Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The origins of Mephiston!

We have all heard and suffered the mighty Mephiston, High Librarian of the Blood Angels and muncher of power armour of any colors. We all have faced this MC in power armour and wondered how can a Marine get so beastly. But what do we know about Mephiston?

The fluff says Mephiston was a Librarian who feel to the Black Rage, buried below rubble and devastation, and that was somehow able to overcome it and come back to the world of the living. That experience changed his character and he become taciturn and solitary.

This far most 40k fans know. What else is there to it? Well if you have been following the Horus Heresy you should know that "knowing names grants power". And what's behind the name Mephiston?

The name Mephiston is very likely adopted from Mephistopheles, a character from Goethe's Faustus. Faustus is a complex work, full of intricancies and hard to interpret. Some critics define Mephistopheles (aka Mephistophilis or simply Mephisto) as a devil looking to corrupt those that are damned. Moreover, he has sold his soul to the devil and is sometimes interpreted as a sort of fallen angel. Hmm. Blood Rage, geneseed flaw, Death Company. Mephiston's story of fall and rebirth. Does that ring a bell?

If that is not enough, let's dig deeper onto the etimology:

  • From Hebrew: Mephitz, meaning "destroyer", and tophel, meaning "liar".
  • From the Greek:  Me as a negation, phos meaning light, philis meaning loving. This could be a parody of the Latin Lucifer, "light-bearer".
GW is not the only one to have been inspired by this character, and Mephisto has also appeared in many Marvel comics like X-Men, Ghost Rider, Thor or the Fantastic Four.

It's this sort of inspiration in modern culture that make th 40k universe so attractive. You can easily identify elements from well known sagas like Star Wars (too many to cite!), Dune (the God-Emperor, the Sisters of Battle) or even  the Lord of The Rings (Orks anyone?), or find the inspiration from ancient cultures like Rome (Ultramarines) or the Norse legends (Space Wolves). Other are less evident and I personally enjoy finding these small nuggets of history that make the 40k world.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

6th ed. Blood Angels Codex Review: Elites

Space Hulk Assault Terminator Conversion
Hi there! continuing with our Blood Angels Codex Review for 6th ed it's time for the elites section. As mentioned during the HQ review, the BA codex has some weird FOC placements. In the case of Elites, we find a cluttered section with very good choices and a couple of odd options - Chaplains who rather fit better as HQs, and Techmarines that have little of Elite ;)

In the Troops section we'll discuss the Death Company whose characteristics (non-scoring, full of USRs and tremendously killy) make them strong contenders for the Elite section. In FA a similar case could be argued for Vanguard Vets. In HQs we had the choice of getting an Honour Guard that when tooled up has a great damage output.

This means the BA 'dex effectively allows for very aggressive builds, with 3 elite choices (that in some cases you could combat squad, like the Terminators) and a 3-4 disguised options in other slots. And this is before we get onto double-FOC shaenigans. I'm not implying by any means that this is a good thing to do, just pointing out it's a possibility the Codex offers. So without further ado let's get onto the review:

The Top Contenders

Sanguinary Priests: The staple unit of 5th Ed BA armies, and I forget about them :p Up to 3 can be taken under one slot (and from there on act as ICs) and provide a 6" FNP/FC aura goodness. FNP is only 5+ but now works with power weapons and plasma so it's not that bad, but FC no longer boosts Initiative and this is massive. Add in overwatch and RCL and assault is a lot less attractive that it used to be *shrugs*

Tactical Terminators: These are the same as their vanilla counterparts but with the ability to get FNP, which in most cases means they are either taking 2+/FNP or 5++/FNP saves against plasma, making them fairly survivable. Their biggest caveat is perhaps their reduced speed compared to the rest of the army, which is likely to be moving 12" via jump packs or 12"+6" if in fast vehicles. And have the additional pleasure of showcasing your Space Hulk models :)

Assault Terminators: The usual suspects for Death Stars. Great damage potential and survivability but it might be problematic to deliver them to the enemy lines, and here lies the issue: you either fork out 200+ points in a Storm Raven or Land Raider, or risk Deep Striking them. The first option is usually taken and such an investment will heavily influence the rest of your list. In other words, this is one of the options that determine the army style, and will not fit well onto them all.

Furioso Dreadnought: For 125 points we have an AV13 Dread that dishes out 4 S10 attacks on the charge, comes with an underslung meltagun and can get a heavy flamer for 10 more points. Me likes. Still suffers from point blank melta syndrome but well used it will tear apart vehicles and MCs alike. Can be sent via drop pod, making the Furioso a threat for your opponent from T1, or transported in a Storm Raven.

The situational choices

Sanguinary Guard: These have been often referred to as a sort of flying terminators, and  with their 2+ save, master-crafted PWs and short ranged AP4 storm bolters there are certian similarities. Their biggest drawback was their lack of invulnerable save, which the change to 6th edition has somewhat softened with the ability to take FNP on plasma wounds (pro-tip: have a priest nearby) and the choice to make their encarmine weapons either swords (AP3 at initiative) or axes (AP2, +1S, at I1), saving the points for a PF. They can also get short ranged inferno pistols to better deal with mech or a chapter standard for increased damage output. All in all they are a solid choice and can be taken as troops with Dante.

Furioso Librarian: This is essentially a Furioso Dread with a force weapon and a L1 psychic mastery level. Being able to get the powers from the same pools as the bog standard librarian means you can take Wings and essentially make the Furioso Librarian an AV13 Dread with a jump pack (thanks Matt Ward). At 175 is not cheap and will be a top target for your opponent, but could fit well in some army styles (razorspam anyone?).

Sternguard Veterans: These are the shooting specialists in an otherwise assault-centered codex, and could rise in importance if the meta really shifts towards more hordes and foot-slogging marines. As they stand, their considerable damage output is offset by their fragility, so use them well. Some interesting options are the combi-weapons that still allow you to use the special issue ammo, but I wouldn't take heavy weapons as this removes that special ammo.

Best leave at home:

Chaplains: Nothing wrong with the good old Chaplain as it stands, but there are certainly better options in the Elites section. Plus if you want a Chaplain there are good alternatives: a Reclusiarch costs 30 more points, gets +1W and fulfills your HQ requirements; a Libby with Unleash Rage provides Preferred Enemy to a unit, or even Lemartes who doesn't take any FOC slot if you want the Chaplain to lead the DC.

Techmarine: Now this is the odd choice. At 50 points is not breaking the bank but there's no reason why you'd take him. He boosts a ruin's cover yes, but let's not forget that's the same price as an Aegis line. He has the chance to repair a HP from a vehicle, and to be decent at that you need to dish out some more points, making the Techmarine an expensive car insurance.


The Blood Angels Codex has a great variety of Elite options, both in the Elites section itself but also has units in other sections whose characteristics fit the Elites bill perfectly. Death Company, the DC Dread and a tooled up Honor Guard come to mind.
Terminators of both flavours are great options, but have their own issues (speed and transport), and other choices like Sanguinary Guard, Furioso Dreads or Sternguard Vets will fit very well in determined army styles. More often than not you'll feel constrained about being limited to take only 3 units, as they are really good. Not all the Marine armies have this luxury!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

6th ed. Blood Angels Codex Review: HQs


We'll begin the review of the Blood Angels Codex from a 6th edition standpoint with the HQ choices. Blood Angels have some funky FOC placements, and in HQs mean you can't take a Chaplain here (but a tad more expensive Reclusiarch). Not terribly bad though. After each HQ choice I'm also commenting their related special characters, if any.

The top contenders:

Librarian: The good old Libby remains to be a very solid HQ choice for many BA armies, and for a good reason. For 100 points you get 2 psychic powers from the Divination, Biomancy, Telepathy or Telekinesis branches. The Codex powers are also solid, with powers like Shield, Lance, Sword or Rage that fit well with specific army needs. Its flexibility and utility, combined with his affordable price, make him probably the best HQ option for BAs. That, of course, unless you want to take the big badass himself, ...

Mephiston: While the other special characters were essentially buffed / personalized versions of the normal HQ, Mephiston is a completely different animal from a Librarian. The best way to portrait him is as a MC in power armour. His small size means he can be easily hidden behind / inside razorbacks or any other transport. He lacks an invulnerable save but with a Priest around he can take FNP against pretty much anything as far as I know: Vindicator shells, lances, earthshaker rounds, you name it... and of course the ubiquotous plasma that is meant to be his nemesis. His sword is AP3 so be mindful of whom you're throwing him against; Mephiston is probably at his best as a beater unit of scoring units.

The situational choices:

Reclusiarch: these senior Chaplains are not very different to the normal Chaplains, that we'll cover in the Elite section. They basic usage is to provide re-rolls to wound (also to hit for the DC) and fearless to a single squad. Their statline is slighlty improved over the normal Chapain, have a good variety of options (TDA, jump pack, bike...) and come with a standard 3+/4++. They can even get a PF should you want something more scary in combat than a power maul. For 130 points they are not very pricey and cover your HQ needs.

Astorath: Astroboy comes with a peculiar set of special rules, which you pay for, and thus make him a very specific role. As a buffed Reclusiarch comes with 2+/4++ and a S6 AP2 weapon that strikes at I1 and causes to reroll any invulnerable saves passed against it. All in all he is a pretty good challenger. He also unlocks the 0-1 Death Company limit, which shouldn't matter much given they are not scoring. 220 points is a steep price though and most times there will be better options around.
Dante: The Chapter Master of the Blood Angels is still a usable character despite a somewhat rough transition to 6th. On one hand he retains his main abilities - Hit&Run is useful as always and a strange sight in Marine armies, and no dispersion when Deep Striking with arriving with his jump pack. However he now wastes his I6 by using a Power Axe, and his DS abilities won't see that much use now that Descent Of Angels style of armies are not possible. Yes you can attach him to a buffed unit and DS exactly where you want them to be, but part of your army will still be moving out of your DZ and dropping +450 points with little support... is risky.

Honor Guard: While not a proper HQ, they can be unlocked by any HQ choice so we'll cover them here. They are essentially 5 veterans with an embedded Sanguinary Priest that can be kitted for a shooty or combat role, at a hefty price tag. So you can have 4 special weapons and a priest in just one unit, or perhaps some powerfists / energy weapons / storm shiels. Either case, great versatility but the price goes up swiftly. They will be very high in the opponent's priority list so consider well if you need them, and how much can you afford to invest.

Best leave at home:

Captain: The poor captain is a bad investment even with his low price. For starters, it doesn't add anything to the army. Whether you want a combat beast, a squad booster or general utility there are other better options. At least comes with a default 4++, but with his inability to take artificer armour... better pass.

Captain Tycho: Tycho comes in 2 flavours. The golden one is a buffed captain, sporting a shiny artificer armour (yikes that's a 2+), a combimelta with special issue ammo and an armour ignoring weapon that strikes at normal Initiative (!). As normal IC he can join any unit he wants and will bring some utility. Sadly 175 points is a steep price for what he brings. His best use is probably leading Sternguard Vets.

The dark version is after Tycho's inclusion to the Death Company, so his statline is slightly altered to favor CC instead of shooting, and gains the normal DC rules (relentless, rage, furious charge, FNP). Now this would be interesting if it was because Tycho can-not-join any unit, not even the DC. What's he good for then? I haven't a clue.

The Sanguinor: He is truly a relic of the past, in all the meanings of the word. As far as 6th edition is concerned, the Sanguinor is a character killer that buffs a sergeant and has a small +1A aura. But 275 points for a 3W / T4 character, even with 2+/3++, is excessive.


The Librarian is best overall pick, as brings great utility for the army at a limited cost. 100 points for 2 (good) psychic powers, Ld 10, force axe? sold. That said, different armies will benefit from other options. 

Mephiston is a great choice in hybrid armies where he can hide behind razorbacks, and is a real pain to deal with for many armies. Dante has its place in DOA heavy lists, and a Reclusiarch gives you a chaplain and fills your HQ quota, if that's what you want. The rest of options are better left at home, either because of their price tag (Sanguinor) or because they are objectively worst than others (Captain).

Stay tuned for the Elites review coming soon!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...