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July 20, 2012

Blood Angels: Jumping Into 6th, HQs

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It's a whole new ballgame, kids, so how do the Blood Angels fair in 6th?





Mr. Black here, dear readers, and after a long (ok, a bit longer than long...) hiatus I'm back to speak about 40K. Now, I know for a lot of people we were just sort of waiting for 5th to die before we snatched up that sweet sweet Life Insurance and picked up 6th Edition, who is not only younger but also more vivid and wild than that old crone 5th.

In this the whole landscape has changed and regardless of what anyone thinks we just don't know what is going to solidify as the new "meta". With that I turn to look at my humble Blood Angels- Where once I was saddened my Death Company force just wasn't that playable and bikes, however cool, were just impractical, I now see a shining new world of possibilities and tactics just waiting to be tried.

That being said, we're going to run down Codex: Blood Angels and see just how 6th has changed them (for better and worse). Of course, this is all opinion and subjective, because as I said before- no one really knows what 6th is going to shape into, but as a similar group once said "Knowing is Half the Battle"



So let's jump right in and start by looking at our Chapter Leaders and Figureheads: The HQs!



Astorath the Grim
Astorath got a bit more pissed off in 6th with the changes to both Death Company and Fearless- Now he is one of the best HQs in the entire book for the world of benefits he gives. First, let's get this out of the way, his weapon:  The Executioners Axe, which has a two-fold benefit of having dodged the "Power Axe" issue by having its own unique rules as well as avoided being labeled a "Power Maul", which in my mind sets him far above any other Chaplain.

He causes our marines to become Fearless half the time which, while it looks like a straight win on the surface, is actually worse now than And They Shall Know No Fear, barring certain circumstances. To me this is a wash, as it's scenario driven: There are times you'll wish you could fall back (from shooting, for example), or wish you could Go To Ground, and Fearless nixes all that for a benefit that would actually do the same (but without the drawbacks) in 90% of the same scenarios. Give and take, I suppose...

 And of course the mainstay for him: He allows Death Company to be fielded en mass. The new Rage rules make this a very scary concept, as before you ran the risk of having your entire army led around on a leash. But now... Well now you just have an army of hyper-aggressive pissed off marines that will shred ANYTHING that gets in their way.

No no no, not those guys...


I'll speak more on the benefits of this when we talk about the Death Company, but for now I'll just say that while in 5th this ability was a nice novelty to open up a likewise novel army, now it's a valid ploy to open up the option for some serious firepower!

Lastly, Astorath is one of the few options in our book to boast a 2+ save, which as we all have read is the thing to have in 6th. But is it really that good? Yes. Yes it is. A large percentile of weapons will just ping off him, and with a Feel No Pain bubble nearby the chances of him getting hurt are slim- factor in how wound allocation now works and Astorath (as well as many other Special Characters) will be hanging around till the end of the game, avoiding those hidden Power Fists that slew them so many times in 5th.


Commander Dante
Dante, I feel, came out the Codex Winner this edition. I loved running this guy before, but always knew that his life would come to an end when a random Power Fist decided to punch him in the abs Harry Houdini style - but now? Now that won't be happening as much because, again, wound allocation. In fact, I'm just going to get this out of the way now: 6th Edition is the Herohammer edition. I say that because now your ICs and whatnot will have a much harder time being instantly taken out by, well, Instant Death, as well as just ablative wounds... But that's a whole 'nother article in itself, so we won't bog this down with that speech.

Anyway, Dante... What did he gain this edition? Well Hit and Run is just as good as ever, and his Surgical Strike remains pretty much unchanged... So what changed about him? Well his Axe got...Ermm...Different... For those that are not aware a big debate has been running about whether or not his Axe Mortis qualifies as a "Unique Power Weapon" or a "Power Axe", and while the debate is long running I'm not going to get into it, I'm just going to state my opinion: It's an Axe, I do not believe Master-Crafted is enough of a stigma to make it "unique"... If you want to change it to a Sword, then by the same rules I go by, that's fine, model it how you want- the name is just a fluff thing titling a set of rules, if you want the bottom line. On that note, however, his Initiative: 6 lost a bit of bite (ok, a lot), but the added Strength bonus (now 6 on the charge) makes up for it in my mind. Plus, it gives a unit (traditionally Honour Guard or Sanguinary Guard) that has issue with Terminator Armor the ability to deal with it.

Speaking of Terminators, Dante also allows us access to our own brand of flying Terminators the Sanguinary Guard as Troops, who got a huge boost this edition with the advent of, once again, 2+ being a huge deal. I can already picture a combined Dantewing and Deathwing army storming across the battlefield... It is a glorious sight... Not that I want my precious Blood Angels tainted by Dark Angels.


The Sanguinor
If anyone remained largely unchanged by the passing of millennia and gaming editions it was the Sanguinor. He's still the lovable T: 4-nearly-300 point figure he was, and I mean that for better or worse. So how did he change in 6th? Well, he has a 2+ save... Which is about it. Except now he can issue and receive challenges, which means he won't get bogged down by a torrent of attacks... Except any smart opponent will just refuse the challenge and then, well, bog him down with a torrent of attacks.

Again, for better or worse the Sanguinor remains largely the same as he did before. Nothing in this edition seems to have drastically changed him (though Overwatch did chink his armor slightly). So in the end he will continue to see the same use he did before, without much of a tactical revamp as some of the other character received.


Mephiston, Lord of Death
Well, you stayed scary, didn't you? Mephiston has always been our go-to "Run! Run Away!" character, and now he's back and meaner than ever. You already know his state-line is just insane, but now even Plasma or Melta isn't going to stop him for sure, assuming he has a Priest around, of course. What other marine can you think of that can take a Meltagun to the face and just sneer it off and keep charging? No one, that's who! We also get the honor of having one of the few Mastery Level 3 Psykers in the game, which is always nice. 

On the note of Psychic Powers, however, I can see the merits in taking some of the other options, but for me keeping the three powers he has is just fine. I mean, we have Wings, which combined with Fleet means he is still super mobile, we have Sanguine Sword, so he still hits like a truck, and Unleash Rage so we know those truck-hands will land. Sure, there are other psychic combinations which could prove useful, but we're trading out a complete and whole package for the chance to do some nice tricks, and to me that's a waste. You want to have some mix-and-match fun? Take a standard Librarian.

I don't have much to say about Mephiston here aside from the fact that an already great Special Character was only made better by this edition. His rules mix in a near perfect way to weather any storm that this edition might bring (Wings and Fleet, for example). It seems he gained a whole lot of nifty buffs and tricks without losing anything that made him the scary figurehead he was before... Rock on, Mephiston, ain't no edition going to keep you down!

Ain't no thang.


Captain Tycho/Death Company Tycho
First let's speak about Death Company Tycho: He will get hit by a Meltagun and die. End of story.

...

... ...Ok fine, not so cut and dry. Tycho gained a few benefits, namely from Rage and whatnot, but still suffers the same issue of being a single T: 4 character that cannot join units. Do I continue to hope one day an FAQ will say "HE CAN JOIN THE DEATH COMPANY!!"? Yes, I do. But until then he is just not worth taking.

Now Captain Tycho, on the other hand, just became a go-to choice this edition. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted the standard Blood Angels Captain to be better this edition, he just isn't, especially when I realized I could either ally in an actual Captain, or just take Tycho. Why is Tycho so much better now? Well the main point is that his weapon just straight up ignores Armor Saves- no Power Weapon classification here, just a weapon with a bitchen' name that shreds Terminator Armor. Combine that with the changes to Rapid Fire and his Special Issue Ammunition actually carries some terrifying weight- stick him with some Sternguard and you have a cover-all unit that is both capable in shooting and melee.

Of course we still have the old Rites of Battle, which is just as good now as it was before, and he still sports his 2+ save, which, as hammered into you time and time again in this article, is really important now. What else can I say? Before you really never saw Tycho being taken and now... Well, honestly the idea of allying in a Space Marine Captain if you really wanted to run a Captain is still probably better, given their options, but you at least have a decent option now if you want to keep the blood pure.


Gabriel Seth
Mmm, I really didn't want to talk about Seth, but I suppose if I make an all-inclusive list I have to, don't I? I've never really liked Seth, and this edition didn't change that. Sure, it upped his survivability, as it did with every other character, but other than that he really didn't change much... Sure, his weapon now had a bit more of a bite against vehicles, but he shouldn't be focusing on those.... And to top that off there is still the matter of his Lash Out ability, which states that if an attack directed at him rolls a 1 he gets to strike back... ...Except now you never "direct attacks" at a character, except in a Challenge... So by current wording that ability took a hit as well. What else is there to say? I'm not a fan of this character and I think, for the points, you're better off going with a generic HQ or Tycho.

Is that review short? Yes, but you know what they say if you can't say anything nice about someone...


Blood Angels Captain
I did an entire article on the Odd Man Out himself the Blood Angels Captain, and how he really doesn't have a true place in the codex. I really did hope for 6th to change that, and while it certainly helped him, it also made him even further overshadowed by his Codex: Space Marine brethren.

When we look at the Blood Angels Captain we see that he can't take any fancy Relic Blades, no Artificer Armor, just knockoffs of that gear... And then we look at the Reclusiarch and he is just overshadowed completely. Hell, even now Tycho is overshadowing him! But that is not to say he does not have his merits... You can put him on a Bike, give him a Power Fist and Storm Shield and have him go hunting Characters (except Codex: Space Marines does it better). You can center him in with some Honor Guard and give the unit a bigger punch (except a Reclusiarch does it better). You can just ignore him and take a Space Marine Captain and a unit of Sniper Scouts and get Bikes as Troops or a 2+/3++ Relic Blade.... And... ...Hell, that's just better, isn't it?

I really feel bad here, I like Captains, I do, but our Blood Angel's ones just fall short of what they could be... And it's just a few small wargear complaints really, but its ones that our Codex: Space Marine brothers don't have and thus, don't have to deal with. Sadly, I feel that while the Captain did get better this edition, another rule (allies) completely mitigates those facts and sends him right back into obscurity.


Blood Angels Librarian
Well, you certainly changed a bit, didn't you?

Honestly, I'm probably going to do another article just focused on the changes to Psykers in this edition, and it's quite a lot to put down in just a paragraph. Basically, I think Librarians came out one of the top winners in sixth due to the sheer number of options you can give them. I know I have been enjoying my Terminator Epistolary (Divination) leading a large group of Bolter Death Company, and I've seen some great things done with a Biker Librarian (Telekinesis).

Overall the field for psykers changed radically, so you really can't just look at them like normal Special Characters anymore. Sure, they have all the same benefits, such as Look Out Sir, Challenges, and all the rest, but they're so much more than that now- now they are a real force to be reckoned with on the battlefield, able to both buff and destroy enemy units at a whim.

Of course, not to neglect our own brand of psychic powers: Blood Lance became an amazing anti-flyer tool, and Unleash Rage is just as good as ever. Fear the Darkness? Well, you can't escort units away anymore, but combine it with some of the new powers and some truly dangerous combinations begin to appear.

In the end psykers are now a huge deal, and I feel they deserve more than just the cursory talk this article will give. We'll speak later over the complex changes and differences psykers make this edition.


Reclusiarch
We all know the real Captains of the Blood Angels, and it isn't the weenie that can't take Artificer Armor.

So here we are at the Reclusiarch, who on initial impression got knocked down a peg due to having a Power Maul; but really, is that so bad? I mean, he hits like a brick, sure he doesn't auto-ignore armor, but usually the combined wrath of him and the unit he's leading (never mind Death Company) are enough to mitigate that. But that seems to be all I've heard about him from people: "Power Maul, Power Maul, Power Maul"... Did those people forget he can also take a Power Fist for almost no points?


That's honestly how I've been running him, Fist and Maul. That way he has the option of hitting with whatever he deems best while still being the excellent combatant that he's always been!


Plus you get to use this guy! Look how cool he is!


Adding onto that he still confers Fearless, which as I mentioned way way back at the start is actually slightly worse than And They Shall Know No Fear but... Well, it varies per situation. Overall, however, he is still a great addition to the army for his combat prowess, variety of weapon options (and bikes! Don't forget bikes!), and utility he adds to the army. Basically, I would take a Reclusiarch and a Librarian, sending the Reclusiarch into the thick of things to hammer down some justice while allowing the Librarian to move around the board as needed, doing his Librarian buffing and debuffing.

Jack of all trades, master of none situation here in my mind. He is a potent melee force with a good amount of variety to him, and seeing as how characters will be living longer this edition he might actually get to see use of his skills, rather than just Wham, Bam, Dead like the olden days.

~And there you have it, dear readers, my initial review of the Blood Angels HQs! Join us next time for our look at Elites. In the meantime, how did some of your favorite HQs get changed with the advent of 6th? -Mr. Black


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