Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How You Beat Dem: Dark Angels

It is said that there is a new codex out there.  Yay!  Waaaay back in 2nd, when Angels of Death had the Dark Angels, I thought Ravenwing was the heat.  Now, I don't really care for the dark, brooding stoicism of the chapter.  I've read the book a few times while on a bidness trip, and so far, I ain't too afeard of it.  There are, however, ways to build the army that can give Daemons quite a headache, but only a few.  At first glance, it looks like a vanilla marines army with fancy bikers and terminators, horrible flyers, and stubborn (I love that stubborn rule they have.).  There are, however, not-so-hidden gems in the book, that when combined with the proper units, can be quite nasty.

First let's look at the strengths of the book:

- Quite possibly the best selection of troops in the game.  They have the best Tacticals, bike and terminator troops, and Scouts, while definitely the worst of the bunch, ain't too bad.

- It's a fast army, with good cover saves on all its skimmers and bikes.

- It can field scoring Terminators, which make them difficult to ignore, allowing it to present a wide variety of viable threats.

- Decent pyschic defense with the Perfidious Relic of the Unforgiven

- Flakk missiles everywhere make up for lousy flyers

- Battle Brothers with Imperial Guard

- Azrael and Sammael are awesome

- Good debuffs

As for the weaknesses:

- The only level 3 psyker is Ezekiel, and one of his powers has to be a short-ranged focused witchfire that only threatens monstrous creatures on foot.

- Worst flyers in the game

- Only one cheap HQ worth taking (Level 1 Librarian for Prescience)

- They're Stubborn, and can't voluntarily fail a morale check (Oh you'd better believe those are weaknesses.)

Then, there are the things that simply are.  The really good stuff in the army is properly-costed, so the uber units become a points-sink very fast.  Like those magical standards that make the boltguns shoot faster, for example.

Let's start with the ol' Standard of Devastation.  It costs the same as a Chaos Lord and grants all units with boltguns Salvo 2/4 if they have a model within 12" of it.  Well, that's certainly nasty.  However, the Icon forces the player to take a certain kind of build in order to fully take advantage of it.  First, you need one of the three types of Command Squads, which are neither cheap nor large.  If you put it on a power armored command squad, you have five easily-killed models that must go in a Rhino.  If you put it on a Terminator Squad, you've just dropped around 300 points that are useless if deployed in the backfield, and have a useless icon if they deep strike.  Or you could put them in a Deathwing Land Raider and have a nearly 600 point unit.

That leaves the Ravenwing Command bikes, of which you can only take three.  That'll cost you over 200 points, and you're going to want an HQ in there for some extra wounds to protect the icon, which probably should be Sammael because you're going to want scoring bikers with salvo bolters.  Now your unit costs over 400 points.  Of course, you're now using it to make bikes shootier, which is very strong with Relentless and Salvo combined.

If you take it with five power armored guys in a Rhino, and bubble wrap it with tacticals on foot, you are asking for every blast weapon in the world to cut you down before you get into range of anything they could kill.  Or you'll just get Rhino-rushed.

So, the Standard of Devastation gimmick is tricky to pull off, but let's assume your opponent takes it and you're running Daemons, who have no Rhinos, and very few blast weapons.  Whatcha gon' do?

Well, if you can drop Flamers atop the standard-bearing squad, do so, but let's assume your opponent is not pants-on-head retarded and put the Standard in a Rhino bubble-wrapped by tacticals.  Awesome, now his troops are out in the open, so just drop and kill them with Flamers.  If the Flamer deep strike goes bad, you're kind of in trouble, because anything not called a Soul Grinder or a Seeker Chariot is in big trouble if it gets within 24" of that icon.  You might want to bring a Soul Grinder if your opponent is fond of this build.

So, what if you ain't got a Soul Grinder and your Flamers did not land on target?  Well, 40 overwatch shots will put two wounds on a Screamer on average, so no big deal.  Turboboost out of sight, then eat one, preferably two Tactical squads next turn.  The beauty is, no matter how bad you kick their butts in combat, they're Stubborn, so you get to finish them off during their turn because they'll probably pass morale, and even if they don't, you have a better than 50% chance of catching them so they can't get away.  I told you Stubborn was a weakness.  I also told you that lost attack from disorganized charges was a good thing, not a bad thing.  Case and point.

Dark Angels are stupid marines, just like Chaos Space Marines are cowardly marines, and Space Wolves smell like wet dog.  Whereas an Ultramarines squad can size up a bad situation and give a risk-free retreat the old college try, Dark Angels prefer to stand there and take their whoopin'.  That's why they're worth only one point more than a Chaos Space Marine.

So, flame that boltery death star, and failing that, use Screamers to munch them down quickly.  Fateweaver can fly in and dust a squad by himself while tossing a Bolt at the Rhino with the standard in it.

What else we got?

Well those Ravenwing bikers sure are fast.  Fast enough to get away from Flamers if they don't land on target, for example.  Screamers can chase them around, and should beat them straight up, but the Black Knights have rad grenade launchers that can cause you some hurt what with Corvus Hammers wounding them on 2's and whatnot.  Best not let them shoot and charge you.  Ravenwing must be charged or Flamed to be killed because it will probably be protected by a Darkshroud, which itself can only be killed by Flamers, or in assault.

Deathwing are too slow, and put out too few shots to pose a threat to a solid Daemon army, so I wouldn't worry too much about them.

The real nasty combo in the army is when allies are thrown into the mix.  You are going to see Azrael blob Guard builds become a staple of tournaments in the very near future, because it can do exactly what Tony Kopach's Space Wolves did at NOVA without having to roll on the psychic power table.  You take Azrael, a Primaris Psyker who rolls on Biomancy and hopes for Fortitude, and four Infantry Squads, with Sergeants carrying power axes and melta-bombs so the blob can't be tarpitted by a single walker.  It's going to take a lot of Flamers to kill that off, but that's about the only way you're going to do it, because they're Fearless and have 4++ saves thanks to the Lion Helm.  Azrael also lets the player take any of the four troop choices.  The Guard allows them to bring a Vendetta, which is no big deal, but makes the combo more enticing.

If you see this, you're going to want to go first, hope your Flamers land on target and whittle it down  significantly, because a mob that size can clog up the board fast, and put out enough shots to significantly weaken, or wipe out many of your units.

Pavane Azrael to the front if youz got it and the gimmick collapses in a heap.

Other than that, what ya got here is a Spesh Marine army that you deal with like all the others.


  1. Daemons counter what seems to be DA favorite weapons. Plasma. The number of AP 2 shots seems crazy. Luckily, we don't care about that though.

  2. see rules error, close tab.

    good effort though!

    1. Pointing the error out so I can fix it would be helpful as well!


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