Rediscovering Angels Part 2: The Librarians

Hey there everyone, Xaereth here from Delusions of Grandeur, continuing my discussion on Blood Angels, and what they can do for you.  Today I want to talk about the Librarians that Blood Angels have access to, as well as different combinations of powers, used to maximum effect.  Lots of ground to cover today...

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.

The 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
 Really, this power has a lot of great applications, and I don't think people understand how game-changing this could be.  Dawn of War makes it shine even more, since they'll be lots closer to the board edge.  I could go on, but I really don't want this post to be 8 pages, lol.

Might of Heroes:  This one gives you +d3 attacks.  While its somewhat unreliable, I could see this one being useful for a Librarian Dread.  Usually it's going to be more beneficial to have a different close combat power for your 'regular' librarian though.

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.
Note:  You only need a single model within 6" of the librarian for the entire unit to gain the benefits of this power.  So, feel free to spread your assault troops out, while still claiming your (massive) 5+ cover save.

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.
The bad stuff:
  • 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.
So, I'm not saying this power is the worst power out there.  I think S8 lance weapons have their place in this game, and their uses.  I also think that S8 lance weapons generally need to be spammed (or at least be taken in multiples) to really make them a viable threat.  Keep in mind that if you're in range to use your 4d6" power reliably, if you don't pop that raider, the guys inside are gonna come over and eat the librarian.

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:

Jump Pack Librarian:

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

Rhino/Razor Librarian:

Fear of the Darkness + Shield of Sanguinius
Shield of Sanguinius + Unleash Rage
Shield of Sanguinius + The Sanguine Sword

Dreadnought Librarian:

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:

Regular 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.

Librarian Dreadnoughts:

Heh, these guys cost like 175, for 4 S10 attacks on the charge.  AV 13 is nice, and being fast makes them alright.  In the end, I don't think you get what you pay for, in general.  The fact that they're not allowed to be upgraded at all (as per the GW FAQ) makes them even less viable.

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.

One other thing to keep in mind:  if your army has need of power weapons, Mephiston is likely the best way to do it.  The army itself has lots of options for power weapons, but many of them are far less points-efficient than this dude.  Seriously, try him sometime.  It's kind of ridiculous, the things he can do.

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....


dzer0 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dzer0 said...

Another great post Xaereth, and very good summation of the Librarian powers. Please allow me to offer up another perspective on a few points you have made as I have agonized over how to load up my own librarian.

1. Epistolary: 50 points more and you get another Librarian

2. Fear of the Darkness: most of the units you really want to use this on will have characters or high leadership, it is really more like Leadership 10 -2 = 8/12, or a 67% change that they will pass. That is still worth it to take in my opinion and having stuff run off the board is great, but from my experience, more often than not they simply pass their leadership or are fearless.

3. Blood Lance: everyone talks such smack about this ability, and your points are correct. What I think makes it great however, are the points you fail to mention.

a. It is AP1: on a glance it’s only -1 so you can still wreck anything

b. It hurts multiple targets, that means the 2 Trygons and the Tervigon standing next to them, or the occasional tank mash up in the center of the table.

c. Perceived Threat: S8, AP1 Lance can be nasty and it tends to funnel an opponent in a very specific direction as they try to deal with what they imagine to be out of control.

d. Most importantly, it does not hurt your own stuff! I hide a Librarian in a Rhino directly behind a Razorback wall. You cannot draw line of site to my Rhino or I will get a 4+/3+ cover if you can, and I can shoot the Lance at you every turn because it passes over my other units and I can see over them. A Las/Plas Razorback is cool, but a Blood Lance Rhino is awesome.

I offer up an additional configuration for a Razorback army: Blood Lance + Unleash Rage for a Librarian that hides in a Rhino behind a Razorback wall, with an Honor Guard full of Power Weapons and banner ready to lure enemies into a killzone and offer up a nasty counter assault.

Anonymous said...

Blood Lance is an absolute must in pure-Jumper armies as they need that turn 2 "alpha" (beta?) strike to take out as much armor as possible. It also punishes mech castles, which is one of the better anti-DS defenses.

Blood Lance is also amazing on Libby Dreads in a pure Drop Pod list. Again, that list needs to put a hurt on mech turn 1, and the Lance can do just that. Bonus here as the Pod can drop right up close to any vehicle, so you're more likely to get multiple hits.

Overall, I like Shield (or Sword) and Lance on a JP Libby. Shield and Sword (or Lance) on a mech Libby. Wings and Shield on a "foot" Dread. Lance and Shield on a Drop Dread.

Xaereth said...

Heh, figured my blurb on Blood Lance thing would stir the pot. :-p

I'll leave the comments about Blood Lance alone. Like I said, it's a controversial power, and I think different people see it different ways (as dzer0 and GWvsJohn prove). I've never seen it work the way people want it to and have drawn conclusions from it. That said, I'll be happy to agree to disagree :)

dzerO: FotD is good for what I talked about: making static shooty forces run away. I agree that you're not likely going to get a termie squad w/ character to run away- Blood Angels can do other things to take care of those. :)

As for Epistolaries: I agree, why get one when you can get another Librarian. For that matter, why get one when you can use two powers a turn anyways!

Steve said...

i run my libby in termie armor with a SS and a sang priest in termie armor with 6 termies in a LRC. shield + unleash rage. its pretty awesome. although i played a team game once against BA and salamanders,(i know, not fluffy) i am gonna tell you what, a death company dreadnought with blood talons inside a SM librarians Null Zone against my 765 point termie squad = i didn't even get to swing. don't ask me why i didn't get the charge off after i jumped outta my Raider, i dont wanna talk about it.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed the post, can't wait for the rest of them.

Anonymous said...

Many people argue the "for 50 points more you can just get another Libby" when talking about the epistolary upgrade. I know for me, I don't always have that extra 50 to spend on a second HQ. At 150 points, an epistolary is still a VERY economical HQ when you look at what he can do compared to the more expensive special characters and their point costs. With Sanguine sword and might of heroes used in the same combat phase you have an extremely hard hitting unit with an awesome amount of attacks in the assault. I will often have a chaplain attached here as well for the re-rolls to hit. If I don't have the chappy (smaller points games) I prefer sword and rage on my epistolary. I generally don't like lance as it is only S8 and I have plenty of meltas on my assault squads and long range AT in the form of devs and auto cannon/las sponson preds or S5/6 spam from Baals.

zormax said...

I do not understand how you can give a librarian a storm shield? After all, he is not registered in the options

Xaereth said...

Zormax: Heh, someone did it to me in a tournament a while ago. The guy was apparently cheating- a normal libby can't get a SS. However, you CAN upgrade him to have termie armor, and after that, you can upgrade to have a SS.

Steve: Sounds like a big ole rock unit :) It's going to smash whatever it touches, but you gotta get used to losing it to things like that. Happens to my Wolfstar somewhat frequently :)

Partninja: I hear ya man. I don't think Epistolaries are a bad thing, per sey. They certainly have the potential to be beatsticks. My main gripe about them is how many points you pay for them vs. their survivability. A 3+ save with no invulnerable save and only 2 wounds makes them extremely nervous against any sort of power weapon at all...

Luke Mcd said...

Librarians annoy me, i think a reclusiarch is a much better HQ combat option, but if you are using a deep strike army that 2+FNP 5+ Sanguin Shield on Sanguinary Guard means they don't get smashed. Flying Terminators are awesome.

The Blog Knight said...

Good article, thanks Jawa. Couple questions and a couple of points for discussion:

1) Shackle Soul - not as bad as you think. Why? Unlike Fear of the Darkness, it is not a Morale test - so it can't be ignored by fearless units. Also, I can't find anything that says it won't work on vehicles. Any guidance there? Not trying to be beardy, and I may be just missing something obvious. If it does work, then Landraiders that might not shoot/move without a test are pretty cool. We give vehicles an 8 - 10 leadership based on a die roll.

2) Furioso Dreads are *not* Fast, so Wings of Sanguinius is pretty cool, and helps them get to grips pretty quickly. Also, if you give them a second shooty power, then even if they get immobilized they can still use the wings to reposition/get in range. Right? At least, that's how we've been playing it.

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