Monday, January 14, 2013

New Dark Angels Codex Thoughts Part 1: HQ

OST here to talk about my initial thoughts on the new Dark Angels codex, since we didn't recieve any new, original tutorials this week. I would like to note how spoiled I have been with the last three codices released being relevent to me! I think it has been great, but it has also messed with my painting schedule and enforced some hobby ADD, which I will discuss in some other article. With that said, let's take a look at the DA codex from my titlted 40k point of view:

I have to be honest that after being a Deathwing player primarily (I have played with bikes, speeders, predators and devestators, but that is it for DA) since I picked them up back in fourth, I had a bad initial reaction to the book. Once I put it down and took another look with a fresh pair of eyes, I was pretty happy with what I found.

Bottom line up front: The Dark Angels got an army with lots of options and plenty of opportunity for synergy. The codex seems to work best in a combined arms effort (factoring in regular Marines with bikes or terminators and tanks) than it does in the old "wings" though I think die hard Ravenwing or Death Wing players have plenty to work with as well. The book has all the things I like to see in a 40k army: Resilient units, multiple builds, multiple deployment possibilities, combos based on synergy and mobility. Overall, I am glad to see the DA get a book that doesn't feel like it was written for just two companies of their chapter.

Moving through the codex, each section is pretty robust and the HQ is almost as impressive as some armies' elite or heavy support sections.

Azreal went from a passed over entry to something I think we will see a lot of in the future. As the chapter master, he gives his leadership stats to all DA on the field, he opens up the Death Wing and Ravenwing as troops, he basically has a Blinding combi-plasma weapon, a 2+/4++ and (best of all) can choose any warlord trait from the DA traits he wants, making him a pretty good utility choice for take-all-comers lists.

Belial's points cost jumped up from the old 130 to 190pts. He did gain some special rules for that price, including the ability to deepstrike with complete accuracy with the squad he joins (combine that with splitfire and a DW squad and that unit could be pretty useful), he can precision strike on a 5+, the sword of silence is a fleshbane power weapon (look out MCs) and he still has the option to switch his weapons out for TH/SS or claws. Overall, I think he has some utility, but I don't think full DW armies will be as popular and I also don't see him as being really worth the 190 points, considering you really need to add expensive units to make the most of his abilities.

Sammael is either a 200 point eternal warrior with AP sword on a jetbike or he is an armor 14 4++ speeder. As a biker, he can now join units, he has skilled rider (which makes him great to work with Black Knights or RW command squads) and his sword gives him the ability to deal with terminators a little better. As a speeder, he packs the anti infantry firepower of a twin linked assault cannon and a twin linked heavy bolter. He can absorb a lot of firepower as he can potentially save half the shots that even dent hi AV14 armor. I would say though, that he isn't a great HQ unless you are taking him to bring RW troops. He isn't much of a utility HQ and for the points I would invest in some of the non-named HQs or just grab Azreal.

Asmodai is back and while I am glad I can whip out my old Azzy model, he really doesn't shine a whole lot. Coming with a AP- intant death crozius and pretty much a standard interigator chaplain load out just doesn't impress me much, but than again, I have never really liked chaplains in any book.

Ezekiel is now MUCH cheaper, is the book's only option of a Mastery 3 psyker and has the mandatory Mindworm power, which is a D3 shot S4 AP2 witchfire. Beyond that, he grabs powers from anything but biomancy, making him a pretty decent Libby option for his points, but with changes to the Librarian entry in the book, I am now entirely certain we will see much of him on the tables.

Librarians - Libbies are super cheap now and offer the grand utility of dollar store priced Precience! Starting at 65 points, you can grab one in terminator armor for less than 100 points and even upgrade him to level 2 for the chance to grab another useful power. I think this is a top tier HQ in any DA force and a good ally for any of the Battle Brother allies DA has.

Chaplains - what can I say, they really aren't my thing, so with that said, I am just going to skip over this entry.

Company Grandmasters are your "Space Marine Captian" option for this codex and honestly aren't too shabby considering their ability to take some of the special wargear, but I will say that the librarian can also take that wargear and has great powers. GMs are better at combat, but I prefer shooty armies and moreso with this codex, so I would also skip him, despite the fact that he isn't terrible.

Techmarines are an unlockable option now that can be taken much like a command squad would. The techmarine has the option to take special issue wargear, including a bike and while he isn't a Master of the Forge, he is another body for the small biker command squad, a mobile vehicle fixer and extra special weapon or just a tech marine on foot ... either way, he comes with all the standard techmarine gear including the ability to bolster cover too. I really want to experiment around with this guy (and also model one as well).

Command Squads are avaiable in bike, terminator or power armor form and have options for apothecaries and champions. Command squads are going to be pretty popular because they are the only option for taking the special banners available. I can see terminator command squads carrying banners for the added survivability or banner units being mounted for their protection.

With all of that out of the way, I want to make mention of the sacred standards. They are all really expensive and, like a chaos icon, can be sniped out! The added value they present to your army is pretty crazy though, so they are certainly worth a look, but I want to look at two in particular:

The big hit is the banner of devestation. This banner has some 12" morale effects (as they all do) along with a 6" bubble making all boltguns into salvo 2/4 weapons. I can imagine a couple of ten man squads with bolters flanking a command squad with a banner putting out 40 shots per squad at 24"! Add Divination and the fun really begins. There are some cool ideas out there involving the land raider crusader and this banner, but that really begs the question "What is and is not a boltgun?" For the sake of arguement, let's just stick to the weapon Tactical Marines carry around!

There is also a banner that grants a 12" bubble of FnP, which is a pretty huge bubble. I can't really see tactical Marines making a use for this, but I can see the Deathwing and Ravenwing making some extensive use of this banner to up the survivability of their squads. Buyer Beware though, this thing costs 85 points to put into play!!

There are also relics available, most of which I am not a huge fan of, but the Lion's Roar is one I plan to try out. Basically, it is a combi-plasma cannon!

Also on the top of my list of things to try are the energy fields, which offer unit-wide invuls, but with side effects like causing blind or causing the units to scatter D6" after making the saves, ect. Sounds like fun!

All in all, the HQs in the Dark Angels book are rich and diverse. I wouldn't say any of them are terrible (even though I never really liked Chaplains) and because of this, we are sure to see tons of variations of DA lists out there from both casual and competitive players. That, to me, is the mark of a well-written book and it makes me excited to see what comes up in the future.

So now I turn things over to you: What do you think of the DA Codex? Have you read it yet? Excited as a player or opponent? Anything in the HQ in particular you are excited or not no excited about? We would love to hear what you think?


  1. Good stuff, OST. I spent a fair bit of time poring over the book this past weekend and I have to say I'm liking it quite a bit. Having never done Dark Angels before I'm coming to the rules without any previous preconceptions from earlier editions but I agree with most of your points.

    I toyed with a pure Deathwing list and a pure Ravenwing list and ended up thinking that a mix of DW/RW as well as some standard marines end up making a better, more flexible army. Ended up building out an 1850 army for Adepticon (replacing the intial guard idea) and will be cranking out the units over the next few months. I'm planning on doing a number of step-by-step painting logs for the various units and will be sure to pass them along for the tutorials section!

    I do have to say that I really, really dig the new Deathwing Terminator kit. There are a metric boatload of bits on the sprues - coupled with a rummage through the Closet of Doom to come up with extra Terminator legs and rear torsos, I was able to build 22 Terminators of various varieties over the weekend using the contents of 3 of the new boxes (2 units of ranged Termies, 1 unit with TH/SS, a unit of Knights, a Terminator command squad, plus a counts-as Belial and a Terminator Librarian). That's not even counting the DW terminators that came with the DV set. Bandwagon ahoy! :)

  2. I am excited to try our my pure Deathwing in a 2000pt tournament at the end of the month.

    I like almost everything I see in the book, with the exception of the fliers. They are just not worth it. The one that was sold to us as an anti-flyer is just sad. 180ish points for 1 TL las cannon and 6x str6 missiles. St6 just does not really cut it for taking out fliers. They can only glance Valks and Storm ravens. The other flier is not all that great on paper either. The hover strike ability is not going to be that great. They go in to hover mode and cannot move that turn. So they will kill a handful of marines and then die next round because they will not get a jink save for not moving. Sorry for the rant, but I just do no like the fliers, cool models but terrible game play.

    1. Josh, you and I are pretty much in agreeance on the fliers, but I think the book has plenty of ways to deal with them outside of the fliers and you can always suppliment by grabbing an allied storm talon.

      I do want to try out the Pure Deathwing (OK, maybe some speeders), but I am excited to dive into the full DA for the first real time since I got the codex (and JJ signed it).