Who Shall Lead? Part Three: Librarians

Of all the Hero choices available to a Space Marine player to lead his Chapter into tabletop combat, none have changed so much, through five editions of the game, as their dedicated psykers, the Space Marine Librarians. In V2, the avowed era of the 'super character,' arguably no Hero rivaled the Librarian, whose statistics at the ultimate level of Chief Librarian were the equal of any in the game, whose choices of Wargear cards included some of the best of all possible options, and who had an entire game play phase—the long-gone Psychic phase&mdashentirely to themselves; V3 shattered that, reducing Librarians to under-statted, over-costed HQ lightweights with almost-nonexistent Psychic powers whose wargear was even more overpriced than they were—you never saw Librarians in V3 Space Marine armies unless the player was simply an inveterate aficionado from a background standpoint, and even then their most characterful gear stayed in the Armoury. V4 attempted to remedy this vivisection with some success, returning some psychic disciplines, making essential gear like Psychic Hoods and Force Weapons standard equipment (at a more reasonable price break) and generally restoring the Librarian's battlefield puissance sufficiently to see their occasional return as an HQ choice in some armies.

Librarians in V5 represent both a further advance in such improvements *and* a step back toward previous diminishments.

On the positive front, Librarians continue to have both essential, characterful bits of wargear standard—the Psychic Hood and the Force Weapon—and even more positively, now have the best selection of psychic powers available since the halcyon days of Second Edition.

Unfortunately, both the Psychic Hood and Force Weapon are less worthwhile in V5 than they have ever been, and Librarians are more vulnerable to self-inflicted damage from using those multiple power options than they have been since V2's days of the dreaded Daemonic Attack card draw. *And* they suffer the same reduced stat line which afflicts Chaplains (see part two).

One wonders why the evident pervasive distaste for psykers in the Design Studio: Psychic Hoods now only defend out to 24" away from the possessing Librarian—a real problem against back-of-the-table-behind-terrain lurking Eldar, especially given the Librarian's increased vulnerability should he choose to lead from the front (about which more below)—and Librarians who suffer a Perils of the Warp wound are now the *only* instance in the game I can think of where a protective Invulnerable Save must be rolled *twice* to be effective (when a Librarian has access to an Invulnerable Save at all, which is more limited than it used to be). Worst of all is the fate of the Force Weapon: this once-great equalizer, which could throw fear into any opponent with its ability to summon the ferocity of the Warp into a Librarian's hands and potentially defeat even the mightiest multi-Wound enemy, was chiefly and specifically designed to battle the monstrous manifestations of that same Warp: Chaos Daemons. Now, any model which is immune to Instant Death from high strength weapons is also immune to Force Weapons...and of course that includes *all* Daemons, courtesy of their new Codex.

Without digressing into a rant about any or all of this, which given my passion for Librarians I could pretty obviously do :), a player considering taking a Librarian as an HQ choice needs to recognize these inherent limitations to one's effectiveness. They mean that, for all their increased psychic options, in V5 as the two editions previous to it Librarians will appear on tabletops far less often than the other choices available, except in three circumstances: as a secondary supporting HQ for a dominant army commander (like a Chapter Master, see part one), as a multitasking HQ option for a very experienced player who likes to win by making other aspects of his army perform to maximum effectiveness...and, as always, because some players simply like them, and the aspects of the 40K background they represent, too much not to use them.


As with Chaplains, the new Codex: Space Marines provides only one Special Character template for Librarians. Tigurius is a character with a long history in the game; he is a good choice for inclusion not just because of that nod to his long history, and not just because of the Codex's intentional Ultramarine emphasis, but because the Librarians' downrated statistics do not measurably impact him as he has never been an over-the-top combat machine. In fact Tigurius has stats identical to those of a generic Librarian, offering no variety there—but he has always had two of the potentially coolest pieces of wargear in the game, and both are well-represented by this new incarnation: the Hood of Hellfire is a Psychic Hood allowing Tigurius to use an extra third power each turn, and the Rod of Tigurius is a mastercrafted Force Rod. Tigurius adds two special rules: Master Psyker means he knows *all* the V5 psychic powers (uprating the Hellfire Hood's special rule significantly, as knowing them all means there will be a high likelihood of getting three good opportunities to do something psychically each turn) and Gift of Prescience allows a player fielding Tigurius to re-roll any Reserve rolls each turn—including, if he chooses, successful ones.

All of which means for 80 points more than the closest similarly equipped generic Epistolary, you get access to all powers, the use of one extra each turn, re-rolls on your Reserves, and a single rerolled missed 'to hit' roll.

Is templating your Librarian from Tigurius worth that? Although it is less a no-brainer than choosing virtually any of the other Special Character templates for their obvious advantages, I think it *could* be worth doing—depending on the kind of player you are, and how you intend to use him.

Tigurius will appeal to the player of 'jack of all trades' type Space Marine armies. His Reserve re-rolls will allow such a player to always have the unit he needs available when and where he wants it, and his multiple-times-a-turn access to every kind of psychic power will give such a player the most possible movement, shooting and close combat options. Tigurius will improve the on-table efficiency of highly mobile, Terminator-heavy, or Tactical Squad dominated Space Marine armies...and will confound opponents confident of beating Space Marines because they've seen every trick in the Codex Astartes.

The problem with using Tigurius effectively in this manner is threefold:

  1. Most simply, a player intending this approach has to know his rules, and be able to both think multiple turns ahead and stay focused on the given mission's objectives
  2. Tigurius' 230 point cost is a chunk, and will take some of the assets the player intends to use with the Chief Librarian's abilities away—the classic catch-22
  3. Tigurius' limited statline, lack of Invulnerable Save and 2—and only 2—Wounds means he cannot wade into the opponent's costliest unit and swing his way to earning his points back, as most Space Marine characters (certainly those costing over 200 points!) are generally expected to do

Especially in an era where many secondary missions award extra victory points for assassinating an opposing army commander, Tigurius is a precarious HQ choice, his cost not even considered.

Tigurius' optimal role is probably as a second HQ choice, acting as an adviser to a more 'lead from the front' sort of character who could take on the role of army commander; that would allow his fielding player to avoid exposing him to the hazards of the front line, and use his supporting abilities to maximum effectiveness. Unfortunately, Tigurius' cost is so prohibitive he is only likely to see such use in Apocalypse-scale battles...but a player of Space Marines emphasizing shooting or movement would do well to weigh how he might fit into their scheme, even at lower points totals.


Even moreso than in the case of the Chaplain, building an HQ choice from the basic Librarian option is attractive. The current codex clearly envisions Librarians as support options for another, primary HQ choice, and in such case economy of points matters; choosing the generic Librarian without any upgrades provides everything a hobbyist might seek in such a role, as the Psychic Hood and Force Weapon come standard, including access to one psyker power, for 100 points. The only 'essential' missing is any kind of Invulnerable Save...but the only way any Librarian *can* add that is to switch to Terminator armour (not an unreasonable investment at 25 points, or 40 with a Storm Shield, but with all the limitations inherent in opting for Tactical Dreadnought Armour, and still a significant points upgrade) or use the psychic power slot on Force Dome. That *isn't* a bad power...but for a basic Codicier-level Librarian, it becomes his only one—and upgrading to an Epistolary to get a second is 50 more points. I don't anticipate seeing a lot of Epistolaries on tables, unless a player opts to make a Librarian their primary HQ choice...and in such case, even if they tool him up with Terminator Armour and Storm Shield and devote his two psychic power slots to other purposes, they will be facing some of the same limitations using Tigurius presents—a lot of points wrapped up in a limited stat line—at nearly the same cost but without Tigurius' myriad special effects (though at least you could afford him the Invulnerable Save through wargear which Tigurius lacks).

Fortunately, for those of us with longstanding respect for aspects of the 40Kverse Librarians replicate on the tabletop battlefield better than any other, some will still try...