Sunday, 30 October 2016

Angels Blade 13th Black Crusade Campaign Supplement Review

I play Flesh Tearers and Astra Militarum and so after a conversation with a Chaos friend when the Angel's Blade/Traitors Hate supplements were released we both purchased the respective supplements. With the excitement of new rules and a plan to both expand our forces by playing out a narrative campaign we got to work and I thought i'd write a review of the Angel's Blade book...

This is what the Games Workshop website says:
"A campaign supplement for Warhammer 40,000, containing a story from the beginning of the 13th Black Crusade from the perspective of the Blood Angels, featuring new rules content for that Chapter.
The Story
The shadow of a huge fleet of Crimson Slaughter and Black Legion forces falls across the Diamor System, as Abaddon the Despoiler’s 13th Black Crusade is launched. This shadow is met by the righteous fury of the Blood Angels; leading a mighty coalition of Adeptus Mechanicus and Imperial Knights, the Sons of Sanguinius fight bitterly against the servants of Chaos.
Yet the fires of war that consume the worlds of the Diamor System are revealing dark secrets, harbingers of a terrible doom that even the Blood Angels will be hard-pressed to prevent coming to fruition…
The Rules
The 136-page hardback Black Crusade: Angel’s Blade features a host of new rules content for Warhammer 40,000, to be used alongside Codex: Blood Angels:
- Updated datasheets for Blood Angels, including Terminator Captains, Death Company Chaplains, Assault Squads and Devastator Squads;- Relics of the Lost; incredibly rare and powerful Death Company relics once borne by a Chapter member who succumbed to the Black Rage;- Revised and updated Wargear of Baal;- Death Company Tactical Objectives;- 9 new Blood Angels Formations, an Angel’s Blade Strike Force and a Lost Brotherhood Strike Force;- 3 new Altar of War missions: Death on the Wing, Honour of the Angels and No Matter the Odds."

The story is interesting and consists of a historical account of the war in the Diamor system. It is told in two ways; one from an in battle perspective told through the characters in the story arc in a fiction novel format and; one from a more historical non-fiction format summing up exactly what happened throughout the war.

The combination of story telling and factual information is good and works well allowing the reader to understand the conflict and be immersed in the action at the same time. I also liked the way in which the different parts of the conflict were split into 4 different chapters which gave the feeling that there were 4 specific 'moments' that were important in the whole campaign.

The only disappointment (dad Steve actually brought this point up) was the way in which the Death Company were created in the story. It does seem that GW always seem to squeeze in a spectacular single event that happens to turn the Blood Angels to the black rage in a flash! It would be nice to see the story arc differ one time and go a little bit more in depth as to why and how a marine loses himself to the black rage.

The artwork is great! As we have come to expect, the quality of the art, the layout of the pages and the use of graphics and text is excellent in Games Workshop products. Not quite as awesome as Forgeworld but a good second best!

There is a mixture of old and new art in the book which I think works well and all the art complements the story.

There is also a good amount of miniature pictures mixed in with the artwork which is nice to see. It always inspires me to see beautifully painted models set up in battle and all pictures are good to look at and have been photoshopped well.

There are a few maps to support the action which are appropriate and help the reader to understand the story but I would have liked to see more to really get my imagination in the right place. I would like to have some large overall maps and then some more detailed close ups of the action to fully understand the battles being fought.

Rules and formations
There are updated rules for some of the Blood Angel units such as a Terminator Captain, Chaplain, Assault Squads etc. These updates are not game changing and are generally just adding extra wargear options such as the assault squad being able to take an eviscerator etc. etc.

The formations are much better and link in with the story nicely. There are quite a few and add some nice special rules to flavour your army. I like them because they are not game breaking (some formations for other armies are ridiculously over-powered!) and they are not out of reach (You don't have to remortgage your house to buy all of the models you need).

Also included are more "Wargear of Baal" and 4 more psychic discliplines to choose from which are pretty cool and useful (or useless) depending on your army build. For example the "Technomancy" discipline would be useless in a game of 2 footslogging armies!

I like all of the new rules and formations as I think that they can really expand and theme your army without making the army massively over-powered.

There are 3 missions included in the book. Only 3? Really? Seriously GW! There are 4 chapters in the book, why only 3 missions? The missions do complement the story but they are not written specifically for it and they all use deployments that are in the main rulebook so nothing new there.

The only thing that makes them interesting is the inclusion of some special rules which gives them specific flavour and can theme a game. Other than this I feel that GW have been very lazy here. There could have been more missions written for the story with some more interesting deployments. Still there are no missions at all in the Traitors Hate book...

Campaign? What campaign? I got this book because it was a "campaign supplement" and wanted to play a series of themed games between Chaos and Blood Angels. It was really disappointing to find that there was no campaign system or linked games in the book. Effectively what we get are some new rules and a story that is not to Black Library standards. I think that GW have missed a big trick here as I know quite a few players who would love to pit Chaos and Blood Angels against each other in a narrative set of games.

For both of the physical books the cost is £30 each. Buy Angel's Blade and Traitors Hate together (as suggested by my friend initially) and the price is... oh £60!! Really?! Come on at least give us a fiver off for buying both!!!!

The alternative is to go digital rather than get the physical books. The enhanced edition's are the same price or slightly cheaper on Android or Apple and you can also get the Blood Angels Red Thirst Codex which for slightly more will get you the Codex plus the extra rules in Angel's Blade. Although you don't get the "Campaign" story or missions.

I guess there is something to meet everyone's needs in each format but as for the price? Read on...

In conclusion I like the expansions that are being released, I like the idea of the 13th black crusade and the narrative ideas that are being released to fuel the imagination for playing and modelling. Do I like this expansion? It's decidedly average in my opinion.

The story is average, there is no campaign system, there are only 3 missions and the artwork and design is what you should expect from GW's high standards. The main saving part of this release for me is the addition of the new rules, formations and psychic powers. Without these there really would be no point in getting the book.

For £30 I think that it is overpriced and should be somewhere around the £15-20 mark with a discount for buying both supplements!!!

In conclusion i'm glad I have it but disappointed I bought it!!

Let me know what you think in the comments.

James – A blog about Warhammer 40k and the Horus Heresy by four Dads

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