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.


  1. Expensive unit, non scoring, but playing Fleshtearers and knowing going in that wiping out the enemy is the most likely path to victory... I use mine a fair amount... But typically I have a Sternguard Squad in a Drop Pod and Beacon. SG has an attached Medic (Sang Priest), usually a CPT Tycho equivalent, but in any case they drop first turn, usually get First Blood then... Well, the usual reaction is to swarm them either in HtH or just move close and shoot... The VG can Combat Squad, drop in and engage 2 additional enemy units, often assaulting a unit that has assaulted my SG. Getting the benefit of the Priest and safely in Assault... My Death Company is usually jumping up to clean up or present another real threat. VG work really well, but as I said, REALLY expensive when I kit them out with a few Power Fists, the rest with various Power Weapons, Jump Packs, etc...

  2. Thanks for sharing, pchappel. Players would probably want to balance the amount of more fun units to play in a list at one time, so you would have to think twice about loading up on Death Company and Vanguard Vets as they aren't going to offer enough to your whole force.

  3. I guess thier main use is to disrupt vehicle bubble-wraps and long range shooters like IG or Eldar. It's a sacrficial unit, and most of the time a one-shot strike. GIve them SS and they may survive long enough to engage a second unit.
    I used to include them in my all jumpers army, but now they are collecting dust. Random charges are something VV don't really like, and Overwatch can also rob you from that much needed assault. However puting a Priest nearby, giving them SS or just adding more wounds to the unit migh be the way to go.

  4. Almost any unit will be sacrificial if it goes in unsupported against enemy lines. You have to have a plan for them before dropping them in because they will arrive turn 2 or 3.