Monday, March 14, 2011

Looking at The Big Red Death Machine in hindsight...

I sat down today and started trying to write a Blood Angels tactica, got halfway down the page before I realized I was stating the absolutely obvious. So I’ve changed the point of this article. This isn’t going to be so much a how-to guide anymore as it is going to be a little record of what I’ve learned playing Blood Angels that wasn’t immediately obvious to me when I started out. A sort of presumptions debunking, if you will. So let’s start.
Sanguinary Priests
When I started out I used to try and get a ton of priests into my lists. They just seemed that good and that essential. What I realized is is that they are that good but not that essential. If you write in as many as one
 priest per squad you have in the game, you will be out of points mighty fast. Priests are a major investment as just one with a jump pack costs as much as a lot of other race’s tanks. All in all, its better to have more troopers on the field than to try and get FNP/Furious charge bubbles on absolutely everyone. I try not to take more than one priest for every 2 squads of assault marines I have on the table and if possible I’ll take even less. I’ve found that you can pretty easily manipulate what units will come under fire and so can place your priests accordingly. Enemy’s frequently don’t seem to spend much time at all taking stock of where your priests are and which squads are covered and which aren’t, so take advantage of this!
Power weapon versus Fist
This isn’t much of a debunking since I always liked power weapons over powerfists since you can get the full benefit from furious charge with a power weapon, more attacks and its cheaper. However, I have grown a certain respect for powerfists. Not so much in the tank killing department, but if you’re fighting an enemy that isn’t likely to be steam rolled in close combat, you might want to consider the fist for protracted combats. In addition, something I forgot for a while was that your fist becomes strength 9 when you have furious charge and who doesn’t like to be able to punch tanks with a lascannon attached to your hand?
Sanguinary Guard
I absolutely fuckin’ hated Sanguinary Guard when I first saw them in the book. Two handed power swords?! So they’ve got the same number of attacks as a normal assault marine?! Artificer armour and no invulnerable for a terminator price tag?! And what’s more, bloody master crafted, which is a total joke, especially in an army that can take HQ and Elite chaplains, as well as Preferred Enemy psychic powers.
However, I have grown to like them over time and here’s why.
A) the cost is not that bad when you tally it up. Let’s think of it like this. A Sanguinary Guard has as many attacks and the same WS as an assault marine so let’s use that as a base (18 points per model), now he’s got a power weapon (15+18 = 33). So he costs 40 points total, 33 of which is just his jump pack and his power weapon. So what do you get for those 7 points? You get fearless, assault 2, 12” boltguns (pointless, but still necessary to consider), artificer armour and descent of angels (free for the whole book I know, but still worth considering). That’s not that bad and although they should be better, it’s a pretty good deal. Honestly, I think the main reason people feel screwed over is because of that one missing attack, but sometimes you just have to learn to let it go… I do find it interesting however that a lot of the models are posed having the sword in one hand. I have a sneaking suspicion that in the beta they were written as being able to hold their sword in both hands or one hand for extra strength or an extra attack, which would have been awwwwwwwwesome… but nevermind.
b) Survivability. I have to admit I haven’t had that many games with them but they have been oddly survivable. I think one of the first reasons for this is that they’re not troops if you don’t take Dante and so the other guy just looks at them and figures “how much damage can these 5 power armoured guys do?” and so refuses to shoot at them. The next reason is that the squad is reeeeeeeally small which makes them easier to hide and so you can get easy cover saves. The last reason is that its surprising how many of those things that take marine armies apart are actually AP3, especially in IG armies. Seriously, check it out. I don’t know why this was such a blind spot for me before but I suspect I’m not the only one. You should also remember that for none AP 2/1 weapons, half as many shots will get through artificer armour as power armour. Its a big difference when you think about it. Anyway, if you want them to live, just keep them away from anything with the same or higher initiative and power weapons.
Death Company
Death Company are another unit I never expected much from but I didn’t hate them like Sanguinary Guard as DC are more of a fluff fixture of the army and fluff should never be forced to conform to WAAC standards. They should be exactly as powerful or as weak as their fluff suggests (unfortunately this is usually woefully off the mark too, see: new Orks and Goblins Army Book).
My original assumptions about Death Company turned out to be correct. They murder absolutely anything on the charge when they’ve got a chaplain with them, delivering them is the tricky part and rage is a real bitch. Something I didn’t realize though was how scared people would be of them. A lot of players I know simply do not want to be in combat with them despite the fact that they die just the same as any other marines. Yeah they have FNP but if your blood letters/assault marines/rough riders/wyches/banshees/genestealers/berzerkers can’t cut through that then you’re doing it wrong. So these days I try to use my Death Company as a psychological tool. Occassionally I even find that people spend so much time trying to bait their rage that they end up doing it to no particular tactical advantage.
I’d never liked devastators in other books but eventually I started thinking of them as a good choice for Blood Angels because they could add some ranged threat to an army that was mainly short ranged and fast moving. I went with a couple of squads of missile launchers but what I found was that the devastators not moving is a bigger liability than I’d previously thought. Firstly, Dawn of War screws you, obviously. Secondly, as your assault marines hop around, the enemy moves with you and your Devs have a hard time keep the enemy in nice neat fire lanes. Third, if you reserve strike most of your army your Devs are the only easy targets. Fourth, because again, you hop around from cover to cover with your assault marines, your devs are again usually the easiest target. All in all, I find a weapons platform that moves (predators, storm ravens etc) are the way to go with jump pack armies.
Blood Lance
Has always been shite in every game I’ve played. On weekends all my melta marines stand around and rip the piss out of my librarians for being so abysmal with that power.
Infernus Pistols
I myself never liked Infernus pistols. They seemed over expensive and when I could get as many meltaguns as I do in an army, it seemed totally unnecessary. I’ll admit it, I was completely wrong. I still often don’t take them in order to economise but I’ve often seen that extra melta shot do lovely things. Of course, I’d never take it on someone who could just take a meltagun instead.
I won’t go into Mephiston too much since I already wrote a lot about him. I’ll just say this: He’s a challenging character for an opponent to face, but if you can’t figure out how to beat him (and believe me, there are plenty of ways) then there’s something wrong with either your 40k skills or your attitude to the game.
Storm Raven
The Storm Raven is still an ongoing experiment for me. I’ve tried a whole bunch of different deployment types with it and it still refuses to live past turn 3. Essentially it’s a landraider, with a landraider’s price tag that’s armour 12 and hovers so high in the air and is so bulky that it can’t claim cover 90% of the time. At this rate, I’m starting to think that a landraider deepstriking on a homing beacon might be a better idea, especially if you can get it on a discount with an assault squad as its dedicated transport.
Originally I’d thought of it as a transport, like the best transport option for Death Company but this usually ends up with them foot slogging as its shot down too soon. So how does one make good use of a Storm Raven? Well funnily enough, the best I’ve seen it do so far is as a fire magnet. Knowing how expensive it is and how easy it is to kill, people spend a long time on it, so hug that cover as best you can (if there’s none in your store, I suggest you go home and build a fucking huge tree and put that on the table) and use it as a gunship and just try your best to shoot things up. Ultimately, I don’t believe a competitive army would include Storm Ravens.
At the end of the day, Blood Angels were not the doomsday device for the game that everyone thought but they’re good and solid and I’ve got no phobias of facing any type army except for leaf blowers really. A few of the shiny toys that came in the codex like frag cannons, magna grapples, blade encarmines and storm ravens turned out to be duds, no doubt experiments for future books which will ‘get them right’. But ultimately Blood Angels are great fun and even in the future when better and stronger books are out, I daresay it’ll still be well worth picking up a Blood Angels army just for the fun of having a massively jump packing, flying, turbo boosting, assaulting army.

No comments:

Post a Comment