Ultramarines 1988

January 1988, and White Dwarf 97 included the first ever installment of the ‘Index: Astartes’ column. This gave a detailed description of the background and organisation of the Ultramarines chapter.

Reading it now, it is clear that the 40k background has gone through some significant changes before it settled into what we know today. Some examples are:

  • The Ultramarines are a third Founding chapter, given number XIII after it was removed from one of the ‘Treacher Legions’. (The Ultramarines are a First Founding Legion/Chapter so their number couldn’t be changed).
  • Marneus Calgar has been so badly injured that he no longer fights on the battlefield. (Marneus Calgar is a powerful battlefield character).
  • The Chief Librarian is Illyian Nastase, a half-Eldar! (Current 40k doesn’t recognise the idea that humans and Eldar could interbreed).

Given all these changes, the organisation of the chapter is surprisingly similar to the current Codex: Space Marines. By applying a few restrictions, we can build a representative army.

Equipment restrictions

These items of equipment did not exist when the original article was written, so no model should use them.

  • Terminator or Articifer Armour
  • Storm Bolter (Experimental: vehicles can replace Storm Bolters with Twin-Linked Bolters)
  • Assault Cannon
  • Lightning Claw, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

Some current items are similar to old items but with new names, for example the ‘Relic Blade’ could be considered a Power Axe.

Unit restrictions

These units either have new equipment, or no parallel in the old list, so they should not be used.

  • Any named character.
  • Librarian (Experimental: see Nastase below)
  • Master of the Forge, Techmarine, Servitors
  • Terminator, Terminator Close Combat squads
  • Sternguard Veterans
  • Scouts, Scout Bikers, Tempest
  • Razorback, Drop Pod
  • Thunderfire Cannon

Technically, the Rhino and Land Speeder and variants had not been invented yet. However the article includes a listing of the old style generic vehicle types including some which fulfil similar roles, so they seem fitting.

Jump Packs were not yet in common use, so Assault squads and Vanguard Veterans should not use them.

Experimental rules

These are some reinterpretations of old units and equipment which no longer exist. Obviously these are not official in any way – it’s up to you and your opponents whether to use them.

Reconnaissance Squad

A Troops choice. Consists of a Sergeant and 4 Marines. All are equipped with Power Armour, Bolt Pistol, Bolter, Jump Pack, Frag and Krak grenades. Scouts. 100 points.


  • add up to five additional Marines. +18 points each.
  • Sergeant may replace his boltgun with: combi-melta, -flamer or -plasma – 10 points. Chainsword – free. Power weapon – 15 points.
  • Sergeant may take: melta-bombs – 5 points.

Tactical Squad equipment

A Tactical squad may replace a plasma gun with a heavy bolter for free.

Graviton Gun

A Tactical squad may replace a flamer with a graviton gun for free.

Weapon Range S Type
Graviton Gun 12" X Assault 1, Graviton

Graviton – the weapon does no direct damage. However, any unit which takes a hit counts as moving in difficult terrain for the rest of the game.

Heavy Hoverer

Counts as a Rhino with type ‘Skimmer’, and replaces the Rhino entry.

Chief Librarian Nastase


Wargear: Power Armour, Bolt Pistol, Force Weapon, Psychic Hood, Frag and Krak grenades.
Psychic Powers: Smite, Guide (see Codex Eldar)

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