Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Competitive Blood Angels in 6th Edition, Part 1

 Greetings fellow gamers!

February had been a very busy month for me, with all the mid-term exams and whatnot, and once again a lot of time has passed without any new posts… I should be ashamed of myself.

Anyways, today’s topic is dedicated to Blood Angels, and their competitive value in the dreadful 6th edition.
  It’s been already about 7-8 months since the dawn of the 6th, and as of today, I haven’t  been able to find a single satisfying  guide, analysis or tactica about the BA codex.  What’s  more,  there is no solid presence of BA in any grand tournament, nor any indication to encourage the claim that this army can perform adequately at competitive level.

  As a result, my only source of information derive from  various posts on forums, vague articles on blogs, and of course from the view of the majority of players.

Thus, using these rather  “crude” materials and without any solid facts to rely upon, I will attempt to write this article and share with you the results of my research, as well as the impression  that I have obtained from the Blood Angels Codex.

 To begin with, I will attempt to analyze some of the most popular BA units that are used nowadays:


The first unit I would like to talk about Is Mephy, aka the mini Carnifex.   I see this guy being used all the time, being included in almost 60% of all BA lists I come across, as the sole HQ choice.
Personally, I am not a fan of Mephiston. I believe that in 6th edition he has lost a lot of his shine.


  •        Plasma has become the most common special weapon, and while it is a little harder for them to wound Mephiston ( when compared to meltaguns ),  the increased amount of shots that come from rapid fire mean that Mephy goes down faster. A lot faster. At least FNP can compensate somehow, but yet,  once he comes into contact with the enemy, he won’t survive very long.

  •         AP3 weapon. This is where 6th has truly hurt Mephiston.  He is supposed to be the unstoppable killing machine of the Imperium, yet his weapon cannot harm a mere Terminator.  As a result, the effectiveness of Mephy has gone down significantly. He no longer is an unstoppable train of brute force , but instead has become an overpriced light infantry killer. To add insult to injury, he no longer stands a chance in melee against most decent CC HQ characters,  as it has become very easy for the enemy to lock him into combat with a cheap character with 2+ save, who not only is almost impervious to any damage dealt from Mephiston, but some of them ( like Inquisitor Corteaz , or a humble Destroyer lord with SMW and MSS ) can best him in a single turn of assault!

  •            Lack of Independent Character and Fearless.  Yeah, I am not reinventing the wheel here, we all know how bad it hurts that Mephy cannot join squads.  In 6th edition, this flaw of him has become rather more gaping, making Mephiston unable to withstand any focused firepower. He is as easy as ever to be picked out and swiped by any semi-decent shooting unit, and far easier to get locked in combat against enemy units who are Fearless.

Thus,  the enemy now easily drown Mephiston into a sea of bodies or simply focus-kill  him in a turn of shooting. What’s more, with every new codex,  we see more artifacts, abilities or upgrades that affect  models or units. For Mephiston, the worst of them is certainly the Mindshackle Scarabs(MSS )upgrade, who has a profound  impact on him.

All things considered, Mephiston  apparently has a harder time on the table than he used to. However, most people would state that all of his shortcomings could be diminished when supported by the rest of the army. 

It is always possible to keep Mephiston hidden, inside transports , or under constant support from Sanguinary Priests, and at the same time, use his mobility to avoid infantry units with 2+ save.   In my opinion, this is just ineffective, to design a list that will support a unit whose points cost is supposed to guarantee that Mephiston can operate on his own and be all-around lethal.

His performance in my playtests was rather disappointing. Against an IG player, who runs a list full on plasma veterans and the now- ubiquitous vendettas, I was hiding Mephiston behind 2 land raiders. When the Vendettas came in, they shot down my land raider, and then his deep striking stormtroopers shot him to death with melta and plasma weapons. Similarly, against a Necron player, he did not manage to deal any damage at all, since he slaughtered himself after the MSS taunt. Not to mention how hindered he gets  when confronted by chaos Obliterator spam or killy Chaos Lords who carry black maces.

All things considered, my personal opinion is that Mephiston is not the beast  he used to be, and although he can still wreak havoc against certain lists, he can be easily get outplayed by those players who know how to deal with him ( which is easier that ever ). I believe that he falls into the category of " putting all your eggs in one basket", and I would refrain from using him in my lists at any given moment.


Another very popular choice, Stormraven is considered by many to be one of the best flyers of the current metagame, combining durability with decent damage output.

 It is true, that SR is a very good flyer indeed, and perhaps the one who excels the most at taking down enemy flyers or other vehicles.  A twin-linked multi-melta with the skyfire rule is indeed a powerful tool, and the rest of the SR loadout has the potential to fulfill a multitude or roles, making the SR a true Jack of all Trades,

…and a master of none.  While it is a force to be reckoned with, the Stormraven requires a sum of points that most lists can ill-afford to pay. Don’t get me wrong here, 200 points is not much for a model that has the potential to change the course of the game, and I always reserve a spot for one in my builds,but the problem is, that sometimes one is just not enough.

      It is an undeniable fact, that flyers are , perhaps the most important element of the current metagame. Almost all IG players use 3 Vendettas, Orks max out their  FA slots with Dakkajets ,  Chaos Space Marines can also field 3 Heldrakes and Necrons can be expected to have 3-9 flyers in their list at any given moment.  In those situations, a sole Stormraven is certainly gonna lose the aerial superiority,  thus creating problems for the rest of the list.

 The only answer could be, a devastator Squad  with Prescience ( rather “meh” IMHO),  a quad gun and/ or another Stormraven or other allied Flyer.  However, for me , the question remains, whether Stormravens should be taken in pairs, solo or not at all.

Sanguinary Priests:

 When I started reading post and topics about BA in 6th, I was surprised to see that most people are reluctant to include Sanguinary priests in their lists. Of course, I can see the obvious reasons, with both FC and FNP getting nerfed, and characters being easier to get singled out in close combat, or even getting sniped ( in extreme situations )

Even though the changes to the USR were not kind to our priests,  it is my personal belief that they are still necessary  for the BA. With the exception of heavy mech lists and/or razorspam ( which are not very common in 6th ),  a single sanguinary priest can make a great difference in the game. In fact, the SP is the only thing that actually make BA units a bit better that the majority of other MEQ’s. Yes, even with FC, the enemy marines  still get to fight at the same initiative, and our assault squads are having a harder time to deal with cc oriented units, but still, I believe that this +1str bonus is always desirable, and combined with Prescience bonus, can change the course of an assault dramatically. FNP still offers an important boost to the survivability of our units, providing a somewhat decent defense against plasma weapons.  

 When all is said and done, sanguinary priests are there for  one reason only:  supporting other units. And for  50 points, I don’t think that takes a great sacrifice to have one of them in the list.


Speaking of priests, this article would not be complete without  a reference to this guy. . I had never considered using Corbulo  in my lists before, unti the moment I realized how  amazing he is. Not only he fulfill the role of buffer, but his  FNP (2+) on himself means that he can become a unique guardian for the squad he is attached to, shrugging of amazing loads of damage and increasing the potential of his squad tenfold. Furthermore, he grants a dice reroll per game, which allows for a plethora of applications which can save your day. In fact, the only disadvantage of Corbulo is his limited mobility, which means that most of the time he must be accompanied with transports. Othen than that, I believe that Corbulo belongs to the group of models that got a tremendous advantage in the 6th ed.

Furioso (FRAGiozo!) Dreadnought

While it has become common ground that Walkers are much less desirable currently, the mighty Furioso stands out as a significant exception. What if the Blood talons are ap3? What if Dreadnoughts are struggling to be effective in short range? The furiosos have found  a way to use the edition swift in the favor  and remain  useful and competitive. The answer, of course came from the Frag cannon, a weapon that  appears to be perfectly suited for the blobs of infantry that people use nowadays. Just  use a drop pod to throw it right in the heart of the enemy units and then proceed to incinerate everything in its path.
                I cannot stress enough the importance of Fragiosos  for the Blood Angel army. They have become one of the best units in the book, but we will talk more about their strategies and uses later on.

This concludes the 1st part of the BA tactica.  Stay tuned for part 2, coming soon!

 Thank you for your time,
Stefanos Kapetanakis, out.


  1. I'm not sure if you saw this
    but it's pretty good. Still though, you do have a point about BA being under-represented.

    About Mephy, Priests, and the Dreads, I don't really have anything to add, you covered those pretty well.

    For the Stormraven - I've never taken them in pairs as I just got my second one and am only halfway through building it. At anything less than, say, 2,500 hundred though it seems far too expensive to have two, unless your list is built around them (though even this would be hard to pull off). I think from here the question would be whether or not to take one in smaller games. Below 1,000, no I would not take one. Most armies will have some answer to fliers (even at these points), or even if they don't that's a whole Assault squad you just dropped for the raven. At higher points, 1,500-2,000, I would say it is feasible to take one. However, a quad gun would almost always be better, as you get that built in Aegis defense line along with it (great for hiding RAS/Tanks behind for cover).

  2. Mephiston has a bit more detail, I agree with your assessment, but with choosable psychic powers, he can roll for a 4+ invuln or +d3T, both of which boost his survivability. However this comes at the loss of flight, which is a heavy price to pay. I think that he can be used as a resilient or offensive powerhouse, but not both like before.
    What are your thoughts on a furioso in a drop pod, and death company with reclusiarch in a drop pod?
    Or for that matter a storm raven full of death company and reclusiarch/lemartes and a death company dread?

  3. Ive used stormraven w/death company & death company dreadnought w/blood talons. If you pull it off it works a treat! Raining hell from above! But ive had experiences where my stormraven has been taken out and I lose almost everything. Big risk for so many points!

    As for mephiston I just run him with him regular psych powers. I've had him tear through all sorts without a problem. Abbadon, Wraithknights, Carnifex, full units of troops, tanks, the works! Instant death truly sucks though!