I get quite a few emails from friends in the community having a tough go of it with Blood Angels and I find myself wondering why? Blood Angels do not have a Codex as of the time of this writing which is an inherent disadvantage compared to those books that do, but they have a lot going for them and can most assuredly win games. Let’s talk about how.
How do you win games of 8th ed 40k?
This is a good place to start as it informs pretty much all of what comes next. In order for any list, any faction to be “good” in an objective sense it needs to be able to win games. Now, if you measure being good by how fun an army is then you can take what I just said and toss it in the dumpster as you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you how to have fun. But being good as we have defined it is actually very simple. It means you have a reasonable expectation of winning a game, regardless of opponent.
Well, how does one do that? In 8th ed 40k missions remain largely as they always have. You win games by holding objectives and/or destroying enemy units. It’s pretty simple, actually. So, you design a list with those principals in mind.
Now, the nuts and bolts of how to do exactly that are varied. That is awesome because it allows nearly infinite room for customization and personalization of your army. In other words, there are many ways to accomplish this, limited only by your imagination. But, it is important to keep a few questions in your mind while creating your own army:
- What unit archetypes am I likely to face in a game and how will I deal with them?
- How will I score objectives?
- How will I prevent my opponent from doing the above to me?
The Common Mistake
Before we jump into list solutions for the above, I want to touch on the biggest mistake I see Blood Angels players making (and one I made myself, to be fair) is to load on up on expensive named Characters to layer tons of buffs onto units but you end up with not enough units to make it all work. What I have found is that if you take less characters and keep them cheap to accomplish your goals, your list will be much more effective.
What to Plan For:
As to the first question, what are the units you are likely to see in the current meta?
- Screening units: they are critical to the current meta and effective lists not only have them but often feature them. Units such as Conscripts, Brimstone Horrors, Cultists, Scouts, Mortar Teams, etc. serve as a buffer between your opponent’s key units and you. You need to efficiently blow through these. Do Blood Angels have tools to do this?
Yes, you sure do. Death Company are extremely good at it, as are Vanguard Vets. I prefer Death Company and here’s why: the base model for 20pts with a Jump Pack, Bolter and Chainsword, you’ve got a lot. Speed, the ability to stay off the board if needs be, Deep Strike capability, lots of shots (30 for a unit of 15 and you can shoot even if you leave combat!) and lots of attacks in melee (60 on the charge from a full unit, which is no joke) in addition to slightly better defense over a Vanguard Vet. If you make even a single 6+ save to keep a model alive, the ability has more than paid for itself. Compared to Vanguard Vets at 18pts per model with double Chainswords and Jump Packs, that is to me, clearly superior. And Double Chainsword Vanguard Vets are an excellent unit. Mine serve as tremendous street sweepers, disposing of chaff units like nobody’s business. If I could also stack on 10 Bolters to the unit? Yes please. That’s potentially 90 strength 4 attacks into a unit from a full Death Company squad. That not enough for you? Cast Unleash Rage on them from a Librarian or take the Sanguinor and you gain an additional 15 attacks for either or 30 for both. Don’t forget about the awesome Shield of Sanguinius for a 4++ on the entire unit. That 300pt investment in the unit can yield massive damage output.
The problem I see is frequently Blood Angels players simply take too many upgrades on units like Death Company or throw too many support units on them. It is tempting to do this but you just don’t need to. If you play in an MEQ heavy environment, sure, slap a few Power Swords or Axes in there but no need to overdo it. Keep them cheap, efficient and focused in their role.
As stated above, it is tempting to try and take a bunch of characters to really ramp these guys up but you honestly don’t need it. When beating up on chaff or MSU units, you just want lots of attacks and cheap access to rerolls if possible to increase efficiency but with the volume of attacks these guys throw out, it’s often overkill. Give them just enough to do their job. The example of the Sanguinor above, for example, sounds amazing but then you realize you could take nearly another 10 man unit of Death Company for the same points investment and it isn’t even close to as useful, IMO. Lemartes is the one character I would consider for them strictly for the reroll failed charge aura but even that can be overcome with the judicious application of Command Points. As you have no unique stratagems, you don’t have the need to hold on to them as much.
But Death Company aren’t your only option. As you have nearly the entire Space Marine range at your disposal, you can do a lot. Stormraven Gunships, Assault Cannon Razorbacks, Scout Bikers, etc. are all tried and true, extremely efficient chaff clearing units. Many of them, like the Stormraven, are also excellent at taking down armored units, too.
- Transport Vehicles/Flyers: While not as common as chaff units at present, they’re still common enough to want to plan for. Luckily Blood Angels have the tools.
Blood Angels Assault Squads do the trick quite well. A 5 man unit with 2 Melta Guns or Plasma Guns and a Plasma Pistol on sarge can run and gun like champs. Cheap, mobile, deep strike, firepower. Alternatively, you can run with 3 Plasma Pistols, too to save points but those Melta Guns and Plasma Guns are just so powerful. Support a few units of these with a Captain with Jump Pack, also packing a Combi-Melta and melee weapon of choice, you have a great tank hunting section as he deals good damage himself and buffs the Assault Squads with his reroll 1 aura.
You also have the standby units in Devastator Squads, and Predators, Hellblaster Squads, etc. to get the job done. Again, as Marines of all flavors have such awesome force multipliers available to them, you’ll want to take some to get the most out of these units but as stated: the minimal amount of them.
- Infiltrators/Deep Strikers/Psykers: The meta features a great deal of extremely hard hitting units that come at you fast (Alpha Legion Berzerkers) or from reserves (Lias Issodon Raptors, Choas Terminator Bombs, etc.) and cheap Smite slangers. Having a way to defend against these is critical.
Blood Angels have access to what I think is one of the best units in the game: Scouts. Scouts are a superb unit. They are one of the best defenses against the above units in the game by creating space between you and your opponent and serve as your screen. They are also great at scoring objectives, being ObSec, and as a Troop, help you unlock detachments to get those sweet Command Points. This is an all star unit and I never leave home without at least 3 units of 5. Typically I run Bolters, but melee scouts work great, too. Sniper Scouts, also bear special mention as they are great for holding backfield objectives and obvious, for sniping enemy characters. This is doubly important as Smite spam is particularly punishing for MEQ armies like Blood Angels and having a tool to deal with it is extremely useful.
But, I don’t have Guilliman! I hear echoing in the distance….so what!? You don’t need him. Besides being a crutch for the weak willed (muahaha!) you can get similar buffing abilities at a lower points investment in the form of a Chapter Master such as Dante or Gabriel Seth, or Captain and a Primaris Lieutenant, Company Ancient or Sanginary Guard Ancient. This gives you similar rerolls to hit and wound at a lower price point.
Gabriel Seth especially, is one of my favorite Chapter Masters in the game because he is so amazingly cost effective at only 135 points. For a full reroll aura on a model that fights decently well, and has a potentially devastating buff in Whirlwind of Gore (although don’t rely on it by any means, just savor the moment when it works!). He is fantastic for serving as your Warlord and keeping him in the back with your shooting units as he is likely to survive the game and can serve as a solid counter assault unit if the action gets close. Backed by a Lt., they give a Roboute-esque buff at a fraction of the cost to give your backfield shooting units quite the boost. Paired with things like Assault Cannon Razorbacks, Hellblasters, Devastators, etc. they form a great fire-base.
Humorously, he and an Lt. are also awesome in a Dreadnought detachment as they give efficient buffs and when Whirlwind of Gore goes off on a Death Company Dreadnought, it’s glorious!
Again though, to hammer this home: you don’t need to take all the bells and whistles. You don’t need a bunch of expensive characters to totally buff your dudes to the max! You need just enough of a boost to allow them to perform their battlefield role. It is tempting to take the Blood Angels named characters, and they are certainly not bad and are fun to play, but you can often get a similar result for cheaper.
As this is critical to winning missions, you need to think about how to accomplish this. As mentioned above, Scouts are incredible for this, but are often used sacrificially and don’t always survive the game. Blood Angels have good options in their Tactical Marines though, as they have some cool weapon options that work quite well. I use Tactical Marines quite frequently and I find that parked in cover with that sweet 2+ save, they are incredibly hard to kill at range and can sit and wrack up points quite easily. However, with access to the sweet Heavy Flamer and a combi-weapon on the sarge (combi-flamer or melta), they can also be used to go after objectives very well, and again, being ObSec, they have a solid scoring advantage.
You can, however, simply choose to forgo troops at all (although you are remiss not to use Scouts) as Index armies are not so Command Point hungry as Codex armies and focus on maximizing kill power.
Bringing it All Together:
So what does this all look like on the table? We’ve covered how to to about achieving goals and stopping your opponent from doing the same but showing these various elements together helps to bring it to life. Now, before I get yelled at because this is a Flesh Tearers list, lol, let me just say this is largely because I love Gabriel Seth not only for his performance on the table but as a bad ass character in the fluff! You could easily swap him out for a Blood Angels character and have the same list if you chose to.
|Battalion Detachment||Flesh Tearers||Command Points||3||1148|
|Captain w/ J.Pack||HQ||93||1||93||Combi-Melta||19||1||19|
|Librarian w/ J.Pack||HQ||116||1||116||Force Sword||12||1||12|
|Assault Squad||Fast||16||5||80||Plasma Gun||13||2||26|
|Assault Squad||Fast||16||5||80||Plasma Gun||13||2||26|
|Assault Squad||Fast||16||5||80||Melta Gun||17||2||34|
|Death Company w/ J.Packs||Elites||20||15||300||P.Sword||4||2||8|
|Battalion Detachment||Flesh Tearers||Command Points||3||852|
|Primaris Lt.||HQ||70||1||70||M.C. Auto Bolt Rifle||4||1||4|
So the list gives you a lot that works in this edition plus it feels like a Blood Angels army with loads of Jump units. You have long ranged firepower that rerolls to hit and 1’s to wound for high efficiency. You have ablative wounds in your Dev squads to soak up firepower if you go second and again, sticking them in cover for that sweet 2+ saves makes a huge difference. They hang out with the Sniper Scouts who do their thing, and share the buffs of Seth and the Lt. to increase their efficiency. The Ancient gives you a 4+ to shoot again after dying special rule and boosts your units’ morale as well. This again mitigates going second and increases the ROI of every point spent on your heavy weapons.
The standard Scouts form an extremely effective buffer, keeping deadly units that come out of reserves or that infiltrate away from you, and then go after objectives.
The Assault Marines and Captain tool around hunting units and the Captain smacks things with his Thunder Hammer if they get too close. In a pinch, he can play offense and go in and take out vehicles and weakened melee characters. You will nearly always keep these gents in reserves to deep strike.
The Death Company bomb are your street sweepers. They hunt screens and chaff units. The Libby supports them, casting 4++ on them the turn they come in which when combined with their Power Armor and latent 6+ FnP save, they are highly durable. With 30 Bolter Shots and potentially having the Captain nearby to boost them, they put out a ton of flak fire. If they can make the charge out of reserves: amazing. Save a Command Point to increase the odds, here. With Unleash Rage also cast on them, they’re just brutally effective in melee with sheer volume of attacks. The few Power Swords in the unit are just in case you find yourself up against another MEQ army. The trick is knowing when to not deep-strike this unit, as when you find yourself playing against a melee army as it is often better to start on the board to increase your chances of getting stuck in right away. Also, as the unit is quite large, morale may become an issue. Keep a few Command Points in your pocket to handle that. This unit will also want to burn command points to swing out of order, too. As you don’t have many stratagems to hog your CP, you can burn them liberally on things like this.
This list gives you the ability to keep units off of the table, hit your opponent where they are vulnerable, deal with common units in the meta, and win missions. It, and versions of it, have worked very well for me when playing Blood Angels/Flesh Tearers.
Without a codex, you are inherently at a disadvantage to factions that do have one. However, that doesn’t mean you have no chance of winning. By playing to your strengths and taking a list built to function in an 8th ed environment, you maximize your odds and hopefully have fun in the process!
What Blood Angels units and tricks have been working best for you?
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