How to Win Warhammer 40k: Blood Angels Tactics 3, General Plan

Welcome back! I believe I should have probably started with this post, and then discussed how each of my units fits into it. Never too late though! My first two posts were about Dante and Corbulo and were very specific. This one will be a about how I play my Blood Angels in general. Keep in mind, that I do not win every game. But I am a contender at every tournament I go to and know that I have a good chance at victory, or at least not losing, in every game I play. I suppose that is all one can ask for!

I have touched on some of this stuff in other posts, so some of the info I am laying down here may be repetition. I just wanted to get it all in one spot. Jwolf, over at Bell of Lost Souls recently wrote an article placing Blood Angels in the bottom tier of 40k armies, based on his experience. He quotes "Small pockets of destruction" and the fact that in order for BA to be strong, they have to concentrate themselves in one small portion of the table, leaving themselves vulnerable to blast templates and eliminating their overall effectiveness. I want to begin by saying yes, he is correct, IF I try to play Blood Angels like a normal space marine army. The simple truth is that BA cannot stand toe to toe with a generic codex space marine army. With the exception of the Baal Predator, Generic Marines (GM) can field units that at least match and in most cases better BA ones. Honor Guard, Veteran squads, Terminators, Ironclad Dreads... the list goes on. To take it one step further, they can do it cheaper in most cases.

When most people look at the BA codex, they drool over the prospect of scores of Assault Pack infantry leaping over terrain bristling with power fists and raining death upon their opponent basking in the glow of Dante and Corbulo. I believe this army might be the one that Jwolf is in part referring to. I tried this army and it simply does not work. Any smart player is simply going to sit back and fire away. You cannot hide those assault squads in 5th edition, and they will either be nipped down by withering small arms fire, or destroyed completely by blast weapons. True line of sight makes this army a loser. Sure, you will destroy some guys if the circumstances are right... but to put it simply, forget it. Move on. There are a couple of other armies that people try but will fail. The Land Raider full of Death Company for example is a one trick pony. Hell, the BA Land Raider is a poor choice any time since it does not have the same Machine Spirit or capacity as a GM one. Guys feel the need to load up on Terminators... Boycott them outright until they get 3+ Storm Shields or are made cheaper. Resist the temptation to overload on Elite choices. Point sink units will wear you down. The most expensive unit in my army is my Tactical squad. With it's Rhino, it costs about 250 points. Every thing else is 150 and under. (except Dante) The secret here is maximizing your army size, while minimizing the cost.

Now, welcome to The Way of Sanguinius!

It is time to go over the secret, the key, the way. If you are looking for an army that is going to bludgeon your opponent into submission in 4 turns, Blood Angels fail. But the good news is 5th edition is NOT about bludgeoning your opponent like 4th edition was. With Victory Points removed from you game, and 66.6% of the missions being Objective based, you can win without even killing a single enemy squad! Blood Angels can do this better then any one. Allow me to explain.

My army is a mix of overwhelming assault force, devastating "Torrent of Fire", and speedy troops. Dante, Corbs with the DC in their Rhino, and the Furioso are the spear head assault element. My 3 Baal Predators and Tactical squad provide fire support, and my 3 Rhinos with Assault Squads inside run the endaround and take and hold objectives. It is the rule of 3s! One Baal Pred is good, but 3 Baal Preds are devastating.

I send the assault element right at the heart of the enemy. But I do not charge blindly. Setting up your opponent so YOU get the charge is an art. If they get the charge, there are very few squads in the game that can survive an attack from Dante and a Death Company Furioso supported by Corbs. If they do, you can unload the Death Company next turn and finish them off.

I keep the Rhinos back and ready to go. I protect them from long range shots, and spend the first two rounds getting them in line to make their attack runs. Of course, a Rhino is fragile, and 5 guys inside will die if your opponent decides they want to kill them and has the time. So you hold them back and safe until turn 4, then send them out! Over-Charged Engines (OCE) will allow you to get to where you have to go.

Lastly, 3 Ball Preds (BP) and the 10 man Tactical squad provide all the shots I need. I recently just added a Rhino and Meltagun to the tactical squad (TS). That gives me one more option for taking objectives. 3 BP is a truely scary thing to behold. Think about it. 3 tanks with AV 13 advancing and shooting 12 shots each. 10 of those 12 shots will deny armor saves to any thing not in power armor, and wound on 2 or 3 to almost every model in the game. With so many cover saves and invul saves in 5th edition, the game is about Torrent of Fire (ToF) which is simply LOTS of shots. BPs provide that. Using OCE they can advance 6" and fire all of their guns, or advance 12" and fire their Assault Cannon and Storm bolter. You can charge the 3 BPs up 12" and unload 24 shots on a squad. That is a 36" range to deliver a volley that can kill most squads. Giving them extra armor and using them to overlap cover saves makes them that much harder to kill. AND if they are rendered useless from weapon destroyed, but still are mobile, they can ram from 18" away getting a STR 10 shot.

To refer back to the post by Jwolf, yes I do tend to keep my army clustered. But any marine player does. Marines are expensive, and spreading expensive units leads to isolated units, leading to dead units. But this is not a weakness. Clustering my forces means lots of cover saves in the pivotal first two turns. Then after that comes the break out and land grab. OCE allow Blood Angels to do it well.

Allow me to address each of the 3 standard missions.

Loot Counters:
This is my favorite mission. Remember, again, this mission is NOT about killing your opponent. The winner of this game is simply the guy who has more loot counters at the end. When deploying the Loot, I set up the one I intend to keep, and the two I intend to take. I ignore the rest. I plop my Tactical squad on the one I want and surround it with my assault element. They then head towards the ones I want to take, and are followed by my Rhinos. The BPs advance softening up their defenses for my Assault Element (AE). The Rhinos get into position to move up and claim objectives for me, and/or contest his. Zoom the rhino right up onto the objective, hopefully it will have cover, and sit there. The enemy has to first pop the rhino, then kill the marines inside. If you wait until turn 4 to do this, they will not get them all. If you need to, unload the AS inside. After all, they are assault marines, with assault weapons, and a power weapon veteran. Even without Dante and Corbs in range, they are a tough nut to crack. All you realy need to do is hold one objective, then contest all the others. Victory Blood Angels. I will write a lot more about these tactics later in more specific posts.

Each of us have one objective and must try to take it from the other. If a Blood Angels army ever loses this mission, the guy needs to give up and play something else, he is an embarrassment to the blood. This is the same as before, but even easier. Set up your tactical squad on the objective surrounded by the AE and BPs. Reserve your rhinos. To get to your base, your opponent has to go right through your advancing stuff which is just what you want. Simply hold yours, try to take his, defend, and send your rhinos for the End-around again. Get em in to contest... victory Blood Angels.

Kill Points:
This one is a little more tricky. A mechanized Blood Angel army will have lots of Rhinos... which are fairly easy kill points. This mission is my armies greatest weakness. I find myself hiding them all the way in the back, using cover, smoke etc. Reserve them for sure. Then when they come on, you can deploy them turn 2 or 3 in safer spots on the board. In a kill point mission, you need not overwhelm your opponent. You only have to finish the game with one more kill point then he has. Sadly, almost all of your fire power is mid range. (Using my army list) Set your self up so that in order for your opponent to get a kill point off you, he has to expose himself to your shots. And if you cannot get a kill point without exposing your self, DONT GO FOR IT. Make him make the mistake. Be patient, sit back, fire your Las at his transports. Try to get second turn. That is a huge edge, because on turn 5 and 6 you can advance and grab kill points without threat of reprisal. Make no mistake, KP missions are hard to win for my army. But it is possible!

Other Tips:
I very often reserve everything. Most people do not know that when you reserve, you come onto the table on your TABLE EDGE not DEPLOYMENT ZONE. You can catch them, especially when playing a table quarters deployment. Reserve some heavy hitters. He may try to flank you and come close to your table edge in the corner you did not deploy on. When your reserves come on, you can get right behind him, or assault him from the edge... Sneaky...

Reserving is key for anti drop pod. When up against a heavy pod army I always reserve, and make him go first. If you are lucky, all of his pods will be down before any of your stuff is on the table. Then you come on and deal with his isolated pods. Sneaky...

Reserving every thing keeps your juicy Rhinos off the table. You dont even want them on the table during turn 1 and 2. Reserving allows you to get them into the fight on your terms, where you want them, and protects them from 2 turns of Heavy weapons fire. They are fast enough to get where you want them to go in 2 turns. Since they have troops inside, they simply need to be within range to score and you got em.

So there you go. How to WIN with Blood Angels. Play the mission. Contest objectives. Do not get into a slugfest. Use the Baal Predator liberally. Pick and choose your targets. Use all of your firepower to completely destroy a target before moving onto the next. Do not be afraid to shoot assault cannons at Land Raiders. They are actually better at killing them then Twin Linked Lascannons.

I am sure I will add more to this as the thread develops.



Anonymous said...

So Jawa,

I have been absorbing tactics and will be putting them into use at an upcoming tournament. I was hoping you could give a quick glance at my list:

Honor Guard with
*Chapter banner
*1 power weapon
*Sanguinary Priest
*1 melta gun
*jump packs

Chaplain w/ plasma pistol & jump pack
x6 Death Company w/ jump packs

Venerable Furioso Death Company Dreadnought w/ extra armor

x10 Tactical Squad
*power weapon / plasma pistol
*Rhino w/ extra storm bolter

x10 Tactical Squad
*Rhino w/ extra SB

x5 Tactical Squad
*Power weapon

Regular Predator w/ autocannon/HBs

Baal Predator w/HBs & storm bolter
1850 points

So, the list is (at this point) basically inflexible, because I don't have the money or time to get more models ready.

The plan: Dante/HG, Chaplain/DC, and DC Dread are the main assault force. I think that both elements are equally powerful that they can be *slightly* split up and still crush stuff.

The tacticals in Rhinos are for going out to land-grab, and also maybe to zaap some tanks with their melta goodness

The razorback is a holdover from my old setup, with TL Las to blast at stuff, and those tacs will probably footslog around to any nearby objectives.

Preds are base of fire.

The tournament has weird rules that combine 5 objectives AND 5 kills points. Your opponent gets to choose which units of yours count as kill points.

So that's basically it...any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

HuronBH said...

Hey I am a BA player too and I run a significant different list then you do and get about the same results as you describe. Could you post a sample list for a typical army build for you. I run something like


5-8 DC w/ Jump Packs

Vet Assault Squad either assaulty or shooty

2 Tactical squads, one equipped from first support, the other, half fire support half assaulty in a razorback.

1 Assault Squad in a Rhino

2 Attack Bikes with Multimeltas

5 Devastators with Missile Launchers with a Twin Lascannon Razzorback.

I too found that the all assault army was a waste of time and went for a more mixed shooting/assault list myself. Well I look forward to your thoughts.

jawaballs said...

My list is posted under army list. Check my archives!

jawaballs said...

Well crap, looks like I have not updated it. I will get on that tonight.

Donderman said...

I'm sure you've heard this before, but is there a second best alternative to using Dante every time? I know he's sick, but doesn't it seem a little odd that the Chapter Master shows up at every battle the Blood Angels have in your world? Personally I wouldn't use him in any game smaller than 2000pts..

jawaballs said...

You surely you do not have to use him. If I went without him, I would probably go with a Librarian to get the psychic hood on the table and mess with enemy psychers... But a librarian worth a damn will not cost a whole lot less then Dante...

Or you can add another squad... Same thing though, no single BA unit is better then Dante. Not a Land Raider, not even Mephiston... For my tactics.

But this post is about WINNING 40k using Blood Angels. If you want to win using BA, you have to use Dante. At least with my tactics.

el said...

hi Jawa!
I'm about to face a 1800 point Eldar army (no Saim Hann style don't worry...) in a kill point mission: what would you suggest?

As you mentioned the weakness of your army is the annihilation mission and it's maybe the only weakness it has...

I've also thought about taking Mephiston instead of Dante as I might be facing Eldrad.

Thanks in advance for all your suggestions...

Your blog rocks!
see u soon...

jawaballs said...

Up against Eldar? Attack bikes with multi melta and Lascannons in your tacticals. Torrent of fire works well too, so heavy bolters are nice. Eldrad? Lots of bolter shots. Mephiston? Good to get the hood. But honestly I suggest you just take a generic librarian and a generic captain. For 225 you will get rights of battle, a captain with halo, combi melta and power sword, and a librarian with the hood. Throw them together in a rhino with some vets with power weapons and fists and you got yourself a death squad.

el said...

Why noy inside a land raider? They can't assault jumping out of a Rhino...

Ok for the generic librarian, but do you think a generic captain is better than Corbulo?

Attack bikes with MM die easily, speeders with MM/HF aren't more resilient?

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