Goatboy here and the yeah – the Dark Angels codex is good. Like “the best marines” good.
The new Dark Angels release is upon us and if you want to get the basic thought on the book – they are just the best basic Marine book right now in the game. They do everything that the other Marine books do – maybe not as initially as well – but they do all the things the other books do. Do you want some great shooting? Sure you got it. You want a bunch of great utility spells? You got those too. You want a plethora of Elite choices so you can easily make your specifically themed armies? Got that covered too my friend. Hey how about an army that likes all the doctrine phases? Oh boy you got that too – even mixing in a little bit of doctrine movement as well. Overall this book is great and I will just say – all the green Marines out there will quit being fire lizards and go back to secretly being Chaos.
Great Utility – Great Power
This review won’t go into the depths that others do as I want to just circle around it like the buzzard of 40k I can be. Overall it is a good solid Marine book that can just about do whatever you want. They excel at just being good at most things while some of the other books lock into specific sections of the game. Sure they don’t assault as well as Blood Angels – but being purely Marines they still punch you well. They might not have the flashy Gold armor too – but they sure got a lot of Bone colored army that seems pretty good. Heck you got the best biker army in the game as well so if you feel like digging up some of your old Biker models and dusting off your Black Knights this book has you covered too.
Before we dig in – lets talk about the biggest thing that happened in this book – Sammie lost his super Speeder ride. It didn’t stay with the new codex so it is kind of sad. I would think doing some kind of sweet upgrade with the new Speeder could have been amazing or just some kind of Primaris biker update. It felt like a missed opportunity to get rid of that Finecast model and work on creating a distinct and cool new model for the Dark Angels.
These Guys are Tough
Let’s talk about the rules that stuck – Inner Circle is still here and all Infantry versions get “Transhuman” for free. This is one of those annoying powers that I find just not that fun to deal with. Now we get to deal with it on a big ole army which can be annoying. It isn’t fun when we see Sisters ignoring a lot of the damage phase and we get another army that just masks that as well. Jink is also here and you can get it added onto a lot of the other parts of the Space Marine book so you can really have an army of 5++ or 4++ when you advance. Grim Resolve is still pretty bonkers too if you build your army around a unit that sits still, throws out decent bullets from range, and gains you some extra Victory points from one of their new secondaries. Just remember – Blade Guard with Inner Circle = rough times. I expect a lot of Chaos Players and other armies to look to find Mortal wound output or something else just to dig thru all these tough guys.
Speaking of Secondaries they have 2 that seem pretty good. One is 2 points per unit killed by a Ravenwing unit that move 12″ in a turn. There isn’t anything saying you can’t just get all of it at once so it seems pretty good if you pick that sort of army – especially with how they stack up with Devastator doctrine and just being extremely fast and aggressive. The other is one based on a unit holding an object during the game. If you hold it 2 turns with the unit you get 2, 3 turns you get 3pts, 5 points for 4 turns, and another 5 points for the 5th turn. This can be easily set up with your army with say – an annoying unit to remove. Maybe the new Heavy intercessors? Their weapons can shoot pretty far, they are annoying to remove, and can easily shuffle around to hide a bit while holding a piece of the pie. Seems pretty good way to hit art 15 points. Just like the Ravenwing one DA get 2 that seem well suited depending on the type of play style you want.
On the Stratagem front you have 2 pages of pretty decent ones. One I find interesting is the hit a unit with a Ravenwing model and now everyone shooting at that model gets a +1 to hit. This could be pretty good as you move out, pelt someone with some Assault Cannon fire from your Talon Master, and watch as you army shifts and moves to bring annihilation to the enemy unit. Overall the strats seem good – with a bunch of faster movement options and just damage options. The only weird one is the keep your Secondary hidden but eventually we will all know what people will play or pick against you based on your choices. Oh – they still have the +1 damage to Plasma weapons so again the Black knights can throw out a ton of death if needed. Mix this in with a first turn move and you can’t escape some firepower from the Angels of the Dark.
Doctrines & Warlord Traits
Did we talk about how this army likes all the stages of the Doctrines? Each phase does something extra for specific parts of the Dark Angels army. The Devastator activates a powerful Ravenwing power to go 3″ in their movement and advance/fire their weapons like they were Assault weapons. There is no hiding from the bikers in this army. The Tactical doctrine can help your Terminators by letting them shoot into combat which seems pretty good due to being Inner Circle and all. Even in the Assault doctrine you have your Dreadnoughts going ham on characters and other fun things. Thankfully for DA you can make other things Deathwing so when you make your Deathwing Detachment you can ensure all your choices are totally sad and metal for a few extra points. That seems pretty good and thankfully being Inner Circle only works on Infantry or we would have one of the more Annoying dreadnought armies out there.
On the Warlord trait one – the aura that gives a +1 strength to friendly units within 6″ if the Warlord charged seems pretty good. I would have loved this for some of the other more Assault based armies so having more waves of auras to stack damage makes the Dark Angels a powerful assault force. There is a warlord trait that can shift doctrines for a unit of their choice. That seems pretty good with some of the combos if you wanted. Ravenwing and Deathwing get 2 traits each and they seem alright. All the traits seem to be built to make the character more heroic so if you need some hero hammer add on you can create some pretty rocking characters.
Librarians & Relics
The Psychic phase for Dark Angels seems really good with a ton of options to screw with your opponent or just give you an ability that is powerful for the targeted unit. Fight last powers seem to be good and Dark Angels get a spell that has a low WC to get off. Oh they get a good blessing to let a unit reroll hit and wound roll in combat. Remember how I said while they are not the “best” assault army in the game they can assault real good – well this is one of those things to help with that. The ability to turn off Objective Secured could win you the game depending on the army you are facing. I don’t know how good it will be to use it as we have to pick our spells right away – but it could be fun to mess with. Of course Mind Wipe and turning off enemy Auras seem good – as we know from Morty and his attack of the Competitive scene. Overall the powers seem good with good useful abilities to add onto the opens you already get from the Space Marine book.
Relics are not too bad – with a few that can go to the Talonmasters. I like the Talonmasters as I will discuss in the unit section – but having them get some better weapons is a good thing. Overall I can expect a lot of armies not going crazy on the Relics as you don’t really need them – as everything else hits hard, shoots hard, or just does the damage you need with stacked auras and stratagems. Like I said earlier – this is feeling like the best basic marine book and you don’t need to get fancy if you want to be competitive.
Units & Datasheets
Finally we get to some units and the big thing I see is that there isn’t a ton of terrible in the book. You get a ton of Elite choices to fill out your rolls and armies for the Deathwing 2nd Company detachment or the Ravenwing 1st company detachment. This lets you build out the armies, fill out the detachment, and get rocking. The crazy thing here is you have 2 Apothecary choices that somehow have a 6″ bubble of FNP for the armies. This seems weird as everyone else’s has 3″ but somehow the Dark Angels get more range. Could it be that they don’t have any options to increase their Auras so they decided to change it?
Oh Sammie lost his cool speeder so that is kind of sad – but hey you can take two Talonmasters per LT choice so that is good. Oh yeah – they hit on 2’s, have a ton of bullets, and can hide. This seems pretty dang amazing for a weird fast unit of death that takes a bit to get rid of. The Biker army has some need of non plasma/bolter firepower and these guys fit the bill. Of course speaking of interesting things it seems you can only take one Ravenwing captain and one Deathwing captain per army. So the limitations is coming down for everyone I expect even though the rule of 3 and detachments burning CP seems to keep more of it at bay. Thankfully they got a ton of HQ options so filling out slots isn’t the end of the world for the armies.
Overall this book seems really strong. There isn’t anything super bad in it, it does the marine stuff well, and has a ton of options for thematic armies. I don’t like the massed Transhuman for non Primaris things as I feel it is a bit too powerful and would rather have seen something like damage reduction instead. Removing successes from an opponent just doesn’t feel nearly as exciting as just saying they are tough as heck. Also you start to look at things like – well if my opponent didn’t roll a ton of 4+’s I would still be alive so it makes math kind of weird. Anyway – be prepared to see a lot of Green Marines on the table top being all secretive about their deep dark secret whenever we get started with tournaments in the next few months.