Space Marine Point Costs Over 3 Editions

With the Warhammer 40K 6th Edition Dark Angels codex released, now seems a good time to see how Games Workshop is tinkering with point costs to influence the meta-game.

More than any other unit, the basic, most common Space Marine units offer an excellent rough indicator to comparing different editions of Warhammer 40K. They are, in a way, the Big Mac Index to the world’s most popular sci-fi miniature wargame over time.

Comparing Space Marines across 3 EditionsSummary: The basic marine got cheaper across the board (14 pts.), allowing people to field more minis (or spend more on fancy Deathwing Knights). The “package-options” of 5th Edition are gone too, meaning units with similar equipment often cost roughly the same. Tanks got more expensive, though some weapons (lascannons!) and options cheaper. Dreadnoughts became cheaper too.

For comparing point costs across three edition, I looked up three different codexes.

  1. 4th Edition: Codex Dark Angels (2007)
  2. 5th Edition: Codex Space Marines (2008)
  3. 6th Edition: Codex Dark Angels (2013)

I thought about using Codex: Blood Angels (2010) instead of the Space Marines Codex. It sits more comfortably in the “middle” of 5th Edition and had some price-adjustments over the 2008 Space Marines Codex (such as cheaper Devastator Marines).

Many Blood Angels vehicles are more expensive though (as they are “fast”), making the standard Space Marines codex the more comparable option in the end.

#1 – Tactical Marines

Warhammer 40K Tactical Space Marines

Tactical Marines by Will Merydith

The average cost for the humble tactical squad has changed very little. What did change, however, were the options of putting them together. For comparing point costs, I used a 10-man tactical squad with veteran sergeant, a flamer, a missile launcher and a no-frills Rhino.

  • 4th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 215 points

Tactical Marines in the 4th Edition Codex, even with the mentioned options, weren’t that much more expensive. What they lacked, however, was flexibility in the build. You could only pick a basic 5-man squad (with the veteran sergeant) or a full 10-man squad. There were no discounts on special or heavy weapons, making these 10 points extra.

  • 5th Edition Codex Space Marines: 205 points

5 Tactical Marines with veteran sergeant in 5th Edition cost the same as in 4th Edition. Every added Space Marine, however, actually became a point more expansive! In return, one could now add single Marines on top of the basic 5, allowing oddly numbered units of 7 or 9 Space Marines. Moreover, special and heavy weapons became 5 to 10 points cheaper across the board, making some even free for units of a certain size.

  • 6th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 205 points

6th Edition seems to have embraced flexibility above all. As seen, the cost for a basic unit like this is identical to 5th Edition. However, where 5th Edition was a “package-deal” with a veteran sergeant and “free” weapons, the 6th Edition unit is build from a bare-bones unit of 14 pt. Space Marines. However, all options (incl. the veteran sergeant) cost extra. Special and heavy weapons returned to 4th Edition costs (or more in case of the missile launcher).


#2 – Assault Marines and Devastator Marines

Warhammer 40K Assault Marines

Dark Angels Assault Marines

Even if the cost of a “typical” Tac-squad didn’t change a whole lot, the different ways on how base-point-costs and options are handled make most of the difference with the more specialized unit types.

Example 1: A unit of 10 Assault Marines (keeping their jump packs and taking no other), led by a veteran sergeant with power fist and plasma pistol.

  • 4th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 275 points
  • 5th Edition Codex Space Marines: 230 points
  • 6th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 220 points

Costs for things like power fists or plasma pistols stayed the same. However, the cost per Assault Marine dropped dramatically over time. Though the drop from 5th Edition to 6th Edition seems smaller than the previous one, the fact that the veteran sergeant is fully optional means one could really build a dirt-cheap jump-infantry unit from this.

Example 2: A unit of 10 Devastator Marines with 2 lascannons and 2 missile launchers, led by a veteran sergeant.

  • 4th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 275 points
  • 5th Edition Codex Space Marines: 270 points
  • 6th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 220 points

Between 4th and 5th Edition, additional marines for the unit became more expensive, as it did for the tactical squad. In return, 5th Edition Space Marines benefited from cheaper weapon options (the missile launcher in this case). In 6th Edition, both basic marines and the venerable lascannon became a lot cheaper, shaving points of the unit.


#3 –  Old School Heavy Support

Imperial Fist Space Marines Vindicator

Imperial Fist Vindicator by minijunkie.com

The new Dark Angles Codex interesting new options like the Land Speeder Vengeance to the table. However, the heavy support section is also interesting to look, if you want to field some of your classic space marines models. There has been some shuffling with point costs to revive neglected units (Whirlwinds for 65 points!) and adjust others.

The Vindicator (no options) is an interesting one…

  • 4th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 125 points
  • 5th Edition Codex Space Marines: 115 points
  • 6th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 125 points

… as is the Predator (with lascannon sponsons).

  • 4th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 70 (130) points 
  • 5th Edition Codex Space Marines: 60 (120) points
  • 6th Edition Codex Dark Angels: 75 (115) points

Overall, while bare-bones infantry became cheaper with more (pricy options), the bare-bones vehicles became more expensive, though fancy weapons and options have often become more affordable.


It is reading coffee grounds to some extend, but it feels like the two trends. On one hand, it appears the developers try to nudge players into taking more (or spend less on) basic infantry with less bling, while on the other hand taking less vehicles, but with more menacing weapons if you do take them.

Of course, the entirely new units in the mix, especially the highly elite Deathwing Knights or Ravenwing Black Knights change that up again. Dreadnoughts (also cheaper, especially the venerable variant) likewise buck the trend.

Still, it is an interesting observation.

What do you think?

Leave a comment!

Z.

Also, if you missed it: The new Dark Angels Codex recently received an FAQ from Games Workshop. This must be a new speed record!
Zweischneid

Zweischneid

I am Zweischneid. Wargame Addict. Hopeless painter and founder of Pins of War. I hope you enjoyed this article. Don't forget to share your favourite miniature pictures and wargaming videos at www.pinsofwar.net.
Zweischneid
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  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    interesting analysis. Shows how those 4th edition codexes still going have an uphill struggle against the 6th edition ones since Troops have got so cheap.

    • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

      True. Though what really surprises me is the massive down-costing of things like lascannons.

      4th Edition books have been at a disadvantage for a while. But this, if it keeps up, could possibly start putting 5th Edition “melta-era” Codexes at a disadvantage against 6th Edition (once there are more of them) in long-range anti-tank capacity.

      Doesn’t have to be this way, but it could happen.