Editor: Backdoor article for a new column being developed by Agent Shadow! Leave comments with opinions please.
The second codex of Warhammer 40,000 6th Edition has come out with much fanfare and anticipation. New models have hit the shelves and so has the codex that will usher in a new era for the Dark Angels. New fluff has been added through the perspective of a new writer, Jeremy Vetock. The Dark Angels see many new units that can be used to devastating effect as well as an expanded armory with which to deal with increasingly more powerful foes. This is a quick review of the new codex and the changes that it will bring to what was once the First Legion, now secretive and guarded protectors of humanity who shun the accolades that they deserve and show only a monastic and taciturn nature. The five sections of the book are:
- The Dark Angels
- The Unforgiven
- The Armoury of the Rock
- Sons of the Lion
- Angels of Death
The Dark Angels:
This section of the book covers the “fluff” of the Dark Angels and their story. While it has no impact on the gameplay, it allows the player to understand the army that they will be fielding. The core fluff of the Dark Angels back story is well in tact from what has previously been written, but presents it in an artful enough way to not feel like a regurgitation of the Chapter’s history. The way it was written instead feels like a tale that is told many times to many generations. It also further defines the ill will and hatred that developed between the Dark Angels Primarch and the man who was his best friend, Luther.
What makes the story different in this codex is that a little more thought and depth is given to forces other than the Dark Angels during the Great Crusade and beyond. This helps to put the Dark Angels on par with their Space Marine bretherens’ stories, as well as further explaining what happened after the destruction of the their homeworld of Caliban. One of the things evident in the early stages of this codex is that there will be more short stories added that give a sense of depth to the Dark Angels Chapter and their “personality” as a Space Marines Chapter.
The codex also begins to flesh out doubts that are being held by forces and organizations outside of the Dark Angels themselves. Another of the new fluff features is expanding upon the Hunt for the Fallen and finding subtle ways to introduce the new units into the old stories. A timeline of the greatest battle of the Dark Angels is included as well but in a new format that fits a bubbled timeline instead of just a list of dates and battles, lending it to a more linear feel that also aligns with the styles of the 6th Edition rulebook for 40k.
This section of the codex sees the introduction of the main forces and characters of the Dark Angels. As is typical, many of these are the standard types of marines that can be fielded from Loyalist forces, as well as the leaders who make up the Dark Angels. No changes were made to the leaders (except to add Warlord traits and the requisite 6th Edition rules; plus updating Azrael’s weapon skill) and all of them have been retained.
The Dark Angels see a unique selection of Warlord traits tailored to their style of war, as well as a chance for the “Stubborn” universal special rule and the rule “Inner Circle” which is meant to aid in the destruction of Chaos Space Marines as well as granting the “Fearless” universal special rule.. The section writes a decent amount of fluff for the background of the units and characters, and introduces the Dark Angels newest units.
Deathwing Vehicles- While the vehicles that can receive this rule are not new, the rules governing them are. Vehicles that serve the 1st Company (Deathwing) are painted bone white like the terminator company they are a part of and gain the “Preferred Enemy (Chaos Space Marines)” rule as well as the ability to make an opponent re-roll the result on the Vehicle Damage table.
Deathwing Command Squads- This new unit allows Azrael, Belial, or a Company Master to grab a command squad that is outfitted in terminator armor. This unit bears a Champion with the Halberd of Caliban to do extra damage and an Apothecary who will grant the “Feel No Pain” universal special rule. It also comes with “Split Fire” and “Vengeful Strike” which allows the terminators to use the “Twin-Linked” special rule.
**”Vengeful Strike” also applies to standard Deathwing Terminators
Deathwing Knights- This unit is largely considered the most feared of the Dark Angels additions. These bad boys come in with the Mace of Absolution while the sergeant has the Flail of the Unforgiven. This means that it is a unit with a very good invulnerable save, strong weapons, and plenty of pain to be dealt. They can also increase their toughness by locking shields together and have access to precision strikes. They are indeed fearsome and a highlight of the new codex.
Ravenwing Black Knights- These new Dark Angels are from the Ravenwing novel that was recently released by the Black Library, as well as the new land speeders in the codex. They are the elite of the Ravenwing. This unit benefits from the toughness granted by a bike, special hammers meant to deal additional death, and twin-linked plasma guns on their bikes. Add the “Hit & Run”, “Scouts”, and “Skilled Rider” rules, and these men are ready to deal armor piercing swift death to the enemy.
Ravenwing Command Squad- This is another companion unit to a Dark Angels headquarters unit and is his protector. This unit bears a Champion with a blade of Caliban to do extra damage and an Apothecary who will grant the “Feel No Pain” universal special rule. The “Hit & Run”, “Scouts”, and “Skilled Rider” rules also apply to the command squad.
Land Speeder Vengeance- The Land Speeder Vengeance is a larger more powerful variant of the Land Speeder used only by the Dark Angels Ravenwing. It makes use of the fearsome plasma storm battery as well as a pulpit in which a marine is mounted either with a heavy bolter or assault cannon. This new Land Speeder now adds a powerful amount of support to the fast but vulnerable elements of the Ravenwing.
Ravenwing Darkshroud- This Land Speeder variant is actually a variant upon the Land Speeder Vengeance. It makes use of an Icon of Old Caliban from the old legion days of the Dark Angels. This relic imbues the Dark Angels with a sense to fight harder, as well as protecting them from the harm of an enemy. This unit confers cover saves to itself and nearby units, as well as helping assault results.
Nephilim Jetfighter- This unit is one of two new flyers given to the Dark Angels to help keep pace with the new “age of flyers” that has developed in 6th Edition. Meant to establish air superiority, the Nephilim carries an array of anti-flyer armament that includes twin-linked heavy bolters, twin-linked lascannons, and blacksword missiles; as well as the ability to take an Avenger Mega Bolter.
Ravenwing Dark Talon- This is the second of the flyers given to the Dark Angels. This is a mobile shrine of sorts showing the most gothic nature of the Dark Angels on a single kit. The backstory behind this flyer’s weapons shows that not all is openly shown by the Dark Angels when it should be, further continuation of their secretive nature. This is a ground support flyer that comes with a rift cannon that can crack reality, and a stasis bomb meant to slow enemies down long enough to ensure they won’t be a threat.
The Armoury of the Rock:
This section details the new weapons and items found in the Dark Angels armory. The majority of the weapons refer to the main rulebook since the weapon profiles are listed there for standardization. Weapons unique to the Dark Angels include:
- Avenger Mega Bolter- A dedicated light armor gun that rains punishing shells down upon the enemy.
- Blacksword Missiles- Missiles designed to take down flyers and light armor.
- Plasma Storm Battery- A fierce weapon that can fire rapid bursts or charged plasma shots.
- Plasma Talon- Twin-linked plasma guns with additional range unique to the Ravenwing.
- Ravenwing Grenade Launcher- Grenade launchers that use all manner of shells, including radiation and stasis.
- Rift Cannon- An arcane cannon known to crack a hole in reality itself and create a deadly implosion.
- Stasis Bomb- An ancient technology powers this unique bomb that the Dark Angels deny knowing how to build. This weapon is known to affect enemies by slowing them for milliseconds but long enough for the Dark Angels to strike with lethal precision and extra time.
- Blade of Caliban- These blades are relics that the Champions of a company wield in battle and are a symbol of the heroism and duty that the wielder has shown.
- Corvus Hammer- Unique military picks wielded by the elite of the Ravenwing that are known to get through armor as if it isn’t there.
- Mace of Absolution- Spiked power mauls used by the elite Deathwing Knights that can be fully charged to hit with maximum force.
- Flail of the Unforgiven- A three headed flail used by the leader of the Deathwing Knights as a symbol of office and as a reminder to traitors of the fate that awaits them.
- Halberd of Caliban- This massive weapon was once a Blade of Caliban that now serves as the armament of the Champion of the Deathwing.
Special Issue Wargear
- Auspex- This scanning device helps the Dark Angels locate hidden enemies.
- Conversion Field- A device that creates an energy zone that protects the user.
- Displacer Field- A device that “displaces” the user in order to protect it from serious harm.
- Infravisor- This item allows a Space Marine to see through many types of spectrums and helps with night vision.
- Perfidious Relic- The Watchers in the Dark bear these relics recovered by the Deathwing which cause feelings of dread in an enemy and reduce the abilities of psykers.
- Porta-Rack- An invention that allows torture on the battlefield that will inspire fear in enemies when used.
- Power Field Generator- An artifact that creates a force bubble that protects anything nearby.
The Dark Angels, like all Space Marine Chapters also have their own banners and standards. Each one has varying effects depending on what the player desires, ranging from additional attacks, to success on Morale and Pinning tests, to additional rules and benefits. There are also special Chapter relics available to the Dark Angels that confer different bonuses.
Sons of the Lion:
This section of the codex is simply a showcase of the old and new Dark Angels models that includes multiple examples of how to paint the Space Marines and their successor Chapters. It also shows multiple views of some of the more special models and showcases their unique features.
Angels of Death:
The final section of the new codex details the wargear, options, and compositions of the Dark Angels units. Their special rules have already been explained, and all that is left is the points values and how the units are set up in game. As always, points costs for items are not always equivalent between the Space Marine codexes, but barring upgrades and with some new changes, the Dark Angels cost roughly the same as other Marine type units.
One of the major changes is that Azrael changes the Force Organization Chart a bit and can now bring Deathwing and Ravenwing as troops. Belial and Sammael can bring Deathwing and Ravenwing respectively as troops since they are the Company Master of each of those fighting forces. Another of the changes is that Techmarines are no-longer an Elite unit but are taken in conjunction with other Headquarters units for an extra cost and without using up a slot in the Force Organization Chart.
The biggest change as far as Troops choices is that Scouts for the Dark Angels are now Troops instead of their former status as Elites. What many players will see as a downside to this change is that their ballistic skill has also been reduced from what it used to be. Advancing into the Troops section also shows that Veteran Sergeants are no longer a free upgrade to the unit and that it has to be bought similar to older editions where Terminator Honors were used (this extends into ALL units that have a Sergeant and are not part of the Deathwing or a Veteran squad). To compensate for this, the unit costs are cheaper to allow the player to choose how they want the unit run and if they feel the bonuses are necessary. The Dark Angels also gain access to flakk missiles to help deal with flyers. The final thing of note is that while there was a hope of the Dark Angels getting access to Sternguard and Vanguard Veteran squads, it did not happen; however, the Dark Angels retain their Company Veteran squads.