Rediscovering Angels Part 10: Honor Guard

Hey there folks, it's been a while, but it's me again- Xaereth, from Delusions of Grandeur!  Today I want to talk about Honor Guard and what they can do for a Blood Angel army, in a competitive context.  For those of you interested, I've done quite a few other articles here for the Jawa, and I've compiled the links to them here.  So, feel free to read up on them, should you so desire :-p

So, let's talk about Honor Guards for Blood Angels.  This squad is likely one of the most 'hotly contested' units in the book (haha, if anything could be said to be hotly contested about Blood Angels any more), simply because nobody agrees on how they should be used, or whether they're even cost-efficient at all.  I think we can come up with a few good ideas on how they can be used, and in what situations they can really shine.  Heh, or maybe not, and we'll find that Honor Guards are pure rubbish and nobody should take them.  We'll see :)

Well, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way first, so we're all on the same page.  What's good about Honor Guard?
  • Priest hidden in 'retinue'
  • Lots of special weapon options
  • Lots of weapons options
  • Lots of options in general, really
  • Better statline than average marine
What's bad about Honor Guard?
  • Limited to a maximum of 5 dudes
  • Have to pay for their mode of transportation (as opposed to Assault Squads)
  • Upgrades get expensive quick
  • Limited to how many HQ choices have been taken  
So, pretty obvious stuff.  Priest is cool, price to actually field a small 5-man unit isn't so cool.  I suppose now we can look at a little more advanced stuff- first let's look at a price comparison of an Honor Guard vs. 5-man Assault Squad w/ Priest, in a Rhino.

Honor Guard w/ 4x melta, HF Razorback- 210 Points
Assault Squad w/ 1x melta, HF Razorback, Priest- 198 Points

If we took out a single melta from the Honor Guard, the prices would be nearly identical.  Please don't misunderstand this comparison as what I personally think 'the way' is to run Honor Guard/Assault Squads, it's merely a price comparison.

What we can learn from this comparison is that Honor Guards, while not scoring, are more points-efficient than Assault Squads containing a Priest.  When equipped with similar wargear, they can not only carry more wargear than the RAS (Regular Assault Squad), but they also have a 'hidden' priest in there, giving the unit less total Kill Points you have to worry about.  The flip side to this is that the Priest isn't customizable, but I've never been a huge fan of getting my extremely important IC's into combat anyways, since I'm paying the points for him to buff units, not to kill 1 marine (or Ork!) per combat phase, lol.

So, we know that if we need a utility unit that doesn't necessarily need to score, Honor Guard is likely the way to go.  Since every player has to take at least one HQ per army, we will always have at least one Honor Guard as a possibility.

Now let's take a look at a few different roles an Honor Guard can fill in an army.

Role #1:  Plasma Bunker

Honor Guard w/ 4x Plasma Guns, Rhino- 225 Points

This one for me is the one I always think about for Honor Guard, since that's what I generally always do with my Company Command Squads in my IG army.  Not only is this your only reliable means of getting Plasma in the entire book (Sternguard are one-hit wonders), they have a built-in resistance to overheating called Feel No Pain.  8 shots vs. pretty much anything in cover will only kill about 2 dudes, but they could also pop tanks to a limited extent, or hunt Monstrous Creatures (like anyone brings those these days, lol).

I'd actually say that this is a generally poor choice for the Honor Guard.  They can't assault after they blow their load, and like I said earlier, they only cause a little bit of damage from their barrage.  Against good players, Honor Guard w/ plasma isn't amazing.  You may say "but, didn't you say you tooled your Guard CCS's the same way?" Well, yes I did.  However, those IG units are not only cheaper (180 w/ 9 shots vs. 225 w/ 8 shots), but also have built-in orders to make targets reroll successful cover saves, and have vehicles all of them can shoot out of whereas the max for the HG is a Rhino w/ 2 dudes.  IG do it much, much better than the Honor Guard ever will, sadly.  Luckily, most Blood Angels armies have no need of Plasma, as they have access to other things that can replace it.

Role #2:  Melta Bunker

Honor Guard w/ 4x Melta Guns, Razorback w/ Heavy Flamer- 210 Points

This one might be my personal favorite.  They can zoom up 12", turn the Razor around, disembark 2.9", and shoot their melta, giving them a nearly 21" threat range.  Sure, any other unit in the game with melta and a vehicle has the same threat range, but these guys not only have 4 meltas to go with them, they also have FNP, to make removing them much harder than the average melta suicide squad.  One might even argue that it isn't a suicide squad, since it's survivable enough to make an opponent shift significant resources to wipe them out entirely.

Role #3:  Utility Squad

Honor Guard w/ 2x Melta Guns, 2x Flamers, Rhino-  195 Points

What we get from this squad is the ability to bring down tanks, hordes, and a biggish FNP/FC bubble though the utilization of the Rhino chassis.  This squad is equipped to do any number of things, and can shoot all weapons then charge in (furiously) afterward.  I'm not sure I subscribe to this 'jack of all trades' mentality, but it does provide a good 'swiss army knife' -like unit.

A variant:

One variant might be this squad in a Las/Plas Razorback, surrounded by 15x Missile Launcher Devastators.  They can lay down some good fire, provide the FNP Bubble, and provide a solid counter-assault/shooting threat when enemies get too close.  You could of course do the same with a RAS + Priest, but as we discussed earlier, this way is far more cost-effective.  Simply including a Priest with the Devs might be another 'easier' way, but if that happens, it forces the Devs to bunch up quite a bit.  With the extra inches a Razorback chasis provides, the squads can actually be spread out quite a bit, since you measure the FNP/FC aura from the vehicle's hull.

Role #4:  Close combat Uberness

Honor Guard w/ 2x Melta Guns, 4x Lightning Claws, 2x Storm Shields, Chapter Banner, Rhino- 315 Points

This option is pretty expensive, but it does put out quite a few attacks.  Claws are statistically better than Swords against just about any opponent, despite less attacks.  This squad is going to be far more efficient with either a Chaplain or a Librarian (I'd pick a Libby, personally), giving them rerolls to hit.  If they do get rerolls + charge, they'll cause 10(ish) power wounds and 2 regular wounds to a WS4 T4 opponent, not counting the character accompanying them.  They can also open tanks with their two meltas, have FNP, and can even operate against other power weapons, with their own Storm Shields.

They're pretty expensive though.  315 points to wipe out a marine squad (or even nearly 5 TH/SS Termies) is alright, but they have to kill a lot of stuff to warrant their price tag.  Against some squads with higher Initiative, this squad will flounder, and if they get charged, their effectiveness is far less.  Not to mention, it's not really 315 points to wipe that marine squad- it's more like 415, after you add the Librarian.  Not my favorite choice, but these guys can fill the combat role if you want- some armies have enough shooting and need the extra combat.  Cool squad to customize/convert too :)

Role #5:  Jump Infantry Support

Honor Guard w/ 4x Melta, Jump Packs-  205 Points

These guys just jump around with your other 50-60 Jump Marines, and provide melta/FNP support.  Cool squad, I think I'd rather these guys look like this, honestly:

Honor Guard w/ 4x Melta, Rhino

It loses a little bit of the theme 60+ Jump Marines have, but it also gives a bigger FNP bubble for your squads, allowing them to spread out a little bit, for the same price.  It also allows a little more protection for a small squad, so opponents don't just turn their AP2/3 long-range fire at that squad immediately (since they won't have anything better to fire at, given the lack of diverse targets)

I think I saw Jawa's NOVA army will be going this route, though the Honor Guard will be Jumping around with the rest of them, which works.  I know that if I play him though, they'll be the first target for my Dark Lances :)


Well, what more can I say?  Honor Guard can provide a lot for your army, and fill a bunch of roles that a Blood Angel player may have need of filling.  Combat, cheap melta, or FNP/FC coverage, these guys can do it all, and can even do it all well.  Not every army has need of these Role-players in their army, but it's nice to know these guys exist as an option, and can be used for pretty much anything.

Thoughts?  Questions?  Comments?  How do YOU tool your Honor Guard?

As an aside, hope you enjoyed the 'honor' pictures I found on Google.  Some of them I have no idea what they have to do with honor, but they were funny so I stuck them up there!  lol


Gonewild said...

HG is a current staple in my 2K army, and I have enjoyed four plasma gun (PG) wielding marines with FNP with some success. Perhaps I'll swap the plasma for Melta-Guns which will leave me an excess of 20 points to allocate.

When you run a "melta bunker" do you provide your HG with any assault utility?

Gonewild said...

With regard to DoA list(s), would you run a melta HG unit in a Rhino, or, would you take jump packs? Would you run HG as a "shooty" unit at all?

Feuermann said...

I love the HG with 4 flammers in a razorback with heavy flammer with a captain whith lightning claw and combi-flammer. 6 templates!!!!

dzer0 said...

As always, great summation, I may try the Plasma HG sometime in the future.

I have been running my Honor Guard as a close combat beat stick with a variation to your suggestion. This is more of an assault terminator alternative (50 points more) that generates twice the attacks and is much more devastating but requires a bit of finesse to play effectively.

Honor Guard: x2 Power Weapon, x2 Storm Shield/Lightning Claw, Chapter Banner
Librarian: Sanguine Sword/Shield
Storm Raven: MM, ASC

This gives 28 power weapon attacks and 5 regular attacks on the charge at I5, S5. Or the Librarian can step it up to that 5 attacks at S10 if need be. 3 guys get invulnerable saves (incl the chaplain), they are fearless, FNP, and they all reroll hits on the charge. The Raven gets them where they need to go (or at least 24" out of reserves if going second).

ServvsUmbrarum said...

I've been thinking of running some of these. Really would fit the theme of my Chapter maybe once i move up to the next point segment (1750 for my group).

"The Initiate" -

Vharing said...

I am making the combat uberness squad to go with Tycho in my 3Co. army.

DK said...

I Use Hg with jumppacks and 4 plasma. I deep strike them. They are great! They are my responce to Grey Knights. IT has worked really well.

Xaereth said...

Gonewild: Heh, if it's a pure DoA list, I'd use jump packs on them- the idea is to provide target saturation, generally. If you have a single rhino/razorback and the rest of your army is deepstriking, then the enemy will have nothing better to shoot at. May as well protect them by putting them in jump reserve as well :)

theirontower said...

Honor Guard are the secret weapon for Blood Angel players. Its the only way to get decent Guns+Jump in the entire codex as Sternguard can't take Jump Packs. I have done more with them than any other unit I run.

With HG running 4 Melta/Flamers+ FNP/FC + Dante you can jump in with no scatter, shoot the shit out of something, survive/dominate the assault, then on their turn use Hit and Run to bounce out and be ready for another round of shooting come your turn. They are guarnateed to blow anything your trying to blow up, and with VV's or an Assault squad placed correctly to assault whatever comes out of the wreckage with the Priest from the HG providing FNP/FC support.


theirontower said...

I have been thinking about pulling a Flamer and a Melta Gun and adding in 2 Plasma Guns, to assist with the GK killing.

Anonymous said...

I love the Honor Guard and I have been using it for nearly a year as a 4-melta jump squad. I love being able to put it wherever I need them via DoA. I drop them aggressively into the backfield and start taking out tanks. Ideally they blow up that pesky Land Raider, or the Vindicator, Lemon Russ, or other more expensive tank the enemy might have. If they survive the next turn, all the better. If not, the enemy has spent a turn shooting at a unit that has probably made back their points or nearly done so, and left the rest of your army more or less unmolested to continue the attack.

I've also used a second HG that is tooled up for close combat with a Librarian with Unleash Rage in a Stormraven from time to time. usually I only use this unit in larger point games, but it is amazing to watch them walk right out the other side of just about any unit on the board.

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