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Monday, February 16, 2015

Blood Angels in 7th: Troops: Tactical Squads




The Blood Angels Tactical squad is very similar to the standard Space Marine Tactical squad, and will use most of the same unit configurations and tactics. There are three major differences. The first is that they have Furious Charge; this makes them better in close-combat than standard Tacticals when they charge, but only then. If you play Tactical Marines often, you know they don’t often do much in assault. They’ll kill off an respectable numbers of Fire Warriors and Imperial Guardsmen, but they’ll flounder against any harder targets. The same applies to Blood Angels Tactical squads, except that they’ll have the edge against other Tactical squads. They still won’t be up to taking on Grey Hunters or Chaos Space Marines that take an extra close combat weapon, much less any dedicated assault squad.


Second, Blood Angels Tactical squads can take a heavy flamer as their heavy weapon. This is pretty huge, as it eliminates the duality of the Tactical squad. The special weapon and bolter always do their best work when close to the enemy and mobile, but the heavy weapon wants to stay still and, preferably, far away. Combat Squads was introduced so that these weapons could end up in different squads, but this doesn’t help much if you want to be aggressive with your Tactical squads. Space Marine players have long lamented their inability to take two special weapons. Blood Angels can sidestep this by taking a heavy flamer, which synergizes well with bolters and special weapons despite being called heavy. It is an extremely obvious choice for any Tactical squad riding in a Rhino or Drop Pod, as it will be fully effective when they disembark. I prefer to pair it with another flamer (and possibly a combi-flamer on the sergeant) so my Tacticals are really good at dealing with infantry and have excellent Overwatch, but you can pair it with any special weapon thanks to the magic that is Combat Squads. The most important thing is that, when your Rhino roars up to the enemy lines, ten Marines jump out and fire to full effect.

Finally, Blood Angels Tactical Sergeants have access to inferno pistols and hand flamers. This functions similarly to a combi-weapon, allowing you to cram another special weapon into your Tactical squad. However, the pistols can be fired multiple times, with the trade-off that they tend to be a bit weaker (the hand flamer loses a point of strength compared to a flamer while the inferno pistol has half the range of a meltagun). In most cases, I would rather have the combi-weapon, as the squad will probably only get to fire optimally once, when they get out of their transport. However, it you have the points, you can give the sergeant two pistols that he can fire simultaneously. Aside from looking like he escaped from a John Woo movie, this means that your sergeant can lay down two flame templates or fire two melta shots each turn. If you really need the squad to do reliable damage with its special weapons, this is a good way to guarantee it.


The final point that I would like to push is Combat Squads. A lot of players I talk to don’t split their squads. The common perception is that splitting your squads gives you more scoring units but loses some firepower and durability, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It allows you to more fully use your firepower by directing it at the best targets, concentrating or splitting it as necessary. It forces your enemy to divide their fire to take out your squads. Deathstar units are far less scary when they can only kill 5 Marines each turn, no matter how much firepower they have. It’s surprisingly easy to blunt enemy assaults when you can use one small squad to block off their charge lanes, limiting what the enemy can engage. Once the enemy predictably tears apart 5 Marines, you can either gun them down or counter-assault them.

I’ve seen several people online argue against taking a flamer and a heavy flamer in a Tactical squad because they are worried that whichever fires second won’t have any targets in range; the first template will kill off the viable targets, leaving the second useless. This is unlikely to happen even in the same squad with careful placement (casualties are taken from the models closest to the firing squad, not the firing model. Just put the flamers on opposite ends of the squad and fire whichever is closest to the enemy first). However, Combat Squads mean that you don’t even need to be that careful. You can approach the enemy from different directions with each combat squad and maximize your hits with both flamers, or even target completely different squads.  

2 comments:

  1. Great advice there, though it's worth noting the "multiple template" rule in 7th allows for all the wounds to be added up by each template before any to wound rolls are made and models are removed. I run my Furioso with Frag and Flamer for this reason!

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  2. That's an interesting point. I always played based on the shooting rules, where you pick a weapon and fire all examples of that weapon, than pick the next weapon. In this case, the multiple template weapons rule only comes into play if the firing squad has multiple weapons of the same type (so a flamer and heavy flamer don't fire at the same time).

    However, the multiple template weapon rule doesn't specify this. It just says calculate hits for all template weapons at the same time.

    Either interpretation is valid. It just depends what rule you give priority. Personally, I think that the shooting rules would take priority, since it's the main rules rather than the appendix, and it simplifies rolling to wound.

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