Every so often, I am struck with the urge to play 40K again. It is a fool’s urge, but it is one that strikes me nonetheless.
Chatting with the Lads about which army I’d do if I were to do another 40K army, and what they’d recommend to me given my tactical inclinations and perverse love of narratives, the rather worrying conclusion has been that Blood Angels may be worth a go.
Been hanging around on the blogs (Stelek and Chumby and TKE’s mostly) looking at what they’ve come up with, and thinking about how I’m probably too poor for transport vehicles just yet, which sort of indicates that a Descent of Angels-based army may be in order. Some of the Lads also state that this is the bit of the Blood Angels army that doesn’t offend their sensibilities (unlike Deep Striking Land Raiders and flying Dreadnoughts, which I’m forced to admit are a bit silly, even if they’re fun), and that an ostentatiously gothic Blood Angels army would in fact be a delight to their senses. Shiny reckons that some sort of recidivist renegady types would be appropriate, given that I’m as likely to be facing other Imperial armies as not.
A chat with Lexington later, and a vague narrative began to emerge, concerning a Blood Angels successor chapter whose flaw had been triggered on a grand scale following contact with the Nightbringer or some similar avatar of death. Much of their operational strength and command structure have been destroyed, and they have become a kind of Blood Angelly version of the Legion of the Damned, only more morally dubious, inclined to strike at Imperial territory and forces as often as anyone else. Now, that sounds like the Knights of Blood to me, but I do like those white Death Company and Sanguinary Guard that the Angels Encarmine get, and their colour scheme would be easier to do. Maybe I’ll just make up a Successor Chapter and paint them white? The name ‘Lightbringers’ keeps knocking around when I think about doing Space Marines, and it’d be fun to play up the Paradise Lost IN SPAAAAACE! angle that always comes up when I think about 40K background, so maybe I’ll work something out around themes of hubris and believing the Imperium needs to be saved from itself as much as from external threats.
Enough of such ephemera, anyway. Not knowing what size the local gamers prefer, I’ll start thinking about general list building and come back with more specifics later.
First things first. HQ. Astorath! It was looking at this dude that began to cement the narrative idea that was knocking around my head: the whole executioner-angel-of-death aesthetic he has going on, his potential to unlock the Red Thirst across an army, his dark reputation that’s half honour and half utter loathing… it wouldn’t be too hard for someone with an imagination to twist that character sideways and reinterpret him as the doomed figure at the heart of a Chapter’s fall from grace (the Lucifer figure in our Paradise Lost analogy). Plus he’s pretty hard, adding some halfway decent S and a bypass for invulnerable saves to any squad he joins. He does feel like a bit of a waste in that there’s nothing he can join that lets all of his rules come into play (everything is either already Fearless, already rerolls misses, already has some decent attacks and so on and so forth), but I’m kind of used to characters who don’t get to use all their rules in every game (I play Warmachine. It happens a lot there.). I think he’d sit best with Death Company, unlocking the rerolls to hit and to wound that they need to do well – attach him to a unit of those with some power weapons and watch them go.
What else is in the HQ section? Well, Librarians are neat, Mephiston looks bloody awesome and fits the corrupted, something-dark-in-the-night theme, but him and Astorath would be a bit pricey for the average game. Honor Guard have their appeal. I see Honour Guard as the utility unit: they buff nearby Blood Angels with their standard (well, maybe not with Astorath around) and Novitiate (who, unfortunately, can’t sneak a storm shield onto himself: the upgrades are for Honour Guard and he’s picked out as not being one) and they have a lot of spammable wargear options that should allow them to specialise into something that the rest of the army doesn’t have yet.
Troops. Troops are pretty easy: Assault Squads, jump packs retained so I don’t have to buy them transports (transport vehicles are great but they at least double the financial investment required for any squad that has one, and I am supposed to be some sort of Frugal Gamer after all), and let’s give them a couple of meltaguns each. 210 points so far. The Sergeants will be getting some gear, and will be getting a combat squad to themselves, but I can’t quite decide whether to give them power fists and infernus pistols for more hard-target-cracking or lightning claws and hand flamers so their combat squad can go batter some infantry.
What else can have jump packs? Death Company. They can’t score, but if I combat squad the Assault Marines I already have plenty of scoring units. The Death Company, having Relentless as they do, immediately tempt me with bolters (does Relentless work on pistols? I don’t know! Years out of date, me!), but looking at their options reveals that to be a red herring – they have nothing else that works at that range, and indeed precious little in the way of shooting upgrades. Shame, jump packing bolter marines would look a bit different… but I can’t really see a role for them. Since they have access to more power weapon upgrades, and can reroll hits and wounds with an attached Chaplain (yay! I like Chaplains!), which helps address a major flaw in units that have ordinary power weapons (to whit not being able to wound for squat), they’re looking like the go-to melee unit. Again, choosing special weapons is hard; an infernus pistol in case they end up near a tank and nothing else is available to crack it, or a hand flamer to further specialise them? I also confess to liking the Death Company dude with the thunder hammer a lot, but a look further into the Codex reveals a cheaper way to squash that awesome component in.
Vanguard Veterans. These are new! What do they do… let’s see now, can potentially assault on the turn they deep strike in, have access to storm shields in their weapon upgrades and a cheap thunder hammer for their Sergeant. Phwoar. This lot are looking like the spoiler unit: they drop in and assault anything scary, tying it up with suspicious amounts of Invulnerable Saving so that it doesn’t butcher my Assault Marines and Death Company while they’re recovering from the drop. Might give them the thunder hammer to engage tanky targets of opportunity (and because theirs is the cheapest, too). I wonder how many storm shields they’ll need to do their job, and whether it’s worth giving any of them some pistolly sort of upgrades?
Sanguinary Guard… okay, I love the models, but I’m not convinced that re-rolls to hit are enough to save S4 Marines with two attacks each from being ineffective, and all the Death Mask does is make them even more likely to hit. Maybe in the same niche as the Death Company, i.e. dedicated to killing infantry with maybe a power fist and infernus pistol in there in case they need to crack some armour. I think I’ll probably pick up some of the models but convert them to make my HQ choices rather than actually fielding a squad of them.
So, for starters, I’d be looking at Astorath (start the way you mean to go on), probably an ordinary Epistolary for Psychic Hooding and generating cover and whacking big gribblies with his force weapon, a unit of Death Company with jump packs and power weapons, a couple of Assault Squads packing the necessary melta and scoring capacities, Honor Guard with the Novitiate and other upgrades to be confirmed, and Vanguards with lots of storm shields to protect them on the drop turns. Oh, and a big bag o’ magnets, so those jump packs can come off and be replaced with ordinary backpacks for when I can afford transport vehicles.
I’ll have another chat to the Lads and see how many points I’d be looking at. Were I to go through with this hypothetical project. Which I’m not. Yet.