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The Complete Blood Angels Beginner Guide: Your First Army

So we've had a look at Background Lore, the Troops, and Key Elements to the Blood Angels army. Now let's look at getting you your first 500 point patrol!

If you don't want to think about it, and are just itching to get into games, the Start Collecting Kit from Blood Angels will give you enough for just under 500 points. In brief:
  • Terminator Captain with Thunder Hammer
  • Baal Predator with Twin-linked Assault Canon and Heavy Bolter side sponsons
  • 5-Marin tactical squad with Combi-plasma and plasma gun
  • 5-Marine tactical squad with Power weapon/hand flamer sergeant and a heavy or regular flamer

I'm not going into detail on that force though. Each individual component is fine, but they don't work well together. The Captain is slower than the Tacticals, and wants to get into melee. He's the only one who can Deep Strike, but suicide missions aren't great for your Warlord. The Tacticals would prefer to get some 

But that's not to say it's a bad force. Refuse a flank with the Predator and advance your infantry on the other side. It's just not that fun, and doesn't play to the strengths of the Blood Angels.

blood angels warhammer 40k 40000 space marines beginner guide first army army list


The army I had planned needed to be altered a bit due to the new Tactical Reserve Rules which might come into effect. It didn't need drastic changes, but mobility for the Tactical squads and ability to absorb fire became a pressing concern.

Descent of Angels

Patrol Detachment (Blood Angels)

Chapter tactic: The Red Thirst

HQ

Captain with Jump-pack: Thunder Hammer, Stormbolter
Warlord Trait: Soul Warden
Wargear: The Angel's Wing
[116 pts]

Troops

Tactical Squad [Gunner]: Sergeant w/ Combi-plamsa, 1 Marine with combi-plasma, 3 Marines with bolters
[93 pts]

Tactical Squad [Burner]: Sergeant w/ hand-flamer and power sword, 1 Marine with flamer, 3 Marines with bolters
[79 pts]

Elites

Sanguinary Guard: 3 Sanguinary Guard with Encarmine Swords, 1 Sanguinary guard with Power fist
[140 pts]

Dedicated Transport

Rhino: Stormbolter
[72 pts]

Total: [500 points]

I could say that School League lists are my shtick, and it would be fair to say that my local meta is actually the School Club I run. With that in mind, these are the following changes to bring the list up to 650 points School League Standard:
  • Add a big unit of Jump pack Death Company. (You can fit about 7 if they have no gear)
In addition to advice below, the Death Company start off as a Turn 1 charge unit. Pick a target that needs to be kept in place for a turn or two, and send your grim beserkers against it. Of course, if you suspect a squishy target you can go for that first. First Blood is always a worthwhile victory point!

The following follows my standard advice for list building, as detailed in my Patrol Detachment List Building Guide.

Leaders

Yes, we're not using the Terminator Captain.

He's a good looking model, and there's nohing particularly wrong with him. The problem lies in his synergy with the rest of the army. Without a Terminator squad to Deep Strike in with, he will tend to be left behind by every other unit, and a foot slogging lone HQ model is a good way to give up Slay the Warlord.

For our army the Jump Pack Captain is excellent, and his wargear gives us a good deal of advantages. His main role is that of avenging hero, targeting scary tanks or dreadnoughts and demolishing them with his Thunder Hammer. To that end he carries the Angel's Wing; a special jump pack that allows him to re-roll failed charges. This could get him into a Turn 2 charge from Deep Strike, but this shouldn't be relied upon.

His warlord trait covers a bit pf a psychic hole in the army composition, letting him roam around as a Deny the Witch beacon. If you know your opponent isn't bringing psykers, you can feel free to swap that trait out for another.

Other options include giving him the Hammer of Baal as a relic, pretty much ensuring destruction of whatever he charges. Since Turn 1 charges from Deep Strike are not as viable, it may end up being your default relic.

Troops

Two combat squads, hiding in a Metal Bawks (usually referred to as a Rhino).

The gunner squad is just that, a platform for carrying two plasma guns. You'll be mostly firing these on standard shots, with super-charged shots being used against bigger targets. Sadly this is where a lot of your firepower comes from, so look after this unit. They have three wounds to go through before they start losing firepower.

For safe supercharging, remember that the Captain can fly over relatively quickly. If you're desperate can even pop the On Wings of Fire Stratagem, still having a 50% chance of getting the Captain back into a fight if you get your ranges right.

The flamer squad is there for you to get a feel for Blood Angel close assault doctrine. They are your forward objective fighters and holders, burning enemies off of objectives before closing in to assault. The sergeant carries a hand flamer, so you can get a feel for this unique piece of Blood Angel wargear.

Both of the Tactical Squads start off in the Rhino. This gives them quite a bit of protection from initial fire from the enemy, and will get them into good positions by the second turn.

Fire Support

There's actually no dedicated ranged Fire Support unit in this list. The Tactical Squad carries the most ranged firepower, and the Captain and Sanguinary guard both deliver a strong punch in assault. If anything, your Captain and Sanguinary Guard can be considered the heavy hitters of this army.

The Sanguinary Guard arrive with the Captain, Deep striking in on Turn 2. You should make sure that land somewhere within "easy" charge of a key unit. When they come in, pop the Descent of Angels stratagem to get 3d6 distance for your charge, and let their swords and power fist do the rest of the work.

Frankly, you don't need the power fist. The Encarmine blades will do fine on the charge in mos situations. However, the box set for Sanguinary Guard only has 3 swords, and with Encarmine Axes being slightly more expensive your only other choice is the fist.

Not to worry though! If you manage to get your Captain to charge in along side them with the Angel's Wing, then the Sanguinary Guard will be re-rolling all failed to hit rolls. This turns the fist into a beautiful tool of destruction!

They will attract a lot of attention, and a 2+ armour save with 2 wounds will only go so far. They should be able to do an awful lot of damage before the enemy can bring them down... and even if they mange that, the Captain will still be around to do some work!

Skirmishing

The damaging units here could be seen as skirmishing, but the best unit for distraction and hindrance tactics will be the Rhino.

Once it's done its job of getting the Tactical squads to objectives, you can then use it in typical Space Marine fashion to troll the enemy. As a big brick of plastic, it's good at blocking line of sight, and since you're only losing a Stormbolters worth of shooting you can throw it into combat with units.

It's quite a tough metal box, so it will take a while for the enemy to get rid of it. At the very least you will force them to burn resources to get units of of combat with it... and when you're ready to shoot at the unit being tackled, you can just Fall Back.

Buying Guide

Okay, this is a little selfish of me. If you looking to pick these up cheaply, you can buy through the affiliate links below. Going through Element Games or Wayland Games will net you a 15% discount on the models, and a small percentage of that goes to me. If you're looking to support the blog, that's the best way to go.

However...

Games Workshop stores are more than places to make money. If you like your local store manager, or simply like the community of neck beards there, buy your GW products directly from their brick and mortar shops. Buying things from your local friendly game shop just means you invest in a meeting place for fellow tabletop nerds.

I also have to admit, I buy most things from Alchemist Workshop. They offer 20% discount, and always sneak a small sugary surprise into the package as an extra. Really good service, and I have never had any problems with them.

The down side with those last two options is that you won't be able to support the blog. However, I'd argue that brick and mortar shops and an honest seller of merchandise are more important than my little corner of the internet. Decision is yours of course.

Wrapping it up...

This army is possible to make out of the Start Collecting kit and one Sanguinary Guard box set. It should give you a good taste of how Blood Angels operate, and encourages you to get used to their unique stratagems.

Its also a little tougher than you might think, which makes it more forgiving for new players. Whilst they aren't indestructible, the power house Sanguinary Guard will take a good deal of killing, and the Rhino is robust for its points cost.

In the next article I will go through the construction of the models, and any issues that can arise from it.

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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