Thursday, 23 July 2009

Building a Blood Angels Army - Part 1

I've been playing Games Workshop's Warhammer 40k with Blood Angels over the last couple of months and I've been enjoying it immensely.

I already have 40k armies for Tyranids, Orks, Dark Eldar, Space Wolves and Imperial Guard. All these are made up of various Citadel Miniatures from different editions of the game and the forces are of differing sizes (and painting status).

So, why did I choose Blood Angels?

The reason I chose to use Blood Angels was that I owned quite a large, if a bit odd, assortment of Space Marine miniatures that I've had kicking around in my collection for ages without a home and wanted to do something with them.

The Blood Angels 5th Edition codex is FREE from Games Workshop's web site too so that saved me buying the new Space Marine Codex (although I will be picking that and the new Imperial Guard codex up at some point).

I was also about to move beyond just gaming amongst friends and family and join the Derby Wargames Society - so I fancied taking a new army to face new opponents with.

What was the Plan?

The whole process was dictated by the existing miniatures in my collection so my army lists could not be based on what competitive gamers feel are optimum builds (I know Blood Angels aren't classed as top-tier but you know what I mean). Instead I approached my army list writing in the way I always have - make sure each unit can work in isolation if necessary.

What this actually means on the tabletop is that each unit has a chance of dealing with high AV/high T targets, it also has a use against horde armies and that the force as a whole has plenty of scoring units in objective based games (Troops choices).

This approach to writing an army list is good practice for any 40k force list in my humble opinion, at least it is if you're like me and don't like to chop and change your list for each opponent. One size fits all in my army lists so flexibility is a key factor and is something I consider over and above specialist-role power.

Aside from that, I prefer to use generic HQ choices and give them names of my devising rather than use the super characters in the codexes, despite the super characters being incredibly cool. I just feel that I 'own' my force a little bit more when it's 'my' character. (And no renaming the codex characters doesn't count for me!).

What did I have to work with?

The models in my collection without homes in armies essentially boiled down to this:

  • 2 x 5-man terminator Squads (from 2nd ed Space Hulk) each inc. Heavy flamer, Power Sword sergeant

  • 2 x 10-man Tactical Squads (from 2nd ed 40k) each inc. Flamer, Missile Launcher, Chainsword and Bolt Pistol sergeant

  • 1 x 5-man Assault Squad (current release on sprue - originally for Space Wolf army)

  • 1 x 5-man Devastator Squad (from 2nd/3rd ed 40k) inc. 2 x Heavy Bolter, Missile Launcher, Lascannon

  • 2 x Attack Bikes (current release on sprue - originally planned for Space Wolf army)

  • 3 x Space Marine Bikes (current release on sprue - originally planned for Space Wolf army)

  • 1 x Librarian (Rogue Trader era miniature) with Force Sword and Book!

  • 1 x Space Marine Captain (Rogue Trader era miniature) with Powerfist and Bolt Pistol

  • 1 x Space Marine Commander (current release mostly intact - bits used elsewhere)

  • 1 x Space Marine Dreadnought (current release - originally planned for Space Wolf army)

  • 1 x Rhino (Rogue Trader era in need of repair)

  • 1 x Razorback (current edition - part of an ebay purchase last year) inc. twin-linked Lascannons

  • Approximately 30 Space Marines from different editions of 40k inc. the original 'beaky' Rogue Trader plastics in various states of build

  • A fairly healthy Space Marine section in my bits box

As you can see there was quite a bit to play with (I've been tabletop gaming for over 20 years so have built up quite a collection during this time). One thing I did notice that was that I didn't have a Chaplain miniature - something that I felt was necessary when fielding the Death Company. So I grabbed an old Rogue Trader era miniature for about £2 from ebay. I considered converting one but decided I had enough work on my hands and bought one instead.

Army Building - What Size List?

Now I have to admit that over the last 10 years most of my 40k gaming has been at 1000pts or lower, mainly due to available play time. So with this in mind I was a bit stunned to discover that the army size of choice at the club was 1750pts - eeek! was my initial reaction, followed swiftly by the realisation that I really would need to get a force painted if I was going to be playing regularly at a 'proper' games club.

See Part 2 when I look at the army lists and start to consider painting them.


  1. I've got a white scars army myself. Been building it for a looong time. At a time when they were not quite fashionable at all!

  2. Ah yes.. the White Scars. Very cool indeed.

    You're right in that they've only recently (relatively speaking) become fashionable. I think the fact that Paul Sawyer (former editor of White Dwarf) adopted them as his own pulled them into focus at GW several years back and since then they've been enjoying some prime time.

    I remember looking at them back in the Rogue Trader days too but I went for the Space Wolves instead (and have remained a fan of the sons of Russ ever since).

    I'm really enjoying working with the Blood Angels now though, I'm even thinking of picking up the novels to immerse myself a bit more while painting them up.

    The idea that super warriors that are hundreds of years old, having perfected their combat skills along with skills in artistry and crafts are somehow a bit unpredictable and potentially a danger to all with their flawed blood line is giving me food for thought.

    I've not paid too much attention to the Blood Angels before so I'm enjoying investigating them.


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