Yes. . .they are finally here. I know that pretty much every 40k related blogging site has been exploding with Blood Angels rumors, speculations and expectations for months, as well as countless reports of what they've seen in the book. So why am I bothering? I dunno. I suppose I feel I'm interesting enough that people will take the time to read this. Regardless, for whatever reasons, I feel compelled to talk about this.
First and foremost, Blood Angels are my favorite Space Marine chapter, closely followed by Space Wolves. I suppose I have an obsession with space marines that focus entirely on beating face. Anyway, I like the Bangels mostly because of their primarch, and how the Blood Angels still personify him. Sanguinius was, in my opinion, the best of all the primarchs. He was noble, intelligent, tactful, a ferocious warrior and loyal to the end. Blood Angels are noble, tactful, ferocious and loyal warriors. They would be perfect, except for their fundamental flaw, the Black Rage, which makes them so much the more interesting for not being perfect. Whether a gift or a curse, these heroic warriors are continually fighting an internal enemy more threatening than any external foe, one that could damn their souls.
Now, since I love army fluff, and love to make up my own, I'm not fielding a "Blood Angels" army per se. I'm fielding my homemade successor chapter, the Angels of Purity, who believe that the Black Rage is their greatest gift and their greatest curse. They spend years meditating and training to control their anger so that they can tap into the Black Rage to enhance their battle prowess, but prevent themselves from falling completely into it to become a member of the 13th Black Company, the Lost, the Death Company.
Anyhoo, I've spent quite a good amount of time mulling over the new Bangels codex, specifically trying to adapt it to my play style as well as tournaments. Now, there are a LOT of cool things in there: Librarian Furioso Dreads, Deep Striking Land Raiders as Dedicated Transports, Death Company Dreads, Stormravens, the Baal Predator, Fast Rhinos, a slew of beefy HQs and Sanguinary Priests. People are freaking out, crying cheese and, most annoyingly, declaring "Well, I'm just going to play Blood Angels." But sitting down and trying to hammer out a list shows the army's weakness -- everything is expensive! In the above list, the librarian dreads, land raiders, stormravens and beefy HQs are all near or above 200 points. You can fit a bunch into your lists, true, but not as many as you might think. I've been struggling with a list that includes two units of assault marines with rhinos, two sniper scout squads and as many dreads as I can fit. So, ignoring all of the other craziness for dreads, I can still only fit three. Admittedly, they're WS6 Front Armor 13 dreads, but still. . .three dreads, thirty assault marines, ten scouts and an HQ. Nothing really broken or horrifying there.
You could easily min/max the army, perhaps reducing your Troops selection to five man tac, assault or scout squads, but any space marine player can tell you the survival rate of five basic marines. Even then, you're not going to fit in enough stuff to completely eliminate your opponents force to the point where your Troops are safe. And let's consider the "broken" units one by one.
Furioso Dreads -- No doubt, these things are nasty. For starters, they're WS6 and they have the same armor values as an Ironclad. Bonus, they can have two dread CCWs. But so can an Ironclad, so the WS is the only advantage there. You can upgrade the dread to a librarian for +50 points, which is pretty cool, right? Well, actually, yes it is. The best combo I've come up with so far is a librarian furioso with Wings of Sanguinius (moves as Jump Infantry) and Might of the Ancients (+D3 attacks). The other big thing people are scared of are Blood Talons. These are dead CCWs that count as lightning claws, which at S6 is narsty. But it gets worse. If both are still operational, you get an additional attack for each unsaved wound caused. And the extra attacks can generate more attacks. I'll have to see how those work out on the tabletop itself before I pass judgement. An important note, though, is that librarian dreads cannot take Blood Talons. Anyone who says they can should get a swift kick to the junk.
Land Raiders -- LRs as dedicated transports for pretty much any unit is pretty darn cool. But it's not really practical in a standard game. Land Raiders are still 250 points. So even a minimum size unit of assault marines removing their jump packs for the 35 discount will cost 315 points with no special weapons or upgrades of any kind. True, it's very difficult to take a Land Raider out to get at the troops inside, but Land Raiders aren't going to win you a Massacre in an annihilation game. And while the ability to Deep Strike a Land Raider is friggin' sweet, it's not necessarily a game breaker. People will have to be very cautious about where to place them, because losing a 250 point transport with a 200 point unit inside of it because you did a deep strike mishap it pretty harsh.
Stormravens -- This is another thing people have been freaking out about, mainly because it is immune to the melta special rule. The thing that cracks me up about this, though, is that it's armor 12. If you can't remove armor 12 in 5th edition, you've already lost the game.
Now I'm not saying that the codex doesn't have some powerful, beefy things in it, but I think points cost will do plenty to balance things out. However, don't be surprised if half of the people at your local 'Ardboyz tourney are all rocking Blood Angels.