Thursday, February 03, 2011

Know Thy Enemy - Part 2: Blood Angels

In the second post in this series I'm going to talk about the Blood Angels. They're the vampires to our were wolves! It's pretty topical since they've recently had some new models and also because I'm playing alongside them in the Warhammer 40,000 Doubles Tournament in a couple of weeks time.

The Basics
The key thing to note about the Blood Angels army is their speed! With pretty much every vehicle being fast, most of their troops having access to jump packs and librarians that can sprout wings they're going to be on you quickly. They're very much an assault orientated army relying on a devastating charge to make short work of their enemies. That doesn't mean to say you won't ever see them shooting it out but personally I think it's a waste of the codex to make a shooty BA army.

The most common type of BA army is a heavily mechanised razorspam list with small assault units inside razorbacks supported by predators and dreads. Also there's a lot of all jump pack lists floating around and I think it's here that we really see them shine. Whilst the transports are cheap and have a lot more firepower I think jump pack lists are a lot harder to deal with for us.

Strengths and Weaknesses
There's no doubting that Blood Angels have a devastating charge. Most of the units either have Furious Charge themselves, are granted it by proximity to a Sanguinary Priest (more of those later) or by succumbing to the red thirst. This means that they're S5 and I5 on the charge. This means that they're hitting our Space Wolves with a flurry of powerful attacks before we've even had chance to make use of Counter Attack. Not to mention you'll struggle shooting them down before combat thanks to their Feel No Pain.

The librarians have some nasty psychic powers that make them combat monsters and their special characters are all pretty fearsome opponents. Dante's curse can really take the sting out of one of your HQ choices too. Their fast vehicles mean that they can power up the battlefield, fire off a volley and still deploy troops.

They sound pretty invincible then? Well not completely. There's no doubt that their charge is nasty but if you charge them then they're no better than normal marines (except for FNP). Therefore if they don't manage to make a mess of you in the first round of combat they may find the tide turning in successive rounds. As with any marine army power weapons and low AP are your friend. 

Their other weakness is that they're very expensive, particulary jump pack armies. A Space Wolf army will nearly always outnumber a BA one and this can be a real problem for them in the long game.
5 Units to Watch Out For
These guys turn a strong army into a ridiculous one. A BA player can have upto 3 as a single elite choice and these can then be assigned to squads individually (in a similar way to our Wolf Guard). Whilst their statline isn't all that exciting the special rules make a huge difference. Any unit within 6" gets Feel No Pain and Furious Charge. That means that a normal assault squad will strike at I5 S5 on the charge and they'll get an additional 4+ save after any failed 3+ saves. You'll be amazed at how many times they seem to pass that 4+. 

This can be a real problem for shooty armies as they rely on thinning out assault units before they reach their lines. Once in combat the priest is fairly easy to deal with as you can pair him up with a shiny power weapon and then his brethren are no better than a normal marine.

This is a pretty broad bracket for Blood Angels as a BA player can field a ludicrous number of dreads. There are three types Furioso, Death Company and Librarian these are in addition to standard dreads. The librarian is pretty self explanatory since he's essentially just a BA librarian in a dreadnought body. Both he and the Furioso dread have AV13 which means they're difficult to deal with in combat. The death company dread has rage which means he has to head towards the nearest target making him a bit awkward to use.

Blood talons can wipe swathes of your troops from the face of the board. Basically as long as they keep scoring kills they keep going! Scary eh?

Normal predators don't see much use these days as they're often dwarfed by better heavy support choices but Baal Predators are Fast Attack. Like other BA vehicles they're fast which means they can cover ground whilst still firing. They come with either a flamestorm cannon or twin-linked assault cannon turret. The flamestorm is the same as featured on Land Raiders and can make short work of power armoured troops.

Baal predators can use their Scouts rule to either get right into your face on Turn 1 or more worryingly they can outflank. This can make them very deadly for removing squads of infantry from objectives even if they aren't close to the table edge.

The Death Company and their chaplain Lemartes can make short work of any squads they come into contact with. The fact that the BA player has limited control over them means that they aren't used too often but when they are it doesn't end well for their opponents. Feel No Pain, Fearless, Furious Charge and Relentless all come as standard for these guys who also have WS 5 and 2 attacks. Not difficult to see why they're one to watch out for!

Although Special Characters seem to struggle to make it into many peoples lists Mephiston is an exception. He's a one man killing machine that very few opponents can overcome in close combat. He has T6, 5 wounds and a 2+ save which means he can soak up more firepower than most vehicles and enemy units will struggle to wound him with normal attacks. His psychic powers (of which he can use 3 per turn) allow him to move as if he has a jump pack, give him Preferred Enemy and S10 power weapon attacks. 

I've seen him make very short work of other independent characters and whole squads of Thunderwolves and thanks to his initiative of 7 he's normally killed everything before he gets hit.

Thankfully he can't join squads and he doesn't have an invulnerable save. This means that high strength low AP isn't his friend but then you're not shooting his tanks! Power fists are his worst nightmare so squads of terminators can worry him.
The brand new Stormraven can deliver an assault squad and dreadnought right into the heart of your lines. Not only that put it packs a nasty punch of its own too. AV12 and no second dice for melta weapons means it won't be straighforward to take down either. Assault Squads are the backbone of any BA force and they can either take cheap transports or jump packs. In their jump pack guise they can deep strike and only scatter d6" which takes a lot of the risk out of it. Commander Dante's squad won't scatter at all when they deep strike and as mentioned before his curse reduces one of your ICs stats quite significantly.

How to beat them with Space Wolves
As I've already mentioned BA rely on the charge. Obviously they're marines so they're not a pushover if they get charged but it's definitely in your interests to deny them the opportunity. Although it can be very easy for them not to field any transports it's also possible that they'll have tons so you're going to need your Long Fangs. Krak missiles will also make short work of FNP targets as they're S8 and AP3 negates any saves (except cover of course). Vindicators can give even FNP models a headache but I'd only take them if you know you're fighting BA as they aren't brilliant otherwise.

Unlike our Grey Hunters, BA assault troops have to sacrifice a bonus attack if they want to take meltaguns which helps your cause. Be sure to stay in your transport until the last possible moment so that they run the risk of failing to demech you and being forced to waste their charge destroying a rhino. Power weapons are your friend as always and be sure to keep an eye on those Sanguinary Priests, ensuring that your power weapons will be able to assign attacks to them. On the charge your grey hunters won't have much of a problem but if they get charged by BA then make sure you've got Wolf Standards to give you some nice re-rolls. I personally love using Ragnar Blackmane against them. Not only is he I6 on the charge but he allows us to play the Furious Charge game too!

Since they're normally going to get FNP your opponent will probably not spend too much time worrying about getting them a cover save so use this to your advantage and pepper any squad that breaks into the open. FNP will mean that your firepower isn't all that effective but if there's no vehicles for you to take down then by all means go for the troops.

If you opponent is fielding Death Company then use their Rage to your advantage. Make sure that you keep an eye on which unit is closest to them and you can steer them away from objectives and out of cover. Focus some firepower onto dreadnoughts and try and keep them immobilised. The specialist ones tend to lack long range fire so if you can keep them at arms length they aren't too big a threat.

Finally, Mephiston, feel free to use your heavy weapons on him, he especially doesn't like meltaguns and plasma weapons too. It may seem a waste to use these against something other than a transport but then you have to weigh up which is a bigger threat. As I've already mentioned terminators aren't his friend so Thunder Hammers, Power Fists, Wolf Claws and Frost Blades are all likely to cause him problems.

1 comment:

  1. excellent write-up, thank you so much for this website!


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