Rediscovering Angels Part 1: What they do best

Hiya folks!  Xaereth here again from Delusions of Grandeur.  Today I'm going to talk about what Blood Angels as an army offer that other armies don't do as well.  It's basically a discussion on points efficiency in a really general sense.  Don't worry, later posts will be much more specific, as I move into analysis on different units.

I think one of my favorite things about this codex is the amount of stuff you can actually do with it.  You can have an all dreadnought theme, all death company, Dante wing (with lots of Sang. Guard), alpha-strike vanguard lists, razorspam... the list goes on.  From a competitive standpoint, not a ton of these are necessarily viable, but just the fact that if you see Blood Angels sitting across from you that it doesn't automatically mean that you'll playing some variation of the 'Dante/Corbulo power combo', means the codex is good for the game.  Lots of things to do in this codex that you can't do in others.  Some things are invariably going to be better than others, especially in a competitive setting (and as I mentioned in my introduction post, I'll be looking at things in the context of competitive play), so without further ado, here is my list of things Blood Angels are better at than any other codex.

Reliable Jump Troops

In 40k, reliability is probably one of the most valuable commodities.  Knowing that what is likely to happen will also consistently happen is usually very worth paying extra points for.  With deep strike, most armies make it random enough that it is simply undependable except in the most general manner (as in, I want my tactical squad in roughly this area, or my Multi-melta Dread to be within 12" of a target).

There are also almost no other armies that allow you a 75% chance to choose whether each specific unit is coming in or not (as in... marines can with Tigerious (way too expensive), and Tau can in a limited sense, but other than that, nobody else can control the influx of their reserves in such a reliable manner).

Reliable reserve rolls and reliable deepstrike (d6 instead of 2d6) make them a viable option in many Blood Angels armies.

Fast Vehicles/Cheap transports

I know, I know!  Lots of armies have fast vehicles!  Lots of armies have much faster vehicles.  But that isn't really the point.  From a marine standpoint, this means that their razors can move 12" and still shoot.  Their preds and vindicators can still shoot on the move as well.  And perhaps more importantly than all that:  their rhinos/razors carrying FNP/FC troops with a 3+ save can move 18" and pop smoke.

Lets take a look at the competition:

Eldar can move their AV12 skimmers up 24", giving them a cover save.  But do they usually want to?  Blood Angels thrive by being in their enemies face- Eldar mostly want standoff distance.  If they're trying to get in someone's face, it's a lot of times going to be a suicide squad.  Also note that they don't have FNP to back them up, and that their transports are a heluva lot more expensive than Blood Angels.

Trukks in an Ork army can move 18", and for cheaper.  They don't have smoke however, and are AV10 open-topped.  Much less survivable, even with a KFF Mek nearby.

Dark Eldar can move insanely fast, and can even have FNP.  However, their FNP is a hindrance to them oftentimes (since the Haemonculi takes away their fleet, and if they're trying to get into someone's face, starting him in a squad then having him leave it with his Pain Token makes it impossible to move flat out first turn).  Their troops are all T3 as well, making their FNP decidedly worse.  AV10 open-topped is also an issue.  When the vehicle explodes, it also hurts the inhabitants far worse than it does Angels.

Valkyries/vendettas have better armor, and can move 24".  However, the troops inside are decidedly squishier.  Moving 24" to get in someone's face is often not an awesome idea- they want a standoff distance so they can suicide their melta gun-toting vets the next turn.  Plus, if they're moving the full 24" or even 12", they're losing points efficiency by only firing one weapon, or zero.

Simply put, Blood Angels have sturdy transports, sturdier troops, and while 24" might be nice, 18" is usually going to be fast enough.

Feel No Pain/Furious Charge

This is the one people complain most about when playing against Blood Angels.  Yes it's good, but is it amazing?  Depending on how you play it, it certainly is a useful tool.  A warning to players who want to base their army off it though:  certain armies will crush you pretty bad.  Overdependency on FNP will really hurt you when paired up against demons, terminator spam armies, etc.  Anything with power weapons or a ton of AP2/1 is going to make you sad you paid 200+ points for FNP that isn't relevant.  At the same time, FC is good, but against some armies it won't work very well (you're going to murder Tau with or without FC, and will be murdered by Genestealers or Dark Eldar, who have higher I anyways).

Good Dreadnoughts

Really, they are much better at combat than the standard dread (I even think they're better 'in general' as well, though they 'generally' do serve different purposes).  AV13 is money, as is the ability to mount it in a transport with assault ramps.  Death Company dreads have been known to eat 30-boy squads in a single round of combat.  You even have the option to make them able to fly around, and have preferred enemy (albeit for lots of points).  It might not be points-efficient (or is it?  I'll talk more about it in a later post), but it's a cool option :)  Good Initiative, lots of attacks, and AV13 make them the meanest (for pretty cheap) dread out there by quite a bit.

Best Vanguardesque Unit

Like I said earlier, the ability to deepstrike scatter only d6 makes jump troops much more reliable.  The ability to do that and assault that turn makes this unit far better than any others who can do the same thing.  Ork Stormboyz can do it, but not efficiently.  Vanguard vets can do it in the Vanilla Marine dex, but for the same points scatter 2d6.  Useful.

That's about it.  They have other good options of course, but not many that they are *the best* at.  These are the things that kind of 'capture the essence' of Blood Angels.  Reasonable combat ability, lots of speed, and good survivability (if played correctly).

What do you think?  Did I get Blood Angels down in a nutshell?  Is there something specifically you want to hear about?  I'm open to suggestions!  Let me know what you think!  Until next time...


Darth Yoda said...

An addition to the fast/cheap transports: the Stormraven.

I've written love letters to the thing before on other blogs, but here's how I see it relevant to the section you're talking about:

-Fast Skimmer. 'Nough said.
-Machine Spirit. You complain about moving fast and not being able to shoot much on Valkyries/Vendettas, but as far as the Machine Spirit rule is written, I see it allowing you to shoot a weapon even at Flat-Out speeds (although others say nay, and GW may side with them in the next FAQ). With a twin-linked multi-melta (the only thing in the game that can take such a weapon, as far as I know), this could destroy the meta game as it stands. Combine that with some awesome transport options (you already mentioned being able to take a Dread in it), all-around AV12 that ignores 2D6 melta shots, and good weapon options, and I seriously think it is the best vehicle in the game at the moment.
Now we just need to wait for Games Workshop to release the Stormraven, which should be in February.

Xaereth said...

Hey, what's up Darth Yoda! Thanks for the contribution :)

Heh, the Storm Raven is indeed an interesting vehicle. I left it out because in a world where Land Raiders exist, it's hard for me to imagine wanting an AV12 transport instead (especially in a game where people take razorspam/missile launcher spam).

That being said, you are definitely correct that it is a stellar way to get dreadnoughts in your enemy's face quick, and with assault ramps and turbo-boost, it really does kind of have a category of its own. As an aside, I think Tau can have twin-linked melta guns, though they might not be called by that name exactly. Also, Vulkan marines ;-) But your point stands that it's a unique weapon :)

I'd say that of everything else in the book, the verdict for me is still out on the Storm Raven- I just haven't seen it do well in enough games for it to warrant a 'Blood Angels are awesome because of this' stamp. Not yet anyways.

More than anything, I'm interested to see what they can offer the new Grey Knights when they come out :)

dzer0 said...

Great summation on the Blood Angels, some good points made and I think it is important to think about the codex as a whole and what it does differently than the other flavors of Space Marines.

Just to keep the conversation going, I propose some other things that Blood Angels do that are unique and I think worth mentioning:

Librarian: access to some interesting BA only powers and one of the only armies that would actually want to stick one in a jump pack. People talk smack about the Blood Lance but I personally never leave home without it!

Honor Guard: Sanguinary Noviate + unlocks without chapter master. Wargear access gives you a mini Sternguard/Vanguard unit that can fill out any roll you want. With a Librarian You can get a mini Fire Dragon squad with 5 Meltas, or a mini Howling Banshee squad with 5 Power Weapons and the banner putting out 25, S5, I5 attacks on the charge. Add preferred enemy (Librarian) and your playing like Eldar.

Baal Preds: not only is this an amazing fast AV13 tank (which was mentioned) with a bucket of reliable shooting attacks or a very interesting flame storm variant, but remember it has scout/outflank AND comes in a fast attack slot which I think demands a mention by itself.

Furious Charge, the points you make are good, but do not fail to consider that against other Space Marines (which will still constitute over 75% of the armies currently played) you get to strike before they do. Sure against Tau or DE its not a big deal, but I have played against Tau twice in the last 2 years and after the dust settles on DE I will still be fighting more Space Marines than anything else.

Dalinair said...

Dzer0 got it spot on, was a good post but missed the things he said in my opinion. :)

Xaereth said...

DzerO: I agree with you, that the list of things you mentioned are certainly unique to Blood Angels. In some cases, the Librarian Powers are better than others, though I didn't include him because I don't feel that they do Psychic powers better than anyone :P

As to the other things, I think more posts on my part will discuss them further. That isn't to say that they're bad and have no place- there is just more to them than meets the eye at first glance.

Dalinair: Thanks, keep reading, I'll try address those models/units mentioned first ;)

Jacob D Stejskal said...


Great post about the greatest chapter in the 40k :D

I would love if you would make a "how to" stop razorsapm and missilspam from the space puppies. my jump pack RAS just gets shoot in cover.

Also a indepth look into the point cost in "hounour guards vs prist" "RAS vs DC or HG or VG"


Zachary said...

i have been thinking of gun-line blood angles with 3 dev squads with las, and tacs with plas,plascannon and sternguard with plascannon and a librarian with sheild/lance and maybe a priest or two to take shots better

Rooney said...

Great post man, I think there is a lot to be said for 'Concept-posts' in the 40k blog scene right now! With all the army lists and micro-focusing (posting about successful unit-builds)it's refreshing to see someone talking about the 'big pictures' of a codex.

Xaereth said...

Heh, appreciate it man. I like the 'in general' stuff too, though it's hard to make any conclusive points about specific things while doing that.

My next article here will be closer to the 'talking about successful units/builds' thing, but if you check out my other blog I think you'll find more of that sort of thing. Mostly rambling thoughts about something I've been seeing a lot/thinking about, but I like to think it makes sense in the bigger picture, heh :)

Pantso said...

Where exactly does the rules state that you can assault the same turn you deep striked?

Chris said...

There are also almost no other armies that allow you a 75% chance to choose whether each specific unit is coming in or not (as in... marines can with Tigerious (way too expensive), and Tau can in a limited sense, but other than that, nobody else can control the influx of their reserves in such a reliable manner).

Please explain, I thought when the turn came around you HAVE to roll for entry with ALL units in reserve. And the wording on decent of angels is "BA entering from deep strike re-roll the dice to see if the come in from reserve." or something to the function, you do NOT get to choose anything.

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