After writing my recent review of the Blood Angel codex and getting a little bit too excited by the sheer bad ass Awesomeness of Commander Dante I thought it would be interesting to do a quick comparison of all the available Chapter Masters or the highest ranked character available for a chapter and see how good value they are for their points and also how adequately they fit the fluff of their chapter.
As of writing this introduction I firmly believe Dante to be one of the best there is. It will be interesting to see how much my opinion shifts whilst going through the list!
For the sake of the fluff I will be going through the original legions chapter masters first in numerical order, so that I am not led down the dark path of favouritism by putting the most effort in at the beginning with character I like compared to ones I already think are pants :P! I will then crack on with subsequent founding chapters such as my beloved Black Templars or the Flesh Tearers.
Azrael - So for a 215 point Lord of War what do we have here then? We've go your standard chapter master stats with a 2+ save a 4++ invulnerable from the lion helm, and feel no pain. With 4 wounds a decent invuln and FNP he is a tough cookie. But any strength 8 AP2 wound will leave him with a 4+ invuln or face instant death as he has not got eternal warrior.
However his Lion helm confers the 4++ invulnerable to all models in his unit and any vehicle he is embarked upon. So a big squad of terminators or vanguard veterans in a landraider would make him very survivable beyond high strength precision shots which he would get a 2+ look out sir from. But very expensive if you were running something like that anyway.
He also has the sword of secrets a +2 strength AP3 mastercrafted sword. Which is very nice but AP3 is not all that impressive these days.In addition to this he also has a master crafted combi-plasma which you can't complain about.
He has5 other special rules which include the generic for Dark angels, Grim resolve and Deathwing. Which grant stubborn with BS2 overwatch and fearless and hatred (Chaos space marine respectively). These are nice and flavourful in general.
However where it gets really good are his specific rules. Master tactician grants a +1 to siezing the initiative. Rites of Battle grants all Dark Angels the ability to use Azraels leadership making them more resilient than usual. And finally (phew) Supreme Strategist allows him to choose any warlord trait from the Dark Angel specific traits that you like. This works very
well with the +1/-1 to reserves warlord trait if you want maximum tactical flexibility.
Verdict: Overall Azrael is solid in terms of combat but has a fragility that others don't with a weakness to instant death. Given his Lord of War status I would have expected him to be given eternal warrior and maybe a 25 points boost for it. As is however he is a great force multiplier with his sharable invulnerable save, siezing the initiative boost, reserve manipulations and shared leadership. If you take him, you should build around him to make the most of these benefits, but in isolation and even more so in the context of the strength and depth of the Dark Angels Codex (here is a link to a nice review of it) he is excellent value at 215 points and I rate him highly.
Kor'sarro Khan - the master of the hunt. A regular HQ and The captain of the white scars third company who is tasked with hunting down specific enemies that have wronged the imperium, or more importantly, the white scars in the past. So we shouldn't expect a Chapter master style of beast. Unlike below with Logan Grimnar, I will look at the Khan with the assumption that Moondrakken, his bike, is taken as an upgrade. Because everyone does. Pretty much anyway. This round him out at 150 points total. He has a captains stats with a 3+/4++ to keep him alive. But moondrakken will give him a +1 toughness that make him harder to dislodge and instant death.
Equipment wise he has moondrakkan which as well as the +1 toughness also grants him D3 hammer of wrath hits on the charge instead of the usual 1. His sword, known as Moonfang is a regular power sword apart from the rule Prey's Bane which grants instant death on any to wound roll of a 6 which is nice despite the AP3.
Special rules wise he has furious charge which will help wounding as the sword gives no strength benefit and he also has Master of the Hunt which grants friendly white scars models in a rhino or razorback or on a bike, the scouts special rule. However, this only comes into effect if he is your Warlord!! It also grants you D3 extra victory points if you slay the opposing warlord in a challenge on top of slay the warlord. He also has all the regular White scars chapter tactics rules.
Finally as well as gaining Master of the hunt when he is your warlord you also have the Warlord Trait Champion of Humanity. This causes all friendly units with the imperium faction with 12 inches of the Khan to re-roll failed morale, pinning and fear tests. With space marines generally good leadership this will only really come into play often with allies I feel.
Verdict: For 150 points, he gives a hell of a lot of bang for your buck in terms of force multipliers, with scout, as most will know being especially powerful when utilised correctly. I personally would use him to harass weaker units as he really is very fragile if he comes up against any sort of tooled character. There are plenty of characters that could take him out in a round of combat that cost less than him. But they don't provide the massive buffs that he does, and thats why you take him, not for wrecking face. Fully recommended for an all white scars list and unsurprisingly you see him quite a lot!
Logan Grimnar - This big bad wolf weighs in at 250 points and is a Lord of War like Azrael. He has the option of taken the Sleigh and Rudolf but I'm just going to be looking at his on foot profile for now. Ok so we have a standard Chapter Master profile but with an additional base attack at 5. He has a 2+/5++ from his terminator armour and the belt of russ (which gets around in this codex to be honest) grant him a 4++ invulnerable on top of that. Most importantly he has eternal warrior to deny any instant death dealing weaponry.
Special rules wise he has stubborn, acute senses which is nice and fluffy, ATSKNF and counter attack which gives him a distinct advantage over others expensive characters when he is charged. And why on earth would you charge him! He has the Axe of Morkai which grants him either +2 strength AP3 OR x2 strength AP2 two handed and unwieldy. Along with counter attack, eternal warrior and a 4+ invulnerable this makes him a tough cookie to bring down in a challenge or in regular combat if he has a buffer squad. He is definitely kitted out for combat. He also has a storm bolter but meh.
His warlord trait is saga of majesty which means friendly space wolves units within 12 must re-roll failed morale and pinning checks. This is nice but given space marines high leadership base and ATSKNF not that much of a game changer.
He is monstrous in combat against any 3+ saves there are and he is very survivable especially if you can get him FNP from any source (of which there are a few so its not hard). However the fact that his AP2 comes at I1 could spell death when fighting a points equivalent character or monster or such like. His survivability makes him more likely to still be around to strike back but it still relies on the luck of the dice for that to happen. Even the Emperor's champion has AP2 at initiative and he's just
a rank and file marine that is tripping absolute balls on a battlefield!!
Verdict: I like him, I really do. But I do think he is overcosted by about 30 points. Eternal warrior is great, but any at initiative AP2 weaponry or massed I1 AP2 weaponry will bring him down fairly well despite his awesome endurance. I recommend that you use him to mulch 3+ units and direct fire at the 2+ units to make maximum use of what would be 7 attacks on the charge using the AP3 profile to decimate squads. Though he can mix it with the best to be fair and that is probably an over cautious estimate
Darnarth Lysander - the 230 point regular HQ brute in all his glory. Lysander is the imperial fist 1st company captain, who, if any of the fluff is to be believed is a bit of a dick actually, regularly sacrificing tactical advantage for rage filled revenge and sacrficing space marines in the process. I'm not a fist fluff buff though so do feel free to correct me on that. Despite his position he has a chapter masters stats but only has 3 attacks. He has a 2+ normal terminator save and then has an iron halo for a 4++ that is made defunct by the 3++ invulnerable provided by the storm shield he wields.
He's pretty low on special rules actually for the price. He has regular imperial fists chapter tactics and then has a rule named Icon of Obstinacy (AKA Icon of refusing to admit he's wrong and goes off in a huff to smash things). Like others this makes friendly imperial fist units within 12 inches to re-roll failed morale and pinning tests. A common theme so far and not one I'm overally bothered by to be honest.
His warlord trait whilst we are on rules is Iron resolve. Which.. wait... sweet jesus it gives him FNP!! 2+/3++/5+++ Lysander. Oh buggery.
Anyway his weapon should be Ok I suppose. The fist of Dorn. .... .... +6 strength!? How on earth does a hammer give that much extra strength.. it just looks bloody silly to me. Anyway it is also AP1, master crafted, concussive, unwieldy and a specialist weapon not that that matters really.
4 attacks on that charge that will kill most anything on a 2. Penetrate a land raider on a 5 and blow it on a 5 too. Fair odds. Especially if the land raider is immobilised.
Verdict: This man is not a force multiplier, he is a force unto himself and he wants to get in there and make blood flow while he crushes skulls under his feet. He's imperium right...? I can't really justify it, but I don't like him. He shouldn't have eternal warrior is someone like Azrael doesn't, I just can't stomach that a First company captain is more bad ass survivable than the grand master of the First chapter. the +6 irks me as well, would much rather is was x2 as the AP1 is already a nice bonus against vehicles for exploding and he would still be able to pen anything other than AV14 all round. Really I think he is undercosted by 15-20 points for the amount of smash face mother hubbard you get on such a survivable frame, especially if he is in a squad of buffering hard asses.
But I will admit I am being biased here. He is a good choice but only if you want to push the close combat envelope hard. A fast attacking army like dark eldar which can pour wounds into him with splinter fire will just dance around that approach. So as good as he is, you have to consider whether or not your going to make those points back in conjunction with the points you have to spend to make him work.
Commander Dante - he is as he rightly should be, an absolute beast for 220 points. Not only as an indpendent force that can maraud and wreck face (which he can) but also as a potent force multiplier for certain play styles. Firstly lets look at his stats and load out. He has a chapter masters stats, but has eternal warrior and furious charge making him strength 5 on the charge, but he also has the axe mortalis which grants him +2 strength making him S7 on the charge AND still striking at his high initiative of 6 and weapons skill of 6. If taken as part of the the Baal Strike force Detachment and in a squad with a sanguinary priest you are looking at SIX (4 base +1 for charge and + 1 for 2 x CCW) strength 7, initiative 7 (+1 from red thirst), weapon skill 7 (+1 from blood chalice) AP2 attacks on a toughness 4 2+/4++ 5+ FNP (from the priests nartheciums) eternal warrior frame. As much of a badass as he should be? I think so! But ladies and gents that is not all, oh no sir-ee!
He also gets Descent of Angels as his automatic warlord trait, this sweet trait grants re-roll of failed reserve rolls for jump, flyer and skimmer units AND reduces scatter to D6 for jump and skimmer units that are deep striking, allowing for near perfect tactical precision drops on a jump heavy force. But there is more! In a tactical objectives mission he also get to roll on the tactical traits table in addition to having descent of angels! Perfect in maelstrom! Oh and he also has a mask that causes fear and all enemy units locked in combat within 6 of Dante must pass a fear test at the beginning of
the fight sub phase even if they are not locked in combat with Dante, which is cool but situational.
Verdict: Dante has got everything he needs to really ruin a persons day and all for an exceptionally well priced 220 points. He is my favourite chapter master awesome sauce special characterness to me. But I'm bias ;)
OK so I will end part 1 here with 6 more to go in Part 2! I should get that up tomorrow some time so please do tune back in for more of my ramblings and I will also give my rankings to all 11 characters and we'll see who comes out on top and who sits in the dunce corner.