The Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter is a part of the wargame Warhammer 40K, by Games Workshop. If you have no idea what I'm talking about (and you care enough to find out), I recommend taking a look at the other nodes I've just hardlinked for more general information, starting with wargame, and then moving on to Warhammer 40K. This writeup provides very specific information about one particular military force in the game.
The flaw in the Blood Angels' gene-seed is known to manifest in two main ways, the Black Rage, and the Red Thirst.
The Black Rage
The psychic echo of Sanguinius' death is imprinted permanently on the gene-seed which is used to create Blood Angels Space Marines. Prior to battle, Blood Angels may be affected by that echo, experiencing memories of Sanguinius' last battle, sometimes even believing themselves to be the Primarch. Remembering and experiencing the death of their Primarch at the hands of Horus is a painful and maddening experience for a Blood Angel (Think Inigo Montoya watching Count Rugen murder his father, but worse). Those who are unable to control themselves are inducted into the Death Company, where a Chaplain will lead them to an honourable death, venting their frenzy against the enemy.
Understandably, the Blood Angels devote much of their mental energy to subduing the Black Rage, and the Chapter devotes much of its resources towards finding a cure for this debilitating flaw.
The Red Thirst
This manifestation of the gene-seed flaw is extremely rare, and very little is known about it outside of the Chapter's upper echelons. The affliction called The Red Thirst begins with visions of the death of Sanguinius, as does the Black Rage. In the more advanced stages of the disease, the victims develop a vampiric lust for the blood of living humans. In the entire history of the Chapter, only one person has been known to fall victim to the Red Thirst and overcome it - Chief Librarian Mephiston.
Insanguination is the method used by the Blood Angels, and their Successor Chapters, to activate the gene-seed of Sanguinius and transform ordinary humans into Space Marines. When the Blood Angels Legion was first created, and during the lifetime of Sanguinius, the transformation was achieved by injecting the subject with a small sample of the Primarch's blood. After his death, some of his blood was stored in the artifact known as the Red Grail. Preserving the blood in that state was impossible, so the remaining blood was injected into the Sanguinary Priests of the Chapter. Since that time, new Blood Angels battle-brothers have been created by drinking the combined blood of the Sanguinary Priests from the Red Grail.
It is unknown, and a matter of debate among Imperial scholars, whether the process of Insanguination is responsible for the Flaw. Some believe that being carried in the veins of the Priests for millenia has made the gene-seed impure. Others speculate that the gene-seed was contaminated from the beginning, that Sanguinius himself was too heavily touched by Chaos to produce a pure seed.
Once per generation, a series of great tournaments are held on the moon of Baal Secundus, before a great statue of Sanguinius. The participants are required to make their way across an irradiated desert to take part in the contests. Some of the hopefuls die while traversing the dangerous desert. Those who survive prove themselves through tests of courage, strength, agility and willpower, in an attempt to secure one of about fifty places. The successful youths are taken to the main Blood Angels fortress on the planet Baal as Aspirants. Once there, they undergo the ritual of Insanguination, and the gene-seed is introduced to their bodies. They are each put in a huge golden sarcophagus which keeps them on life support, while the gene-seed takes over and begins modifying their physical structure. Some of the Aspirants die during this phase, because of the extreme nature of the changes their body goes through. The ones who can withstand the changes come out of their sarcophagus physically ready to become Space Marines, and begin their training.
The Chapters which were derived from the gene-seed of the Blood Angels in the Second Founding are
- Angels Vermilion
- Angels Sanguine
- Angels Encarmine
Another two Chapters were founded at an indeterminate later date
- Blood Drinkers
Because of the Flaw, further use of the Blood Angels gene-seed in the creation of new chapters has been forbidden.
Weaponry and Tactics
The Blood Angels appear to have a preference for heat-based weapons. Most of the firepower in a Blood Angels army is composed of flame, plasma and melta technologies. You can also see this preference in the special equipment carried by major figures such as Commander Dante, Mephiston and Captain Tycho, and the standard weaponry of the Blood Angels Dreadnoughts and Land Speeders.
Like any Space Marine army, Blood Angels are a solid force composed of a few elite units. They will possess dominating middle and short-range firepower, and significant defensive capability, but are typically outnumbered by their opponent. Blood Angels call for a cautious and tactically clever playing style, which ensures that units are not sacrificed needlessly.
The Blood Angels adhere solidly, for the most part, to the rules of organisation in the Codex Astartes (see Space Marine Chapters for more information). Here, I will mention the aspects of the Blood Angels organisation which are not strictly conventional.
The 6th and 7th Companies (both classed as tactical reserve companies) are given special auxiliary training. The 6th Company is specifically trained in the use of the Space Marine bike, and the 7th in the use of the Land Speeder. Those companies are sometimes deployed to act in an assault vehicle capacity.
The 1st Company fights either as Terminator squads, or as assault squads. This is unconventional, as most Chapters' 1st Company warriors are deployed as tactical troops when not in Terminator armour.
There are a few special ranks in the headquarters staff that don't exist in other Chapters. The Sanguinary Priests are responsible for administering the rituals which transform Aspirants into Space Marines, and also for carrying the blood of Sanguinius in their veins. The Curators and Guardians are responsible for taking care of the Chapter's holy relics.
The Blood Angels are the most long-lived of any Space Marines Chapter. Some of them have been known to survive beyond 1000 years. This means that each warrior has to his credit a wealth of experience, and a lifetime of keeping the insanity of the Black Rage at bay. Blood Angels are also known for inheriting the physical beauty of Sanguinius.
Collecting, painting and playing with Blood Angels is great fun because of their rich and interesting background, and also because of the magnificent miniatures which represent the special characters. Blood Angels have a lot of character and uniqueness to them, and that makes it easy to enjoy a role-playing aspect to your 40K battles.
This information has been gleaned from the book "Codex: Angels of Death" written for Warhammer 40K Second Edition.