Friday, March 8, 2013

Competitive Blood Angels in 6th Edition: part 2

Today we will discuss the Troop options of the BA codex

Assault Marine Squads

The basic unit that shapes the backbone of almost every BA list, Assault Squads are units that can be designed to fulfill a multitude of roles, and can be armed to be effective against almost everything. Personally, I think that AMS are one of the best troop choices available at any Space Marine codex, because of their relatively low cost, mobility and flexibility.

 An Assault squad can be built in so many ways that would require an article of its own, to describe in full detail. They most common forms encountered are:

Jump Pack Assault Squads.  Probably the most straightforward approach, this unit is almost always composed of  9 marines with 2 special weapons and a Sergeant . Their basic role is that of an all-around effective melee unit , that can pose a threat to any target. Although this unit seems to have lost a lot of its usefulness, they can still perform excellently  when properly supported. Divination and Priest bubble is the obvious choice, that takes this unit a level above all other MEQ’s.  You should opt to throw these guys into combat as soon as possible, but they will not respond well to a reckless player, which means that, in order to get the most out of these 10 guys, the player must  have a clear picture of just how durable this unit is, and how much damage it can cause.  They are still marines, which means that they will succumb to melee specialists and/ or die quickly by the enemy’s firepower.

 Their true power lies in their resilience and mobility, rather than raw power. Use that to avoid enemy assaults and reduce as much as possible all forms of incoming fire.

The reason why JAS have seen a decline in the frequency of their use, is because people believe that they will get shot to death before they get into combat, then receive more casualties from overwatch before assaulting, and on top of that, they would not be as effective in taking out units in melee as they used to.
Let’s see what JAS have actually lost , and what they have gained in the edition swift:

  •           Furious Charge, is probably the biggest nerf that BA received, and this affects JAS more than any other unit in the book. Against MEQ, it just increases the amount of damage that RAS are gonna take.
  •           Random Charge Lengh. Another addition that makes it a harder to get into combat. RCL is not outright bad ( after all, the average 2d6 roll is approx. 7 ), and while Jump packs allow some more control over this, it is a rare occation indeed when JP move is gonna get held back in favor of the assault move.
  •           FNP. Most people believe that FNP has been nerfed in 6th edition, but I disagree with this claim.  FNP no longer occurs on 4+, but instead on 5+, which means that its change of happening has dropped from 50% down to 33%. On the other hand, FNP has now become almost universal, protecting all units from low ap , power weapons and the like. For a melee oriented unit, this is of huge importance. What do most people use nowadays? Plasma guns, aka ap2 rapid fire weapons. And when a unit, let’s say, a tactical squad is firing at a JAS, the plasma is the weapon that is expected to cause casualties. Bolter shots are classified as “ massed firepower”, and although your assault squad will succumb to the volume of shots,  they are cheap enough to make this event look negligible. What I am trying to say here is that, FNP is no longer a barrier that halves incoming damage from massed firepower, but instead a universal safeguard that offers a more complete protection. Not to mention how handy it is against power and rending weapons in CC.
  •       Hammer of Wrath.  Another new addition, although not of great importance,  as it is a rare occasion indeed, when Jump Packs are not gonna be used for rapid movement, but it is good to have the option to do some additional damage anyway.
  •       Prescience. Perhaps the ultimate form of supportive buff, this power allows constant rerolls to hit, in both shooting and melee phases. JAS get an incredible boost from this power, as they get more lethal not only in melee , but also in the shooting phase while under it's influence. This effect goes on for the entire game turn, thus allowing many, many dice to be re-rolled!  Furthermore, when assaulting fearless hordes, prescience can make the difference and turn the tide of the combat in your favor. 
Considering all of the above, do you still think that 6th has been so hostile to our basic troop unit?  They will still get to charge very fast, they will probably receive shooting damage for only a couple of turns before they start their own good work. Overwatch, although somewhat important, will almost never do enough damage to a JAS ( 3+ save is very reliable ), and even with In4, what is the worst that can happen? Are you that much afraid of enemy marines with bolters? Even a GK Strike Squad is not to be feared when you are the one making the charge.

When it comes to weapon loadouts for a JAS,  they should always carry 2 special weapons ( Flamers or meltaguns  ), and the Sergeant should be armed with a power weapon , usually Axe.  Many people will say that further points  investment makes this squad more effective, by giving power fists,  lightning claws and/or stormshields to the sergeants , but I would advise you to be somewhat conservative in this matter. It is better to keep their points cost at a minimum,  and invest those points elsewhere, in other units that will support your squad, instead of spending those points on the squad herself.

Aside from their combat prowess,  JAS make very mobile objective holders. When played successfully, a squad with jump packs should be thrown into battle early, dish out as much damage as possible to the enemy, and finally, run to objectives during the final turns of the game.

Razorback Assault Squad
                This unit exchanges most of its cc potential for a razorback with a heavy weapon on discount.  A RAS is almost always composed of 5 guys with their transport, and the occasional special weapon. They will spend the majority of the game inside the razorback, in safety, and they don’t need any support at this role.  Their low cost and high durability make them great overall, but the changes brought by 6th edition have made them rather lose potential.

 Perhaps, the most important hit came from the new vehicle rules, which mean that mech lists are much less durable. Now that glancing hits can wreck vehicles and getting a penetrating hit means that your weapon will almost always be useless ( 50% chance of being useless for 1 turn and another 35% of being totally gone ),  reduce dramatically the overall performance of the Razorback. Worse yet,  5 marines were never posing a threat to anyone, but now that they can no longer charge after disembarking from their transport, while needing to be outside of it for objective claiming, makes them easy prey for the enemy.

 However, although the days of Razorspam are probably over, when used with moderation, and not as a core of a list, RAS can still perform well even in competitive levels.

Land raider and drop pod squads will be discussed in the Tactics section of this guide.

Tactical Squads
 The second best troop unit of the BA codex, tactical squads have seen a rise in popularity in the current metagame. The new transport rules favor them, rapid fire weapons are much more useful now, and shooting has become the prevalent source of damage.  Their uses and weapon loadouts are indeed many and varied, and depend on what role is assigned to each squad. Their points cost is also not that bad, and they get cheap heavy and special weapons.
However, my personal opinion is that, BA tacticals are outclassed by the majority of the rest of tactical marines available to other Marine codices.  For this reason, I would advise anyone who design lists with tactical marines, to go for allied units of tacticals. DA Tacticals, for example are better in every way, and cheaper too, SW Grey hunters are awesome value for their points, and since you can have access to them without any drawbacks ( aside from the necessary HQ choice ), why not do just that?
Of course, at the end of the day it all comes down to the kind of list you are trying to build, and If you can spare the points for 3-4 troop units.

Death Company
 Ah….the DC…isn’t it amazing, what can a new edition do for a unit? I think that, among the units that got boosted by the new USR,  Death company can probably claim the 1st place. Their most hindering flaw turned into an incredible boost, and the DC has become a superb lethal weapon , completely under the control of the player. What can I say about them? They are blessed with FNP, FC and relentless, have WS of 5 and can do as many as 5 attacks when charging…most HQ choices don’t get that many attacks you know. And all that power comes from a model of 20 points. A true bargain indeed.
 Still, it saddens me to see that DC have not taken the BA listbuilding by storm. The reason is quite obvious though, and it derives from their rather restricted mobility.

Of course, you can give them Jump packs, but if you were really considering this option, you wouldn’t be reading an article about “ competitive” gameplay, right? 15 points per JP is insane, and should be avoided at all times ( best reserved for games of 2.500 points or more ).

 As a result, in order to get the most out of the DC, another transport options should be considered.

Land raiders are perhaps the best solution, offering several other advantages ( which will be discussed later ), aside from transferring a lethal unit to its destination. The cost of a land raider, although high, is very much justified by the rewards given by the DC. So, if you can spare 250+ points , I would really advise you to go for  a Land raider.

 Drop Pods.  A more revolutionary approach, the drop pod provides good positioning at dirt cheap cost.  A DC that comes into play from a DP, will need to survive an enemy turn in order to start dealing serious damage, which means that they need support ( which can be provided rather easily by the BA force ), or else they won’t survive long.

DC Dreadnoughts
Although completely outclassed by Furiozos in every way,  DC dreads are not that bad. They are cheap and can still hurt horde armies. Can be put into drop pods and sent to the enemy ( but only as parts of the second wave, they have become too fragile to withstand the enemy’s full force reaction ), and help pick up any remains of the enemy, or can be embarked in Stormravens and being kept in there until late game.  Not very much of an awesome unit, but the fact that they are troops ( aka don’t occupy precious Elites or HS slots ) gives them some sort of utility.

 There is not much to be said about scouts. Their main purpose is objective holding, and they are good at it. Should be usually considered after you have built the bulk of your list and you have some leftover points.

I was planning to add the Mech BA section to this part of the article, but this whole guide is getting lengthier than I expected.  As a result, Mech BA will be discussed in part 3.

That’s all for today,  thank you for your time.

Stefanos Kapetanakis, out.


  1. I have five DC models and usually take them in a LR and it proves most beneficial to me. Only having five DC models allows me to take JPs to conserve costs. Don't forget Lemartes as he is a Troop choice upgrade to the DC. I think he is good in 1500+ games though.

    I think scouts are hard to consider for me as I have five CCW scouts, four with shotguns, and one with a HB. They never seem to make a list because of their short range firepower.

  2. 5 DC models cost 100 points and their JP another 75. Adding a Lemartes in there skyrockets the cost of the squad.

    For 190 points you can get 10 JAS and with 200 5 Sanguinary guards...which means that for about the same points cost you can buy twice the amount of MEQ bodies, or 5 other guys with 2+ save (who are about 50% more durable than MEQs)

    It is not that bad unit, but my opinion is that all marine units should maximize their numbers within the unit , or in the case of the DC, be taken in squads of 8-10 guys.

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  4. I just found your blog linked on B&C and I'm really liking your Blood Angels series so far. I wrote something similar for 6th, but I must admit I switched to playing mostly Codex: Space Marines when 6th came out. You can check out my Tacticas (if you're interested) at

    Keep up the good work! I look forward to reading more.

  5. My only experience with BA is as allies, as my main force is IG. I usually save about 600p for the sanguine sons. I can say they're my best allies so far. I usually add mephiston, corbulo, and 7-9 DC with bolt pistols, chainswords and 2 power axes in a drop pod with Brother Corbulo. Mephiston guards my parking lot if needed. I am proud of their performances so far, with Corbulo saving lots and lots of saves, and Mephiston chewing non 2+ squads. Last game vs Orks Corbulo made like 30 saves! Mephiston avoided the Meganobz and went for the Bike Nobz, insta-killing the Warboss and killing the 5 bikes in the next round. Quite a good performance! As a main force though, I can't tell.
    So excited to read about part 3!

  6. Replies
    1. Hello,

      In fact,I have written the most part of the next chapter, but I haven't posted it yet. But now that I see that peoplea are still interested, I will finish it as soon as possible.

      Thank you for your interest.

  7. Looking forward to part 3!!!

  8. just started a new blood angels blog, if you have some time to check i'll be pleased.

  9. So, when are you planning to continue this? Am looking forward to your further thoughts and views. :-)

  10. yeah, we are still waiting for the 3rd part...

  11. The article will be uploaded later today. Sorry for any inconvenience :D

  12. Good stuff, I think you have a lot of great points.

  13. 3rd installment?

  14. Some decent acne action going on right over there.