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I'm considering starting a smallish (~1850) army of Space Marines. Of all the chapters, the ones I'm leaning towards are the Blood Angels and Black Templars.
Angels - love the angelic/vampire/blood theme, and the death company.
Templars - awesome crusade fluff and the best color scheme of all the chamters imho
Now I don't really know much about marines, so could you please point out the main differences in gameplay between the two?
I'd like to run an agressive, fast-moving force, but with fire support (love the dread model). Which chapter works better this way? Which is more fun to play?
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Blood Angels work best as either all-infantry or heavily mechanized forces. The Black Templar fall somewhere in between - but since they're the only remaining marine codex that's still from 4th Ed, they've got a number of tricks they can perform that no other marine army can do. Army-wide preferred enemy, 2 heavy weapons in a 5 man terminator unit, 5 man las/plas squads, they can get machine spirits on ANY vehicle for 30 points, etc.
Personally, I'd definitely take a BT list over the BA. You may want to pick up and read through both codexes before deciding, though.
I agree that you should pop into the store and look through both codices and see which one speaks to you.
What you describe though- fast, aggressive, and lots of dreads- that's Blood Angels. Red thirst, fast vehicles, and dreads up the wazoo!
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Really, he described both armies. Blood Angels are somewhat faster, but Black Templars are no slouches either because of their Righteous Zeal rule. That rule right there punishes anyone who shoots them by causing them to move even faster. But Yourand, I don't know what theme you were thinking for your army, but if you have as twisted a sense of humor as I do, you might want to consider making them Angry Marines. These are the two codices that can accurately represent them. I know they are not everyone's thing, but I think that the Angry Marines are hysterical.
Ya, the awesome part about the templar is that if you shoot at them and kill one of their guys...then they'll just get pissed off and run at you EVEN FASTER.
Both are great armies with great stories (IMHO). I love the look of a red army though. I have also seem some gorgeous black templars, but the red Blood Angels just look better to me. Both have lots of cool and unique bitz to add to your marines to make them stand out, but the Blood Angels Death Company box (which you should use for your assault marines too) are the best space marine models evah!
Once a Marine, always a Marine.
The Blood Angels codex is probably more competitive as it's much more recent (plus, it does heavy mechanized lists much better than the BT codex does.) Then again, the BT codex is still a lot of fun to play with, and got a power boost when the latest FAQ updated their wargear to 5th ed standards.
The real problem with BT is that they've always been a horde footslogging army. Footslogging SM armies aren't seen in 5th ed very often, because vehicles offer more mobility and protection for reasonable prices. You can play BT mech, but you lose the benefit of their super-large squads and Righteous Zeal movement. And BA mech is better than BT mech by far. Probably the only mech advantage BT has is PotMS as a purchasable upgrade, which is dubious - it's very expensive.
So if you like winning and want either jump infantry or mech, go BA. It's a fun, action-y codex with very few weaknesses. But I'd never tell a person to pick an army based on their likely win/loss ratio; if you want BT, by all means go BT. They've aged much better than most outdated codices and you'll still be able to kick ass with them.
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I've always thought BT looked rather interesting, but they were always weighed down by their older codex with its outdated wargear. The update that brought their wargear up to the newer standards really helps balance the scales.
i'd go black templars. to me, gamewise, the BA play more competitively AT THE MOMENT. (if GW go along with the space marine/other/different coloured space marines/other/... release schedule thing, only dark angels are left before its the BT's turn.
fluffwise, the whole crusade thing appeals, the colours look good, and the whole personalise your marines with crusade badges and stuff allows for a much better army backgroung- you can add a story for each one of your models if you want.
the holy orb of antioch is nice - 12" range, AP3, wounds on 2+. that could wreck a lot of peoples days. and the banners and relics are cool.
then again, BT don't get the stormraven thingy.