Updated: Jul 29, 2021
I recently read a review of GWs Primaris Marines that had a rather unique critique of the miniatures- namely that the Bolt Rifle didn't have a stock. The author seemed rather obsessed with the idea that the Bolt Rifle NEEDED a stock. "GW again failed to add a stock to the firearm, something that would make the weapon incredibly difficult to fire at range." Now, I'm not gonna knock a stock on any weapon that I use, because they do improve stability making accurate shot placement easier, but I think that the author in question missed a few very important points (though the rest of the review is pretty much on point- read it and judge for yourself).
First- these are toys, and the first thing that a toy has to do is look awesome, which is something that the Primaris do really well. They make regular Marines look like dwarfs by comparison (or clunkily armored Guardsman). Their added size almost necessitates a larger weapon, and the Bolt Rifle looks the part. Even though the author of the post insists that the Bolt Rifle is too nose heavy, this makes sense to me. We really don't know how a Bolt weapon works- what drives the system, or even what's in the front part. I've seen some art with a laser coming out of it- maybe the stuff in the hand guard slaves the bolter to the Astartes' helmets allowing them to aim or protects delicate firing mechanisms from undue wear (like being bashed over the head of heretical Guardsmen). Maybe they're meant to be literal hammers in close assault. Whatever- they look cool, and that's all that is really necessary for a $5 toy soldier.
Second, there is a rather abundant suspension of disbelief on the table top to begin with, and the lack of a stock with regards to the accuracy of a genetically enhanced human being wearing powered armor is low on the order of priorities in my mind. How can a Cadian (with a bayonet or his fist) even hope to hurt a regular Astartes in hand to hand- yet, they wound on a 5+. And how can an Astartes even fail to kill outright a regular human being with a simple punch with his augmented strength and mighty adamantium guantlet? Yet- he wounds on a 3+. We aren't to concerned with the realism in many respects (though I would like it if the Russ could have a properly proportioned turret and main gun- but that's just me).
Third- butt stocks are for Cadians. What does a Space Marine need with a stock? He already has all the support for his weapon he could ever want. First, he's massively strong. Second, he has a suit of powered armor to support the weapon for him. Third, where is the stock going to go? I mean in reference to his shoulder. There is a lot of armor in the way, and if you've ever tried to shoulder a weapon with armor, it can be tricky at times on a regular Joe with a plate carrier. I'd think that shouldering a weapon while wearing Astartes plate would be even more problematic. Cadians, on the other hand, have regular people muscles and a flak vest that might stop confetti at longer ranges. That Cadian needs all the help he can get to stay alive. HE needs a stock. He'd also like a weapon that doesn't reach to his shoulder... I mean, come on, it looks like every Cadian is carrying the laser equivalent of an M-82 .50 rifle. Not exactly a good general purpose weapon... Just saying.
Rant aside, there are a lot of good things going on with the Primaris that have brought me back into the 40K fold. First, and most importantly, the size of the models compared to other 40k basic troops. They make Guardsmen look small- like they're supposed to. The Bolt Rifle looks as if it must be carried by a genetically engineered armor plated killing machine- which it should. The lines are smooth, yet retain that bulkiness we've all come to love about space Marines. And the pouches actually look like they work (and not as if they were an afterthought). The Primaris really are an improvement on the basic Space Marine and I heartily welcome them to the table.
But what I think I like most about them is their rules. One thing that I have actually gotten tired of within the Space Marines army is choice. Yes- I'm burned out by all the stuff. The Primaris (while being yet another choice) are overtly simple. Few options list wise, and relatively few units covering all the major unit types means that assembling a Primaris army is easy in the deciding. Intercessors- choose one of THREE guns, maybe add a power sword and a couple grenade launchers. Done. Hellblasters- choose one of three guns. Maybe add a plasma pistol. Done. Aggressors- choose one of two weapons. Done. Inceptors- see Aggressors. Rievers- get ready for mad choices. Select one of two weapons- add some grapnels, and decide if you want to deepstrike them or not. Done. The two most choice happy units are the Redemptor and the Repulsor. Simplicity trumps choice in this instance- at least for me.
The other nice thing about the list is the way that they feel. Rather than having a tailorable force that can take pretty much EVERYTHING under the sun and then some, Primaris lists feel like elite warriors sitting on the edge or excellence. Balanced in such a way that to use them correctly will net you great returns, while using them sloppily will net you many lost games and much angst. Being relatively cheap (probably because they get one really spendy transport and so few options) and having excellent base weapons, they can hold their own against most things- maybe even all things. Except those armies specifically tailored to deal with Primaris armies... They'll have a field day as nothing has a 2+ save or an invulnerable save, and there are exceedingly few weapons that do more than 2 damage, so high wound units- like Knights- will be very hard to deal with.
But that's part of the fun. Getting stuck into terrible shituations and trying to get out of them... Actually... That kind of sucks... But at least the one success will be worthy of song (ok- and maybe a few of the failures too). All in all (even without stocks) the Primaris are pretty damned cool. They have the feel of an elite army in the making. Good at everything, excellent at nothing. And they look cool. So, double win, am I right? What are you thoughts? Go ahead and leave a comment below the knife wielding Primaris Librarian.