Thursday, March 11, 2010

Theme vs Power, plus the Nova Open

Hey guys, Huron here again, still thinking about and playing around with the new Blood Angels army list. Yesterday I went a bit nuts thinking of combos and talking out strategies with MVB from Whiskey & 40K and then mashing them around in my head. You should definitely check out MVB's blog, he is one of the stronger tournament players in my area and is known for his strong, flexible, hard hitting lists.

On a side note, he is part of the crew running the Nova Open, a 128 players GT Qualifier (64 40k and 64 Fantasy slots) happening in Chantilly,VA on Aug 14th and if you are a local or don't mind a bit of travel I think you should check this out as it is looking like it is going to be a big hit and will probably become an annual event. Checkout the Nova Open website by clicking here for all the details and to register for the event. I was the first person to sign up for the 40K tournament, which is going to be played at 2,000pts, so you are at least guaranteed one easy win.

But lets get back to the main purpose of this post, the new Blood Angels codex. As any one who has looked at the codex will have gleaned pretty quickly, you can field and an extremely large amount of armor or dreadnoughts in the new BA book. With all the Rhinos chassis vehicles being fast, and Baal Predators being seperate from regular predators and a fast attack choice. Players can easily field 5-6 Predator or 3 Baals and 2-3 Vindicators for maybe a 3rd of the lists points. Put that much fire power in, all on fast, front armor 13 tank chassis seems like a no brainor. With a core of nastiness like that you could take whatever else you wanted and do well. Or, for those that love walkers, it is possible to take as many as 11 walkers in a standard lists, provided you also take at least 25 Death company. And that doesn't mean 11 standard shootie dreads, but 3 shootie dreads which can all be upgraded to venerables, 5 Weapon Skill 5 assaulty Death Company Furiosos, and 3 Furiosos which can all be upgrade to Librarians if you choose. Not bad, Not bad at all.

However, where does theme come into all of this. The new BA book has some nasty combos and I for see spam heavy armies that decimate a variety of lists on the battlefield but which will be comprised of a Hodge Podge of nice looking and possibly nicely painted models but which will have little to no contextual theme through out the whole of the army. This leads to my dilemma.

Is having a strong theme more important than having a tweaked, powerful army. Here is a case in point; Assault Terminators vs Death Company. 5 Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield Terminator come in at just over 200pts. Same for a 10 man squad of Death Company with a few weapon upgrades. Both squads are strong on their own but need an additional character and a transport to be truly powerful. Terminators need a Sanguinary Priest that gives them Furious Charge and Feel No Pain, two abilities the DC already have. Then either a Landraider of some type or a Storm Raven to get them where they need to go. All this comes in around a whopping 500pts or more.

Death Company on the other hand either need a Chaplain or a Reclusiarch (a 3 wound HQ chaplain) which allows them to reroll both attack and damage rolls on the charge and a transport of their own as well. This again ends up in the 500+ points level. Both choices are solid and characterful, and make great center piece units (especially if you add on a couple of DC Dreads to the Death Company Unit), but upon fiddling with some lists I have found that there is no way to include both in a BA army.

Another example is assault squads. There is a very nice build that costs around 150pts for a 5 man assault squad that allows you to deal with tanks. One nice feature of the BA assault squad is that instead of being able to switch their jump packs for a rhino for free, they now can switch them for any vehicle in the list at a discounted price. So players now have the option to add some fire power with their assaults squads transport, and in the current tournament Meta, taking small units in transports with lots of meltas is better then big units outside them. However BAs have a special rule called Descent of Angels which allows models arriving from deep strike to only scatter 1D6 instead of two and I believe either reroll the dice to come in or the scatter die (it has been a few days since I looked at the rule last).

How cool would it be to see five or six squads of Blood Angels deep striking in on "Wings of Fire" (I am coining the name for this sort of themed list) lead by several character with jump packs. Tactically this is a bad plan. With MEQ armies and Inquisitors with Mystics hiding everywhere this army is going to have a rough time of it, but man... it does strike the imagination.

And that is where the Theme of your army comes in. Do you go for power or do you go for imagery and a strong linked theme to your list? If you listened to the first Gamers Lounge podcast you will know my thinking on running a power list as a theme (Theme needs to tie the models in the army together and relate to the 40k fluff in some way to be really solid in my opinion, my Howling Griffons for example have a theme of everything being name after the Arthurian Legends. It is an okay theme... but not a strong one).

This is where I am right now, trying to decide which choice to make and attempting to find a way to balance a little bit of both in an 1850 to 2,000pt list. What should I do?

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