Sunday 20 September 2015

Dark Angels Quickshoot Review - Part 3 - LoW, Psychic Powers and Detachments/Formations

Hi Readers,

Final Part of my review today as I go over the one and only Lord of War choice Azrael, have an in depth look at the psychic power because I forgot to put them in the first part of this review ;) and then look at some of the real meat of this codex, in keeping with all the codices from the Necrons onward, the formations.

Lord of War

Azrael - First things first, a little rant. I don't know what selection criteria GW codex writing team have in their heads, but I genuinely do not understand what ephemeral guidelines they use to justify Sammael having Eternal warrior but Azrael doesn't. Yes he isn't the hard hitting combat master that Dante is as a LoW, but I don't think close combat should the definitive aspect that justifies Eternal Warrior, certainly Sammael doesn't fulfil it. And he isn't a more key character in the fluff than Azrael... so I'm stumped. Rant over. OK, so Azrael is squishy (relatively), but he still has 4 wounds, a 2+ armour save, a 4++ invulnerable, feel no pain and he is an exemplary force multiplier. He grants his 4++ as well as his feel no pain to whichever unit he is in, and the 4++ is also specifically conferred to any vehicle he is embarked upon. Stick him in a landraider and he'll do alright!

His Sword of Secrets is +2S AP3 mastercrafted so he isn't a slouch in combat but you don't want to pit him against any kind of elite unit. He will however mulch through MEQ. He additionally has Master Tactician, Rites of Battle and Supreme Strategist as special rules. These allow him respectively to add +1 to seize the initiative, confer his Leadership value on all Dark Angel faction units and finally he can pick his warlord trait from the Dark Angels table. Now those traits have some bum ones that you wouldn't want to roll on but being able to pick one you are laughing.

For 215 points, he is pricey and compared to Commander Dante who has better melee, is Eternal warrior, and provides an army wide buff with his warlord trait he might be a little over costed, but he is still well worth it at higher points values for the flexibility he gives you. If he had eternal warrior I would say he is a must take for any  none ravenwing army.

Psychic Powers - Interromancy

I've seen a fair few people on different forum suggest that the name of this is silly, but I really like it! I love the idea of Space Marine Librarians training in the deep dark dungeons of the Rock to use their powers specifically for torture, its so bloody Grim Dark and really encapsulates the twin sides of the Dark Angels, loyalty and secrecy coupled with an almost sociopathic disregard for anything else beyond their private goal. Anyway, on to the powers!

Primaris - Mind Worm - W'oh boy. A 12 inch focussed witchfire power at warp charge (WC) 1. This is an assault 1, ignores covers S6 AP2 shot that if it wounds, will decrease the targets ballistic skill, weapon skill, initiative and leadership by 3 for the rest of the game. Bam, straight on the enemy wraithknight, keeper of secrets, dreadknight you name it. Sure it might not wound but it will terrify your opponent! Additionally if you take the Librarius Conclave (see here), you can extend the range to 24 inches, and its the primaris so you are guaranteed to have it if you use psychic focus.

Seed of Fear - WC1 - A malediction targeting enemy units within 9 inches (18 inch bubble), all targets affected take Morale, fear and pinning checks on 3D6. Useful if you need to make a unit but morale and leave an objective against marines, and very useful against other none fearless armies. Slam into the middle of the scrum and cast this before trying to force as many checks as you can.

Righteous Repugnance - WC1 - A blessing with 24 inches that grants target unit rage. A nice force multiplier that will work particularly well with a beatstick character or with any Deathwing unit you have. Limited value in a shooting based army however so it would be a bum roll in that case.

Aversion - WC1 - A malediction with 24 inch range that causes the target unit to only be able to fire snap shots whilst the power is in effect. Great for neutering your enemies big guns, again would be very useful against a wraithknight or any other ranged D weapon toting monster.

Maelstrom of Misery - WC2 - A 24 inch range witchfire power that is assault 1, blast at S1 AP2 but always wounds on a 4+. Quite nice but with only a 4+ to wound and the possibility of scattering off your target, plus still allowing cover saves it not all that great. Nothing to really complain about if you do roll it up though, it might just have limited use depending on the game. Probably best against an elite army like Grey Knight par example.

Trephination - WC2 - An 18 inch focussed witchfire power. The affected model must roll 2D6+2 subtracting their leadership. The model suffers wound equal to the remainder and cover saves and armour saves cannot be taken against it. Again a brilliant power for taking down special snowflake models.

Mind Wipe - WC3 - A 24 inch range malediction that targets a unit. All models in the unit have WS and BS reduced to 1 till next turn when they must make a leadership check. If they fail the effect is permanent. Essentially a Mind Worm light that can effect units, very, very tasty but may suffer due to high leadership units, could be great against Orks, Nids, some Eldar units etc, basically not Marines. For WC3 I was hoping for better, but again I wouldn't complain.

Interromancy has a fantastic character to all its powers which really feeds into the narrative (or rather it forges it!) that the Dark Angels are hunting down the fallen and they have honed their powers to incapacitate them so that they may confess when captured. Maelstrom of misery is probably my pick for weakest power and that really is saying something as it isn't bad by a long stretch, it really is a good bunch of powers. My favourite powers are Mind Worm and Aversion. Mind Worm has a chance against some small monstrous creatures as well as a slim shot at Wraithknights, but most special characters it can catch out in the open will be wounded on a 2+. And Aversion can really neuter the firing ability of anything that threatens your back line from range, and because it specifies snapshots, not BS1 then it will prevent any blast or template weapon from firing at all, so Dreadknight torrent flamers, Vindicators etc will be completely neutered. Top sauce.


Ravenwing Strike Force - 1 HQ and 2 Fast Attack are compulsory with 2 HQ, 10 Fast Attack, 1 Elite and 3 Heavy Support as optional extras. Every unit must have the Ravenwing special rule, and if put in reserve everything must go in reserve or be deployed as normal. In addition, any roll on the warlord traits table can be re-rolled and on the first turn any unit that turbo-boosted or moved flat out will count as jinking till your next turn but be able to fire as normal.

The obvious and well discussed problem with this detachment is that the Ravenwing rule isn't conferred to a character that takes a bike, so why have 3 HQ slots and a re-roll on the warlord trait table? Poor editing and oversight there. Hopefully an FAQ will rectify this beyond just a guy on a phone telling you its OK...

I would run this as a pure MSU detachment with no flyers. Lots of 3 man bike with multi melta attack bike squads overwhelming your opponent for target priority, equip sergeants with a semi decent CCW, turbo boost in the first turn so you are in your opponents face, attack second turn, hopefully cripple a wing of his army and then play keep away and score objectives. If you want to take flyers then I would suggest you read down to look at the Silence squadron...

If they fix the FAQ then this is a very powerful army that can suit many play styles beyond my simple idea from above, with black knights also an excellent choice and the 1 available command squad must take the Ravenwing banner for the benefits it brings. Very very good detachment indeed and I now understand the fury towards it!

Deathwing Strike Force - 1 HQ and 2 Elites compulsory, 2 HQ and 10 Elites optional, must have the Deathwing special rule or be dedicated transports. Venerable dreadnoughts come in squads of 1 and must take drop pods.

All units in this army must begin in deep strike reserve, so obviously people got angsty about not being able to play pure Deathwing. Except you can, BUT it does require you to invest in some dreadnoughts, this detachment (unlike the formation) doesn't over rule drop pod assault, so your drop pods will come thundering in on turn one. Take 3 dreadnoughts, drop pod 2 into cover or behind LoS blocking terrain then wait for your reserves to come on. Great for eternal war missions, less good for Maelstrom, particularly if tactical objective cards decrease as the game goes on.

Additionally if your army includes a Ravenwing attack squadron or a Ravenwing Strike force then you can choose if you pas or fail reserve rolls without rolling. As I've said before, Deathwing and Ravenwing are so powerful together.

You also have the obligatory re-roll on the warlord traits table, eh. And just like the Hammers of Titan the Grey Knights, you can run-shoot or shoot-run with all your squads the turn you deep strike which is very nice indeed.

Not as good as the Ravenwing detachment but not as bad as some make out. An army with a heavy dread presence will still be powerful on the table top, just much stronger late game than early.


And my there are a lot of them....

Battle Demi-Company - If you read my blog I will presume that most of you are familiar with this as I've been banging on about it for a few posts regarding my Dark Angels (which are making modestly good progress beyond what I've posted). In short you are required to take 1 company master or chaplain, 3 tactical squads, 1 assault squad, 1 devastator squad and have the choice of adding 1 each of a company command squad, a veteran squad and a unit of dreadnoughts. The benefits for this are firing overwatch at BS3 and all units having objective secured.

This is, very much like the vanilla codex, a very powerful formation, particularly if you want to use minimum requirements and then take the bulk of your army from a either of the special detachments. This greenwing will form a really solid block that can sit back and fire disgustingly accurate overwatch if charged and wait for the cavalry (wheeled to from the air) to arrive. I expect to see this crop up a lot with Dark Angel players.

Deathwing Redemption Force - Ah so this is the proverbial piss on the chips (a rather British expression if you're not familiar with it to the Google!). You need any 1 of the Belial, Company Master, Interrogator Chaplain or Librarian, accompanied by 2-5 Deathwing terminator squads, then 0-1 Deathwing Knights, Deathwing Command Squads, and Venerable Dreadnought units. Venerable Dreads again come as 1 and have to take a drop pod.

These guys have preferred enemy chaos space marines (and GW designer team as well), along with Deathwing Assault and Take the Fight to the Enemy. Deathwing assault allows you to pick the turn you arrive from 2-4 and ignores drop pod assault for a dread if you have one. Take the fight to the enemy allows the run-shoot shoot-run shenanigans.

Obviously you cannot have nothing on the table turn 1 or you will lose. So if you want to run pure Deathwing this doesn't work. The problem is that they have given you the unit capacity to make a full Deathwing army but not the rules to do so in this formation. If you want to take a pure Deathwing army, your better off taking drop pod dreads in the detachment and hoping your reserves show up!

Fortunately I'm not to keen on the Deathwing so crisis averted! As you were GW, for now...

Ravenwing Attack Squadron - Take 1 Ravenwing Bike Squad or 1 Ravenwing Attack Bike Squad AND take 1 Ravenwing Land Speeder or Land Speeder Vengeance (not 1 unit, 1 model). If the land speeder scores a hit on a unit (just a hit) then the bike squad or attack bike squad has +1 BS against that unit. Additionally they have Summon the Deathwing, where friendly units composed entirely of Deathwing models don't scatter from deep strike if landing within 12 inches of a model from this formation, but only if the formation model was on the board at the turns start. The +1BS is nice, but the Summon the Deathwing is very powerful with 2 fast units that can zip around to get you in the perfect position for deep striking.

Ravenwing Support Squadron - 1 unit of Ravenwing Landspeeders, 1 Ravenwing Vengeance or Darkshroud. The Landspeeders unit must have 3 models. These guys have Grim Resolve, interceptor, strafing run and most importantly The Ravenshield. The Ravenshield allows all models from this formation to fire overwatch at an enemy unity, if that enemy unit is charging a friendly ravenwing unit within 24 inches. This over rides the rule that vehicles can't fire overwatch. Template wall of death attacks can only be used if the flamer is within 6 inches of the charged unit. The vehicles must also form as a single squadron per the rules and are worth 2 VP if destroyed in Kill points.

Wow, the Ravenshield has real potential to ruin someone's day. Personally I don't like it. It feels like a very unnecessary addition to a well written book that already had a lot of options and I just don't feel like it fits the fluff of the Ravenwing either. The +1 BS from the Attack squadron makes sense as a co-ordinated attack of super fast bikes loop around lighting up a target for others to follow. But this is just pseudo Tau because.... well because apparently. Requires skill to bait and trap but I shan't be using.

Ravenwing Silence Squadron - 2 Nephilim jetfighters and 1 Dark Talon. When the Dark Talon does its bombing run with its stasis bomb, it hits automatically AND if they do suffer a wound and have to make an initiative check then they must roll 2D6 and pick the highest die. If the Warlord is captured in this method then you get D3 victory points for slay the warlord instead of 1. These guys come on with one reserve roll for all of them in a special rule called Fighter Escort.

I love this formation. When I said above with the Ravenwing detachment that I wouldn't take fliers in it, this is why. To make Dark Angel flyers effective you need to have 2-3 so why not take this instead. It has this lovely fluffy image of the Dark Talon going in for a bombing run as the Nephilim swoop past protecting it with covering fire, before this super cool stasis bomb goes off. The bomb itself get 2 nice bonuses, but remember it is only S4 AP5 so I think it is a very far cry from OP. This gets my Patented Rob Recommends Stamp.

The Hammer of Caliban - 1 Techmarine with any 1 of the Land Raider Chassis and a unit of any of predators/whirlwinds/vindicators. The tank unit must have 3 tanks in it. For taking this obscene amount of tanks you get the benefits of Monster Hunter, Tank Hunter and Hammer of Heretics. Hammer of heretics means the Techmarine must begin embarked on whichever land raider you took which increases its BS to 5. They also get Might of the Lion which just means they have to form a single squadron and count as 2 victory points.

Point the first. Hammer of Heretics implies that the hammer belongs to the heretics and therefore the Dark Angels are Heretics. This may be a sly way of implying the guilt they feel from the Fallen or its just a really sloppy name. Lets take bets. Point the second, this again does not seem to fit any aspect of the Dark Angels as an army and appears to have result from a very late designers meeting to bash out another formation. Point the third, that is 4 tanks you have to keep bunched together to stay in a squadron, its hideously unwieldy. I just don't get it. Forgive me if I am missing something or being too much the angry fluff bunny but I really don't.

The Lion's Blade Strike Force - AKA - The Big Daddy

OK so this is one of the new brain child's of GW that has been in every book since Necrons and their Decurion popped up. They are a formation made up of formations. There are core choices, command choices, and auxiliary choices. You must take at least 1 core and 1 auxiliary choice. You are then free to add any number of core or auxiliary choices as you want. You can take a single command choice for each core choice that you include. Clear right?

So in this case the only core choice you have is the Battle Demi-Company (I hear someone wrote a great review on it higher on this page). This is a good strong basis. Auxiliary choice can be taken from all of the additional formation listed above so: Ravenwing Attack/Support Squadron, Ravenwing Silence Squadron, Deathwing Redemption Force and The Hammer of Caliban. Additionally you can take a 10th Company Support auxiliary choice which is just 1-5 units of scouts.

The command choice is called The Inner Circle. This can be a choice from Azrael, Belial, Sammael, a Company Master, an Interrogator Chaplain and a Librarian.

The Benefit for taking a Lion's Blade strike force (other than the benefits that each of the formation still retain and working them together in concert) is that they have Supreme Fire Discipline. This rule means they fire overwatch at full ballistic skill. Ouch!!

Furthermore if you take 2 battle demi-companies for your core choices with a company master and a chaplain, then, much as the vanilla codex gets, all dedicated transports for units in these demi-companies will be free but upgrades must be paid for as normal. Remember that the benefit of the demi-companies is objective secured for every unit, so that is a tonne of free objective secured units you got just there!

The easiest way to make up a Lion's Blade is a Demi-company and a squad of scouts which grants you full BS overwatch, there are multitudinous ways to combine this together so I won't try and cover it, my opinions of each formation should be sufficient.

Formation of Formations

So this is the new hotness. Before I begin I would like to say that I think both with 40k and with Age of Sigmar, that by and large GW have been knocking it out of the park as the saying goes. The model quality is the best that it has been in years and I have never seen my local GW more busy than it is right now. Rightly or wrongly, what they have done with Fantasy has interested younger people into this hobby and I feel it will continue to do so through its commanding presence on our high streets and the internet relative to other game providers (whom there are many many excellent ones I hasten to add).

Games workshop as a company must appeal to the hobby entrants first and foremost because that is where a large influx of money comes in from, the hobby start up where the buy in is big. They are a company and I cannot stress enough that I believe in their right to make a profit. When I look at other systems, they are either comparable in price, or I feel that the lower price has resulted in a lesser quality of models and general production value. That is not said to lessen their products, I just feel that the benchmark is set high with GW regardless of your thoughts on their policies.

That all being said, 600 points of miniatures in an 1850 game (I've looked into it its easily do able) is just ridiculous. The selection criteria for battle demi-companies is not tactically restrictive enough to justify that and it also rewards the richer players who can afford what is a quite astronomically expensive amount of models. So far it hasn't seemed to be a problem as most tournaments I look at have used comp rules to deny its use. But I am just staggered that this was ever cleared to become a thing. If it was just Supreme Fire Discipline it would still be a very very powerful formation.

Any thoughts on this matter would be of great interest to me, I know I don't have to tell my regular commenteers (sounds more majestic) but if anyone is commenting for the first time, polite and friendly like everyone else here please :) I like to discuss not trade insults.

Peace out everyone,



  1. Azrael unfortunately doesn't share his FNP around unless you choose the Warlord Trait that gives it to his Unit as well. Still a pretty solid choice, tho like you said, missing some little touches like Eternal Warrior that would have made him great.

    Righteous Repugnance: Again, hello Ravenwing Knights!

    Trephination: I need to try this one again with the Conclave. The one time I got it so far, I managed to get the three Warp Charges needed to pick out my target, and then rolled a 1 To Hit with it. Witchfires are frustrating sometimes :P

    Support Squadron: I basically see this as a way to take some ablative dudes to protect my DarkShroud. I can also kind of see it as a pseudo-command group, that's watching over the overall flow of the battle and pitching in where someone needs bailing out.

    I think Hammer of Heretics is supposed to be a reference to the Malleus Malificarum, the Hammer of Witches, that was the Witch Hunter's handbook in the Inquisition days. You're right tho that the attribution is ambiguous, and it could go either way. There are some cool shenanigans you can pull with this, but it's a ludicrous chunk of Points, and just ridiculously unwieldy. Would have been really nice to get Split Fire as well. The big trick is that the Techmarine keeps Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter even if he gets out and Joins another Unit, so he can run over and hang with some Devs or something and spread those Rules to them as well. My favorite variation is to combo it with a Battery of Rapiers from FW. Make the Techmarine your Warlord, keep him well-screened from Assault Units, and he's got a dozen T7 3+Sv Wounds between him and any enemy fire, plus the Rapiers get way better. Definitely slipping outside the fluff zone there, tho.

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