Hey guys, Learn2Eel here from ImperatorGuides, and I’m back here to give my closing thoughts on the awesome new Dark Angels.
FINAL THOUGHTS on the Codex
The Dark Angels codex is one that is comprised of many individually good units that tend to be costed quite appropriately for what they are capable of, with a few unfortunate exceptions. The only area that Dark Angels find themselves particularly lacking in is anti-air, due to the over-costed Nephilim and mediocre Flakk Missiles. Despite this, they are a well rounded army list that can bring lots of plasma weaponry and the like at a very affordable price, in addition to the usual smattering of Terminators, Bikers and vehicles. In this sense, I feel Dark Angels are a highly adaptable force that can be made to tailor a wide range of play styles – mechanized, foot-slogging, massed reserves, elite armies, and so on.
Though Deathwing and Ravenwing armies can be very strong on their own, I believe that the best kind of Dark Angels force is a mixed one; combining elements of both Deathwing and Ravenwing, whilst preserving a core of Tactical Marines and Devastators. Whether or not you use Azrael for this reason is purely up to you, but be mindful that taking the Chapter Master, whilst expensive, is guaranteed to help your army out significantly. I see Dark Angels as this kind of army – Tactical Squads, Devastators, Predators and the like provide as much firepower as possible whilst holding ground or moving forward as necessary. Ravenwing squadrons move forward as harassment units, firing their many boltguns and plasma weapons into nasty enemy threats, and providing a nuisance. Their mobility and close attacks pave the way for a turn two Deathwing Assault, providing a two-pronged attack from both squadrons of Bikers and Terminators armed to the teeth with guns. With your back-field units providing long-range support, this allows for an early and devastating co-ordinated attack that can be exceedingly difficult for many armies to deal with. Though an entirely Deathwing army is tough, and an entirely Ravenwing army is unquestionably mobile, those elements work best as supporting parts to the army – as part of a wheel that represents the greater whole.
Going off of this idea that mixed, balanced armies are the way to go, I will also say that I feel Dark Angels are a codex based on synergies and support abilities. Whilst many of their units are powerful in their own right and compare favourably in terms of cost-effectiveness to their equivalents in other codices, they work much better as part of a cohesive strategy that involves multiple elements. This is where the generally over-costed Dark Talon and Nephilim can be made useful, using their abilities in conjunction with Ravenwing and Deathwing forces to severely weaken specific segments of the opposition force, allowing your other units to exploit the weakness and destroy them. Ravenwing bikers all bear teleport homers, meaning they work extremely well with deep-striking Deathwing forces – with the sheer mobility of the Ravenwing allowing them to move into position on turn two, this can pave the way for the Deathwing assault to land without scattering and proceed to annihilate several units in an astonishing alpha strike. Dark Angels characters also tend to reflect this methodology, with many of them based around support abilities that enhance the capabilities of other units; Interrogator Chaplains, Techmarines, Librarians and most of the special characters are all prime examples. With access to many different kinds of banners through their multiple command squads, Dark Angels can take many abilities that provide irrational buffs to Dark Angels forces – usually to a wide range of units, as the Standard of Devastation and Standard of Fortitude prove.
In closing, if you are interested in fielding the might of the first legion, I would recommend that you consider first the way in which a unit works with others in your army before judging them based on their cost-effectiveness. This is an important strategy that should be applied throughout the codex; though the Dark Talon may be somewhat weak in its own right, it can significantly boost the damage that a combined Deathwing and Ravenwing assault can do. There are many different themes that fit throughout the codex, but the most important is synergy; the way the army works in tandem as a cohesive force, where no single unit is truly bigger than the sum of their parts. Despite this, you can still field a themed Deathwing or Ravenwing centric army and still enjoy a competitive, tactically adaptable force, which is the beauty of the codex; it encourages many kinds of armies without making any option feel like it is far superior to its competitors.
Other Codices and the Meta – Dark Angels are very adaptable and versatile as an army, and this design is reflected in most individual units. A balanced army is encouraged, one that can reliably handle any threat. The main issue Dark Angels players will have to address is dealing with other flyers effectively – unfortunately, the Nephilim simply can’t do the job as well as flyers from many other codices, not for the cost. This is where allies and fortifications come in handy – a small contingent of Imperial Guard featuring a Vendetta squadron is always a fantastic addition to the Dark Angels army. Aside from this, a seasoned player will find they can deal with most threats pretty reliably based upon the force they field – though Dark Angels players will still struggle immensely with armies such as the Necron Airforce or Tzeentch Daemons, which likely comes as no surprise. Though it is a very good and tactically rewarding codex, I feel that it isn’t in the top tier of codices as far as a measurable “power level” – generally considered to be Imperial Guard, Necrons and one or two others. However, the depth of the books makes me think that this may change – there are many potential, viable combinations to try out. Having a strong balanced codex that rewards strategic nous is what I prefer anyway, so it doesn’t really matter – you make what you will of the army, after all. One thing I will note is that despite Dark Angels having many special rules tailored to fighting Chaos Space Marines, be very aware of Heldrakes – especially in an army featuring lots of Ravenwing elements, and this is even more pronounced due to the new FAQ rulings in favour of the Heldrake.
Allies – Allies make for a great addition to the Dark Angels force, though these should be taken to cover up the weaknesses of your primary detachment. In this sense, having cheap, expendable troops and access to lots of anti-flyer weaponry is likely a must for competitive army lists – the perfect foil for these, of course, being Imperial Guard. A nasty tactic that has developed already is to place Azrael in a friendly blob squad of Imperial Guard – all count as Fearless, and all of them benefit from Azrael’s Lion Helm, granting them a 4+ invulnerable save! Combine this with a squadron of Vendettas or Hydras, and you will be giving your army some considerable reinforcements all at a very affordable price. Space Wolves and Eldar also make for good access to powerful psyker defence, and can provide interesting options in other areas. In general, Dark Angels can make good use of the Allies system – especially to help their internal issues with fighting flyers.
I would like to thank you all very much for reading through this article series, as well as giving me many new ideas to implement – your tactical expertise is always welcome! I hope this article has been both fruitful and helpful to you, and I look forward to seeing your ideas and battle reports about the ever impressive First Legion. This is a great codex that should be considered for any budding player looking for a flexible and tactically rewarding force. Thanks again!
You can read even more Dark Angels thoughts in the Lounge here. Have at it folks – how are the Dark Angels doing in your neck of the woods?