Monday, January 28, 2013

Protecting the bolter banner

At this point, one of the biggest questions for Dark Angels players and opponents alike is around the increasingly popular Standard of Devastation, aka bolterbanner. For those travelling the warp during the last few weeks, this is a nifty piece of wargear that turns boltguns onto salvo 2/4 weapons. So a static Tactical squad pours 40 shots at 24", and a 6-man Ravenwing squad 24 twin-linked shots at 24", after moving 12". This is all good but has two main problems: mobility and survivability. Mobility can be solved to a certain extent by using Ravenwing bikers who are relentless and thus can move and shoot 4 times at full range.

But this solution only complicates more the issue of survivability. Let's see. The standards can only be carried by Command Squads (m'kay), and said squads can not be increased in number. So bog-standard and Deathwing will always have 5-man, Ravenwing only 3 bikers. Wait a minute. That's 200 points in 3 T5, 3+ save models. Houston we have a problem. Now the question is, can we get around it? Let's see.

The squad can't be increased in numbers, but this doesn't prevent ICs from joining it. Given that Sammael is a must for running Ravenwing (unless you're taking Azrael, but since he likes to foot slog it, we'll leave him in the Rock), we are already investing in a IC that can join the command squad and help tank wounds. Sammy has Eternal Warrior and a 4++, so can take a few shots. Now I'm not proposing to sacrifice Sammael in this role, as he becomes very valuable in the late game to contest objectives (24" turbo-boost woo-hoo), but rather suggesting that he can be there to escort the bikers T1, then move on to other role.

Small but important note here: the bolterbanner is not meant to be used 5 turns out of 6 in a game; it is rather an ace down your sleeve to decimate the opponent's troops and devs for a turn or two. Use the Attack Bikes / Land Speeders multi meltas to de-mech, then shoot it's juicy contents. But then move onto other things - the Ravenwing is short and numbers and quite fragile. It needs to be on the move, using its superior mobility to harass the opponent at distance. If the RW gets bogged down in CC, odds are it will bend.
4 twin-linked shots with just the left hand, huh!

Sammael aside, Dark Angels have access to two good, cheap and versatile ICs that can take a bike in the shape of the Librarian and Techmarine. A level 1 Libby in a bike is a bargain at 85 points; Divination is not really needed since all the boltguns are already twin-linked and well, seems a waste to use it in a couple of melta or plasma guns alone, although it will serve us well if we get in CC. Anyway, our Libby can select his powers from 4 disciplines and I'm sure we can get some good utility out of it. He can also access the armoury for a cheap auspex (-1 to cover saves) or a generator field for a 4++. Very very good.

The techmarine is even cheaper, at 70 points in a bike, and comes with a 2+ save default. An additional bonus is boosting the cover save of a ruin, which is handy for our small home unit or devs. His ability to repair HP will most times be wasted, I'm afraid. But the point is he can take a few hits and save them like a champ with his 2+. Bless the Omnisiah when he is no more :)

Interrogator-chaplains could also be used, but these are markedly more expensive HQs and we can get re-rolls from a Libby for half the price. Better pass.

On top of that first layer that is the IC save, we can get up to a 2+ cover save if going first, thanks to combined effects of jink, turbo-boosting, skiller rider and a nearby Dark Shroud. Yes Helldrakes and Dreadknights will ruin your day, but keep in mind these have to start in reserve and can't touch us T1. And most heavy support teams in the game will have to face the 2+ wall anyway.

Ravenwing Command Squad aside, the banner could also find other placements. I find these to be subpar options but are doable nonetheless:

Power armoured Command Squad in a Land Raider Crusader: This is an expensive proposition, but one that serves a few purposes. First of all, we can transport Azrael and his retinue with certain protection. Second, the hurricane bolters add up to the bolter fiesta. Third, many armies struggle with AV14 nowadays. Fourth, Land Raiders are bulky and can block LOS to our bikers behind it. I wouldn't field Land Raiders, but at least this is an idea.

Power armoured Command Squad in a Drop Pod: now this is more to my liking. It is very aggressive but could work if supported by other elements, like Deathwing armies. Again it solves the issue of moving Azrael around, as 215 points is a lot to be left behind, or be carried in a Rhino. The Drop Pod also opens the door of having a terminator armour IC tanking wounds; Libbies and Chaplains are good candidates here.

Deathwind Command Squad: this boosts the standard bearer survivability (remember you can give him a shield) but really hinders mobility i.e. the banner will only affect a small area, vs. the Ravenwing's standard bearer ability to affect 12" banner aura + 12" turbo-boost move + 12" banner aura again = 36" of banner goodness.


The Ravenwing seems the best candidate to utilise the standard or Devastation thanks to their superior mobility and relentless, twin-linked bolters, but the standard needs to be protected carefully so it can make it to T3/4 when it will have fulfilled its purpose. To do so we can't add more marines to the command squad, but we can use ICs and 2+ cover saves to protect it. To recap, some possible placements for the bolter banner are:

  1. RW Command Squad + Sammael.
  2. RW Command Squad + Sammael + Libby
  3. RW Command Squad + Techmarine.
  4. RW Command Squad + Chaplain.
  5. Command Squad in a Land Raider Crusader
  6. Command Squad in Drop pod + Azrael / 2+ toting IC.
  7. DW Command Squad
What about you guys, have you used the bolter banner in a different set up? have a different perspective to share?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Space Wolves - How to defeat Dark Angels

So Dark Angels have won the seemingly first "big" tournalment after the new codex. It's still early to see where exactly DA will fall, if at Necron /Chaos Demons power level or if will be more in line with the other Imperial armies.

We Space Wolves players have seen many armies rise and fall and we've always find a way to crack the hardest armies, so let's have a look at how can SW deal with those pesky Dark Angels! the interwebs may be going crazy with their 40 bolter shots per tactical squad and cheesy monk Terminators, but the answer is the same we've had in the past - cunning tactics, flawless execution and of course, lots of grey hunters and long fangs! there's nothing we can't bring down in combat, nothing we can't smack down to pieces with ranged fire if we do things right. Let's dive straight onto it:

Know thy enemy

For all their blings and new toys, Dark Angels aren't very different to what they used to be. They have great Terminator armies, excellent biker armies, and now will also make great hybrid armies plus some new gadgets - auspexes to reduce cover saves, Ravewing grenade launchers and son on. The below is a taxonomy of the builds that I think will become popular:

Deathwing - this is an army composed of some 25~30 scoring terminators, usually in squads of five with one heavy weapon. I would expect to see less hammenators than in 5th and rather mixed squads with a couple of storm bolters/power fist guys, a chainfist, a hammenator or two and the heavy weapon guy. Their Deathwing assault rule allows the controlling player to choose when each squad will enter by DS (if T1 or T2), and the first turn they will have twin-linked guns, so the alpha-strike potential is considerable. Now this army has good AI potential with lots of storm bolters and a decent AT via CML. Leaving the cheap home scoring unit or two aside this is a small and elite army, and such armies are taken down through sheer mass of bodies or shots. The key here it to take one unit at a time, and keep all the grey hunter packs together. 4 plasma shots per pack + 16 bolter shots, perhaps twin-linked with divination, will take a heavy toll on the DW. If the units have storm shields, try to land the plasma shots in those without it and send the bolter shots to the hammenators.

Plan the game in advance - once the Terminators are in the board, their mobility will be limited. Select the best placement for the grey hunters (usually close together, supporting each other and from a centered situation) and make sure that your Long Fangs have good lanes of fire. Now, in 6th Edition is a good thing to add a plasma cannon or two in the army as we see more and more foot hordes, and the split fire rule allows us to shoot each weapon to the right target.

In terms of target priority, DW Command Squads (perhaps with a revered Standard) and DW Knights make for juicy targets but keep in mind they do not score. If you have a chance to take one of those units down of course don't miss it, but in the most frequent case of having several targets to choose from, go for the scoring units. Last but not least, the terminators will be nicely packed together after deepstriking, ready to be jawsed to the pits of hell.

Ravenwing - where the DW has superb durability and limited mobility, the RW has a fragile nature but excellent mobility. All the bikers are scouts and have hit and run, which means we can't bog them down in combat and drown them in a mass of grey hunters. In top of that, the combination of jink, skilled rider and the nearby Darkshroud means they will enjoy a 2+ cover save to get to our lines, then shot the hell out of that with their TL bolters and plasma talons. Sammael will probably join the fragile RW command squad if there is any (and in that case they will carry the Standard of devastation for a lol-sy 4 bolter shots per rider), and will turbo boost 24" in the last turn to claim or contest objectives.

The first thing to consider is the objectives placement - RW are skilled riders but don't climb to the second floor of ruins, so use that to your advantage. Also keep in mind they outmaneuveur us, so the objectives need to be as close as possible - we want to play in the smallest court possible. Don't forget they all are Skilled Riders and as such pass all dangerous terrain tests. Second is we have the advantage of numbers. We need to drag the RW to a certain area and again hit a unit at at time, as hard as we can. The RW is a shooty army that wants to dance around us and shoot us at distance. The bikes are T5 but there will be  limited numbers, and a Grey Hunter charge is likely to win the combat. Keep in mind they will flee after the combat, so make sure there are no survivors (a full squad is 6 bikers, 6 wounds with a 3+) or combat squads with 3 bikers; nothing that can sustain a combat. As for the DA home objectives, expect to see a small unit or two, something like 5 man with a flakk ML; they can be easily dealt with either with the Long Fangs (no point in wasting missiles in a 2+ save unit), or with small outflanking or drop-podded unit. Now, considering the challenges to mobility in 6th edition for Space Wolves, this isn't an easy match-up and mistakes will be paid dearly, but one grey hunter alive is all that you need to claim an objective that your opponent cannot reach, so clench your fists and be ready for a long fight.

If the army has Land Speeders, let the Long Fangs have sport with them; even with cover saves, a few missiles is all we need to take down an open-topped, AV10 vehicle with 2 hull points.

Hybrid armies - this is where I suspect Dark Angels will be at their best. Azrael makes both DW and RW squads scoring, aside of providing a small suite of army buffs (Ld10 across units, select the warlord trait, 4++ to the unit he is with, etc). The standard hybrid army will feature a couple of DW units that will deep-strike close to our lines, a couple of biker units with locator beans, supported by some tacticals, devs and perhaps a Flyer. The good news is that Azrael can't DS with the DW or ride a bike, so he will have to foot-slog his way, come in a pod, or just keep his head behind the Aegis Defence line. In any case, their battleplan will be something like turboboosting the bikes T1 to help bring the DW T2, then hit with both hammers.

Playing to the Wolves strenghts 

The Dark Angels excel at their First and Second companies, which are composed of small elite units. One on one the Space Wolves will lose every single match-up, so it is important to keep the Grey Hunter packs together and have each unit supporting each other. Combined, the firepower or CC abilities of 2/3 packs can take anything the Dark Angels have to offer. Just make sure to protect them as much as you can from the initial strike that the DA are surely going to have (Deep-striking terminators or 2+ cover save bikers); careful placement of your rhinos or wolf guard terminators will soak up the brunt of the DA attack, then the Space Wolves are loose to counter-attack with everything else!

The rest of units -the "greenwing"- aren't as effective as our units and these are the engagements we want to take 1 on 1 - 5 scouts with bolter and 1/2 special weapons can decimate the small home objective unit (and if not will finish them in CC) and a Grey Hunter pack will eat a Tactical squad any day of the week. So make sure to not dedicate more resources than needed - we'll need them to deal with the Death and Raven wings.

For once, the Flyers play to the Space Wolves advantage - our ADL can take down their AV11 Flyers easily, and the points invested in flakk missiles are essentially wasted.

Dark Angels also don't have access to Sternguard vets that would be deadly to our troops, and heavy flamers aren't as popular. Iron clads or Furiosos aren't available as well, and when the odd multi-melta dread  in a drop pod comes across from time to time, well it's not a big deal to let it pop a Rhino and get some point-blank melta love in return.

Sniping is an important component of 6th Edition - make sure you go after heavy/special weapons, standard bearers and Ravenwing grenade launchers. Speaking of sniping, Jaws doesn't want to hear about your 2+cover save and will be happy show its teeth to any line of bikers or closely packed terminators.

Target priority should be fairly simple - DA can place hard-hitting units very close to our lines, leaving no room but to engage them. Always keep in mind 5/6 missions are objective-based, and all that matters is that by the end of the game we can have a lone Grey Hunter winning us that point.


The Dark Angels have a solid codex and some excellent elite units that can (and usually will) be made scoring, and have several interesting combinations. These units have excellent synergies and careful planning needs to be put in place to avoid being alpha striked and to be in a good situation for the counter-attack. The Space Wolves have to use their advantage of numbers, leverage the 2 special weapons per unit and their versatility to take on the DA units as they come, focusing to eliminate one unit at a time.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Angel Exterminatus Review

The Horus Heresy plot continues to move forward with Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeill. As Mr. McNeill puts it, this book was meant to be the continuation of Fulgrim but ultimately became an Iron Warriors novel of its own. And a very good one. The Iron Warriors are one of the most popular traitor Legions and yet, after 25+ books we had only had a small glimpse at Perturabo's warriors in the format of a short story.

Well the wait is over and this is a great book that I'm sure will please most Iron Warriors fans out there. Not only we get to learn the reasons that led  Perturabo to turn his back on the Emperor and join Horus' side, but we see for the first time popular characters that appear in the 40k era novels like the popular Storm of Iron. The Emperor's Children also get their day in the sun as we continue to see their evolution and are now completely depraved and, well, chaotic.

The plot

After the Iron Warriors finally overcome an almost an impenetrable fortress defended by, yes the Iron Fists (note: the novel will become far less topical after the start), the Emperor's Children fleet shows up and Fulgrim requests help from his brother Perturabo in order to capture certain Eldar artifacts that could prove crucial to tip the balance towards the traitor's side.

As the story progresses we get to learn of the ways of Perturabo and his Legion, and McNeill does a great job to give the Iron Warriors their own personality and flavour. The way the Warsmiths - which is the Iron Warriors way to say Chapter Master -  fight behind the scenes for power and Perturabo's favour is most interesting.

There's also some stellar participation from some Iron Hands and Raven Guard survivors from Isstvan V . They may play a secondary part in the plot but boy, it's a good one.

Perturabo at war. The book contains 3 more illustrations.

High & Lowlights

As most of Graham McNeill's work, this is a good novel that moves away from the "bolter-porn" (as McNeill himself calls it) and digs deeper onto the ways of the Legions, their own concerns and interests, and fills some important gaps in the story so far. And importantly, it starts to shape their own heresy-era personality. It's not an eye-opener such as Mechanicum or A Thousand Sons were, and it's not filled with as much action as say Storm of Iron, but it is an enjoyable novel and has inspired me to paint the Dark Vengeance Hellbrute and Chosen in the yellow and black livery.

The hardback edition also contains 4 beatifull piees of artwork by Karl Richardson. In case you don't know him this is the artist behind the Lone Wolves novel. Top notch stuff.

On the other hand, unfortunately Angel Exterminatus doesn't really progress the story overall and just covers part of the Iron Warriors / Emperor's Children own story. At the moment this collection is the Black Library's cash cow but they're risking losing interest unless they can make significant movement forward.

Also let me bring this - the Black Library originally released the hardback edition at 25€ as the only way to get the book. While there are no complaints at all about the book's quality, the finish or the illustrations, I don't think fans will want to continue reading the next 20 or 30 installments in the series at this price. You can of course await a month or two until cheaper versions are released but it doesn't feel fair with the fans. If you must, please release the paper and hardback editions at the same time.

The veredict 7/10

Angel Exterminatus is all about giving the Iron Warriors some deserved visibility. The plot is rather predictable and the story might not move much forward, but the intent of the book is to provide the decorations, the set so to speak, so we can finally have a novel dedicated to Perturabo and the Iron Warriors. It is certainly an enjoyable read and a good inspiration if you are building or playing 30k era armies.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Lion's blob

One of they key axioms to understand 6th Ed is that anything is better when allied to Imperial Guard. This is because IG has all that the primary army might need, and at a very reasonable cost. 130 points Vendettas (and in squadrons of 3!), manticores and especially, lots of cheap scoring bodies.

Now consider the new Dark Angels codex. Azrael makes both Death and Ravenwing scoring, and provides the unit he is with a 4++ and fearless.

So for a bit more than the cost of Deathwing Squad, DA can instead ally to IG and have Azrael lead an IG blob. S That's 50 fearless bodies with a 4++, a few power axes and melta bombs, quite a nasty propositon. It is very difficult to deal with such a deathstar while it's surrounded by his Death and Ravenwing squads, that not only have a serious offensive potential but are also scoring.

Mephiston Lord Of Death artwork

Black Library has posted today some wallpapers about its upcoming book Mephiston, Lord of Death. Sadly is not the original artwork (they will want to monetize it as well *sigh*) but what you see above these lines. If you're a hardcore BA fan you might want to check it out here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Analysis: Which is best: Dark Talon or Nephilim?

Dark Angels got not just one but two new shiny Flyers. This begs the question - are the Dark Talon and Nephilim any good? what is the best way to use them? and ultimately, should we use them at all? let's take a look at the flying monastery and the winged StormTalon and see what they have to offer.

Before we look at the rules and use, let me just say the hobbyist in me really likes the model and I have ordered one nevertheless. A few magnets here and should suffice to switch all weapon types.

Dark Talon

This is the odd-looking flyer with the gothic imagery and funky cannon. The Dark Talon is mainly an anti-infantry platform, designed to wipe out the opponent's scoring troops. If it's any good at that, we'll see in a moment. Its main gun is a Dark Rift cannon (see a pattern in the names?) that dishes a Whilwind style pie with Blind. The Hurricane bolters are a natural complement and add up to the dakka. On top of that it carries a one use per game Stasis Bomb that reduces WS and I by -3.

With all these weaponts being AP4 or worst it has a limited damage output, nowhere near a true AI specialist like the Helldrake that can decimate a squad per turn. And this is where the key of the issue lies - where a Helldrake is designed to operate solo, speeding forward towards a Troop unit in cover (probably sitting by an objective), the Dark Talon moves with the rest of the Ravenwing, adds its dakka to the rest of the spearhead to force saves rolls, and uses the stasis bomb to give the RW chargers a significant combat advantage - attack before it's MEQ opponents and hit them on 3's. Its Hurricane Bolters can also benefit from the Retribution Standard and dish out 24 twin-linked shots, but this is too unreliable to count on it. It can hover though, and benefit from an improved jink save of 4+ if near a Dark Shroud and especially from the saturation of objectives. It isn't especially killy so your opponent might just prefer to shoot the bikers, especially if they are scoring - and very often they will be through Azrael or Sammael.

Is it worth the 160 points? I would say no. A similar damage output can be achieved by adding more bikers, terminators or simply a couple of Predators. And the Ravenwing Grenade Launcher can create similar advantages. That said, it is not as bad as some have put it and can have it's place in many lists.

Nephilim Jetfighter

This is a more stylized flyer without the blings and stone of its flying cousin. Its weaponry is likewise more akin to imperial standards, featuring a twin-linked lascannon, a twin-linked heavy bolter and 6 one-use Blacksword missiles. To come to think about it, it's weapons and armour are similar to a Razorback, with the added durability. If the Dark Talon is an AI platform, then the  Nephilim goes after its AV10-11 transports. And this is one of the issues - there are several units in the  Dark Angels codex that can do this role more efficiently, and from T1. Multimelta toting land speeders and attack bikes will be a common sight in the DA lists, and naturally so since are cheap, spammable and can benefit from increased cover saves, saturation of targets, FNP auras (bikes only)... Other units such as missile laucher Devs, Riflemans or even Whirlwinds can also take this role.

If equipped with the Avenger Mega Bolter it gains some AI duality, supressing the enemy with 10 S5-6 shots (5 Avenger, 3 HB, 2 missiles per turn during 3 turns); for some reason GW has kept the main gun and missles only AP4 so again has a limited damage output. When considered in the context of the army, well again these are wounds that stack up with the TL botlers of the bikes or the storm bolters/heavy weapons of the terminators. The army can also have plenty of AP2 weapons to deal with MEQs/TEQs.

As an antiair platform, it is somehow disappointing. First of all, the TL lascannon will hit 9/10 times (roughly) and cause an internal hit 50% of times vs. AV11. The other 4 S5/6 shots can help getting additional glancing hits. As for the internal hits, its FP2 and can substitute a weapon destroyed resul by an inmobilized. So yes, it can take down a flyer but it can also just take a hull point or two and leave it still functional. Now again, there should be some more AA in the form of quad gun and flak missiles to help take it down.

Wait what about the points cost?

There's wide consensus in the Vendetta being severely undercosted, but even the comparison with the Storm Raven, a 200-250 points beast, is not good. For 30 more points the Storm Raven has better armour, better weaponry, PoTMS and the capacity to transport 12 units plus a Dreadnought. More often than not this is not a good idea but at least the 'Raven can do it. And it has an assault ramp. If we were to use the Storm Raven as refernce and reduce its point cost as we strip these upgrades, we would very likely end in Vendetta-levels of cost. As it stands now, there's nothing in the DA flyers that justify their currents points cost. Let's see what happens with the rumoured Dark Eldar and Tau Flyers coming soon.


The expectations were certainly higher - hopefully not to be as broken as Night Scythes are  but to be more deadly like Helldrakes are. The DA Flyers are not killy by themselves and what is worst, don't really add anything that the army has elsewhere. Top it with a high points cost for what they do and the result is, it is difficult to justify their inclusion. The firepower the DA flyers dish is merely acceptable, and they pale in comparison with their imperial counterparts.

In tournament games it is not a lesser factor that the flyers have to start and reserve to enter the board alter. Many times the more you will play is 5 turns, further diminishing the return of your investment.

To close, I wouldn't go as far to say they are unplayable; they are useful after their own fashion and fit well with what the rest of the army do, so please go and field them if you like their look, fluff or just because you own the model. But efficiency-wise I would be tempted to invest the points somewhere else.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dark Angels: It's all about synergy

So Dark Angels are finally here and the codex has been out enough days to start making some early analysis. The codex looks solid, with several interesting builds, dirty cheap HQs (65 point for a divination Libby? count me in thanks), good terminators and bikes and an assortment of special rules/equipment that open up a lot of possibilities. So while I await the ton of stuff I ordered at Wayland to arrive, let's get onto the aspect that dictates the way this codex is meant to be played: sinergy.

That is, sinergy. While most units are rock-solid on their own, the codex is at its best when several units are used together with an specific aim. 1+1>2 when it comes to the performance of the DA. Now this is true of most armies, where individual units usually fulfill specific roles and it is the conjunction of each unit work taht brings to success. So for example, Devs remove transports and tactical squads move up to rapid range fire, etc. In the case of Dark Angels, the synergies seem to be stronger as the different units not only complement each other, but enhance their performance. Here are some examples:

Ravenwing + Deathwing.

 Both units have a set of rules that are very good on their own but excel when used together. The Ravenwing can start in the board at the edge of your DZ, then scout 12" to get to the middle of the board. T1 they can move (and turbo-boost if needed) to be in your opponent's gunline. T2 the Deathwing arrives within 6" from the teleport homer, so no scatter and use their now TL guns to beat some face.

At this point we have a solid anvil in the form of the Terminators, with storm bolters/heavy weapons and power fists, and a mobile anvil with the hit and run bikers, especially in the case of the Knights with their relentless TL plasma talons and S5 rending CCW.

This allows us to 1) move the Ravenwing up the board with a 2+ cover save, 2) bring the Deathwing exactly where we need them, and when we need them (use DW assault to select what comes in T1 and T2), 3) alpha strike when the DW comes (remember TL guns and split fire), 4) put a lot of pressure in your opponent and 5) overall dictacte the direction of the game.

Ravenwing bikers + Dark Shroud

This is an obvious one, the combination of the bikers' jink saves, skilled rider and the dark shroud aura give them a 2+ cover save, perfect to cover the space and get deep in your opponent's DZ. Unless they have weapons that ignore cover, the Ravenwing will get there intact. If there are, put Sammael in front of the unit spearheading the attack and let him take the hits. 4++ and Eternal Warrior will help.

Tactical Squad + Ravenwing + Devastation Standard

The thin green line
The Devastation Standard turns all nearby boltguns onto Salvo 2/4 weapons, meaning a static Tactical Squad will make 40 bolter shots at 24"... bring in a 65 point Divination Libby and said Tactical Squad does no longer have an anemic damage output. The problem is they need to stay static to do so, so deploy an Aegis Defence Line as fast forward as you can, then put the gunline behind. A couple of tactical squads, a command squad to carry the Standard and a Libby. More than enough to secure a couple of home objectives. The rest of the army will have to de-mech your opponent, and that is where these attack bikes and double-melta speeders from the Ravenwing come to help. Once the troops are in the ground, few will resist 80 bolter shots.

It is also worth mentioning the Rad Grenades from the RW Grenade Launcher that reduce -1T to the unit they hit, so these S4 shots wound MEQs on 3s, and insta-kill eldars and GEQs!! say hi Yriel :)

Ravenwing bikers + Devastation Standard

The problem with the previous approach was that the Tactical squads needed to remain static, which can be a tactical disadvantage sometimes. Another way to use the Standard is with the Ravenwing squads - a standard squad with 6 bikers and an Attack Bike will make 28 twin-linked S4 shots at 24", even with moving (Relentless, remember?). The overwatch fire would be quite spectacular if someone dares charge onto that, and if not, well they should have a 3+ cover save with a Dark shroud nearby. The problem here is that the Standard needs to be carried by the RW Command Squad, which can't have more than 3 members. That said, I wouldn't be too concerned about their survibability as this unit can turbo-boost and get the 2+ cover save, plus Sammael can always join and help tank any wounds coming through.

Belial + Deathwing

Belial has been designed to spearhead the Deathwing Assault, and does this very well thanks to his teleport homer and his special rule to never scatter when deep striking. Send him T1 along with a tough squad, and T2 the rest of the DW will arrive with no scatter. He also carries a nifty AP3 fleshbane sword (wounds everything on 2s) that strikes at I5, and makes precision shots on 5+.

Azrael + DA

As the DA Chapter Master it is only fitting that Azrael has great synergies with most of his army. Let's see. First of all unlocks the Doublewing, although this has its own problems (this goes for another post, but basically you can't have both wings with a significant strenght due to the points limit, unless you're playing above 2000 points). Strangely enough Azrael can't join neither Death or Ravenwing, but he does conferr his 4++ to the unit he is with. Enter veterans or tacticals and a drop pod to take him wherever he needs to be. Alternatively he can also stay home behind the ADL, manning the gun and helping supress any infiltrators/outflankers behind your lines.

On top of that, Azrael provides Ld10 army wide, which with Stubborn means leadership is not going to be a problem, gets to select the Warlord trait that he wants from the DA table and is a beatstick himself with his 2+/4++, 4W (wtf) and S6 AP3 precision power sword.


With access to 4 psychic branches, including the coveted Divination, 65 points base and the ability to get special gear, well Librarians are a very interesting choice. With Terminator armour they can join the DW party and since they have access to special equipment, well they can purchase an auspex and reduce the cover of an enemy unit by -1, right before the RW Knights unleash a storm of plasta.


The Dark Angels are looking like a very solid codex that will have its peak performance when the different units work in perfect synergy. Hybrid builds will probably outperform themed armies like the very popular pure Deathwing as the codex seems built with the idea of combining a few DW/RW units with other support units and scoring troops. The special characters work in a similar way and even the new units excel at supporting others.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Dark Angel, by Lionel P Johnson

Dark Angel, with thine aching lust
To rid the world of penitence:
Malicious Angel, who still dost
My soul such subtile violence!

Because of thee, no thought, no thing,
Abides for me undesecrate:
Dark Angel, ever on the wing,
Who never reachest me too late!

When music sounds, then changest thou
Its silvery to a sultry fire:
Nor will thine envious heart allow
Delight untortured by desire.

Through thee, the gracious Muses turn,
To Furies, O mine Enemy!
And all the things of beauty burn
With flames of evil ecstasy.

Because of thee, the land of dreams
Becomes a gathering place of fears:
Until tormented slumber seems
One vehemence of useless tears.

When sunlight glows upon the flowers,
Or ripples down the dancing sea:
Thou, with thy troop of passionate powers,
Beleaguerest, bewilderest, me.

Within the breath of autumn woods,
Within the winter silences:
Thy venomous spirit stirs and broods,
O Master of impieties!

The ardour of red flame is thine,
And thine the steely soul of ice:
Thou poisonest the fair design
Of nature, with unfair device.

Apples of ashes, golden bright;
Waters of bitterness, how sweet!
O banquet of a foul delight,
Prepared by thee, dark Paraclete!

Thou art the whisper in the gloom,
The hinting tone, the haunting laugh:
Thou art the adorner of my tomb,
The minstrel of mine epitaph.

I fight thee, in the Holy Name!
Yet, what thou dost, is what God saith:
Tempter! should I escape thy flame,
Thou wilt have helped my soul from Death:

The second Death, that never dies,
That cannot die, when time is dead:
Live Death, wherein the lost soul cries,
Eternally uncomforted.

Dark Angel, with thine aching lust!
Of two defeats, of two despairs:
Less dread, a change to drifting dust,
Than thine eternity of cares.

Do what thou wilt, thou shalt not so,
Dark Angel! triumph over me:
Lonely, unto the Lone I go;
Divine, to the Divinity. 

Lionel Pigot Johnson

Kudos to this delightful post at Pins of War.

Monday, January 14, 2013

10K pageviews and writing at Unforgiven Studios!

Hiya! I just wanted to announce a couple of good news. First the blog has hit its first 10.000 pageviews! this is a tiny number in comparison to the main blogs but hey, it has only been up and running for a few months so it's an important milestone for me. Thanks so much for the visits and the comments! appreciate it guys.

Second good news is that I'll be posting a weekly column on Wednesdays at the Unforgiven Studios blog. All the authors will be posting great content in the coming weeks so please come, have a look and let us know what you think!

The column is called Of Wolf and Man and will cover everything related to Space Wolves (surprise huh!). I've been for 15+ years in the hobby and I can say nothing compares to collecting and playing the mighty 6th Legiones Astartes. Grey Hunters, Long Fangs and the rest of their Fenrisian buddies just crap all over their Vanilla counterparts!

Take care!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ezekiel ends the Rune Priest Myth and more

With the DA codex leaks flooding the interwebs we are learning a lot of interesting things. Let us briefly talk about some of the most surprising revelations:

Ezekiel: With all the talk on Belial and Sammael to an extent, the Chief Librarian of the DA has kept a low profile until now. He's a master 3 psyker with a default artificier armour, 3 wounds, access to divination and a couple of relics for a measly 145 points. For reference, Njal's 245 points only allow him to be level 2. What da fuq. Pretty good if you ask me, although he can have a difficult fit in army lists heavily based in the Death and Ravenwings. Oh and basic Libbys are only 65 points now. A psychic sale!

Fly away from the Flyers: The Nephilim costs a hefty 190 points, only 10 less than a Storm Raven and losses 1 AV point on each facing, the TL MM and the 12+1 transport capacity in an assault vehicle. The TL Lascannon can and should be replaced for the Avenger mega Bolter, which is sort of longer range assault cannon (but without rending). It has 6 AP4 missiles that are very meh. The Dark Talon doesn't fare much better at 160 points, although the real impact of the stasis bomb and the blind effects in games remain to be seen.

Standard-issue Standards: DA will have access to a large variety of Company/Chapter standards, all buffing nearby units. The most eye-catching is the Standard of Fortitude that grants FNP to units within a 12" aura for a hefty 85 points. A BA Sang Priest is 50 points but only has a 6" range. Plus the DA standard seem to be carried by non-ICs, and given it will likely be surrounded by hammenators and Knights, well odds are it will be rather difficult to get rid of it.

Challenge me if you dare: The Deathwing Champion from the Command Squad upgrade is just 5 points and gets the monstruous Halberd of Caliban, that strikes at I with +2S and AP2. In a WS5 2+ guy. Heck this guy can go head-to-head with many of the combat beasts out there and come back on top of them.

Gets cold plasma: We now know why this is called a storm battery, and is because it's rather bad. It can shoot 3 small blasts or 1 large but the range is just 24". Remember this is sitting on top of an AV10 Land Speeder so even boltguns pose a serious threat. Luckily for those that pre-ordered the model, the kit includes components for the Dark Shroud that, aesthetics aside, seems a much more usable option for the 80 points it costs.

Black Crowes: The Ravenwing command squad costs 120 points base with just 3 bikers and cannot be expanded, lest you add an IC. I'm not very sure on the viability of 3 T5 W1 3+ bikers.

I could ramble on and on but the idea was to select just a few interesting points. So what has surprised you the most / you're looking forward to?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Dark Angels weapons compilation and speculation

So DA are finally up for advanced orders and we keep learning more and more about the new units. From a game standpoint what's really piquing my interest right now are the new weapons featured in this codex. We also know there will be some special rules but I don't expect anything fancy here aside of the rumoured one-time Smite ability on the Knights (that would be Ward-esque at S10 AP2 once a game). Here's a compilation of these new fancy toys and my own speculation on what the stats could be looking like:

Plasma Storm Battery (Dark SpeederVengeance): Is it me or this looks like a twin-liked version of the Plasma cannon found in the Leman Russ Executioner? that would be a 36" S7 AP2 Heavy 3, twin-linked! pretty devastating but sadly a AV10 platform with 2 hull points isn't exactly durable. I wonder what Mr. Vetock is keeping up his sleeve?

Rift Cannon (Dark Talon): This is the strangest of the lot. Rumours mention that the rift cannon being related to warp technology somehow ("cracks  a hole in reality and creates an implosion"). The look of the weapon is also that of a gun with a strong recoil and low rate of fire, so this is looking to be a blast, medium/large strength sort of gun. Perhaps with some fancy special rule (i.e. ignores cover or the like). My bet is S6-7 AP4 Large Blast Ordenance 1

Stasis bomb (Dark Talon): Very little is known of this, just that is featured in the Dark Talon  and that is one-time only. There's a hint in which the Dark Talon is good at both suppressing and weakening the enemy infantry, so this is where the bomb could come to play - causes some sort of adverse effects but no wounds. I just hope it's not like psychotroke grenades - keep the cheese away from DA please :)

Avenger Mega Bolter (Nephilim jetfighter): It has the looks of the Vulcan Mega Bolter (60" S6 AP3 Heavy 15) but the name is different and it seems a gun too large to be fielded in a light flyer; this a weapon is only found in some Titans and super heavy tanks after all. On the other end we have the Gatling psilencer that has a 24" S4 AP- Heavy 12 profile. Combined with the Heavy bolters this yields 15 S4/5 shots but its not very impressive in an army full of bolters of all flavours and plasma. I would also dismiss the gatling gun (S5 AP- Heavy 15) found in the Leman Russ Punisher as it is not a proper bolter gun (it belongs to the autocannon family).

Where do we end? the WD copy mentions the Nephilim being good at taking out enemy flyers (so AV10-12) and light mech, so I expect it to fall in a reasonable middle term between the OP Vulcan bolter and the meh Gatling psilencer. Some S6-7 with a high rate of fire. 

Something else to note is that the heavy bolters sponsons have only been spotted next to the Avenger Bolter but not with the Rift Cannon or TL las cannon. Perhaps an indication that the Avenger Bolter is a less powerful weapon than the others?

Blacksword missiles (Nephilim Jetfigher): Probably a sort of Hunter Killer missiles (S8 AP3 heavy 1 shot) or a small variation (like BA's Bloodstrike missiles found in their Storm Raven) that have AP1 instead. A completely different profile is not to be dismissed if we look at the missiles featured in the GK version of the Storm Raven, that are especifically anti-psyker. In any case a 1 shot missile and a different profile to the Skyhammer found in the Storm Talon (60" S7 Ap4 Heavy 3) if the illustration below is representative.

Plasma Talon (Ravenwing Knights): While this has the look of a twin-linked plasma gun, I suspect the name has been changed to accomodate different stats. Specifically a lower range as the bikes are very mobile themselves. So perhaps a 6" version of the plasma gun we all know (and that some also love).

Grenade Launcher (Ravenwing Knights): This again has the look of a known weapon (astartes grenade launcher) but rumour has it could be related to the stasis bomb, perhaps reducing the enemy to I1 so the hammers strike at the same time. Speaking of which, I don't think a unit that already sports TL plasma and thunder hammers really needs more toys.

Corvus Thunder Hammer (Ravenwing Knights): I dont expect it to be more than fancy Thunder-Hammer, not even master-crafted. A few thunder hammers in a highly mobile, T5/3+ platform is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider all those plasma shots before the assault!

Mace of Absolution (Deathwing Knights): Perhaps a master-crafted variant of the standard power mauls with the rumoured 1-time Smite ability.

Flail of the Unforgiven (Deathwing Knights Grand Master): This could honestly be anything, but I'd be surprised it's not AP3 or lower or will seriously suck at challenges. It would also make for a strange unit with 5 storm shields and not a single AP3/AP2 weapon. The shape of the weapon with multiple parts could suggest a re-roll to hit? (it already strikes at S6)

Massive Halberd of Caliban (Deathwing Champion): hmm power axes are already AP2 and have a Strenght boost. This is a 2 handed weapon so it needs to gain something over losing the ability to carry a shield or a gun. More strenght would just make it a bog standard power fist so... do you see where I'm getting? yes looks like there will be some fancy rule here. Astorath's Executioner Axe is a 2-handed axe and its special rule is making your opponent reroll passed invulnerable saves.

Anyway we'll only have to wait a few more days to find out. What are everyone's bets / guesses?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Accepting comissions again!

Well it's been a while but I finally managed to get enough time to accept comissions again. See below some examples of my work. I consider myself to paint high standard table top level, and I've been lucky enough to win best painted army at several tournemants. I can paint in a clean style (like the scouts or DA tacticals) or add weathering and chipping like the DW and DC dread) and use both brush/airbrush.

Anyway let the images do the talking! If you are interested send me an email to "ledzep[mynamehere] at hotmail dot com" or post a comment below.

Deathwing (Airbrush, magnetized arms)

Dark Angels Tacticals (airbrush)

Blood Angels Scouts, brush

Thunderwolf cavalry (brush, magnetized torsos and arms, custom snow base)

Death Company Dread (brush/airbrush, pigments, magnetized to use all options included in the box. Torso swivels around legs!)

 Space Hulk Terminators (conversions, airbrush)

Space Wolf Scout (brush, conversions, snow bases)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

6th Ed Blood Angels Codex Review: Fast Attack

Welcome to the latest installment of the Blood Angels codex review for 6th Ed. Now it's time to look at the Fast Attack Choices. Other armies have great units in this slot like Vendettas, Helldrakes or Wraiths. How do Blood Angels fare in this slot? Well we do get some specialized units on top of the bog standard vanilla options. While none of them are especially flashy, there are some very interesting options for certain army styles. You may also want to take a look to the HQsElites and Troops review.

The Top Contenders

Vanguard Veterans: This is a unit that can deep strike reliably thanks to the Descent of Angels rule (1D6 scatter, can reroll missed reserves rolls) and can assault straight away the turn it arrives from reserve. This is quite a thing. In most cases this results in Vanguard Vets deep striking T2 with very little dispersion and assaulting a tank, a bubble wrap unit (i.e. Guardsmen so your ASM can access the tanks behind) or a dangerous unit to tarpit it. As always, good things in the 40k world are expensive and VV are no exception - the points start to add up very quickly. Give them a couple of them melta bombs, add a fist and a shield or two and they can reliably take on most things of the 40k universe (protip: always keep them within 6" of a Sang Priest and Libby). The Sergeant has a power or glaive sword by default so I would not add more stuff, said loadout already clocks at a whooping 220 points. The downside for VV  in 6th edition is the ubiquotous random charge lenght - since VV have used their jump packs to arrive from reserve, they can't use it to charge. So no RCL rerolls or hammer of wrath, but still a very interesting unit for certain army styles (i.e. take on the most inmediate threats for hybrid DOA armies, assault AA elements when playing Storm Ravens, stop that Land Raider full of Hammenators in its own DZ, etc).
Vanguard Veterans. Hitting hard since M31
Attack Bikes: Fast melta, T5, ability to get FNP and hide behind Preds / Vindies / Rhinos. This is quite good by itself and doesn't break the bank. Can be taken in units of 3 but are also useful as units of 1. Even with less AV13 or Razor spam armies it is still quite easy to hide the attack bikes, or at least get a cover save. However BA have no problems in getting fast melta through other means (ASM, Land Speeders, Storm Ravens) so there is some competition here. That said attack bikes are cheap and easy to hide and will find its place in many a BA lists. Their ability to maneuver in midfield and get in melta range, or put a couple of wounds in a MC makes them a common sight in the BA armies.

The situational choices

Baal Predators: Their firestorm cannon (S6 AP3 template) is devastating against MEQ, and we're seeing quite a lot of foot slogging marine armies nowadays. With their scout ability they can jeopardize the deployment of marine armies without transports (Rhinos are dead I hear you say?), eradicate Long Fangs and Devs, burn out of cover those pesky home scoring units and overall influence your opponent's deployment. The other option is the twin-linked assault cannon which is undoubtedly a fine gun by itself with good AI/AT duality. Both loadouts clock in at 115 points which is decent for a fast scouting AV13 vehicle; HB / HF sponsons can be added on top but the points add up very quickly. I would however be reluctant to field Baal Preds in 6th Ed as they operate in the 24" or less range, and are hit CC in a 3+/4+. This is pretty bad and means any powerfist, any melta bomb at 24" poses a serious threat, not to mention that it isn't hard to get a few plasma shots at the side AV11 armour. Baal Preds are still playable but require finesse and a very good coordination with the rest of units. Let's not forget their favourable FOC placement, allowing for lists with 6 Fast Predators, or 9 AV13 vehicles by adding 3 Furiosos.

Land Speeders: Same as their vanilla equivalents with a red paintjob. Most of what has been said of attack bikes can be applied to Land Speeders, with the caveat that the attack bikes are easier to hide and get access to FNP. Land Speeders remain to be an interesting choice, being able to threat infantry with the Heavy Flamers, tanks with the Multi-Melta or both with the common 5th Ed loadout of HF/MM. This is probably where Land Speeders are at their best, hiding behind cover or BLOS and being able to flame/melta anything that gets any close. They can't contest objectives like in the past (and really, it's not often that a Land Speeder gets to survive that many turns) but at least they now get Jink cover saves. Other weapon choices like the assault cannon or CML seem expensive for such a fragile platform.

Best leave at home

Bikers: These are the same as their vanilla counterparts but have the big caveat that BA have no bike command squads and can't be made scoring. If you like Marine Bikers, go Ravenwing, White Scars or plain vanilla. At most they will be led by a chaplain and get FNP, which is not bad at all. This is not a cheap proposition however and if you consider that their main purpose will be to move fast and engage an opponent unit, well we know the BA have plenty of hard-hitting, fast moving units elsewhere. So while they are not really bad per se, there's nothing they can do better or for less points than other choices.

Scout bikers: This is probably the only unit I would rate as plainly bad in the FA slot. Scout bikers are meant to be a harassing unit that scouts or outflanks and threatens your opponent from T1 but aren't really great at neither shooting or CC. They also get to place a mine that can kill a few GEQs and that's it. Now units like Vanguard Veterans, ASM or drop-podded Furiosos are a threat from T2 and something your opponent needs to react to or suffer the consequences, but Scout bikers are just a small nuissance that will hardly have any impact in the game's output.


Where other codexes get interesting, different units in their Fast Attack slots (Wraiths, Thunderwolves, Helldrakes, Vendettas to cite but a few) that are featured onto most lists, Blood Angels don't get anything specially good but instead a handful of units that can complement well different army styles. Vanguard Veterans aside the rest of options don't bring anything that other units in the codex can't deliver as well, but they add a different flavour to the list and are usable units. This is when generalship skills influence list-building and some of these units can be very useful in the right hands. Fortunately for the BA players, the rest of FOC slots have great options that make up for a somewhat disappointing FA section.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Deathwing Terminators Showcase

Now that the internet is going crazy with the new DA Knights is a good time to present the DW termies from Dark Vengeance. You might notice the slightly different postures as I magnetized all the weapons. By the way if the Assault Cannon is now only 20 points I will field it quite often. Not only is pretty good, but looks badass!

The Energy Sword of the Sergeant is painted in the well-known Les Burstley way (check out his awesome video here). After a few unsuccesful attempts this is the first time I actually manage to achieve a satisfying finish. The small white lines is something I've seen Arsies do on his magnificient Grey Knights tutorial. Alas, the airbrush learning curve is a steep one.

The bases come from Secret Weapon miniatures. I just added some the razorwire in the base and might add some more chaos helmets / bits if GW releases a new set that resembles the DV Chaos chosen

So what do you think? Comments / suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dark Angels Tactical Squad Showcase

New year, new post! Here is the Tactical Squad from DV in all of it's plasma splendour, right on time for the new codex! With this squad I tried a different approach to painting power armour that I had taken with my Space Wolves and Blood Angels, and I'm pretty pleased in how they turned out. Can't wait to put them in the field!

And some close-ups. First the the plasma gunners. I'm pretty pleased with the soft OSL glowing, especially on the guy on the right. He's got a bigger gun so I supposed the effect should be more evident, as opposed to the guy to the left that has a subtle glow in his chest eagle and helmet.

And a legionary in Corvus armour. The application of light in some areas has diminished the overall darkness of the model but the results are worth it. The bases turned out really dark and make a good contrast.

Let me know what do you guys think. Would you make any changes for the upcoming squads?

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