BoLS logo Today's Tabletop & RPG News

How to Play Dark Angels in Warhammer 40K

6 Minute Read
Apr 10 2024
Hot story icon

Today let’s take a look at some basics of how to play and get started with Warhammer 40k Dark Angels in 10th Edition.

The Dark Angels are a mystery-shrouded and tactically brilliant Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. As one of the First Founding Chapters, the Dark Angels have a distinct flavor shaped by their Primarch, Lion El’Jonson. On the tabletop, the Dark Angels bring the stoic knight Space Marine archetype to bear.

Below we offer some tips on how to play the army and get started with the army.

Who Are The Dark Angels?

The Dark Angels were the First Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their newly returned Primarch is Lion El’Jonson. After remaining loyal to the Emperor during the Horus Heresy, this legion was later reorganized and divided into several Chapters during the Second Founding.  The Unforgiven refers collectively to the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter and their Second Founding successor chapters. The name stems from the terrible events of the Horus Heresy, causing the downfall of Caliban and the corruption of a number of the Dark Angels Legion.

In order to absolve themselves of the Legion’s ancient sin, the Unforgiven have the self-appointed task of hunting down and capturing all of the Marines who turned to Chaos at the downfall (“the Fallen”) and making them repent. They will execute this task to the letter, often abandoning campaigns and battles at vital junctions to follow a lead. Some question the loyalty of the Dark Angels for this reason. The chapter gives this special agenda greater importance than their standard daily operations. Even when fighting with allies the Dark Angels keep their own company. Lest someone glean something of their shameful history and let their greatest secret escape.


Each Unforgiven chapter closely follows the Dark Angels’ organization; each has its Inner Circle, and each has formations similar to the Dark Angels’ Deathwing and Ravenwing companies. All of the Unforgiven chapters coordinate their actions in regard to their secret mission, and it is not unknown for the Supreme Grand Masters of the respective chapters to hold summit meetings within the Rock.

The arrival of Primaris Space Marines has sent ripples of shock throughout the Unforgiven, for suddenly, thousands of new sons of the Lion arrived without initiation to the rites and rituals of the Inner Circle. Some welcomed the new Primaris Space Marines, while others maintained mistrust. The recent return of Lion’El Jonson has shaken and reinvigorated the Unforgiven in equal measure.


Why Play Dark Angels

The Dark Angels bring everything we should expect from a Space Marine chapter, while showing a stoic and dour knight attitude. They also have special units and formations, totally unique to their chapter.

Strengths of the Army

  • Space Marine flexibility.
  • Hard-hitting unique units.
  • Shooting. Many of your units’ strengths and buffs are in the shooting phase.

Weakness of the Army

  • Elite army with relatively few bodies.
  • Can be hard to find a balance mixing between Deathwing, Ravenwing, and regular troops.

Dark Angels Detachments

1. Unforgiven Task Force

  • Rules: The Grim Resolve rule mean Dark Angels units retain their Objective Control characteristic while Battle-shocked.
  • Enhancements: All of the Unforgiven enhancements get even better if you are Battle-shocked, oddly enough.
  • Stratagems: Like Grim Resolve and the enhancements, several of the Dark Angles stratagems are stronger if the unit is Battle-shocked.

2. Inner Circle Task Force

  • RulesVowed Target gives a powerful buff to Deathwing Infantry against targets near a specified objective, allowing you to efficiently clear them of enemies.
  • Enhancements: Here we have the classic Deathwing Assault empowering you with a Turn 1 Deepstrike!
  • Stratagems: The standout here combines nicely with the enhancement above- the Relic Teleportarium! It allows your units to Deep Strike in extra close.

3. Company of Hunters

  • Rules: Despite nominally being the Ravenwing detachment, the Masters of Manoeuvre rule applies to all the units in your army, allowing them to shoot after Advancing or Falling Back- this is incredibly flexible and powerful.
  • Enhancements: On the other hand, every enhancement is keyword locked to mounted models, of which there are only two.
  • Stratagems: These are all based around speed, mobility, and utility.

Also remember you are still an Adeptus Astartes army, so you still get Oath of Moment and the full roster of Space Marine units!



Key Dark Angels Units To Know

The army has a small supplemental unit roster in addition to the immense Space Marine one. Knowing what units to take can be tricky. Here are some suggestions to help you get started.


Lion El’Jonson

The Lion is an incredibly effective destructive piece and army fulcrum, as any Primarch should be. The extra rules he gives a unit he leads are unmatched. His T9, 3+ Invulnerable and -1 to be wounded due to The Emperor’s Shield makes him incredibly durable and difficult to take down.

Supreme Grand Master Azrael

The Lion Helm makes Azrael and his unit extra durable, especially when combined with a summoned Watcher in the Dark. Masterful Tactician gives him bonus CPs, so there’s a lot of Strategems he will be granting his army during the game.

Captain Lazarus

A unique Dark Angels Primaris Captain, Lazarus increases the resilience of the units he leads and also confers the ability to fight on death.

Inner Circle Companions

These champions are the bane of enemy characters. Braziers of Judgement, and Enmity for the Unworthy makes the unit and attached characters hit above average versus enemy characters.


Primaris Intercessors

Like all Space Marines Chapters, a core of Primaris Intercessor Troop choices is never a bad way to go for Dark Angels. As long as you are not going the Ravenwing or Deathwing route.


Other Units

Deathwing Knights

A powerful unique unit of specialist Deathwing Terminators. With the powerful Inner Circle rule, Deathwing Knights can go toe to toe with much stronger opponents.

Ravenwing Black Knights

The elite of the Ravenwing forces are the Black Knights, who excel with speed in combat and shooting. Knights of Caliban makes them especially good on the charge

Ravenwing Darkshroud

This Ravenwing vehicle projects a powerful aura, making it more difficult to hit nearby friendly units.

Ravenwing Darktalon

The Darktalon is a great flyer and its Stasis Bomb can be a situational gamechanger..

Sample Starter Warhammer 40k Dark Angels Army (Greenwing)


Lazarus. 1 Model. He is equipped with:  bolt pistol; Enmity’s Edge



Primaris Intercessors. Ten Models. Every model is equipped with: bolt pistol; bolt rifle

Primaris Intercessors. Ten Models. Every model is equipped with: bolt pistol; bolt rifle

Primaris Intercessors. Ten Models. Every model is equipped with: bolt pistol; bolt rifle

Primaris Intercessors. Ten Models. Every model is equipped with: bolt pistol; bolt rifle

Other Units

Land Speeder Vengeance. One Model.


How to Play Dark Angels

In most ways, Dark Angels do not differ much from most Space Marines. Supreme generalists who strive to survive the mid-board in order to be impactful. Dark Angels generally lend themselves to shooting, but Deathwing and Ravenwing make that a more difficult equation to balance.  Overall it is really 3 (or 4) armies in one; Greenwing, Deathwing, Ravenwing, and (mixed). Plus that is before differentiating between Primaris and Firstborn! There is a lot of range there.

Hunt the Fallen!


Author: Allen Campbell
  • Massive Tanks, Brain Bugs, Weird Shaman, and More Mini Spotlights