Chapter Tactics Counts-As
The newest edition of Codex: Space Marines dropped a couple of months ago, and the big new twist to how the army works was the reworking of Combat/Chapter Tactics. Instead of a default Combat Tactic rule that could be replaced by taking certain special characters from specific Chapters, Chapter Tactics is now chosen as part of list building. There is a Tactic for each of the First Founding Chapters that don’t have their own codex as well as for the Black Templars (who used to have their own codex).
By the codex, if you are playing a First Founding Chapter, or a Successor with a known First Founding progenitor, you are required to used the appropriate Chapter Tactic. However, if your Chapter is of an unknown heritage, including a custom Chapter, you are free to choose. This has lead to people being told, when asking for ideas on Chapters to do, to make a custom Chapter to be able to switch between Tactics freely. Personally, I find the idea of rules options being limited by how you painted your models to be questionable at best. This is especially true when it discourages people from picking Chapters for their fluff or appearance, and gives the person with Primer Marines an advantage compared to someone with a proudly painted army. There’s also the issue of Marine players who were collecting and painting long before this edition of the Codex came out and this was ever a concern.
Thus, I think people should feel free to chose Chapter Tactics freely, regardless of what their models are painted as. Since it is a list-building choice, it’s not any more of an issue of list-tailoring for an opponent than anything else. I’m not worried about it being confusing: if you can remember all seven Chapter Tactics, then being able to remember that your opponent is using a specific one after she told you is no problem. And if you can’t remember all seven, she’d be telling you anyways!
The biggest objection I’ve seen to this idea is that of fluff, to which I say two things: first, the Astartes are masters of all forms of warfare. Second, the wargame is pretty heavily abstracted from the fluff, especially in terms of what a Space Marine is capable of. Essentially, choosing a Tactic is choosing which parts of the fluff you want to emphasize. Further, you can also use it as springboard for specific fluff for your force. After all, we are talking ten thousand years of year across an entire galaxy. Why these Crimson Fists are fighting in a way more representative of the Salamander Tactics can be a fun and interesting question to explore.
So, all that said, here’s some ideas on making each Chapter Tactic generally applicable (with some renaming of the abilities granted):
Ultramarines: The Astartes are nothing if not Masters of War. This Tactic represents the tactical flexibility of the Space Marines, be it a Codex-adherent Chapter following the wisdom therein, or a more idiosyncratic Chapter and their unusual and surprising approaches to battle.
White Scars: Let’s face it, Bikes Are Metal, and this is the Tactic for people emphasizing that. It also can represent when Marines need to conduct Harassing Maneuvers.
Imperial Fists: I don’t have much clever here: this makes an army better at shooting, and Marines are always portrayed as pretty dang shooty.
Black Templars: The fluff is full of Space Marines engage in epic duels with their enemy, and this Tactic represents these Heroes of the Imperium. Pretty much any Chapter can be described as Crusaders, which is also good for using Crusader Squads with bolt pistols and chainswords for a force prepared for close quarters engagement.
Iron Hands: Let’s face it, Space Marines are Tough as Nails. And if you are taking Techmarines that are doing something other than manning Thunderfire Cannons, more power to you.
Salamanders: If you are looking to Purge and Cleanse, this is for you. Also, if you go hard fluff, where every piece of wargear is a sacred relic, where even a krak grenade has spent 500 years in a shrine being prayed over by Chapter serfs, then this represents the exhortation to Honor thy Wargear.
Raven Guard: This is the Forward Advance group, pushing deeper into enemy territory. Jump Packs Are Metal, too, if you love jump Marines.