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.


  1. Very nice article. That ravenwing/deathwing sounds like fun to try out!

  2. Yeah, I'm looking forward to field the mighty Doublewing! but I'll need to come up with a good list, points stack up quickly with DW/RW


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