Here's what Jamie and I had amassed on Saturday morning after a trip to Wargames Emporium (FLGS in Sheffield):
After the entire day spent assembling and discussing the new rules here's our impression of the codex. I'll talk about the models themselves in a later post. Anyway, let's get the bad stuff out of the way early and then onto what I actually like. Bear in mind I'm new to the DA army (thanks to Dark Vengeance) so I might have a different opinion to veterans.
This is the biggest disappointment in the codex for me. I adore the new model in both its forms. I wasn't initially a fan of the "flying cathedral" version but seeing the model in the flesh I actually almost prefer it. Anyway, I really wanted some Space Marine flyers as my Wolves certainly lack them. It'd be nice to be able to go toe-to-toe with the stormravens in Matt's BA and GK armies.
Sadly, neither variant of the fighter achieves this. The internet is rife with people whinging about it and I have to say I agree with most of it but because it's been discussed to death already I'll try and keep this brief. To me the flyers seem like when they were first created they were too powerful and therefore had to be toned down after play testing. That's the only way I can understand them. The higher cost is in some way justified by having 3 HP but considering their AV11 it's hardly going to make them indestructible.
The Dark Talon seems a reasonable proposition as the rift cannon could help protect another unit but with an S5 small blast its hardly going to wipe hordes of troops out like a Heldrake. The hurricane bolters look stunning on the model but again aren't going to kill man targets. The bomb could be excellent in the right situation and creates a good synergy between the flyer and ground units. It's a support craft more than a infantry killer in its own right. It can make your ground troops devastating if they're nearby. Still, it's a bit pricey for that role, especially when you consider its best feature is single use.
The real let down is the Nephilim. It's a gorgeous, sleek, menacing fighter that looks like it would be deadly in a dogfight (as it was billed by GW). The trouble is that the armament doesn't match this role. Sure, against AV10 or perhaps AV11 flyers it'll be decent enough with a potential for 7 S6 shots per turn but trying to take out AV12 isn't going to happen. Compare it to the 130pt upgraded Ork Dakkajet which gets 9 S6 shots at twin-linken BS3 (similar to 9 at BS4) and you're paying 50pts for 1pt of armour on each side. You can nearly get 3 for 2 on the Dakkajet vs. the Nephilim. Not to mention double the amount of shots on a Waaagh! Against AV12 that might actually have a chance of killing a 3 HP enemy flyer! The twin-linked lascannon are an option but then you're pretty much putting all your eggs in the "hope I get a penetrating hit" basket. Finally, the biggest mistake I can see, and one which needs an FAQ straight away, is the Missile Lock special rule which reduces scatter by D6. Decent if we ignore the fact that the vehicle can't take any weapons which use a frigging blast template!!! Again, it seems like the Nephilim was originally intended to be better but got toned down.
Right, rant over. Sorry I didn't intend to go on but it's such a shame. Moving on to stuff I like.
Ravenwing Land Speeders
The vengeance is a bit more difficult to like with 140pts for an AV10 2 HP vehicle. The plasma storm is a bit of a let down too. If it was twin-linked I'd be a bit happier (and it would make sense with the look of the model). It would also give some hope of hitting a flyer with the burst mode. Can't see me ever spending the money or points on one. It's far too situational and vulnerable to be worth it.
On the subject of speeders I'm liking the idea that for 375pts I could have 5 typhoons! This isn't anything new (well it is to me) but compare two typhoons to the vengeance. Forsake S7 AP2 for S8 AP3 and fire 4 shots at 48" not 24". Add in the option for horde smashing with frags and heavy bolter and I think they're a lot more reasonable than the vengeance.
The Black Knights are, in my opinion, a little overpriced but in combination with some of the other units they could be devastating to their enemies. Corvus hammers are nice, although you might expect power weapons for the price of each knight. The exciting thing with these guys are the plasma talons and grenade launchers though. Frag and krak are underwhelmin but rad and stasis are cool. In a decent sized BK unit (Black Knights not Burger King), two grenade launchers with -1 Toughness, WS and Initiative will make those hammers lethal! I'm just trying to work out how large of a unit I can afford at 1,750-1,850 pts.
The command squad I'm in two minds about. On the one hand I love the models and having a T5 unit with cover saves and FNP would be great. The trouble is that 3 model limit that everyone is talking about. Throwing in a character isn't going to make them much better. I'm just not going to end up taking them for the cost. The problem is that I'd love to have a standard in my army so I guess I have to find another way.
The DW command squad is a much better prospect than the RW one. This will probably be where I get my banner from. I've not yet had chance to sit and wade through the sheer number of options for these guys but I'm sure keeping the points to a minimum will be tricky.
Lastly, the Deathwing Knights. They're by far and away my favourite models from this release. The amount of detail and little touches here and there make them some of my favourite Citadel models too. They're not much dearer than normal terminators and offer some interesting possibilities when combined with other units which hamper stats. The shield wall thing can make other stuff effectively T5 by making the average toughness of the squad higher.
Azrael is probably going to be the most commonly seen SC from this book as he opens up the dual-wing for cheaper than taking Belial & Sammael together. He's got some interesting bonuses too. My only problem with him is that although he'll help create the dual wing he also slightly detracts from it as you have to put him in a squad of footsloggers meaning command squad or vets (as you aren't likely to stick him with tac marines!). This is a fairly hefty chunk of your points gone already before buying bikes and terminators. This may mean that I swap him out for either Sammael OR Belial and just put up with the other "wing" not being scoring.
Ezekiel is probably my favourite of the new characters. For 145pts you get a Mastery 3 Psyker with a 2+ save. That alone is almost worth the points! Then you throw in a 6" +1 WS bubble, a master crafter force weapon and Mind Worm and he's epic. Mind Worm is great, somewhat limited on range but averaging 2 S4 AP2 hits means should you manage to focus the power and they're very likely to be suffering from "Sap Will". Losing 3pts of WS, BS, Init and Ld for the rest of the game is lethal. Part of me wonders if this is one of those things that looks great on paper but won't see much use but I'm excited all the same. He does unfortunately suffer from the same issue as Azrael in that he's a footslogger though.
Asmodai, is well, underwhelming. As supposedly the best Chaplain in the galaxy he's somewhat "meh". Less said about him the better which is a shame. Maybe I'm missing something though.
Belial is more expensive but you get a much more interesting character now. I can see him being used a lot in armies with less bikes! Sticking him with knights for effective T5 would be interesting.
I wasn't planning on buying Sammael but the idea of him riding around with a black knight escort is too tempting I think. The speeder version of him is pointless. At least I think so, even with a AV14 and a 3+ save from a Darkshroud. Might be worth a go though.
Chaplains or either flavour I can't see getting used much except maybe in terminator armour. The techmarines might actually be an option if attached to a bike squad for cheap(ish). The command squads rack up the cost pretty quickly but the standards are damn tempting. Devastation being the most interesting to me at this point. The number of shots from all of those bolters is scary!
Tacs and scouts are great because they're reasonably priced and offer great flexibility in their options. I imagine we'll see a similar template for these units in other marine codexes from now on.
Veterans are a bit underwhelming as they just don't feel all that special. Again maybe I'm missing a tactic that could work but right now I can't see it.
Vehicles-wise there's some strange points costing with the expensive HB razorback and cheap lascannons on predators. The dreadnoughts might get a look-in as a ven-dread is pretty damn cheap at 145 for a rifleman.
It's nice that devs have the option for flakk missiles but I think there are better anti-air options for the points and I can't see people ignoring them for long.
Finally land raiders are a bit of a strange one. They're already prohibitively expensive given the HP issue but with a drop in the use of melta maybe they'll make a return. The problem with the Dark Angel version is that if you want to take them for terminators (which is the most likely use) then they cost a compulsory 30pts more to make them essentially Venerable. I'm pretty unlikely to paint one up.
Overall the codex is pretty exciting. I've barely put it down since I got it yesterday morning and there are cool new things I'm discovering with each page I read. Part of me worries that when I actually sit down and write a list it won't be as awesome as I thought but time will tell. The book itself is gorgeous and I'm loving the new format. However, whilst some things make it easier to use, like the summary pages at the back, but I agree with Jamie that the wargear section feels like a step backwards. Maybe I'll get used to it but it feels like a faff at the moment.
Right now though I'm thinking of some cool combinations that will sound great on paper but will probably work in like 1 game out of 5. Tomorrow I'll post my thoughts on the models themselves.