The Death Company are arguably the most iconic unit of the Blood Angels, and their rules have featured in a number of different guises over the years.* Earlier this week, we looked at the effects of the Black Rage on those who have succumbed to its madness, but today, we’re checking out some of the more nuanced rules associated with those cursed to fight among the Death Company.
There are three main Death Company units in the supplement – Marines, Intercessors** and Dreadnoughts – as well as two named Characters, Chaplain Lemartes and Tycho the Lost.*** However, you’ll also be able to induct up to one Captain and two Lieutenants in each Blood Angels Detachment into the Death Company. We hesitate to call it an ‘upgrade’ given that you’re essentially consigning them to a violent death, but for a nominal cost in Power/points they certainly won’t hold back on the battlefield.
More specifically, in addition to picking up the Black Rage ability and a few other tweaks to their rules, the Lost will gain the thematic new Death Visions ability. This allows you to pick from one of three delusions of Sanguinius’ final moments to apply to your ill-fated Character once during the battle. On the Bridge of the Vengeful Spirit, for example, is the perfect choice if you face overwhelming odds.
Suppose you’ve turned any of your Characters into one of the Lost, as described above, or your army includes either Chaplain Lemartes or Tycho the Lost. In that case, you can use the Visions of Sanguinius Stratagem to give them the ultra-violent edge.
Given that you can only make use of each Death Vision once during the battle, and that each Death Company Character can only experience a Death Vision once per battle, this Stratagem enables you to get the most out of that powerful ability even if you only have one model eligible to use it.
Of course, the presence of multiple Death Company HQ choices also unlocks the ability to field an entire Detachment – or even an entire army – of just Death Company units. Such a force would bode ill for the future of the sons of Sanguinius, but it would be much worse for your prospective opponents in the more immediate term! A Death Company army isn’t the most balanced force, granted, but it’s certainly one that would guarantee a swift and brutally violent game!
The Death Company in Crusade
In yesterday’s look at the Blood Angels Crusade rules, we discussed how the Flaw plays an important role in the campaign system for the Blood Angels. Well, where the Black Rage exists, so too does the Death Company! But if you’d rather your Character’s descent into madness felt more like a journey than a mere boost in points for a matched play game, you can make use of this aptly named Requisition as your Crusade’s campaign story unfolds.
In Crusade, you can even sacrifice a Death Company unit to the benefit of the rest of your Crusade force. After all, to die in battle before the madness claims them utterly is the ultimate goal for those who fall to the Black Rage, and their death is a lesson learned by all who witness it.
As you can see, the Death Company is about to become more brutal (if such a thing is even possible), more narrative, and more fun than ever before. The Blood Angels codex supplement is up for pre-order this weekend, along with the Death Company Intercessors kit, so make sure you stock up on your Death Company Marines in preparation to get your Black Rage on!
* Believe it or not, in a much earlier edition of the game, you had to roll a dice for each non-Character Infantry model in your Blood Angels army. On the roll of a 1, that model’s unit was reduced by one model, and another model was added to the army’s mandatory Death Company unit instead!
** If there was any doubt as to whether or not Primaris Space Marines would prove to be immune to the effects of the Black Rage, consider this your answer!
*** The codex supplement includes a datasheet for Captain Tycho, the legendary historical hero of the Blood Angels, as well as another which represents him after his fall to the Black Rage.