Friday, May 6

Death From Above! Part I

Decent of Angels Advanced Tactics Part I
 by Immortal

When I was first considering converting my glorious Blood Angels from a mech to DoA list, I scoured the internet in an attempt to figure out the best way to not only put a list together, but also how they are played. I found plenty on how to build a list, but very little on how they're played... other than "drop in close and shoot crap, if you survive, assault things, and kill more crap." Now, there is quite a bit of debate as to the exact composition that a DoA army should be. Be it melta toting honor guard, or which HQ choice to take, there are a few staples that every DoA list has (such as Vanguard Veterans). Let’s take a look at some of the more intricate parts of playing DoA.

Now, for those of you tuning in for the first time to what a DoA army is, here is a quick rundown:

A true DoA list is made up entirely of Jump Infantry (and sometimes with a Storm Raven or two thrown in for fun). Thats right, a whole bunch of pissed off red marines with jump packs and melta guns dropping on your head... sounds fun, huh? 

-Decent of Angels allows any BA unit equipped with jump packs to only scatter D6” rather than the usual 2D6”. This is especially effective with Vanguard Vets, as they get to charge the turn they land, combine this with extensive individual load outs for every member of the squad, these squads can be quite the nightmare for longfangs or the perfect unit to hold the line against an effective CC unit until the rest of your army is in a position to maneuver and assault ( most of us call it turn 3). 
-In addition, it allows you to reroll failed reserve rolls. DoA units have a 75% chance of coming in turn two, making it almost assured that most of your army will arrive together in a near alpha strike intended to cripple your enemies ability to fully counter you in subsequent turns with a straggler or two coming in the following turn for reenforcement.
That being said, Blood Angels have perhaps the best jump infantry in the game given all the added bonuses that can be stacked on them using Sanguinary Priests, Chaplains, and Librarians. It’s a bonus that these jump infantry are troop choices, to include Sanguinary Guard if Dante is included.
-As mentioned, the DoA list is full of meltas and other assault weapons. Each Assault Squad that numbers 10 can have 2, and units like HG and SG can have significantly more. This is important to remember because you CAN NOT assault the turn you deep strike (with the exception of Vanguard Vets… aren’t they special?). 

Here is a sample 2000 point DoA list:

-Librarian (with Sanguinary Shield and Blood Lance)
-2 Sanguinary Priests (jumps,PW)
-Sanguinary Guard (3 Inf. Pistols, Banner, Fist)
-10 Assault Marines (pair of LC, 2 Flamer)
-10 Assault Marines (Fist, 2 Meltaguns)
-10 Assault Marines (PW, 2 Meltaguns)
-10 Assault Marines (PW, 2 Meltaguns)
-5 Vanguard Vets (Fist & SS, LC & SS, PW BP & MB, PW & BP, BP CS & SS)

*One important point to be made is that this army requires a degree of aggression to maintain the initiative in order to be effective. That means dropping in, unloading at short range, assaulting and generally keeping the enemy reacting to you. Once you start having to react to your opponent, you start losing (and fast).  My part II will focus on this.*

On to the fun stuff.

Part I:
The Art of the Drop

One thing that all DoA lists have in common is squads of 5-10 deep striking assault squads, often toting a pair or more of meltaguns/infernus pistols mentioned above. Additionally, your squads are likely to also have flamers or in the case of Vanguard Vets, trying to get that critical assault on the turn that they land. There are a lot of factors to consider when preparing to land a melta close enough to an enemy so that you can crack it open and expose the squishy insides. Dante comes in handy here, as he can drop without scattering, but the rest of your army needs to come in with enough care to get those half range melta shots without scattering on the intended victim.

Side/rear drop vs. corner drops and how close you should get-

With the prevalence of mech armies running around, your meltaguns are in a prime position to get that initial unanswered half range death. But what’s the best way to do this?
Most commonly, people are going to tell you “rear armor, duh.” But let’s look at the numbers. Yes, to increase your chances of killing your target, hitting the rear is your best option. Yet, a smart opponent will not present his rear armor to you so easily on the first turn your angels fall. They’ll hide it on cover, or back his ass end up to the edge of a table. Considering that you scatter, even being at a shorter distance then most, you still run the risk of landing on your enemy or scattering off the table. You have a 33% chance to scatter, but I always just assume that it’s going to happen to be on the safe side. If you do scatter, you have just as much a chance of scattering 1” as you do 6”. In my experience, dropping 4” from a target, although still dangerous, still affords you the best chance of success with melta weapons.
                -One, should you scatter away from the target, you are still in range of the weapon, even if not at half. With a little deployment magic, you can assure that your assault weapons are on the outside of the formation. This pretty much means that you have to scatter 5-6” directly away from the target to not get the half range bonus, and the odds of that are slim (but still happen to me, stupid dice).
                -Two, should your unit scatter toward the target, you still have to roll high on the distance to get the mishap table.

Landing behind a Leman Russ

This picture shows the possible scatter locations in relation to an intended target. Red indicates a roll on the mishap table, yellow is your money zone with a melta. The black arrows indicate direction of travel you don’t want. Also note that the 1” ‘buffer zone’ around the target is also included. All ranges are approximate, and demonstrate an intended range of about 4” from the target.

This is a pretty straight forward drop. Low risks and simple to pull off. Not much explanation needed here.

Landing on the corner of a Leman Russ

The corner drop is a trickier placement, but has greater chance of success as well as lower risk then a flat side drop. The advantages lay in your ability to still get that rear armor shot (remember that magic melta placement that I mentioned?). On a “hit” or a direct line scatter from the target, you can still get a rear armor shot by placing your assault weapons on the outside of the cluster your unit has dropped in. ( I never understood that, Airborne infantry are renown for NOT dropping in the same place, much less in a tightly packed group… moving on.) presenting your formation to the corner of an enemy tank means that on a scatter, you are less likely to actually scatter onto the target.

(A)   Indicates a rear or side armor attack
(B)   Indicates a corner attack

As you can see from above, you run a greater risk with a side shot, but also have a better chance of being more effective with your half range meltaguns (but not by much). Dropping in on the corner produces less risk overall while maintaining effectiveness.

The biggest point of this being that you still place your melta gun facing the rear armor portion of the corner.

So there you have it, my thoughts (or lack thereof, comments welcome). My second part will focus on surviving turn 2 retaliation and regaining the initiative.

Good Luck, and always remember the plan!
Airborne! Immortal Out. 


  1. Great article Immortal! I know I am a bit biased, but seriously, I think this is one of the better DOA articles I have read in a while.

    Not only do I take less risk in DS, but I can also place the melta gun on the rear armor for that all important rear shot.

    Im looking forward to reading more.

    What does everyone else think?


  2. I liked the post. Never would be thinking about deepstriking like that. Good to know!

    Keep up the good work! Can't wait for part 2