Here is the first in a series of posts titled Raw Dogger's Review: Independent Characters. As you might have surmised, I will be giving my reviews on random independent characters from various codices throughout the 40k game system. The reviews will focus on the characters fluff as well as their capabilities (or lack thereof) in your army lists. First on the chopping block,
Astorath the Grim
This guy is one of my favorites and has, in my humble opinion, one of the best looking models in the game. Astorath the Grim is the high chaplain of the Blood Angels Space Marine. His innate ability to sense the onset of the dreaded Black Rage has led him to become the bringer of oblivion to his maddened brothers. He is tasked with searching the galaxy, war zone by war zone, for brothers who have fallen to the cursed geneseed of the Blood Angels and are too far gone (and too difficult to eliminate) and giving them eternal peace with the slash of his Executioners Axe.
Astorath has the basic stats of a Space Marine Captain. He clocks in at 220 points.
WS6 BS5 S4 T4 W3 I5 A3 LD10 2+.
Artificer Armor - Having a 2+ invulnerable save is fairly clutch in the 6th edition due to power weapons only being AP 3.
Jump Pack - Astorath is Jump Infantry. This goes with the theme of the Blood Angels being a hard hitting, fast moving assault force. It also forces you to put Astorath with a unit of Jump Pack equipped models if you want him to move at the quickness he was designed for.
Rosarius - Standard wargear for Chaplains. Gives Astorath a 4+ invulnerable save which should keep him alive a little longer than the rank and file.
Executioners Axe - Aw, here we go. Astorath possesses the dreaded Executioners Axe. This bad boy is a two handed power axe which rocks strength 6 AP 2. It is unwieldy so you WILL be striking last. Best thing about this axe? Successful invulnerable saves must be re-rolled. NICE ONE!
Frag and Krak Grenades and Bolt Pistol - Don't forget that he actually does have bolt pistol to shoot before charging in and it is a precision shot, for what its worth.
Descent of Angels - The Blood Angels universal special rule. Models equipped with a Jump Pack only role one d6 when rolling to scatter when Deep Striking. They may also re-roll failed reserve rolls.
Honor of the Chapter - Astorath gives Fearless to his unit. Same as other Chaplains.
Liturgies of Blood - Astorath and the members of the unit he has joined may re-roll hits in close combat. Death Company can re-roll hits AND wound. Thought this is the same as a regular Chaplain in terms of the Death Company.
Shadow of the Primarch - Astorath makes it more likely that your units will succumb to the Black Rage. on a 3 or less your units have Fearless and Furious Charge but lose And They Shall Know No Fear. BOSS.
Redeemer of the Lost - Astorath takes away the 0-1 restriction on Death Company. The only way to take and all Death Company list is to take Astorath.
Astorath gives your army more of a chance to become Fearless and gain Furious Charge. Having a ton of Fearless Space Marines certainly can't be a bad thing. Furious Charge is also a great boon for your standard Assault Marines and take them from 'meh' to 'yeah!'. He's a beast in close combat and will really add a punch to any unit he joins. I like to run him with a standard 10 man Assault Squad. Let some poor sergeant fall on a challenge and have Astorath chop infantry in half (or Monstrous Creatures). The fact that he lets his unit re-roll hits on the charge really makes whatever they are hitting more likely to die. Another great way to run him is with a unit of Sanguinary Guard. Throw in a Chapter Banner and Astorath himself is getting one more strength 6 AP 2 chop on some poor fool's nut sack. People who love Death Company love Astorath. He is the only way to run multiple units.
While a cool ass mofo, Astorath is still just a Space Marine Chaplain. That means he dies to strength 8 just like anyone else. You CANNOT have him out on his own. You need him with a unit to soak up wounds and to take challenges. His Axe now being Unwieldy, Astorath will be swinging at the same time as a powerfist, and then you have a 50% chance of losing your 220 point HQ choice. Speaking of his point cost, I find that to also be a con. He, like the majority of the Blood Angels codex, is now severely overcosted. He just doesn't do enough or buff your forces enough to warrant such a high cost. The sad fact is, he is an assault based character who can be killed quite easily in combat due to his low initiative (thanks to the Axe). I feel it would have been better to give his Axe a special FAQ rule that made it a power axe that strikes at initiative. It would have made him soooo much better (in my opinion). I feel he is about 100 points over costed at the moment. I know that sounds like a big number but he really, really suffers from the low initiative. Again, this can be countered by having a cheap sergeant in his unit that will take challenges from power fisted challengers. A lot of people say he is worth it to make Death Company troop choices, but Death Company do not score (how many missions require scoring units to win?) and are EXTREMELY expensive. If you take an all Death Company list, while very cool and style point worthy, do not expect to be playing on any top tables in tournaments.
Astorath is best used in a combat unit. I like to run him with Sanguinary Guard since they really benefit from his Fearless and re-roll hit abilities and he really benefits from their Chapter Banner and Death Masks. They are fast moving and hard hitting, but again they are toughness 4 one wound models and die VERY easily to plasma or strength 5+ weapons (like everyone else) which is cheap and plentiful in this edition. Bring along a priest to give them Feel No Pain and Furious Charge. BRUTAL. If you really, REALLY want to spend a lot of points and not win any games, put him in a unit of jump pack equipped Death Company. Remember what Old Jack always says, expensive marines die just as quickly as regular marines (thanks Hell Turkey!) so take along a Priest if you want to save a couple before you get into combat. Lastly, I really feel And They Shall Know No Fear is better than Fearless. Instead of being stuck in combat, the Space Marine unit can Fall Back in their opponents turn, regroup, and charge again in their own turn.
All in all I give Astorath the Gram 5 out of 10 Mehs.