Codex Supplement Blood Angels: The Goonhammer Review

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Like their Space Wolf and Deathwatch brethren, it’s time for the Sons of Sanguinius to join in the fun with the release of Codex Supplement: Blood Angels! This new book sets them up for the full 9th edition experience, linking in with the 9th edition Codex: Space Marines to give the Blood Angels full access to the standard roster of units, stratagems etc. as well as their own unique tools contained in this book. As well as covering the primary chapter, this book also contains extra rules for the Flesh Tearers, the most famous of the Blood Angels’ successors – an even darker Chapter than their parent, fallen further to the curse of the Flaw. Games Workshop have kindly sent us a review copy, so lets waste no more time and get into it!

Why Play Blood Angels?

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Blood Angels reward a player who wants to hit hard and fast in the fight phase, with a particular focus on jump pack units and heroic characters. Thanks to their powerful Chapter Tactic, all Blood Angels are dangerous in a fight, but their best units take that to 11, able to cleave through huge hordes or giant monsters with equal proficiency. This is backed up by strong support for getting up the field in a hurry, with an inbuilt boost to their advance and charge rolls, and the ability to make pre-game moves with some of their best units. Finally, the heroes of the Blood Angels are some of the most potent and varied among the ranks of the Space Marines, including glorious golden angels, vampire wizards and corrupted, blood-crazed murderers lost to the Black Rage. Play Blood Angels if you want a force that never has to run from a fight, and has the tools to hunt down and butcher anyone that tries to flee before them.

What’s in the Book?

In line with the new Supplement structure for 9th, this book contains:

  • Fleshed out lore for the Sons of Sanguinius.
  • Army special rules for fielding a Space Marine list from this chapter or one of their successors, including specific rules for the Flesh Tearers.
  • Unique rules for having one of your captains or lieutenants fall to the Black Rage.
  • Warlord traits, stratagems, relics and a dedicated set of secondary objectives
  • An updated version of the Sanguinary Discipline
  • Rules for all of their unique units.
  • Crusade rules, including a whole sub-system for managing the Black Rage (or giving in to it).

The Five Best Things About This Book

We think there’s a lot to like here – here’s what stands out to us:

  • Death Visions and rules for the Lost add an extra dimension to BA characters
  • Powerful special characters with some cool unique abilities
  • Core rules from 8th – the Red Thirst and Savage Echoes return unchanged and they’re just as great as ever
  • The Crusade rules for Blood Angels are some of the best we’ve seen, and the mechanics around managing the Red Thirst are pretty cool
  • Unique and powerful Psykers – the Sanguinary discipline returns looking strong, and Mephiston and Librarian Dreadnoughts give you casters unlike anything other Marines get.

Army Abilities

The set of rules that Blood Angels now get access to follows the standard template for a 9th Edition Marine supplement, with the exception that they have some extra character upgrades to represent those lost to the Black Rage, and that there are some rules specifically for the Flesh Tearers in all of these sections.

  • Successor Chapters
  • Savage Echoes, a unique Doctrine to reward you for playing pure Blood Angels
  • Stratagems
  • Warlord Traits
  • Relics and Special Issue Wargear
  • The Sanguinary Discipline
  • Rules for upgrading a character to be one of The Lost.
  • Secondary Objectives

Successor Chapters

No big surprises here, as the Blood Angels follow the pattern of other supplements – Successors can access most things as if they were Blood Angels, though they can only normally take Special Issue Wargear from this book plus one Chapter Relic using the Honoured by the Arx Angelicum stratagem. One important carve-out in this book is that Flesh Tearers get their own stuff which only they can access – so if you want to get their Warlord traits, relics, and stratagems, you must play Flesh Tearers. Flesh Tearers are actually pretty cool now, but it’s worth noting that you can’t access their stuff any way but by playing them – so no using different Successor traits or anything like that.

Doctrine – Savage Echoes

Blood Angels Assault Intercessor

Blood Angels Assault Intercessor. Credit: Jack Hunter

Savage Echoes remains the same as in its previous incarnations in Psychic Awakening and the Index – your units gain +1 Attack in a turn they charged, were charged, or made a Heroic Intervention while in the Assault Doctrine. It’s still a great bonus to have especially for your melee-heavy Blood Angels. One slight irritant is that this doesn’t interact at all with anything that allows you to change doctrine (such as the Blood Chalice or Adaptive Strategy) because those affect what your attacks do – and this doesn’t modify any of that. It might be intended, but it’s a weird choice to make BA unable to get their bonus in early turns, but for White Scars (whose ability does work, since it adds Damage) to be able to get theirs.

Stratagems

17 total stratagems here, 15 for main-line Blood Angels and then 2 more that are Flesh Tearers exclusive.

Three of these are the standard Requisition stratagems we’re used to from the other supplements – double traits on one character, give a sergeant a relic, let a successor take a proper relic. The first one is interesting here because unlike the version in the Imperial Fists codex – which allows Crimson Fists to access Imperial Fists warlord traits – it explicitly requires you to take a Flesh Tearers one if that’s your Chapter. Apparently we finally have an answer to “was this interaction intended” and it is “no, but we’re not going to change it now.”

There is a fourth Requisition stratagem here too, unique to Blood Angels – Lucifer-Pattern Engines, which allows any non-Dreadnought/non-FLY vehicle to be upgraded for 1CP to gain the “auto-advance 6” ability that Baal Predators have. Removing this from Dreadnoughts is utter cowardice as there is no funnier image than a Dreadnought blasting 12″ across the table thanks to having a really souped-up turbo. A Big Mek would have had the balls to do it, is all we’re saying. More practically, this mostly doesn’t really matter – your vehicles largely don’t want to advance and trying to guess which one will potentially need to before the game is a fool’s errand – but does potentially give you something interesting to do with an Impulsor, allowing one to auto-advance 20″ ready for a unit of Bladeguard to drop out next turn and wreak havoc. Ultimately the old version was better, for exactly the reason given above that you could choose when to use it if necessary rather than being required to a) decide in advance and b) presumably, write it on your army list?

Besides those, we have three Battle Tactics. Descent of Angels makes a return in a different form – you now use it at the end of your Movement phase on a JUMP PACK unit that arrived from reserves – and get to ignore modifiers for charge rolls, and +1 to hit rolls until the end of the turn. The former bit is ok – with fewer charge modifiers in the game right now it’s basically paying to prevent your opponent using Repulsor Field – and the latter seems genuinely good, though it’s not quite “3D6 charge” for making sure your units actually get to combat. Because it isn’t limited to melee it is also extremely good with Plasma Inceptors, who are one of the best units in the Marine book and will be even more of a staple here than elsewhere.

Vengeance for Sanguinius is back from the codex, and is now re-rolls to hit and wound against Black Legion instead of the old extra attacks thing, which is largely better. I like this one only because it’s directly aimed at TheChirurgeon’s heart. If a new Chaos codex arrives and Abbadon and the Black Legion are extra-spicy in it then this will rise in value accordingly, but right now Chaos Marines are not exactly the threat you’re worried about.

Refusal to Die returns from Blood of Baal and the index, with a new rider making it 2CP for for units of 6+.

There are also three Epic Deed stratagems, including the already-previewed Angel’s Sacrifice:

Alongside this is Spiritual Might, which gives you one extra Psychic cast per turn for 1CP, and Visions of Sanguinius, again also previewed and allowing you to double-dip on Death Visions and discussed more below in that section.

The disappointing thing with these is that they aren’t really relevant to Commander Dante, whose ability to use an Epic Deed for free once per game looks pretty limited when you consider his options are using Angel’s Sacrifice to martyr himself or Only in Death Does Duty End from the base codex to fight when he dies. It’s extra weird from a fluff view when you consider Dante’s whole thing is his longevity and strategic experience – making him into “the guy who gets benefits to or for dying” doesn’t really jive, though maybe it’s taking the tack that he really is just desperate to die and be released from service. More than likely it wasn’t thought through that much at all. Angel’s Sacrifice is very interesting with the Sanguinor’s ability to appear in melee out of nowhere – while he’s a bit expensive to throw away without some thought, saving a unit from something like a Knight’s stomp attack is a potentially very useful clutch trick.

From the Strategic Ploy section we have already seen Red Rampage – a crap re-use of the name of a previously great stratagem and providing the supplement-standard extra boost to AP on 6s in Assault Doctrine. Unbridled Ardour makes its return in the vastly more limited form of being Sanguinary Guard only, but does cost 1CP which is nice (and getting a six inch heroic on these killers is no joke). Forlorn Fury is also back and even gets a slight buff as it’s now a 1/2CP strat, with the latter cost applying to units of 6+ or Dreadnoughts, and you can use it multiple times instead of just once – so it’s possible to send a whole bunch of Death Company firing up the table on turn 1. It’s worth noting, however, that it’s now specifically a Normal Move – no advancing! Upon Wings of Fire makes a return again in altered form – it’s gone back to its old cost, but now you put the unit in reserves and it arrives next turn instead of being able to fire a unit up the table immediately. With the changes to Descent of Angels and characters being less ferocious in general as they lose access to their own buffs, going back to 1CP and removing the same-turn redeploy feels a bit like turning all the knobs at once.

We also have a solitary Wargear stratagem, Chalice Overflowing, which in Blood of Baal allowed you to double up on Narthecium and now allows you to double up on Blood Chalice. This is fine; in the circumstance where it matters to have two units with the Blood Chalice effect it’s nice to be able to pull it off.

The Flesh Tearers get one Battle Tactic – Aggressive Onslaught – and one Strategic Ploy – Savage Destruction – the former unaltered except for a slight wording change and the latter now 1CP and -1 to Combat Attrition tests for enemies within Engagement Range rather than the previous double-counting thing, which is overall better as it now makes failing a test more destructive rather than the likelihood of failing slightly higher.

Warlord Traits

A mix here, with 2 traits that return more or less unchanged (though with language updated for 9th edition) and 4 that now have new effects.

From the former category we have Speed of the Primarch, already shown in the base codex, and Selfless Valour, which extends your heroic intervention range – now reworded to work with 9th edition’s version of Engagement Range.

Artisan of War is now completely different, as already previewed by Warhammer Community:

This is a spicy one, allowing you to double up on taking a piece of Special-issue Wargear as well as taking a regular Relic. It’s worth noting immediately that the new Master-crafted Weapon wording excludes you from applying it to other relics – yes, they thought of that before you did. No 3-damage Teeth of Terra here, unfortunately. One obvious use case is to apply this to a slam Captain of some kind, taking Artificer Armour and a storm shield for a cool effective 1+ armour save, and then a relic weapon as well. Another would be to throw this on a Sanguinary Priest so that he can have an otherwise-absent invulnerable save.

The other changed traits include Soulwarden, now a 5+ Feel No Pain aura against mortal wounds instead of the previous free deny, Heroic Bearing which gives +1 Leadership instead of its old effect and now makes some of your auras 3″ wider (plausibly worthwhile!) and Gift of Foresight, which now grants 1 re-roll to hit, to wound, and to save, every turn. I personally think that last one is great, especially in a world where re-rolls to hit and to wound are more difficult for a character to come by and where a bunch of deadly threats mean re-rolling saves can keep you in the game that bit longer.

On top of those traits, there’s also 3 available for Flesh Tearers – Merciless ButcherOf Wrath and Rage, and Cretacian Born. The first is as per the Marine codex, and the latter two have both gained from their PA versions – Of Wrath and Rage is now an extra hit rather than an extra attack, and Cretacian Born prevents Overwatch and Set to Defend as well as giving re-rolls to charge. Some solid changes here.

Relics

Blood Angels Slam Captain

Blood Angels Slam Captain. Credit: Corrode

A short relic list for Blood Angels – a mere 5, with 2 more reserved for Flesh Tearers.

The Hammer of Baal and Wrath of Baal make welcome returns from the codex and PA respectively, their effects unchanged. Icon of the Angel is also back from PA and now a big-boy relic, and trades an improved aura range of 6″ for being a flat re-roll charges instead of any dice. A slightly less welcome return is Gallian’s Staff, which is still an upgraded force stave – though at least it now also makes you +1 to cast powers from the Sanguinary discipline, so you might plausibly take it for a buffing Librarian.

There’s also the all-new Visage of Death, which makes the bearer -1 to hit in melee and also grants a 3″ aura which turns off objective secured for enemy units. This bit is very cool as it means you can build a missile character with Rites of War and the Visage of Death who can slam into melee and automatically flip an objective, as long as he survives. This is a hugely powerful effect in 9th and being “always on” without needing any dice rolls or anything is super powerful.

The Flesh Tearers relics include one chainsword replacement, which is now for some reason called just Severer (an ok name) instead of Severer of Threads (a much better one). It’s the same weapon – the fluff text is identical – so it’s a shame. Aesthetic considerations aside this has taken a bit of a sidegrade – it’s now +2 Strength, AP-2, D2 (all an improvement on the old version), but now the bonus is just 1 additional mortal wound for each unmodified 5+ to wound, with no bonus attacks. Whether you value this over Teeth of Terra is an open question – the mortal wound effect is fun and you get a bonus point of strength, but lose out on the +3 attacks. There is the very cool possibility that you can run a Flesh Tearers army with Gabriel Seth, a guy with Severer, and another with Teeth of Terra, for a whole line-up of murder bastards with chainswords – which feels very thematic.

The other Flesh Tearers option is the Crimson Plate, a Terminator-only relic which gives you +1″ to Movement, advance and charge, and a 4″ pile-in move. Turning a Terminator character into an aggro shark charging around the battlefield at top speed is at least funny.

Special-Issue Wargear wise, the standard four return – as pretty much already given away by the Artisan of War trait – as do Quake Bolts, the Archangel’s Shard (moved from the codex to here), and Fleshrender Grenades. Gleaming Pinions has been swapped from a relic in Blood of Baal to being SIW here, and is now re-roll charges instead of +1. Re-roll charges just seems to be everywhere in this book and it’s kind of a shame, honestly – the previous version of this added something actually new. An interesting question is why this and the Icon swapped places – it feels a like shuffling the deck chairs.

Psychic Discipline

Primaris Mephiston. Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

The same six Codex powers return to form the Sanguinary discipline, mostly with the same or similar effects.

Quickening now gives you (you guessed it) re-roll advance and charge instead of +3, and maintains its attacks effect. It did get cheaper, now being WC6.

Unleash Rage got a significant change – instead of +1 attack it’s now 1 additional hit on a 6 to hit, as well as being CORE only. Swingier and more subject to variance and the vagaries of dice, but generally you need 4 attacks per model for this to be an upgrade on the old version – which is very much a thing that Blood Angels can bring, especially once in the Assault doctrine.

Shield of Sanguinius gets only minor changes – though is now 18″ range instead of 12″, which is nice. This helps give it more of a role competing with Psychic Fortress, as being able to keep an invuln up on a unit of Death Company or Sanguinary Guard who are on a rampage without the Psyker having to keep up is helpful. Being able to drop it on a Phobos unit or Invictor early on is probably relevant too.

Wings of Sanguinius took some heavy hits. It’s WC6 instead of WC5, and now only gives the extra movement and FLY until the end of the phase instead of until your next Psychic phase. All that being said, the mobility it offers Librarian Dreadnoughts and Mephiston is still a huge deal.

Blood Boil’s effect is unchanged, but it gets a massive range boost out to 18″, making it much more interesting as a smite alternative if you want to blow up some elves. The Blood Lance has gained a helpful range buff, with another 6″ on top, but again is otherwise the same. An attempt has been made with these two, as the range helps them a lot, but overall you’re probably still here for the buffs.

It does feel like a miss that there hasn’t been more change here – with 3 years worth of time to see what worked and didn’t work with the discipline, the best powers got nerfs and the witchfire powers got upgrades, but probably not quite enough. Only Unleash Rage getting a significant redesign. There’s no reason to be this uncreative, especially for a Chapter which is supposed to have a powerful psychic legacy, though because Mephiston and the Librarian Dread are your casters, there probably will still be quite a bit of use of these.

Secondary Objectives

Four new secondaries here for the Angels, one in each of Purge the Enemy and Battlefield Supremacy and then two more in No Mercy, No Respite.

The Purge one is Blade of Sanguinius – a thematic objective where you can pick one of your characters to issue a challenge to an enemy character (picked by your opponent), and then gain 5pts if they die, 10pts if they die to a melee attack, and the full 15 if they die in melee to your nominated character. It’s a rough category for this kind of cool but variable objective, though it’s worth remembering that the Sanguinor can be your nominated character – so if your opponent’s characters are melee-focused beaters, you have a very good chance of being able to just pop up and eviscerate them.

Battlefield Supremacy has Relentless Assault, a kind of spin on Linebreaker – you get 4 points if you have more units in the enemy DZ than they do in yours. You can score this with AIRCRAFT (so you can feasibly just blast in a plane on t1 and score it automatically if you go first) and against, say, a slow-moving enemy army without the ability to pop up in your DZ easily it can be fairly straightforward for an aggressive Blood Angels list to achieve this. Whether it’s better than your other Battlefield Supremacy options is an open question, but this is probably the pick of the bunch since with a strong plan you can execute it reasonably easily, and being vastly more practical to score turn one in a number of ways is a big deal.

Rounding out the pack we have the two No Mercy, No Respite objectives, which both feel a bit whatever. Fury of the Lost scores you 3pts if a DEATH COMPANY unit destroyed an enemy unit this turn – not a huge ask when you have the capacity to take the truly horrifying Death Company Intercessors and their gigantic pile of attacks, or a cruise-missile Death Company Captain, but leaves you very vulnerable to a canny opponent focusing those down asap and killing off your capacity to score (and on turn 1, of course, simply standing far enough away that you are unable to do so). Death From Above is a fair bit better than our initial read suggested – there was widespread panic in the Goonhammer offices as we first interpreted it as being “a unit that arrived from Reinforcements THIS TURN has to kill an enemy unit” – but still somewhat mediocre. You score 2VPs for destroying an enemy unit, or 3 if that unit was a CHARACTER, if you do so with a unit which has arrived from Reinforcements in any of your Movement phases. That qualifier helps it a lot – it means that a unit can drop in on turn 2 and then you still get points if it kills something on turn 5, and Blood Angels can conceivably even get units that started on the board to “count” in later turns with Upon Wings of Fire – but you still have to be killing characters to get the most out of it, and you’ll need a drop pod to execute on turn 1. It’s just a bit fiddly for what it gets you, especially when you still have access to Oaths of Moment in the same slot.

The Lost and Death Visions

The Lost is a particularly cool new mechanic for BA. It works a bit like the Chapter Command upgrades in the main codex – you can upgrade one CAPTAIN and up to two LIEUTENANTS in a Blood Angels Detachment and induct them into the Death Company, for either +1 Power or for +20/+10 points (for Captain/LT respectively). These are then exempted from the normal “Company Command” restrictions from the codex – so you can effectively put two Captains and up to four Lieutenants into the same Detachment if you want to. This does come with a price, however – they gain the Black Rage and Death Visions abilities (more on that second one in a minute), but their auras change name to either Rites of Rage or Tactical Aggression and can only affect DEATH COMPANY CORE. They also cannot be your Warlord or given any Chapter Command upgrades – if your Chapter Master has fallen to the Black Rage then he’s no longer your Chapter Master!

Yes, this time we checked, and the points here are the same in the front and back of the book. Credit: Warhammer Community

Death Visions gives you a choice of 3 possible abilities that any character with the rule can use. Ordinarily, you can only use each Death Vision once, and each character can only use it once. Warhammer Community previewed what is probably the best one, On the Bridge of the Vengeful Spirit:

In the right circumstances this can be a very powerful buff – 6″ is actually a decent range for “get more attacks if this many models are in x” for once, and gaining re-rolls to hit that your character can’t normally access any more is also strong, especially if you’ve gone for a classic BA slam Captain build with a thunder hammer. The INFANTRY/MONSTER CHARACTER restriction is more stringent than it might seem if you’re playing on a decent quality 9th edition board, but by the time you want to trigger this it should hopefully not be too hard to get rolling.

In any case, the other two Death Visions both require the enemy INFANTRY/MONSTER CHARACTER to be in Engagement Range, so maybe just “visible” isn’t too bad after all. The Grace of the Angel grants your model a 3+ invulnerable save for the turn – a rarer thing these days and ideal for if you want to plow into a powerful enemy and try to get out the other side without dying. The obvious combo here is with Angel’s Sacrifice, throwing a Death Company character onto the teeth of some melee nasty alongside one of your other characters, and attempting to tank the hits. Meanwhile, To Slay the Warmaster grants you a roll-off instead of doing any attacks for the round, which the Blood Angels player must win, and if he does, you can do D3+3 mortal wounds to whatever character was nearby. This one is pretty rough – the high potential is outweighed by an opposed roll-off being entirely random. It would have been nice if this was modifiable in some way because as written it is, basically, crap – you give up all of the dizzying melee potential of a Blood Angels melee Captain for a coin flip, and then at the end you do d3+3 mortals, which is probably less expected damage than if you just hit things normally.

One further boon here is from the Stratagems section, and since Community previewed it it would be a shame to let the graphic design go to waste and not “borrow” it here:

Visions of Sanguinius allows you to either do another (unused) Death Vision, or use two (again, not previously used ones) this phase. The most obvious application here is to slam a Captain into something nasty that you want him to beat up, and then slam both Vengeful Spirit and Grace of the Angel at the same time to try and murder them all or ride it out if you fail.

Crusade and the Fluff

Rob: “What about Crusade? What about the fluff?” I hear you, the cultured reader of this review asking as you gloss over all of this competitively-focused rules review. Well, the short answer is that the Crusade rules for Blood Angels kick ass. They’re even more fleshed out than the supplements we’ve seen before, and they have detailed rules for managing and succumbing to the Black Rage, with an entire page of rules detailing your units’ slow descent into their gene-seed flaw. There are also two full pages of Crusade Relics, so while the Blood Angels lost quite a few relics in matched play, those haven’t disappeared completely (unlike most of the ones from say, Codex: Space Wolves), and so you’ll still be able to find them if you search hard enough. We’ll be covering the Crusade Rules and fluff in the new book in more detail next week, so stay tuned.

Units

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard. Credit: Jack Hunter

Like Space Wolves, there are zero changes to the datasheets or points from the index to here – which is less surprising than Deathwatch, which did have a couple. We already wrote about these when the index came out, and if you want to read the full changelog then that is available here. That does mean no changes – including the annoying clause that we’re assuming is an error on the Death Company Intercessors datasheet which prevents a melee-equipped squad from taking any of the special melee weapons. If this is intentional it is baffling as a choice.

Special Rules

The Black Rage

No change to the Black Rage from its index version – +1 attack and 6+ Feel No Pain on the charge, can’t do actions, can’t Fall Back.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

HQ

Blood Angels have always had a large number of characters – as one of the original Chapters (and the poster boys of 2nd edition) they have the complete Chapter Command represented, and that turns out to be a lot of guys. All of them have survived the transition to 9th edition, even tiny Tycho.

Broadly we think that Dante, the Sanguinor, Mephiston, Astorath, and potentially Tycho the Lost are worth it from the special character line-up. All of them bring some kind of new and powerful capability to the table or are just cheap for what they can offer. If you’re more interested in Flesh Tearers, Gabriel Seth also looks like a good pick, though he would really benefit from growing three feet and crossing the Rubicon so he could be leaping out of Impulsors with Bladeguard instead of slogging about on foot.

From the generics, Sanguinary Priests seem like they’ll be essential – they take a big premium over an Apothecary, especially with a jump pack, but gain WS2+ and the Blood Chalice ability, and make for surprisingly good platforms for the Teeth of Terra since they come with a chainsword by default. Once they’re pumped up to 6-8 attacks at WS2+ and +1 to wound they’re surprisingly vicious in combat, and if they have no better targets for the Blood Chalice they can always pick themselves. Being able to have a flying Chief Apothecary is also fantastic, as it lets you move to where you can pick up models from a key unit. Librarian Dreadnoughts are also priced to move – it’s hard to argue with a 155pt Dreadnought character which has now regained access to the Sanguinary discipline and is solid in melee. While these have seen very little play out of the Index, Wings of Sanguinius completely changes how they play, as even in its nerfed form letting them hustle 18″ overall then charge makes them vastly harder to ignore. They’re absurdly dangerous in melee and very hard to snipe out, making them very attractive overall.

Elites

The Elites slot is already a stuffed one for Marines and Blood Angels have plenty of their unique units in here too.

Sanguinary Guard at 30pts look pretty good and bring a number of cool abilities – a base 2+ save, flat damage 2 on all their weapons, -1 to hit from Angelic Visage and +1 to hit from Heirs of Azkaellon which combines to make them pretty ferocious. They also bring reasonable shooting with the extended range of the angelus boltguns, though they lost Explosive Judgement in the translation to the codex, which is a letdown. The problem is that you can look at a 30pt Sanguinary Guard and compare it to a 29pt Vanguard Veteran with a lightning claw and storm shield and it starts looking very much like a sidegrade – they’re not exactly worse they’re just kind of there. If you want to take them because they’re your cool codex-unique unit then you are absolutely not wrong to do so, but you could also just paint some red Vanguard Veterans and you’d end up in much the same place.

The supporting Sanguinary Ancient is similarly in an odd spot. They’re 1 per army, representing the Chapter Ancient, but thanks to being SANGUINARY ANCIENT rather than CHAPTER ANCIENT they are excluded from taking the Chapter Command upgrades and don’t get much in exchange – they do get the Wrath of Baal relic which is a strong option for manoeuvreing a jump packing castle around, but it’s a shame not to be able to access Steadfast Example. For 125pts it’s probably fine but giving up the Standard of Sacrifice is a big loss on them.

Death Company and Furioso Dreadnoughts, for reasons unknown to us, are not CORE. With the Death Company ones you might conceivably argue that they’re just too mad (but then regular Death Company are CORE!), but there’s no reason at all that Furiosos should not be except that someone decided to make a general edict that Chapter dreadnoughts shouldn’t be. Which is dumb, because Furiosos are bad. The Death Company guy only costs 5pts more and gets the Black Rage for an extra attack on the charge and a 6+ Feel No Pain, so if you must take one of these (and you probably shouldn’t bother with either) take that one instead.

Speaking of Death Company, the basic unit of Death Company Marines has some GW vendettas operating in full force – as in the index the boltgun/chainsword option is completely gone for Reasons, and the max unit size of 10 is not a mistake. Regaining access to Forlorn Fury helps them a lot, though. Death Company Intercessors also offer a truly sickening number of attacks – base 3 with Shock Assault/Astartes chainsword/Black Rage/Savage Echoes gets them up to as many as 7 each on the charge, and those chainswords at +1 to wound start to look a lot more dangerous. They’re a good vector for Unleash Rage, of course, and even more than the Firstborn version Forlorn Fury gives them a big leg-up, allowing them to get out and into fighting range that much sooner; it is a shame they can’t advance when doing so, though.

Heavy Support

Just the solitary Baal Predator making up the unique Heavy Support options for Blood Angels. As covered in the index article, the main change here is the Baal flamestorm cannon – which now has a reasonably impressive statline with 18″ range and d6 shots at S6 AP-2 D2 that auto-hit. For 120pts – or 150 with the sponsons – these feel like they’re probably overcosted for their capabilities. What would have been fun is if they could have Advanced and still fired their weapons, but as is tradition GW don’t seem to have much of an idea of what they want these to do and therefore they have the dysfunctional ability set of “the really fast tank” and “the tank with a set of weapons that fails to outperform a Razorback”.

Our Thoughts

Liam

The hardest part of writing this review was how much of the time I looked at something and just mentally shrugged. Analysed purely in terms of power I think Blood Angels come out of this with a solid B – the innate strength of the super doctrine and the Chapter Tactic is hard to beat, and the unique units on offer are pretty great, with a variety of useful special characters and some powerful melee options in the shape of Sanguinary Guard and Death Company Intercessors (though Space Marines weren’t exactly hurting for quality melee units to begin with in 9th edition).

I think the indication of the early 9th books is that Psychic Awakening was an aberration in terms of just how many stratagems and relics and such most codexes could access, and there’s going to be a significant cull. I doubt I’m alone in welcoming this – the situation at the end of 8th and going into early 9th was Too Damn Much – but it’s a shame to see how many of the returning stratagems only show up in a neutered form. Similarly with the psychic discipline, we largely have either “unchanged”, “barely changed”, or “nerfed,” which doesn’t exactly excite you as you crack the book and start poring over options – they’re not particularly different to the ones you already had.

Ultimately my main thought is that this is something of a missed opportunity. There seem to be a number of changes made to “fix” perceived power issues which are now multiple years out of date, and very little creativity shown in creating anything that’s interesting or new – and some misses where that kind of thing has been tried. There are some genuinely cool inclusions – Death Visions are a fun new mechanic, and some of the Warlord trait changes make for more interesting choices – but a large proportion of this feels like a rehash 8th edition, more of a (slight) evolution than a revolution.

In terms of “why play Blood Angels” – I’m going to play mine because I genuinely love Blood Angels, I’ve enjoyed painting mine for 9th, and I think they’re good enough to at least be playable. If you’re an agnostic Marine player who’s casting about for the best iteration of “melee Marines” then this probably isn’t it, though – White Scars offer a more coherent vision if that’s what you want.

Wings

I think I’m a bit higher on the overall combination here – this army is powerful, they’ve been operating in tier 2 just with the Index, and this should fire them to the top of tier 2 or maybe the lower fringes of tier 1. The Chapter Tactic is just so good that it holds a lot of stuff together, and my read on why some of the nerfs have hit is that the designers are (probably not unreasonably) worried about pushing the Blood Angels too far.

The unfortunate side effect of that is that while the Blood Angels can do very cool things, at the point you’re doing them you could just as easily do so as another chapter. As of the new Marine codex being able to field jump pack melee blenders isn’t a unique trick, so while Blood Angels have some of the best you never quite feel you could only be doing this as Blood Angels. Look over at the other popular chapters and they all have something that manages this – Ultramarines have Guilliman’s aura, Salamander Eradicators are immediately better than anyone else’s, Thunderwolf Cavalry provide something unique and Dark Angels just immediately set the cruise control to cool when they put Ravenwing or Deathwing on the table.

If there’s anything here that does make that grade it’s the psykers – I’m massively higher on the Discipline than Liam is, and I think Mephiston and Librarian Dreadnoughts will both see real use, joining Tigurius and Njal as Marine Psykers who are really worth it. Libby dreads in particular feel like they’re doing something really unusual now that they can go fast – we haven’t really seen properly speedy melee dreads since always on Duty Eternal arrived, and I expect people are going to find them a serious value add.

The other unique gem is the Sanguinor, with his ability to just appear in melee being something genuinely unseen anywhere else in the game. There’s all sorts of trickery you can pull off with this, especially now Angel’s Sacrifice is available to really hold over the head of any opponent who is also on a herohammer plan. He might turn out to be just a shade overcosted in an army that already has a congested HQ slot, but it is extremely cool.

Overall, there’s clearly a strong army here, but I’ve definitely come away just wishing for something more.

How They’ll Play

Blood Angels Intercessors

Blood Angels Intercessors. Credit: Jack Hunter

Blood Angels are likely to fit into the fairly standard pattern for melee Marines. You’re going to want Incursors and Infiltrators to ensure you have the opponent under pressure right from the start, and could choose to back them up with a squad of Death Company Intercessors using Forlorn Fury to push to the mid board early. Backing this lot up as your second wave, you’re going to want a couple of big melee bombs (probably one each of Vanguard Veterans and Sanguinary Guard) with deadly characters slotted among them to both supercharge the surrounding units and take out priority targets themselves. For shooting, you should basically always be planning to take a five-model squad of plasma inceptors. These are even better here than normal, because if you deploy them behind cover and your opponent backlines so they can’t get in range, you can just use Upon Wings of Fire on them then hit super hard the following turn with Descent of Angels.

Whatever you’re running, you want to get your units into your opponent’s face early and not let up, and remember that almost anything in your army is a threat in combat. +1 to wound is such a huge buff, especially in concert with Shock Assault, that you can reliably out-fight non-melee specialist infantry, and put real damage on larger targets too. Being able to throw any unit into a brawl is a huge asset in 9th, and one of the big draws of choosing to play Blood Angels – embrace it!

Army Lists

Wings

Just gonna go ahead and slam together the basic principles I outlined above and then Liam can work out how to do something more out there. Take that Liam.

Blood Angels Battalion

HQ

Captain, jump pack, thunder hammer, storm shield, Hammer of Baal, Gift of Foresight, warlord – 140
Sanguinary Priest, jump pack, Chief Apothecary, Hero of the Chapter, Selfless Healer, Relic of the Chapter, Teeth of Terra – 135, 2CP
Chief Librarian Mephiston, Unleash Rage, Wings of Sanguinius, Shield of Sanguinius – 155

Troops

5 Infiltrators w/Helix Adept – 130
5 Incursors – 105
5 Incursors – 105

Elites

10 Death Company Intercessors w/astartes chainsword and heavy bolt pistol – 240
8 Sanguinary Guard w/6 encarmine swords, 2 power fists – 250
8 Vanguard Veterans with jump packs, 5 w/lightning claw/storm shield,  2 + sergeant w/power fist/storm shield – 239
5 Scouts w/combat knives – 70

Fast Attack

5 plasma Inceptors – 250

Heavy Support

Whirlwind, castellan launcher – 125

Dedicated Transport

Land Speeder Storm – 55

Total – 1999pts, 10CP

Nothing too clever here, but it should be pretty effective. You have three nasty hammer units that your opponent has to worry about (and are pretty much always going to want to move the Death Company up the board with Forlorn Fury), and back this up with the shooting of the Plasma Inceptors, objective capabilities of the Scouts and Storm, and a Whirlwind to sit back on a home objective and switch off Overwatch at a key moment with Suppression Fire. You could plausibly swap one of the weapon relics out for one of the charge re-roll sources, but I think there’s a decent chance you’re starting the characters on the board and volleying in the two big squads one at a time, at which point you can CP re-roll if needed. I’m sure there’s more you can do with it, and there are several easy swaps I’d want to try while iterating this, but I think it would be a decent start.

Liam

HQ – 435

Sanguinary Priest with jump pack and Chief Apothecary – 135 – Warlord (Selfless Healer), -1CP Artisan of War (Artificer Armour), Teeth of Terra
Sanguinor – 150
Librarian Dreadnought – 150 – Unleash Rage, Wings of Sanguinius

Troops – 335

5 Incursors – 110
5 Incursors – 110
5 Assault Intercessors with hammer – 115

Elites – 610

8 Sanguinary Guard with axes – 240
Sanguinary Ancient – 125, Icon of the Angel -1CP, Rites of War -1CP
5 Bladeguard – 175
5 Scouts – 70

Fast Attack – 245

3 Outriders – 135
2 Attack Bikes with multi-meltas – 110

Heavy Support – 295

3 Eradicators – 120
5 Devastators with MMs and cherub – 175

Dedicated Transport – 80

Rhino – 80

Total – 2,000pts, 9CP

A list written with the constraint in mind that unlike Wings I might put it on a physical table at some point in the future and therefore based around models I mostly already own. I can already hear Innes @ing me in Discord to tell me that the Eradicators and Devs should be more Attack Bikes, but I already have the former painted, so nyah.

In concept it’s not particularly different to what Wings has outlined above, though I trade a lot of the big hammer effectiveness of the Death Company and Vanguard Vets for a slightly more sedate 5 Bladeguard and more melta-based shooting, similar to a pre-codex list that we saw do well at  The plan is pretty simple – the big Sang Guard block floats around with the Ancient and characters, backed up by the Bladeguard and Outriders, before launching a killer blow. I’ve not actually checked whether axes or swords are better – I think in a meta with lots of T5 the axes get the edge here but the points are the same so just read as swords if you prefer those. The Librarian Dreadnought is a big thug that can push into key targets, and is a neat platform for Wisdom of the Ancients to hand out re-rolls to hit or wound. The wave of melta provides some ranged punch and hopes to remove some key threats early on. I suspect it’ll want tweaking once I’ve had a chance to actually put it on the table and try it out, but it’s the plan for now.

Wrap Up

Another Supplement added to the collection – only the Dark Angels and Black Templars now remain aloof, consoling one another by discussing their shared love of swords and robes. While there could, perhaps, have been more done with it, this book should definitely hit the competitive scene pretty hard, and we can’t wait to see what players make of it. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, hit us up at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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