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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-08-14, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
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Default Just How Powerful Are The Primarchs

40K has always been a game that, like it or not, is based around the events that happened 10,000 years ago. In short, despite the other bits of "tacked on fluff", there is really no great "care" about the other races. Some of you may dispute that, but the truth of the matter is that 40K is based around the "human" perspective, and its typical "Angels versus Demons" premise.

All of the other races could be removed from the game, and at the core of it, the background wouldn't really change all that much; everything that really shapes the game occurs because of the Heresy. Everything else is "added material".

Okay, fanboyism over, but lets get down to the crux, if the game is shaped by the events of 30K, then there needs to be something to measure the most powerful individual beings to wage war; the Primarch's. I know from way back in the day after learning about the Primarchs that I would have liked to have seen rules for them. The problem being due to the previous editions rules, that they could have been adequately catered for - the designers system mastery wasn't capable of making them utterly binary; but along came 6th edition; and the Heresy Legion Crusade Lists. They can work wonders. Not many people have access to these books, 140 for two books can be a bit of a stretch. I could wax long on about how awesome the list is, and about how you're not only paying for a single army, but rather 8 of them; that's around 17 a list, with each army having many more different build styles than any other in the 40K game. I think I worked it out that you can get around 100 different list variants with dedicated rules support by the end of the two "trilogies" which provide rules for all of the Legions; this effectively works out at 4~ a list. Of course, that's not the be-all end all, as when you're collecting, you're only really going to want to collect one or two armies; the plastic crack is still expensive.

So, you make sure it's the right one.

Most self-respecting 30K fans are interested in the Primarchs, and seeing them on the tabletop is a dream come true. Actually having models sculpted by the amazing guys at Forgeworld is even better. Picking up your primarch, either as a paperweight, modelling project, or focal point in an army is pretty much a given. So, lets delve into what these Primarch's do.

First things first; the stat-line. Bear in mind that individual Primarch's modify these slightly depending on their own unique strengths and weaknesses. I'd just like to point out that I see the difference between levels as an Order of Magnitude, rather than Linear path. A Strength 8 weapon is not twice as powerful as a S4 weapon (of course, statistically it is, but I mean in canon); fluff to tabletop is always inconsistent in the name of creating a "balanced" game, but it's a decent indicator.

I'm going to be using this to help you guys make yourself homebrewed Primarchs to represent your Legions while you're waiting for the rest of the unreleased Legions as well. In regards to Primarchs, I think that the designers thought "fuck balance, lets just create the toughest mother fuckers".
Primarch's Weapon Skills fall between 6 and 9 (Lorgar and Angron respectively), with most having WS7, but Primarch's of a more martial bent may have WS8 (Horus, Curze and Fulgrim so far), while their Ballistic Skills are much less varied; 5 or 6, although most don't have overly powerful ranged weapons. They are at most useful weapons which can give them something to do while moving to hit them in close combat; if given a choice, many Primarchs would prefer to be in CC.

In regards to Strength, they are also pretty much "equal"; but remember that the difference between S3 and S4 is a Space Marine compared to a normal Human; 6 or 7 across the board; this makes them the equal to a Daemon Prince, or even Stronger for some; Horus, Angron, Ferrus and Vulkan are S7, while the rest are S6. Toughnesses and Wound values are also similarly less spread out; most are T6, although some few have T7; while Wounds are typically 6; oddly (I think) is Angrons lower Wound value; combined with T6, and his lower Armour Save, he is among the most "vulnerable" of the Primarch's. Of course, try saying that to him. Lorgar also only has 5, but of note is Mortarions 7; he is extremely resilient. Initiative is very varied as well - ranging between 5 and 8. Angron and Curze have I7, Fulgrim is lightning quick with I8 (Now who's the Phoenix Lord?). Most other characters range between 5, although more martial characters tend to be I6; and attacks range from 4-5 (Angron's 6 attacks includes two CCW in his profile). Ld is obviously a universal 10, and saves (with the exception of Angron) at their lowest is 2+/4++; some even having a 3++ (Horus, Vulkan, Ferrus, I'm looking at you).

So here's a typical profile I'd suggest for a Primarch;

WS7 (6 for a less martial character, maybe Magnus, 8 for particularly martial, like Russ and Khan, 9 for Sanguinius)
BS5 (6 for Psykers and characters with decent ranged weapons)
S6 (7 for martial characters, and possibly Magnus)
T6 (7 for the tougher/bionic characters, possibly Magnus and obviously Khan on his bike)
W6 (5 for the less Martial characters, maybe 7 for a particularly bionic character - Perturabo)
I6 (5 for the less Martial character, maybe 7 for the more martial characters, and 8 for Sanguinius)
A4 (5 for the more Martial characters, maybe as high as 6 for Sanguinius)
Ld10 (while it cannot go any lower/higher, perhaps something akin to a Leadership aura for Guilliman)
Sv 2+/4++ (3++ reserved for possibly Magnus, Perturabo etc)

In addition, you include the primarch "racial" abilities; it's an IC with EW, It Will Not Die, and Adamantium Will for defences, has Fleet, is Fearless, and causes Fear, not to mention is a Master of the Legion (can choose a Rite of War; which provides benefits for selecting a particular theme of army; and can roll twice on a single Rite of War table, choosing which one the Primarch has). Tough as fucking nails, when you figure out that once you've gone through the issue of hitting such a character (likely shielded in a unit from taking ranged damage), you've then got to wound it, it to fail its save, and then have a chance to recover a lost wound each turn.

Using that "guesstimate" as a guideline leaves you with;

WS6, BS5, S6, T6, W5, I5, A4, Ld10, Sv2+/4++

I don't think there's a model in the game who would complain about such a statline, while my estimate of a Sanguinius character results in

WS9 BS6 S7 T6, W6, I8, A6, Ld10, Sv2+/4++

So, any unit which likely survives his blizzard of attacks (6+1 charge+1 additional CCW+1Hammer of Wrath, possibly at S7+ (8 if he has an inevitable Furious Charge) that are invariably going to be AP2) then has to hit him; WS4 or lower hit on a 5+, wound him, have him fail his save, followed by each turn getting the option to Regenerate it. Hit and Run might Sanguinius even "too powerful". But who the hell cares? It's a Primarch.

So; there's an example of how tough these Primarchs are and can be. It turns into the case where one of the few ways of countering a Primarch is not to engage them. This is obviously invariably hard, and occasionally requires the inclusion of your own to counter them. This might seem like bad game balance, but at the end of the day, you're playing with friends (usually), so you should have a gentlemens agreement; if you're not playing with friends/friendly people, then what the fuck are you wasting your time with?

So, we've just gone over the basic statlines and core rules of the Primarchs, but each one is so much more; unique Wargear, and special rules that mean that their points cost does more for your army than simply wailing on enemy units.

Each Primarch has a core rule called "Sire of the [Legion]". This is something that amplifies the Primarch's effect on the battlefield, making the core Legion rules something infinitely powerful.

So, lets start with the poster boy;

Horus, of, you guessed the Sons of Horus. His Legion is all about Close Combat, and he can just wade through enemies. Against WS4 or less targets, he has +D3 attacks (so, unless he's in a challenge, pretty much +D3 attacks all the time; on top of the two from an additional CCW, and if he charges; you can look forward to between 8 and 10 attacks which he can freely split between S7 AP2 Shred or S10 AP2 Concussion Unwieldly attacks. While less relevant, he and any Terminator unit he has joined arrive automatically on any turn you want rather than randomly rolling (neither does it scatter if it Deep Strikes). For Legion rules, this isn't exactly the most flashy, nor does it really benefit the rest of the army, but when you've got Horus, he's pretty much the one unit which matters. However, he also benefits from other rules; God of Battle provides any unit in Horus's army (verbiage indicating this is not limited to Legiones Astartes, so vehicles as well, as well as those not from the same detachment; INCLUDING other legiones astartes allied detachments. Just to put this into perspective, Horus really works with Reserve Striking lists; Sons of Horus "Edge of the Spear" Legion rule can reroll 1's on reserves rolls, while the Rite of War for the SoH "The Black Reaving" grants the Fleet Special rule to non-vehicle units arriving from reserve (not Deep Strike); this is Outflank and Fleet.

As an aside, Justaerin can Deep Strike, while Dreadclaw Drop Pods are Dedicated Transports for Veteran Squads, Justaerin, Command Squads, Seeker Squads and Reaver Squads which can all take Dreadclaws which benefit from the reserve rolls. As if that wasn't enough, while he's on the battlefield, all Sons of Horus infantry gain +1Ld, and if Horus is chosen, the player can attempt to Seize the Initiative if he so desires on a 4+, rather than a 6+ - of course, if you're alpha striking, this isn't always what you want.

Point of the Spear allows him to modify the army without taking a relevant Rite of War; Veteran Tactical Squads can be Troops as well as Justaerin Terminator Squads, in addition to having a "Precision Bombardment"; a Twin Linked S10 AP2 5" Large Blast Lance weapon. Perfect for cracking that pain in the ass Land Raider. As an aside, any Psychic attack targeting him (or any attack which modifies his characteristic) he can negate it on an additional roll of a 3+. This includes things like Rad Grenades. If he finds himself up against another Primarch or other equally resilient character as well, then Disabling Strike can strip WS and S from their profile if they take wounds. If this is an indicator into why he is so highly considered, then I would hate to see just how deadly he'd be when Chaos Empowered.

Angron. His Sire of the World Legion grants him FNP; this sort of shrugs off some of the additional damage taken due to his lower Armour Save, but a 17% chance to save one wound doesn't (IMHO) really make up for his lower wounds and armour save in general, so he's still one of the less resilient (I'm loath to use "weaker") Primarch's. He also has Furious Charge, while during an assault, any Consolidation moves must be towards nearest enemy units. This forced movement is extremely limiting, as it may not be in your best consideration, and there may be an inherently tough unit nearby. However, he has a fantastic 12" aura making nearby Legiones Astartes Fearless. This is fantastic, and leads well to a large blob of World Eaters launching themselves forwards. If you're worried about Angron being locked down; he can Challenge multiple characters, and by RAW, he gains an additional attack from his MC'd Plasma Pistol and Gorechild/Gorefather (which is listed as a single weapon which provides an additional attack). So with 6 Base Attacks, +1 for that, and +1 for Charging, which strikes at S9 (+1 Strength from Weapon, +1 Strength from Furious Charge), and AP2 and Armourbane; he is about as capable as it comes to defeating Land Raider Spartans; all those S9 attacks with 2D6 penetration with +1 to the Damage table. The fact he has Hatred (Everything!) only makes him even more deadly. So, despite his "fragility", he is likely to annihilate almost anything coming to attack him, which only ever makes him more deadly (+1 Attack for each enemy IC or Infantry unit killed by him) As ever Cataphractii can be an "effective" roadblock to him, but that 4++ works against any melee unit, but even those with Power Swords can begin to hurt him. He works best at completely shattering opponents troop units. His fragility in this instance is negated due to the requirement of a 5+ to hit from WS4 units. Against other Primarchs, they're almost exclusively equipped with AP2 as well, so oddly, despite this "fragile" nature, he's one of the better equipped at dealing with them.

Fulgrim; one of the cheaper Primarchs, but one of the more useful ones in game. He is a little annoying in that his "Sire of the EC" rule forces him to accept Challenges from WS5 or higher models; although it's almost a given that he'll annihilate them. While he's present, Legiones Astartes (EC) gain +2 to their combat result, and reserve rolls can be rerolled. In an assault, he's deadly; if he's in a challenge, then he adds the difference between his Initiative (8!) and his opponents to his attacks value; even other Primarchs can provide him +3 attacks, meaning 9 S6 Ap2 attacks on the charge. His Strategic Planning means he can choose a single Strategic or Legion Trait); Child of Terra being the prime one (Fulgrim and unit reroll 1's to wound). It's a Rending weapon, which can help when facing against a Dreadnought or other walker (keep him away!), but when he's in a challenge, he has a 2+/3++, which is better than his 2+/5++. His armour also incorporates a rule which Blinds enemies (on a failed Initiative test) against which he passes either of his Saves on a 6+. His ranged weapon is a Volkite charger (Medium Strength, High AP weapon, which causes additional hits should it cause Unsaved Wounds. It's not a major damage dealer but it works. He's not one of the most "powerful" (seriously, compare him to say Horus or Angron, and he seems underpowered, but he's really not; the statline itself can wreck most enemies. Only sad thing is that he's not as capable of superpowering his army, but he's a duellist, and can "easily" shred through enemy Characters; Primarch's included.

Mortarion; Death Guard work through attrition, and this mothers got shit loads. You've already had a brief break down of just how resilient he is; T7, 7 Wounds, 2+/4++, with It Will Not Die sounds awesome; just throw in his Preternatural Resilience for rerolled Failed It Will Not Die! means you're almost guaranteed to regen a wound/turn. Throw on rerolling failed Toughness Tests, Rad Grenades having little effect against him, and say Poison or Fleshbane weapons which wound on a flat roll of a dice, only work on a 6 meaning you're forced to engage him with high strength melee weapons; Power Fists and the like; without Rad Grenades these only wound on a 3+. Does that seem Tough enough to you? Bear in mind that you also cause fear tests at -1 Ld, so there's a distinct possibility you'll be facing WS1 troops to be even harder to hit, and if he's at risk of getting killed, he can use his "Shadow of the Reaper" ability to teleport short distances if he's not locked in combat if he passes a Ld test, so even when up against another Primarch who is capable of defeating another Primarch (any of the above 3, say). Finish up with Deny the Witch on a 4+. TUFFASFUCK. As for damage, he has 5 attacks, but they're Unwieldly, at S7, with AP2, with the option of making a single attack against all enemies in base contact (rather than his 5 normal attacks; this is of arguable use of when he's going to be up against more than 5 models in base contact), which all do Instant Death, and reroll failed Armour Penetration rolls. He has two ranged attacks; unlimited Phosphex Bombs with 12" range, or a S8 AP2 weapon which rerolls failed Armour Penetration making it perfect at cracking Transports before an assault. We've not even got onto how he modifies the army either :D. All Death Guard infantry gain the Stubborn special rule, while Frag Grenades, Missiles and Havoc launchers all have Poisoned 4+ special rule. These come into their own versus non-30K armies; Nids for example, Iyanden Eldar, or Daemons, all of which you could theoretically fit into a 30K narrative, honestly, (aliens on Murder being represented by Nids). Although we've yet to see a Rite of War focusing on Bikes, then they get should more benefit against White Scars etc.

Ferrus Manus; Still to Come.

Notes; grants FNP6+ to all IH Infantry. 2+/3++, shooting attacks against him are at -1S (with T7, S4 Bolters cannot harm him). Vehicles with AV13+ gain It Will Not Die, can fix vehicles on a 3+, and can shoot two weapons a turn from a list of Plasma Blaster, Graviton Guns, Grenade Harness, and a Heavy Flamer. Can be cheaper by not taking Forgebreaker.

Curze; Still to Come

Makes units cause Fear, existing Fear causes at -1, he causes Fear at -3, and if an enemy unit is killed in an assault he is part off, he causes a Morale check on enemies within 12" and LoS (not a fear check, sadly). 2+/4++, with Hit and Run, causes D3 Hammer of Wrath attacks. Pair of AP2 Lightning Claws which on 6's to wound inflict Instant Death, 12" ranged weapon which can snipe out enemy models and chance to ignore armour and invulnerable saves.

Vulkan; Still to Come

Salamanders gain +1 Ld, and Adamantium Will for free, he can reroll failed IWND and Deny the Witch, 2+/3++ and halves the strength of flamer/fusion/melta/plasma etc (Round Down, with T7, cannot be hurt by PLASMA!). S10, At Initiative, Instant Death, AP1, 2d6 Armour Penetration Weapon, can choose to inflict a 3" S8 AP3 blast, ranged weapon inflicts a line of damage, doesn't roll to hit.

Lorgar; Still to Come

Word Bearers use his Ld for Morale etc, +1 to charge rolls, Immune to Fear, +1 to CC results, 1/game, can force a target to reroll a single enemy model/unit to reroll all 5's or 6's for a turn. L2 Psyker, but must rolls 3d6-choose-highest (upgrade to L3, and roll 3d6-choose-lowest and selects powers), 2+/4++, 3++ save versus Psychic attacks/Force weapons etc, MC'd S8 AP2 attacks, Smash and Concussive attacks.

Thoughts/missed points, etc appreciated.

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-08-14, 05:46 PM
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Excellent post, +rep, incredibly insightful well written and very helpful

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-08-14, 06:17 PM
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Aye, this is a bloody good post Vaz. Well written and massively insightful for those of us not familiar with the 30k system.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-08-14, 07:03 PM
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Nice work there, Vaz!

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Fluffy and looks very crunchy. Curze is my favorite (shocker I know haha)
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Very interesting post. Well done. This kind of post always leads to one thought for me the mithical old story legend of the DA BEAST an ork warboss of massive strenght and stature who fought with the emperor in the great crusade how would something like that stack into your equation?

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-25-14, 07:51 PM
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Corvus Corax (Raven Guard) had seemingly an inherent ability to turn himself invisible (although probably more like no one could notice him besides the Emperor).

Stealth and Infiltrate obviously.

Just some points and info to start with.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-25-14, 10:09 PM
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Actually you are not quite right there. Corax couldn't turn invisible but rather he had a curious psychic power where be basically removed the enemy's ability to perceive him from his mind!

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-14, 09:10 PM
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"(although probably more like no one could notice him besides the Emperor)", and if no one can see/perceive his existence then... there isn't much difference (I don't know if machines could see/film/record him).

So how am I wrong???

I also meant Invisible more in the special rule type thing and general description.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-14, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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@Suijin ; I'm talking about the game, not the fluff. There are now statted up versions of several Primarchs, and in the next couple of years, it's expected the rest will be finished as well.

Corax is to be released in the next book, due within a couple of months, alongside Perturabo, Alpharius, and presumably Omegon, as well as Dorn (who otherwise wouldn't make a showing until literally the final scenes in the Heresy).

The problem is with comparing the stats to tabletop, is that the 10point system is so far ranging (seriously, you go from weapons which are used to level cities from Orbital Bombardments to gretchin, or nurglings with 8 points of one another) that it's impossible to properly calculate. Add in that the Emperor may have "rolled badly" that day as well.

And then there's there's always going to be that one-upmanship innate to the storytelling; as in, show how powerful Horus is, have him kill something that's beating someone stronger; but how do you have that person then be beaten by something else?

So, in short, I'm not going to bother worrying about that. Especially in a game that's designed to be played, they're not going to release a big Ork warboss that's so powerful it requires both Horus and the Emperor to take it down.

The one I'm really interested in seeing how he is in combat are the Alpha Legion primarchs. Outside of the whole I am Alpharius shtick, we know very little about their combat abilities, let alone equipment. We have been told that Alpharius is being shown in his Primarch-ness, as there were times when he had to become the Primarch openly.

So I'm assuming things like pre-battle attacks on squads, penalty to enemy reserves, bonuses to own, causes automatic damage to enemy outflanking units, perhaps reducing enemy units alliance levels (so that they're not battlebrothers etc, causing particular problems with "killer combo's" etc), maybe even a "Puppet Master-like" ability to represent a sleeper agent. To make him obvious, do the whole Alpha Legion Terminator-esque armour, epic pose, huge sword, big sweeping cape etc.

That leaves Omegon open for the whole "I am Alpharius" shenanigans.

Perhaps things like granting his squad the ability to always accept challenges as if they were characters and/or Heroic Interventions and Look Out Sirs to succeed automatically, while Precision Shot has no effect on his unit. Shrouded, Stealth, Hit and Run, Outflank, Acute Senses, Always Scoring, etc. Maybe even the ability to grant his squad the capability of mimicing other Legion's traits like in Deliverance lost. As for a model, he'd look exactly like the rest of his squad. He'd be equipped with a Bolter, Chainsword, BP+CCW, Power Armour etc.

These are just spitballs, of course. I have no clue.

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