The Space Marine Legions of the First Founding make up the core factions and conflict of the Horus Heresy. In this third article in our look at the Dark Angels, we consider their special units.. As these are a brand new set of rules, the sons of Caliban will be covered in more than one article.
Welcome back to our coverage of the Dark Angels, following the release of The Horus Heresy Book Nine: Crusade. In our last two articles we covered the core special rules of the Legion, and their plethora of Rites of War – one for each of the six Wings.
In this part of the review we’re going to look closely at their special units. They have quite a few, and they are very flavourful, with amazing miniatures (for the ones we have seen). Lets dive in!
May 2021: This article has been updated to account for the latest Book Nine: Crusade FAQ.
Inner Circle Knights Cenobium
To start with, just look at those models. Look at them. They look superb, and the wrist-mounted plasma-casters are a really nice touch. Forge World knocked it out of the park with this range.
So, the rules. These guys are an Elites choice, clocking in at 275 pts for 5 (so on the expensive side, relative to other Legion unique Terminators). They come with a standard Terminator statline with WS5 on the basic Cenobites, and WS 6 on the Preceptor. They also have Stubborn and Adamantium Will, which is not bad (but not going to set the world on fire or something you count on).
In terms of wargear, they all have Cataphractii armour (so they’ll need a transport), Terranic greatswords and plasma-casters. The plasma-casters are S 4 AP 2 12” Assault 2 with Ignores Cover and rerolls to hit on Overwatch (with a special rule allowing them to do this as Cataphractii, before you frown).
This is pretty decent, as the AP 2 offsets the big weakness of the Greatswords only being AP 3. You can soften up your targets this way, but you’ll need to position the charges appropriately.
Additional models are +45 pts each – so again, at the expensive end – but they can take Thunder hammers for free (you want at least two in the squad), along with some upgrades for the Preceptor.
The Cenobium then have the Order Exemplars rule, which means they can all get a Scion of the Hekatonystika special rule applying to the whole squad. Officially this is selected before play has begun (with the potential to list-tailor) but Forge World discourages this and emphasises modelling them along the rule you’ve taken.
Personally, I would go for Hunters of Beasts (re-roll 1s to Wound vs T5 creatures in combat, or all Wounds against T6+) or Reapers of Hosts (+1 attack in any Fight sub-phase you have more than one enemy model in base to base). These are quite “reliable” and mean you will get the most out of the Order Exemplars rule while not being too cheesy and tailoring the squad for your foe.
All in all, quite expensive (as with everything in the Dark Angels list), but a solid unit who will do the job.
Deathwing Companion Detachment
Arguably the most famous Wing of the Dark Angels, the Deathwing are synonymous with bone white armour, which has been slightly retconned as being worn by those who “have taken a death-blow” and survived (oxymoron?).
They are intended to be lifeguards and supports for an HQ or leader in the Dark Angels Legion, and their rules are angled around this.
To start with, you either take them on foot, with jump packs (awesome) or as Terminators. You can only take Companions accompanying a Dark Angels Praetor or Special Character due to the Deathwing Retinue rule – they aren’t a separate unit – and you cannot then have the character leave. So, depending on what that Praetor/Character is wearing, the Companions will have artificer armour, jump packs, or Terminator armour, and be a minimum squad of 6 men.
They are the Death-sworn Companions, which means Independent Characters accompanying them cannot be targeted by Precision Shots/Strikes, and they automatically pass Look Out, Sir! Checks. This is really fluffy! They also have Scions of the Deathwing (as you would expect), and Chosen Warriors, which work well together to buff them in Challenges and allow them to intervene when their ward is in danger.
Now, the meat of their rules. 150 pts for 5, in artificer armour, with Terranic Greatswords or Calibanite warblades, with a Refractor Field on the leader (Oathbearer). They have veteran statlines with WS5, and W 2 on the Oathbearer – really good for the points. +30 pts per model is quite steep, but they have good wargear.
They can all take Melta bombs for a flat +25 pts (not a bad choice, all in all), and can get Power fists, combi-weapons and plasma pistols, but this racks up fast – take a fist, just in case, but otherwise I’d only be spending points on a Cytheron pattern aegis.
This is +10 pts, and its a great model concept (just look at the picture above – it has a void shield projector embedded in it!). It is a special shield made from fragments of a lost city on Mercury, and has two “modes”. The primary mode is an invulnerable save for the user – 4+ vs Shooting, 5+ vs Melee. The secondary mode is “deployed”, in the Movement phase, but you need at least two in the squad.
While deployed, the guys who have aegises (aegii?) cannot make Shooting or Melee attacks, but the whole squad gets an invulnerable save (4+ vs Shooting, 5+ vs Melee), and any model fighting in assault has -1 Initiative. This can be ended at the start of any Movement phase, or if only 1 aegis model is left alive.
This is really cool! If you’re going to use it, take a decent sized squad in a transport, and deploy them out and engage the aegis to hold a position or engage the foe. Its a very fluffy choice, and I would strongly encourage it.
Jump packs are an option, but are +15 pts a model, which is massively expensive (but would look incredible). The Terminator option is also +15 pts, and there are a variety of Terminator specific upgrades.
There is only one slight problem with the Terminator rules – they can take a Proteus as a Dedicated Transport, but the minimum squad size is 5 and they must accompany a Character, so they automatically are 11 strong minimum for a transport, so cannot fit into the Land Raider. Clearly just a bit of a typo. [FAQ Update: This is now a Spartan as a Dedicated Transport].
The Companions will certainly do a lot of bladework, if given the chance, but the key thing to note is that by taking them you are automatically creating an “eggs in one basket” unit which will rack up in points, given they need to escort a Character. Don’t let that stop you though – the models are amazing.
Firewing Enigmatus Cabal
No models for these yet, but I am envisioning something similar to the superb Venetari from the Custodes range. These are a curious unit – rather expensive (150 pts for 3), with 2 Wounds, WS 5, I 5 and A 3 base, but only a 3+ save (!).
They have Scions of the Firewing (Hatred (Characters)) which is… superseded, by their special rule of Hatred (Characters). Another typo [FAQ Update: This is now Preferred Enemy: Characters, which is slightly different]. They also have Scout, which is helpful given they are Jump Infantry so can really boost up the table.
Their equipment is also intriguing – Needle pistols, Shroud Bombs (defensive grenades), a Calibanite charge-blade and an Enigmatus pattern jump pack.
Lets take the jump pack first – this gives you a 5+ cover save (quite good), and negates Overwatch if you choose to use it in the Assault phase. The latter is very fluffy, as these guys are assassins, picking a target and getting to grips with them in a blur of movement.
The charge-blades, however, are not that great. +1 S, AP 3, with Charge-blade as a rule, which means they can be given Rending and Gets Hot for a Fight sub-phase.
Look, this is cool in theory – I love the concept, and the visual of this unit. But they’re supposed to trying to take out the enemy big-hitters, and I’m just not convinced – even with Hatred meaning the risk from Gets Hot! Is pretty minimal – that Rending alone is going to cut the mustard. They have a lot of attacks, but I just look at the 3+ save with no invulnerable and wince when I think about a Praetor getting to grips with them. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think I’d need to see these on the table a bit first before passing final judgement.
Another model which has knocked it completely out of the park – the Dreadwing Interemptors are infamous even among the already-grim Dreadwing. They are “dedicated… to a singular purpose – the utter annihilation of the enemy.”
And by the Lion himself, they certainly bloody well can!
160 pts nets you 5 of them – nothing special about their statlines; you’re taking them for their weapons. They are +30 pts a model (ouch!), but you can have up to 15. Every 5 men can take a missile launcher which has a suspensor web and rad missiles and stasis missiles (definitely worth considering), or a Plasma incinerator with a suspensor web (which you want to take). You can also take phosphex bombs on the Praefectus (because, why not?)
They all have Stubborn (brilliant) and Scions of the Dreadwing (auto-move 4+ through Difficult Terrain, re-roll Dangerous Terrain – good stuff).
Now, the meat of the unit… their horrible, deadly, forbidden weaponry! They all have rad grenades (brilliant), and Plasma burners. These nasty little weapons are 12” S 4 AP 2, Assault D3 + 1 (so 2-4 shots) with Ignores Cover and Plasma Flame (re-roll Overwatch). You roll once for the unit, so that is minimum 10 and maximum 20 shots from a basic squad of 5.
And, if you add a Plasma incinerator, then you get an option which has 18” range, Heavy D3+4 (so 5-8 shots!) and the same S and AP. Ouch! That means a squad of 5 would be putting out, minimum, 13-24 shots!)
If you bump it up to a 10 man squad (surely 15 is too much, even for the Dreadwing…), with two incinerators (admittedly, 340 pts before a Transport), then this becomes an eye-popping 26-48 shots. By the Emperor himself.
These will be seen all over the place – they’re just too damn cool not to. They can take a Proteus if they have 10 [FAQ Update: 10 or fewer] men… just do it.
Ironwing Excindio Class Battle-Automata
I’m just going to pause here before considering the Excindio. They are one of the most over the top things I have ever seen out of Forge World – truly bonkers. These are massive automata who are the caged and chained remains of battle-AI, otherwise known as the Men of Iron from the Old Night. And the Dark Angels keep them in the basement and let them loose when even they can’t deal with whatever they’re fighting.
Just let that one sink in – monsters, to fight monsters. Hoo boy.
So, on the tabletop… these are absolute killers.
300 pts base makes them a hefty Heavy Support investment. They’re a Monstrous Creature, in the mould of a Mechanicum automata, with a very nasty statline – WS/BS 5, S 6, T 7, W 6, I 4, A 4 with a 3+ save. The 3+ save is potentially a weak spot – Plasma could be your friend here – but with that number of Wounds and a high Toughness, they’ve got some real staying power.
Their special rules are nothing to sniff at either. Hatred (Everything!) boosts their killing potential to the stratosphere with re-rolls, and Rampage makes them a nightmare in close combat in terms of sheet quantity of attacks.
They are, uniquely, a Shackled Artificia, giving them a bevy of rules including Fearless, and rules for Cybernetica Automata (from the Mechanicum list).
They then have Vengeful Rage, which means you roll a D6 at the end of a turn whenever they’ve lost a wound – on a 1, the vile intelligence animating the Excindio goes beserk, and it no longer counts as a friendly model. Instead, it beelines towards the nearest visible enemy and unloads all Shooting and Close Combat attacks at it. If you run these, make sure to put them at the front of the battle and don’t try to be clever with keeping them in your deployment zone!
If this concerns you, you can buy a Techmarine or Forge Lord an Artifica Kill-switch for a mere 5 pts, allowing them to instantly deal D6 Wounds onto the Excindio if it is within 12”, with no saves of any kind allowed, as a Shooting attack. This can be used in extremis to forcibly shut down a raging Excindio – very fluffy, and a nice touch.
So, their stats are good, and they’re a bit of a risk to your own forces. What weapons do they have? Well, the Dark Angels go all out with their Excindio – the most forbidden tech is dug out of the vaults and strapped to these monsters. As a basic loadout they have an Internal Refractor Field (5++ Invulnerable save, with S 5 hits in a D6+1” radius when they die) which is unstable and dangerous, as is everything about these automata.
They have two Dreadnought close combat weapons as stock, with two Manipulator Arms, which are Unwieldy, Shred, Severing Cut (extra Wounds) S 7 AP 2 attacks – very nice to add on top of the already incredible number of attacks the Excindio have. If, however, you want them to have a bit of firepower, there is a huge amount of choice available.
To start with, they have some built in combi-bolters, which can be swapped for grav guns, irad cleansers, or plasma repeaters – pretty nasty, right off the bat. You can then swap a Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon and a Manipulator Arm (so quite a reduction in combat output, potentially) for a deadly weapon from the vaults.
A Phospex Canister Launcher is 18” S 5 AP 2 Heavy 1 3” Blast with all the usual phosphex rules – like a Leviathan discharger, but fired every round. Or, you could go for the Nerve Induction Shredder, 24” S 1 AP 2 Heavy 6 Poison 4+, Pinning, Ignores Cover – that will absolutely rip through opposing Infantry and Terminators.
If that isn’t enough, there is the Atomantic pulse cannon, 24” S 8 AP 2 Heavy 3 Lance, Shock Pulse, which will open vehicles like nobodies business – a souped-up Darkfire Cannon on a BS 5 platform.
Finally, if those don’t take your fancy, you could try a Graviton flux projector, which is a Template, AP 2 Graviton weapon with no cover saves allowed, and Pinning, where you roll 2D6 for the Grav test.
All of these are expensive – between 20 and 35 pts on an already pricy platform – but each of them are well worth it. I would easily recommend taking one of these guns (depending on what you want it to do – kill infantry or hunt vehicles) and let this beast from the Dark Age of Technology loose.
I can’t wait to see the model!
Next Time: Special Characters and Lore
It is clear that the wait has been worth it for the loyal Dark Angels players (and not so loyal – see what I did there?). They have a very strong array of flavourful units to pick from to augment their Legionary detachments, and I am excited to see how people model these going forward. Next time we will be rounding off the series with a dive into the Special Character and the lore of the Dark Angels, brilliantly presented in this new book. Unleash the Wings!
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