The Sons of the Lion: Dark Angels First Impressions in Ritual of the Damned

As a Space Wolf player I have begrudgingly come to respect the Dark Angles. Its a match up I’ve faced a lot at my local game store, and I think there is a lot here to be nervous about the next time I find myself staring them down on the field of battle.

First is Best

With Ritual of the Damned, Dark Angles will get access to combat doctrines, which is a very nice boost in overall power. They will also get access to their own super doctrine in Relentless Hunt.

This is an incredibly powerful doctrine, and is easily glossed over by most players in my opinion. Here is why I think you should fear squaring off against it.

Firstly it is active in the devastator combat doctrine, so is active turn one. It also affects more than just heavy weapons letting you create more interesting and varied lists. However, I cannot overstate just how powerful extra range is, especially in a mirror match.

Most marine fire power is concentrated short to mid range. The Dark Angel synergy with plasma has exaggerated this. I would win a lot of games against Dark Angels by having more 48″ shooting that could force them to move, leaving objectives if they wanted to shoot, or forcing them into the open. When you combine speed and superior range, you have a force that can dictate the flow of the battle. Dark Angles now have both in the Ravenwing. A speeder is 87 points with a typhoon missile launcher and a heavy bolter. You’ll face 6 S8 AP-3 D6 damage shots or 6D6 S4 AP-1 shots from 54″, and 9 S5 AP-2 shots at 42″. The extra range puts the speeders out of small arms fire, meaning you’ll generally have to shoot heavier weapons into them. Additionally, a Dark Shrouds can put them at -1 to hit, and Ravenwing have options to give them a 4++ save as well. You have a highly mobile, highly versatile unit producing solid output for only 261 pts. Things start to get silly when you combine the previewed warlord trait:

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In addition the Ravenwing Attack Squadron from Vigilus Defiant can have all those speeders hitting on 2’s against a tough target.

If you’re not sure how your going to tackle those speeder squads from range, a saavy Dark Angel player is going to dictate your movement phase. Remember ladies and gentlemen, movement wins games.

Power Against Power Armor

The extra range applies to rapid fire weapons as well, which will let Dark Angel Intercessors outrage their brothers, forcing them to move. Combine that with the following litany:

Imagine a 10 man bolt rifle intercessor unit. They have a gun range of 36″, forcing opposing intercessors to move, giving up their double shot. Meanwhile the Dark Angles will likely get access to the Rapid Fire stratagem as the Blood Angels got in Blood of Baal. They will be shooting four shots down range per model while the opposing intercessors will be shooting one.

A ten man Intercessor is much more resistant to moral thanks to grim resolve. Throw in Azrael for the Chapter Master rerolls and a 4++ invulnerable save. Even if you leave the Master at home, the litany lets you make use of Grim Resolve’s ability to let you reroll ones.

Agressors become interesting choices too, hopping out of Repulsors and double tapping at 21″, rerolling their own ones thanks again to Grim Resolve.

Brian Moy Commentary: I believe this would also stack with the Dark Angel’s Chapter Tactic which allows them to re-roll hit rolls of 1 as long as they did not move.

Standard litanies are also amazing for Dark Angels. Six plasma Inceptors coming out of deepstrike firing 12D3 plasma shots shots at 21″ doing damage 3. With recitation of focus they will hit on 2s and will be immune to overheat.

Speed of the Raven

The following warlord trait provides a lot of tactical flexibility.

Abilities that trigger before the game, but after learning who has the first turn are a powerful tool to have. This can let you hide a large group of bikers if you know you are going second, or guarantee a first turn charge if you have the turn.

Those bikers will get the 12″ pregame move, move and advance 20″ with speed of the raven giving them a 4++ versus shooting. They will then unload 4 bolter shots at 30″ thanks to Relentless hunt. Their movement will let them charge and wrap some chaff or any unit that struggles vs T5 3+ save bodies. Then during your turn they can use Swift Strike from Vigilus to leave combat and setup their next assault.

Icing on the Cake

How cool is the next stratagem, Combined Assault.

While the power of the marine rules is very questionable, GW has absolutely been nailing the fluff of the armies, making them play how they do in the lore. High speed Ravenwing units blazing through fire, finally hunting down their prey to bring in the heavy hitters in bone armor is just too cool.

Brian Moy Commentary: I think there’s some interesting combinations with Sammael here since I believe he also has the Ravenwing Biker keyword. He can provide his sweet sweet buff auras, be protected with the Character keyword (not sure of his wounds), and can also utilize the double move stratagem to ensure he’s in position Turn 2. Lots of really powerful combinations here.

Overall there is a lot to fear, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I think that in the right hands the Dark Angels can be even more powerful than Iron Hands, especially in the marine meta. I look forward to seeing them on the battle field and the challenge they will bring!

What are your thoughts on Dark Angels? We are excited how GW has taken two of the weakest armies in current 40k (Grey Knights and Dark Angels) and brought them up to more competitive levels. Join us in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to keep up to date with all of the latest from GDFC.