Thursday, August 29, 2013

Blood Angels as a Competitive Force?

In anticipation of Codex: Space Marines dropping next month, I've had a bit of a renaissance with regard to my first 3+ army that I played- the Blood Angels.

Lets face it, the Blood Angels is a challenging army to play in sixth edition. Not an auto-loss by any means, but, the codex does seem wanting when compared to the likes of Space Wolves and Dark Angels. Definitely not the first, second, third, or even fourth choice to take to a tournament. The question is; can the codex provide a competitive list?

The Blood Angels codex has two glaring weaknesses to overcome; inflated points' costs left over from fifth edition, and decreased survivability in the current edition. The latter is a combination of the primary issue (unit cost), in combination with the amount of weaponry that deny cover, and/or 3+ armor saves (further affected by volume of fire that certain armies can produce).

What other challenges do Blood Angels face as an army? Assault has changed in 6th edition, and those changes have not been too kind to assault armies- in particular the Blood Angels. Rules such as overwatch, random charge range(s), assault vehicle moves, had a net effect on assault units. Speed and resilience win the day as ever- a Blood Angel assault marine equipped with a jump pack is able to move 12" (and an additional D6 in the shooting phase) per turn. Unfortunately abilities such as  Tau's 'jump shoot jump', and Eldar's Battlefocus diminish that movement capability and result in the assault marine being that much easier to kite

The average Blood Angel assault marine costs 20 points, while a BA tactical marine weighs in at 18. High prices when compared to a Space Wolf that gets a bolter and counter-attack for 15 points, or, a Dark Angel at 14 points. Those extra points add up quick when taking ten-man squads! Lets not forget that Blood Angel tacticals' have to take ten marines before the squad can access special, and heavy weapons!

What else? Blood Angels transport spam lost much of it's luster due to 6th edition rule changes such as hull points, stunned/shaken affecting occupants of a vehicle, ordinance weapons hitting at full strength, and lastly, the inability of troop units to score and contest inside a vehicle (or do either the turn the unit disembarks). Rhino hulls are fragile- even the toothy AV13 front armor variants. There are a lot of agile units that can easily flank and sink attacks into that juicy side armor 11 and rear armor 10.

Personally, I like the hull point changes in 6th edition, but, I do not like the stunned/shaken results affecting troops occupying the vehicle- hey, what you can do?

So what would a list of challenges for the Blood Angels look like? Here are some that come to mind:
  • Expensive troops
  • Troops have poor shooting options (Assault Marines only carry bolt pistols)
  • Anti-Air unit (Storm Raven) is expensive/hard to spam/can be crushed by much cheaper units available in other codices
  • Red Thirst negates And They Shall Know No Fear (17% chance to lose ATSKNF in exchange for fearless)
  • Librarians are expensive (when compared to DA, and offer less utility when compared to Space Wolves 4+ ability to deny psychic abilities)
  • Lack of Vehicle resilience (including Dreadnoughts)
  • Death Company are non-scoring/non-denial unit (see expensive troops!)
  • lack of reliable saves (3+ is not a gaurantee with so many AP03 weapons. There are quite a few units that deny cover saves)
  • Sanguinary Guard (Those poor Goldenrods never stood a chance without an invuln save)
I then asked myself what are the Blood Angels strengths? I created the following list:
  • Land Raiders are dedicated transports
  • Feel No Pain aura granted by Priests
  • Fast Vehicles
  • Sternguard Veterans
  • Corbulo (with his 2+ FNP and once a game re-roll)
  • Baal Predators (back in the black with scout moves, outflank, and rending shots)
  • Tycho (2/4++ with combi-melta, Sternguard ammo, and close combat attacks that ignore armor and allow two dice to be rolled for pens. Not to mention every unit can use his leadership when he is on the table)
  • Assault Squads receive a 35 point discount on dedicated transports
  • Assault Sergeants can akimbo hand flamer(s)
  • Assault Terminators 
  • Whirlwind Tank (ohhh, I loathed the Whirlwind in 5th edition. Now that ordinance barrage weapons hits at full strength, and, template placement can provide sniping options- the Whirlwind should actually be considered in a pure Blood Angel list. Unfortunately the unit costs 90 points- that's' a lot of dimp for an AV11 vehicle)
These lists are not all-encompassing by any means, and are based more on my personal experience. When compared with current meta trends I can get a feel for a couple of different pure Blood Angels lists that may hold their own on the table:

Triple Land Raider
Sacrificing troop saturation for three Land Raiders and their superior AV14 as dedicated transports. There are a couple of different options to take in this list; fill one Land Raider with assault terminators, for example.

Drop Pod (null deployment)
Another option would be to cram as many troop choices into drop pods and rain down on the enemy. Assault marines can take the pods at a 35 point discount, but, their bolt pistols are hardly a threat (single-shot, strength 4, 12 inch range).

Drop pods are the perfect way to insert Sternguard veterans onto the gaming table- their specialized ammo provides an ominous threat to a number of different units- notably their poison rounds wounding units with a toughness on a 2+. In a comparative vacuum is a 10-man Sternguard squad the answer to a Wraith Knight, Demon Prince, or Riptide? In and of itself, perhaps not, but, their specialized ammo can threaten multiple types of unit(s) and provide Blood Angels with some much needed cover denial options.

So what would happen if I combined these elements into one list? I might get something like this:

2000 Pts - Blood Angels Roster

   Librarian in Power Armour

   Brother Corbulo

   Sanguinary Priest in Power Armour

   Assault Squad (3)
   Assault Marine with Meltagun
   Land Raider Crusader, Multi-melta

   Assault Squad (3)
   Assault Marine with Meltagun
   Land Raider Crusader, Multi-melta

   Assault Squad (3)
   Assault Marine with Meltagun
   Land Raider Crusader, Multi-melta 

   Tactical Squad 9 (Meltagun, Lascannon)   
   Sergeant, Combi-Meltagun
   Drop Pod

   Tactical Squad 9 (Plasma Gun, Lascannon)   
   Sergeant, Combi-Plasmagun
   Drop Pod

   Sternguard Veteran Squad 8 (Combi-Meltagun x2)   
   Sergeant, Combi-Meltagun   
   Drop Pod

This rock  (list) sacrifices volume of troops for toys. Are they the right combination of toys with enough survivability?
What do you think?


Related Posts with Thumbnails