A review of the DA Official FAQ Update version 1.1
released January 2011 (dated 15 December 2010)
21 January 2011 | 5th Edition
Without much of a fanfare from GW, the Dark Angels had a new FAQ (v1.1) released on January 14th 2011. Possibly one of the most eagerly sought FAQs in years as it at last brings some degree of parity to our C:SM brethren.
Of course it breathes a breath of fresh air through the Rock and was much required. For what it does is bring some of our wargear and most of our weapons are now on a performance par with same-name items in Codex Space Marines. I should point out that other faqs were also released, including one for the core 5th Edition rule book.
Quite why GW has decided to release this now and not at the time that the 5th Edition C:SM came out is anybody's guess — but rumours have speculated that either poor sales figures from GW posted in January 2011 (sales down 4%) or the soon to be released new Grey Knights Codex (that reportedly will sweep all before it) have had the effect to kick GW up the arse. And quite frankly it's about time too! I see no excuse why this DA update could not have come far sooner than it has.
Down to the nitty gritty
Note that this FAQ will be looked at as a whole new item despite much of its content being the same as thatof the 10 October 2008 FAQ.
There are 8 items in the Errata section alone where typos are cleared up, and 23 rules questions clarified in the FAQ section — including some new ones not covered in the previous FAQ.
But the key part to this update is the Amendments section — highlighted in the FAQ with pink text (a format GW seem to be carrying through all the recent rules update pdfs).
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.
New Rule or an Amendment
where the FAQ has created something different to existing RAW, or something new entirely.
But I'll cover the more exciting items first — you know, the ones we've all been waiting for.
The Amendment items
All items here fall into the New Rule or Amendment category.
In game terms now confers Feel No Pain USR as in C:SM.
Comment: A great boost for Greenwing Command squads and of course Ravenwing and Deathwing squads where an Apothecary is present. Greatly improves immunity to massed small arms fire — and for the whole unit.
Typhoon missile launcher
Now functions as the Typhoon missile launcher in C:SM.
Comment: Rather like the cyclone, a great boost at no additional cost. The Ravenwing's Typhoon can now be kitted out as a heavy fire-support chassis for a measly 75 points despite the higher base cost of our speeders. Probably the unit that will see the biggest useage increase — particularly in support of Deathwing armies.
Cyclone missile launcher
In game terms now functions as the cyclone in C:SM.
Comment: Despite the performance boost the existing DA points cost has not changed making this weapon a very good choice. The extra shot doubles its firepower and takes it very close to the performance (in some situations) of the more expensive assault cannon. Expect to see Deathwing units spamming these bad boys.
In game terms now functions as the Sniper rifle in C:SM.
Comment: The change of weapon type is brought about by the status of 'sniper' weapons in the 5th Edition rule book.
Now functions as the storm shield in C:SM.
Comment: Another excellent boost at no cost change. The 'free' upgrade to a Deathwing terminator model making this a very attractive tool for Deathwing builds. Again as with cyclones, expect to see these extensively spammed.
Whirlwinds multiple missile launcher, and Whirlwinds
In both cases now function as those named items in C:SM.
Comment: A bringing into line exercise and a good boost.
Power of the Machine Spirit
Now functions as PotMS in C:SM.
Comment: Massive boost to Land Raiders in terms of firing but a disadvantage in terms of no longer being able to move when Crew Stunned. Expect to see more extra armour taken on Raiders to compensate maybe.
Drop pods, profile
Now as Drop pods in C:SM.
Comment: Another alignment exercise but our pods are still more expensive than those in C:SM and lack Drop Pod Assault, the Locator Beacon and two seats!
Now function as combat shields in C:SM.
Comment: Not an improvement per se but were not used that widely anyway, so not a great detriment overall I don't think.
Now function as Smoke Launchers in the main 5th edition rule book.
Comment: Well it's brought us into line but I'm ambivalent on the actual gameplay outcome. I see this as a slight loss.
Company Veteran squad, options
Upping the cost of this units storm shields to that of C:SM's Command squad entry. Comment: Reflecting the storm shield's new abilities yes but a strange one this given the lack of points changes on other boosted weapon or wargear updates.
2. The Errata items
Note that all these items are straight cut and paste from the previous DA update of October 2008.
1 Combat Squads
New Rule: With a bit of thought GW neatly brought the DA into line with the 5th Ed rule book.
Comment: 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.
2 Sacred Standards
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.
3 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.
4 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.
6 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.
7 Veteran Squad weapon upgrade options
New Rule: It would seem that all models in a Veteran squad can now upgrade their weapons.
Comment: An interesting development and it's a great boost for these squads (which were good anyway) and means that at least we have a highly customisable if but expensive unit with which to take on the Sternguard Vets and other specialist cc units.
8 Scout Squad weapon upgrade options
Typo addition: Tidies up a messy issue that caused some awkwardness.
Comment: Long overdue, but now we know that Scout Sergeants can take a sniper rifle.
The FAQ items
Most of these items were in the previous DA update, but there are a couple of new ones thrown in here. More interesting was the one that has now been taking out. That referred to being able to ask your opponent for permission to use items from the (then) new Codex:SM.
There are a lot of items in this section, 24 in fact.
Q1 ATSKNF and regrouping
Clarification: Clearing up a slightly confusing rule.
Comment: Well it's RAW but useful nonetheless.
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, including during deployment.
Comment: A slightly reworded question from the previous faq that now includes deployment in a dedicated transport.
Q3 Taking a Razorback for a 10-man squad
Clarification: Yes 10-man squads can take a Razorback.
Comment: This one has saved a lot of repeat questions I should imagine. Obviously all 10 can't sit in it at once, wounds will have to be taken or the squad combat-squadded.
Q4 Outflanking RAS speeders
RAW: Saves embarrassing moments at deployment.
Comment: As RAS speeders don't have the Scout special rule was it ever an issue?
Q5 Techmarine mending inside a vehicle
RAW Clarification: A useful one at that.
Comment: Great new for embarked Techies.
Q6 Techmarine multiple mending
Clarification: A useful one at that.
Comment: No more multiple fixing.
Q7 PotMS and Smoke
Clarification: Tidies up a messy issue.
Comment: This would sometimes come up for discussion during a game as the rules for Smoke Launchers and PotMS seemed to clash.
Q10 Drop pods, Combat squads and arrival from reserve
Clarification: This ruling is a direct reversal of that used in the earlier "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: Follows the rule book.
Q9 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 terrain is cheaper!!).
Q10 Immobilised drop pods
RAW: Simple clarification.
Comment: RAW so not really an issue.
Q11 Drop pods scattering off the table
RAW: Simple needed clarification.
Comment: RAW so not really an issue.
Q12 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. In tournaments this was frequently included in House Rules anyway.
Q13 Which psychic powers are 'shooting'
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 and with DA Librarians being so unpopular now (apart from those in Terminator armour) this will effect few people.
Q14 Limit to wargear
Clarification: No limit to those who have the option — and they can use them all.
Comment: Not a problem as it was covered by RAW.
Q15 Company Masters and three weapons
Clarification: Uniquely DA Masters can have three weapons — but be modeled as such.
Comment: Although it was covered by RAW it's useful primarily for the modeling comment.
Q16 Chaplains and Librarians on bikes
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.
Q17 Company Champion and Azrael
Clarification: Azrael gets a Command squad, but not the Company Champion.
Comment: A straight RAW issue now put to rest.
Q18 Deathwing and Ravenwing specialists
Clarification: Good news for those who want to load everything onto just one model.
Comment: Covered by RAW but needed clearing up.
Q19 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.
Q20 Storm Shields and Company Veterans
Clarification: Storm shields for all no matter what weapon upgrade.
Comment: Note though that Vet squad storm shields have gone up in cost.
Q21 Expandable Squads
Clarification: For those who would try to build large squads by adding multiples of 5 additional models to a
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.
Q22 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 #8. A cut and paste from the previous FAQ that should have been deleted.
Q23 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 #7. Another cut and paste from the previous FAQ that should have been deleted.
Q24 Choosing to shoot bolt pistols rather than another weapon before assaulting
Clarification: Clearly states what can be done in terms of shooting which weapon.
Comment: 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?
OK I hope I've not missed anything.
A much needed update. Besides being good on clarifying niggly issues the main point of this update is the bringing into line some DA weapons and wargear with C:SM. Note that in some areas where still don't have parity: Drop pod assault for example, and areas where we are still different, our Librarian's psychic hoods still unlimited range, our MKIII Land Raiders carry less passengers etc etc. So it's a bit of a curious mix. But generally clawing our way to Codex Space Marines as far as it has is at least the right direction to be going.
The best solution though surely would have been to have copied and paste all same-named items into this DA update and be done with it.
Maybe the next update will address these issues but I doubt we'll get another before our next Codex most likely due 2012.