TPM here again. As I often do, I’d like to take a look at something in the Blood Angel codex that may not have occurred to some. I would like to examine the uses of The Naked Flamestorm Baal.
When the rumors of the Blood Angel codex first came out there was a lot of stir around the inclusion of the Baal Predator in the Fast Attack slot. This potentially allows the Blood Angel (BA) player to field 6 Predators. That is a lot of AV 13.
Actual play has not seen these types of list bubble to the top for most BA players. With the ability to always give your vehicles a cover save with the Shield of Sanguinius that may change but that is not the point of this article.
I was not a fan of the Flamestorm cannon on the Baal for quite some time until I was knocking around list ideas with a well known Space Wolf player named Mike Walsh. Mike is an awesome painter and player – he’s been dominating the scene with Space Wolves for quite some time and I consider him one of the major authorities on the Sons of Russ.
He explained that another buddy of his had been giving him a lot of trouble using the bare bones Baal armed with a Flamestorm (FS). Until this point I had largely considered the FS cannon a waste of time. Assault cannon spam has been very effective in this and the previous addition and I had always thought if you were going to take a tank heavy list that you were better off hanging back and taking advantage of your range and speed. A lot of that has to do with my recent experience with Guard. It just made sense – it doesn’t matter if your opponent needs 6s to hit you in assault, there are too many melta guns out there and enough str 9/10 assaulters to turn any vehicle into slag.
So what is making the FS Baal so appealing? A couple of things: Number 1, they scout. If you go first or want to force your enemy to have to deal with something other than the main bulk of your force then you can jam these tanks right up the middle and smoke on your scout move. This can be used to block line of sight or to threaten expensive enemy ground units/hordes.
Number 2, they aren’t expensive. For 115 points you get an AV 13 vehicle that has the ability to scout, out flank and force your opponent to deal with them. Very few armies can afford to just ignore a tank running free in their back ranks. I don’t know of any armies that can stomach two or three of them running amok.
Here is where I spoil the cunning plan of Flamestorm Baals. These tanks are excellent for taking out units of Long Fangs and Lootas. I understand that Lootas don’t seem to worry that many people anymore but Long Fangs are for sure on the top of most people’s hit list.
Combined with a Scout move and then the first move of the game a FS Baal has enough distance to threaten anywhere on the table if you deployed them well in the first place. If you plan to Scout your vehicles or tanks and your opponent doesn’t have anything on the table yet then you want to be somewhat centrally located. This gives you the ability to threaten almost anywhere on the table. Conversely you also want to judge where you think your enemy is going to want to deploy his stationary long range support.
If you secure first turn with the Naked Baal Deployment you are also basically securing the fact that your opponent is putting most of his long fangs back in the box.
All is not lost for this tactic if you are facing IG. If you are facing an Imperial Guard Chimera wall you should be able to position your Baals to where you will get multiple side shots on their vehicles since they will be so tightly packed in. It’s not a sure thing but the multiple hits should at least garner a few shaken results. (more on that in a sec)
So what are the drawbacks? How can the Space Wolf or Ork player keep you from doing this?
The drawbacks are if you don’t get first turn then you have largely exposed yourself with a few hundred points of tank right in the face of your enemy. He should have little problems dispatching with your vehicles, even if they’ve smoked. You’re still probably not that bad off because you have just forced him to probably change his initial plan.
The other drawback is that if your opponent is completely meched, started in full reserves or was fortunate enough to have a building with three levels on their side of the table you are going to be hard pressed to get any use out of your FS Baals early in the game. It is difficult for the str 6 cannon to reliably do anything to a full mech list.
Flamers are great in this edition since everything is in cover or gets some sort of cover saves. Str 6 AP 3 flamers are even better. On a non fast vehicle or on the Land Raider they were originally placed on you will rarely get the use out of them they should have. The Baal is basically a perfect chassis for the Flamestorm.
Remember that you can hit multiple units with template weapons. Don’t be afraid to try and maximize your potential casualties!
For those that interested I’m going to be putting my money with my mouth is over on Litanies of Hate with a few battle reports soon. My wife and I have been spending a little hobby time making some ‘true’ 5th edition terrain. Expect pics!
So is the potential of taking out two or three squads of long range troop based fire power on turn 1 worth taking the 115 point Baals and basically throwing your precious tanks out in the wind?