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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blood Angels Codex Review: Part 2: Headquarters

Librarians: Excellent

Libbies are probably the best HQ choice available to a BA army. Their cost effectiveness and flexibility are unmatched. While their statline is not particularly impressive, this is easily made up by their quality as a force multiplier. Repeat this to yourselves. Force. Multiplier.

Librarians have access to mostly good psychic powers and a few not so good ones. The standout power to me is Shield of Sanguinius. For an army able to field so much armour and jump troops, a 6 inch bubble of 5+ coverness is just plain awesome. Unleash Rage is also very nice and almost makes chaplains pointless. Blood Lance is a great boon to DoA armies for reasons Kirby has already stated here. Sword of Sanguinius makes armour-popping and instant-killing child’s play. Wings of Sanguinius isn’t so hot on a regular libby, but as we shall see in the Furioso review, it is far from a useless power. Fear of the Darkness looks nice in theory, but the plethora of Fearless/ Ld 9-10 units in 40k severely limits its usefulness. Blood Boil would have been a good power had you always been able to pick your target inside units, but as it stands, it fails to impress. Finally, Smite is still as terrible as ever.

In addition, Librarians come with a psychic hood for psy defence and a Force Weapon by default. Considering you get all this for just 100 pts, it’s not very hard to see why Librarians are the default HQ choice for most BA armies.

One important thing to note: don’t make your libby an Epistolary. The upgrade itself is severely overcosted, but on top of that, you can already use 2 psychic powers anyways: Shield of Sanguinius functions in your opponent’s turn. Ergo, if you pick Shield and say Blood Lance, you can use both without the 50 pts stupid tax.

Reclusiarch: Average

Supa-Chappies are by no means the worst HQ choice you could pick, but compared to the awesomeness of Librarians, they simply don’t shine as much.

They have a decent statline and come with a 4+ invul and a power weapon, so as combat chars go, you could do worse. In addition, they make the unit they are with Fearless (which isn’t always a good thing) and allows re rolls to hit (and to wound for DC) on the charge.

If you want an all out combat machine without going with a special char, the Reclusiarch is your man. Still, the Blood Angels don’t really need a boost in CC usually, so it’s hard to pass up the sheer utility of a Librarian to boost the combat potential of a single unit.

Captains: Terrible

Universally heralded as one of the worst units in the Codex, the poor Captain indeed sucks dog’s bollocks. GW managed to make an already bad C:SM character even worse.

For starters, BA Captains have no special rules. Zero. None. Zip. That’s right: some of the most brilliant and gifted tacticians in the galaxy are shown up by Guard officers. On top of that, they have barely any wargear options. No Relic Blades is bad (made worse by the fact that they don’t even have access to the BA equivalent, Glaive Encarmines), but how can one justify the lack of Articier Armour for a Chapter known for its love of finely-crafted equipment? Truly baffling.

To make matters even worse, Captains don’t even unlock a FOC swap. Had you required a Captain with Jump Pack to have Assault Squads as Troops, the suckiness would have been made more tolerable. Fortunately, there is no such requirement, leaving BA Captains in their current state of failuredom.

Honour Guard: Excellent

Extremely versatile, increases the power and resilience of nearby units and doesn’t take a FOC slot? Sold!

Yes, Honour Guard squads are indeed awesome. You can set them up multiple ways: hammer, anvil, anti-tank, etc. What is nice is that they function well in all these roles when given the proper equipment. The downside to this is that the cost starts to rise rapidly.

Of all the features of Honour Guards, two stand out most: the inclusion of a Sanguinary Initiate (providing some FnP/FC love to all units within 6 inches) and the ability to take up to 4 special weapons. This makes them a fantastic anti-tank unit: 3-4 meltas deep striking reliably on turn 2 with little scatter means bye-bye tank! Add Dante for extra win. Honour Guard are also one unit where plasmaguns actually work thanks to large volume of fire and Feel no Pain.

Many a BA player likes to tool up their HG for combat. While I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a bad thing, I feel this is not the most efficient way to use the unit. This is because Vanguard Veterans have almost all the same combat gear options, but only HG can have as many special weapons. So unless you absolutely and positively have to have a Chapter Banner (on foot) and Company Champion in your army, I would strongly advise to keep your HG leaning towards a shooty focus.

- Desc440


Librarians are the easy stand-out and outside of the special characters of Dante and Mephiston, most likely to be leading a Blood Angels army in 5th edition. They are cheap and provide great utility to an army which is already based upon force multipliers (FNP/FC bubbles) and unlike Vanilla Librarians, they unlock Honor Guard which are a fantastic unit in their own right. Captains unfortunately are like many of the special characters and simply don't bring anything army wise to the table. Reclusiarchs aren't a bad option and nice to include if you have a Death Company squad (though Lemartes works as well) but the loss of a Librarian or paying for both is pretty steep.

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