I finally got my new Dark Angels Codex, and while pretty much every other 40k blog out there has a post about it, I figured I’d share my thoughts since I actually play them.
Many people (who didn’t buy a Heldrake) complained that the Chaos Space Marine codex was underpowered because it didn’t suffer from codex creep, and those people might use the new DA book as further proof. I’d say that they might be right, there isn’t really any creep here. As far as power level goes, I’d put it a slight notch about the regular Space Marine book, but below Grey Knights or Space Wolves. It is a very coherent, flexible army but lacks the star power of some of the overpowered and/or undercosted units you see elsewhere.
I won’t cover all of the changes, but here are the things that stand out to me.
All of the characters have been brought up to modern standards. Azrael is even better, unlocking both terminators and bikes as troops. He can choose his own warlord trait, but none of them are very sexy. Belial and Ezekiel have been buffed a bit, Sammael is the same. Regular Librarians and Chaplains lost an attack and point of initiative, but they’re also cheaper.
There are three different command squad options, all with lots of flexibility. Power armor and Ravenwing champions downgraded their power weapon for “Blade of Caliban” which is S+1, AP3, but unwieldy. Deathwing champions get a sexy “Halberd of Caliban” which is S+2, Ap2.
Techmarines are now unlocked by HQ slots, not vehicles.
As far as relics go, Foe-smiter and the Mace of Redemption seem decent. Lion’s Roar is a little expensive. The Monster Slayer and Shroud of Heroes are way too expensive.
Tactical squad have more flexibility, which is great. Veteran sergeants are an optional upgrade, and all sergeants can be given a good selection of wargear (combi weapons, storm bolter, power weapons, etc). Scouts are troops too, so they’re actually worth considering now.
Terminators have split fire now, which is nice. You can pop a vehicle with your missle launcher or assault cannon and not have to waste your storm bolters. ”Vengeful Strike” gives them twin-linked weapons after deep striking, also very nice.
The Knights are a new marquee unit, and they’re great … except against other non-Chaos Space Marines. You’ll be spending 235 points to enjoy the choir of pings and clanks as their AP4 maces bounce off power armor. Against CSM they have -1AP, so they’re going to be very effective, and they’ll do well against most other armies too.
Bikes now have Hit & Run, which opens up a whole set of options, and the fact that they’re also scouts (outflank) makes them a very useful tool.
The Black Knights are probably my favorite new unit. They have everything the normal bikes have, plus Skilled Rider (4++ Jink), S5 rending melee weapon, plasma guns instead of bolters and grenades to drop opponents toughness. There’s a bit of confusion about whether the grenades affect other shots from the same unit, but even if they don’t , this is a very solid choice that I think will be in most of my armies.
The Darkshroud seems very useful in a Ravenwing army, but it could also add value in a heavy gunline army.
The assault squad had a nice little surprise. Not only is it cheaper, but they can now take two flamers! You can even give the sergeant a combi-flamer for a third template when you need it.
The biggest disappointment of the book, especially since they did a nice job with the models. I would have run out and gotten these models first, now I’m not sure if I want them at all.
The Jetfighter is decent anti-air, giving you roughly a 50% chance to knock anything out of the air, but it is WAY too expensive. It should be in the 120 range, max, and even then it would be a debatable use of a FA slot.
The Dark Talon is probably the dumbest flyer in the game. It has 2 hurricane bolters, which I’m very much not a fan of, a weak S5, AP- cannon, and a one-use blind bomb.
Devastators are cheaper, and the sergeant has a signum (+1BS to another model). Very nice.
Land Raiders are still too expensive.
Land Speeder Vengeance is another disappointment. The Plasma Storm battery in burst mode gives you 3 chances each turn to lose one of your two hull points to “Gets Hot!”. In charged mode, it is a watered-down demolisher cannon (that may cost you a hull point). Oh, and it’s 24″ range. For 15 points more than a vindicator. A vindicator with a siege shield is slower, but will navigate terrain almost as effectively, has much higher armor, a much better weapon, and the same limited range. Doesn’t seem like much of a choice to me.
As far as a fun/fluffy codex goes, it’s great. It’s certainly better than the dreck I was using before. There’s no reason you can’t hold your own against any other normal army. You can play some very different armies with the same codex, and many of the units will help each other, giving you some fun strategic options. If you’re looking for a competitive force, you may want to look elsewhere, it lacks the punch and focus of the lists you can make with other books.