Wednesday 8 July 2015

Dark Angels Codex Review Part 5- Elites and Fast Attack

Here is part 5 of my 7th edition Codex Dark Angels review covering the remaining Elites and Fast Attack sections.
The Deathwing units in the elite section have been previously covered in the Deathwing review.
Company Veterans:
These veterans have exactly the same cost and options as the previous codex (with the additional option of grav weapons). They can get two special weapons in a 10-man squad and every member has the option of taking meltabombs. They can also swap the bolter for a chainsword, giving them a good number of attacks on the charge.
In a vacuum, the veterans are a decent unit. They can take two special weapons and each veteran can take a combi-weapon. With the addition of a drop pod, they can be an effective alpha strike unit.
However, Sternguard and Vanguard veterans are a superior choice. The Sternguard get access to special issue ammunition and the Vanguard can be equipped with jump packs and cheap power weapons, making them a more viable assault force. Company veterans are a decent choice, but there are more effective units on the codex for any role you may want to use them for.
In addition, the next choice on the list renders this unit obsolete.

Command Squad:
Ten points cheaper than in the previous codex, the command squad are essentially company veterans with more options. The upgrades (apothecary and champion) cost the same as before and are decent choices. The champion had the Honour or Death rule, meaning he has to issue and accept challenges. The big difference between them and the veterans is that any model can take a special weapon. If you really wanted to (and had the points to spare) you could load the unit up with meltaguns or grav guns, pop them in a drop pod and have a very powerful alpha strike unit (although any Veteran can take a combi-weapon, so could be use in a similar one use only role). Unlike their Codex Marine counterparts, you cannot load this unit up with grav guns and put them on a bike for optimal effect. The closest equivalent would be the Ravenwing command squad, and they cannot take special weapons, so if you were going for a special weapon alpha strike, the command squad with a drop pod would be the most effective way to do this.
As the special weapons do not replace the bolt pistol or chainsword, you can get 4 attacks on the charge (5 if you take a Chapter Banner), so they can be an effective shooting and combat unit.
A good choice for a variety of battlefield roles.
The same cost and stats as the Space Marine Codex equivalent, but it get Grim Resolve in addition. They Dreadnought benefits from the 4 base attacks that they get in the new codices, making it more effective in combat. The Dreadnought is a great model, but generally a poor unit. If they could get access to front armour 13 like those of other chapters, they would be more effective, as AV12 can be taken out by krak grenades. An OK choice, but there are better options in the codex to spend your points on.
The majority of the units in the fast attack section are the Ravenwing units. These have been looked at in the Ravenwing review part previously.
Assault Squad:
The unit costs the same as in the previous codex (once the cost of jump packs are factored in). The unit now has access to an eviscerator (one for every 5 marines), which is a nice way of hiding two power fist equivalents in the unit that cannot be challenged out. It's a shame that all the assault marines can no longer take meltabombs, this would make it an amazing tank hunting unit. Stubborn assault units are great for holding up the enemy, as the assault marines are probably not capable of doing a great deal of damage to most enemies.
Again, assault marines are a decent, if not amazing unit, but there are far better units in the fast attack sections, namely the Ravenwing units.
That's those two sections done. The next will look at the Heavy Support section and the Lord of War.
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. I've got 5 veterans that have never been made up because I didn't know whether to do them as vets or a command squad, so I think this at least points me in the right direction and I have a couple of Heresy era multimeltas and flamers that I originally got for bikers but may get grav weapons for them instead.

    However, the command squad can only be a unit of 4 compared to the 10 int eh vets, so is it not a waste to put 5 men in a pod, or do you add in all the other characters at the same time, like a Librarian or whatever?

    Also, with the demi-company isn't assault marines a pre-requisite? I don't have the codex but was sure that was in there, so you'd probably need at least five to get the benefits of that formation. I have at least 10, maybe 20 lead Rogue Trader assault marines that the new jump packs struggle to fit on but would plug that gap in my army at zero cost and look cool for me, even if they're a little stunty compared to modern plastic marines.

    1. Pods are definitely still worthwhile for Units of 5. In my SW, I frequently run 5 man Packs of Grey Hunters and Wolf Guard in Pods, with a couple of 10s backing them up. Makes it easier to stick to an odd number of Pods (so I get to round up for how many come in on Turn 1), and generally lets the list be more flexible. They do tend to die pretty fast, tho, especially when they're loaded up with Specials, so make sure they hit something worthwhile on the drop.

      Assault Marines are actually decent in the Demi-Company, because they pick up Objective Secured, and fast ObSec Units are great. Or, if you're taking a full Battle Company, you can leave the Jump Packs off and pick up a free Razorback for them.

    2. For the 5 men in a pod over 10 men, I suppose it's what you want them to do. In my experience, the pod and men die pretty quickly after they arrive, so the extra bodies will help them survive longer or force the enemy to shoot at two different units (if you combat squad them). I guess the more drop pods you take, the more survivable the unit will be, but if you want to run a drop pod heavy army then the Dark Angels may not be the right fit. I think Sternguard in pods are more effective (but a little more expensive).

      You could add a character to them to get some of the benefits they give, but if you are drop podding them right into the heart of the enemy, I wouldn't expect the character to live too long either.

      The assault marines are necessary for the demi-company, but I think most people regard them as a 'tax' to pay, rather than a decent unit to take. I will certainly mention their use when I come to look at the formations.

  2. Command Squad: The Special Weapons do require replacing a Bolter or CCW. It's just noted on the Wargear page rather than on the Unit Datasheet.

    Dreads: I still like the "Rifleman" build pretty well. Unfortunately, the Mortis is now behind the update curve, lacking the extra Attacks and Grim Resolve, but even a Codex Rifleman puts out some respectable firepower, even at air targets, and Grim Resolve makes charging one a potentially iffy choice, especially in a Lion's Blade.

    Assault Squads: I like the idea of the Eviscerators, but at 25 Points per single Attack Model, I just can't justify it. I really do wish they could still buy Meltabombs, not least because I actually put Meltabombs on most of my ASM Models, about a month before the option went away :P

    1. I thought I had checked that for the command squad, must have been mistaken.

      I agree, the formations are a great way to boost some mediocre units in the codex and make them quite effective, I'll be covering this when I get to formations.

      I think giving assault squads access to meltabombs would be a great way to make them a valuable choice. As they stand, they simply don't get enough attacks to be a viable assault choice against most units. The Eviscerator is a nice idea, but I agree, 25 pts for a single attack is way too much to pay.

  3. I feel that I must come to the defence of the Assault Squad simply because once it's taken as part of the Blade Detachment you now have a fairly rare unit (for the DA) which has both a 13-18" move and objective secured. :D

    1. Your defence of the assault squad is admirable. Just you, shouting into the Warp against the masses.......

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  4. Sounds like me :D

    I do quite like them though; once you think of them as a faster Tact Squad which can threaten vehicles and infantry they become a useful support unit. I don't expect them to do any heavy lifting themselves but if you need a (pre-assault) flamer on some swarms or targets in cover, a melta bomb/evisc/fist onto a vehicle or a melee bolstered then they're good for that. It would've helped if I'd read the last section of your review for the Obj Secured mention :D

    Even without any upgrades a basic 5-man Assault Squad puts out 20 attacks on the charge, 5 of which auto-hit as HOW slaps; statistically enough to glance any 3HP AV10-rear vehicle into oblivion. Vs infantry I only use them against weakened or dedicated ranged units. As an area denial and/or delivery system for two Unwieldy Armourbane weapons they're quite useful too, but as always with any assault unit deep-striking they require really careful positioning if they are to be effective enough to do their harassy job.

    1. Remember though, the assault marines only get Hammer of Wrath attacks if they do not use their jump packs in the movement phase and Hammer of Wrath attacks only apply to the facing of the vehicle that you assault, so you would need to assault the rear of the vehicle to get the HoW attacks on it.

      I have used assault marines in the skyhammer formation, they do ok, but are not great against a significant threat.