Sunday, January 20, 2013

New Dark Angels Codex Thoughts: Fast Attack!

Old School here to continue my initial thoughts on the New Dark Angels codex. This time we will be looking at my favorite section of the book (possibly tied with the HQ slot), the Fast Attack section. Let's start with the original Raven Wing, where this crazy business all began!

The Raven Wing Attack Squad

The basic RW biker took a points reduction of 6 points per biker! In exchange, they did lose fearless, but gained Stubborn LD8 (LD9 with a 10pt Vet Sgt), Hit and Run and kept ATSKNF. The bikes kept their Teleport Homers, their old RW style combat squad and the ability to take 2 special weapons at any squad size. The attack bike upgrade is cheaper if you are taking the heavy bolter version, but you must pay 10pts to gain the multi-melta. Additionally, you can take a speeder as well, which can be kitted out as either a Tornado or a Typhoon (which is pretty cheap). 

There are a ton of options when running RW bikers. I would prefer to run them as troops through Sammy or Azreal, but if necessary, I would add a small squad or two in a regular list (though in that case, I would likely just want Black Knights!). What I like about the bikes is the ability to run them in so many different way. I can run small assassin squads with two special weapons, in large squads that can break down or be kept together in the rare case you need KP denial, taken with or without scoring attack bikes in single-man scoring support or even as a way to get extra speeders on the board. With units like Black Knights and RW command squads around, I would leave the plasma to them and give the bikers melta in order to provide fast ant-tank support. If you say no to melta, then I guess flamers may be your thing, but my Necron barges say you should think twice on that call!

Raven Wing Support Squadron

The RW support squadron isn't you old choice of speeder, no, it is access to 1-5 speeders in a single slot! Now, you could take 5 speeders in the last book, but you didn't have full access the way you did before. Now, Any and all speeders can be upgraded to your desire, including the 75pt typhoon, which is a pretty good deal, though my trusty multi-melta version went up by 10 points from the last book. My personal opinion is that I wouldn't take 5 speeders in a single squad, though, I do see value in a single or maybe 3 speeder squad that could come in from reserve or hit behind some ruins to be a sort of hit squad. I may tool around with it to see what I can come up with. In the meantime, keep your speeders specialized to handle threats the rest of your army has trouble with.

Black Knights

These guys are the stars of the fast attack slot for me. No matter what list I write for DA, I always end up with a unit of them in my list. Let's break it down: They get all the benefits of regular RW bikers, but come with twin-linked 18" plasma guns, LD9, 2 attacks base with S5 rending and skilled rider! They are a pretty penny at 42 points a model, but used correctly can seriously decimate the enemy! The addition of the grenade launcher makes them even deadlier with the chance to make the enemy either -1 toughness (good for instant death from the Plasma on two wound units) or -1WS and I, which is good if you plan to follow up with an assault (be damn sure you will win it though). Now, keep in mind that they cannot combat squad and that a RW command squad is cheaper, but will never score in any mission the way the knights might. I plan to try bare-naked 10 man squads, 10 man squads with grenades and maybe even smaller squads depending on my army build, but to have this kind of killing power and resiliency for slightly more than the cost of a SM terminator, consider me all in!

The Flyers

The Nephilim Jetfighter has been sold to us as the anti-flyer flyer, but for its hefty price tag, it is a little underwhelming. Sure, your 6/4 missiles, heavy bolter and lascannon may scare ground pounding xenos and transports (somewhat), but against the other air threats out there, it really has a hard time standing up. AV12 flyers will simply have a laugh at it (minus the las cannon) and again, S6 even isn't super awesome at downing AV11 flyers either. Meanwhile, the nightscythe and Storm Raven alike will blast this thing out of the sky, Heldrakes will run it over and even storm talons will get the jump on it. Bottom line, there is something missing here and you are better off using your other slots (including allies) to get good flyers.

The Dark Talon is slightly cheaper than the Nephilim and comes with two hurricane bolters and a rift cannon. Neither weapon is super impressive on a flyer. What is pretty nice, is the Stasis bomb, but again, I just see the RW grenade launchers out there and the units they come on and much like the Nephilim, I have to write off the Dark Talon. Sorry.

The Dark Shroud

Finally, we turn to one of the most lamented models in recent history. Often called the "DJ mobile, Space Church and even worse, the Dark shroud does however prove useful in DA lists. The ability to hand out a +1 cover save to units is pretty huge in a shooting game. It can keep up with bikes, keeping RW bikers alive and improving upon the already impressive save of bikers with Skilled Rider. It can also be taken to bolster units behind an aegis defense line, making them officially not care if you pack plasma or not. This thing is by no means a gunship, carrying a heavy bolter or an expensive assault cannon. I think the idea here is to keep the threat low, hang back, turbo boost and stay alive to keep up the bubble. Biker lists will likely do well with just one protecting key units, which gun line style lists will want two to turbo boost criss-crossing one another to keep a cover save across the line. Am I saying it's an auto include? No, but then again nothing really is.

Overall the entire fast attack slot is pretty nice, with the exception of the let down in the flyers. The bikes and speeders are fast and deadly and with cover saves and virtues like Skilled Rider, some units have some extra resiliency. I will say that the big weakness of bike armies and others that depend on cover will be Heldrake lists and Tzeentch Daemons (for now) who have quick units that don't care about your cover save. Their saving grace will be skilled players finding ways to outmaneuver their foes to strike them down or punch through delicate back armor. Pure RW is totally possible and I think Dual or Multi Wing is really the way forward.

With all that said, what are your thoughts and opinions of the DA fast Attack section? Want to call me out on the flyers? Discuss RW tactics and lists. Fire away, the floor is yours!


  1. I just want to say that the knights will deal rather well with flyers. The twin linked plasma will scare fliers quite a bit even requiring 6's to hit. I know helldrakes won't care with the new faq rules for them (I like to think that they are defecating fire.) But I still think for just about everything else a whole squad of twin linked plasma is nothing to scoff over.

    1. True, but the AV 12 flyers, as long as they are zooming can withstand all but the luckiest ground based S7.

  2. After the heldrake does d3+1 str 7 ap 2 hits with no cover it will put down the torrent flames template of str 6 ap 3 and finish those knights off

  3. You guys hit the nail on the head!

    Between Helldrakes and the torrent of fire out there I am not sure the Knights are worth it point for point.

    To be honest with the exception of the DarkShroud I am kind of underwhelmed with the fast attack choices.
    1) Land speeders are still so fragile and easy to kill even with squadrons. I have seen a GK squads squad glance-torrent 3 down in a single salvo
    2) Knights are so expensive I cannot bring myself to spend the points, each failed 3+ hurts!
    3) Both flyers suffer compared either to a IG or a Necron choices point for point.

    The Raven Wing Attack Squad is nice, and the bonus skills are handy, but not convinced... After a couple games CSM bikes smoke them hands down (additional close combat attacks, etc)

    BTW is the Attack Bike considered a troop? I would guess yes, but unclear.

    1. My bad, specifically when the RW bikers are troops, basically the only way I would pay for them. Basically, if it wasnt for the Heldrake, I would say knights all day every day, but I used to pay 43 Pts apiece for termies and feel the sting when they died as well, again, they aren't bikers and they don't die to drakes ...

  4. Agree with most of what's been said, though I wouldn't refrain to take a unit because of the heldrakes or dreadknights. Pretty much everything in 40k has its nemesis.

    Also, I think we'll find ways to deal with S6 AP3 templates. Not saying this is optimal but at least Sammael can join now units and protect them with his 4++/EW, or a libby in bike with one of those nifty 4++ generating things.

  5. Knights are going to come with a 4+ jink save due to skilled rider so no need to waste sammael's save in there, I think I'd but them in with the normal bikers.

    1. Chris, I think he means to give some measure of protection when dealing with drakes. The jink save won't save them in that case.

  6. I'm bummed that the Nephilim doesn't have quite the oomph that the fluff seems to suggest it ought. Been dabbling with lists for Adepticon, and it really seems that an allied Vendetta instead is just a no-brainer. In casual games the Rule of Cool takes precedence and I'll run the Nephilim just because I love the model, but in a competitive environment it doesn't seen to have the punch to be a truly effective anti-air unit, though it's hell on light infantry with the Avenger cannon.

    As far as the other fast attack choices, I was never one for marine bikers so the Ravenwing bikes/knights leave me cold. I am working up an assault squad with the sanguinary guard jump packs though, the wings should tie them all in nicely with the rest of the army's aesthetic!

  7. I always see people that are quick to throw out the Helldrake as they end all for their games. to me that's unfair, that's one model in all of the GW line. If you are going to a tournament with such things being likely I can understand the problem, but for those that play for fun, or those that diversify their lists well it's not that big an obstacle to overcome, yeah the thing hits like a truck, so can TH/SS termies or Tau gunlines. This is one reason I prefer to make theme armies and avoid those that I know are going to cheese it up (Like my mate that used to run a small Sisters of Battle allies list just for Celestine)

    Knights are a very powerful force, they have their counter like everything else in the game (That wasn't tainted by Matt Ward)

    Similarly the fliers are quite useful to me, just not for other fliers, that's either my salvo-ing bikes or my Devastators (grounding checks are what I have to deal with the most) The blindness blast from the gun cant be overlooked to get the shot on the other unit after you drop the bomb, and the missles of the other plane are still useful for the horde armies or popping rear armor.

    The DA book doesn't have big deathstar units, I'm fine with that, I really dont like armies coming down to that. For me this book is more of a unified force, something that when it has all the gears is really tough to deal with. Every bike with a Teleport Homer? Yes please to an elite Termi squad. Twin linked assault canons or Cyclones on that turn? Yay! Now I can smash that softened force with my Knights. Lowering toughness with the grenade launchers so that my Vengence templates can instant kill just about anything? I cant upvote that enough.

    Yes, that requires such a combined force, but I dont see enough books these days that are about the ARMY and not a unit (Grey Knights!)