Hello, fellow wargamers! Today we are going to go over the Captains and Commanders of the IXth Legion. By now, I’m sure that the warm and friendly affections of the Death Company Captain have left an impression in your mind, but this review is about more than just him. Check the Tactics Corner for more great articles!
Lieutenants, or Left-Tenants?
One of the new, big changes for Astartes of all stripes in 8th Edition 40k was the inclusion of lieutenants. Lieutenants in a Blood Angels army are not terribly dissimilar from their counterparts from other chapters – they both have Primaris or regular Astartes variants, and the same aura rule that let’s you re-roll failed to-wound rolls of 1 in the shooting and the fight phases. The role may be the same, but the playstyle does not necessarily have to be.
Lieutenants have some important roles in a Blood Angels army. First off, they are unnamed characters. Characters are a big deal in Blood Angels forces, and often you get the most bang for your buck on named characters like Mephiston and Lemartes, which means if you want to get use out of some of the Relics of Baal, then you need other characters. Their price point is also a good selling point, as for what they do they can return on your investment easily (especially if you roll 1’s like I do…). Due to their lack of mobility, I rarely use Primaris in this role. However, list building is only one part of the puzzle.
Blood Angels excel in assault, and your assault elements are the ones who will gain the most benefit out of his rules. The Red Thirst rule that improves the to-wound roll can be further insured by the re-roll that a Lieutenant gives – especially to the powerful units that wound on 2’s. Anyone with power fists or thunder hammers particularly love this re-roll, but even units like Death Company can benefit from this rule when combined with characters like a Sanguinary Priest. Put a Jump Pack on your lieutenant, and you can deliver him where he’s needed, and then use a redeploy stratagem to bounce him over to support another area later.
Oh Captain, My Captain!
So, here we are. Let’s get a few names out of the way: Captain Smash, Smashguinius, Banginius, Captain Whack-a-Mole, The Longest Drive in 40k, Fore the Emperor, Captain Hammer, etc., (if you guys have any other names, drop them in the comments below). The Blood Angels Captain has put Captains back on the map. By now the loadout for this character is fairly ubiquitous and has left quite an impression on people, but for those who may be new to him, I’ll do a brief overview.
There are a few ways to load him out, but most revolve around a common theme: Jump Pack, Death Company Rules, and High Damage attacks. Use the “Death Visions of Sanguinius” stratagem to give your Captain Death Company rules, and then choose either the “Artificer of War” warlord trait for +1 damage on the weapon (usually a thunder hammer), or “Gift of Foresight” for survivability. For relics, most commonly the “Angels Wing” relic which let’s you re-roll charge distances and prohibits your targets from shooting overwatch, though there are many relics that can work well depending on the circumstances. A Storm Shield is also common, a 3++ offering some important survivability. Combined with stratagems, there are times when the Captain can potentially get 8 attacks with a 4 damage weapon wounding the majority of things on 2’s. With the right support and some luck, he can kill 20+ wound models in one round of combat. He’s extra deadly even if he dies, as long as you have some command points to let him swing one more time before he’s removed.
Suffice to say, he’s a combat powerhouse who swings a big stick. The TH/SS combo is common, but depending on the job you want him to do, lightning claws doing 2 damage each (with the warlord trait) can do a great job of clearing out some multi-wound enemies. The price point is pretty cheap too, and all in all this is an incredibly versatile HQ choice definitely worth your consideration. He comes in all the standard variants (terminator, Primaris, etc.), but remember the Primaris version cannot benefit from the “Death Visions of Sanguinius” stratagem.
Captain Tycho, Still Lost
I will admit some surprise that Captain Tycho stayed in the Codex. Not that I dislike him at all (my own BA force is themed after his 3rd company, after all), he’s probably one of the most narrative characters that the BA have, especially for campaigns because he has both his regular and Death Company versions.
Speaking competitively, Tycho has relatively little to offer. His combi-melta is cool and useful, provided you can get him in range. It’s also nice that they brought back the “Dead Man’s Hand” at a -2 AP and 1 damage. It means that he’ll have a bit more teeth in combat in addition to his shooting. He is a good candidate for drop pod insertion, either with Sternguard in his ‘regular’ form, or with Death Company in his fallen form (which loses the re-roll 1’s benefit). His set warlord trait allows for extra range (6″) on his heroic interventions, making them harder to avoid. It’s also worth mentioning that he’s got a 2+ armor save – the only Captain (outside of terminators) who can do so.
While Tycho has his uses, it’s hard to argue that he’s got a greater threat potential than the generic Captain. Even so, depending on the job you need done, he’s reasonably priced and could act as a decent backfield support character with some teeth.
The man, the myth, the legend, and what is the mystery? It’s the fact that he must be so busy with his duties ruling the Dark Imperium that we don’t see him on the table that often. He’s not a wimp on the table, though. His natural “Chapter Master” rule lets him re-roll to hit (and all the other BA units closeby), which is already on 2’s, and he can re-roll all to-wound rolls against characters with his +2 s, Ap-3, D4 damage Axe Mortalis. The melta pistol adds to his lethality, albeit at close range. His Death Mask provides a -1 penalty to enemy leadership in an aura, and he’s mobile. With his Jump Pack, he benefits from all of the same rules that other BA Jump Pack units do. His warlord trait lets BA units automatically pass Leadership tests within 6″ of him, which is good for keeping large units alive (such as death company) after some losses. All of that sounds good, so why don’t we see him more competitively?
If I had to pin it to anything, there are 2 things that stand out the most. The first is cost – he’s an expensive character. Coming in at 215 points, he’s the most expensive character in the book by over 40 points. When a character is that expensive, they need to do a lot, and while Dante does plenty, he doesn’t necessarily do it better than other characters. The second is that his re-roll is better suited to ranged armies, which are contrary to the Blood Angels strengths. His synergies are redundant with so many other abilities, such as chaplains (like Lemartes) letting key assault units re-roll. Even the Sanguinary Guard – Dante’s personal guard – have a redundant re-roll rule geared toward the warlord. Simply put, he’s not as cost effective as a number of smaller characters in combination.
That said, Dante is an excellent character assassin, and if you are bringing him, this role suits him amazingly well. With a 2+ armor save, a 4++, and 6 wounds he won’t be going down without a fight. Efficiency aside, don’t rule the Lord of the Dark Imperium out.
With that in mind, there’s my review of the Commanders of the Angelic Host. Be sure to check out the Frontline Store if you are looking for some models to fill out your command echelons, and feel free to let me know in the comments your best stories of Captain Smashguinius’ kill streaks. For me, it was a Land Raider, 2 Vindicators, some characters, and a flyer in the same game. Stay tuned for the next review, as I go over the Golden Host – the Sanguinary Guard.
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