Friday, December 31, 2010

Space Marine HQs - Librarian

Following up my previous post on Kor'sarro Khan, today I'll take a look at the other Space Marine HQ choice I use regularly, the Librarian.

One of the most popular HQ choices for Space Marines this edition, the Librarian is probably the most cost-efficient commander among the non-Unique choices. For 100 points he definitely is a bargain for what he brings to the table.
Primarily, he comes with a psychic hood, which will grant your army some nullifying power over enemy psykers. With more and more armies featuring powerful psychic units (even the witchcraft-shunning Space Wolves), having a chance of blocking their powers will give you a considerable advantage, especially as their nullifying power over you is less of a problem generally. This latter point is of course mostly dependent on which powers you choose, but we'll get back on that later on.


Secondly, the force weapon. While the soul-sucking power of this weapon is pretty awesome, it can only be used if you haven't used a psychic power earlier that turn. Combined with the meagre combat skills of the Librarian compared to other characters or multi-wound creatures, I've rarely used this ability.
However, the force weapon is also a power weapon, so when attached to a squad the Librarian adds some decent hitting power, especially combined with his Weapon Skill of 5. Just watch out for enemy powerfists.

There are quite a few powers available to the Librarian but I've found few to be both useful and flexible. Two stand out from the crowd though, the Avenger and Null Zone.
The Avenger is an AP3 Heavy Flamer and gives your Librarian a neat squad thinner that makes Marines crap their power-armoured pants. The risk with this weapon is failing your psychic test, however, which can leave you facing a full-strength Khorne Berzerker squad where you expected to see just some smoke and cinders. With that in mind, make sure you've got a back-up solution, or better, regard the Avenger as a bonus weapon and don't rely on it generally.
Secondly, Null Zone. This power can ruin your opponent's game if he's playing Daemons, but can be utterly useless if you're facing no Invulnerable saves at all. However, in-between those two extremes there's a plethora of independent characters, Zoanthropes, Terminators and other expensive units crippled by this power. It has saved my skin more times than I can count. Invulnerable saves are usually among the most important dice rolls in a game and forcing a reroll on that is golden. Whether its a Tau commander hit by a sniping Lascannon or a Farseer struck by a Thunder Hammer, you can improve your odds of instant-killing your enemy's most powerful models massively with Null Zone.

Null Zone would make all the difference here

Some units that will work well with this power are Vindicators and Sternguard (against squads with Invulnerable Saves), and Dreadnoughts with close combat weapons and powerfists/thunder hammers (for instant-killing characters).

Both of these powers are best seen as supportive of your army, with the main role of your Librarian lying in psychic defence.

The Librarian will need, first and foremost, a transport vehicle to extend the reach of his psychic hood (and to keep up with the rest of your army). A Rhino or Razorback will do fine if you can shield it from fire, as you can bet your opponent will make it a priority target if he has psykers of his own.
Personally I often use the Land Raider, as the Librarian works great with the Assault Terminator cargo anyway (especially with Null Zone), and the Raider provides him with ultimate protection. Just be wary of sending him out with the Terminators into assault, he probably won't survive when up against tough opposition.
Alternatively, the Librarian can be assigned to a Tactical Squad, giving them a sharp edge in combat against other Troop units. Especially when the Avenger goes off, even Grey Hunter squads will fall to your Tactical Marines.

 Tried and tested

Don't forget, any squad he'll join will benefit from his high Leadership. For this reason alone you'll sometimes want to send him into combat alongside his retinue. Remember, you don't have to charge him into combat first, nor do you have to put him in the front ranks of the unit. If you don't want to eat powerfists with the Librarian, but do want to keep him attached to a squad about to charge, make sure he's deployed in the back lines and charge in last, so he won't be engaged in the combat. Or, if your opponent is careless and has his powerfist model exposed, charge it with a regular Marine and force him to fight the squad instead of the Librarian.

Occasionally, the Librarian can detach himself from whatever squad he's with and beat some face in himself. These rare (and possibly desperate) moves allow you to engage more units which can be particularly important in the end-game. If the enemy unit contains no powerfists this can work very well, but striking at Initiative 4 the Librarian still stands a reasonable chance of dying. Just remember, he's not a scoring unit, so in objective games exchanging him for an enemy Troops unit is perfectly fine.

 Perfectly fine...

Alternative Options
While it increases his cost, and limits his transport options, equipping your Librarian with Terminator armour and a Storm Shield can make him a lot more durable, but for a hefty price tag. Personally, I've decided not to spend the points on the off-chance he'll pass his 3++ first time a powerfist comes swinging his way, but I won't dismiss this option entirely.
As for alternative powers, Gate seems to have some potential, but it certainly isn't a reliable transport mode. Requiring a psychic test, Deep Strike attempt, a limited range, and the possibility of enemy nullifying equipment really restrict the use of this power in my opinion. However, I can see the potential for late-game objective grabs/contesting. 
Smite and Machine Curse offer too little punch compared to Avenger in my view, and Force Dome too little protective power. Vortex requires that expensive Terminator armour or a Bike. Finally, Quickening and Might try to turn the Librarian into a combat monster, but his stats limit him too much for this role, and combining either of these with a force weapon require the very expensive Epistolary upgrade.

So there you have it, my review of this popular HQ choice. By no means a definitive guide, I hope it has provided you with some new insights for this excellent unit.

Depending on your current location, an advance, timely, or belated Happy New Year to you all and I'll see you all in 2011!


  1. Are Libby's that popular? I was shocked when you said that, but then got to thinking that they are a means of adding psychic defense to your forces, so yeah, some people will play them. I just so rarely field one myself...

    Happy New Year to you as well. More dinosaurs please. :)

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