Welcome back to Baal, battle-brothers! Today we are going to go over the Sanguinary Guard. I’ve seen a lot of opinions about how competitive the Sanguinary Guard are in Blood Angels lists, but today I plan to extol the virtues of the glorious golden guys, and hopefully give you a good reason to consider them for your army list. Check the Tactics Corner for more great reviews.
Deciding on a Role
One of the key parts of deciding how to use Sanguinary Guard is deciding how to best use them on the table. Looking at the stats, there’s a lot to be happy about. First, the price point for a 2-wound 2+ armor save jump infantry model with what amounts to a force weapon (d3 damage axe/sword/fist) isn’t horrible. The main weakness for this unit is the number of attacks per model, which starts at 2. Even at the max unit size, if unsupported they will max out at 20 attacks hitting on 3’s.
Blood Angels do their best in combat, and for these models you want to do damage to the enemy units that will suffer the most from the multiple-damage close combat weapons the Sanguinary Guard carry. That said, the Sanguinary Guard are not ideal units to throw at cheap screens to be tied up. Their role should be either to deal damage to large, multi-wound models (such as tanks, Primarchs, or monsters) or to multi-wound elite models (Custodes, Terminators, Beasts of Nurgle, Wraithguard), and characters.
This isn’t to say that they can’t kill cheap units and screens, but that’s not the ideal. Your opponent is going to want you to waste their potential being stuck in with a cheaper, expendable unit that can die or fall back or leave them open for counter-attack either via shooting or counter-charge. If you must kill them, then you must, but it would be better to fill that roll with something better for clearing screens, such as Death Company, Stormravens with hurricane bolters, or cheaper assault infantry.
Since your primary targets are going to be tougher models with presumably better armor saves and multiple wounds, I think that the best bet for most players is going to be the sword. The AP-3 means that you’re almost always going to force a high armor save unit to take it’s invulnerable save (if it has one). “But Captain,” you say. “Power Fists cost the same points as the Encarmine Swords! Why wouldn’t you always do power fists?!” Thank you, random citizen, I appreciate you bringing that to my attention. The answer for me is to have some of each.
There are a couple of reasons for this (one of which will be covered in the support section below), but mainly it has to do with the -1 to hit that the SG suffer for using power fists. SG hit on 3+, and when you only have 2 attacks, hitting 1/2 of the time is not an efficient way to spend their time. The Red Thirst benefit in combat means that in the first round, the majority of the time you will be wounding things on 2’s, but that benefit does nothing for you if you don’t hit in the first place. The Encarmine Axe’s +1 strength doesn’t really make up for the loss of AP and the extra points cost. Honestly, I’m not sure how the Axe ended up being more expensive than the power fist in the first place.
Their common guns, the Angelus Boltgun, are 12″ range, S4, Assault 2, Ap-1 weapons which work fairly well for dealing damage to weaker foes. If you are dealing with some MSU chaff, the AB’s can be a good way of giving yourself some room or clearing out little things once the big things are dead. Plasma Pistols and Inferno Pistols are both great options if you are hoping to put out a little more shooting damage. Having a melta pistol in combat can sometimes ruin someone’s day if the combat goes into a second round.
My own personal load-out is either 9 or 10 Sanguinary Guard in a unit. I have 2 power fists, and 2 inferno pistols, then the rest have swords and AB’s. For a squad of 9 with this load-out, it’s 339 points. That sounds like a lot of points, but think of what you are getting. That’s 18 wounds with a 2+ save, with 18 attacks that do D3 damage in combat. When you look at the comparable cost with a big monster or tank, you’ve got a pretty mobile, heavy hitting unit on it’s own with a high armor save that can also benefit from cover, Deep Strike, and has the whole array of Blood Angels stratagems to boost its combat prowess.
The Best Support
Blood Angels have always been an army that relies on the support of characters, and 8th edition does not change that trend at all. If you want to unleash the true potential of the Sanguinary Guard, then you are going to want to bring some support along.
The Most Important Character
The most important character to keep by your Sanguinary Guard is your warlord. Their ‘Heirs of Azkaellon’ rule let’s them re-roll ALL to hit rolls (shooting and Melee) when they are within 6″ of your Blood Angels warlord. Whoever your warlord is, you want to keep him close.
Priests and Psychic Powers
One of the key reasons that I bring Swords is because I always support my Sanguinary Guard with a Sanguinary Priest with a Jump Pack. The +1 strength aura from the priest means that you are wounding T4 models on 2’s thanks to the Red Thirst rule on the first round of combat, and any T8 models you will wound on 4’s for the first round of combat and 5’s at all other times (or wound them on 2’s with your power fists). That +1 strength can make a huge difference, and you don’t sacrifice your to-hit roll at all to get it. Just remember that the JP Priest is a index-only unit, so you’ll need to follow the GW flow chart to put him in your army. I feel like it’s worth it.
A jump Librarian is an excellent support choice for Sanguinary guard. Unleash rage gives the unit +1 attack per model, which can be devastating on a unit like this. Also, Shield of Sanguinius is great for their survivability. Giving them a 5++ can be very important, especially since your opponents will be pointing a lot of their AP-4 or more weapons at you.
Ancients, Lieutenants, & Other Support
One of the best ‘other’ support options in my opinion is the SG Ancient, and this is mostly due to the ‘Standard of Sacrifice’ relic. Being able to add a 5+ FNP to an already durable unit is preposterously good. The regular banner is good as well, allowing them to re-roll 1’s to wound in combat. While not as reliable as the Lieutenant who would let them do the same for shooting and combat, the added benefit of the relic banner more than makes up for it in my experience. It is also worth noting that he also has the ‘Heirs of Azkaellon’ rule, so he also benefits from the re-rolls when within 6″ of your warlord.
In a list like this, you can’t get enough gold. That said, the Sanguinor is an excellent choice if you are looking for a solid combat character to buff the unit. He works great as the warlord, but he also has a +1 attack aura. In combination with your Librarian, you could buff the attacks of the unit to 4 attacks each! Still, it’s a points investment that I look at more as a luxury than a necessity.
Going For The Gold
Sanguinary Guard are one of my favorite unique Blood Angels units, and I’ve had great success using them. The trick is to play aggressive. Drop them down from Deep Strike and use the 3d6″ charge stratagem to get them in where they can do the most damage. I’ve destroyed tank companies, murdered monsters, and brought Primarchs to their knees with this unit. Here’s my current list built around supporting the Sanguinary Guard.
What are your success stories with the Sanguinary Guard? I’d love to hear them in the comments. Don’t forget that Frontline Gaming has a store if you’re looking for some more gold paint for your honor guard, or more honor guard for your gold paint! For the next review, expect some more coverage of the ‘miscellaneous heroes’ of the Blood Angels, and the HQ’s that fall outside the normal command hierarchy.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!