Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blood Angel Characters: Dante

As I have worked on my Sanguinary Guard army and playtested its variations, I have begun to become very well acquainted with Dante.  It is a hot debate that surrounds Dante and his abilities as an HQ.  On one side of the debate are those he think he is very underpowered for the cost he incurs while others think he brings a plethora of options to the army.  I fall into the latter camp. 

Dante is the chaptermaster of the Blood Angels.  He is purported to be one of the oldest living Space Marines in existence.  But what does he bring to the game?

Dante is really and truely a support character.  However, he has a fairly impressive statline.  Coming in at such stats as WS6, I6, 5 attacks base and 4 wounds alongside a 2+/4++ save, makes him rather durable. But he isn't a combat character.  Sure, he totes a master crafted power weapon and has an infernus pistol, but he isn't meant to be a combat character.  Compare him to other such characters like Lysander and Mephiston and you can see that he isn't meant to go toe-to-toe with nasties and survive.

What he does bring to the army are various means of flexibility through his special rules. Let's take a look at these and why they make Dante a desirable charater and worth his 225pt.

Master of the Host: Dante allows you to take Sanguinary Guard as troops.  Why is this good?  There are two reasons.  Number one is the fact that you have troops with a 2+ save and many times FNP and FC.  This is great.  The down side is that Sanguinary Guard are expensive and you can only take 5 in a squad.  Number two is related to number one in that with Sanguinary Guard as troops, you are freer to take other elite choices.  This is a good thing.  Without Dante, taking Sanguinary Priests and Sanguinary Guard takes up 2 of your 3 elite slots.  With Dante, you don't take up as many slots.  This provides you with a bit more flexibility when you are building an army.

Surgical Strike:  This one is great.  This allows Dante and the squad he joins to deepstrike in without scattering.  Combined with the DoA reroll, you will generally have Dante and crew deepstriked close in to enemy lines on turn 2.  This can be great in conjunction with shooty honor guard or sanguinary guard with multiple infernus pistols.  It also means that you can add in a sanguinary priest and place him reliably to support another squad such as vanguard vets when the deepstrike and assault.  This rule is a gamemaker.

Tactical Precision: Hit-and-run for Dante and his squad.  It is still hotly debated whether or not you use Dante's initiative or the majority. However either way, this means that Dante and crew can get stuck in with a dangerous unit, mash it up a bit, then hit-and-run only to assault back in with a fresh wave of FC on your turn.  It also can help keep his squad from getting bogged down by Dreadnoughts and such.  Again, another excellent rule.

Death Mask of Sanguinus: This is actually a piece of wargear and acts just like a death mask that your SG would take.  However, it has the added benefit of nerfing a enemy HQ choice.  It takes away -1 from each weapon skill, wounds, initiative, and attacks.  I really like doing this to librarians as this puts them on 1 wound and makes them easy targets.  This can really scare opponents.  This also makes scary HQ choices a lot less so.

Aside from these rules, Dante is great at slicing through infantry.  With a MC power weapon and 6 attacks on the assault, he can chomp through everything.  Support him with a sanguinary priest and just about everything you can think of will take some hurt. Once again, though, this doesn't mean that he is a character killer or combat beast.  He is simply good at killing mundane troops.

Many players bemoan the fact that he doesn't have eternal warrior, but I believe this is right in line with the type of  HQ he is.  Support HQs don't need eternal warrior as they shouldn't be getting into situations where they will need to rely on it.  However, Dante is good for soaking some plasma shots if he is joining a squad as he has a 4++ save and 4 wounds to boot.  When I play him, he generally joins a Sanguinary Guard squad.  This makes him a great shield for the unit when those low ap shots come raining in.

Dante is a great character.  I personally, think he is worth every one of his 225pt. cost.  He can played aggressively, but doesn't fare well against elite infantry that can pile on power weapon wounds and he shouldn't take S8+ shots as he will inevitably get ID-ed.

Other useful articles:
Codex Review: Blood Angel Sanguinary Guard
Codex Review: BA Sangnuinary Priests


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