The Horus Heresy – Legion Overview – The Blood Angels

An article by    Gaming Tactics Warhammer 30k        0

The Space Marine Legions of the First Founding make up the core factions and conflict of the Horus Heresy. In our sixth article, we look at the beautiful, but tragically flawed, scions of The Brightest One: The IX Legion, The Blood Angels. 

Credit: Forge World

Introduction

“Fate is a cruel master, for no matter how much his prey might twist or turn, no matter what triumphs they might rise to or what trials they overcome, he will still drag them down.”

The Blood Angels, named in whispers as the Revenant Legion or Eaters of the Dead, were a crimson-clad Legion of the Adeptus Astartes. While they thrive as a well-known and iconic Imperial force in the 41st Millennium, this survival was not always guaranteed. Their origins are grim and steeped in dark torment, and during the Horus Heresy they were pushed to the edge of the abyss – and some would say, given the Black Rage which haunts the modern Chapter, beyond it. By the time the fires of Horus’ treachery were extinguished, the Angel himself would be dead, and the Legion near-mad with grief. 

Background 

Credit: Black Library

The Blood Angels are often associated with classical iconography of angelic beauty – seraphic depictions of shining warriors wielding gleaming swords, sweeping away the foes of Him on Earth. This is, frankly, deeply ironic when the founding of the Legion is studied. The IX Legion was based, fundamentally, on the gene-stock of mutated, irradiated rabble on Terra – the trash and refuse which other Legions would sooner scourge and purge than recruit into their ranks. Worse still, aspiring candidates were preyed upon by the Red Brothers, a quasi-priesthood who oversaw the mob of diseased and suffering “faithful” who had come to try to join the Legion, acting as unsanctioned gatekeepers for the process. 

While the Red Brothers were eventually slaughtered by the IX Legion themselves, they were indicative of a curiously bleak origin for this force, where the most unstable template imaginable was used to forge Angels. 

Their early days were not, it must be said, steeped in glory, which is perhaps unsurprising. The IX Legion had in its genetic makeup a super-charged Omophagea, the Remembrancer organ. This allows Astartes to absorb genetic material which they have consumed and extract information from it – crudely put, to eat the flesh of the dead and gain their memories and skills. The Blood Angels, as their previous cognomen Eaters of the Dead suggests, made great use of this ability. It was not uncommon for them to stalk the battlefield, feasting on corpses to gain knowledge of their enemies – or even of their own fallen brothers. 

This practice ostracised them from their fellow Legions, who viewed it with distaste and revulsion. It was utilised to the point where certain IX Legion commanders were functionally “immortal” as, when they fell in battle, their inferiors would eat their flesh and assume their mantle and memories. It is no archival error that the Legion’s master before Sanguinius, Ishidur Ossuros, “died” seemingly four times during his career. 

This brutal, honourless existence would continue, with the Legion growing ever more isolated from their brothers, until Sanguinius was found – and then, the Legion would be reborn. 

Sanguinius’ origins are relatively well known. The infant Primarch landed on the rad-soaked world of Baal (or, more precisely, its second moon), and was quickly distinguished by not only his unscarred, perfect form, but the mighty wings which grew from his back. Giving him an appearance indistinguishable from the angels of Terran pre-historic legend, these wings led him to be worshipped by the malformed and mutated denizens of the rad-wastes, becoming the king of The People of the Blood. Worshipped as a deity, Sanguinius was eventually located by the Emperor, and was shown the truth – he was no god, and, indeed, there were no gods. In a rare departure from the Imperial Truth, in exchange for Sanguinius’ loyalty, the Emperor decreed that Baal’s second moon would be untouched by the Imperium, and the worship of Sanguinius there could continue unabated.

The mighty Primarch was then united with his Legion – the entire Legion – as they were assembled on the storm-wracked world of Teghar. The beatific Primarch was confronted with rank upon rank of grim, blood-soaked killers – corpse-eaters viewed as accursed in the eyes of their fellow Astartes. Sanguinius, rather than chastise his new sons, took a knee before them and offered them his allegiance. This dedication was the catalyst the Legion required – from that moment on, they were Sanguinius’ men, and would become his angels. 

Working closely with his favoured brother, Horus, Sanguinius meshed his Blood Angels with the Luna Wolves – reasoning that the greatest Primarch and the greatest Legion were the finest sources for the IX to learn from. The two Legions worked flawlessly together, and the Blood Angels then took on tasks with more and more of their fellow Astartes to shake off their past, and embrace a bright future. 

But, sadly, this was not to last. 

 

During the Heresy 

“At Signus, Horus purposefully orchestrated events to humble and then annihilate the only one of his brothers he had ever considered his better.”

Sanguinius, many argued, should have been the Warmaster. For the other Primarchs, if they searched their hearts, they knew it would only be either the Angel, or the Lupercal. When Horus was chosen, some viewed this as a mistake, but others acknowledged that Sanguinius – for all his perfections – wore the most visible sign of genetic mutation of any of the Primarchs, in the form of his wings; how then, could he ever truly lead humanity? Sanguinius, for his part, threw his weight entirely behind his beloved brother Horus, and was staunchly by the side of the Warmaster from the moment it was announced at Ullanor. 

During the Heresy, this would make Horus’ great betrayal all the more bitter. Horus recognised the threat Sanguinius and his angels posed, and knew that Sanguinius would never turn against the Emperor willingly. Horus knew a secret about the Blood Angels – a genetic deficiency known as “the Flaw”, which would, in the 41st Millennium, become as the Red Thirst – and planned to exploit this weakness in any way he could after his fall to Chaos. So he formulated a plan; and that plan was Signus.

As Warmaster, Horus ordered the mustering of the entire IX Legion, and intended to dispatch them to the Signus Cluster, a series of worlds and moons apparently in the thrall of a xenos race known as the Nephilim. Horus further promised Sanguinius that he had found a cure to the Flaw, and would be able to assist him with this after the campaign. Sanguinius relished the opportunity to help Horus, and set out, his entire Legion at his back, for Signus. Little did they know, the entire campaign was a trap. 

Credit: Black Library

When they translated in-system, the Blood Angels found themselves coming to grips with a terrifying and hitherto unknown foe – Daemons. The entire Cluster was a series of Daemon worlds, and Horus had intended to bleed the IX Legion dry on their surface, or bend them to his cause. Forced to fight or die, Sanguinius eventually came to grips on the surface of Signus Prime with Ka’bandha, a mighty Greater Daemon of Khorne – and in doing so, his Legion almost fell to Chaos and the Black Rage. It was only by the desperate actions of Sanguinius and his Librarius that they managed to win the day, and even then, the losses were atrocious.

Credit: Black Library

Limping back into the Imperium, the Blood Angels found themselves within the Ruinstorm, following the light of the Pharos beacon. In Ultramar, they were reunited with Roboute Guilliman and Lion El’Jonson. There, Sanguinius, unbelievably, found himself briefly, and reluctantly, crowned Emperor of Imperium Secundus, and together with his brother Primarchs orchestrated a counter-attack to the ongoing Shadow Crusade. This culminated with the destruction of Davin and the end of the Ruinstorm, allowing the Primarchs to realise their error, and Sanguinius to swiftly cast his new title aside.

The rest is, sadly, well known. Sanguinius and his Angels would join the battle at the Siege of Terra, and the Angel himself would die at the hands of his most beloved brother on the Vengeful Spirit

His death would scar his Legion forever. 

 

Blood Angels Cataphractii Terminators

Blood Angels Cataphractii Terminators. Credit: Jack Hunter

Legion Special Rules

The Blood Angels benefit from the following Legion special rules:

  • Encarmine Fury – When fighting in an assault and using a Melee weapon, a model with the Legiones Astartes (Blood Angels) needs one lower result to Wound than they would normally, to a minimum of 2+; so, for example, a standard S 4 v T 4 weapon would need a 3+ rather than 4+. 
  • Without Remorse, Without Relent – Models with this rule cannot voluntarily Go to Ground and must always make Sweeping Advances if they are able. 
  • Host of Angels – Excluding Dedicated Transports, Blood Angels detachments cannot have more Vehicles than units with Legiones Astartes (Blood Angels).

Frankly, these are some of the best passive Legion rules in the game. Host of Angels and Without Remorse, Without Relent are meaningless debuffs – the vast majority of Blood Angels armies will not need to Go to Ground, will always be looking to Sweep, and will have a high Infantry count to make use of Encarmine Fury. It means some Rites of War can’t be used by Blood Angels, but generally these are the Rites which aren’t going to play to the strengths of the Legion anyway. 

Encarmine Fury is absolutely incredible as a rule – it is a flat buff to all your infantry models, and requires no sophisticated positioning or strategy to activate it. As you would imagine, this means you want to gear your Blood Angels forces towards close assault. 

Legion Special Equipment & Upgrades

The Blood Angels have access to some interesting unique – and powerful! – wargear. 

  • The Fires of Heaven – Any model with Legiones Astartes (Blood Angels) can exchange taking a volkite serpenta for a hand flamer for +15 pts, or a plasma pistol for an inferno pistol for +15 pts. These are flavourful upgrades, but probably won’t be game-changing. What is more interesting is the ability to take a Blade of Perdition for +20 pts instead of a Power Fist. This weapon is AP 2, Master-Crafted and has the Deathfire rule, making any successful roll to Wound cause two Wounds, not one – a fantastic way to slaughter 2W Terminators at initiative, or really cause trouble for Mechanicum in the same way. 
  • Iliastus Pattern Assault Cannon – This is a 24” S 6 Ap 4 Rending 4 shot weapon, and an iconic gun to take for the Blood Angels. If you roll 3-4 “1s” to Hit with it it’ll be unusable for the rest of the game, but this is a reasonable gamble. Anything which can take a Heavy Flamer can take an Assault Cannon instead for +5 pts on Infantry or +15 pts on Vehicles – leading to some great combinations for Heavy Support Squads or Dreadnoughts! Predators can also take twin-linked Assault Cannons for +5 pts, evocative of the classic Baal-pattern Predators of the 41st Millenium. 

 

Blood Angels Terminator Praetor

Blood Angels Terminator Praetor. Credit: Jack Hunter

Legion Rites of War 

The Blood Angels can utilise two unique Rites of War – The Day of Revelation and The Day of Sorrows. 

The Day of Revelation

This Rite is based upon a campaign of “open domination”, which would open with a “Day of Revelation” – Sanguinius himself leading a host of crimson Angels from the heavens above, conquering a world with fire and flame.

On the tabletop, to take this Rite you must have your Compulsory Troops and HQ equipped with Jump Packs (so Assault Squads for Compulsory Troops, in practice), and must take a Flyer or Deep Striking Fast Attack choice (which, to be fair, is most of those options). You cannot take fortifications, units with Subterranean Assault, Immobile units or any Lord of War which isn’t Sanguinius himself or a Flyer. This restriction is a bit of a shame with the Immobile rule, as it limits the use of Drop Pods but generally otherwise is not problematic. [Edit: I am reliably informed that Drop Pods, in the latest FAQ covering this unit, no longer have the Immobile rule. So go wild with these!]

The benefits are considerable. All Jump Infantry arrive on turn 1 using Deep Strike, with no need to roll for Reserves, and get a 5+ cover save on the turn they arrive. When they arrive they also gain Pinning for the turn they arrive on shooting weapons, and then have +1 initiative on a turn they charge into assault. This means that you have, on turn 1 of a close combat, +1 initiative and +1 to Wound – I can hear Emperor’s Children players weeping gently!

Finally, any Characters must accept a Challenge if one is offered – but if you have +1 initiative and +1 to Wound, you should effortlessly cull your opponents. 

Overall, a strong choice to take, albeit one which makes you build your army in a very specific way. 

The Day of Sorrows 

When the IX Legion were on the brink of being overwhelmed in some desperate battle or conflict, they would be staunch to the last, and refuse to die without bleeding their enemies dry. Such days – “days of sorrow” – would always be remembered in the annals of the Legion’s history. As the Signus campaign robbed the Legion of its main strength, such days of sorrow became, sadly, more common. This Rite is intended to represent this. 

To take this Rite, there is no specific combination of units which must be taken. If it is utilised, then any unit with the Legiones Astartes (Blood Angels) special rule cannot be Pinned, and has Fearless within 3” of an objective or in their own deployment zone. If any enemy unit suffers a Morale Check against a majority Blood Angels unit they have lost an assault to, then they have -1 to the Leadership check, unless they are immune to Fear

On top of this, any unit with Legiones Astartes (Blood Angels) using this Rite of War gets Feel No Pain (5+) when at 50% or fewer than its starting model strength from the start of the next turn to the end of the game. This is great, as it means larger squads can absorb casualties, but still be effective and resilient in smaller numbers. 

The “downsides” are a mixed bag – you must issue and accept Challenges with Characters and, crucially, any unit which benefits from the Feel No Pain by the end of the game no longer counts as scoring and instead counts as destroyed for the purposes of Victory Points. 

This can be quite debilitating for the purposes of missions, and could render you unable to win certain games depending on how you suffer casualties early on. It means, while this Rite is quite effective, I would think hard about how you intend to play the force before you take it, and definitely load up on Troops in large squad sizes. 

 

 Legion Special Units 

The Blood Angels have a large number of special units – 4 in total – and a range of interesting characters to accompany them. 

Dawnbreaker Cohort

Credit: Forge World

These are intended to be the “tip of the Blood Angel’s spear”, and the first to set foot onto worlds where the IX are conducting operations. If Sanguinius is on the battlefield, then the Dawnbreakers will be at his side. 

This unit is an Elites choice, and is the type of dedicated close-combat Jump Pack infantry squad which you would expect to see in a Blood Angels army. They start at 210 pts for 5 Jump Pack troops (+25 pts per additional up to 10) with WS 5 and Artificer Armour, all of whom are armed with Falling-star pattern power spears and Grenade dischargers. Note, in a curious oversight, they technically do not have Frag & Krak Grenades, but I think this can be ironed out with a reasonable opponent pre-game – the Grenade dischargers are clearly meant to encompass this rule. 

They have the special rule Set the Sky Aflame, which is a neat bonus – if they Deep Strike in, the Dawnbreaker Cohort do D6 S 4 AP – hits to all enemy units within 6”. The real core of this unit, however, comes in the weapons and upgrades.

To start with, the power spears are reminiscent of the Phoenix-pattern spears used by the Emperor’s Children, but better. +1 S on the turn you charge with AP 2 and then no Strength bonus with Ap 3 afterwards. Given you are at +1 to Wound anyway, and they have 2 Attacks base, you will generally cull your opponents on the charge anyway, so the AP 3 is nothing to worry about. 

Alternatively, for +5 pts, they can take Equinox power-blade cases. These contain two different weapons, which they can swap between in different Assault phases. One is a Sunrise blade, with AP 3, Shred and +1 Initiative, and the other is a Sunset blade, with Rending and Sunder. These are nice weapons, and I would recommend having a medley in any given unit. Combining with Day of Revelations can make some brutal combinations here – particularly with the Initiative bonuses stacking onto each other and combining with the +1 to Wound. 

Finally, the Grenade Dischargers are decent ranged weapons – firing 12” Frag or Krak grenades, which can soften up an opponent before the charge. 

Overall, these units are good for their points, and particularly when you compare them to Palatine Blades, which have to spend a ridiculous amount to get a comparable statline. I think a place can be found for them in every Blood Angels army. The models are also nice!

Crimson Paladins

Credit: Forge World

I love the idea and aesthetic for these models. Terminators who are a bulwark for the enemy to crash against, standing in stark contrast to the usually rapid, pin-point assaults by Jump Pack troops. They come at 160 pts for 3 – unusual – with + 40 pts per additional Paladin for a maximum squad size of 5. They’re Elites – so you’re competing with Angel’s Tears and Dawnbreaker Cohorts from the get-go. 

This is, unfortunately, where things start to come apart. The Paladins have Cataphractii Armour but only a basic Terminator statline, with 2 Wounds on the sergeant. This means, on paper, they are not the most resilient of units, in contrast to their fluff, and are slow.

Their wargear goes some way to mitigating this but, again, it is underwhelming. They all have power weapons (as do every Terminator…) and can swap these for the Rending, Sunder Sunset blades (still only AP 3). Power fists, unbelievably, are +20 pts a model, so if they run into Dreadnoughts, these guys are basically dead. Chainfists aren’t even an option. The sergeant can take a Blade of Perdition, but this is not going to carry the day on its own. So, ostensibly, these are designed to tackle enemy infantry units and stay away from walkers. This role is better done by the other special units available to the Blood Angels, sadly. 

So, moving onto the Coriolis Power Shield – this reduces the Strength of all Melee attacks by -1. This might be fantastic on a 2 Wound model, as you could tank power fists and ignore Instant Death. On a 1 Wound model, who cares? Either you will take slightly fewer wounds from non-AP 2 sources, or most AP 2 weapons still wound on a 2+ (Power Fists). 

Finally, we come to the appallingly written rule The Blood is Forever, which apparently justifies the entire existence of this unit. When in combat with a unit which outnumbers them (remember that!), Crimson Paladins get Feel No Pain (5+). If outnumbered by more than twice their own number they get Feel No Pain (4+). Independent Characters do not contribute to the calculations here. 

Now, that sounds great on paper. The Coriolis shields synergise with that – you then get Feel No Pain against Power Fists, and a 4+ Feel No Pain on the back of a 2+/4++ is pretty brutal, right?

Well… it would be good, if you could actually trigger this rule. Crimson Paladins count as two models for the purposes of outnumbering, and enemy models with Bulky or Very Bulky count as 2 or 3 models respectively. 

So, when are you ever outnumbered? 

A basic unit counts as 6 men, and a full squad (which is what you will always want to take) counts as 10. So, for a full squad, you need to be facing 11 men or more to get the basic bonus, and to get the 4+ you need to be facing 21 men or more. With a basic squad, this is 7 men or 13 men – again, still pretty large numbers. 

These situations, unless you’re fighting Militia, rarely happen. And if you’re in close combat with Militia and need that Feel No Pain, then you’re in trouble. Maybe against Ogryns you might get this? It feels poorly written and not thought out. Generally you’re only going to get the basic bonus when down to 2 or 1 Terminator, which is maybe thematic, but not particularly helpful. 

Overall, I want to love these… but they’re just an example of Forge World throwing rules into the book without thinking it through. Apparently these were playtested? It doesn’t seem like it. And this is coming from someone who tries to be positive about all things Heresy!

The Angel’s Tears 

Credit: Forge World

To start with, I love the models for these. Some people have raised issues with the masks, but I think the aesthetic is fantastic. Buy a box of Sanguinary Guard from Warhammer 40k and kitbash them together for a really striking squad. 

The Angel’s Tears are Elites, and are essentially the Blood Angel’s crack troops for the Destroyer cadres. Armed with forbidden, esoteric weaponry, Sanguinius only unleashes the Tears when he needs a foe utterly annihilated beyond the hope of recovery or repair. 

These are, possibly, point for point, some of the best units in the game. You get an absolutely unbelievable amount of kit and flexibility for the cost. If you aren’t taking at least one squad of these, you aren’t using the Blood Angels to their full potential.

Five men start at 130 pts, with +15 pts each up to a maximum of 10. They all come with twin volkite serpentas, extra close combat weapons, and Jump packs, and have Counter-Attack and Hardened Armour. Already, this is a bargain. And, on top of all of that, they have rad grenades. -1 Toughness on the enemy, +1 to Wound them. Add in Day of Revelations, and you have +1 Initiative on the charge. Congratulations, you’re wounding average Marines on 2+ at Initiative 5. And that is after pumping a lot of S 5 Volkite shots into them on the way in. 

For 15 pts a model. 

Now, the upgrades. +25 pts for melta bombs on the entire squad – again, a bargain – and they can take Assault Cannons with suspensor webs and Angel’s Tears grenade launchers, among other things. Assault Cannons give some savage ranged punch to the unit, and the Grenade Launchers are really good as well. These fire Rad Grenades at 24”, weakening the enemy as they come in for the kill even further, as these fire blasts which wound on 2+ and have Rad Phage. Definitely take a few in a squad, and these will cull Mechanicum and Daemons.

Overally, these are top notch. I would take a squad of 10 in any Blood Angels army I build. 

Contemptor-Incaendius Class Dreadnought 

Credit: Forge World

This unit is really fun. It’s a Dreadnought with a gorgeous model and a Jump pack!

For 195 pts in the Fast Attack slot, it is fairly competitively priced for what it does. It comes with two Talons of Perdition – which only give it S 7 AP 2, but have Deathfire. This might seem good at first, but in fact is a bit niche – it’s only really against Mechanicum or Daemons that you might get use of this, as everything else will be doubled out by S 10 Dreadnought close combat weapons. They look cool though, so I’d model them onto the Dreadnought and just run them as Dreadnought close combat weapons.

The real reason you take this is for the Incaendius Booster Pack. This allows, once per game, one of two effects. Either you can Deep Strike the Contemptor in, which is a nasty surprise. Or you can use Shock Assault – move 12” in the Movement Phase like you have a Jump pack, or instead roll 3D6 with Fleet for your charge distance, ignoring all intervening models and terrain. 

I would personally always use this for the charge – that is absolutely devastating as you can move 6” and charge, with Fleet accounted for, around 10-12” reliably. That’ll certainly shock an opponent!

Also, if you run this, take assault cannons in its fists – this is the only way to be peak Blood Angels. You’re basically getting a demi-Mortis Contemptor with Kheres for +30 pts. 

 

Legion Special Characters

Judicar Aster Crohne – The Ghost of Saiph

Forge World messed up with this character, I have to say. I don’t think anyone will ever take him. 

Why is that? Well… he’s an awesome Destroyer Judicar, his face half-hidden by a golden mask. He has a pair of hand flamers, Artificer Armour, Scout, Counter-attack and Rad Grenades. All of that is awesome. 

His Saiphan shard-axe is +1 S (with the +1 to Wound on top of that), AP 3 with Rending – very respectable. Crohne is also the Ghost of Saiph, meaning he can come back from death on a 4+ into Ongoing Reserves on the first time he dies. He also has Virtue of Judgement, allowing you to mark D3 enemy units with the Angel’s Wrath, making his hand flamers have Shred and Rending against them.

But wait, I hear you say. That sounds awesome on a 155 pt Praetor-tier character! Why would you not take him?

He’s a Destroyer character without a Jump Pack and no option to take one. So he can’t join Destroyer squads which have these. He can’t join Angel’s Tears without slowing them to a walk. 

He can’t even be taken in Day of Revelations unless you add another Praetor or Delegatus with a Jump pack. 

Why, Forge World? Why do you do this to us?

 

Blood Angels First Captain Raldoron

Blood Angels First Captain Raldoron. Credit: Jack Hunter

Chapter Master Raldoron – First Captain of the Blood Angels Legion, Archein of Wisdom

Raldoron is a hard son of a bitch, if a bit one dimensional. A Praetor tier character with 4 Attacks, Initiative 5 and WS 7, he’s armed with the Encarmine Warblade, giving him S 5 (with +1 to Wound!), AP 2, Master-crafted, Shred and Murderous Strike. 

So you put him toe to toe with an enemy Praetor, and he’s wounding them on 2+ with re-rolls, Instant Death on a 6+, and hitting on 3+ with a re-roll. He’s the Blood Angel’s answer to Sigsimund, and does a good job of it. 

Oh, did I mention he has Furious Charge? So he can, in theory, trouble some walkers on the charge with his sword. He can also pick his Warlord trait, which allows from some pretty nice combinations, such as running him with Child of Terra to get his bodyguard to reroll 1s to Wound. 

Overall, the biggest draw-back is that he is on foot – but stick him with a bunch of Terminators, and let the heads roll. 

 

Sanguinius – The Great Angel, The Brightest One, The Master of Hosts

Credit: Forge World

Ah, Sanguinius. To start with – what a model. They’ve really captured, in my mind, the essence of the Primarch. 

Blood Angels Primarch Sanguinius

Blood Angels Primarch Sanguinius. Credit: Jack Hunter

Starting with his stats – WS 9 is standout, as is Initiative 7. Otherwise the main difference to other Primarchs is his status as Jump Infantry – as you would expect from the Great Wings special rule. This allows Sanguinius to move as though he has a Jump pack in both the Movement phase and the Assault Phrase (so re-rolling charges and gaining Hammer of Wrath at S 10 AP 2!). He can also Deep Strike and he and his unit do not scatter. This gives him enormous flexibility on the battlefield, and obviates the need for a transport to bring him into the fray.

When he’s present on the battlefield, the Great Angel extends his rule on being able to use Jump Packs in the Movement and the Assault phrase to all Legiones Astartes (Blood Angels) units with Jump packs. That is intense, as it essentially grants Fleet to all Jump pack units and guarantees Hammer of Wrath. You can then take Dawnbreaker Cohorts as Troops, which allows for a very mobile and hard-hitting force. 

Sanguinius himself has an array of rules for his personal benefit. If he charges he gets +1 Initiative and +1 Attack (so a massive Initiative 8!), and he grants +D3 to combat resolution to units within 3” of him, allowing him to form the anchor of an assault battleline. The Regalia Resplendent, his gorgeous armour, gives him a 2+/4++ and, unbelievably, allows him to re-roll any failed invulnerable saves on a turn in which he charges. 

This makes Sanguinius an absolute alpha-tier Primarch killer. Horus swinging Worldbreaker around? Who cares, position yourself well with your high mobility, Fleet charge in, and obliterate the Warmaster with re-rollable invulnerable saves and a bucket of attacks. 

Next up is Sky Strike, allowing Sanguinius to do a pseudo-Vector Strike. If he moves using his wings and passes over an enemy unit not locked in combat, one unit per turn takes a hit at S 6 AP 2 using Random Allocation, with Ignores Cover. Vehicles are hit on the side, and Zooming Flyers or Swooping Monstrous Creatures take D3 of these hits. This is not something to base a game plan around, but opportunistically you can pluck wounds off of squads or damage light vehicles (or even, if you’re lucky, explode them). 

Finally, Sanguinius’ weapons are formidable indeed. Infernus, his heat-weapon, is a One-Use Assault 2 18” S 8 AP 1 pistol – something to loose as you close with high-value targets to get an opportunistic Instant Death, but not a guaranteed kill. Better is The Blade Encarmine, the big brother of Raldoron’s sword, which gives him +1 S, AP 2, Rampage and Shred – a great all-rounder. 

Instead of that you can take a pair of weapons – The Spear of Telesto and Moonsliver Blade. The Spear is +3 S AP 1 on the charge (wow!), and “just” user Strength (so S 6) AP 2 afterwards, with Instant Death, Master-Crafted and Wrath of Angels. The latter grants an additional Wound dealt with any 6 to Wound with the Spear. 

That makes Sanguinius, on the charge, hit like a rampaging Warlord Titan. Enemy Daemon Lord bearing down on you? Nasty Mechanicum construct on the warpath? An enemy Primarch about to carve up your lines? Send in the Master of Hosts, with 8 Attacks at Strength 9 AP 1 Initiative 8 WS 9, and wipe them from the face of Creation. 

If, for some reason, you want to be an outrageous baller and score a glamour kill which will be talked about for months after the game, you can throw the Spear, making it S 7 AP 1 One Use Instant Death, Armourbane, Wrath of Angels at 12”. Score a kill with this on an enemy HQ and you have bragging rights for life.

After the Spear is thrown, Sanguinius switches to the Moonsilver Blade, which is AP 3 (hmm) but causes Blind, +1 Initiative in a Challenge, and causes double Wounds to Daemons and Psykers. This weapon, frankly, isn’t that good, so only use it if you’re comfortable throwing the Spear won’t cause you problems down the line. 

So, to recap, Sanguinius is an absolute powerhouse. He gives enormous bonuses to a Blood Angels list which is built to maximise them, and with the Spear on the charge he can go toe-to-toe with more or less anything in the game and come out shining. 

 

Blood Angels Assault Squad

Blood Angels Assault Squad. Credit: Jack Hunter

Sample Army List 

Below I set out a starting force for the Blood Angels, at the 1,500 pt mark. 

One thing I will say is that, in the other Legion Overviews I have written, my focus for these sample armies has been to have a low financial cost attached to building the army; e.g. make it so that you can use the plastic kits where possible, mixing and matching with third party upgrade kits, particularly Anvil Industries.

For Blood Angels, you’re going to be taking a lot of Assault Marines. Forge World do these in resin (and they are gorgeous), but they aren’t cheap. I would recommend checking out, for arms and weapons, Anvil Industries, and linking these with third party jump packs and plastic Mk 3 or Mk 4 kits. It’ll take a bit more thought, but you can produce this list without breaking the bank. I have also recommended two resin Contemptors, but they’re such good models I don’t feel guilty, sorry!

Another note for this list is that I have used Day of Revelation but there is a slight ambiguity as to whether the Contemptor-Incaedius can be taken as the compulsory Fast Attack choice. This choice, for the Rite, needs to have Deep Strike or be a Flyer. The Incaedius can Deep Strike with its jump pack, so I have read it as being legal in this Rite, but you may need to briefly point this out to your opponent before a game – but I can’t see it being an issue. 

Rite of War – The Day of Revelation

  • HQ – Praetor with Jump Pack, Iron Halo, Blade of Perdition, Digital Lasers, Melta Bombs
  • Elites – Angel’s Tears with 10 men, 2 Grenade Launchers, Melta Bombs, Artificer Armour
  • Troops – Assault Squad with Artificer Armour, x3 Power Weapons, 16 men
  • Troops – Assault Squad with Artificer Armour, x3 Power Weapons, 16 men
  • Fast Attack – Contemptor Incaedius with two Assault Cannons, 2 Dreadnought Close Combat Weapons, Extra Armour
  • Fast Attack – Contemptor Incaedius with two Assault Cannons, 2 Dreadnought Close Combat Weapons

This list is possibly a bit harsh in 1,500 pts, but I think it will be very fun to play. Put the Contemptors down in cover on turn 1, and then everything will land down due to the Rite of War. Spread them out, lay down fire with the Angel’s Tears, and run the Contemptors up.

Turn 2 is when you unleash the Day of Revelation. The Jump troops are swift enough to pick targets and rip them apart, and the Dreadnoughts can both dump their booster packs for massive charges to spring themselves upfield and punch to death whatever is the biggest thread. The Angel’s Tears need to be used carefully – either you can annihilate infantry, or use the Melta bombs to tear down an enemy vehicle squadron or Spartan.

Either way, this is a good base to build on – add some Dawnbreakers, and then perhaps some vehicles. 

 

Blood Angels Praetor

Blood Angels Praetor. Credit: Jack Hunter

Conclusion 

The Blood Angels are an iconic force in Warhammer 40k – and one of the most popular on the tabletop. Forge World have done an excellent job in realising them in the Horus Heresy, particularly with Sanguinius, and they have some formidable rules to boot. The only barrier to entry will be working out how to source the Assault Marines – as you will need a fair few – but I would not let this stop you getting into them. 

Next time, we turn back to the Traitors again and take a look at a Legion who needs no introduction – the Sons of Horus. 

“For the Emperor and Sanguinius! Death! DEATH!”

 

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