For The Emperor
Forget Master Chief. Warhammer 40K’s Space Marines are the original space marines, and they remain the most bad-ass. It is hard to overstate how influential the Space Marines of 40K have been on video game culture, as everything from chainswords to absurdly massive armor can be traced back to the Space Marines of Warhammer 40K. Space Marines never show fear, never show regret, and never show mercy. They are the incarnation of man’s war-like nature, bound together by armor plate.
Relic did not forget this when placing them in Dawn Of War II. Compared to the other three races, the Space Marines have far less units, and their squads cost much more. They make up with this, however, with their raw power and incredible durability. Playing the Space Marines requires excellent unit knowledge, because losing just one of your own squads can be a major setback.
Out of all the units the Space Marines have in Dawn Of War II, Scouts are the only one that is not particularly hardy. While most Space Marines wear powered armor, the Scouts are more mobile. Their primary purpose in the early game is to capture points. They excel at this task, but they require more management when capturing then the units of other races. Scouts cost 210 points of requisition, which is nearly as much as the basic combat squads of the other races. You also only get three scouts, and if the Scouts come into directly combat with a Guardian squad or a squad of Slugga Boyz, they are going to lose, and lose quickly.
With upgrades, Scouts become more useful in combat. Shotguns (40 requisition, 20 power) are very useful when micro-managed near enemy melee units, and each shotgun blast has the chance of knocking down an enemy. Sniper Rifles (150 requisition, 80 power) give the Scouts high-powered rifles that fire very slowly, but inflict massive damage at extreme range. Sniper Rifles cost much more than Shotguns, but they’re much easier to use correctly, as your Scouts arn’t exposed. Scouts can also gain a Scout Sergeant (40 requisition, 25 power) which adds an extra hand and the ability to throw frag grenades. Frag grenades are great against any group of foes, and also can be used to clear enemies in a building.
Scouts do not compare favorably to the basic combat units of other races, but this ultimately does not matter. The Scouts are your only good point-capture units, so you must learn to micro-manage them in order to gain map control. One thing to keep in mind is that the Infiltrate ability gives your Scouts a defensive bonus even when they are visible to the enemy. The increase in survivability that results from this can help you manage your Scouts in combat.
Tactical Marine Squad
The bread-and-butter of the Space Marine forces, Tactical Marine squads deploy as a squad of three elite soldiers. With a cost of 500 requisition, they are by far the most expensive out of the first-tier units (except for Assault Marines), but they are extremely robust - they are literally as durable as some of the game’s armored units. The combination of high cost and high durability means that Tactical Marines can be expected to survive extreme situations, but they cannot be thrown away in the same way you can sacrifice a Guardian squad for a tactical advantage.
Tactical Marines can be upgraded to a variety of roles. At tier one they can use Flamers (75 requisition 20 power) which are great against units in cover or against units in buildings. Flamers are generally ignored, however, because of the great second-tier Tactical Marine weapons. For anti-infantry purposes, the Plasma Gun (60 requisition, 30 power) is among the most powerful non-deployed anti-infantry weapons in the game. Alternatively, you can use the Missile Launcher (80 requisition, 40 power) which is among the best anti-armor weapons in the game.
Tactical Marines also can be upgraded with a Sergeant (50 requisition, 25 power). The Sergeant is basically a mandatory upgrade, as he is cheap and his melee capabilities help shore up the Tactical Marine’s vulnerability to close combat . The Sergeant also unlocks the And They Shall Know No Fear ability, which increases the offensive and defensive power of the squad for a brief period of time.
Assault Marine Squad
The Assault Marine Squad is a team of Space Marines who’ve donned jetpacks. Sound cool? It is. Assault Marine Squads cost only a bit more, too, at 525 requisition and 25 power. Assault Marine Squads arn’t much better or worse than regular Tactical Marines in terms of ranged and melee abilities, but they have the Angels Of Death ability. Angels Of Death causes the Assault Marines to activate their jetpacks, allowing them to move to any point within a large radius instantly. When they land, they will cause a knock-back, rendering the units they landed on extremely vulnerable.
Assault Marines have access to the Thunder And Lightening upgrade (30 requisition, 15 power), which gives them Melta Bombs. Melta Bombs are anti-vehicle sticky bombs, and Blind Grenades stun. Melta Bombs are unfortunately not working correctly as of April 4th, 2009. You can also upgrade to a Sergeant (50 requisition, 25 power) who is effective in melee combat and can use the Merciless Strike ability, a damaging strike which hits units in a line in front of the Assault Marine squad.
Assault Marines are best used against units that are not good in melee. Don’t ever mistake them as a replacement for Tactical Marines, because Tactical Marines are much better at ranged combat and equal in melee combat once you start adding the on the tier 2 upgrades.
Devastator Heavy Bolter Squad
These Space Marines have Heavy Bolters, which are basically large machine guns. They require a deployment time and will only be able to use their Heavy Bolters against units in their field of fire, but Heavy Bolters count as suppression weapons, which means units caught in their fire will move slowly and be more vulnerable to your attacks. Heavy Bolter squads are also rather cheap, at a cost of 345 requisition.
Heavy Bolter squads are useful in the early game if deployed in the correct spots. They are best in 3 v 3 games, because those maps tend to have very definite battlefields with little chance of being flanked early on. If flanked, the Heavy Bolter squad will die quickly. The usefulness of Heavy Bolter squads becomes heavily reduced once tier 2 units come out, because at that point the enemy will have many options for surprising the Heavy Bolter squad, and some enemies will be immune to suppression.
There is only one upgrade for Heavy Bolters, the Targeter (20 requisition, 10 power). This unlocks Focus Fire, which increases damage but gets rid of the suppression effect. This is useful, but there are other more important upgrades in the early game, like Shotguns for Scouts.
Devastator Plasma Squad
The Devastator Plasma squad, like the Heavy Bolter squad, is armed with a deployable weapon. In this case, though, it is a huge Plasma gun. This Plasma gun has nothing to do with the ones Tactical Marines use. It is a massive weapon with such a long range that you’ll need to use spotters if you wish to fire it at its maximum range. The Plasma charge it fires does a great deal of damage and causes a knock-back effect against units in the area.
The Plasma squad is weak as a kitten when it comes under fire, and with a cost of 400 requisition, it can be a very easy way to lose a lot of resources. That said, it is among the most powerful anti-vehicle weapons in the game, and its range means that it can sit far, far behind the front lines and lay down punishment. Building one is a good idea if your enemy does not seem to be eager to try and get behind your front line, or if they are making heavy use of armored vehicles. The Plasma squad, like the Heavy Bolter squad, is usually better in 3 v 3 games, as it is less likely to be flanked.
The Plasma Squad has no upgrades.
One of the coolest looking units in the game, the Dreadnought is a stout mech with excellent melee abilities. It is extremely good when used against enemies with melee-heavy armors, as it can rip through squads like Slugga Boyz at a faster rate than any other unit in the game. The Dreadnought is slow, however, which means it is vulnerable to being over-whelmed or being flanked. It is tempting to use the Dreadnought as the focal point of an offensive push, but because it costs 500 requisition and 80 power, and because it can be brought down by anti-vehicle fire quickly, it is usually best to mix it in with your Tactical Marines. This makes the Tactical Marines much more resistant to being overwhelming by melee units, as your Dreadnought can protect them. It’s stock special ability, an area-of-effect knock-back called Emperor’s Fist, is particularly good at giving Tactical Marines breathing room when they are ambushed by melee units. Also, when engaged in melee the Dreadnought gives nearby friendly units an inspiration buff which increases their offensive abilities.
The Dreadnought can be upgraded with an Assault Cannon (45 requisition, 45 power). This cannon is less an upgrade and more a re-focusing of the entire unit, as it reduces the melee abilities of the Dreadnought and removes the Emperor’s Fist ability, but unlocks the Assault Cannon Barrage, a hail of bullets that suppresses enemy units and does heavy damage to infantry. I find that the Assault Cannon is a good choice against the Eldar or other Space Marines, and a bad move against Orks and Tyranids. The Dark Age Of Technology upgrade, which is unlocked in Tier 3, increases the health of the Dreadnought and increases the inspiration buff it gives nearby Space Marines while the Dreadnought is in melee combat.
The Razorback is an armored troop transport. At a cost of 240 requisition and 40 power, it is an extremely cheap armored unit. Because it is an armored unit, weapons that are not meant to deal with vehicles do very little damage. This, combined with the low cost of the Razorback, means that producing a Razorback early in the game can throw your enemies off their game, as they probably won’t yet have any way of dealing with armored vehicles. Once anti-vehicle weapons start to hit the battlefield, however, the Razorback will have to fall behind the lines.
The Razorback has several unique abilities. One is that it acts as a reinforcement point, which means that you can add lost units to squads which have lost soldiers in battle. The Razorback is also a troop transport, which means you can load infantry into it and transport them quickly across the map (but be careful, because units into the Razorback will die if the Razorback dies). When guarding infantry, the Razorback can use its Smoke Screen ability, which provides a cover bonus to units in its area of effect.
The only upgrade available is Reinforced Plating (15 requisition 15 power). This increases the armor and health of the Razorback. It does not change the fact that the Razorback will die quickly to any anti-vehicle weapon, but the extremely low cost makes it a most-have, as the few extra points of health could be the difference between a Razorback that makes it back home for repairs and a Razorback which is turned into a flaming hulk.
The only tier 3 unit for the Space Marines, the Predator is a heavy tank meant for front-line assaults against mixed forces of infantry and armor. It is very expensive in terms of power, with a cost of 450 requisition and 125 power. Despite the hype given to the Predator by the game’s descriptions, the Predator, like the Dreadnought, must be treated with respect. It is not by any means invulnerable, and won’t be able to take sustained fire from enemy anti-armor units. In fact, the Predator probably is not much more durable than a fully upgraded squad of Tactical Marines. However, the Predator has a great deal of firepower, and it is fairly quick. This makes it great for responding quickly to enemy strikes. In larger battle, it should generally be kept behind your Tactical Marines so that it can make use of its cannon to strike out at approach enemies.