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Hey guys, I’m back here to give my initial thoughts on the awesome new Dark Angels. I hope this first impressions and review is both helpful and enjoyable for any and all aspiring Dark Angels players, or even those who are looking at what to expect from the first legion!
Azrael – With five attacks base (two close combat weapons) with a S6 master-crafted power sword, in addition to his cool special combi-plasma, you might think Azrael is a nasty combat character. The best reason to take him though are his support abilities – all Dark Angels use his Leadership of 10, he makes Deathwing Terminators and Ravenwing Attack Squadrons Troops, he can pick his Warlord Trait, and he grants the unit he is with a 4+ invulnerable save. Overall, for only slightly more than two hundred points, he is a steal and essential to mixed or “Multi-Wing” army lists.
Ezekiel – Toting a stat-line more in line with a Company Master on top of his 2+ armour save, Ezekiel is a highly cost effective mastery level three psyker that comes with a very nasty sniping/debuff psychic power on top of two powers from rulebook disciplines. With both his bolt pistol and two-handed force sword master-crafted, he is decent in combat and gives a very nice +1 Weapon Skill to every friendly Dark Angels unit within 6”! You cannot go wrong with Ezekiel.
Asmodai – He’s back, and he is rocking an awesome model; unfortunately, rules wise he is surpassed by the more cost effective Interrogator Chaplains. The benefits of Asmodai include causing Fear and having an extra weapon to use instead of your Crozius Arcanum – a Strength as user and AP- instant death weapon. Not bad at all, but not really worth the extra points you pay for him – as such, he is fine, but not the best in his role.
Belial – If you want a Terminator-armoured Company Master, this is where you should be heading – Belial is versatile and is a great commander to lead any Deathwing-themed force. Making Deathwing Terminators a Troops choice has many obvious benefits, though if he deep strikes, the unit he does it with does not scatter at all – combined with the Deathwing Assault and Vengeful Strike rules, and you have one nasty Alpha Strike unit! He is nasty in combat, with a Fleshbane AP3 sword, or you can rock a thunder hammer and storm shield – both are great, though the lightning claws are cool too.
Sammael (Corvex) – Mounted on a jetbike and being the only Eternal Warrior in the codex, Sammael is pretty unique – he has both a plasma cannon and a twin-linked storm bolter, giving him a lot of firepower. He also has an AP2 power weapon that strikes at Initiative – with a 4+ invulnerable save, Sammael is nasty in any phase of the game, and you would be wise to make full use of his abilities.
Sammael (Sableclaw) – An AV 14/14/10 Land Speeder with a twin-linked assault cannon and a twin-linked heavy bolter, you say? Oh, it has a 4+ invulnerable save too? Yes indeed – the Sableclaw is nasty, though it is still relatively easy to destroy if one can get around to the rear armour. In general, I would usually recommend putting Sammael on Corvex as he maintains his quality melee capabilities and can still attach to units – though the Sableclaw is a good option too, by all means.
Company Master – Cheap and cheerful, though their abilities tend to pale in comparison to the named characters – their support abilities are also generally outweighed heavily by both Librarians and Interrogator Chaplains for the points. If you use them, make them an awesome character killer by giving them either one of the cool relic weapons – hunt the Fallen! The fact that you can’t mount them on a bike is disappointing for those wanting to do more Ravenwing themed armies – in general, I find the Company Mastery to be an inferior choice to most other units in the slot.
Interrogator Chaplain – Sporting a power maul and a 4+ invulnerable save with a stat line just shy of a Company Master, the Interrogator Chaplain provides great value in the form of buffs – making the unit he is with have Fearless and Hatred (Everything) can significantly increase their combat potential. With access to chapter relics, bikes, jump packs and terminator armour, the Interrogator is very customizable – however, think more about what unit they can benefit most before deciding to outfit them; do that, and they won’t fail to impress.
Chaplain – The Chaplain is essentially a watered-down version of the Interrogator Chaplain, which comes as no surprise – though the Chaplain is somewhat cheaper, the benefits those points gives you more than justify purchasing an Interrogator instead. A Chaplain also has no access to terminator armour. You should employ these if you are strapped for points or want them solely for their buff abilities, though if you want a Warlord or more effective option, I would recommend the Interrogator.
Librarian – Exceedingly inexpensive for what they do, Librarians are a fantastic option that should always be considered for any Dark Angels player – with access to four psychic disciplines, they are incredibly versatile, with my usual recommendation being to take Divination; obviously, it depends on the kind of way you equip the Librarian though. It can be a great support unit, or even a devastating offensive threat – with access to dangerous equipment such as a combi-plasma cannon or a Strength +3 AP3 mace, as well as Terminator armour or a bike, the Librarian is incredibly efficient and, importantly, fun to boot.
Techmarine – For every other HQ choice you field that isn’t a command squad, you can take one of these guys – a very cheap way of adding a few extra power fist attacks as well as being able to repair vehicles, the Techmarine is an efficient way of helping out both mechanized and infantry-based armies. He also boosts the cover save of a single piece of terrain in your deployment zone – this obviously works very well with Tactical Marines and Devastators, giving them that extra buffer against AP3 or AP2 weaponry.
Servitors – Being able to take a squad of these for every Techmarine in your army is both fun and useful – they are a cheap way to boost repair efforts, whilst adding additional power fist attacks and even some strong firepower, though at a price. Though I would generally attach a Techmarine to another unit, Servitors are not a bad unit at all to run him with – remember that like the Techmarine, they do not take up a Force Organization slot.
Command Squad – They are essentially a Veteran squad that has access to more special weapons and some unique options; such as the ability to add an Apothecary, a Company Champion or one of many standards. The Apothecary is a cheap and useful addition, though I feel the Company Champion may not be worth it, as the Blade of Caliban and a combat shield isn’t too great for the points. With access to the standards (which will be discussed in depth later) and many special weapons, they have a lot of options, though you should resist blowing too many points on them – they are nonetheless a worthwhile addition to any Dark Angels force.
Deathwing Command Squad – This is exactly the same as a basic Deathwing Terminator squad but with some additional options in line with the regular Command Squad – namely access to a Deathwing Champion sporting an awesome Strength +2 AP2 weapon and an Apothecary, as well as the standards. The Champion is a worthwhile upgrade here, but you will have to weigh up whether Feel No Pain is worth the significant investment – as with the Command Squad, the standards will be discussed more later. As with regular Deathwing Terminators, these are a great unit and should be considered for any Terminator-armoured character.
Ravenwing Command Squad – These are very much in line with Black Knights, albeit being cheaper base – they are durable, quick and have nasty wargear, all the while being very cost-effective. As with the other Command Squads, you can take a very expensive Apothecary, a cheap but ineffective Champion, and one of many awesome standards. These are great to attach Sammael or a bike-riding HQ too – remember they also have access to the very nasty Ravenwing Grenade Launcher, a weapon sure to make monstrous creatures and the like cry!
In Summary – There are so many great options in this slot that it is hard to say who I would clearly favour for competitive armies, though I feel Librarians, Belial and Azrael will likely be the most popular. The weaker options, such as Company Masters and Chaplains, aren’t all that bad really – it is mostly just they are over-shadowed by all the other options here! As for Command Squads, it is definitely a case of which units would suit your army best – mixed armies would likely benefit from the standard Command Squad more, whilst Ravenwing will want to be around their own Command Squad
Tactical Squad – With the addition of Stubborn and a hefty price drop per model, Dark Angels Tactical Marines are very cost-effective and a source of cheap, affordable and quantifiable firepower – more durable scoring bodies is always welcome, and these guys do it better than most. With the ability to take a heavy weapon even in a five-strong squad, and the option to purchase a veteran sergeant rather than have him included in the basic squad cost, I can definitely see many five-strong ‘heavy’ squads sitting on objectives, all at a very low cost. Generally though, I feel five-strong Tactical Squads are too easy to remove, and as such, you should invest in 10-man squads – based of course on the size of a game you are playing. Running at least two Tactical squads is my recommendation in general – they are versatile, and with access to cheap special and heavy weapons, can be kitted out to deal with any situation. From cheap plasma cannons to the welcome option of taking flakk missile launchers, Tactical Squads are highly unlikely to let you down.
Scout Squad – Scouts are an interesting unit to use, in the sense that they have Move Through Cover, Infiltrate and Scouts, but are both less durable and less effective in combat and shooting than Tactical Marines. An interesting note is that they also lack Grim Resolve – though with cheap access to camo cloaks, free sniper rifles and decently priced heavy weapons, Scouts can be a cheap way to add some nice firepower into an army list. If you are using Scouts, a small five-man unit sitting on an objective with camo cloaks and a missile launcher is never a bad option – for the most part though, I feel they simply don’t match up to Tactical Marines, who fight and shoot better whilst being harder to kill for only a very minimal points increase. Scouts are by no means a bad option though, and are a good way to add more scoring bodies.
In Summary – Tactical Squads are the superior choice in my eyes, especially when considering their combination with the various standards and units that Dark Angels have access to.
Company Veterans Squad – Somewhat more costly than Tactical Marines with higher Leadership and attacks, Company Veterans are unique in that they can all take a combination of storm bolters, combi-weapons and special melee weapons. Interestingly, Company Veterans also have access to storm shields at a very reasonable price – be aware though that the costs will add up, and that sheer weight of bolter fire will still rip these guys to shreds. With the weapons they can bring, I would advise teaming them up as a “hunting party” – give them a mix of combi-plasmas and combi-meltas, take a Drop Pod and dive right into the thick of it, causing havoc in a very nasty alpha strike. A good unit that should be used according to the wargear options they have.
Deathwing Terminator Squad – Fearless Terminators that pack a host of special rules, from Hatred (Chaos Space Marines) to Split Fire and Vengeful Strike (twin-linked weapons the turn you deep strike!). Combined with the way Deathwing Assault works – essentially a Drop Pod assault on turn 1 or 2 (your secret choice) – Deathwing Terminators are very nice units with great shooting capabilities, though they are somewhat more expensive than most other Terminators. Taking this into account, a slew of options is available to each unit – from Cyclone Missile Launchers to Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields. In that sense, I feel Deathwing are the kind of Terminators that aren’t found too often – Terminators that are very good at dakka. With access to a heavy weapon per five men (heavy flamers, plasma cannons, assault cannons, and the afore-mentioned cyclone missile launchers) and their alpha-strike based rules, Deathwing Terminators can lay on the hurt in a unique way – shooting four storm bolters into a horde of Cultists whilst simultaneously firing two krak missiles into the exposed rear armour of a Predator, and all shots twin-linked, is as glorious as it sounds. Deathwing are still very good in combat – though the cost of thunder hammers and storm shields and their awesome rules may dissuade you from taking a combat-centric approach. Be careful with your Deathwing, and they will serve you exceedingly well.
Deathwing Knights – If you want a hammer, you’ve come to the right place – storm-shield wielding Terminators with power mauls, Deathwing Knights are very nasty. Once per game, they can ‘Smite’ – essentially guaranteeing whatever you are in combat with will die – and this is where an Interrogator Chaplain comes in very handy! With Weapon Skill 5 and Hammer of Wrath, they can lay on the hurt – but they can soak it up very well in a way usual storm-shield wielding Terminators can’t, because if they bunch up, they all count as Toughness 5, making them an equally hardy anvil. With Fearless, Precision Strikes and extra nasty abilities against Chaos Space Marines, Deathwing Knights are an effective and fun unit to use – they will most certainly be a high priority target the turn they arrive. As a side note, they can take a funny little additional model – a Relic of the Unforgiven, which grants them Adamantium Will and Fear. It is ok for the points, but ultimately an unnecessary upgrade.
Dreadnought – Cheap and effective as always, the Dreadnought is both versatile and heavily customizable. In general, when fielding Dreadnoughts, the recommended load-out is either two twin-linked autocannons for efficient long-range anti-tank, or a multi-melta and heavy flamer with an attached Drop Pod to devastate opponents at close range quickly. For a very fair increase in points, it can be made a Venerable Dreadnought – giving it the ‘Deathwing Vehicle’ special rule, making it harder to destroy in one shot, boosting its stat-line and also giving it Preferred Enemy: Chaos Space Marines! Ultimately, the Dreadnought is a useful unit that mostly tends to work only in the two afore-mentioned builds, though it is cheap enough to use in another capacity.
In Summary – All of the options are worthwhile, though I feel the Deathwing Terminators are the most effective and versatile unit in this section – though a mixture of any other unit is certainly viable.
Rhino – Rhinos are a very cheap and accessible means of transporting your infantry across the battlefield, though with the cheap and quantitative access of heavy weapons to Tactical Squads and the like, I don’t feel Rhinos are as important a unit to take for a Dark Angels army. They are worthwhile if the unit inside of it is based upon mobile firepower, though it is always worth it to ferry scoring units across the board. I generally wouldn’t worry about vehicle upgrades, though a dozer blade is always helpful – in general, keep your Rhinos cheap and have more than one. They won’t fail you.
Razorback – A good way of adding cheap, but fragile, firepower into an army, a Razorback serves as a ‘gun boat’ – carrying smaller units into the fray whilst suppressing your enemies. The many weapon upgrades are all worthwhile – though the assault cannon and lascannon with twin-linked plasma gun would be my general recommendations. As with Rhinos, use these if the unit inside would benefit from the transport – though a Razorback can be taken empty simply to add more firepower. A good unit.
Drop Pod – A hardy and reliable transport that sacrifices firepower (not that you need it on a transport anyway) for sheer mobility, allowing a unit to deep strike relatively safely into any position on the battlefield – it is a great asset in the tool of a skilled commander. Paired with certain units, it can make for brutal combinations – deep-striking Dreadnoughts on turn one with multi-meltas, or even a squad of combi-plasma armed Veterans gunning for your opponents Terminators? You really can’t go wrong with a Drop Pod – they are a great transport. Just remember not to drop units by themselves – always think of your other units.
In Summary – All three options are good if used in conjunction with the right kinds of units, and as such I would recommend them to anyone looking to add some mobility to their Dark Angels army.
Ravenwing Attack Squadron – Very cost-effective bikers that have many special rules and potential configurations to consider, though they are most notable for their synergy with Deathwing armies (more on that later). Each Ravenwing Biker holds a Teleport Homer, essentially giving the Dark Angels player an easy means of ensuring reliable deep-strike scatter. With Stubborn, Hit and Run and Scouts, Ravenwing Bikers are ideal harassment units – rapid-firing their twin-linked bolters and special weapons, charging in and cleaning up, and if they are charged in return, they can Hit and Run out of the combat and repeat the process! Two can take either flamers, meltaguns or plasma guns, with a squad limit of six – I would recommend taking a full squadron and giving them the plasma guns or the meltaguns (the former usually), giving you a decently balanced squad that can engage many threats. Some interesting options lie in the Attack Bike and the Land Speeder – either make cheap additions to the squad, and can really mix up the targets to worry about in the unit. Ultimately, it can be a good way to free up a force organisation slot – taking two Attack Squadrons means you can take two Land Speeders as part of the squadrons, as opposed to taking two in a Support Squadron. In closing, Ravenwing Attack Squadrons are a fantastic unit that has many applications with many other elements of the Dark Angels force. As a note, do yourself a favour and combine these guys with the Standard of Devastation on a Ravenwing Command Squad - plunder shall be had!
Ravenwing Support Squadron – Land Speeders are great units, being cheap, fragile and ultimately cost-effective fire platforms that are incredibly mobile. A pair with multi-meltas gives you a very cheap anti-tank unit with a horrendous threat range. With many weapon options, they can be kitted out for versatility or be made to fit a specific role – I find that their best use is as fast tank-hunters that force your opponent to focus fire on them to avoid losing their precious vehicles. However, they can be scary with heavy flamers against horde armies. You can take Tornado and Typhoon pattern weapons, giving you an additional weapon, though the costs can mount up quickly – Land Speeders are better when there are more of them with a lighter armament, as opposed to a few with a better armament. Their fragility means you have to expect to lose them – as such, investing too many points into them can prove costly. Overall, you can’t go wrong with Land Speeders – they are a very good unit, and one that will regularly surprise you as much as your opponent.
Ravenwing Black Knights – Considerably more expensive than standard Ravenwing Bikers, you gain twin-linked plasma guns with 6” less range, Strength +1 Rending melee attacks, three attacks base due to having two close combat weapons, and Leadership 9 all around, Black Knights are a very nasty unit to use and threatening to almost any target. In addition to their incredibly impressive basic wargear, Black Knights can take one Ravenwing Grenade Launcher for every three models in the unit, for a maximum of three – with access to Rad and Stasis Shells, Black Knights can cause serious havoc whilst considerably weakening enemy units. Imagine the implications of moving 12”, firing a 12” range small blast, and any enemy unit hit suffers a -1 penalty to Toughness for the rest of the turn. Use it on a nasty Tyranid Trygon, and then hit it with a Demolisher Cannon. Profit. Putting their cheesy grenade launchers aside, Black Knights are a justifiably costly unit that will cause a lot of damage before going down.
Ravenwing Darkshroud – I will say this right off the bat – I consider this a “must-use” unit for any Ravenwing-heavy army, and even then, this is still a fantastic unit to use in general. For a very cheap price, this over-sized Land Speeder grants Stealth to all friendly Dark Angels within 6”, and adds +1 to combat resolution for each friendly Dark Angels unit within 12”. Stealth combined with Ravenwing Bikers and Land Speeders for a 4+ Jink save? What about Black Knights who, with Skilled Rider, benefit from a 3+ Jink save? Yes please! It’s firepower is minimal, though it can be upgraded to carry an assault cannon. Though it has an unimpressive stat-line, it has the Shrouded special rule, meaning that just by moving it will benefit from a meaty 3+ cover save, making it a tough cookie to crack. For its points cost, it is an amazingly valuable addition to almost any Dark Angels army with any kind of Ravenwing elements.
Assault Squad – What Tactical Marines are to shooting, Assault Marines are to combat – with added mobility, an extra attack and a bolt pistol as opposed to a bolter, Assault Squads are designed to get into the thick of it quickly. In this role, they are quite cheap and hardly a bad choice – they also have access to two flamers or plasma pistols, regardless of size. Whilst this means they are relatively less versatile and will struggle to deal with vehicles, they are still a good option that can benefit from a jump-pack equipped Chaplain or Interrogator immensely. They have the option of dropping their jump packs and taking a Rhino or Drop Pod as a dedicated transport for free, though you will have to weigh up the benefits of keeping the jump packs or taking the transport. Personally, I think jumping them from cover to cover or using mobile cover (such as the Darkshroud or tanks) is a good way to minimize firepower to them without sacrificing their jump packs. Either way, I feel they are a good unit – not bad, but not particularly great either.
Nephilim Jetfighter – Designed to destroy light vehicles and other fliers of its size, the Nephilim is sadly an over-costed unit that seems to have unusually self-conflicting weaponry. It has a Heavy Bolter, a TL Lascannon, and six Strength 6 one-use-only missiles – the heavy bolter is most useful for infantry suppression, though its Lascannon is used to bust through heavy armour, and yet its Blacksword Missiles are designed to do decent damage to light vehicles. The Nephilim can exchange its lascannon for an avenger mega bolter – a Strength 6 AP4 Heavy 5 gun that makes it far less likely to seriously worry AV12 or higher vehicles, such as the recently released Heldrake – one of only two other 6th edition based flyers the Nephilim can compete against. It has Strafing Run and Unrelenting Hunter, the latter allowing it to switch Weapon Destroyed results to Immobilzed results on vehicles it damaged that turn - this makes it more useful in conjunction with other units rather than taken on its own merits. However, as much as I would like to give it a good rating, the Nephilim simply pales considerably in comparison to the Heldrake and 5th edition based flyers – it is mostly due to being harshly over-costed rather than its abilities. These still have a use, but for anti-air weaponry, you are better served elsewhere – whether through flakk missiles or allies (preferably the latter). Target light ground vehicles though, and you will not be disappointed.
Ravenwing Dark Talon – With two hurricane bolters, a rift cannon that fires a Strength 5 AP- Blind small blast and a once per game bomb that causes units hit under a large blast marker to suffer a temporary -3 penalty to quite a few of their characteristics, the Dark Talon appears to be an interesting unit based around the concept of synergy with other elements in the Dark Angels arsenal. Unfortunately, much like the Nephilim, the Dark Talon simply doesn’t have the capabilities to validate its high points cost. You can find more effective and efficient firepower elsewhere for cheaper, and as cool as the Rift Cannon and Stasis Bomb are, they are largely situational and limited. Unlike the Nephilim, I feel the Dark Talon isn’t a bad choice though – the Stasis Bomb can make a massive difference, especially if you are about to hit your opponent with a lot of other units. As such, looking at the unit from the perspective of synergy, the Dark Talon is a useful though situational unit that is over-costed for what it does.
In Summary – Whilst I would generally avoid the Nephilim and Dark Talon, Ravenwing Attack Squadrons, Ravenwing Support Squadrons, Ravenwing Black Knights and Ravenwing Darkshrouds are all fantastic and can make phenomenal additions to an army. In saying that, both of the new fliers work much better if you have a specific plan in mind that uses them as part of a larger whole - they work very well with other units!
Devastators – Costed like Tactical Marines, Devastators are the most efficient means of adding firepower into your army – and the range of options means it can be difficult to figure out the best use of the unit. The most obvious and popular application of Devastators is as smaller units holed up in terrain in your back-field, providing cheap and necessary long-range firepower. The decision them comes as to which weapon in particular to give them – missile launchers are the most versatile, and flakk missiles are an ok but ultimately pricey addition, whilst lascannons are ok for the cost. The option to take plasma cannons is interesting, though you have to weigh up the risks of over-heating – their reliability isn’t assured, though they definitely hit very hard. One thing to note is that with Stubborn, Devastators usually won’t run off the board – particularly if you upgrade them to have a Veteran Sergeant. Overall, they are a fantastic unit and probably the most cost effective option for long-range firepower in the codex.
Predator – Cheap, reliable, durable firepower – where have I heard that before? In any case, Predators are your highly efficient tanks that can fulfil one of two specific roles – anti-infantry or anti-tank. Though you can equip them to deal with both with moderate success, I find it reduces their viability and effectiveness. If you want anti-infantry, take heavy bolter sponsons and keep the autocannon – this makes you a decent threat against both monstrous creatures and light vehicles, and most infantry will hate you. The anti-tank version comes with lascannon sponsons and either retains the autocannon or takes a twin-linked lascannon – the choice is yours, though I feel the autocannon may be the more efficient choice; either way, it will blow tanks apart from across the board with impunity. The Predator is hardy, but is quite susceptible to flanking – remember that it is cheap, and make sure not to make it the focal point of your attack. Predators are best as supporting members to a wider whole – like the undercurrent for your Devastators, Deathwing and Ravenwing. They are a great unit to use.
Whirlwind – Sporting an artillery-range missile launcher that fires either a Strength 4 AP5 Ignores Cover large blast, or a Strength 5 AP4 large blast, the Whirlwind is a very decent addition to any balanced Dark Angels army – whilst you have to weigh up against competing units such as Devastators and Predators, the Whirlwind is the cheapest of the three by some margin and easily hidden, given it can fire without needing line of sight. It is strictly an anti-infantry unit, and is best used against hordes – as such, it has a place, though I feel the best choices will usually be those that can give you long range anti-tank firepower as Dark Angels tend not to lack for anti-infantry shooting. With how cheap it is though, you simply can’t go wrong.
Vindicator – For some reason I cannot fathom, it is a mere five points more than the otherwise identical Chaos Space Marines version. In any case, the Vindicator is a great way to make your opponent feel the heat – it fires a 24” range Strength 10 AP2 Ordinance large blast! It just rolls off your tongue – obviously, it is incredibly threatening to non-flying vehicles and any kind of infantry, particularly Terminators. Whilst monstrous creatures tend not to worry too heavily about these, Vindicators are still always a big threat and will usually be target number one. In that sense, you should be prepared to lose them in most games – for reliability, I find a pair is the best way to go if you want to field them; one will be destroyed with ease, three will just waste your time. Of course, this means that you are filling up slots that could be better spent elsewhere. In that sense, if you use Vindicators, prepare for their use by getting more anti-tank shooting elsewhere – like the Predator, be very wary of flanking and deep-striking units. Remember that it can be easily neutralized and that taking a siege shield is almost mandatory and you should get a fair idea of how I feel about them – they are fantastic when they fire, they are a waste if they don’t. A good unit, but not the best.
Land Raider – A mobile fortress that packs a lot of firepower, the Land Raider is a divisive vehicle; I feel that whilst it is certainly very difficult to destroy in some ways, it is incredibly expensive for what it does. Melta, lance and rending weapons tend not to care about how well armoured your Land Raider is – weapons that tend to be very common in the game right now. In that sense, you always have to weigh up risk versus reward with the Land Raider – whilst it is incredibly durable as far as vehicles go, it is a priority target for your opponent. Remember not to use it for the weapons it brings, as you can get far more efficient firepower elsewhere, but to fulfil its primary purpose – as a transport. Being the only in-codex type of vehicle that can carry Terminators whilst also being an assault vehicle, it has its obvious applications – namely delivering your nasty combat units. However, the standard Land Raider generally isn’t the best type of Land Raider in this role – in that sense, I would shy away from it unless you have something specific in mind. An interesting option to discuss for each Land Raider (which I will solely cover here) is the Deathwing Vehicle upgrade; whilst it is expensive on an already expensive vehicle, it would make a Land Raider near impossible to “one-shot-kill” and also grants it Preferred Enemy: Chaos Space Marines. It is a neat upgrade, but again, do you need more points invested in these units?
Land Raider Crusader – As with the Land Raider, it is a mobile fortress that is designed to ferry your hard hitting units across the board, keeping them safe in a near impregnable AV14 all-round vehicle. Where the Crusader differs from the standard Land Raider is in its weaponry, its transport capacity and its assault launchers. With hurricane bolters that can benefit from the nasty Standard of Devastation, the Crusader is great at maintaining fire efficiency on the move – though unlike with the standard Land Raider, you won’t really mind losing out on those shots. A note; its guns are great for grounding flying monstrous creatures. Being able to carry sixteen models (or eight models in Terminator armour) means you can create the nasty combat Deathwing unit of your dreams, with Belial and an Interrogator Chaplain attached. Paired with assault grenades from the assault launchers, and you have a recipe for destruction. Still, it is very expensive – with Land Raiders of any kind, you must always weigh up alternative options for transport, given the excessive cost of each. Not purchasing a Land Raider gives you a decently upgraded Deathwing Terminator squad, look at it that way and it can create some interesting issues.
Land Raider Redeemer – As with the other two Land Raider variants, the Redeemer is an assault transport in a durable chassis – like the Crusader, it has assault launchers. Unlike the Crusader, it has Strength 6 AP3 flamer templates on either side and only holds twelve models. Obviously, this means it scares the heck out of most Space Marine players. In any case, it still doubles well as an assault vehicle, though I feel the Crusader is the better overall option in this case.
Land Speeder Vengeance – This is a unit designed as the ultimate glass cannon – firing either a three shot plasma gun or a single large plasma blast, the Vengeance packs some serious and adaptable firepower. However, it is extremely fragile for the cost – despite being twice the size of a normal Land Speeder, it is still exactly as paper-thin. In this sense, though the Vengeance adds good firepower, you should consider what two or three regular Land Speeders could do for a similar cost. However, the Vengeance shines when paired up with its ‘kit-brother’; the Darkshroud. 4+ Jink gives it quite a bit of breathing room, though it still won’t save it from the inevitable torrent of fire that will come its way soon after firing. Though it is by no means bad, I feel it is probably too easily destroyed for the investment.
In Summary – Devastators and Predators are fantastic, though most of the other units are good or decent.
The Sacred Standards and Other Banners
Given that standards have been a big part of the Dark Angels army for as long as I can remember, I thought it wise to address them in their own section – they have many tactical applications, and some are just downright frightening. Remember though that they can be easily sniped out – they tend to be sizeable points investments, and thus you need to weigh up the risks of potentially losing them in a swift strike before they can really help your army out a lot. Remember also that they only apply to Dark Angels units! All Banners grant +1 to combat resolution for determining combat results, which is a nice addition to their other rules.
Chapter Banner – This lets friendly units within 12” re-roll failed morale and pinning checks, as well as granting +1 attack for any model in the bearers’ unit. Ultimately, given that the entire army has And They Shall Know No Fear or Fearless in addition to a smattering of Stubborn, I find this is far too costly for what it does. As a note, this evaluation is based on the entry in the Banners and Standards section of the codex; granting +1 attack to the bearer's unit rather than all units within 12". If it is indeed the latter, I would then say it is worth the cost.
Company Standard – Letting units reroll failed morale and pinning checks within 12” is ok, especially considering how cheap it is compared to the Chapter Banner. This is fine, though, again, given the army wide special rules, it is probably unnecessary.
Revered Standard – This does the same thing as a Company Standard, though for not much more it also grants Crusader to any unit within 6”. This isn’t too bad, though not all that useful – how often do you expect to be running with units that would carry this banner, and how often do you expect to be sweeping units off the table? Again, only within 6” too. I would give this a pass.
Ravenwing Company Banner – Letting all friendly Ravenwing units within 12” automatically pass their Hit and Run Initiative check whilst adding an extra dice to Hit and Run movements is sweet, especially for how cheap this is. It is a fine addition to a Ravenwing-themed army.
Deathwing Company Banner – This grants all friendly models that have Inner Circle (all Deathwing, most characters) within 6” +1 attack. This is incredibly expensive, though for an army composed of Terminators, this may actually be worthy of the price tag. It is probably not the best option, but useful nonetheless.
Standard of Retribution – This grants all friendly units within 12” Counter-Attack for a significant investment. This isn’t bad at all, and can be a good way to help swing some assaults in your favour by denying your opponent their charge advantage. It is good, especially for defensive-minded Dark Angels armies. As a note, this, the Standard of Fortitude and the Standard of Devastation all confer the 12” re-roll failed leadership and pinning tests bubble.
Standard of Fortitude – The costliest banner in the army, clocking it at just under 100 popsickles, this gives every friendly unit within 12” the Feel No Pain special rule. Obviously, this is a pretty nutcase trick to pull – try putting it in a Deathwing Command Squad surrounded by Deathwing Terminators and Deathwing Knights and watch the grin slip off of your opponents face. Be aware that the “sniping” issue is more relevant here than anywhere else, as this is a very expensive and obvious target for your opponent. With barrage and sniper weapons being commonplace nowadays, this begs the question as to how much you think the banner is worth, and whether you think you can defend it adequately. Whilst it grants some great effects, the cost and fragility of the unit carrying it means it may be over-looked for other options – remember that clumping up your units leaves them vulnerable to things that typically ignore Feel No Pain, such as Manticores and Vindicators.
Standard of Devastation – Devastation indeed. All friendly units within 6” treat their boltguns as Salvo 2/4. Given how cheap Tactical Marines are nowadays, this presents an obvious eye-brow raiser – you can significantly boost the offensive potential of your squads, though it again forces you to clump up. The cost is also very high, as you would expect, meaning it is a pricey and risky inclusion. Still, having one Tactical Squad put out nearly 40 Boltgun shots in one turn is simply astonishing. I think this is the best general purpose banner you can get, though it obviously requires you not to take an entire Deathwing army or the like. It works hilariously well with Ravenwing though.
In Summary – The standard of Devastation and Ravenwing Company Banner seem like the best bets for me, though the Standard of Fortitude and Company Standard are fine options as well.
Final Thoughts on the Codex
The Dark Angels codex is one that is comprised of many individually good units that tend to be costed quite appropriately for what they are capable of, with a few unfortunate exceptions. The only area that Dark Angels find themselves particularly lacking in is anti-air, due to the over-costed Nephilim and mediocre Flakk Missiles. Despite this, they are a well rounded army list that can bring lots of plasma weaponry and the like at a very affordable price, in addition to the usual smattering of Terminators, Bikers and vehicles. In this sense, I feel Dark Angels are a highly adaptable force that can be made to tailor a wide range of play styles – mechanized, foot-slogging, massed reserves, elite armies, and so on.
Though Deathwing and Ravenwing armies can be very strong on their own, I believe that the best kind of Dark Angels force is a mixed one; combining elements of both Deathwing and Ravenwing, whilst preserving a core of Tactical Marines and Devastators. Whether or not you use Azrael for this reason is purely up to you, but be mindful that taking the Chapter Master, whilst expensive, is guaranteed to help your army out significantly. I see Dark Angels as this kind of army – Tactical Squads, Devastators, Predators and the like provide as much firepower as possible whilst holding ground or moving forward as necessary. Ravenwing squadrons move forward as harassment units, firing their many boltguns and plasma weapons into nasty enemy threats, and providing a nuisance. Their mobility and close attacks pave the way for a turn two Deathwing Assault, providing a two-pronged attack from both squadrons of Bikers and Terminators armed to the teeth with guns. With your back-field units providing long-range support, this allows for an early and devastating co-ordinated attack that can be exceedingly difficult for many armies to deal with. Though an entirely Deathwing army is tough, and an entirely Ravenwing army is unquestionably mobile, those elements work best as supporting parts to the army – as part of a wheel that represents the greater whole.
Going off of this idea that mixed, balanced armies are the way to go, I will also say that I feel Dark Angels are a codex based on synergies and support abilities. Whilst many of their units are powerful in their own right and compare favourably in terms of cost-effectiveness to their equivalents in other codices, they work much better as part of a cohesive strategy that involves multiple elements. This is where the generally over-costed Dark Talon and Nephilim can be made useful, using their abilities in conjunction with Ravenwing and Deathwing forces to severely weaken specific segments of the opposition force, allowing your other units to exploit the weakness and destroy them. Ravenwing bikers all bear teleport homers, meaning they work extremely well with deep-striking Deathwing forces – with the sheer mobility of the Ravenwing allowing them to move into position on turn two, this can pave the way for the Deathwing assault to land without scattering and proceed to annihilate several units in an astonishing alpha strike. Dark Angels characters also tend to reflect this methodology, with many of them based around support abilities that enhance the capabilities of other units; Interrogator Chaplains, Techmarines, Librarians and most of the special characters are all prime examples. With access to many different kinds of banners through their multiple command squads, Dark Angels can take many abilities that provide irrational buffs to Dark Angels forces – usually to a wide range of units, as the Standard of Devastation and Standard of Fortitude prove.
In closing, if you are interested in fielding the might of the first legion, I would recommend that you consider first the way in which a unit works with others in your army before judging them based on their cost-effectiveness. This is an important strategy that should be applied throughout the codex; though the Dark Talon may be somewhat weak in its own right, it can significantly boost the damage that a combined Deathwing and Ravenwing assault can do. There are many different themes that fit throughout the codex, but the most important is synergy; the way the army works in tandem as a cohesive force, where no single unit is truly bigger than the sum of their parts. Despite this, you can still field a themed Deathwing or Ravenwing centric army and still enjoy a competitive, tactically adaptable force, which is the beauty of the codex; it encourages many kinds of armies without making any option feel like it is far superior to its competitors.
Other Codices and the Meta – Dark Angels are very adaptable and versatile as an army, and this design is reflected in most individual units. A balanced army is encouraged, one that can reliably handle any threat. The main issue Dark Angels players will have to address is dealing with other flyers effectively – unfortunately, the Nephilim simply can’t do the job as well as flyers from many other codices, not for the cost. This is where allies and fortifications come in handy – a small contingent of Imperial Guard featuring a Vendetta squadron is always a fantastic addition to the Dark Angels army. Aside from this, a seasoned player will find they can deal with most threats pretty reliably based upon the force they field – though Dark Angels players will still struggle immensely with armies such as the Necron Airforce or Tzeentch Daemons, which likely comes as no surprise. Though it is a very good and tactically rewarding codex, I feel that it isn’t in the top tier of codices as far as a measurable “power level” – generally considered to be Imperial Guard, Necrons and one or two others. However, the depth of the books makes me think that this may change – there are many potential, viable combinations to try out. Having a strong balanced codex that rewards strategic nous is what I prefer anyway, so it doesn’t really matter – you make what you will of the army, after all. One thing I will note is that despite Dark Angels having many special rules tailored to fighting Chaos Space Marines, be very aware of Heldrakes – especially in an army featuring lots of Ravenwing elements, and this is even more pronounced due to the new FAQ rulings in favour of the Heldrake.
Allies – Allies make for a great addition to the Dark Angels force, though these should be taken to cover up the weaknesses of your primary detachment. In this sense, having cheap, expendable troops and access to lots of anti-flyer weaponry is likely a must for competitive army lists – the perfect foil for these, of course, being Imperial Guard. A nasty tactic that has developed already is to place Azrael in a friendly blob squad of Imperial Guard – all count as Fearless, and all of them benefit from Azrael’s Lion Helm, granting them a 4+ invulnerable save! Combine this with a squadron of Vendettas or Hydras, and you will be giving your army some considerable reinforcements all at a very affordable price. Space Wolves and Eldar also make for good access to powerful psyker defence, and can provide interesting options in other areas. In general, Dark Angels can make good use of the Allies system – especially to help their internal issues with fighting flyers.
I would like to thank you all very much for reading through this article, as well as giving me many new ideas to implement – your tactical expertise is always welcome! I hope this article has been both fruitful and helpful to you, and I look forward to seeing your ideas and battle reports about the ever impressive First Legion. This is a great codex that should be considered for any budding player looking for a flexible and tactically rewarding force. Thanks again!