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The Complete Blood Angels Beginner Guide: Troops

Love them or hate them, you're not building an effective army without them. Your rank and file are the soul and centre of your army, and as such, these will be the only one's I will discuss in detail in the Beginner Guide... otherwise we'll be here until The End Times. At the end of the discussion, I will give you my opinion as to which Troop unit to try first.

It should also be said, that if you don't like a faction's Troop options, you probably shouldn't collect that faction. You will have more of these units than anything else in a balanced force, so you will need to be happy seeing them all the time.

blood angels complete beginners guide troops intercessors tactical scout review
Image from Warhammer Community

I've bought the codex, and have done some hefty reading. The Blood Angels have three options available to them for Troops; Tactical Squads, Intercessor Squads and Scout squads.

Many have preferences for each one, but there is no dud unit to be had here. They may not be as exciting as other factions, but each is very competent in it's role and will not let you down.

blood angels complete beginners guide troops intercessors tactical scout review
Image from Games Workshop

Tactical Squads

It is said that Tactical Squads are Space Marines who have gone through Scouts, Devastator and Assault squads, a path laid down in the Codex Astartes. Blood Angels are a little different, in that they go to the Assault squads first, to vent some of that Teenage Aggression (and so Chaplains and trainer Sergeants can find out if one is too aggressive).

As such, Tacticals are flexible, able to deal with any number of situations.

In crunch terms, that's largely true. You can take weapons to suit different situations, but this is mainly a shooting unit. At only 1 attack each and no access to chainswords beyond the Sergeant, melee should only be an option once you've really softened up the enemy. Blood Angels do well on the charge, but they will be no different from an Ultramarine in subsequent rounds... make sure that charge is decisive.

They can carry 1 special weapon (plasma gun, flamer, meltagun) or 1 heavy weapon (missile launcher, heavy flamer, lascannon, plasma canon, heavy bolter) for the first 5 Marines. If you take 5 more you get the option you did't take for the first 5 (i.e. 10-Maines can have 1 special and 1 heavy weapon). Sergeants can take some melee weapons, specialist pistols and a combi-weapon, which is essentially a second special weapon.

There will be a choice between full 10-man squads and 5-man combat squads. In my opinion you should always be taking 5-man squads over the full 10, although the reasons for that somewhat don't apply to Blood Angels.

For a start, there is weapon density. Two 5-man squads have an extra sergeant, who can carry a combi-weapon or specialist pistol. That would be up to 4 special weapons per 10 marines, or 2 special and 2 heavy weapons.

A useful little squad who can menace if not scare elite infantry would be 3 regular marines, a plasma gunner and a sergeant armed with combi-plasma. That gives your unit surprising punch, and 3 Marines who can shield the special weapons. A classic pattern used to be las/plas, where you take one lascannon and one plasma gun for a 5-man squad. This set-up was great for backfield objective camping. Certainly do-able, but dual-plasmas are cheaper.

10-man squads trade that for an extra Marine you don't mind losing, and more resistance to failed morale tests. The sticking point for them is the heavy weapon you take instead of a second special weapon. It's not bad, but it can expensive for what you get out of them. Blood Angels uniquely have access to the Heavy Flamer, which makes their Tactical squads a little better at burning out horde units and discouraging overwatch.

Tactical squads can also take a Rhino, Razorback or Drop Pod as a transport. With the recent changes to Tactical Reserves (only allowing them to Deep Strike normally on Turn 2), Drop Pods are completely redundant and useless.

Razorbacks and Rhinos are great metal boxes for keeping your Marines safe, with the Razorback adding some fairly hefty fire support for your army. Rhinos cary 10-Marines with a maximum of two Stormbolters for a little firepower. Razorbacks can only carry 6, but have some excellent weapon choices.

Tactical squads are great for Blood Angels, providing some decent ranged firepower whilst the rest of your army specialists focus on glorious melee.

blood angels complete beginners guide troops intercessors tactical scout review
Image from Games Workshop


Scouts probably have a better reputation than they deserve, but it's undeniable that they have a slew of strong options in the Blood Angels force.

First and foremost is their deployment options. Concealed Positions is a rule that allows them to set up anywhere on the battlefield during the deployment phase. Since this is not a Tactical Reserve deployment, they are not affected by the Deep Strike nerfs that have just hit. They won't be as easy to support or save in the 1st Turn if you suddenly find them surrounded by the enemy, but they are tough enough to survive most of what can be thrown at them.

The necessity of Scouts filling up the board to prevent Tactical Reserve Alpha strikes is lessened these days, but it is an option if you want to prevent enemy board control.

They are essentially regular Marines with a 4+ save, and reduced access to special weapons. They can still take a Heavy Bolter or a missile launcher, as well as sniper rifles for the whole squad giving them some decent long range punch. Sniper rifles for character assassination sounds really cool, but you're unlikely to get off that many Mortal Wounds off per round and 5 strength 4 shots will be laughed off by a lot of HQ models. Certainly good value for long range back field objective camping though.

You might be thinking this makes them only suited for long range cover camping, and whilst their camo-cloaks giving them better cover saves would suggest putting them in a tall tower for the whole game, the entire squad can swap out their standard issue bolter for a an extra attack knife. This, combined with the Blood Angel Chapter Tactic (adding 1s to wounds), makes them great at charging enemies off of objectives.

There are some excellent options here, and the Sergeant can take a combi-weapon for some extra ranged punch. Missile/plas is just as good as las/plas, and so Scouts can fill in quite a few gaps in your army list.

They're happy enough to ride in Razaorbacks, Rhinos and Drop Pods, but they also have access to the Land Speeder Storm. Nowhere near as tough as a Rhino, and costing more points, it does carry more weapons and goes a whopping 18-inches in the Movement phase! Only 5 scouts can ride, but since the vehicle is Open-topped, everyone inside can shoot. Since they have Concealed Positions already, such an option to get to mid-field objectives faster is a little redundant, but a fast FLYing transport with everyone on board shooting is very compelling in itself.

Compared to Tacticals, they're slightly less tough, but have a defined role based on load-out at army creation. Giving them sniper rifles and camo-cloaks signals they'll be cover camping for the game, and similarly giving them knives means you intend to melee. A very minor consideration, but something to be aware of.

blood angels complete beginners guide troops intercessors tactical scout review
Image from Games Workshop


Take a pair of tactical marines, ram them tgether in the same suit of power armour, give them a slightly better rifles and no access to Rhinos or special weapons, and you have a Primaris Intercessor.

What they provide you is immense durability. Their extra wound per model makes them more resistant to taking fire, and since less models are lost they suffer less in terms of Morale tests. You should not underestimate the 3+ armour save, as it will block two thirds of your incoming fire, and putting your unit in cover makes them essentially Terminators.

In this regard, they give some of the finest Objective fighters the Space Marines have to offer. What they lack in models they make up for in attacks, and if stuck in a melee against horde units are likely to out last most in a slugging match.

Their weaponry may not seem exciting, but a -1 AP bolter is more handy than you might think. At a pinch they will be doing double damage each against Terminators and other 2+ armour save units, and they neatly cancel the +1 cover save Guardsmen and relatively weakly armoured Troops rely on. The bolt rifle is great for most purposes, and the auto-bolters and stalker rifle give you some new strategic options for the Intercessors (more mobility and long range back field objective camping respectively).

As a Blood Angels player, you may want to skip the Stalker bolt rifle. The auto-bolter allows your Intercessors to Advance up the field to objectives each turn without needing a transport, and still contribute to overall firepower. Their inherent durability will mean that a good number of melee attacks will still make it to charge the enemy. Whilst there is certainly a place for back field objective holders, you don't really paint your power armour red to sit at the back taking pot-shots at people.

Blood Angels also have a unique upgrade pack, so your Intercessors will look different from Ultramarines. Included in the pack is an Intercessor chainsword, a unique option available to Blood Angels Intercessor sergeants. Again, whilst this might not sound very exciting, that's 4 attacks on the charge which will wounding more effectively. All for 1 point as an upgrade.

blood angels complete beginners guide troops intercessors tactical scout review
Image from Games Workshop

 I've written extensively about Intercessors before, and please have a look at their thorough break down.

A brief mention of their dedicated transport; the Repulsor is very good, but will take up a huge chunk of your points. It's really a model to build a whole army strategy around, rather than as an upgrade to your unit. Covered in weapons, extremely tough, and doesn't suffer penalties for moving and firing heavy weapons. A good box for 10-Primaris Marines to ride in.

So which should you pick?

There's no wrong answer here, as long as you know what you want your units to do.

Tacticals give you flexibilty, putting ranged firepower in your Troops so you can compromise elsewhere. 3-5 Tactical squads with dual plasmas or a heavy weapon each mean you can skip a Predator tank or Devastator squad, putting more points into your premier assault units.

Scouts give you some of the firepower of the Tacticals, but trade off for more deployment options and sneaky strategies. They will limit your in-battle flexibility (as in close combat geared Scouts will struggle to chase down long range units, and sniper scouts will suffer in melee), but you have more options available before the game begins.

Intercessors give you durability in an army that typically relies on crippling the enemy through early charges. Whilst neither tactically or strategically as flexible as your first two choices, they are definitely reliable in doing what you want your Troops to do; fight over and contest objectives.

As far as Beginners are concerned, I would recommend either Tacticals or Intercessors, depending on what box you buy first when you start Warhammer 40K. They will let you learn boring but effective deployments, and will be a little more forgiving on mistakes than Scouts. You also won't have to learn to paint skin unless you choose to have no helmets, so learning to paint is a little easier.

In my beginner army I will be using Tactical Squads as the Troop choice. The flexibility they offer will allow us to put in some of the more fun close combat units in the Blood Angel tool box.

Next time we'll look at Key Stratagems and Key Units that aren't Troops.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Troops
Part 3: Key Stratagems, Units and Strategies
Part 4: Your First Army

Other Blood Angels articles

Until next time!

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