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40K: Blood Angels Unit Review: Mephiston!

9 Minute Read
Jun 16 2010
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Hey folks, Jawaballs here!

Today I want to talk about every one’s favorite Jesus Christ Vampire.  First of all I pose a few questions, and perhaps these questions will be answered by myself as I write.  Lets dive right in:

Should Mephiston be allowed in competitive play? Should local gaming communities ban him? Is he bad for the game? Is he any thing near what he is cracked up to be?

For those of you living on Mars, or with only a vague interest in 40k, Blood Angels or competitive play, let me go over Mephiston’s stat line since discussion of Meph is useless without having that info.

  WS:7, BS:5, S: 6, T:6, W:5, I:7, A:4, LD:10, Sv: 2+ All for the cost of a Land Raider

He has Artificer Armor, a Plasma Pistol, force weapon, frag and krak, and three psychic powers, Preferred Enemy, S: 10 close combat attacks, and Jump Pack.

He also has Fleet and Transfixing Gaze which forces enemy ICs to make a leadership test at a reduced amount and Meph receives rerolls on hits and wounds vs that IC on failure.  Of course being a SM psyker he has a Psychic Hood.

Getting back to the stat line, what the heck does it mean?  Holy Crap what does it not mean?  He is hitting just about every model in the game on 3+.  He is wounding just about every model in the game on 2 with his normal Strength.  Even some of the models that were previously impervious to close combat attacks fear Mephiston!  Tyranid big bugs shiver when they see him on the table. Dreadnoughts run to the other side of the deployment zone! BS 5 means he hits with his plasma gun on a 2+.  In all the games I have used him, I have not even fired it!

But it gets worse.  Toughness 6 means he is as tough as gigantic Tyranid bugs and most models in the game will need a 6 to wound him in shooting and close combat.  Once they wound him, he gets a 2+ save, and if he has a priest nearby, and why would he not?, he gets Feel No Pain!  Aside from that what does T6 bring to the table?  He cannot be instant killed except by the couple of special rules that allow it to happen.  Force Weapons are one… what else is there?  That means he is fairly safe in the wide open, but being a small infantry model it is very easy to get him a cover save. Really though, unless you are actually trying to get him shot by Las Cannons, you should not leave him out in the open.  More on that later.

The final kicker is his initiative. So very few models in the game can beat his I7, even when he is being charged!  Banshees when they charge… maybe Harlequins? Two of the previously most feared assault units in the game… Genestealers are a joke. But let him get the charge with his buddy the priest nearby, and he goes up to I8 and Str 7!  Fleet and the jump pack power pretty much mean he is assaulting turn 1 or 2 with a possible 24″ assault range.  So how often will he not get the charge?

Yes, without a doubt he is more powerful then just about any character in the game.  Is he over powered?  Well, he does cost a boatload of points.  I know, Eldar players will bring up their over priced transports and every other army will spit out a list of other units that are over priced compared to Mephiston.  But again, is he overpowered?  My answer is a flat NO.  Sure, he will slaughter most every thing in the game in close combat. But then what?

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Lets look at how he is balanced by what he does NOT have.  First of all, he does not have an invulnerable save.  A good guard player will simply blast him off the table. He will jump up and slaughter a squad of vets, but then the guard player will move up 5 more squads of them, each packing a space marine armies worth of plasma guns, and vaporize him. (an exaggeration to make a point) Or just sit back and shoot their 30 las cannons at him. (not exaggerating at all). Tau excel at killing him from range with their pathfinders and hard hitting guns.  Eldar, Which Hunters, even Necrons can easily take him down if they get a chance.

The fact is that he is vulnerable to high powered shooting, and every army seems to be able to pack more and more of it on the table.

What else does he not have?  Hey guys, Mephiston is not fearless.  The Lord of Death, the guy who spent a week buried under a building has a big yellow streak down his back. The guy is almost immune to most small arms fire and close combat attacks, but get him into combat with a bunch of Eldar Guardians, and make sure you kill more then you lose, and he runs like every one else.  But Jawaballs, how can Guardians kill more than they lose? Of course it is not easy. Mephiston charging a squad of guardians alone will mow them down. But that is where multiple assault comes into play!  Assault him and at the same time assault a weaker unit that you can kill. Ignore him and focus on wiping out the other squad.  He will kill 5 or 6 of your guys, but if you are lucky you will still win the combat and force him to make a leadership. With his I7, if he fails the LD test, he will probably get away. Then all you have to do is chase him off the table.  OF COURSE I know guardians could not do it. (another exaggeration, I should probably not do that?)  But Harlequins, Banshees and Genestealers could all do it easily! Line up a 10 man tactical squad as well as Mephiston, and assault them with a full squad of stealers and some gaunts, or Harlequins and some Storm Guardians, etc. and you will probably win the combat by 4.  Unless you are unlucky, you will be following him off the table, nipping at his heels.  The how and where is up to you, but the point is that Mephiston is NOT unbeatable in close combat.

In three games in a row, I lost him in close combat.  If he was not killed out right by thunder hammer attacks, he lost combat and ran off the table.  T-hammer termies are his bane!  Move up that Land Raider, and assault him.

Hmmm, what else…. Mephiston is not an Independent Character.  That means he cannot join squads and you cannot buy him a transport.  So he has to hoof it, or hijack some ones ride.  He cannot join a squad in a Land Raider, and he cannot join a squad to run accross the table to soak up wounds.  I don’t know why you would want that any way, since he is not fearless all that would have to happen is the squad he has joined lose a few models and he can run right off the table!  I don’t know of any other characters in the game who are not Independent Characters outside of the new BA codex.  Are there any?  This was a new feature of the BA dex that really does work to balance out the super powered characters.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about Mephiston. He certainly has a spot in my Ard Boys list. But I am pointing out that all of the cries of him being over powered are unfounded.  Mephiston is very vulnerable, and despite popular beliefs, most armies are more then well enough equipped to deal with him.

It all comes back to smart playing.  Sure, he is a game changer. Mephiston is almost single handedly changing the face of most competitive lists as those few power armor players who have not already switched over to using the BA dex are shifting over to more long ranged high powered shots.
Finally, psychic defense makes Meph a mere super human instead of immortal.  Eldar shut him down for example.  A lot of the time he is pretty reliant upon his jump pack power to get into assault… take away that, and Mephiston loses his fangs.

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So, how do you use him?

Using him to his maximum potential is sort of like a high school kid trying to hook up in the back seat of a car at a the prom.  Sure he knows what to do, but once he is in the situation, it is just a bunch of awkward fumblings and blind gropings.

It is a no brainer to us all. Get Mephiston into Close Combat asap. Right? Not so fast!  First of all, a smart player will bait him out with a throwaway squad, or a tarpit squad.  Charging Meph into a single horde of fearless Orks is a waste!  Sure he will probably win the fight, but it will take him a turn or two.  You absolutely have to be selective about where you use him.  And avoid T-hammer termies! At least alone.

Looking at the higher end of the game, Mephiston is just as valuable not getting into close combat at all as he is mixing it up with Nob Bikers.  Just having him standing behind a Land Raider, out of sight, is enough to completely control your opponent’s game.  A smart player will use that to his advantage. In this case, Mephiston is not about how many points he kills, but how many points he keeps stalled out on your opponent’s table edge.  Use Mephiston to keep his hammer unit at bay, while you take him apart with your other hammer!  Hell, even before the game begins and even before he is on the table, Mephiston takes control of the game.  Knowing that he has to deal with Mephiston, your opponent will have to break from his usual deployment routine. Any time you disrupt the enemy plans before you even take the field, you have an advantage.

I run Mephiston behind my Land Raider. (I have just recently started using one).  If you don’t have one, a Vindicator or Baal Predator makes a nice escort. Just nuzzle him up the tanks ass.  AV:13 front helps to keep it from getting blasted away too soon.  All you really need is a turn of movement. Then he should be able to reach something, even if his jump pack power is shut down.

If you are really feeling froggy, take a Devastator squad (they are much cheaper now and deserve a look) and buy them a Land Raider.  It is a dedicated transport so Meph may not start the game inside, but just start him next to it and hop in and away you go!

This weekend I used him in the Ard Boys semi-finals.  I am sad to say that his performance was sub par! In game one, I held him in reserve vs Chaos Demons. He came on in turn 3, but could not get a charge, then was charged by two Demon Princes and killed after delivering a single wound.  (When I brought him onto the table he was a bit too close to a terrain piece, and a direct line into one of the Demon Princes meant that his base would have nicked the terrain, we are talking hairs width here… so my opponent made me roll the terrain test.)

In game two he failed two Jump Pack rolls in a row vs Tau. By the time he got into close combat it was turn 3 and he had taken 3 wounds from Tau guns.  He slaughtered a squad of suits, then went down to plasma fire.

In game three he played a defensive role. I was being charged by SEVEN land raider redeemers, moving across the long table.  (In round three you could use the short table edge to come onto the table in DoW, so my opponent did, but then had to drive across 6 feet of table to get to me.)  In this game I did not really need to expose him until the end of the game. I kept him behind my Land Raider, forcing my opponent to stay away from it.  He tried to go around, through all the terrain and taking even longer to get to me, letting me blast the crap out of him. When most of his Raiders were dead, Meph jumped up and started his assault.

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In three rounds of Ard Boys, he accounted for a wound on a Demon Prince, three dead Tau Suits, and a Land Raider kill with 3 marines.  Not much at all. But take into account the battle fiend control he gave me in game three, and he shows his value. Having him on the table gave me an extra round of shooting at all those Land Raiders, and won me the game, sending me to Chicago.  He was good to have, but certainly no unbeatable game stopper worth banning! Will he be in my list when I arrive at the Hard Boys finals? We shall see.

So what have your experiences with or against Mephiston been like? Is he a game breaker? Or just a paper dragon.


Want to see more of my unit reviews? Check out my review of Blood Angels Librarians.


More to come… Jawaballs

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