Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vanguard, SG or Honor Guard?

Today, I'm going to compare these three units and highlight the good and bad of each one.

Vanguard Vets for Blood Angels are simply better than their C:SM counterparts.  Not only are they cheaper, but they have Descent of Angels ontop of Heroic Intervention.  Vanguard Veterans can reliably come in at the right place and the right time to assault anything in the game.  They can take special pistols, carry power weapons and use meltabombs against those stationary artillery units.  The best thing about these guys is their ability to come down and turn the tide of battle instantly.  If you're stuck in combat with a squad that's wearing you down or if you're getting bombarded from afar from some artillery vehicle, Vanguard Veterans can save the day.

For these guys, I prefer a cheap and effective layout:
5x Vanguard Veterans (3x PW, 2x MB) = 205

Keep in mind that the squad leader already comes with a power weapon so you're only paying for 2 more.  For these guys, a Power Fist is another strong investment because of the 2 base attacks, but I prefer Power Weapons and Meltabombs instead.  The reason why is because they're supposed to act as a counter-charge element that can free up tarpits (near a FC/FNP bubble) or destroy non-moving vehicles.  This is why my cheap squad has 3 guys with power weapons.  The rest of your army should have fists already so I'm not really worried lack of S8 on these guys.

The big downside about VV is that they compete for the Fast Attack slot on the FOC.  I mean, if you look at it from a min-max perspective, which one would you rather take:  5 models that die like normal Marines that costs 165 points base, or a AV13 Fast Scouting Tank with TLAC and HBs for 145?  The choice is quite obvious here.

Next, we have Sanguinary Guard.  They come with 5 guys, 2+ armor saves and S4 AP4 Assault 2 wrist-mounted Bolters at 12" range.  The big thing to note is that every single one of these guys come with master-crafted two-handed power swords and 2 attacks each.  In the presence of our FC/FNP bubbles, these guys just dominate MEQ.

To take advantage of this, I personally like to go with this layout:
5x Sanguinary Guard (Chapter Banner) = 230

Yes, they can carry a Chapter Banner with them; thus increasing all of their attacks by +1 among other things.  This means that on the charge, they can put out 20 MC power weapon attacks.  If a FC bubble is anywhere near you, whatever you charge will normally die.  Keep in mind that Sanguinary Guard can also carry special pistols and take meltabombs as well.. but I think their true potential lies in the fact that they can slay most foes in close combat.  Since all their weapons are master-crafted, you get 5 re-rolls for misses so you don't really need a Chaplain.  Another good thing about these guys is that if you take Dante as your HQ, these guys become scoring.  With FNP nearby, it's almost impossible to kill these guys with anything short of AP2 weapons.

So what are the downsides to these guys?  They're really expensive in terms of PPM (points per model).  They cost the same as Terminators but they don't have invulnerable saves.  The 2+ AS is nice and the fact that they can fly is great, but if they get shot by plasma or melta they're going to go down.  At 40 points per model, you're going to hate yourself.  In a way, they function as Vanguard Veterans but without Heroic Intervention.

Last but not least, we have Honor Guard.  The great thing about these guys is that you can customize them to death.  Actually, the greatest thing about these guys is that they come with a Sanguinary Priest that can't be picked out in combat.  He's part of the squad, not an IC so he's really safe compared to the Elite versions.  HG are also pretty flexible in which you can take them in a Rhino or with Jump Packs.  Sure, you can take VV without JP, but why would you?  Why not take advantage of their true purpose and one of their Special Rules?  Anyways, HG can't HI or do anything especially cool unlike the VV or SG, but they can be customized to the needs of your army.  You can take a squad with Meltaguns, Plasma Guns or full Power Weapons.  This basically means you can customize your Honor Guard to be anti-tank, anti-heavy infantry or a dedicated CC unit.  Not only do they provide that valuable 6" FC/FNP bubble from an untargetable priest, but they can be specialized units customized to your army's needs.  Once you take any HQ, they are available at 115 points base and takes up no slot on the FOC.  The fact that they don't take up any slots means you can take them in any army.  This is great.  Once you start piling on the upgrades, their price will go up to what the VV and SG are.

An example of such a unit is:
5x Honor Guard (JP, 2x PW, 2x Meltaguns) = 215

Here you have a unit that provides a 6" bubble of awesome to the rest of your army as well as providing reliable anti-tank firepower.  If you wanted to, you can take Plasma Guns and make every infantry or MC on the field think twice before getting close to you.  Plasma Guns are actually pretty good on a unit with a 3+ armor save and FNP.  Death Guard players would be jealous of such a unit.  Another cool thing about Honor Guard you can take them without packs, stick them in a Razorback and ship them off to battle with your strongest melee HQ.  The unit is not too expensive and you have the option to take a Chapter Banner as well; further increasing the effectiveness of your HG and the IC attached to them.

The only real bad thing about HG is that in JP form, they're basically less armored SG.  AP3 weapons pose a threat to them (especially krak missiles) and they don't have the neat little features that make them really feared.  Honor Guard can't really play mindgames in the same way VV and SG can.  They're extremely effective and flexible, but their cost can go up fairly high depending on what you give them.

So there you have it folks.  The book comes out in less than a week and BA players have some difficult decisions to make.  Do you take the Turning Tide VV or the incredibly dangerous Sanguinary Guard?  What about the flexible capabilities of the Honor Guard in Jump Packs or riding in a Razorback?  It's to no surprise that this is one of the most frequently asked questions in the tacticas of Warseer and B&C.  I say they're all pretty good, with HG slightly ahead of the others most of the time because of its flexibility.  In the end, it's really up to each individual player to bring out their true potential.


Max said...

Nice review. I'm thinking of going BA for a chaos themed army (groan, yes, I know...) and have been interested in what people think about the SG for a while. Think you might give your thoughts on whether you think Dante-wing is viable?

Nagamo said...

I will run an Honor Guard in Razorback with a Librian attached to it as part of my spearhead equiped for CC. Planing to run at least one deepstriking unit I´m still unsure what to take; VV, RAS and even Ass Termis all have their uses, but I´m pretty sure not to take a Sanguinary Guard...

HERO said...

@Max - No, I do not think Dante Wing is viable. You have too little models on the table that can easily get wiped out by AP2 fire or even a single Demolisher shell. I prefer more bodies in 5th Ed.

@Nagamo - If you're planning to DS one, I suggest Vanguard Veterans. Honor Guard are still good depending on weapon layout, but I personally prefer a squad that can get into assault and not be a target in next round's shooting.

Nagamo said...

VV are on top of my ds selection at the moment, but I have to make some testgames. It´s a hard choice because it will be the last part to complete the puzzle called new BA armylist. I´m working on a 1750 points list for over a week and have a stabile part and some elements I´m not sure if they can fullfil the role they are planed for. We will see...

Anonymous said...

Honor Guard, IIRC, can only take 2 Special Weapons, so you can't take 4 Meltaguns. Please do check. You can take 2 Meltaguns/Plasmaguns and 2 Combi-Meltas/Plasmas, but then why would you not take a Sternguard unit and get Hellfire Roudns as well instead?

HERO said...

I need the book to check! :(
I will make adjustments immediately! I see Sternguard used differently than HG. HG offer that invaluable non-IC Priest ontop of the special weapons. Not to mention you don't waste any elite slots on them in the process. I think Sternguard will function the same in BA armies as C:SM ones. They will land first turn and deliver a devastating salvo of combi-melta fire that will melt transports and leave their insides to your following assault.

jpwyrm said...

Darn! I just came back from my Local gaming store, could have check the HG issue...
That beign said, the non-IC priest is quite valuable IMO and still makes HG a pretty good choice (even with only 2 SW).
VV are by far my favourite though, since the Descent of Angels special rule AND reduce cost compared to C:SM makes them so much more deadly. In my mind, this reflect a bit better the differences between SM fighting style and BA fighting style: SG fits the former better and VV is way better with the later. Anyway, my two cents on the matter.
Oh and great job again HERO, your analysis are fun to read.

Nagamo said...

You can have a melta on every Honour Guard model exchanging bolt gun, -pistol or chainsword and paying the usual amount of points.

HERO said...

Yep. Looks like every HG except for the Priest can carry special weapons to their hearts content. 4x Plasma Guns on HG will be devastating against all infantry/MCs :)

Xaereth said...

I've been contemplating for a while which squad of these to use and I've finally decided on starting with Honor Guard. Cheap cheap models (16/model after you include the 50 point SP) who can be super customized really makes the squad attractive.

That being said, it's a good call on melta bombs on the Vanguard, I might really have to try that out sometime, just to help counteract IG vehicle spam. I just recently got back from Adepticon and all I know is that if you want to have a chance at consistently winning tournaments in 40k these days, you HAVE to be able to beat mech guard. Vanguard seems like they might just help out with that.

Scarvet said...

Honor Guard win out for Razorback fleet, Rhino fleet, Landraider fleet and Jumppack spam.

However I just can't resist the urge for the effective Vanguard HI.

I forgot Sanguinary Guard can take the Chapter banner for cheap, that makes them a million times better; however I think they in the same if not worse position with Vanguard, as they are competing with Furiaso Dreadnough, and the inflexible squad size.

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