Thursday, January 3, 2013

6th Ed Blood Angels Codex Review: Fast Attack

Welcome to the latest installment of the Blood Angels codex review for 6th Ed. Now it's time to look at the Fast Attack Choices. Other armies have great units in this slot like Vendettas, Helldrakes or Wraiths. How do Blood Angels fare in this slot? Well we do get some specialized units on top of the bog standard vanilla options. While none of them are especially flashy, there are some very interesting options for certain army styles. You may also want to take a look to the HQsElites and Troops review.

The Top Contenders

Vanguard Veterans: This is a unit that can deep strike reliably thanks to the Descent of Angels rule (1D6 scatter, can reroll missed reserves rolls) and can assault straight away the turn it arrives from reserve. This is quite a thing. In most cases this results in Vanguard Vets deep striking T2 with very little dispersion and assaulting a tank, a bubble wrap unit (i.e. Guardsmen so your ASM can access the tanks behind) or a dangerous unit to tarpit it. As always, good things in the 40k world are expensive and VV are no exception - the points start to add up very quickly. Give them a couple of them melta bombs, add a fist and a shield or two and they can reliably take on most things of the 40k universe (protip: always keep them within 6" of a Sang Priest and Libby). The Sergeant has a power or glaive sword by default so I would not add more stuff, said loadout already clocks at a whooping 220 points. The downside for VV  in 6th edition is the ubiquotous random charge lenght - since VV have used their jump packs to arrive from reserve, they can't use it to charge. So no RCL rerolls or hammer of wrath, but still a very interesting unit for certain army styles (i.e. take on the most inmediate threats for hybrid DOA armies, assault AA elements when playing Storm Ravens, stop that Land Raider full of Hammenators in its own DZ, etc).
Vanguard Veterans. Hitting hard since M31
Attack Bikes: Fast melta, T5, ability to get FNP and hide behind Preds / Vindies / Rhinos. This is quite good by itself and doesn't break the bank. Can be taken in units of 3 but are also useful as units of 1. Even with less AV13 or Razor spam armies it is still quite easy to hide the attack bikes, or at least get a cover save. However BA have no problems in getting fast melta through other means (ASM, Land Speeders, Storm Ravens) so there is some competition here. That said attack bikes are cheap and easy to hide and will find its place in many a BA lists. Their ability to maneuver in midfield and get in melta range, or put a couple of wounds in a MC makes them a common sight in the BA armies.

The situational choices

Baal Predators: Their firestorm cannon (S6 AP3 template) is devastating against MEQ, and we're seeing quite a lot of foot slogging marine armies nowadays. With their scout ability they can jeopardize the deployment of marine armies without transports (Rhinos are dead I hear you say?), eradicate Long Fangs and Devs, burn out of cover those pesky home scoring units and overall influence your opponent's deployment. The other option is the twin-linked assault cannon which is undoubtedly a fine gun by itself with good AI/AT duality. Both loadouts clock in at 115 points which is decent for a fast scouting AV13 vehicle; HB / HF sponsons can be added on top but the points add up very quickly. I would however be reluctant to field Baal Preds in 6th Ed as they operate in the 24" or less range, and are hit CC in a 3+/4+. This is pretty bad and means any powerfist, any melta bomb at 24" poses a serious threat, not to mention that it isn't hard to get a few plasma shots at the side AV11 armour. Baal Preds are still playable but require finesse and a very good coordination with the rest of units. Let's not forget their favourable FOC placement, allowing for lists with 6 Fast Predators, or 9 AV13 vehicles by adding 3 Furiosos.

Land Speeders: Same as their vanilla equivalents with a red paintjob. Most of what has been said of attack bikes can be applied to Land Speeders, with the caveat that the attack bikes are easier to hide and get access to FNP. Land Speeders remain to be an interesting choice, being able to threat infantry with the Heavy Flamers, tanks with the Multi-Melta or both with the common 5th Ed loadout of HF/MM. This is probably where Land Speeders are at their best, hiding behind cover or BLOS and being able to flame/melta anything that gets any close. They can't contest objectives like in the past (and really, it's not often that a Land Speeder gets to survive that many turns) but at least they now get Jink cover saves. Other weapon choices like the assault cannon or CML seem expensive for such a fragile platform.

Best leave at home

Bikers: These are the same as their vanilla counterparts but have the big caveat that BA have no bike command squads and can't be made scoring. If you like Marine Bikers, go Ravenwing, White Scars or plain vanilla. At most they will be led by a chaplain and get FNP, which is not bad at all. This is not a cheap proposition however and if you consider that their main purpose will be to move fast and engage an opponent unit, well we know the BA have plenty of hard-hitting, fast moving units elsewhere. So while they are not really bad per se, there's nothing they can do better or for less points than other choices.

Scout bikers: This is probably the only unit I would rate as plainly bad in the FA slot. Scout bikers are meant to be a harassing unit that scouts or outflanks and threatens your opponent from T1 but aren't really great at neither shooting or CC. They also get to place a mine that can kill a few GEQs and that's it. Now units like Vanguard Veterans, ASM or drop-podded Furiosos are a threat from T2 and something your opponent needs to react to or suffer the consequences, but Scout bikers are just a small nuissance that will hardly have any impact in the game's output.


Where other codexes get interesting, different units in their Fast Attack slots (Wraiths, Thunderwolves, Helldrakes, Vendettas to cite but a few) that are featured onto most lists, Blood Angels don't get anything specially good but instead a handful of units that can complement well different army styles. Vanguard Veterans aside the rest of options don't bring anything that other units in the codex can't deliver as well, but they add a different flavour to the list and are usable units. This is when generalship skills influence list-building and some of these units can be very useful in the right hands. Fortunately for the BA players, the rest of FOC slots have great options that make up for a somewhat disappointing FA section.


  1. That's the thing about the Blood Angels. The whole codex is a Fast Attack (Assault marine troops, stormraven heavy support, etc), so it's just the leftovers that get stuck in this section.
    As far as the bikers go, I think they really do have a good place in a blood Angels list. I field 3 bikers with an melta attack bike. They are really good at turbo boosting up the field to draw fire away from the other advancing units (while getting a 4+ cover save)and just try to get flanking positions to confuse the enemy's movement and hopefully take out a few tanks at the same time. Their value isn't in their firepower, but their speed and ability to mess up the opponent's advance.

    1. I had never considered BA this way but I think you're right - the whole thing is about fast attack!


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