Dark Angels 4th Edition Codex Tactica

4th Edition Dark Angels in 6th Edition Warhammer 40,000

I originally wrote these overviews when 6th edition was first released before the 6th edition Dark Angels codex.  I have moved these articles here, to the tactica section, where they will be archived for anyone who is interested.

First and foremost, Codex: Dark angels was written in 4th Edition, and as such, some of their characters and units still suffer from nerfed stat lines.  This is especially evident when it comes to Azrael, the Grand Master of the Dark Angels.  All of the other Space Marine Codices have given the top tier characters Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill 6, where as Azrael still suffers from scores of 5.  Despite this weakness in relation to other Marine top tier characters, Azrael remains a solid character that can add a nice benefit to any army.  Of course, I am talking about the Lion Helm which provides a 4+ invulnerable save not just to Azrael, but also to any unit he joins.  While I personally think that adding Azrael to a well equipped command squad would be quite beneficial, this becomes quite expensive.  And even with the inclusion of a Strength 6, AP3 weapon that attacks at initiative, he is still a tough character to justify including in your army. 

Azrael is overpriced, plain and simple.  When you compare his point cost to other characters, he simply doesn't have the same power level in relation to the point cost and paying virtually the same point cost as a land raider or a very well tooled Devastator squad makes him an easy choice to skip when it comes to building an army.  As he currently stands, I can only see me fielding him in Apocalypse games (or simply fielding this beautiful model to represent a normal Company Master).  So, as much as I'd love for my army to be led by the ultimate Dark Angel, I am afraid that this is simply not going to happen for now unless I decide to play pure "fluff games".

With Belial, you effectively get not just a Company master (that would normally cost 100 points), but you also get a master-crafted power weapon and storm bolter and Terminator Armor for just 30 points.  Of course, you lose the iron halo of the Company Master with Belial, but you still get a 5+ invulnerable save because of the terminator armor.  With 6th Edition, this loss in invulnerable save is actually not nearly as bad as it was in 5th edition, as Belial has become much more survivable.  For one, power weapons became nerfed, and Belial's Terminator armor will still provide him protection against most of the power weapons that he will encounter.  Really, the main things that He needs to worry about in assaults are unwieldly weapons and some special weapons, but even these are at a disadvantage as Belial will be able to attack before they get their chance.  Also, with the boost in Feel No Pain providing protection against everything but instant death, and with the new Look Out Sir! rules, Belial has become an easy choice to include alongside a command squad instead of a Company Master.

We also have to look at Belial's options.  If you want an assault beast, you can give Belial lightning claws giving him one more attack and allowing him to re-roll failed wounds.  If you want more of a tank and anti-armor specialist, Belial can also take the Thunderhammer/Storm Shield combo giving him a very nice Invulnerable save at the cost of not attacking at initiative.  I haven't fully decided how I plan on fielding Belial just yet, but I think I am more leaning towards the Lightning claws as the lists I have been building lately already provide more than enough anti-armor punch, and the loss of two storm bolter shots isn't a big deal at all.  Although, the Storm Shield may become the more favored choice simply for the protection it provides.

Belial also provides a couple of other big benefits to the army.  Perhaps most importantly, he makes terminators scoring units.  This could be quite handy in most of the game types, as a unit of terminators is a very hard unit to knock off of an objective.  And secondly, Belial effectively allows you take a terminator command squad.  This in many ways is better than a normal command squad not just for the added protection, but also for the fact that it is a scoring unit as well.  The only draw back to this "Command Squad" is the price, but if you are going to include terminators in the army anyways, this becomes a very viable choice.  Regardless, in my opinion, Belial is still a very good choice for any army, even if you decide not to include terminators.

Sammael, the Master of the Ravenwing is the only character in any imperial codex that has a jetbike.  For this reason alone I love Sammael.  Like the other characters, Sammael suffers from nerfed stats.  He also is a bit expensive to field.  However, let's look at his positive side.

First and foremost, he rides a jetbike!  I don't know why, but I am absolutely in love with this.  He has incredible mobility, and with 6th edition, he gets a lot of added protection thanks to jetbike rules and a true toughness value of 5.  He also has an Admantine mantle which makes him immune to instant death along with a 4+ invulnerable save.  He also has the most accurate plasma cannon in the game and does decently in assault as well since he is armed with a master-crafted power sword.

His biggest draw back, besides the point cost, is obviously the fact that he is not an independent character and so, he can be singled out and will fall to concentrated fire.  Considering the fact that you pay more than 200 points for this character, I think this was truly a disservice, especially considering that he can not even take advantage of his own command squad's perks.

Additionally, Sammael has the option of being fielded in a Land speeder.  Whilst this speeder is armor 14 on the front and side, it is simply not nearly as survivable as Sammael's jet bike thanks to the new vehicle damage rules.  I personally, can not see myself fielding this land speeder.  Sammael also allows you to take a bike "command squad" and allows for bikes to be fielded as troops, thus allowing them to be scoring units.  As mentioned earlier though, the command squad loses some of it's ability due to the fact that they can not be joined by Sammael, but still provide a nice hard unit to the army in general thanks to true Toughness 5 and the new Feel No Pain rules (They only lose Feel No Pain to Strength 10 weapons now).  Sammael, is a no-brainer in Ravenwing lists, however, if used smartly, I could also still see him finding his way into a few lists even if bikes are not included.

Ezekiel is the Dark Angels' best Psyker.  Unfortunately, he still is only mastery level 1, making him less effective than he should be.  He costs 50 more points than a normal librarian, so let's see what you get for that cost.

First, you get artificer armor, which provides Ezekiel with a lot more protection than it did in previous editions since it now protects him against many of the power weapons that he may encounter.  He also gains master-crafted weapons allowing him perhaps critical re-rolls, especially when it comes to his force sword.  Finally, the book of Salvation.  This by itself may make Ezekiel worth the points over a normal Librarian as it provides the Fearless special rule to all those near him.  With 6th edition, fearless has become a huge benefit with no down-side.

Compared to other Psykers in other armies, Ezekiel is still underwhelming.  He also has less protection than any of the other characters in Codex: Dark Angels as he does not have an invulnerable save, although adding him to a command squad could make up for this, especially considering his 2+ save and ability to attack at initiative with a force weapon.  I still would not pit him against many other top tier characters, but he will still perform quite well against most stock characters.  I also like the fact that Ezekiel now has the ability to generate powers from the 6th edition rulebook as many of these powers are much more effective than Ezekiel's stock powers.

Overall, Ezekiel is probably not going to make it in many of my lists (and the same can be said of Librarians in general).  Besides the other draw backs that he has, I am just unimpressed with psychic powers in general in this edition as now all units have a chance of negating powers and the psychic hood has been nerfed in my opinion.  But I might have uses for him from time to time.

Interrogator Chaplain/Chaplain:
Codex: Dark Angels includes two chaplains that players can choose from and I will discuss their merits in one entry.  Back in 5th Edition, the basic chaplain was very much a stock choice for me as they are better than their vanilla marine counterparts and are less points than the Interrogator-Chaplain.

Both chaplains (the Interrogator-Chaplain and basic Chaplain) are exceptional characters, and both will probably still make their ways into many lists despite the nerfing of the Crozius Arcanum.  Simply put, you get a character that increases the melee effectiveness of any unit he joins by 1/4.  He also has the added benefit of making the unit fearless, which as we know is simply amazing in 6th edition.

Of the two choices, the Interrogator Chaplain almost seems like a gimme to me in 6th edition. For 20 points more you effectively get a special character level stat line as well as unlocking the Sacred Standard which makes even more units in the army fearless.  And this upgrade wargear only costs 5 points more!  Of course, the other benefit to taking an Interrogator Chaplain is unlocking Terminator armor.  Unlike 5th edition, the protection afforded by Terminator Armor is huge, and I for one can see me dusting off my old Terminator Chaplain for use in games, as he has become worth the points again.

The basic Chaplain is cheap and honestly he is better than his vanilla marine counterparts.  His upgraded stat line compared to vanilla marines still makes him a viable choice.  While true that you lose the access to the sacred standard and terminator armor, he is a good all around choice if you are trying to save points and just want a cheap HQ that still gives you a good amount of punch.

Company Master:
Dark Angels Company Masters are not nearly as good as their other codex counterparts.  They are expensive for what they provide the army and do not have access to a lot of new and shiny wargear available to their counterparts in other codices.

Despite the deficiencies, I found a place for Company Masters in my lists several times for one big reason: Rites of Battle.  Rites of Battle was a huge boon in 5th edition.  This was basically GW's answer to Dark angels losing stubborn.  And, since I always loved the fluff of the intractable Dark Angels army, I found myself fielding these guys really often.  In a lot of games Company Masters beat out Belial as a choice simply because they could be transported in Rhinos and Razorbacks and because I could customize their armament a bit more than Belial.  Speaking of wargear, thanks to the FAQ, the Company Master could also be armed better than a basic vanilla marine captain, albeit with less options in wargear.  He has no restrictions on his wargear and if you can model him to have a pair of lightning claws and combi-melta, you can arm him that way.

Unfortunately, the master's major drawbacks are his limited selections of wargear.  He can't take terminator armor or a bike for one. And, he lacks a lot of the best wargear available to vanilla marine captains.

In 6th edition, I honestly see the Master making it into my list far less often than before, as I find Belial better in every aspect and will be using Rhinos and Razorbacks much less often.  The only other thing that the Master does that Belial can not, is unlock a Company Champion, but I hardly think that small boon will make him more appealing than taking Belial.  I will miss fielding my converted master though...so, I'm sure he'll still make it out on the field of battle from time to time.

The Dark Angels Librarian almost never found its way into my lists.  I tried them a few times in 5th edition, but simply found Hellfire to be too unreliable.  Simply put, the little they offered with their powers, I could simply do better elsewhere in the army.

I think we may see more librarians fielded in Dark Angels armies in 6th edition, but I for one will likely still not use them.  I like the fact that the librarian is more of a combat monster than his vanilla marine counterparts thanks to the upgraded stat line.  However, coming in at the same points as an Interrogator Chaplain, I just do not see myself justifying taking a librarian even with the ability to take the expanded powers available in 6th edition. 

All that being said, the Librarian is still a formidable opponent.  He can be armed with the "better" power weapons instead of being stuck with the AP4 power weapon of the Chaplains.  and, of course, he can cause instant death which now has the added benefit of being the only thing that can beat Feel No Pain.  Also, the Librarian has one small advantage over Ezekiel in that he can be given Terminator armor which gives him access to an invulnerable save.  I personally will use these guys very little, but I still think they may make a good choice for a lot of players.

Command Squad:
The Command squad was always a staple of my armies and will continue to be a staple when I am not fielding Deathwing or Ravenwing "Command Squads".  They pack a lot of punch and while expensive, I think they more than make up for the points spent.

The command squad comes in at a slightly higher points cost than standard marines, but you get a few things that I think makes them worth it.  First, the Fearless rule makes them a great unit for almost any role you give them.  Secondly they have access to the sacred standard if the army is led by an Interrogator-Chaplain which makes even more units fearless.  Everything else with the Command Squad is pretty much the same as their counterparts.

I think I will miss the 4+ Feel No Pain of the Apothecary, but the ability to save against AP1 and AP2 weapons along with the boost to Fearless makes this a very acceptable trade off.  I have always tooled my command squads to be a potent counter-charge melee unit or a tar pit against other nasty assault units, and I will continue to do so, although I now see myself taking a standard much more often than before.

For most games that include an Interrogator Chaplain, I believe the command squad will contain 2-3 Power swords, an apothecary, a Sacred standard, and a Power fist.  Although, now that melta bombs are so much more useful, I think the Power fist may get phased out.  That is one option I may have to look at a bit more.

Tactical Squad:
The Dark angels have only one entry in the Troops portion of the codex.  The good old rank and file tactical marine squad. However, we have our Ravenwing and Deathwing units that can lend support as Troops as well.

First, let's talk about the obvious disadvantages we have.  Unfortunately, our tactical squads are more expensive than stock marines.  Spending points on equipment that other marines get free is especially frustrating.  Also, our marines lack combat tactics, which makes them a little worse on their own.

However, the good news is we have ways of boosting our tactical squads as well as a couple of small things working in our favor.  First, we have more options than other marines for making our tacticals hard to break.  We have the sacred standard for one, which can make them fearless.  Fulfilling this same role, there is also Ezekiel which acts similar to a sacred standard, giving us a Fearless "bubble".  Of course, the obvious boost we can take is Rites of Battle.  This one is the easiest and potentially the cheapest option as well.  I have had Rites of Battle save me in several games, and I'm sure it will continue to serve me in 6th (at least until we get a codex update).  These boosts are huge, but unfortunately, they require other units to confer this bonus.  I like to think of the Dark Angels codex as a book of combination units, and for list builders, maybe this will help.

We also have the fact that our smaller squads can take special weapons.  This is not a huge advantage, but it does make smaller 5 man squads feasible without having the need to combat squad.  While not huge, we can spam special weapons better than most other armies (with perhaps the exception of Wolves).  The ability to take 5 man squads with a special means we can take a squad with a special weapon and a sergeant with a combi weapon without needing to waste points on large squads.  In an edition where plasma spam is resurgent, this is a nice little trick, and I'm sure I will build at least one list like this just for fun.

Codex Dark Angels comes with 5 elite choices.  All of them have strengths and weaknesses.  But we definitely have a couple of stand outs that I will find room for in many lists.  Once again 6th edition really helped a couple of these choices.

Deathwing Terminator Squads:
I really love the Deathwing Terminator Squads.  While they are a little more expensive than other terminators, they have so many more advantages.

For one, with Belial in an army, they gain the ability to become troops.  This makes for a very hard to shift scoring unit.  And thanks to Belial, you have the ability to make a "command squad".  The benefits of this can not be over stated as Terminator armor got a huge boost in melee thanks to AP3 and AP4 Power Weapons.  There are simply less weapons out there now that can go through terminator armor, and adding an apothecary to a squad of these makes them even harder.  In 5th edition I usually only took these in pure Deathwing or "Black and White" lists, but I think I'll be using these a lot more as support for my Greenwing lists.

Another obvious benefit is the fact that these guys are Fearless.  Add into that the ability to take mixed squads of Assault and Shooty Terminators and you have the potential of making a very formidable unit that can either be specialized for one role or made to provide support in multiple roles.  They also make a great bodyguard unit for your characters.

The only real disadvantage to these guys is their numbers.  Unfortunately, as awesome as they are, they are only fielded as 5 man squads.  While this is a disadvantage, I do not see this outweighing the benefits, and this would rarely even be a consideration at lower point games, as a unit of 10 would be very expensive indeed.  They also lack an inherent transport option, but I do not see this as that big of a disadvantage since you can still purchase a Land Raider as a Heavy Support choice and mount these guys in it.

Scout Squads:
Scouts are an interesting choice for elites in the Dark Angels codex.  They outshine their vanilla marine counterparts in couple of ways, but lack a lot of things that vanilla marine scouts get.  I have tried them in 6th edition, and honestly, am still undecided on them.

The main advantages of Dark Angels scouts is their stat line.  They have the benefit of a standard marine stat line, meaning they shoot better and fight better than vanilla scouts.  This increase in BS, especially, makes Dark Angels scouts mean with a sniper rifle.  This same increase in the WS of a Dark angels scout, also makes them a viable option for disrupting enemy lines with an assault.  The Dark Angels scouts also have the infiltrate rule, which is helpful.  While standard vanilla marine scouts have this same rule, I think infiltrate is actually more beneficial to Dark Angels scouts specifically because of their increased stats.  Unfortunately, with the nerf to Infiltrate, I can no longer use them to tear through enemy vehicles with a melta bomb or Power Fist like I used to.

The biggest disadvantage of scouts is the fact that they are not scoring.  Also, and probably more of an issue, they lack Stealth and cannot be given camo cloaks which makes them much less survivable.  There are also fewer wargear options.  This is especially felt with the Dark angels Heavy Bolter compared to the specialized vanilla marine scout heavy bolter.

All this being said, scouts don't seem to be a bad choice in comparison with the rest of the Dark Angels list.  I am still not sold on them, but will likely try them out a few more times.  Sniper rifles got a bit of a boost in 6th edition, but I still haven't seen my scouts pay for themselves with sniper rifles.

Dark Angels dreadnoughts simply are no where near as good as their counterparts.  I know I make a lot of comparisons to the other codices, but with Dreadnoughts, this is felt fairly acutely.

The biggest issue here is cost.  Dark Angels Dreadnoughts are more expensive than other armies' dreadnoughts (at least in most configurations).  They also are inferior to other Elite choices in the Dark Angels codex in my opinion.  I tried Dreadnoughts a lot in 5th edition, and I could never really get them to pay off for me.  Where as Deathwing and Veterans paid for themselves and then some in almost every game, the dreadnought underperformed most of the time.  Unfortunately as well, there is no separate stat line for Venerable Dreadnoughts in the Dark Angels codex.  While the Venerable is more survivable than a standard dreadnought, it just is too expensive for what it actually does on the battlefield.  And don't get me started on our lack of additional shooting weapons beyond the missile launcher.  I mean really, Dark Angels are known for the Mortis Dreadnought, and we can't even field it!

Now, the dreadnought did get a little more of a boost in 6th edition, but it was hurt just as badly.  The increase in potential charge range was a huge benefit, but with the boost in grenades, this is a double-edged sword.  And I think, in the end, that the Dreadnought is simply not worth it.

Company Veteran Squads:
This unit is by far one of my favorites in the Dark Angels codex.  While one can argue that Sternguard and Vanguard are better, Dark angels Veterans retain a lot more versatility and are very cost effective.  I have found a place for veterans in a lot of my lists, and I often tool them up much like I would a command squad, making them a good counter charge unit or tar pit.

While they are not scoring like Deathwing can be, and while they lack the survivability of Terminators or command squads, they can pack just as much of a punch, if not more.  For one, you can go crazy with specialized melee weapons and special weapons. Especially with a large squad of these guys, this makes them potentially the hardest hitting melee unit in the Dark Angels Codex.  And in shooting they can provide a nasty surprise for many armies if equipped right.

I love their versatility.  In one unit you can make an assault monster or you can make the ultimate anti-tank hunting squad or horde killer.  Imagine taking a squad with 10 flamers, or 10 meltas, or even 10 plasma.  And then of course the same applies for power weapons, or you can mix between shooting and melee.  And then to top all of this off, you can combat squad the unit as well.

And, most importantly, all of this for 10 more points than a tactical squad if you are talking about 5 men, or 35 more points for a full ten man squad of these guys.  Even if you don't go crazy with specials, you are still talking about a unit with 3-4 attacks on the charge per model and the ability to take a Heavy weapon in a 5-man squad, which actually comes out cheaper then the Tactical squad with a heavy weapon, since the Tactical squad has to take 10 men to unlock the Heavy Weapon option.

Finally, we have the Techmarine.  I'll be honest and say I have very little experience using Techmarines.  I own two, including one with a full Servo Harness, but I just found them to be underwhelming.  I tended to take them only if I didn't really know where else to spend the points and only when fielding an already expensive Heavy Support vehicle or dreadnought.  The few times I did take them, I found them to be virtually useless (especially since I really didn't want to dump the points into a bunch of servitors).  And of course, these guys are so much worse than Vanilla Techmarines.  Even with the few buffs we get in the stat line, the bottom line is, we pay for it.  Ours are much more expensive and honestly, even when I have "extra points" I tend to spend them on wargear upgrades for other units.  I will admit, with the new FAQ, it looks like they could make vehicles much more survivable, but since I am dropping my mechanized list and going to a much heavier infantry list, this isn't really a selling point for me.  I am open to others' opinions on these guys, but I doubt I'll be using these guys anytime soon.

The Ravenwing fulfills most of the Dark Angels' Fast Attack choices.  While limited in Fast attack Choices, the Dark Angels have some units that can be used to good effect with the rest of the army.

Assault Marine Squad:
Like other armies, the Dark Angels codex includes assault marines.  Unfortunately, the Assault marines lack a lot of the options that other marine armies can get. Despite their shortcomings, the Dark Angels assault marines can still fulfill many of the same roles as other Assault marines from other armies.  However, with the allies rules in 6th edition, it might be more beneficial now to take assault marines as allies, especially in double FOC army lists.  

Ravenwing Attack Squadron:
Ravenwing Attack squadrons are incredibly versatile, but expensive.  6th edition gave them a little boost with true T5 and fearless, however, the nerf to outflank and the prevalence of infantry lists in 6th will make Ravenwing tough to play.  That being said, they are still a decent choice and can make a decent scoring unit, especially in the late game.  Personally, I think I would rather take Ravenwing than assault marines to fulfill this role.  The other nice thing here is that you can take an Attack bike without needing to use up an FOC slot.  I'm undecided on whether I want my allies to do what the Ravenwing does, as many armies can provide this role for much cheaper, but as it stands now, Ravenwing Attack Squadrons will still see some play time.

Ravenwing Support Squad: 
I personally think this is the worst choice in the Fast Attack section.  Land speeders are even less survivable now than before (I didn't think that would even be possible), and since one of the scenarios now awards points for killing them, you are basically giving your opponent free points if you use them.  Not to mention, other armies can now provide the same disruption/suicide role for much cheaper and they do it better.  This will definitely become one unit that I will be replacing with allies (which sucks as I have 15 Ravenwing Land Speeders).
The Dark angels Codex has many of the same Heavy Support options as other marine armies.  However, 6th Edition has really changed how I think about Heavy Support, especially with the addition of a mission type that increases the importance of Heavy Support.

Devastator Squad:
Very few choices in the Dark angels codex can bring as much firepower to bear as the Devastator squad.  Add into this the fact that because they are infantry, they can be tooled to be much more survivable than many of the other Heavy Support choices.  Taking a full unit of 10 with Rites of Battle or making them fearless with one of the many ways we have discussed can make this a hard unit to shift and the unit can do exactly what it is meant to do; provide heavy fire support.  In Big Guns Never Tire, this unit also gains the advantage of being the perfect unit to hold backfield objectives.  My advice would be to make this one of your go-to choices for heavy support and max it out on heavy weapons.  The model count is secondary, but if you can afford those extra 5 models, it is definitely worth it.  The big thing with the devastator squad is that it has the potential to bring more firepower to bear than any other Heavy support choice.  And in 6th edition, the missile launcher's utility has increased with the ability to take out vehicles with glancing hits (and of course the potential in the future to take skyfire), making even the relatively cheap missile launcher devastator squad a very viable choice.

The Vindicator will likely find its way into a lot of lists in 6th edition.  With Large Blast templates getting the boost of full strength hits against anything beneath the template, the S10 blast that the vindicator provides becomes a nasty anti-parking lot choice.  The vindicator also weighs in with a decent Armor Value making it a little more survivable than a lot of lighter vehicles.  The only draw backs to the vindicator are it's inability to snap fire, and like other rhino variants it's susceptibility to being destroyed on an assault even against units without dedicated anti-tank weapons.  That being said, the vindicator can still be used to good effect if properly screened by infantry and if it is used for what it's role has always been; Punching holes in enemy lines.

As more units are able to take advantage of cover thanks to boosts in how Monstrous creatures use cover as well as the new night fighting rules (even if cover now provides lower saves), the Whirlwind may find it's way into more lists even against non-hordes.  The Whirlwind also had it's anti-vehicle capabilities increased for the same reasons as the Vindicator.  It doesn't pack the same punch and thus can not take out the heavier armor vehicles, but it now has more of a role as a light vehicle destroyer.  The Whirlwind still suffers from the same survivability issues it has always had, but now becomes more susceptible to Assaults (although most of the time it should be able to avoid assaults thanks to the reserve nerf and it's natural role in the back field).

Landraider/Landraider Crusader:
As both Landraider variants basically fulfill the same role in the Dark Angels army, I will discuss them both together.  The Landraider took a big hit in survivability thanks to the fact that enough glancing hits can kill it and the susceptibility to assaults, but so did all the other vehicles.  That being said, the Landraider is still excellent at getting those tough units where they need to go thanks to it's high armor value and transport capabilities.  The Landraider also provides a nice amount of fire power to boot.  The other major advantage here is the Landraider's ability to effectively transport your terminator death stars which as we already discussed got a huge boost in survivability even without the Landraider.  I personally believe the Landraider remains a very beneficial choice for many lists and will still see a lot of play.  Although, tactics will need to be changed to account for its decreased survivability.

The predator remains a nice option for relatively few points.  It's decent armor gives it decent survivability and it can provide a platform that can lay down either a torrent of fire or a few focused, high-strength shots. Personally, I would advise against spending all the points for the upgrades (other than the turret), as the devastators can provide the same firepower, are comparable in price to a fully upgraded predator, but are much more survivable as a unit.  However, nothing can beat the cheap predator for cost effectiveness, especially the autocannon variant.

No comments:

Post a Comment