December is the month of angels for Games Workshop, as one of the most iconic Space Marine armies finally receives a new Codex for the new edition as well as new miniatures. Blood Angels are the sons of Baal, cursed with an affliction or defect in their gene-seed known as the Red Thirst. An affliction that causes the Blood Angels to want to drink the blood of their enemies in an almost vampiric manner. This plays into the iconography of the army as well as the fluff, with fury being a huge theme, and their symbol being a winged drop of blood. They were one of the first space marine forces to be highlighted in the 90’s during the era of Second Edition Warhammer 40k, a time where there were only a handful of specialty chapters and rules for space marines.
The new codex will release in the hardcover format that all other books have been released in recently, and the first thing that players will note aside from the awesome cover art is that there is a slight rebranding on the front of the book. No longer does it say Codex Space Marines, instead it now displays the true name of the angels of death, Codex Adeptus Astartes. While this seems like a small change, there is a lot of speculation as to whether or not this is a reaction to the recent perception of the company as a big bad. There have been several instances in the past of Games Workshop attempting to put pressure on other entities to get them to cease use of the term Space Marine, and it would seem that reverting to the classic name for the Emperor’s Warriors is a great and easy way to move away from that. It also comes after statements from the new CEO, Kevin Roundtree, in November of 2014 that the company would be moving in a “New Direction.” Now, while nothing more concrete was ever pinned down, this seems like it may be the first markings of a shift.
Other than the sub title change, the codex is what players have come to expect from recent releases. Hardcover with the lay flat spine, gorgeous artwork and a plethora of new and updated rules as well as unit changes. The book highlights the fast, aggressive, in-your-face nature of the army, and helps highlight their constant battle with the red thirst. Let’s talk about some of the major changes.
● All troops suffer the Red Thirst
● Death Company and the Death Company Dreadnought are now Elite troop choices
● Baal Predator is classified as Heavy Support though can be upgraded to fast
● Librarian Dreadnought is a Head Quarters choice
● Mephiston is a Head Quarters choice and Infantry Character
● Dante and Gabriel Seth are Lords of War Infantry Characters
● Only troop choices available are Tactical squads and scouts.
● No access to new units such as Centurions or Stormtalons.
Red Thirst gives your troops +1 Initiative on the turn in which you charged, unless they’ve made a disordered charge. This may not seem like a lot, but that stat bump can make some incredible things happen. When you take into consideration that Blood Angels are traditionally very assault focused, this is a perfect pairing. It makes even the most basic troops a little more potent, and a few assault squads with that buff on a charge can cause opponents to change their strategies pretty quick.
The Death Company moving to an elite troop choice is something that I’m surprised wasn’t done sooner, as it fits in with the fluff of the army. The Death Company are comprised of Blood Angels that have fallen to the Black Rage, the psychosis that goes hand in hand with the Red Thirst. The Black Rage turns those who fall under it to become frenzy maddened warriors who seek death in combat and have abandoned almost all reason. They are placed into the Death Company under the watchful eyes of a Chaplain and spurred into battle after battle until death claims them. They are revered by their battle-brothers and are treated with respect and honor, so their inclusion as Elite Troops makes sense.
All the other major changes seem to be in line with sort of the logical placement of the characters and various troops. As to be expected as well are a new selection of psychic powers available to Blood Angels librarians called, well, Sanguinary Discipline. here’s what we have for the powers
● Primaris: Quickening Blessing. +D3 to Attacks and Initiative to psyker or target character at 12″
● Fear of the Darkness – Malediction – Target enemy unit within 12″. Target must make an immediate Morale check a -2.
● Unleash Rage: WC1 Blessing that gives a unit within 18″ Rage. If the unit has rage already, they get +1 Attack instead.
● Shield of Sanguinius – Blessing – Target Psyker. While active, all models in the Psyker’s unit have a 5+ invulnerable save.
● Blood Boil – Focused Witchfire 18″ range. Target must make two Toughness tests, lose a wound for every failed check. No saves allowed. If target dies, they explode using the large blast template with Strengh 4 AP5 hit that ignores cover
● Blood Lance – Beam attack 12″ range Strength 8, ap 1, Assault 1, Lance.
● Wings of Sanguinius – Blessing – Target friendly infantry unit within 12″. Unless the unit is in combat, it can make an immediate move up to 12″.
They fit the theme of the Blood angels quite nicely, and they have the potential to pack one heck of a punch if used right.
Overall, the codex is what players have come to expect from the new book releases, tons of wonderful art, lots of fluff and story, and a good solid showing for the army. Nothing really screams as super overpowered, though I can see Blood Boil being particularly nasty for infantry focused armies to deal with if it goes off. At the same time, though, nothing really feels underwhelming.
It wouldn’t be a new release if it wasn’t accompanied by new models. Since Blood Angels don’t get a chance to take Centurions out for a spin, instead they got themselves a brand spanking new Sanguinary Priest. In game terms, the priest adds +1 Weapon Skill and Feel No Pain to any unit it is attached to. They can be equipped with Jump Packs or Bikes to make sure they have options to keep up with your hard hitting fast troops, and I can see these accompanying signature squads. The model itself is really well done, with the iconic chest plate now synonymous with Blood Angels, as well as finely sculpted robes and a Blood Chalice. It is a great looking figure, there are a lot of subtle details for players to highlight and bring attention to your forces. My only criticism is the posing of the figure, I just wish it was a bit more dynamic, but when you only have a 28mm base to stand on, there is only so much you can do. It carries a hefty price of $30 USD, which is about the expected cost for a named character model. You can have up to 3 in an army, so this can easily be a $100 USD investment before you know it.
The other new model they receive isn’t so much a new model or unit but an upgraded one. We’ve seen over the last year a series of specialized tactical and terminator squads released with upgrades and various cosmetic bits to signify the chapter of your choice. The sons of Sanguinius are no exception, and they have received a specialized tactical squad and terminator marines resplendent with the iconography of their Primarch and chapter. The tactical squad chimes in at $43 USD, which is only a few dollars more than the generic kit. The Sergeant gets to have the chest armor that is sculpted to look like the chest of an adonis. The terminator squad will run you $60 USD, which is pretty standard for terminators. Both kits are very detailed and will make fine additions to any Blood Angels army, and selfishly I hope I get to paint up a set of them in the near future. December is an exciting time for Blood Angels fans, and everything will be released just in time for any holiday you may celebrate.