Blood Angels Review – Captains and Commanders

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.

Commander Dante

 

 

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.

In Command

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.

Cheers

Captain Morgan
Chief Librarian
Forge the Narrative Podcast

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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About Chris Morgan

Chief Librarian of Forge the Narrative, Blood Angel enthusiast, and slayer of traitors and heretics, he'd rather be playing 30k right now. Follow him @sanguine_morgan on twitter and you can be twits together!

11 Responses to “Blood Angels Review – Captains and Commanders”

  1. Embrace Your Inner Geek March 6, 2018 5:22 am #

    Agree with pretty much everything. Where I think Dante might have a role in a BA assault army is if you take a bunch of Inceptors, particularly the plasma ones. Because they’re going to be “up close and personal”, having a beat stick baby sitting them (not to mention all the re-rolls) probably gives you the best value for his points.

  2. Sossen March 6, 2018 6:08 am #

    It is a shame that Dante is too inefficient to see competitive play. He doesn’t do anything special beyond being an expensive beatstick. A simple and thematic fix would be to give him an extra command point or two. That would provide him with a unique advantage within the codex and one that Blood Angels players would seriously consider. BA players always find themselves wanting more CP, even if the list has double battalions.

    • Frodo LAGGINS March 6, 2018 9:04 am #

      Certainly agree. He’s a beatstick that doesn’t even beat as hard as the other options. I like your rule change suggestion as well, but I think there’s another option. Give him a buff reminiscent of his old surgical strike buff that made there not be any scatter. Let him join a squad for deepstrike like the GC can do for cult ambush and give that squad a closer deepstrike range or a +X to charge rolls.

      • Reecius
        Reecius March 6, 2018 9:10 am #

        He’s plenty good but, I agree, one extra special rule would have been just what the doctor ordered.

    • CWDub March 6, 2018 10:15 am #

      100% agreed. It would not at all be game breaking for Dante to provide 1 or 2 CPs; he is, after all, named Warden of that part of the Imperium by Bobby G.

  3. GhostValley March 6, 2018 7:27 am #

    Nice review – thanks for it.

    The mathhammer is slightly better for the Hammer of Baal (no -1) in almost all situations except for straight damage on a T7 tank – and even then it is very close. This opens the gift of foresight trait. Of course this is moot if you are taking the Angels Wing – but the wings could always go on another character if needed.

    But so many ways to make a SmashF@#%er Captain, like you alluded to. Looking forward to the rest.

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 6, 2018 9:11 am #

      Yeah, ignoring the minus 1 to hit means you from form roughly hitting 80% of the time to 97% of the time. It’s incredibly good and the Blood Angels Captain is an offensive powerhouse.

  4. Ujayim March 6, 2018 12:34 pm #

    My BA scout bikes are amazing at clearing screens.

    Between all the shots and +1 to wound, you can’t go wrong!

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 6, 2018 12:44 pm #

      Yeah, Scout Bikers are an absolute gem for Space Marines.

  5. Pharun87 March 6, 2018 10:02 pm #

    Do you think it is worth to take Captain Smashface in a mixed Detachment? (So he would not have the +1 to wound)?

    • Ujayim March 7, 2018 5:15 am #

      Personally, no. That +1 makes a world of difference.

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