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
- 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
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.
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.
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
Role #3: Utility Squad
Honor Guard w/ 2x Melta Guns, 2x Flamers, Rhino- 195 Points
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
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
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