Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Competitive Blood Angels in 6th Edition: part 3 - Mech Angels

Greetings, fellow wargamers

First of all, I must say I am impressed that this blog continues to have a steady rate of visitors every day, although I have been inactive for more than four months, and even more, that there are actually people who still care for this 3rd part of the BA tactica. Thank you very much for your interest guys. I appreciate it.

Today we will discuss the mech aspect of the BA codex. The first part will be about the rhino-chassis vehicles of the Angels, while the second will be dedicated to the heavyweight ceramite monstrosity that is the Land Raider and it’s variants.


Mechanized BA lists had always been popular with the latest codex, and rightfully so, because they were using to a huge extent some of the most powerful mechanism of the 5th edition: the reliability of the AV combined with unique mobility.
 As a matter of fact, the Mech lists quickly became an archetype for the BA force, and a force to be reckoned with.
Sadly, mech BA have taken repetitive hits from the following GW releases: first came the GK codex, and the psyker vehicles who were superior to the BA ones simply because they (effectively) ignored Crew stunned and Crew shaken results. And then came the 6th ed...
The subject of mech BA in 6th edition is usually a “ taboo”  amongst BA players…. And it is not hard to see why. Most people own several rhino-chassis models, and many claim that they had success using them with the current ruleset.
But, what is actually true about the mech BA nowadays? How has it been blessed by the current rules and what hits has it taken by the nerfbat?
Changes that have hindered the effectiveness of the BA mech:

  1. First Blood. Simply put, AV 11 vehicles are perfect candidates for this victory point. Although it is possible to avoid giving away 1 easy victory point, and an experienced player will possibly attempt to get an advantage from this weak spot in the army list, the truth is that, more often than not, having a bunch of low AV in the list can cause troubles and headache, trying to protect them during the first turns of the game
  2. Hull points system. Very important change, and one of the main reasons razorspam has fallen from grace. Simply put, AV walls were depending on their survivability, and the ability to shrug off low arms fire and completely ignore glancing hits. Now that glancing has the potential to destroy the vehicle, the AV wall has lost a great deal of its durability. Not only are str5 weapons a threat now, but also most anti-vehicle weapons are better under the current ruleset. AP1 and AP2 weapons hurt a lot, and ordnance blast are more common than ever before. Furthermore, airborne gunships like the Vendetta and the Night Scythe can easily devastate any AV11 target. In such a hostile environment, razorbacks and rhinos have a very hard time staying on the table for more than 2-3 turns...
  3.  Transport vehicles have been nerfed significantly. First of all, no assault after disembarking…very, very nasty, especially for the BA chapter. No more claiming objectives from inside the vehicle, which means that our 5man MEQ’s will be torn into pieces in no time once they abandon the relative safety of their metal box.
  4. Furthermore, the 6” move of the vehicle is not good, because it hinders the ability for good positioning. Players need to sacrifice disembarkation if they want to move vehicles up ahead.
  5.   On top of that, small changes like “ crew stun applies to embarked units” , and the fact that even after emergency disembarkation, the transported unit still can’t launch an assault, all are important factors that ultimately support the idea that in 6th edition, mech lists have lost not only their durability, but their flexibility too.
  6. Fast vehicles are not as versatile as they used to be. It is not a bad thing that our vehicles are fast, but the extra cost is no longer justifiable. Compared to the DA mech counterparts, in most cases it is better to have slower vehicle for a 20-25 points discount.

 In a nutshell, mech lists have taken a direct hit from the current edition rules, making them very unlikely to stand up to the new threats of the meta, let alone becoming a competitive option. It would be unfair to say that razorspam has been rendered “ unplayable”, but nonetheless it has lost sheer amounts of it’s power.

 What about Predators and Baal Predators?

First of all, these tanks will probably never form the core of a mech list. However, they are present in most such lists, and thus form an important part of the mech philosophy.

Compared to rhinos and razorbacks, predators seem to have changed little in the edition swift. 13AV means that a predator will almost never be a priority target, so no threat of giving away a “first blood” from these guys. Furthermore, the hull points mechanism is probably beneficial for the predator, whose biggest problem was that it was getting stunned and  shaken all the time. Now, it may not be as resilient as it used to be, but it will probably maintain full functionality unit it gets destroyed.
 However, predators are no longer a competitive option, especially for spamming purposes. The main reason is that the metagame swift has limited their effectiveness.
The good old “ auto-lass” predator is not as useful as a tank hunter anymore, simply because there are not as many tanks in the current meta as there used to be. So, after a couple turns, the only thing that the predator is gonna hit will be infantry models or…flyers..meh..
The baal predator, on the other hand, is probably a superior option, because of its lethal anti-infantry weapons. The problem is, that with so many players deploying Aegis Defense lines like madmen, that most targets will be protected by 2+ cover save...
Furthermore,  baal’s short range means that it must approach the enemy in close distance, which in turn increases the risk of getting caught in an assault. Boom.
This is why the “ template loadout” on a baal pred should only be used as a suicide-distraction unit, entering using the Outflank rule.
All things considered, I believe that predators have lost quite a lot of their effectiveness, utility and survivability in the current edition. My advice would be to avoid these units, even when making a mech heavy list.

When compared to the rest of the BA arsenal of vehicles, the mighty Vindicator stands out as a unique case. The 6th rules, as well as the meta that formed later, have been rather kind to our fast bringer of str10 plates. First of all, it is probably the only vehicle which actually depends on the “ fast” characteristic, to compensate for its short ranged weapon. Furthermore, the “Random Weapon Destroyed “ rule was an important buff which gave to the unit a significant boost in resilience. These changes, along with the Hull point system have made the BA vindicator, one of the best Space Marine vehicles, and a useful addition to any BA list.
Have you even seen a red whirlwind? I can’t say that I have. Stay away from this unit. The only way that a whirlwind can be effectively added to a BA list, is by bring one along with DA allies.

Land raiders have always been a popular choice. And it’s easy to see why. They resilience is unsurpassed, and so is their weapon loadout. Regardless of the variant ( Godhammer, Crusader, Redeemer), land raiders combine some of the best elements of the mechanized aspect of the game. In fact, it is hard to see any flaws with the land raiders, beside their cost, which in most cases means that you should build your list around it.
 In 6th edition, Land Raiders remain a commonly used unit, especially amongst BA players.
 As a matter of fact, in the 6th edition meta, Land Raiders ( and the rest of the 14AV  vehicles) have become a whole new type of threat, and many opponents can find it hard to deal with them.
 First of all, as the game progresses, the mech-spam fad is brutally left behind in favor of mass troops, flyers and the occasional vehicle heavy hitter. Therefore, the need for anti- av weapons has become less dire, and is actually covered by the presence of mass plasma/tesla/deffguns etc weapons. As a result, many lists have no access to meltaguns or other similar anti-tank goodness, and thus have absolutely no way of dealing against Land Raiders. People have simply forgotten the threat of the LR, and most of them have no way of dealing with them in the lists they are currently using.
Secondly, the Land Raider remains one of the best transport options in the game. Especially in 6th, since most transport vehicles have been rendered useless (poor Dark Eldar…), the mighty Land Raider is still and excellent option to transfer your elite units into the thick of battle, without worries. It has both the speed and resilience to get your units into combat by turn 2.


 The only factors that decide which LR variant should be used, are:
- What size is the unit you wish to transport?
- What kind of weapons does your list need the most?

 All 3 variants are perfectly usable and have very solid weapon loadouts. 

The only true downside of the Land Raider is its cost, and most people find it disheartening to invest 250+ points in a metal box, when there are other interesting options. And it’s a fact that, when deciding to add a LR in a list, the best thing to do is bend and shape the whole list around the LR.