Start Competing: Dark Angels Tactics – Updated September 3, 2022

Place yourself into a period of the before time. Before things like “Competitive” or “Transhuman” were found commonplace in Space Marine armies. Picture being the butt of every single joke made by your local gaming club as they mention how your beloved faction is traitor faction. This is just a small taste of what Dark Angel players have been dealing with for years, being the shunned little brother of the loyalist Space Marine Factions. But no more. 

We are now the ones who laugh, for we will not apologize for our Reign of Terror. 

Welcome to Dark Angels.

Note that this article is meant to be a companion piece to Start Competing: Space Marines TacticsAs such we’ll only be covering units and strategies that are more or less unique to the Dark Angels in this article. Finally, note that with any article of this type, these thoughts represent a specific time. This article was updated in early September, 2022, during the War Zone Nephilim season.

Chapter Overview

Since the release of the 2021 Codex Update for the Dark Angels and the introduction of the Inner Circle rules, Dark Angels have been a force to be reckoned with in the tournament scene and were initially something of a boogeyman in the meta owing to the durability of their Deathwing units. We are a long way from the days of Dark Angels being seen as suboptimal and these days they are one of the strongest options in the Space Marines’ arsenal, both in their base form and when taking successor chapters. From unstoppable Deathwing Terminator advances, the speed of our Ravenwing bike attacks, there’s a lot of power in the Dark Angels Codex. Since they’ve received the supplement treatment in 9th edition, you can now create successor chapters using their rules – a strategy that our own Chase “Gunum” Garber dubs The Outer Circle – and give up some of the Inner Circle rules in favor of going harder on another aspect of the army’s strengths.

Gunum Note: Hey everybody! So, you know I was going to have my hands -deep- into this SC. Throughout the article, I will be adding in a hot Outer Circle take to many of the categories here, so be ready for some fun, some would say heretical, takes. For the uninitiated, the Outer Circle is my beloved Successor Chapter of the Dark Angels. Successors do not get access to Jink or Inner Circle but are supplemented by a more offensive-based playstyle using Bolter Fusillades and Master Artisans.

Strengths

Dark Angels

  • Durability – The Inner Circle special rule that makes all Deathwing Infantry unable to be wounded on 1 – 3 has been a standout addition to the army and a massive power boost. Jink is another amazing ability, giving our Ravenwing units a 5+ invulnerable save, along with a 4+ for when we advance.
  • Doctrines – Unlike every other Marine faction, the Dark Angels have three different super doctrines, one that benefits each different wing of the chapter.
  • Combat of All Kinds– From shooting to close combat, Dark Angels and their versatility can do it all. From the debilitating defensive stratagems like Line Unbreakable, or the supporting purer damage taken with Weapons of the Dark Age, the army can be effective in every stage of the game.
  • Armor of Contempt – Armour of Contempt was a big improvement for marine armies across the board but particularly for those armies with powerful units with a 2+ save and especially for those with Objective Secured on their 2+ units. Deathwing Terminators are incredibly hard to kill and make for an effective unit that can sit on objectives in the middle of the table and bully other units off them.

Successors - Outer Circle

  • Re-rolls – The Outer Circle takes full advantage of the unique units in the Dark Angels Codex. Providing rerolls to units that have lost them with the emergence of ninth. Taking units like the Land Speeder Vengeance, Dark Talon, and Nephilim Jetfighter are all standouts for Outer Circle lists. You will never need to take a captain of any kind again.
  • Forgeworld Flexibility– Being a Successor chapter does mean you lose out on the Dark Angels named characters, but what it does give us is the ability to become “Outer Scorpions/Astral Claws/Etc.”. Gives us an opportunity to bring beat sticks like Carab Cullen the Risen, or Lufgt Huron to give us some exciting options.
  • Doctrines– Even though we are successors, we still fight with the fury of the First. We do not lose out on any of the super-doctrines our parent chapter does, allowing us to utilize a lot of the same tactics. Looking at you, Speed of the Raven.

Weaknesses

Dark Angels

  • Mobility vs. Durability – When we look at how a lot of top lists seem to perform, they end up being either slow Terminator Inner Circle-focused lists (by far the more successful of the two competitively), or fast Ravenwing lists trying to max out Death on the Wind as fast as possible. Attempting to do both will usually hamstring the effectiveness of the army as you undercommit to either strategy. This means that competitive lists will typically just lean hard into Deathwing.
  • Lots of Unique Vehicles, Not Enough Support – From the Dark Talon to the Land Speeder Vengeance, the loss of re-rolls to support over-charging plasma batteries, or to help our Rift Cannons do damage is a meaningful change from times past and can make it harder to depend on those vehicles.
  • Very Elite Army – Your army is frequently going to rely on expensive, difficult-to-kill units that cost a lot of points and that means your model counts are going to be low, which makes covering large parts of the table difficult. Additionally if the meta is flooded with under-costed threats you’re going to feel that more accutely.
  • Damage Output – weapons and units have gotten more deadly over the course of 9th edition and as the first codex released, space marines have felt this pretty acutely. Units like eradicators that were once seen as insane are now merely pretty solid and avoidable with their 24″ range, while Bladeguard Veterans and terminators just don’t have the raw attacks output some newer melee-focused units have.

Successors - Outer Circle

  • No Inner Circle/Jink – Takeing a Dark Angels successor with anything but the Inheritors of the Primarch successor trait means losing access to the Inner Circle and Jink rules. If you’re going heavy on Deathwing this can be a major loss, but it’s potentially less an issue for Ravenwing, especially post-Armour of Contempt. I tend to take very heavy Ravenwing-focused lists, and not having the 4++ invulnerable save via Jink, and not being able to take full advantage of Speed of the Raven is an issue from time to time.
  • Limited to One Codex Artifact – As a successor chapter, this is a limitation that is common – though it’s much less of an issue in War Zone Nephilim, where spending CP on multiple relics is rare. Even before it wasn’t a huge issue, as the only relic I was taking was the Penant of Remembrance.
  • No Named Characters – Although you can offset this with Forge World characters, not having access to Lazarus to shrug off mortal wounds (which are more prevalent in today’s meta) or Azrael or Belial does hurt. Though note that Tyberos the Red Wake is a sick replacement backing up some Deathwing Knights

Competitive Rating

Dark Angels are among the strongest chapters of space marines competitively, and while they aren’t a top-tier army, they frequently put up top 4 results at GT-sized 40k events. You can find more about their performance on 40kstats.

Special Rules

In addition to the special rules available to all Space Marine chapters – you can find those rules in Start Competing: Space Marines – the Dark Angels have a larger number of special rules for their chapter, owing to its unique structure and the way the first and second companies operate. Dark Angels get the Angels of Death rule like other space marines, which gives them the following rules:

  • And They Shall Know No Fear
  • Bolter Discipline
  • Shock Assault
  • Combat Doctrines

More on these can be found in Start Competing Space Marines, but we’ll be referencing them often in this article.

Chapter Tactic: Grim Resolve

Dark Angels

  • The Dark Angels chapter tactic is Grim Resolve. 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 one to that attack’s hit roll. While this generally is a boost that allows you to trade mobility for accuracy, what makes it particularly cool is that it works on your opponent’s turn. If an opponent decides to charge your models, not only are you getting the +1 attack from Shock Assault, but you are also going to be getting +1 to hit thanks to Grim Resolve. Additionally, Dark Angels never lose models to Combat Attrition, meaning at most you’ll only ever lose one model to a failed Morale test.

Successor Chapters

  • Dark Angels now have rules for taking Successor Chapters using the custom Chapter rules in Codex: Space Marines. For the “Outer Circle” build we will look at two especially useful traits for Successor Chapters:
    • Bolter Fusillades, which allows units to re-roll ones to hit when shooting bolt weapons. This is going to come into play incredibly often, as we are using units like Ravenwing Bikes, Dark Talons, Nephilim Jetfighters, and Auto-bolt rifle Intercessors. Eliminators are another impressive pick here.
    • Master Artisans, which allows units to re-roll a single hit dice in the shooting and combat phase. Again, a great pick-up for things like the Land Speeder Vengeance’s plasma, the Dark Talon’s rift cannon, and even multi-melta attack bikes.

1st Company

If every unit in your army is Dark Angels, and you have a Vanguard Detachment with only DEATHWING and/or INNER CIRCLE units in it, those units gain the 1st Company ability. This gives Deathwing Terminator Squads, Terminator Squads, Terminator Assault Squads, and Relic Terminator Squads in this detachment the Objective Secured rule and makes it so if your WARLORD is in the Detachment, the Detachment’s Command benefits are changed to “+3 Command Points.”

Essentially, this makes Deathwing armies viable as a Strategy, and a necessity in Nephilim where you only have 6 CP in a Strike Force game. Inner Circle Deathwing are incredibly hard to kill and giving them ObSec makes them particularly good at holding objectives in the middle of the table (Nephilim has lots of these). Add Armour of Contempt on top of that and Deathwing Terminators are one of the game’s most durable units – nightmarishly so when you give them an Apothecary.

2nd Company

If every unit in your army is Dark Angels and you have an Outrider Detachment with only RAVENWING units in it, they all gain the 2nd Company ability. Bike Squad and Outrider Squad units in that Detachment gain the Objective Secured Ability, and if your WARLORD is in this Detachment, its command benefit changes to “+3 Command Points.” This is what potentially makes all-Ravenwing armies viable, though they are not quite as viable as all-Deathwing. It does however mean that Ravenwing Detachments can pull of some neat tricks using minimum-size bike squads as fast objective holders, and recent changes to secondaries like Retrieve Nephilim Data and Engage on All Fronts are much more friendly to small bike units.

Chapter Doctrine: Sons of the Lion

As we covered a little earlier, there are three “super-doctrines” in the Dark Angels codex. GW really did their best to make the book feel like it has three separate fighting styles, all combined into one army via a special rule called Sons of the Lion.

Devastator: Speed of the Raven

While the Devastator Doctrine is active for your army:

  • Add 3″ to the Move characteristic of RAVENWING models from your army.
  • RAVENWING units from your army are eligible to shoot in a turn in which they Advanced. Each time a model in that unit makes a ranged attack in a turn in which it Advanced, that attack suffers the penalty incurred to the hit roll as if firing an Assault weapon.

Tactical: Fire Discipline

While the Tactical Doctrine is active for your army, INFANTRY models from your army (excluding DEATHWING models) can make attacks with Rapid Fire and Assault weapons (excluding Blast weapons) while within Engagement Range of enemy units but must target an enemy that is within Engagement range of its own unit when doing so. In such circumstances, the model can target an enemy unit even if other friendly units are within Engagement Range of the same enemy unit, and while making such an attack, it has a Ballistic Skill characteristic of 5+.

Assault: Implacable

While the Assault Doctrine is active for your army, each time a DEATHWING INFANTRY or DEATHWING DREADNOUGHT model from your army makes a melee attack against a CHARACTER unit or a unit that has any models with 8+ wounds, you can re-roll the wound roll.

With three super doctrines, the codex is really telling us what our army is expected to be doing. The Speed of the Raven wants our whole Ravenwing force to push forward with 4++ Invuls to set up for the next turn. While still being able to participate in the battle turning our heavy weapons into assault weapons. The Fire Discipline has not seen too much use, though the Tactical doctrine is one that both takes of Dark Angels enjoy, it is the weaker of the three doctrines. Finally, when we are looking at the Implacable special rule we get to some real meat. Rerolling all wounds is great, no matter what the cause, and when we are using lists full of Power fists and Thunder hammers, Magnus and friends better watch out.

Inner Circle

Note: Successor Chapters do not get Inner Circle unless they have the Grim Resolve or Inheritors of the Primarch chapter tactic.

The Stand-out special rule for the Dark Angels army. The rule that caused weeks and weeks of nerf calls, only to be stifled by the faction’s lackluster tournament performance (The release of Drukhari may have also had something to do with this). What does this incredible rule do?

  • Each time a Morale test is taken for this unit, it is automatically passed.
  • While this unit is within Engagement Range of any enemy FALLEN units, unless this unit has the VEHICLE keyword, this unit cannot be selected to Fall Back.
  • Each time you select this unit to Fall Back, unless it has the VEHICLE or CHAPTER MASTER KEYWORDS, roll 2D6: If the result is less than or equal to the unit’s leadership it can Fall Back, otherwise it cannot Fall Back and must Remain Stationary instead.
  • And here is the big one – 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.

This is amazing. Let us be honest. Free transhuman on entire armies and on every character in our book?! What to be said here, except it is just flat-out formidable. The automatic passing of Morale tests is also huge here, and underrated – even if your opponent has a particularly deadly turn, your 2-3 remaining ObSec terminators are still sitting on that objective. If we were grading this, we’d give it an A+

Jink

Note: Successor Chapters do not get Jink unless they have the Grim Resolve or Inheritors of the Primarch chapter tactic.

Models in this unit have a 5+ invulnerable save against ranged attacks. In your Movement phase, if this unit Remains Stationary, it loses this invulnerable save until the start of your next Movement phase. Each time this unit Advances, until the start of your next turn, models in this unit have a 4+ invulnerable save against ranged attacks. This combines well with the Speed of the Raven ability to encourage your Ravenwing units to advance on turn 1 while still being able to shoot and potentially score Death on the Wind. 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Stratagems

In addition to the stratagems available to them in Codex: Space Marines, Dark Angels also have their own Stratagems.

Battle Tactic Stratagems

  • Wrath of the Lion (2CP) – Use this Stratagem in your Command phase if a combat doctrine is active for your army. Until the start of your next Command phase, each time a DARK ANGELS model from your army makes an attack with a weapon specified by the active combat doctrine, on an unmodified wound roll of six improve the Armour Penetration characteristic of that attack by one. This is cumulative with the bonus from the active combat doctrine. You can only use this Stratagem once. This is a very situational Stratagem and will see the most use in the Tactical or Assault Doctrines but needing to spend 2 CP to make sixes better is rough. D
  • Intractable (2 CP) – Use this Stratagem in your Movement phase, when a DARK ANGELS unit from your army is selected to Fall Back. If that unit has the Inner Circle ability, you do not need to first roll 2D6 to see if it can Fall Back – it can automatically do so. Additionally, until the end of the turn, that unit is eligible to shoot. Being able to fall back and shoot with units like the Talonmaster or Hellblasters is great; other marine factions can also charge after Falling Back, but we will take what we can get. The 2 CP cost on this is brutal in Nephilim however, and if you’re running Oaths as a secondary you’re also giving up VP to Fall Back, but it’ll sting less if you can shoot afterward. C
  • Deathwing Assault (1 CP) – Use this Stratagem in your Shooting phase, when a DEATHWING unit from your army is selected to shoot. Each time a model in that unit makes a ranged attack, if it was set up on the battlefield this turn because of a teleport homer or teleport strike, add one to that attack’s wound roll. Great ability for all varieties of Dark Angels. Gives a fantastic punch for a small investment, though it does require teleporting onto the battlefield, which may not be something you do most games. A
  • Full Throttle (1 CP/2 CP) – Use this Stratagem in your Movement phase, after a RAVENWING unit from your army Advances. That unit immediately makes a Normal Move of up to 12” but is not eligible to shoot with or declare a charge with this turn. If that unit contains five or fewer models, this Stratagem costs 1 CP; otherwise, it costs 2 CP. This will be most useful when playing with ObSec Ravenwing bikers or needing to make a last-minute dash to an objective. Losing the ability to shoot makes this a tough strat, but it is especially useful in certain situations. C+
  • Line Unbreakable (1 CP) – Use this Stratagem at the start of the Fight phase. Select one DARK ANGELS INFANTRY unit from your army. Until the end of the phase, that unit can only be selected as a target for melee attacks if the attacking model is within Engagement Range of it (note that this means that enemy models that are not within Engagement Range but are within 1/2″ of a model from their own unit that is itself within 1/2″ of this DARK ANGELS INFANTRY unit cannot target it with melee attacks this phase). This is one of the stand-out stratagems in this book. As an elite army that must deal with hordes of varying types, being able to drastically cut down on how many attacks your units take is huge.

Epic Deed Stratagems

  • High-Speed Focus (1 CP) – Use this Stratagem in your opponent’s Shooting phase, when you allocate a ranged attack to a RAVENWING VEHICLE model from your army. Until the start of your next turn, that model has a 4+ invulnerable save against ranged attacks. Dark Angels players will use this very often. This Stratagem is key for protecting units such as the Land Speeder Vengeance or an overextended Dark Talon. The downside is that it only works on Ravenwing VEHICLES, not all Ravenwing units, which hurts its utility. Gunum’s Outer Circle Note: This is the only way we can get an Invulnerable save on our Ravenwing units – so I tend to use this on my Dark Talons almost non-stop. B+
  • No Foe Too Great to Subdue (2 CP) – Use this Stratagem in the Fight phase, when a DEATHWING KNIGHTS unit from your army is chosen to fight. Until the end of the phase, each time a model in that DEATHWING KNIGHTS unit makes an attack with a mace of absolution against an enemy VEHICLE or MONSTER unit, add one to that attack’s wound roll and improve the Armour Penetration characteristic of that attack by one. It is fluffy. It is cool. But is it good? No – it’s a tad too situational and on a unit that is already tough to justify sometimes. If it were just DEATHWING units, I would be much more enticed to recommend this strat. Great if you are running into Morty or Magnus, I guess. C

Requisition Stratagems

  • Marked for Command (1 CP) – Use this Stratagem before the battle. Select one DARK ANGELS Ravenwing Huntmaster or Knight Master model or a DARK ANGELS model from your army that has the word ‘Sergeant’ in their profile. That model can have one of the following Special-issue Wargear Relics, even though they are not a CHARACTER: Master-crafted Weapon; Digital Weapons; Atonement; Bolts of Judgement. Each Relic in your army must be unique, and you cannot use this Stratagem to give a model two Relics. You can only use this Stratagem once. This is cool when you use it on a Deathwing Knight Sergeant to make his Flail Master-Crafted and force some crazy splash damage. Other than that, there is not a ton of use for this Stratagem since you are often upgrading a big target and it does not get you any of the Wargear that makes you more durable. C
  • Paragon of the Chapter (1 CP) – Use this Stratagem after nominating a DARK ANGELS CHARACTER model that is not a named character to be your WARLORD. Generate one additional Warlord Trait for them; this must be from the Dark Angels Warlord Traits table. Each Warlord Trait in your army must be unique (if randomly generated, re-roll duplicate results). You can only use this Stratagem once. Just a fantastic ability to apply to about any warlord you can think of. That is not named. My current favorite thing to do is use this on my Ravenwing Chapter Champion with The Armor Indomitus. Giving him the Iron Will Warlord trait (+1W and ignore wounds on a 6++), and the -1 to be hit Ravenwing Warlord trait. You can do a lot of zany things with this, and it will be something you use in most of your lists. A
  • Honored by the Rock (1 CP) – Use this Stratagem after nominating a model drawn from a Dark Angels successor chapter to be your WARLORD. You can give one Relic of the Rock to a CHARACTER model from your army that is drawn from a Dark Angels successor chapter instead of giving them a Special-issue Wargear Relic or a Chapter Relic from Codex: Space Marines. If you do, replace the DARK ANGELS keyword in all instances on that Relic (if any) with that model’s successor Chapter keyword. You can only use this Stratagem once. This is insanely important for any successor chapter, as it gives us access to the primary relics from the Dark Angels. Outer Circle lists across the globe requires this stratagem. A

Strategic Ploy Stratagems

  • Tactical Appraisal (1 CP) – Use this Stratagem in your Command phase. Select one DARK ANGELS unit from your army within 6″ of your WARLORDS, then select one combat doctrine. Until the start of your next Command phase, for the purposes of that unit, treat that combat doctrine as being active for your army instead of the active combat doctrine. You can only use this Stratagem if every unit from your army has the Combat Doctrines ability (excluding SERVITOR, AGENT OF THE IMPERIUM, and UNALIGNED units). You will see this used often for things like Outriders who are about to go into close combat or even bricks of Terminators or Bladeguard Veterans who need to push through more attacks early by getting to AP-4. Being able to put any unit you want into any doctrine you want is an incredibly useful tool. A
  • The Hunt (2 CP/3 CP) – 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 a Normal Move as if it were your Movement phase but must end that move more than 9″ away from any enemy models. If both players have units that can move before the first turn begins, the player who is taking the first turn moves their units first. If that unit contains five or fewer models, this Stratagem costs 2 CP; otherwise, it costs 3 CP. You can only use this Stratagem once. This stratagem can be useful, but it is expensive – especially in Nephilim – and you almost will have to make sure your list is designed with it in mind. Due to units like Outriders and Ravenwing bikers being unable to take too much in the way of close combat weapons, this is not as good as it could be. The best use for it is taking a max-size unit of Black Knights with close combat weapons, but even with point drops, that strategy isn’t particularly strong. C
  • Targeting Guidance (2 CP) – Use this Stratagem in your Shooting phase. Select one enemy unit within 18″ of and visible to a RAVENWING LAND SPEEDER or RAVENWING STORM SPEEDER unit from your army. Until the end of the phase, each time a model in a friendly DARK ANGELS unit makes a ranged attack against the selected enemy unit, add one to that attack’s hit roll. This can be an especially useful Stratagem when trying to target aggressive units, especially with how often your list will include Talonmasters. Do you have some Ork Commandos pushing up to your front line? Make your whole army hit those bad boys on twos and make sure your deployment zone stays clear. Due to how great this is at keeping people out of your deployment zone, the 2CP seems like a justified cost. B+
  • Swift Strike (2 CP/3 CP) – Use this Stratagem in the Fight phase, after a RAVENWING unit from your army has fought. If that unit is within Engagement Range of any enemy units, it can Fall Back as if it were the Movement phase. Otherwise, it can make a Normal Move as if it were the Movement phase. If that unit contains five or fewer models, this Stratagem costs 2 CP; otherwise, it costs 3 CP. This is a very situational ability but a neat callback to the Ravenwing of old. Unfortunately, without much melee punch in your average Ravenwing bike squad outside of the Power fist Sergeant or a big Black Knight unit, there is not a ton of use for it. That said, being able to move up, charge an enemy, then slingshot off them into a better position can have some value. Just be mindful that you’ll give up VP if you’re also taking Oaths of Moment. C+
  • Secret Agenda (1 CP) – Use this Stratagem after selecting secondary objectives or Agendas. Do not reveal one of your selections to your opponent. The first time you score victory points or experience points for it, reveal it to your opponent. Note that you must still have a record of your selection. We recommend writing it down and concealing it until revealed. You can only use this Stratagem once. This Stratagem had a lot more play before Nephilim removed To the Last from the picture; now there are scant few End Game objectives you’d actually take with it and spend your precious CP on it. As it is, the only objectives that really work for it are Assassination, Bring it Down, No Prisoners, and potentially Martial Interdiction – most of the other end game objectives have actions that give them away pretty much immediately. D (Gunum: S+ Gold Ultra Tier)

Wargear Stratagems

  • Stasis Shell (2 CP) – Use this Stratagem in your Shooting phase, when a RAVENWING model from your army shoots with an Astartes grenade launcher. That model can only make one attack with that weapon in this phase. If a hit is scored, the target is caught in stasis until the start of your next turn and the attack sequence ends. While a unit (excluding VEHICLE and MONSTER units) is caught in stasis, it cannot Fall Back. I have never used this. I have never met anyone who has used this. Being restricted to an Astartes Grenade Launcher with a Ravenwing unit is restrictive as the only units that can take it are the Ravenwing Command units and Black Knights. D
  • Weapons of the Dark Age (2 CP) – Use this Stratagem in your Shooting phase, when a DARK ANGELS unit from your army is selected to shoot. Until the end of the phase, add one to the Damage characteristic of plasma weapons models in that unit are equipped with. The classic. The feared. The powerful. This is the stratagem that screams out “Fear us, for we are Fury” more than any other stratagem we have. Adding extra damage to our plethora of Plasma Weapons is amazing. From getting our Land Speeder Vengeance up to a whopping four damage to getting the withering fire of assault Hellblasters to three. This is a stratagem you will use very often. A

Deathwing Terminator Praetor
Deathwing Terminator Praetor. Credit: Jack Hunter

Warlord Traits

The Dark Angels have their own set of Warlord Traits, with six for the Chapter as a whole and another two each for Deathwing and Ravenwing Warlords. Note that with the change to Nephilim giving players fewer CP to start with and forcing them to pay for their first Relic and Warlord Trait. As a result, the only traits among these you’re likely to see used are Brilliant Strategist, Fury of the Lion, and Decisive Tactician. There are plenty of good options here and in the Ravenwing/Deathwing traits but ultimately the days of taking 3-4 traits on different units are gone.

  1. Brilliant Strategist – In your Command Phase, you can select one friendly DARK ANGELS unit within 6″ of this WARLORDS. Until the start of your next Command phase: Each time a model in that unit makes an attack, if the Tactical Doctrine is active for your army, then the Devastator Doctrine is active for that attack instead. Each time a model in that unit makes an attack, if the Assault Doctrine is active for your army, then the Tactical Doctrine is active for that attack instead. This is a solid warlord trait that allows a unit of your choice to stay in the previous Doctrine for some time. A
  2. Fury of the Lion (AURA) – While a friendly DARK ANGELS unit is within 6″ of this WARLORD, if this WARLORD has made a charge move, was charged, or performed a Heroic Intervention this turn, add one to the Strength characteristic of models in that unit. Another great warlord trait that rewards defensive play as well as offensive play. Not one you will see often but it’s easy to trigger and use and is valuable for helping fight off other bully units that might challenge your supremacy at midtable. B+
  3. Calibanite Knight – Each time this WARLORD makes a melee attack against an INFANTRY or BIKER unit, an unmodified wound roll of 2+ is always successful. A niche trait that seems okay on paper, but for a lot of the units your Warlord could be engaged in combat with, you may already be wounding on a 2+ or 3+ anyway. C
  4. Stubborn Tenacity – When this WARLORD is destroyed, if it does not explode, you can use this Warlord Trait instead of using any other abilities that take effect because of this model being destroyed (e.g., Astartes Banner). If you do, this WARLORD is not removed from play until the start of the next turn or the end of the battle (whichever comes first). Until that happens, it is still considered to be in play, but any further wounds this WARLORD would lose are not lost. I love this warlord trait in theory, but not in practice. Being able to act even though you have died is cool. This also is interesting because if you were performing an action, you technically can still complete it even though you died… though you’ll seldom have your Warlord be the model doing an action. D
  5. Decisive Tactician (AURA) – While a friendly DARK ANGELS CORE unit is within 6″ of this WARLORD, add one to Advance and charge rolls made for that unit. Great warlord trait to slap onto a Deathwing Chaplain who is guiding a group of Terminators into combat from deep strike. Combines well with the 2″ ruins Engagement Range ruling (where events allow – some do not extend engagement range on charges for units arriving from Reserves) to get theoretical 7″ charges out of Deep Strike. B
  6. Honour of the First Legion – This WARLORD is eligible to perform a Heroic Intervention if it is within 6″ horizontally and 5″ vertically of an enemy unit. Each time this WARLORD makes a Heroic Intervention move, so long as it ends that move closer to the closest enemy model, it can move up to 6″. All other rules for Heroic Interventions still apply. This is a warlord trait we see everywhere but rarely picked. It is just not great and we need our traits to be force multipliers, not small deterrence like this. Nobody wants to use their Talonmaster as a HI bully, and I would be hard-pressed to put this into a list. D

Ravenwing Warlord Traits

1-3. Lightning-fast Reactions – Each time an attack is made against this WARLORD, subtract one from that attack’s hit roll. Taking this as something to support a close combat Ravenwing character, like a Primarius Chaplain can be a solid tool to help their close combat game. B

4-6. Master of Maneuver – This WARLORD is eligible to either shoot or charge in a turn in which it Fell Back. Throw this on a Primarius Chaplain who has Armor Indomitus and the Iron Will warlord trait for an unstoppable biker man of close combat fury. This is a perfect warlord trait to toss on a unit as a secondary choice. Usable by most Ravenwing Warlords that find themselves in any tough situation. A

Deathwing Warlord Traits

1-3. Watched – Once per battle, in your opponent’s Psychic phase, this WARLORD can attempt to deny one additional psychic power, even if it is not a PSYKER and even if it is not within 24″ of the enemy models manifesting that psychic power. When taking that Deny the Witch test, do not roll the dice; it is automatically passed. Map wide, once-per-game “No” to any psychic power can be one of the best things you can bring. With abilities like Da Jump, Temporal Surge/Sorcerous Facade, and Onslaught floating around, being able to stifle a turn one double move or Advance and Charge could be invaluable. This is an “A” quality trait, but since it is not going to be used in every matchup, it loses some points. B+

4-6. Inexorable – Each time an attack is allocated to this WARLORD, subtract one from that attack’s Damage characteristic (to a minimum of 1). Subtracting damage can be great. Throw this on one of your Inner Circle Deathwing Captains, or even a Librarian of your choice to get some extra mileage out of them. B-

Rites of Initiation

In addition to the Chapter Command upgrades available to all Space Marine chapters, the Dark Angels have their own upgrades they can purchase for their units. Specifically, these are the Rites of Initiation, which can be given to one of the following units. Doing so gives them the DEATHWING keyword and increases is power rating by 1.

  • CAPTAIN (+15)
  • PRIMARIS LIEUTENANT equipped with storm shield (+10)
  • DREADNOUGHT (+10)
  • LAND RAIDER (+5)
  • REPULSOR (+5)
  • STORMRAVEN GUNSHIP (+5)
  • TRANSPORT unit that can transport TERMINATOR models (+5)

Why do this? Well the primary reason is to add these units to a Deathwing Detachment without losing the 1st Company rule, which requires everything in the Detachment have DEATHWING. Additionally, if a unit didn’t have INNER CIRCLE, they’ll gain it in a Dark Angels detachment if you’ve given them the upgrade.

But before you get super excited, it’s worth noting that the permanent transhuman ability of INNER CIRCLE only works on the Infantry units, not the vehicles. On the vehicles, there isn’t quite as much reason to do it. The area you get the most value here is on a Plasma Redemptor, the unit that most had the outside chance of making a competitive list among the non-Deathwing units. Having the DEATHWING keyword means the Dreadnought can benefit from the Implacable Super Doctrine, giving it re-rolls to wound in melee against Characters or enemy units with 8+ wounds. It can also benefit from Belial’s Deathwing-exclusive chapter master re-rolls ability. Otherwise, that’s it, and if you didn’t think that was worth it well, you’re probably not wrong. These rules don’t see a ton of use, but a Deathwing Redemptor or two as support for a large group of terminators isn’t out of the question.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Psychic Powers: The Interromancy Discipline

The Dark Angels have access to a school of magic called the Interromancy Discipline. This is a school of magic that is supposed to give us a feeling of battlefield manipulation, with a collection of four Maledictions that can really bring us an edge in close combat situations. The utility provided by some of these spells can be indispensable. Dark Angels have a better psychic game than most other marine chapters, but will struggle to find HQ slots for their casters.

  1. Mind Worm (Blessing) – WC 6 – Select one enemy unit within 18″ of this PSYKER.
  • That unit suffers one mortal wound.
  • Until the start of your next Psychic phase, in the Fight phase, that unit is not eligible to fight until all other eligible units from your army have done so.

This is a great spell for when things like Mortarian, Bladeguard Vets, or any other scary close combat thing is approaching you JoJo style. Give them a brain worm and make them fight after all your friendly guys. B

2. Aversion (Malediction) – WC 6 – Select one enemy unit within 24″ of this PSYKER. Until the start of your next Psychic phase:

  • While that unit is within 6″ of this PSYKER, subtract one from the Attacks characteristic of models in that unit.
  • Each time a model in that unit makes an attack, subtract one from that attack’s hit roll.

This is a very cool spell, partially due to its low cost, and is another great spell to use defensively as scary choppy lads are approaching you. The neat thing here is that this spell is something Ezekiel would like to use, as he is a Battle Mage who would want to be near his targets – he casts this spell on them and forces them to lose an attack before heading in to brawl. Also this power’s range means you can make a scary shooty unit -1 to hit, which is also useful. Low warp charge value, wide range, big B+

3. Righteous Repugnance (Blessing) – WC 7 – Select one friendly DARK ANGELS unit within 12″ of this PSYKER. Until the start of your next Psychic phase, each time a model in that unit makes a melee attack, you can re-roll the hit roll and you can re-roll the wound roll.

A fantastic spell that can really put the pain on any unit your boys will be rolling up on. Toss this on some Deathwing Knights and what units disappear in front of you. All our units can make wonderful use of this. A

4. Trephination (Witchfire) -WC 5 – The closest enemy unit within 18″ of and visible to this PSYKER suffers D3 mortal wounds. If the result of the Psychic test was greater than the Leadership characteristic of the enemy unit, that enemy unit suffers three mortal wounds instead.

This is a go-to spell for me, as I love having just a little extra damage coming out of Librarians. It is another smite that has a chance to do three mortals straight up. Low casting cost, fine range, and mix it with some of our -1LD tricks and we have a good chance of doing the three mortals.

5. Engulfing Fear (Maledictions) – WC 7 – Select one enemy unit within 24″ of this PSYKER. Until the start of your next psychic phase:

  • Subtract one from the Leadership characteristic of models in that unit.
  • That unit cannot use the Objective Secured ability or any similar abilities that allow them to control an objective marker regardless of the number of enemy models within range of an objective marker.
  • If the result of the Psychic test was equal to or greater than that unit’s Leadership characteristic, that unit cannot perform actions (if that unit is currently performing an action, it immediately fails).

Speaking of extra leadership tricks, here we have a spell that doesn’t require line of sight, that turns of objective secured, stops them from doing actions, and makes them -1 leadership. A decent casting cost mixed with a vast range, and amazing utility, this is the stand-out spell in this school of magic. A

6. Mind Wipe (Malediction) – WC 7 – Select one aura ability that unit has. Until the start of your next psychic phase, that unit loses that aura ability. This is a spell that can find a lot of use, in the right kind of matchups. As this is a spell that needs to be chosen in list building, I have never been able to bring myself to use it. The casting amount is fine, and the range is also fine, but the effect of taking up a heavily contested magic slot is a miss for me. C

Deathwing Praetor Sword
Deathwing Praetor Sword. Credit: Jack Hunter

Relics

In addition to the stuff available to every marine chapter, Dark Angels have their own relics to pick from, both for the chapter proper and Successors. Note that Vehicles cannot be given any of these relics unless explicitly stated, so Talonmasters can only take a few of these. Note that in Nephilim we’re forced to be choosier with relics, as now even our first relic will cost precious CP.

Relics of the Rock

  • Mace of Redemption. This replaces a power maul or Crozius with one that’s Sx2 AP-3, 2 damage, and each time you make an attack against a FALLEN or HERETIC ASTARTES unit a wound roll of 4+ inflict 2 mortal wounds and the attack sequence ends. This is cute but that Chaos ability is not going to be relevant in many of your games and you have better things to spend CP on most of the time. C
  • Pennant of Remembrance. This goes on Deathwing Ancients. In your Command phase you can pick a Deathwing Infantry Core unit from your army within 6″ and until the next Command phase, each time an attack is allocated to a model in that unit, subtract one from the Damage of that attack. This is a massively useful relic and lets you double down on one of your strongest units’ strengths, making Deathwing even harder to kill every turn. In a meta full of 2- and 3-damage weapons, this is a must-take if you are taking Deathwing. A
  • Shroud of Heroes. Each time an attack is made against the bearer, subtract one from the attack’s hit roll. This is a fairly advantageous effect, but it is not so amazing on models that are protected from ranged attacks anyways thanks to Look Out Sir. You could do worse, but you do not need this. B-
  • Reliquary of the Repentant. Goes on a Ravenwing Biker model only. While an enemy is within 3″, each time an invulnerable saving throw is made for the model in that unit, if their invuln was 4+ or better, the save is only successful on an unmodified 5+. The range on this is rough and having to go on a bike is not great but in a meta full of Custodes this can be an extraordinarily strong effect. B
  • Foe-Smiter. Replaces a Storm Bolter with one that is Assault 4, S5 AP-1, 2 damage. This is OK. And that is about all it is. If you could take it on a Deathwing Sergeant, it might have more value. C
  • Eye of the Unseen. The only Relic of the Rock you can take on a Vehicle, i.e. a Talonmaster, this gives the bearer an aura that gives enemy units within 6″ -1 to their Leadership, and at the start of the Fight Phase any enemy character units within Engagement Range fight last that phase. The fight last aspect is neat, but it is only on characters, and you are liable to be doing hit-and-run tactics with your Talonmaster on weaker/vulnerable targets anyways and you are giving him the Arbiters Gaze instead. B-
  • Cup of Retribution. Goes on a Chaplain. Once per battle you can recite a special litany called the Feast of Malediction, which gives friendly Dark Angels Core units within 6″ +1 to their Attacks. This is a very cool and offensively powerful ability; the challenge is that this relic ends up being the odd one out since it will often be your second or third pick in an army. A-

Special-Issue Wargear

  • Adamantine Mantle. Let us a model ignore wounds on a 5+. A solid boost in durability for a character, and best on characters who do not benefit from taking artificer armor. B
  • Artificer Armour. Gives the model a 2+ save and a 5+ invulnerable save. Fantastic for models with power armor saves who need the durability boost, i.e., bike and jump pack characters, especially those that do not already have an Iron Halo. In an Armour of Contempt world, you don’t even need to tack on a Storm Shield. B
  • Master-Crafted Weapon. Increases the damage characteristic of a non-relic weapon by one. There are very few cases where this is not useful and it is going to be most useful on the characters you want to take down bigger targets, especially since you can double-up by pairing it with Artisan of War. Also, the best pick for a squad Sergeant who wants a boost – master crafting a thunder hammer or lightning claw on a squad of Vanguard Veterans is potentially very spicy. A
  • Digital Weapons. The model gets to make an extra attack every time it fights using the generic close combat weapon profile and if that attack hits, the enemy takes a mortal wound on top of the other damage. Not the best use of a relic. C
  • Atonement. A souped-up plasma pistol that is range 18 S9 -4 3D. Very cheeky little shot, great as a backup weapon for a captain who needs a little oomph. B
  • Bolts of Judgement. Give a special bullet that wounds any non-Vehicle or Monster or a 2+ at -2AP, 3D. Not too bad, is neat on something like an Eliminator Sergeant. B
  • Heavenfall Blade. Our classic close combat weapon makes a decent return to our armory. Replacing a Power Sword or a Relic Blade, we are given +2S, -4 AP, 2D sword that gives us an extra attack. It is not terrible but comparing to something like the Teeth of Terra is tough. It can be given to a Ravenwing Talonmaster, but I would recommend the next Wargear option for them more. B
  • Arbiter’s Gaze. A near auto-take relic for our amazing shooting platform, the Talonmaster. It allows the unit to always hit on a 2+ (even when firing Overwatch!), and any targets it shoots don’t get the benefits of cover. This thing is crazy and should have been a Relic of the Rock. A+

Dark Angels

Secondary Objectives

Nephilim changed things up big time for objectives and scoring, allowing factions to choose all three of their secondary objectives from those available to the faction. That means Dark Angels suddenly had a wealth of options open up, with the ability to take both their revised secondary objectives and the four available to all chapters of Space Marines. The marine secondaries aren’t amazing, but having a bunch of options can be incredibly helpful in its own right, particularly if you have a plan for scoring them.

Purge the Enemy: Martial Interdiction

During the Resolve Pre-battle Abilities step of the mission pick one CHARACTER model from your opponent’s army. At the end of the battle score VP as follows:

  • Score 3 VP if the model is destroyed.
  • Score an additional 3 if it was destroyed by a melee attack made by a DARK ANGELS model from your army.
  • Score an additional 3 VP if it was destroyed by a melee attack made by a DEATHWING or INNER CIRCLE model from your army.
  • Score 6 additional VP if unit of DARK ANGELS that model was from has not itself been destroyed.

This secondary received a major overhaul in Nephilim, letting you choose the character to hunt down, though even with that change it’s the weakest of the Dark Angels’ secondary objectives – players average around 6.2 VP per game with it. You getting to choose makes this much easier to control, but the secondary itself is very risky when they can just hide the model and deny you VP, particularly if your opponent has an army that can score easily. This can be combined with Secret Agenda to get some additional mileage out of secretly choosing the character – make sure to write it down and keep things above board – but even then you probably have better options, especially for Purge the Enemy (Either Bring it Down or Assassination will usually be a better pick).

No Mercy, No Respite: Death on the Wind

Score 2 VP each time an enemy unit is destroyed by an attack from one of your Ravenwing units that moved 12″ or more during the Movement phase that turn, or made a charge move that turn. You have to build around this secondary to score it but if you do it’s free points. It’s a gimme for Talonmasters and the faction’s flyers, where picking off weak or soft units for free VP is a great deal. This lost some value with the FAQ update to the core/rare rules requiring you to move to score – if you are not careful it can force you into moves which you are better off not making.

Battlefield Supremacy: Stubborn Defiance

In your first Command phase, you pick an objective marker that is not within your deployment zone. At the end of every Command phase after the first, if you control that objective marker with a Dark Angels unit in your army that has ObSec, you score VP based on the number of consecutive command phases you have controlled that objective marker with that unit.

Consecutive Number of Your Command PhasesVP Scored
11
22
33
44
55

This one changed form Nachmund as well, gaining the “not within your deployment zone” rider that dramatically changes the dynamics of it. In order to score all 15 points for this one you’ll need to hold an objective outside your deployment zone at the end of your first Command phase. That means that in order to max this one out you’ll either need to hold that objective with an ObSec troops unit that can forward deploy, such as Infiltrators or Incursors, or you’ll need to pregame move onto the objective with a unit of ObSec Ravenwing bikes… and sit there all game. That’s not amazing, but the secondary is fairly consistent for scoring otherwise, and you can do worse than something that’s an easy 10 victory points. We’ve started to see Deathwing lists bring a patrol detachment with Infiltrators in order to score this more easily.

The best times to pick this one are on missions where there are objective markers just outside your deployment zone – Recover the Relics and the Scouring are good picks, but Tide of Conviction and Secure Missing Artefacts might also get you there.

Other Space Marine Secondary Objectives

In addition to their own secondaries the Dark Angels get Space Marine ones as well. Though that particular list of secondaries is pretty dire – only Oaths of Moment has any real play, and chances are you can find a better option. Typically you can build a game around one of Banners/Retrieve Nachmund data and either Stubborn Defiance/Death on the Wind while letting your opponent’s army dictate your final objective. That said, Oaths will do its best work for you when you’re running a Deathwing-heavy army on missions that have a central objective you can occupy in order to satisfy Oaths’ 6″ of the center requirement while also just scoring primary objective VP.

 

Units

Outer Circle Chase vs Inner Circle Lame Boi

Gunum: The unique units of the Dark Angels are heavily focused on the two unique wings. We have a deep roster of named characters, as well as a very full Elite slot with ten unique choices. What we will be looking at here is what each of these units can bring to your own forces, how they have performed out in the competitive environment, and some fun alternatives if you are looking at doing a Dark Angels Successors build. As Successors are not a part of the Inner Circle, we will not get access to any of the amazing Characters. I will be talking a little about what a cool stand-in for this unit might be in your own successor chapters. Note that the infantry characters in the Inner Circle listed here come with the special rule of the same name, making them very tough to bring down.

HQ

Azrael

Inner Circle

Credit: Greg Chiasson

The Legend of Azrael has been carried through every one of his versions across seven editions of 40k now. As chapter master of the Dark Angels, Azrael has a similar statline, with the ability to hand out full re-rolls to a CORE unit each round and giving CORE units within 6″ the ability to re-roll 1s to hit otherwise. He is armed with two very cool weapons, Lion’s Wrath and the Sword of Secrets. The Lion’s Wrath is a powerful combi-plasma that has two profiles, one of which is an AP-1, 2-damage boltgun and other of which is a S8, AP-4, 2 damage plasma gun. As with any combi-weapon, you can fire both profiles at a -1 to hit penalty. They both have the rapid-fire ability, so at 12″ you are laying out four great anti-infantry shots. He is no joke in close combat either, sporting five attacks at S6 AP-4 2D that inflicts mortal wounds on 6s to wound. He also comes with two extra CP if you take him as your warlord.

However what you’re really taking Azrael for is the Lion’s Helm, the helmet carried by his little goober attendant. This gives him an aura that gives a 4+ invulnerable save to all INFANTRY and BIKER units within 6″. That little Watcher in the Dark also allows him to make a single Deny the Witch attempt per battle, and he can re-roll the result if the caster was a CHAOS PSYKER. That said, he’s still a strong option for your warlord and the re-rolls are great to have. He’s not the auto-include he used to be, but it’s not uncommon to see Azrael leading Deathwing lists.

Successors - Outer Circle

Cypher - one of the Fallen Angels
Credit: Chase “Gunum” Garber

A Regular Chapter Master (And Definitely Not Cypher)

If you’re going downt the Successor route, you can substitute for Azrael with a Chapter Master equivalent-build that focuses on making the most of the re-rolls you get from the Bolter Fusillades and Master Artisans traits. For this, I use a regular Captain, upgraded to Chapter Master, and armed with a bolt Pistol that is upgraded to Purgatorus, a Plasma pistol, and a Relic Blade. I also toss on a Jump Pack and the Paragon of the Chapter upgrade. Making him my Warlord, I give him The Imperium’s Sword and Fury of the Lion for maximum close combat goodness. This gives us a “Teleporting” captain who dual-wields pistols and has an overcharged Plasma Pistol-equivalent for close combat.

I use my Cypher model for this guy, and I will not be ashamed of it! His job is to move forward with Bladeguard Vets or Assault Hellblasters, still giving them those juicy rerolls but also being a huge close combat threat. Imperium’s Sword gets him to the six attacks that Azrael would have in close combat on the charge but also puts him to a juicy S9 thanks to the +5 strength provided by his weapon and warlord traits. I have used this guy in many games, overcharging his plasma pistol at every given opportunity, using the Master Artisans re-roll for those nasty one results. Purgatorus is one of the better relic pistols GW has given us as it is a portable heavy bolter that is also AP-3. Being a bolt weapon, we also get those wonderful rerolls. Thanks, Outer Circle for buffing my characters! S+ Gold Ultra Sick Gunum Tier 

Asmodai

Dark Angels

Credit: Greg Chiasson

Asmodai is the chief Interrogator Chaplain of the Dark Angels, though you’d be forgiven for not picking up on that from his rules alone. He’s relatively inexpensive for a force multiplier and like other Chaplains, he knows two litanies and can chant one of them. That’s admittely an odd choice by GW, since it seems like he should be on the level of other Masters of Sanctity and be able to chant two litanies. Asmodai’s special rule, Exemplar of Hate, helps with this a bit as it does give him a +1 to his rolls to see if his litany is inspiring as well as adding 3″ to the range of their effects. Asmodai comes with a 4+ invulnerable save and two distinct kinds of Auras. The fist is the standard chaplain one which allows his army to use his leadership (9) if they are within 6″. The other is an ability that causes all enemy units that are within 6″ to be treated as though they are at half strength, which could help against some armies when you need to push through attrition kills. Asmodai comes with a classic crozius and a unique weapon called The Blades of Reason. These weapons are a single attack that deals 2d3 damage at an AP of 0. That’s… very bad. Generally Asmodai isn’t good and it’s made worse by the fact that you have other options. Take anyone else instead – in fact, check out the Successors tab for an alternative.

Successors - Outer Circle

Blood Ravens Primaris Biker Chaplain. Credit – soggy

Primaris Bike Chaplain

The Primaris Bike Chaplain has become a staple for the Space Marine army and he’s just as great here, whether you run him in a Successors list or as an Inner Circle/Ravenwing unit. For a pretty low cost (125 points currently) you get a powerhouse HQ unit with great movement. I often take him as my warlord with the Iron Will trait to give him an extra wound and the ability to ignore damage on a 6+. Next, I purchase him a second warlord trait with Paragon of the Chapter and have him take the current marine standard trait for Bike Chaplains, Rites of War. This is key as it makes him and any friendly units within 6″ Objective Secured. We need this more in Successors than Inner Circle where you have obsec bikes and terminators, but it’s also just good for him to have by himself to steal objectives using the Full Throttle Stratagem. For extra durabiilty I can give him the Armour Indomitus for the 2+ save, but that’s a lot of CP to dump into a single model in Nephilim.

With Bolter Fusillades his twin bolt rifle will do some decent work in the Shooting phase and he’s solid in melee. For his litany, I take Mantra of Strength just so that he seems like a much scarier target to approach in close combat.

All together, he’s a durable unit that can move 22″ to jump onto a poorly defended objective or one with a non-ObSec unit to steal points before ducking out. Whether you’re running successors or just Ravenwing, this guy is a solid include.

Belial

Dark Angels

 

Belial is the master of the Deathwing and has some solid rules to show that off. Along with the normal buffs provided by the Inner Circle, he has the space marine captain aura, giving re-rolls of 1s to hit for CORE units within 6″, plus he acts as a Chapter Master for Deathwing Core units. This basically gives you a 140-point Deathwing Specialist option for those of you who love running the boys in white.

Befitting a close combat specialist, he also has the Parrying Blade ability that makes him -1 to be hit on close combat. If you give him a Warlord Trait, it has to be Inexorable (-1 damage). Weapons-wise, Belial comes with a master-crafted storm bolter, which gives him 4 shots at S4, AP-1, 2D, and the Sword of Silence, a S+2 power sword that deals 3 damage and always wounds non-vehicles on a 2+. Overall, this guy is an alright HQ that slots well into Deathwing lists at a lower cost than Azrael – this is essentially the only reason to take him over the chapter master unless you’re trying to teleport him onto the table. That said, since he needs to be on the table for his Master of the Deathwing to work, you’re going to want him on the table early. If you have space for a tanky second-in-command, this is an excellent choice.

Successors - Successors - Outer Circle

Chapter Master in Terminator Armor

Blood Ravens Terminator
Blood Ravens Terminator. Credits: That Gobbo

For us in the Outer Circle, we are going to be looking at a Chapter Master in Terminator armor to replace Belial. We still have the same re-rolls available, except we can pick any CORE unit, not just the Deathwing options. Add to that a Combi-melta and Thunder Hammer for some damage output and to make the most of the Bolter Fusillades and Master Artisan traits, and we’re on track. For Warlord Traits, we can choose between Decisive Tactician and Inexorable and we’ll be considering Eye of the Unseen as a relic option. As Decisive Tactician is a unit buff, I would want deep striking in with some Deathwing Knights or other Terminators, giving everyone around him +1 Charge is going to be a huge deal. Inexorable on the other hand makes him better at walking. Overall our Chapter Master is a fantastic Captain option needs to be dealt with by your enemy while being difficult to handle. Another solid option whether you’re doing Dark Angels or Successors.

Ezekiel

Dark Angels

Credit: PierreTheMime

Ezekiel is the Gold Standard for what psykers want to be. He knows three spells, can cast two, and deny two. He gets +1 to cast for the Interromancy discipline, a very welcome buff to a magic school that needs all the help it can get. He comes with a 4+ invulnerable save as well as the Inner Circle buffs we are used to. Not only is he casting like a champion, but he can also brawl like one as well. He is armed with two weapons that help encourage this close combat caster archetype. He has a pistol called The Deliverer (badass name) which is a single shot at AP-1, 2D (Not that badass). For melee he’s got a sword called Traitor’s Bane (even more badass name) that comes in at S+2, AP-3, and D3 damage that changes to flat 3 if he is attacking Heretic Astartes or Fallen models (Still badass). He also comes with a neat little aura that gives all CORE models and characters within 6″ an extra attack as long as they are not already benefitting from Shock Assault. Ezekiel wants to be in the thick of it; he wants to be casting, and he wants to be swording heretics. All this righteous smiting coming in at a very affordable 125, making him a staple in any Dark Angels army that wants to run a psyker. In lists that want to run a separate patrol detachment for a Stubborn Defiance Eliminator squad, he’s often the HQ choice. A-

Outer Circle

Phobos Librarian. Credit: SRM

Chief Librarian in Phobos Armor

Coming in at the exact same cost as Ezekiel, we have my Chief Librarian in Phobos armor. This is a Librarian who has the same casting and denial output as Zeke but is missing the invulnerable save and sick pistol. This is a Librarian who has taken the Chief Librarian upgrade, as well as the Tome of Malcador relic. He knows three spells and has two deny attempts, matching that of his Inner Circle brother. Next, I take two warlord traits for him, and these will be Psychic Mastery to allow us +1 to cast every spell. This is a clear upgrade to Zeke because if we do not want to take from Interromancy, we still get the benefit! The other warlord trait I give him is Stealth Adapt from the Vanguard warlord options. This is a warlord trait that prevents the warlord from being shot at unless he is the closest unit. He is his own bodyguard! This allows me to use the Concealed Positions to maximize casting targets and play a little dangerously with him. I have played this guy in most of my Outer Circle lists as the utility he provides, with +1 to ALL casts plus his relative safety makes him one of the best casters I have seen. S+ Outer Sparkles-Magic Hands Tier

Interrogator-Chaplain

Dark Angels

The Interrogator Chaplain is a bit unique compared to his other skull-faced brethren, mostly in that they can take a few more melee options over the standard chaplain, such as a chainsword (to replace with Teeth of Terra) or a Thunder Hammer (to master-craft and buff with Mantra of Hatred to get to 5 damage). They can also take a jump pack like their standard codex cousins, and they get the same invulnerable save and Spiritual Leaders Aura. That’s pretty solid.

Successors - Outer Circle

This guy isn’t much different if you’re running Successors. The loss of the Inner Circle buff isn’t the end of the world as you can use these guys as trade-up units. Tossing a jump pack on one, master-crafting a thunder hammer, and walloping some Crisis Suits to the moon is something every Circle can enjoy.

Lazarus

Dark Angels

Credit: Greg Chiasson

Lazarus is the new guy on the block, having first showed up in Psychic Awakening: Ritual of the Damned. Clocking in at a very affordable 110 for a Primarius Captain profile, Lazarus’ real value is his Spiritshield Helm, which gives him an aura that allows units within 6″ to ignore mortal wounds on a D6 roll of 5+ (4+ for Lazarus). Given that the only remaining weakness of the Deathwing Terminator is mortal wounds, this can be a big advantage if you’re going up against the likes of Thousand Sons, Tyranids, and Grey Knights.

From a melee standpoint, Lazarus comes with a pretty great sword called Enmity’s Edge, which gives him S+2, AP-4, 2 damage swings that change to flat 4 vs. Psykers. On top of that, he can get some extra mileage in the Fight phase with his unique Intractable Will ability – When Lazarus is destroyed, if he is within Engagement Range of any enemy units, do not remove him from play. He can, after the attacking model’s unit has finished making its attacks, be selected to fight, even if he has already fought this phase. So if you kill him, he’s swinging back with his full attacks.

On the whole Lazarus is kind of a meta-dependent pick but he’s a great pocket choice for a lot of armies. He comes with a Captain re-rolls aura as well, and between those abilities you can make a case for him in some lists.

Successors - Outer Circle

Primaris Captain in Gravis Armor

Primaris Captain in Gravis Armour: Chapter Master Drusus of the Cobalt Scions. Credit: Charlie Brassley

You can’t really replicate Lazarus in a Successor chapter; nothing else has his unique abilities – Fight on death is rare nowadays, and the protection against mortals he has is also great. What I think I would go for if I were looking for a stand-around and buff type character to fill roughly the same role as a melee combatant who can discourage enemies from getting too close. Give him the Teeth of Terra to make him a threat and Brilliant Strategist. He’ll still clock in at 10 points more than Lazarus, but with more wounds and a built-in feel no pain.

Ravenwing Talonmaster

Credit: Greg Chiasson

Dark Angels

Here we go. Finally, a bread-and-butter choice of the Dark Angels. The Talonmaster is a terror in every list he touches. For only 175 points you get a better speeder profile at T6 and 8W armed with a twin Heavy Bolter and a Twin Assault Cannon that pours out bullets while under the protection of Look Out, Sir. The Talonmaster is BS2+, comes with an aura to re-roll 1s to wound for CORE units within 6″, and is a vehicle that access to some relics to boot. On top of that they come with the No Escape ability, which allows you to pick an enemy unit visible to the Talonmaster and all friendly CORE units within 6″ get to ignore the save bonuses from cover when attacking that unit, great for helping power shots through Armour-of-Contempt-protected targets. He’s also got the LIEUTENANT keyword so you can take two in a single HQ slot as needed.

If you’re taking the Talonmaster you want to give it the Arbiter’s Gaze relic, which allows the Talonmaster to always hit on 2s – even in Overwatch. The speed of this model allows it to get whatever firing angles it needs, so making use of the relic shouldn’t be a problem. If there’s a downside to the model it’s that they’re pretty mediocre in melee, coming with only a power sword to try and fend off enemies who get too close.

The value of Talonmasters has waned in Nephilim as changes to Look Out, Sir have made it much more difficult to protect them and at the same time losing the To the Last Secondary puts a further nail in the coffin, though part of the value was how these worked together. Armour of Contempt is another issue as they don’t have great AP. Generally speaking however, these guys go in every Ravenwing list.

Successors - Outer Circle

The Talonmaster is great even in Successors. All of that stuff I said before? Still great here. The guns? The re-rolls? All great. Talonmasters are likely the best marine Lieutenant option in the game.

Sammael

Dark Angels

Credit; Greg Chiasson

Samael is one of the most iconic Dark Angels models in the range. Riding what was previously the “Last jetbike in the Imperium” until those darn Golden-boys showed up, Sammael boasts a wonderful 15″ move on a T5 8W body for 150 points. He mirrors his brother-in-wings Belial as the Grandmaster of the Ravenwing, providing a chapter expert reroll to a friendly Ravenwing Core or Character that is within 6″. Stack that with his natural re-roll 1s aura for the rest of the Core units, and we have a cool backline hero. Now, do not let my viewpoint here make Sammy sound like he is buff Character, oh no. Sammy is armed with a mounted Master-crafted plasma cannon onto his bike that puts out D3 S8 -4 2D shots at range 36″. He also has some crazy close combat potential, especially if he picks himself for the full rerolls. He is armed with the Raven Sword. A brutal close combat weapon that is +2 to his strength at -4, two damage. Each time an attack is made with his weapon, if the Samael had made a charge move this turn, that attack has a Strength characteristic of x2. Sammy charges, he is S8 -4 flat two.

If you make him your warlord, you will be enjoying some extra goodness with his sword. Master of Maneuver: This WARLORD is eligible to either shoot or charge in a turn in which it Fell Back. Cycle charge anyone? Expect to be using him to get at units that may be a bit hard to get thanks to his fly keyword. Also, since he is rocking a 4++ behind his 8 wounds, he can brawl too. One failing here is unlike all the other named Characters, he is not infantry, so he does not benefit from the best part of Inner Circle. Since he has a 4++, IC is just showing why it could be useless on some guys. A

Successors - Outer Circle

Chapter Master on Bike

Dark Angels. Credit: Greg Chiasson

Bolter Fusillades. Why is it good? This man is the answer to the question. When I am taking a leader on a bike and it is not the Primaris Chaplain, I am looking at this guy who wants to do the opposite job and stay far away from our enemies. Like Sammy, he is on a bike and has some close combat potential. Unlike Sammy he is going to do some damage at range. This guy clocks in at 150 points with the Chapter Master re-rolls ability and hands them out sans the wing restriction. Next, give him a Master-Crafted combi-bolter on his bike and a simple Lightning Claw so he can dish out some melee damage when he needs it. Sitting at 5 attacks with the claw and 6 wounds helps quite a bit, though you’ll want to keep him out of melee.

Alternatively, give him The Primarch’s Wrath for some extra damage and the ability to shoot all four shots with it all the time. And again, with Bolter Fusillade he’ll be hitting on 2s and re-rolling 1s.

Elites

Deathwing Terminators

Dark Angels

Credit: Greg Chiasson

After powering through the HQ units, we arrive at the true stars of the Inner Circle. If you are looking to play Dark Angels competitively, these are the guys who will carry you through some of your hardest matchups. Coming in at 33 points a model, you get five T4, 3W, 2+/5++ guys who can never be wounded on better than a 4+ and benefit from Armour of Contempt. They are also CORE so they can benefit from an ocean of buffs, and to top it all off if you drop them in a Vanguard Detachment they can get Objective Secured.

Defensively, Deathwing Terminators are one of the hardest units to move in the game when you pair them with an Apothecary to make sure you are picking up a fallen terminator every turn and healing your wounded. They come always equipped with Storm Bolters (which rapid-fire) and power fists, your standard tremie loadout. What makes the Deathwing Terminators unique is their breadth of options for loadouts. Unlike the terminators of other factions, Deathwing can take any weapon they want. Any Terminator can have their storm bolter and power fist or power sword (that the Sergeant comes equipped with) replaced with two lightning claws, a thunder hammer and a storm shield or they can replace their power first with a chain fist. Next, for every five models, a Deathwing Terminator’s storm bolter can be replaced with one of the following: One assault cannon, one heavy flamer, one plasma cannon, or one storm bolter, and one cyclone missile launcher.

When it comes to the heavy weapon side of things, you will see most competitive lists taking Cyclones supported by Chain Fists or lighting claws. In a post-Armour of Contempt world the storm shields no longer have much value outside of the thunder hammer – sitting in cover gives your terminators an effective 0+ save already and giving up your shooting isn’t really worth the extra point of damage when you could take a chainfist.

Killy and incredibly tough, Deathwing Terminators form the backbone of most modern competitive Dark Angels lists. Start with 20-30 of them and build around that.

Successors - Outer Circle

Also Terminators

Credit: Greg Chiasson

Terminators still have plenty of value in the Outer Circle. They’re a tough unit rocking a 2+ save with Armour of Contempt

In the Outer Circle, terminators are still beloved. I like doing 5-man Squads with two Storm Shield, Thunder hammer terminators, two regular guys, and a Cyclone Missile Launcher. Remember, when we are building OC units, we are looking for every unit to have access to bolters and some sort of weapon that we want to Master Arts. The Cyclone Missile Launcher is perfect for this. The other interesting thing here is you may find yourself building Outer Circle lists without captains, as your entire army already has rerolled on your units. So, running these units very Storm Bolter heavy is not a sad thing either. A single unit of eight storm bolter carriers and two storm shields is one of my more common layouts. Now, this is also a fantastic example of the differences between an OC list and an Inner Circle list. These guys are nowhere near as durable as their Inner Circle brothers, but thanks to storm shields and cover, you can do a bit of a fake imitation. Not only that, but OC armies are more encouraged to run MSU versions of this unit. Five men with no upgrades other than a Sergeant with a Storm Shield and a Cyclone Missile Launcher. Mix this with the Stratagem Deathwing Assault where they get a bonus to wound as they land, and suddenly Storm Bolters in Tac doctrine become very scary. Start a unit on the table, put two in reserves and drop them in on 2 and 3. This is a unit that will really surprise people with what OC can do when it comes to offensive consistency.

Deathwing Apothecary

Dark Angels

Credit: PierreTheMime

This is an Apothecary in Terminator armor, who doesn’t have much in the way of wargear upgrades. He is an INFANTRY unit so he does get the better part of Inner Circle, while also providing the wonderful 6+ ignore wounds ability to all infantry and bikers within 3″ of him. He’s got the APOTHECARY keyword so you can make him a Chief Apothecary and that makes him a great target for Selfless Healer of course, and you can even toss him the fight last relic if you want to use him in a support role. What I think is best for this version of the Apothecary is deep striking down with a unit or two of Deathwing Terminators to keep them going. Apothecaries rock. This guy rocks.

Successors - Outer Circle

Look at the other tab. Now look back at this one. Sadly, this one is not that one.

Inner Circle gets the big Win this unit entry as without any upgrades or super cool CC weapon to buff MA and BFs, this guy is just an Apothecary in Terminator Armour. Which is fine, cause Apothecaries rock. OC players would be looking at any other option most of the time. Without the defensive buff of Inner Circle, the 100-point cost of this guy will be hard to justify – just take a regular Primaris Apothecary instead.

Deathwing Champion

Dark Angels

Credit: Greg Chiasson

Talk about a cool guy with a cool weapon. A champion whose job it is to either slay units of ten or more or to go down swinging in duels versus other characters. This model screams “deep strike me” as he is armed with the Halberd of Caliban. This weapon is S+3, AP-3, 2 damage blade which gets 3 additional attacks when the champion is fighting units of 10 or more models. This brings him to seven attacks that can tear up a lot of units that people use as objective holders. I would not make this guy your warlord but giving him Sword of the Imperium or the +1 to charges Dark Angel’s warlord trait will allow this guy to punch above his weight class. For a throwaway unit, he’s pretty cheap at 80 points, and you could spend an extra fifteen to make him a Chapter Champion. This makes him -1 to be hit in close combat and gives him full re-rolls to wound versus characters. Toss the Shroud of Heroes on him if you want to get really spicy. He is cheap, he has a job to do, and if he gets there, he can do that job well.

Successors - Outer Circle

Sadly, no bolt weapon and a single re-roll cannot help this guy where he needs it most. Much like the Apothecary, having a character who wants to be out on his own could really use a buff like Inner Circle to keep him going. You can still apply the same buffs I pointed out on the IC side, but I think you’re better off not taking one in Successors.

Deathwing Command Squad

Dark Angels

Progress over time, via Deathwing Terminators. Credit: Greg Chiasson

This is going to be brief. Take the Deathwing terminator section, paste it here. Then, give them the bodyguard rule and a minimum unit size of two.

These guys were impressive, and now they are much less so now that bodyguard has been fixed. So I guess if you need some dumb action boys, here they are.

Successors - Outer Circle

Same thing here.

Deathwing Knights

Deathwing Knights
Deathwing Knights and a Cataphractii Master. Credit: Greg Chiasson

Dark Angels

Coming in at 47 points a model, we come to one of the most iconic units in the Dark Angels line, the Deathwing Knights. These guys are monsters with their Maces of Absolution – thunder hammer profiles with no penalty to hit, just dishing out the beatings. Their sergeant is also armed with one of the few splash damage weapons in the game, the Flail of the Unforgiven. At S+2 AP-3 2 damage with excess damage spilling over to other models in the unit. It’s so medieval it should be in a fantasy game. I recommend units of five due to their cost, but the bravest among you could try a unit of ten and march these heroes up to the table to murder, well, anyone.

Successors - Outer Circle

These have killer models and a unit I found myself using often in the first alterations of my OC lists. Quickly found out, like the champion, that without bolters or any ranged weapons these guys are not good for OC builds. If you are looking at doing something different like Whirlwind of Rage or Born Hero, you may be onto something. What am I looking at though? not great. I would rate them higher for pure coolness, but to get high grades you need to have the tools for the job.

Ravenwing Ancient

Dark Angels

We get to our first Bike unit in the elite category, and he is just a great helper. The Ravenwing Ancient does not provide anything too unique when compared to the other banner-boys of the army. He is on a Black Knight bike, so rolling around with a two-shot Plasma Talon is nothing to sneeze at. He is affordably priced at one hundred points, but he sees little-to-no play in competitive events. His main job is delivering the shoot on death banner that Ancients are known for, and you really do not need a bike for that. He does benefit from Jink, but as a character you can protect him with Look Out, Sir instead. He’s fine, but if you need a flag I would look elsewhere. Unless you are trying to roll a baller command squad, anyways. Bikes rule.

Successors - Outer Circle

Cool bike but doesn’t do enough and doesn’t have bolters to take advantage of Fusillade. Master Artisans helps dodge Plasma death, though.

Ravenwing Apothecary

Dark Angels

Credit: Dark Angels

The medic with a mission. If there’s a unit who can make his way into any Dark Angels lists, it’s the Ravenwing Apothecary. Clocking in at 125 points with the Chief Apothecary upgrade (a must-take), he can zip around the table, moving 20″ per turn, to get to a unit that needs his help. Keep him near anything you need to keep alive, then zip him across the table to help that other squad. While you’re at it, since he’s riding around on a Ravenwing bike, have him blow someone away with his Plasma Talon, why not?

Great unit, use it all the time. Chapter tactics and Circles do not matter.

Successors - Outer Circle

Same. Dudes rock.

Ravenwing Black Knights

Dark Angels

Credit: Burger

Black Knights were overcosted pretty much for the entirety of 8th and 9th edition, but then they got two point drops this year – first in Nachmund by 5 points, and then in Nephilim by another 5 points when their Corvus hammers became free. Add to that the durability buff from Armour of Contempt and you’ve suddenly got an very solid shooting platform. With the re-roll support of a captain and an Apothecary to keep bringing back dead models who melt their own faces, they can be pretty durable. Add in Skilled Rider for -1 to be hit and the extra damage from Weapons of the Dark Age and there are bound to be some lists out there that can make these guys work.

Successors - Outer Circle

No.

Ravenwing Champion

Dark Angels

The Ravenwing Champion is the near pinnacle of a trade unit, and a as a result they’ve seen competitive play in recent months. Coming in at an incredibly affordable 85 points you can load this guy up with Chapter Champion and Martial Exemplar to give nearby friendlies the ability to re-roll charge rolls. Add on the Blade of Triumph for S7, AP-3, 3 damage attacks that can re-roll hits against enemy CHARACTERS and you’ve got yourself a great, cheap unit that throws out six attacks on the charge.

Successors - Outer Circle

Due to this unit’s ability to throw down and take a grenade launcher on his bike for Master Artisans usage, I do really like him. I tend to take one in about the same manner as the IC side, as Inner Circle Ravenwing and OC RW are not much different at all. This guy hits hard, and to mix it up a bit you can give him Knight of Caliban to really make his attacks stick on his preferred targets. Great, points-efficient unit for the profile.

Bladeguard Veterans

Credit: Greg Chiasson

Bladeguard Veterans aren’t exclusive to the Dark Angels or anything but they are notable for the fact that they gain the DEATHWING keyword in Dark Angels, giving them access to Inner Circle and the buffs that come with that. While storm shields aren’t nearly as useful post-Armour of Contempt, Bladeguard Veterans still back a nasty punch with their master-crafted power swords and it’s not uncommon to see a unit or two of them running alongside Deathwing Terminators in successful competitive lists.

Fast Attack

Ravenwing Land Speeder Vengeance

Dark Angels

Coming in at 120 points we have one of the most iconic Dark angels’ units. The Land Speeder Vengeance is a gunboat that can deliver some heavy three-damage ordnance at range. This is also a unit that can benefit from the Jink rule, but also really wants to stand still to benefit from the Dark Angels’ chapter tactic. 2D3 shots that hit on 2+ at damage four thanks to Weapons of the Dark Age. This unit is a notable example of a unit having to make the tactical decision between Jink and Grim Resolve. Keep your opponent’s ranges in mind, stay at the max range for your plasma cannons, and work with Line of Sight-blocking terrain to keep as safe as possible. If you can hit at +1 with these guys, you want to whenever you can.

Successors - Outer Circle

There are four units that I think show off the core of what I try to accomplish with Outer Circle builds. The Attack-bike with Multi-melta, the Talonmaster, the Dark Talon, and the Land Speeder Vengeance. All these units have something key in common, where they have bolter weapons supported by gun you want to use Master artisans on. The land Speeder Vengeance is armed with a Plasma Storm battery and a Heavy Bolter base. The battery is a 2d3 shot plasma cannon that will be the target for your MA reroll to keep you away from the dangers of rolling a one when you overcharge. The heavy bolter is a heavy bolter, which rocks! More rerolls! OC coming in again with its “I don’t care if. I have core” gameplay. Scoot these guys all over the board, babysitting some Talonmasters, and you will rarely feel bad about taking them.

Ravenwing Darkshroud

Dark Angels

Dark Angels. Credit: Greg Chiasson

The Dark Shroud is in a unique position as it provides buffs to our castles and mobile bikes giving them all -1 to be hit. It does come equipped with a heavy bolter, but this 6″ protective aura comes in at a slightly steep cost of 130. What is unique about this unit is that it is the only unit I can think of that you want to advance every single turn. As this unit is buffing everyone, it’s a prime target for enemy fire and something they’ll want to hunt and kill as soon as possible. So making sure you’re on that 4+ invulnerable save every turn is going to be especially important. Having the -1 to be hit and the 4++ makes this a deceptively tanky unit which can be a bit of a trap if the enemy puts too many shots into it. If you’re running Ravenwing, running one of these isn’t uncommon, though it’s not super-competitive.

Successors - Outer Circle

Has a heavy bolter, but cannot jink. Hide it behind a wall to give its friends on the other side the -1 to be hit buff. Shoot stuff that gets too close. This is a unit where I think its cost includes Jink, so when you don’t have that the unit feels overpriced. Good luck, you brave overbuilt Land Speeder.

Flyer

Nephilim Jetfighter

Dark Angels

Dark Angels. Credit: Greg Chiasson

The Nephilim Jetfighter is an interesting aircraft in the world of nerfed planes. It comes equipped with two heavy bolters and one avenger-mega bolter, the latter of which can be replaced with a twin lascannon. These all total up to sixteen S5, AP-1, 2-damage shots. Fantastic. It also comes equipped with a Black sword missile launcher that each time an attack made with this weapon is allocated to an AIRCRAFT model, that attack has a Damage characteristic of four, instead of two. On that same topic, its Air Superiority special rule gives it +1 to hit against AIRCRAFT units. On the defensive side it has Jink and the standard -1 to be hit from the Hard to Hit special rule. Armour of Contempt is a double-edged sword for this unit, making it slightly more durable while making its Avenger mega bolter fairly ineffective against marine targets. This can in turn make the twin lascannon a better option, particularly if you’re hunting other aircraft.

After another recent small points drop, the Nephilim now clocks in at 175. Like most other vehicles, it doesn’t have CORE so you won’t get much re-roll support for it. If you’re taking one of these, it’s to deal with other flyers, which right now are primarily Tyranid Harpies and T’au Sunshark Bombers, though you may also run into the odd Wazbom Blastajet or Heldrake. As a unit the Nephilim can put out a punishing amount of firepower but you’ll need to play very cagey with it to keep it on the table. Ultimately while this unit is fine, you’re likely better off spending your points on a Dark Talon.

Successors - Outer Circle

The opposite of what I said in the other tab. Suddenly, this model gets much better when it has access to re-rolls. Not only do the Megabolter and the Heavy bolters get re-rolls, but the Blacksword missile launcher as well. One of these with the 4++ Jink stratagem can be very strong and and has to be answered. Even at -1 to hit the heavy bolter profile will tear MSU up bad, and you can put the blackswords into harder targets. I have had good success with this unit, and highly recommend trying them out if you have felt disheartened by them in the Inner circle.

Ravenwing Dark Talon

Dark Angels

Credit: Greg Chiasson

Following another points drop, the Dark Talon has a lot more value, but it’s still not a crucial unit for the army. The ground support bomber to the Nephilim’s air superiority fighter, the Dark Talon comes equipped with a stasis bomb, two hurricane bolters, and a rift cannon that deals 3 mortal wounds on successful wound rolls. This does allow the potential of dropping twelve mortal wounds on a unit hanging out too close to the middle of the table using the bomb and the cannon, though those are pretty long odds. The rift cannon is ideal for shooting at stronger troops and AoC-protect units with a 2+ save or other high-invuln units, though it’s not bad for clearing hordes, either. Mix in the hurricane bolter shots and you can make short work of Termagants or Cultists.

The primary issue here is the cost-benefit analysis for the jet from the Dark Angels’ chapter tactic; unlike the Nephilim, the Dark Talon can hover, so you could conceivably fly it to where you want it to be and, if it survives, have it sit still and start hitting on 2s. The issue here – as with all aircraft and vehicles – is that without CORE the Dark Talon is missing consistency, and brining a Techmarine isn’t a particularly good solution. The mortal wound output is still worth looking at however, particularly in an environment flush with Scarab Occult Terminators, Deathshrouds, and even other Deathwing.

Successors - Outer Circle

This is the pinnacle of what the Outer Circle was designed for. Twenty-four boltgun shots off the heavy bolters, re-rolling ones. D3 shots to deal mortal wounds with the Rift Cannon. We are rerolling our bolter shots. We are rolling missed Mortal wound shots. Checks every box for which we could ask for. My last outer circle list was running two of these bad boys. I have had good success with them and if you are trying Successors for the first time, please plug one or two of these in your list so you can see the re-rolls in action.

Credit: PierreTheMime

Playing Dark Angels

So we’ve run through every unit and rule in the book, let’s talk about playing this faction. The strength of Dark Angels – and what makes them one of the stronger marine factions – is in their unique units and the abilities around those units, as well as their unique secondary objectives, which makes it much easier for them to score VP in games. Because of their Chapter Tactic, Dark Angels armies tend to favor shooting a bit more over charging (though they’re perfectly capable of going on the offensive), and instead punish an opponent for crashing into their ranks.

Building Lists

Most competitive Dark Angels lists start form the choice to build around Deathwing – the more competitive of the two options – or Ravenwing. Building with both isn’t a particularly viable option, as the army’s units are expensive and trying to build with both will mean giving neither the support it needs and splitting your army’s focus in unhelpful ways.

Deathwing

The Deathwing list is built around Terminators, plain and simple. The list usually starts with 3 units of 10 terminators, fully kitted out, but you can substitute one of those for a Command Squad if need by. Those will typically be supported by an Apothecary, either Ravenwing or Deathwing, and from there your big question is how you plan to fill out the reset of the list. Some lists run just a horde (50ish) of ObSec Terminators using the different options, while others supplement the terminators with Bladeguard Veterans. Add in some characters like Azrael, Lazarus, or Ezekiel depending on what threats you plan to face and you’ve already got an army. Note that if you’re taking Bladeguard Veterans they won’t get Objective Secured like the terminators, and as such you may still want to take Rites of War on a character to support them.

If you want some color variety in your list, you can support your 30 terminators with a small number of faster units. This can be a unit of Ravenwing Black Knights, or this could be where you opt for a second patrol detachment running a unit of Infiltrators with a helix adept to try and capture objectives early for Stubborn Defiance.

Ravenwing

If speed is more your thing, Ravenwing bikes – in particular black knights – have become much more viable in Nephilim thanks to another points drop. In this build you’re trading out ObSec Terminators for slightly less durable but much faster bikes at around the same price point. Here your goal will be more to score Death on the Wind early and often by killing units on the move, and that’s where the Black Knights’ plasma plasma talons will be doing a ton of work with support from a Talonmaster/Bike Captain/Ravenwing Apothecary. This is also an area where support from Dark Talon bombers can provide a lot of value.

Other Units

Of course there are plenty of other units that work well with the Dark Angels’ rules and Chapter tactic, and while marines aren’t necessarily super competitive you can get some real value out of combining the marine faction’s best units with the Dark Angels’ good stuff. The plasma Redemptor and Inceptors are great examples here, solid units (especially the former), which can make use of WeaponBuchs of the Dark Ages to get some excellent damage output. The aforementioned Bladeguard Veterans are also wonderful in Dark Angels (though they’re Deathwing and we mentioned them already), and Hellblasters live their best lives in Dark Angels, using Weapons of the Dark Ages and the stationary bonus to drop out heavy damage 2+ to hit plasma shots, ideally using a captain aura to re-roll the misses and rezzing any dead models with a Ravenwing Apothecary.

Finally it’s worth looking at a unit or two of Infiltrators as a way to get out ahead of Stubborn Defiance early. Note that you can “hand off” Stubborn Defiance objective on turn 1 – if you get a second unit of say, Deathwing Terminators on the objective and they sit there all game, if the Infiltrators die, you can pick up scoring with the Deathwing, using whatever their consecutive Command phase count is, potentially scoring 13 or 14 points for the objective.

Choosing Secondary Objectives

We’ve covered this already in the section on Objectives earlier, but it’s worth bringing them up here one more time. Any time you build an army, your goal should be to 1. plan around which objectives you want to score, and 2. minimize your exposure to your opponents’ kill secondaries.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to build your army around a plan to score one of Stubborn Defiance or Death on the Wind and from there figure out how you’re going to have a plan to do actions to score either Retrieve Nephilim Data or Raise the Banners High. For a third secondary, you’ll often look at the mission and the opponent and what’s feasible to score. Here picks like No Prisoners, Bring it Down, and Assassination will be relatively obvious for specific opponents; for Deathwing lists Grind Them Down might be an option (though it’s generally a very bad secondary pick), and you may want to include a psyker in order to make Warp Ritual or Psychic Interrogation an option. Behind Enemy Lines or Engage on All Fronts might also be options on some deployment maps if you can teleport a unit in. Oaths is also more of an option for Deathwing, particularly on missions with a central objective – they’re a unit who can comfortably sit on the middle of the table, scoring points.

On the other side, Ravenwing open up a few more secondary options than Deathwing, giving easier access to Engage on All Fronts and Behind Enemy Lines, and bike units can also score Retrieve Nephilim Data.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Sample Lists

Finally, let’s talk some lists. What we’ll be posting here are a couple of examples, but you can find more lists (and more up-to-date lists) on 40kstats, where we regularly track lists that finish in the top 4 at GT-sized events.

Marcelo G Lara Vega’s Deathwing

Marcelo took this list to a first place finish at the Bogota Grand Tournament in mid August. It’s a Deathwing list that runs incredibly heavy on Terminators and shows off just how far you can go down that route while still building something competitive.

+++ Dark Angels Deathwing Vanguard Detachment (-3 CP) +++

+ No Force Org Slot +

Deathwing Ancient: Chapter Command: Chapter Ancient, Pennant of Remembrance, Stratagem: Relic
Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield: Storm shield, Thunder hammer

Deathwing Apothecary: Chapter Command: Chief Apothecary, Selfless Healer, Stratagem: Warlord Trait, Warlord

Deathwing Command Squad
Deathwing Sergeant
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer
Deathwing Terminator
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer
Deathwing Terminator
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer

+ HQ +

Belial
Sword of Silence & Storm Bolter

Interrogator-Chaplain: 1-3. Watched, 1. Litany of Faith (Aura), 6. Canticle of Hate (Aura), Chapter Command: Master of Sanctity, Jump Pack, Litany of Hate, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter, Thunder hammer

+ Elites +

Deathwing Knights: Knight Master, Watcher in the Dark
4x Deathwing Knight: 4x Mace of Absolution, 4x Storm shield

Deathwing Terminator Squad: Watcher in the Dark
Deathwing Sergeant
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer
Deathwing Terminator
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer
Deathwing Terminator
Cyclone Missile Launcher, Storm Bolter, Chainfist: Chainfist, Cyclone missile launcher
Deathwing Terminator
Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist
Deathwing Terminator
Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist

Deathwing Terminator Squad: Watcher in the Dark
Deathwing Sergeant
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer
Deathwing Terminator
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer
Deathwing Terminator
Cyclone Missile Launcher, Storm Bolter, Chainfist: Chainfist, Cyclone missile launcher
Deathwing Terminator
Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist
Deathwing Terminator
Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist

Deathwing Terminator Squad: Watcher in the Dark
Deathwing Sergeant
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer
Deathwing Terminator
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer
Deathwing Terminator
Cyclone Missile Launcher, Storm Bolter, Chainfist: Chainfist, Cyclone missile launcher
Deathwing Terminator
Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist
Deathwing Terminator
Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist

Terminator Assault Squad
Assault Terminator Sergeant
Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Thunder hammer
4x Assault Terminator w/THSS: 4x Storm shield, 4x Thunder hammer

Terminator Assault Squad: Teleport Homer
Assault Terminator Sergeant: Lightning Claw (Pair)
4x Assault Terminator w/x2LC: 4x Lightning Claw (Pair)

This one isn’t terribly complicated. You’ve got a ton of ObSect Terminators, with three large units of standard terminators supported by two assault squads and a Command squad, along with a unit of Deathwing knights. It’s all terminators, all the time. The list can put together a nasty ball of well-supported terminators to walk to midtable while the assault terminators can teleport in where needed. This list is slow, but it’s very, very hard to kill.

This list is not dissimilar to several other builds which also generated top 4 placings; those tended to replace the Assault Terminators with Bladeguard Veterans and a Ravenwing Apothecary over a Deathwing Apothecary, but the general principle is the same.

Wim Out’s Mixed Dark Angels

Wim took this list to a 3rd place finish at the Feast of Blades event in mid August, running lighter on Deathwing in order to run an additional Patrol detachment.

+++ Dark Angels Patrol Detachment (-2CP, 965 Points) +++

+ Agents of the Imperium +

Inquisitor [4 PL, 65pts]: Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Hereticus – Scourging, Inferno pistol, Ordo Hereticus
. Psyker: Smite

+ HQ +

Ezekiel [7 PL, 115pts]: 1) Mind Worm, 2) Aversion, 5) Engulfing Fear, Frag & Krak grenades, The Deliverer, Traitor’s Bane

+ Troops +

Infiltrator Squad [6 PL, 130pts]: Helix gauntlet
. 4x Infiltrator: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Marksman bolt carbine
. Infiltrator Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Marksman bolt carbine

Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 100pts]: Auto Bolt Rifle
. 4x Intercessor: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades
. Intercessor Sergeant: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades

+ Elites +

Ravenwing Apothecary [6 PL, -1CP, 135pts]: Bolt pistol, Chapter Command: Chief Apothecary, Frag & Krak grenades, Selfless Healer, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter
. Black Knight Bike: Plasma Talon

+ Fast Attack +

Attack Bike Squad [4 PL, 120pts]
. Attack Bike: 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta, Twin boltgun
. Attack Bike: 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades, Multi-melta, Twin boltgun

Inceptor Squad [14 PL, 300pts]: 4x Inceptor, Inceptor Sergeant, Plasma Exterminator x2

+++ Dark Angels Deathwing Vanguard Detachment (-3 CP, 1035 Points) +++

+ HQ +

Azrael [9 PL, 2CP, 160pts]: Bolt pistol, Frag & Krak grenades, Sword of Secrets, Warlord
. Lion’s Wrath: Lion’s Wrath – Master-crafted boltgun, Lion’s Wrath – Master-crafted Plasma gun

+ Elites +

Bladeguard Ancient [6 PL, -2CP, 105pts]: 5. Decisive Tactician (Aura), Chapter Command: Chapter Ancient, Frag & Krak grenades, Heavy Bolt Pistol, Pennant of Remembrance, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter, Stratagem: Relic

Deathwing Knights [11 PL, 215pts]
. 4x Deathwing Knight: 4x Mace of Absolution, 4x Storm shield
. Knight Master: Flail of the Unforgiven, Storm shield

Deathwing Terminator Squad [18 PL, 385pts]
. Deathwing Sergeant
. . Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: Storm shield, Thunder hammer
. Deathwing Terminator
. . Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist, Storm bolter
. Deathwing Terminator
. . Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist, Storm bolter
. Deathwing Terminator
. . Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist, Storm bolter
. Deathwing Terminator
. . Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist, Storm bolter
. Deathwing Terminator
. . Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist, Storm bolter
. Deathwing Terminator
. . Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist, Storm bolter
. Deathwing Terminator
. . Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist, Storm bolter
. Deathwing Terminator
. . Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist, Storm bolter
. Deathwing Terminator
. . Storm Bolter & Chainfist: Chainfist, Storm bolter

Relic Terminator Squad [9 PL, 170pts]
. Relic Terminator: Combi-bolter, Lightning Claw
. Relic Terminator: Combi-bolter, Lightning Claw
. Relic Terminator: Combi-bolter, Lightning Claw
. Relic Terminator: Combi-bolter, Lightning Claw
. Relic Terminator Sergeant: Lightning Claw, Lightning Claw

++ Total: [99 PL, 3CP, 2,000pts] ++

Here the Deathwing detachment still does the work of providing 20 ObSec terminators – one unit of 10, plus 5 knights and 5 relic terminators – supported by Azrael, Ezekiel, and a Bladeguard Ancient – but there’s plenty else to work with. The Infiltrators give the list a deployable forward option for Stubborn Defiance while the Intercessors make backfield objective holders. The Inceptors give the list a dangerous deep strike threat. Here the Inquisitor is mostly bringing one extra psyker body to the table for psychic actions, but in a pinch knows Smite and Scourging, which can further help protect the army’s terminator units.

Painting Dark Angels

If you’ve gotten to the end of this and are ready to start an army, we’ve got you covered with the painting advice you’ll need – check out How to Paint Everything: Dark Angels.

Where to Read More

Thanks for pushing through this read gang. I know it has been a long time coming but I sure hope it was worth it. This article is of course meant to be paired with the main Start Competing: Space Marines where you can find coverage of the core book, or check out other faction articles if you’re interested in multiple supplements and trying to make your mind up. As ever, if you have any questions or feedback, shoot us an email at contact@goonhammer.com.