Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Dark Angels Codex - First Reactions

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.

Ravenwing Flyers
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 Darkshroud seems excellent for the points. It's got a permanent 3++ save as long as it's moving which should restrict damage (granted it's still not all that durable with AV10 and 2 HP) and put people off wasting shots on it. However, the 6" stealth bubble and +1 to assault results for 80pts is reasonable when you get a heavy bolter too. Essentially, I think 30pts above the base cost of a normal speeder is reasonable. Despite not really liking the model (although it has grown on me) I think I'll be getting one of these.

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.

Ravenwing Bikes
I'm determined to be able to field a full bike and speeder army and I think this codex makes it pretty feasible. The normal bikers are a little pricey but a lot cheaper than before. ATSKNF and Grim Resolve aren't the same as Fearless but still the addition of Hit & Run is great. I'm pleased that I can easily take a whole pile of these.

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.

This is an area of the codex that most people will be excited about. I have to say I wasn't that bothered at first but I'm loving the rules so far. The normal terminators are pretty good with Split Fire, Deathwing Assault and Vengeful Strike. The combination of these is great. Having twin-linked when they arrive is a great touch and combine this with a heavy weapon firing at a different target and I'm happy already. Being able to choose to come in on turn 1 or 2 automatically or stick with normal reserves is great. Combined with teleport homers from ravenwing and they're precise and deadly.

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.

Special Characters
These are the best bit of the codex for me. You should know by now that I'm a fan of SCs in general but I think most, but not all, of the DA ones have a place.

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.

Everything Else!
HQ wise the librarians are disgustingly cheap. I like taking a Divination RP for my Long Fangs in my Wolves army for 100pts so the idea of doing the same (ish) for 65pts is ridiculously good!

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.


  1. Hi there,
    a really good review and I second most of it.

    A few points to mention from my point of view:

    - I'm using the german version of the Codex and on the Nephilim there is nothing like "missile lock". I assume it is an error like with the Hellbrute that had different point costs in the different language versions of the Chaos Codex. Let's wait what the FAQ brings us here.
    - In general I'm pretty disappointed by the flyers. As you said the Nephilim can't really live up to the role as air superiority fighters and the Dark Talon seems not to be able to sport enough firepower against infantry. I will magnetize them, so I will test all variants, but I expect to be sticking with the las cannon Nephilims.
    - Flakk Missiles are also available for Scout Squads. Though they only have BS 3 it might be an option.
    - I dislike the fact, that you can get heavy weapons on 5 man Tactials, but that is just my opinion. I prefer the 5man Special weapon and 10man heavy weapon.
    - The Assault squads are still lacking, as they still can't take meltas or plasma guns. But how often did you see DA Assault Squads anyway?! :-P
    - With the Deathwing Knights being cheaper than the regular Deathwings with TH/SS, I assume we will see them quite a lot in teh future. Though their disadvantage is, that they can never be Troops.
    - Azrael used to be one of my favorties in the past and he's still a damn good SC. If you don't want to pay for an extra squad to babysit him, what about attaching him to a squad of Deathwing in a Land Raider? Personaly I don't like to deepstrike pure close combat units that much, so I often drive them in a Land Raider to the front.
    - Oddly the Techmarine can neither use a conversion beamer (Techmarines from C:SM can, don't they?!), nor can you get a Thunderfire cannon.

    All in all the codex has little green and alot of black and white, which makes me a bit sad. But I guess I am one of the few green Dark Angel players anyway.
    Still I really like the codex. It's neither OP nor a fail. It's a good mediocre codex and that is exactly what I was hoping for.


    1. - To be honest the fact that the German version is the same except for Missile Lock is bad news as that probably means the FAQ will just correct that and nothing else. Think I'm going for lascannon Nephilim too.
      - Not sure the flakks for scouts are worth it but I'll talk more about anti-air soon.
      - I think the 5-man tactical squad heavy weapon won't be much of a big deal really. Initially I think people will go mad for it and then realise it isn't worth it.
      - I'll be amazed if I ever see a DA assault squad
      - I like that the DW Knights can't be troops because I think that deathstar units shouldn't be able to score too.
      - Attaching Azrael to terminators in a land raider is going to be about the same cost as a command squad but less useful.
      - I think that the conversion beamer/thunderfire should stay as Vanilla only as they have to give those players something unique!

  2. I agree about the DW LR issue. But that's if you want to take it as a Dedicated Transport, if you have Heavy Support spots open, probably solved! They can just jump in there even though it's not a Dedicated Transport.
    Also, 5 man Tactical Squads with a Missile Launcher with Flakk is just awesome. 4+ of those is going to be great.

    1. Good thinking. Hadn't thought about it that way and I'm unlikely to use all my Heavy slots anyway. Mind you I'm just as unlikely to ever take a land raider!

      I really don't think the 5-man tactical squads are all that great. Even with 6 of them you really aren't going to hurt flyers that much. Granted it means there's an ever-present anti-air threat but seems ineffective to me. Time will tell I suppose.

  3. Oh yeah, and Azrael is awesome with being able to pick his Warlord Trait. I think Courage if the Lion is going to be the most effective, although Brilliant Planning can be good in certain circumstances.

    1. Yeah I'm pleased with the Warlord traits on the whole. Much better than the standard ones and certainly help you tailor your army to a particular play style.

  4. Re: Asmodai
    Yeah, he's useless. I might use him as a normal chaplain though.
    Re: Flyers
    Maybe it's just me, but I think that flyers are generally worth it due to their nature as a flyer. I would use Devs with flakk to kill flyers, and use the other as harasser and debuff units.

  5. with 3 rhinos, 2 with full tacticals, 1 with command squad & devastator standard, you can provide a good dakka for first turn fire
    You measure range from the vehicle; so , you can keep the 3 rinos quite far away, then move 6 and be at 6" from one another, and unleash 28 boltgun shots at 24" each rhino( if you buy 1 special & 1 heavy) . Not bad.

    Also , you can keep the banner-rhino behind LOS-blocking terrain , then move 18" ; maybe behind some other LOS blocking terrain . other rhinos stay in the open if htey have and deliver their shots.
    So you keep your fragile command squad protected while blasting with the others.
    Another idea:
    1) first turn tactical rhinos move and pop smoke
    2) second turn , deep strike terminator command squad , move rhinos near them to benefit from the standard, then unload all your arsenal while covering the precious command squad with rhino blocking Los.
    In my experience , having many rhinos is still great, even in 6th.


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