Welcome to the 5th and final part of my Dark Angels codex review. As I've taken a rather unusual approach to this review, I wasn't sure what would be most appropriate to put in this final part. I've only briefly mentioned the Lion's Blade up til now as I thought it best discussed once I had got to grips with the constituent parts of it rather than up front. Instead of army lists I will just write some brief thoughts on the different 'wing' combinations that can be used to make up a mono-DA army and how they interact now. First things first, let's look at the Lion's Blade:
Lions Blade Strike force
Like the Codex Marine detachment, this allows you to build a 'detachment of formations' for cumulative perks. All of the formations available in the Lion's blade are individual ones from the book that I've already covered, except for two which I'll come to.
The core element, of which 1 minimum is required per detachment, is the already strong demi-company. As with codex Marines, you can double up on this to get a full battle company (one half with Chaplain, the other with Master), in which case you will get not only objective secured and fire discipline, but the same perk as Codex marines in the form of FREE dedicated transports for the battle company. Further to this, the almighty supreme fire discipline rule applies to the entire detachment and allows all models with grim resolve to (unless jinking) simply fire overwatch at their regular BS. Wow!
Each core choice also allows you to take one optional Command choice, in this case a Selection from the Inner circle, nam0ely Azrael, Belial, Sammael, a Company Master, Interrogator Chaplain or Librarian. We then come to the auxiliary elements, of which there are 6 and of which 1+ must be taken. 5 of them are already covered, namely the Hammer of Caliban, 3 Ravenwing Formations and Deathwing Formation. The last is simply 1 1-5 unit of scouts with no perks. I think that this Strike force, while lacking as many options as its codex marine cousin, is actually a lot less restrictive. Now we will take a look at how we can put together armies (around 2K) using the Lion's blade in most cases. Bear in mind now that Deathwing/Ravenwing elements can no longer be troops a CAD is no longer an option for these as mono-lists.
Naturally, the best way to Utilise all the formations through the Lion's Blade is with all 3 wings being involved. A solid Green core of a battle Company is a great start which should take up a quarter of your points minimum. A minimum Deathwing Formation will allow you to get a Terminator Librarian and take you up to about half your points. Add in a Ravenwing support and attack squadron plus some scouts and upgrades and that should give you a well-rounded synergistic army. Alternatively, using the Deathwing/Ravenwing Strike forces alongside each other plus either a Greenwing Lion's blade or demi-company is another way but the Lion's blade for everyone proabably works best. Dont rule out a CAD alongside it though. A couple of cheap units of scouts and a cheap HQ will get you access to Black knights and individual battle tanks, both of which are unavailable in the Lion's blade a it stands.
The best way to play Pure Greenwing seems to be keeping it simple. A full but minimised battle Company should provide you with lots of units that have both full BS overwatch and free transports, which after some upgrades should still leave you enough points at 2K to squeeze in a Hammer of Caliban and maybe a unit of scouts or Inner Circle member. Alternatively, a couple of cheap scout units in a CAD is a good way to access individual tanks, same as for black Knights as mentioned above.
Harder to work through this one due to the limitations of the Deathwing list as discussed before. The best way to do it would seem to be by taking a Deathwing strike force detachment and putting 3 Venerable Dreadnoughts into drop pods. Unlike the formation, the Drop pods will enter play on turn 1 and so you should have at least 2 Venerable dreadnoughts and Drop pods on the board that have to survive a turn of fire before your army can arrive, albeit piecemeal. Not great, but it seems the only viable way left to run mono-Deathwing.
Three approaches here. Either just use a mixture of attack/support/silence formations, which means no HQ choices or black knights. The second way is to use the Ravenwing strike force, which will mean you have to take Sammael (at least until they FAQ the bike HQ Ravenwing thing) but are free to choose between units at your leisure, though without some of the perks of the formation. The third and probably best way is a mixture of the Strike force (for your Knights and HQ, and maybe less rigid air support) and then the Formations for everything else. This is my preferred build TBH.
Deathwing and Ravenwing
The old classic combo, this work pretty darn well still and TBH seems to be how the rules for Deathwing have been written to reflect. Any combo of the Ravenwing options above (so long as an attack squadron or Strike force is in there) plus the Deathwing Strike force should be a winner. The Deathwing redemption force doesn't rely on the Ravenwing element but gives you less flexibility for little reward (unless you're fighting CSM that is).
Greenwing and Deathwing
You could run it as a CAD in itself, but it's better to run as either a Lion's blade with Demi/battle company and redemption force or to break it up into individual formations/detachments representing the individual elements, of which a CAD could be part for the Greenwing but it's not really the best option unless you want to run say a predator and a vindicator in there.
Ravenwing and Greenwing
Again, could be run as above but would probably be best running it as a Lion's blade with formations or as a pair of detachments / detachment plus formations. You could even run the Ravenwing detachment and just add a demi-company to it.
Despite a few gaffes with the Deathwing/Ravenwing strike forces, I'm pretty impressed with the book overall and believe it has propelled the Dark Angels back up there to be on par with their brothers. It's a shame that Ravenwing stand out as being the strongest build (with greenwing a close second) and Deathwing lagging somewhat. Of the 7 combos discussed above it would have been nice if all 7 have equal merit, but it seems not to be the case. The book itself is pretty enough, and while there are only a few new fluff pieces in there it's great that most of the numerous errors and oversights from the previous edition have been addressed. Now we have the long wait until the next 40K release, whenever that may be. Until then, time to get on with some hobby! Cheers.