A review of the DA FAQ 2008
dated 10 October 2008
9 December 2008 | 5th Edition
Games Workshop released another Dark Angels FAQ/errata on 10 October 2008 — just three months after the previous version. The reason for this release was I think an attempt to integrate the Codex Dark Angels closer to the 5th Edition Codex Space Marines and iron out some of the inconsistencies between the two as well as correct issues arising from the 24 July 2008 version.
I will treat this FAQ as a whole new item despite many items being the same as that of the 24 July 2008 FAQ, so everything will get looked at.
There are 8 items in the errata section alone where typos are cleared up, and 21 rules questions clarified and in some cases new rules added. Many of the queries were not serious issues, but some were, so let's not be ungrateful. At least we get clarification on Sergeants and sniper rifles; Vet Sergeants weapon upgrades and taking a Razorback for a 10-man squad — all of these being key things that need sorting out.
Let's have a look at what is in the FAQ. I have classified the items into four broad types:
a straight change or addition to the printed text.
where the rule was covered by RAW but was misleading or confusing or just needed reinforcing.
where the rule was not covered specifically by RAW so required further explanation.
where the FAQ has created something different to existing RAW, or something new entirely.
Let's have a look at what is in the FAQ.
New Rule: With a bit of thought GW have neatly brought the DA into line with the 5th ed Rulebook.
Comment: This is effectively a new rule as it overrides what is currently stated in the Codex. It means that only DA troop units are scoring, and, remain scoring until the last man. So no more loopholes allowing Vets, Scouts, Devs and Assault Squads to be scoring units at 50% and above.
"Units held in reserve may not be split into combat squads and vice versa" note that this line has been deleted and is key to unlocking later FAQ issues so keep it in mind. This is a bit of a hidden gem as it means that units in Reserve can now be split into Combat Squads upon deployment.
For Ravenwing Attack squadrons it means Attack Bikes and Land Speeder components are still deployed at the same time as the bikes as per RAW, but that the bikes can be split into Combat squads upon arrival. And of course the Attack Bikes and Land Speeder are considered a separate units from the time they deploy anyway.
Typo addition: Clearly stating rules apply to friendly units only.
Comment: Long overdue and a useful clarification but common sense would have pointed this way anyway. For those that use Sacred Standards at least it means that your rules-savy opponent can't claim any advantage.
Book of Salvation
Typo addition: Again clearly stating rules apply to friendly units only.
Comment: Long overdue and a useful clarification but common sense would have pointed this way anyway. And again stops any opponent rules-lawyering so ultimately that has got to be good.
Ravenwing Company Standard
Typo addition: So only one Standard, no surprise there.
Comment: A bit of an odd rule to correct, but clarification is always better than no clarification. But did anyone attempt to take more than one Standard?
Typo addition: Clearly stating how searchlights function with regards Night Fight and shooting.
Comment: Useful but I hadn't encountered a problem with this anyway.
Command Squad weapon upgrade options
Typo addition: Tidies up a messy rule.
Comment: Never an issue as far as I know, but great that it's been clarified nevertheless.
Veteran Squad weapon upgrade options
New Rule: It would seem that all models in a Veteran squad can now upgrade their weapons and not just the three models as previously.
Comment: An interesting development although I'm not convinced this was intentional, but anyway it's a great boost for these squads (who were good anyway) and means that at least we have a highly customisable (but expensive) unit with which to take on the over-powered Sternguard Vets and other specialist cc units.
Scout Squad weapon upgrade options
Typo addition: Tidies up a messy that caused some awkardness.
Comment: Long overdue, but now we know that Scout Sergeants can take a sniper rifle.
Q1 On taking Codex SM items within a DA army
New Rule: Yes the DA can take items from the Codex SM on an "ask opponent first" basis. However, it should be considered that the DA should use DA items only as the "default solution".
Comment: This response has rightly caused a bit of a stir. Being allowed to take Codex SM items within DA armies is allowed so says the FAQ, "provided your opponent agrees" (well this has always been the case) or "provided your army doesn't get an unfair advantage" (who decides this). "Having fun is the most important issue, so do as you like when mixing units". So this means that presumably the door is open to take Thunderfire Cannons, Ironclad Dreads, Sternguard units and even Pedro Cantor with our DA? Yay!!!
I for one am very confused by it all. It isn't too much to ask surely from a company that designs the game, that we get clear fixed guidelines and rules as to exactly what and what can't be done.
This whole question is a complete capitulation on GW's part — they either can't or for some reason are unwilling to commit themselves to saying that yes, SM items can be taken, or no, they can't. To me it does make sense to unify same-named wargear and weapons across the Astartes — and many gaming clubs are taking this route on an unofficial basis.
But this democratic "ask first" policy for other Codex SM unit items is hardly a fixed rule and causes problems for gamers who will need to be prepared with two lists, one to include purely Codex DA items, the other to include Codex SM too. To add to the complexity, for competition gamers it looks like the door will be firmly closed on taking CSM items at all.
This issue needs a rethink, some clarity and some leadership.
Q2 Combat squads in vehicles
RAW: Reinforcing the main Rulebook that clearly states that only one unit may occupy a transport at any one time.
Comment: Well it's RAW so it wasn't an issue really, but useful nonetheless.
Q3 Taking a Razorback for a 10-man squad
Clarification: Yes 10-man squads take a Razorback.
Comment: This one and will save a lot of repeat questions I should imagine. Obviously all 10 can't sit in it at once, but for a combat-squaded unit it's a useful transport choice and it allows you to put either combat squad within it too don't forget as it is not combat squad-specific.
Q4 Expandable Squads
RAW Clarification: For those who would try to build large squads by adding multiples of 5 additional models to a single unit.
Comment: This was a RAW issue mainly, brought up on a web forum, but unlikely to ever have been attempted in all seriousness on the tabletop.
Q5 Drop pods, Combat squads and arrival from reserve
RAW Clarification: This ruling is a direct reversal of that used in the "Canadian" FAQ. DA cannot put split combat squads into reserve, deploying one in a pod, and the other either from reserve or on the table.
Comment: But there are problems as this rule seems to directly contradict the Errata item #1 discussed above. I think this is an oversight by GW. The removal of the sentence "Units held in reserve cannot be split into combat squads and vice versa" is clear enough. But, this drop pod rule seems to go against this as it disallows split squads in reserve.
Bear with me. My own view is that this Combat squads rule FAQ is a copy and paste from the previous FAQ dated 24/7/08 [which was itself a hasty revision of the 'Canadian' FAQ of 10/6/08 that allowed a split squad half in a pod and the other to deploy from reserve or on the table] without anyone thinking through the consequences.
I tend to think that the Errata section takes precedence as it changes the printed words in the Codex, the FAQ questions merely try to clarify those words — in this particular case not very well.
But, the upshot with this Drop Pod rule is ignore it and follow the Errata item #1 instead.
Confused? Who isn't? The whole Combat squad issue is a bit of a tangle of mixed messages that needs unraveling.
Q6 Deploying empty drop pods
New Rule: Useful addition as there are a couple of tactical tricks now opened up.
Comment: An odd one this, but good for building cheap objective-grabbers as dedicated transports can at least contest objectives. And for building a drop pod wall for cover, though new True Line of Sight might be complex on this.
Q7 Limit to wargear
Clarification: No limit to those who have the option — and they can use them all.
Comment: Although not a problem as it was covered by RAW it's useful primarily for the modeling comment. Primarily the concern of Company Masters.
Q8 Company Masters and three weapons
Clarification: Uniquely DA Masters can have three weapons — but be modeled as such.
Comment: Although not a problem as it was covered by RAW it's useful primarily for the modeling comment.
Q9 Company Champion and Azrael
RAW Clarification: Azrael gets a Command squad, but not the Company Champion.
Comment: A straight RAW issue now put to rest.
Q10 Deathwing and Ravenwing specialists
RAW Clarification: Good news for those who want to load everything on just one model.
Comment: Covered by RAW but needed clearing up.
Q11 Chaplains and Librarians on bikes
RAW Clarification: No Ravenwing special rules for characters on bikes bought as wargear.
Comment: As strange one this — particularly for the Chaplain as he is listed in the Chapter Organisation chart (p15 DA Codex) as being a de-facto member of the Ravenwing, so surely a sloppy oversight on GW's part here. The Librarian not getting RW rules is more understandable but still a bit nit-picky.
Q12 Combi-weapons and costs for Company veterans
Clarification: States that all combi-weapons are the same cost.
Comment: Not a major issue and could have been sorted by common sense so no change here.
Q13 Assaulting from drop pods on the turn they land
Clarification: Shuts the gate once and for all on this one.
Comment: A very useful clarification to existing but confusing conjunction of rules (ie open topped vehicles and no assaulting on arrival from deep strike). It was contentious when the DA book first came out, but seemed to have died a death due to the imposition of common sense. Realistically no change to how DA plays as no one I knew or had heard of assaulted from pods anyway. In tournaments this was frequently included in House Rules anyway.
Q14 Storm Shields and Company Veterans
Clarification: Just a pity that DA storm shields aren't as good as Codex Space Marine's.
Comment: I was not aware this was a problem. No fundamental change here.
Q15 Thunder hammers and the stun effect
Clarification: Thunder hammers only stun models who can't save the hammer's wound.
Comment: Needed clearing up as by RAW a model hit by a hammer and saving the wound seemed not to be able to attack at all in the next round of close combat.
Q16 Arcs of fire, drop pods, Rhino storm bolter and pintle-mounted storm bolters
RAW Clarification: At last, we now know we can fire our Rhino's PMS backwards if we want!
Comment: A useful clarification for sure but this was covered when the 5th Edition 40K Rulebook so is essentially redundant — a cut and paste hangover from the previous FAQ.
Q17 Shooting psychic powers
RAW: Sorts shooting from assault phase psychic powers.
Comment: A useful clarification but not earth shattering as the rules were pretty clear anyway. No real change to gameplay as you can only use one power per player turn anyway and with DA Librarians being so unpopular now (apart from those in terminator armour) this will effect few people. But again, changes are afoot in 5th edition with regards to using psychic powers which will give Libbies a bit of a boost so sorting your shooting powers from your assault phase ones might become more critical.
Q18 Choosing to shooting bolt pistols rather than another weapon before assaulting
Clarification: Clearly states what can be done in terms of shooting which weapon.
Comment: Good clarification, one of the advantages of carrying a bolt pistol now fully set in stone. Still, it doesn't help you to remember you can do it though does it?
Q19 Scout Sergeants and Sniper rifle upgrades
Clarification: Thumbs up for Scout Sergeants.
Comment: This rule is actually redundant as it is covered by Errata item #7. Another cut and paste from the previous FAQ that should have been deleted.
Q20 Veteran Sergeants weapon and wargear upgrades
Clarification: A thumbs up for Veteran Sergeants.
Comment: Again, this rule is actually redundant as it is covered by Errata item #8. Another cut and paste from the previous FAQ that should have been deleted.
Q21 Choosing the Whirlwinds' missile type
New Rule: Clearly stating when the choice has to be made.
Comment: A necessary addition to stop any ambiguity given the change to the more flexible Codex Space Marine version.
A patchy update. Good on clarifying (at last) the issue of splitting units in Reserve before deployment and to be honest that is the main highlight here as is the upgrades to all Veterans in a squad. Good on clarifying other niggly issues too.
But generally bad on integration with Codex Space Marines as our storm shields are still only 4+ Inv saves, our cyclone missile launchers one-shot, our MKIII Land Raiders carry less passengers etc … I could go on but shan't.
And on the issue of taking those same-named C:SM items in our DA lists it's far from clear cut. Opponent's permission is fine up to a point, but many gaming clubs are allowing same-named items in DA/BA and even Daemonhunters' lists and that is very far-sighted. Of course for tounaments it looks like the DA revert back to their own equipment. The best solution would be to copy and paste all same-named items into a DA FAQ and be done with it. But that is the subject for another time.
On the question of taking say a Land Speeder Storm, again yes I can take one with my opponent's permission, but isn't it time for a proper re-appraisal across the Astartes range to include some of the newer unit items?
Maybe the next Errata/FAQ.