The Space Marine Librarian is one of the few psykers available to the Imperial forces in 40k. Psykers are rare and powerful individuals, and for this week's article, I'm going to discuss how to utilize your Librarians.
Epistolary or Codicier?
The first thing to note is that there are two levels of Librarians, as there are two levels of Commanders and Chaplains as well. Which one to pick is a frequent question around message boards, and truth be told, there is no right answer really. Take a look at their stat lines though: they are mostly similar, but the Epistolary has a better Leadership and better Wounds stat.
So what difference does this make? The wounds are more or less negligible, if the Librarian is singled out in combat, it is most likely by a Power Fist or a similar weapon - and then the wound stat won't matter much. The Leadership has an impact though, and a way bigger one than with Chaplains. A Codicier has an 83,3% chance to pass a psychic test and an Epistolary has a superior 91,6% chance of succeeding. The difference might be slim, at least since the upgrade is quite expensive.
But there are of course more to it - an Epistolary can take not one, but two psychic powers, which can make the difference between just a good model and a total killing machine.
The point here is, if you're playing at a high level - say 1750 and up, I would take an Epistolary each and every time. If you're playing 1500 and below though, I would reconsider. The Librarian is the most expensive Space Marine HQ-choice after all, and in smaller games, it might not be worth that investment.
A Librarian has no less than six psychic powers at his disposal, a pretty good arsenal. The better ones are: Fury of the Ancients, Might of Heroes, Veil of Time and Fear of the Darkness. These all have good effects, at a very reasonable price except for Veil of Time, which has an awesome effect but is pretty expensive. Storm of the Emperor's Wrath is mediocre. It has short range and a small effect with slim uses. It's free though, which makes it at least okay. Vortex of Doom - while being a very cool psychic power - is not recommended by me. It has short range, it is very situational and it's expensive. Some players claim to have been successful with it in Cities of Death, but I've never seen a competitive list with it.
So, keep in mind the good powers as we go over to the war gear section, where we will take a look at some of the better configurations for a Librarian.
Building on a budget - Librarian edition:
As I stated earlier, Librarians are the most expensive HQ choice in Codex: Space Marines. As such, you might want to have a cheap configuration for smaller games. This is what I use:
Librarian - Codicier
Psychic Hood, Force Weapon, Bolt Pistol, Jump Pack, Combat Sheild, Frags, Might of Heroes
Now, as there are such a load of wargear on this Codicier, it looks pretty expensive. The Psychic Hood and Force Weapon comes included in the points cost though, which keeps the cost down. It weighs in at 137 points, which may sound a bit expensive, but then again, it's a potent character.
The tactics are simple, just fly up towards the nearest enemy unit that would have trouble defending itself against him, and activate Might of Heroes for a total of 6-8 attacks and swing. I do not recommend deep striking this guy. He has the ability to do so, but he lacks the armour to take a good amount of fire. He has no invulnerable save from shooting either, so make sure to stay out of the way from heavier equipment.
The really, really expensive guy:
Then we have the other end of the spectrum, and I personally love this set-up:
Librarian - Epistolary
Psychic Hood, Twin Lightning Claws, Terminator Armour, Might of Heroes, Fear of the Darkness
As you can probably tell, the price tag on this set-up isn't a fun read. He is by far the most expensive HQ unit I have ever used in a Space Marine list, but he is also one of the most powerful.
The tactics may vary depending on if you give him a Terminator Command Squad or if he goes solo. In most cases, he should deep strike down in a good spot and activate Fear of the Darkness. The next turn, he'll move up, activate Might of Heroes for a total of 7-9 attacks and charge whatever unit didn't run away the previous turn.
It may seem foolish to replace the very potent Force Weapon on a Librarian, but Twin Lightning Claws are ideal for taking down MEQs.
To keep this model cheaper, one could just forget about the Lightning Claws, keep the force weapon and give him a Storm Bolter. If that's the case, you could also go even cheaper and leave Might of Heroes at home, or even downgrade him to a Codicier. The Librarian can still deep strike and scare away lower-Ld foes and he can also take quite a beating both in shooting and assault.
Playing it dirty:
Here's a set-up and a tactic also built around Fear of the Darkness. I do not recommend that you use this in friendly games, as it is widely regarded as very cheap and generally unfair.
Librarian - Epistolary/Codicier
Bolt Pistol, Space Marine Bike, Frags, Fear of the Darkness
The first turn, you turbo-boost up and hide for your opponent's turn. The following turn - you move up, activate Fear of the Darkness and then just '€œescort" the unit off the board. As a unit can't re-group if an enemy unit is closer than 6" to it, and the Librarian can move as fast as a unit falling back, you'll get the point I hope. Entire army lists can be constructed around two of these, using Land Speeders, Bike Squadrons and Attack Bikes. I guarantee you that nobody will play against that list twice. You're also at a loss if you face armies with generally high Leadership (MEQ), or if they are outright fearless (Tyranids).
Tigurius, chief Librarian of the Ultramarines is arguably the best character in the Space Marine codex, second to Lysander maybe. His special rules doubles the range for his psychic powers, which is very, very nasty with Fear of the Darkness.
The best way to use him is to give him a command squad and then Drop Pod the entire thing into your opponent's lines. This isn't quite as cheap as the BikerLibrarian tactics, but it will still make people frown at your tactics. Use it with caution!
Other options, tactics and notes:
As noted, Librarians can be given command squads and Drop Podded. I prefer Terminator Armour over a Drop Pod myself, since it gives better protection from shooting the turn after the landing and since it's cheaper. A Drop Pod is a viable choice too though and should definitely be considered in a themed army.
Also, against Eldar, the best HQ choice you could settle for is the Librarian. He will maybe be nullified himself - if the Eldar player has Runes of Warding in his list, but your psychic hood will be very helpful, especially if it's on an Epistolary.
Before you go off to activate Might of Heroes and charge Carnifexes and characters - I must tell you that this isn't always recommended. A Space Marine Librarian can only use one major psychic power per turn, and the using the Force Weapon counts as one. Thus, if you have activated Might of Heroes, you can not use the Force Weapon other than as a regular Power Weapon.
Note that "per turn" refers to "per player turn", so you could use Might of Heroes in your own turn, charge and then use the Force Weapon's power in your opponent's turn.
If you decide to take a Librarian, make sure you give him the correct war gear for his role, and that he complements the list well. If you play a static army list, I don't recommend you to take the Terminator Librarian and Deep Strike him into your opponent's forces. Completely unsupported, he will die before he can make back his points at all, even counting the distraction he provides. Think first, and act later and you'll do fine.