Friday, November 30, 2012

Vanguard Veterans [Tactical Exploration]

Vanguard Veterans are probably the best of the overlooked units in the Blood Angels codex.

Let me say that again: Vanguard Veterans are probably the best of the overlooked units in the Blood Angels codex. In the Space Marine codex they came out over-priced. This view carried over to many non-Blood Angel analysts when Codex: Blood Angels was released. 6th Edition has quietly made them a unique and useful choice although it was not as loud as for the Death Company and the Rage rule being changed.The points cost has kept Space Marine codex players from using them more. The Blood Angel Assault Squad is also so good (+ point reduction for a dedicated transport) along with somewhat overlapping roles while still scoring all of the time. We will look at points costs too, but they can also do what other units cannot.

In the Eternal War missions (the 6th Edition standard rule book missions), they act as denial units. In the fourth mission, The Scouring, they are scoring units. You should decide on what role you want them to do on the battlefield. You might want them to be denial units, jumping in to tie up the blasphemous enemy troops to not allow them to score objectives. You may also want them to come in like a scalpel and earn a crushing victory by wiping out a critical enemy unit.

Figure 1: Chances of Arrival 

It's also underrated in that you can take ten models. You can combat or not combat squad them. Having one unit of Vanguard Veterans is going to force your opponent to think about what they are leaving in their backfield unsupported. In The Scouring, you also have to consider that they are worth a kill point, so it may or may not push your choice toward creating combat squads. By getting them tied up in combat, you can hope that they will stay on the table longer to survive to claim or deny objectives. Keeping war gear light is pretty important despite however much you want them to be resplendent deliverers of the Emperor's Justice. Essentially, you actually don't want them chewing through opponents in the first charge or you will be blown off the table the next player turn.

Figure 2: Chances of Scatter

The most important thing is choice. You always get to choose where you are going to drop in and who you are going to attack. This choice is well worth the cost in points that are lost from a more point efficient unit. It is up to you to use it properly to give yourself the best chance to win.

Remember when dropping your Vanguard in, you have to keep in mind that the shooting phase follows before you can come to blows. Don't block your own line of sight if possible for your shooty units. Don't shoot yourself out of a charge by making the enemy take too many wounds and pulling further and further away in the hopes of your charge coming up short and getting off snap shots at you on the way in. This means for example that you can drop in behind an enemy and still shoot at it with other units from different directions which will weaken the force yet not increase your charge distance hopefully.

Get a Sanguinary Priest in the area to support them. Having a priest around is probably more efficient than dropping 20 points down for each Storm Shield. You have a very high chance of coming in on Turn 2 (see Figure 1) so you need to find a way for your unit to survive longer if you need it to. The Priest will have to get to them by Turn 3 usually. This will allow them to continue on after finishing off the first enemy unit in the opponent's assault phase.

Other than acting as opponent Troop killers or a surgical strike against an enemy high value target, what about having the option to use it for defensive purposes? If you are coming in on Turn 2, there might not be much opportunity to use them like this. However, you might be able to head off a brutal attack you are not prepared to meet. Instead of trying to send out an Assault Squad as a speed bump, you could send your veterans to preserve scoring units. Taking on a leading unit could slow down other units by making them go around. Taking on a larger unit could make the opponent hesitate to go on without their support. Be creative with what you want to do with them because your opponent will probably not be expecting that their unit will suddenly be tied up in close combat.

Remember what I said about points before...right.

Our Vanguard Veterans start base at 115 points. Unfortunately, that does not include their jump packs which are ten more points for each model. We end up with 165 points for Assault Squad marines with one extra attack and a sergeant with a Glaive Encarmine. That's not great efficiency; however, there are still war gear options. Give one veteran a power sword or axe (15 points) and another veteran a melta bomb (5 points). Now they are lightly armed to take on opponent Troop choices to fulfill its role. If you have extra points, you can always add another veteran to add a little more resiliency to the unit, but the point is to keep it out of the way of opponent firing. Remember, you are not paying the extra points for efficiency, you are paying for it's specialized battlefield role.

Please add any experiences that you have had with Vanguard Veterans in the comments and build this conversation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Critique of BoLS: Why it is holding you back.

Ah, yes, that title could be misconstrued. If you can read, then you will know this is a critique and not a hit piece to belittle the various authors that contribute to BoLS. It is not like that.

Before getting started, please just go and read a lot of different 40k sites on the Internet. Yes, there are more than you have enough time for. Yes, there are a bunch of excellent podcasts. My favorite stuff is all in the sidebar on the right, but I love visiting around even if it's just once to check out someone else's living room so to speak.

What did you notice from those sites?
Take a minute and think of at least three things.


What I noticed was that these blogs specialize and are close to their creators' hearts. BoLS predominantly has a bunch of mixed authors that import articles from their blogs. Ideas build up over time and develop. Ripping these articles out of their context in their home blogs make them appear shallow and incomplete because they are put in a new surrounding. Essentially, things are going to look out of place and disjointed when they are haphazardly put together without consideration to the overall picture. There is little to no discussion that carries over from one author's considerations to another- this means they are not developing ideas further and considering things from another perspective. The feedback loop maybe only runs through the comments if at all.

Which brings us to the next idea of  putting out unedited pieces. This has long been a complaint in the comment section that has fallen on deaf ears. Whether it is simple grammar errors or more important information screwed up or illegal tactics, there needs to be some sort of minimal peer review.

Another annoyance for readers is the scraping for content by some authors (This is the article?) and how many times the authors just lay it out for the comment section to put all of the thought into the article: The floor is yours generals...because we got nothin'!" Then there are the articles that are thinly veiled advertisements to sell armies. The site is also plastered with advertisements which puts clicks at a premium where "articles" essentially take you to their forums so you can click some more. The scheduled and controlled post release to ensure content is always there is not a problem in and of itself, rather it is that there is a back up to ensure that content will be continued if there are delays. However, information there lags behind other places. Their rumor posts were improved by bringing Natfka aboard; however, it's so much better to just go and visit his own site to get the information, comments and more.

Hobby articles are well liked in the comment section. Some of them are useful, yet others are questionable in aesthetic and bits needed to be used by what commenters have put forth. I have heard that Goatboy is tremendous in person, but his articles during 5th Edition were upsetting to a lot of people. His "counts as" armies were thought of mostly as unacceptable power codex jumping and incredibly full of spam. Thomas would spend time refining his lists for getting stuff packed into them instead of advancing in thought his lists like Stelek at YTTH is known for. Thomas has come around a lot in his writing of lists and the way he thinks about the game since the change to 6th Edition. I think he has a lot of growth potential to become an excellent 40k article writer.

BoLSCon is fine as their thing. However, that pushes aside a lot of coverage of other tournaments where the top players are performing their most refined tactics. It's narrowing the knowledge base. There is also a conflict of interest where they want to promote themselves as excellent winning gamers, yet if they want to stay that way, it doesn't benefit them to drop their most important tactical ideas onto the site to raise the level of competitiveness of the player base and thinking more deeply about what the game is about. Essentially, we should have players thinking about this game on higher levels.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stelek and YTTH Community on Rhinos

Go read his Community Quiz: Why do YOU bring Rhinos? and the comment section at yesthetruthhurts.

Let's adapt this for our Blood Angels armies with Rhinos and where applicable Razorbacks too. If you missed the earlier post on Rhino Schematics click away.


Let's visit the Rule Book FAQ (1.0a) on Page 5:

Q: If a unit disembarks from a destroyed vehicle during the enemy turn, can it Charge in the Assault phase of its own turn? (p80)
A: No, unless the vehicle in question was an Assault Vehicle.

6th Edition Rule Book page 80:
Wrecked. The passengers must immediately disembark in the usual manner (see page 79), save that they must end their move wholly within 3" rather than 6". If, even by performing an emergency disembarkation, some models are unable to disembark then any models that cannot disembark are removed as casualties. This does not prevent the rest of the unit from disembarking, The unit must then take a pinning test. After this, the vehicle becomes a wreck.

Explodes! The unit suffers a number of Strength 4, AP- hits equal to the number of models embarked. Resolve these as for shooting hits, except that the controlling player allocates any Wounds caused. Surviving passengers are placed where the vehicle used to be; any models that cannot be placed are removed as casualties. The unit then takes a Pinning test.

Here's a video for some of these ideas in action. Go ahead and click on it.

Let's cover the other ideas (numbers converted for Blood Angels) covered in the comments too.
1. You can get your models 24" closer to the enemy.
2. Provide line of sight blocking terrain.
3. Clog firing lanes for your opponents.
4. Bait assault units to assault the wrong units.
5. To take the middle of the field.
6. Cause psychological stress in your opponent so they have to think about dealing with
7. Mobile bunker with two firing points for special / heavy weapons.
8. An additional layer of defense for a small cost.
9. You can Combat Squad from them.
10. After delivering their troop payload, they can keep moving to create blocking to
     opponent charges (and the aforementioned shooting).
11. Rhinos turn into terrain after getting wrecked.
12. Let's you put melta threats midfield to zone enemy vehicles, especially high AV.
13. Mobile cover.
14. To take away shooting from troop choices and screen units behind them.
15. Use them as movement blockers. One or two sideways Rhino chassis can really take
      a lot of movement off other units.
16. Park them right in front of a shooty squad and essentially negate their shooting.
17. Force Anti-Tank fire away from expensive stuff.
18. To have a chance to reach a distant objective.
19. Lighting up enemies in Night Fight.
20. If destroyed, allows you to move in the enemies shooting phase.
21. Assault protection: if the Rhino explodes, you can move up to 3" to crowd at the rear
      of the crater and force a difficult terrain roll in the assault phase.

Let's just leave Stelek's comments to stand for themselves:

Why do *I* bring Rhinos, you wonder? I bring them for many of the reasons given.
Notably, I play them about the same as I used to in 5th.
You’ve read the rapid fire and disembark rules, right?
What did everyone give their ground troops? Plasma guns?
Please tell me how exactly you are firing your plasma guns and charging me.
I’ll give it to you plain and simple, so you really understand why you bring mech.
In most CCGs, there is always a way you can gain a phase for yourself.
Lowinor is the only one I noticed mentioning the free move after you blow up my ride. Oh no, I can’t charge with my…rapid fire weapon equipped unit.
Gee. I can’t anyway. This is an inherent bonus in the rules system for Marines. You get this bonus for free, you know.
So we can see I can generate an extra phase for myself (movement). This is really nice to have when the other guy just rapid fired his plasmaguns to kill my Rhino, guess his guys standing in the open can’t charge me after all, so who cares?
Well, I can always let another squad disembark and fire on said squad, then embark on that other squads Rhino (especially nice if I’m stuck and unable to do anything but snap shot) and then run forward 12″ (if I want to snap shot).
Now think about what I just did. I not only gained a phase for myself, I denied a phase for my opponent (his CC phase, since he cannot charge me).
This might not seem like much, but the +1/-1 adds up over time. You have to LET your opponent make those choices, and then capitalize on them, but if you set up the bowling pins…eventually, the other guy IS going to knock some of them down. That’s where you come in.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Making a Blast Crater

Making your own blast crater is a nice project to get away from painting the minute details on your Blood Angels. Get yourself some paper clay that will dry itself and you are pretty much ready to go.

Open up your pack of paper clay and get shaping. Design how you want your crater or anything and let it dry. This may take a day or two or three depending on humidity.

Next, lightly mix some water with your acrylic paint and cover your crater.

The next step can by done in a myriad of ways but I prefer to just mix your main paint color for your crater (I used red brown here) with white glue and small gravel pieces with a sprinkling of sand too. This is "textured paint" for our purposes here.

Last, dry brush the colours you want. It's easy but just requires the patience to keep the right amount of paint on your brush. I did too many layers of dry brushing but it still didn't take that much longer. I used black, then grey, then white/grey/brown bone color, then red, then another layer of red and finally an orange red to make it pop more.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Terrain Variety with Mysterious Forests [Tactical Exploration]

Sixth edition has opened up various new ways to explore the game. Let's get into the rule book about terrain and how we can increase the amount of variety and best utilize terrain to help your Blood Angels.

First, play with a lot of varied terrain. Not just ruins, hills and empty craters. As a codex that has a general speed advantage, terrain variability will help out. Isn't terrain going to be equal for both sides is the first question you should ask? Of course, the principle is correct but Blood Angels will be able to avoid, bypass or just plow through it more easily than other armies.The over reliance on ruins gives undue advantage to armies like Space Wolves with maximum Long Fang units blasting from the tops of ruins and hiding Rhinos full of Grey Hunters waiting to counter attack.

Forests, Jungles and Woods (Rule Book p.102)

Dropping a Mysterious Forest onto the board is a good idea. Although it does not actually help your army as  a boost, it probably will have an increased negative effect on the army you are playing against- especially filthy Xenos ones. Blood Angels have their 3+ save but also Feel No Pain. This makes the dangers of forests more acceptable and may gain you additional tactical advantages if the enemy is hesitant to enter it or suffers penalties for passing through it.

Mysterious Forest Effects Summary
1- just difficult terrain
2- 3D6 leadership. If failed, a random squad member inflicts D6 automatic hits with his weapons
3- D3 automatic hits S5 AP- / vehicles use rear armour
4- 3+ cover saves
5- 2+ cover saves on grenades
6- 4+ on the difficult terrain test means D6 S3 AP- hits with Rending / vehicles use rear armour

Jumpers treat difficult terrain as dangerous terrain (Rule Book p.47). You have to roll a 1 to trigger it though  (Rule Book p.90). Then you still get armour saves and a Feel No Pain roll too. Dangerous Terrain is far less risky now. Remember, your jumpers can also land on impassable terrain if they physically fit and they treat it as dangerous terrain (Rule Book p.47). This may come in very handy for Deep Striking and jumping onto buildings, etc.

As the Blood Angels codex continues to age, you will need to become less risk averse in your games to gain tactical superiority. It could also blow up in your face but there is little choice against superior points effectiveness armies at times. This codex was never able to push Imperial Guard or Space Wolves aside for most competitive and now it is getting buried. Stick with your Blood Angels army and know it inside out and how to get the most out of the new rules. Tony Kopach did this with his Space Wolves for 5th Edition and you can become a better player too with a solid list, knowing your opponent's army and knowing what your Blood Angels army can do. Opponents will be seeing Blood Angels' armies with less frequency and will be glad to play you and will be less familiar with all of the changes the 6th Edition has caused to it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Deep Strike Radio

More Blood Angels content in podcast form from Deep Strike Radio. It starts at 27 minutes. Link Here


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Techmarines [Tactical Exploration]

Welcome to the first [Tactical Exploration]. I would like this to be wide open to new ideas on how to use different units even if they aren't utilized heavily at the moment.

Let's explore the Blood Angel Techmarines together. They are definitely an underused unit on the table because of points cost, Elite slot competition, unusual army role, amount of utility versus an enemy may be somewhat unpredictable, etc.

Stats: The Techmarine has the standard Marine line except he has a 2+ save.
Special Rules: They are not independent characters. Although you can run Servitors (without mind-lock) with them. Bolster Defences actually got better considering that cover saves have generally been lightened. Blessing of the Omnissiah is basically the reason for a Techmarine's battlefield existence.
Wargear:  Servo-arm- this allows you to fix your vehicles on a 5+ roll. You need to be in base contact and roll to fix during the shooting phase. If fixing a weapon destroyed, it will be able to fire immediately. The Servo-arm allows you an extra close combat attack at Strength 8 Initiative 1 but ignores Armour Saves. That's pretty valuable in a challenge. If you have a servo-harness, you can fix a vehicle on a 4+ roll, get two Servo-arm attacks, and a twin-linked plasma pistol and a flamer that can both be fired in the same shooting phase.

From the Blood Angels FAQ:
“Blessing of the Omnissiah: In each of your Shooting phases,
instead of firing his weapons, a Techmarine may choose to
repair a single friendly vehicle that he is in base contact with or
embarked upon."

Q: Can a Techmarine that is in base contact with multiple damaged vehicles attempt to repair them all?
A: No. A Techmarine can only ever make one repair attempt per turn.
If you want your Techmarine to be effective, you have to get those repair rolls chances in your favor.

On the whole, the new edition is friendly to the Blood Angels' version of the Techmarine. He has a nice 2+ save and his shooting repairs are now enacted immediately. The Servo-harness is a nice upgrade although that needs to be balanced by only having one wound.

If you take the Servo-harness, you might as well take a plain Servitor or two as an ablative wound and to help fulfill its main function of battlefield mechanic. Fulfilling this role will require a lot of movement, so despite  the increase in power of the Plasma Cannon, it will still be hard to actually get shots off and it can't fire snap shots either. However, you shouldn't receive too much early fire from your opponent as your Techmarine will be lower on their target priority which will allow you to get premium positioning. Use this to your advantage. Remember, the Techmarine doesn't have the option of taking a dedicated transport, so they will have to borrow one. You'll have to think about how he will get around. Will it be on foot or will it be an assault squad razorback with twin-linked assault cannons or maybe twin-linked lascannon?

Your other main choice is then for your Techmarine to become like a Devastator squad. In this instance leave your Techmarine minimally armed to just absorb wounds and load up your servitors with Plasma Cannons to drop tons of damage on your opponent. This unit will serve as a distraction to your opponent because between two and four plasma cannon shots a turn will be hard to ignore. If you want to play more defensively, make sure they have a nice firing lane to where you think the enemy will be advancing into mid-field. If they make it there, they will pay for taking the advantage dearly.

What about unusual choices?
Landraiders- Well you could pack them inside of one, but it would make more sense to follow it in a razorback so you can keep your assaulty units tucked away inside of it instead. You can jump out and still get in base to base to fix it and then embark onto it after. If you have two Land's Raiders then you may want to dump them in quickly and let them zoom ahead first drawing fire.

Techmarine in a razorback with Death Company within a following razorback would be a major distraction to your opponent and allow a greater chance of getting to enemy lines.

Please add any great ideas you've used or seen for Techmarines in the comments.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Easy Terrain

Once you have some of your Blood Angels painted up, it's time to think about the terrain they will be playing on. The problem is that with all of the fantastic terrain and probably coming terrain, it is very hard to mix in scratch built stuff because it will not look right. One way to blend is to have two different scenes on the table like jungle transitioning into a ruined edge of a city from the main rule book.

I am going to show a bridge from the How to Make Wargames Terrain book.

The popsicle sticks are cut, aligned and then glued. We want the bridge to look more Imperial than the example though.

Final cuts and then paint them lightly with your favorite brown. Remember, you can make more cuts to show the effects of the ravages of total war or even collapse the middle of the bridge.

Super glue on the support legs and paint on details like mud. I stamped on the aquilla symbols. You can also use a lighter and create burn marks effectively to give the impression that a flamer was used previously. 

Last, remember to have fun making terrain pieces and if you don't like the results at first, try it again later or experiment on it with more damage so none of your efforts are wasted.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

11th Company Podcast

This week we are in luck again with another podcast episode devoted to Blood Angels. This time, it is the 11th Company bringing magic to your ears. Link here.

Scoot on up to one hour and seventeen minutes to get started on it.