20 Jun 2015

Blood Angels Codex Summary Part II

More Blood Angels! What more could you possibly want? Oh, a Space Marine Codex review? Stay tuned...


Captain - Normally when reviewing a Space Marine Captain, I talk about how they are a good but not great melee combatant that ultimately gets the shaft in favour of the more efficient Chapter Master equivalent; when you kit out a character for close combat, you want them to be a top competitor which is where spending the extra points on assured greatness is usually the best idea. However, while Dante is definitely a terror in a melee, the Blood Angels Captain is in a unique position because this particular Adeptus Astartes codex functions much differently to the other; their Chapter Tactics and unique psychic discipline are incredibly well suited to close combat themed forces, while the army itself tends to operate in more close ranged encounters than other Space Marines. Having stock Furious Charge and the potential bonus of the Red Thirst can make your generic Captain Strength 5 and Initiative 6 on the charge, combined with the cheap AP2 melee weapon Valour's Edge and the +D3 Attacks and Initiative psychic power from the Sanguinary psychic discipline and it becomes remarkably easy to turn even a cheap Space Marine character into a true wrecking ball against nearly everything. I'm generally not the biggest fan of Captains in most Space Marine codices because of the aforementioned reasons where you want to invest that little bit extra to get the most deadly combatant you can to compete with those fielded by other players, but the Blood Angels variation definitely has the potential to shine above the rest due to an insane mixture of different stat buffs. If you want to slice and dice at a discount and still somehow end up with a monster on your hands, this is your best bet.

Librarian - This is the Space Marine psyker archetype we all know and generally like, the sadly major downside to this character being that he isn't nearly as efficient in the actual psychic phase as the psykers from other armies. Space Marines simply don't get as many warp charge dice to work with as other armies unless they make use of lots of small detachments or allies because the army simply doesn't get as many Force Organization chart slots to work with to bring those warp charge dice in. This is an important consideration when using any psyker in 7th Edition and is generally the only real reason you may not want to use a Librarian, as otherwise he stands as one of the best overall generic HQ choices available to all Adeptus Astartes by far. Psychic powers are so insanely good and make a Librarian the ultimate "toolkit" character for being able to determine different disciplines and powers on a per-game basis, providing your army with the critical buffs or extra damage needed to handle any given situation in a match. Also, while the lack of warp charge dice compared to an army such as Tzeentch Daemons or Grey Knights may be a big problem, it is only evidenced when those kinds of armies are actually in play, and their potential for stopping the Librarian's powers is still heavily based on luck unless you use Witchfire powers and Maledictions. In the case of the Blood Angels Librarian specifically, he has access to a solid set of disciplines such as Biomancy and Divination as well as the very cool exclusive Sanguinary discipline, though the lack of Telepathy is a bit of a downer. Overall though, I think the Sanguinary discipline combines well enough with Imperial armies of almost all types well enough to justify taking a Blood Angels Librarian, even if there isn't admittedly anything else about the Blood Angels variation that really makes him a stand-out.

Captain Tycho - This is obviously one of the more famous and classic Space Marine characters that still exists in 7th Edition, and one that we have watched evolve in the background over several editions. Tycho is a Captain with the standard stats and special rules, and is priced almost identically to his generic character equivalent when they are armed such as he; a 2+ armour save is always nice on a named character, while the single re-roll to wound each phase per the Digital Weapons are handy. His unique combi-weapon Blood Song is quite a bit better than a standard one seeing as it is Master-crafted on both firing modes, while the standard boltgun itself has a nice little buff in the form of AP4. Tycho also has Hatred of Orks in addition to the Rampage special rule - courtesy of his Warlord Trait - though he sadly lacks a proper close combat weapon to really make full use of it. All in all, Tycho is "valuable" compared to a generic Captain equipped similarly but the key problem here is that no-one in their right mind would ever take a Captain purely for tanking wounds with a 2+ armour save and using a combi-melta, at least not competitively anyway. It's a waste of a character archetype that is supposed to be the stock close combat leader of the army, as the inability to provide buffs of any kind to friendly units - even Tycho's preset Warlord Trait stops him from helping the rest of the army in any meaningful way - or actually be that good of a tank given his average stats makes him a poor overall choice, unfortunately. He can have up to seven Strength 5 attacks on the charge which is actually quite decent, but I just don't think it's enough to ever justify taking him over most of the other HQ choices.

Tycho the Lost - Also known as "Death Company Tycho", this variation of the character gains an additional attack and a wealth of new special rules all for a rather minor points increase, the only real downside in comparison being the inability to join units other than Death Company. As you would expect of a Blood Angel that has succumbed to the Black Rage, he gains the Fearless, Feel No Pain, Rage and Relentless special rules and obviously cannot be taken in the same army as regular Tycho. With four base Attacks, Rampage and Rage in addition to the stock Furious Charge native to Blood Angels, Death Company Tycho is decently scary in combat with a potential nine Strength 5 attacks on the charge, though again he lacks a proper close combat weapon to capitalize on this. Gaining Feel No Pain makes him more ideal as a wound tank than regular Tycho, while being Relentless allows him to use his Blood Song and still charge in the same turn. I believe this is easily the superior of the two Tycho character variations simply because gaining so many handy special rules as well as a minor boost to his stats is well worth being forced to join what is undeniably one of the stronger units in the codex. Whether he is competitive or not really depends on how you use the Death Company squad he joins as ultimately his close combat capabilities are mediocre at best when he doesn't charge, with his only other use being as a cool wound tank that lacks a core component in the form of Eternal Warrior. Ultimately, I just don't see the worth in spending points on a character that, realistically, does nothing of value in a typical game.

Librarian Dreadnought - Having been provided with its own dedicated slot and separated from the standard Furioso is one of the nice touches of the Blood Angel codex, even if eating up a HQ slot in an army that features Sanguinary Priests who also use said slot isn't necessarily the best idea. As for the actual unit, the Librarian Dreadnought shares the same basic profile with a Furioso and pays appropriately for the addition of psychic powers, a Strength 10 AP2 force weapon and a handy Psychic Hood for helping friendly units to deny harmful maledictions and witchfires. It is a character and is capable of generating from the Blood Angels Warlord Traits chart which can make for some hilarious combos, but as anyone that plays against a standard competitive 7th Edition list will tell you, making a Dreadnought your Warlord may as well be the primary activation signal for the "It's a Trap" meme. It confusingly has two melee weapons even though one is Specialist and the other is not, meaning it has a rather pathetic two attacks base and three on the charge unless you roll up the Red Rampage Warlord Trait - It's a Trap! - or make use of the Quickening from the Sanguinary discipline. Given that Furioso-class Dreadnoughts and thus the Librarian Dreadnought by extension cannot take proper Dreadnought ranged weapons, being limited to meltaguns and other under-slung weaponry, this means it is never really going to be doing that much damage unless you spend the effort and points on buffing it up via psychic powers that will usually be better suited to other proper damage-dealers in the codex.

As far as the Librarian Dreadnought's psychic potential is concerned, it functions much the same as a regular Librarian; it has access to all of the same disciplines including the Blood Angels exclusive Sanguinary power tree, while it is natively Mastery Level 1 and can be upgraded to Mastery Level 2 at a small price. Obviously, a Dreadnought casting psychic powers is quite a bit different to a standard Librarian doing the same thing; Pyromancy powers like Fiery Form are highly amusing on a Librarian Dreadnought, as is giving itself an invulnerable save via other means. Of course, this doesn't address the key issue with the Librarian Dreadnought; front AV 13 is no deterrent to total destruction given that it has a mere three hull points, while it suffers too much from trying to perform two roles. It is an inefficient melee Dreadnought outside of the potential for Force attacks due to how few strikes it can actually make, it is too easily singled out and destroyed to be an effective support piece, while taking two or more Librarians will always net you a better Psychic phase. I like the concept of the Librarian Dreadnought but I feel it really needs some kind of in-built invulnerable save or the "option" to join Dreadnought squadrons (introduced by the latest Space Marine codex) to really be a competitive option.

Mephiston - Of all the unique Librarians available throughout the various Adeptus Astartes codices, the Lord of Death himself is undeniably the most powerful on a purely physical level. His profile reads like a hybrid of a Space Marine Chapter Master and an Ork Warboss, having base Strength 5 and Toughness 5 in addition to five base Attacks at Initiative 5. While this isn't quite the monstrous profile of the past, it nonetheless leads to one heck of a powerhouse in close quarters engagements thanks to the Furious Charge special rule; six Strength 6 AP3 attacks on the charge that will potentially be backed by Force is sure to give almost anything a scare, even 2+ armoured models that are vulnerable to Instant Death. Mephiston is made even more hilarious by granting him both the Red Thirst and the Quickening, allowing him to strike with potentially nine Strength 6 AP3 Force attacks at Initiative 9; yikes! This is made all the more brutal by Mephiston's two unique traits, Transfixing Gaze and the exclusive psychic power Sanguine Sword; the first acts as a pseudo-Leadership test that when "failed" in comparison to the opponents' Leadership provides Mephiston the ability to hit on a 2+ in combat, while the second sees Mephiston resolve any attacks he makes with his Force Sword at Strength 10. If you ever manage to catch a Wraithknight in close combat and Mephiston is standing by, unleash the Sanguine Sword as well as the Force "power" and watch the Wraithknight disappear in a matter of moments.

Heck, he even packs in a set of frag and krak grenades to ensure cover is no deterrent against the terrifying Lord of Death; just don't bother with the krak grenades on any turn in which either the Sanguine Sword power was used or Mephiston charged into combat as his wealth of Strength 6 attacks should prove adequate. Aside from being utterly brutal in close combat, Mephiston also packs on the value elsewhere by being a very durable Warlord option; Toughness 5, 3 Wounds and a 2+ armour save with access to invulnerable saves via psychic powers makes for easily the toughest psyker option in the codex once you consider that Mephiston can hide in a unit. Thankfully he doesn't come up short on raw psychic talent either, being the only Mastery Level 3 psyker in the Blood Angels codex with access to all of the same disciplines as a regular Librarian; if he generates all of his powers from one discipline, he will know a total of four distinct powers due to Psychic Focus and his native Sanguine Sword power, making him incredibly versatile. Considering that he also has a Psychic Hood in addition to the Adamantium Will special rule from his Soulwarden Warlord Trait, he is very good for anti-psyker duties as well. Heck, Mephiston even packs on a Plasma Pistol with his Ballistic Skill 5 to seal the total value package he represents; his Fleet rule might not be useful outside of when he charges into a unit solo, but otherwise there is nothing I can really say against a model that performs the roles of both Captain and Librarian, but superior in ever way imaginable.

The Sanguinor - One of the more unusual sources of space nipples in the Blood Angels codex (I'm so sorry), the Sanguinor is seemingly designed to be both a melee wrecking ball and a support character in one slot, even if I don't think he - or it, actually - is all that great in either role. He seems to be fairly survivable with three Toughness 4 Wounds, a 2+ armour save and 4+ invulnerable save backed by the Eternal Warrior special rule, but this is quickly exposed as a fault when you realize that the Sanguinor is incapable of joining units. A fusillade of pulse rifles from Fire Warriors augmented by Markerlights will easy plow through his few wounds, while the first sight of any kind of massed AP2 weapons will put the fear of death into an ironically seemingly immortal avatar of Sanguinius per its background description. With that said, the Sanguinor is thankfully a Jump Infantry model and thus should be mobile and small enough to easily hide out of sight of most things that could threaten it; just pray that it hasn't taken any wounds before it successfully charges into combat as otherwise it can be quite prone to being brought down by even basic Troops choices through weight of attacks. Speaking of attacks, the Sanguinor has an impressive five attacks on the charge that are resolved at Strength 6 due to Furious Charge; its' base Strength 5 helps to alleviate the limitations of the Encarmine Sword it wields, allowing the Sanguinor to cut through Space Marine equivalents very reliably.

It has a ridiculously high Weapon Skill 8 and suitably impressive Initiative 6, while its Avenging Angel special rule that allows it to re-roll failed to-hit and to-wound rolls in challenges makes it ideally suited to one-on-one combats against anything that doesn't hide behind a 2+ armour save or has AP2 attacks of its own. Make no mistake, the Sanguinor is a fairly powerful melee combatant, but 2+ armour saves are undeniably his bane as he doesn't have enough attacks or the ridiculously high Strength values Mephiston can use to alleviate this concern. Unlike Mephiston, the Sanguinor also can't benefit the army with highly useful psychic powers; its role as a support unit is instead limited to providing a 12" bubble of Fearless as well as a 6" aura of +1 Attack, though the latter is limited by affecting only models in range and not entire units. The first of those two buffs is provided via its preset Heroic Bearing Warlord Trait and is nice enough for Blood Angels but only really shines when other non-Astartes Allies are included alongside the Sanguinor, and only mobile forces at that given the Sanguinor pretty much has to hide in combat to survive. The second one is so darn limited by the fact that it doesn't have the "affects models in units" wording, instead only affecting those individual models that are within 6" of the non-independent character Sanguinor. Honestly, even if the Sanguinor had better buffs to dole out and a superior melee presence, I still think the core issue here is its' inability to join units coupled with its high points cost; it is just too easy to kill in a meta that is absolutely jam-packed with armour-ignoring weaponry.

Astorath - The unique Chaplain of the codex and the rough equivalent of a Dark Angel Interrogator Chaplain, Astorath is geared towards buffing Death Company Marines as would befit his fluff background while also being a fairly decent fighter himself. The combination of his Liturgies of Blood - allowing Death Company he joins to re-roll failed to-wound rolls on the turn they charge - with the Zealot special rule - providing Hatred and thus re-rolls on to-hit rolls for the first round of combat - leads to some utterly brutal close combats where a single unit of Death Company rips apart almost anything that gets in its path, especially if psychic powers and the Red Thirst are in play. As for Astorath himself, he wields a two-handed power axe that inflicts Instant Death on to-wound rolls of a 6; with four attacks on the charge and re-rolls to-hit via Zealot for the first round of combat (but not to-wound as his Liturgies of Blood specify they only affect Death Company Marines), any character that can't get past Astorath's 2+ armour save will likely find themselves cleaved in two, especially as he strikes at Strength 6 with his AP2 attacks on the turn he charges. However, while he does have a 4+ invulnerable save thanks to his Rosarius, the fact that Astorath's axe is Unwieldy means that opponents that similarly have AP2 melee attacks will quite easily cut down the Redeemer, though often not before he gets to make his return strikes. His lack of Eternal Warrior and stock Toughness 4 in combination with his Unwieldy melee weapon makes him very frail to power fists and the like, a crucial vulnerability which his otherwise handy preset Warlord Trait fails to address.

When reviewing Astorath, I must first compare him to the generally mediocre Chaplain; he pays roughly 75 points to gain the profile of a Captain, a 2+ armour save, a powerful but also highly risky melee weapon, a special buff for Death Company Marines, Adamantium Will and a Jump Pack. Looking at him in this light really emphasizes how valuable he is - much like Mephiston - even if it does mean you are best served using him specifically with Death Company Marines (not that this is a bad thing at all), while the comparison to a Captain is also apt. A Captain armed with Artificer Armour and a Jump Pack is roughly 40 points cheaper than Astorath, but doesn't provide either the Zealot or Liturgies of Blood rules to his attached unit, nor does he have a an overall pretty darned good melee weapon in the form of the Executioner's Axe. I feel that looking at Astorath in the context of a melee challenge monster is what can be the downfall of some reviews and even tactical employment for him as he's so much more than that; he might not be able to stand up to a tooled-up Chapter Master, but the fact that he is so cheap for what he does, is fast, hits quite hard and still gives the best Blood Angels' combat unit some ridiculous buffs is what sets him apart as one of the stronger special characters in the codex. Don't view him as the answer to Lysander equivalents, but instead as the example by which the Sanguinor wishes it could emulate; he's not designed to be the be-all end-all combat monster, and once I realized that I quickly came to appreciate just how useful he really is.

Sanguinary Priest - If ever you've wanted an Apothecary as an Independent Character with the appropriate stat buffs to separate him from his lesser brethren, the Sanguinary Priest is the perfect HQ choice for you. For shaving a third of the base price off of a Captain or Chaplain, you get a model with a stat-line identical to that of a Librarian that exchanges psychic powers for a Blood Chalice and Narthecium; the first of these gives the Sanguinary Priests' unit a +1 Weapon Skill bonus, while the second further provides the Priest and his unit with the Feel No Pain (5+) special rule. If you haven't been paying attention throughout 7th Edition and somehow missed how seemingly impossible the Necron Decurion armies are to stop, the benefit of adding Feel No Pain to any unit of your choice is very significant; it is essentially an extra saving throw that can even be made against most armour-ignoring attacks, a fantastic defensive measure for an army that otherwise relies on its 3+ saves. The Weapon Skill buff is also very nice and helps even basic Tactical Marines to be more efficient in a melee, but its primary use is obviously in conjunction with elite assault units such as Death Company Marines and Sanguinary Guard; one of the themes of the Blood Angel codex is massed melee-oriented buffs for combat units, and the Blood Chalice is a key ingredient to that tactic. The provision of those two abilities would be enough to justify the Sanguinary Priests' super low cost regardless of how his profile looked, but with two wounds on a standard Space Marine stat-line - barring Weapon Skill 5 and Leadership 10 - it is so darned easy to recommend this particular generic character to all Blood Angels players as he isn't too easy to pick off out of a unit, and nor is he prohibitively expensive given what he provides. This really is a fantastic choice that can serve even just as a cheap Warlord option that isn't reliant on making a close combat to justify his price tag (poor Captain!).

Brother Corbulo - Much like Astorath is to a Chaplain what Mephiston is to a Librarian, Brother Corbulo is the unique variation of a Sanguinary Priest and is just as expensive alone as a pairing of his generic, lesser brethren. He seems like a fairly tame character at first glance with a stat-line reminiscent of a Captain, save for base Weapon Skill 5 as opposed to Weapon Skill 6, though like with Astorath the devil truly is in the details and serve to make Corbulo just as good - if not better - a HQ choice as a Sanguinary Priest. First off, I just want to highlight how deceptive his stats are; thanks to his unique Blood Chalice aptly named the Red Grail, he is actually Weapon Skill 6 and Initiative 7 due to also having the Speed of the Primarch Warlord Trait, meaning he strikes simultaneously with such proficient fighters as the Eldar Phoenix Lords. He also has four attacks base due to having two close combat weapons, while he even bears a unique chainsword titled the Heaven's Teeth; this provides Corbulo with +1 Strength and Rending strikes, meaning he has a total of five attacks on the charge at Strength 6 with Rending due to also having Furious Charge. That these attacks are Rending and are resolved at such a ridiculously high Initiative make Corbulo a surprisingly meaty melee combatant, even if his super low points cost would suggest he should be a weaker fighter than someone like Tycho.

In fact, I think reviewing Corbulo only serves to highlight just how poor the venerable Captain come Death Company Marine really is; Corbulo fights better overall thanks to his Rending attacks while also providing some pretty powerful bonuses to nearby friendly units. The +1 Weapon Skill and +1 Initiative bonuses of the Red Grail don't merely affect Corbulo himself, but indeed every friendly unit within 6" of him; unlike the Sanguinor, this actually does spread to units as long as one or more models are in range, rather than only affecting those specific models in the radius. As this is cumulative with the Red Thirst, Corbulo can be used strategically in a melee-focused Blood Angel army to act as the catalyst for an entire force of Weapon Skill 5, Strength 5 and Initiative 6 Space Marines; that's certainly a scary thought for anyone! That he also provides Feel No Pain (5+) to his unit and even comes with a one-use-only re-roll to almost any single dice roll you can think of - even including Reserves rolls or attempts to Seize the Initiatve - makes Corbulo the ultimate value addition to a melee-focused Blood Angels army, and the fact that he is quite a bit tougher than a standard Sanguinary Priest generally makes him a good Warlord option as well.

Techmarine - I've never really been the biggest fan of Techmarines outside of heavily mechanized lists - obviously - and I don't think moving them into a proper HQ slot in a codex that is jam-packed full of great choices for that slot is a good idea, though unlike the Librarian Dreadnought a Techmarine is a bit more generally useful for a Blood Angels army. You take a Techmarine purely for the Blessing of the Omnissiah and Bolster Defences special rules, not because he can shoot small weapons at a time or form a quaint heavy-weapons squad with Servictors; if you aren't using your Techmarine to keep your vehicles working and making full use of that improved cover save, you more than likely aren't getting your points worth out of him. He's a poor Warlord choice outside of the fact that he is really cheap and easily fulfills a mandatory HQ slot, as a 2+ armour save doesn't cover up the fact that he has only a single wound; he's also not someone you would want to throw into a combat as his regular strikes and bonus power fist attack are unlikely to worry anything short of vehicles without also putting the Techmarine himself in high danger. You use these as a support HQ choice in a mechanized list and decide whether he needs to be static or mobile to keep up with whatever vehicles you want him to assist; the former can make full use of Servitors and hide, the latter can zoom around on a bike and try to stay out of trouble. There's really not much to say about Techmarines, sadly, and unless you really do want to embrace a tank army I would definitely skip them in favour of superior options such as Librarians or Sanguinary Priests.

Chaplain - As I highlighted in my Astorath review - and in all of my previous Adeptus Astartes reviews - I believe Chaplains to be mediocre HQ choices that fail to adequately fulfill either of their two chosen roles in an army. The reason for this is that a Chaplain tries to act as the middle-ground between a Librarian and a Captain, having some of the support-oriented abilities of the former and a fraction of the combat capabilities possessed by the latter. Giving Zealot to a Space Marine unit really isn't as helpful as it would be to a unit drawn from the Astra Militarum codex given that Space Marines all innately have the mechanically similar And They Shall Know No Fear special rule, while the Hatred buff isn't at all major even for dedicated assault units. I applaud the usage of a power maul but the Chaplain simply lacks the stats to back up its melee weapon, simultaneously being too easy to kill and not having good reliable damage output. There's just very little reason to ever use a Chaplain outside of making the most of a melee units' destructive capabilities, but Astorath and any kind of psyker will perform that role far better than a Chaplain while also generally being superior fighters, especially in the case of Mephiston. Chaplains are by no means a bad unit but they are thoroughly underwhelming and that is absolutely the worst trait to have in a codex where Astorath, Mephiston, Corbulo and Sanguinary Priests are present.

I quite like the Blood Angels HQ choices for the most part, but do you? Leave a comment below and share your opinion!


  1. Thanks for your reviews, they are uniformly excellent!
    I was just wondering about your comment about Mephiston taking 5 psychic powers. Does the Sanguine Sword not replace one of the three he can choose? Or were you including Force in the 5?

    1. I didn't see the part that he knows Sanguine Sword and two other powers, my bad! It should be 4 powers including psychic focus, thanks for pointing that out!

  2. Awesome breakdown. I've never considered the Captain before. While honestly, I'm not going to be rushing to take him over my Librarian and SangPri combo, I may paint one up just to have in case the mood grabs me in a future game.

    1. Thank you! The Valour's Edge is the best reason to use a Blood Angels Captain I feel, it's such a well priced AP2 melee weapon.

  3. I know with the last codex you couldn't attach The Sanguinor to another unit, but I can't find any mention of it in this one. I'm a pretty new player so maybe there's something obvious I'm missing. Basically I wanted to add him to a squad of 12 Death Company along with a Sangunary priest and Lemartes totalling 104 attacks on the charge hitting on 3s and rerolling misses. Charging turn 1 if I get the warlord trait that gives infiltrate. (Veritas Vitae to increase chances)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Sudden epitome, I should put the Priest in an Assault squad and as long as he is within 6" of the DC Marines they'll still get the +1 WS while simultaneously giving the Assault Squad Feel no Pain. Regardless, the question of why you say The Sanguinor cannot join a unit is still the deciding factor.