Hello, everyone! I’m back from a successful stint at Adepticon, and am juicing my lore muscles with brand new information from the Horus Heresy Book 8: Malevolence. While I was reviewing a bunch of the new units in Book 8 for Blood Angels, I figured I would sound out my ideas in an article. Today’s unit review is about the unique BA Destroyers, the Angel’s Tears, and how they compare to regular destroyers. Who are they? What are the benefits of taking them? Which is better to use, and when? As it is applicable, I am also throwing in Aster Krohne to this mix, as he is fundamentally a Destroyer HQ, and adds his own synergies and comes with his own limitations.
When the Heavens Weep
The idea of destroyers is both cool and cruel. Wielding terrible weapons and bent solely to the total annihilation of the foe, the use of destroyers in battle was unpalatable to many of the legions who considered themselves above such tactics. Among those, surely the Blood Angels would be at the forefront – or so the common assumption was. One thing that Malevolence does is challenge our preconceptions of the legions presented within. Sanguinius was a symbol of hope, but he was also “the Angel of [the Emperor’s] pure wrath’ (Fear to Tread). Some foes were beyond his mercy, and as such he had to unleash the most terrible destructive powers of his legion. Subsuming their identities behind silver death masks, the Angel’s Tears were part of the first sphere of Sanguinius’ chosen warriors who would take upon themselves the grim task of utter annihilation. The weapons of the Angel’s Tears included dreaded radiation weaponry left over from the gene-wars of Terra’s dark past, and life-eating phosphex bombs who’s fire burned even the potential from future life from the soil it consumed. Upon completion of their duties, they would remove the masks and leave the sins of apocalypse behind them as they rejoined the line units of the army.
In game terms, the Angel’s Tears (AT) are a new type of Destroyer(D) unit available exclusively to Blood Angels in The Horus Heresy Book 8: Malevolence. These do not replace the current Destroyers in the Legiones Astartes Age of Darkness Army List, so what makes them different, better, or worse? Let’s take a look at both entries and see if we can figure it out.
Don’t Cry, Sweet Angel
In a strict comparison, there are many things that I think make the ATs a better choice than the stock Destroyer, but that is solely dependent upon what role you want them to take and in which Rite of War. For any RoW that involves taking units that need to utilize Jump Packs, I think ATs are better and are more points efficient. For any other kind of deployment – such as in a drop pod of any variety – I think regular destroyers have great potential for a close support role.
ATs start at 130 points with Jump Packs and Volkite Serpenta. From a straight points efficiency perspective, ATs outperform regular destroyers when kitted out similarly. Five Ds with jump packs is already 140 points before upgrading any weapons, and the ATs come with jump packs and twin S5 deflagrate pistols instead of bolt pistols. The S5 is important, because now you are not only threatening more armor, but you are also more likely to cause exploding wounds on things like militia, solar auxilia, and mechanicum tech thralls with the deflagrate special rule (additional hits on each unsaved wound).
ATs are extremely flexible with upgrades as well, and most obviously so as a ranged platform. While they lose options like rad missiles and phosphex bombs, they gain the options for their special grenade launchers and assault cannons with suspensor webs. The ideal builds for these units I have in mind follow these two upgrades closely, so lets look at them.
Grenade Launcher Build
The grenade launchers are 24” range assault 1 blast, and while coming in at a low strength of 4, they also have the rad-phage and fleshbane rules. This is probably the most flexible all-round option for special weapons for this squad, as it can threaten most infantry in the game with volume of fire and reliable wound turnover, plus the ability to shoot and charge. This trades off for a lesser ability to threaten vehicles, and reduced overwatch capacity. There’s also a temptation to stay at range, which puts the rad grenades far away from supporting critical charges against tough units like justaerin or sekhmet terminators, which you need to dedicate a lot of wounds to deal with. At just AP4, the rad grenade launchers are not going to do a whole lot more to high-save models than your opponent’s bad dice will accommodate.
Ideal Grenade Launcher Build
Arch Erelim – Artificer Armor, Power Axe, 2x Volkite Serpenta
Erelim x 6- 9, 4-5xGrenade Launcher, 2-3x Twin Serpenta
Running in a Day of Revelation RoW, this unit will drop down a safe distance away from the enemy, and begin pelting vulnerable infantry with the grenade launchers. Priority targets will be on soft targets and objective holders, or on battle-automata with a 3+ or worse armor save. The various automata’s multi-wound natures makes them vulnerable to the rad-phage effects of the grenades. Avoid targeting single-model units and try to focus more on clumped up models. You’ll want to have another unit on deck to deal with terminator squads.
I opted not to run the Arch-Erelim with twin plasma pistols. It’s a lot to invest into a single model after artificer armor and a power axe (just 40 points for a 1-wound model). You are keeping your distance with this build, so the ap2 pistols won’t really get a chance to shine. More than 4-5 grenade launchers creates diminishing returns, and makes the unit too much of a points sink in my mind. Stay mobile with this unit, keep clear of dedicated combat units, and put pressure on the enemy backfield units and objective holders. You are by no means safe at the operating range of this weapon from enemy return fire, but your investment won’t be so much as to make you feel too much at a loss if they take a lot of return fire or die early.
Assault Cannon Build
The assault cannons have the reverse of this particular strength/weakness comparison. The reduced move and shoot range of 12” creates a dependency on either risky deployments or additional investment for accurate placing (such as the 24” bubble from the command rhino, or Sanguinius’ no-scatter DS) in order to take advantage of their full potential. Losing fleshbane is palatable with four s6 ap4 shots that wound infantry on two’s anyway, and since they are rending, you have the added possibility of getting through 2+ armor saves or even penetrating tough vehicles. If you don’t try to get in close, you waste a turn of valuable shooting and leave yourself wide open for enemy return fire. This means that this is a truly glass cannon build, and will require a lot of babysitting to get the full return on the points investment. When you do it well, it has the potential to really shake up the game state with reliable and devastating close-range, quality fire and assault support.
Ideal Assault Cannon Build
Arch Erelim – Artificer Armor, 2x Plasma Pistol
Erelim x 6- 9, 4-5x Assault Cannons, 2-3x Twin Serpenta
Support Characters: Moritat, Sanguinius, Legion Apothecary/Primus Medicae
A precision drop can put you in a prime arc for vulnerable armor values on vehicles, and a reasonably equipped squad of these guys with assault cannons could absolutely wreck a tank squadron by themselves, which makes this a good combo with Sanguinius. With the precision of being able to drop without scatter, his muscle, 2+ save, plus counter-attack and rad grenades on the unit itself, your enemies will think twice about charging into combat with anything short of a dedicated melee unit, and begrudgingly at that. For that reason, coming down with a unit like this should put your own target priority squarely at ranged threats. Precision landing will also make your moritat with either melta or plasma pistols extra deadly, in case you need to make sure a tough unit needs to be cooked extra crispy.
When placing this unit using either Sanguinius’ precise method or a command rhino, you’re going to want to position yourself away from the center of attention. You’re dropping down, dealing damage to a key target, and presenting a threat to a particular flank. You don’t want to be isolated in the center of the table without good reason. You’ll be screening the heavy weapons with your characters and ablative wounds from the regular, un-upgraded marines in the unit. Feel no pain from an apothecary will also be important for survivability. Having adequate support in the form of target saturation – such as the use of Dawnbreakers, leviathan dreads in pods, or assault squads – to make your opponent choose between two bad things will be critical to survivability. Depending on how things go, you can split off Sanguinius or other characters to other units as needed to keep the enemy forces busy or mop them up. You can reap the rewards of aggressive, tactical play using this build, and that is probably why it excites me the most between the two options.
A cheaper version of the assault cannon build works fairly similarly with heavy flamers as well. If you wanted to go with this build, it’d only be really efficient to do maybe four of the flamers since you can’t overlap your own models, and deep striking makes you deploy in a ring. Should you take incoming fire, your flamers will probably die first since you have to put them out front to deal damage, but the wall of fire rule will serve to dissuade some assaults should the heavy flamers live. This is also a bit cheaper, costing 10 points to upgrade instead of the 15 of the assault cannons or grenade launcher.
The ATs can all also trade out a weapon for a heavy chainsword for 5 points each, making them a decent melee threat to anything with a toughness value. WIth rad grenades, the s6 of the chainsword will make it cause instant death to most Astartes. The AP4 is the drawback, but would make the unit a combat threat to units of vorax, but even wounding Astartes on 2’s, they’ll all get armor saves. The chainsword is not the ideal option in my opinion, since they have fewer attacks than their destroyer brethren, so focusing on a shooting role will serve you better. Even trading out a serpenta for a heavy weapon, you will still get the bonus for having two weapons with the combat blade and second pistol that you would have by wielding the heavy chainsword.
Aster Krohne and the Destroyer Host (A Great Band Name)
Recent Changes to Destroyers Worth Noting
Destroyers recently underwent some changes from their prior entry in the Red Books. This information is available in the recent FW errata and FAQ, and while this is fairly old news at this point, I wanted to point it out in case any stragglers don’t know. The biggest changes are a drop in base points from 150 to 115, and dropping the PPM for new destroyers from 20 points to 15 points. Beyond that, equipping the squad with jump packs has changed from a flat 75 points to five points per model. Some wargear options are also cheaper, so it got a lot more viable and feasible to include some of these units in your list.
The benefits of Destroyers lie in two places – close combat attacks and phoxphex bombs. If your army doesn’t need another assault unit and lacks ranged support, then you are likely better served with ATs. If you do take them, I would take few upgrades, and place them in a drop pod instead of taking jump packs. A drop pod will allow you to get out and throw your phosphex bombs, and put you in a position to support another close assault unit with the rad grenades. Getting them in combat and tooling them to in a close combat role has some real value, in my opinion, since they have more base attacks in combat than ATs though they lack the upgrade flexibility.
For a character with no previous mention in the lore, Aster Krohne became a fast favorite for me, and I spent a bit of time trying to find a place to best use him. Lacking a jump pack, he doesn’t fit in with the AT, so destroyers in a pod is the best way to deliver him. His ability to stay alive makes for a cheeky kill point denial, and his rending, shredding hand flamers could spell a serious inconvenience to the squads he targets with his unique “Virtue of Judgement” rule. With a 2+/5++, ap3 S+1 rending axe, three wounds, counter-attack, rad grenades, and adamantium will, Krohne is a pretty versatile character who really only needs a delivery method. He works just as well, perhaps, in a unit of terminators. He’s priced aggressively, and I can’t wait to see the official model come out for him because I will definitely be using him in smaller points games, and maybe even larger ones. He has many of the benefits of a moritat without restrictions on which units he can join. If he’s your warlord and does die, then its nice to think that on a cheeky 4+ you will deny a slay the warlord point. I’m a big fan of this character.
The Horus Heresy Ramping Up
Thanks for humoring my exploration of this cool new unit. I’ll have some new insight into the new lore of book 8 after getting some more time to sit and read it – particularly of the White Scars.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!