Monday, 15 December 2014

Blood Angels 7th Edition Codex Thoughts/Review

As the name of his blog suggests, I am a big fan of red armoured Space Marines, having danced around the board with the (nearly) invincible Mephiston, stuck my tongue out at Daemon Princes and hive Tyrants thanks to Corbulo's 2+ Feel No Pain, and driven my points reduced Objective Secured Land Raiders and Razorbacks over many a Tactical Objective in the latest iteration of the 40k rules. So what does the new codex bring to the table, given all of the examples above have been removed from the Codex? With the Codex in hand for the last two days and the internet seemingly devoid of any analysis other than rules listings I hope to share some of my opinions and ways this book will be changing my army lists.

Hardcover Quality or price gouge?

I must say I was very skeptical of the price increases when the hard cover books were launched. I picked up the cheaper digital Codex Adeptus Astartes when it was released as I was already sick of lugging too many books around (and allied most of the cost reduced portions as 'counts as' Blood Angels) but found the lack of tactile feedback really reduced the whole army building and gaming experience. Sure I could tap to gain special rules instantly, but when you've been playing since 2nd Ed you don't need to know the stats of a Plasma Pistol. This time around I reserved my copy of the physical book (noting that GW have split the digital editions into three confusing price levels) and have flicked pages to my hearts content all weekend. The price did sting a little and the level of hobby content in the Codex is way below any previous version, way too little for a supplementary rule book. The pictures are not flattering (I can see paint chips and mold lines), the painting guides have been removed, and everything aimed at the collector and gamer rather than the hobby enthusiast. The layout is much improved, however, with paper quality, full colour printing and excellent new artwork making up for the lack of conversions or special scenery display pieces.

So many Special Rules!

With the changes from 5th, to 6th, to 7th Editions of 40k "Special Rules" drastically changing the way the army played it has been difficult to keep up with the options available to you when building an army. Thankfully, GW have streamlined the new book. Furious Charge is now army wide and listed in the model stats, the bonus to Initiative when charging is now conferred by Corbulo or the use of the "Baal Strike Force" detachment (which removed Objective Secured by the way!), and the increased Weapon Skill of certain models is now a bonus from Sanguinary Priest's Holy Grails. This should not be confused with the general "Apothecary" Feel No Pain, as the Sanguinary Novitiate of the Command Squad now confers FNP without the bonus to WS provided by a grail (and actually matches the model to the fluff!). It's been much easier now to compare army lists and units in this way, and with the removal of units like Honour Guard and no more Force Organisation Chart manipulation with Special Characters I enjoy mixing and matching units based on their merits rather than being "auto include" to make X troops and so on. Everything now scores, even Death Company! (I still remember running those guys in 5th Edition and having them charge headlong through dangerous terrain and die with no saving throw. Progress!).

WYSIWYG and GW's new "Detachments" army building model.

Speaking of the merits of certain units, I still feel GW don't know their left arm from their right with regard points costs of certain characters. Tycho is an absolute joke, going from striking at initiative and ignoring armour to now having absolutely no hand to hand combat weapon! I understand the need to match the rules to the model ("what you see is what you get") but we might as well save the trees or just glue the pages together as I certainly won't be fielding him any more. I will save any discussion of Mephiston until I can game with him (and tear off the wings I modelled to his backpack...) but Dante is the word on the street and tops any "what's hot" list even without any of the upcoming Jump Infantry Detachments adding further bonuses. I really like the new way of building armies with Detachment bonuses. I can mix and match between Objective Secured troops and paying extra for Corbulo's special rules, or striking at Initiative +1 army wide with the new Baal Strike Force detachment included in the codex. Add in the option of taking an Inquisitor as my warlord for Preferred Enemy/Hatred Warlord Traits, and the game is really moving forward to match many of the contemporary rivals in terms of flexibility and variety of options when list building. I certainly see merit in collecting less armies but being able to access a variety of campaign supplements, digital dataslates and white dwarf rules to change each army list drastically. Putting an Inquisitor with Liber Heresius inside my Land Raider for a 12" scout move? Who needs Baal Predators anyway!

The new balance?

I was quite underwhelmed when Codex Orks was released, there seemed little to be excited about now the game has moved on from the "every codex is better than the last" release schedule which changed the game drastically every six months. I may have had my misgivings regarding the increased release pacing (and sold one of my four armies to pay for rules and new models for the others), but I am now excited to work with what feel like much more balanced rules set. 7th Edition tidied up a whole lot of loose ends, things like battle brothers embarking on transports combines nicely with the move of transports to fast attack, and the removal of Corbulo's 2+ FNP and Mephiston's 12" move-then-charge options don't seem such a loss when army/detachment wide buffs inspire the return to mass troops and elites of editions past. I always felt a bit awkward with the "hero hammer" side of things, and love the artwork where hundreds of models and tanks do battle with each other, rather than one model absolutely dominating. Eldar/Tau aside I really feel the new Codex releases are keeping the long term health of the game alive, as no longer will the most junior gamer at the store be hampered in buying a few boxes of troops to start painting and gaming with only to have one model steamroll through the whole lot. He/she can always get a Lord of War for Christmas as payback ;)

Forcing my hand.

The first and last things which really jumped out at me with the new Codex Blood Angels are the new Psychic Powers and Tactical Objective cards. First because they seem amazingly useful compared to recent releases, with Tactical Objectives rewarding fast assault based army selection at the Victory Point level of the game (there is even a Noble Sacrifice card which gives you a victory point if your Warlord dies in combat!), and the return of awesome Blood Angel Psychic Powers like Blood Lance (S8 AP1 Lance) and Unleash Rage which adds attacks and stacks with the Rage Special Rule! Lastly because I had a quick glance at the Librarian page today only to find these powers replace my beloved Telepathy options. No more Invisible Land Raider unfortunately, though Shield of Sanguinius is now an invulnerable save, rather than cover save, and can be cast before the Assault Phase once disembarked which is useful. It's also worth noting the new Blood Angel specific Tactical Objectives replace six Secure Objective cards, so if you like to zoom around the board with fast bikes and rhinos seizing objectives you may be better off trying for a non Blood Angel Warlord as these are now mandatory if you plan on using Dante or similar to lead your forces.

In Conclusion.

So I've laid all my fan-boy cards on the table as you can probably tell, though the new Codex price really hurt to the point of dropping one of my armies given the shorter release window and limited hobby time. I am enjoying building army lists using the adjusted prices and newer wargear (hello Graviton!) and will be relying less on heroic models and more on Troops and Elites to do the heavy lifting. With bonuses to Strength, Initiative, Weapon Skill, Attacks, and the usual Feel No Pain and Fleet options all available, I am looking forward to combining units on Jump Pack and in transports to keep the flexibility and mobility of previous Blood Angels armies. A squad of Scouts have been objective sitting for me since 7th Edition was launched, and if Tactical Marines in Razorbacks is the new way of running a Combined Arms Detachment then I don't have a problem dusting off my Jump Pack infantry now the points are more reasonable and I can model the chainsword models on foot as a Command Squad. Everything does a bit of a shuffle, and you can always run Unbound for a full Jump Pack army! Definitely once of the better 7th Edition releases, can't wait to have a game or two.


  1. I'm trying to catch up with 7th edition and wondered if you could answer a question: In order for me to obtain OBSEC in a Blood Angels detachment, I would have to field a battle company formation?

    1. As far as I am aware the only way to get Objective Secured Troops is through the "Command Benefits" section of the rulebook Core Detachment of p122. This includes the Allied Detachment. The Baal Strike Force in the Blood Angels, as an example, does not have OBSEC, but adds The Red Thirst bonus to Initiative when charging. I have also re-read the Ork Horde detachment, which does not give OBSEC either! I feel once a few more months have passed folks will get a greater understanding of the differing benefits of the detachments, which are becoming a lot more flexible (smaller units requirements) as more are released.

    2. You can choose any of the Primary Detachments available to you.

      So for Blood Angels, you could first get a Baal Strike Force and put your assault elements there to get +1 Ini, then a Combined Arms Detachment from the rulebook to get Objective Secured Troops. You can get any number of detachments provided you fulfil the minimum requirements for each one. Of course, each unit can only be member in one detachment, but you can mix Independent characters and units freely (though again they would not confer their bonuses to each other).

  2. It kinda of does suck a bit for orks, sine their formations were early on...they have insane point requirements. I still love the dread mob though, even if it's nearly 1500 points all setup!

  3. I am one of the few that finds this codex unbalanced when folks say it is more codex compliant. When compared to C:SM the BAs lose Honour Guard (Smurfs get many w/o using FOC), the Smurfs get Command Squads that do not take FOC & everyone can upgrade weapons, they can take Bikes as Troops if Captain or Character is on bike, access to STC tanks & fliers and some other perks.

    Now imagine if White Scars could only take Tacticals & Scouts as Troops. Wouldn't float. Yet the Blood Angels can't get the Jump Pack equivalent. Add the over-stuffed HQ & Elites severely limiting what was once available (the Sang Priest nerf REALLY hurts).

    Now don't think I'm hating...I'm not. BAs are still playable...just withoutfeeling like Blood Angels. Add that in order for many to keep the armies they've been building for years to be somewhat viable they must either field other armies or buy expansions (at a high price) to get some of the things taken away back.

    This trend has hurt Orks, Tyranids, Dark Angels & Space Wolves - xenos & non-Codex Chapters - is insulting but the doing this to a Codex Chapter is more insulting. Never in the years I've played/collected (since RT) have I felt this much "wrong" been done in the game. All the feel & fluff is diluted and the game feels bland and hollow. Now I'm left wondering how many years until I can get the full Blood Angels back in one over-priced codex instead of some of them spread across multiple over-priced books.

    1. C:SM is going to be updated soon, and lose all "X makes Y troops". (among other hard hitting things...goodbye cents in pods!). It's happening to all codexes. It's the way of things these days.

    2. That makes no sense for them. For one thing the RULES have a bold mention of this (x makes y) being legal and in codices. Also, the current C:SM is 7th ed. Finally, they would lose White Scars players. Like selling you a car, then removing the tires only to sell them back to you at 80% the cost of the car this pattern GW is following is horrid business that will hurt them in the long run.

      Players want the unique flavor of their chosen fluff. If not then Ultramarines would be the only Chapter played. Removing then selling it back ignores the main rule - the game is supposed to be fun, not a hassle.

      Me....I'd rather face Cents in pods with my Assault Marines with attached Sang Priests and lose because it fits the 40k feel + fluff. I also like my forces from 1 book instead of 1 book + 6 different supplements.

      Also, I do not fear change. I fear flawed change and change solely for extra profit. A solid product with good marketing at a fair price comes ahead stronger. Any changes should enhance these areas. The current trend fails on 2.5 of 3.

    3. That's a horrible idea. Aside from it being part of the game (7th ed - The Rules) and being part of 7th ed SM codex it will alienate White Scars players. Why should anyone buy anything but "generic" Marines? It's the equivalent of buying a new car then the seller removing the tires only to sell them to you at 80% of the car's price. That is not balance - it is blanding.

      This could have been done better. In the cases of BAs & WSs simply allowing JPs/Bikes as Troops & making Tacs in vehicles Fast would have kept the "balance" as well as the flavor. Sure, the other items still would make folks grumpy but they would not feel robbed.

      I've played since RT and endured some horrible changes. This is far beyond all of the past bad decisions. It has made the basic game "Ultramarines vs enemy Ultramarines that may be aliens". That's even after buying unique Codices. Add the expansions that cost a lot just to get SOME of what was removed and you have angry players feeling robbed. Sure, the willfully blind will ignore the reality of it but the average bloke will feel it gaming & in his wallet.

      I'd rather face Cents in Pods with my Assault Marines + Sang Priests and lose than not have that feel + fluff. It would fit BAs more.

      If the game is no longer fun then the main rule is broken.

    4. White scars will receive their own cad and formations to allow them to take as many bikes. Similar to how ba has gotten the same treatment in their supplement.

      Once all the codexes are redone, they'll release 8th and tie it all in a nice little bow. Then will concentrate on campaigns and additional supplements.

    5. FYI (before this gets reposted as some sort of "rumor") these are just my guesses based on how things are going. The fact white scars just got their own data cards seems to reinforce this.

      I'm certain tau will lose suits as troops, and eldar will lose jetbikes as troops. FOC changes are going away, the statement in the rulebook was just a catch all, until everyone had been updated.

      I'd say if we ever see a future codex that makes anything into a troop choice, that will most likely be that armies entire trump card.

  4. I think we are all still wearing our 6th Edition "I must have scoring troops to be competitive" hats, and I think the shift is already moving to different detachments with non Objective Secured benefits. I for one have been planning most of my lists around Elites wiping Troops off objectives, not one or two Troop models holding on for the end of game dice roll with their fingers crossed. The easy access to AP2 at initiative, bonus to WS/I/A and Hatred/Preferred Enemy/Fear all boosting even the most mundane units to the point of deathstardom. If you want Assault Marines, just take the jump pack detachment, or go unbound. If you want scoring bikes... you've already got scoring bikes! A squad of tacticals/scouts/dire avengers shouldn't be a barrier to a properly equipped unit that you've designated as an objective capturing unit. The days of Objective Secured Land Raiders/Tervigons are numbered and I am not sad to see them go.

    I will also be making my Blood Angels codex stretch as far as possible without dropping $90 on a campaign book for one or two detachments. That's where the real problem lies.