This post follows on from the previous post: ‘Space Marine Capabilities’. The concept is to extrapolate the battlefield role of Space Marines using the capabilities defined in that post, and drawing in other concepts and definitions defined in ‘Philverse’. Where possible I will add a link to any concepts referenced. Now we have an idea of what a marine can endure, it clarifies what their role on the battlefield really is – or what it should be.
Now we have an understanding of what a Space Marine’s Power Armour can physically resist, it seems glaring obvious that they are vulnerable to fixed weapons and heavy weapons. Space Marines may be small in comparison to an APC or IFV, but they are not going to want to be caught out in the open. This means they will have to use cover like everyone else. However using cover is not really ‘shock troop’ enough for Space Marines, we need a way to get them into combat far quicker, yet with the element of surprise (the whole idea of shock!). One of the fluff heresies I introduced was the idea of active camouflage.
This means the outer ablative layer is going to get an application of active camouflage material (rather than a Predator like cloaking field – which would be great but a bit too high-tech). This material will mimic the surrounding terrain and materials. In combination with this active camouflage surfacing, the armour also needs a way to manage it’s heat signature. This can be done with a thermoelectric layer to recover heat energy and convert it to electricity for storage. Therefore the armour would emit very little heat and this would counter vision enhancement gear that scans for IR (infrared) and T-rays (Terahertz radiation).
This means it is quite hard to detect a stationary Space Marine while their active camouflage is on. This would depend on surroundings. While in soft cover they would be very hard to make out even when directly looking at them, but they would be much easier to see in desolate terrain like a desert (for some missions they may need an active camo cloak to breakup their outline). In the dark they would be virtually impossible to see (even if lookouts are equipped with IR gear, and other advanced scanners).
Colour of fear?
The use of active camouflage does require some justification. There is a famous quote in 40K that camouflage is the ‘colour of cowardice’.
It is also true that the Marines primary aim is to kill the enemy. If camouflage allows them to circumvent heavy weapons, avoid looses, allowing more marine to survive to kill the enemy behind those heavy weapons – the Marine may accept this as necessary. In effect their camouflage allows them to get to enemies ‘hiding’ behind heavy weapons.
It may be that camouflage is frowned upon only in certain situations. Standing up and getting your head blow off with a heavy weapons is worse than sneaking about. Camo is the lesser of the two; sneaking about trumps having no head. A Marine may not like sneaking about, but they console themselves that any dishonour they feel will be taken out on the enemy – ‘How dare you force me to sneak about!’.
Another areas where active camouflage really shines in counter guerilla warfare. Guerilla fighters will flee from marines, often with the aim to leading the Marines into a heavy weapon kill zone, so the marines have to sneak up on them. In this instance ‘camouflage’ allows the Marines to engage enemies who will flee. In this instance it’s a lot like hunting. Though for this role I imagine the Scouts would cut their teeth.
The idea is for the marine to get across open ground and behind enemy lines without detection. Once behind enemy lines they are clear of most fixed weapons and can resort to shock tactics. The first is changing the active camouflage layer to their chapter colours, which makes then highly visible (most marines have very bright chapter colours). For an enemy to suddenly be confronted with massive 7-8′ Space Marines, encased in small arms resistant armour, in and amongst their number is going to be quite a shock and the resulting combat is going to be chaotic (this is a big reason for my notes in the bolter, as having Power Armour be bolter resistant would greatly reduce the casualties of friendly fire: so the Marines can really let rip). The enemy are probably armed with small arms and this is not going to affect the Marines. This means the enemy is likely to rout as the marines can mow them down with impunity.
Another way to get into the enemy complex would be via drop pod. Using the ideas I put forward in my drop pod article, they marines can smash into the enemy complex at high speed, creating a huge blast crater on impact, and deploy. They could use the edges of the crater for cover and many bunkers would be damaged.
Taking all this into account a Marine would remain hidden for the most part until they are behind enemy lines. Once behind enemy lines they would change back to their chapter colours and let rip. This would be extremely shocking to the enemy, and disrupt enemy lines. Being attacked by Marines from behind, while all your heavy weapons are facing the other direction, is going to cause chaos.
Table top game
I suppose if you translated this into the table top game, the marines can be ‘teleported’ in. This ‘teleport’ is not a real teleport, it merely accounts for their stealth abilities. Such an attack would force psychology tests and most likely make many opponents flee (or at least move away to regroup).
Looking at this type of attack, it would seem appropriate to allow the IG to deploy Marine allies in this manner as a surprise attack.
In the open Marines would be harder to target, and modifiers would apply. Renegade humans would be very vulnerable to Marines, but aliens may be far more capable.
I suspect the Eldar could track them (through psionics), so could the Nids and Necrons, maybe even the Orks have an idea where the Marines are by instinct. In these instances perhaps the Marine player could use ‘blips’ from Space Hulk to disguise the true nature of his units.
Small arms would be less effective: so uprate their armour value in some way. There would also be a few special rules – like weaker values when facing power weapons. I’m not too keen on the Armour mechanics, perhaps simply added the value to the T score? Another debate for another time.
Hearing feedback is very important to me in developing my ideas. Much of my designs are inspired, and crafted, by chatting to fans on forums before snowballing into a full concept you'll find here. I would like to thank all those who have contributed critiques and participated in discussions over the years, and I would especially like to thank all those who commented on this specific topic. If you would like join in, you are most welcome!
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