Rediscovering Angels Part 9: Sternguard?

Hey there folks!  After a rather extended absence, it's me again, Xaereth from Delusions of Grandeur!  If you're new to Jawa's blog or have just now become interested in what I have to say, I've been a contributor here since sometime in the winter.  Here's a link to the other 'Rediscovering Angels' articles I've written, if you're interested!  Today I'm going to talk about Sternguard, and how they can interact with a Blood Angels army.

Well, as per usual, let's get the real obvious stuff out of the way.  The first is that Sternguard aren't at all a 'traditional' choice for Blood Angels armies.  They can shoot, but don't have armor (like Predators do).  They can close combat, but don't have two combat weapons (like assault squads do).  They're kind of like Grey Hunters in that they're a swiss-army-knife style unit, but they don't score.  Generally speaking, people would like them in a list, but usually run out of room before they can include them.

So, let's do a little more 'in depth' obviousness, so we're all on the same page.  First, their good qualities:
  • Ammunition that wounds anything on a 2+
  • Ability for every model to take a combi-weapon
  • Ability for two models to take a special or heavy weapon
  • 2 base attacks
  • Can still combine with Sanguinary Priest for FNP/FC
  • Can sit in a rhino with Independent Characters without the 'you can't take an extra meltagun' tax that happens with Assault Squads
  • Much better squad for min/maxxing
Alright, some bad things now:
  • Still die just the same as regular marines
  • Can't take close combat weapons, so the 'same' amount of attacks as regular assault squad
  • Pricy (points-wise AND dollar-wise)
  • Don't score
Well, seems like they aren't too bad, right?  Only four things wrong with them, and way more good things.  Why doesn't everyone take them?  Well, I suppose we can do a comparison in points-costs to a Tactical Marine, since they're of a similar style.

Tactical Marine Point Cost in Blood Angel Codex:  16 (assuming the 'upgrade' to sergeant is 10)
Sternguard Point Cost:  25
Points difference:  Nine points, for a model that dies just as easily

In return for those points, Sternguard get the following considerations as their base characteristics:

  • +1 Attack
  • Ammo that hurts dudes on a 2+
  • 'Hot' S4 AP3 Ammo
  • Slightly better ranged ammo that also ignores cover saves?
Is that by itself worth 9 points per model?  The correct answer is:  no, it's not.  Why would anyone take them then?  Where's the 'hidden' efficiency?

The 'hidden' efficiency is the weapon options.  As stated before, you can min/max this unit like crazy.  It can be exactly what you want it to be, if you're willing to pay the points.  If you aren't taking the 2 special/heavy weapons or combi-weapons, these guys aren't going to be worth it.  They're going to be overpriced.

Random Uses for Sternguard:

Plasma 'Deathstar':

9x Sternguard w/ 9x Combi-plasmas, Priest, Rhino- 370 points

Yep, it's super expensive, but in a single turn of fire, you'll cause what... 10 AP2 wounds to a squad?  They'll single-handedly wipe out another marine squad, provided they don't get cover (which granted, isn't super likely).  Conversely, you can still charge in there with 31 S5 I5 Attacks- not terrible in a pinch, though you can be more efficient.  As a sidenote, I don't think they're actually a deathstar.  They do pack a punch though.  And they aren't exactly a glass cannon either, with FNP.

As another sidenote, this is probably the weakest choice for Sternguard that can actually be 'viable'.

Missile Bunker:

5x Sternguard w/ 2x Missile Launchers, optional rhino-  135/185

These guys don't seem super practical, do they?  I mean, you can get devastators w/ 4x missile launchers for the same price!  You're right, it just doesn't seem very efficient, unless you really want an AV13 spam army, which takes up all the Dev. slots.  On the surface not too practical, but look at this shooty list you can make (abbreviated to save space/time):


5x Assault Marines w/ Melta, Las/Plas Razor
5x Assault Marines w/ Melta, Las/Plas Razor
5x Assault Marines w/ Melta, Las/Plas Razor
5x Assault Marines w/ Melta, Las/Plas Razor
5x Assault Marines w/ Melta, Las/Plas Razor

Sanguinary Priest
5x Sternguard w/ 2x Missiles
5x Sternguard w/ 2x Missiles

Baal Pred
Baal Pred
Baal Pred

Auto/Las Pred
Auto/Las Pred
Auto/Las Pred

Lol, it almost maxes the FOC.  Maybe not the most awesome of awesome, but in a list that you want more long-range shooty, Sternguard can fill in nicely.  They won't even be looked at- people will be shooting the 11 tanks first, since the missiles are hidden in a squad of 5, with FNP.  Which means they'll live to shoot their shots every turn, unlike cheaper/more efficient squads like Devs. Stronger choice in that context, don't you think?

Suicide Melta:

5x Sternguard w/ 2x Meltaguns, 3x Combi-melta, Rhino- 200

They're expensive no doubt, but it's actually cheaper than their counterpart:

10x Assault Marines w/ 2x Meltaguns, Rhino- 225

Sure, that squad can do the same(ish) thing, and has more bodies.  But the assault marines are a) in need of a fist and b) only have 2 meltaguns.  200 points to almost guarantee the death of the tank you need dead, is generally going to be worth it.  If nothing else, they can soak fire.  Note that Sternguard used in the same way but in a Drop Pod aren't very dependable- short range melta in drop pods for the fail.

Jack-of-all-trades Squad:

8x Sternguard w/ 2x Meltaguns, 3x Combi- Melta, 3x Combi-flamer, Rhino- 260

These guys can take whatever independent characters they want in their ride, while also providing some anti-troop and great anti-tank.  They even throw a handful of close combat attacks, if needed.  And the best thing?  You don't depend on them to score, so you can use them more aggressively.  lol

How they fit into a Blood Angels army:

Hm, I think the options above offered as good an insight as any, but I'll give a little more, since I know you love the sound of my voice (the look of my text? heh).  Sternguard are basically the hole-filling slot (which granted, sounds dirty).  Need some extra (really dependable) melta?  Take Sternguard.  Need more shooty?  Take Sternguard.  Want an implausible/stupid expensive squad that can do lots of damage before inevitably dying?  Take Sternguard.
Wrap up:

In an army full of melta, good anti-horde units, and long-range firepower, Sternguard are often easily forgotten.  They're expensive, and without a specific role to play in an army, they are incapable of doing a whole lot.  Still, they can play an important role in your army, if you choose to use them in the correct manner.  Hope this article was helpful. :)

Your thoughts on Sternguard? 

Your thoughts on my googled 'Stern' pictures?

Thanks for your great articles Xaereth. You add something truly special to my blog.  JB


BoxerSaint said...

I love Sternguard. I used to run 8-9 man squads with 2xCombi-plasmas and 2xCombi-meltas, all in a Rhino with a Sanguinary Priest and/or Librarian. They are great for torrenting MCs(2+ wound is awesome), and they can surprise opponents on the charge with their 2 base attacks. I played fairly defensively with them, waiting for the proper time to drive 12", disembark, and blast my opponent. That way they had no cover saves. Most people expected me to be super-aggressive, so the stand-off'ish tactic messed with them.

I eventually stopped fielding them because my mech force needed a unit that could hit hard AND have some staying power, so once I took a squad of Assault Terminators and the obligatory Sanguinary Priest, I had one slot left over, and usually <100 points to fill it up with, so I started taking a Jump pack Techmarine with a combi-melta instead. It better compliments the mech theme anyway.

p.s. Nice stern pictures.(I actually just got the Howard Stern picture as I wrote that.)

Lyracian said...

I love Sterngurad. With a pair of heavy weapons (all you can fire from the hatches) they are often cheaper than Dev's and all round better with the 30" ammo and extra attack if needed.

Alex said...

Funny that your article came just after I was about to post some thoughts on Jawa's Grey Knight topic regarding sternguard and I've recently been rethinking them myself. So, excellent timing!

Over the last year, I've found my BA, while supposedly a close combat army, struggle against armies that seem to do it better -especially when we get assaulted. I've been trying to figure out what kinds of support I can add to my list and sternguard seem to be one possible answer.

One thing I felt was missing from this tactica is something along these lines:

Another thing I'd suggest is a more flexible squad than just the jack-of-all trades. I've seen a lot of positive things for having a heavy flamer in the unit as well. So, something like a couple of combi-meltas, a powerfist, and maybe a heavy flamer.

My plan is to have them in a drop pod with a priest and to drop them in a key location and hold it. Hopefully with the priest and fist, they'll be a major nuisance and tactically flexible.

BoxerSaint said...

"Over the last year, I've found my BA, while supposedly a close combat army, struggle against armies that seem to do it better -especially when we get assaulted."

I agree with you Alex. On the assault, with the right unit, Blood Angels are daedly, but without that assault, we're just another marine army. What I have found is that we can be excellent skirmishers, especially with all the with all the twin-linked assault cannons we can field. With fast vehicles we can move 12" and fire that assault cannon, keeping enemies in a safe 16"-24" zon, all the while peppering them with shots. Sternguard seem to me to personify how I like to play Blood Angels, mid-range, mobile gun line.

ServvsUmbrarum said...

I've been thinking of fielding some of these. Could be very useful but unfortunately my limited playing experience has me fighting Eldar and Dark Eldar more than anything so I've found little use for such things. (doesn't help that I've yet to lose a game so have had no incentive for trying new things).

"The initiate" -

General Oadius said...

love this article. very comprehensive. thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

I love these guys in my BA lists. Though I use drop pods. I run a variant of that Plasma squad with two full plasmas and seven combis. 10 AP2 wounds and only a 50% chance of losing a marine. And the AP3 "Hot!" ammo is nothing to sneeze at with a Priest present. Only 1 in 36 shots will hotkill a marine. Good stuff.

DK said...

Great Points. Currently, I use Honor guard for my mobile Plasma (important with GK Terminators getting painted in my roommate's room).

BUT! You can not charge in after you use rapidfire weapons, like you hinted at in the Plasma death star bit.

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