Blood Angels Review – Warhammer 40,000 Army Breakdown

Blood angels have always been a favorite faction of mine. The aesthetics, play style and lore of the chapter calls to me, but today I want to discuss how I feel about them competitively and how to get the most out of them in a competitive environment. 

The faction starts as a generic marine chapter with a few major boons over other chapters. The first benefit is some phenomenal named characters in Dante and Astaroth. You also get some chapter specific units that really push Armor of Contempt’s defense to a new level. Blood Angels also push their combat potential beyond that of most chapters with a combination of extra attacks and +1 to wound in combat, as well as having a great battlefield supremacy secondary in Relentless Assault. Focusing on this secondary heavily pushes an army who wants to play aggressively and with very quick pieces. Thankfully, the faction lends itself to a very aggressive tempo based army with almost an entire army equipped with Jump Packs. 

The play style of Blood Angels will be a huge tempo game, using high speed and great melee damage to push the opponent out of the center of the board not necessarily with violence, but the threat of it. The army being move 14 with + 1 to charge or advance lets you hop from one obscuring terrain piece to the next, pushing your opponent back further and further into the corner. 

In list construction, the characters dramatically influence the way the list performs. There are 3 characters I view as mandatory, and then 2 others that are optional but fantastic options.  The first and most important character is a Sanguinary Priest, this is an HQ equivalent of an apothecary but with 2 major changes. First, they can come with a chain sword & jump pack. Secondly, he can put up to 2 units into Assault Doctrine during your command phase. This helps avoid the White Scars issue of not having full damage potential until turn 3. Next is a Chapter Master of some kind, and my preference is Dante. He has good damage without burning a relic slot and if he is your warlord he grants you an additional CP which greatly helps as Blood Angels can burn through a lot of CP on turns one and two. The last one would be a Sanguinary Ancient. He grants an important plus to hit in combat and he grants you access to the relic Wrath of Baal, which is a +2 move for jump pack units that start the movement with 6” of him.

Onto the optional characters I suggest only playing one of them per list, but all three are fantastic options. Astaroth is a fantastic named chaplain; he comes in with a 2+ save, a 4+ invulnerable save, and can chant two litanies a turn. He also comes with a great damage profile at STR 7, AP -3, Damage 3, with up to 7 attacks and a unique litany that can grant plus one to hit in combat. This can stack with the ancient buff to get Thunder Hammers to hit on 2’s which can be very clutch if you need maximum damage or if you are playing into a no reroll faction like harlequins. The next two options are both psykers and grant different things. Mephiston is a hard hitting librarian who can cast 2 and deny 2 a turn. The other psyker – my favorite – is the Librarian Dreadnought, a 9 wound character Dreadnought that can cast some buffs and eventually double move into a huge charge late game. 

After the characters, the rest of the army starts to build itself. I begin with the three mandated troop choices. I like at least 2 Phobos troops to help with banners or retrieve nachmund data and to screen out opponents trying to stop a pregame move, with the third being Assault Intercessors.

The elite slots I fill with as many of the Blood Angels specific units as possible. I love taking 3 units of Sanguinary Guard. These are basically Vanguard Veterans but with a 2+ save and -1 to hit in combat for 5 extra points per model. I like taking 3 units of 7-8. I find more than that is overkill, as 7 models put out 35 attacks that hit on 2’s with Master Crafted Power Swords and +1 to wound. The next unit I include is the Death Company. These are a giant bully piece that can threaten to kill almost anything. The unit is a fantastic trading piece, either forcing your opponent into a corner or getting the ability to take out important pieces. The way I build them is 4 Thunder Hammers and one extra model to eat wounds on Overwatch or make some extra chainsword attacks. This is 20 Thunder Hammer swings hitting on 2’s wounding anything less than toughness 8 on 2’s and rerolling hits. This leaves approximately 300 points of flex options. Eliminators , Assault Marines, Whirlwind and Inceptors are among my favorite options to include in these last few points.

Blood Angels have very little access to forcing the opponent to fight last, which is a weakness that may need to be accounted for in list creation. The typical Space Marine answer – the Judicar – just cannot keep up with the army. If you feel you need to patch this weakness, a Whirlwind has access to a stratagem to turn off Overwatch and apply Fight Last to a unit it hits. The second main issue you may run into is a challenge to destroy a transport before the fight phase due to the melee focus of the army. The best thing I have found to offset this is a unit of Plasma Inceptors.

The last thing I wanted to touch on were some key Strategems that make Blood Angels unique and powerful.

The first is Forlorn Fury, which allows you to make a pregame move with a unit of Death Company. This gives them 36” average threat range turn one, which will force your opponent to deploy severely conservatively or lose major pieces on turn one.

The next stratagem is Angel’s Sacrifice. This forces all people in engagement of a character to attack them, combining this with a fight to the death is great to protect a big unit of sanguinary guard and be able to completely kill something that charged you. Astorath and Dante also have a good chance to live through enemy units charging at him.

The last is Unbridled Ardor which allows a 6″ heroic intervention from Sanguinary Guard which allows optimal objective control and flexibility during the opposing players’ turn. 

Hopefully this is helpful for those interested in Blood Angels army in the near future or those hoping to understand how to play into blood angels opponents. If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear them! You can find me through the Line of Sight Discord, and I’ll be checking back on comments to this piece.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Blood Angels Review – Warhammer 40,000 Army Breakdown

  1. “This gives them 36” average threat range turn one” – Yes but it’s almost impossible to get Assault Doctrine on them from the Sang Priest if they Forlorn Fury 12″ move pre-game since the priest only gives his ability in command phase and they’ll be too far away. Perhaps they don’t need it?

    1. with the pregame move what I usually do is put one model exactly 6” in front of the priest the next model goes 2” in front of him the next 2” in front of him etc. the furthest forward model will get to use the full pregame move allowing the full 36” threat range while getting chapter master, being put in assault doctrine and potentially buffs from Astorath and the ancient.

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