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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blood Angels Codex Review: Part 3: Elites

Hello again! Another BA post by I, your fateful servant, Desc440. This one will cover the first 3 Elites entries in the codex: Chaplains, Sanguinary Guards and Furioso Dreadnoughts.

Chaplain : Bad

The Reclusiarch’s little brother. While having nearly the same offensive power and giving identical bonuses to his squad, having only 2 wounds is pretty bad for a combat character.

Add this to the fact that you’re cutting into your precious Elites slots to take him, and you’ve got a recipe for fail.

I’m not a big fan of taking more than 1 HQ character in general, but if you must have a Chaplain, I’d seriously consider going for a Reclusiarch in addition to whatever your other HQ choice is. Not only is he more survivable (important for a combat char), but he also unlocks a second Honour Guard, which can be useful in some lists.

If you already have your two HQ slots filled… you may want to reconsider how many points you are dedicating to characters. Remember: boys before toys! Get some more bodies in there!

Sanguinary Guard: Good

I really wasn’t sold on Sang Guard at first, but they eventually won me over. While they fall short of a being an amazing unit, they fill an important role in the BA army which earns them some accolades, especially when made into Troops via Dante. This role is really the ultimate beater unit. They are sturdy and reliable assaulters who will chew through most squads but whimper and fall over to anyone who ignores saves. We'll look at this further.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first: as many profess, they are indeed a little overcosted. Cutting their cost or giving them a 5+ invul would have improved their value tremendously. Speaking of invulnerable saves, they really could have used one. Sang Guard make mincemeat of common troops and some assault units, but anything with mass power weapons is going to make them cry. Same thing happens when confronted by mass AP1/2 shooting when the Guards aren’t in cover. Finally, being locked into small squad sizes puts a certain damper on my enthusiasm for them – but not a major one.

Ok, so what’s there to like about them, then? Well, quite a bit, actually. For one thing, they are the most cost-efficient source of power weapon attacks for Jumper armies. They are also quite resilient to small arms fire thanks to their Artificer Armour, especially when in the presence of a Sanguinary Priest. Sang Guard also have a nifty gun which is good at knocking off some wounds/models out of the unit you are about to charge. Finally, they are Fearless, which whilst bad on large horde units, is much more useful on small crack units. Having a Fearless Troop choice (with Dante) can be very useful to ensure you won’t run like a girl at an inopportune moment.

Let’s talk about options: one Sang Guard (or Honour Guard) in you army can carry the Chapter Banner. This is often a good choice, especially if the squad is joined by characters. Making a choppy assault unit even choppier for a reasonable price is hard to pass up. Sanguinary Guard also have access to Death Masks. These suck. They are awesome when they work, but due to the high leadership levels which are abound in 40k, this is a rare occasion. Had they been really cheap (or already included), I would have been more forgiving of their failings, but they are sadly relatively expensive for what little they provide. Finally, each Guard can switch his gun for a Plasma Pistol or Infernus Pistol and you also have the option to replace the Glaive Encarmine with a Power Fist. I tend to forego the pistols altogether since the Angelus Boltgun is pretty nice and Infernus Pistols have always failed to impress me; I tend to have enough melta elsewhere so that this lack of duality doesn’t become an issue. If you are intent on doing a NippleWing army (I prefer calling it Dante’s Inferno myself), you’re obviously going to have to include at least 2 such pistols per squad. A power fist per squad is also an important upgrade to make sure they don't get bogged down in assaults they cannot win with Dreadnoughts and to help against high T targets.

A quick note on said army: I mentioned in the Dante review that I am not a fan of it. I simply feel that too many Sanguinary Guard units breed in weakness due to overspecialisation. I try to keep a 1:1 Sang Guard to Assault Squad ratio so as to increase the flexibility of my list. This has so far provided good results.

A really important thing to remember about Sanguinary Guard is they excel with Priests around. A bunch of S4/I4 power weapons isn't that scary to a lot of armies but S5/I5 makes a world of difference. They will tear through a lot of units but have a pretty big paper to their mini-rockness in low AP/armor ignoring attacks. Understand this and you'll get better mileage out of Sanguinary Guard.

Furioso: Good

God I love those things. Is there a more badass concept than a great big stonking robot with bigass claws tearing apart swarms of enemies in brutal close combat? I posit that there is not. Australian beer ads.

I think it wouldn’t be inexact to state that due to the different weapon loadouts available to the Furioso, it’s almost as if the variants are completely different engines of death from one another.

My overall favourite is the Blood Talons Furioso. This can quite often tear through a whole squad on its lonesome. The attack generation mechanic is just plain awesome, but is really vulnerable to weapon destroyed results on the damage chart. Also, the sheer destructive power can be a bad thing at times: kill off an entire unit in one go, and you will often find yourself stating down the business end of multiple meltaguns.

My second favourite would be the Librarian Furioso. Brings quite a bit of utility while being far more fearsome in combat than a regular Librarian. Here, the otherwise lacklustre Wings of Sanguinius power really shines. Having a jump libby dread keeping pace behind your Rhinos and Razors is guaranteed to give your opponent a moment of pause or two. To beware though, psychic defenses can slow this advance down considerably though Drop Pods are also an option (Blood Lance drop pods rawr!). The stupid lack of Extra Armour sucks, but it’s not a deal breaker as far as I’m concerned. It’s also got to be said that the libby Furioso ain’t cheap, so you have to really consider if he’s a good fit for your list.

The Frag Cannon Furioso isn’t so hot, but still not bad. Take the cannon and a Magna Grapple for tank hunting. 2 S6 rending shots, 1 meltagun and 1 S8 Magna plus the drag rule can bring something useful to an army list.

The least useful loadout for me is the dual Blood Fists. If you want to use your Furioso for tank killing, use the loadout above, really. The loss of that extra attack is more than offset by what the cannon provides you with.

One thing that is a bit painful about Furiosos: delivering them to your enemy can be problematic. Wing libby dread is not as prone to this (but can be due to psy defence), but for the other types, a 6 inch move is reeeeeeeeally slow inside a BA army. The best method of getting the metal monsters where they need to be is the Storm Raven. That is, however, a costly proposition. You can also pod them, but more often than not, that leaves them considerably isolated, which isn’t conducive to them surviving. In most cases, I will have mine follow behind my wall of transports and hope they survive the enemy’s guns on the way to the fight.

With that, I will end this article as it is starting to get quite long. The next entry will cover both types of Terminators and the biggest fail of a unit in the ‘dex: Techmarines!

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