Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sanguinary Guard vs. Death Company

Sanguinary Guard vs. Death Company

In a highly competitive Elite slot for Blood Angels, two of the more popular options in 7th edition armies are Sanguinary Guard or Death Company.

Into the thick of things

There have been significant changes to each of these units. I would like to break down the Math Hammer for each of these units and tactical application to help players make a decision. Ultimately, play with what you enjoy. I often find a way to field both units. It's good to think about what each can do for you respectively in certain situations however and that is the intention of this post.

For clarity I have put two units together with points costs within 5 points of each other.

  • 5 Sanguinary Guard with a Chapter Banner 2X Power Axe, 3X Power Sword lead by a Sanguinary Priest with a Bolt Pistol.
  • 5 Death Company with Jump Packs 3X Chainsword, 5X Bolt Pistol, one Power Fist, one Power Sword lead by a Chaplain with a Bolt Pistol and Crozius Arcanum.
It is my opinion that each of these units needs the support to function as a hammer unit. Ideally, I would also try to use Dante with the Sanguinary Guard and Astorath with the Death Company and fill out their numbers some more. For my examples however, this gives us a glimpse at how they perform on their own.

VS. 10 Marines 

Ahh...The benchmark of everyone's basement play testing. It's bad luck to roll your die when it doesn't count, you know. Marines offer a very good starting point because of their well known armor and typical abundance in the meta. Death Company and Sangunary Guard both perform well against MEQ targets.

On the Charge

Sanguinary Guard: An average of 16 hits, and having all low AP weaponry an average of 10 unsaved wounds. This is with 4 attacks from the Chapter Banner and including the Priest.
Death Company: An average of 21 hits and 9 unsaved wounds. This is with 5 attacks with rage, excluding the Power Fist having 4 and including the Chaplain.

Winner: Draw. Sanguinary Guard wounds will get through. Death Company forces more rolls on your opponent and chance could be on your side.

VS. 20 Guardsmen

This is standard WS3 T3 5+ save and can be applied to a variety of models that contain those defensive stats.

Sanguinary Guard: An average of 17 hits and 11 unsaved wounds.
Death Compnay: An average of 20 hits and 16 unsaved wounds.
*In both cases a sweeping advance is very likely to happen.

Winner: Death Company


Sanguinary Guard: have the advantage in the armor department boasting a fantastic 2+. Having the Priest provides them with a 5+ FnP. This is a clear baseline advantage to the...
Death Company: being 3+ with a 5+ FnP. Take the HQ support away and you've got a whole new argument.

Winner: Sanguinary Guard

The wings are purely ornamental.

VS. AV10 Vehicles

A high % of vehicles rear armor is AV10 and using pure attack stats and no grenades, these are the targets you should be selecting.

Sanguinary Guard:An average of 18 hits with the 2 Power Axe's providing a 30% chance to destroy the vehicle outright. You will on average put 6 Hull Points on the vehicle.
Death Company: An average of 23 hits with the Power Fist providing a 61% chance to destroy the vehicle outright. You will on average put 11 Hull Points on the vehicle.

Winner: While both are overkill, Death Company take it being as effective even in fewer numbers.

VS. T6 Monstrous Creatures with 6WS & 4+ Invulnerable Save

Sanguinary Guard: An average of 12 hits and 2 unsaved wounds.
Death Company: An average of 16 hits and 6 unsaved wounds.

Winner: Death Company

Run TOWARDS the bullets.

What to take away

Obviously this isn't the end of the scenario list. There are tremendous amounts of situations. Ultimately what this experiment shows me is that Death Company are going to be more versatile at the expense of survivability. They are however, cheaper on the whole making them an easier choice for most players.

Knowing Death Company can handle nearly any situation I find it to be beneficial to send them at the biggest threat my opponent has and not blink twice about it. In the very least it can make them balk on how to react.

Sanguinary Guard really start to open up potential when combined with additional rules. I find a Librarian or Dante add unparalleled variety and punch. Taking them in larger units is tremendous fun as well and adding in Hit and Run from Dante and you've got a unit that can double dip on its furious charge in the nastier assaults. Fear is a factor but not a large one as it has a low success rate.

Ultimately when faced with the question of Sanguinary Guard or Death Company you can really start to see why the answer so often depends.

Credit to for calculation tools. All fractions numbers were rounded up to the largest whole number.


  1. I know this was posted a couple months ago but I just found it looking for internet advice on this very issue. But after looking at your numbers I think there is a major flaw making the results innaccuate. That flaw being that the sanginary guard's weapons are master crafted so combined with each guy getting a reroll and the +1ws for the priests blood chalice they habe very few misses. All in all this makes the kill gap on meqs far wider and giving the guard an easy win because even with a lower than average roll they will completely destroy the meqs while the DC has to get lucky for that. It also means the geq kills and monstrous creature wounds are far more even than your tests show. Also while its not in your tests if you factor in the shooting before the charge the guard will almost always be the clear winner. I still agree with you on the av10 that DC has it cause the str10 pf on the charge just outclasses str7 axes even with mastercrafted. So with that in mind I would give it to the sanginary guard for the final win. I still agree with the ultimately "it depends" cause DC has the potential to pop land raiders if need be which the guard simply cannot do. But for overall utility its the guard (I know my opinion may be bias cause I think the models look better hands down) but with adding in the mastercrafted, +1ws, and shooting weapons. I believe they have it on more than just sweet sweet looks.

    1. Hey Matthew, thanks for the reply! I definitely didn't get into complexity of shooting prior to cc. I find in my own games that it can be so situational because I often entirely forego shooting to ensure safer a charge. That really depends on the look of things though.

      I remember including the mastercrafted option on the Sang Guard with the calculations. They aren't MY pure math though. I used This was a while ago and I may be mistaken.

      I've had tremendous success with Sang. Guard in larger squads. One of the best results to date was taking on a 10 man Cataphractii Terminator squad with a 10 man Sang Guard. In those elite matchups I find that they really shine.

      I suppose you made me realize after seeing this article again that I am a little biased towards Death Company. Thanks for checking us out.

  2. I guess the reason I assumed it was missing mastercrafted was because while rounding to the nearest whole number (like that website) against meqs without it I got (swords) 12 attacks, 8 hits, 6 wounds (axes) 8 attacks, 5 hits, 4 wounds (chainsword) 5 attacks, 3 hits, 2 wounds, 1 unsaved. Totaling 16 hits making 11 unsaved wounds which is similar to the results posted while with mastercrafted included makes a total of 20 hits, and 14 unsaved wounds.

    I will definitely have to give them both a shot because I do play alot of 1000 pt games and with DC having the ability to be a much cheaper option, which reguardless of how the guard does both put up impressive numbers.