A Different Perspective on The Spearhead Formation…Of DOOOMMM!!! by Pascal Roggen



It’s always good to get different points of view on hot topics. Dedicated Blood Angels player, Pascal has written in from New Zealand to share his thoughts on the recent debate over the Blood Angels Spearhead Formation. I know folks have strong feelings on this, so please keep in commentary civil. -Reece

Hi there, Pascal your friendly traveling New Zealander is here to calm your frayed nerves about The Spearhead Formation…Of DOOOMMM!!!

For this little article I am taking the formation entirely RAW. The teleport homer rule is entirely separate from the angular triangulation rule. i.e. it works the moment you are on the board[The teleport homer for the cerastus assault ram also allows for this, if you want precedent]
  • Effects from models inside transports are measured from the hull[which is why there are faq’s on Kff’s and power fields]
  • “arriving from deep strike reserves” is clearly defined in the book and is not the same as having the deep strike special rule

For me, and you :), this formation has a rather large number of downsides.

  • In one third of games[long table edges] you will not get a first turn assault. It’s just too far to get remotely possible charges
  • you will fail the reserve roll at a tourney…it’s going to happen
  • it’s incredibly one dimensional, your opponent knows exactly what you will try and do.
  • Interceptor, bubblewrap and overwatch are a thing
  • If you are playing on a table with decent LOS blocking scenery your opponent can simply hide an important unit from assault.
  • 3 full squads of tacticals are a huge points sink. 1020 points for the formation minimum..try making a good list under 1851.
  • Going second with fliers is actually a bad idea[get shot down by opponents fliers, 2nd turn is amazing in the LVO missions]
There have been complaints that it could simply take a unit off the board without being able to play it. That very complaint could be levelled at powerful shooting units, especially ones that can ignore cover. There is ,however, no real downside to having a powerful shooting unit. They don’t have to roll to see if they get on the board, they don’t force you to arbitrarily take a large amount of sub par units in transports they don’t want to be in and they can do it from across the board with no immediate threat of retaliation from short range powerful guns like melta or plasma, or just weight of fire like ordered lasguns in AM, or etherealed fire warriors. Let alone an actual powerful counter assault unit.
Also, you can not use overwatch or interceptor against shooting attacks or fail a 3 inch charge…. to shoot.
Even assuming everything goes perfectly, you roll a 3+ on 2 dice and the three ravens come in. At best you will get 3 dreadnoughts [Cassor, a Furioso and a Libby Dread most likely] in possible assault range or 2 assault units [Death Company, a squad of 5 Termies, Veteran Vanguard??] coming down in pods turn one, anything else is too expensive to take or not good enough in assault to warrant.
3 Dreads are scary, if they make the charge and get past interceptor and overwatch. If they can target a good unit. Blob guard will ruin them, Fire Warriors with EMP grenades are death [but really the interceptor will probably kill them first], Gants screen well, Carnifex’s or GMC’s will end them, Drop marines have a 50% chance of not being there or just throwing chaff in the way, Eldar…. are Eldar, there are soo many ways of dealing with assault, any lingering memory of 5th ed outflanking assault will serve you well, but now there are more tools to deal with it.
Really … maybe Death Company are worthwhile? 5 man Termie squads are fairly easily to deal with and they can’t run down a unit. Veteran vanguards may have an actual use?? multi charge could happen:) but then they have no jump packs. Best scenario?? getting to assault a super heavy lord of war that has no bubble wrap, or expensive elite units… that are bad in assault and can’t hide or be placed on the 2nd or third floor of a ruin or have no bubble wrap….so an all tank AM army… maybe?
You may ask, why I am focusing on units that can be placed in drop pods “A Large unit of hammernators with a priest + some other character would be amazing!” “Jump pack units of VV or DC would still be mobile afterwards”etc. etc. It’s just another point of failure in an already very risky proposition. If you fail that initial reserve roll, you can wipe yourself and auto lose. Or you could leave so little on the board it’s easy for your opponent to wipe you. You might well be left with having to drop a pod with something that can no longer assault, lowering the amount that can actually use Angular Triangulation. If you make the reserve roll and are waiting for turn two assault units to arrive, they can fail their reserve roll or you can simple get shot out of the sky [killing the Tacticals inside] before they arrive. This has already gone on too long and I’m rambling;P [I’ve just been on tour and my brain isn’t helping]
  • If you want a reliable, malleable army that can win a GT, this is not what you’re looking for.
  • If you want a fun casual list, it’s not what you’re looking for[fail that first roll, concede, play again] It won’t make you any new friends.
  • If you want a Badass Formation for that massive points game ….this is what you want. Of course your opponent will also have some really nasty stuff as well, so no biggie.
Enough with the freaking out. If you really want to complain… write up some lists, play it against the same [skilled, hopefully] opponent 3 times using the different deployment types at 1850 or less then come back.
Personally, I love that it’s possible to assault off of Deep Strike. They have included a heck of a lot hoops to jump through to do it which is also great. At 1850 or less, It’s a choice, most likely  not the best one, but you’ll probably win a few games if you play well and your opponent is surprised.

At least it isn’t as terrible as the sanguine wing formation, what a poisoned chalice that thing is yeesh.

So there’s Pascal’s opinion on the topic. Do you think ruling on topics like this should bring into consideration factors like how the rule in question applies to the game or looked at purely as a rules question? 


About Reecius

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

37 Responses to “A Different Perspective on The Spearhead Formation…Of DOOOMMM!!! by Pascal Roggen”

  1. Andreas January 1, 2015 5:01 am

    I couldn’t agree more! Although being able to assault upon arriving is amazing, it’s too expensive to ever be put to really effective use. Just imagine tau with their tank hunter formation formation and all those broadsides in a bunker shooting intercept.

  2. massive dynamic January 1, 2015 5:40 am

    If you would like another precedent for the teleport homer, the Tau version also works as soon as it is on the board.

    • AbusePuppy January 1, 2015 9:32 am

      The Daemons one as well.

      • Fagerlund January 2, 2015 1:32 am

        That one is debatable though, because strangely enough the Warlord trait that does that is restricted to not coming from reserves the same turn while the icons are not. And the same is true for teleport homers in the DA book, you can’t come from reserve the same turn you use it.

  3. War Corgi January 1, 2015 5:42 am

    So over the past two weeks we have heard that many players find these rules confusing. Pascal has done an amazing job laying out the RAW. Thank you for the article. Pascal. I’m curious to see what kinds of questions remain unanswered for people. Understand that a certain percentage of the player base is never going to understand no matter how often or clearly it is explained to them; see army construction rules for an example if you need one.

  4. Andreas January 1, 2015 5:56 am

    And thanks to Pascal for pointing out the most glaring weakness of this formation – there are no tricks to it. Your opponent will know what’s coming from kilometers away and will prepare accordingly in order to mitigate that eventual first turn charge. Bubblewrapping being one of the prevailing tactics that an IG (fine Astra Militarum) player learns the first week of playing that army: here eat these pointless guardsmen instead.

    Or even worse, tarpitting the charge with conscripts and a priest. Ah, the memories when my 40 blob held two wraithknights for three turns 🙂

    I think that the loudest voices stating how broken this is need to read this article and think about how you can work your way around the three ravens descending on the board… on a roll of 3+ of course 😉

    • Fagerlund January 2, 2015 1:41 am

      There are actually plenty of tricks to it, but you as a IG player don’t really need to bother about it because hordes hard counter this formation. As you point out. 🙂
      Against other armies it’s very devastating however.

  5. dr.insanotron January 1, 2015 7:07 am

    To the question in red

    With out the formation ever being played in any events yet you have to just look at it as a rule question (witch there isn’t even a real question)

    • War Corgi January 1, 2015 10:01 am

      I think that the rules’ effects on the game is valid for consideration, but the prerequisite to determining this is adequate play testing of the formations. That ensures that members of the rules council have actual evidence (as opposed to theory hammer) what those effects on the game will be. How much pretesting is required remains up for debate, but I am confident the answer is more than zero.

  6. Loopy January 1, 2015 8:00 am

    The turn 1 question isn’t what I find interesting here. The Teleport Homer rules don’t seem to apply here. .. the formation rule is what is used. Besides, I don’t think drop pods benefit from teleport homers anyways, so that behooves us to just use the Formation special rule only anyways. So whether the homer emanates from the hull in thisinstance is kind of moot.

    The question is whether the unit with the teleport homer is on the table at all. I think anecdotal evidence says yes. But if we are allowing this, then from now on, I’ll be considering the Troop Gretchin inside my Fast Attack Trukk or my Boyz inside a Heavy Support Battlewagon to be holding Objectives with Objective Secured.

    • War Corgi January 1, 2015 10:12 am

      I’m not sure why you don’t currently play objective secured units as able to control objectives while embarked on vehicles. The rules for controlling objective markers on page 134 of the mini rule book tell us to treat units inside buildings as controlling objectives located within 3″ of the building. The buildings rules on page 110 tell us buildings utilize aspects of vehicle rules with the main difference being buildings can’t move. I think by extension units in vehicles within 3″ of an objective are controlling. In my view, this extends to objective secured units. The rule book clarifies this further by telling us units embarked on zooming flyers can not score, inferring that units on non zooming vehicles can. I’d be curious to know why you think otherwise.

    • dr.insanotron January 1, 2015 10:13 am

      That’s only because you didn’t bother to read the rules on page 80 right hand side middle paragraph.

      “If the players need to measure range involving the embarked unit (except for its shooting) , this range is measured to or from the the vehicle’s hull.

    • CNitram January 1, 2015 10:46 am

      Neither of you really addressed what he was saying…

      Via Pascal
      “Effects from models inside transports are measured from the hull [which is why there are faq’s on Kff’s and power fields].”

      Via Loopy
      “The question is whether the unit with the teleport homer is on the table at all. I think anecdotal evidence says yes. But if we are allowing this, then from now on, I’ll be considering the Troop Gretchin inside my Fast Attack Trukk or my Boyz inside a Heavy Support Battlewagon to be holding Objectives with Objective Secured.”

      Another Ex:
      Scout Squad (Troop) –> Obsec
      Rhino (Fast Attack) –> No Obsec
      Embark Scouts in Rhino –> Rhino now gets Obsec

      Loopy is suggesting that Obsec is an aura effect, because capturing objectives has a distance requirement, which is measured from the transport’s hull.
      I believe that he’s also pointing out that the logic of the Teleport Homer argument should then be applied to other rules, such as whether it changes Obsec from CAD Troop bonus to a transferable USR.

      • CNitram January 1, 2015 10:48 am

        I don’t have an option in the matter, but at least address what is being said. Repeat copy/paste of BRB rules really doesn’t add anything to the discussion without meaningful analysis to go along with it.

        • dr.insanotron January 1, 2015 11:04 am

          What are you talking about. that rule answers the question about measuring to a model that is in a transport

          • dr.insanotron January 1, 2015 11:06 am

            where are you getting this model on the table nonsense from.

          • dr.insanotron January 1, 2015 11:10 am

            unless the rules for obsec say otherwise yes it works from inside a transport

      • War Corgi January 1, 2015 11:12 am

        It’s late here and it is entirely possible I did not understand what he said. If so, apologies.

        • dr.insanotron January 1, 2015 11:21 am

          Your not wrong. There confusion could be coming from the fact that last edition there was a rule that said units inside transports don’t score. However there is no such rule in 7th

      • Loopy January 1, 2015 11:38 pm

        I think what I’m getting at is, can a unit be within 12″of models embarked on a transport? I don’t know, especially since this isn’t the teleport homer’s ability we are talking about, but a different ability which is triggered by the presence of a teleport homer within range of a sparkling unit.

        • Dr.insanotron January 2, 2015 12:54 pm

          Yes you can as I showed in the post with the rules from page 80. Pascal didn’t post in his article the real rule so I did

    • bigpig January 1, 2015 1:29 pm

      Pretty sure you can. The “can’t score while embarked” is a 5th edition mindset holdover.

      Pg 134, units in BUILDINGS considered to be within 3″ of an objective if it is within 3″ of the building. Likely differentiating buildings because they can be claimed or unclaimed, but the important thing is that it shows an embarked unit (in a building in this case, which handle transport just like vehicles) can score. Below that it lists what cannot be scoring units and embarked units are distinctly absent from that list.

  7. Pointless January 1, 2015 3:19 pm

    I don’t understand why on earth they released this formation.
    First the take away any ability that allows to assault after deepstriking/outflanking/disembarkation and now they add a single formation back in that breaks their own rules.
    It’s just so bloody pointless!
    Do the people who write rules for GW talk to each other?
    This company leaves me stunned again!

    • Eldarain January 1, 2015 7:56 pm

      6th edition:

      Coteaz makes an elite unit scoring
      Kantor makes an elite unit scoring.

      7th edition:
      Kantor makes an elite unit Obsec
      Coteaz has his ability removed.

      Consistency is not their strong point.

      I agree it’s a surprising addition after they systematically removed all the assaulting from reserves abilities.

      • col_impact January 1, 2015 10:54 pm

        I don’t see a problem with one army singled out to be granted the ability to assault turn one out of deep strike reserve when they pay a tax for it in the form of a pricey formation.

        It allows the BAs to have a unique thing that they alone can do and the pricey formation makes it containable and answerable by other armies.

        Seems like good design to me.

        • nimrod451 January 2, 2015 5:59 am

          Well – it is assault after reserve for like a billion points..

          …its not like 200 points of melee Wolf Scouts wrecking your back line out of outflank – murdering your poor tau babies with their mean hateful knives of hate..

  8. iNcontroL January 1, 2015 10:30 pm

    Nice perspective sir! Excited to see what you can do with the dreaded BA at LVO <3

    • Pascal Roggen January 4, 2015 4:53 am

      I’ll probably just bring my pretty yellow knights and a little BA, warlord cerastus knight to make it a BA army though.. oh dear:P. I need too paint a lot of BA and play test them more before doing the dirty:P

  9. pointless January 2, 2015 10:21 am

    Pfff thats good design for you?!
    I don’t wanna know what you consider bad design then!
    Honestly this is not good design!
    Even someone with GW fanboi glasses should be able to see that if you are honest with yourself.

    • Dr.insanotron January 2, 2015 1:03 pm

      Could you be more specific about what you feel is bad about the design

    • War Corgi January 3, 2015 12:16 am

      I tend to disagree with you on this pointless. The meta shifted too heavily towards shooting armies; GW’s rules writers introduced a formation that makes shooting armies at least consider an early assault by opposing forces, thus forcing them to change their lists to compensate. This opens the door for other assault oriented armies to make it into close combat, as the shooting armies have a little less guns to bring them down before they make combat. I know my Raven Guard successor chapter benefits from this change to the meta, as do a great deal of other assault oriented armies.

  10. José Luis Perez January 3, 2015 8:40 am

    Pascal Roggen

    “arriving from deep strike reserves” is clearly defined in the book and is not the same as having the deep strike special rule.

    Sorry to pop that bubble
    RAI were designed for the Tacs to be: deploy, hold, and secure (source anon author of WD47 Article page 18)

    However, RAW, it is legal to assault with the tacs and any dreads you throw along using skies of fury as the formation started in deep strike reserve (BRB page 162, There is only one deep strike rule (sometimes called deep strike reserve) that is shared with, BRB page 135 Reserves, Combined Reserve Units, Arriving from Reserves etc… and Blood Angels codex page 86 Skies of Fury entry “as if deep striking”, White Dwarf 47 page 21 Augur Triangulation)

    • Pascal Roggen January 4, 2015 4:59 am

      RAI….really? how many times have you ever changed a rule because of a story, especially a story which doesn’t rule out doing it in planes[hehe] or even that “on the ground” means actual feet on the floor rather than just on the battle ground.

      the story is.. a story, it sounds cool and there’s no reason you couldn’t use the formation in that way. But… much like terminators not being able to walk..immune.. through hordes of guardsmen or gene stealers that are actually scary. the stories and fluff aren’t all there is. the rules however, especially for this, are quite , quite clear.

      • War Corgi January 4, 2015 8:31 am

        I would like to add that the oft cited fluff text preceding the formation’s rules tells a nice story about how the formation was used one time in the past; it does not dictate that the player employ it the same way. The Strike Force Ultra formation has a nice story about the Ultramarine’s Captain Aggeman personally leading a teleport assault against the Tau, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stick my Terminator Captain in the Land Raider with a non teleporting terminator squad, starting him on the table turn one. You could argue that by including this story before the formation’s rules the writer intended that the captain always arrive by deep strike, but that would be disingenuous. Both stories describe in colorful ways how it was done in the past; it does not describe the only way to do it.

    • Dr.insanotron January 4, 2015 7:25 am

      You are incorrect about the Tac squads or Dreads assaulting out of the raven when they use sky’s of fury because the arnt coming in from deep strike reserve. They are coming in from normal reserve the deep striking out of the raven, just like this rules wouldn’t work on someone using gate of infinity

  11. War Corgi January 4, 2015 8:11 am

    I’m having a difficult time understanding your argument. RAW does not allow you to assault with units embarked on the Stormravens in this formation because none of the units started the game in Deep Strike Reserve. For them to do so the transport vehicle, in this case the Stormraven, would need to have the Deep Strike special rule and declare that it would be deploying via deep strike when placing the formation into reserves prior to the game (page 162). The operative part of this rule is “when placing the unit in Reserve, you must tell you opponent that it will be arriving by Deep Strike.” As it is, the Stormravens can’t meet this requirement; they are unable to arrive by Deep Strike as required by the rules.

    As for as the units inside, while they are deploying “as if deep striking” they are not arriving from deep strike reserves. They are placed in normal reserves as this is the only option available to them. The rules for the formation are specific in that the unit must be arriving from Deep Strike Reserves, not arriving by Deep Strike or as if deep striking. There is a subtle but important difference between these two. It’s not a difference in degree, but rather a difference in kind. That is important.

  12. Eshin Adept March 25, 2015 11:18 pm

    Generally good article that just states the obvious.
    I wasn’t even thinking of being so cheesy and charge with the embarked unit on the 1st turn but you, competitive tournament players, made me think about it 🙂

    “arriving from deep strike reserves” is clearly defined in the book and is not the same as having the deep strike special rule

    could you give me the page where it is clearly defined, because all I see is p.162, 1st paragraph: “…arriving by Deep Strike (sometimes called Deep Strike Reserve)” which is quite clear for me that it’s the same and thus possible but,as I am not a native user of english please enlighten me.

    Also, the sanguine wing formation despite giving us hefty 400 free points is not that terrible at all. I playtested it twice against ordinary BA and only managed to get one draw (thanks to imp knight) and an utter loss. But in 2k game the combination of these two formations is THE evillest thing I can imagine.