Thursday, July 2, 2015

Theory Hammer: How to Keep Blood Angels relevant post SM and DA

So with the recent releases of the Space Marines and Dark Angels codex, Blood Angels have been left in the cold. Across the board BA lost out, a lot of cross over units are now either better (Dreadnoughts, Scouts) or cheaper (Terminators) than their Blood Angels counterparts. Now unless this gets FAQ'd (which it won't. Remember the days where different SM codices had different transport capacity for various Land Raiders), don't expect these to be fixes to occur since the BA codex is only 7 months old. On top of these, a lot of various options are missing (Grav-cannons) and formations in the new Codicies are much MUCH stronger. There are even some BA formations that do nothing that you can't just do with a BA strike force (Blood Angels Demi-company), meanwhile SM and DA are getting tons of free transports.
SO what do we have to keep the codex strong, and what can be done to mitigate some disadvantages. I am a BA purist and have played them since mid 3rd edition, so I am not switching to Red-marines.


So there are still a few stand out Blood Angels formations in my opinion. These are in no particular order.
1- Archangels Sanguine Wing: 2 Vanguard Squads, 1 Sternguard Squad and 1 Stormraven gunship. All the squads must have 10 models. Benefits- Everything enters together and you can re-roll reserves. All Vanguard can take a free power weapon or lightning claw and all the Sternguard can take are free storm bolter or combi-weapon. This is where this formation becomes worth it: free combi-gravs and combi-meltas and free power weapons/lightning claws. This makes the unit affordable, even at 10 models each. And a Storm Raven still isn't a bad thing. And if you are facing the new SM or DA, you have ALOT of AP3 delivery in this formation.
2- Angel's Wrath Intervention Force: 1 Vanguard and 2 Assault Squads. Must have Jump Packs. Benefits: 1 Reserve roll for the formation, place the Vanguard and then the Assault Squads do not scatter within 6" of the Vanguards. If you take min-squads with max special weapons this can be a pretty reliable flamer/melta delivery system. I particularly like the idea of flamers, since you can blast once and then overwatch d3 hits with them, which is great against anything invincible. Additionally, any enemy within 6" of their DS location take S4 hits and move as if they are within difficult terrain next turn, which is really great against anything that treats difficult terrain as dangerous terrain, such as bikes, jetbikes and jump infantry (White Scars and Ravenwing).
3- Flesh Tearer's Blood Rain Strike Force: 1 DC squad, 1 Vanguard, 1 Assault Squad, 1 Furioso Dread, 1 Storm Raven. Everything must have a Jump Pack or embarked on the Stormraven. So this formation does some awesome things. First of all it gives you the rare "Crusader" rule, which gives you 2d6 pick one runs, and +D3 to any sweeping advance. Anything disembarking from the Storm Raven re-rolls failed charge rolls and rage. They enter from reserves together and can reroll reserves, and when they arrive from DS they have counter attack and fearless. It is this counter attack and fearless that is key, because you don't have to worry about getting assaulted into oblivion.

The only thing of note is the Blood Angels Strike Force. Rerollable warlord trait and a +1I on the charge. That is HUGE, particularly against other SM armies. Where everything else is evenly matched, going first is great. Think of LC Assault Terminators with a Chaplain! Re-roll to hit, Re-roll to wound, and you strike FIRST! And if you add a Sanguinary Priest, it is even better with +1WS! Forget that they are 5 points more expensive, they are easily 5 points deadlier IMO, but only when taken as such. This has alot ALOT of applications. I understand how a Flesh Tearer's Strike Force can be attractive, but the +1A only happens 16% of the time, and there are other ways to get +1A (eg Chapter Banner). If you are taking it to get tons of drop pods for allies, that is a really good tactic, but not the focus of this post. I am talking ALL BA ALL THE TIME.

Dante was the original Doof Warrior
1- Lord Commander Dante- Still an amazing Lord of War. Also he is the only BA Character with the warlord trait for Descent of Angels as a standard + 1 additional tactical warlord trait. He is a combat beast bringing a S6(7 on the charge) AP 2 5A (6 on the charge) with a master craft, hit & run and eternal warrior. Plus he has a 6" fear bubble.
2- Sanguinary Priests- I shouldn't really have to explain this, but with FNP and the blood chalice (+1 WS to the unit they are in) these are stand up characters, and really cheap additions to an army at that. Great to add on as a warlord if you are taking Mephiston or Astorath and don't want Soul Warden as your power.
3- Fast Vindicators- same as an SM vindicator, except FAST! Great mobile support
4- Baal Predators with a Flamestorm Cannon. While overall the Baal is not that great of a choice anymore since everyone can just take a Relic Sicarin or get a ton of free Razorbacks with a Gladius Strike Force, this is still a decent choice when taken with the Flamestorm, especially in marine heavy metas, as they can just bake power armour MSU off the board.
5- Death Company- Especially when you take Astorath which makes them reroll to hit and to wound! These guys are nigh on unstoppable engines of destruction. A squad of 5 gets at least 20 S5 attacks on the charge, more if you are clever.
6- Sanguinary Guard- Who can argue with flying terminators. With AP3 weapons all around, these guys can chew up Space Marines. Through in a Sanguinary Priest and a Chapter Banner and you are looking at a MEQ Eating Death Squad.

1- Heavy Flamer Tactical Squads- So we BA players don't get access to the grav cannon. However we are alone in access to the Heavy Flamer. Since there are only 2 choices in troops for BA and our scouts are worse than everyone elses, Tactical Squads are a must in nearly every BA army. The heavy flamer gives a few advantages. It sets you up to face horde armies fairly well as well as invisibility. D3 hits on overwatch with an S5 weapon can really help against a unit you can only hit with 6s with everything else. Plus, with the new SM expect to see a lot of invisibility through the Librarius Conclave. Oh, and this all extends to hand flamers as well, though they are just S3...
2- Fear- There are a lot of things that easily cause Fear in the BA book. While not the most useful mechanic, as there are a lot of things that ignore it (fearless and ATSKNF), it still can be very useful when applied correctly.
3- Relics- BA have some great Relics, and while I am not going to describe them all, a few of them can be extremely useful, especially the Gallian Staff and the VeritasVitae, which gives you 2 strategic warlord traits!
4- BA assault squad rhinos- These are the only "free" vehicles left to Assault Squads. If you remove your jump packs, you can take a rhino for free. Normally this would be equivalent in points costs, and it still is for the drop pod. However, BA rhinos are 45 points for their overcharged engines. Basically think of it as a free upgrade.

1- Avoid Dreadnoughts. Unless you are playing a Librarian Dread or the Deathstorm Special Character one that is a Troop choice, I'd just not use them right now.
2- When taking Scouts, use Sniper Scouts. Its how I have been using them anyways, but this is the best way to cover their BS3 WS3 IMO

There are just some thoughts on the manner. I am trying to build some new BA lists to fight in the Post SM environment. I'll share them here soon. Right now I am  toying around with the idea of 5 LC Terminators + Chaplain + SP w/ a JP in a Redeemer. Jump Pack is to sling around the squad after they assault out of the Land Raider or if the Land Raider is popped. Take the Veritas Vitae on my warlord to try and get Infiltrate and boost the squad forward with their Dedicated Transport Land Raider.