Wednesday, March 6, 2019

If normal Marines are staying, GW has to fix its Primaris problem

For the sake of this article, we are going to take GW at face value and believe them when they say "Old Space Marines aren't going away." I know a lot of people don't believe that. And it is hard not too. All the new artwork is Primaris. All the new Space Marine models are Primaris. The lore just makes Primaris better in pretty much every way... so why would old Space Marines even remain a thing (outside the Horus Heresy range).
But going forward we are not going to ask "Why?" We are going to ask "How?"

The title of the article claims GW needs to fix their Primaris Problem. Well "what is that problem?" you are asking. It is really a two fold issue.
1- Primaris are better in everyway to space marines as is. Lore wise they are bigger, stronger, faster, tougher and have more enhancements. They have newer weapons with greater range and damage. They have a few new vehicles which are pretty impressive. They are just, as I said, better in every way. To top it off, they are also better than how the Emperor designed them. The Emperor. The single greatest mind to ever exist, working with and army of geneticists, made the Space Marines. And one guy made them better as a side project. Just seems a bit of a stretch... and I'll get back to that in the end.
2- There is no cost to this "betterness". In fact there seems to be less cost. Space Marines used to have to spend basically a decade or more in training as a neophyte and scout before being elevated to be a Battle Brother. Primaris feel like they get placed in Cawl's easy bake oven and come out as 10 foot tall demi-gods ready for battle. Sure they weren't as experienced at first, but they quickly gained that. But training aside, the question of whether or not Primaris require excess resources beyond normal marines to be created has never been answered.

But here is a catch- Even if they are more resource intensive to create it doesn't matter, as Astartes are always worth the resources. It is like modern day militaries. Even in a constrained fiscal environment, do you know who is always fully funded- The Special Forces. Why? Because the investment ALWAYS pays off. So same goes for Primaris Space Marines. Lore wise the investment always pays off.

So what is the solution? How can all that possibly be fixed.

For this I am going to use an analogy.

Before we get to that you need to watch this (warning it does get a little graphic around 3:12 so stop there if you don't want to see that)

I hope I didn't spoil Blade Runner for you, but if you are playing 40k and reading my blog and haven't seen one of the greatest Sci-fi movies of all time that also happens to be older that Warhammer 40k itself, then that is on you.

There is an exchange in there that really is central to the concept of my argument

Dr. Tyrell: "You were made as well as we could make you."
Roy: "But not to last?"
Dr. Tyrell: "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very very brightly Roy."

Roy Batty is a Nexus 6 Series replicant. He stronger, faster, tougher, smarter than any human. He is better in every way.
The price he pays? An incredibly accelerated life span. He only gets to live for 3 to 4 years (his birthday was January 8th 2016, and he dies November 2019). It is the cost of being so much more, of burning so very very bright.

So what I am saying is GW should make Primaris Marines into Roy Batty and the Nexus 6 replicants. Now 3-4 years is way too short, but currently Space Marines are effectively immortal. They die in battle and that is it seemingly.

Commander Dante of the Blood Angels is by now 1400 years old (around 1200 of which he has served as Chapter Master, which by the way is 200 more years than Guilliman has actively lead the Ultramarines). He is OLD. Bjorn in a Dreadnought is 10,000 years old. These guys just don't die.

So, from a lore perspective there is really only one way to make a old school space marine worth more than the Primaris, and that is to make them last while Primaris perish. Give primaris a 300 to 500 year life span tops, but most of them going out between 350 and 400. This would make them valuable enough to keep making en masse, but temper their "betterness" by just the right amount to keep old marines around. Their vast experience would be too great a treasure to be lost. A few 600-800 year old terminators are just going to be more skilled warriors than a 100 year old intercessor or agressor.
And here is the true beauty of it... GW has time to implement this. It has only been 100 to 150 years since Guilliman returned and the Indomitus Crusade started if I am not mistaken. No one would know that Primaris Marines have a shelf life yet. Have it be a surprise, something unexpected that Cawl could not even fix. This is where we get back to him improving on the Emperor's design.

If Primaris die of old age, well Cawl failed and we are back to the Emperor having been the only one capable of perfecting Astartes. Sure Cawl made some temporary improvements, but obviously the Emperor did not go down the route, opting for the geneseed vice the Sangprimus Portum for its stability. That could even be the cause of the accelerated lifespan. It would be rather poetic. Only the Primarchs were made to be gifted with such genetic superiority, and not even the mightiest techpriests could forge warriors hardy enough to withstand the burning intensity of such power.

It would also allow for some interesting Marine dynamics eventually. Does a Brother opt to transition to a Primaris for the superior physicality, or remain true to his original forging to benefit the future generations of the Chapter with greater wisdom and skill?
And that is how you fix the Primaris problem and keep Old Marines relevant. Sorry Marneus Calgar, you will die young and Cato Sicarius will assume your mantle.

But in the end, it really is the only way for GW to make good on their "promise".

So will they?
I have my doubts.