Thoughts on Blood Angels So Far

Thus far in, I have gotten 9 games with the new codex.  I have seen some things I like, but sadly I have seen more things I don’t like.  Now granted, I am still learning to play the new ‘dex, but my expectations were that Blood angels were going to be a top codex in the tournament circle.  But I ask you, are they really?

BA are assaulty, but certainly not the Assaultiest after a pretty good testing.  Blood angels have some excellent assault options.  The humble assault squad with its ability to pack a pair of special weapons (meltas) and its 35 point discount on transports makes them a real bargain. Since it is a scoring unit you have a great little unit that can inflict some good damage and still take and hold objectives.   Add in a sanguinary priest or the red thirst, and bang you get furious assault and feel no pain, and possibly fearlessness.  

But wait, are these the uber powers in hand to hand that they seem to be?  For furious assault you need do one thing – get the assault.  If you don’t assault the enemy, you will be the same as a static marine, but just with one more attack.  Feel no pain is nice for attrition wounds (random low str/low ap guns) but mostly things that take away armor will also eat away your feel no pain, leaving your blood angels rather standard marinesh.  Have you faced that tyranid Monstrous creature line, or a unit of grey hunters with powerfist, powersword and mark of the wolfen?  Your blood angel squad goes down like a bunch of clay pigeons in hth every time.

Death company are brutal.  With just a pair of power weapons, 9 strong and led by a chaplain this unit is a lawnmower on the charge.  Reroll hits and wounds.  Nothing will stand up to the unit….. On the charge!  Without a chaplain or if they get charged by one of the above trumping assault options (MC or SW), the DC will slowly die in a battle of attrition to anything denying armor! If you go the Astorath route with multiple units of DC, be ready for an enemy to cheap units to give you the run around!  I had a unit of these chase a rhino for three rounds!

DC drednoughts with blood talons can absolutely slay anything on the charge…. As long as it’s a unit of dudes.  If you get your DC dred out, hope that your opponent doesn’t  have a drop pod ready to come in.  The drop pod lands next to your DC dred, and the dred spends the rest of the game beating on an immobile object since he has to move and run toward the nearest unit!  Quite the bummer.  Also putting a landraider in the vicinity of your dc dreadnought  means his game is over.

Mephiston is a beast.  He will kill pretty much anything…. Unless he wiffs his penetration rolls.  In a game 3 days back, mephy spent two turns beating on a standing still unit of hydras.  For two consecutive turns, he did nothing but roll 1’s and 2’s on the penetrating hits dice (all 5 dice).  They hydras survived, and mephy lost 2 rounds of combat.  With 250 point Mephy he needs to be stuck in ever turn from turn 2 onward to get the bang for his buck.   Is he unkillable?  In another game, Mephy wanted to charge the Nid MC line I was facing (2 tyrants, 2 tervigons, 2 units of 3 guard, 2 trygons) by leaping over the screening units of gaunts.  One failed shadow in the warp roll later, mephy found himself engaged in seemingly limitless gaunts stemming from tervigons, assaulting him with poisoned attacks.  After 3 rounds of combat, Mephy was drug down by a unit the fraction of his cost.  Lowly gaunts bringing the hero low…..

Blood Angels are a good assault arm, but out of the new codexes I place them like this:

1.       Space Wolves
2.       Tyranids
3.       Blood Angels
4.       Space Marines
5.       Imperial Guard

Half the 5th e codexes recently released trump their assault ability?  That doesn’t seem like a good thing.  Did I also mention that the abilities of the top two armies (such as preferred enemy, poison and counter attack) work all the time for their units, and don’t only function on the charge like blood angels?

Blood Angels are also shooty, but they are not the shootiest!  Overcharged engines are great on your vehicles and they make predators and baal predators the bee’s knees.  The ability to keep things moving and firing is a thing of beauty.  However, mix that in with the army’s design need to get the charge and you have yourself a little dichotomy.    Pick off the enemy as they come to you or hold back like a gunline?  Something in me loathes the idea of holding back my ‘deadly’ assault elements.

Another trick based off of mobility and fire power that comes to mind is the full army reserve. This is a popular topic online at the moment, and many schools of thought loudly and constantly proclaim the greatness of the full reserve.  Often they leave out the part when the reserve roll strands ¾ of the army off the board and enemy picks off your army one unit at a time.    I have done the full reserve  in 5 of my games and each time it has ended…. Not well.  A rhino is an easy target to open, and if you are misfortunate to only have one or so supporting tanks coming alongside your rhinos, your enemy will pee their pants with glee.  You come on with half of your forces or less only to find your units isolated and eliminated piece meal while the rest of your army lingers in reserves.  Without the ability to aid in reserves rolls (ala hive tyrant or IG astropath) the army lulls in this area.  I do not think reserving all is the boon that many are claiming it to be.  A Deepstriking assault squad from reserves will come in on time, but it still has to stand a turn on the board before assaulting (see above – the importance of getting the charge).

Anti tank is also severely lacking in this area.  You can go with short ranged melta elements, but really with your assault elements needing the charge you want to open some of the enemy cans before they get to you.  A librarian with lance is a nice touch, but Shadow in the Warp and copious amount of 4+ psychic hoods makes that a risky business.  A consistent ranged anti tank element is not found in the codex.

I see the tank shooting breakdown like this:
1.       Imperial Guard
2.       Blood Angels
3.       Space Wolves
4.       Space Marines
5.       Nids

I see the reserve/outflanking/deepstriking keep the enemy on their back foot option like this:
1. Nids (+ to reserves, outflanking steelers)
2. Guard (Creed, Astropath)
3. Wolves (Space wolf scouts)
4. Blood Angels (speed of transport and assault jump squads)
5. Space Marines

Regardless, I haven’t really been getting a good vibe from the Angels.  Out of 9 games I have tied 7 of them!  Yuck!  While I am certainly not losing, consistent ties will not win you any tournaments.  Am I missing something?  I just don’t see this dex as ‘top tournament tier’ as many folks are saying!  The dex is certainly not bad and it is way better than the space marine codex!  I should also mention at this point that I have only been playing my list against other tournament caliber armies….but I just don’t see it holding down a consistent win position in the tournament scene. 

What are your thoughts?