Whether you are just starting out in the hobby of Warhammer 40,000 or are a long time player looking to add another army to your collection, the diversity of choices available to you can be a bit overwhelming and you may find it difficult to make a choice. However, depending on the look, story, and playstyle you prefer, you might be able to figure out what works for you. With that in mind, we'll be looking at the options available to you in hopes to make the selection process just a bit easier. Continuing on in our Army Selection Series, we now turn to the IX Legion of the Adeptus Astartes: The Blood Angels.
Fluff and Personality
The Blood Angels are a chapter of Space Marines that have divergent tendencies and tactics when compared to other 'standard' codex chapters such as the Ultramarines or Imperial Fists. Inheriting some of the traits of their Primarch, Sanguinius, the Blood Angels are a fanatically loyal chapter that are generally loved by all within the imperium, yet they harbor some darker taint within them. They are susceptible to the Red Thirst, which is a wild bloodlust that can overtake them in battle and serves, essentially, as a vampiric aspect. The Blood Angels moniker, combined with the aesthetics of the force as well as the Red Thirst, have caused many fans to depict them as vampire space marines, which is not too far off the mark and can make for some very interesting narratives. In addition to the red thirst, Blood Angels are also at risk of developing a condition known as The Black Rage. After the events of the Horus Heresy, Sanguinius was slain by Horus while defending the Emperor of Mankind, and in turn, many of the Blood Angels are susceptible to wracking visions of his demise that torment them and can drive them mad. If a battle brother cannot control his red thirst, or is simply overcome with the visions, he will believe himself Sanguinius, reliving those final moments and become a berserk killing machine, fighting in a nightmarish fashion until he is consumed by his hatred or destroyed by the enemy. The Chapter's Chaplains, of which there are many, generally must execute those who have succumbed to the black rage, or let them die in battle, organized into units that comprise the Death Company, their armor black with red crosses, their temperament as savage as the vampires they depict.
Compounding the vampiric imagery, the Blood Angels stories and sculpts echo themes from Spanish Catholicism and Faustian myth. The brothers of the Blood Angels sleep in coffins, drink blood, are eternally youthful, and are masterful artists almost to a man. They are commonly seen to 'fly', with a heavy dependence on jump packs in their tactics, and the sanguinary guard even do so on pinioned wings. Their chapter is the most 'angelic' in appearance of all of the space marine chapters - Angels of Death seems truly an apt description for this chapter in particular, many of their heroes arrayed in full golden plate, complete with feathered wings and halos about their heads. Their members, having been blessed with particularly long life even by Astartes standards, often give a great amount of their free time to perfecting and mastering a particular art, be it practical pursuits like crafting of weapons and armor, or more esoteric interests like painting, sculpture, poetry, or music. This is in part simply due to the more artistic bent of their gene seed, but also because of the chapter philosophy that it is imperative that a Space Marine understand the things he is fighting for, and one cannot truly appreciate the majesty and importance of mankind without being able to understand the value of its beauty.
The Blood Angels have been referred to as the artist's army of choice, not simply because of the personality and lore of the chapter being rife with artists themselves, but also because of the many modeling and freehand painting opportunities within the models range. The Chapter colors are Red, white, black, and gold, which allow for a really visually striking force, but also encourage the painting of frescoes and murals on the vehicles that they bring to battle. Many different banners are available to be painted by hand for the aspiring miniatures artist, and the depth of tone that red miniatures can have can lend a great richness to the presentation of an army. In addition, there is a variety of color palettes inherent in the force itself. Unlike other chapters, where every unit and model generally follows the 'accepted' color scheme (a White Scars force with every model painted white with a bit of red or yellow, for example), the Blood Angels encourage color variety by the different units you might take. A typical Blood Angels unit will be primarily red, to be sure, but some units are intended to be mainly black while others are mostly gold. Without deviating from the set colors to unify the force, different units will still appear distinct from one another on the field and will break up the monotony that is common among other armies in the game. Not to mention the intricacy of detail on many of the Blood Angels models which allow for even more personalization and artistic flair throughout.
assault army and want to play as space marines. Blood angels are one of the best forces to pick if you like to run jump packs, and have a formation to make them even more effective. Their terminators are able to be really effective in assault and have some good vectors for getting in the enemy's face. Their combat heroes and units are pretty strong by Space Marine standards, and they do have the general utility and durability of most other space marines to keep them alive while they run headlong into the enemy. Your army is built almost exclusively for the purpose of throttling full speed into the enemy lines - nearly every unit you have available is able to move quickly or cram into a fast vehicle, and all the others can deep strike. Additionally, your deep striking jump infantry only use one die when scattering, meaning you have very accurate deep striking available to you, and in some circumstances can even assault right out of a deep strike arrival. Drop Pods with Dreadnoughts have also been known to be very effective, especially when taken in multiples.
They probably won't be winning you any tournaments since the recent codexes have weakened them somewhat, but they can still be fun to play and win you a few games once you get a handle on how best to use them. The Blood Angels also have access to a decent amount of flamer and melta weapons that allow them to tackle both infantry and tanks with relative ease. Being an independent codex instead of being lumped into the regular Space Marine forces does come with a distinct disadvantage however: You will not have the ability to take many of the toys that GW puts out for Space Marines since you don't share their codex. As a result, you miss out on the flavor of the month space marine vehicle or unit every time they get updated, which does limit your list building flexibility somewhat. If you think you can handle a moderately underpowered codex, and are interested in assault as a focus for your army, then Blood Angels wouldn't be a bad choice.
Stormcast Eternals miniatures from Age of Sigmar would make for good conversion material in a Blood Angels force, so there are a great many options available to a player who wants to start a Blood Angels army. Couple all of these details with the ubiquity of space marines on ebay and other second-hand pre-owned models sources, and I would rate the Blood angels as a relatively accessible force.
How do the Blood Angels sound to you? Have you played them before or have an interest in taking them up as a new force for your collection? Let us know your thoughts and experiences!