Thursday, December 18, 2014

New 7th Edition Blood Angels Codex Review - HQ (Part 1 of 2)

Welcome back to the Blood Angels codex review. In this second guest post, Matt will start to look at the units in the new BA book beginning with the HQ section. Since this is a pretty meaty portion of the book Matt has decided to split it into two posts with part 2 coming later in the week. I hope you enjoy...

No-one runs SM Captains generally. I think it's because they don't benefit the rest of the army in any way and Chapter Masters are a better choice if running regular marines. I think that the same is true here, there are better HQ options and I can't think of a good reason to run a Captain over one of the special characters or a Librarian/Priest. Even with the relics they are not that much better in combat than a Librarian or Priest who can also take  relics.

These will see some use, especially when run alongside beatstick characters (explained below). The downside is no access to Telepathy and therefore they can't cast, everyone's favourite power, Invisibility. However, the Blood Angel powers themselves are actually pretty good (well half of them are):

  1. Fear of Darkness was my favourite power back in 5th ed. and it is still really good now. Even a unit with leadership 10 is made to take a test on leadership 8, which is very easy to fail. Proper use of this power on units close to the board edge can cause those units to run off the board (I still remember destroying a large unit of Alex's thunderwolves with this power back in 5th by doing just that! (thanks for reminding me - ed.)) At the very least against non-ATSKNF or Fearless units it can break them, making them pretty useless for a turn 
  2. Unleash Rage – this is great when cast on any unit, but especially nice on Death Company. Run a large unit of Death Company and hope to roll this. +1 attack for the entire unit on a unit that already has a shed load of attacks, great.
  3. Shield is now a 5++ save, a bit weak compared to some of the other powers especially since it only effects the psyker's own unit. If it had a radius of effect then it would be great, but as it is it's OK, and will be useful in some circumstances, but overall with the current meta of high volume fire it's not that great
  4. Blood Boil - pretty similar to Haemorrhage from Biomancy, both are warp charge 2 and both are probably the worst power in their respective discipline. I don't know why they thought it was worthy of warp charge 2, but saying that Blood Boil is slightly better due to the large blast explosion if the model dies. Against most units it won't be a worry but against low toughness low armour save units such as Kroot or various Eldar it could wreak havoc and potentially almost destroy the unit or cause enough damage to make them run due to the blast also ignoring cover.
  5. Blood Lance – pretty good, shame its not 18” range though, beams are much better now that they don't drop in strength after every hit. Get a few models lined up with this and see them vanish, even multi wound T4 models have to worry due to it being strength 8. AP1 gives it a decent chance of one-shotting a vehicle (or 2 if they're next to each other)
  6. Wings – same as levitation, great if your Libby is with a shooty unit with shortish range, also not bad if he is with a CC unit who needs to get up the field sharpish, just a shame that you can't assault after the move. But wait! Levitation is only warp charge 1 while this power is warp charge 2. That's not fair I hear you cry but what you may have missed is the fact that wings can be cast on any friendly unit within 12”, that makes this power much more useful and random units suddenly moving an extra 12” is likely something that your opponent won't see coming!
  7. (Primaris) Quickening – an excellent primaris power if used correctly. I suggest running your BA Librarian with a big beat stick character (*cough* Dante) and cast this on him, turns him into an absolute beast! Of course there are plenty of other Imperial beat sticks out there so choose one you fancy beefing up and get this cast on them. For example, Draigo would enjoy having 8 attacks on the charge at initiative 8!!

I think I will mostly run these just as ML1 with a jump pack to go with a large CC squad and another character to beef up. I think that this is the best option as you can guarantee getting the primaris and so you may as well make use of it and the other power he gets will either make the squad even better in combat or it will give the unit a bit more utility in the form of an offensive ranged attack.

What. The. Hell. What kind of Blood Angel Captain goes around without any form of close combat weapon? Especially considering Erasmus Tycho is supposed to be a crazy bastard bloodthirsty killing machine who goes absolutely mental and falls to the black rage, but apparantly doesn't like knives. I don't get it, he's loads of points for a Captain with a one shot long ranged melta, WHAT?

Librarian Dreadnought
I used to love these when they could fly. Not anymore, decent idea but I can't make my mind up about them. I think most of the Sanguinary powers work best when the librarian is in a squad and half the Biomancy powers won't work, you aren't gonna use him to summon Daemons, so that leaves Pyromany which is rubbish or Divination where some of the powers are pretty useless. What also annoys me here is the fact that it gets less attacks than a regular Furioso due to the force halberd not being a specialist weapon and so not giving an extra attack for 2 weapons. I suppose Force is nice for killing MC's and armour 13 is very hard to get through these days in CC due to the changes to the Smash rule. He would still be annihilated by a Wraithknight though, but should take it with him if he charged at initiative 5 due to the Baal detachment, fairly unlikely scenario though. It's a shame but unless you are running a dread heavy list (which this is actually great for as it allows you to have 6 dreads in your detachment) then I think a regular Librarian is a better choice.

This is my favourite character in 40K, I knew he would get toned down stat-wise but I also thought he would get an AP2 sword, oh well, there is still some good stuff here. He is still an absolute beast and without comparing to how he used to be (which I'm trying not to do remember?) his statline is pretty hefty. The big thing to realise here is that he is an ML3 psyker and he has a statline which rivals many other beatstick characters out there. He still has 6 attacks on the charge and if he takes the Quickening he can boost this up to a potential 9 attacks at initiative 8!! Plus he always has the option of being S10. But if you are going to run him then a much better option is to roll on Biomancy, except for Haemorrhage every power in there is good for Mephi, but obviously what you really want is Iron Srm, this power will give you the old Mephiston back, maybe even better than before with T8 S8 and AP2 attacks. Best scenario is probably Iron arm and Warp Speed if he is protected in a squad, this would make him S10 T8 I8 A8 (9 on charge) and AP2 Force! Nice!!!

Which brings me on to one of his downsides, which is his AP3 sword, but then again that only really matters against Terminators, which lets face it he would struggle against anyway due to his lack of invulnerable save and their abundance of fists and hammers and probably storm shields. Characters and Dreadknights are the only other things that really have 2+ armour and could cause him problems, but don’t forget that his sword is also Force and so one failed save will normally mean instant death, but of course gambling on the fact that your opponent will roll a one is very risky (better to just roll iron arm).

His other downside is his mobility. It is difficult to get him into combat as he is just regular infantry, although he does have Fleet which helps a bit. He is probably best used attached to a decent shooty unit as a counter charge model and gradually moved up to wreck things as the game goes on.

In summary, this guy is still a beast and will make a mess of most units and vehicles in CC, plus he is hard to take down due to being an IC and has the potential to be absolutely ridiculous in combat.

Come back later in the week for the rest of the review of the HQ section and remember that Matt will be working his way through the entire codex over the next few posts. I hope you're enjoying the series so far, don't forget to post comments/queries below.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New 7th Edition Blood Angels Codex Review - General Overview

Firstly an apology for the absence of any posts recently. I've recently picked up an Xbox One (as an early Christmas present) so I've been playing quite a bit of Madden etc. which has eaten up my blogging (and hobby) time. I'll return in full force in the new year though. 

Meanwhile, this is the first post in another guest post series by Matt as, like with the Grey Knights, he's far more familiar with their rules and how to use them to great effect on the battlefield. Over to Matt...

Hello everyone, I've returned for another codex review on Alex’s blog due to my favourite (and first ever) army getting a new codex.

This is my second review after doing the GK codex a while back. I will be sticking to the same format of first looking at army wide rules and wargear before moving onto units one FOC section at a time. I will only be reviewing units that are unique to Blood Angels (or have unique abilities etc.) as we all know what a space marine bike squad does or a drop pod, although they may get mentioned when discussing tactics and army choices.

I also like to try and review the codex based on its own merit without too much comparison to how it was before. It is irrelevant how it was before because those rules are now obsolete, a much more useful thing is to look at how the rules in this codex will work in 7th when compared to other current armies, which is the angle I will look at it from.

Army Wide Special Rules
Combat squads – I only mention this to point out that neither Sanguinary Guard nor Death Company squads have this rule. Death Company perhaps makes sense as they are a bit too mental to tactically break off into smaller units, but you would think Sanguinary Guard would be able to.

Furious Charge – Everyone in the codex has this, which is great and really makes sense for Blood Angels. That extra strength on the charge really makes a difference too especially when charging with a large number of attacks (don't forget this doesn't work on disordered charges).

Warlord Traits
Most of these only affect the warlord and so the table is somewhat similar to the personal table in the main rulebook.

  1. Warlord has Rampage – a bit rubbish, your warlord is often going to be in a unit and so you often won't even get the benefit.
  2. Warlord gets +1 Initiative – Also a bit rubbish, your warlord's initiative will already be quite high, it could make a difference sometimes and is better than the previous one I suppose.
  3. Make a weapon master crafted – perhaps the worst one yet? Re-roll one dice to hit if it's a one. It's fluffy as Blood Angels like to make stuff, but they could have done something better than this like +1 strength to a weapon or something
  4. Warlord has Adamantium Will – now sometimes this really does help, but its still a rubbish trait, if someone really wants to get a power off against you they often will and +1 to Deny is not going to help, sometimes you will roll this when the opponent doesn't even have any psykers.
  5. Descent of Angels – finally a good trait! All skimmers, flyers and jump units re-roll reserve rolls. This is excellent, even if it's just to get your Stormraven in. Plus D6” less scatter on jump and skimmer Deep Strike, which is also great and allows for much riskier deep striking to get those meltaguns in range or to stop enemy units getting out of charge range
  6. All armies of Imperium units are fearless within 12”. This could be awesome if used correctly. The warlord could be in the middle of an Astra Militarum infantry army for example, making the entire army fearless.

The best one here is clearly number 5, which thankfully is Dante's warlord trait....

Most unit specific wargear I will cover when I come to review that specific unit. But there are a few Blood Angel only pieces which can be purchased for a range of units that I want to look at:

Overcharged Engines – One of the best things in the entire codex! Make any vehicle (except Land Raiders) gain the 'fast' unit type. Awesome! Especially on Whirlwinds…… OK, not Whirlwinds (unless the only opponents you play are Orks). But Vindicators really do benefit from this upgrade. A Vindicator always seems great on paper with a S10 AP2 large blast, until you remember its only 24” range. But make a Vindicator Fast and now it can move 12” before firing giving it an effective 36” range, much more viable.

However, my favourite always has been, and probably still is, Fast Predators. Many people will think that making a predator Fast is not worth it, these people are wrong. Making it fast allows you to move it up to 6” and still fire all weapons, this is infinitely better than pivoting on the spot for getting firing solutions and for making it harder for close assault units to get to you and to hit you if they do. Also you can move 12” and still fire 2 of the weapons on full BS compared to all on snap shot without overcharged engines. Predators can be kitted out in many different ways and are perhaps a little underrated at the moment. I used to run mine with autocannon turret and lascannon sponsons, but with the changes to vehicle damage and lower costs I actually think that the classic predator annihilator (all lascannons) is the best way to kit them out for tank and MC hunting. The other way to kit them out is autocannon and heavy bolter sponsons, which puts out 8 shots per turn, 3 of these gives you loads of dakka and will cause massive damage against infantry heavy armies.

Don't forget being Fast allows BA vehicles to deliver passengers and get to objectives much quicker. A Fast Rhino with objective secured could be a game winner.

Magna Grapple – These are great, giving dreadnoughts Move Through Cover all the time and also Fleet when charging vehicles really makes a dreadnought a more tempting option. I'll cover this in more detail when I get to dreadnoughts in the elite section.

Relics of Baal
I'll only talk about the ones that are perhaps worth considering here:

Angels Wing – a jump pack with re-roll scatter (this coupled with Descent of Angels is almost as good as not scattering). Plus can only be Snap Shot when intercepted, makes landing next to Riptides safer (assuming you can kill it before the Tau player's next turn). Also, re-roll results on mishap table makes risking those tight Deep Strike spots much safer. This is definitely worth considering if you plan on deep striking a jump unit in.

Veritas Vitae – gives another roll on Strategic table. If you are not taking a special character as warlord then I suggest taking this and rolling on the Strategic table twice. It is the best warlord trait chart in 40K at the moment so getting two traits from it is great (especially when a CAD will give you a re-roll on the first one - ed.).

Gallian's Staff – this is just like the Liber Daemonica in the GK codex in that it allows you to re-roll 1s when making psychic tests. This is great except it causes an automatic wound if you re-roll a one into a one, which happens to me regularly, so I think I’ll be steering clear. Not bad for the points though I suppose

Valours Edge – for 5 points more than a power sword this is well worth it. I would argue that it is as good if not better than a power fist in many situations. Allows you to strike at Initiative and gives the additional attack if paired with a pistol. This is the sword that Mephiston should have :(

Baal Strike Force
As a BA player you should always run this detachment over a CAD. It is same as a Combined Arms Detachment except that you have to have at least one Elite and can have up to 4, which is nice for lots of Dreadnoughts or Death Company etc. But what makes this detachment great is the +1 Initiative to all BA units on the charge for the entire game. This puts all units on at least Initiative 5, which is above most other armies average initiative. Couple this with Furious Charge and loads of attacks and you will be able to create units that can potentially wipe out enemy units before they can even strike back!

That's it for the first post then. Matt will return in a couple of days with a look at the HQ section. Feel free to post comments here and I'll get Matt to respond. I hope you enjoy the review and that it helps see the silver lining in this book.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Tournament Report - Allies of Convenience (1,650pt - Teams)

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts recently. With my limited free time last week I was concentrating on trying to get my Tau army ready for this tournament. Since it was a team event and A LOT of the guys there were ETC players we knew we'd need to bring out the best armies we could to even be competitive. That meant I needed to convert up some more marker drones, paint Farsight, convert an existing commander into a buff commander (i.e. break off the weapons and stick on sensors), repair a damaged riptide (his arm fell off) and finally buy, build and paint a sky ray. I also had to spray Matt's C'tan too! Suffice to say I haven't found the time to blog!

This was my first event at the beautiful (but freezing cold) Sanctuary Gaming Centre. It's a disused gothic church turned into a gaming centre (hence the dark pictures) which makes for the perfect setting and the "all you can eat" lunch didn't hurt! Tempting me to move venue for Blog Wars! Anyway, there were 10 teams of 4 players who would be paired up over 5 rounds. In each round you had some control over what each of your lists was facing and the added dimension of bluff and double bluff was a welcome change from other events. Each team could only feature each codex once. Our lists were the following:

Tau (Me)
Farsight, 4 bodyguard, buff commander, two riptides, crisis missile team with markers, two kroot units and two sky rays.

Necrons/Assassins (Matt)
Overlord, veil/haywire court, two 5-man warrior units, 3 annihilation barges, transcendent c'tan with seismic shockwave, seismic assault, wave of withering and a culexus assassin

Eldar/SM (Frank)
Farseer on bike, 3 wave serpents with dire avengers, two wraithknights, CM on bike, 6-man bike squad.

Daemons/CSM (Rob)
Two flying nurgle DPs, 2x 10 horrors, 3 soul grinders, CSM nurgle DP, 5 nurgle CSM, mauler fiend.

The tournament was using what I understand are the UKGT missions which have a primary mission (Eternal War), secondary mission (Maelstrom) and tertiary mission (secondary objectives e.g. linebreaker). To get the maximum 20 points from a round you needed to win all three but could still win without. When I first read the pack it came across as a bit confusing but once I was into it I actually quite liked the system. Matt and I have never played with tactical objectives before as we think they're too random, however, with the reduced deck employed here I think they work pretty well (more on that later).

Round 1 - Tau vs. Tyranids/Eldar
I was paired against Nathan Roberts and his flying tyranids with eldar. We thought this would be a pretty decent matchup for me but hadn't reckoned on the eldar being used to summon daemons. To add to the problem Nathan rolled the infiltrate warlord trait bringing his crones right in front of me for turn 1. He took the first turn and I lost a sky ray straight off to the haywire missiles. In response the remaining sky ray took down a hive tyrant after hitting with both it's markerlights. The rest of the army combined to bring down a crone and it was looking like a decent start.

Of course the problem was that the tyranids were right in my face so I had to pretty much ignore the Eldar and their summoning. We were playing on a densely packed table (Nathan's choice) which didn't help matters. Ultimately he was simply killing me quicker than I could him and the spawning daemons made things worse. I was eventually tabled for a 0-20 loss with only Matt taking any points from his game (despite also losing) across the rest of the team. Still this was always going to be a tough matchup against ETC players who are well used to these missions.

Round 2 - Tau vs. Space Marines
Finding ourselves on the bottom tables, I was now playing Myles Davies who was running a flyer heavy Space Marine list. Since my list is pretty much designed to take down his it wasn't long before the largely foot slogging non-flyer portion of his army was reduced to a single marine. His four flyers arrived in two pairs allowing me to take them down piecemeal. It was one of those games where you feel incredibly guilty for bringing the army you have simply because it's a terrible mismatch. With me going first it was never going to be easy for him but with most of his army on foot and my bomb arriving T2 (instead of T4 as in my previous game) it was game over before it had really started.

I took the tabling for a 20-0 win with the rest of my team also securing 20-0 wins of their own for an 80-0 whitewash. I think out of all the rounds we played this weekend, this was the one where we really got out pairings right.

Round 3 - Tau vs. Tyranids/Necrons
Back towards the top then and another ETC heavy team. My opponent would be another Tyranid FMC list but this time with some teleporting necrons to go with it. Once again my opponent rolled the infiltrate warlord trait so once again I'd got FMCs in my face far too early. At the end of my opponent's second turn he flew all of his FMCs off the table leaving a scattering of ground troops. I saw an opportunity to complete a surprise tabling and decided to go for it. It was a hell of a long shot but worth a go. Sadly the odds weren't in my favour and I fell some way short of the tabling. When the FMCs returned I struggled to deal with them thanks to FNP etc. I still had a chance of winning though since I was ahead on tactical objective scoring and there was only the relic to consider for primary.

The mistake came towards the end of turn 4. I had a tactical objective card that needed me to control two objectives and double my opponent's total. I therefore moved the recently arrived bomb towards one of the tactical objective markers instead of the relic. I realised too late that I was already controlling the required two with kroot units on the flanks. This left the relic wide open for one of the necron units who'd been locked in combat with my riptide for most of the game but now used hit and run to hop out of combat and teleport onto the relic in their turn. I managed to kill all but Obyron (or the other guy I forget) who was still clutching the relic when the game ended. With me winning secondary and tertiary objectives (mostly thanks to the disgusting luck I had with the 2+ saves for my buff commander) I took a 10-10 draw.

The rest of the team didn't fare so well. Matt won his game but Frank and Rob both lost which would mean a loss for us overall. Not a great end to the day.

Round 4 - Tau vs. Blood Angels/Imperial Knights
We returned for the second day to find one of the 10 teams had dropped out. The bottom team therefore played a mini tournament between them whilst the rest of us played on. We were paired up with the Claws & Fists team led by Graham Sanders. My matchup would be with Darren Grainger who's had a good while out of 40K but this wouldn't hamper him too much as he's a great player and was using a pretty straightforward to use Imperial Knights and BA list.

The three knights were deployed with the two BA drop pods in reserve along with a stormraven. I tried to down the knights as quickly as I could be should've fired off the sky rays earlier. Instead I intended to save them for use on the stormraven but perhaps would've faired better if I'd fired all their missiles at the knights to whittle them down. The bomb dealt with one of the knights with help from a riptide but were subsequently charged by the seneschal. The seneschal and the other knight survived the game but the BA forces were gunned down before the librarian could summon more than a single khorne herald (who my kroot shot down). Once again the buff commander kept the crisis team alive against the rapid fire battle cannons of the knights.

We were playing the Scouring as the primary mission and I held onto a 3 pt and 1 pt objective to tie with Darren controlling the 4 pt objective. I ended up taking the win on tactical objectives and tertiary mission. The rest of the team had all won 20-0 thanks to some good matchups again.

Round 5 - Tau vs. Space Wolves/White Scars
In our final game we reckoned on playing the team from the Outpost (our FLGS) but thanks to some duplicate matchups we were swapped to play the Peaky Blinders. They had a similar C'tan list, Eldar list and Chaos list to ours. Matt's Necrons were paired with their Eldar and Frank's Eldar were paired with their Necrons. The two Chaos players squared off leaving me to play the Wolves and White Scars combo. This is becoming an increasing common list from what I can tell with bikers supported by multiple TWC characters using the Champions of Fenris supplement. I'll do a more in depth report of this battle as I felt I played it pretty well despite the final result.

Joel was using scout bikers to help him Infiltrate some TWC characters and get them close to my lines straight away. This would negate any advantage I had from playing Hammer and Anvil. I therefore gambled on being able to win the infiltrators roll off with a unit of kroot. The gamble paid off and I was able to string a line of kroot down the centre of the board that prevented him from deploying anywhere but inside his own deployment zone. The kroot then also acted as a screen for my army since he had to shoot at them to make a hole to get his assault units through. Sadly he got the first turn but simply move then turbo'd/ran to get as close as possible.

This allowed me to spend my first turn trying to gun down the grav bikers to protect my riptides. One unit was destroyed for First Strike (like First Blood but each player gets a chance to score it) and I reduced another unit to two bikers. I then moved my missile team forward and used their drones to create another screening unit to slow down the Space Wolves again. They soon fell to TWC but now the Farsight bomb arrived (this time with the buff commander attached). Two of the suits split off to try and finish the grav bikers but fluffed most of their shots (even with a re-roll to hit) and left a biker alive. The rest of the squad struggled to get past the TWC's storm shields but with help from a riptide they cleared some of the scout bikers out.

Joel now moved his ICs around so that the TWC unit no longer had characters in it but instead all of the thunderwolf characters were lined up to charge the bomb with devastating results. One of the riptides held it's own against the remaining scout bikers and a wolf lord but eventually succumbed. The TWC unit now smashed into both sky rays at once leaving just a riptide an a unit of kroot on the table. The riptide perished despite getting a 3++ save from its nova reactor which meant Joel had to cover the length of the board in the remaining turns to kill the kroot and take the tabling.

He sent over the chapter master with a wound left and a wolf lord with two wounds remaining. They got into charge range and I managed to put a wound on the wolf lord with overwatch. They then failed their charge giving me a turn to shoot them which was enough to kill the chapter master. In Joel's turn they again tried to charge after throwing a frag grenade which hit 8 but only killed 1. The kroot overwatch struck again finishing off the wolf lord at the end of Joel's turn 7. With the objectives in space wolf hands and Joel having taken a 10-5 lead in tactical objectives I was left with just the tertiary objectives which the kroot had practically won for me on their own by killing the warlord and scoring linebreaker! That has to go down as the best ever performance from such a flimsy unit that I've ever seen. Yes I lost the game but it was a great way to end the tournament.

The rest of my team had mixed results giving us 42/80 points which was just 3 points shy of the win threshold and hence netted us a draw and 5th place overall.

Considering we've never played in this kind of team event before I was reasonably happy with our results. We were unlucky with some of the matchups and particularly in the first round we didn't really have our share of luck with the dice rolls during the games. Matt's c'tan didn't manage to beat John Holland's wolves list for example thanks to some poor rolling.

I was happy with my performance but incredibly frustrated by my two losses to the nid players. On paper my list should be great against FMCs with the sky rays likely to kill a tyrant in a single volley if they get their marker hits. I'd love to replay the games without the sodding infiltrate warlord trait and see what happened. Still, the rest of the guys in my team probably wouldn't have faired any better as they lacked the amount of skyfire that I had. I was really satisfied with how well the kroot blocking paid off in the final game. Using them to prevent infiltrators might have helped me in the tyranid games had I thought of it then. It's a shame I didn't as things might've played out differently if I had. Of course the FMCs could easily hop over the kroot but they'd have been forced to deploy further back which would've helped.

The buff commander proved to excellent and made the missile team an extremely potent threat to ground and air targets alike. The combination of re-rolls to hit and Tank Hunters coupled with skyray markerlights meant they could deal with flyers pretty well. There was only one game where I put the commander in with the bomb as I was concerned about when they'd arrive and wanted to be making the most of his buffs with the missile team whilst they waited. In one game he then moved over to the bomb when they landed close by.

I must say I enjoyed the team format as a welcome change of pace. It added a different dimension to the games having to think about pairings in advance and relying on the performance of others. If the event is run again next year I'd love to go along. It was great to see Frank, Rob and Gary too and we're determined to get a mini tournament going between us with Jamie roped in as the 6th man (not that he knows that yet).

Finally, the use of tactical objectives has given me a lot to think about for Blog Wars 9. I'm extremely tempted to replace the marmite final mission with Maelstrom to give a bit of variety and embrace 7th edition properly. Watch this space.


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