Monday, July 18, 2011

Why use one codex over another? (Part 2)

After looking at what gives C:CSM its 'oomph' let's look at another codex. The Dark Angels have held a weak position on the 40K power ladder for most of 5th Edition, and have just recently received a much-needed push in attempt to keep them on par with other armies. They're an MEQ (Marine equivalent) force like Codex: Chaos Space Marines, but they are vastly different in nature... but the question is why would you use them over another MEQ force?

First let's look at what makes C:DA unique.


Special Characters (which also open up force organization chart options)
Chaplain w/3 wounds
Psychic Powers


Fearless Terminators w/full customizable load of weaponry
Company Veterans that function like a cross between Vanguard and Sternguard


Scoring Fearless Terminators (see Elites) - conditional w/special character
Scoring Fearless Bikers (see Fast Attack) - conditional w/special character
Scoring Landspeeders - conditional w/special character

Fast Attack:

Ravenwing Attack Squadrons
Larger units of Landspeeders

Codex: Dark Angels doesn't appear to have a lot going for it. Their Tactical Squads are, on the whole, more expensive than C:SM or C:CSM scoring units. Their special characters aren't the greatest either. Most everything they have can be purchased from another Codex at a lower price. However, what the book does allow for are shifts in the Force Org Chart. If you take specific characters then you get some nifty scoring units that no other Codex can take. There's nothing like a squad of fearless terminators that are scoring, have Feel No Pain and are equipped with Storm Shields. Their only flaw is a lack of mobility - they need a Land Raider in order to pull a sweet charge on an ideal target, and Land Raiders aren't cheap.

Their other FOC-shifting option allows a whole host of scoring Meltagun and Multi-melta wielding Bikes as well as scoring Landspeeders (don't quote me on this because I'm honestly not 100% certain that's true, but since the Codex overrides the main rulebook, I don't see why it wouldn't be true unless there's an FAQ I missed). An all-bike army that's unbreakable and able to Turbo-boost onto objectives is quite amazing if used the right way. Their only flaw is that they are Bikers, and so they must be used sparingly. Bikes are horribly overcost for what they are capable of, and Codex: Dark Angels is no exception.

So what this comes down to is that C:DA has some nifty (but costly) scoring unit tricks under its belt. What other armies have Fearless scoring units?

Chaos Daemons
Chaos Space Marines (Summoned Lesser Daemons, Legion-specific CSM units)
Grey Knights (Crowe Purifiers, anything the Grandmaster can make scoring)
Eldar (conditional)
Tyranids (conditonal)
Orks (conditional)
Dark Eldar (conditional)
Marines (conditional)
Black Templars (conditional)
Space Wolves (conditional)
Blood Angels (conditional)

Surely among all these armies there is a more efficient way of having Fearless, objective-grabbing units roaming the battlefield. Whether it's Synapse rules making a horde of Termagants stay put, Eldar Guardians holding fast within the Avatar's 'bubble,' or a horde of Blood Claws roaming free under the tutelage of a Wolf Priest, there are tons of options.

So what can the Dark Angels do that nobody else can do better? It seems there are two things.
1) Ravenwing Bikers have the Scout Universal Special Rule, allowing them to move 12" before the game begins. This is especially beneficial for a couple reasons - first this allows them to cover a huge area by the end of the first turn, often allowing them to charge an opposing army. Practically speaking this is not super because a smart opponent will plan around it, but in reality what it does is force the opposing army to deploy defensively (given that they are deploying 2nd and attempting to implement a counter-strategy). Second it allows for ...
2) The accurate deployment of teleporting Deathwing Terminators via the 'Deathwing Assault' special rule. This is the other shining star of C:DA because it takes an otherwise mediocre force of low-mobility juggernaut units and dumps them in your opponent's lap.

The greatest strength of this kind of army lies in its ability to take down a vehicle-based force quickly. Each Ravenwing unit can break apart into three units (four if you bought the Landspeeder), and each can shoot and subsequently charge a vehicle. It was an amazing army to use when Codex: Imperial Guard was first released a couple years ago.

Summarizing the article so far:

Chaos Space Marines do a lot of different things well.
Dark Angels are good for scouting and attacking weak points in an enemy line.

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