Saturday, 27 December 2014

Shield of Baal Exterminatus rules and review

Hi folks,

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone. I was hoping to get ahold of Exterminatus prior to Christmas but sadly our FLGS only got the softbacks in and I'd reserved a hardback copy. However, I now have it in hand and can assure you it was well worth the wait. Here I'll give a brief review of the book and the new rules found inside it. I'll focus on the Blood Angel and Flesh Tearer rules and leave the Necron ones. 

Firstly it has to be said that the book(s) is/are a work of beauty and is easily to the standard of the codexes and beyond. In brief, this volume delivers everything you would want from a supplement and then some, and so for those wondering it looks highly unlikely we will get a Blood Angels supplement in the future because we now already have one.

The campaign book is easily the size of the Space Marine codex and then some and is filled with lavish artwork, fluff and model pictures of battlegroups from the campaign. I particularly liked the individual pictures of Tyranid beasties. Note that the battlegroups featured are from Blood Angels, Flesh Tearers, Astra Militarum, Sororitas, Necrons and Tyranids, encompassing a fair chunk of the available armies in 40k! It's a great volume for anyone to get their teeth into and, despite the Necron bro-fisting should keep fans happy.

Now for the meat of things: the rules.Some were left wanting with the changes wrought in the new Blood Angels Codex. I think it's safe to say that between the formations in the recent WD issue and all the extra rules provided here, you'd be hard pushed to find any gaps in the army that still need filling. Broadly you can split the rules sections into the echoes of war missions, strike forces and formations. This may take some time so please bear with me. 

Echoes of war missions:

There are 8 missions in the book which between the Deathstorm mini-missions and Leviathan / cities of death missions, leaves you with a decent-sized campaign, one that Dan and I are hoping to get to grips with in the first quarter of 2015. There is a wide range of missions, all of which are essentially Tyranids Vs one (or more) of the factions involved in the campaign, be it Blood Angels/Flesh Tearers, Astra Militarum, Adeptus Sororitas or Necrons. There are restrictions in most of the missions in that they need to include certain characters or formations. Overall they look like a fun set of missions which tie in well to the overall campaign. 

Strike Forces:

There are rules for two Strike forces included in the book which cover two elements of the Blood Angels factions involved in the campaign; The Archangels and the Flesh Tearers. The Blooded (2nd company) have formations present but can be represented well enough using the Baal Strike force and Battle Company from the main Codex so as not to warrant more than a couple of extra formations. 


The Blood Angels first company get their own abbreviated relic list and a full set of Warlord traits as below:


Banner of the Archangel Host - for twice the price of a standard company banner you get preferred enemy for that assault terminator squad in addition to the usual bonuses.Obviously they will only benefit from this in assaults due to their weapon loadouts, but on a large squad this makes their weaponry very formiddable. I'd certainly consider taking it, whereas a regular company banner almost never makes my shortlist. 

Archangels edge - For the cost of a melta bomb you get a power sword for a Terminator Sergeant (Looking at you Lorenzo) with the giant killer rule, granting him instant death on rolls of 6 to wound against monstrous creatures. Quite frankly, as most monstrous creatures are 3+ save this could be a huge perk for only a scant few points. Obviously it is quite a longshot and will be of no use in regular challenges but still worth considering. 

Executioners hood - an army specific piece of wargear, for the cost of a melta bomb you can make a librarian immune to the effect of shadow in the warp. 

Warlord traits:
1 - Grim determination - fearless for the warlord.
2 - Aggressive defence - counter attack for the warlord and unit. 
3 - Blood champion - Warlord rerolls all failed to hit rolls in a challenge.
4 - Master of the field - objective secured for the warlord and his unit.
5 - Lord of Baal - Warlord and all friendly BA units in 12" reroll failed morale and pinning checks. 
6 - Angel of death - Warlord has preferred enemy. 

A few decent ones here, mostly traits 4-6. 

Archangels Strike force:
An interesting FOC, essentially you get 1-2 HQ choices from either Captain, Chaplain, Librarian (and Karlaen) and must be in terminator armour. The remaining 2-16 slots are ALL elites choices, chosen from terminators, assault terminators, vanguard, sternguard and Furiosos. The squads are limited to 10 maximum in any combo and the Furiosos to 6 maximum. Command benefits include rerolling Warlord trait and, importantly, the ability to reroll all failed reserve rolls for deep strikers and only scattering D6" rather than 2D6". If you wanted a minimal strike force this would be a great way to add in some elites to your force and improve their chances of arriving safely. 

Flesh Tearers:

The one many people have been waiting for, Seth's lads get their own supplement of sorts. 


Bones  of Baelsor - a dreadnought (any type) counts crew stunned as shaken and also counts penetrating hits from certain Tyranid weapons (plasma-based and venom cannons) as glancing. Bit of an odd one this for the cost of a power weapon. 

Slayers Wrath - alternative gun which is a master-crafted poisoned 2+ boltgun for the cost of a meltagun. Essentially the old SM Captain hellfire shells. Reasonable I guess.

Shield of Cretacia - melta-bomb cost, effectively power armour that's immune to poisoned attacks. Well worth it Vs Dark Eldar, not so sure normally. Though it is pretty cheap. 

Warlord traits:
1 - Incandescent fury - Warlord and his unit have hatred.
2 - Savage rage - Warlord has rampage.
3 - Avalanche of destruction - Warlord and his unit have hammer of wrath.
4 - Unstoppable momentum - Warlord and all Blood Angels in 12" have crusader.
5 - Beserk fury - Warlord and his unit have rage.
6 - Blood mad - Warlord has feel no pain.

All of these are semi-useful traits, no real stand-outs or stinkers from what I can see. Very thematic and fluffy for the Chapter also. 

Fleshtearers Strike Force:
Now this is interesting. The Flesh Tearers detachment has a compulsory HQ, Troops and Fast slot, but has a maximum of 4 Troops slots and 6 Fast attack slots, effectively allowing Blood Angel players to reclaim access to lots of assault squads should they wish to. As well as having the usual re-roll to Warlord traits, explosion of bloodlust grants each unit rage if they roll 10+ for their charge distance. Pretty fluffy and very useful for an assault-heavy army. 


Archangels orbital intervention force:
3 terminator/terminator assault squads in any combo. They must all be held in deep strike reserve but then all arrive together on the same roll. Karlaen is useful here as he can be used to manipulate reserve rolls. They can also then run and shoot the turn they arrive. The running and shooting will only really be of limited use as assault squads gain no benefit and it will only be of limited help to the regular terminator squads. 

Archangels Sanguine Wing:
2 10-man jump-pack Vanguard squads, a 10-man Sternguard squad and a Stormraven. This formation is amazing in principle but you'll need a lot of vanguard models. The sternguard must start in the Stormraven and the Vanguard in deep strike reserve. Again, a single all-or-nothing roll is required to get everyone in at the same time, but this can be rerolled. Now for the big one that is likely to make this formation a  popular one. Each Vanguard veteran can have a power weapon or lightning claw for free. Also, any Sternguard veteran can have a storm-bolter or combi-weapon for free. Yes, so even though your formation may cost 1000 points on it's own, you get 400 points of free wargear! I can see this one being potentially popoular amongst players, but again it will rely on having reliable reserves manupulation. 

Archangels Demi-company:
A captain, Captain Karlaen or Chaplain (terminator armour mandatory on each), plus 2 Furiosos and 5 squads chosen from the 4 veteran squads. The entire formation gets stubborn plus the same command benefits from the Archangels Strike force, which although useful, does seem rather redundant seeing as you can build the same army using the Strike force (admittedly without stubborn).

The Archangels:
Effectively their answer to the Battle company (and again a bit redundant looking at the Strike force and demi-company entries), this formation must include a Captain/Karlaen, a Chaplain, 4 Furiosos and 10 squads chosen from the 4 veteran types. The whole formation gain stubborn, the same 2 command benefits from the Strike force and in addition can roll for reserves from turn one. If you were taking this formation then it's well worth including Karlaen for the reserves perk. You can pretty much ensure arrival of units when and where you want them making it pretty potent. 

Blooded demi-company:
Effectively a way for you to field half a battle company, this formation must include a Captain/Chaplain, a dreadnought, 3 tacticals, 1 assault and 1 devastator squad (any size). If a Chaplain is taken you must take a Furioso, whereas a Captain mandates a Command squad. This formation grants you both a reroll to Warlord traits (if it's primary) and gives all units the red thirst same as the Battle Company, giving you the +1 initiative boost. Pretty useful if you're planning on taking those units anyway, but I see no benefits of taking this formation over just taking a regular (and less restricted) Baal Strike force. Kind of pointless. 

Strike force mortalis:
A Chaplain, 3 death company squads, 2 DC dreads and a Stormraven. These chaps all benefit from the crusader rule and all models without rampage gain an extra attack if outnumbered during the assault phase. This does not apply if a disordered charge is made. A few nice perks to an already beastly unit, so long as you were planning on taking a shedload of death company anyway. 

Dante's Avenging Host:
The only reason for the blooded demi-company it seems is to include it here. This formation includes it (the Chaplain must be taken) plus Dante, Mephiston, a Librarian, Sanguinary priest, Sanguinary Guard and 3 Stormravens. If units do not have jump packs or are not travelling in the stormravens then they must take drop pods. In addition to the demi-company benefits, the army gains storm of angels (the re-roll for deep-strike reserves and D6" scatter) AND all units (non-vehicle) gain objective secured. Now, despite the hefty price tag for this army I can see it being a useful formation as all the units are pretty useful in this incarnation of the codex. It's a great way to get obsec and the perks of the red thirst, as well as getting lots of characters and transports in there. Still, the points alone will come to around 2100 at the very minimum so the chances of using this in regular games are slim. 

Flesh Tearers Vanguard Strike Force:
Three Tactical squads, one Assault, one Vanguard and a Furioso. All these chaps have the red thirst and so long as the Vanguard are alive the whole formation ignores disordered charges and has stubborn. This could be pretty big for multi-charges to be fair and so I think it's a pretty decent formation. 

Lysios relief force:
Seth, a tactical squad, a vanguard squad, a Baal predator, regular predator and Stormraven. They all benefit from crusader and all come in from reserve on a single roll. If not deep striking they must be in a transport vehicle, though they may not be in drop pods. It's another all or nothing reserve roll formation. I think Vanguard without packs in the Stormraven with Seth would be useful, though the fact none of them benefit from red thirst or any other rules makes it a bit of  a mismatched formation.

The defenders of the Cathedrum:
A terminator squad, death company squad, assault squad, Furioso and 2 tactical squads. The whole formation has counter attack and stubborn reflecting their defensive role nicely.  Works well for the tactical squads while the more assault orientated squads will still benefit from furious charge/rage etc.

Strike Force Razorwind: 
Essentially the above two formations combined but with added perks in the form of being able to roll for reserves from turn one and all non-vehicle units within 12" of Seth gaining fearless. Using both Formations in concert means they will complement each other quite nicely, but again it'll all come down to that one reserve roll.  

In conclusion I'm very happy with this purchase, every bit as much as the codex itself. I think anyone who felt dissatisfied with the Codex or who is a lover of Blood Angels/Flesh Tearers should consider investing in it as I doubt you'll be disappointed.


  1. The Sanguine Wing is actually even a bit better. It comes with a re-roll on its own Reserves as one of the Formation benefits, so you don't need to pick up Karlaen or a Comms Relay or whatever. Just make sure that whatever you're putting down at the start of the Game can hold out until it gets there.

  2. Hi westrider, yes my mistake. Just rechecked karlaen and I thought his reserve modifier was different. Obviously you can't stack 2 rerolls and several of the formations come with reserve rerolls built in so karlaen isn't needed. Unless of course you want to reroll successful rolls that is.