How hard would a Primarch be? - Part 1

Had a conversation at my FLGS and another later at a friends house about the various Horus Heresy books which sidelined into a conversation about the Primarchs.
There was an Apocalypse Data-sheet released for Angron a while ago that (imo) didn't really reflect how bastard hard a Daemonic Primarch must be. I mean he was still a killing machine but I was expecting...well...more...
Perhaps I was being unfair though...lets take the system that Games Workshop has provided us with and see how things scale up from human to demi-god ;-)

Let's start at the beginning then with a random guy dragged off the street and given the most basic of training and some weapons.

WS 2, BS 2, S 3, T 3, W 1, I 3, A 1, Ld 5, Save 5+
Lasgun, Close Combat Weapon, Flak Armour.

So he has what we presume is average skill with a knife (WS 2) or a gun (BS 2), average reflexes (I3) and is unlikely to stick around when things start to go wrong (Ld 5). Pretty much a 'baseline' human then, lol.

Okay then. Lets presume that the guy survives long enough to actually get some training or is fortunate to have some before he gets sent off to war.

Imperial Guardsman.

WS 3, BS 3, S 3, T 3, W 1, I 3, A 1, Ld 7, Save 5+
Lasgun, Close Combat Weapon, Frag Grenades, Flak Armour.

So our human now has the benefit of military training which has increased both his WS and BS to 3. This training has already increased his resolve (Ld 7) and enabled him to be trained in the use of additional equipment (Frag Grenades).

Against the untrained human he's much more likely to land a blow with a blade, has a decent chance of hitting what he shoots at and has a good chance of sticking around (ld 7) should things look dicey. So we now have a baseline for a human with some basic training.

With a bit of extra training to elevate him to Sergeant he would be a better fighter (2 attacks) and moves into the group of people who are able to cope with the stresses of warfare (Ld8).

Of course only so much can be taught in the sterile environment of the classroom. Actually combat experience is what elevates the Guardsmen into the veteran.

Imperial Guardsman Veteran.

WS 3, BS 4, S 3, T 3, W 1, I 3, A 1, Ld 7, Save 5+
Lasgun, Close Combat Weapon, Frag + Krak Grenades, Flak Armour.

He's now reached the point where his aim is (by codex numbers) reliable and he can be trusted with better equipment as standard (Krak Grenades) he would also have been either trained in (or gained through personal experience) the ability to handle more specialised weapons such as Meltaguns, Flamers, Plasmaguns and the like.

As with the standard Guardsmen their will be some individuals who are destined for command which generally seems to mean they get an extra attack and an extra point of Leadership.

Lets take our human being and add a load of extra biological hardware and add some basic training see what we come up with.

Space Marine Scout.

WS 3, BS 3, S 4, T 4, W 1, I 4, A 1, Ld 8, save 4+
Boltgun, Bolt Pistol, Frag + Krak Grenades, Scout Armour.
And They Shall Know No Fear, Combat Tactics.

All those extra organs and implants have increased his strength, toughness and reflexes (Initiative). His psychological training has given him greater willpower than a normal human (ld.8*) and the ability to overcome his basic instincts (ATSKNF) but apparently it takes a lot of training or experience to push your WS and BS up to 4...

* As were using Games Workshops system I'm obviously taking an average Leadership roll to be 7. This means that under stress a human with Leadership 7 could go either way (fight or flight) but anything lower is bad and anything higher shows a high degree of mental fortitude.

Lets give him all that extra training and psych conditioning now shall we?

Space Marine.

WS 4, BS 4, S 4, T 4, W 1, I 4, A 1, Ld 8, Save 3+
Boltgun, Bolt Pistol, Frag + Krak Grenades, Power Armour.
And They Shall Know No Fear, Combat Tactics.

Given how a Marine is described in the background material a stat increase of just one apparently elevates you to a superhuman standard of ability.

Space Marines with greater experience also seem to follow the +1 A, +1 Ld. progression. Of course after a couple of hundred years they get really good...

Space Marine Captain.

WS 6, BS 5, S 4, T 4, W 3, I 5, A 3/4, Ld 10, Save 3+/4+ inv.
Bolt Pistol, Chainsword, Frag + Krak Grenades, Power Armour, Iron Halo.
And They Shall Know No Fear, Combat Tactics.

So this is the pinnacle of Space Marine ability (in a broad sense, obviously). An expert in close combat, an excellent shot, faster reflexes even than his Battle Brothers and is able to sustain multiple blows that would kill another Astartes. Combine this with access to pretty much any equipment he desires** and you have an extremely formidable opponent indeed.

** unless he's unfortunate to be a Blood Angel Captain and fancies some artificer Armour, lol.

So if these guys are pale imitations of their Primarchs then those bastards must be impressive indeed. There are many examples in the background (or 'Fluff') of Primarchs carving through hordes of troops and punching through tanks so we need to reflect that in their statistics. We are also obliged to take game mechanics into account as well however if I'm sticking to my initial premise (which I am).

Before we move onto looking at what we'd expect of a Primarch, lets see what extra can be achieved if you push gene-seed to it's limit.

Pushing the envelope.
Marneus Calgar is generally regarded in fluff as being the shining light of Marine potential. In purely statistical terms this is represented by an extra wound and an extra attack as well as re-rolls to wound and various inspiring abilities. However there aren't any examples of 'Vanilla' Marine characters with a 'natural' WS above 6, BS above 5, Initiative above 5 or a Strength or Toughness above 4 so are those the limits of the gene-seed?
Cassius is T6 and has 'Feel no Pain' but those are the results of technological improvements not biological ones. It does however show that it's possible to make someone that tough so we'll bear it in mind.
Logan Grimnar of the Space Wolves also seems to have peaked at those limits and even has one less wound than Calgar though he does have 5 attacks. He does have different 'special' abilities but these can still be broadly classified as 'inspirational' rather than genetic.

So we have worked out how far we can push the genetic potential of a Marine then?

Unfortunately not, as the Blood Angels have put several spanners in the works...bastards...

Dante is I6.

The Sanguinor is WS 8, S 5 and (like Dante) is I6 as well as having an impressive 5 attacks base. He may just be a psychic construct of the Blood Angels imagination though so we might be able to ignore him.

And then there was Mephiston...

WS 7, BS 5, S 6, T 6, W 5, I 7, A 4, Ld 10, save 2+/4+
And They Shall Know No Fear, Fleet.

The Blood Angels Codex seems to attribute his abilities to the unlocking of the potential of his gene-seed by the overcoming of the Black Rage. He could just be possessed though...

Until Games Workshop lets us know one way or another I think we'll have to leave him and The Sanguinor out of our calculations for now.

So lets take the maximum stats from all our top of the line Marines and see what we come up with

WS 6, BS 5, S 4, T 4, W 4, I 6, A 5, Ld 10, save 2+/4+ inv.
Various cool abilities.

So lets be the Emperor for a day and build ourselves a Primarch.

Lets start at the beginning then with WS,
The chances of a Primarch swinging and missing should be pretty low and the chances of you hitting him back should be pretty low as well. The minimum I think we can get away with is 7, with the Combat monster Primarchs like Leman Russ, Angron and the like going anywhere up to 9 or possibly 10 and the less physical ones (like Lorgar) should still be hitting pretty much everything mortal on 3's so 7 it is then.

Shooting any ranged weapon accurately takes practice. If your senses and physical abilities are 'primarch' good though, I'd think missing would be a rarity. BS6 should reflect this nicely.

Strength is a tricky one, though. Most Monstrous Creatures are around the S6 mark and there are plenty of examples of Primarchs kicking their asses so S6 is a good place to start. Remember we're creating a 'generic' Primarch here and certain ones are going to be stronger.

Primarchs could be hurt so we can't make them ridiculously tough. T6 allows them to potentially be hurt by mere mortals but also makes it fairly unlikely.

Since Primarchs are much bigger than Marines it's only logical that they could take a corresponding increase in damage before succumbing so we we'll give them a 50% increase in wounds over 'Uber Marine' and call it 6...Maybe 6 is too much now I've thought about it...we'll call it 5 for now.

We have Marines that are Initiative 6 but they are rare in the extreme so we can call this an exception rather than a rule for Marines. However it's not an unreasonable baseline for our Primarch. Those known for their speed and skill like Curze or Corax could probably be as high as 9 or 10, Somebody like Lorgar may even be slightly lower than the baseline as his own Legion tried to talk him out of picking fights with the other Primarchs at Isstvan ;-)

Attacks is a pretty big variable but as our Primarchs were basically designed as warriors we'll give them one over the Marine Maximum and call it 6.

Leadership is going to be 10. It's reasonable to assume that a Primarch could easily decide what battles to fight and which he'd rather not so he'd most likely have some equivalent of Calgars 'God of War' power, even if it only applied to himself. Obviously there would be exceptions as I'm reasonably sure Angron would be fearless.

Last but by no means least is our armour save. As were talking about the equivalent of demi-gods here with access to the best armour and equipment ever created , lets break (or at least bend a little) one of the fundamental rules and give them a 1+ armour save. This means that they'd get a save vs. Plasma weapons and similar but not something like a Meltagun and as a 1 always fails this wouldn't be too unbalancing.
We'll give them a 3+ invulnerable save as well. this can represent superior armour, psychic powers or superhuman reflexes depending on his individual abilities.

He'll need some generic abilities as well I suppose. Eternal Warrior is an obvious start as are Calgars 'God of War' and 'Titanic Might' abilities. I suppose there's a good argument for Feel no Pain also but that'd make him almost immune to small arms fire...and were still looking for some form of balance here.

So we've standardised his profile, 'base' abilities and his basic defensive equipment. Weapons are going to be highly individual so we'll leave them alone till we look at specific individuals.

Lets see what we've got,

Primarch 'Template'
WS 7, BS 6, S 6, T 6, W 5, I 6, A 6, Ld 10, save 1+/3+ inv.
Eternal Warrior, God of War, Titanic Might.

That seems fairly reasonable though his actual points value would be effected by the weapons and Legion specific powers he had.

Individual Primarchs would obviously vary from this and it's likely that some individual statistics would be higher.

Many of them like Leman Russ, Angron, Khan and the rest of the more physical Primarchs would have a higher Weapon Skill than the average with those like Lorgar and Magnus possibly even being lower (though Magnus could give himself whatever proportions he liked so the same may apply to his abilities). Corax and Curze would certainly be faster than the average, Dorn would likely be stronger (I know Curze beat him up but presumably when Curze kicked the shit out of him he outfought him rather than wrestled him to the ground, lol).

Anyway, that's what I think a Generic Primarch would be like. I'll put forward my interpretation of specific Primarchs over the next few Sundays most likely starting with Konrad Curze as he's my favourite...

Thoughts, comments and dissenting opinions are (as usual) most welcome.

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