Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Dark Angels Codex Thoughts - Schlemazal

Hello everyone, Schlemazal here again. Now that a new Dark Angels codex is out, I’m trying to find the time to work on my longstanding collection. While I can’t claim old guard status, I picked up my first Dark Angels at the tail end of third edition and have used them as my primary army ever since. In between writing lists and figuring out what I should paint next, I thought I’d take the time to write down my thoughts on the new book.

Overall, I like the new codex. It takes the solid foundation of a variant chapter laid out in the 6th edition book and brings it largely in line with the rest of the space marine chapters. For once, the book isn’t clearly a test bed for ideas in the space marine codex that will leave it in the dust. Many of the previous worst offenders have been brought back into line – the Nephilim is improved and recosted, the blade of Caliban is no longer unwieldy, the green 80% of the chapter hasn’t been completely abandoned in favor of their shinier veteran wings (the land speeder vengeance still blows itself up though). While I generally disapprove of the idea of formations and alternate detachments with special rules, they are undeniably a major part of 7th edition, and the new ones do the Dark Angels justice with some solid rules and interesting squadrons.

All that being said, I do have a few minor quibbles that I wish had been addressed to bring the Dark Angels properly in line with their space marine brethren. While I know a number of these can be resolved by taking space marine allies, I am a staunch Dark Angels loyalist who refuses to do so, and thinks that they ought to be capable enough without getting bailed out by other Astartes.

1 – Very limited AA capabilities. The Nephilim is significantly improved as an air superiority fighter this time around, with S7 missiles and Missile Lock added. That being said, 170 points is still a lot to spend on an AV11 vehicle with identity issues. The only other AA available in the entire book is flak missiles. I can understand the need to separate the divergent chapters from space marines, but the ever increasing arsenal of baseline marine weapons with no functional equivalent in divergent chapters is getting kind of grating. Hunters and stalkers fill the AA role in the SM book alongside flak missiles and the stormtalon/stormraven. Have the Dark Angels decided that upgrading a rhino chassis to have an AA weapon takes too much effort?

But not aircraft - after all, they haven't fallen yet.
2 – Company Veterans are redundant. After two codices, I think it’s safe to say that sternguard/vanguard veterans are not getting an equivalent, though you could certainly argue that deathwing knights and black knights fill that slot. The problem here is that the Command Squad’s move from HQ to Elites has effectively removed any remaining purpose the Company Veteran unit had. The Command Squad is identical, but with more options, filling the same slot. Beyond that, the Company Veterans don’t really fill any combat roles – basically just a very expensive tactical squad with a couple more options.

3 - Deathwing/Ravenwing detachment problems. This is one of the ones everyone has been talking about. First of all, the Ravenwing – the Ravenwing detachment requires an HQ with the Ravenwing rule, of which there are only Sammael and his alter ego, Sableclaw. Not even librarians or chaplains on bikes get the rule, and therefore can’t be used in the detachment. The Deathwing are arguably the more egregious error here, as it is no longer possible to field a purely Deathwing force. Since the detachment requires you to start with everything in reserve and then not arrive until turn two, the rules would seem to indicate that playing with only a Deathwing detachment would instantly lose the game. Since terminators can no longer be taken as troops, any other detachment used to fill the gap would have to take non-Deathwing models. Hopefully both of these will be resolved with a FAQ.
We're cooler than the bikers anyway.

4 – Lion’s Blade quibbles. The Lion’s Blade formation is certainly an interesting one. It gives some solid benefits and has an array of formations to pull from, some of which will see more use than others. I have a couple of minor issues with it though. For one, Black Knights can’t be taken in it at all. Where the Deathwing Knights are present at 0-1 in the Deathwing formation, their counterparts are conspicuously absent in the Ravenwing formation. Secondly, the only way to take tanks is in a ridiculous formation with a full squadron of tanks, a land raider, and a techmarine. While it may be potent, is that really the only way that the Lion wants vehicles to go to war? My final issue (and a very minor one) is that the demi-company is far more restrictive than its space marine cousin. While it makes sense from a fluff perspective (all the extra options in the SM variant are in separate companies in DA), it leaves a serious lack of versatility in the core formation.

This guy knows a thing or two about Lion's Blades
5 – Interromancy. Now I’m getting into silly territory. Interomancy is actually very good, I just hate the name. Almost as bad as Astra Militarum. 

Apparently the librarius asked him for help naming their psychic discipline

That’s it for me today. I’ll be back soon with more painting and less complaining about things I actually like quite a bit.

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