I had a few questions about the second founding. These will probably be addressed in the upcoming supplement "honour the chapter", but there is probably enough fluff out there to get the ball rolling already.
First, is there an estimate about how many second founding chapters there were? I ask that because the second founding must have been the absolute nadir of space marine numbers. Before that, there were no chapters, only legions, which numbered in the thousands, one source stated that the Ultramarines were about 250,000 strong, but they were the largest of the legions by far.
The second founding was essentially the splitting of the Legions after the horus heresy. Already, half of the legions were decared traitors and chased into the eye of terror. Losses on both sides must have been staggering. The Ultramarines in one source stated that they split into about 23 or 24 chapters, but that they were the largest source of new chapters. It also implies losses of 90% which is large, but I guess possible given the brutal war that the Horus Heresy was. The Space wolves were able to sire 1 chapter, indicating about 2,000 space wolves by the end of the heresy, The Imperial fists broke up into the Crimson Fists and the Black Templars. The salamanders were so weakened that the sources strongly hint they did not create any successor chapters. One count of the recorded Second founding chapters was 34, which indicates that there were about 43,000 Space marines left after the Horus Heresy.. That is kinda cool, because they still went off to reconquer the imperium which just goes to show how awesome Space Marines are to begin with.
Which brings me to the next point…
Why are the founding chapters considered so special? Since the second founding chapters were essentially the same as their parent chapters only with a new name and a different colour on their armour. Why are the Ultramarines considered the greatest of all chapters when all of their successors were essentially Ultramarines under a different name. I do not think that the First founding chapters got the pick of the litter and let the other chapters get their weaker marines. I can understand subsequent foundings because the gene seed and tradition started to get a bit fuzzy. But wouldnt a Ultra marine successor be expected to perform just as well as an actual Ultramarine? Food for though.