Thursday, September 19, 2013

Is the New Codex the End of "Counts-As" for Marines?

Back in 4th Edition, we had the glory of the Chapter Traits system. So long as you balanced everything out, you could create a custom Marine Chapter that fit your taste, be it for story or competition. In 5th Edition, we had that carpet pulled out from under us, but it was replaced by the new musical chairs, HQ edition. Didn't feel like playing your Imperial Fists AS Imperial Fists? That's okay! Just use Calgar, paint him yellow, and give them a different rules set!

So far, the bonus in either of the past two editions, is that you could have your collection, model whatever you wanted according to the rules, and still use it. Who cares what color of the rainbow the figures were, so long as they were WYSIWYG, and your list was correct.

With the new 6th Edition Codex, however, and it's Chapter-specific rules, rather than character-specific ones, is this the end of the grand age of Counts-As?

Now before you think I'm up on a soapbox and crying out the end of the world, hear me out. When it comes to any other codex; Eldar, Blood Angels, Orks, Tau, etc., when you play that army, you play THAT army. Sure, Eldar may have multiple craftworlds, but in the end, a Dire Avenger is still a Dire Avenger, no matter what color he is painted. The new Codex Space Marines, however, is unique in that it covers many armies. Did you paint your Marines as Imperial Fists? Well look here, there are Imperial Fist Chapter-specific rules now! No more do the Chapter Traits live with a singular model, but they now essentially live within a paint scheme. Now you actually have different army-wide rules based on what chapter you painted your toy soldiers to look like, all within one singular codex. What do I think drove this?

Allies. Space Marines may now ally with other Space Marines of a different Chapter.

So what does that mean for those of us who actuality play as one of the First Founding Legions, or one of the specified Successor Chapters? I've got 4 different perspectives on that.

DIY Chapters!

This is the first and most common answer. If you want to build and collect a force that you could play from any of the power armor codices, create your own Space Marines Chapter and have fun! Unfortunately, that completely ignores the fact that some of us own Chapters with set army rules, but it is an answer none-the-less.

You Painted Them Blue, You Play Them Blue!

This would be the hardline answer to the question. Have a Lysander converted and painted up as an Ultramarine? Too bad, no Imperial First rules for you! Have a Pedro Kantor painted as an Iron Snake? So sorry, but you're an Ultramarine Successor, no Crimson Fist rules for you! This is the easy road when it comes to the ruling, but it also voids and nullifies many armies out there because of the days of Counts-As. The Iron Snakes reference? That's my friend's army, so it applies, trust me.

WYSIWYG / List-Accuracy

"What You See Is What You Get" We all are very familiar with this acronym as it relates to the models and our army lists. My suggestion is that it applies to the wargear and models, and not be tied into the paint scheme. Okay sure, the army across the table may be painted as Raven Guard, but they have them modeled and pointed out as Blood Angels because they want to run them that way, then fine, so long as they are WYSIWYG. The same would go for someone running a Pre-Heresy Death Guard, out of the Loyalist Codex, and we're already okay with that, so why not other Chapters?


The final perspective. You want to run Raven Guard, but own Ultramarines? Okay, go buy new models and use the Allies Chart to bring them in as an allied force. This gets the least amount of attention for me, as it's tantamount to forcing us to purchase, model, paint and create an entirely new army. Which is not the point when it comes to a collection of one Chapter.

What do I think will be the deciding factor on this subject? The major players in the Tournament Circuit. Adepticon, Feast of Blades, NOVA, etc. At least in a competitive setting. What they rule will be how most will play it. My preference is the "WYSIWYG / List Accuracy" answer. Why?

'Cause they're my toys, I paid for them and so long as I'm not breaking any rules, then who cares?

What are your thoughts?

- Tim



  1. How they're painted makes no difference, the codex only says that the detachment you're putting the SC into must use the Chapter Tactics that go with the SC.

    If you've got ultrasmurfs but want to play them as Raven Guard, have at it.

    Where the paint job may matter is if you're using both primary and allied detachments from C:SM; you have to specify which units are using which chapter tactics -- so having units painted differently might be helpful in keeping things honest. Of course, you could handle this just by painting the base-rim differently -- "the guys with black bases are Raven Guard, the blue bases are Ultras"

  2. I'm going rules first. My heresy iron warriors want to play and this is the best way to represent them. If it were to twist somebody's trousers, they can buy me some imperial fists. In all seriousness though, I would have no problem with any of it as long as they clearly state what they are and show me the list - but that's my perspective being mostly a competitive player.

  3. Back when allies first appeared, I asked my local GW staff do my allies have to look like allies - and the answer was a definite no. Specifically, I wanted Blood Angel allies for my Space Wolves (because Skyclaws are crap). So I wanted Blood angels painted as wolf guard with jump packs. They said no problem, as long as your opponent knows. To me that's all that counts, and as you say WYSIWYG is about gear, not colours.

  4. Well, given that my Raven Guard allies with BA, SW and DA all of them represented as Carcharodons (allegedly Raven Guard successor chapter) I´m inclined to the V1cto0ry88 point of view.

    Gear, not colours, inform properly your opponent and all will be all right.

  5. Exactly - it doesn't stop counts as - all it does is say this SC can only play with this type of army with these rules. So you can't take Lysander in an army that is using Ultramarine Chapter tactics.

    Now if you take an Ultramarine character, in an ultramarine army that happens to be painted green then that is ok. It just limits the old days of saying - Lysander is leading a pack of stern guard from Salamanders. So my goats will be some chapter - who knows.

  6. PERFECT!!! Exactly the crowd I was hoping would respond to this article. Intelligent and skilled players who are both interested in the hobby AND the game play. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees it this way. Thank you for commenting here guys, I really appreciate it!

  7. I don't see this as the death knell for "counts as", like others have said it just switches up the parameters a little. No big deal.

    That being said, I have to admit that I despise when someone selects a Codex strictly on tactical advantage. During 5th Edition when Dark Angels players were saddled with a crap Codex and all jumped ship to C:SM or other armies completely I couldn't help but say "posers" under my breath. Of course, I can say that having stuck it out through some wretched incarnations. Haha.

    When someone uses alternate Codexes to build something awesome and thematic, that's cool. But if it's just to get some sick combo that's going to crush everyone... You immediately lose my support.

    "Counts as" is definitely not a black and white issue, and yeah, its not dead by a long shot I don't think.

  8. On one European Major Forum, they had this conversation.
    And their answer was "You Painted Them Blue, You Play Them Blue!".
    Their major argument was, same as xNickBaranx: switch to whatever is the best Space Marines Codex (or Chapter Tactics) is quite "cheap".
    And this forum conversation lead to ban, in most tournaments of the country, lists that do not have the right color.

    That being said, the guys who made their own chapters (with fluff or not) are now kings of the hill.
    Except SW which are not supposed to have successors (and even that..), if you play with the famous "Pink Rabbit Chapters", you can use which ever Codex or Chapter Tactics.

    Even funnier, the guy who owns Squats can play whatever he wants (from Space Marine, to Ork, or GK) but also get the "original thematic prize".

    There is a flaw in WYSIWYG, 40K universe is very vast, and on some planets they might design a Melta that looks like a Plasma.
    In a friendly game, as long as your opponent understand it, everything is fine.
    But in a tournament, when you have less than 2h30min to play 7 turns, your opponent does not want to bother with what is what and it can go the extreme of not bothering even with the color.

  9. Pg. 73 "A Legacy Reforged". The Administratum is filled with a bunch of screw-ups and sometimes two chapters with the same name and heraldry exist at the same time. So... somebody thought the Ultramarines died off at the Battle of Macragge and created a new chapter of Ultramarines with White Scar gene-seed. Problem solved. So, while GW does say that a successor "must adopt" the traits of its progenitor, they covered themselves pretty well with this one.

  10. I'm already looking to use my custom chapter The Ravenous adopt the Space Marine Codex. Currently they use both the Chaos Space Marine Codex and the Space Wolf Codex. They are painted Verdigris/Red. With DIY chapters the sky is the limit. The Space Marine codex is only limiting the use of SC by what army wide doctrine you are using. Perhaps one game my Logan Grimnar will be acting as Lysander in an Imperial Fist army. Next game he might be an Iron Warriors Chapter Master. Third game he is back being a Chaos Lord in Terminator Armour.

  11. I'm with those who say it doesn't matter. thing is that while some people might initally get angry is you try to sue IF tactics with an ultramarines paint job. most people understand that if they kick up a fuss marine players will just repaint themselves as a custom army so they can do what they want

  12. It's an interesting topic, mainly because I have seen a very large amount of Marine players who are totally unwilling to allow anyone to play the game outside their very limited perspective of what is 'allowed' despite there often being plenty of examples and GWS literature pointing out they are flat out wrong.

    In pretty much every forum there have been people claiming this kind of thing, even over 10 years ago when my friend started playing and had silver marines and the local GWS store staff all wanted to know why he was using normal marines as Grey Knights, DESPITE him looking through the codex and picking colours of a specific chapter.

    In the example of provided about Dire Avengers being just that, I would honestly be buying Guardians and painting them as Avengers these days just to save the money on the massively overpriced kits.
    That aside a marine advantage has always been switching between the available rules like this, and is what makes them so popular. Add a few custom units and you can play a totally new army.
    In the same way Allies are simply a way of incorporating other units into your army, while observing the rules/restrictions.
    If you ally two forces there is no reason you can't model and play them as being allies through your own back story, even if it isn't something that may be common in the universe.

    And really if you are in any way concerned with true competition and take offence to a way a player builds their list then you really aren't a competitive player. If you don't want to play against the best then you don't have any place criticising anyone. Afterall the option is always there to build literally ANY list you want within the rules.

  13. It seems to me that it's less about the color of your army and more about limiting how many special characters you are able to play.

    For example, the old codex said that you could take two characters from different armies, but you had to choose just one of their chapter tactics. So I could run my Salamanders with Vulkan and take his chapter tactics, but still have a "counts as" Telion with my scouts, or a "counts as" Pedro Kantor with my assault squads. I didn't get their chapter tactics, but I did get their special rules and stats.

    The new codex has eliminated this "mix and match" way of using different characters. Why? I don't know, maybe it was getting abused in tournaments or something. The bummer part though is that pretty much only Ultramarines or armies running Ultramarine tactics have access to more than one special character now.

    Also it doesn't really fix the problem of overusing characters. Now I just have to paint my assault squad to look like Crimson Fists instead of Salamanders, and call them allies. Silly.

    Seems like kind of a middle finger to any Space Marine players who aren't Ultramarines or DIY. I guess my counts-as-Telion Salamander will be gathering some dust.