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The Complete Blood Angels Beginners Guide

This is the first of a series of comprehensive beginner guides. They are designed for raw beginners to Warhammer 40K first, but can be good for veterans looking to start a new army. If I've missed anything vital, let me know!

The Blood Angels are one of the Imperium's finest forces, with both an enviable list of victories and an inspiration to humanity. Few chapters can count themselves as valorous as the Blood Angels, and few suffer the tragedies they do.

Let's dive into their history.

Lore and theme

I'm not going into expansive detail here, as that would take all the fun out of your own collecting journey. But here are the key parts of the lore:
  • The Blood Angels are one of the most revered and celebrated Space Marine chapters.
  • Their Primarch and leader was Sanguinius, a literal angel with wings growing from his back and an angelic visage.
  • Everybody loved Sanguinius... even the bad guys.
  • They were vehemently loyal in the Horus Heresy, a defining moment in Imperial history.
  • The were instrumental in the defence of the Imperial Palace at Terra, the pivotal battle of the Heresy.
  • Sanguinius fought a demonically powered Horus, traitor to the Imperium of Man and leader of the Horus Hersy, and was killed so hard it still affects the Blood Angels 10,000 years later.
  • The Blood Angels have a reputation for close assault.
  • They are afflicted by The Red Thirst, which drives them to greater acts of violence and blood shed.
  • Some are cursed with The Black Rage, where they suffer visions of Sanguinius' last moments. These Marines lose all sense of themselves, and are placed in the Death Company to die honourably in battle.

In terms of theme, they straddle an interesting line between being the most noble of the Space Marines, and the most blood thirsty and violent. They wear this well in the form of a Roman Catholic aesthetic, with grail symbols and blood drops everywhere.

Blood is a big part of their identity, forming a central role in their ceremonies.

Pros

Blood Angels are one of the best "knight" type Space Marines, who's Primarch was a literal angel that everyone loved. They carry a distinct curse, making them easy to understand, and easy to explain to people who might not be familiar with 40K (although maybe steer clear of the standard 'genetically modified super soldier vampire in space'... it raises a few eyebrows).

Blood Angels have a lot to offer someone who wants to punch orks in the face, and kick Chaos Daemons into the dirt. If you want good assault Marines, then look no further, and if you want good Assault Marines (with a capital A and jump packs) then the Blood Angels will give you some of the best. Blood Angels assault squads can carry more variety of special weapons, making Deep Strike alpha strike lists easier to build into.

In fact, your regular rank and file troops be able to put a surprising amount of damage out on larger monsters and tanks (at least on the charge), meaning you'll have plenty of options even when your big guns have been taken out. They also have access to the Heavy Flamer, making Salamanders green with envy.

They're an aggressive army, and if that's your play style you'll have a lot of tools to back up your charges. But the Blood Angels aren't without defences... they'll still have the durability of a Space Marine army, which means you can afford to make some mistakes as you learn the ropes.



Blood Angels have some of the best unique models for any Space Marine Chapter, with Sanguinary Guard and Death Company topping the list. You can just use the models out of the box, but with all these unique parts at your disposal, you also have some excellent conversion options later on! You also have one of the few non-Forgeworld HQ dreadnoughts in the Librarian Dreadnought, which can take a psychic power to sprout wings and fly across the battlefield.

No really, it can.

Red is a great colour for new painters. It's bright enough to get noticed, but dark enough to be quite forgiving when you make mistakes. Space Marines, and Blood Angels in particular, tend to get thrown in to the worst a warzone has to offer; any splotches and slightly grubby looking patches are quite thematic for your troops!

All this makes Blood Angels quite good for beginner painters, but the models in particular mean they have a good deal of scope for more experienced players to get creative. The colour swatch is also quite simple (red, black, gold, white and steel will get you through most of what you need!).


Cons


If you're hoping for a Primarch model, I'm afraid you're out of luck. Sanguinius is dead, canonically and crucially so. If he were to revive, you'd lose a lot of the tragedy an character of the Blood Angels, and put the Death Company in severe question.

Whilst Blood Angels certainly have close combat toys and units, they're not as choppy as their advertising would have you believe. The standard Tactical Marine is still a shooting unit that just happens to hit harder than other chapters' on the charge. You get more assault weapons, but these are still ranged, and you only get your chapter bonus on the charge.

The Blood Angels standard Marine still costs about twice as much as other factions troops... expect to be outnumbered. The average Marine is tough, but not invulnerable, so you'll feel losses more keenly than other people.

Blood Angels also carry the vampire theme to the hilt, with blood literally everywhere.

I'm going to say it again, because it really is important: Blood Angels are not an assault only army. They need to balance firepower and close combat as much as any Space Marine force, but you will have an edge with certain close combat units and fights over objectives.

Who would enjoy them

Aggressive players

Blood Angels are an aggressive Space Marine faction. If you like Space Marines, but wanted more punch in combat these are your guys. You'll also have a bit more mobility and more tools to make your army faster than the average.

Noble and honourable

Blood Angels are far more obviously noble in theme than most other Space Marine factions. There's arguments to be made for all the Chapters, but being literal angels of the Emperor is a central focus of the Blood Angels. If you're looking for a chapter to be the good guys (most of the time) then the Blood Angels will do that for you.

Angelic Aesthetic

Wings, and angelic devices and iconography are everywhere. If you're looking for that crusading knight feel (and aren't into Black Templars or Dark Angels), you will find it in the Blood Angels.

Occasionally angry

We all get angry. And some of us feel that rage bubbling under the surface quite regularly. So do the Blood Angels. Once your carefully laid plans are in tatters, you'll always have frothing rage to fall back on!

Alternatives

If you aren't already half way to your Friendly Local Game Shop, then you do have some options when it comes to similarly themed armies.

Raven Guard

Whilst they don't hit as hard as Blood Angels do on the charge, the Raven Guard have more tools for putting them in the right place. Just as in love with jump pack troops, you trade the unique units of the Blood Angels for a Stratagem that allows you to deploy units wherever you want on the battlefield. They also have more innate defences than the Blood Angels, meaning that you're more likely to get to the enemy in one piece. 

In terms of character, the Raven Guard have their roots in guerrilla warfare and rebelling against an oppressive regime on their home world. Corvus Corax was all about smart application of firepower, and thinking about how to hit the enemy where they least expect it. Their tragedy comes from the losses sustained during the Horus Heresy, and failed attempts to bolster their numbers after. 

Perhaps not as noble as the Blood Angels, but their current Chapter Master is known for risking a lot to save Imperial citizens.

Black Templars

Another Space Marine chapter, their theme is more of a zerg rush than the Blood Angels. Less into their jump pack troops, they favour large units foot-slogging across the battlefield just absorbing casualties. They treat every campaign as a crusade, looking to smite the Emperor's enemies. Burn the heretic, purge the alien, and abhor the witch!

They don't have psykers, but a unique Stratagem they have can deal with that. Their chapter tactic allows them to re-roll charge distances, meaning that their jump pack troops have about half a chance of charging on the first turn from a Deep Strike. They might not have as wide a variety, but they make a nice close combat alternative to the Blood Angels, and carry a lot of the rage that makes up the Blood Angel character.

Ironically, despite them not being jet-pack lovers in the fluff, their chapter tactic makes for good Jump pack Assault Marines. If you're looking for an army that will field a lot of jump pack troops, then they will support that idea well.


Blood for the Blood God!

It goes without saying that if you're looking for a close combat blood bath force, you won't go too wrong with Chaos Space Marines and anything labelled Khorne. They're not exactly bright and shiny, but they can combine nearly all of the best traits of the Blood Angels, Raven Guard and Black Templars (Alpha Legion Khorne Beserkers with an Icon of Fury and Veterans of the Long War Stratagem literally do everything the Loyalists can at the same time... only better).

Not a great choice for a beginner though, as you'll need to have a plentiful bits box, be willing to convert, and spend a bit more for your hobby.


Ready?

In the next step, we'll buy ourselves a Codex and take a closer look at the core of the army, the Troops choices available to the Blood Angels.
Until next time!

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Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment, and it's my pleasure!

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  2. Great guide when's the dark angel guide coming ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The next beginners guide will be up after Blood Angels is complete. I will be going step-by-step on how to start in Blood Angels, from initial interest, through your first 500 points, an up to your first battle.

      I can certainly do Dark Angels after that... they're a bit tricky as a faction, since they effectively have three distinct armies within a single Key Word (Deathwing, Ravenwing and Greenwing). Putting all three of them into a 500 point list is very difficult!

      Thanks for commenting, and let me know if there's any specific advice you'd like to see included in the Dark Angels Guide (either a nice bit of knowledge or a question you'd like answered yourself).

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