Dark Angels Codex Review – Part 6: Elites

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.

Conclusion –

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.

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44 responses to Dark Angels Codex Review – Part 6: Elites

yes thank you finally back on dark angels lol, the elites section is very hard to fit in the army struggling to use them right but i reckon that the knights can be used as a shock unit turn 2 as i noticing i need a rock unit in turn two

"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"

Isn't that what you want in an assault squad, though? If they were armed with AP2 weapons they'd simply smash whatever they hit on the charge and completely wipe it out, leaving them standing around in the open when the opponent's shooting phase rolls around. With the sergeant's AP3 weapon and the weight of strong attacks from the rest of the squad there's no real danger of them losing combat, but this way they seem more likely to do it on the following turn, leaving them protected until you can charge them into something else.

I agree. The Knights actually look pretty solid for an Elite Terminator squad. I still prefer the DW when scoring, but if you only take one squad as a CC hammer, the Knights seem solid enough.

Kinda sad to see how most Elites of most codices just aren't really good. (Few exception there, Tau being one of them) But that's to be expected when they (generally): -Don't score. -Are not fast. (Limits their Assault capablity) -Don't shoot well. Which is basicly saying this edition is about scoring and shooting, with some fast assault units here and there. Oh and fliers. Which seems pretty correct.

remember that shooting is negated by utilizing the correct amount of LOS blocking terrain. Most tournaments I've been to do not so I guess you can't plan for it but I believe that most reputable events have spent the last several years increasing their available terrain stockpiles (events in my neighborhood have spent thousands of dollars & ask for donations / lending from gaming groups to fill tables). Games should be defined by maximizing shooting LANES, not shooting GALLERIES. subtle difference.

There should probably be some more attention paid to terrain placement than there currently is. It really, really affects the game.

I'm aware of this and I agree, but doesn't change much in the end regarding this particular point about Elites overall not being worth it. There is basicly little room in lists left for Elites. Think about it: Generally speaking, a higher percentage needs to be spent on Troops than before and adding Anti-air/Fliers. It often becomes a choice of adding long range fire support (usually found in Heavy Support in the most efficient way) or going for Elites choices. Would more people choose for Elites over Heavy Support if the terrain was better overall like you point out? Maybe, haven't thought enough about it to say.

guess it depends on the army you're playing. Dark Eldar for example love their elites almost as much as their heavy support (and about on par with their fast attack), you've mentioned Tau as another example; codex space marines & to an extent chaos space marines have very strong elites choices. It really depends on the type of list you want to build – and proper terrain use will have a large impact on that. Heavy is generally a lot of long range firepower where elites bring high-density medium to short range – more los blocking terrain brings the battles closer thus leaving heavy support less effective. Of course they're still scoring in 1/6 games….

Yay! The return of the crappy veteran squad! The only defense of them I think is that combi-weapons are nice to have when you want to move and shoot near a bolterbanner. Or you can just use bikes. heh

I'm disappointed that the Deathwing Knight entry didn't mention making use of a) the majority toughness rule, and b) ICs with the Inner Circle rule to make Fortress of Shields much more powerful and mitigate some of the weakness to blasts.

I think Deathwing Knights have a place in a list where DW aren't scoring, a single unit in an otherwise Ravenwing list actually works really nicely! All those teleport homers to use, and they provide a nice solid tarpitty/dedicated combat unit in an army that otherwise lacks them (Black knights/command squads are nice, but they do attract a hell of a lot of firepower and are better off shooting those plasma talons!)

I'll admit that I always struggle to make an efficient use of my DA Elites. Nailing down whether you want to unlock termies as troops is the first thing you should decide when making a list.

I'm still 50/50 with the DWK's. On the one hand, they're not much use against MEQ/TEQ's, unless you're facing chaos dudes. However, against other armies elites, they can be quite tasty.

I find that the combination of DWK's with an IC (preferably a Librarian) or two are great at surviving deep strikes into a hot part of the battlefield. As they must be placed in a circle when deep striking, they're all going to benefit from T5. Not a massive bonus, I'll admit, but it helps. Oh, and they are quite good at pummeling MC's (as is the Nephilim Fighter), especially chaos ones.

Ultimately though, I do find the DA Elite choices a bit lifeless and end up taking either a termy squad or a few dreads, alongside tons of tac marines.

I do enjoy playing with DA's.

I am unsure if the Knights have a place if termies are scoring, as the Deathwing Knights are only better in certain circumstances, and when you weigh up "being a bit better in some circumstances" with "being scoring" the solution is obvious.

It's a little bit more complicated if they're not scoring, and this is where the DWKs start winning out. Against anything that isn't a marine, the DWK's are better. Against Chaos, DWK's are better. That only leaves other marines to really worry about. Against other Termies the DWK are probably about the same – being able to do the S10 AP2 hits at initiative (and considering they're WS5) is probably enough to ping off a couple of termies before the Thunder hammers start flying.

I can't imagine them losing combat vs normal marines, so that shouldn't be an issue

I'm still irked that the Mk IV Mortis Dreadnought — first introduced in Codex Angels of Death! — wasn't moved into the Codex. It's been languishing over in Imperial Armour since, what, third edition?

I think with torrenting being the preferred path to killing terminators thss is far from the way to go, especially now that they cost more. Not sure if there's a bias here against deathwing, or maybe I'm just being defensive, but it seems deathwing terminators have generally gotten a harsher review than they deserve on 3++.

I'm not saying they are the be all and end all of the shizat…but I think they're worth a lot more than they're given credit for. No mention at all of splitfire? Not even going to comment on the assault cannon?

they're not LOLAMAZING Tau with S5-7 shooting literally spraying from each orifice & I don't think anyone here plays the army so you get "they're marines."

Given the drawback of not being able to engage in sweeping advances with the Terminator units, why not make a point about how to exploit that property of Veterans?

because that much extra thought would require pulling some attention away from the 200 articles the guys are writing on Tau & how awesome Tau are. Of course, I'm not sure what you mean even, are you suggesting veterans in addition to (or as a replacement for?) terminators? Adding a squad of veterans PLUS a 220+ point squad of DWK is going to net you a bad time if you're hoping for sweeping advance rolls….. too many points spent; besides – if it is meant to be in combat it is either fearless or has ATSKNF (or plays for team chaos…. so kind of relevant I guess?)

Kirby and I both play Tau. I guess it's shocking to you that we would write articles about Tau, a new and popular codex that effectively demonstrates the potential for good game design? Or maybe you're just being bitchy because it's not your own pet army and how dare someone enjoy something that doesn't personally relate to you.

I'm not bitchy. my "pet army" is chaos marines – you've finished chaos marines. Tau is a remarkably good book. Tau. Not Tau EMPIRE, but Tau. You guys occasionally ask for additional writers, if anyone wants to see other army books reviewed in greater detail they just need to write & submit some damned articles themselves. There is nothing wrong with you guys focusing on the armies you know & like to play. It is an expensive hobby & you're certainly not expected to have full armies from each codex / army book just to keep the unwashed masses (us) happy.

>I'm not bitchy.

Well you're certainly coming off that way. In multiple different posts here you've complained about how we're not dedicating sufficient time to reviewing things. Not just criticizing errors in the applicability, correctness, usefulness, or whatever of the review, but essentially whining that it's not as good as another review.

> Tau. Not Tau EMPIRE, but Tau.

I honestly have no idea what point you're trying to make here.

>There is nothing wrong with you guys focusing on the armies you know & like to play.

A lot of people want to see reviews of every codex that comes out. Obviously you're not amongst them, but that doesn't really change things for the people who do. While I certainly think it would be better if we could get an experienced and knowledgeable writer to give a dissertation on every different army in the game, sadly 3++ doesn't have the resources to track those guys down and there's not exactly a flood of them banging at our door; I think you're going to have to accept that in an imperfect world sometimes a weaker option is better than no option at all.

But hey, if you know a guy, feel free to point him our direction.

I have periodically asked when we can expect to see additional posts for books I am interested in yes, but at no point have I ever condemned an author on this site for "failing" to provide me with entertainment. I have merely asked – "when can I expect something?" I have done this once, for Chaos marines. I'm sorry if that has caused you sleepless nights.

Tau not Tau Empire >>> book is called tau empire, but we didn't see any further growth in anything except the actual TAU race. Nothing really cool or different for any of the other members of the "Empire". I guess my backhanded point was it is a great TAU book, but it really is lacking the "Empire" feel > this is not a new sentiment & has been expressed multiple times from many people. This is the only thing that prevents the book from being pretty much perfect.

Except in the post I first replied to you complain about Kirby and I writing too much about Tau rather than other books. I'm not sure how you square that with saying you "have [never] condemned an author on the site for failing to provide [you] with entertainment."

The book is focused largely on the Tau race because producing models for other xenos races would be expensive. You have access to allies galore in 6E, if you can't come up with some decent counts-as for a cool army then you aren't even trying.

you interpret that way to personally. I used exaggeration to point out that you guys have focused on a different codex. If you feel that my statement is not correct that's great, but in the lead up to codex tau empire's release there were a ton of posts on Tau rumors & speculation, post release there have been many articles looking at list construction, how to & why to use certain units & how they've changed in the new book, and you're of course still working through the actual codex review. For dark angels…. not so much. And. That. Is. Fine.

>> Not just criticizing errors in the applicability, correctness, usefulness, or whatever of the review, but essentially whining that it's not as good as another review.

Rarely do I discuss applicability – except to say you need to look at it MORE rather than LESS; correctness – we should comment on in the hopes errors will be fixed so as to not disseminate incorrect information, again – rarely do I comment on this unless it is a rule that is wrong or some math that is VERY wrong (mathhammer doesn't need to be correct to 2 decimal places…); usefulness of the review & comments made – yes that is what I comment on most, mostly because you & I (or matt & I, or Kirby, less him since I don't play the armies he plays & generally skim his posts which are unrelated to the games I play) will disagree on the applicability or relative strength of a particular unit or tactic. That is what we're here to discuss. Regarding whether a review is "as good as another" – I don't believe I've ever made a comment to that nature, maybe you're confusing me with a different clever handle….

…but since you've brought it up – this particular review is pretty thin compared to all the rest unless you guys are planning on writing more about deathwing knights & terminators at a later date. There is at least an entire posts worth of material in the DWK alone & it has only been skimmed here – I'm sure this is related to familiarity with the material as you mentioned you & Kirby don't play Dark Angels, and that's fine. But that means that this review is quite light on content compared to others, this is a fact & has been pointed out by several posters in this thread – hell, I wasn't even one of them until you branded me with the same iron.

>this particular review is pretty thin compared to all the rest unless you guys are planning on writing more about deathwing knights & terminators at a later date

Yep. That's what you get when we don't have an author who plays an army.

I'm not confusing you with someone else, I know exactly who you are. Go back and read that post I responded to again, and see if it doesn't sound like a petulant child whining about not getting his way. Maybe you didn't mean it that way and maybe I'm totally misreading it, but I think a phrase like "…would require pulling some attention away from the 200 articles the guys are writing on Tau & how awesome Tau are…" is a pretty big giveaway.

you are misreading it, please see above. I used some illustrative hyperbole that in no way was meant as a slam to anybody. Relax, we're supposed trying to be nicer to each other remember?

Okay, back on topic: does Gotbag have a point with his Vets?
I don't think so, for the same reason as Clever Handle, but I don't post on here so I don't think he was asking me. 🙂

the discussion is just that – for us to discuss points related (even tangentially) to the meat of the articles. In this case I think Gorbag needs to clarify his meaning a bit more. But anyways the comments on veterans aren't new since the unit hasn't really changed: They are non-scoring & compete with terminators & are clearly intended to be an assault based unit (since only one in 5 can buy a special weapon). By the time you kit them out with gear to make them good in combat they cost almost as much as a terminator (43 vs 49 points) you lose huge survivability against torrent fire but gain the ability to ride in a rhino or drop pod and to sweeping advance. I think generally this is not considered a good trade for 6 points per model.

And of course utilizing veterans in addition to terminators in an assault…. well, see my thoughts above.

I think Veterans would be better at clearing hordes like Imperial Guard platoons, and holding enemy Ultramarines in combat instead of allowing them to use Combat Tactics to fall back out of combat.

With the Telepathy psychic power Terrify, you don't even need the raw combat power of Terminators to deal with Ork mobs, and you'll do better by removing their Fearless and killing them in a Sweeping Advance. Melta Bombs make them better anti-monstrous creature, attacking at Initiative.

Also, they can be bought as the las-plas duo that gained infamy, but now their bullet catchers can carry Storm Shields. If people are bringing the anti-marine they're toting AP2 weapons in case of Terminators, so the lighter armour is not much of a downside. And they can have a tremendous impact with a Combi-Plasma, Melta Bomb, Storm Shield is 43 points per model. You can take a Storm Shield on a Multi-melta armed Marine for 38pts

As a longtime DA player I'm not terribly impressed by DWK either. While MathHammering 10 of those guys against Draigowing or Abaddon & Chosen shows that Draigowing and whomever WILL get wiped clean in one turn thanks to the S10 AP2 Smite ability, in actual gameplay the DWK aren't that hot.

1. They suck when placed on the table via Deep Strike. They can't do shit during the turn they Deep Strike and you can only hope that they don't die out by the next turn. And so…

2. They need a Land Raider in order to be truly effective.

This results in demanding for a 500pt investment if a player wants to use a DWK unit effectively. Meh.

when placed via deepstrike you are nominating the turn they arrive – if you've built a "proper list" you'll be pushing multiple threats into your opponent's face at the same time & thus their survivability should be coming from forcing too many tough targets at once. This can come from squads of bikes &/or several squads of deepstriking terminators at once – after all, which unit of 5 terminators do you shoot first? The one that is T5, has a 3++, no shooting attacks & isn't scoring or do you shoot the unit that is only T4, generally trades a 3++ for shooting & is scoring? I know which one I'd choose=)

Welp, whenever I deploy my 5-man DW squads, I always put it in the composition of 2 TH/SS, 1 SB/CF, Sergeant /w SB/PS and 1 SB/PF/CML. The 2 TH/SS are placed to face incoming enemy fire just for that extra survivability against AP2 attacks. So every squad I plop down during Deep Strike presents similar durability during the first turn.

I guess my issue with DWK is that this is a model that needs to strike first in order to reap the greatest advantage of whatever it offers, just so that their HoM attacks can be exploited, and having that extra one attack on the charge is best for exploiting the Smite ability. Most smart players who recognize the DWK for what it is will not bother shooting it at all – all they will do to negate a DWK squad that has Deep Striked will simply tie the squad up in CC.

Tying up Terminators with WS5 in CC seems like something easier said than done, especially since they can choose to pop off Smite any time they please and essentially walk out of the fight.

I don't think they're a great unit, but as far as hard-hitting combat units go they're one of the toughest (2+/3++/T5) and put enough damage down to scare most things.

against horde units (worse than 3+ save) the DWK are only going to be killing 5-6 models per turn (75% to get 5, 50% to get 6….) and flipping to smite mode wont help since you're already wounding on 2's & granting no saves. Tying them up with any fearless or stubborn horde is a viable tactic – but this is again no different from TH:SS terminators.

If you charge them after they've deep struck, they'll still be bunched up, meaning you're fighting WS5 T5 S6 2+/3++ models, and a good DA player will keep them in base to base during combat so they stay T5. How many fearless/stubborn hordes are there in the game, that don't have a job to do beyond spending the first few turns in their owner's deployment zone? And since the DWK get to drop in where they please (aside from scattering), why would the DA player put his unit close enough to such a horde that they can be certain of getting the charge off?

nids, orks, chaos cultists, daemons, & guard can all be counted on to bring a horde of fearless or stubborn bodies. If you are DSing close enough to me to be able to reliably charge next turn (after I move away!) then you are close enough for me to launch a pre-emptive charge. Nids, Daemons, Guard & Chaos really wont care how long the fight goes – they'll happily stay there as long as it takes if that means you're not free to paste what you please – kill 5-6 ork boys per round, it will take 2-3 rounds of combat before they cease to be fearless.

However – as mentioned, bogging down in a useless combat is one of the best ways to deal with rock-hard assault units like TH:SS terminators, DWK are slightly less susceptible to this tactic due to the highter WS & T.

Fair point, actually; there are more fearless/stubborn units (not to mention everyone with ATSKNF) than I'd initially thought.

On the other hand, spending a turn or two safe from all shooting, in the enemy's deployment zone, isn't a bad deal for the DWK, either. There's very little chance they'll fail to kill at least that first unit, unless you've charged them with a truly monstrously huge horde or several mid-sized ones, in which case they'll still chew them up badly and suddenly your giant monster-blob is a lot weaker. And the DWK don't really care how long the fight goes, either, since fighting is all they're there for, and if they're fighting something big enough to really drag things out like that they're probably fighting something whose eventual removal will be a decent benefit.

The really tricky part, now that I think about it, isn't so much that they can't win their combats, barring assault by TH/SS or Wraiths or something with a really high invulnerable save. It's their inability to sweeping advance. Sure, they'll chew through pretty much anything and probably win combat (eventually, in some cases), but unless you've killed more than 3/4's of that unit they can just rally normally on their next turn.

>They can't do shit during the turn they Deep Strike and you can only hope that they don't die out by the next turn. And so…

Other than Run into a better position, which is all most DSing assault units can do?

>They need a Land Raider in order to be truly effective.

I'm not sure that's true, since I don't think Deathwing makes good use of Land Raiders, but even if it was, how is that different from TH/SS?

To be fair, most DS'ing assault units at least have pistols, and maybe a special weapon or two; their contributions are minimal, token even, but they can at least theoretically do something.

I found the DA Elites section to be kind of disappointing over all. It's not bad, just kind of meh top to bottom. I'll probably get DWK and a Dread at some point, but I don't think they'll see much competitive play. If the DW command squad had been Knights, as the RW one was, the Elites section would be really uninteresting.

Knights with Ezekiel. They give him T5. He gives them W6, mutiple divination/telepathy buffs, and some apt hits. Sap Will a MC and watch it go down without even using smite mode. Land Raider required.