A first look at the 6th edition Dark Angels

5 January 2013. 7 January.

A glimpse into the new DA
Who are you looking at? Yes I know I'm awesome!

Some initial impressions gleaned from picking through the details of January's White Dwarf and from GWs site on the 'new era' Dark Angels.

Of course there are still massive gaps that will only be filled with the release of the Dark Angels Codex next weekend, even so things seem to be shaping up nicely in terms of rules and the abilities of new units.

Everything below is fact, no rumour included unless I've stated so.

1. Overall strategy

We learn once again from the WD's Battle Report that synergy between Deathwing and Ravenwing will be the key to successfully using a Dark Angels force. Where have we heard that before? Well the difference now is that we have a lot more of those two 'wings' to synergies: Deathwing Knights, Ravenwing Black Knights, two new speeder types and two new flyers.

But that isn't at the expense of the 'greenwing'. There needs to be a solid base around which the other two wings can operate and this is the job of the Tactical and Scout squads (among others).

So although the RW/DW synergy is sounding like a bit of an old cracked record, it is this game play originally conceived by Jervis Johnson that Jeremy Vetock has sensibly carried forward as being our signature modus operandi and has now further expanded upon. I don't see he had much option to be honest.

Deathwing armies

Matt (Hutson) stated he wants to start a 'Terminator-based army. I'm guessing that such a thing is still possible in the new Codex. Though what role Belial plays in this, as in making DW squads Troops, I don't know yet.

The Hunt for the Fallen

We learn from page 139 of WD that the game scenario of hunting the Fallen was especially cooked up by Jes, Adam and Glenn. So this tells me that there will be no such rule or scenario (as played in the Battle Report) in the new Codex.

Whether there are other kinds of Fallen rules remains to be seen though. More on this later.

2. DA special rules

The few details are a bit scant but sound tasty.

Deathwing Assault

This allows DA players to choose to bring in units with this rule on turns 1 or 2 (chosen before the game starts) without needing to roll for reserves. Otherwise acts as normal deep strike rules.

Inner Circle

A bit of a mystery, but seems to involve re-rolls during close combat on to hit or to wound rolls. Not sure which but it's unlikely to be both.

Deathwing Vehicle

As the Dreadnought gets this with its Venerable upgrade (see Dreadnought entry further down), could this be a re-roll on the Vehicle Damage table?

3. Characters and units

Sammael

Still in both jetbike and Land Speeder options as currently and retains all his current wargear. The main news here is that he is now an Independent Character, meaning he can attach himself to fast moving bike squadrons to lend his weight to close combat. Speaking of which, his Raven Sword is AP2 S User.

Also has Skilled Rider, Hit & Run, Inner Circle and Scout special rules, and the warlord trait Rapid Deployment. The later unique to this Codex.

Sammy was probably the 4th edition codex best HQ choice and now made even better. Just hope the points don't break the bank.

Belial

Armed with Sword of Silence and a storm bolter. He gets and additional pip to his WS plus extra wargear in the form of a teleport homer and a much-needed Iron Halo. He also has the Inner Circle special rule touched on briefly above.

Again an excellent HQ choice that's got a bit better although lack of weapon swaps might put some off. I'm assuming he'll still turn DW squads into Troop units as he currently does.

Asmodai

He's back and he has the Blades of Reason. I'm hoping these have an in-game function. It's great to see Asmodai on the tabletop again. No doubt he'll get some kind of rule that reflects his ability to terrorise opponents, remember his Fearful Reputation from the 3rd Edition Codex?

Standard Bearer

Carries a moulded representation of the Chapter Banner. Rules of this unknown, but possibly as is in 4th Edition Codex.

Deathwing Knights

Elites choice and looking like the close combat Death Star unit. All carry storm shields. One model, the champion Knight Master, carries the three-headed flail of the Unforgiven. Unit size can expand by adding individual models up to 10-strong maximum. All others carry a mace of absolution. Unit also includes a Watcher in the Dark carrying a relic weapon. His role is unknown, he might be decorative only.

WS5 all round and the Knight Master has 3 Attacks. They can switch their maces to Smite mode giving them S10 AP2, but it's a once per game option. Ouch that's gonna hurt someone! Also, when the Knights are packed closely together (bases thouching?) they gain +1 to their Toughness.

This unit is very exciting and the basic 5-man squad doesn't cost the earth either. The Deathwing's iron punch for sure as they seem unable to take ranged shooting weapons of any kind. Deep striking in upon teleport homers they could be just awesome.

Deathwing Terminator squads

Big changes here. 5-man basic squad can expand to 10-man max as per DW Knights. But no combat squads so large squads can't run off in different directions upon deployment. Weapon options are interesting too with the addition of a plasma cannon. Heavy flamer is the cheapest option with the cyclone bumped 5 points to be the most expensive. Assault cannon reduced in price from its current 30 points making it a very good weapon choice once again. Can swap basic load out to twin claws for free, the chainfist remains a cheap upgrade. The storm the shield and thunder hammer combo however now costs points — no doubt rightly reflecting the awesome Inv save they confer. I'm sure loads of folks won't like this.

DW squads get Deathwing Assault, Vengeful Strike (I'm guessing the ability to charge into cc on same turn as deep striking), Inner Circle and Split Fire special rules.

I think we will see less of the dreaded th/ss + cyclone spam that we've been seeing since January 2012, and more considered 'little-bit-of-everything' builds that the DW were famed for. For me two th/ss were enough, and with an assault cannon will cost me 250 points — which is only 5 points more than the 4th Edition's cost.

By all accounts DW get a boost. Their special rules hint at better firepower and cc capabilities putting them once again at the very top of the food chain. I also like the fact that these squads are expandable. Be great to be able to fill in those odd points gaps that would occur in DW and multiwing lists.

Deathwing Command squad

With an Apothecary, a Standard Bearer and a unit Champion with the halberd of Caliban, these are your basic Terminators with added functionality. The Champion's weapon looks a ridiculously awesome two-handed relic axe, in-game rules are only rumours at present so I shan't add them here.

Veterans squads

An Elites choice, the 5-man basic squad can be expanded one model at a time. Look to have a range of weapon upgrades that look more extensive and less restrictive than those of the 4th Edition Codex. Also have a special rule Grim Resolve — I have no idea what that is.

Dreadnoughts

Venerable is an upgrade option for a normal Dreadnought, boosting WS and BS by +1. Interestingly, the Venerable Dread gets Deathwing Vehicle as its special rule. See speculative thinking on this within Special Rules section above.

You may swap the left arm of a Dread for a twin-linked autocannon or a missilie launcher — so in this respect its as per Codex Space Marines, although the DAs left-hand weapons look to be costed differently. Dreadnought is now a base 100 points. Usefully, the Venerable and left arm upgrades can stack giving a good shooting boost for the two-gunned Dread. There could be a Mortis option elsewhere in the Codex, but at this stage it's inconclusive whether we get one or not.

If you want a proper Mortis with different weapon options there are always Forge World's rules for you to use.

Tactical squads

The only new thing known for sure is that the Sergeant gets access to comb-weapons, this is a great bit of news and will expand the squads' capability yet again. Rumours are missile launchers get Flakk missile upgrade.

Scouts

Again sketchy, but we do now Scouts are a Troops choice once again (as they should've always been Mr Johnson). Looks like they can take bolters, and the sarge can take melta bombs.

Ravenwing Black Knights

One of the new units for this Codex, a Fast Attack choice with all bike-mounted 3-man basic size. At first sight looking an awesome cc unit that sorta mirrors the Deathwing's Knights. Two bikers get two plasma guns (probably twin-linked) on their front fairings, and one gets a grenade launcher (with stasis grenades).

They are mentioned as being built for 'spearheading attacks' and also to hunt the Fallen, but also as being one of the Dark Angels' 'shootiest units' — probably a reference to those plasma guns. They carry a corvus hammer close combat weapon that looks just wicked and all have teleport homers.

Skilled Riders is just one of their special rules and they also have teleport homers. I guess they take their lead from Sammael and get his other special rules too: Hit & Run, and Scout.

Ravening Command squad

As Black Knights with the addition of an Apothecary, and Standard Bearer and a Ravenwing Champion with the Sword of Caliban. The Company Banner probably has an in-game effect but I can't see what it is on the info so far. But it looks brilliant in its moulded form so no more freehand hassles there.

Ravening squad

Pretty much as current RW Attack squadron. They are formatted in the same way as far as I'm aware, and armed the same way too. They gain Skilled Riders as one of their special rules — and those of the Black Knights too I guess.

Land Speeder Vengeance

Heavy Support. This rather ungainly model with three crew comes complete with a plasma storm battery on the rear hull. This can be fired in two modes: a large single blast (as mentioned in the Battle Report) or as three shots, mode unknown but possibly small blasts. At the sharp end there is a rather odd front turret that can have either the built-in heavy bolter or upgrade to an assault cannon.

Tactically used as a heavy fire support platform for bikes and normal speeders, it can no doubt knock holes in the enemy but at what points cost? It is described as being a 'precision tool' that needs manoeuvrability to get the best out of its weapon. Hmmmm.

Ravening Darkshroud

This is a Fast Attack choice and shares the same basic chassis as the Vengeance. It also has the front turret with the same weapon options. But at the back, oh boy, a bit of Caliban is being carried around! Seriously this planet-relic has some kind of arcane shrouding device borne from a statue, and this is enough to offer protection to surrounding DA units. The Darkshroud has the Shrouded special rule, that's a +2 to saves (see main Rulebook page 41) and confers Stealth, that's +1 to saves, on units within 6".

Suffice to say it is going to act as great support for bikes units and speeders (or in my case terminators) to keep them safe. I'll be honest this is a bit of a bizarre unit — typically found in the newer 40K codexes. I guess it might grow on me.

The Darkshroud also gets the Deep Strike and Scout special rules (and Im assuming the Vengeance might get these too).

Land Speeders

All normal Land Speeders get Deep Strike special rule, at last.

Ravenwing Dark Talon

I must admit to instantly falling in love with both the new RW flyer models as both objects and things to game with. They are both beautifully designed and have the menacing look of an A10 Thunderbolt.

The Dark Talon is the ground attack flyer and is armed with a massive nose-mounted rift cannon that has the Blind special rule (see main Rulebook page 34), and a stasis bomb which apparently helps the RW in their capture of the Fallen, this reduces WS and I by 3. It also has a hurricane bolter under each wing that can certainly spoil anyone's day. In terms of solid rules, it can Hover Strike for greater accuracy with the bomb.

The strange gothic architecture on the rear fuselage is apparently a stasis chamber used to contain Fallen during transporataion.

Nephilim Jetfighter

This is my sort of unit: no nonsense and powerfully armed. Its main role to take out enemy flyers (the primary role of any air force surely) and it looks the part. Armed with a nose-mounted mega bolter or twin-linked lascannon, it also has two heavy bolters, presumably twin-linked, and a battery of underwing blacksword missiles.

Tactically it is obviously also useful against heavy ground targets, so all in all would be my preferred flyer out of the two new models. I just hope it doesn't cost a small fortune in points.

4. Conclusion

That's it for now, I think I've covered most of the new items of interest. Apologies for missing anything out, just let me know if I have. It's also been typed out in a bit if a hurry with great excitement so please excuse any strange spelling errors.

Everything I've seen thus far is just great and doesn't seem to suffer an 'over-the-top ness' apparent in other recent 40K codexes — but we've yet to see any background fluff. A healthy expansion to current units seems to have been Vetock's thinking, filling in the gaps where they existed and adding an extra layers (flyers) for good measure.

I'm also liking some of the new weapons: the stasis bombs and grenades, the rift cannon and particularly and the protective darkshroud as this seem to link back to a more mystical/psykic theme running through the DA's homeworld epitomised by the Watchers in the Dark for instance and the infested core of Caliban — a theme I'd like to see develop far more going forwards, to powers barely understood but harnessed anyway.

I'm at this point in time optimistic about the quality of our new book.


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