Unfortunately, we lost our special Reclusiarch, while the standard Chaplain has been moved from Elites to HQ. He still has all the Chaplain abilities we know and love, coming with Zealot, a power maul, and a 4+ invulnerable save. He no longer has the Litanies of Blood from last edition; only Astorath kept that. He has the same statline as the Librarian and Priest, i.e. not bad but nothing to be excited about.
Chaplains have access to ranged weapons as well as Relics of Baal. He can also switch out his pistol for a power fist. Finally, you can put him in Terminator armor, though this is really only useful if you want to run him with Terminators in a Land Raider. This all gives the Chaplain a bit more flexibility than he used to have. His biggest weakness is an inability to penetrate enemy armor. The power fist is a handy way around this, as well as allowing him to take out vehicles, but it robs him of his speed and an attack. If you don’t have another character using it already, you can equip your Chaplain with Valour’s Edge.
The Chaplain’s combat abilities are really secondary. You take a Chaplain for Zealot, making an important assault squad Fearless and allowing it to re-roll misses in the first round of combat (whether or not they assaulted). Both of these abilities are quite handy, though Fearless is wasted on two of our best assault units, Sanguinary Guard and Death Company. The Death Company will benefit a lot from the re-rolls thanks to their enormous number of attacks, though Sanguinary Guard already have some re-rolls of their own and are probably best paired with a Sanguinary Priest. Like the Priest, the Chaplain’s abilities are most efficient when joined to a large unit. As such, they aren’t much use in a MSU army, where they would just be joining 5 Assault Marines. I see Chaplains most useful when joined to a Vanguard Veteran squad, or a large Assault squad in smaller games. They’ll pair okay with Death Company, but that is best left for our next entry.
Astorath, Redeemer of the Lost
Astorath is the head Chaplain of the Blood Angels, and has the rules to back up his authority. He comes with a Captain statline, as well as all the standard Chaplain rules. He carries the Executioner’s Axe, a two-handed power axe that inflicts Instant Death on a 6 to wound. It’s Unwieldy, but otherwise it’s a great weapon. He also wears artificer armor, which is normally not available to Chaplains.
The big reason for taking Astorath, aside from getting a Chaplain with a great statline with an AP2 weapon and a 2+ save, is Litanies of Blood. This allows Death Company Marines in his unit to re-roll failed to wound rolls on the turn they assault (unlike Zealot, it doesn’t work when the enemy charges you). Combined with Zealot, this turns the Death Company in to a spectacular assault unit. Each charging Death Company Marine will inflict an average of 3.33 wounds against Marine equivalents before saves, or enough to each kill an enemy Marine. Combine this with some power weapons and they will absolutely murder most targets.
If you have the points and plan on taking a large unit of Death Company, Astorath is a great choice to lead them. Simply put, he does more for them than a normal Chaplain as well as being individually much more dangerous in close combat.