The Flesh Tearers are a Blood Angels successor, famous – or infamous – throughout the galaxy for their savagery in battle. All of the Sons of Sanguinius bear the twin curses of the Flaw – the Red Thirst and the Black Rage – but the Flesh Tearers are even more susceptible to these than others. Their Marines fall to the Black Rage at a terrifying rate, swelling their Death Company but weakening the rest of the Chapter. This degradation has worsened over time, and many in the Flesh Tearers have embraced it, furthering the slip into madness.
On the table, the Flesh Tearers benefit from their own unique Chapter tactic and a couple of bonus stratagems and relics, while otherwise sharing the rules of their parent Legion, the Blood Angels. They also have their own character, their Chapter Master Gabriel Seth.
- Melee prowess. Everything about the Flesh Tearers screams Fight Phase, and it’s the place where they excel. They keep the most important half of the Blood Angels’ Chapter tactic, the +1 to wound in melee, and even get some enhancement in the form of an AP bonus. Your units will hit like a ton of bricks when they get into chainsword range.
- Blood Angels Successors. The Flesh Tearers benefit from almost everything the Blood Angels can bring, as well as having access to their roster of Chapter-specific units, including the powerful Sanguinary Guard and Death Company.
- Gabriel Seth. Seth brings a unique aura, and is a strong beatstick himself, as well as giving all the normal Chapter Master benefits.
- Fewer options. The Flesh Tearers share a book with the Blood Angels, and while they get more stratagems than the Blood Angels to work with they have fewer relics and warlord traits. You are also obviously locked out of the Blood Angels’ slew of unique characters, and most of those are at least decent, so that’s a miss.
- Assault Doctrine reliance. You need to get to the Assault Doctrine to make the most of your Chapter’s abilities, and that’s a long wait through the destructive early turns of 9th edition games.
Chapter Tactic – Fury Within
Half of the Flesh Tearers’ Chapter tactic is shared with their parent Chapter, that part being +1 to wound rolls for melee weapons in any turn where they made a charge move, were charged, or made a Heroic Intervention. The other half is unique to them, and still for melee – on an unmodified wound roll of a 6, improve the AP of that attack by 1, which is cumulative with the Assault Doctrine bonus if active. This is a great combo that really rewards what the Flesh Tearers are all about – you can pile on a ton of mid-quality melee attacks and have them turbo-boosted by the Chapter tactic into something really dangerous.
Doctrine – Savage Echoes
The Flesh Tearers share their doctrine with their parent Chapter, and it’s just as great for them as it is for the regular Blood Angels. This is a melee-focused army and a doctrine that gives you +1 Attack is supremely good for making them better at exactly what they want to do.
The Flesh Tearers are able to access all of the Blood Angels stratagems. We’ve covered the standard BA ones in Start Competing: Blood Angels, and everything said there applies to Flesh Tearers too, so hop over there for a refresher. In addition to those, the Tearers two of their own stratagems as well as Warlord Traits and Relics.
- Aggressive Onslaught – 1CP: Used in the Fight phase; pick one FLESH TEARERS INFANTRY unit and until the end of the phase, you can move an additional 3″ when making pile-in or consolidate moves. Bonus movement is a key part of the Fight phase and this will help your melee units make the absolute most of it. A
- Savage Destruction – 1CP: Use in the Morale phase when an enemy unit within Engagement Range of any of your FLESH TEARERS units fails a Morale test. Until the end of the turn, that unit takes -1 to Combat Attrition tests. A fine stratagem – you’re not going to want to use it all the time, but there’s likely to be times when forcing an enemy unit onto a coin-flip Combat Attrition test will be worth 1CP. B
The Flesh Tearers’ unique relics are exactly what you would expect from a Chapter with their ferocious reputation – brutal, in-your-face picks that either get your models into the fight quicker or help them punch up once they’re there.
- Severer: Replaces an Astartes Chainsword with a version which is +2 Strength, AP-2, D2, plus it does 1 additional mortal wound for each unmodified 5+ to wound. Probably a sidegrade on the Teeth of Terra, but allows the tantalising possibility of taking Seth, this, and the Teeth for a full complement of chainsword-wielding murderers. B
- The Crimson Plate: A Terminator-only relic which gives you +1″ to Movement, the ability to advance and charge, and a 4″ pile-in and consolidate. A solid choice for a Terminator Captain who wants to turbo-boost himself around the table, held back mostly because Terminator Captains are merely ok. B
As well as their unique relics, the Flesh Tearers are a Blood Angels successor, and can take advantage of all the same Special-issue Wargear as other successors.
The Flesh Tearers get a set of three unique warlord traits. These can only be accessed by them and they only have access to these – unlike the Imperial Fists book (which by a quirk of wording allows Crimson Fists to access Imperial Fists Warlord traits with Sentinel of Terra), the Angel Exemplar stratagem specifically disallows you from taking Blood Angels traits.
- Merciless Butcher: +1 attack for every five enemy models within 3″ (maximum 3). This is OK but it’s tough to get that many enemy models within range. This is Seth’s required trait. B-
- Of Wrath and Rage: Unmodified 6s to hit in melee are an additional hit. This is fine, but there are better melee traits in the vanilla book. Taking Imperium’s Sword and adding this on as a secondary trait isn’t a bad idea, though. B
- Cretacian Born: Enemy units cannot fire Overwatch or Set to Defend when charged by the Warlord. You can re-roll charge rolls for the Warlord. Imperium’s Sword does the second half of this and has a much better other half. C
It’s worth noting the slight oddity with the first one of these – the version of Merciless Butcher printed in the Blood Angels codex is different to the one printed in the core Space Marines codex. The vanilla Codex version is flat better, since you get d3 attacks as long as there are 5 or more enemy models in the 3″ range, which is much more likely to come up. How this should be resolved is left open to an FAQ, as both are equally valid.
Seth has a ton of upside. Despite not being Primaris he has the statline of a Primaris Captain, with 6 wounds and 5 attacks. He has the regular Chapter Master buffs, plus two unique rules of his own – Whirlwind of Gore, which lets him fight again if he in Engagement Range at the end of the Fight phase, and Lord of Slaughter, which is an aura which gives FLESH TEARERS CORE units within 6″ the ability to do +1 damage in melee on an unmodified wound roll of a 6.
Weapons-wise he brings a bolt pistol, which isn’t exciting, and Blood Reaver, which is. The latter is his characteristic giant chainsword, giving him Sx2, AP-2, damage 3. Bearing in mind that he’s packing 6 attacks on the charge, 7 in Savage Echoes, and can double fight – that is a lot of quality melee, though sadly he doesn’t benefit from his own aura.
That’s a hell of a package, and he’s not too bad cost-wise at 160pts – just a Primaris Chapter Master would be 130pts, and Seth brings two unique abilities and a great melee weapon to make up the 30pt difference. The major downside for him is that he’s a footslogging Firstborn Marine; getting him into a fight that matters is likely to be the major challenge in making use of him. His double-fight does help a lot, though, as he can benefit from two pile-in and consolidate moves in a turn. The model is cool too, though sadly stuck in Finecast limbo.
Besides Seth, the Flesh Tearers don’t have unique units of their own, but we’ve picked out a few units that they get the best of from the Space Marine and Blood Angels ones they can access.
Sanguinary Guard/Vanguard Veterans/Death Company/Death Company Intercessors
Yes these are different units but what we have to say about all of them is the same – these guys are gonna fuck in the Flesh Tearers. If you’re running them with Seth they’re potentially getting extra AP and damage on 6s to wound by comboing Fury Within and Lord of Slaughter, and he can be handing them Chapter Master re-rolls to boot. They’re also obviously benefting from the +1 to wound. All three are great melee units that get high numbers of quality attacks, and that’s what you’re looking for to get the most out of what the Flesh Tearers bring. As highlighted before, the main thing for the first three units is keeping them and their jump packs close enough to Seth to keep that aura in place.
Incursors are often second fiddle to Infiltrators, but in the Flesh Tearers they gain significant benefits – they can get up to AP-3 with their knives, and +1 to wound makes them much more deadly than they would normally be – and both things combo well with the 3 base (4 in Savage Echoes) attacks they can bring. They’re great conduits for some early aggression.
Assault Intercessors tend to be cast as the least-useful of the Space Marine Troops choices (which mostly reflects the high quality of the rest of the options you have for the slot), but if there’s anywhere they’re going to do work it’s here. They’re cheap, they bring a lot of attacks, and they benefit hugely from what the Tearers bring – and Aggressive Onslaught and Honour the Chapter can be a fantastic combo for them to get a huge amount of movement around the table.
Playing Flesh Tearers
Much like their Blood Angels brothers, the Flesh Tearers are all about getting into melee. Though they can pick from the full set of Space Marine units, and you will want some key shooting support, the main bulk of your army is going to be about combat. We’ve highlighted the bevy of melee units available to you above, and to some extent what you pick is about personal taste. Broadly, the main trade-off is that Death Company Intercessors are Primaris (and can therefore access Transhuman Physiology to defend themselves) while the rest aren’t, and that Vanguard Veterans can come with storm shields to simulate the 2+ save that Sanguinary Guard get plus get an invulnerable to boot. Sanguinary Guard, for their part, have very good weapons and don’t give up shooting to get them, and are also able to make use of Unbridled Ardour to catch out unwary opponents. The Death Company units also can’t perform actions, and while that isn’t necessarily a thing you want your key melee beaters to be doing, not having the option to at all can sometimes be limiting.
Whether or not to use Seth is an open question, but we’re pretty firmly on the side of “yes.” He’s great, and also if you’re committing to playing Flesh Tearers then very likely taking him is the reason why anyway. We mentioned previously that being slow was his main downside, but he does get the double fight to help him move about, and you can combine that with Aggressive Onslaught to really get him motoring around the board and keep up with the jump-pack equipped stuff.
More able to keep up is the Sanguinary Priest, who can thankfully still take a jump pack (though you’ll need to convert one). Making him a Chief Apothecary is an obvious play to take Selfless Healer. A Sanguinary Ancient is also a good pick, bringing both Rites of War and also the Wrath of Baal alongside the standard Chapter Banner ability making him a great force multiplier, able to help move your army around at pace and make them hit that little bit harder.
Friend of Goonhammer Innes Wilson came up with this list, aiming to maximise the powerful melee capabilities of the Flesh Tearers.
Flesh Tearers Vanguard Detachment (1,998 points)
HQ: Gabriel Seth, Warlord – 160
HQ: Sanguinary Priest, Chainsword, Jump Pack, Chief Apothecary – 135 – Teeth of Terra, Hero of the Chapter (Selfless Healer)
EL: Sanguinary Ancient – 125 Wrath of Baal, Warlord – Rites of War
EL: 10x Sanguinary Guard, 6x Encarmine Axe, 4x Power Fist – 300
EL: 10x Sanguinary Guard, 6x Encarmine Axe, 4x Power Fist – 300
EL: 10x Vanguard Veterans, 10x Jump Pack, 10x Lightning Claw, 10x Storm Shield – 280
EL: 5x Death Company, 5x Jump Pack, 2x Thunder Hammer, 3x Astartes Chainsword – 155
EL: 2x Company Veterans, 2x Storm Shield, 2x Chainsword – 48
FA: 5x Inceptor, 10x Plasma Exterminator – 275
FA: 4x Inceptor, 8x Plasma Exterminator – 220
Total Points: 1,998
Starting CP: 8
Innes has gone full-bore into what we discussed above, skipping Troops entirely in favour of a Vanguard detachment with two big blocks of Sanguinary Guard and one of Vanguard Veterans, backed up by Seth, a Chief Apothecary Priest, and Ancient. Supplementing them are a couple of Company Veterans – great for backfield objectives and actions – and two squads of Inceptors, newly more expensive but still fully capable of bringing plasma death to the table. Finally, a small squad of Death Company can trouble-shoot, splitting off to take distant objectives or clear out small units that don’t merit the attention of a full squad of Sanguinary Guard.
Where to Read More
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