We’re back to the DA review and we’ll start working our way through the actual FoCs now. We’ll still be looking at the general unit reviews for now and then looking at concepts throughout the posts but with a greater focus towards the end (so the opposite of what Puppy is doing currently with Tau). Elites for Dark Angels aren’t exactly special – they’re very similar to what many consider the old (or new) Chaos Elites to be like. There’s nothing wrong with them but they’re not the first thing you’re going to be reaching for either. Let’s start with your bog basic…
Veterans – Vanilla Marines get Sternguard and there’s a reason those guys are great (and expensive). Veterans take all of that flexibility, lose the special ammo and come much cheaper. Sounds like what we’re used to. Veterans bring the capacity for the old MSU style units of 4th edition where you can take a heavy and special in five man squads; the only change is it’s for every 5 models (so you can have a 10-man unit with four total weapons). This is cute with Combat Squads but not the efficiency you’d want for a unit which has no use outside of being offensive. They can’t pack four meltaguns or plasmaguns into a Drop Pod and alpha-strike something, they never have the option of scoring (unlike Fast Attack and Heavy Support). You can of course take combi weapons but they are the usual 10 points a model and now you’re approaching Sternguard cost without Sternguard utility.
If you’re in desperate need of some specials/heavies and can maximise the use of Pods, Veterans have a use, if a small one, but with Allies their lack compared to other similar unit types (Sternguard, Trueborn, Purifiers, etc.) is magnified. With Tactical Squads able to take one special at five and Command Squads able to maximise special weapons, this need is also less of a requirement in 6th and pushses these guys into the role of dust collectors (or cool looking models in Tac/Command Squads, etc.). And no, don’t equip them for combat.
Deathwing Terminators – now this unit can obviously be taken as a Troop and compared to their previous incarnation, got worse. They’re more expensive and their upgrades are more expensive, particularly the TH/SS. Now we obviously expected to pay points for TH/SS but it’s still a T4/2+/5++ model base; 2+ armor isn’t the be all and end all of the game as torrent still drops it more efficiently than anything else (i.e. it’s twice as durable as 3+; how many Marines are 22+ pts?). That being said, TH/SS with a heavy weapon still kick butt if they are applied appropriately and their main improvement is two-fold. One, Deathwing Assault is way better. Two, Vengeful Strike means your heavy weapon is much more reliable upon Deep Striking.
Deathwing therefore make a good aggressive unit to help hem an opponent in (i.e. alongside Drop Pods, Ravenwing) and to overwhelm the opponent with targets but without being a scoring unit, they are a lot less useful for the Dark Angels player in that one or two models left standing aren’t going to be able to score and to get two squads down aggressively against your opponent, you’re already investing in 500ish points which is quite a bit on 10 models who don’t score. Making them score requires another 200 point character investment unless you’re running Azzy in the first place and with their points increase, running a pure army just leaves you without enough support to cover the Deathwing weaknesses.
Using Deathwing then for a couple aggressive squads or counter-assault is where you’re going to get the best mileage from them. Equip them with TH/SS so they scare anything and everything except hordes and add in the CML or Plasma Cannon as the heavy weapon for best anti-tank or anti-infantry shooting the squad is likely to get. Go nuts from there ^^.
Deathwing Knights – So, the super Deathwing. These are perhaps the most, and only really, controversial unit of the codex. Some people love them. Some don’t. I don’t but let’s walk through what they are first. With WS5 they hit a lot more often and this is really important for an Elite melee unit. I still wonder why bog standard Terminators don’t have this but whatever. They also come with Stormshields so we immediately know they are survivable which is good which is enhanced by their capacity to become T5 when in base to base with each other. Now this does make them more vulnerable to blasts but they don’t need to be in a damn circle – you can spread them in a line and T5/2+/3++ is a lot more durable than T4 as it limits torrenting but AP2 blasts are still really damn scary as they are often S7+ anyway and thus still wound you on 2’s.
Which leads us to the main difference between Knights and Terminators. Knights have initiative based weapons. The leader gets a S6 AP3 weapon whilst everyone else gets a S6 AP4 weapon. And they are concussive. The AP4 weapons can become S10 AP2 at initiative weapons once a game. This is where we get some contention. At AP4, these guys don’t scare Marines enough. At AP2 they smash whatever the hell they want but it’s only once a game. Oh and remember, they have Hammer of Wrath. This means they’re going to munch through non-Marines pretty swiftly (4A on the charge, WS5, wounding on 2’s) but they’re just putting wounds on Marines rather than chomping through them and using the AP2 version against Marines seems very wasteful. Also, whilst they are more effective against Hordes than normal Terminators, they still can’t sweep which cuts down their physical killing capacity quite a lot and this is where I feel they fall down. The AP2 version does make them quite a decent counter-assault unit (with WS5 they are very reliable at clearing the lines) but are they really any better than a Deathwing squad in this role? Particularly given the loss of a heavy weapon? I don’t feel so as there are times you need more than one turn of “look at me I’m AP2.”
They at least aren’t stupidly overpriced compared to Deathwing (+2 pts) so they at least are an option, I’d just prefer to go with Deathwing, particularly if I’m running with Azzy.
Dreadnoughts – they’re the same as always but five points cheaper. Rifledreads are a great and efficient setup which have lost some of their fun with Psyfledreads out shining them, the increase in AV12 and general reduction in mech usage otherwise having mobile MMs is still always a great option or with the improvement of blasts and reduction in cover, the Plasma Cannon is now a good tool. Dreads are still an okay supporting and tarpitting option in combat but they are more vulnerable to attrition themselves thanks to Hull Points and lots of people running around with grenades. The Venerable option is finally cheap enough but in 6th just isn’t as good as it used to be.
If you have vehicles and need some more heavy weapons, Dreadnoughts are a great place to look as they are durable with AV12, easy to get cover more and inexpensive whilst bringing some extra utility (walker status in combat) but again, with 6th edition they just aren’t one of those options you reach for as much as you did with Space Marines/Blood Angels and the Rifledread variant.
Lot’s of maybes and could make use ofs here. Again, nothing is yes take me but then nothing is really terrible either. Veterans fall down given the rest of the book and options Allies open up and whilst Deathwing Terminators and Knights aren’t exactly demanding use, they can be used and to solid effect at times (again, thinking Terminators pressuring opponent or acting as counter-assault) and as always, the Dreadnought is a solid reliable tool if that’s what you need but not something you’re missing if you’ve got everything else covered in 6th.