Warhammer 40K: The Mediocrity of Blood Angels
Blood Angels have a new Codex Supplement and it’s… fine?
The Blood Angels are the latest, and almost final, chapter to get a Codex Supplement. This supplement replaces the short-lived index and invalidates that, along with the prior Codex and rules from Blood of Baal. This book aligns them with other Marine chapters and draws a lot from the core Marine Codex. Overall the book is OK, but to me at least it’s somewhat of a step down from their prior book. Let’s take a look at why.
Strong Rules, But Also a Bit Boring
Blood Angels have some of the strongest army-wide Marine rules in the game, which put them in a pretty strong place off the bat. Their Chapter Tactic remains unchanged and gaining a +1 to wound in melee army-wide is pretty dang bonkers. Super Doctrine, Savage Echoes also remains unchanged, providing +1 attack to units in the assault doctrine (if charged or charging, etc.). This is certainly powerful, but as I’ve said before it’s a bit boring. It is just double Shock Assault and doesn’t open up anything new for the army, just making them attack more (it also doesn’t seem to work with some of the doctrine swap stratagems which is too bad). These two combined mean that pretty much any unit in the army is a credible combat threat, which is pretty solid.
The Black Rage has also undergone a slight change, it still gives you a 6+++ save and +1 attack, but now also prevents you from falling back or taking actions. That seems like a fair trade-off. Again this is good, but it’s yet another +1 attack ability, and Blood Angels already have two of those, so again it’s a tad stale. Aside from those, the army is basically just angry Marines, and it feels like a bit of what made it special is gone. Sure it gets a lot of attacks, but that’s pretty much all it does, and at some point isn’t it just overkill?
Blood Angels have lost a fair bit in this book (oh did you think this was about THE Lost? We’ll get to them later) and it shows. A lot of their old combos are gone, with a ton of stratagems now missing. Indeed from what I can tell not a single Psychic Awaking stratagem made it over to this book, which is rather sad. Losing the option to deep strike and charge 3d6 is also a big hit. You’ve also got stuff like the Sanguinors +1 attack buff now not stacking with Shock Assault, making it a ton worse. Sanguinary Priests no longer give units +1 Strength (instead they let units count as being in assault doctrine, but from the wording without triggering Savage Echoes), and give some units +1 AP for a turn or two out of the game is just a huge step down from the +1 Strength.
All of this combines to act as some significant nerfs to Blood Angels who, new units aside, are weaker than they were post- Blood of Baal and have lost a ton of what made them play different. It also seems a little unneeded. Sure there was a time when Blood Angels were the best Marine faction and the one you saw most often, but that was before the 2019 Marine Codex. Since then they’ve kind of been a run of the mill Marine lists and outshone by other Chapters. This feels like a bit like GW fixing issues from 2018 long after the game has moved on and they stopped being issues.
I don’t want to sound like the book is horrible. There is good in here. In particular, the Crusade rules are some of the best and most flavorful we’ve seen in the game. Including a whole page of rules on how the army dealing with the Flaw is amazing and unlike a regular game, playing a Blood Angels Crusade promises to deliver a very different experience. In addition, the new rules for fielding Fallen Characters and the Death Visions are great. Blood Angels also have a strong stable of named heroes, a number of which got upgraded, and Death Company, both classic and Intercessors are pretty great.
On the other hand, the book is full of just some weird choices or things that don’t feel well thought out. I love the new Death Visions, but the fact is that one of them is pretty great, one is ok, and the final one, To Slay the Warmaster, is in most cases actively bad. It’s a lot of rules to maybe make one dude in your army a bit better for a turn or two in the game and I wish there was more here. In the same vane Dante’s new rule, Epic Hero of the Imperium sounds cool as it lets him use an Epic Deeds Stratagem for free, until you realize that are only two that he can actually use and neither is particularly good or flavorful for him. You’ve also got some other stuff like Death Company Intercessors with assault weapons seemingly not able to take a special melee weapon, while ones armed with rifles can, and some mediocre secondary objectives that all combined to make things feel awkward.
May you ride shiny and chrome.
Reading through this book, my main thought was that the book seems lackluster. Not much catches the eye, with them mostly reduced to Marines who get some more and slightly better attacks. In 8th it felt like the Blood Angels played differently from other armies, being more assault focused, but also getting to do cool tricks and have some crazy good characters. Now they just feel a bit run of the mill, with nothing too crazy. It’s not a bad book, but it is a step down, for an army that already wasn’t top dog. If you really love Blood Angels you’ll still do fine, but if you are a new player looking for an assault army I can’t really find much to recommend them over more interesting alternatives such as Space Wolves or in particular White Scars who do get extra options out of their rules.
Let us know what you think about Blood Angels, down in the comments!