Ruleshammer: Codex Dark Angels

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Welcome to Ruleshammer! In this article we’re going to cover some of the more complicated or ambiguous rules for 9th edition’s Codex: Dark Angels, and address some common questions and points of confusion players have brought up since the book’s release.

Successor Chapters

Successor Chapters for the Dark Angels are a little more complicated than they are for some of the other chapters, owing in part to some quirks around the chapter’s unique rules. Let’s cover each one of the chapter’s special rules and whether they apply to Successors:

Sons of the Lion (Super Doctrine)?

Like other chapters’ successors, Dark Angels’ successors gain the Dark Angel’s “super doctrines” without any complications.

Inner Circle or Jink?

This one is a bit more complicated – Units with the DEATHWING or INNER CIRCLE keywords gain this ability if they are in a Dark Angels Detachment. They also gain these abilities if they are in a Dark Angels Successor chapter detachment, but with a catch:

DETACHMENT ABILITIES: If you have Dark Angels successor Chapter, then for the purposes of using any Dark Angels Detachment Rules, you can replace the DARK ANGELS keyword in all instances with the name of your successor Chapter. (Codex: Dark Angels, pg. 40)

This means that Dark Angels Successor chapter detachments will gain the Inner Circle and Jink abilities. However, to actually use the ability there’s another requirement – both the Inner Circle and Jink special rules have this text before listed what they do.

If this unit has the Grim Resolve Chapter Tactic, or has the Inheritors of the Primarch Successor tactic and it is using the Chapter Tactic of the Dark Angels, then: (Datasheets, Codex: Dark Angels, pg. 61)

So while your Dark Angels Successors will get the Inner Circle and Jink abilities, neither of these abilities will actually work for them unless they’ve taken the Inheritors of the Primarch Successor Tactic with the Grim Resolve tactic as their selected tactic.

Ravenwing and Deathwing Detachments in a Successors army?

There are no extra requirements for successors to make use of the 1st Company or 2nd Company abilities. Unlike Inner Circle or Jink the army does not need to be using the Grim Resolve chapter tactic to make use of these detachment bonuses and changes, so if you’re running a Successor, feel free to build around these.


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Hunt Stratagem – Using it multiple times

The Hunt is a Stratagem used before the first turn begins. As such, you can use this multiple times before the battle begins.

Use this stratagem at the start of the first battle round, before the first turn begins. Select one RAVENWING unit from your army. That unit can make Normal Move as if were your Movement Phase, but it must end that move more than 9″ away from any enemy models. If both players have units that can move before first begins, the player who is taking the first turn move their units first. If that unit contain 5 or fewer models, this Stratagem costs 2CP; otherwise, it costs 3CP.

One thing missing from this stratagem though is any specific restriction against picking the same unit twice. I wouldn’t recommend playing that you can do it twice, as that doesn’t seem intended but a limit on this in the FAQ would be beneficial (Rob’s Note: This is the same issue that the World Eaters’ Stratagem Apoplectic Frenzy has. Given we’re more than a year past the publication of Faith and Fury, I wouldn’t count on this getting an FAQ).


Grim Resolve and Steady Advance – does this work?

I’m going to preface this section by declaring that I do not know for sure how these two rules interact. It’s super frustrating to still have two terms around remaining stationary especially when one of them is in a 9th edition codex! As with other times we’ve covered this topic, the challenge revolves around whether effects that require you “not move” will trigger off effects that cause you to count as Remaining Stationary. First let’s look at the part of Grim Resolve that matters here.

Each time a model with this tactic makes an attack, unless that model’s unit has moved this turn (excluding Pile-in and consolidation moves), add 1 to that attack’s hit roll.

And then the Steady Advance stratagem from Codex Space Marines:

Use this Stratagem in your Movement phase, when an ADEPTUS ASTARTES INFANTRY unit from your army makes a Normal Move. Until the end of the turn, that unit is considered to have Remained Stationary.

So does counting as Remain Stationary meet the criteria for Grim Resolve? I think I’d say that it does but I’d really like an FAQ to make this clear; the definition for Remain Stationary is really rather weird. It’s worded that it prevents movement, rather than being the state of having not moved:

If a unit Remains Stationary, none of its models can be moved for the rest of the phase. Any units from your army that were on the battlefield and were not selected to move in the Move Units step of the Movement phase are assumed to have Remained Stationary that phase.

Based on the latest FAQ though, there is the implication that counting as Remain Stationary at the very least is equivalent to counting as if the unit has not made a Normal, Advance or Fall Back move this turn.

Transports and Rules that Count as Remaining Stationary

Some rules allow a model to count as having Remained Stationary, even if that model has moved during its Movement phase. Even if a Transport model is subject to such a rule, embarked models still cannot disembark from that Transport model during the Movement phase if that Transport model has already moved, unless that Transport model (or the models embarked within it) have a rule that explicitly allows them to disembark after the Transport model has moved.

If Remain Stationary didn’t at least mean that much then this Rare Rule blocking disembarking from a Transport that counts as Remain Stationary would be unnecessary.


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Calibanite Knight vs Inner Circle (or Transhuman Physiology)

One of the new Dark Angels Warlord traits is Calibanite Knight, which gives your Warlord the following ability:

Each time this WARLORD makes an attack against an INFANTRY or BIKER unit, an unmodified wound roll of 2+ is always sucessful.

But what if you’re facing another army of Dark Angels? Or another chapter of Space Marines that have used the Transhuman Physiology Stratagem? Lets look at the relevant part of the Inner Circle ability.

Each time an attack is made against this unit, if this unit has the INFANTRY keyword, an unmodified wound roll of 1-3 always fails, irrespective of any abilities that the weapon or the model making that attack may have.

Both Inner Circle and Transhuman Physiology have this extra line that means they always work and always wound on abilities have no affect on them. If they did not have this line however, this would be an actual example of a conflict that the rare rule Attacker’s Priority applies to. There’s no resolution to 2+ always succeeds vs 1-3 always fails; they directly contradict each other, unlike rules such as Omni Scramblers which does not contradict deep strike distance requirements (there are points on the board that are more than 12″ and more than 9″ away so that’s where models affected should go). Attackers Priority actually applies quite rarely in practice.


Stubborn Defiance – how does this work?

One of the Dark Angels’ new custom Secondary Objectives is Stubborn Defiance, a Battlefield Supremacy objective that rewards you for holding the same objective marker for multiple turns with Objective Secured units. There are a few quirks to review here, however. Let’s start by looking at the rules text:

In your first command phase, select one objective marker. At the end of each of Command Phase after the first, if you control that objective marker with a DARK ANGELS unit from your arm that has the Objective Secured ability, score a number of victory points based on the consecutive number of Command phases that you have controlled that objective marker with that unit as follows:

For example, in your third Command Phase, if you have controlled that objective marker with a DARK ANGELS unit for three of your Command phases consecutively, you will score 3 points on that turn.

I really wish the example covered this specific thing but the first question I got about this secondary objective was about if it has to be the same unit or any unit that controls the point. Based on this part of the rule though:

consecutive number of Command Phase that you have control that objective mark with that unit

I’m fairly confident that it’s the same unit required for each turn. You can still have multiple units on the Objective though and score based on either of them, or the one that has been there the most turns. What I’m a little concerned by still though is how open this is to be interpreted that you can score it for each Dark Angels unit on a point; I don’t think the objective actually allows for that but it’s easily debatable that it does based on the wording.

Abilities Potentially Missing the Aura Flag

I have spotted a few abilities that might be missing the Aura flag that should probably have it.

Reliquary of the Repentant:
Raven Wing Model only. While an enemy unit is within 3″ of the bearer, each time an invulnerable saving throw is made for a model in that unit that has invulnerable save of 4+ or better, the saving through is only successful on an unmodified roll of 5+. [Supplement Dark Angels Pg48]

Update: Feast of Malediction gained the Aura tag in the March Dark Angels FAQ

Some abilities affect models or units in a given range – these are aura abilities. A model with an aura ability is always within range of its effect. The effects of multiple, identically named aura abilities are not cumulative (i.e. if a unit is within range of two models with the same aura ability, that aura ability only applies to the unit once).

Both of the effect models or units while within a given range. They don’t have any of the usual distinctions of a none aura, such as affecting models outside a range such as the Raven Guard chapter tactic or Omni Scramblers. The effect also doesn’t continue to apply after leaving the range such as with Tau’s Mont’ka or Necron obeisance generators.


Dark Angels – Advancing but staying still for Jink and measuring moves for Death on the Wind

Can a Ravenwing unit stay where it is on the table and declare to have moved/advanced for the purposes of:
a) Jink invulnerable saves
b) Death on the Wind secondary
And if they can, should they?! Thanks!

Hmmmm… I think the answer to A is Yes.

When a unit makes an Advance, make an Advance roll for the unit by rolling one D6. Add the result in inches to the Move (M) characteristic of each model in that unit until the end of the current phase. Each model in that unit can then move a distance in inches equal to or less than this total, but no model can be moved within Engagement Range of enemy models. A unit cannot shoot or declare a charge in the same turn that it made an Advance.

Advancing doesn’t require any minimum amount of movement to occur, The unit still counts as having moved and advanced for any rules that care about that though. Your second point though is part of a much larger debate that I don’t know has an actual 100% answer.

The distance a model moves is measured using the part of the model’s base (or hull) that moves furthest along its path (including parts that rotate or pivot)

Can the player decide a model’s path, or is the path of a model the minimum legal path between start and end location? The rules do have the following:

Whenever you move a model, you can pivot it and/or change its position on the battlefield along any path

That’s obviously there to let you navigate around terrain or enemy models, but it being here does mean you aren’t forced to take the most efficient possible route. As a consequence, you could theoretically choose to go the long way round, or double back on yourself, and herein lies the issue.

The secondary requires a model that moved 12” or more in your movement phase that turn to kill an enemy unit.

Score 2 Victory Points each time an enemy unit is destroyed by an attack made by a RAVENWING model from your army that moved 12” or more during the Movement Phase of that turn, or made a charge move that turn.

Editor’s Note: This was a non-trivial issue that caused as big a debate as there has ever been in the Goonhammer offices. Some argued that a unit can move however it likes during its move, and the rules do not prevent a move forward-backward from occurring; others argued that the distance a model has moved is measured by its final position and that the notion of Ravenwing bikers vibrating in place to “move” 12″ was clearly stupid as hell and against the rules’ intent. Voices were raised, insults were flung, chairs were thrown, feelings were hurt. It wasn’t pretty. In the end we semi-settled on the idea that this was technically correct, but still dumb as hell and the people arguing in favor of it are also dumb as hell. Go to hell, Wings.

It looks like you can technically do this by looping back on yourself – but that seems weirdly out of line with that the rule appears to want you to do. Now that there’s no heavy penalty, there’s essentially no downside for a Land Speeder or Biker declaring that they’re “moving 12″‘ but returning to the same point, so you don’t really have to work to qualify for this. In line with how minimum moves work, this should probably say “if that model made a move that ended with all parts more than 12″ from where it started”, and we wouldn’t fault a TO for ruling that this is how it works (or if a future FAQ did so), but strictly on the basis of the rules you seem to be able to vibrate very hard in place (as long as you have 12″ of movement) then score your points. This one is definitely worth having a pre-game discussion with your opponent about as well, as claiming a bonus for moving while staying perfectly still feels extremely gamey, and plausibly not what the rule intends.

Last Updated: 2021-03-31 GW FAQ Here


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