Monday, May 24, 2010

Liturgies of Blood: Blood Angel Codex Review Part One

Now that the blood angels’ have been running on a real bound codex rather than a pdf for a while now I suppose I can go ahead and give a review of what has changed, both for the army and for the game itself.

First let’s look at the codex itself. As the Blood Angels are a space marine chapter we have nearly all the goodies of the vanilla space marine codex are here with a few exceptions such as the Legion of the Damned (apparently they don’t like Blood Angels, Dark Angels, or Templar), the Master of the Forge, the Thunderfire Cannon (and to those of you who would have used the cannon, I’m sorry both of you), Ironclad Dreadnought (they have been replaced with a cooler dreadnought anyway) and the generic Space Marine Chapter Master. Although the Chapter Master was pretty much a Captain with the addition of an orbital bombardment and we still have Captains (without the orbital, of course) who is down some bits of wargear and the option to make bikes troops. Other than that the squads have largely been copied and pasted into the new codex, but we are space marines so no surprise there.

“So what makes the new Blood Angels special?” you might say. Well, it’s all the new things that we have and different things that have carried over and our very own special characters (more on them in a bit). For instance we have our new special rules. The regular space marine rules are still present, while the ability the chose to fail leadership test is gone and has been replaced with new Blood Angel oriented rules (a pretty good trade really). Harkening back to the third edition codex (last time we had an actual codex we didn’t have to print off of a pdf) where all infantry (including jump infantry and bikes) had furious charge and a kind of ”half-rage” and the fourth edition pdf where only the death company had, or could get for that matter, furious charge is a rule that makes all infantry, jump infantry, bike, and dreadnoughts roll a die at the beginning of the game, after deployment, but before the first turn. Any rolls of 1 mean the squad has given in to the red thirst gain for fearless and furious charge (why this is on a 1 which typically means a failure I don’t know as it is pretty good). The other new army wide special rule is a rule for jump infantry (minus the Vanguard Vets for reasons probably known only to Matt Ward) that lets them reroll for reserves when coming in from deep strike and has them scatter less. This is a cool way of showing the BA’s expertise with jump packs and makes deep striking a much more appealing and deadly option.

Then we come to the new units. Assault Squads, while having been copied and pasted from the space marine codex are a Troops choice for the Blood Angels. It is definitely nice that they kept this as this is one of the core aspects that has come to define the BAs. Rhino based vehicles (rhinos, razorbacks, predators, Baal predators, whirlwinds, and vindicators) have also gotten an upgrade. All of them cost an additional a few more points and have the same possible upgrades, but are fast. Land Raiders can now deep strike, but that almost never works out well, so we’ll just ignore it. The Death Company are now a regular troops choice costing a few more points than a Assault Marine (jump packs cost additional and can get real expensive) and come with the ability to buy power weapons/fists (no more rending), have furious charge and FNP standard, and can never hold a point (‘cause they be craaaaaazy). Lemartes is now just an upgrade charcter for the death company. Death Company Dreadnoughts are now their own troops choice (as a vehicle they can’t hold a point though) and they same loadout as the Furioso dreadnoughts discussed below, but without the increased front armor, furious charge, fleet, rage, and a new rule which grants them immunity from shaken and stunned (just like the old Moriar from the 3rd edition).

For HQs the only new guy (other than the special characters) is the Reclusiarch, who is a slightly buffed up chaplain, the regular chaplain having been downgraded to an Elite choice. For Elites we have the Furioso Dreadnought, who more or less replaces the Ironclad with his increased front armor, the Sanguinary Guard, and the Sanguinary Priests. The Furioso comes with two Dreadnought close combat weapons, called Blood Fists, one having an underslung meltagun and the other a storm bolter. The biggest change is the option to replace the fists for Blood Talons, which wreak havoc on infantry by generating additional attacks that can also generate additional attacks and acting like lightning claws by allowing rerolls of failed To Wound rolls. The down side is the claws don’t give the strength increase like dreadnought close combat weapons, so no more anti tank punches. The Sanguinary Guard are terminators with wings without the invul save or the good weapons. They cost as much as a regular terminator, come in squads of five (no more, no less), have a regular marine stat line, artificer armor, storm bolters with an extra AP (mounted on their wrist) and two-handed master crafted power swords. Note that despite two-handing the swords they get no bonus out of it and essentially just lose an attack they could have from being dual-armed. They can, however, take the chapter banner and/or fancy new masks like Dante wears which make enemies they are assaulting pass a leadership or lose their weapon skill for the combat (still aren’t worth their points though). Last new addition to the Elite slot is my personal favorite, the Sanguinary Priest. These guys are fairly cheap for what they do (jump packs still cost extra though). They are independent characters, although three of them can fit in one elites slot. They have a pretty standard stat line (regular marines, but with one higher weapon skill), and no invul. What makes them rock though, is their Blood Chalices. These essentially turn even regular units into the Death Company without the downside of not being able to control them. Corbulo is now an upgrade character for these guys rather than an HQ and comes with an interesting rule that lets you reroll any one dice, regardless of what it is for, once per game as long as he is alive. For new Fast Attack we have the Baal Predator. Tanks in my Fast Attack? It is more likely than you think. These guys are predators that have the scout rule and come with either a twin-linked assault cannon or a flamestorm cannon (enough AP to kill space marine out of terminator armor and just enough strength to do it on a 2+). Useful for scounting in turn one, killing a few dudes and then soaking up fire while the rest of your army moves up. The only new Heavy Support is the Storm Raven, sort of the space marine answer to the Imperial Guard’s Valkryie . It is has the same armor as a drop pod, but can ignore the melta rule. It has high AP one-shot missiles, a twin-linked assault cannon, and a twin-linked heavy bolter (that can be changed to a twin-linked multi-melta for free). It is an assault vehicle (although if it moves flat out guys who get out may scatter, take dangerous terrain tests, and can’t assault) that can carry 12 models (no terminators, jump pack guys count as two models) AND a dreadnought. I just really like the idea of a dreadnought jump with a flying ship onto very surprised infantry.

That’s it for the new units of Blood Angels. Check out my upcoming article on the new and returning special characters for the Blood Angels, how these BA-dasses work, and how they stack up to everything else.

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