Lets talk about the good old Space Marine. Being the 5th edition codex, it's been a while since it has been on the radar of most discussion boards, and perhaps for a reason other than just it's age. Apart from the drastic overhaul of the game's core rule set, 5th edition has created a large increase in power across the board with the new codexes much like the old "hero-hammer" characters of old. As I said in my review on the Land Raider, the power of most basic units has certainly improved from 4th to 5th, and with it we see some pretty powerful combinations. However, looking at it from one who did indeed play the codex for it's first 2 years, the Space Marine Codex (Codex Blue Marines) is looking a bit old, and it's not showing it's age well.
A few folks down at out FLGS look at Marines as the favored child of GW. I can't argue this fact, as the Space Marines often get them most love when it comes to new codexes. Perhaps this is because the Marine (along with the variant marine codexes) make up almost half of the playable armies out there. The other reason may be that the Blue Marine codex is always the first to be redone with the coming of ever new edition, and are always in the starter box. And while these "perks" may seem nice at first... a closer look reveals at least to me a few problems tat can come out of these.
First and foremost, the boxes themselves are an issue. The Standard Marine boxes are approached and made in what I consider a purely market standpoint. Considering that the sprues themselves are rather lax in both detail and quantity of bitz... they seem underwhelming as compared to the newer more detailed sprues of 5th models. I know the boxes can't be smothered in iconography as they do encompass a rather large number of possible chapters, but perhaps the addition of some new, more detailed items that should be there in the first place (power fist, special weapons etc.) as well as new more elaborate extra bitz to make the models a little more flashy than they currently are (and have been for the last couple editions) would be nice :)
Currently however, in order to build the army in the manner in which you want... it almost always forces you to purchase unit boxes you may not want or need. A good example is the Dev box. While the unit itself costs more to field than other, new codexes, the box itself is one of the only ways to get a power first. Now this alone says something, as who in their right minds puts a PF on the Devastator Sergeant? Why this particular bit couldn't be added to the tactical squad box is beyond me. The heavy weapons options are in a similar boat, as you only get the missile launcher with the Tactical Squad box itself, and again must purchase the devastator box for your needs.
The next problem is power on the field. Units in the Blue codex have the lovely Combat Tactics trick to get out of a tight spot. While I defiantly see it as a neat trick... it requires the unit be forced to take a moral test. This indicates they have already lost 25% casualties, and are at this point hurting in terms of damage output. This trick also isn't as reliable as straight up benefits like some other armies' special rules, as it can be difficult to make it away from a close combat from more smashy units.
Of course the inclusion of named characters can of course alter this to allow for a more stylized and sometimes specialized force... it replaces their first trick to do so... this is an issue to me. No other codex mandates that their nifty trick be replaced when you include a character to increase their power even in the new variant marine codexes. Logan Grimmnar doesn't remove counter attack to make Wolf Guard Troops, and Stracken most certainly doesn't remove the order system to give units around him Furious Charge and counter attack. I guess this just doesn't seem that the upgrade systems are on the same level playing field as they should be (at least to me).
Now is the codex itself bad... no. I can't sit here and say it's is the worst. We have Dark Angels (- Deathwing and Ravenwing which are both actually pretty decent these days), and if we're looking at 5th only Tyranids take that cake (which makes me sad as I think the bugs deserve a little more than they got). But the codex isn't much fun anymore. This is where that edition behind comes in.
As we know the Orks were written so late in 4th, they were really designed for 5th. Though this is true, we still see a little bit of a waning in power by this codex just due to it's age. Blue Marines fit in a similar boat.
When a new edition rolls around, the marines spearhead the new armies. However, they can't be overly good or they become unbalanced and overpowered as compared to the old edition codexes. We see similar things to this in other walks of life. In events utilizing judging, they are often a little more conservative with the scores they give out to early competitors, so they don't set the standard too high. It's much the same with Space Marine codexes. The codex itself has to bridge the gap of old edition codexes and the new codexes... and they can't offer up some of the better units that eventually are released in later armies. The Storm Raven is a good example of this.
Look at the power (and the new boxes) to come out in 5th. The nifty toys and tricks allowed by other armies are generally missing here, and while the Blue Marines did get new units, they are quickly overshadowed by similar units down the road. The Ironclad Dreadnought as compared to the Furioso for example.
Again, the codex does work... but I sometimes wonder if the codex isn't truly balanced with it's current edition competitors until it is redone for the next edition. At least that's the way I feel concerning the current edition and the Blue Marines.