I'm apparently still on a Dark Angels kick... probably because I don't want to work on my Guard anymore but still need to sit down and do some painting soon in order to be ready for Adepticon. Not to mention a display board...
Anyway. One thing that has really grabbed hold of my mind is comparing the Dark Angels and 5th Edition Marine codices and seeing exactly what the Dark Angels do better. We all know the differences between Space Wolves, Blood Angels and Codex Marines, but what special things beyond the Deathwing do Dark Angels have?
Let's start with a unit by unit analysis and then move on into play styles that these model choices lead to. I'll only be going over Dark Angels units that are at least potentially better than the 5th ed equivalents, so if I don't cover something it's worse than the 5th ed equivalent.
Belial: the big bad himself. Sure his stats are worse than a standard Captain but he comes at a price that can't be beat. A Captain with TH/SS would cost 40 pts more and only get +1 WS and Combat Tactics out of the deal, while Belial also gets to take Termies as Troops. Clear win for the big B here.
Chaplains: much better than their C:SM equivalent thanks to +1 BS, +1 A, cheaper combi-weapons and a cheaper bike. They do lose the ability to take terminator armor unless upgraded to an Interrogator-Chaplain, but he gets a third wound out of the deal. Speaking of which the Interrogator-Chaplain beats up his Blood Angels counter part the Reclusiarch by being at least 5 pts cheaper.
Sammael:in my opinion not as good as a biker boss from C:SM. Sure his bike can fly and has an underslung plasma cannon but neither ability plays very well with Ravenwing bike squads, not to mention the fact that he doesn’t have Scout. The other bikes can’t fly and they are generally armed with melta weaponry, which the PC doesn’t help out with a ton and is much more suited to shooting at 36” than 12. Adamantine mantle will protect him on his own for a bit but taking out 3 3+/4++ wounds on a T5 body shouldn’t be a problem.
His landspeeder form is a bit more palatable as it can use its AV 14 to good effect but needing to be within 24” to shoot brings him dangerously close to melta range which will end his day. I guess take him if you want biker troops, but otherwise he can stay on the shelf.
Deathwing Terminators: no surprise here, are awesome. They have the ability to be assault and shooty at the same time, plus scoring ability and 10 pts cheaper Cyclones. Take the CML and they only cost 5 more than the SM squad, though can’t upgrade to more than 5 terminators.
Dreadnoughts: normal ones compare poorly (more expensive, no TLAC build) but Venerable dreads might have a shot. They are 20 pts cheaper than the C:SM equivalent, but I'm not sure if that makes them worth it, especially since DA ven dreads aren’t WS/BS 5, so it’s purely a survivability upgrade. It could make sense on a podding/walking MM dread just to try to make sure it survives longer, but other than that Dreads are probably done better in the newer codexes. Still, if anyone needs a mobile multimelta it's the Dark Angels, so they might still have a shot depending on the build.
Tactical Squad: 5 man squads actually come out ahead of Codex Marines thanks to their ability to take a special weapon. It doesn't get the same discount as Codex tacticals but the chance to take a genuine flamer or meltagun rather than a combi version is gold. Their razorbacks are also only 5 pts more expensive with the TL Lascannon turret. Blood Angels assault squads still probably do this size better, as the cheaper, faster transports and ability to double up with a pistol sized special probably put them on top, not to mention Grey Hunters, but for a respectable Razor squad the Dark Angels can pull it off.
Ravenwing Bike Squads: They are in an interesting position as they differ so radically from C:SM. Scout plus teleport homer plus fearless really adds on the points though. They do offer one of the few melta outlets in the army, so taking them as suicide anti-tank is an option. I don't really like them as Troops as they are rather difficult to keep alive due to their small squad size, especially with their intended role as melta-jockeys.
Fearless is a huge boon for the bikes given their fragile nature. Losing your bullet shield bike (if you could afford to take them) would normally get you zooming off the field, but Ravenwing melta bikers are good to the last drop. If your game plan doesn't involve them surviving long they can bring some much needed melta to the list. I still like vanilla bikers better, but scouting meltas make for one sweet alpha strike!
Landspeeders: the Typhoon is incredibly much better than any 5th ed equivalent. It does suffer from not being able to double up in a slot but when do you ever see Marine players do that? The MM speeders take the back seat here but can be added on as ablative wounds for your Typhoonsand/or a way to up the melta count in your army. Multimelta/Typhoon is probably the way to go here just to cram mo' melta into the list but the tried and true HB/Typhoon can also work.
Whirlwinds: surprisingly cost the same for Dark Angels. Still probably not worth it (which is a shame, as I love the aesthetic), but at least they are not worse.
Devastators: Cost the same as Codex Devastators except for missile launchers which cost 5 pts more. If you like the other options they are just as viable, but especially in comparison to Blood Angel devs these guys take back seat.
Predators: Lascannon predators cost the same as their Codex equivalents, so are still pretty good buys. Autocannon preds, however, suffer as they cost 10 pts more.
Land Raiders: The Crusader is cheaper than any other marine book thanks to the free multimelta upgrade. Phobos (i.e. Godhammer lasers) is on par with other marine books.
Rhinos cost the same, TL lascannon Razorbacks cost only 5 pts more. Drop pods are overcosted by 15 pts but don't have Drop Pod Assault, which could be seen as an advantage by some.
So, some themes that I'm seeing:
- Awesome terminators. They don't even need to score to be worth the cost as thunder hammer wielding bubble wrap that can fire missiles is pretty frikkin' awesome in my opinion. Of course scoring is always nice and the fact that you can field 45 terminators in a maxed out list is silly. Redundancy and resiliancy are your watch words here.
- Razorspam. Sure Dark Angels don't get the Lascannon-TWL Plasma Gun razors that everyone is cruising with these days but they can crank them out almost as easily as anyone else with better Troops options than Codex Marines. The Thunderbubble from above is very nice in this kind of list...
- Fast Attack is for melta. Chain fists help somewhat but nothing replaces the good ol' meltagun. Whether Ravenwing or Land Speeder, it's either here, Crusaders, combi-meltas or Tac squads. I still can't get over how expensive Ravenwing are but it's a toss up as to whether they are more valuable/survivable than Land Speeders point for point. Since melta is almost a necessity expect your Fast Attack slots to be filled each and every game.
- Quality Chaplains. These guys can seriously amp up the effectiveness of any squad in combat and are very cost effective to boot.
*The above image used without permission (but much love!) from Games-Workshop