So last night I managed to play a game against Old Shatter hands' new tau list, albeit pointed down to 1500. Since I'm dog sitting at a friend's house and forgot to bring my models OSH brought his Blood Angels so I could use them. We thought it would be a fun experience for me to play a more assault style and good practice for him as BA are undoubtedly going to be heavily represented in the tournament.
The battle report will come later when I get time and energy to write it up but I wanted to drop a few thoughts on the BA codex as I hadn't read it until last night.
So my first impression is to do with GW editing. The photos and fluff are really nice and well laid out (wish they had a model for the Stormraven) but the various rules? Gah, a total mess.
For starters, the order of the entries. Tactical, Assault (ok troops first, sounds good), then devastators (ok, switch to heavy support), then veterans (jump to elite), terminators (good still elite, maybe it was a printing error), nope dreadnoughts next (HS), bikes (FA?), scouts (troops), Drop pods (ded. trans.), Land Speeders (FA), Rhinos and variants (mixed FOC), Baal (FA), Land Raider (ded. trans.), Storm Raven, Techmarine, HQs (at least they are together, except for elite chaplains sneaking in there, oh and elite sanguinary priests, oh and elite sanguinary guard). Whew, what a mess.
Why is it so hard for GW to have things logically laid out. Go down the FOC, warmachine does it and it works fine. HQs, elites, troops, fast attack then heavy support. It's not that hard and it doesn't cause issues. The army list at least goes with this logical format, which is good or I might have given up before making a list.
I'm also not a fan of how GW scatters rules around the book like crazy. I was constantly flipping from army list to wargear, then being told the rules were on a model's page and then finding that in the messed up order from before. Why don't all the wargear rules stay in the wargear section? Except those in the main rulebook (power fists, grenades etc.) just keep the rules in one place. Or, better yet, have the rules on the model pages and the wargear section.
Anyhoo, formatting aside, the army is really good.
You get the strengths of the regular marine codex but with so many more options as well. Having fast Rhino chassis vehicles is extremely powerful and this helps step the codex up in the mechanised race of 5th edition. Assault marines as troops is nice, but really brought up to deadly by having the discounted rhinos (dropping jump packs lets yuu get a 50pt rhino at a 35pt discount...and it's fast) and getting FNP and Furious Charge-causing Sanguinary priests. If you need to sit on a home objective you can always take tac marines or scouts, but assault marines in rhinos will really hit your opponent in the face quickly.
Fast, scouting Baal Predators are nasty. I outflanked them, which was a nice way to keep them from the Tau firepower early on but even if going second, go 18" in the scout move and pop smoke (that's allowed now). With a 12" deployment you are now 30" across the table before the game has even begun. You could easily get side/rear armour shots on your opponent on your first turn. Very nasty and it forces them to be dealt with early on.
I like the psychic powers, though they aren't the be all and end all. Blood Lance (4D6" range, S8 AP1 lance attack) sounds nasty but remember that it's only a S8 hit and so your librarian could, like mine, fail to roll high enough to damage even a Piranha's AV11 before getting hit with a railgun and dying badly. The Wings of Sanguinius (move like a jump pack) is a pretty neat power, made horribly powerful by putting it on a Librarian dreadnought. It's fair to say that being able to jump my dread into a small gap in front of Old Shatter Hands crisis team, clear the charge lane and assault a total of 18" from my starting point was a game-changing move.
The special characters seem pretty cool but they are a bit more toned down than some of the regular marine SCs, so I'm good with that. Sure Mephiston eats anything for breakfast but he's only one guy and costs as much as a land raider. I think that the melta/flamer/Thunder hammmering Vulkan armies can be a bit nastier overall.
So final thoughts. The good:
- Fast Vehicles
- Good troops
- Really versatile army build that can be as shooty as regular marines and hits harder in CC.
- Fun special characters who rock, but don't offer such OTT no brainer choices that the regular marine codex does (25pts extra for MC combi weapon, T6 and FNP on my chaplain...I'll take Cassius thankyou).
- Formatting. The book is just horribly disorganised in my view and it doesn't make for good reading about the units. The fluff and army list are solidly set out though, but units and wargear are messy.
- Deep striking land raiders. While tactically I have no issue against it (it's risky), the fluff is just silly. They drop the tanks from Thunderhawk transporters and trust in its armour to hold up. For starters, the enemy should be able to see these big aircraft coming in and shoot at them but mainly it's a silly way to make the land raider seem tough. Dropping 60+ tons of armour will break stuff inside it, no matter how it's made. If it was tough enough to deal with a drop of several hundred feet, then anti armour weapons basically wouldn't work against it, it would be so tough. If it's dropped from, say 30 feet, then why aren't these massive hovering TH transporters at risk from being blown out of the sky? As a more plausible descripion, why not drop it from high up but with with retro rockets that slow it down and then drop off when it lands (see dawn of war IG building deployment)?
Anyway I will aim to write up a batrep soon.
Thanks for reading.