40K Editorial: Blood Angels Suck!

Does this apply to Gothic space vampires?

A guest editorial by Jason, aka Raw Dawger, on the Blood Angels and their failings as he sees them.

Hello, my name is Jason, and I am a Blood Angels player (Hello Jason!).  I’m here today to talk about the most played army and why it consistently loses every tournament.  Take a tournament, any tournament, and I would be willing to bet my left nut that the majority of armies you will see will be the Sons of Sanguinius.  It’s like clockwork; I can set my watch to it.  The sea of red is undeniable, and I want to ask one simple question.  Why?  Why are players bringing an army that has no way to deal with top tier tournament lists?  Why are players bringing 7 dreadnaughts to face off against Space Wolf missile spam?  Why are players bringing DOA to a tournament that features armies such as Horde Orks and Dark Eldar Venom spam?  I could go on for hours asking these rhetorical questions to myself, in the dark, naked.  But I won’t.  Having played every possible variation of the Blood Angels, I have come to the conclusion that the army is firmly stuck in the middle tier and won’t be going anywhere soon.


Space Vampires!

(I hear a cacophony of noise!) What’s that?  What about Razorspam you ask?  You have a point there, at this moment the most viable build for the Blood Angels is Razorspam, the act of building a list entirely around fast moving razorbacks with min-maxed assault squads.  What’s the problem with this build?  I’m glad you asked, chump.  In a killpoints game against Long Fang spam, Psyrifle dread spam, or venom/lances/blaster spam, you may as well shake your opponents hand and get an early lunch.  Yes, you get fast razorbacks that can move 6” and fire a twin linked plasma gun and lascannon.  That’s just great, except you are forgetting that those same vehicles are also armor 11, which means in a universe with a plethora of strength 7+ shots, your razorback has about as much chance as a corndog in Iowa.  Oh, remember your brilliant tactic of having 5 naked assault marines with a flamer inside the transport?  Well, they’ll be leaving next.  2 kill points.  Backing up these Razorbacks will usually be 3 Baal Predators (which, admittedly, can be very devastating, if you don’t move over 6’’) and three Dakka Predators (also equally devastating, these are actually my favorite units in the game).  The problem with this is that codices are and have been for some time very anti-mech oriented, which means while your super fast armor 13 tanks may be damaging the enemy, a good tournament player will be laughing his ass off as his 20+ missile launchers/Dark Lances/twin-linked strength 8 auto cannons/etc wipe your ass off the table. Nice job, schmuck!  Speaking of anti-mech, this leads us to our next “viable” Blood Angel build, the DOA.

The DOA stands for Decent of Angels, that is, an army consisting of marines sporting the Blood Angels’ favorite type of equipment, the jump pack.  Typically what you will see in this army are several assault squads with tri-melta/powerfist combos, Sanguinary Guard (super assault squads with no invulnerable save = fail), priests (a  75-90 point, one wound, toughness 4 model, great value!) and expensive named special characters in order to conceivably overwhelm your opponent with the most proficient close combat army in the universe.  The problem is, Blood Angels are HARDLY the best assault army in the game, you just get pay the points to pretend they are.  Go ahead, charge that Grey Knight unit that is half your size.  What’s that? That mob of Orks spoiling for a fight?….guess what, you lose.   IG blob squads eat you for lunch.  So what are you paying for?  Well, hopefully marines that feel no pain and have furious charge, which will cost you around 225 points for three priests to spread around your army (with jump packs).  This build used to be somewhat viable when you were able to combat squad units before deep-striking, but thanks to the most recent Codex Space Marine FAQ this is no longer allowed (i.e. you cannot split your 10 man squad in half and then drop them.)  Don’t get me wrong, the ability to scatter 1d6 and re-roll the reserves die is huge, and is the reason you see so many DOA armies at tournaments.  The main problem with this build, and all Blood Angel builds, is that you don’t get the efficiency for the point cost that other codices enjoy.  Sure, that 350 point Vanguard Veteran unit looks cool on paper, but the reality is in a one on one fight with other dedicated assault units such as Thunderwolf Cavalry, the fight is more lopsided than when Arnold Schwarzenegger beat up that fat guy in Commando.


Next Up,


Popular Blood Angel unit choices and why they fail!

Wow! Some strong opinions expressed here. Anyone feel that this is a stern, but fair opinion? Any dissenters? I do have to agree that I see more Blood Angels players at events than any other army, and rarely see them win. But, Paul Murphy has consistently done well with them, as have a few other tournament players. However, are they the exception to the rule? 


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

35 Responses to “40K Editorial: Blood Angels Suck!”

  1. J Mac December 2, 2011 9:37 am #

    As a avid BA player myself, I want to fight this argument with all my might. But then reality slaps me in the face and I have to confront the truth that is this article.

    I agree that in BA you overpay for something to be, at best, mediocre at it. They have very few things going for them (fast vehicles, easy access to FNP, and some kick ass dreadnoughts) and they just don’t synergize very well on the field.

    On top of this depressing mess of truth, they have some bad match ups as previously noted.

    • Reecius December 2, 2011 5:25 pm #

      I think there are some ways to play this army and make them work, I just think that playing them in “fluff” mode will result in failure. A 14pt Genestealer will kill a buffed out BA assault marine with FA, and FNP that costs triple, most every time. It stinks when a book being played they way it is represented in the fluff, doesn’t perform well. That leads to upset gamers.

      • TheDave December 2, 2011 11:21 pm #

        Having played Nids for a while, I know for a fact that a 14pt Genestealer will NOT kill a BA Assault Marine with FnP “most every time”. That Genestealer would be lucky to not be going through some kind of difficult terrain causing it to go at Initiative 1, and if it doesn’t, it has to rend which is a 1-in-6 chance per its three attacks on the charge (this isn’t even counting that it has to roll to hit). Not very feasible on a one-on-one basis.

        I’m also not sure I follow you regarding a Blood Angels army not playing the way it’s represented in the fluff. I’ve seen DoA, Tactical armies lead by Tycho, and razorspam all do extremely well. (We weren’t talking about “in tournaments” with this point). I still believe it is generalship, list composition, and luck.

        • Reecius December 3, 2011 12:44 am #

          I agree that generalship is the most important factor in a game, but in competitive play, which is what we were talking about, we have found DoA armies to have some terrible match-ups, Nids and Daemons being the worst. I play Bugs and at least in California, we have a really large percentage of Blood Angels players, predominantly DoA. I have never seen them beat Nids or Daemons. I personally have tabled or nearly tabled DoA armies with my bugs every single time I have played them. Initiative 6 and Rending with WS6 means that all the points that go into the buffs for the marine player are largely wasted.

          Does this mean that I believe that in all circumstances this will be the case? No. But in my experience and mathematically, it is true.

          You are right that if the Stealer is charging into terrain, the odds change a lot, but that is not something we can really quantify as it depends on the actual game, not theory. Typically, jump units aren’t going through terrain, but perhaps your experience is different. What I do know, is that my Geanstealers, whether charging or getting charged, tend to shred any MEQ unit, baring Purifiers, with ease. Your experience may differ.

          • The Dave December 5, 2011 1:22 am

            Ah, see here in the Rocky Mountains we don’t really have a strong showing of DoA (there are a lot of them, but they don’t dominate a tournament), and so that’s my bad for not thinking about the meta regionally.

            As for Genestealers shredding MEQ, yes, my experience differs drastically because I don’t run DoA. I actually understand what you’re talking about now, after thinking about it. You’re referring to “MEQ” in your post as a 5-man DoA Assault squads, and I have to agree that against that, sure you’ll “Shred” them. You won’t be doing that against a 10-man Jumping squad with a Sang Priest, or a 10-man squad coming out of a Land raider with a Priest, Libby, and/or Chaplain. 😉

            So yes, in reference to DoA, Tyranids will annihilate those MEQ units, you’re right. The problem is DoA was intelligently designed to fight the overall meta, which is typically mechanized armies.

          • Reecius December 5, 2011 9:44 pm

            No worries, we don’t take offense to much of anything around here! Yes, we were referring to small squads of Blood Angels, even with FA and FNP, get wrecked by faster Steelers that ignore their expensive bonuses. The game is highly local, what works in one area may or may not work somewhere else. Like we always say, take our data here and use it as advice or a starting point, and mold it to fit your play style and local meta as our tactics may not work where you’re at.

            And we love the BA’s too! Three of our teammates play them, they have just been frustrated with their table top performance, here.

  2. TheDave December 2, 2011 12:11 pm #

    Wow. It sounds like this individual went to a tournament and got STOMPED by better generals using better lists, and thus went on your blog/website to post this EXTREMELY heated rant. I feel compelled to say I’m not a fan of this guy name-calling every other paragraph. It’s a bit childish and not very fun to read as a Blood Angels player. I appreciate sarcasm and comedic cynicism as much as the next guy, but this was a bit much.

    Anywho, down to the topic at-hand. I have no problems with my Blood Angels. I’ve been playing them since 1996 (2nd Edition) and I honestly believe that with this codex we have a better chance of winning tournaments than ever before. Does that inherently mean we can win every tournament? No, and I honestly wouldn’t want it to be that way. In a perfect word, every codex is balanced, unique, and on a level playing-field. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I like a challenge, and the current Blood Angels codex presents a mild one. This book is not built around auto-win units like Grey Knights, Dark Eldar, and Space Wolves, but it’s also not chock-full of garbage like Tyranids, Sisters, and Tau (the main culprit here though is Nids).

    Yes, there are dumb units in the codex. Yes, certain match-ups are simply an up-hill battle for us. Yes, there is no easy button in this codex.

    Every book has dumb units in them. Every book has bad match-ups. And seriously, Blood Angels have won tournaments multiple times. I don’t know what this guy’s on about. Ever heard of Jawaballs, or DZero? I’m sure there’s PLENTY more, but I don’t really want to do any research since this guy didn’t either.

    Look, I don’t think anyone actually thinks Blood Angels are not competitive, or a tier-one army. They’re a fantastic army and they’re capable of lots of interesting and competitive builds.

    Rankings HQ actually lists them as the best army in the game right now.
    (click the link, then click the “Army Rankings” tab)

    So, at the end of the day, how much an army “sucks” really comes down to generalship and list composition (well, luck plays a part too I guess). There ARE codexes that are simply more powerful than others, but Blood Angels isn’t at the bottom of the pile by a long shot. It takes time, patience, and practice to learn how to use any army to its full potential, and ranting about how the army sucks compared to Space Wolves, Grey Knights, and Dark Eldar does nothing but let you vent and waste your time when you should be playing more games and having more fun with the hobby.

    • Reecius December 2, 2011 5:24 pm #

      As far as RankingsHQ, that is the best player, not best army. Paul is a very good general (he knocked me out of the Adepeticon Finals with his Blood Angels) but I don’t think one player’s success is indicative of a codex on the whole. I must admit as an avid TO and tournament player that, while Raw Daogger’s article is very full of cynicism and emotion, there is some truth to the fact that you see LOTS of Blood Angels armies at events but rarely do they take the top spots.

      I agree with you though, that they don’t suck. I think you can build some very powerful, and fun lists out of that book. And characters like Mephiston and the Sanguinor add a lot of flavor to the army without being stupidly overpowered.

      Thanks for the constructive feedback, TheDave.

      • TheDave December 2, 2011 11:25 pm #

        Actually if you follow the instructions and click the “army rankings” tab like I pointed out, you get to see how the armies have done in a tournament environment. The player’s name to the right of that army (which happens to be Jawaballs) is just the “best player” of that army, not their personal record (you have to click their name for that). By clicking that tab, you get to see how many points each army has scored in tournaments, and currently Blood Angels have scored more points than Space Wolves, making them “better overall” due to the generals commanding them.

        And no problem. I’ve got to stick up for my red dudesmen wherever and whenever I can. 🙂

        • Reecius December 3, 2011 12:45 am #

          Huh, I never noticed that function, thanks for pointing it out!

          • The Dave December 5, 2011 12:48 am

            No problem! And as J Mac pointed out, I hope no one’s taking my stern arguments to heart. I love my Blood Angels, and have been a fan-boy for almost two decades. 🙂

  3. italiaplaya December 2, 2011 5:26 pm #

    Blood Angels are still competitive. Like I’ve been telling you, I’ll play you with my build and show you how its done haha. You are correct on one thing though. DOA is horrible.

    To TheDave, The reason why BA rank so high on that website is because they are the most played army in the game. That may have slowed down a little bit with the Grey Knights. But you can be damn sure to see a majority showing of BA players in tournaments.

    • TheDave December 3, 2011 12:16 am #

      I disagree. Blood Angels are by far not the most played army in the game, at least at tournaments. If you look at the spread from major tournaments over the last year, that WITHOUT A DOUBT goes to Space Wolves. Hell, at Adepticon, 44/48 “Counts-As” requests were for Space Wolves, and that’s NOT including how many ACTUAL Space Wolves armies were there. If you take a look at BoLS coverage of tournaments, including anyone else’s, you’ll find that Wolves outnumber other armies regularly.

      I don’t know how many tournaments you’ve watched or been to, but I’ve watched a lot of tournament coverage videos, read a lot of after-action articles, and been to several GT’s myself, and Wolves have always been strongly represented. Yes, Blood Angels make a very solid showing too, but then so do ‘Nilla Marines, GK, and IG, and this fluctuates from event to event based on participation.

  4. J Mac December 4, 2011 9:06 am #

    Dear TheDave,

    I really hate to argue against you as everyone else is here, but I feel you make some strong arguments and that you can handle it 🙂

    As a Blood Angel player myself, it hurts to read such a hateful article that is even titled “Blood Angels Suck!”. While not the most constructive title for such an article, it serves some truth.

    I agree that BAs have some very bad match ups. Nids may not be they very best example, but, Orks outnumber you, Guard outshoots you, and Space wolves… well come on, thats just not fair. These three noted are the other armies you see at the tourneys below the angels, and that is according to your source. So now common sense tells you that since these bad match ups will rise above everytime. Like Reecius has said, from experience in California we see Blood Angels predominantly and they continuously fail despite generalship.

    TheDave, I appreciate and admire your faith to our dying chapter. Unfortunately, it appears to be as the fluff applies, dying. 🙁

    On a side note, are you JustDave on Dakka?

    • The Dave December 5, 2011 12:45 am #

      J Mac,

      Nope, I’m not “JustDave”. I’m THE Dave lol. My online aliases are dbgoldberg323, Sons of Sanguinius, and “The Dave” (a nickname my friends gave me). Anyways, yes I can handle a discussion and I don’t think anyone’s up in arms, I think we’re just expressing views and opinions that are wildly different based on our personal experience and knowledge. I agree, I’ve got to keep the faith, but I certainly disagree that Blood Angels is a dying chapter. Again, this is our strongest book yet, and I don’t think anyone can seriously say with a straight face that Blood Angels can’t cut the mustard in a tournament. They’re FANTASTIC but they take a bit of getting used to, that’s for sure.

      The only thing I don’t like about the new book is the use of the Rage USR. It’s honestly a SUPER-FLUFFY rule, and it makes total sense, but it really fucks the unit that has it. When I opened this new Blood Angels codex for the first time and didn’t see the option to eliminate Rage on the extremely over-priced Death Company via attaching a Chaplain or a Special Character, I about went into my own Black Rage.

      Otherwise, I’ve learned that this codex operates almost 100% on re-rolls through Chaplains, Librarians with Unleash Rage, and Sanguinary Priests granting Feel no Pain (okay, not a re-roll, but close enough). That seems to be the gimmick for this book, and I spam it wherever and whenever possible. I happen to love it too.

      • Mike December 7, 2011 6:09 am #

        First of all, i like your bat reps and i find you to be reasonable man. However, i do not this that BA’s are as casual as you think.

        Mainly because I am from Europe, I can prove you wrong, last tourney i have been only 2 BA armies were present (which one was mine) out of 50+.

        Moreover i do find myself an un-orthodox BA player, while i did lists like dual LR or dual SR supported with Meph. Believe it or not they both work for me. Recently i run SR list with Meph supported with vindie and i am very happy to see how good BA can be. SR list seems to be underrated, but it outperforms DOA list for sure. Not sure with razor spam as i never liked the idea.

        As has been mentioned before, army shouldn’t be judged in vacuum; because there is many dependable that overall result is based upon.

        Mike (BloodTzar)

        • Reecius December 7, 2011 3:36 pm #

          Thanks for the feedback Mike! I actually didn’t write this article, it was a guest piece, but I hear what you are saying. I will ask Jason to come in and add his two cents.

  5. Kasil December 7, 2011 10:56 am #

    As a BA player, I sort of agree with your article. I am absolutely very happy with our codex, there are lots of options and I find it generally very well balanced. I like the codex so much, in fact, that I think it (and Dark Eldar) is at the level the game should be balanced around. So, I agree with your article that BA has problems in so far as I feel that Grey Knights, Space Wolves and Imperial Guard need to be toned down.

    5 points for S8 on a dread with 4 twin-linked shots, is that a joke? Ignore shaken/stunned on a Ld test of 10, if it wasn’t a joke before it must be now! 3+ cover save, this is forgeworld, right?

    I can accept some level of bad matchups, people talk about BA losing to Nids in combat, which makes sense! Nids have bad matchups too, so it evens out. When the entire codex is clearly outmatched, that’s when I would agree that BA sucks, but its not BA’s fault…

    • Reecius December 7, 2011 10:12 pm #

      I couldn’t agree with you more about the stupid Psyfilman dread, that thing is stupid. It should cost 145 to 155 for what it does.

      Oh well.

      Blood Angels are an army that can be very powerful, I believe, but that need to be played differently than their fluff would suggest. That is kind of a bummer, IMO.

  6. Dan Katz December 12, 2011 6:43 pm #

    Befroe they nulled combat squading deep striking units, DOA were actually very scary.

  7. Pascal Roggen December 14, 2011 1:21 am #

    just checking in on the no combat squading on the drop… was that the faq question on drop pods and not combat squadding so one is on the ground and the other is in the pod? because as far as I’m aware quite different to combat squadding on the deployment, i.e. when you drop. with the whole squad and split in two.

    on a slightly more relevant note, in my personal experience, Ba can be bloody deadly, doa does get pretty badly beat up by nids, however I’ve been playing a lot with death company and DC dreads in storm ravens with drop podding fragnuaghts[ some assault 5man s in dp’s for scoring] all with magna grapples and, holy cow, have I been making a serious mess of every list I’ve come up against.

    going first is gravy massive alpha strike, going second you can see where your oppononets missle launchers etc are and place the SR’s out of range most of the time negating the need to reserve and come in piecmeal. with 8 to [3 srs’ crazy enoguh for you:P] 12 72 inch range str 8 ap1 missles flying off and effectively a 6inch longer range twin linked lascannons you can at the very least supress opponents tanks.

    couple that with the fragnaughts melta gun magna grapple and frag canon you can easily wreck a vehicle or if you lucky some troops and a couple of vehicles. dropping two or three of them leaves serious targetting issues for your opponent.

    and finally the DC dread/s coming out of stormraven/s it has a max threat range of almost 30inches, first turn charges available, magna and melta means more vehicle popping action.

    I’m having a blast right now and scaring the pants off of opponents:). It’s of course just personal experience in local gaming stores and clubs but hey we use what we have.

  8. Generalissimo_Fred December 28, 2011 4:39 pm #

    If each BA archetype has a problem, why not take all of them and play each game to the lists strengths?

    2 jumper squads with priests and IC’s – for DOA
    2 min size razorback squads – fast moving tank sniping
    4 armor 13 tanks – strong armor frontline

    When you play against a spam list, use the units you have that counter that spam. The other units act as blockers for the ones you have that win the game for you.

  9. Iaipunk January 1, 2012 8:42 am #

    I’m sure am late getting to this forum, but I would have to agree that there are MANY Blood Angels players at tourneys where I play. Also, They seem to be a better-than-average army, but not amazing.

    The last tourney I attended was Feast of Blades in Colorado. The third tier (the one I ended up in day two) seemed like there were plenty of Blood Angels. I’m not sure any made it into the top tier.

    Not complaining, but I think our armies are mediocre. With good generalship, we end up ahead of the pack, but it takes more than that to finish on the top.

    • Reecius January 2, 2012 11:41 am #

      They do seem to be over-represented and under-performing. We see them all over the place here, but seldom do they take a top spot at an event.

  10. hardcore January 5, 2012 9:03 pm #

    My brother plays Blood Angles and I think that a lot of it comes down not just to what you have but how you play.

    With mechanized taking two librarians, sticking them in Landraiders and half of the armies in the game are eating an early lunch.
    you also neglected to mention that moving 12 and popping smoke is a very valid tactic.

    With death wing you have to keep in mind the two inch rule, and be smart about your assaults.

    I would love to see you (at Frontline) post a battle report of one of these two styles of lists against a list that Reecius

    • Reecius January 6, 2012 9:32 am #

      I think we can actually field those models, we’ll have to try that out.

  11. Smurfykins January 7, 2012 4:16 pm #

    I was amused, but this article is more of “why I am having trouble with Blood Angels” to me. Have fun with the future posts of whining! Thanks Reecey, if I ever run into each other in the LA area, I hope I don’t hear this kind of attitude save from a 6 year old.

    • Reecius January 7, 2012 7:02 pm #

      This was a guest article, not written by me.

  12. tpm January 12, 2012 7:35 am #

    Whoa.. I just saw this while I was checking out your 6th ed commentary.

    Reecius, thanks a lot for the compliments.. I’d be happy to play the author 😀

  13. Lys January 18, 2012 7:20 am #

    I would like to disagree. This is simply due to the fact that you could easily use drop pods, Ravens, and a bit heavier on the troops and you could push through. Just a matter of tactics.

    • Reecius January 18, 2012 9:41 am #

      True, and as I like to point out, Raw Dogger’s article was meant to be a humor piece, not a real tactical exploration.

  14. Black Blow Fly May 6, 2012 7:48 am #

    Blood Angels got hit very hard by the nerf bat when the new GK were released. If it was for that they’d still be a top army.

  15. Doomrider May 9, 2012 10:59 pm #

    Why are you complainging so much if you dont play BA and they so bad they lose all the time. If that was the case you should be thankful you should be them. But as for your complaining about so many of them makes me think they are actually giving you the beat down you put so much effort in writing the article to a losing Army you play against. Would just be hoorah !!! BA I win. But not the case your whining about how many are out there so I take you losing alot.

    • Doomrider May 9, 2012 11:02 pm #

      My bad sorry read you 1st sentence again and says you are a BA player. Sorry for your losses are Tourneys. I play mine and I win 8 of 10 times. The jump pack is cool but no ideal like the fluff has it. My army works with Assualt squads in Rhinos racing across the field.

      • Reecius May 10, 2012 5:46 pm #

        Hey Doomrider, Raw Dogger wrote this article as a joke, it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.

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