Space Marine Bladeguard Veterans – Review

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When the Space Marine Primaris models were first announced I was both sceptical and underwhelmed. It was unclear as to why they had been introduced if they weren’t replacing Classic Marines and there were so few units that they also weren’t really worth taking. Especially as an entire army.

They lacked the unit diversity and firepower to be a contender for almost any other army in the game. Short of forming gun lines and relying on concentrated firepower and that all important second wound, Primaris marines didn’t really live up to their forebears.

Since then more and more units have been added to make Primaris armies both interesting, characterful and – well – deadly. The most recent injections of transhuman mega-killy-death came with the release of the Indomitus box and the new Outriders, close assault Intercessors and the Bladeguard Veterans.

I bought two Indomitus boxes, wrongly assuming that the models were multipart, not easy builds. Foolish of me but equally not the end of the world considering the bulk of the models are rank and file and unlikely to be next to each other on a board.

However having two units of identical Bladeguard Veterans stung a bit so, the release of the multipart kit was welcome news. Not just because they could be taken in units of up to 6 but because I could inject some needed variety as well.

Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Bladeguard Veterans box
Image courtesy of Games Workshop – all rights reserved

Mostly-multipart plastics

When I opened the box I confess to being a little disappointed. While I can’t fault the look and feel of the new Primaris range, the limited poses are a source of frustration for me with the newer models. Although I appreciate there needs to be a balance between dynamism, strength of the model and ease of build to make them accessible to all.

The classic marines – by having separate legs and bodies allowed for more nuanced poses. Although comparing them to the Primaris models they are hilariously bow-legged. Regardless, being able to pose the heads and bodies allowed you to tell a story with every model in the unit.

The new Intercessors make that harder and the Bladeguard Veterans have the same issue. Admittedly the sheer amount of detail would make building a truly multipart version a colossal pain in the arse. Especially for less experienced hobbyists. A little bit of variety would have been nice though. Because you only get three bodies in the box, if you intend on taking units of 5 and/or multiple units you will end up with very similar looking models. It won’t be as bad as having two units of the Indomitus easy-builds, but it’ll still be pretty obvious.

Space Marine Bladeguard Veterans sprues
Copyright Games Workshop – all rights reserved

However, where the Bladeguard Veterans box really shines is the variety of arm options. If you want a model pointing their sword in the general direction of the enemy, fill your boots. Want him cleaning his blade after a kill? Sure. I mean, hardly practical in a war, but why not? Hand resting on the pommel of a sheathed power sword while defiantly snapping off shots with a bolt pistol? You got it!

Don’t get me wrong, it won’t give them the same kind of dynamism that the close combat Intercessors have – not by a long shot. But as centrepiece models they abide wholeheartedly by the rule of cool.

And cool they are. The arm swaps make for some suitably heroic poses and the option of having the storm shield mag-locked to the backpack or in hand is a really nice touch. It allows for even greater variety so you can make your Bladeguard Veterans look as unique as possible, even if their poses really aren’t.

You’ve also got the choice of helmeted or un-helmeted heads. Personally I try to avoid un-helmeted heads as much as possible because, well, war. But if you like a suicidal edge to your heroism, the Bladeguard box offers three suitably mangled and/or grizzled heads to choose from.

Again, it would have been nice to get a little more variety on this front as, again, anyone wanting to take larger units or multiple units are going to struggle to keep that variety. Although heads from other kits should fit well enough.

Built Space Marine Bladeguard Veterans models
My built Bladeguard Veterans destined to become Silver Templars

Bladeguard VEterans in Game

As one would expect from a new Primaris unit, Bladeguard Veterans are suitably tough. With 3 wounds each they are capable of soaking up considerable punishment in the slog to close with the enemy. Especially if you take them in units of 5 or 6.

Bladeguard Veteran datasheet entry from Warhammer 40k app
Image taken from the Warhammer 40k app – all rights reserved

Moreover the storm shield provides a much needed extra layer of protection, especially as in most instances the Bladeguard Veterans are going to be horribly outnumbered. No matter how squishy some units are, the sheer weight of numbers means a 3+ armour save and 3 wounds will only keep you going for so long.

Fortunately they have some decent weapons to hit back with. Aside from the heavy bolt pistols they come with as standard (note the chunky holsters they wear), they are also armed with master-crafted power swords. The extra point of damage along with 3 attacks (4 for the sergeant) means that a full strength squad will chew through most infantry without too much bother.

Bladeguard Veteran weapons entry entry from Warhammer 40k app
Image taken from the Warhammer 40k app – all rights reserved

The introduction of the Neo-volkite pistol is also a welcome addition, especially with it’s not to the volkite weapons of the Horus Heresy. It loses 2 points of strength and the AP compared to.a standard issue plasma pistol. But, it benefits from a second shot and the ability to inflict a moral wound on a roll of a 6 in addition to any other damage which can make it pretty nasty if the dice are on your side. It also doesn’t blow up, which is definitely worth considering for your 35point model.

I confess, my motivation for getting the Bladeguard Veterans is to plump out squads in an army that is primarily destined for my display cabinet. Their battlefield role is entirely secondary to how they’ll look nicely painted on a shelf.

However, Bladeguard Veterans manage to look impressive and provide quite considerable punch for the money/points/power. The lack of variety in some areas of these models will make owning more than half a dozen of them a little annoying. But mixing them with Indomitus models can offset that.

Equally, the Indomtius Lieutenant model fits in perfectly as a Bladeguard Veteran sergeant which is would I’m doing with mine to give me two units of 5.

Space Marine Primaris Bladeguard Veterans are available to buy now from Warhammer stores and independent stockists.