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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blood Angels Codex Review Part 8: Dedicated Transports Part 1


Good day honoured blog junkies,

Here is the next instalment of the Blood Angels Codex Review. We shall have a look at the Rhino, Razorback and the Drop Pod.


Metal Bawks, Red Edition.

So the Blood Angels Rhino… exactly the same as the normal Rhino, but Fast and 15 points more expensive.

This may come as a shock to some, but I don’t like Blood Angels Rhinos too much. The reason is that the extra 15 points doesn’t feel justified – sure, being Fast is nice to get close-in to the enemy faster, but does the extra 6 inches of movement warrant a 40% price increase?

I’m more than happy to pay 15 pts extra to be able to move and shoot at full effect with my Predators. I’m more than happy with that price to have Flamerbacks and Assbacks that are actually useful, as well. But for Rhinos? You don’t have any armament worth speaking of that would benefit from the interaction between guns and the rules for Fast vehicles, and since you can’t shoot out of the top hatch when moving more than 6 inches, and can’t jump out of a transport that moves Flat Out, you aren’t really gaining much of anything over the bog standard Rhino aside from an extra 6 inch move on turn one, and maybe on turn two. Extra ramming strength? Again, does that warrant the 15 pts?

That’s not to say the Rhino is without its uses, of course, but whenever possible, I try to work around them and use Flamerbacks instead. Not always possible, but it’s usually easy enough.


The (Fast) Razorback is another staple feature of the Blood Angels army.

The BA Razorback is entirely unique amongst Marines in that many of the turret options that simply do not work for the other Chapters suddenly become a valid option when you add the Fast rule. Twin-linked Heavy Flamers are probably the most obvious example of this fact: not only is that turret “free” (whereas Vanilla Marines/Wolves pay a hefty amount of points for it), but it benefits greatly from being mounted on a Fast chassis – it can get in range faster via Flat Out move on Turn 1/2, and is far more capable of bringing its templates to bear thanks to 12 inch move + shoot ability. In addition, it synergises well with the aggressive potential of the Blood Angels army.

The BA Assback (Bassback? Bassback and Blamerback for TLHF?) also benefits greatly from the Fast hull. The big problem of the stock Assback is that it is far more difficult to get it in range and keep it in range while still firing due to the “short” 24” range of the gun. Tack on an extra 6” of move-and-shoot a turn, and this problem mostly goes away. Personnaly, I LOVE this configuration for its versatility, though it kinda sucks whenever playing against Mechdar; Wave Serpents tell you to go fornicate your headdress with your Rending AssCannons. That said, armies which seek to take a middle-of-the-road approach between aggressiveness and defensiveness will find much to like about the TLAC Razor.

The “classic” Razor setup – Twin plasma/Lascannon AKA Plasmaback (Blasmaback? Okay I’ll stop…) – also benefits from being Fast, but it gets a lot of tough competition from the Assback and Flamerback for inclusion in a list. I would say that if you are aiming for pure shooty force, the Plasmaback can be a good fit, but otherwise, you need to take a good hard look at the other variants and make sure they wouldn’t actually benefit you more.

The last two turrets – Twin Heavy Bolters and Twin Lascannons – just don’t measure up. The twin las… well, what’s the point? Yay, you can run away at Cruising speed while firing a single lascannon shot? I dunno, maybe there’s an amazing Twin Las Razor list hiding somewhere on the net, but I haven’t seen it. As far as the Bolterback goes, its damage output is just totally underwhelming. You are just better off reworking your list so either it functions well with Flamerbacks, or making some cuts somewhere to put some Twin Assault Cannons turrets on your Razors.

In conclusion, the Blood Angel Razorback is blessed with having more than one turret type that is functional. This opens up a LOT of different builds, and when you take the discount that Assault Squads get for their vehicles into account, it’s not hard to see why ASM + Razors are so popular.

Drop Pod

“The Codex Astartes names this maneuver Steel Rain.”
Attr. to Captain Indrick “Spess Mahreens” Boreale

The Drop Pod, as depicted in the Marine fluff, is one of their signature pieces of kit. Sadly, it translates very poorly in game terms.

The Pod itself is not really to blame for this: 35 pts for a 12/12/12 open-topped vehicle that can drop anywhere on the board with reduced chances of Mishap while carrying 10 guys or a Dread seems like a reasonable deal to me. The Deathwind is a bit pricy for what it is, in my opinion - but it is optional, not mandatory. No, the problem lies with the Drop Pod Assault rule.

Said rule states that half of your pods, rounded up, will always drop on turn 1, and the rest will arrive from Reserves as per the normal rules for units Deep Striking. What this translates into is that a full Drop army will always arrive piecemeal, to be picked apart by the opponent. If you “game” the rule by taking support elements with pods that deploy empty (Devs or Dreads, usually) so that your whole force can drop in together on turn 1, your opponent will just send his whole army into Reserves. You are now stuck on foot with a limited amount of mobility, which is bad.

A popular - but usually bad - tactic is to send melta-armed dudes podding into the enemy line to slag a tank. I say usually bad because people like to use a 10-man Sternguard squad equipped with 6-8 combi meltas for this task. Result: your opponent castles properly, the Sternguards kill two 35-pts Rhinos, get focus-fired/charged in return, and it’s now a ~1700 pts vs ~1900 pts game. GG.

One way to make this tactic work better is to use the Corbulo Maneuver: by using The Far-Seeing Eye, you can reliably bring in a pod on turn 2 (of course you need to drop an empty pod on turn 1 for this), which results in having all your units hitting the enemy line together instead of in “waves”. This makes it much harder for your opponent to counter.

In summary, the Drop Pod Assault rule severely hampers the usefulness of Drop Pods. You can work around that to a certain extent, but you have to make sure the necessary investment is worth it.


In this review, we have had a look at one great Dedicated Transport (the Razorback), one that is a bit “meh” (the Rhino) and one that is a PITA to work with (the Drop Pod). With Razors being so clearly superior in almost all contexts, it is plain to see why it forms the basis of many a Blood Angels list.

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