The Goonhammer Review: The 10th Edition Dark Angels Index

Welcome to the mysterious, gloomy land of the Dark Angels, one of the most enigmatic and complex factions in the renowned Warhammer 40,000 universe. Players are drawn to the mysterious, labyrinthine depths of The Dark Angels by their seductive blend of might and mystery, from the depths of their ancient mythology to the tactical complexity of their tabletop prowess.

The community as a whole got to experience this prowess in the form of indomitable walls of metal warriors known as Terminators. The Inner Circle special rule which allowed units to only be wounded on a 4+ became a bit of black eye on the faction. The players who used it swore by it. Allowing terminators to feel like the unkillable soldiers they were meant to be. On the other side, it becomes some of the most unfun matchups to face down for those opponents. Throwing bullet after bullet, chainsword attack after squig-flamerthrower *I don’t know what squigs do* into these units to shockingly little effect. Some of the Inner Circle game plan was simply walking on to 3 objectives and never moving again, scoring a casual and non-interactable 75 points.

With the 10th edition’s arrival, like the newly introduced Risen, we are offered a chance at redemption. Gone are the days of feeling completely unkillable, and we are introduced to a world of interactable counter play. Dark Angels provide an interesting way of playing the game that feels different then the other chapter options. It feels melee focused with shooting being used as a support without a little dash of battle-shock interaction.

Before we dive in, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a copy of the Index for review purposes.

Faction Rule

Something to keep in mind here when we start to talk about Dark Angels, is it’s just a type of way to play Space Marines. The faction rule is still going to be Oath of Moment, as shown on Warcom where we get to choose a unit to reroll all hits and wounds against for the battle round.

Yes, that’s very good. Yes, it’s basically Eldar magic in our pocket. No, we aren’t afraid of using it.

Detachment Rules

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Detachment Ability

The detachment that Dark Angels get exclusively (You can take a Gladius Task Force and also be Dark Angels if you would like access to Doctrines) and what that gives us is access to Grim Resolve. Resolve gives us an ability that sets the theme for the rest of the Dark Angels index, which is while a unit from your army is Battle-shocked, instead of having your OC set to 0, it is changed to 1 instead. From what we’ve seen in a lot of the previews, Battle-shock is a prevalent thing we will need to be on the lookout for. Dark Angels hold onto their territory, even when they are feeling shocked from the flow of battle. This rule might feel a bit worse then the extra bonuses of Combat Doctrines, though I think the trade off of Enhancements and Stratagems is well worth it. Let’s start with stratagems!


The Unforgiven Task Force is afforded only 5 unique stratagems (sharing Armour of Contempt with regular Marines). Some familiar ones like Unbreakable Lines, and Intractable making their glorious returns. The ones I think we will see used the most are Grim Retribution and Unforgiven Fury. Grim Retribution allows for a unit to spend a CP to shoot back at a unit that killed one of the models in your unit. A neat little trick made popular by the Votan, this will see some use with Hellblasters or even Devastator teams who have some extra bullet catchers. Unforgiven Fury provides an interesting tool in the world of T10+ monsters, allowing a unit to gain [Lethal Hits] on their shooting attacks. Not only that, but it allows for Critical Hit’s to trigger on 5’s. We can find cool combos with this throughout the indexes and having ways to sneak the 5 triggers is pretty great.


Credit: PierreTheMime

The Dark Angels continue to show off their need to be battle-shocked with their enhancements. At the forefront of examples for this, is the Heavenfall Blade and the Pennant of Remembrance. The Heavenfall Blade adds +1S, +1A, and +1D to the bearer’s melee weapons. If they become battle-shocked, these bonuses are doubled. This can really add up when we look at, say, a Primarius Techmarine. The Techmarine gets furious when one of his beloved machines gets killed, increasing his attacks with his axe from 4 to 7. He also has 1 extra S8 attack with his Servo-arm. The interesting thing about the Heavenfall Blade is that its going to buff both of these weapons a little, even though the servo arm can’t get an extra attack due to the rules of [Extra Attacks]. If we take both abilities into our combat profile, we’re seeing a marine who gets 8 attacks at S7 -2AP, and 3D and one bonus S9 AP-2, 4D attack. Then if his unit gets battle-shocked, you’re looking at S8 4D and S10 5D! Is this a good use for this? Probably not! But I wanted to see if I could find a unit with some bonus attacks that could benefit from the “All melee weapons equipped” clause.

The Pennant of Remembrance is an upgrade for Ancients that provides the unit that they have joined with a 6+ Feel No Pain. In keeping with the theme of the codex, this bonus then changes to a 4+ Feel No Pain. This can be absolutely bonkers in all sorts of situations, especially when we are considering that our units love being battleshocked vs other cowardly Space Marine factions. A unit that is going to greatly benefit any of your terminator units. Look to provide guys with above average toughness and wounds to stand their ground on objectives, be the targets of battleshock, and suddenly become immortal.


Dark Angels share a lot of datasheets with regular Marines, but as is tradition have a healthy crop of their own. Here are the highlights.

Five Coolest Units

Ravenwing Black Knights

Leading with my most hated Dark Angel unit of 9th edition, I think is telling how much they have improved going into 10th. They can be taken in a unit of 3 to 6 and are armed with a Plasma Talon and a Black Knight combat weapon. The stand out use for them though, is their special rule Knights of Caliban. Each time they charge, they bestow upon their unit Anti-Vehicle 4+ and Anti-Monster 4+. Anti-monster is something that is greatly missing from a lot of the Space Marine indexes, and having access to this is really unique. What the real sell here is that this will apply to any unit-leader you add to it. The Plasma Talon is kind of unique when it comes to weapons in the 10th edition. It is essentially a twin-linked plasma gun, but instead of being twin linked it has 2 shots and rapid fire 1. Why its rapid fire 1, instead of rapid fire 2 as though there were two of the guns, is beyond me. I’ll take the three shots though, I guess.

The characters you can add to the unit are anyone that can be put into an Outrider unit, which is pretty much any bike character. Right now I am really liking a Chaplain on Bike with the Heavenfall Blade. This will give your Black Knights to wound anything that isn’t a monster or vehicle on at least fours, as well as the ability to give their plasma [Devastating Wounds]. You can also lean a little harder into this with a Captain on Bike with a thunder hammer, but I personally like being able to hit a little extra hard in the shooting phase as well as punching.


Belial brings something unique to your army as the Master of the Deathwing holds on to his reputation as a character hunter. He has the ability Grand Master of the Death Wing, which gives his unit the ability to have Precision on Critical Hits. This can be incredibly useful when we are looking at units of Terminators or units of Deathwing Knights, providing you ways to get at characters providing Fight First prior to having to charge them. His last ability is called Strikes of Retribution, and this is when each time a melee attack is allocated to his model, after that enemy unit is finished making its attacks, if Belial was able to live, you get to roll 1D6 for each attack to a maximum of 6. For each 2+, that attacking unit takes a mortal wound. The reason why I find him so interesting is because his gun, and his sword, both have precision on top of giving it to any of the units that he can join. Basically, think of a Terminator squad, and plug Belial right into it. Finally, strikes of Retribution allow you an interesting ability to fight back against precision. When characters target him, he wounds those characters right back, unable to hide from his vengeful nature.

Deathwing Knights

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

Deathwing Knights were overshadowed by their regular brothers in the previous edition. Going forward into 10th, I can see why this may be a completely different situation. Deathwing Knights have their maces of Absolution returning, showing up Thunder Hammers once again by being weapon skill two and being flat three damage. The flail of the unforgiven has also kept a little bit of its cleave ability, gaining devastating wounds and sustained hits at damage too. But really, what makes them stand out is two different abilities, and that is the Inner Circle ability, as well as Watchers in the Dark.

The Inner Circle is incredibly powerful still, as it takes one damage off of every attack. As the Death Wing Knights all have 4 wounds, a 2+ armor save, and a 4+ invulnerable save, this suddenly causes their survivability to skyrocket. Mix that with one of our stratagems that allows for an additional minus one to damage in close combat, and you are looking at Deathwing Knights who are not going anywhere. The Watcher in the Dark ability does help with this as well, as it gives them a once per battle, once per phase, four up. Feel no pain. Again, if an opponent is trying to work their way around the one damage, the feel no Pain is there to help with that as well. Of course, you could also add the before mentioned Death Wing Ancient to this unit, giving them an additional 4+++ against all damage if they are battle shocked.

Deathwing Terminator Squad

Credit: Greg Chiasson

In the same area as the Deathwing Knights, we have the Deathwing Terminator Squad. They provide us with everything we’re used to with these units, options for guns, anti-tank as well as heavy anti infantry options. What makes them really stand out though is the Deathwing special rule that is unique to their datasheet. This makes it so they never suffer any modifiers to policies, skill, or weapon skills. In addition, each time a model this unit makes an attack that would target an enemy unit that you selected for oath, moment, you will get plus one to hit.

The Deathwing Terminator squad is going to be deployed like they are in the lore, a scalpel against priority targets. You’re going to pick your Oath of Moment target, and then you’re going to take it to hammer town with the Deathwing Terminator Squad as they use their combination of weapons to remove that threat from the table. They still have the 5 for 1 Cyclone Missile launcher option, as well as the Watcher of the Dark mentioned earlier. Also, If you have any character that can join a Terminator squad, the Deathwing Terminators can also be a target for that leader.

The Lion

The Lion. Credit: Jack Hunter

Finally, we arrived at Lion El’Jonson. The Lions data sheet was shown off by Wacom earlier in the release schedule, and with that we see the rule set. We should have gotten off the first alliteration of him. Starting with his toughness and wounds, he begins in a place that makes him difficult to deal with, even as a monster. The Emperor Shield has received a glow up, making his team nine more impressive as he is now minus one to be always wounded. He is also now protected by his fellow Dark Angels, that if there is an infantry unit within three inches, he gains the loan operative ability. When we have this in mind when we are looking at nearly unmovable units like Deathwing Knights, we can assume the lion would be able to get delivered to where he needs to be. What we really need to keep in mind is that he comes with Fights First and an incredible number of attacks at a very impressive amount of damage. 8 attacks with Lethal Hits at strength 12, -4AP, 4D. Also has access to 16 attacks with Sustained Hits 1 at strength 6 -3AP, 2D. He can fight literally everything in the game, and maybe come out the other side alive. When we take those profiles into account, when we look at his primary ability, Primarch of the First Legion, we begin to see what a monster the lion is.

Now we all have access to his abilities, but the one that I feel like we should talk about is All Secrets Revealed. What this does is once per turn when your opponent targets a unit from their army with the stratagem but before that stratagem is resolved, if the Lion is within 12 inches of that unit, you just gain as CP. After that the enemy must take a battle shock test. If that test is failed, in addition to becoming battle shopped, they also can no longer receive the benefits of that stratagem. A fun little bonus to that is the stratagem also counts as being used for the phase, so your enemy can no longer use it anywhere else. The number of places this could be useful is almost limitless, especially since the lion can be deployed by a deep strike exactly within 12 inches of his main target. This target is going to want to use a stratagem to stay alive, and it hopefully won’t be able to. The Lion should be considered in many cases, as the utility provided by him is almost endless for the sons of Caliban.

The Biggest changes from 9th

  • Inner Circle: As may be a surprise to no one, inner circle does not make a return in any form this time around. The days of being wounded only on 4+ are long gone, and for most of us, happily in the rear view mirror.
  • First Company/Second Company: Next off, with how army builds are done nowadays. The first company and second company special rules are also gone. If you want to make an army that is made only of Deathwing, you can do that without any kind of doubt. If you want to play a list, that’s all Ravenwing, Nothing stopping you from doing that either. The main issue is that there is no sort of objective secured anymore, or any kind of bonus for making these decisions. I would have liked to see an increase of objective control stats if you played purely one of the wings, but that isn’t the case. And another thing we’ll need to move on from.
  • Doctrines: We don’t have access to our three super doctrines anymore. As we become introduced to new and improved Battle Forces, things will start to feel a lot different to how our army plays. We will be more focused on using Oath of Moment and trying to make the best out of being battle shocked, instead of using cool things like shooting into combat or having a 4+ invulnerable in all our Raven Wing.

Wrap Up

With the arrival of the 10th edition, the Dark Angels have undergone significant changes, bidding farewell to the infamous Inner Circle special rule that made them nearly unkillable and introducing a more interactive style of play. The faction rule, Oath of Moment, provides a new powerful advantage on the battlefield. In addition, the Dark Angels’ detachment ability, Grim Resolve, ensures that even when battle-shocked, their units retain a resilience that allows them to hold onto territory and withstand enemy attacks.

The Dark Angels’ arsenal includes unique stratagems and enhancements that enhance their combat capabilities. Stratagems like Grim Retribution, Unforgiven Fury make them formidable against tough opponents. Enhancements like the Heavenfall Blade and the Pennant of Remembrance further amplify the Dark Angels’ resilience, granting additional strength, attacks, and durability in battle. Notable units in the Dark Angels’ ranks include the Ravenwing Black Knights, Deathwing Knights, and Deathwing Terminators, each bringing their own strengths and specialized roles to the battlefield. Finally, the legendary Lion El’Jonson, the Primarch of the Dark Angels, makes his presence known with his powerful abilities and strategic prowess, offering unique advantages such as denying enemy stratagems and delivering devastating attacks.

In summary, the Dark Angels have evolved in the 10th edition, moving away from their unkillable reputation and embracing a more interactive playstyle. With their potent faction rule, unique stratagems, and enhancements, the Dark Angels bring a distinct flavor to the battlefield. Whether you choose to command the swift Ravenwing, the resilient Deathwing, or the versatile core units of the Space Marines reflecting the Greenwing, the Dark Angels offer an intriguing and challenging faction to explore in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.