24 Jun 2015

Blood Angels Codex Summary Part III

Greetings all and gird yourselves for the war that is reading snarky tactics posts based on a tabletop war-game! The Blood Angels might be left shocked and disparate after the recent Adeptus Astartes codex releases, but in my opinion they are still at the very least a decent 7th Edition book that competes well with the pre-Necrons style of codices.


Tactical Squad - This is the same old unit Space Marine players just love to hate despite the fact that it is still made competitive by virtue of basically ignoring the entire Leadership-based aspect of the game while having Objective Secured in Combined Arms detachments, and truly nothing has really changed between editions for this famous staple. They still have all the tools necessary to fulfill the role of generalists in a codex comprised specifically of utilitarians, and for the Blood Angels variations specifically they now innately have the Furious Charge special rule to sort of incentivize charging into combats they invariably won't win anyway. Don't take this the wrong way, but Furious Charge doesn't automatically turn these into a proper melee unit; they still want to avoid close combat like the plague, short of charging into Tau Fire Warrior equivalents or strapping krak grenades to enemy vehicles where the Furious Charge buff is admittedly quite nice. Generally though as a "Chapter Tactic" Furious Charge really isn't great (it's decent at the very least) for Tactical Marines overall and I only mention it because it just happens to be one of two traits that Blood Angels Tacticals possess; the second of these is something that thankfully keeps them relevant even in light of the new Space Marine codex.

For some reason, despite the new Tactical Squad boxes - both for regular Space Marines and Blood Angels - each having Heavy Flamers in them, the space vampires are the only ones that can actually use them on the Tactical Squads themselves in a game. This is a pretty hefty advantage as it provides the unit with a Heavy Weapon it can fire on the move, while also allowing for mobile units with focused damage output; a Tactical Squad that splits into Combat Squads in a Drop Pod while armed with a Combi-Flamer, Flamer and Heavy Flamer is a decent investment and frees up your other units to bring melta weaponry or other anti-tank shooting. If the tone of this review seems a bit 'down', don't be worried; while I do acknowledge the popular opinion that Tactical Marines are a poor choice competitively, I maintain the belief that they are merely mediocre at worst, lacking the proper tools to do anything particularly well save for not shifting from objectives and destroying vehicles in combat. The more mobile focus of Maelstrom of War missions does favour Space Marines and their incredibly cheap transports more than 6th Edition Eternal War missions did, and having access to Heavy Flamers is a boon that really should not be under-stated, but the reality is that these will never be true stand-outs other than the fact that they are power-armoured Objective Secured models.

Scout Squad - A cheaper alternative to Tactical Squads that actually does a better job of holding objectives given that they can combine Camo Cloaks with going to ground and aren't "wasted" if you don't shoot them, but is generally inferior in any other role. Given that Blood Angels' Troops choices are never going to carry the game for you outside of Objective Secured having a difference in certain matches, many often gravitate towards Scouts simply because they are the cheapest and best scoring option you have in the slot, while their added deployment options are perfect for scoring early victory points in Maelstrom of War missions. Given that these are not the eyebrow-raising Ballistic Skill 4 and Weapon Skill 4 Scouts of the new Space Marine codex, I don't recommend kitting them out for anything but objective camping; they are never going to deal any truly meaningful damage outside of getting a lucky vehicle damage chart roll with a missile launcher against an Open-Topped vehicle, and even that is so darned unlikely and situational as to be something you should never count on. Keep these cheap and keep them static, unless you play a Maelstrom mission where being able to both Infiltrate and Scout becomes rather amusing provided you have some luck with your Tactical Objectives. With Furious Charge, the stock Space Marine stat-line and their frag and krak grenades, Scouts are also easily capable of taking on other Troops choices and even vehicles in close combat and winning; a tactic made all the more viable in the mobile nature of 7th Edition gaming.


Command Squad - Much like how most of the Blood Angels units are simply ripped out of the 6th Edition Codex: Space Marines with few or no adjustments and exchanging Chapter Tactics for Furious Charge, the Command Squad is generally what you would expect from any Adeptus Astartes codex. The Apothecary is there albeit under a different name, while the strengths of the unit remain their high value compared to other Space Marines and the option to load them up with massed special weapons, though there are a few unique considerations with the Blood Angel variation that make it worth discussing their value relative to generic Command Squads. For one, Bikes are unavailable as a squad upgrade option and are instead replaced by Jump Packs; as anyone else would tell you, the buffs provided by Bikes relative to the Jump unit sub-type are significant enough to warrant the price disparity in almost every case, while this also stops the Command Squad from making full use of the massed Graviton Gun build from the Space Marine codex. Jump Packs are handy enough for what is a decent close combat alternative to Assault Squads, but functionally they are quite similar to the generally mediocre Vanguard Veterans in that role and thus probably not really worth your time in that sense unless you can combo them with Dante or a character equipped with the Angels' Wing. They are definitely a better melee unit than their otherwise identical equivalents in other codices would be because of native Furious Charge and potential access to the Red Thirst among other buffs, but I'm not really sold on using Command Squads in that role; you may as well just use Sanguinary Guard or, preferably, Death Company Marines at that point. Of course, one of the nice buffs for Command Squads that has been emulated in the other recent Adeptus Astartes codex is that the unit itself is now a standard Elites choice that doesn't require you to field a certain HQ choice to unlock their usage; this is great for players that want to use Command Squads at their leisure and not have to worry about arbitrary restrictions.

Death Company Squad - This has been a competitive staple for Blood Angels for several editions running now due to their incredible value points per model cost compared to regular Tactical Marines, even though one sadly can no longer take them to fill up the mandatory Troops slots. For slightly more than the cost of a meltabomb, a Death Company Marine gains a plethora of special rules and other benefits compared to a Tactical Marine; the Fearless special rule to ensure they stay on an objective and don't run from combat, the Feel No Pain (5+) special rule for greatly improved overall durability, the Rage special rule in conjunction with an additional base attack and optional free dual melee weapons for incredibly points efficient melee damage output, the Relentless special rule to allow them to rapid-fire their stock boltguns and still charge into combat, and finally the option to take cheap Jump Packs and turn them into a roving band of fast-moving slaughterers.

While you can turn them into the Blood Angels equivalent of a melee death-star and stack loads of different buffs on them to make them unparalleled killers of everything that bleeds, the best way to make full use of Death Company is to keep them cheap and take advantage of the fact that they can shoot their guns before charging into combat. They are tough for their points with the Fearless special rule tacked on and thus make good objective holding and taking units due also to their high quality melee capabilities, while being Relentless with boltguns and the fact that they natively have four Strength 5 attacks per model on the charge allows them to tear almost anything to pieces with relative ease. Additionally, being able to throw in inferno pistols and power weapons through the unit at your discretion gives you the option to make them as powerful albeit costly as you want; you can run an entire squad wielding thunder hammers for laughs, but such a unit would cost far more than it would be worth. The idea is that you can keep the unit versatile and ready to deal with more than just other non-vehicle units at a moments notice while still keeping their costs down; ultimately, spending the extra points on the Death Company Marines themselves will almost always be worthwhile next to purchasing Tactical Marines with all their mandatory special equipment.

Lemartes - One of the few special characters in 7th Edition that hasn't been moved to the HQ slot, Lemartes is essentially a standard Chaplain with a higher base Initiative of six and several additional special rules, all of which serve to make him far more valuable than his generic counterpart. When you consider that a Chaplain with a Jump Pack is a mere 25 points cheaper than Lemartes, the bevy of special rules he gains are made all the more incredible; like any other Blood Angel that has succumbed to the Black Rage, he has the Feel No Pain, Rage and Relentless special rules while obviously gaining Fearless from his archetypal Zealot rule. This makes him quite a bit harder to kill than a standard Chaplain even if his saving throws are identical, while his melee capabilities are increased exponentially; he has a whopping five Strength 7 AP4 attacks on the charge that are Concussive with a single re-roll to hit via Master-Crafting on his Blood Crozius (for the turns when Hatred doesn't apply). Amusingly, when Lemartes loses his first of two wounds, he gains a point in both Strength and Attacks, leading to him having six Strength 8 AP4 attacks on the charge; prepare for death, enemies of the Emperor! That he is also Initiative 6 means he is actually a fairly scary character to issue and accept challenges with, while he will cut through vehicles and indeed most units with relative ease; like other Death Company characters barring Astorath, he is forced to join Death Company Marines but this really isn't a downside at all given how good those units are. Lemartes packs on the value over a regular Chaplain and uses up an Elite slot, something that may be an advantage depending on your list composition given how insanely valuable choices such as Sanguinary Priests and Mephiston are, and ultimately has a price-tag that is more than appropriate based on what he is capable of. Like most of the special characters in the Blood Angels codex, Lemartes is well worth trying out and using in all levels of gameplay.

Sanguinary Guard - The Honour Guard equivalent of the Blood Angels and sworn protectors of the Chapter Master Dante, Sanguinary Guard are best explained as being Honour Guard with slightly more specialized wargear in addition to Jump Packs. The Sanguinary Guard have the advantage of Fearless and far greater mobility without requiring a transport, though in exchange they trade their power weapons for Glaives Encarmine that are two-handed and thus prevent them from benefiting from an extra attack for wielding two close combat weapons. However, the Glaives are Master-Crafted and thus make the Sanguinary Guard a more reliable close combat unit, while their Angelus Boltguns are superior to the Honour Guards' boltguns if taken in the context of firing and charging without hindrance as well as just being AP4. Having Furious Charge is arguably a stronger "Chapter Tactic" buff for close combat than any that can be found in the Space Marine codex - obviously short of Hit and Run from White Scars - while the optional weapons are handy enough to consider purchasing. Sanguinary Guard also don't have to pay a tax for a sergeant-type character or indeed even have the option of purchasing one, which combined with the fact that they can be combined with awesome synergistic characters like Dante and fantastic psychic and regular buffs from other characters leads me to declare this a very, very good melee unit for the points.

Dreadnought - Walkers of all kinds have been given the blessing of the Omnissiah himself with 7th Edition via the indirect buffs they received as a result of the targeted nerfs to monstrous creatures, making them actually able to stand against their fleshy rivals and not be made instantly redundant. Dreadnoughts remain the walker archetype of the game system and tend to be solid or mediocre at best, being inefficient sources of firepower and close combat damage output while also being incredibly fragile in the context of 7th Edition. The Blood Angels Dreadnought is about what you would expect of a Loyalist "ancient"; its' cheap short-ranged underslung weapons in combination with its single or paired power fists makes it ideally suited to a Drop Pod assault in a suicidal tank-hunting and tarpit role. That it has Furious Charge will only ever have an effect on the game if it is built as a pure ranged platform, but in those situations charging into combat usually won't be advisable outside of trying to smack an enemy transport around or to tie up a unit that can struggle to deal with an AV12 Walker. There's really nothing more to say about these - I've reviewed them so many times already in a 7th Edition context - other than the recommendation that you Drop Pod it in to the enemy backfield either with a multi melta or two power fists joined up with a pair of heavy flamers and see how much havoc you can cause.

Death Company Dreadnought - Much like the comparison between Death Company Marines and regular Tactical Marines, a Death Company Dreadnought pays a respectable amount of points for a handful of impressive buffs that serve to make it an overall more competitive option compared to the standard Dreadnought. With an extra base attack, two stock power fists and the Rage special rule, a Death Company Dreadnought dishes out up to six Strength 10 AP2 attacks on the charge while also having the option to take a free magna-grapple to ensure it makes whatever charges it declares. It has two under-slung weapons in the form of a meltagun and a storm bolter, and while you can take two heavy flamers on the Death Company Dreadnought for a super low price, it oddly can't make use of paired meltaguns despite how awesome both that and the flame wargear choices would be when leaping out of a Drop Pod. Additionally, the Death Company Dreadnought has a cool unique special rule designed to help it get into combat without any hindrances, allowing it to permanently ignore Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned damage results from the vehicle damage chart. While this handy buff doesn't make it any more survivable than a standard Dreadnought, the fact that your opponent has to Immobilize or destroy it to stop it from smashing into their lines makes it an altogether far scarier prospect than a regular Dreadnought, especially given its vastly superior melee capabilities. If you are having a tough time deciding between this and the Furioso Dreadnought, the key difference is that the Death Company Dreadnought has more attacks and is immune to basically half of the vehicle damage chart, while the Furioso is more survivable and has the option to employ one of the very cool frag cannons.

Furioso Dreadnought - As mentioned prior, this is the second of the melee-oriented Dreadnoughts in the codex and, as with the others, it is generally best suited to Deep Striking behind enemy battle lines inside of a Drop Pod to reduce the limitations of its' short-ranged weaponry. It comes with the same basic equipment as a Death Company Dreadnought and can indeed purchase all of the same options, save that it can additionally make use of the cool but ultimately situational frag cannon template weapon. The Furioso has two base attacks, a pair of close combat weapons and the usual charge bonus for a total of four Strength 10 AP2 attacks on the charge, two less than the Death Company Dreadnought; the trade-off here is that the Furioso has Weapon Skill 5, meaning it will average a similar number of hits against opponents that are Weapon Skill 4 and lower (though the "DCC" will average more hits against Weapon Skill 3 and lower enemies). While I consider that area to be mostly a wash as to which is better, the key advantage a Furioso Dreadnought has over a Death Company Dreadnought comes from its improved front AV13, making it entirely immune to krak grenades, Strength 6 shooting and just generally far more resistant to most anti-tank weapons. While this only applies to its front armour and doesn't change the fact that any dedicated anti-tank unit should put it down for the count in one or two rounds of shooting, it nonetheless is a key advantage especially if you use it in a Drop Pod and your opponent fails to deal with it; opposing Space Marine players will be incapable of breaching its armour with their otherwise "fail-safe approved" krak grenades. All in all, it is a decent option much like the Death Company Dreadnought, but I must restrain from saying it is a really good or great option simply because Dreadnoughts all tend to be somewhat middling for their points compared to other options in their respective codices and force organization slots.

Terminator Squad - Of the two different types of Terminator squads in the various Adeptus Astartes codices, the irony is that despite existing in an edition that historically favours ranged squads above melee units, the shooting squad is patently inferior to the close combat unit in the case of Terminators. The venerated and best-equipped elite of the Chapter have been on the decline competitively for several editions running with the ever increasing amount of AP2 ranged weaponry and the greater focus on capturing objectives rather than wasting time trying to kill everything. They simply pay too much for their 2+ armour and 5+ invulnerable saves despite the fact that the former has been growing ever more easily ignorable and the latter is far too easily forced by extension; Terminators are not the living tanks they were in ages past, and as far as Blood Angels are concerned they haven't received a price reduction to compensate. With that said, the reason ranged Terminators really aren't that useful is because they are worse in the shooting phase in terms of points spent versus overall damage output compared to Tactical Marines, the basic scoring generalist unit of the codex that isn't at all designed for raw death-dealing.

If your Elite ranged unit is incapable of providing more to the Shooting Phase than a basic Tactical Squad that costs less than half the points on a per model basis, something is seriously wrong. Storm Bolters don't carry the great advantages over regular boltguns they used to in 5th Edition due to the changes to Rapid Fire weapons, while the heavy weapons available to Terminators aren't that much more impressive than those carried by the Tactical Marines. Realistically, they are inefficient at best as a ranged unit and are an above average melee squad thanks to their unit-wide power fists (barring the power sword on the Sergeant), though in that area they are again outdone by units such as Sanguinary Guard and Death Company Marines in terms of efficiency and even durability per point spent. Having Furious Charge is a nice buff for their close combat prowess, but as it should be patently obvious by now, if I spend more time talking about the melee capabilities of a unit designed for ranged combat over its sibling dedicated assault unit, it should be fair warning it isn't at all effective in the current rules. They aren't terrible by any means but they are easily the worst Terminators available to Adeptus Astartes, and given that Terminators overall are in a poor place right now, that may as well signal the kiss of death. If you follow the theory that they are more of a generalist unit - which is admittedly what they truly are - then it still doesn't change the fact that they are inefficient compared to blasted Tactical Marines, and are outshone in every way by proper specialist units such as Sternguard Veterans and Assault Terminators.

Terminator Assault Squad - Being Terminators that exchange their guns and power fists for paired lightning claws might seem like an even worse prospect at first glance, but once you realize that Terminators are at their most survivable in combat due to the overwhelming reduction of AP2 melee weaponry since 5th Edition, you quickly understand why everyone prefers Assault Terminators over regular Terminators. These aren't at all confused about their role in an army list and do their chosen job very well, especially when armed with thunder hammers and storm shields to make for what has been the quintessential dedicated close combat unit for more than a decade now. They are still expensive given what they do and they aren't terribly efficient for their points as far as raw damage output is concerned against non-vehicle, non-monstrous opponents, but it is their combination of insane survivability and brutally hard-hitting melee strikes that makes them the standard by which all other melee specialists are measured against. The paired lightning claw variants may as well not exist given how laughably superior the thunder hammers and storm shields are, turning each Assault Terminator into a miniature monstrous creature packing three Strength 9 AP2 concussive attacks each on the charge, hiding behind their 2+ armour and 3+ invulnerable saves to to stymie the opponents' initial strikes. That Blood Angels Assault Terminators have Furious Charge is so darned awesome in conjunction with the thunder hammers as massed Strength 9 attacks will plow through anything from Land Raiders to Wraithknights with ease. Combine this with all of the psychic blessings and buffs that a cheap Sanguinary Priest can provide them and it is easy to see why Assault Terminators remain a staple of competitive Blood Angels army lists.

Vanguard Veterans - Ever since the rework of Heroic Intervention and barring this thematically impressive unit from charging out of Deep Strike reserve, I've not been a major fan of Vanguard Veterans in any of the 6th Edition and 7th Edition codices. They just aren't that efficient a close combat unit as you would want out of an Elites slot, especially compared to Honour Guard - or Sanguinary Guard for Blood Angels - and even the basic Assault Marines. For the Sons of Sanguinius specifically, Vanguard Veterans do have a very nice special rule in the form of Furious Charge, but admittedly this is a benefit shared by all other dedicated assault units in the codex that are already more effective overall for their points. Realistically, the best use of Vanguard Veterans is as ideal combo-charge squads that can attempt to tie up two or more units at once with no penalties due to not suffering from disordered charge limitations, or as a semi-decent budget bodyguard unit for a character with unit-wide Storm Shields. The fact that they remain as vulnerable to small arms fire as standard Tactical Marines despite costing much more and still pay through the nose for any kind of invulnerable save and even increased mobility leads me to the conclusion that Vanguard Veterans simply cannot compete at a high level in the current meta, especially when you consider how utterly phenomenal Death Company Marines are by comparison.

Sternguard Veterans - The ranged brethren of the Vanguard Veterans, Sternguard have long been a competitive choice for all Adeptus Astartes codices where they are present; not only do they avoid the pitfalls of being an unoptimized close combat unit with multiple key failings, they bring a level of versatility and devastation no other unit can replicate exactly. What defines Sternguard Veterans is their Special Issue Ammunition and squad-wide access to combi-weapons, ensuring they are a brutal ranged unit no matter the foe; Hellfire rounds will quickly make short work of most monstrous creatures, while Vengeance rounds allow them to serve as a decent counter to opposing heavy infantry. Combine that innate versatility with combi-meltas and it isn't difficult at all to see why Sternguard Veterans are commonly labeled the "toolbox" unit of the various Space Marine codices, especially if you go the obvious route and use them as a highly damaging "suicide" squad in a Drop Pod Assault. They are also decent enough in an assault to beat down most considerably less expensive units with their three Strength 5 attacks per model on the charge, though obviously you want these for their high value shooting and the fearsome reputation they possess; most players know what Sternguard are capable of and will do their best to minimize the impact such units can have, at the cost of potentially allowing your other squads to gain new opportunities to excel with the reduced pressure. No matter how you use them, it is very hard to go wrong with Sternguard Veterans in any kind of Blood Angel list.

Thank you all for reading the third article in my Blood Angels Codex Summary mini-review series! If you have any feedback or other opinions to share, please leave them in the comments section below.


  1. Just an FYI, the generic Tactical Marines box does not include the Heavy Flamer, just special weapons and Missile Launcher. It saddens me because I'm Salamanders :(

  2. dreadnought now have 4 attacks base. scouts have bs and ws 4. blood angels get crapped on again.