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New Dark Angels Codex Review (6th Edition Warhammer 40k) Part 1

Updated on June 19, 2013
Dark Angels Codex Review
Dark Angels Codex Review

The Boys in Green...

In January of 2013, Games Workshop released the new Dark Angels Codex, the second army codex for 6th edition Warhammer 40k. The book follows the same format as the previous 6th edition codex release, Chaos Space Marines. It is a beautiful 105 page hardback book, with a new glossy painting on the front cover, and full color pages within. At $50 (US), the book is expensive, but the quality does not disappoint.

The first 26 pages covers Dark Angels "fluff": their origins in the forests of Caliban as a knightly order, the influence of their primarch, Lion El'Jonson, and their eventual betrayal at the hand of one of their own. There has been some controversy behind the intentions of the betrayers, and you can read the new codex and form your own opinion when you get it! Beyond that, the book covers the Dark Angels activity after the Horus Heresy, their fight to redeem themselves, and even a couple pages about their successor chapters. I love the inclusion of successor chapters because it gives you the option to use this new Dark Angels without having to paint all your guys green! There is even a very nice chapter organization chart illustrated as heraldic shields rather than the box charts we often see.

Alright, that covers the first quarter of the book. The other 3/4's covers the new rules, unit descriptions, a great photo section, and the army list itself. Let's dive in and see what new secrets we can uncover!

Army Special Rules

Opening up the unit descriptions is a page about the new Army Special Rules; including a new Warlord Trait table. Let's check these rules out!

Combat Squad - Split your squads into smaller 5 man units (tac squads) or 3 man bike units. This must be declared before the game starts, but the two combat squads can still share the same dedicated transport. Nothing really new.

Grim Resolve - Gives the unit the Stubborn special rule from the core rulebook (always use full Leadership for Morale and Pinning checks). Also, these units can NEVER voluntarily fail a Morale check (from And They Shall Know No Fear). It's important to note that every infantry model in the Dark Angels army has this rule or Inner Circle (below)... except for Scouts.

Inner Circle - Gives the model Fearless and Preferred Enemy (Chaos Space Marines) - re-roll 1's to hit for shooting and assaults.

Warlord Traits:

  1. Rapid Maneuver - bonus to running and turbo boosting for Warlord's unit.
  2. The Hunt - bonus victory point for your Warlord's unit killing enemy Warlord.
  3. Courage of the Lion - units within 12" of Warlord roll an additional die for Morale checks, discard the highest.
  4. For the Lion! - Warlord's unit gains Furious Charge special rule.
  5. Brilliant Planning - Increase or decrease your Reserve rolls by 1 (choose after you roll!)
  6. Hold At All Costs - Warlord's unit gains Feel No Pain when near an Objective.

The Dark Angels codex is starting out with a bang - new special rules and awesome new warlord traits. Moving on now, let's look at their HQ options and then on to Troops!

Dark Angels Azrael
Dark Angels Azrael

Dark Angels HQ

The Dark Angels are host to some of the most iconic characters in all of Warhammer 40k. Who doesn't know the name Azrael or Ezekiel? While these names might be known in the fluff, I'm willing to bet that not too many players have faced these mighty characters on the battlefield. The old Dark Angels codex just wasn't popular: it was too old, too over priced, and held very few advantages over the vanilla marine codex. This, my friends, changes now.

Here is a list of special characters included in the new Dark Angels codex, though there is hardly room in this article to go into tactical detail for each hero.

  • Azrael - You choose any Dark Angels warlord trait and Deathwing and Ravenwing are now troops!
  • Ezekial - The Hunt warlord trait; psyker Mastery Level 3, new mindworm power.
  • Asmodai - The Hunt warlord trait; Instant Death melee weapon; Zealot special rule.
  • Belial - The Hunt warlord trait; no-scatter deepstrike; Deathwing as troops.
  • Sammael - Rapid Maneuver warlord trait, can be taken with jetbike OR as a Landspeeder unit (with AV14!). Is this the first Vehicle HQ unit? Also, he makes Ravenwing troops.

These guys are O.G. - Original Gothic. Each characters has a unique chapter relic and some special rule that could really give a boost to a Dark Angels army. Simply being able to take terminators as troops (with Azrael or Belial) is pretty awesome. I will be quickly writing another article that focuses just on the Dark Angels special characters because I cannot possibly fit it in this general review of the codex. Check back soon for a link!

Moving past the special characters, the Dark Angels have all the traditional marine HQ choices, including Captains (called Company Masters here), Chaplains, Techmarines, etc. We do get a new Interrogator Chaplain with a boosted profile and access to the Chapter Relics wargear list. I should mention here that the format it very similar to the new Chaos Space Marine codex, where there is a wargear list at the beginning of the army list, and every unit entry tells you what options a character can buy, including normal sergeants. The best options are reserved for our HQ units here.

I suppose that the story of a Dark Angels HQ unit would not be complete without talking about the cool toys they get to bring with them. Let's take a look at some of the unique wargear of the Dark Angels armory, including their new Standards (banners!).

Chapter Relics and Other Wargear

The Dark Angels Chapter Relics are ancient wargear unique to the 1st chapter of Astartes. These are relics saved from their destroyed home planet of Caliban and each can only be included once in an army, and may only be chosen by a Company Master, an Interrogator Chaplain, or a Librarian. After looking at these unique artifacts, I will take a look at some of the other cool wargear and finally the Dark Angels standards.

Chapter Relics:

Foe-smiter is an ancient storm bolter that is AP4, Assault 3, and Master Crafted. Cool to give an HQ unit some extra firepower.

Lion's Roar is a Master Crafted combi-weapon, but the secondary profile is that of a plasma cannon! That would surprise the hell out of an opponent!

Mace of Redemption is a power mace with +3 Str, AP 3, Blind and Concussive. Also, against Chaos Space Marine units, it goes down to AP 2! Notice that this does not have the Unwieldy special rule, so your HQ will be striking at its normal Initiative 5. Take that Chaos termies!

Monster Slayer of Caliban is a power sword with a random profile. You roll a d6 on your fight phase. 1 it's a normal power sword, 2-4 it's +1 Str, 5-6 it's +2 Str and Instant Death!

Shroud of Heroes does not replace a weapon. It gives the character (but not his unit) Feel No Pain. Also, if the character is not in a unit, he gains Shrouded (+2 cover save).

Other Wargear

In a little nod to 40k's history, the Dark Angels codex has brought back some old 2nd Edition wargear! I could be wrong, but I haven't seen some of this stuff on the battlefield for nearly 15 years. What am I talking about? What about a Conversion Field!

These Special Issue Wargear can be given to "lesser" HQ choices, as well as the in addition to the Chapter Relics for the big boys. Let's check out the new (old) stuff!

Conversion Field. This 2nd Edition throwback converts incoming energy into light. It gives the wearer a 4+ invulnerable save, and if he passes any, all units within d6" are hit by Blind (pass initiative test or be reduced to WS and BS 1). Friendly units re-roll the test. This is great for a melee character, as he gets in, gets hit, and then has the possibility to really hinder the opposing unit. Just make sure your own boys shield their eyes!

Displacer Field. Gives a 3+ invulnerable save, and at the end of the Shooting Phase (if you passed a save), the wearer scatters d6". Huh?! This could be interesting, and weird, just like 2nd Edition was! If the bearer passes a save in close combat, he still is displaced at the end of combat, but must immediately make a Pile In move to get back into the thick of it.

Powerfield Generator. This device creates a 4+ invulnerable save in a 3" bubble! Wow! Put this guy in the middle of a unit and he's just given everybody a free Iron Halo.

There are some other odd ones in there, like the Porta Rack, that gives your character bonuses after killing an enemy character and lets you use the enemy teleport homers and beacons as your own. Strange things like that.

Dark Angels Standard of Fortitude
Dark Angels Standard of Fortitude

Dark Angels Banners and Standards

I've always liked the Dark Angels because of their Gothic iconography: hooded angels, bleak skulls, ancient swords. They visually represent the "grim darkness of the far future", where a galactic empire is stuck in the dark ages of ideology and technology. I love it! For me, nothing shows off this theme better than their unit banners and battle standards. Thankfully, the new codex includes these banners and standards with some really cool rules. In the army list, the banners can be taken by HQ command squads, purchased after you take an HQ character choice. There are three command squads available: regular veteran, Deathwing, or Ravenwing. Let's look at the banner and standard choices:

Note: all the banners and standards listed give +1 to your combat result in assaults if the banner bearer is included in the close combat.

Chapter Standard: all units within 12" re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests. Also, all Dark Angels models in the unit gain +1 attack.

Company Standard: all units within 12" re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests.

Revered Standard: all units within 12" re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests. Also, friendly units within 6" gain the Crusader special rule (bonus to run and Sweeping Advance rolls).

Ravenwing Company Banner: Friendly units within 12" auto-pass their test for Hit and Run. They also roll an additional die when determining Hit and Run distance.

Deathwing Company Banner: All models with the Inner Circle rule (deathwing and all Dark Angels characters) within 6" of model gain +1 attack.

There are three Sacred Standards, which must be unique in your army (only one of the three can be chosen in the same army).

Standards of Retribution: all units within 12" re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests, and gain the Counter Attack special rule.

Standard of Fortitude: all units within 12" re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests, and gain Feel No Pain. Yes, this is a 24" bubble (across) of Feel No Pain for your army!

Standard of Devastation: all units within 12" re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests. Also, units within 6" of the standard have their boltguns changed to Salvo 4/2 weapons. Wow! This means that with clever positioning, you can get 2 tactical squads and the command squad affected by this rule. You could possibly have 20 bolter shots from these three units. 20 bolters x Salvo 4 means 80 str4 shots headed down range at 24". Wow!

Dark Angels Armies

Which Dark Angels "wing" are you most interested in running?

See results

Dark Angels Troops

It's time to move on and look at our Troops selection. These stalwart troops will form the bulk of most armies, and are more important than ever in 6th edition Warhammer 40k. Five out of the Six battle missions are objective based, and only Troops can claim objectives in all five scenarios.

Dark Angels have two basic troop choices: Tactical Squads and Scout Squads. This does not tell the whole story, however, as I've mentioned above that certain HQ choices can unlock Deathwing and Ravenwing units as Troops (and scoring!). For this next section of the article, though, we will just focus on the "Greenwing", or basic Dark Angels tactical/scout squads and their options.

However, this article is getting rather long, so follow this link to the Dark Angels Codex Review Part 2: Troops and Elites!

Before you click through, why not answer the poll to the right. I'm curious to see which "wing" is going to be the most popular in 6th edition: Death, Raven, or Green. Thank you for reading and please continue on to see the awesome changes made to Dark Angels tactical squads!

If you have an interest in something non-Dark Angels, please click one of my links below:

Any comments? Any suggestions? Please leave them below. I always check back and answer. Don't forget to visit Part 2 of the Dark Angels Review!


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    • murphy80 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Florida

      You, sir, are correct! How could I forget how many times Bjorn has ripped me apart?! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Bri B 

      5 years ago

      bjorn the fellhanded is the first vehicle HQ (Space Wolves)


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