Now I make no secret of my dislike for the Blood Angels. Not so much for their theme, history or doctrine so much as the over popularity of the pseudo-vampires and their tendency to be better than every other angel of death in almost every way. What once started as a neat mesh of gothic sci-fi and dark fantasy has turned into an over the top combat fest that turned into every tournament player's wet dream. When I started back in second edition, the Blood Angels were nothing more than a fairly balanced Space Marine list with more focus on melee than shooting, exactly how they should be. However, their descent into insane power and seeming increasing lack of weakness began back in third edition.
For those who weren't around for third edition, which I now dub as "40k for Dummies" due to it's bare bone, lack of variety nature, close combat ruled the roost. If you were a shooty army, you might as well skipped every one of your turns. As you can imagine, as an avid Ultramarine (and, later in the same edition, Necron) player, I lost pretty much all the time. This mindset, however, did wonders in boosting the popularity of the sons of Sanguinius as bandwagon players left and right came out of the wood work to take an almighty Space Marine army that ripped most anything to shreds in combat. I was ridiculed when I walked into a Games Workshop as inevitably someone would hark "He's a smurf player! So boring, everyone plays them!" to which the rest of the store, who unsurprisingly were Born Again Blood Angels, would shake their fists and mutter "Yeah!" like that kid who follows the bully who stole your lunch money everyday to look tough.
Even then Blood Angels took their fluff well. Space Marines would randomly succumb to the Black Rage and become Death Company, or would frenzy randomly as the Red Thirst took over, both of which magnifying your close combat abilities whilst inconveniencing you ranged abilities. It was insanely hard, yes, but that's how Blood Angels should be, and surely once Games Workshop ironed out the rules edition by edition, they would even out... right?
Blood Angels are harder than ever. EVER. If it's a chapter strength, it's rules are amazing and if it's a chapter flaw, it's even more amazing. How does that work? The Red Thirst is meant to be a curse, not a boon. I dare you all to point out one flaw with succumbing to the Red Thirst nowadays. You can't, can you? Then there's the units that a hard but have no specific relevant to Blood Angels at all. At what point were Blood Angels the only chapter to be so amazing with psychic powers that they were the only ones who thought of sticking a Librarian in Dreadnought armour? It's preposterous.
I dread the next codex, especially with the power upping and points dropping Warhammer 40k has gotten into as of late. However, all is not lost. I have a few ideas on how Blood Angels can be an enjoyable army to play as and against without hogging the lime light like a fat Eldar.
1. The Red ThirstAs I have stated before, the Red Thirst is a curse. It went from being a nuisance (making your unit move towards the nearest enemy when you fail a leadership test) to being something you'd hope would happen (gains furious charge for the rest of the game on the roll of a 1). Now I get this is meant to improve the Blood Angel's close combat abilities, but it's a flaw, not a boon. I suggest changing this to something similar to the Knights Errant in the Bretonnian army book. Something like:
Roll for leadership for every unit at the start of the assault phase. If the unit fails, it has to attempt to charge a unit if it is possible to do so (even if you would usually opt against it) and in that phase, the unit also gains Furious Charge.
A simple change over would make Blood Angels randomly dangerous when charging and makes the Red Thirst less permanent. It would also mean that, even if an enemy unit is 12" away, they have to attempt a charge and would prompt an overwatch attack regardless. It now has a flaw but it's still deadly.
2. MephistonOf all the Blood Angels, Mephiston is something of an oddity to me. On the one hand, I feel he has the best fluff of any Blood Angel special character, but on the other hand he's is overpowered to the max. Mephiston doesn't have to be unstoppably hard to be a good choice! He is, by far, one of the most insanely hard models in the game. Ridiculous stats, psychic powers, a good gun, artificer armour and a psychic hood that amplifies his power. In my opinion, if a single model can feasibly wipe out half my army, he needs nerfing. I have some modifications I think would help keep him hard but not over the top:
Psychic Mastery 3: It has been said on several occasions that Tigurius is thought to be the most powerful psyker in the Imperium, yet he is still ML3. I don't disagree with this as I personally feel Eldrad and Ahriman should be the only two ML4 characters in the setting. So why is Mephiston ML4? I hear you Blood Angels cry "because he pushed through the Black Rage!", but that still contradicts Tigurius being more powerful. You can still show this in the rules...
One Extra Warp Charge: I would change it so Mephiston still only had 3 powers, but 4 warp charges to show his psychic powers are super charged. It means his discipline and pure knowledge doesn't match Eldrad or Ahriman, but rather boosted by his willpower.
Drop Strength and Toughness both to 5: No Marine should be able to equally arm wrestle a Swarm Lord without special gear. Initiative 9? That's fine, it's essentially a "I'm quicker than you" stat and doesn't improve with every point unless your opponent's stat is also improved.
This one might confuse some people. What do I have against Dante? Well, first of all he suffers from what I like to call "I'm Batman" syndrome fluffwise. All you hear about Dante is that he's an amazing strategist who will one day save the Imperium. "But why? What's he done? What will he do?" I say, to which he will reply "I'm Dante!". He could do with a bit of an in depth account. Compared to the other main Chapter Masters, he's a little thin on the details.
But it's not just that, his Death Mask of Sanguinius is horrible. It drops the stats of an enemy character of his choosing. So you know that ultimate character you sank all your points on? Massive waste. Oh and who's that? Dante's BFF Mephiston? Oh look, he just chopped your 250 point character in twain. With his pinky. It needs a serious looking over. Maybe it should cause fear and/or drop a stats of a character within 12" or so once a game for a single turn? That could be used much more tactically and would at least give your opponent an incentive to keep his Warlord the heck away from him.
4. Librarian DreadnoughtsI just cannot work out why Blood Angels get these things, yet no-one else does? If having a psychic wielding maniac in Mephiston wasn't enough, they also encased them in 3 feet of plate too? There is nothing in the Blood Angels background that I can find that warrants this unique unit. My stance for this is the same as the stance I took on Storm Ravens: All or nothing.
If there is a single Space Marine legion that should warrant having one of these units, it would be Thousand Sons having Sorcerer Hellbrutes.
Well, I've had my fair share of gripes. Was I fair? Was I being unfair? Games Workshop, are you looking for rules writers?