Start Competing: Blood Angels Tactics

The Blood Angels have a long history in Warhammer 40k, appearing as one of the original Chapters in the Rogue Trader book, and then being the cover stars of the 2nd edition starter set and getting joint-billing with the Dark Angels in the classic Codex: Angels of Death. Along with the Dark Angels and Space Wolves they’ve been perennial rules-getters, whether in the form of the 3rd edition supplements, 4th edition White Dwarf rules, or their own full-blown codexes in 5th, 7th, and 8th edition. Along the way they’ve gathered a fistful of unique units and even more unique characters representing the entire Chapter Command, including their very own vampire lord and guardian angel. It’s fair to say they’re a popular Chapter both with players and in the Games Workshop studio. In 9th edition, they return to their 3rd edition form, once again becoming a Chapter supplement to the main Codex: Space Marines.

Chapter Overview

In theory the Blood Angels are a Codex Chapter like any other, but in practice they have a heavy slant towards melee gameplay. The vast majority of their unique units and characters are melee-focused, and both their Chapter tactic and enhanced Doctrine are all about getting stuck into close combat. Your main question with Blood Angels isn’t “melee or shooting,” it’s really “what kind of melee am I building for?”

Strengths

  • Close combat. The introductory paragraph kind of gave it away here. Your Chapter tactic, Doctrine, and unit selection all push you very hard into melee tactics, and it’s where the book excels.
  • Unique units. It really can’t be overstated just how many fucking guys Blood Angels have. There’s a special character filling every conceivable role, some of them in duplicate, and then a bunch of Blood Angels-specific units too including the powerful Sanguinary Guard and Death Company. When you compare them to supplements with one unique datasheet it’s honestly embarrassing.
  • The Lost. Blood Angels get a whole separate mechanic to represent Death Company Captains and Lieutenants, upping their already considerable melee prowess.

Weaknesses

  • Weak stratagems. Blood Angels had a very powerful stratagem list in 8th edition, and that list has been determinedly hammered down in 9th. There’s still some good stuff in here, but compared to what’s on offer in White Scars, Salamanders, or Iron Hands, it feels a bit thin, and veteran Blood Angels players will feel the loss.
  • Shooting support. Your shooting is fine – you get all the stuff regular Marines get – but Blood Angels don’t do anything much to make it better than it was already.

Rules

Chapter Tactic – Red Thirst

In any turn a unit with this ability charged, was charged, or made a Heroic Intervention, you may add 1 to its wound rolls in the fight phase. You also get +1 to Advance and charge rolls. This is the key rule that differentiates a Blood Angel army from any other, making all their units viable in melee. Even just an Intercessor squad is wounding a Knight on 5s, or other Marines on 3s, making charging just to tie a unit up dangerous. All your melee is just better. The second half of the tactic looks a little less shiny than it did now that every Marine army can trivially access +2 to charge rolls from a Chaplain (which doesn’t stack with this), but it’s still handy for getting about the board or making you a little less reliant on the shouty skull guy to get your key charges off.

Doctrine – Savage Echoes

If your army is 100% Blood Angels, you get the following additional ability on all models with the Combat Doctrines ability:

While the Assault Doctrine is active, if a unit with this ability makes a charge move, is charged, or performed a Heroic Intervention, add 1 to the Attacks characteristic of models in that unit until the end of the turn (which is cumulative with Shock Assault)

This is a straightforward, powerful ability to have access to – much like the Chapter tactic, it’s not flashy but it works. You want to be in melee throwing out as many high-quality attacks as you can, and Savage Echoes directly buffs that.

One thing to note is that there was previously some controversy over whether this doctrine could be accessed when your army was not actually in the Assault Doctrine, such as by use of the Blood Chalice ability or the Adaptive Strategy stratagem. This argument hinged on a wording technicality, but as of the most recent FAQ to Codex: Space Marines it is confirmed that you do get your doctrine bonus, which substantially elevates the use of Sanguinary Priests in particular.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Black Rage

Many units share the “Black Rage” rule, which works as follows:

  • You can add 1 to this unit’s Attacks characteristic for the duration of the Fight Phase if it charged in the preceding Charge phase.
  • Roll a D6 each time this unit loses a wound. On a 6 the wound is ignored and has no effect.
  • This unit cannot perform actions
  • This unit cannot choose to Fall Back

This applies to the Death Company in its various incarnations, as well as Chaplain Lemartes and any character using “The Lost” upgrades.

The Lost and Death Visions

The Lost is a particularly cool new mechanic for the 9th edition Blood Angels. 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,, 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!

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. The best one is 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 a “get more attacks if this many models are in x” ability, 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. 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 from the Stratagems section, 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 potential to do a bunch of mortal wounds 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 give him 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.

Stratagems

Blood Angels get a slightly reduced set of stratagems compared to other Chapter supplements, since they have to make space for the Flesh Tearers to get a couple of their own. The list is of course even more compressed compared to the 8th edition situation, where they had a complete codex plus a Psychic Awakening supplement to choose from. On the plus side there’s no more Killshot or whatever taking up space; the new, more svelte list is as follows:

Battle Tactics

  • Descent of Angels – 1CP – Use at the end of your Movement phase on any BLOOD ANGELS JUMP PACK CORE unit that arrived from Reinforcements this turn. Until the end of the turn they can ignore modifiers to their charge rolls and get +1 to hit. The first part here is pretty hard to get the most out of – the most common charge roll modifier is Difficult Terrain, which jump pack units ignore anyway. The +1 to hit is ok, and applies to both shooting and melee so you can get good use out of it from either melee units or plasma Inceptors. Functionally 1CP for +1 to hit is a fine trade and the ignore modifiers effect may improve as the edition develops, but players who remember what this used to do will mourn the loss. B
  • Vengeance of Sanguinius – 1CP – Use in the Fight phase; select one Blood Angels unit and until the end of the phase melee attacks against BLACK LEGION units can re-roll hits and wounds. Pretty much the ultimate form of this kind of stratagem – against Black Legion it’s insanely good, against anything else it’s worthless. or F depending. Should be a Crusade thing instead of taking up space here.
  • Refusal to Die – 1CP/2CP – Use when a DEATH COMPANY unit is selected as the target of an attack; they get a 5+ to ignore wounds instead of their normal 6+ from Black Rage. 1CP for 5 or fewer models, 2CP for 6 or more. A big jump to a Death Company unit’s survivability, though note that you can only use it once per turn so you need to weigh up whether to use it in the Shooting or Fight phase. B+

Epic Deeds

  • Angel’s Sacrifice – 1CP – Use in the Fight phase; pick one non-VEHICLE BLOOD ANGELS CHARACTER and until the end of the phase enemy models within Engagement Range of that character must target that character with melee attacks. An interesting stratagem; there will definitely be times when your character is a lot less squishy than a nearby unit and drawing attacks off them will help you out overall, but none of your characters are that tough, so it’s a gamble. A potentially fun combo with a Death Company character utilising The Grace of the Angel for a turn to draw off attacks. B
  • Spiritual Might – 1CP – Use in the Psychic phase; one BLOOD ANGELS PSYKER can attempt to manifest one additional power this phase. A fine stratagem with a lot of good uses, especially since it’s not restricted to the Sanguinary discipline – with Tome of Malcador and Chief Librarian you can potentially know 4 powers + Smite, one of which can be from a different discipline to the others. That lets you build a very versatile psyker, and getting to use 3 of those powers per turn is pretty helpful. B
  • Visions of Sanguinius – 1CP – As discussed above in The Lost, this lets you double-dip on Death Visions, either by using one on a character that already did so, or using two different ones in the same phase. The former doesn’t let you re-use one, so the likely best use is in doubling up to get the maximum bang for your buck when your Death Company Captain goes in. B
Blood Angels Bladeguard Veterans

Blood Angels Bladeguard Veterans. Credit: Corrode

Requisitions

  • Angel Exemplar – 1CP – You can give a BLOOD ANGELS WARLORD who is not a named character an additional Warlord trait, which must be a Blood Angels trait (or a Flesh Tearers trait if they are from the Flesh Tearers). One use only and all traits must be unique. Blood Angels have some good Warlord traits and being able to double up on them, or get one on top of a base Codex trait, is a good use of 1CP. A
  • Angel Ascendant – 1CP – Give a Sergeant either Master-crafted, Digital Weapons, Fleshrender Grenades, or Quake Bolts. Like with all the other versions of this your most likely use is to give a Sergeant some kind of master-crafted weapon. Like everywhere else, it’s fine. B
  • Lucifer-Pattern Engines – 1CP – Use before the battle. Select one BLOOD ANGELS VEHICLE model (that isn’t a DREADNOUGHT or can FLY) to gain Overcharged Engines, which means it auto-advances 6″ instead of rolling. Conceivably ok for like, pushing an Impulsor into mid-field as fast as possible, but there’s not a ton of Blood Angels vehicles on tables full stop, never mind ones that aren’t Dreadnoughts or flying that also want to be paying 1CP to advance better. C
  • Honoured by the Arx Angelicum – 1CP – The standard “give a Successor Chapter a big boy relic” stratagem. Worthwhile to access Wrath of Baal or Icon of the Angel for a successor. B

Strategic Ploys

  • Red Rampage – 1CP – Use in the Command phase if the Assault Doctrine is active. Until your next Command phase, an unmodified 6 to wound with a Pistol or melee weapon for any Blood Angels model in your army gets an extra -1 AP, cumulative with the Assault doctrine. You can only use this once. Better here than in the 8th supplements, since it’s both cheaper and explicitly written to stack. B
  • Unbridled Ardour – 1CP – Use at the end of the Heroic Intervention step of your opponent’s Charge phase. One SANGUINARY GUARD unit can make a 6″ heroic intervention. Sanguinary Guard are one of your build-around units for Blood Angels and this makes coming near them a tough prospect. B
  • Forlorn Fury – 1CP/2CP – Use at the start of the first battle round, before the first turn begins. One DEATH COMPANY unit can make a Normal Move, to a maximum of 12″, but must end more than 9″ from enemy models. DREADNOUGHT models or units of 6+ pay 2CP, units of 5 or fewer pay 1. This was erratad to be once per game again, which is probably fair. It’s also worth pointing out that you don’t get a 12″ move with any unit – you get a regular move using your Movement characteristic capped at 12″. A strong stratagem for rushing Death Company up and into the fight as fast as possible and controlling space – just don’t let yourself get penned in by Nurglings or something. A
  • Upon Wings of Fire – 1CP – Use in the Movement phase on one BLOOD ANGELS CORE JUMP PACK unit from your army. Remove it from the battlefield, and then set it up again in the Reinforcements step of your next Movement phase more than 9″ from enemy models. A big nerf to the old ability, since now you have to redeploy the next turn and your opponent gets a chance to screen you out, and it’s also CORE only, but it is a bit cheaper. You can potentially use this to get something out of position into position and also benefit from Descent of Angels, but the days of flinging slam Captains up the table and face-first into a Knight are over. B

Wargear

  • Chalice Overflowing – 1CP – Use in your Command phase; one Sanguinary Priest can use the Blood Chalice ability an additional time this phase. Blood Chalice is good and even better now that it definitely gets you the Savage Echoes buff, so this is a good way to spend 1CP powering up two of your key melee units early on. A

Warlord Traits

Blood Angels get their own table of Warlord traits, as below:

  1. Speed of the Primarch – The Warlord can fight first in the Fight phase. Merely ok – you want to be charging, at which point you fight first anyway. B
  2. Artisan of War – You can give the Warlord one of the Adamantine Mantle, Artificer Armour, Master-crafted Weapon, or Digital Weapons in addition to any other relics they have (though you still cannot have duplicate relics in the army). A strong option for throwing one of those pieces of gear on a guy and still getting your pick of “proper” relics, and one of the rare cases that allows you to double up relics of any kind. A
  3. Soulwarden (aura) – Units within 6″ of the Warlord gain a 5+ to ignore mortal wounds. Decent since mortal wounds are one of the good options for getting through your elite units’ defences, though it would be a lot better in a world where you could pick at the table instead of having to write it on your list. B
  4. Heroic Bearing – +3″ to Rites of Battle/Tactical Precision/Chapter Master/Spiritual Leaders (to maximum 9″) and +1 Leadership for BLOOD ANGELS CORE units within 9″. A lot better than it was and potentially worth it just for the bigger re-roll auras/abilities. B
  5. Gift of Foresight – In each turn you can re-roll one hit roll, one wound roll, and one saving throw for this Warlord. With fewer re-roll abilities available to characters in general and getting to use all three every turn, this is a strong pick – basically a free 1-3CP each time you get to use it. A
  6. Selfless Valour – 6″ heroic intervention. Decent for getting your guys into combat, and making it more difficult for opponents to avoid them. B
Blood Angels Assault Intercessor

Blood Angels Assault Intercessor. Credit: Jack Hunter

Psychic Powers

In line with other Chapters, the Blood Angels have their own psychic discipline. Regular Librarians can pick from this or the Librarius or Obscuration disciplines (depending on what type of Librarian they are), while Mephiston and Librarian Dreadnoughts must pick from this list. For some reason all the powers are now WC6, which is easy to remember at least.

  1. Quickening (Blessing) – WC6 – Your psyker can re-roll advance and charge rolls until the start of your next Psychic phase and gets +d3 to its Attacks characteristic. A strong power for Mephiston or a Librarian Dreadought to get a boost to their melee potential. A
  2. Unleash Rage (Blessing) – WC6 – Pick one BLOOD ANGELS CORE unit within 12″; until your next Psychic phase, each time a model in that unit makes a melee attack it does 1 additional hit on a 6 to hit. Explosive for Blood Angels, who are generally packing a lot of attacks to begin with, and while it’s subject to some variance it averages out to be better to have this on any unit with 4 or more attacks which you can easily get on basically any Blood Angels unit that matters. B+
  3. Shield of Sanguinius (Blessing) – WC6 – Pick one BLOOD ANGELS unit within 18″; that unit gets a 5+ invulnerable save until the start of your next Psychic phase. Not being CORE restricted and the longish range are both good here, and make it competitive with Psychic Fortress from the core book. Also quite handy for dropping on the psyker himself, and a good candidate for a third power on Mephiston to cast with Spiritual Might to give himself the invulnerable save he otherwise lacks, or similarly for a Librarian Dreadnought. B+
  4. Blood Boil (Witchfire) – WC6 – Pick one enemy unit within 18″ and visible to the psyker and roll 2D6; if the total is higher than the highest Toughness in the unit do d3 mortal wounds, or if it’s more than double the highest Toughness do 3 mortal wounds instead. As far as not-Smites go this actually has some decent legs; having a fail case is rough but an automatic 3 wounds isn’t bad against T3, though that’s counter-balanced by having a fail case to do anything at all even after you cast, and getting worse the tougher a unit is – which isn’t a thing that matters for just casting regular old Smite. Not a bad extra power to have in your back pocket in case you want your psyker to be able to turn on the mortal wound hosepipe. B-
  5. Blood Lance (Witchfire) – WC6 –  Pick one enemy model within 18″ and visible to the psyker. Draw the shortest possible line between this model base/hull and the psyker, then roll 1D6 for each model that line passes over. On a 5+ their unit takes 1 mortal wound. In a world where you could pick this when you saw a big Ork horde across the table and thought you could get it lined up just right this would be pretty fun, but if you must take one of the two Witchfire powers in this discipline Blood Boil is probably the better one most of the time. C
  6. Wings of Sanguinius (Blessing) – WC6 – If manifested the psyker can make a Normal Move or Fall Back as if it were the Movement phase, and until the end of the phase they have a 12″ move and FLY. Not quite what it once was, but still a very strong power. B+

Relics

Relics are definitely an area where Blood Angels get squeezed. There’s 7 on the page but only 5 are actually available to Blood Angels, with the other 2 being for the Flesh Tearers. That’s quite a short list (though of course you can access the full suite of base Codex and Chapter Command ones).

  • Wrath of Baal. SANGUINARY ANCIENT only and gives them a 6″ aura of +2 Move for BLOOD ANGELS JUMP PACK units. A strong relic for Dante’s Moving Castle – movement is king and getting all your jump packers moving faster is great. A
  • Icon of the Angel. Gives a 6″ aura allowing BLOOD ANGELS units to re-roll charge rolls. Solid bread and butter stuff, boosting your ability to get into combat, and helpful for not being restricted to CORE. Comboing this with a Chaplain to give re-rollable charges at +2 to charge makes for a very reliable punch. A
  • Visage of Death. An interesting one; it’s effectively a death mask, making the bearer -1 to hit in melee, and also allows them to turn off Objective Secured for enemy units within 3″. Stripping your enemy of the ability to hold objectives can really help you lean in to the elite-focused Blood Angels playstyle, and the dual defensive effect is neat too. B+
  • Hammer of Baal. A thunder hammer with AP-3 and no hit penalty. No nonsense, but there’s more interesting things available to you. B
  • Gallian’s Staff. An upgraded force stave, which is ok but you’re not likely to want to throw a regular Librarian into melee in case he gets wasted, especially since only the small ones can take staves and they don’t really have enough attacks to justify it. It also makes you +1 to cast powers from the Sanguinary discipline, so you might plausibly take it for a buffing Librarian handing out Unleash Rage and Shield of Sanguinius. B-

Special-Issue Wargear

  • Adamantine Mantle. Lets a model ignore wounds on a 5+. A solid boost in durability for a character, and best on characters who don’t benefit from taking artificer armour. B
  • Artificer Armour. Gives the model a 2+ save and a 5+ invulnerable save. Fantastic for models with power armour saves who need the durability boost, i.e. bike and jump pack characters, especially those that don’t already have an Iron Halo. Storm shield characters can get down to a 1+ save by taking advantage of this. B
  • Master-Crafted Weapon. Increases the damage characteristic of a non-relic weapon by 1. There are very few cases where this isn’t useful and it’s going to be most useful on the characters you want to take down bigger targets, especially since you can double-up with it with Artisan of War. Also the best pick for a squad Sergeant who wants a boost – mastercrafting a thunder hammer or lightning claw on a squad of Vanguard Veterans is potentially very spicy. A
  • Digital Weapons. The model gets to make an extra attack every time it fights using the generic close combat weapon profile and if that attack hits, the enemy takes a mortal wound on top of the other damage. Probably not the best use of a relic. C
  • Quake Bolts. Pick one of the character’s bolt weapons; when you fire that weapon you can fire quake bolts instead of its normal ammo. It only makes one attack, but if you hit then the target is felled until the end of the turn in addition to any normal damage. Each time a melee attack is made against that unit, you get +1 to hit. The effect here is cute and you could conceivably have something like a stalker bolt rifle Lieutenant pinging them off, or even just a squad Sergeant – angelus boltguns would count, for example, and allow your Sanguinary Guard to set themselves up to really pound on something. B
  • Archangel’s Shard. Replaces a power sword/master-crafted power sword with a S+2, AP-4, D2 weapon that becomes damage 3 against CHAOS or damage 4 against CHAOS MONSTERs. Another one of those weapons that would be better in a world where you could decide to pick it at the table, though the profile is at least ok outside of its particular use case. May well be an interesting meta pick just for dealing with Slaanesh lists, but you can likely get something that will be more consistently operating at its full potential by just taking Teeth of Terra. B
  • Fleshrender Grenades. Replaces frag grenades with a Grenade D3, S5 AP-3 D2 weapon which ignores light cover and has Blast. If you really must pick a relic grenade these are actually pretty ok, and could even be a non-horrible choice to give a hammer/shield Captain a respectable ranged weapon, but if you’re looking at the full sweep of relics in the base Codex and here you’re not that likely to alight on these as your best choice. C
  • Gleaming Pinions. JUMP PACK model only. That model can Fall Back and charge and gets to re-roll charge rolls. Fine. B

Chapter Approved – Secondary Objectives

Blood Angels have access to four unique secondary objectives, 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. Purge the Enemy is a rough category for this kind of cool but variable objective, since there’s usually more boring but safer options available, 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 quite practical to score on 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 also 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 the very good Oaths of Moment in the same slot.

Units

The Blood Angels have a whole bunch of unique units, owing to their long history and a legacy of having unique codex rules – over time they’ve acquired a whole Chapter Command of their own as well as 3 different Dreadnoughts, and now their own kind of Really Angry Intercessor to boot.

HQ

Commander Dante

Starting from the top, let’s look at Commander Dante. He has a great profile, with both 6 wounds and 6 attacks base, as well as a 2+ save. His Axe Mortalis makes him strength 7, which doesn’t help him double out anything, but does make him a little better at fighting vehicles. It’s also AP-3 and flat damage 2. He also totes an inferno pistol.

Beyond his base stats and gear, Dante has a whole bunch of abilities, reflecting his status as a hero of the Imperium. First up he’s wearing the Death Mask of Sanguinius, which is a flat -1 to hit him (yes, both shooting and melee). Additionally, as Lord Regent of the Imperium Nihilus he gains a rule befitting his regency – +1 CP if he’s your Warlord. Finally, because he didn’t have enough rules, he is an Epic Hero of the Imperium – once per battle, if this model is selected to use an Epic Deed Stratagem, that Stratagem costs 0 Command points. The two of these that are really relevant are Only in Death Does Duty End from the base Marine book, and Angel’s Sacrifice. Both are at least plausible for him to use, but it’s a shame that the rule ends up being quite narrow and in both cases the main effect is “Dante gets, or has gotten, fucked up.” He also has the new version of Chapter Master and gains Rites of Battle as a general-purpose re-roll aura. For 175pts he’s not cheap, but compared to a similarly-equipped jump pack Chapter Master he has a better statline and a bunch of extra abilities which are worth the extra.

Blood Angels Chapter Master Dante

Blood Angels Chapter Master Dante. Credit: Jack Hunter

The Sanguinor

The Herald of Sanguinius has a really interesting role in 9th edition, reflecting his lore as a mysterious saviour of the Blood Angels. Like Dante he has a death mask, although being a psychic energy ghost it’s called Angelic Visage and while it has the same -1 to hit effect it only applies to melee attacks.

His more interesting abilities are Avenging Angel and Miraculous Saviour. The former allows you to charge if you fell back as well as giving a 6″ heroic intervention. However, the most heroic intervention of all comes from Miraculous Saviour: At the end of the Heroic Interventions step of your opponent’s Charge phase, if this model has not yet been set up on the battlefield, and if any enemy units finished a charge move within Engagement Range of any friendly Blood Angels units this phase, you can set up this model within Engagement Range of one of those enemy units. This model counts as having performed a Heroic Intervention in the turn it uses this ability. If you don’t want to read all that, what that means is the Sanguinor can deep strike into engagement range if a friendly unit was charged (though note you can’t use this on turn 1). Truly the angel we all need.

Finally he carries an Encarmine Broadsword which gives him S+2 AP-4 flat damage 2, and unmodified 6s to wound also do a mortal wound. On the downside, his  Aura of Fervour no longer stacks with Shock Assault and only affects CORE or CHARACTERS – which basically means it’s only relevant if you’re in the second round of a combat, a situation you don’t particularly want to end up in with Blood Angels.

A bit like the Yncarne, the Sanguinor’s main strength is the ability to just appear wherever he’s most needed – your opponent basically cannot play the melee game against you without accepting that the Sanguinor is going to show up in their face, and that’s a reasonably powerful capability to have for his 150pts.

The Sanguinor

The Sanguinor. Credit: Corrode

Sanguinary Priest

The Sanguinary Priest gets the 9th ed abilities you would expect, mirroring the normal Apothecary with Combat Restoratives and Narthecium. He also retains his access to a jump pack (hell yeah) and gets the Blood Chalice ability, allowing him to pick one CORE or CHARACTER (excluding VEHICLEs) unit within 6″ and put it in the Assault doctrine instead of Devastator or Tactical. As mentioned above, this is now confirmed to grant you Savage Echoes too, which makes for a very powerful buff. He also gains a little melee edge over the regular Apothecary, being WS2+ and getting an Astartes chainsword – which means you can put Teeth of Terra on him, and now your aura buffer is also getting 7 attacks on the charge with a decent weapon. They also still have the APOTHECARY keyword, so you can make one a Chief Apothecary if you so wish (you probably do).

Brother Corbulo

If you don’t make your own, you can also take a Chief Apothecary in the form of Corbulo, the Sanguinary High Priest. He misses out on Selfless Healer, but does get to use Combat Restoratives twice, so that’s nice. He also has an ok weapon in Heaven’s Teeth, which gives him S+1 AP-2 D1. The Red Grail is effectively the Blood Chalice ability, but it applies to all CORE and CHARACTER units within 6”, so if you have more than 2 units you wanted it on then he will help with that. The main issue with Corbulo is the obvious one – he’s slower than a regular Sanguinary Priest with a jump pack, his weapon isn’t as good as just taking the Teeth, and the points are close enough that just taking a regular Priest and upgrading him is overall a better package.

Chief Librarian Mephiston

Everyone’s favourite muscle wizard is just as muscular and wizardly as ever, retaining his impressive statline, the Lord of Death granting him a 5+ to ignore wounds, and Vitarus, effectively a power fist with d3 damage and no hit penalty making him a princely S10. Mephiston always rides the line of being great or distinctly average, depending on cost – at his current 155pts he’s closer to the former than the latter, especially in his new Primaris form giving him 5 base attacks, meaning that with Savage Echoes and Quickening he can get up to an impressive 10 on the charge!

Primaris Mephiston. Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Librarian Dreadnought

The first of the unique Blood Angels Dreadnoughts is the Librarian Dreadnought, a really fun unit that combines the classic archetypes of “wizard” and “robot.” It has the standard Dreadnought statline (except for having 4 base attacks, which is nice), and totes a storm bolter, a furioso fist, and a force halberd. The classic question for a Librarian Dreadnought was “why would you ever use the furioso fist?” and GW has answered that question in 9th ed – its force halberd now does d3+3 damage (yay!) and gives you a bonus attack (YAY!)…. But also you can only use it for one attack. Boooooooo. I guess they had to make the fist relevant somehow. The halberd is also only S+2 and AP-2, so yeah, they really want you to have a reason to care that the furioso fist exists. Otherwise he has the same Psychic Hood ability as a normal Librarian and the same Duty Eternal as a regular Dreadnought, and can cast 2/deny 1 and knows 2 Sanguinary Discipline powers plus Smite. You probably want those two powers to be Quickening and Wings, because the Dreadnought becomes pretty beastly in melee when you do – he’s fast around the table and slamming in with anywhere from 5-9 fist attacks as well as an extra slash with the halberd. A fun side thing to mention here is that the Librarian Dreadnought is of course a DREADNOUGHT and therefore can utilise Wisdom of the Ancients, enabling him to act as a kind of pseudo-Lieutenant or Captain as well as bringing his personal combat abilities.

Astorath

The Redeemer of the Lost has picked up one huge change from his 8th edition version which stands out immediately: Mass of Doom becomes a regular litany and can be used each round on one CORE or CHARACTER unit (maybe don’t pick a character for this one). When it’s being recited you roll a D6; the bad result is Merciful Execution on a 1 – one model just fucking dies rather than taking a mortal wound, but gets a +1 to hit buff in melee. 2-5 gives you the +1 to hit without any models dying, and then 6 is +1 to hit and a 4+ invulnerable save. Other than that, Astorath is a 5-wound 4-attack Chaplain with both WS and BS2+, a 2+ save, a jump pack, and The Executioner’s Axe giving him S+2, AP-3, flat damage 3. He hands out Spiritual Leaders like other Chaplains, but also gives Redeemer of the Lost, which allows DEATH COMPANY units to ignore Morale completely.

Following the trend of special characters who also fill Chapter Command roles, he gets the default bit – he knows two litanies and can chant two, and of course that’s two on top of the default Litany of Hate and his special Mass of Doom so he gets more than anyone – but doesn’t get any of the Warlord trait stuff, so he’s only inspiring on a 3+. Overall he’s a pretty good package.

Astorath the Grim, Redeemer of the Lost

Astorath the Grim, Redeemer of the Lost. Credit: Jack Hunter

Lemartes

In an effort to separate him from Astorath, Lemartes is a much more focused model in 9th edition. He loses an attack compared to 8th edition, going down from 5 to 4, and the Blood Crozius goes from d3 damage to flat 2, which means it’s only distinguished from a normal one by a single point of AP (and is worse than just taking a regular Chaplain with the Benediction of Fury). Lemartes also gets some very targeted changes to his abilities – Fury Unbound now only applies to DEATH COMPANY CORE or CHARACTER and just gives re-rolls to charge rolls (not exactly an ability that’s rare in this book). Guardian of the Lost is a limitation on his litanies – aura effects from Lemartes only apply to DEATH COMPANY and targeted litanies can only target DEATH COMPANY. On the plus side, Lemartes can recite two litanies, and he can recite ones have already been used this turn – so if you want him and some Death Company roving around one part of the table while Astorath buffs another block somewhere else, then great, you can do that. Lemartes also gains a new rule, Light in the Dark, which is basically Spiritual Leaders but for Death Company only.

Overall Lemartes has is more of a buff vehicle for Death Company rather than being a general-purpose and basically always-better Chaplain, and is slightly less of a beatstick in his own right than he used to be. He’s probably still fine, but there’s an argument that a regular Chaplain could well do the same job better and more flexibly – though if you want to play a Death Company-heavy list that doubles up on Chaplains, Lemartes is great for that purpose.

Tycho and Tycho the Lost

The two Tychos are still kicking around in the codex despite him having died hundreds of years ago in the fluff. I guess you can’t keep this guy down. Stats wise either version is just a regular Captain, though he does have a 2+ save. He’s equipped with a special combi-melta called Blood Song which has AP-1 and damage 2 on the boltgun bit, and the Dead Man’s Hand which makes his melee attacks AP-3. Both versions have Abhor the Beast, which gives +1 Strength and Damage for melee attacks against Orks. The main point of differentiation between the two versions is that regular Tycho has Rites of Battle, whereas Tycho the Lost replaces it with Folorn Hero – a 9″ aura of re-roll 1s to hit for DEATH COMPANY CORE. The angry version is himself DEATH COMPANY and of course has Black Rage. In the main Tycho remains what he always has been – a neat fluff inclusion from the early history of 40k who probably doesn’t see the table too much – but the Death Company version isn’t bad for supporting something like a unit of Death Company Intercessors, even if that involves a bit of time manipulation to justify happening.

Elites

Sanguinary Guard

Moving out of the HQ slots finally, let’s take a look at Sanguinary Guard – who frankly are just as rules-heavy as any of the above characters. They’re not especially tougher than any other Marines, with only a 2+ save for a defensive buff compared to any other Marines. They do get 3 base attacks each, and free encarmine weapons which got the +1 Strength buff that all other power weapons did and are all flat damage 2. The Angelic Visage rule works as it does for the Sanguinor so they’re -1 to hit in melee, and angelus boltguns picked up an additional 6” range compared to 8th to bring them up to 18” – not bad at all!

Finally, their Heirs of Azkaellon ability has changed significantly – instead of re-rolls to hit for being within 6” of a Blood Angels Warlord, it’s now a +1 to hit. Not bad if they’re within range of a re-roll 1s to hit bubble anyway, since that’s functionally the same thing. At 30ppm including the encarmine weapons (fists are +5) they’re priced reasonably competitively, though the main danger for them is comparison with Bladeguard Veterans (where they come out ok thanks to their better shooting and movement) and Vanguard Veterans (a tougher sell, since the Vanguard are slightly cheaper and get a 4+ invulnerable save to boot).

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard. Credit: Jack Hunter

Sanguinary Ancient

The Sanguinary Ancient has gotten pricey, at 125pts, and is now one per army (which makes sense, really). He has the normal “small Marine support character” statline i.e. W4 A3, and of course a 2+ save.

As well as his base profile he comes loaded down with rules. The Blood Angels Chapter Banner is a Command Phase ability, allowing you to pick one CORE unit within 6” and give it +1 to hit. Additionally he gains the normal Astartes Banner ability, previously not included in the Sanguinary package, and the same Heirs of Azkaellon and Angelic Visage abilities as the other Sanguinary Guard. Not on the profile, but key to his utility, is the Wrath of Baal relic, allowing him to hand out extra movement along with his other buffs – and he’s a good pick for taking Rites of War too, keeping all your key buffs operating in the same place.

Death Company Dreadnought

Our first Death Company unit and second unique Dreadnought. The Magna-grapple ability (shared with Furioso Dreadnoughts) has completely changed for 9th edition; instead of adding to charge rolls, it now means that you roll 2d6 against a non-AIRCRAFT enemy’s Strength when they try to fall back – if the roll beats their strength, they’re stuck. This is, at least, fun. The rest of the picture isn’t great, though – they’re not CORE, so no re-rolls etc. (and even stuff that targets DEATH COMPANY usually adds CORE as a rider in there, so it’s not like Lemartes can help). The main question for Death Company Dreadnoughts is “why?” They don’t bring anything to the table you can’t get better from somewhere else, and when your Chapter’s whole thing is “melee units” a mediocre one doesn’t do anything for you.

Death Company Marines

EVERY DAY I WAKE UP AND OPEN PALM SLAM A PICT INTO THE SLOT. ITS THE BRIDGE OF THE VENGEFUL SPIRIT AND RIGHT THEN AND THERE I START DOING THE MOVES ALONGSIDE WITH THE MAIN CHARACTER, SANGUINIUS. I DO EVERY MOVE AND I DO EVERY MOVE HARD. Death Company are those Blood Angels who are so mad about their dad dying that they’ve gone insane and believe they actually are him, and being Really Mad is their main point of differentiation as a Special Blood Angels Melee Unit from Sanguinary Guard (plus being 3 editions older as a concept, for the purists). As might be expected, Death Company have the Black Rage, and come by default with a bolt pistol and Astartes chainsword; the latter is a small but helpful 9th edition change as their mass of attacks now also have some AP powering them. They have a surprisingly versatile equipment list, including the full range of melee weapons as well as plasma and inferno pistols, and any Marine in the squad can take them so if you really want to you can go hog wild with every guy having a power fist or something. They can also have jump packs, which is how almost everyone in history has built their Death Company. Apparently when your brother falls to the Rage and you send him out on an honourable suicide mission it’s essential that he take all the Chapter’s best equipment with him.

Logistical illogicalities aside, there’s a couple of points to note here that may be a change if you are an experienced Blood Angels player. First, the squad size for these guys has changed in 9th – they are now a maximum size of 5-10 instead of their previous 5-15. This makes them a bit harder to use; previously even with 9th edition’s changes to coherency you could string them out pretty far and pick up buffs at the back while the front guys with the proper weapons did the damage. Additionally, there’s a subtle change to the wargear list – taking a boltgun now means you lose both your bolt pistol and chainsword, and there’s no way to get another melee weapon on them. If, like many people did, you previously built some with boltgun + chainsword for the best of both worlds on your cheap guys, you are now out of luck for the unit’s main role as Punchguys. Get those craft knives out, I guess.

It’s not all bad for them, though. The fundamentals here are still strong – even your basic chainsword-equipped Death Company model is putting out 5 attacks on the charge before getting into Savage Echoes, and while they’re only S4 they also are benefiting from Red Thirst so they punch above their weight – and of course, everything counts in large amounts. Like other Marines they benefit from gaining a second wound in this edition, and they still have their 6+ to ignore wounds from Black Rage (or 5+ using the Refusal to Die stratagem) so they’re tougher than their standard MEQ statline would suggest. You have two options with Death Company – you can go heavy on them, taking a big block or two supported by the appropriate characters to get the most out of them, or you can also utilise their outsized output in a kind of trouble-shooting role. A unit of 5 with jump packs and a couple of special melee weapons is great at haring off to take out something away from your main block, cleaning up objective holders or mid-tier monsters or Dreadnoughts who maybe don’t warrant a full block of Sanguinary Guard or something going into them but need more than incidental firepower to deal with.

Blood Angels Death Company

Blood Angels Death Company. Credit: Jack Hunter

Death Company Intercessors

The early fluff for Primaris suggested that Cawl had fixed them up and so they weren’t subject to any of the geneseed instabilities of their parent Legions. Apparently this didn’t take, since all the Blood Angels ones are now busily foaming at the mouth and yelling at an imaginary Horus just like their smaller brothers. Back to the drawing board, Belisarius.

Death Company Intercessors first made an appearance in Blood of Baal, but the 9th edition codex has updated them significantly. First and most importantly, they a) get an extra attack on their profile as well as having the Black Rage, and b) they get access to the Assault Intercessor gear loadout i.e. heavy bolt pistol and Astartes chainsword. That means that a Death Company Intercessor on the charge has 3 attacks base, +1 for a chainsword, +1 for Shock Assault, and +1 for Black Rage, and potentially even another +1 for Savage Echoes. That is 6-7 attacks each which even for Blood Angels is a lot of attacks. Take note of the errata, too; their datasheet is written slightly confusingly and used to stop the assault version taking a melee weapon, but now one of them can take a hammer, sword, or fist too. It’s not quite the same depth of gear that the smaller versions can take, but it’s something.

The main strike against these compared to the Firstborn version is their lack of mobility. They’re just regular Intercessors in terms of movement, and don’t benefit from the Wrath of Baal which is the key mobility booster in the codex, so it can be a pain to get them where they want to be. If they can reach melee though they are highly likely to fuck something up and while we haven’t seen much evidence of it yet there surely must be a way to get the most out of them.

Furioso Dreadnought

Much of what was said about the Death Company Dreadnought applies to the red version, too. They do have the heavy frag cannon, which in 9th edition is 18” range, 2d3 shots, S7 AP-1 D2 and Blast – a huge buff to their previously pretty anaemic shooting, though it doesn’t automatically hit any more. If you aren’t using the frag cannon though, and preferred the close combat options, those have gotten a lot weaker. The Furioso no longer gets to re-roll failed hits for having paired weapons and instead gets +1 Attack (which puts it on parity with the Death Company version). Losing the re-roll hurts a lot, since again, they aren’t CORE. This is a weird choice when regular Dreadnoughts are, and kind of exposes the arbitrary nature of CORE – why wouldn’t these have it? It certainly isn’t much to do with power, since they’re middle of the road at best and Ironclad Dreadnoughts are right there and do have it. It’s enough to take them out of any serious contention, sadly. Maybe one day these guys get to be good.

Heavy Support

Baal Predator

Oh, Baal Predators. We don’t even have a painted example of one to put in the article here, and I don’t expect that to change. The shooting of 1.5 Razorbacks for the price of a full Predator, in a Chapter which gives you straight-up nothing to improve on vehicles in any way. If you have one, I’m sorry.

Other Notable Units

We’re going to keep this section a little shorter than normal, since Blood Angels have so many unique units of their own and, frankly, what is going to be good from the base Marine codex is obvious for them. Let’s all say it together: Vanguard Veterans, Bladeguard Veterans, Assault Intercessors, Incursors. Anything that wants to punch the other guy in the face benefits from the Blood Angels’ key offering of “punch them in the face, harder.” If you’re looking to go at least a little off-piste, then Redemptor Dreadnoughts are definitely worth a look in BA too – though they don’t get a ton out of the stratagems or relics here, they offer both decent melee and meaningful shooting, they’re tough, and of course they’re CORE. +1 to wound from the Red Thirst means that they wound anything in the game on 2s, too. They’re also a good target for Wisdom of the Ancients in a list without a Librarian Dreadnought.

Playing Blood Angels

So how do you get the most out of Blood Angels? Much like the other melee-focused Marine chapters, the answer is largely “take a bunch of the good melee units and support them with the efficient shooting ones that don’t need much support” which at the time of writing means plasma Inceptors. Blood Angels don’t have the bag of tricks that White Scars bring to the table, nor do they lean on unusual units as much as Space Wolves do. Mostly their thing is bread and butter efficiency – they hit harder than most, using units that are upgunned versions of things Marines already do, largely equipped with jump packs to get them there that bit faster.

Despite that, it takes careful play to get them right. It’s far too easy to go rushing off with your units and let them get murdered piecemeal. You need some capability to stretch out and contest multiple parts of the table – this is where the small Death Company units we mentioned before come in, but this can also be achieved with Scouts/Incursors/Infiltrators, or even just Tactical Marines if your main thing is holding on to a couple of backfield points while your main block pushes forwards and grinds the enemy into paste. Though there’s some good Warlord traits in here, it’s worth remembering that you aren’t limited to this book, and the base Marine codex offers up Rites of War which is being seen everywhere but can be particularly important in Blood Angels as it allows you to lean on what you do best – elite melee – without immediately losing the objective game to a stray Ork Boy.

Something that’s very important to 9th edition play is having a good idea of what secondaries you’re intending on leaning on. Generally a good idea is to have 2 more or less locked in and then a flex pick for an advantageous mission secondary, or an opponent who gives up an easy Purge secondary. Blood Angels get extra flexibility here as you can take both a Space Marines and also a Blood Angels secondary, giving you a lot of choices to work with, though the likelihood is that the Blood Angels ones aren’t worth your while; two of them are in the same slot as Oaths of Moment from the base codex, which is more likely to be a regular pick. Planning around being able to take 2 out of 3 from Deploy Scramblers, Oaths of Moment, and Linebreaker/Engage on All Fronts or possibly Relentless Assault is a good base to work from.

Lists

We’re shorter on lists than usual as Blood Angels came out in early December 2020, which coincides with both Christmas and, this year, much of the world going back into various Covid-related lockdowns. However, the Las Vegas Nopen has furnished us with a couple of interesting examples of lists that people are trying out. Conveniently this not only means that we have lists to hand but also that our own Wings has written them up in loving detail already.

Mikey Herbert – Las Vegas Nopen

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Adeptus Astartes – Blood Angels) [110 PL, 1,996pts, 8CP] ++

  • Stratagems +

. Relics of the Chapter [-2CP]: 2x Number of Extra Relics
. Hero of the Chapter(extra Warlord) -1CP
. Angel Exemplar (Second Warlord Trait) -1cp

+ HQ +

Captain [6 PL, 140pts]: Thunder hammer, Stormshield, Jumppack WARLORD
WLT: The Imperium’s Sword
Angel Exemplar: Gift of Foresight
Relic: Hammer of Baal

Sanguinary Priest [7 PL, 135pts, -1CP]: Astartes Chainsword, Bolt pistol, Jump pack
Chapter Command: Chief Apothecary,
Hero of the Chapter: Selfless Healer
Relic: Icon of The Angel

The Sanguinor [9 PL, 150pts]

+ Troops +

Incursor Squad [5 PL, 105pts] . 4x Incursor/ Sergeant: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Occulus bolt carbine, 4x Paired combat blades

Incursor Squad [5 PL, 105pts] . 4x Incursor/ Sergeant: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Occulus bolt carbine, 4x Paired combat blades

Tactical Squad [5 PL, 105pts] . 3x Space Marine / Sergeant: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, Chainsword
. Space Marine w/Heavy Weapon: Lascannon

+ Elites +

3 x Bladeguard Veteran Squad [5 PL, 105pts] Heavy Bolt Pistol, Master-crafted power sword, Storm Shield

6 x Death Company Marines [15 PL, 189pts]: Jump Pack
. DC Marine: Thunder hammer x 3
. DC Marine: Bolt pistol and chainsword x3

Redemptor Dreadnought [9 PL, 180pts]: 2x Storm Bolters, Macro Plasma Incinerator, Onslaught Gatling Cannon

Sanguinary Ancient [7 PL, 125pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword,
Relic: Wrath of Baal

8 x Sanguinary Guard [17 PL, 250pts] . SG: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword x 6
. SG: Angelus boltgun, Power fist x 2

5x Vanguard Veteran Squad [7 PL, 147pts]: Jump Pack
. VV: Lightning Claw, Storm shield x 4
. Sergeant: Relic blade, Storm shield

+ Heavy Support +

Eradicator Squad [6 PL, 135pts]: Melta rifle

+ Dedicated Transport +

Impulsor [7 PL, 125pts]: 2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome

Total: [110 PL, 8CP, 1,996pts]

The Highlights

  • A flexible iteration of Blood Angels, dialing back the extreme melee brutality for more shooting and board control.
  • Incursors help control the board against opposing infiltrators.
  • Death Company and Eradicators provide some surgical threats.
  • Redemptor can flex between a bully piece and a backline guardian as the game requires.

The Details

Thanks to how potent their Chapter Tactic is, there are quite a few valid ways you can take a Blood Angels list, and Mikey’s army here shows off a very different flavour to the all-in golden host we saw last week. While still packing some terrifying jet pack melee in the form of the Sanguinary Guard, Vanguard and Death Company, this list goes a bit wider and packs a few more surgical threats to go with its alpha units. One of the nice things about Eradicators, the first of these, is that even after their point increase a single unit is a pretty cost-effective way to give your opponent headaches, because the damage output is there to just pop a tank or monster outright, and has to be planned round accordingly. Meanwhile, Redemptor Dreadnoughts have gone from being a joke for most of 8th to being all-stars in 9th, with their macro-plasma incinerator now a weapon to be truly feared, and especially strong at picking up a few enemy Inceptors when the ranged playing field needs to be levelled. Having one about also gives Mikey access to Wisdom of the Ancients, letting him access an Lt. aura on demand (which his list otherwise lacks) or spread a captain aura out if he’s busy murdering something elsewhere.

Blood Angels Redemptor Dreadnought

Blood Angels Redemptor Dreadnought. Credit: Jack Hunter

It’s not just ranged threats where Mikey has diversified, you see. One of the things Blood Angels are notorious for is herohammer, and that’s something that this list exploits through two models – the Captain and the Sanguinor. The Captain is merely amped up to be about as nasty as you can make one, sporting the always excellent Imperium’s Sword Warlord Trait alongside the Hammer of Baal and Gift of Foresight to make him a reliable heavy hitter. Whether a monster needs a stern talking to or a whole squad of elite troops needs to be scattered like skittles, this bad boy is available to get it done. The Sanguinor is a bit more of a subtle tool, but should prove extremely valuable in the melee-heavy environment this list is being thrust into. His unique ability to just straight up appear in combat is something opponents will need to plan round all the way to turn three, and his ability to do that then draw aggro with Angel’s Sacrifice can save one of the other key units, allowing them to punch back with extreme force. A 150pt model isn’t something to be thrown away lightly, but if it means that an opposing monster ends up stuck in combat with 250pts of Sanguinary Guard that they hadn’t planned for, it can be well worth it. It can also badly mess with the pile-in plans of opposing horde melee units – and wouldn’t you know, there are plenty of those around too.

Rounding out the list, we have some board control in the form of Incursors and a backline Tactical Squad, and then a reactive battle bus carrying a Bladeguard unit. Three might not seem like many, but with the Red Thirst and (later) Savage Echoes amplifying their output, they’re likely to significantly outclass other units in their weight class, and they and the Impulsor that’s carrying them can split up to occupy forward objectives, especially handy in Domination scoring missions like the first round.

This list shows off the power of Blood Angels very effectively – because of just how much better they are in melee than everyone else at base rate, you can afford to diversify your units quite a bit without losing the ability to dominate the fight phase. They also have access to several ways to create big headaches and punish overextension, with the Sanguinor and the Death Company (who an opponent needs to plan for a potential Forlorn Fury from) carrying that banner here. Flexibility is very strong in 9th, and this list has it in spades, and it’ll be interesting to see how it performs against a similarly adaptable list on the other side.

Brian Pullen – Las Vegas Nopen

++ Battalion Detachment (Imperium – Adeptus Astartes – Blood Angels) [108 PL, 7 CommandPoints, 1,995pts] ++

  • Configuration +

Chapter Selection: Blood Angels

+ Stratagems +

Relics of the Chapter [-2 Command Points]: 2x Number of Extra Relics

+ HQ +

Commander Dante [9 PL, 175pts]

Sanguinary Priest [7 PL, -1 Command Points, 135pts]: Astartes Chainsword, Bolt pistol, Chapter Command: Chief Apothecary, Icon of The Angel, Jump Pack, Selfless Healer, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter

+ Troops +

Assault Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 105pts] . 4x Assault Intercessor: 4x Astartes Chainsword, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Heavy Bolt Pistol
. Assault Intercessor Sgt: Heavy Bolt Pistol, Power fist

Assault Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 105pts] . 4x Assault Intercessor: 4x Astartes Chainsword, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Heavy Bolt Pistol
. Assault Intercessor Sgt: Heavy Bolt Pistol, Power fist

Assault Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 95pts] . 4x Assault Intercessor: 4x Astartes Chainsword, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Heavy Bolt Pistol
. Assault Intercessor Sgt: Astartes Chainsword, Heavy Bolt Pistol

+ Elites +

Judiciar [5 PL, -1 Command Points, 85pts]: 5. Gift of Foresight, 6. Selfless Valour, Angel Exemplar, Visage of Death, Warlord

Sanguinary Ancient [7 PL, -1 Command Points, 125pts]: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword, Rites of War, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter, Wrath of Baal

Sanguinary Guard [17 PL, 300pts] . Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword

Sanguinary Guard [17 PL, 270pts] . Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword

Sanguinary Guard [17 PL, 270pts] . Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword
. Sanguinary Guard: Angelus boltgun, Encarmine sword

+ Fast Attack +

Inceptor Squad [14 PL, 330pts]: 5x Inceptor, Inceptor Sergeant, Plasma Exterminator x2

++ Total: [108 PL, 7 Command Points, 1,995pts] ++

The Highlights

  • The full might of the Sanguinary Guard flies to war!
  • Superpowered buff characters let the glorious golden host operate at maximum efficiency.
  • A sneaky Judiciar sporting a 6″ Heroic and the ability to shut down ObSec threatens to change the flow of battle at a key moment.
  • Dante-powered Plasma Inceptors provide all the shooting backup you could want.

The Details

We’ve talked about the utility Blood Angels gain from being a supplement in 9th edition, allowing them to combine their unique melee units and specialised force multipliers with powerful rules from the main Marine Codex, and that’s on full show here. 30 elite killers clad in angelic golden armour are flying to war here, and thanks to the Rites of War and Selfless Healer rules they’re going to be both better at staking a claim on objectives and much harder to chew through via attrition alone. Chief Apothecaries have proven to be particularly strong in both Angel themed Marine chapters thanks to them having specialised Apothecaries with mobility options. In Blood Angels, of course, the Sanguinary Priest isn’t just a defensive tool – their Blood Chalice massively soups up one (or optionally two) nearby units each turn, amplifying their already massive damage output and leaving them with very few targets they can’t tear to pieces if they get a chance.

Sanguinary Guard

Sanguinary Guard. Credits: That Gobbo

Helping them to do that, and acting as just a general massive annoyance to the enemy plans, is a tooled up Judiciar. Being able to Heroic up to 6″ thanks to Selfless Valour then force an enemy unit to fight last can throw a massive wrench into an opponent’s plans, and equipping him with the Visage of Death also allows him to be deployed to trump the enemy’s Objective Secured at a crucial juncture. Close games are very common in 9th Edition, and upsetting the scoring on a single turn can be the difference between victory or defeat, and having tools to do that is a huge advantage when playing at the elite level. Elsewhere among the Characters, the list sports Dante himself, providing both a powerful beatstick and great buffs for the Plasma Inceptors, and a Sanguinary Ancient with the Wrath of Baal standard. This model is going to be a huge help in this matchup, as increasing the movement of the Guard and Inceptors will help bring the list’s mobility closer to the level of the clown menace, and make it much easier for the Plasma Inceptors in particular to find targets through Veil of Illusion.

The last neat thing this list has going for it is just how nasty its Troops are. Assault Intercessors are attractively priced at 19ppm, and with the Blood Angels Chapter Tactic (and Doctrine later in the game) they should be able to trivially overcome any harassment units that the opponent sends to try and steal objectives (especially the power fist squads), and can push up to secure a mid-board position while the Guard are elsewhere in a pinch. They’re both reasonably tough and surprisingly dangerous, and anyone who underestimates them is going to quickly and bitterly regret it.

Blood Angels are quickly proving to be a real force in competitive play – while on paper some of the things in their book are tuned down from 8th, the exceptional synergy between their special units and the wider Marine Codex gives them some excellent unique options, and lets you put enormously intimidating armies like this one on the table.

Where to Read More

This article is of course paired with the main Start Competing: Space Marines where you can find coverage of the core book, or check out other faction articles if you’re interested in multiple supplements and trying to make your mind up. As ever, if you have any questions or feedback, shoot us an email at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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