Friday, 9 April 2010

Death Company?

What is more characterful than a frothing at the mouth, raving psychopath charging, enraged, at the enemy? The noble Blood Angels fallen from grace by curse of genetics.
Rushing to their death to avenge their Primarch, cast down by the ruinous .....etc etc...

Are they worth it? Do they have a place in a competitive, mechanised list?

Lets examine.

Firstly expense. At 1500, all choices made must be incredibly points efficient.
They need to fulfill the role you have selected them far more efficiently (faster, 'deader') than another FOC choice of the same or similar points. They must not fulfill this role whilst costing the earth. But what is reasonable? Surely no more than 10-15% of the points allocated?
So 150 to 225 points is the range. WHY? Because if you put too many eggs in one basket...or in fact, just reduce the number of baskets to a low level, your opponent will be able to focus fire and remove the threat, without having to worry about a great number of valid threats.

By having multiple units at this reasonable cost we can dilute the firepower attracted to any one, equally dangerous unit and thereby increase its survivability:

6 x Death Company; 2 x Power Sword, 1x Thunder Hammer, Rhino (HKM, EA) - 255 points. 12 S5 Hits, 8 S5 Power weapon hits, 3 S9 Power weapon hits and a S8 unlimited range AP3 missile.

This unit then actually comes in 30 points over the self-imposed 'frugality limit'! Do we count the rhino as a separate and discrete threat all of its own? Only if I want to sway the analysis in my favour...which for now...I will.

This unit will, on the charge, deal with the most typical threats - MEQ or GEQ. I would be hesitant to use Death Company against TH/SS Termies as most in the community know to either ignore them by staying away or "torrent of fire" them to death - don't engage them for God's sake! Far more effort than its worth...

Furious Charge improves the DC chance of wounding through S5 and reduces the amount of attacks back through I5...going first against alot of targets.

Importantly, this unit will not kill an entire unit of Guardsmen or Tactical Marines, Orks etc...but should inflict enough damage to win the combat and wipe out the enemy in their assault phase. This is important as it should allow the DC to survive longer than being a one-hit wonder.

Overkill would result in their own death. Not coolio, well, not yet anyway - we'll give them their glorious death soon.

So how do Death Company stay alive? T4, 3+ only makes them marines. Feel No Pain allows a 4+ save against wounds that go through their normal armour save. Like a ward save in WFB. However, this ward save will not work against twice strength:toughness weapons, Power weapons or AP1 or 2 weapons.
Most small arms fire will be negated through this, as will wounds in combat from regular CCW. This makes the DC's small number (in this case 6 as above) far more survivable than a greater number without FNP.

Further protection comes from the Rhino APC. This fast transport will ensure these lunatics get to where they need to be - into the middle ground and beyond. The Rhino can also contribute to the army's Alpha Strike capability, launching a Hunter Killer Missile into a target. On its own, this HKM is unreliable...when combined with many others as well as long range Anti-Tank firepower, will potentially cripple an enemy's armour before it has time to roll out.

(On a side note; the Alpha Strike only really comes into its own when faced with a limited number of enemy vehicles. by focusing overwhelming firepower until these are dead or leaving their occupants stranded. For me, the Alpha Strike also works if just to silence the enemies big guns for a turn whilst the relatively short ranged Blood Angels get into position unharmed)

A final note on keeping the DC alive - we must always consider the unit being discussed not in a vacuum. In my Mech BA list (see here) 3 Baal Predators and a Vindicator form big threats, as do 3 TLLC much firepower can be directed at the DC? Enough to kill them? In solidly build, competitive lists maybe there are enough AT weapons to stop all of these threats...In poorly built armies? I think not. Perhaps I'm wrong.

So we have looked at cost, damage output and survivability.

What about versatility? Are the DC only good at taking out troops? Carving them to meat? With the S9 Thunder Hammer in the unit they can do damage to vehicles very well. Additionally with S5 on the charge and a good number of attacks (typically 4 on the charge), vehicles with rear armour 10 (most in the 40k universe) are targets too.
What about AV14? Land Raiders are no longer real targets for the DC without Rending. Nor is a single Thunder Hammer a sure thing against Land Raiders or Monoliths...against Russes it is more than adequate due to weaker rear armour but...

The key here is that although the DC can just about deal with most things, they are not supposed to be charged at all targets.

They can wade through legions of poor quality troops, cut through elite troops and die in the process, pop vehicles, keep up with the rest of the army and can provide synergy and contribute to the overall effectiveness of all other units.

A great choice at a good price.

However, when deciding the question are they worth it we must consider the alternatives no?
Next couple of posts will look at the viability of Honour Guard instead of DC and a little something something extra that I had not considered until I wrote the start of this sentence....oh dear, more money to spend on plastic crack...




  1. I don't like DC all that much considering SHPs can turn RAS into them minus Rage for cheaper.

    Best use I can see for them is flying around with Lemartes or riding in a transport with a Land Raider. Or, of course, if you want lots of Dreads running around.

  2. Also not a huge DC fan, but your notion of controlling when an assault ends is spot on.

  3. I also rate DC lower than Hermes Conrad when he requisitioned his groove back.

    I do enjoy your analysis though, and will add you to my Blog Roll, as is my custom. :)

  4. @Chumb - DC can pump out more attacks and have access to power weaponry...the SHP requires at least a PW if not a JP too dependent on whether RAS is JP'd or not..expense is more or less the same then so I can see you point. But do you rate the psychological edge the DC can bring to the table? Or do you feel smart players will not fall for it?

    @TKE - surely Hermes never truly lost his groove! Thats a pretty low rating though...I guess when you consider that a dakka pred and a autocannon/las pred could be purchased for the same price there are some considerations to be made...

    @Dethtron...controlling the assault length also means that you don't worry about rage as much...not having to consolidate towards nearest enemy. Its situational though, as not everything will go as it statistically should, as I'm sure you know man.