The Dark Fortress

Dark Angel Tactical squad configurations

Tactical Squads can be configured and armed in many ways, over a millennia of warfare many patterns have been tried and tested. The following is a summary of those that those that have proved their worth time and time again.

Written by Spaced Hulk, a Dark Angels commander.

Avenger Pattern

Sergeant with bolt pistol and power sword, seven Marines with bolters, one with meltagun, one with missile launcher. The squad is mounted in a Rhino APC equipped with an additional pintle-mounted storm bolter.

A heavily armed and highly mobile configuration, Avenger squads are used to storm enemy lines and then create a defensive firebase, fending off counter attacks until other Unforgiven forces can link up with them. For this reason, Avengers are armed with highly reliable weapons that enable them to combat a wide variety of threats, while their Rhino APC acts as a mobile bunker and resupply point.

Crusade Pattern

Sergeant with bolt pistol and chainsword, seven marines with bolters, one with flamer, one with missile launcher.

As the name suggests, this was the most common squad configuration during the Emperor's Great Crusade and it remains in use to this day. It's strength lies in the tactical flexibility and reliability of it's wargear, allowing the squad to combat a wide variety of opponants, at close and long range, and operate for prolonged periods without support. However, in recent times the popularity of this configuration has declined, with many Company Masters opting for more powerful, but less reliable squad types.

Deathstrike Pattern

Sergeant with bolt pistol and power fist, eight Marines with bolters, one with meltagun, all deployed by Drop Pod.

Although all Space Marines are highly effective drop troops, Deathstrike units are considered the optimal configuration, particularly against poorly organised and ill-disciplined foes. Armed with powerful but short ranged weaponry that allows them to deal with a wide variety of targets, Deathstrikes are deployed directly into the heart of an enemy army to cause maximum disruption, tearing them apart in one decisive action.

Firestorm Pattern

Sergeant and eight Marines armed with bolters, one with heavy bolter. The squad is supported by a Razorback APC equipped with twin-linked heavy bolters and a pintle-mounted storm bolter.

Widely deployed against lightly armoured but highly numerous enemies, Firestorm pattern squads are particularly effective against opponents such as Orks or Genestealers, where engaging in close combat is deemed ill-advisable. Firestorm squads are equipped to deliver maximum anti-light infantry firepower, and are often supported by a Razorback providing additional fire support and ammunition supplies.

Hellfire Pattern

Combat squad:
Sergeant with plasma pistol and power axe, four Marines with bolters.

Combat squad:
Squad Leader and two Marines with boltguns, one with plasma gun, one with multi-melta.

A short ranged but extremely heavily armed configuration, Hellfire units excel at hunting down heavily armoured enemy targets in dense terrain. Commonly deployed against Tau battle suits or Renegade Space Marines, Hellfire squads typically split into combat teams for ease of movement but mutually support each other as they hunt their targets.

Ironwing Pattern

Sergeant or Squad Leader with boltgun, three Marines with bolters, one with a plasma gun. The squad is mounted in a Razorback armed with twin-linked lascannons and a hunter-killer missile.

The standard armoured assault configuration used by many Space Marine Chapters, the Dark Angels are unique in that their entire 6th Company can be deployed in this pattern when necessary. Supported by heavier tanks such as Predators and Land Raiders, this Ironwing, as it is known, provides the Chapter with a heavily armed, mobile strike force. In this configuration, the Tactical squad itself is very much a support unit, protecting the Ironwing's vehicles from enemy infantry.

Judgement Pattern

Veteran sergeant with plasma pistol, seven Marines with bolters, one with flamer, one with plasma cannon.

Also known as the Purifier or Fire Fury configuration, this pattern is deployed to quite literally scour an area of life. Equipped with deadly plasma and flamer weapons, Judgement units systematically cleanse and burn their objectives, removing all evidence of aliens, witches or traitors, leaving just ashes and charred earth in their wake.

Shadow Stalker Pattern

Sergeant with bolt pistol and chainsword, four Marines with boltguns. All are equipped with blind grenades and stalker silenced shells.

A rarely used squad configuration, Shadow Stalkers are deployed for recon and infiltration missions in enviroments that are simply too hazardous for Scout squads. Unlike other squad types, individuals are specially chosen for such duties based on their stealth and concealment abilities. Equipped with silenced bolt weapons and blind grenades to cover their escape, their armour disguised by dark monastic robes, Shadow Stalker squads operate deep behind enemy lines, remaining hidden as they undertake the missions of the Inner Circle.

Siege Breaker Pattern

Sergeant with bolt pistol, power mace and melta bombs, seven Marines with bolters, one with flamer, one with multi-melta. The squad is mounted in a Rhino equipped with extra armour and a dozer blade.

As the name suggests, this configuration is commonly deployed when attacking heavily fortified enemy positions. The pattern was extensively used during the Petrafax campaign, when the 4th Battle Company of the Angels of Vengeance engaged the rebel army of General Berbarus. Berbarus had corrupted over twenty regiments of Imperial Guard, entrenching themselves in the plains of Petrafax IV and creating an almost impenetrable fortress of bunkers, minefields and killing zones. In response, the entire 4th Company reorganised into Siege Breakers, using heavily upgraded Rhino APC's to storm each strong point in turn, cutting their way into the bunkers with multi-meltas and clearing them with fire and furious assaults. Although the company suffered over 40% casualties, they managed to destroy the rebel army in just three days of constant fighting, ending a siege that Imperial strategists had expected to last for many months.

Steel Hunter Pattern

Sergeant with bolt pistol, power fist and melta bombs, seven Marines with bolters, one with meltagun, one with lascannon. The squad is mounted in a Rhino armed with a Hunter Killer missile.

A dedicated tank hunting unit, Steel Hunters are equipped to combat enemy armoured vehicles at any range. When necessary, such squads divide into combat teams allowing them to target multiple targets, with one team providing long range anti-tank fire while the other moves forward in the squad's transport to finish off damaged vehicles. Steel Hunter's have also proven effective against such alien monstrosities as Eldar Wraithforms and the larger Tyranid Bio-Constructs.

Stormbringer Pattern

Combat squad:
Sergeant and three Marines with boltgun, one with plasma gun.

Combat squad:
Squad leader and three Marines with boltguns, one with lascannon.

An extremely common squad configuration, Stormbringers are equipped to effectively deal with any possible enemy, from light and heavy infantry to armoured tanks and monstrous creatures. Usually split into combat teams to enable firepower to be directed against the most optimal target, Stormbringers are the most tactically flexible unit available to Dark Angel commanders, making them the ideal choice when facing opponants of unknown strength and capabilities.

Vengeance Pattern

Sergeant with boltgun and plasma pistol, seven Marines with bolters, one with plasma gun, one with plasma cannon.

In the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, the Dark Angels were the first legion to widely adopt man-portable plasma cannons (or heavy plasma guns as they were then known), and Vengeance squads became a common sight in the fierce battles against the retreating Traitor Legions. To this day, they are still the preferred configuration against medium/heavy infantry. Due to the unpredictable nature of plasma weaponry, Vengeance pattern squads rarely split into combat teams, thereby prolonging the unit's effectiveness regardless of casualties or weapon malfunctions.


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