Monday, 13 July 2015

Dark Angels codex review part 1 / 5 - release overview and army rules.

Well, a little later than normal I've managed to give the Dark Angel Codex a good look over and so thought I'd put up a review. Unlike my normal reviews, I've decided to break this one up a bit differently, with the first part giving a general overview, parts 2-4 each focussing on the different 'wings' of the DAs, and the final part bringing things all together.

Overall release:

Taking the format of many of the 'tweaked' codexes, this release only really consisted of a book, cards, limited edition and a single power armoured Interrogator Chaplain clamshell. This release was obviously piggy-backed onto the Marine codex as we had already seen all the SM releases painted up in DA colours prior to release. (plus it gave us a hint of grav being on the horizon) It's a bit of a shame the Chaplain was not a much needed plastic Terminator Chaplain but never mind.


I preferred the older codex cover but still this one offers a fantastic piece of artwork. The book itself is larger than previous offerings (160 pages as opposed to 106) and actually has a decent amount of content. The first section deals with background and company organiastion including the 1st, 2nd and inner circle. We are also given half a page of background for each of 6 successor Chapters. The next section is the now familiar look at individual units complete with artwork before moving onto the section which details colour schemes and markings. This section is actually pretty nice compared to more recent books and also details all 6 successors as well as the Deathwing and Ravenwing. The somewhat truncated photo gallery is of the same high standard as always, before moving onto the datacards and appendices. Overall a very nice offering and, despite the higher price tag, should be appreciated by most DA fans.


Army Special rules:

Combat squads - as per normal, though Ravenwing bike squads are clarified as being full strength at 7 models and split 3/3/1 when combat squadding.
Deathwing - replaces the old Inner circle rule with fearless and hatred: CSM (as opposed to PE).
Grim resolve - Now simply have stubborn and, wait for it, roll for overwatch at BS2 unless jinking. Big implications to be discussed in the formations later on.
Ravenwing - a new rule which allows the model to reroll failed cover saves when it jinks. Again, some huge implications here which will be explored later on.

Warlord traits:

1 - the hunt - now completely different - instead of scoring an additional VP by slaying the enemy Warlord in melee, you now get precision shots and ignores cover to your shooting attacks. (Azmodai, Belial)
2 - Courage of the first legion - modified from courage of the lion, the Warlord now grants fearless to all units within 12". (Ezekiel)
3 - For the Lion - furious charge as before
4 - Brilliant planning - reserve roll modifier as before.
5 - Rapid manouvre - different from before, you now simply add 3" to your flat out/run/turbo-boost and charge distance for the Warlord and his unit. (Sammael)
6 - Hold at all costs - same as before, feel no pain for Warlord and unit if within 3" of an objective.


Finally, Dark Angels get their own deck of psychic powers, which are all really fluffy and useful powers TBH.

Primaris - Mind Worm (WC1) - still a 12" focussed witchfire, it is now S6 Ap2 and only assault 1. Sap will, however, remains the same.
1 - seed of fear (WC1) - Malediction targeting all enemy units within 9", which have to take morale/pinning/fear tests on 3D6. Great if you've just deep struck in the middle of a horde of guard and want to make them run.
2 - Righteous repugnance (WC1) - A blessing targeting a friendly unit in 24", which gains the rage rule. Very handy for bolstering the melee potential of a unit about to charge.
3 - Aversion (WC1) - A malediction which makes a single enemy unit only able to fire snap shots. Great for neutering units such as grav centurions.
4 - Maelstrom of misery (WC2) - a 24" witchfire power that is S1, AP2, assault 1, blast. The neural shock rule means that it always wounds on a 4+ but can't affect vehicles or buildings. A reasonable anti-terminator weapon.
5 - Trephination (WC2) - Focussed witchfire with 18" range. The affected model must roll 2D6+2 and minus their Ld. They suffer wounds equal to the result with no armour or cover saves. Suffers from the usual problem of focussed witchfire, unless of course you want to snipe a non-character model.
6 - Mind wipe (WC3) - This malediction is potentially devastating. It targets a single enemy unit  in 24", which have their WS and BS reduced to 1 until the end of their next turn. They then take a Ld test which, if failed, makes the drop permanent. If combined with an Ld modifying power/weapon this could be a way of making powerful units effectively useless for the rest of the game.

Tactical objectives:

Secret agenda - this is something a little bit different for the Dark Angels objectives. Basically, you can hide your dice/cards when generating DA tactical objectives, revealing them only when achieved.

1 - Not one step backwards - if no friendly unit fails a morale check in the time period you choose, you score as follows: 1 turn = 1VP, 2 turns = D3 VP, 3 turns = D3 +3 VPs. Deathwing would do well with this one.
2 - No forgiveness - 1 VP if you destroy an enemy unit that was controlling an objective.
3 - Let none escape your gaze - 1 VP if you manifested an interromancy power.
4 - Apprehend and interrogate - 1 VP if at least one enemy character slain in a challenge. (D3 if Warlord)
5 - Flawless strategy - 1 VP if a deathwing/ravenwing unit arrived from reserve. D3 if a deathwing unit arrived within 6" of a teleport homer bearing ravenwing unit.
6 - The path of redemption - 1VP if a Dark Angel unit charged an enemy unit that outnumbered them at the start of the charge phase.


(I'll only mention things here that have changed since the previous edition)
Blacksword missiles - now (finally) S7 and AP3.
Plasma storm battery - Gained 12" range for both fire modes, making it 36" now (again, finally)
Plasma talon - Now officially a twin-linked rapid fire weapon rather than an FAQ.
Ravenwing grenade launcher - only the rad shell has changed here, and rather than giving -1 to toughness it means that any to wound rolls of 6 cause 2 wounds regardless of toughness. Big change, but overall I don't  think they'll suffer for it.
Rift cannon - another much needed change, this bad boy is now S10 AP2 (was only S5 AP- before) and gained the rift vortex rule, granting it the vortex special rule if a double is rolled on scatter. Brutal and now makes the Dark Talon a force to be reckoned with.
Stasis bomb - Now S4 and AP5, the bomb is otherwise the same as before but with one difference. If a model suffers one or more unsaved wounds it must pass an initiative test or be removed from play.
Blade of Caliban - No longer unwieldy, so actually a pretty decent deal for a Champion compared to Codex Marines.
Flail of the unforgiven - no longer has bane of the traitor but instead gained fleshbane.
Mace of absolution - No longer has bane of the traitor or smite mode, but instead smite can be used to change the weapon profile to a single double strength AP2 attack, so in effect a smash attack. Useful to be able to switch between the two.
Halberd of Caliban - no longer has bane of the traitor.
Armourium cherub - for devastators and same as codex marines allows a one-off reroll to hit on one model.
Displacer field - gone
(Grav weapons and amp now included in the armoury)
Infravisor - gone
Porta-rack - gone
Power field generator - gone
Space Marine Bike - going to mention this here as it's a glaring omission - based on the Ravening FOC it's obvious that taking a bike was meant to confer the Ravenwing rule to Independent Characters, yet it seems they forgot to add that rule in. FAQ I hope. Also of note is that it's no longer on the wargear list and is in unit entries instead.
Terminator armour - now has the vengeful strike rule built in, granting twin-linked to weapons the turn you deep strike.
Deathwing banner - now +1 attack only applies to the unit of the bearer but half the price of before.
Ravenwing banner - Now incorprates the same mechanic as company banners but the hit and run boost only applies to the unit the bearer is in.
Revered standard - gone
Sacred standards - BIG CHANGES - no longer different rules and costs, the Sacred Standards are now sadly just a single profile and simply grant the bearers unit counter-attack and relentless as well as the usual morale perks from a standard. Pretty useless on Deathwing/Ravenwing and also can't really enhance a standard command squad enough to justify its use. Cheaper, but not worth it.

Foe-smiter - improved significantly and got a points drop. Now assault 4 with shred and a melta bomb cheaper. Still S4, AP4 and master-crafted.
Lions roar - same as before.
Mace of redemption - Same as before, except this is the only weapon in the book now to have the bane of the traitor rule, making it AP1 against chaos space marines.
Monster-slayer of Caliban - now a melta bomb cheaper, otherwise the same.
Shroud of heroes - BIG changes here. Went from 50 points to 10 (!) and is still the same, granting feel no pain (and shrouded if not in a unit). Can't see a good reason not to take it on a lone character.
The eye of the unseen - a new piece of wargear granting both the fear and preferred enemy rules to the bearer.
Well that's all for the first part chaps. Mostly positives with some much needed adjustments of wargear and gaining a psychic discipline. Shame to lose some of the unique wargear and the sacred standards but TBH, these things were causing a fair few problems and so needed addressing. Next time we'll take a look at the 1st company of the Dark Angels, the Deathwing, before moving on to look at the Ravenwing, the rest of the Chapter and finally how they all work together now.

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