Thursday, January 31, 2013

Top 10 Reasons to Play Blood Angels

Combing through the Bolter and Chainsword thread about why play Blood Angels, I composed a Top 10 list.

I also composed a list of worst reasons too.

6. Chainswords.
5. Easy to paint.
4. They’re red.
3. They are a close combat army.
2. If there were any chapter closest to the orks. The boyz in red would have 
to be it.
1. Angel vampires IN SPACE

Let's get to the best reasons.

11. Everything can have a jump pack. No, not every unit, but you can actually 
      field an entire army wearing jump packs.

10. We have a true hero Primarch that died in the service of the Emperor.

9.  Who doesn't like getting stuck into close combat? Assault Marines as Troop 
     choices all the way!

8. Blood Angels are basically space ninjas in red...

7. This cover.

6. Sanguinius' sacrifice and the origins of the Black Rage, and how each and 
every Blood Angel, while being the most noble of Space Marines, constantly 
had to fight a battle for control within himself. That in itself was tragic, but I 
also appreciated the irony of how the Blood Angels' weakness provided the means for them to obtain strength in the battlefield, while simultaneously gifting them with humility and an understanding of their mortality. 

5. They are red; the color of blood and violence.

4. When I started back in 2nd ed. it was the Angels of Death codex and all of the tragic dark fluff behind Mephiston and Tycho. Then I read about Sanguinius' titanic battle at the Eternity Gate, holding it singlehandedly against a mighty daemon of Chaos and I was hooked. 

3. I like the tragic Death Company a lot - brave Marines who could hold out no longer and fell to the curse, and who go out fighting rather than fade away to madness and insanity.

2.  I read the story of the death of Tycho at Armageddon, and it was awesome, it summed up the curse the angels carry on a daily basis, showing a flawed hero always appeals to me, flawlessness makes things too easy.

1. The person that finally convinced me was the Blood Angel's Primarch, the great Sanguinius. The Angel Primarch who stood on the walls of the Emperor's Palace, leading his Marines in person to defy the forces of Chaos to the bitter end. The Primarch who slew the greatest Bloodthirster ever in single combat, high above the Eternity Gate. And the Primarch who performed the ultimate sacrifice, defying Horus and staying loyal to the Emperor to the last. Sanguinius never gave up, going down fighting to his last breath. Truly an inspiring figure, and an example of honour, courage, tenacity and loyalty worthy of emulation even in real life, outside the world of tabletop gaming. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

3++ Heavy Weapon Review

3++ did a weapon review at the beginning of 6th Edition. Let's see how it is holding up now after some more time. Of course, we will only look at this from the Blood Angel perspective.

The article started out with autocannons:

The autocannon brought rate of fire and a good medium strength combination - this allowed for easier suppression against vehicles. ...Have things changed?

Yes and no. Autocannons are still an excellent choice, especially in they can be twin-linked like... Space Marine Dreadnoughts. They were suppression machines before, now they are hull point eating machines. They're going to struggle against the higher AVs but they still take a hull point off 33% of the time - not bad considering you get two shots per weapon. For comparison, a missile launcher only takes a hull point off 50% of the time - and has half the rate of fire. Chuck in the twin-linking options and they're not bad at dropping flyers either - takes a lot of them to do so but lots of shots and re-rolling all dice for 6's is about the best you can do without flyers of your own. Autocannons also get the most out of snap firing due to their increased rate of fire...

Unfortunately, there are only two places to get autocannons in the Blood Angels codex- the Predator tank and the Dreadnought entry. Also, you need to either make the Dreadnought autocannon arms from Aegis Defense Line parts, other re-purposed from other gaming systems or drop some hard earned cash on ForgeWorld. However, both of these options are efficient codex choices which is always nice.

The Predator is a fast vehicle which is a positive and a negative. Although it has a 13AV front, it is only 11 on the sides and 10 rear armour. Its best place could be just sitting in the board corners of your deployment zone. Since you have paid the points for the fast vehicle, you should probably try to enhance its use as best you can. If the mission is Big Guns Never Tire, your Predators are scoring. Keep in mind that you can move 12" in the movement phase and then still move Flat Out another 12" which might come in really handy at the end of the game when your opponent thinks you are safely out of range of that objective. In two turns, you could be 48" across the board if you needed it. The real benefit is being able to move and keep up your rate of fire. You can move 12" and fire two weapons. You have your autocannon shot and use one of your side sponsons at full ballistic skill. Choosing heavy bolters or lascannons is up to what you want to use your Predator for. Are you going to be going for infantry / heavy infantry or vehicle hunting? That will give you the answer to which option to choose. Keep in mind that there is a blind spot where the sponsons cannot shoot that is directly in front of the tank. Before dismissing the heavy bolters, remember that they could help out in knocking out light armour in addition to infantry.

Heavy bolters have seen improvement in being more capable of destroying vehicles thanks to hull points but they still aren't a heavy weapon of choice. Just the occasional times you have heavy bolters (i.e. Dakka Preds, hullmounts, Typhoons, etc.) they are more useful.

There are many places in the codex to choose heavy bolters: Servitors, Tactical Squad, Scout Squad, Razorback, Land Raider, Land Speeder, Baal Predator, Attack Bike, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship, Predator and Devastator Squad. Heavy bolters suffer from not having a low enough AP or a high enough strength. It's benefit is that it is cheap and often just comes standard with the unit. Lead vehicles expected to be focus fired on probably are not worth upgrading with the amount of points necessary to make it more effective. It will definitely be a matter of refining your list to decide where to invest your points if you want to make it more competitive and should be made to fit in with your overall strategy. You also have to decide if the enemy will accept your sacrificial or bait unit, but zooming that Razorback out in front will be a tempting target and would at least provide a cover save to vehicles hiding behind it. Your opponent now has poorer choices to decide upon.

Missile Launchers are still the jack of all trades with their small blast and high strength single shot but with the changes to the vehicle damage chart and missile launchers being a single shot, AP3 weapon, they are no longer as effective at destroying vehicles. They are still decent at suppression due to their higher strength and when push comes to shove, they can pack some wounds on infantry as well but their general utility as an anti-vehicle weapon has gone down. However, if in the future an FAQ comes to play allowing some (or all) missile launchers across armies having Flakk  missiles (a missile which has Skyfire), missiles will re-emphasis their jack of all trades card and still be a good middle ground choice which can do a little bit of everything.

Actually, they are more effective at destroying vehicles than ever before. Lascannons and plasma just had larger increases. There are hull points and the damage chart is not the all protecting force it was before either and decreased cover saves. Missile launchers are also fantastic because of their range. Shooting and neutralizing opponent shooting is so important now, so 48" is a huge consideration. More competitive lists just cannot afford to have many lascannons in it, so missile launchers are a nice compromise that let's you also deal death to hordes. Missile launchers are available with: Terminator Squads, Sternguard Veteran Squad, Tactical Squad, Scout Squad, Rhino, Razorback, Land Raider(+ Crusader and Redeemer), Land Speeder Squadron, Baal Predator, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship, Predator, Devastator Squad, Vindicator and Whirlwind. Some of these are hunter-killer missiles but have the same S8 AP3 stat line.

The lascannon is the next obvious choice - generally maligned in the past for being too expensive and not gaining anything of particular note against vehicles, Lascannons are now an improved option RELATIVELY speaking compared to other weapons thanks to AP2. This basically keeps the lascannon on par with what its damage capacity was before but with reduced cover saves it becomes slightly more effective. 

This also ignores the importance of having that 48" range. The most advanced strategists generally agree that this is mostly a shooting game at this point. You need to be able to neutralize the opponent's glass cannon. You can get lascannons on Sternguard, Tactical Squad, Razorback, Land Raider, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship, Predator and Devastator Squad.

Plasma cannons like-wise got a two-fold buff, they are better at dropping vehicles than before (blasts always count as full strength) and taking off hull points whilst the AP2 blast has to contend with lower cover in general. 

Plasma cannons (and anything scattering with the small blast marker) are usually an all or nothing situation. Everything can go wrong with that Gets Hot! roll. Then you have to roll for scatter. When things go right, they can be devastating though. You can get Plasma Cannons on Servitors, Sternguard, Tactical Squad, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship and Devastator Squad.

Multi-meltas are still the star of the show when it comes to taking down tanks and have really lost nothing in their application - when on vehicles or relentless platforms (i.e. Attack Bikes, Speeders, etc.). Multi-meltas on infantry models are far less an appetising proposal and really only fit in certain units (i.e. MM Rhino Bunkers) and snap fire helps them be a little more useful on the turns they need to move. Still a fantastic weapon on other platforms though.

That says it all about Multi-Meltas above. You can get them with Servitors, Sternguard Veteran Squad, Tactical Squad, Land Raider (+ Crusader and Redeemer), Land Speeder, Attack Bike, Dreadnought, Stormraven Gunship and Devastator Squad. 

I should also throw in the Heavy Flamer

S5 AP4 and it is an assault weapon! It might come in handy some time. It is not going to be terribly effective against marines, but it should be good fun. You can get it on the Furioso Dreadnought, Terminator Squad, Sternguard Veteran Squad, Death Company Dreadnought, Razorback, Land Speeder, Baal Predator and Dreadnought. If you really like it, you will probably love the Flamestorm Cannon.


Flamestorm Cannons are only on vehicles and are S6 AP3 that will create some carnage on the battlefield. It would be nice if Dreadnoughts could take them as a primary weapon too. You can find them only on the Land Raider Reedemer and Baal Predator, unfortunately.

The three major heavy weapons (autocannon, missile launcher, lascannon) are all still decent choices though I'd say if you had the option for an autocannon, I'd be leaning to them every day of the week over missile launchers. Unless missile launchers do get that skyfire option for an additional cost, well then each of those three heavy weapons does something a little better than the other but neither one is completely over-shadowing the other when compared to their points cost and options where they can be taken.

Why not try out some of the other options and see what works best for you rather than just use Autocannons because they are perhaps the best choice for general all around use. Also, you need to consider the twin-linked opportunities that are presented in various options. Twin-linked weapons are so valuable because of their reliability. If you can't get the weapon you want twin-linked on a certain weapons platform, consider one of the less usual options to add variety to your list and even surprise your heretical opponent.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mission Bonus Points

Although Eldar Fritz is a Blood Angel ally of convenience, I am not really sure about a supposed ally that cannot properly spell Mephiston. Remember to use the cleansing power of flame to deal with xenos filth or just crack open their face with the butt of your most righteous chainsword.

Let's break down this Fritz 40K article on mission bonus points:

We all know about building our army to capture objectives and complete mission goals, often taking at least six scoring units to accomplish this, just as we build our list with units taken to go out and remove opposing models and scoring units.

If you are following along at Yes the Truth Hurts, then it is not just six scoring units but some should also have transports to allow an extra layer of durability to them. Use those Assault Squad discounted razorbacks. Do not forget that you get that 35 point discount on Land Raiders too!

But do you build your list to capture the bonus points of slay the warlord, first blood, and line breaker?

This is what we are to discuss.

These are elements that you have to plan for, rather than victory points that you may or may not pick up along the way. Sure, they can break a tie and pull of a win for you, but more importantly they give you an alternative mission to winning the game.

Let's go over the conditions of each bonus point to give a starting point to the analysis. It is a huge assumption to assume that all three of these are equal in the ease of you accomplishing them and the competitiveness to achieve them as well as overall distraction and detraction to your main mission plan. I think the key word when looking at these is anticipation. The three mission bonuses will not be there for the taking every game, so you will need to be prepared to take advantage when opportunity arises. Fritz is thinking along the lines of tying up the opponent and cashing in on the bonus points when the opponent has already committed to the main mission and thus is unable to respond fast enough to the mission bonus points. Essentially, he is playing a different end game which hopefully works out in the final tally of points.

Slay the Warlord:

If, at the end of the game, the enemy's Warlord has been slain, you score 1 Victory Point. If the mission being played is Purge the Alien, then the enemy Warlord will, therefore, be worth 2 Victory Points in total.

Slay the warlord begins with my HQ choices- Eldrad and a generic seer since dual seers are now standard in running Eldar, or should I say trying to run Eldar in a competitive setting. This opens up mindwar access for two models who are going to be hunting those HQ choices. Most of the HQ choices we encounter are aggressive front line types- getting up there and wrecking face like Mepheston, etc. so threat and rage for the mindwar is never an issue since both seers are central on the table to support the rest of my warhost. 

Reading something like this might make you further consider protecting your warlord by placing him in reserve, giving him a unit to join or his own dedicated transport yet not lose battlefield effectiveness. Picking your HQ choice should be designed around your whole list, which may also include enemy warlord assassination but should not probably not be its primary function. Grabbing the Slay the Warlord point may not even always be possible or expedient, so it is essentially opportunistic.

First Blood:

The first unit, of any kind, to be removed as a casualty during the game is worth 1 Victory Point to the opposing player at the end of the game.

First blood is next, and is a dual fold strategy- we want to deny our opponent first blood, and take the point ourselves- and this is the most important of the three since it goes to either you or your opponent and not both in most cases.

Opponent concentrated fire when they have first turn can take this out of your hands pretty quickly, so the option may not even be there by the time it is your game turn. It is not going to be there reliably as a strategy.


If, at the end of the game, you have at least one model from one or more scoring or denial units in the enemy's deployment zone, you score 1 Victory Point.

And then we need a plan for the line breaker point, which is hard to score in some missions since by the end of the game both sides might not have much left in terms of models.

That pretty much says it right there. Blood Angels have some of the most resilient troops in the game with a Feel No Pain bubble around them although you do pay for it. Being prepared for The Scouring and Big Guns Never Tire missions will also help with this.

So what units do you have in your codex that you can dedicate to earning you these three secondary victory points?

First thing I ask myself after deployment is if I can beat the opposing army on the primary mission. Can I capture enough objectives to win? Most of the time, playing with pure Eldar (no allies) this is a very hard thing to do, especially given the point cost vs. usability of our troop choices. If I can’t take the field and capture the objectives I’ll then play my entire army for a tie on the primary- which is possible if my opponent is not aware of it. I throw everything in my army against their troops and scoring units first, while aggressively pursuing the secondary objectives- tie on the primary and win on the secondary.

Is this an advancement in list building or just refinement. I think this could be a step up in that it's an accounting of what my list needs to do.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thanks, but no thanks, GW.

I grabbed a screen shot from GW's homepage.

Start a new army this year? Thanks, but no thanks. It was thoughtful for you to ask, but players should generally become "invested" in their own army and perhaps a side army (hopefully where they can also become allies- sorry, Nids.). Players are already quite conscious of costs. Play only one army then to control your spending and at most have a small side army. Of course, the company needs sales, but it should not be trying to bleed its player base dry. GW needs to grow the game and do some real marketing. The Internet is angry again at GW just dropping a boring and cryptic "video" to launch another codex. Plain and simple, that is not good enough and everyone knows we expect more than that.

Additional Armies
GW does not do the player base many favors when it introduces codex creep making older codices' players abandon or even forsake their army for the temptations of power (gaming). The Imperial Guard codex is pretty much the standard for this. It made it through an edition and transitioned better than any others into 6th Edition. Hopefully, the game designers will follow the Blood Angels, Dark Eldar, and Chaos style where there are lots of interesting choices and it is well-balanced internally and against the rest of the other codices. It is annoying to see tournament results from around the world where the players have obviously picked out the most powerful codex to give them the best chance to win (Starting from in 5th: Imperial Guard-Space Wolves-Grey Knights). People from Adepticon felt ashamed if they had brought Grey Knights because of the sheer amount of them at the tournament. It is extremely sad to see so many nicely painted armies on Ebay because you can see that the list build they were made for is now ineffective for competitive gamine. There was great sorrow among us Blood Angel players when our DoA lists were nullified by 6th Edition. I suggest writing letters to Games Workshop to let them know how you feel about your Blood Angels and what you would like to see from the next codex- they might just listen if we are loud enough.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Where do things need to be before the chaos begins?

That line is taken from Tempo. Let's look at the heart of this by reading the ending: 

Thinking in Terms of Positioning and Melee

It can be really hard to switch your thinking from planning-based to positioning based.
Planning is  based on straining to forecast and anticipate actual actions. The driving question is What needs to be done?
 [My list needs to be able to handle one AV14 threat, three AV13 hulls, two units of AP2 armour yet have six scoring units with at least four of them wrapped in an armour transport to make them more survivable for example.]
Positioning is based on spotting advantages. The driving question is Where do things need to be before the chaos begins?
[Stelek's 5th Edition Daemon deployment defense would be a great example of having a plan and adopting it to the circumstances. He has the plan already, but it is because he is playing Daemons that he can use it. He then makes note of the terrain to provide traps for deep striking daemons and keeping them away from his critical units.]
To plan, you start by identifying critical logical dependencies between necessary actions and time constraints. You plan by making commitments around those things.
To position, you start by identifying critical likely patterns of information flow after tempo epoch shifts. You position by identifying likely islands of calm in the forthcoming information churn. Think about surveying a flood plain that you know will start filling up with swirling waters and howling winds soon. Where are the relatively safe places? What can you do to prepare in those places?
[A lot of Internet opinion is that your battle fortunes are dependent upon your deployment. For Blood Angels players, we need to think about also our reserves and redeploying because of our greater speed than other marine armies. What look like nice places to drop in an Assault Squad or drive your Vindicator 12" onto the board and fire that large blast template. This also means delivering those Assault Terminators into the path of the enemy or force them into a firing lane.]

Preparing for a melee though, is more like training for a sport by raising general fitness levels as high as you can.