Friday, December 16, 2011

Sanguinary Guard vs Vanguard Vets vs Honour Guard!

So, again, I'm testing some 1000pt and 1500pt lists for Berks Spring Assault this April and an Escalation League starting in January at Brave New Worlds.  And in my jump pack based lists I had what I would call an "Elite Jump Troop" unit.  

At first I just blindly plugged in some Sanguinary Guard with Power Fist, Infernus Pistols and a Chapter Banner because its what I've used in the past (especially with Dante).  But then I thought, maybe I should look through the codex and see if similarly constructed units would be just as good, cheaper or maybe even better. 

So my criteria to fit this unit niche was A) It had to be jump troops. I don't want my elite unit slowing down the rest of my units.   And secondly,  B) I wanted them to have a lot of power weapons to be able to take down heavily armoured troops (oh, who am I kidding, Grey Knight terminators and paladins heheh).  That's pretty much it.   So looking through the codex, other than Sanguinary Guard, both Vanguard Vets and Honour Guard seem to fit these criteria as well.  

By the way, I didn't include Death Company because giving them Jump Packs is REALLY expensive and they have the Rage rule.  I generally only run death company in vehicles so I can at least steer them in the right direction before they disembark.  Death Company for me are generally a fun, fluffy unit I run when I want to play something different and add a bit of chaos to a game.

So I made up a few equal strength units and compared them:

Vanguard Vets
4 marines and 1 sarge
Power weapons for 4 marines
Jump Packs for all
Power fist for sarge
1x Infernus pistol

Sanguinary Guard
5x Sanguinary Guard
Chapter Banner
1x Power Fist
1x Infernus Pistol
250pts total

Honour Guard
4 Honour Guard and 1 Sanguinary Novitiate
Jump Packs for all
Power weapons for 4 Guard
Power Fist for Sanguinary Novitiate
1x Infernus Pistol
265pts total

So in making these units, I wanted them all to have a Powerfist and Infernus Pistol so they could take on armor as well.  Also, I gave the Sanguinary Guard a Chapter Banner just so they have the same amount of attacks as the other two units.  The Sanguinary Guards' Glaive Encarmine weapons are two-handed weapons, meaning they don't get an extra attack for having a pistol like the other two units. 

Now that we have these units as equivalent as we can make them, lets compare how they match up...
Sanguinary Guard pros:
- 2+ Armor save.  I roll pretty horribly so this is kind of a big factor for me...
- Chapter Banner gives plus +1 attack to unit and friendly units within 12" can reroll Morale and Pinning Checks
- Leadership 10
- If taken with Dante, they can claim objectives

Sanguinary Guard cons:
- No invul saves for a unit that costs as much as Terminators (hmm seems to be case with the Vanguard Vets and Honour Guard units too though... hmmm)
- Fearless, not the biggest fan of Fearless, these troops are already Ld10 and I'd much rather have "And they shall know no fear..."
- Glaive Encarmine are two handed power weapons thus you don't get an extra attack for carrying a pistol.  This makes a Chapter Banner almost mandatory... more points to spend :(
- Sanguinary Guard start at 200pts - Expensive!
- Cannot have more than 5 per squad

Vanguard Veteran Squad pros:
- You can get extra attack for pistol taken (Sang. Guard Glaive Encarmine are two handed power weapons) for a total of 3 attacks or 4 on a charge.
- Its the least expensive of the 3 units.  Base cost is only 115pts.  With Power weapons the cost goes up by 60pts still cheaper than base Sanguinary Guard
- Heroic Intervention - may assault after deep striking.  This is pretty cool, but I think i need to see if it actually works well in a game.  Even with the reduced 6" scatter that Blood Angels get, I could see these troops scattering out of assault range making them sitting ducks.  But for now I'm putting this in the Pros section because you dont have to assault after deep striking if you don't want to.
- You can add up to 5 more marines, which is nice if you wanna scale for larger games

Vanguard Veteran Squad cons:
- Only 3+ armor
- Leadership 9
- Can't claim objectives

Honour Guard pros:
- Has built in "Sanguinary Novitiate" which gives Furious Charge and Feel No Pain, so you dont have to buy a Sanguinary Preist for this unit and nearby units
- Doesn't take up a force slot. It's attached to whatever HQ you take.
- Can take a Chapter Banner to get +1 attack, making it the unit with the most attacks at 5 attacks EACH on a charge! 

WOW!  2 base attacks + Pistol attack + Chapter Banner attack + Charge attack = A LOT OF ATTACKS FOR 5 DUDES! 

Keep in mind though, this will bump the unit cost up to 295pts for a 5 man squad that only has 3+ armour saves and no invul saves!  Yikes!  Watch out for Plasma shots or even a single lucky Vindicator Devastator cannon blast!

But, imagine taking this 25 attack unit and having a Librarian with Unleash Rage tagging along!  Reroll hits galore!!!  I'm drooling at the thought of this...

Honour Guard cons:
- Can't claim objectives
- Can only have 5 models in a unit, no more.
- Most expensive unit
- Only Leadership 9, but if you have your HQ tag along this isn't that big a deal...
- Only 3+ armour and no invul saves for a Terminator equivalent cost unit


This fight is nowhere near as cut and dry as my earlier Librarian versus Reclusiarch fight.   First off, the Honour Guard with a Chapter Banner AND a Librarian with Unleash Rage has me REALLY intrigued with all those attacks, even though its rather expensive for such a frail unit.   Overall, the Sanguinary Guard seem the most resilient of the bunch with its 2+ save but all of the compared units have no invulnerability save options.   Also, the ability to be Troops if Commander Dante is in the army is pretty clutch.  At lower point cost games, the Vanguard Vets seem the way to go and are the most cost effective way to get a lot of power weapon attacks on the field.  I think GW actually did a good job of balancing these units against each other.  Honestly I think further play testing is required for me to make a decision.... and even then I doubt one will be hands down winner against the others.

So far I'd say the verdict is:

One other option though, (and this is what I'm currently running in a few of my lists) is a unit of 5 Assault Terminators with 4 Lightening Claws and 1 Thunderhammer/ Stormshield Termies with a Terminator Librarian with Unleash Rage flying around in a Stormraven so they can keep up with my Assault Squads.   Now, I didn't include this unit in this comparison because it is heavily dependent on the Stormraven to get around quickly and the Librarian's Unleash Rage ability (reroll to hit as well as Lightening Claws' reroll to wounds!) to be the most effective it can be.  It's also about 550pts for this single deathstar unit!  But then again, they are far more resilient than the jump troops I compared above...

What do you guys think?  Did I miss any key options/factors?  Am I completely off base?   Put your comments/questions down below!


  1. Interesting thoughts! My first point would be to point out that in your honor guard unit, the novitiate cannot take any gear. It does suck, but only "Honor Guard" can take gear. He could take the fist if it said, "any model".

    Bearing in mind you want to use this unit to kill enemy elites (aka termies or other power weapon weilding killers) I would say that you should consider some other options... the storm shield.

    Both the honorguard and the vanguard vets can take storm shields, greatly improving their defense. I wouldn't load up on too many of them, but you could take 3 and then 3 power weapons or so. Play with the points to make it work.

    This would allow them to not die instantly to init 6 power weapons and be able to attack back. Something to consider I think.

    Although, I would say that blood angels are the best close combat army of the marines. Yes I know grey knights get power weapons all over the place and crazy nades... but Grey Knights aren't very good at prolonged combat. They have few attacks and after the first round their higher priced units will suffer more than BA to attrition. Space wovles can't compete at all in the close combat department with the expcetion of thunderwolve cavalry. I've had no problems besting them with assault marine squads over and over again.

    So if you're looking for an fast CC unit designed to kill enemy elites - all of these choices are good imo, but as I said, consider storm shields.

    Also, if you're rolling the banner with honorguard and you're going with the libby for unleash rage, consider the lightning claws, reroll to hit and to wound is crazy good.

  2. I think you should of added a priest with JP to the vanguards you'd have 6 man squad kitted the same as your honour guard but with an extra ablative wound :) and some more attacks

  3. Bymis, Yeah most times I do have a priest but lately I haven't putting them with every unit in my army that can start to get expensive. I found with Blood Angels you really have to keep them all together and have them gang up on single units in assault. Then I just make sure one of those units has a priest so all assaulting units within 6" get the furious charge/ feel no pain.

    I used to run a priest in every unit but that got too expensive and model count was too small in my army lists. Having one priest for every 2-3 5-man squad makes a bit more sense.

    I didn't factor that into my comparison because I always have priests tagging along in my lists. BUT, the fact that Honour Guard basically have a built-in sanguinary priest is another thing that makes them a big more attractive in my opinion. Again, I think all 3 of these units compare well and each has their uses. I believe I'll be using them all in the future depending on my army list points size.

  4. Moros,

    Hmmm that kind of sucks about the Novitiate not being able to upgrade his weapons and doesn't make sense from a fluff point of view. YOu would think since he's like a sanguinary priest/sargeant for the unit he would be able to take upgrades like THEY normally can. Wonder if that is poor wording by our friend Mat Ward? He is prone to it... Didn't see anything about it in the FAQs but i did post on Dakka Dakka to see what they think. However it does seem like the wording supports what you have said.

    But anyway I would just add a Power Fist to one of the regular Honour Guard if that is the case.

    To your point about whose the best close combat army? I would still say grey knights on a unit vs unit basis. If you have 5 GK terminators/paladins vs 5 Assault Marines (both can claim objectives), most times the Grey Knights will win. They have better saves and if they have I6 they will go first and kill a lot of your guys with power weapons. The key is that GK termies are troops and most GK players dont bother to take anything other terminators... why wouldn't they take them?

    Now that being said if you're a Blood Angels player you basically have to swarm and overwhelm single terminator units with multiple units of your own to stand a chance.

    I found lately that i have to keep most of my units together as one big jump pack death star and overwhelm single units. This also lets you get more use out of less sanguinary priests.

    I used to take one sanguinary priest per assault squad but this is a bit of overkill. My assault marines cant go one on on with GK terminators so I HAVE to charge with multiple assault marine units to take them down, so it was redundant to put multiple sanguinary priests in the same combat.

    Honestly though, I think the best unit to go against GK termies is a unit of Lightening Claw Assault Terminators (with one or two Thunderhammer/Stormshields) with a Librarian (unleash rage and sanguine sword). The reroll to hit and wound is pretty awesome. And since they are terminators they can take a licking with their invul saves and then dish back. Their only drawback is they depend on transports to get around and are slow compared to other BA units.

  5. This quandry is pretty much the difference between the three BA lists I vacillate between. I won't give you the full list, but the relevant parts are:

    List One: Jump Pack Librarian w/Sanguinary Guard, Furioso Dread on the Stormraven.

    List Two: Captain Uriah Sammael (Gabriel Seth with the numbers filed off) w/Honor Guard AND Librarian Dread on the Stormraven.

    List Three: Storm Shield Librarian Terminator and Assault Terminators (one with storm shield) AND Furioso Dread on the Stormraven.

    So far I've only ever played List One (and never the complete version). I just got my Gabriel Seth model and finished filling off the Flesh Tearers insignia, so soon I'll get a chance to try list two. List three is going to have to wait a few months until I can budget for terminators.

  6. Hi there, nice analysis!...But a bit off towards Vanguards, since they don't come with the JP included, you have to pay for it, at 10 pts per model, which makes them a very expensive option indeed :)

    You are also ignoring the master-crafted in the comparison. SG have master-crafted weapons, which in some cases is even better than an extra attack. At the very least it compensates it.

    I know the article is old, but I wanted to point out those 2 points for future readers, since the conclusion is a bit misleading (specially with the VVs).