whittled this down to 13 within its product range. With this, we’ve selected the six best Space Marine chapters to get you started on your Warhammer 40,000 journey. Whether you are looking for the next competitive-winning army, or want something flavourful, there’s a chapter suitable for you.

1. Iron Hands

"Humans do not submit to fate. We shape it."

Since Warhammer 40,000's Eighth Edition, Iron Hands have swept tables with Leviathan Dreadnoughts - which eventually demanded a revision to the rules as the chapter dominated competitive events. Even with the errata, the Iron Hands remain an excellent Space Marine chapter due to their ability to apply pressure from afar and in close combat. Leading with Iron Father Feirros and an Apothecary with the Father of the Future trait should be the baseline of any Iron Hands army. With these two units, you will have access to Feel No Pain which bolsters your invulnerable saves, ensuring your units stick around during combat.

You also have access to powerful stratagems such as Calculated Fury, which allows you to move and fire heavy weapons without any hit penalty. As such, Iron Hands are excellent at siegecraft thanks to abilities such as Blessing of the Machine God. Combining this with Psysteel Armour, you can give your vehicles strong survivability and an additional counter to units that have penalties to hit.

If you think flesh is for the weak and favour the confidence of Iron, or fancy shooting first with little concern for the outcome, then the Iron Hands are for you.

2. Ultramarines

"What does not kill me... is not trying hard enough."

At the forefront of Warhammer 40,000’s narrative, the Ultramarines are a popular chapter amongst players and Warhammer store employees. The Ultramarines are known to be one of the most flexible chapters within the Space Marine faction. They're able to move freely around the board while picking and choosing combats they want to be involved with. Given the emphasis on capturing objectives in Ninth Edition, this makes the Ultramarines a solid tabletop option.

You have access to the powerful Chapter doctrine called the Scion of Guilliman, this offers a huge boost for non-vehicle heavy weapon units like Devastators and Suppressors, who can stay mobile without losing damage output. You can round out your list with powerful characters such as Chief Librarian Tigirus, who is one of the best psykers in the game.

Ultramarines do plenty of things well. However, they don't strive for anything unique. Think of the Ultramarines as a 'jack of all trades' Space Marines chapter where you can cover plenty of bases. This is ideal if you are looking to build an army without a particular theme in mind, or want to keep your list as low maintenance as possible. If you enjoy playing as a Lawful Good character in Dungeons & Dragons or think Roboute Guilliman is the best tactician within the Warhammer landscape, the Ultramarines are a great starting point into the franchise.

3. White Scars

"Only poets can be true warriors."

The White Scars are an assault-focused Space Marine chapter; they charge with blistering pace before the enemy has a chance to respond. By using assault bikes and jump packs, White Scars can attack with deadly precision to wipe out threats at the right time. Their biggest strength lies in delivering the enemy to the fight, and they have the best tools for reaching close combat with ease. With this, White Scars are excellent at taking objectives and breaking up enemy strongpoints, which is a huge aspect of Ninth Edition.

Once you are ready to throw your army into combat, you can use a blend of the Ride the Winds and the relic Plume of the Planesrunner to give your infantry units +3 to advance. Even a unit of Centurions will be outpacing normal infantry and an evasive unit such as a Smash Captain will be approaching absurd speeds when entering combat. Coupled with the psychic ability to ignore overwatch that targets your units, White Scars are a deadly chapter if utilised correctly. If you like making 'Nyoooom' sounds while moving assault bikes into combat, or enjoy coating your models in endless amounts of white paint, the White Scars are an excellent army to ride into battle.

4. Blood Angels

"By the blood of Sanguinius!"

The Blood Angels are a noble Space Marine chapter with a terrible curse. They aim to protect the helpless but are plagued with a flaw in their gene stock, known as the Red Thirst. With this trait, Blood Angels end up as a powerful melee-focused chapter with various methods of jumping into combat quickly. Blood Angels are one of the more popular chapters amongst players, as there is so much individuality that sets them apart from the rest. Not to mention, Blood Angels offer some of the best-looking character models within Warhammer 40,000.

You'll want to slant your Blood Angels list towards melee gameplay since this is the chapter's biggest strength. As such, you can use Strategic Reserves to buy you time for the Assault Doctrine and Savage Echoes to kick in. Not only will your units enter as hyper-aggressive space vampires, but your strongest melee units are sheltered from enemy firepower until then. However, it does take time to play Blood Angels right. It's effortless to rush into combat and assume you'll tear everything apart, but this is where specific secondary units such as the Death Company and the Sanguine Guard come into play.

If you enjoy getting up close and personal, while wailing over the loss of Primarch Sanguinius, then the Blood Angels may pique your interest.

5. Salamanders

"Protect the weak, no matter who it is!"

Similar to the Blood Angels, the Salamanders see themselves as protectors of the vulnerable and downtrodden. Despite holding a similar cause, the Salamanders opt for a more brazen approach - with huge Flamers and Melta Guns to scorch their opponents into the dirt.

The Salamanders are warrior-craftspeople that heed to the glory of the Imperium of Man. The chapter carries this ideology onto the tabletop, where they can easily take down vehicles due to their talents with heavy weaponry. The Salamanders have impressive defensive capabilities, such as the Forged in Battle rule, which lets you reroll a hit roll and a wound roll on overwatch shots. Then there’s the Promethean Cult ability, which is the biggest draw to playing the chapter. It's a simple ability, but it grants your flame and Melta weapons receive +1 to wound when Tactical Doctrine is in effect.

While they fall short in long-range shooting, the Salamanders are an admirable chapter. They care about searing everything in sight while adorned in the finest scales and relics on offer.

6. Imperial Fists

"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon."

Decorated in blazing yellow, the Imperial Fists are staunch defenders of the Imperium since the Great Crusade. Similar to the Iron Hands, the Imperial Fists are excellent at blasting enemy fortifications and establishing their own. Thanks to the Siege Masters Chapter Tactic, the chapter can hose Bolters better than anyone else. Going further, the Imperial Fists shine bright in Intercessor-heavy builds going into the Tactical Doctrine.

With these abilities in mind, you'll want to focus on taking objectives early as possible. Given that Ninth Edition centres around holding objectives, stratagems such as Bolster Defences and Shield Unwavering contribute to this approach favourably. At times, you'll want to be aggressive and take objectives - which is where the Redemptor Dreadnoughts come in. Even after spending their first turn with Legacy of Dorn firepower, these Dreadnoughts remain useful during a game. Despite the chapter looking like target practice on legs, the Imperial Fists are a resilient option if you fancy a bit of colour compared to the Iron Fists.

Space Marines remain a strong option no matter the chapter you decide. Combining the blend of resilient infantry, diverse transportation and capable melee options allows for a variety of ways to approach Warhammer 40,000. Space Marines will continue to see generous support from Games Workshop since they are the headline faction within the franchise. As a result, Space Marines will always feature at the top tables due to their evergreen popularity and accessibility.

Whether you are looking to sweep tables, looking to enrich the lore, or aiming for something more casual, there is a flavour of Space Marine for every kind of Warhammer player.


Space marine

Type of soldier in military science fiction

For other uses, see Space marine (disambiguation).

Amazing StoriesDecember 1936, an early illustration of space marines.

The space marine, an archetype of military science fiction, is a kind of soldier who operates in outer space or on alien worlds.[1] Historical marines fulfill multiple roles: ship defence, boarding actions, landing parties, and general-purpose high-mobility land deployments that operate within a fixed distance of shore or ship. By analogy, hypothetical space marines would defend allied spaceships, board enemy ships, land on planets and moons, and satisfy rapid-deployment needs throughout space.


The earliest known use of the term "space marine" was by Bob Olsen in his short story "Captain Brink of the Space Marines" (Amazing Stories, Volume 7, Number 8, November 1932), a light-hearted work whose title is a play on the song "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines", and in which the protagonists were marines of the "Earth Republic Space Navy" on mission to rescue celebrity twins from aliens on Titan. Olsen published a novella sequel four years later, "The Space Marines and the Slavers" (Amazing Stories, Volume 10, Number 13, December 1936), featuring the same characters using a spaceship with active camouflage to free hostages from Martianspace pirates on Ganymede.[2]

A more widely known early example was E. E. Smith's Lensman series. While the first story, Triplanetary and most later sequels (Second Stage Lensmen, Children of the Lens and The Vortex Blaster) do not mention them, passing mentions of marines are made in Galactic Patrol[a] (Astounding Stories, September 1937–February 1938) and Gray Lensman[b][c] (Astounding Stories, October 1939–January 1940), and a more direct mention is made in First Lensman (1950): "Dronvire of Rigel Four in the lead, closely followed by Costigan, Northrop, Kinnison the Younger, and a platoon of armed and armored Space Marines!".

The phrase "space marines" appears in Robert A. Heinlein's "Misfit"[d] (1939) and is again used in "The Long Watch"[e] (1941) which is referenced in his later novel Space Cadet (1948), in all cases before Smith had used the phrase. Heinlein's Starship Troopers (1959) is considered the defining work for the concept, although it does not use the term "space marine". The actors playing the Colonial Marines in Aliens (1986) were required to read Starship Troopers as part of their training prior to filming.[3] Heinlein intended for the capsule troopers of the Mobile Infantry to be an amalgam of the shipborne aspect of the US Marine Corps relocated to space and coupled with the battlefield delivery and mission profile of US Armyparatroopers.

As a gaming concept, space marines play a major role in the Warhammer 40,000 miniatures wargame, in which they are genetically altered super-soldiers and the most powerful fighting forces available to the Imperium of Man. In computer games, playing a space marine in action games was popularized by id Software's Doom series, first published in 1993. It is a convenient game back-story as it excuses the presence of the character on a hostile alien world with little support and heavy weaponry. Some critics have suggested it has been overused to the point of being an action game cliché.[4]

Trademark controversy[edit]

In December 2012, online retailer removed the e-bookSpots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth at the request of games company Games Workshop. They claimed the use of the phrase "space marine" infringed on their trademark of the term for their game Warhammer 40,000.[5] In February 2013, the row received a lot of publicity, with authors such as Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross and John Scalzi supporting Hogarth, and then restored the e-book for sale.[6][7]


In film and television space marines often appear in squads, while in video games the protagonist Marine is usually alone or in very small squads.[citation needed] Depending on the mission, they may be deployed via dropship or another specialised insertion craft.[citation needed] Their battledress varies between media, ranging from equipment comparable to modern-day fatigues (or just being contemporary, such as the equipment of Colonial Marines in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica) to environmentally sealedsuits of powered armour. Equipment and weaponry is similarly varied, often incorporating various fictional technologies. Directed-energy weapons are common, though conventional firearms are also used, like the M41A Pulse Rifles the Colonial Marines in the Aliens movie use (which are projectile weapons that use an electric pulse to shoot caseless ammunition). If the marines' armour is particularly bulky, their weapons may be similarly scaled up such as in Warhammer 40,000 where Space Marines carry "boltguns," effectively rocket-propelled grenade launchers, as a standard firearm.

Non-fiction aspects[edit]

The United States Air Force's Project Hot Eagle considers the use of spacecraft to deliver Marines to a target on the ground. "Within minutes of bursting into the atmosphere beyond the speed of sound – and dispatching that ominous sonic boom – a small squad of Marines could be on the ground and ready for action within 2 hours."[8][9]

Appearances in fiction[edit]

Books and short stories[edit]

Films and television[edit]


Title Publisher Game type Year(s) published Unit name
Starship TroopersAvalon HillBoard wargame1976 Mobile Infantry
TravellerGame Designers' WorkshopRole-playing game1977 Star Marines, Terran Confederation Marine Corps, Imperial Marine Force, Solomani Marine Corps, and Zhodani Consular Guard
Space MarinesFantac/Fantasy Games UnlimitedWargaming; Tabletop game; Dice game1977/1980 Terran UnionGuard Heavy Infantry, Azuriach Heavy Infantry
Starfire seriesTask Force Games; Starfire Design StudioBoard wargame1979–present Federation Navy Marine Corps
Space Marines Asgard MiniaturesScience Fiction Miniature Line 1982–present Space Marine/Space Trooper. The miniatures in this line were created for use with Laserburn and are currently available through Alternative Armies
Star FrontiersTSR, Inc.Role-playing game1982–1985 Space Marine. The career name for NPCs with a focus in beam weapons.
Metroid seriesNintendoAction-adventure game1986–present Galactic Federation Marine Corps/07th Platoon
Princess Ryan's Space MarinesSimulations Tacticals (SIMTAC)1/285 Scale Tabletop Miniatures Game 1986 Princess Ryan's Space Marines
Warhammer 40,000 seriesGames WorkshopMiniature wargaming; Tabletop game; Dice game1987–present Adeptus Astartes (Imperial Space Marine) Chapters, and also, to an extent, Chaos Space Marines.
Wing Commander franchise Origin Systems, Inc.Space combat simulation1990–1999 Terran Confederation Marine Corps
Duke Nukem series3D RealmsFirst-person shooter; Platform1991–present Earth Defense Forces (EDF)
Doom seriesid softwareFirst-person shooter1993–present
Quake seriesid software First-person shooter 1996–present SMC (Space Marine Corps) Marines, GDF (Global Defence Force)
OutwarsMicrosoftThird-person shooter; Tactical shooter1998 Colonial Marines
StarCraft seriesBlizzard Entertainment Real-time strategy 1998–present Confederate Marine Corps, the Dominion Marine Corps, the Alliance Marine Corps, the Alpha Corps, the United Earth Directorate Powered Infantry and numerous more
Ground ControlSierra On-LineReal-time tactics2000 Crayven Corporation's Marines
Halo seriesMicrosoft Game StudiosFirst-person shooter; Real-time strategy 2001–present United Nations Space Command Marine Corps and the elite Orbital Drop Shock Trooper divisions (special forces qualified for drop pod insertion).
Red Faction seriesTHQFirst-person shooter; Third-person shooter 2001–present Earth Defence Marine Corps (E.D.M.C.) and Earth Naval Guard (E.N.G.)
Natural SelectionUnknown Worlds EntertainmentFirst-person shooter; Real-time strategy 2002–2007 Frontiersmen (human space marines)
TimeSplitters 2Eidos InteractiveFirst-person shooter 2002 Space Marines (Sergeant Cortez and Corporal Hart)
Killzone seriesSCEEFirst-person shooter 2003–present Interplanetary Strategic Alliance Marines
TimeSplitters: Future PerfectElectronic Arts First-person shooter 2005 Space Marines (Sergeant Cortez) (This got changed during scripting as it was pointed out that Space Marine might infringe on Games Workshop name.)[citation needed]
Mass Effect seriesMicrosoft Game Studios; Electronic Arts Action role-playing game; Third-person shooter 2007–present designated personnel of the Systems Alliance Navy (no branch independence)
Dead Space seriesElectronic Arts Survival horror; Third-person shooter 2008–present USM Marine Corps (a branch of the Earth Defense Force)
TurokTouchstone InteractiveAction game; First-person shooter 2008 Marines (also referred to as Commandos)
Eat Lead: The Return of Matt HazardD3 PublisherAction game; Third-person shooter 2009 Space Marines
Alien SwarmValveAction game; Third-person shooter; Shoot-em-up; Top-down2010 Space Marines – the game can be single player or 4 players co-op. There are 4 classes with 2 characters for each class: Officer, Special Weapons, Medic and Tech.
Warhammer 40,000 ArmageddonSlitherineTurn-based strategy 2014 Space Marines

The term is also used in an intentionally hyperbolic manner to describe especially powerful armies in Paradox Interactive strategy games Europa Universalis IV and Hearts of Iron IV.

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Helmuth is after us, foot, horse, and marines."
  2. ^"'Don't be a dope,' a captain of Marines muttered in reply."
  3. ^"... have a boat-load of good, tough marines on hand..."
  4. ^"The parade ground voice of a First Sergeant of Space Marines cut through the fog and drizzle..."
  5. ^"Space marines, arms reversed and heads bowed, stood guard around [the coffin]..."


  1. ^Prucher, Jeff (2007), Brave new words: the Oxford dictionary of science fiction, Oxford reference online, Oxford University Press, p. 205, ISBN 
  2. ^Bleiler, Everett F. and Bleiler, Richard, Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years, Kent State University Press, 1998, pp. 315–317
  3. ^"Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization", Superior Firepower: The Making of Aliens, Alien Quadrilogy – Disc 3, 2003, 20th Century Fox
  4. ^Adams, Ernest (February 2001). "Dogma 2001: A Challenge to Game Designers". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2007-11-13.
  5. ^Barnett, David (7 February 2013). "Superheroes, space marines and lawyers get into trademark fight". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  6. ^"Row blows up over ownership of 'space marine' term". BBC News. London. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  7. ^
  8. ^"Marines in Spaaaaaace!". Defence September 19, 2005. Retrieved 2006-04-03.
  9. ^Social Policy for Effective Practice, A Strengths Approach. 2016-10-16. ISBN .
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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine adds DLC in surprise 'Anniversary Edition'

Rise, brothers, to venerate Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine as it celebrates its tenth birthday this month. Relic Entertainment and Sega have a surprise for us all too, turning the third-person ork-smasher into an 'Anniversary Edition' which includes all the DLC as well as bonuses like the soundtrack. That's all for free, which is nice.

The Anniversary Edition announcement lists all everything thrown in: basically, a few weapons then a load of stuff for the multiplayer mode, including chapter skins and maps and the opportunity to become a Dreadnought. On the shinies side, you also get the full soundtrack, wallpapers, a ringtone, and other bits and pieces.

Space Marine captured quite how chunky and absurd the holy warriors are, able to shrug off bullets and cut through a dozen mook with a single swing of their chainsword. You really are a big stompy boy whose gun fires micromissiles. It's not an amazing game, but it's a Warhammer experience few others offer.

"Despite growing tired of its relentless sameness," Alec Meer said in our WH40K: Space Marine review back in the day, "I also kind of miss it now I'm not playing it anymore - it's immensely satisfying to hammer and Lascannon your way through a small army then proudly pan an absurdly blood-splattered Titus around the now-empty room it all happened in."

It is. Alec later celebrated Space Marine as one of those wonderful perfectly average 7/10 action games.

Though Space Marine ended with the setup for a sequel, we never saw one. Publishers THQ filed for bankruptcy about a year after launch, and Relic were eventually sold off to Sega. The THQ name was bought by Nordic Games (along with many games), who now weirdly wear THQ's tanned hide like their own as THQ Nordic.

If you don't own Space Marine already, it has a discount on Steam bringing it down to £13.59/€15.29/$20.39 until Thursday the 30th. It appears Sega have bumped the usual price of £20 up to £40 with the release of the Anniversary Edition, so: 1) don't be fooled by that 66% discount; 2) if you want it, don't wait.


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