Codex Dark Angels – 10th Edition: Crusade Review

The Dark Angels are about to receive their first Codex Supplement of 10th edition and in addition to the matched play rules (you can find our review here), the book comes with Crusade rules to aid your hunt for the Fallen (Risen?) and war against the dark forces of the galaxy. Note that these rules mainly build on the Space Marine crusade rules, so be sure to check out our review there if you haven’t already for the full picture.

Note: We’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a preview copy of the book for review purposes.

Expanding Your Oathsworn Campaigns

Some Useful Dark Angels idiots. Credit: Lupe

One of the more interesting (and frankly, better) ways the Dark Angels book expands on the Crusade rules of Codex: Space Marines is by streamlining the rules to work within that book’s Oathsworn Campaigns rules. Specifically, Dark Angels have three new, unique Oathsworn campaigns they can embark on to represent their enigmatic and secret quests.

Secrets of the Unforgiven

This campaign represents the clandestine operations Dark Angels undertake while fighting their standard slate of world-ending battles. The bespoke requisition, Secret Quest, helps you sell this by letting you hide your Agendas until they’re accomplished (or at the end of the game if you didn’t). This can be pretty nifty for agendas that require certain actions, but most of the time Agendas don’t help you win games so your opponent won’t really care what you’re doing – especially if it takes you away from the main fight.

Speaking of Agendas, you get the standard three Bonus Agendas with this Campaign:

  • None Must Know tasks you with destroying three of five units selected by your opponent at the beginning of the battle, giving you 2 Honor Points if you do. This one is gonna be very army dependent. If your opponent can hide their five units as characters inside units that’ll be hard to chew through, this might be a tall order.
  • Next up we have Enigmatic Goals which has you secretly select an objective (not in your deployment zone) at the beginning of the battle and if you control it at the end you get three Honor Points. This seems like a slam dunk take as its pretty easy to make sure you hold one objective marker at the end of the game as space marines so long as you don’t get tabled.
  • Lastly we have Interrogation Tactics which simply asks you to kill an enemy character with a Chaplain or Librarian, or just end in the mission in combat with one. This one’s a bit harder than Enigmatic Goals and requires a specific army build to make work. Considering it gives you the same reward as Enigmatic Goals, I’d say just stick to that.

For The Lion!

The Lion. Credit: Jack Hunter

This Campaign has you completing knightly deeds in order to impress your Chapter’s dad. Kicking us off in this regard is the Campaign Requisition Exemplars of Stoicism, which lets you select a unit after a battle that was battle shocked and didn’t die and give it 5 XP while giving your force 2 Honor points. This can be really strong and great to have in your back pocket, especially if you’re playing against Tyranids or other forces that can battleshock you out of the normal conditions.

As for the Agendas we start with Slay the Unrighteous which is pretty straightforward. The unit in your army that kills the most stuff gets an XP and if it killed three units you get 2 honor points. This is gonna be a tall order in a lot of games, but may be manageable if you have a big brick of dudes.

Will of the Lion on the other hand is much more interesting. For every objective marker you control at the end of the game, you get an Honor Point. This can be pretty wild if you’re playing a mission that has more objective markers outside your deployment than normal and can be a great way to supercharge your Honor Points.

Rounding us out we have Instruments of Vengeance which gives you an Honor Point every time a Deathwing unit kills a character, or two if your warlord is in that unit. This is another very strong agenda depending on your army build.

Hunt the Fallen

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

This Oathsworn Campaign is a little different. Instead of the normal rules, you can only go on this Campaign if you completed the Secrets of the Unforgiven campaign and one other campaign from either this or the core Space Marines book. From there you have to complete each of these Agendas in order, one per battle. If you fail any of these Agendas (with the exception of the last one, if you use a requisition), the Campaign immediately ends with the Fallen getting away and presumably taunting you on the way out.

The first step here is the Agenda A Trail Uncovered, which is a bit of a doozy. This Agenda tasks you with completing three of the following conditions:

  • Score points for holding an objective marker in your Command Phase
  • Have your Warlord in your opponent’s deployment zone
  • Kill the enemy Warlord
  • Kill three or more enemy CHARACTER units
  • Have an enemy character fail a Battleshock test
  • Win the battle

This is no small order since some Crusade missions won’t have objective markers to score on or even an enemy deployment zone! That said, if you manage to complete three of these, you gain four Honor Points and get to move on to the next round.

The next step is Pursuit Across Worlds which is a way more manageable objective. All you have to do is be wholly within three or more table quarters with three units more than 3” from another quarter at the end of the battle. Basically just score the small version of Engage on All Fronts from the mission deck. When you do, you gain 5 Honor Points.

For your grand finale, you must Capture the Fallen. At the beginning of the battle, you give your opponent a 3+ save Chaos Space Marines character and it gains lone operative if it doesn’t already have it. It can’t join units and can’t go into reserves so it’ll always be around to kill. If you kill it, your warlord gains 3 XP and you gain 10 Honor Points. Considering how hard A Trail Uncovered can be, this is kinda a cake walk comparatively and 10 Honor Points should be enough to tempt you to take on the challenge.

So what to make of these? Well, the implementation is better than the old Dark Angels Crusade rules, where Hunt the Fallen is more than just a number that ticks up en route to occasional special missions. The way these rules slot into the Oathsworn Campaign rules works well, as it reduces some of the inherent complexity in Crusade rules as you’ll only be limited to one campaign at a time. That said, there’s still the issue here of being able to abandon a campaign early and just move on to the next one, and only Hunt the Fallen has a true failure condition – something we appreciate.

Inner Circle Advancement

Dark Angels Deathwing Army. Credit: Kay Sharrock

So you’ve done some Oathsworn Campaigns and you’ve got some Honor Points to spend. The Dark Angels supplement has you covered on that front. The first of these, Master of the Deathwing gives you +1 to wound against your Oath of Moment target. This can be really strong although you want to be careful if you’re also running the Deathwing detachment as the +1 to wound bonus you get from the Detachment won’t stack. As a neat bonus, If you’re taking Belial he gets this Battle Honor for free even though he can’t normally get one. We at the Goonhammer offices have long held that taking named characters in Crusade is lame, though this is nice as it makes sense for the master of the deathwing to have the Master of the Deathwing trait.

Next up, and predictably, is Master of the Ravenwing which gives the unit that the character is leading advance and charge and re-roll charges. This pairs nicely with the Ravenwing detachment trait, letting you act as normal after advancing. Samael gets this one for free, but he also already gives his unit advance and charge so its not particularly helpful there (in fact, it’s somewhat baffling).

Keeper of the Unseen Ritual is a bit more of a standard one, giving you a free strat once per battle from a captain on a unit other than his. This is nifty to spread out some key strats and can be absolutely devastating with something like flamestorm’s devastating wounds on flamers strat, giving you effectively four free cp. Lazarus gets this one for free too which is nifty.

Last up is Master of the Watchers, which gives you an extra D3 honor points at the end of each battle just for showing up. Simple and useful, not much more to say here. If you’re planning to be running a Crusade for the long haul, you want to snag this one early.


Dark Angels. Credit: Greg Chiasson

As with any Crusade supplement we get a few bespoke Agendas for the Dark Angels.

  • Kicking us off we have Dark Rumor, which gives a unit 3 XP for killing an enemy warlord with a Deathwing, Ravenwing, or Inner Circle unit as well as 2 Honor Points. This one’s pretty simple and rewards you for doing what you’d already be doing in a thematic Dark Angels force.
  • Encircle the Foe is your Ravenwing specific Agenda, letting you pick either four or three Ravenwing units to be wholly within 9” of a different corner of the battlefield at the end of the battle. This one gets points for being interesting by making you call your shot, but it’s not really practical to fit units with big bases in three separate corners at the end of the game and have them be useful during the match and at 2 XP per unit it’s not really worth the Agenda slot.
  • The Deathwing Cometh on the other hand is your Deathwing specific Agenda. It asks you to kill something on the turn you arrive from deep strike for 2 XP and giving you 3 if you killed a character. This is another tough one because it either means you have to make a 9” charge or get some really lucky shots off with terminator weapons. Definitely thematic though.
  • Finally Mental Interrogation gives you 1 XP per shooting phase if you have a psyker within 12” of an enemy character (so long as you’re eligible to shoot and are not Battle-shocked). Notably, this doesn’t require you to forego shooting to get this XP, you just have to stand there, which is interesting.


With this supplement we also get three requisitions specifically for your Dark Angels. Rite of Honor gives a character 3 XP at the end of a battle just for showing up, and 5 XP if it killed a character, In addition you can use this requisition for free if you were attempting the Capture the Fallen Agenda. This is basically free XP and a great RP sink as your crusade progresses. Penitent’s Hope gives you a retry on the Capture the Fallen Agenda if you mess it up. I wish this applied to the entire Oathsworn Campaign but this is nice to have regardless. Last up is Veteran Initiates which gives a Ravenwing or Deathwing unit six free XP when you add it to your roster, bringing them straight to blooded rank.

Battle Traits

Credit: Greg Chiasson

The Dark Angels also receive a set of custom Battle Traits, separated into four categories with two traits in each category:

  • Ravenwing Aircraft get access to either Silver Talon which gives you a hit reroll and a wound reroll when you shoot or Lightning Reflexes which gives the unit a 4++. Both of these are very strong and worth considering If you happen to be running aircraft.
  • Deathwing Infantry can either get Staunch Hunters, letting them heal a wound every turn, or Watched Over which gives an extra use of the Watchers in the Dark ability. Neither of these are particularly earth shattering so look elsewhere for Battle Traits.
  • Non-AIRCRAFT Ravenwing Units can either take Death on Dark Wings, which gives them -1 to hit if they advanced, and Inescapable which lets you ignore modifiers when you shoot. Both of these are solid but Death on Dark Wings is a slam dunk take if you’re running a Ravenwing force.
  • Regular infantry (not Deathwing) can either get Indomitable Conquerors, giving them a 5+++ when in range of an objective marker, or Ever Watchful which gives a free Overwatch or Heroic Intervention once per battle. These are amazing on the right units and since there’s only two choices on the table it’s relatively safe to roll on.

Crusade Relics

As usual, the relics are broken down into Artificer, Antiquity, and Legendary Relics, and come with progressively higher power levels.

Artificer Relics

There are three relics here. The first is Archeotech Armament which increases the strength, AP, and damage of a weapon and gives it the Hazardous ability, basically turning it into a supercharged version of the gun. This is very solid and worth considering in different builds. Ravens Eyes are Ravenwing only and let you ignore move, advance and charge modifiers. This is nice to have but there are better relics out there. Lastly there’s the Black Pearl Rosarius which can only go on a chaplain that participated in a Capture the Fallen battle. This gives the chaplain reroll hits and Lethal Hits if attacking a Chaos or Fallen unit. This is a bit situational but is very flavorful.

Antiquity Relics

There are two entries here. First up is the Monster Slayer of Caliban giving you a 7 Attack, Strength 6, Ap -2, Damage 2 weapon that hits on 2s with Anti Monster 4+ and Anti Vehicle 4+. This is cute but doesn’t really sell to me as a monster slaying weapon. The Shield of Calloson on the other hand gives you a much splashier 2+ invulnerable save and 4+ Feel No Pain against mortal wounds once per battle. This can absolutely turn the tide of a battle by keeping a character around for longer than it should.

Legendary Relics

Only one entry here with the Mantle of Seneschal giving the bearer +1 to their Move, Toughness, Wounds, and Strength and Attacks of their weapons as well as giving a unit they’re with +1 to hit. This is a really strong blanket buff that would be welcome in any army.

Final Thoughts

Norman: This was a very solid set of crusade rules! I really like how it builds on the established Oathsworn Campaigns instead of supplanting it with Hunt the Fallen rules and I hope we see similar stuff for Space Wolves, Blood Angels, and Deathwatch when their supplements come along as its a great mechanism for letting the chapters feel unique while unifying their mechanics. While there’s a couple misses in here, for the most part it feels very solid and a lot of the options here are very much worth considering.

TheChirurgeon: Building on the Oathsworn rules is a nice plus, and is a good way to add flavor to the faction without jettisoning the entirety of Codex: Space Marines. It does create the problem that your five special chapters just end up looking like Space Marines, plus some extra rules, i.e. better as they have more options, but that can be solved with some extra supplements or White Dwarf articles down the line I suppose.

The bigger question to me is: Does this feel fluffy? Well, kind of. The Hunt the Fallen questline is my favorite bit and it’s much improved here – the presence of a fail state and the way it requires you to complete other campaigns is a nice touch, though that also implies a level of commitment to Crusade which I doubt most players will ever have or experience, so I’m not sure how I feel about that one – most Crusade players may not play ten games in a year, let alone ten in a single Crusade. I think I’d have also liked to see the Lion and Cypher play a bigger ole here – these are narrative rules, you can do crazy stuff with them! I Liked that Cypher could show up in Fallen campaigns in 9th edition and I’d have liked to see something like that continue here, as well as something with the Lion now that he’s returned in the lore. Feels like a missed opportunity to do something with him, at least.

That said, these all look pretty good and while the chapter’s Matched Play rules leave a lot to be desired, the Crusade rules are pretty solid and show a lot of promise for this edition’s slate of books.

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