Azrael rises again!
Azrael is one of the oldest 40K characters out there and has been with us since most of the 40K community can remember. During the last two Editions he has fallen out of most tournament lists in favour of other HQ choices, like Belial for example. A high price tag for a commander in combination with a seemingly generalist approach to the game lead to people overlooking him.
This Tactica aims to change that.
What you get
On the surface, Azrael is not a character to lead a small army. A high price tag in a small game is something to avoid. He is best suited to game sizes of about 1750 pts and up, where the options he brings can have a major impact on the game.
Stats, wargear and options
He is not an excellent cc fighter at the end of the day. Pretty average stats for a Chapter Master. He has a high WS, good I, BS and a 2+ 4++ save.
Azrael is blessed with being able to pick whichever he chooses! No chance traits for him. This is very useful.
Not the best choice, as he is an infantry character which shouldn't be running at all — but in case you are playing against an opponenet where you need to cover a lot of ground quickly (like Tau) or are attached to a big squad (tactical or allied IG — later on that) this might find its use. But I'd skip it though.
If your Warlord or his unit kills the enemy Warlord, you score an additional VP. For a total of 2 VPs (one for Slay the Warlord and one for The Hunt). This is a straightforward choice which can be used well to pressurise your opponent into some tough choices. Azrael is not perhaps the BEST close combat fighter we can field — but the other options he brings make up for this. The Lion's Helm comes into play here. It provides 4++ to Azrael AND the unit he is with… 4++ terminators anyone? Twin lightning claws termninators? Or a company Champion with the Halberd of Caliban? — all good! If your opponent is playing Chaos or has a less then formidable Warlord, picking this trait is a very good idea.
Courage of the Lion
Azrael and friendly units within 12 inches roll an extra dice for Ld tests, removing the highest. Skip this as he already has Rights of Battle. Next!
For the Lion
Azrael and his unit have Furious Charge. Yes, please! S5 terminators with lightning claws, veterans (yes veterans!) with S5 … or Imperial Guard with S4!!! Imagine a big blob of 50 guardsmen charging with S4 … and a 4++ from the Lion's Helm (later on that). If Azreal is attached to a squad that is geared for combat then this is the right choice.
Giving your side +1 or -1 to Reserves rolls gives you more control of the course of the game. If you plan on bringing fliers, outflanking bikes, deep striking drop pods or terminators (when they are not using Deathwing Assault) this trait is pure gold! Are you kidding me, allied IG vendettas coming in on a 2+? — sold!
Hold At All Costs
Feel No Pain while within 3 inches of an objective… that's the one. A blob of IG with a 4++ from the helm and FNP is a force to behold. Best thing is, they are also Fearless. Or use scouts if you want to be fluffy. Or veterans, tactical squads, devastators (they are scoring in Big Guns Never Tire!).
Inner circle, Independent Character
Moving on, nothing new here.
Rites of Battle
All Space Marines from our Codex can use his Ld. Very, very useful especially as in this Codex edition none of our other HQs have this any longer.
As mentioned, it gives Azrael and a unit he joins a 4++ invulnerable save. The obvious unit choices to attach him to are terminators with twin lightning claws, or power fists and storm bolters; IG blobs, tactical squads, devastators or veterans (with as many flamers as you can fit into the list).
Lion's Helm makes the normal command squad a decent choice. Standard of Devastation and some combi-weapons are the order of the day. Add powerfist here and there.
A master-crafted combi-plasma. He does have BS5 … might prove useful.
Artificier armour for a nice 2+ save and FNP.
Sword of Secrets
A master-crafted power sword which gives Azrael six S6 attacks on the charge. And a re-roll. Shame it's Ap 3 but good against most things with a 3+ save.
Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels
Now we come to the rule that sets Azrael apart from most characters in 40K. If he is leading the army (and if you choose to take him he is automatically your Warlord) Ravenwing Attack Squadrons and Deathwing squads are troops.
This is the main reason to take him in the first place! Azrael leading a big army where almost all force organisation chart choices are scoring!
Let's take a step back for a moment and consider this. What is it that makes this rule soo good for us? … the fact that it breaks the boundary that all our other HQs set.
Scoring units and the "Mobile Machine of Destruction" is why Azrael is the man.
6th Edition sports six basic scenarios for tournament play. Five out of those are objective based. That means to win a game, you usually need to tranport some troops onto the objectives, hold them and kill a bunch of things while doing it.
So far, the best piece of wargear when it comes to mass murder of enemy troops is without question — the Standard of Devastation. (Stay tuned for a future article on that item — yes it's so important it'll get an article!) to be able to keep the model carrying it safe we better give the whole Command squad a transport.
Or in other words, an LRC and supporting units moving forward and firing a gazillion shots with the help of Standard of Devastation.
In my book, there is one good command squad — and that is a Deathwing Command squad. The model carring the banner is protected by a good armor save and inv save, and the whole unit is very durable as such. Just remember that in order for the army to have such a Command squad, we need to take a character in terminator armour… Azrael is not that guy.
No, our Chapter Master doesn't unlock this option. We do have a cheap support Librarian at our disposal though.
Normal or DW Command squad, only logical transport for them is Land Raider Crusader. They have a further edge here as they can take one as a dedicated transport. An "all in" approach yes — but it will work. Not only does the tank have Deathwing vehicle (an upgrade you have to take), it's also worth zero KP!!!
Yes, it rocks, moves 12 inches and fires 24 bolter shots with a re-roll, has a 4++ (you ARE bringing a Techmarine with a Powerfield Generator, aren't you?) — it will be worth nothing to the opponent even if destroyed!!!
This is a great unit with a very high cost in points! In order for it to work, we must support it with other units nearby. The SoD does most of the work for us — as it gives salvo 2/4 to every unit (with boltguns), within 6 inches of it, measured from the hull of the LR. So when supporting this with other units they must also benefit from the Standard of Devastation or it'll be wasted. There are three things those units must be capable of:
- Moving forward and shooting
- Being scoring units
- Keeping up with the LRC
Moving forward and shooting
Tacticals are out of the question here. They are good, do benefit from the SoD, but they cannot take benefit from the SoD from turn one, as they will be out of range for the most part. If they move, their weapons revert to salvo 2 — so no benefit there. The idea is to strike first, strike hard and keep the pressure on. Scouts could infiltrate forward, but aren't such good shots.
Now this is 50% of the reason why Azrael is soo good. Bikes as scoring units. Bikes and LRC both move 12 inches, both have S4 twin liked weapons and both keep firing on the move.
Keeping up with the LRC
Bikes and LRC can happly keep their distance the whole game away from the enemy assault. Then, on later turns — bikes grab objectives and the Command squad either goes after hard to tackle targets or just stays inside their vehicle.
That is what I like to call "Mobile Machine of Destruction". I hope it catches on…
And Azrael makes it happen.
The other 50% why Azrael is good are naturally the terminators. As good as MMoD seems, there are horrible things in 40K universe that no ordinary bolter can kill — even en masse. That's why we have those boys — they teleport in and solve the problem!
They should be using Deathwing Assault, or normal deep strike — whatever you find better. If you pick the latter, remember Azrael can provide +1/-1 to Reserve rolls to ensure that they don't arrive too early or too late. Yes, once they land they get twin-liked weapons if units Deathwing Assault … and Azrael makes them scoring.
A single terminator can claim an objective in the enemy back field. This will give you victory points for the objective and Linebreaker!!!
Making it work
So, putting it all together into some kind of army list.
Terminator armour, Divination (Prescience)
|Techmarine (taking no FOC slot)
Space Marine bike, power field generator, servo-harness
|Deathwing Command Squad (5)
Standard of Devastation, cyclone missile launcher
Land Raider Crusader with Deathwing vehicle
|Deathwing Terminator Squad (5)
2 x th/ss, cyclone missile launcher
|Tactical Squad (10)
Sergeant with combi-flamer, plasma gun, plasma cannon
|Ravenwing Attack Squadron (6)
Sergeant with power weapon, 2 x meltaguns
Attack bike with multi-melta
|Ravenwing Attack Squadron (6)
Sergeant with power weapon, 2 x meltaguns
Attack bike with heavy bolter
There we have a big chunk of a list. LRC together with 12 bikes fire a devastating twin-liked 72 bolter shots a turn, all moving 12 inches. Pure poetry in motion. Terminators deep strike and engage targets of opportunity or indeed anything the bikes and the heavy tank cannot handle.
Azrael is not a character to be taken purely for his close combat capabilities. But the unique set of abilities he does possess affords the player the option to field a fun to play army that combines our best units into one force that is bigger then the sum of its parts. I encourage everyone to try him out.