As I have reviewed the current Angel’s Blade rumors more and more, the new “GOLDEN HOST Host” formation caught my eye:
-Dante or Sanguinor
-2-5 squads of Sanguinary Guard
This formation can be used as a HQ option for the Angel’s Blade detachment or as a “stand-alone” formation allied to another army list. Its special rules allow all its Characters/Squads to choose automatically what turn they come in from DS Reserve and re-roll the Scatter Dice when they do DS. This is powerful in itself, since it allows a commander to precisely control when this potent (and expensive, points-wise) force comes onto the battlefield.
The second special rule for this formation allows all ICs/Squads to charge the same turn they arrive from DS Reserves, but with the penalty that they always have a Disordered Charge (so no bonus +1A, no bonus +1S from Furious Charge, and no bonus +1I from The Red Thirst in this scenario). Even with this drawback, being able to charge on the same turn they arrive, especially when you can control EXACTLY what turn that is, is a very big deal. If you take Dante as your Warlord, then you can use his “Descent of the Angels” WL Trait to make himself and all the Sanguinary Guard only scatter D6″ (vice the normal 2D6″) when they Deep Strike which, combined with the re-roll of the Scatter Dice ability, makes them even more capable of safely arriving and getting off a successful charge.
Regarding Sanguinary Guard themselves, they are basically Jump Pack Terminators without an Invul save and carrying Encarmine Swords/Axes instead of PFs (they can upgrade to PFs for 2MB per model, if they want). In practical turns, while they are not as good in combat, point for point, as some of the top tier melee units in the game (like Hammernators, Necron Wraiths, Wulfen, Death Company, Dreadknights, TWC, Hive Tyrants, etc.), they are in many ways the best “bully unit” in the game when used against non-dedicated assault troops from the enemy army. Put another way, Sanguinary Guard are excellent at employing their high mobility, strong armor save, and solid melee abilities to take out enemy “shooty” units, tie up commanders and “force -multiplier” units, and even defeat mid-capability enemy assault units that are threatening your own forces.
Based on all this, what is the best way to employ Dante and his Sanguinary Guard from a GOLDEN HOST formation? Surprisingly, I think one of the best options is teaming them up with the Astra Militarum EMPEROR’S FIST TANK COMPANY and EMPEROR’S WRATH ARTILLER COMPANY formations. Both of these formations, taken together, can field a lots of survivable mechanized platforms (especially the Leman Russes from the Tank Company) and TONS of long-range firepower that cannot be ignore easily (especially the Ignore Cover Wyverns, Basilisks, and Manticores of the Artillery Company). Where they are vulnerable, of course, is against close range melta shooting and assault by forces with lots of Grenades, Power Mauls, PFs, S6+ Monstrous Creature attacks, etc. Thus, most opponents (except maybe Tau and enemy Astra Militarum gun lines) will try and close the gap quickly with the Astra Militarum tanks and artillery vehicles of these formations, where they can make short work of them.
So, how does the GOLDEN HOST formation help with this? Well, it is all based on a little-known piece of Astra Militarum Vehicle Equipment: the humble Augur Array. Costing 5 MBs, this little upgrade can be taken by basically any Imperial Guard vehicle (except Valkyries/Vendettas) and works just like a Locator Beacon, allowing friendly forces to DS within 6″ with no scatter (provided the Augur Array was on the battlefield already at the start of the turn).
This of course combines beautifully with the GOLDEN HOST’s ability to choose which turn it Deep Strikes and to charge that same turn. As your Leman Russes advance upfield while they fire (or, alternately back away as the enemy army rushes forward), you can wait until just the right moment, then suddenly bring in Dante and his Golden Angel bodyguards and charge those enemy forces threatening your vehicles before they can get within melta/charge range. This not only allows your tanks to maximize their survivability and keep employing their significant firepower, but it also allows you to match up Dante and the Sanguinary Guard against exactly the units which will maximize their own strengths and minimize their weaknesses (e.g. if your opponent is rushing forward a Dreadknight, you can intercept it with Dante, whose S6 AP2 attacks at WS6/I6 and 4W with Eternal Warrior make him an ideal counter; alternately, if the enemy is Drop Podding in a squad of Grav Centurions to try and immobilize your Leman Russ squadrons to death, then Sanguinary Guard with Inferno Pistols and PFs make an excellent “counter-punch” unit).
Looking at the other side of the coin, for those threats that overmatch the GOLDEN HOST in combat, like massed Wulfen/TWC, Hammernators, Tyranid “Monster Mash” lists, etc. the firepower of the Leman Russes and, especially, of the artillery vehicles can even the scales, either weakening the enemy units enough for Dante and the SG to deal with them or even destroying them outright (i.e. one good hit from an Ignore Cover Manticore could wipe out an entire Wulfen squad, for instance; similarly, a squadron of 3 Leman Russ Vanquishers with Lascannons and MM Sponsons, all shooting at BS4 thanks to the formation bonus, can take down Hive Tyrants, Hammernators, and even enemy Wraithknights before they get within assault distance).
Just like anything else, this battle group combination does not provide a guaranteed win by any means, but in the hands of a knowledgeable and skilled commander, I think this can be quite a flexible and capable combination.