Saturday 4 July 2015

Dark Angels Codex Review Part 3- Special Rules, Traits, Psychics and Relics

Here is the third part of my 7th edition Dark Angels Codex review. Part 1 covered the Ravenwing, while part 2 dealt with the Deathwing. With the two most flavourful companies dealt with, I thought I would take a look at the parts making up the remaining companies. These reviews will be split into several parts, as there is a lot more to cover compared to the Ravenwing and Deathwing. This part will focus on the various special rules, warlord traits, psychic powers and relics for the codex. I will try not to repeat rules that I have covered in the previous parts (such as Deathwing and Ravenwing rules and units).

Grim Resolve:
This special rule grants your units Stubborn and overwatch fire at BS2. Now, the benefits of Stubborn are not be immediately apparent on Space Marines. With marines having "And They Shall Know No Fear", losing combat is not such a big deal. If they are caught in a sweeping advance, they simply remain locked in combat.
Where I think Stubborn may be useful is for your backfield heavy weapons units and objective holding units. As these units are likely to be deployed close to the board edge, there is a real danger that they could flee off the board. Stubborn should help to mitigate this, allowing your units to test on unmodified Ld 8 (in most cases) and should help them remain on the board in the final turns of the game (when a backfield assault is more likely to occur) and secure objectives or tie up rampaging enemy units.
Overwatch firing with BS2 is a nice bonus that should double the number of overwatch hits that you get. This ability will be more useful against lightly armoured assault units (Ork boyz, Tyranid swarms, even guard infantry) where the bolter is likely to do more damage. At the very least, this should reduce the number of attacks coming your way and at best, could lead to some failed assaults, giving you extra time to reduce their numbers even further. The fact that this rule can be improved even further with the use of formations to give you BS3 overwatch or even full BS overwatch, this becomes a great ability. The chance for essentially an extra turn of shooting at a charging enemy cannot be underestimated and will make a mess of many armies.

 As per usual with modern codices, the Dark Angels have access to their own warlord traits table.

1. The Hunt- Grants warlord precision shots and gives shooting attacks ignores cover. Not a great trait, the warlord is unlikely to have a powerful gun to make use of the special rules, but could come in handy when paired with a combi-melta, combi-grav or the Lion's Roar relic.

2. Courage of the Lion- gives a 12" fearless bubble. This is one of the better traits on the table. Granting fearless to a large number of units will be of benefit to a static gunline or a fast moving assault force that can stick together to overwhelm the enemy. A solid trait that Azrael and Ezekial have access to.

3. For the Lion!- Furious charge on the warlord and his unit. Quite a situational bonus if you want your warlord to be part of an assault unit. As none of the Dark Angels characters are amazing in an assault, it is a decent trait that will help them cause more wounds in the first turn of combat.

4. Brilliant Planning- get to choose +1 or -1 to reserve rolls. Again, a decent trait that can come in useful if you have some reserves. Being able to delay units in reserve for late game objective grabbing or to counter enemy reserves is a useful trait to have at your disposal. However, if you are planning to use a lot of reserves, there are formations that allow you to choose exactly when your reserves arrive and drop pods can guarantee the arrival of some units in the first turn, so not much use for this trait if your army is reserve heavy and you use the detachments for more predictable reserves.

5. Rapid Manoeuvre- warlord and his unit get +3" to charge, run and turboboost moves. A great trait for a bike-mounted warlord (Sammael has it as standard) ensuring you get additional mobility for your unit. Getting an average charge range of 9-10" on a unit is great, ensuring that you will be able to get in to combat when needed. The additional run move can be useful for grabbing objectives when you really need to make that extra distance. For me, one of the best traits on the table.

6. Hold at all costs- Warlord and his unit get feel no pain within 3" of an objective. A useful trait given how many of the scenarios rely on objectives, giving your warlord a bit more durability if you are using him to hold an objective late in the game. Not the best trait for getting a 6 on the table.

Some solid warlord traits for the Dark Angels, the best, in my opinion, being Courage of the Lion and Rapid Manoeuvre. Courage of the lion will be useful for gun-line or bike armies, ensuring that the army stays in the fight as long as possible. Rapid Manoeuvre will be great with Ravenwing armies, giving your warlord and his unit an average threat range of 22" (12" move and 10" charge).

One of the biggest causes for excitement and reasons to take a Librarian in the new codex is the Dark Angels Interromancy psychic powers.

Mind Worm (Primaris, WC1)- A focused witchfire with 12" range, S6 AP2, ignores cover and Sap Will. With a stat line like that, Mind Worm is going to be able to wound most targets it hits and only an invulnerable save is going to stop it. The real bonus is going to come when it hurts multi-wound characters. Sap Will means -3 to WS, BS, I and Ld to any model it wounds. Permanently.  This has the ability to turn close combat monsters into bumbling gretchin, allowing your more powerful close combat characters to finish them off. This has the potential to be an enemy warlord slayer under some circumstances.

Seed of Fear (WC1)- 9" malediction that forces all enemy units in range to take morale, pinning and fear tests on 3D6. A very nice power to have, making enemy units more likely to fail tests with an average roll of 9-12, so even high Ld units are likely to fail. With a few ways to get fear in the Dark Angels army (Interrogator-Chaplain, darkshroud and Eye of the Unseen relic), this is a nice way to power up your assault units by decreasing the attacking power of the enemy units. This power can be a bit of a double-edged sword. If you are close enough to use this power, you are most likely wanting to assault the enemy and making them more likely to fail morale checks from shooting attacks and flee out of range of your unit could leave you in a punishing position.

Righteous Repugnance (WC1)- Gives a unit the Rage special rule. This power is awesome for some units in the army that are hard hitters. Giving the Black Knights five attacks on the charge will be absolutely brutal. It would also be handy for Deathwing Knights, but they are more likely to be charged, so will not gain the benefit.

Aversion (WC1)- A malediction on an enemy unit within 24" that means they can only fire snap shots. Wow! For one warp charge, this anti-invisibility has the potential to severely hinder enemy heavy weapons units and vehicles (or completely shut down things such as Wraithguard destroyer flamers). Not as powerful as invisibility, but has a decent range and is easier to cast.

Maelstrom of Misery (WC2)- A 24" witchfire that wounds on a 4+ (regardless of toughness), AP2 with blast. A decent power for taking out heavily armoured units in the open or wounding high toughness units, but more difficult to cast with warp charge 2.

Trephination (WC2)- A focused witchfire that does 2D6+2-Ld wounds on a single model that doesn't allow armour or cover saves. A pseudo-psychic shriek that is harder to cast and only affects a single model, this is probably the worst psychic power on the table. In order to use this reliably on your target of choice, you will need to manifest 3 warp charge, quite difficult to do without a psyker heavy army. This power will do fewer wounds than psychic shriek on average and only affects a single model. The fact that most useful targets of this attack will be multi-wound characters with Ld 9 or 10 and an invulnerable save, you will need to roll very high to do any sort of damage and it will be very difficult to kill them outright. Would be best suited to target multi-wound monstrous creatures with low leadership values.

Mind Wipe (WC3)- A 24" malediction that makes an enemy unit WS and BS 1 until the end of their next turn. The enemy unit must take a Ld test at the end of their turn, if they fail the change is permanent. A very nice power (when you can cast it) for turning the enemy elite into bumbling fools. Imagine your enemy's combat troops severely diminished for a turn. Do they charge in anyway and potentially do less damage or wait a turn for the power to end and risk another turn of shooting. The chance that the change can be permanent is a nice bonus. It's just a shame that this does not combine with Seed of Fear, as that combo would be incredible.

Some really amazing psychic powers in there and only one dud that I can see. I have only played one game with a Librarian so far and got Mind Worm and Seeds of Fear. Even on a bike, I struggled to get in to the range to use the powers on a regular basis, so the short range of these powers could prove difficult to use often in a game.

Foe-Smiter- A S4, AP4, assault 4 bolter with master-crafted and shred. A nice weapon, but at 15 pts, it seems a bit pricey. Might be worth taking, depending on the enemy; probably not much use against marines, but could be quite damaging against Tau firewarriors and Eldar Guardians.

Lion's Roar- Essentially, a one use only, assault Plasma cannon. We know how much Dark Angels love plasma weaponry (yet get no points reduction or special rules for plasma!). This weapon is twice the cost of a combi-plasma, so a bit pricey for a single use plasma cannon.

Mace of Redemption- +3S, AP3 with blind, concussive and bane of the traitor (AP1 vs chaos space marines). This weapon is a little more expensive than a relic blade, but gets +1S, blind and can get an extra attack with a pistol. If facing Chaos terminators, this weapon will be deadly and will carve through them. It cost slightly more than a power fist/thunder hammer, but should allow equal damage to all non 2+ armour save units, but without it being unwieldy. If you have plenty of AP2 in your army, this should be a nice weapon for your warlord to wield.

Monster Slayer of Caliban- A weapon with a variable profile that is always AP3, but can give you either +1S or +2S and instant death. Nice enough, but for 40 pts, it is far too expensive to be so random and unreliable. Most of the time you will only be getting +1S and a third of the time you will be getting the instant death rule. I don't think it will be worth charging your character (and possibly unit) into a monstrous creature or Wraithknight on the hopes you get the instant death rule and can actually wound it. Even amongst the relics there are better (and cheaper) weapons.

Shroud of Heroes- For 10 pts, you get Feel no Pain and shrouded (only get shrouded when your character is on their own). Feel no pain is always a useful buff on a character, and not too expensive for this upgrade. On foot, shrouded is limited as you will most likely be giving up a 2+ look out sir if your character was with a unit. If your character is on a bike, they will get a 2+ Jink save. That's actually a pretty decent defensive boost (even if they don't get a re-roll through Ravenwing). A decent investment if you have the points to spare.

Eye of the Unseen- Confers Fear and Preferred Enemy to the user. A very expensive relic for what it provides. A lot of units are immune to Fear or have a high enough leadership that it is generally not an issue. Against other units with low leadership, you are probably hitting them on 3's in combat anyway, so the bonus will probably not be needed. May be useful when combined with Seed of Fear to make high Ld enemy units weaker in combat, but it has a hefty price tag for the two mediocre special rules it gives.

The relics for the Dark Angels are ok, I don't see any as an auto-include in the army and there is certainly nothing as powerful as the Shield Eternal from Codex Space Marines. If I had to pick one for a character, it would probably be the Mace or Redemption or Shroud of Heroes, but honestly, I probably wouldn't pick either.

There's actually not too many unique choices in the special issue wargear section, mostly they are just common choices from the Space Marine Codex. I have previously covered the Ravenwing Banner and Deathwing Banner in the relevant command squad entries in the previous parts of my review.

Conversion Field- Provides a 4+ invulnerable save, but if used for a successful save, all units in D6" must take a blind test (friendly units may re-roll). A nice piece of wargear for a reasonable price. I only see it as useful on a Librarian as a Chapter Master and Chaplains already get a 4++ as standard in their wargear. The blind may come in useful to hurt enemy units you are in combat with. It can affect your own unit, but the re-roll should hopefully keep this to a minimum.

Hope you have enjoyed this part of the review. If you spot any errors, or if you disagree with anything I have said, please leave a comment below.

Part 1- Ravenwing
Part 2- Deathwing
Part 3- Special rules, Traits, Psychics and Relics
Part 4- HQ and Troops
Part 5- Elites and Fast Attack
Part 6- Heavy Support and Lord of War
Part 7- Formations


  1. A few things that jumped out at me:
    - The Hunt: Can also be great if you've got a Weapons Emplacement around for your Warlord to man. Ignores Cover on a Quad Gun will make that Eldar Flyer Formation with the ridiculous Jink Saves cry, and on a Plasma Obliterator, it's just nuts :D
    - Preferred Enemy affects an entire Unit as long as at least one Model has it. That can be incredibly valuable on a Unit with a lot of shots/attacks, and even more so if there's something like Gets Hot in play. Company Veterans with Combi-Plasmas or Allied Units with lots of Gets Hot weaponry would love to have someone with this around.
    - High WC Psychic Powers: Even tho DA didn't get the improved version of the Librarius Conclave from the SM Dex, the old version is still valid. It's not quite as good, but still gives an excellent chance of picking up the Powers you need for any given Game, and harnessing Warp Charge on 3+ really helps if you're going for 3 Successes.
    - Conversion Field: Combo with Init debuffs like Stasis Shells from Black Knight Grenade Launchers, a Stasis Bomb from a Dark Talon, or Allied Sicarian Infiltrators for real fun. Consider it on a Scout Sergeant, because it's the same Save as his regular Armour, so he can choose to take AP5+ Wounds on the Conversion Field too if you're trying to get it to trigger.

    1. Thanks for the input, I hadn't thought of them.
      - I don't really play with weapons emplacements, so I hadn't considered the combination. This could be deadly in certain circumstances, especially as some of the special characters have this as a fixed trait. Just be sure to order your plasma obliterator with a side of cheese ;)
      - Preferred enemy is a great ability to have, but the Relic still seems pretty expensive to me. Would be deadly on a character leading black knights (although black knights are pretty deadly already. They seem to be the real winner in this codex).
      - I'm never sure about running old formations when a new codex is released, but this seems to be a nice way of getting the powers cast reliably. Plus, extra librarians should give you access to all the available powers.
      - The last point is a particularly nasty combo. It seems Dark Angels is an army designed to have a lot of synergy between the different units, which is a good thing in my opinion. Makes some choices more valuable and worth taking, where in isolation you would probably never field them (thinking of the Darkshroud here, if it didn't buff your Jink save and prevent overwatch, it would be useless on its own). It would be quite situational though, you would need to hit the enemy unit with the initiative lowering attack, then assault it in combat, hope they wound your character with the conversion field and that they save it. Then if they fail their blind test, you will only reap the benefits in the next combat phase. It would be nice when it lines up, but I wouldn't be counting on it. The Mace of Redemption might be a safer bet as it too can cause blind tests, but again, you only reap the benefit in the next combat phase.

      Thanks again for the input, it's always nice to get tactical insights that I hadn't considered during the analysis (I guess that's why I do this, so people can give me new tactics or point out things that I missed).

  2. When I posted that the first time, I forgot just how expensive the Eye is. Yeah, Preferred Enemy is good, but not THAT good :P

    As far as I can tell, unless they're so badly out of date that they no longer function, either because of Rules conflicts or because they reference something that doesn't exist anymore, older dataslates and supplements still seem legit. I'd also note that The Black Library does still sell the Dataslate, so I'd call it good to go.

    Does Azrael's gun still have Blind? That'd be a way to trigger it in the Shooting Phase. Or you could tag-team with a pair of Dark Talons, bombing with one and using the Rift Cannon from the other.

    Also, my recommendation of a Scout Sergeant for the Conversion Field doesn't work, because they don't have access to Special Issue Wargear. I never take anything but Combi-Weapons and/or Meltabombs on my Sarges, so I forget what they have available :P

    1. No, Azrael's gun has lost Blind, would need to go the Dark Talon route.