The Dark Fortress

Combined Arms. A bone, black and green Dark Angels tactica

6th Edition

Note: This tactica is now old and needs an update. Many facts will not be correct for current game. However the general gist is pitched right.

This article by guest writer Kris Sherriff is designed to give an insight in to what you can do when designing a Dark Angels army list without going too far down any of the specialised routes that Beliel or Sammael allow.

Whilst considered quite bare bones from a unit option point of view I feel that you can still put together a competitive company based Dark Angels force.

Like all marines the Dark Angels have an inherent level of survivability with their T4 and 3+ save, unlike most other marines though they are relatively restrictive in how you can actually equip them.


The approach

The way I tend to approach any list building is twofold. First I think about the variety of threats I am likely to face and the think about what I can take to counter them. Threat wise I tend to group things in to the following 3 bands;

  • Close combat where you have either Hammers or Anvils type units
  • Tanks I think of as AV ranges so AV10 to AV12 and AV12 to AV14 at this point I don't think about what the Tank could be armed with or transporting as it is irrelevant as to how hard it is to kill
  • Infantry I think of as Hordes or Elites which can be equipped for range or combat.

I then think about how I want to threaten my opponents force and achieve my objectives (either Kill Points or Objective grab). Then I think about how to threaten my opponent which I again group as follows;

  • Relative speed across the army list
  • Range bands of weapons
  • Damage potential (weapons AP, S and rate of fire)
  • Scoring/contesting potential.

The Key of course is balancing all of those factors in to one list whilst taking in to consideration the point's level and the play style you want. At most points values up to about 1750 you will not be able to cover every level of threat completely which is where the tactics on the table come in but more on that later.

For me I will always rank Manoeuvrability over Range for example as I personally feel that if you are moving your opponent has to react to you whilst if you are stationary your opponent can continue with his plans whilst factoring in any losses from your static fire. Your play style will dictate how you build your list but if you try to consider all of the above points you should not go far wrong.

An example list

Company Master
twin claws
Command Squad
2 x power weapons, Apothecary, Company Champion, Company Standard
Razorback, extra armour, pintle storm bolter
Deathwing Terminator Squad
Cyclone missile launcher
Scout Squad (5)
4 x sniper rifle, missile launcher
Tactical Squad (10)
Meltagun, multi-melta, power fist
Rhino, pintle storm bolter
Tactical Squad (10)
Plasma gun, plasma cannon, power fist
Rhino, pintle storm bolter
Fast Attack   
Ravenwing Attack Squadron (3)
2 x meltagun, melta bombs, power weapon
Ravenwing Support Squadron
Assault cannon, multi-melta
Heavy Support   
Autocannon turret, heavy bolter sponsons, pintle storm bolter
Dozer blade, pintle storm bolter

And how I use it

This is a list that I have been using since the current codex came out with no changes since the onset of 5th edition. So let's see how it fits in with the principles we spoke about earlier.

Close combat threats

This is one of the main weaknesses of the list in my view if facing a lot of hammer style close combat units there is not a lot to stand up to them if they have a high Initiative value but with the number of transports and quite a lot of short ranged fire you should be able to cripple a few squads before they make it in to your lines if you work at it.

Anvil assault units tend not to worry me as I am quite happy to tie them up with units of my own to keep them away from anything I need protecting The Master and Command squad will usually go a long way to providing a good counter assault force and combined with one of the sergeants power fists, the terminators or the Ravenwing sergeants power sword should solve thin out most units relatively quickly.

Things that really worry me are any high Initiative attacks that will go through my armour.


AV10 to AV12 spam could be an issue if you plan on a defensive game as a lot of your fire power is short ranged but this list has the tools to deal with all armour levels relatively quickly with only the command squad struggling to deal with armour.


The list can deal with both hordes and elite infantry but will struggle if you try to do both at the same time. You will need to prioritise threats and concentrate fire on them. Unlike anti-tank I very much run this on a quantity of fire method rather than a tool for the job approach. I will happily fire my multi-melta and meltagun in to an approaching hoard ignoring a tank so that the bolt guns get to rapid fire as well. Equally fire the 4 storm bolter shots from the rhinos in to elite infantry or monstrous creatures if that is the biggest priority as every wound will help.

Relative Speed across the army list

I would rate the relative speed at the start of the game as Good but you need to beware that if you are planning a late objective grab than you will need to keep the transports alive possibly at the expense of what would appear to be a more important unit.

The synergy between the Ravenwing and the Deathwing allows early dominance over the battlefield with you able to get a fire base on to a section to the table that your opponent may have not been expecting, if you manage to infiltrate the scout squad close by you can really give your opponent a headache as there is a quality of fire coming from multiple positions that they will have to deal with.

Range bands of weapons

The list is designed with 24" in mind as the maximum distance I would like to be operating at. There is a bit of longer range thrown in there but this is mainly from my supporting units that will be adding weight of fire to the units within 24" to avoid clogging up a portion of the table for example the melta squad, with support from the Ravenwing bikers will often launch an attack on a fixed part of the opponents battle line so they will be within 12" to allow the low AP values to come in to play their target will also be hit with fire from the scout squad and the predator whilst the Vindicator and plasma squad will attempt to soften up a target that could move up to support or counter attack the melta section. Any fire from the Land Speeder, Deathwing and Razorback will be applied to the target that fairs the best to try to ensure that I can continue to operate at the range I want to be at.

Damage potential of weapons

The list has a fair mix of Weapon Strengths and AP but you will have to rely on the Ravenwing to take on any high armour early with a bit of help from the Vindicator. As long as you are not facing a wall of AV14 you should be fine. If the main threat to my force is from vehicles I will be happy once it can no longer shoot, I don't have the weight of ranged fire to afford the luxury of concentrating fire on a vehicle until it is dead so unlike infantry I will happy spread whatever fire I have once a vehicle is stunned or shaken.

Scoring/Contesting potential

This is another area where my take on list design can differ from others. Whilst it would be nice to field 4 troop options you can be left short in other areas and whilst the inclusion of Beliel or Sammael can help address this it is something I wanted to steer clear of for my "fluffy" company based list.

With a potential 4 scoring units with the Tactical Squads combat squading it can be tempting to think that that would be the way to go but the more games I have played in 5th the more I am keeping the squads as 10 men.

My thinking for this is that whilst only troops can score anything can contest and whilst Marines have that inherent survivability I spoke about at the start 5 tactical are not hard to shift whilst a full unit using their rhino for cover can be a different matter. I tend to spend a little more time assessing the table whilst placing objective and plan which ones I think I can hold and what I can contest and what I can ignore. (Possible future article on Objective based missions bubbling through my mind now so I won't go too in-depth on this.) Usually but not always in a five objective game this will involve trying to protect two objective, ignore one till the end game and push to contest the other two. In a one objective each game it can sometimes be easier to concentrate on contesting your own and pushing on your opponents but with the large number of vehicles in the list it is normally fairly easy to contest things.


So while the list I use may not scream out any threats I like to think that most armies will see something in it that they feel they need to deal with.

My job is to then show them that they were afraid of the wrong things.

A list like this needs to work in harmony to achieve the best results and I find that the synergies between the Deathwing, Ravenwing, Fearless Command squad with Company Standard for re-rolls to morale, Leadership 10 across the board and the ability to compact a relatively large amount of fire power in to a fairly small footprint are what makes this kind of list shine.


kriss sherriff

About the author

Kris Sherriff is an experienced gamer involved with 40K since 2nd edition, playing Dark Angels through most of that time. He has written many 40K blogs, has run a club website and has interviewed GW/BL staff including Gav Thorpe and Graham McNeill. Kris was also a contributor for one of the original Dark Angels sites that has since fallen by the wayside.


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