Saturday 19 September 2015

Dark Angels Quickshoot Review - Part 2 - HQ, Elites, Fast Attack and Heavy Support Units

Hi Readers,

Second part of a my rapid review of the Dark Angels Codex. Today is the turn of the HQ section which has a couple of unique entries, and then the Elite and Fast Attack which are almost synonymous with Deathwing and Ravenwing in terms of unique elements that  Dark Angels bring to the table. I'm sure there will be a few difference between Dark Angel command squads and veterans etc, but I'm not too interested in these nitty gritty foibles as unless they are game breaking I want to just concentrate on the full Dark Angel Flavour. Mmmm heresy FOR THE EMPEROR!


Company Master - This guy is the half way point between a vanilla Captain and Chapter Master and that's about all there is to say really. He has the stat-line of a vanilla captain, but he comes with the Deathwing special rule as well as the Grim resolve special rule, so you do get some extra goodies for your money, but he is unfortunately only 3 wounds. The company master isn't the most special thing you can find in this codex but I do like him, with the relics being mostly good and the Dark Angel special rules being excellent you can really tune him as a back line support character or a MEQ masher with the Mace. Take him if you like the traditional idea of a leader, but below is a better option in my opinion.

Interrogator Chaplain - take your vanilla Chaplain and inject him with the bitter tears of every Warhammer fantasy fan and he turns in to this guy. A space marine captain stat line but  with one less weapon skill. Other than the fact the models for him look awesome (incidentally Asmodai has a brilliant model I think and I plan to buy it and run him as a regular Interrogator Chaplain because its so pretty), he also has a bunch of good stuff. He has the normal zealot so he is more of a buffing option than your company master, he also has preferred enemy Chaos Space marines, and you can't complain with that really. Overall I would say he is a better choice than the Company Master, I just find it harder to model one so I've gone for the company master! Very recommended.


Deathwing terminators/Command Squad - I've lumped these in together as they are functionally very similar with the command squad just being more malleable with greater access to goodies. They synergise well with a fast moving force as they can deep strike and split fire with twin linked weaponry on the turn of their arrival. Yes they can't deep strike turn 1 (but grey knights can.... will that change I wonder?) but if involved as part of a broader force they are an excellent option to have that can really wreck face in a key area of a battle for you. Assault cannons go down well here as do cyclone missile launchers. In terms of the command squad, the Champion upgrade is fantastic as he comes with a +2 strength AP2 halberd of awesome. He also gets +1 WS for an easier time hitting if he isn't in a challenge and if in a challenge with a WS5 character they are now hitting on a 4+ instead of normally a 3+. An apothecary will make them hard to shift but does reduce your attacks, if you have gone for storm shield I would leave him to keep punch. The Deathwing standard will give you a tasty +1 attack which is well worth it if you are getting stuck in! I like these guys, but they are very expensive and if I wasn't running a Deathwing army I would just take the one squad as support.

Deathwing Knights - Ooooh, did I say the above unit was expensive? These guys are base 35 points more than the regular or command squad BUT they have less options so you are unlikely to splurge points on them as upgrades beyond additional bodies. AP3 weapons as standard with WS5 across the board, hammer of wrath, precision strikes and the special rule Fortress of Shields which means that any model with a storm shield (including independent characters attached tot his unit) in base contact with at least 2 other models in the unit has +1 toughness. The sergeant equivalent gets fleshbane as well as AP3 on his weapon. The big rule with these guys is Smite mode. Sx2 AP2 at initiative but only 1 attack. But AT INITIATIVE. That is serious awesome but will make these a prime target for death, the T5 makes this somewhat harder though, attach an interrogator chaplain for zealot and you will pretty much kill anything you hit.

Ravenwing Command Squad - So these guys are in the Elite section. Not sure how I feel about this to be honest, my gut says that Ravenwing belong in fast attack all the way, thoughts on this people? 3 models stock with Black Knights, though upgrades for an Apothecary and Champion of Caliban are available. The Champion has honour or death a rule meaning he must accept challenges (and possibly make them, will have to check). T5 and 2 attacks base  with an extra point in WS for the champion these guys are pretty tough, especially with a 3+ re-rollable jink save thanks to the ravening rule combined with skilled rider. They also have plasma talons for twin linked 18 inch plasma death and corvus hammers which are +1S AP- rending melee weapons. They also come with a teleport homer to gel nicely with any Deathwing units you are bringing. These guys can have banners, the Ravenwing Banner is excellent. All ravening units within 12 inches automatically pass hit and run check and move an extra D6 inches (so 4D6) when leaving combat. If you are going ravenwing these guys are a must for me, add a few extra bodies and watch them wheel around the table buffing other units and smashing face. Don't spend too many points on them though!

Fast Attack

Ravenwing Bike Squad - 3 bikes at 25 points a pop including the Sergeant. Scouting bikers with a re-rollable 4+ jink and hit and run. These are you bread and butter ravenwing and they are excellent value for it. They can also upgrade to have an attack. Maximum squad size is 7 including an attached attack bike. These guys are good on their own, but best taken in conjunction with other ravenwing units that work synergisticaly such as a command squad with the Ravenwing banner to guarantee hit and runs on your opponents turn so you can shoot them up and charge again on your own turn. Don't forget these guys also have Grim Resolve so will be firing overwatch on a 5+.

Ravenwing Attack Bike Squad - As above but with 1-3 attack bikes as a unit. Personally I would just take more of the regular squad with an attack bike tacked on with multi melta for duality. Remember that anything armour 12 or lower you have grenades to deal with, so multi melta shooting and then a charge is not a bad idea. Skip this unit though.

Ravenwing Landspeeder Squad - Speed is the key word here. If you are going to take a unit of these and you aren't using a formation then take 3-4 or none. If you take 3 then you activate Anti-grav Upwash special rule where the land speeders can move an additional 6 inches when moving flat out. That is speed that will really surprise your opponent and make for excellent objective grabbing in maelstrom games. Can also re-roll jink saves, but otherwise same options and load outs as vanilla.

Ravenwing Darkshroud - This thing is fantastic. Unfortunately (and I know I'm in a minority here), I think it looks stupid as a model and would have loved the aesthetic to take a different route entirely. However that's neither here nor there regarding the rules! The Darkshroud itself has 3HP on a 10 all round chassis with the ravenwing special rule allowing re-rolls to jink. Added to this it has shrouded so has a 2+ jink save! It also adds fear and stealth to Dark Angel units within 6 inches of it (so a 12 inch bubble). And enemy units cannot fire overwatch at units that start the assault phase within 6 inches of a Darkshroud. So you can hang around in the bubble, then charge out of it without any overwatch hitting you. Tasty. These are fragile to ignores cover fire, so if I were to go down this tactical route I would take 2 myself, forcing your enemy to split there ignores cover fire power in a gamble, or just leave one sitting pretty with its 2+ jink.

Ravenwing Black Knights - Basically as the command squad without the options for a banner or apothecary, but still equipped with their plasma talons and corvus hammers and 3+ re-rollable jinks. They have the option to take an odd grenade launcher but I would ignore it for plasma. They are twin linked so the chance of gets hot is lower.

Nephilim Jetfighter - 3 HP and AV 11 all round with the ravenwing special rule again benefiting on its jink saves. Twin linked heavy bolter, avenger mega bolter and 6 black sword missiles. The missiles are S7 AP3 so have a decent chance of taking HP's off enemy flyers and the Mega bolter can be swapped out for a twin linked lascannon for 5 points. The Jetfighter has missile lock whcih gives it black sword missiles re-rolls to hit making it a good flyer hunter when equipped with the lascannon. Alternatively leave it as stock and destroy ground targets as the mega bolter has 5 S6 shots that are AP4 and pinning added to the heavy bolter and missiles which will all be firing at BS5 on ground targets as the jetfighter has strafing run. 2+ joy! For its price tag of 175 you can't go wrong and is we will see later in another post there are some tasty formations to be had.

Ravenwing Dark Talon - Same basic chassis as the jetfighter and also coming with strafing run the dark talon is a dedicated air to ground attack craft. It comes with two hurricane bolters (so 3 twin-linked bolters each), a rift cannon and a stasis bomb. The rift cannon is a S10 AP2 Heavy1 blast weapon that can become a D weapon (by virtue of becoming vortex) when you roll a double on the scatter dice even if you hit. Ouch! Its stasis bomb is large blast, S4 AP5 and any unit hit by this weapon (just hit!) reduces weapon skill and initiative by 3 till the end of the turn. Combined with a black knight charge? Death, lots of it. Additionally any model suffering an unsaved wound must pass an initiative test or be removed from play. Nice, but lacking in low AP means that it will rarely take anyone of not out. The main use of this is to hit their best unit, nerf it into the ground and then kick holy hell out of it! As above some of the formations make this beast even tastier. (I have one pf these...)

Heavy Support

Just the one in this section! Well done for making it down to this spider web clutter section at the bottom of the scroll bar...

Ravenwing Landspeeder Vengeance - AV10 all round and 3 HP its not the most survivable beast but it does come with a heavy bolter (which can be swapped for an assault cannon so do) and a plasma storm battery. This has 2 different modes, a Heavy3 gets hot 36 inch S7 AP2 mode. And a Heavy3 gets hot 36 inch large blast S7 AP2 mode. Both brilliant, both can easily kill the landspeeder, In principle its great but I just fear that to often it will kill itself and I honestly think that for its price of 120 it doesn't have a place outside of fluffy lists. yes, everyone third game it will kill everything but I don't think its a bankable points sink. Again I also dislike the aesthetic but hey ho!

Right, there we are fine folks, I'm sure I've made some mistakes or missed something important but please do pull me up on it below! My general thought on this section is that obviously the ravenwing got stronger and Deathwing took a minor nerf bat, and I really do mean minor to anyone that doesn't run pure Deathwing. However I think the real strength of these elite sections is actually to run together. I've seen lots of proliferating posts on pure ravenwing, and I think 1 or 2 Deathwing units added in to deep strike and cause chaos would actually make the force stronger as whole.

Peace out,



  1. Company Master: Basically just for the Demi-Company. As you point out, in other situations, the Interrogator-Chaplain is pretty much just better.

    RavenWing Command Squad: I can see the argument for Fast Attack, but I can also see the argument for Elites along with the other Command Squads. On both them and the Black Knights, I like a single Grenade Launcher per Squad. The Stasis Shells are solid gold before Charging something with WS and/or I 4-5.

    All Command Squads: Dark Angels really stand out in that their Champion upgrades are actually worthwhile. The Vanilla/BA ones are pretty meh, but DA get some really cool weapons for their Champions.

    PA Command Squad: The one thing that's really worth noting here is the Banner that gives them Relentless. That can make a Squad of them armed with Grav Guns terrifying coming out of a Drop Pod.

    DeathWing in general: If taking a Heavy Weapon, I like to also leave at least one dude with a Storm Bolter. That way you can take advantage of Split Fire to drop your real firepower into one Unit, and then just plink the one Storm Bolter at the Unit you want to Charge, so less worry about shooting yourself out of range.

    DarkShroud: Really comes into its own in the Support Squadron, where it's got some buddies to tank Ignores Cover hits for it.

    Nephilim: Pretty nice, but I do kind of wish it had the option to swap the Heavy Bolters for Lascannon instead of the Mega-Bolter. I also sort of want an in-between version with the Mega-Bolter and Hurricane Bolters.

    Dark Talon: I really can't wait to get one of these on the table. That Rift Cannon is so nasty!

    LS Vengeance: Not sure I'd shell out for the Assault Cannon. The thing's already pretty pricy and fragile, and the Heavy Bolter's longer range lets it hang back at 36" better to avoid massed Bolter fire and such.

    1. Ravenwing command squad - yeah I can see that they are in the elite slot, I guess I'm more annoyed that the Ravenwing specific detachment only allows 1 Elite slot, whereas I would judge that in an army you could have multiple delegated command squads to control each flank for example. Still, a great squad. I don't, like scatter where I can avoid it, but I've nothing against the grenade launcher, I just love me some plasma!

      The champions do get cool weapons, I just think I'd rather have another special weapon in most cases for that extra punch and then attach a cheap independent character to tank a challenge. But they can do a nice bit of work if you opt for them. Its certainly not a sub-par option.

      See the problem with writing multiple articles at once and scheduling them is getting muddled up with what you've written where, I make this exact point in a tactica article for my army that's coming up. But then again I didn't cover the generic command squad here did I... Anyway I am building a magnetised command squad with a full grav gun and standard bearer for just this purpose!

      Thats a good point about the deathwing! I'm umming and ahhing about including a unit in my to-buy list but I would have to come up with a decent none-bone white scheme for them.

      Darkshroud, yeah you can't just buy one and go with it, you have to fully invest in them as a mechanic for it to work which I feel many people won't and complain that it gets shot down too often. But combo'd correctly it can be great. Just not my aesthetic bag baby.

      Nephilim could be better but I think its pretty great for the price and plan on picking up a couple for the silence squadron that I will cover tomorrow. That makes the Dark talon an even better prospect!

      Ah I just am not convinced by it at all really, unless you are going pure Ravenwing or only picking up Dark Angel specific units, then I'd just go for some Plasma cannon Devs over this. It just doesn't have enough staying power for me. I feel the assault cannon is cheap enough and better enough than the heavy bolter to justify. The assault cannon has a half decent chance of working against the same targets as plasma particularly with rending, I'd just feel the heavy bolters would be lost a bit. But then range is a very good point.

      Lots of cool stuff there in a mammoth comment! Thanks as usual :)

    2. Truth be told, I don't really think the Vengeance is worth taking at all. Still too fragile and expensive. But if I were going to take one, I wouldn't exacerbate that by making it even more expensive and pulling it into closer range.