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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Picking BA Psychic Powers...

So I'm working on my Blood Angels list (well, one of several) and I'm having trouble narrowing down my psychic powers. I've iterated through a number of different choices and managed to get it down somewhat, but I'm still flip-flopping between my choices: Sanguine Sword, Blood Lance, Unleash Rage, Wings of Sanguinous, and Fear the Darkness. Yeah, I know, not much of a narrowing, huh? :\

This is the army list:
(more will be posted on this list in the future, but for now just go with it)
2000pt Blood Angels counts-as
1 Librarian (120)
Terminator, ???, ???
10 Terminators (470)
2 Cyclone, 2 Chainfist
10 Terminators (470)
2 Cyclone, 2 Chainfist
3 Sanguinary Priest (260)
2 Terminator
10 ASM (235)
2 Melta, PF
10 ASM (235)
2 Melta, PF
10 ASM (210)
2 Flamer, Hand Flamer

Yes, I'm aware the Flamer squad is suboptimal; they're being included largely for fluff reasons as well as to deal with backline shooting.

So the conundrum is something like this: my Librarian has absolutely no reason to take Shield, because Terminators already have a 5++ anyways and my ASM should have cover regardless if they are in range. Blood Boil is terrible and gets thrown right out, likewise Smite. Might of Heroes isn't bad, but the other close combat powers are better. Shackle Soul would be good if it wasn't 12" range, but as it stands I'll rarely get to use it and when I do they'll often shrug it off. I want him to bring some more utility to the list and, if possible, shore up weaknesses. So what are the pluses and minuses of each?

Wings of Sanguinous
This one feels like a shoe-in, but that seems a little deceptive to me. Being able to move 12" in Terminator armor means he can potentially join up with the ASM for a charge and move off on his own to hold a squad in combat, but without the ability to use a second power, he can't add in Sanguine Sword (and thus kill vehicles or "hard" targets) or Unleash Rage (to make the ASM effective.) He also lacks a Storm Shield, which makes running off on his own even more dangerous in many situations, as will moving out of range of the FNP aura (which is very possible). So overall, it seems like a bit more of a gimmick than at first glance, but possibly still in the running?

Blood Lance
This is another power that's usually a first pick, but is less useful in the army. The average 14" range is definitely limiting (as is the potential issue with the FAQ)- I'll probably be lucky to fire it once or twice a game, barring a risky Deep Strike attempt. On the other hand, it adds some much-needed shooting to the list against tanks- with only four Meltaguns and four Cyclones, taking out vehicles can be a real problem for me. The short range also pretty much guarantees that it will be affected by enemy psychic defenses.

Unleash Rage
This is something of an unconventional choice in competitive armies, but with virtually all my models being WS4 and relying, to some degree or another, on CC to kill the enemy, it can offer a significant boost to damage output. On a Terminator squad it can make even just 2-3 models beyond the Librarian into real killers, since I'm getting 75% hits and 84% wounds- on the charge, that is basically two Power Fist hits per Terminator, and it doesn't take a lot of that to nuke the enemy. It is also one of the my turn/your turn powers, which is nice. On the other hand, it can easily result in overkill (which is bad) and trying to use it in sync with ASM can be awkward above and beyond the relative movement rates- how does one Terminator IC + a non-Termie squad function when making a Sweeping Advance? I'm honestly not sure.

Sanguine Sword
Another CC-styled power, with the advantages and disadvantages that come with that. What does it do that Unleash Rage doesn't? Kill vehicles, especially stationary ones and walkers. Despite having lots of Power Fists, walkers can be very annoying to my list, as they easily bypass my 2+ save and I'm still looking for 5s to pen them in a fight. If I'm getting the charge, Sanguine Sword gives me a reasonably reliable way to get 1-2 penetrating hits on a walker before it swings at me, although this risks losing the Librarian if I don't kill/disable it there. It also lets me ID Toughness 5 models- there aren't a lot of these, pretty much just Thunderwolves, but being able to down this is a reasonably important factor. However, looking at things in total, I'm much better off sending my ASM with Unleash Rage active to kill Thunderwolves, as it's pretty standard to have at least one Storm Shield in the squad. So Sword helps me... wound MCs (but not ID them)? And we're back to "it's good against tanks/walkers" again.

Fear the Darkness
Taking a very different tack, this one gives me some options against deathstars and similar units with mediocre morale. Forcing Nobz or TH/SS to test on a Ld of 6-8 isn't super-reliable, but it doesn't take many failed tests to drive them off the board. This also has some nice synergy in that I would be shooting at the same unit with Storm Bolters/Missiles, which means if I can cause the 25% casualties, they'll have to fall back a second time, as broken units automatically fail morale tests. For anything that falls back 3d6, this can very well take them right off the board then and there. On the downside, even Ld6 will succeed about half the time and most have better numbers than that or are Fearless. It can also be used against other high-priority targets (CCS, HWS, etc) to try and ensure they die, but this suffers from all the same weaknesses as above.

So which two powers will work best?

-Unleash/Wings: This is what I've been running with, but it hasn't mattered much. I'm hesitant.

-Fear/Unleash: Gives me tools in melee and at range, but only against infantry targets.

-Fear/Lance: All ranged, all the time, to shore up the mediocre shooting. Also helps against vehicles.

-Sword/Lance: Focuses on wrecking tanks above all else, with a minor in killing hard targets.

I'm definitely thinking that Fear the Darkness should make an appearance, since crappy deathstars can be annoying to this list. The only reason I would avoid taking it at this point, I think, is to go with Sword/Lance to focus on breaking metal boxes, but that might be over-specializing.

Thoughts? Comments? Reactions? Responses?

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