Rediscovering Angels #7: The Predators

Hello there boyz and girlz!  What's happening.  Xaereth here again from Delusions of Grandeur, hoping to help give you ideas and thoughts on how Blood Angels can work for you.  Today I want to talk a little bit about some models that are close to lots of people's hearts:  Predators.  It's a somewhat tricky matter to talk about them, since I know that many people are completely sold on them already, but hopefully we can discuss this objectively, and figure out the best way to play them :)

The Types

So, I'm reasonably sure we all know by now which Blood Angels pred loadouts are the most popular.  But, for the random new guy reading here, let's talk about each one real quick.

Autocannon Turret, Las Cannon Sponsons

This is 'the' heavy support Predator.  Weighing in at 135 points, this guy has two S7 shots, and two S9 AP2 shots.  It's fast, and as such can move 6" and fire all heavy weapons.  People tend to think it's a big deal.

'Standard' Baal Predator

This is a Fast Attack choice, with an Assault Cannon and two Heavy Bolter Sponsons.  It's 145 points, and can move and shoot it's weapons well too.  Also of note, it can make a scout move or outflank if it so desires.  The scout move is better with its variant.

Flamestorm Baal Predator

This guy is cool, it can tote a S6 AP3 flamer, move 18" on it's scout move, and shoot after having moved 12".  Alpha strikes vs. longfangs can really hurt your opponent if they deploy stoopidly (lol).  115 points isn't much for an AV13 vehicle who kills marines without a thought.

Other Variants

Um... there aren't any.  Well, there are, but really seriously, you don't want anything to do with them.  For 180 points you can have three las cannons on a predator.  Or you can have a dakka pred with almost no impact on the game for 30 points more than your SM pals.  Neither is worth it in my opinion.  180 points is a ton of points to pay for three las cannons that can be glanced into silence.  The above builds are the ones we want to look at, from a competitive point of view.

Alright, now that the newbfest is over, lets talk about how effective they are in the field!

I'm kind of a math guy when I approach games.  It probably has to do with my stint as a poker player for a while after Iraq, but now I'm forever haunted by the fact that I can't play a game that involves numbers without trying to figure out probabilities.  As such, my first approach to Preds is a math approach.

So, let's do some maths for the AC/LC pred vs. Tanks, since that's what it's tooled for (though it can do well against some heavy infantry as well).  Shooting all 4 shots at a rhino, you're going to wreck or explode it a whopping 43% of the time, assuming it isn't getting cover.  To immobilize it, you're over 50%.  Against a Chimera, wrecking/exploding it is about 28.6%, and to immobilize it or better is in the mid 30's.

Conclusion:  It takes 2 Predators to reliably disable a rhino (assuming no smoke) and three Predators to reliably disable a Chimera.  From a math standpoint.  We all know what can happen when we roll hot.  Or terribly.

Alright, let's do the maths for a Baal Predator w/ Assault Cannon/Heavy Bolters.  Against T4 (shooting all weapons), 5.6 wounds will be caused.  This means about 2 marines will die, or 3 orks in cover.  Against a Rhino, you've got about 18% to wreck/destroy it with the assault cannon, closer to 30% to immobilize it or better (though ironically, the exact same percentage to do the same to AV12)

Conclusion:  It takes 3 'Standard' Baal Predators to kill half a marine squad in a single turn (or a longfang squad).  It takes 3 'Standard' Baal Predators to reliably disable a Rhino or Chimera.

Now we know what they can do.  I'd say for it's points, so far the Baal slightly outweighs the AC/LC Pred.  Keep in mind that the Flamestorm Baal is so variable I don't want to do math for it, since there are too many scenarios to try to do it justice.

One thing I haven't mentioned much (as if I really need to, lol) is that Predators are all AV13 in the front, and that you can take 6 total Preds if you want.  This is what the internets loves about Predators in Blood Angels, the spammability of AV13.  Many people view AV13 spam as a step lower (but cheaper) than AV14 spam.  I have to posit that it is nowhere in the league of spamming AV14, however.  Sure, it's tough to pen the front armor with shooting, but Predators are vulnerable to assault in ways that Land Raiders really really aren't.

Another weakness I must point out (since we're trying to be objective) is the one that all tanks suffer from:  suppressing fire.  If our pred sustains even a little damage, the odds are that it will be completely unusable in our next shooting phase.  This is a weakness that is not shared with ground-pounding shooty squads (such as Devastators).

So, let's say we want 6 Preds.  How much would that run us?  840 points is the damage, coming just under 800 if we want to swap out 'Standard' Baals for Flamestorm (we generally don't).  This isn't a terrible pricetag, though I have to point out to you that certain armies will be able to glance every single predator of yours on turn 1.  Space Wolves come to mind, being able to split longfang firepower, as do Guard, Tau, (Necrons? lol) and a bunch of random shooty lists.

It's really your call- Blood Angels generally need some sort of suppressing firepower, and they all have their shortcomings.  Devastators can shoot but can't stay with our army.  Preds can stay with our army, but can be glanced into submission.  Attack bikes can be insta-deathed.  Gotta pick your poison.  Preds are certainly not a bad choice.

So instead of quibbling over if they're a bad choice or good, let's discuss what types of lists could benefit from the use of Predators.

Pure Jump Troops

AC/LC- Yes
Baal 'Standard'- No
Baal Flamestorm- No

These guys can really benefit from the AC/LC, in order to pop the tanks before the jumpers get to them.  I said no to the Baals because Jump Troops already rock against troops as it is.  Another thing to keep in mind is that tanks of any kind (except Land Raiders, oddly enough) will be somewhat out of place if you plan on making full use of Decent of Angels every game.  In that case, I'd recommend you find something else (like honor guard w/ melta guns).

One other thing I should point out is that Predators make good walls for your Blood Angels to advance behind.  If you stay close enough behind them, the Jump Troops can generally ensure the charge.  Still, that's a somewhat expensive piece of mobile terrain.  Options are always good to have though.

Mech Gunline

AC/LC- Yes
Baal 'Standard'- Yes
Baal Flamestorm- Sometimes

This list would look something like this:  6x Predators, 4-6x Razorbacks, Librarian OR 3x Land Raiders, 3x Predators, 3x Assault Squads inside Raiders

So, lots of hard to deal with armor, and lots of shooting.  The troops won't be as good in combat (as in, not good at all) and the Baal 'Standard' will help out with taking out troops.  I said the Flamestorm sometimes, because of alpha strike capabilities.  I'll talk about that a little bit at the end.

Mixed Randomness

Well, this list could be anything.  I've been more and more under the impression that Blood Angels need to pick one thing and do it well- either pure mech or pure foot.  Mixing the two isn't to be advised.  In that case, whereas the preds might help this type of list, I would advise against it in a competitive setting.

Some Tricks to make your Preds better:

  • Remember your scout moves.  They can be a lifesaver.  Remember them, even if it's to move them 1" and pop smoke, since you're allowed to do that.
  • Building on the first tip, pop smoke at the start of the game, and use them as mobile cover for the rest of your force.  You can start with a solid 4+ cover on everything in your army if you do it right.
  • Remember outflanking with Baal Predators.  They aren't super likely to pop a tank on side armor (no matter what the internets tells you, it's less than 40% to wreck a chimera), but they can still cause mayhem.  Throwing a wrench in your opponent's battle plan is usually worth it.
  • Remember to set up so that you can alpha strike with your flamestorm against footslogging armies.  You'll need it against wolves especially.
  • Tank shock and 18" ram can be amazing.  I rarely see people tank shocking their enemies, and it surprises me.  AV13 + 5 (for moving 15"+) + 1 (for tank) is a S9 hit, that ignores smoke and hits in the movement phase.  Plus, leadership on combat squads is only 8- may as well try.
  • Armies that have lots of footsloggers (like orks w/ kan wall) can be stalled for a turn by boosting your preds at them and turning them sideways.  The goal isn't to keep the preds alive, but rather to keep them from advancing on you for a turn, while you deal with the rest of their army.
Flamestorm Alpha Strike

Well, I'm sure I overplayed how cool this is.  It's going to be anticlimatic now.  Here's the gist of it though:  Turn 1, you move 18" with your flamestorm if you get first turn, and turn 2, you move 12" and flamer a squad out in the open.  Lots of times this will be Devastators/Longfangs, but sometimes it'll be extremely awesomesauce against Loganwing or to a lesser extent against jump pack Blood Angels.  It's worth remembering though- if you run a pred-heavy army, you're going to hate those missile launchers.

Another option is to drive in and position your flamestorm next to an enemy transport.  If you can pop it that turn, you can fry the inhabitants.  Muhahaha

What do you think?  How do you run your Preds?

And here's a question:  how do you pronounce 'Baal'?

Option 1:  BALL
Option 2:  BALE

Let me know.  I always pronounced as Option 2, but the guys at my LGS pronounce it Option 1.  That's why you have all the ball pictures this time.  Baal spam, lolz.  Like my Razorspam wasn't enough. 

Anyways, catch ya later!

As a sidenote, I just quit my job because of a scholarship I just got and... hopefully I'll be posting more now that there's more time, both here, and on my 'main' blog.  If you haven't checked it out, feel free :)  Peace!


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

(first post I messed up and got myself confused on the spelling of 'Baal'.)

Any idea what the Blood Angels are supposed to represent? (For example, the space wolves are vikings, the Deathkorps of Krieg are obviously germans, and the Vostroyans are Russians) This would give a good idea on how it should be pronounced, though I've been pronouncing it bale myself.

Doc Railgun said...

Tank shocking and ramming is a great tactic for AV13 vehicles, as mentioned above. A Predator moving 18" is a S10 hit - +6 for movement, +1 for being as tank, and +3 for the front AV.
So, it's something of a waste of the Emperor-blessed firepower of the Baal Predator, but Outflanking 18" into the side of a vehicle is an interesting way to start a game.

GDMNW said...

Great post!

As for how to say the word. Well if it's based on the old testament god of the same spelling then there are two accepted pronunciations.

That said, I now see why people think Baals to the Walls rhymes. I thought it was just because Baal looked similar to Ball.

Anyway, Baal is either Bale with a short 'a' or more traditonally with a long 'a'. So if you're american then ball isn't far off if you have a nice long 'a' in the way you say Ball.

Check this out.

Jawaballs said...

In Stargate SG1 they pronounced it Ball. :)

sircarp said...

I'm pretty sure option two is correct; at least as far as the Hebrew root is concerned.

dzer0 said...

It's pronounced Beyle

I am pretty sure GW was referencing the Hebrew root which falls in line with every other angelic/spiritual/biblical reference in the codex (Astorath, Dante's Inferno, Mephistopheles, le Martes, Gabriel, Seth, etc).

Also I take 2 Baal preds with heavy bolters and 2 autocannon preds with heavy bolters. They eat infantry, get in the way, provide cheap cover saves, and are all around awesome.

I think for min/max purposes 35 points more for lascannons is not too bad unless your running 2 in which case 70 points is quite a bit. It changes the opponents target priority, often cannot see a target with both lascannons, or wastes the autocannon turret with the strength difference. I really wish we could just upgrade the autocannon to an assault cannon, twin link it or something.

urban said...

Go watch The Rite, with Anthony Hopkins, it's not scary but it's a great exorcist movie. They pronounce it Ball, and Anthony Hopkins is always right.

Lyracian said...

I had been wondering about the pictures...
At least the last comment explained them. I could see how with an American accent you could think it is option one.

Xaereth said...

Lol, American accents FTW. Or maybe for the fail. At least we learned that there's no universal way to say it.

Well, if you're American at least. It's not like we pronounce words right anyways- at least English isn't as bad at that as French.

Dan said...

It's pronounced Barl :)

Like the noise you make when the doctor tells you to say 'aah'.

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