28 Jun 2015

Blood Angels Codex Summary Part IV

More Blood Angels, you say? Indulge me!

Fast Attack

Rhino - Though Space Marine players often begrudge the fact that they must use the weakly-armored Rhino to ferry their ten-man squads across the board, the fact that this transport stands alongside the Wave Serpent as the example by which other transports are compared against is not without just cause. The Rhino is hilariously cheap and has no role identity issues unlike certain other transports; it is purely there to carry your infantry from one destination to another as necessary, and as such it doesn't waste points on unnecessary weaponry aside from a token storm bolter. It is also quite survivable given its actual points cost when you compare it to the admittedly more mobile and damaging but hilariously fragile Dark Eldar transports, while having the ability to Repair itself as well as having in-built searchlights and smoke launchers gives it some nice added value and defensive utility. The Repair special rule is often overlooked but I find many are frequently surprised at how it can mean the difference between victory and defeat simply because opponents ignore previously-immobilized Rhinos which are still capable of capturing objectives, a fact made all the more amusing by how seemingly improbable its Repair roll is. I still think Drop Pods are the best transports available to the Adeptus Astartes but Rhinos are still quite good and give players a cheap ferry and extra layer of protection for their squads. For Blood Angels specifically, players are forced to pay a 10 point tax to gain the Fast special rule on their Rhinos, a trade-off that I feel almost any Blood Angels player would welcome with open arms - especially considering they used to be slightly more expensive in the previous codex. Remember, a Rhino has no qualms about sacrificing its minimal shooting for mobility, and being able to move an extra 6" with Flat Out is easily worth the 10 points when you remember that Space Marines want to get into position in as few turns as possible to not be wasting their high-cost ranged units and general ability to capture objectives. All in all, it's just a better overall Rhino and perhaps the only downside here is not having the option to take a stock one to save points.

Razorback - Enter the other vehicle in the codex to be natively equipped with the Overcharged Engines upgrade and thus provide it with the Fast type, I feel like perhaps even more so than with the Rhino do Blood Angels players absolutely love having this upgrade on their mobile heavy weapon platform. Being able to move 12" and still shoot the primary weapon system at full Ballistic Skill is a great advantage for a Razorback and helps to address the identity crisis it suffers in other Adeptus Astartes codices, though unfortunately it does further exacerbate the problem of price versus durability for such a fragile vehicle. It is for these general reasons that I don't really like Razorbacks as I feel like it can be equated to an inefficient Space Marine equivalent of the Wave Serpent that does none of the roles that unique hybrid fulfills quite as well, but having the Fast type added in solves two of the core issues I have with the unit. One must still remember that Razorbacks are incredibly easy to destroy and become rather expensive when you factor in the stock Overcharged Engines upgrade and any potential weapon replacement, but it is nonetheless a better unit here than it is in most other Space Marine codices - at least where the "Battle Company" dual-formation isn't present, anyway.

Drop Pod - Often regarded as the best single transport in Warhammer 40,000 and absolutely one of the most contentious sources of jealousy from xenos players directed at Adeptus Astartes codices, the Drop Pod provides everything a medium to short ranged army like Space Marines could ever want. It always arrives via Deep Strike and delivers its unit to wherever they need to be without having to worry about waiting a few turns to move up - unless you roll poorly for Reserve rolls - and it has a ten-strong model capacity to boot. It is also a fairly durable vehicle with great height that works perfectly for blocking enemy line of sight to any unit disembarking from it, perfect for attempting to arrive on an objective and hold it until the end of the game with native scoring capabilities and the potential to have Objective Secured if it is taken as a Dedicated Transport for a Troops choice in a Combined Arms detachment. Of course, the two best aspects of the Drop Pod are its in-built scatter reduction and actual inability to ever suffer a Deep Strike mishap coupled with the fact that it can potentially arrive on turn one if you elect to make a Drop Pod assault, combining perfectly well with the harder-hitting ranged units in Adeptus Astartes codices to make for some absolutely brutal alpha strikes. Whether it carries a full ten-man unit, a single Dreadnought or anything in between, a Drop Pod is a fantastic investment of so few points for any kind of army, especially when you consider it got a huge buff in 7th Edition with the ability to capture objectives despite being immobile; it reigns supreme as one of the strongest units of its type in the game, and this is no different for the Blood Angels incarnation.

Land Speeder Squadron - Much like how Rhinos are the primary archetype for ground transports, Land Speeders are themselves the progenitor - or at least the "face" - of a unit trope by being incredibly mobile suicidal weapon platforms. They are Fast Skimmers with the lowest survivability of any vehicle in the game, being AV 10 on all armor facings and possessing a measly two hull points each; however, they are also insanely fast by nature of being able to move 12" a turn and fire both of their heavy weapons at full Ballistic Skill. That they can move flat out up to 24" gives them unprecedented redeployment capabilities in a Space Marine army, while having the option to Deep Strike means they can be used as a potent and cheap alpha-strike outlet; be wary that any kind of Interceptor shooting will put them down for the count before they can fire if you take this option. Generally speaking, these excel at being cheap disruption units that force opponents to deal with them while the rest of your force advances; they exist to be an irritation for enemies and potentially destroy valuable targets with their dual heavy weapons, they will not carry a game on their own. While I believe Venoms and even Vypers outshine Land Speeders in 7th Edition with the first being a transport with a ridiculous amount of Poisoned shots and the latter having generally superior synergy with the rest of its codex and also possessing stronger overall firepower, Land Speeders are still undeniably useful for many Space Marine armies - especially for Blood Angels that are naturally designed to be aggressive. The trick is to not overspend on these hilariously fragile units.

Assault Squad - Perhaps the most disheartening yet oddly amusing "competitive truth" for the Blood Angels Assault Squad is that by far its' best use is taking advantage of the fact that they can uniquely carry meltaguns unlike other Adeptus Astartes Assault Squads. To do this, all you need to do is remove their Jump Packs, forget that they are actually supposed to be a melee-oriented unit and place them in a Drop Pod while also granting a combi-melta to the Sergeant. That is effectively three meltaguns popping out of a Drop Pod from a five-man bare-bones Assault Squad - or a ten-man one if that is your preference - for less than 150 points, a feat that is now fully exclusive to Blood Angels. That is undeniable alpha strike value that cannot be emulated by any other type of Assault Squad throughout the various Adeptus Astartes codices, though obviously if you go the dual flamer and one combi-flamer route then this is something other armies are capable of. As far as their primary usage in terms of actually assaulting things is concerned, Assault Squads ultimately classify as "nothing special"; they don't have the actual damage output to worry proper close combat oriented units, while anything that even remotely classes as durable will hold them up for a long while. Where they excel is in making full use of their relatively low cost compared to other elite assault units, as well as their innate mobility, to "bully" units that either wouldn't normally be able to stay strong in a close combat - think of Devastator equivalents as good targets - or that aren't particularly suited to dealing with Space Marines specifically. Assault Squads shouldn't be used to kill things as they are quite poor at that; instead, use them to tie up dangerous enemy ranged units and possibly even to stall deadly melee characters or squads for a turn or two. Skip any melee upgrades outside of possible meltabombs on the Sergeant and use them to hunt vehicles or weaker non-vehicle squads in close combat, using them in smaller numbers to act as annoying miniature road-blocks and disruption units.

Bike Squad - Space Marine Bikers of all kinds have been absolutely superb since the dawn of 6th Edition due not only to massive price reductions but also because of the various bonus rules the Bike unit type gained effectively for free. I am pleased to see that Blood Angels Bikers have finally been updated and brought in line with the rest, standing on their own in the Fast Attack slot as the perfect blend of mobility, durability and damage output in both the shooting and assault phases (the latter specifically where vehicles are concerned) at an absolute steal of a price point. Also, while Furious Charge might not be the best buff for a unit that traditionally only charges into either non-walker vehicles or as an attempt to tie up enemy squads, it is still better than a lot of the Chapter Tactics are for Bikers from the Space Marine codex; it makes them decently scary on the charge, surprisingly. They may not compete at all with White Scar Bikers or Ravenwing but Blood Angels Bikers are still a very good unit - and really all types of Bikers are for that matter - that I highly recommend you use, especially seeing as Blood Angels also have access to Graviton Guns just like regular Space Marines.

Attack Bike Squad - Coming in at just over double the cost of a regular Biker with effectively twice the survivability and firepower, an Attack Bike comes equipped with either a Heavy Bolter for light anti-tank and anti-infantry duties or a multi-melta for destroying heavy vehicles. While you can field these as part of a standard Bike squad and there's no real penalty for doing so as long as you line its weaponry up with that of the rest of the unit, many players often use these on their own and in a similar role to Land Speeders; that of an extremely fast suicidal model carrying a single multi-melta. Opponents with high value single models and vehicles will be forced to deal with the Attack Bike(s) or risk losing their expensive miniatures, while the Attack Bike itself will be invariably cheaper than whatever was invested into shooting at it. I generally prefer these to Land Speeders because they are ever so slightly cheaper and can still be a threat even when Jinking because they have three Strength 5 attacks each on the charge as well as frag and krak grenades, though generally speaking either of them are good disruption units.

Scout Bike Squad - At only three points cheaper per model than regular Space Marine Bikers and with worse base stats overall, it might be easy to label this a weak unit but I believe them to be anything but. Weapon Skill 3, Ballistic Skill 3 and a 4+ armour save aren't great on a unit this costly but the Strength 4, Toughness 5 as well as both frag and krak grenades remain, while the Scouts themselves crucially retain all the special rules that make them stand out. Having Bikers with Infiltrate and Scout is pretty ridiculous, as is the various equipment options they have access to like cluster mines, grenade launchers and locator beacons. They are a potent short ranged unit with their twin-linked boltguns and shotguns, while they are a very decent and well priced close combat unit with their two Strength 5 attacks per model on the charge from Furious Charge. The special synergy Scout Bikes have with Deep Striking units affords them a key place in any list featuring such units - especially Drop Pod-based forces - while the fact that they are incredibly fast assault units armed with krak grenades makes them utterly terrifying to most vehicles. They may not be as strong a unit in general as regular Bikers but they certainly work well in most lists as either a complementary or substituting force.

Short but hopefully sweet, like me. Not really. I'm tall.


  1. Great inciteful views matey as always matey. Hope Space marines are soon. Will you be doing another 7 days of glory articles for them by any chance? :)

  2. Hey dude, always love reading your articles but noticed you've been quiet on the blog front for a while. Hope all is well and that Age of Sigmar hasn't caused you to rage quit? ;)