Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why a Sanguinary Priest SHOULD be in combat

So a few months ago I saw a blog that was trying (and failing) to make a point that Sanguinary Priests should not be involved in a hand-to-hand combat, and should only hang back to provide their 6" Feel No Pain and Furious Charge bubbles.


Let's take an in-depth look at what Sanguinary Priests are capable of as a whole.

First, we start with the price. 50 points buys you a WS5, Ld9 one-wound model. He has a boat-load of ranged weapon options (Combi-Flamer, Plasma, and Melta, a Hand Flamer, an Infernus Pistol, a Plasma Pistol, and a Storm Bolter) and the usual close-combat weapon options (Power Fist, Power Weapon, Lightning Claw). He also can take a Jump Pack or a Bike, and he can even replace his wargear and Power Armor for Terminator Armor and a Power Weapon for 35 points. So, you can take a simple 50 point model and end up with one that costs 100 in some cases.

The question is, what wargear do you give him?

Well, it depends on the role you want him to fill. If you know the squad he's attached to is going to be getting into hand-to-hand regularly, I'd go with a Power Weapon. If he'll be using a Jump Pack, I'd go with a Power Weapon AND an Infernus Pistol, so that he can aid the unit in seeking out armored targets while providing Feel No Pain as they jump into precarious positions. If he's going with Termies or Bikes, well the answer is obvious there.

If he's going to be attached to a Sternguard unit, or a Tactical or Devastator unit to provide some much-needed durability, hook him up with a Combi-weapon or a Storm Bolter.

At the end of the day though, having four WS5 S5 I5 Power Weapon attacks on the charge from a 65 point model that is granting the unit he's with Furious Charge and Feel No Pain is just fantastic. Keeping that type of killing power out of combat is just silly. Sure, by getting him in base you provide your opponent with the opportunity of stacking "pile-in" models near him for extra attacks against him, but a smart Blood Angels player will mitigate this silliness with a well placed charge and great model positioning. Remember, on the charge, the Sanguinary Priest does not have to be the first model to move into base-to-base (unless you've messed up and he is the closest model). Then, with everyone in his unit going at Initiative 5, that strategic placement will allow him and his buddies to eliminate most enemy models to a point where they really won't damage him back. And hey, if they manage to stack the odds against him somehow, then that 65-point model has saved your 150+ point unit from taking too much damage.

There are other ways to use a Sanguinary Priest, like keeping him inside a large plastic toy (like a Land Raider or a Stormraven) to spread his love almost 20" in diameter, or attaching him to a combat squad in a razorback to grant his benefits to other nearby units, etc, but honestly he's a benefit to a squad and not a liability. He might just help you wipe the unit you assaulted by the end of your opponent's turn, allowing you to get your full movement, shooting and further assaults on your next turn.

What do you guys think?


  1. I disagree... though I'm guessing I'm the guy who unsuccessfully was trying to defend the other way of thinking, heh. On the charge, the priest averages less than 2 marines dead. If charged, he averages less than 1.

    I haven't had a combat with Blood Angels yet where I haven't killed the priest first turn- sure, they kill a marine or two. But then my fist (who is also placed strategically) or special character comes in and punks him. 100+ is (in my opinion) too much to pay for a 1-wound model with no invulnerable save.

    Sorry if you think this is trolling, I'm not trying to. Just figured I'd give you the other side of the coin :)

  2. @ Xaereth:
    Hey, I'd be an idiot not to take the word of a seasoned tournament vet like yourself. I mean, you've only taken Best Overall or Best General at every tournament over the last year or so (at least), not including taking 1st place at our "state championship" a.k.a. "Feast of Blades"!

    No, you're definitely not trolling haha!

    But on to the subject matter. I completely agree with your point that the Priest can die in the first round of combat, but that doesn't mean it's guaranteed. Again, when I charge, I not only get to move the unit close to yours in the movement phase, but then I get to move up to 6" more in the assault phase to make sure I am mitigating as much allocation shenanigans as possible.

    It's definitely not easy, but even if I win that combat (to be charged by you on your turn), all is not lost. If I roll even a 1" consolidation after wiping a unit, that's enough to move him 1" backwards, and move two models 1" closer together to create a bubble around my Sang Priest. It has saved me multiple times (but you'd be right in saying that you couldn't shoot enough models out of the way). But, by using that strategy he wouldn't be able to do the required "IC's pile-in first" thing.

    I still agree that he's super vulnerable, and in a lot of situations he WILL die in the first round of combat (especially if I was playing against someone who knew how to get around him like yourself). However, there is a slight ace up my sleeve that helps make the Sang Priest a bit more reliable. He's usually not alone.

    My Sang Priest is usually chillin with a Librarian or Chaplain (while attached to another squad), or he's the Sanguinary Novitiate in an Honor Guard unit (being led by a Chaplain or Librarian). All three of those allow anyone the ability to be better than they normally are, true, but that's how I usually run my Sang Priests. So, he's either got +1 Attack with re-rolls, or he's got re-rolls.

    Though, I guess that's cheating as far as our discussion is concerned lol, but truthfully that's where he'd be located. I think the only time I haven't had a Sang Priest with a Libby or Chappie is when I attach him to Sternguard being led by Tycho.

    Hmm, not sure I made an actual argument FOR the Sang Priest himself other than the movement stuff. Well let me know what you think!

  3. Yeah, he's protectable in certain situations. And the chaplain/libby for sure makes him a harder hitter. It makes more sense in that context- what I understood from your article was that the Priest, with a squad (and no other IC's) was going to do some amazing work on the squad they charge.

    It's all about synergy. If you're taking things like Chaplains and Libbys with Unleash Rage, it makes power weapons much more efficient (which makes sense, since he gets better and better for the same point cost of the Power Weapon).

    In the case of him hanging out with those other power-weapon/preferred enemy guys, it also becomes possible to kill an entire squad before they get to strike back. Still, gotta lookout for that single fist who is going to try to take something of value out.


    It's something the internets debates with me about a lot. I don't pretend to have the perfect answer, but neither do the internets (as is proven by the fact that no Blood Angels armies have been winning really big events).

    What I've learned is a good rule of thumb is to do what ends up working for you against top-end opponents. Remember that the goal is to beat 'good' players, not 'the majority of players' (at least in a tournament setting- to win you have to beat the good ones eventually). If it's only good against the bad players, you'll be unprepared to face the good players when the same shenanigans don't work.

    That being said, if you can make it work even against good players, go for it, everyone's play style is different- it wouldn't work for me, but might work for everyone else, for all I know :)