Sunday, February 06, 2011
Designing a Jump Troop Only DoA Army
Building a Descent of Angels Army
I most often use one Stormraven in my DoA armies so I thought it would be useful to post an article here that does not rely upon the new skimmer. That said the official model has been released and well received in general so no more excuses.
As an opening remark I'd like to mention that DoA armies tend to be small elite armies. You don't have a lot of points to spread around your units so it's important to be economical how you design each unit. You have a fast assault army that has has some great close range shooting to pop enemy armor. The more use you can squeeze out of each jump infantry unit the better the army will perform as a whole.
First let's start with your choices for an HQ. I believe the three best choices are the Sanguinor, Commander Dante and the Librarian. I also believe that both the Sanguinor and Dante were intentionally designed for DoA armies. I've talked about them both here a lot which you can find elsewhere, so for the most part I'll leave it at that. I would like to mention that Dante makes Sanguinary Guard count as a troop choice and as such they are a great addition to the army serving the role as a retinue for their Chapter Master. Of course the unit is best served when a Sanguinary Priest is attached.
The Librarian is by far the most popular choice. He is cheap for what you get plus he has some very useful powerful psychic powers. I am partial to the Sanguine Sword and Unleash Rage since they both boost the assault phase, which is what this army is really all about. Your army should have plenty of meltas so the Blood Lance is a waste. There should be plenty of cover to protect your jump troops on the drop - 4+++ is much better than 5+++ so again I feel that the Shield is a waste as well. Most often you'll want to deepstrike your army - Shield is mostly used by players who don't like to deepstrike their armies and feel they need the added protection.
The main drawbacks to the Librarian is the lack of an invulnerable save and he is I4. I4 can be mitigated to a degree by keeping a Priest nearby for Furious Charge but there's no way to get around the lack of an invulnerable save and there are high initiative units that can pick him out in close combat. He is still a very good choice, you just have to be careful where you place him in assaults. The Librarian also has a Ld10 psychic hood which can come in very handy versus a lot of armies. S10 from the Sanguine Sword is extremely powerful as you can smash hard stuff like warbosses, dreadnaughts and landraiders. I find the upgrade to Epistolary to be well worth the points as Sword and Rage go hand in hand... Together they are neigh unstoppable.
There is another HQ choice that is also very popular - Honor Guard. Honor Guard have the most options of any unit - they can be either very choppy or very shooty. Four plasmaguns is a very popular build. Some also like to run them with four meltaguns. I spread the melta around my army and kit my characters with infernus pistols so it's easy for me to run a squad of standard assault Marines with three meltas. Statistically you'll never need more than three meltas so anymore than that is a waste per squad. The problem with the plasmagun is that its a rapidfire weapon, so basically a unit of Honor Guard designed as such is not going to see much useful action in close combat - basically you've designed a unit that is only good in one role thus going against my central tenet I mentioned in the beginning of this article; that is, every jump infantry unit should be able to fulfill dual roles. I would rather spend these points to field a squad of Sanguinary Guard - they can take infernus pistols plus the master crafted power sword is built into their basic cost so you don't have to use more points to make them choppy.
Next up are the troop choices and there are really only two to choose from for a DoA army - assault squads and Sanguinary Guard. I like to field Dante with two full assault squads plus one unit of Sanguinary Guard as the core of my list. That gives me three scoring units which is enough for this type of army. I equip my assault squads with a meltagun and flamer. The flamer really helps a lot versus hordes. As I said above you can get more melta into your assault squads by attaching characters (e.g., Chaplains, Sanguinary Priests) armed with infernus pistols. If you are deepstrking your army then it's easy to position the melta pistols in half range since you only scatter 1d6". I like to kit the sergeants with a thunderhammer and stormshield but a power fist and infernus pistol is also very good as well. I've written a lot about using the Sanguinor to buff an assault squad as well as several articles about Sanguinary Guard so I recommend you use the search function if you'd like to read more about these tactics and strategies of mine.
This is the foundation of your army. Every good DoA army should have at least one Sanguinary Priest. I arm mine with a power sword so he can throw down four WS5/S5 attacks on the charge thus greatly buffing the close combat prowess of your assault squads. Feel No Pain is a game winner - you've got a small army that must fight in assaults - Feel No Pain can easily make one assault squad seem like two over the course of a game.
Another excellent choice for a DoA army is the Chaplain. He makes any squad he joins fearless plus they reroll hits when charging. Fearless is very helpful versus IG PBS! It makes them cry too. Just like the Priest the Chaplain has four WS5 attacks on the charge that ignore armor saves. I like to attach one Priest and one Chaplain to one assault squad - combined together they are a monster unit and can defeat most any other units in close combat.
To me there is only one choice - the ubiquitous Vanguard veterans with their much dreaded Heroic Intervention. Again I've written many article here about this unit - if you're interested then use the search function to learn more about them and how I use them. What I will say here is that they are a shock troop - they are going to die over the course of the game and this is one special unit I see as only needing to provide one role - close combat.
So these are the units I'd field in a pure jump infantry army - no Death Company. Rage makes the DC too hard to control in a pure jump army - they are great at what they do (kill) but they are expensive when you kit them with jump packs. You can now design your DoA army such that it has all the benefits of Death Company (Furious Charge, Feel No Pain, Preferred Enemy, Fearless) by including Librarians, Sanguinary Priests and Chaplains. If you follow my guidelines you'll end up with a very simple straightforward list. Have fun with it.