Rediscovering Angels #8: Sanguinary Priests

Hey there folks, how's it going?  It's Xaereth here from Delusions of Grandeur again, with more talk on how to use Blood Angels in the most efficient way possible.  Today I want to talk about a staple in many Blood Angel lists out there:  Sanguinary Priests.

I think first we need to talk a little about their strengths/weaknesses.  There are the obvious ones, and a couple less obvious ones that I want to draw your attention to.

  • Weapon Skill 5
  • Give Feel No Pain (FNP) to friendly models within 6"
  • Give Furious Charge (FC) to friendly models within 6"
  • Independent Characters
  • Multiple priests per elite slot
  • Independent Characters
  • Only 1 Wound
  • Not troops- this means that you can't deploy assault squads in Dawn of War missions.  Sometimes this really is relevant.
  • No plausible way to get an invulnerable save
  • Can add up to a lot of points, very quickly.
  • Takes up room in a rhino, giving you less special weapons on assault squads
So, most of these I'm sure you already knew.  Let's skip straight into how to equip them then.  There are a few ways people enjoy doing so:

Option 1:  Barebones

Priest + Jump Pack (or in a Rhino) = 50-75 points

This option is probably my favorite option.  Here's why:  Priests don't really want to be in combat.  They make the squad they're with quite a bit better, but the instant he dies, the squad is suddenly very squishy without much redeeming grace.  As such, I try to avoid getting him into combat whenever possible- keeping your priest over 6" from the nearest enemy model many times ensures that he won't have a way to get into close combat in the first turn anyways.  I'll talk more about this a little later.

Option 2:  Combat Awesomesauce

Priest +  Power Weapon + Jump Pack (or in a Rhino)= 65-90 points

This is likely my least favorite option.  Like I said before, you don't generally want to get him into combat- and 90 points is a lot of points for a single wound model with no invulnerable save.  On top of that, if the Priest is with your 10-man assault squad, those extra 2 power wounds can easily be soaked into a single melta gun or special weapon in the squad you're fighting.  It won't have much impact, really.

As a side note however, if you must put a power weapon on the Priest, please use a Claw.  It's better, because it allows you a reroll to wound.  Yes, you're missing out on an extra attack.  Still, do the math.  Against T4, it's about the same.  Against T5+ it's vastly superior than a regular power weapon.

Option 3:  Tank Killer

 Priest + Infernus Pistol/Combi-melta + Jump Pack (or in a Rhino)= 65-90 points

This one is a good one, if you must put some sort of upgrade on the priest.  Your assault squads have a hard time killing a tank with only 2 meltas in there (trust me, they do).  An infernus pistol or combi-melta is a good choice for a few reasons.  The best reason in my estimation, is that it doesn't expose your Priest to direct threat (i.e. combat).  The melta weapon is still capable of making an impact on the game without actually risking the Priest himself, since we can screen him with the squad he's in so the enemy can't charge their fist into him..  Melta is also excellent against Monstrous Creatures (where claws are less so), and against multi-wound T4 models (where Claws also lack punch).

Option 4:  Terminator Armor

Priest + Terminator Armor = 85 points

Heh, I see this one all the time when people want to make the 'Blood Angels Death Star' with Assault Terminators coming out of either a Storm Raven or Land Raider.  I'll be honest though- this one still doesn't provide much protection from power weapons.  5++ is better than nothing, but you know what's better than a 5++?  Not taking a save at all.  If you're running a Terminator squad in a Raider/Raven, may as well just keep him in the vehicle and let the aura hit the squad from where he's at.  No need to risk your 'lynch-pin' guy in combat.  Use the points to buy another Termie :)

Option 5:  The Delux

Priest + Infernus Pistol + Jump Pack + Power Weapon = 105 points

This one is pretty over the top for a single wound model.  If you want three of these, you pay 315 points.  That's like... the cost of a nob squad, lol.  Or any number of other more awesome units than 3 random dudes with no invulnerable saves.  Unless you need to fill points, I recommend against this one.

So, where should they be?  How many do we need?

Well, Sanguinary Priests are in a way what makes the Blood Angels codex special.  There are certainly other things, but FNP makes your troops have what is essentially a 2+ save, and Furious Charge makes Wolves nervous in a way other combat armies do not.  You can certainly have a competitive army that doesn't have FNP, and so I think it's comes down to this- all or nothing.  You either have FNP on everyone in your army, or on nobody.  No half-ass attempts to straddle the fence.

This doesn't really mean that every squad out there needs a Priest.  If we run five 10-man assault squads, three priests will likely do us well.  If we run two assault squads, two priests are likely necessary.  Three squads?  Two will still probably do.  Use common sense- we don't want to pay too much, but skimping isn't going to get us anywhere either.

Remember that Priests are more efficient the more bodies they cover.  So, a 10-man squad is going to be far better for a priest to cover than a 5-man.  In a 5-man squad, there is also the issue of protection, which I'll talk about more in a bit.

Jump Priests are an easy out when it comes to Assault Squads with JP.  It becomes more difficult when it comes down to Rhino Assault Squads however.  Take a single guy out, and the output is about the same, only without the extra melta.  You can always take a combi-melta with the Priest, however.  The important thing is for the squad to have access to a priest.  This could take the form of him actually driving in their rhino with them, or riding around in a 'support razorback' that has a small assault squad, but tries to keep within range of the bigger squads.  Mounted priests are far harder to deal with than jump pack heavy-armies.

Protecting your Priest

Well, this is likely the most important section of this article.  I think it's obvious enough that the Priest needs protection.  He's an independent character, which means that in combat, anyone in Base to Base with him can strike, and anyone of the same squad not in base to base but within 2" of someone in their squad in base to base can also strike.  This leads to people trying to make sure their fist is unengaged, their power weapon is based with you, etc.  I want to give you some basic tips to avoid premature death on this fragile (but very important) model.

  • Keep your Priest surrounded by your own guys at all times.  If your squad gets charged, it will be you who gets to choose where your priest ends up.  This means he can choose a guy without a power weapon, or away from the guy with a power fist who is unengaged.
  • When charging the enemy, always try to engage enemy power weapons with your own models first.  Granted, you need to move the Priest first, but he'll move into base with someone without power, and then your guys can charge in and ensure that an easy kill is not in the books.
  • Conga-line your guys to keep the priest out of combat when you're the one charging.  This means, keep him over 6" away from the combat.  When you charge in, he'll move 6" up, but then the guys around him can base every model who is in range to consolidate into him.  Again, avoid power weapons.
  • Play him in the back.  This is similar to the rest of these I suppose, in that you don't want to get him charged by a fist.  He's just as effective in the back of a squad as in the front, and if you can avoid him getting mauled by a fist, it's very important that you do so.
Remember, a priest gives the squad a (virtual) 2+ instead of 3+.  That's literally 50% less casualties against weapons that give an armor save.  Combat res really pays off for Blood Angels against most armies as long as the priest is still alive.  Every game I've played as or against Blood Angels, this has become readily apparent.  Protect the priest, and he'll protect you.  Cheesy as that sounds, lol.

So, what do you think?  How do you run your priests?  Is there a 'build' that I missed?  Should your priests have power weapons?  I want to know what you think of priests.  Please let me know :)


Black Blow Fly said...

Jump pack and power weapon is the way to go for jump armies.


Xaereth said...

lol... if you say so. Claw is better than power weapon if you have to go that way though.


Black Blow Fly said...

I am on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to taking a power sword... its not always possible to position the Priest such that he can avoid base contact plus you are wasting the potential for four WS5 S5 attacks that ignore armor saves - that helps drop units like Berzerkers and Plague Marines.


Tame said...

"When charging the enemy, always try to engage enemy power weapons with your own models first. Granted, you need to move the Priest first"

No, you don't have to most him first. ICs only need to move first when being assaulted (BRB p 49). When you are charging, you first move the closest, "then the others in any sequence you desire". (BRB p34)

This really helps keeping them alive: move all the other guys first and then you should end up with either no space left to be in base contact or at least no space left to be in base contact with power weapons enemies.

Sgt. Brisbane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sgt. Brisbane said...

Bah, what Tame said, lol.

Lox said...

Wouldn't it be feasible to run my Priest in the dead center of my squad. This way, he is in the "second row" 2" away from enemy models, allowing him to still engage in combat without being specifically targeted? Or can IC's not do that?

GDMNW said...

Wasn't charging with ICs talked about in the FAQ?

Should probably look at that before I say anything...

Alex said... mention of Corbulo? I think he's definitely worthwhile in a conversation about sang priests.

The claw/sword point comes too late for me (at least for one of my models)!

I've recently started building lists that don't have priests, and I like them a lot.

If I do bring a priest, I try to bring one and put him where he's most needed, rather than suddenly finding I have two models that are essentially the cost of a vehicle or half or another unit.

Xaereth said...

Heh, well, guess I can always learn something new. For some reason I've been doing that wrong this whole time. :-p

Lox: You can run him in the center, but remember that then he may be forced to base a model close to an unengaged power weapon. I'd personally prefer to keep him out of combat for a turn.

Black Blow Fly said...

Just run rhino squads so your timid Priests can hide inside.



Lyracian said...

Nice look at priests. I had not even thought about DoW deployment! They are always the model I try and kill first when fighting my friends Space Vampires.

As for Claw vs Sword - the Claw may be better against high toughness units, but they are the ones you want to avoid having the priest fight. Although I think the points would be better spent on giving the Sgt rather than the Priest a weapon.

urban said...

I'm all about the combat priests. So long as you keep them away from power weapons they are a lot harder to kill than people give them credit for, and taking advantage of the ws5 and 4 attacks (claw) is paramount. My last game, the priest survived the whole game despite being attacked by a necron wraith the whole time.

Keeping him out of combat first turn isn't a bad idea, but only do so if you think he'll get hit by a pweapon or fist.

Lox: Page 49 of the rule book states that ICs may only attack if they are in b2b. This falls into the whole thing about them being treated as a separate unit in combat. So no, no second row, sadly.

ServvsUmbrarum said...

I know I'm extremely young as far an Angel but I refuse to use Priests hiding inside of Rhino / Razorbacks. Not only do I feel this under minds the theme and mindset of the army it also goes against what I feel is the spirit of the rule.

If it makes me less competitive I guess that is the price I pay but my Priests will always be in the thick of things (I'll be avoiding fists / PW of course though, that's just stupid to not do.)

brotherbalian said...

Thanks man, this really cleared up a lot for me. Can you do tac squad review please?

The Kurb said...

Trying to "hide" a priest is akin to hiding a Land Raider.

I understand keeping him in armor, but in Jump lists he is going to fight, might as well give him the tools to do so. (Power Weap)

ServvsUmbrarum said...

I've read just about every codex that is current and in the Eldar Codex you can 'attach' a warlock to other squads (I think you can do this in a few other armies as well). The warlock ceases to be a IC and becomes apart of the unit.

I've thought about that a lot. But what does everyone else think; would our SP's be better that way? I personally like being able to move them about quickly from squad to squad as needed but being in melee it really sucks to have them focus fired.

Chris said...

I have a jump priest with a hand flamer, it seems mostly ineffective but sometimes, especially when it's most useful, you really need to cause wounds to softer units in mass. Vurn to template, and T3 models are prime targets, and if he can hide behind the ensuing assault he can detach in the movement phase to fire and stay out of combat.

Late entry of a terminator priest can mean support for whoever needs it most, homers can ensure it, this seems point ineffective though.

Corbulo is phenomenal on a charge with S6 rending. His power "all seeing eye" is fantastic early on when decisiveness is key.

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