Dark Angels Tactics: Tactical Squads

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Hi everyone, Michael Corr here with a review of the core of the Dark Angels Chapter, the Dark Angels Tactical Squad.

For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

Overview:

The ubiquitous Tactical Squad forms the basis of every Space Marine Chapter and have seen a great resurgence in the game thanks to the introduction of the incredibly powerful Battle Company. The Tactical Squad are one of the best basic troops choices in the game. They have access to a large number of options, allowing you to equip them for a variety of battlefield roles to suit your army. For the Dark Angels, they come with Grim Resolve, a great special rule boosting the defensive capability of the Tactical Squad and making them stronger in combat. A unit of 5 Tactical Marines costs 70 points, with the option to increase the squad size up to 10 models.

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Wargear:

  • Boltgun
  • Bolt Pistol
  • Frag and Krak Grenades
  • If the squad is less than 10 models, one Marine may take a Special or Heavy Weapon. If the squad has ten models, one Marine may take a Special Weapon and one Marine may take a Heavy Weapon.
  • Special Weapons- Flamer, Meltagun, Plasma Gun or Grav-gun
  • Heavy Weapons- Heavy Bolter, Multi-melta, Missile Launcher, Plasma Cannon, Lascannon or Grav-cannon with Grav-amp.
  • The Sergeant may be upgraded to a Veteran Sergeant. The Sergeant or Veteran Sergeant may take Melee and/or Ranged Weapons and Meltabombs.
  • The unit may take a Drop Pod, Rhino or Razorback as a Dedicated Transport.

Special Rules:

  • ATSKNF
  • Combat Squads
  • Grim Resolve- Stubborn and fires Overwatch at BS2.
Tactics

Tactics:

For a great in-depth review at the capabilities and uses of the Space Marine Tactical Squad, check out SaltyJohn’s review in the Tactics Corner. This review will cover some of the points in his previous review, but will focus more on the unique rules and formations available to the Dark Angels Tactical Marines and what sets them apart from their Codex Space Marine counterparts.

The Space Marine Tactical Squad is one of the best basic troops choices in the game. They are cheap, have a great basic weapon in the Boltgun, a decent stat profile and a great armour save on a basic unit. They are an all round great basic unit that can be equipped to deal with a variety of battlefield situations, just like in their background.

The Dark Angels Tactical Squad gets the Grim Resolve special rule. This gives the unit Stubborn, meaning they are always testing on at least Ld 8 for morale checks in combat, unless under the effect of some special rule or wargear that reduces their Ld value. This means the Tactical Squad is less likely to break from combat no matter how much they lose by. This can be very useful for tying up that enemy unit for an additional turn and stopping them from causing more damage to your army. Even if they do break, the Marines have “And They Shall Know No Fear”, meaning they are never going to be destroyed by a sweeping advance. Having Stubborn on basic marines is great if they have a backfield shooting or objective-holding role, as there is less chance of them breaking from combat and running off the board.

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Grim Resolve also confers another great bonus- firing Overwatch at BS2. This means that you statistically double your number of overwatch hits against any enemy unit that charges your Tactical Marines. This is useful for Bolters, hopefully giving you a few more casualties on the enemy unit, but can be very useful for high rate of fire weapons such as the Grav-gun or Grav-cannon. The potential to get a couple of Grav-cannon wounds on a charging unit can sometimes make the difference between a successful or a failed charge. There are even some formations that increase the BS of your overwatch fire even further (more on this below), making the Grim Resolve bonus even better. The increased Ballistic Skill bonus in overwatch is great against any Invisible units. You still get the increased BS snap shots when charged by such units, so this can be a good opportunity to put a few wounds on them as they charge in. Note, however, that the Grim Resolve bonus does not apply to Invisible units under the current ITC rules, as you are not snap firing at the unit, but merely firing at BS1.

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Unit Synergy

A large number of Tactical squads can be of use if your army contains a Dark Angels Librarian with the Seed of Fear psychic power from the Interromancy discipline. Seed of Fear forces all enemy units within 9″ to take Morale, Pinning and Fear checks on 3D6. Supported by some long range firepower from Tactical Squads, a Librarian on a Bike could drive up to an enemy gunline and potentially cause several units to flee if the Tactical squads can harness enough firepower to force some morale checks. Even elite Ld 9 or 10 units have some pause when forced to take morale tests with an extra die.

Though commonly seen accompanying Black Knights and Ravenwing units, a Ravenwing Darkshroud can also make a useful accompanying unit for a Dark Angels gunline. If you combine the Stealth bubble with some Ruins or an Aegis Defence Line, your Tactical Squads now have a 3+ cover save, making them considerably more durable to enemy firepower if they lack some Ignores Cover weaponry. This strategy becomes even more potent if you have a Techmarine that can also bolster the defences of some ruins, giving any squad in range of the Darkshroud a 2+ cover save. If the unit is holding an objective, they are going to be very difficult to shoot off of it.

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Formations

Dark Angels Tactical Squad form the basis of the Battle Demi-Company in Codex: Dark Angels, much like the Codex: Space Marine counterpart. As part of the formation special rules, the Tactical Squads get Objective Secured and their Grim Resolve overwatch BS is increased from 2 to 3.

When taken as part of the Lion’s Blade Strike Force (the DA version of the Gladius Strike Force), the units in the Detachment get to fire overwatch at their full BS. This is obviously a huge bonus, essentially giving you a “free” shooting phase every time an unengaged unit is assaulted. Even with basic Bolters, this can provide some great firepower against an enemy unit, which gets even more potent when you start to add Special or Heavy Weapons to the squad. This is also a massive bonus against any Invisible units that assault you, actually giving you a chance to cause some serious damage against them before they get into combat (and most likely wipe you out).

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Overall

The Space Marine Tactical Squad is a great unit that has really been given a big boost since the introduction of the Battle Company. Dark Angels Tactical Squads benefit from Grim Resolve, giving them a further boost to their defensive capabilities and making them a tough unit to shift in combat.

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  • LeroyJenkinss

    Thanks for the review. It just makes me hate formations even more. They’re fun if both players take really good formations but I find that usually one person does and the other didn’t and someone gets steamrolled.

    • John Henry III

      *Looks at my Guard* sounds about right

      • John Bower

        If we’d got formations like everyone else did they’d all be crying foul; even the Emprah’s Spess mehreens

        • John Henry III

          The guard did get a mega formation but it was so horrendously bad that it is insulting especially since it was published in the same book as the Tau one.

      • Gartenzing

        As a tyranid player, loyal to the hive mind after all these years…. wtf! So not only have I lost grenades you also overwatch my bugs with an extra bonus? Guess I will have to rely on my 6+ save…. oh bolters you say…. shall I just buy flyers? I’ll just buy flyers. Or play age of sigmar. At least sigmarines aren’t blatantly fan boy broken…. godd amnesty 40k!

        • John Henry III

          I don’t understand why GW hasn’t made a mega detachment for the nids yet. They are perhaps the faction that could have the most interesting and diverse one of all.

          • John Henry III

            Like you could have a core choice for each of the major hive fleets, that then effect each of the smaller formations differently. It could be cool.

    • Garrett Alain Colas

      I tied with my necron buddy using a CAD Ultramarines list. He was using the Decurion Detachment. You need to play objective game modes and focus on the objective. It ends up being more fun that way anyways.

  • Kevin Maloney

    Great article, but…over watch at full BS? It’s BS like this that has ruined assault in the game.

    • Lord Elpus

      Banshees negate overwatch😊

      • Reven

        Because Orks and Tyranids have Banshees.

        • John Henry III

          Are you suggesting someone would DARE to play off meta? You sir are a madman!

      • Drpx

        No assault transports negate banshees.

    • orionburn

      Lion’s Blade with two Demi companies eats up a fair amount of points. With the addition of a single formation you’re pretty much right at 1850 points and that’s without going nuts on special wargear. Running dual Demi companies also gets you free transports for everyone as well. It’s a powerful force but you lose out on a lot of other options. Unless you’re playing a larger scale game where you can field a separate CAD to bring in additional units the LBSF doesn’t give you a lot of “fun” things to bring to the table.

      • Garrett Alain Colas

        I agree with that. Everyone seems to forget that if you didn’t get free rhinos/droppods in that formation, it would literally be the worst formation ever.

        Wooo, I get 6-8 squads of marines, most of which I can’t afford upgrades for if I want enough points to take anything decent. Damn right I better get free rhinos if I have to take such a boring list.

        • orionburn

          Exactly. I’ll run the LBSF but typically only if I’m playing games at 2500+ points or higher. Otherwise to play Dark Angels with pretty much nothing but tactical marines is boring as hell.

  • I’m happy that Dark Angels are FINALLY good after 20 years. And the fact they won? I can remember years where they weren’t even represented on the tabletops. No respite! No surrender!