View Full Version : Battlefield roles

Son of Sanguinius
23-07-2010, 19:30
A question that has perplexed me for some time is how certain slots of the Force Organization (more specifically, the units that occupy them) reflect battlefield roles.

I will use Space Marines as an example.

In the Space Marine Codex, a Company Captain is a Headquarters choice. This reflects his likely status as operational commander and his leadership responsibilities. Along the same lines, a Techmarine is an Elites choice, representing that though he is a lone character like the HQ choices, his role is one of a specialist. He provides a certain tactical flexibility and support role that is not fast enough for Fast Attack or heavily armed enough for Heavy Support. In these two cases, things are fairly clear to me.

However, in the case of something like a Librarian or an Apothecary, it becomes more muddled. I've always envisioned a Librarian's role as one of being a one-man support unit, not unlike the Techmarine. Moreover, like the Techmarine, Librarians are not assigned to permanent positions within a Battle Company, but are instead attached to battlegroups just like Techmarines, Veterans, Vehicles, etc. Even in a Librarian heavy Chapter like the Blood Ravens, the Librarians seem to follow this pattern. Apothecaries are, by contrast, often members of a specific Company, but other can still be attached, and I see the Apothecary's role as moving between squads on the battlefield and applying his medical expertise. One could make the argument that the most important person to keep alive is the Captain, hence the assignment to the command squad, but a battlefield medic would be passing up a lot of important work by babysitting the commander.

This applies for other units and armies, beyond my examples. For an Eldar army, why is a tank-busting ranged unit (Fire Dragons) given an Elite slot? Why are Wraithguard, a unit dedicated to slow but incredibly potent firepower, given an Elite slot? Why are SM and CSM dreadnoughts, which are clearly bipedal tanks, put in an Elite slot instead of Heavy Support? Why are Tankbusta Boyz and Flash Gitz dealing with the same issue? Obliterators?

I ask these questions here because I would like to know if there is actual background justification for these assignments, or if they are merely the product of army list tweaking to increase effectiveness or decrease competition for certain slots.

Thanks to all who reply. :)

23-07-2010, 19:41
I always think the space marine organisation in regards to on the battlefield is pretty screwy; I don't like how apothecary's are only attached to the command squad in the codex, and much prefer how Sanguinary Priests work for the BAs.

Librarians are often older, honoured veterans with access to both mundane and arcane knowledge; it makes sense that they are more than support, and instead can lead forces in to battle. Perhaps if they reintroduced the ranks properly (Lexicaniums would be more like support, leading up through Codiciers to Epistolaries) then I could see it.

23-07-2010, 19:57
they are merely the product of army list tweaking to increase effectiveness or decrease competition for certain slots.

This, pretty much.

Chaplains and Librarians need to be appropriately powerful to mesh with their established backgrounds. If they were available as elites, Space Marine armies could field 5 powerful character models, which would be a touch ridiculous.

A Shadow
25-07-2010, 22:05
It is not that unusual for Space Marine task forces to be led by Librarians and Chaplains and so, apart from the aforementioned balancing issues, it allows players to take something other then a Captain or Chapter Master.

26-07-2010, 01:54
It wasn't as much a problem in 2nd ed when they used % systems to build armies (like WFB has moved back to). There apothecaries, techmarines, librarians etc were all just 'characters' and thus came from your character percentage allowance.

Apothecaries should imo be able to lead missions. Really, any marine 'character' should be capable of being a force commander (which is different from the statline of a 'force commander' GW have used).

Force Commander is just a strategic designation rather than a rank. Captain is a rank and a Captain can be a Force Commander. A librarian, Chaplain or techmarine could be a force commander given the right circumstances.

I personally don't like the FoC that much because it restricts things too much. Unfortunately GW have been writing codicies with this in mind and in order to get around their own restrictions have created things that would unbalance a % based system slightly (like vehicle squadrons and units that don't count toward FoC requirements/combine together in ridiculous mobs).