Hey, wargamers! There’s new Blood Angels stuff to talk about, so out I pop from my quarantine rabbit hole to offer some analysis.
These interim rules have been out for a couple of days now, and while there’s a lot to be excited about, there’s also some mourning to do. I did a more comprehensive review in the video above, but I’m ready to give you my good, bad, and ugly impressions from these temporary stop-gap rules. Also, check the Tactics Corner for more great articles on gaming in 40K!
Everything that was golden in the Blood Angels codex previously has now gotten a brighter, shinier finish. The Sanguinary guard got a major set of buffs. The weapons got the strength buffs that all the regular SM weapons did, in addition to increasing to a flat 2 damage for every attack instead of D3. So far as damage goes, 2 is the magic number nowadays. In addition, their masks now give a permanent -1 to hit in combat to their enemies, offering some additional combat survivability. Both of these features build in some of the stratagems from Blood of Baal that we lost with the update (more on that later). The “Heirs of Azkaellon” rule also got better, with a +1 to hit while at least one model from the SG unit is within range of your warlord. This means you don’t have to huddle your warlord to get a benefit to hit, and it means less in-game measuring and figuring out who is/isn’t in range. To top it all off, they went from 2 attacks each to 3 attacks each model. They also dropped slightly in points for now. Really cool!
The Sanguinary ancient got all the same buffs as those above, with some changes to the banner. It’s now more in line with the regular SM chapter banner, and he also offers a +1 to hit in combat aura. I think it’s a net gain, though I will miss the re-roll 1’s to wound ability of the old banner. Expect him to be an auto-include with the relic banner from Blood of Baal (more on that later).
The gold goodness doesn’t end with the Sanguinary Guard. Dante and the Sanguinor also got some serious buffs. Dante now feels like a real Chapter Master, with the updated rules for Chapter Masters wrapped into his datasheet. He also enjoys the same mask benefit as the SG and the Sanguinor (-1 to hit for enemies in combat), though I wish his version was a bit more special. Beyond that, his axe also went up to 2 damage from D3, and it is +3 strength now still at AP-3. With his re-roll 1’s aura ability, he now synergizes well with Sanguinary Guard instead of offering a redundant re-roll rule. To top it off, he adds 1 command point if he’s your warlord. Nice!
The Sanguinor got the most fun and most savage update. He can now heroically intervene from reserve! His old warlord trait is now just an ability he gets, so that’s nice as well. His weapon also went up to damage 2, and his aura got a slight nerf in that it no longer stacks with Angels of Death on the first round of combat, but still works on subsequent rounds. As long as he’s in reserve, he’ll be making your opponent sweat about charging any of your Blood Angels units (not just the CORE ones).
Death company also got their anticipated 2nd wound, which makes them even scarier. They got some buffs and got some nerfs at the same time, since you can no longer have boltguns AND chainswords at the same time. Squad sizes also got dropped to a maximum of 10 models in a unit. They can all still get kitted out with special weapons, however. This and the mobility of their (3pt – edited for accuracy) jump packs gives them an edge over their Primaris DC brethren, in my opinion. The only thing recommending the primaris DC now is their ability to go in the newly-nerfed impulsors, and their ability to benefit from Transhuman Physiology since that’s a primaris-only stratagem now.
The last big winners are the Sanguinary Priests from Corbulo on down. Their chalices now let you treat a nominated unit (or all units in an aura with Corbulo) as if they were in the assault doctrine. This is a really powerful buff since it allows you to punch at your full weight before turn 3 rolls around. They also hand out a 6+++ aura, which is a poor man’s replacement for the Standard of Sacrifice, but applies to more than just models within range. For interim lists, I see Sanguinary Priests completely replacing Librarians in BA lists
Librarians got hit really hard in the interim rules. Mephiston in particular is the worst of the character datasheets, remaining bland and virtually unchanged from before. With the loss of all the BA psychic powers in addition to stratagems like “Red Rampage,” he’s swinging much lower than before. I could take Mephiston and throw him at an Imperial Knight with a reasonable chance of killing it before, and now he’s just kind of bland. He’s easily outclassed by the new Librarian Dread, which automatically reduces incoming damage by 1, has the same number of attacks that do better damage, and has a better toughness/wounds. As Chief Librarian, this makes me sad, but I will hold out hope for the upcoming book. There is some play potential with psychic powers like Might of Heroes thrown around on units like Sanguinary Guard and/or Death Company, but I think the Librarian slots with “maybe” powers will be dropped in favor of the permanent “always on” buffs of Sanguinary Priests.
The rest of the Bad is Baal Predators and unique dreads like the Furioso or DC dreads. While gaining some buffs, none of them have the CORE keyword (unlike other dreads) so they miss out on all the character buff love. I don’t see a version of these that makes them better than the new Redemptor. The Baal predator got fast again, but it still can’t shoot after it uses Overcharged Engines, so most of its short-range weapons will never get to fire. RIP rhino rush, you seem to be staying dead forever.
All of the 2018 codex relics, psychic powers, and stratagems are gone. In fact, we are reduced to 4 unique stratagems… and ONE of those is for successor chapters…
See what’s missing? WINGS OF FIRE. DESCENT OF ANGELS. FORLORN FURY. They are all gone. All of the BA mobility stratagems – much of what kept us in the game – are just gone. Beyond that, relics like the Angel’s Wing and Standard of Sacrifice are gone too. The only available relics are the ones from Blood of Baal. I think the age of the Smash Captain is over. Long live the Smash Master, I guess. Hopefully we can hold over until the new book comes out, but we are definitely going to have to readjust our playstyles.
An Ongoing Conversation
So that’s my hot take. Like I said above, more details and thoughts are in the video. What do you think? Will BA disappear from events and tournaments while we wait for our book to come out? Is there a sleeper list waiting to murder everyone out there in the void? Let me know what you think, and I’ll see you around!