So, where to start? I suppose we can have a chat about the various powers available to Blood Angels. There's controversies aplenty in the 'what's good, what's essential, what nobody should take, etc.' talk, and I won't tell you how to play your game. I'll give my perspective of what's useful in a tournament, take-all-comers context. I fully expect people to disagree with some of my assertions- everyone has a different play style, and as such certain powers might seem much less relevant to others, and vice versa. My aim is to give people ideas, and just maybe a little better grasp of the overall game itself.
The Epistolary Factor
Right. Before we begin discussion of specific powers, I want to introduce you to a concept I'll call the Epistolary Factor. For the uninitiated, an Epistolary is an upgraded Librarian, giving them the ability to use two powers in the same turn. With Blood Angels, there are quite a few powers that they can use during the opponent's phase. If you combine those powers with a power you can only use during your own turn, it allows the Librarian to use two psychic powers a turn (albeit in different players turns), without having to pay for the Epistolary upgrade. This has the potential to make them super efficient, making full use of both powers while only paying the base points for the Librarian himself. I'll be making further mention of the factor while analyzing the various powers.
Blood Boil- Interesting power, that causes a wound to a unit (with no armor saves), and if you roll a 5 or less on your psychic roll, you get to choose which model it is. I could see this power being good in a different edition- as it is, with cover being so prevalent, even if you do roll the elusive 5, the sergeant you're trying to snipe will lots of times get a cover save at least, making this power somewhat underwhelming.
Fear of the Darkness- This is one of my favorites, to be honest. It forces a leadership check on a unit at -2 to their leadership. Lots of great uses for this one, really.
- Heavy Weapons teams need a 5 or less
- Broadside teams need a 6 or less
- Attack Bikes need a 6 or less
- Even Devestator squads need a 7 or less
- What about combat-squadded marines standing on an objective in the back? Usually they won't have the sergeant, making them need a 6.
- Nob squads need a 5 or 6 usually- it might even force the Ork player to prematurely pop the Waaaagh! to make them fearless.
- Disembarked troops come to mind as well- it's a squad you don't have to deal with for a while (Guard and Dark Eldar come to mind)
- Getting creative, you can force squads to flee, and keep them running by moving to within 6" of them
Shackle Soul: Makes the enemy unit roll leadership every time it wants to do something, range is only 12". I could see how this power would be annoying, but the truth of the matter is- if a unit is going to be 'worth' doing something, it's usually going to have a reasonable leadership. Plus, this power doesn't even entirely shut them down. If this power works on a unit, Fear of the Darkness will work too, and modify their leadership by -2. This power is filler- not much use to be found at all.
Shield of Sanguinius: Gives every model within 6" of it a 5+ cover save. This is pretty useful in certain situations- it's one of those 'Epistolary Factor' powers, that lets you use it in your opponent's phase.
- Use next to tanks that want to shoot, but still need cover.
- If going 2nd, but can't afford to reserve everything (like against Tau or Guard), huddle everything within 6".
- Helps even the odds against plasma spam or template spam vs. your assault troops.
- Keeps your vehicles 'poor-man smoked' after they've already used theirs.
Another note: This power is probably best used for a librarian in a vehicle. Since you measure the effect from the edge of the vehicle, it increases the effective radius by quite a bit, while keeping the librarian safe.
Smite: 4 S4 AP2 shots at something. Pretty meh, all things considered. S4. woo.
The Blood Lance: 4d6" range, S8, AP1, lance that hits every unit it touches (including tanks) once. Also known as the most controversial power known to Blood Angels. It's not controversial as to how it's used, but how good it is. Here's the good stuff:
- S8 AP1 lance vs. Land Raiders seems inviting
- Landing next to a gunline, and hitting 4-5 chimeras at Side Armor 10 seems inviting
- Librarian helping a squad kill tanks is cool.
- Only S8- you still won't pen a Land Raider most of the time, even vs. AV12. You need a 4 to glance, reserving your pens to 1/3 of the time, and doing jack the rest of those times.
- Only S8- it's pretty inefficient vs. chimeras whose front AV12 can't be brought lower by lance weaponry
- Only S8- it needs a 4+ to pen, then a 4+ to destroy a rhino (25% to kill one without smoke, 12.5% with)
- Chimeras that are 'in a line' besides the closest one get a 4+ cover save, maybe even a 3+ because the librarian might not be able to see side armor despite being in the side arc (hull down).
- 4d6 isn't reliable- it's a max of 24", but also an average of 14", and maybe as low as 4". You just don't know how many things it will affect.
I honestly don't see what this power does that 2 melta attack bikes don't do more reliably. It seems much too situational to me, and the other 'buffing' powers available can do more.
Also of note: This power is made less awesome because of the number of reliable ways to kill armor available to Blood Angels, in a bunch of different Force Org. slots. If a player wants to kill tanks, they really don't need to rely on Blood Lance- they do, however, need the Librarian to fill other roles in the army, that only Librarians can do.
The Sanguine Sword: Gives the Librarian S10. Not bad, has the Epistolary Factor going for it as well. Helps the Librarian pop tanks in CC, pop Dreads in CC, insta-death Nobs and Thunderwolf Cavalry, etc. WS5 makes them hit somewhat dependably as well. It's generally going to be more reliable than Might of Heroes for the 'standard' Librarian.
Unleash Rage- This is the preferred enemy power, which is granted to the Librarian and whatever squad he's with (Dreads and Mephiston get to rock it alone). This is one of my more favorite powers, as it adds flexibility to your list. A Librarian with this power can join a unit who is about to charge, and suddenly that squad is going to hit a heckofalot harder than it would have originally. Plus, it can be used every turn, so if your squad wants to shoot something one turn, but know they'll be charged the next, they can simply brace for impact. Force multiplier for sure.
Wings of Sanguinius: Lets your Librarian move like he's got a jump pack. Great power for Furioso Librarians and Mephiston, but regular Librarians should really just get a Jump Pack. A single Librarian isn't going to accomplish a whole lot jumping out of a rhino, moving 12" on his own, and trying to kill something without being able to use other psychic powers. Blood Angels Librarians are dependent on their psychic powers- handicapping yourself that way isn't going to do you any favors. Trying to use this power with Jump Marines only works until the power gets blocked by a hood- and generally you want to use other powers with your Jump Librarian every turn anyways.
So, there are the powers, and what I think of them. Here are a few combinations that work well together:
Fear of the Darkness + Unleash Rage
Fear of the Darkness + The Sanguine Sword
Fear of the Darkness + Shield of Sanguinius (in a jump pack heavy army)
Fear of the Darkness + Blood Lance
Fear of the Darkness + Shield of Sanguinius
Shield of Sanguinius + Unleash Rage
Shield of Sanguinius + The Sanguine Sword
Wings of Sanguinius + Fear of the Darkness
Wings of Sanguinius + Unleash Rage
Wings of Sanguinius + Shield of Sanguinius (my preference, if I ran one)
Shield of Sanguinius + Unleash Rage (in a Storm Raven or Drop-podding)
Fear of the Darkness + Blood Lance (in a drop pod)
Lots of combos to be had, you can see that I left lots of the 'meh' powers out. You'll note I left the Blood Lance in for the Dread and Assault Librarian- the way he's tooled he could either hit vehicles or hit troops in the open with FotD. Versatility is key :)
Now for my overall synopsis on the three different types of Librarians:
These guys are generally pretty good. Unless you pay a lot of points, they won't really be the beatsticks you want them to be in combat, and won't necessarily be your MVP. What you get for 100 points is a good support unit, that fills your army out nicely. If you need to take a squad of Broadsides out, use Fear of the Darkness. If you need to kill Orks, run him into an assault squad to give yourself preferred enemy. If you need a cover save for your vehicles, give him Shield of Sanguinius. Lots of good utility to be found.
I would recommend staying away from the 'beatstick' route for Librarians, however. T4 W2 isn't great to help you stay alive, and 30 points for a 3++ invuln. isn't going to do a whole lot for a model with that statline. Mephiston will always be more points-efficient than Librarians at being amazing in combat. In fact, just about any character you create will be better. If you need a beatstick Libby, do this:
Librarian + Episolary (Sanguine Sword + Unleash Rage) + Storm Shield .... it comes out to like 180 points, but you at least have a dude who can give you 4 re-rollable S10 power hits with a 3++ invuln. Still pretty meh, if you ask me :)
So, Librarians are toolboxes. Use them to fill a role in your army, and to make your overall force more viable. They aren't bad in combat when used wisely, but mostly they need protecting to make sure your army keeps running smoothly.
The thing is this: you're essentially paying 50 extra points for a dreadnought to move an extra 6" in the movement phase. Granted, those 6" are kind of a big deal, but in the end, it has an AV, and melta in this game is prevalent enough that it won't last long. AV13 is easy for 2 or 3 meltas to pop, and really all the opponent needs to do is immobilize the poor guy to take it out of the fight entirely.
I don't hate them, and I think they're cool. In some lists, they likely have a place. One nice thing about them is getting psychic powers outside of an HQ slot. They certainly hit hard, and with WS6, they're pretty good at not missing as well (doesn't it seem like every space marine dread should have WS 5 or 6?) I just don't see where the overall efficiency is. /shrug
Heh, where to start? This guy is as much of a killer as about any other character in the game. S6 T6 5W w/ a 2+ save is pretty imposing, and the rest of his statline is ridiculous as well. Also, he has a Force Weapon, Wings of Sanguinius, Sanguine Sword, and Unleash Rage, 3 of which he can use a turn. Keep him next to a priest and he has FNP as well. Overall, the ultimate killer.
He comes with a somewhat hefty pricetag, but you get what you pay for, generally speaking. If you want combat efficiency, it doesn't get much better (or any better, lol). The main drawback for Mephiston is that he takes an HQ slot that you might want for a utility librarian, or something else. He doesn't really play well with others- he's pure melee beatdown, and if that's what your list needs, I recommend taking him.
Mephiston's awesomesauce goes down just a little when enemy psyker defense is around and able to shut his powers down. However, for what he does, I would generally take him without any Psychic powers anyways. The powers are just gravy for him.
Alright, this is where I say "wow... that was a really long post". In the future, I'll probably try to keep it a little more brief than this, but I feel that the librarians need to go together when assessing the Librarians of the Blood Angels.
Questions? Concerns? Comments? I'd like to hear from you! Until next time....