|Lord Commander Dante|
(Update: it wasn't until now (2014-12-23) that I became aware of an article with the same title on BoLS. It's an excellent article geared more towards tournament players whereas mine is more focused on fluff players. No rip off intended.)
Everyone and their mother is doing a review of the new Codex: Blood Angels these days, but mine definitely packs the best soundtrack:
For me, the most striking point clearly is the beauty of the Codex as a book. I gazed at the pictures of the Blood Angels ever since the White Dwarf 36 (December 1998, German Numbering) and I own all Blood Angels Codices up from 3rd Edition, but the current Codex definitely is the most beautiful Codex ever.
Mind you, as I am short on cash I only purchased the regular edition of the Codex and not the Sanguinary Guard Edition, but the regular Codex already is a beauty and I could glance at its pages forever. For me, the print and design alone are its money worth.
|GW products are pricier than ever before, but I am happy with their quality. Yet this still means I heavily limit my spending.|
Another big plus is the way the successor chapters are being presented. No longer they receive a meager tile in a table, but each of the notable Blood Angels successor gets its full page with extremely well drawn and colored depictions of each chapters Space Marines.
Another big plus is that Mephiston, Lord of Death, has the Independent Character rule again. In the previous Codex he was a monster with the stat line of a greater daemon fighting on his own, but I prefer to have him as a support character taking care of the soldiers in the field with him. If you have him sit on mission objectives in the backfield with two Tactical Squads, any enemy will find a challenge. On the downside he still hasn't an Invulnerable Save (like every lowly Captain does) despite going down from T6 to T5, which means Instant Death now can be an issue due to also lacking Eternal Warrior. The lacking Invulnerable Save can be compensated, though, if you're lucky enough to draw the Shield of Sanguinius power. Overall I think Mephiston is solid for the price tag he has now and considering he used to cost the equivalent of a Land raider in the former Codex.
|Chaplain Lemartes - I am still running the old ugly model with the duster in his right hand, but it's a classic.|
From my point of view, a final plus is the HQ section as it is a good mix of old and new. All the named characters are there, the Librarian Dreadnought is a nice addition, and I am glad to see the Brother Techmarine be back as a HQ choice because I think it fits his rank. The bitter pill here is Chaplain Lemartes being an Elite Choice when the Elite slots are already crowded. I liked having him as a HQ in 4th edition where he was an auto-include for me.
|Death Company - saving the day when no hope is left.|
Last but not least Death Company having Jump Packs for 3pts is a steal. The good old days when the DC was storming across the field with Jump Packs and tying down the enemy in close combat are finally back!
|Blood Angels 2nd Company, 6th Squad.|
However, the place where BA players really got kicked into their gut is Assault squads occupying Fast Attack slots now. This may make sense from the point of a Codex adherent Ultramarine, but fluff wise it makes more sense that Blood Angels are equally effective with the Jump pack as they are on foot, so I always imagined their Tactical Squads to pick their war gear based on their type of mission. So, Assault Squads are basically out as scoring units as they don't get the Objective Secured rule plus I currently don't see any Detachment or Formation which would give them this rule back.
|Veteran Assault Squad with yellow helmets. See that Stormshield? It's now illegal, too.|
Also, GW has undergone a complete recoloring of the Blood Angels helmets. The color of a Blood Angel's helmet denotes the squad type he serves in. According to that logic, Tactical Squads and Tactical Terminator Squads have red helmets, Assault Squads, Veteran Assault Squads (Vanguard Veteran Squad for younger players), and Assault Terminators sport yellow helmets.
In this context, golden helmets were reserved to the Honor Guard only, but GW dropped the Honor Guard in the new Codex completely and replaced it with the Command Squad instead. plus now all veteran units come with golden helmets - except for Terminators, which doesn't make sense as Terminators are the most honored veterans in the Chapter. In other words, I am not going to repaint my helmets and stick to the traditional logic, thank you.
|Dante is classiest with his very own Honor Guard. The now illegal techpriest is at the very center in the back.|
Also the fact that GW dropped the Honor Guard, one of the signature units in 3rd and 4th edition, but replaced it with the Command Squad, makes this entry stand in the Ugly section and not in Bad. The two units or more or less compatible with the Techpriest being the only model you can't play in a Command squad anymore.
ConclusionThe latest Codex is a push back from the 5th Edition Codex where everything was able to fly that could possibly made so - including deep striking Land Raiders. In 5th Edition, I therefore started to build an army exclusively made out of Jump Troops and flyers (Land Speeders and Stormravens). This blueprint for a Blood Angels army is gone now.
Instead, in the future your auto-includes are two Tactical Squads plus a Death Company Squad with Lemartes, pretty much what we used to play in 3rd Edition. (Sarcasm: I assume the design of these rules has absolutely nothing to do with GW's desire to sell the specific Death Company and the new tactical Squad plastic kits.) Tanks and ranged firepower over raw close combat madness will become more significant again.
It is odd: the 5th edition Codex was designed to see everything fly, but competitive players spammed Assault Squads in Razorbacks instead. The 7th edition Codex brings back a focus on Tactical Squads in Rhinos and Razorbacks, but at the same time makes Death Company with Jump Packs viable again, too.
While writing this blog post I have been flipping through the various Blood Angels Codices I won from 3rd to 7th Edition. Evidently, rules existing in the 7th Edition already existed in 3rd, the name and the mechanics were just slightly different. In the end, GW changes rules for the sake of change so they can sell books and miniatures, which isn't an approach I particularly like. However, in the big picture and over decades everything stays the same adhering to the authentic character the army has. I guess the only thing one can do is to not throw any models away and hope they become legal one day again.