‘Tayne’s Dark Angels: A Venture into Tournament Play’ by Graeme Nicholls

4 Jun

This blog is going to chronicle my first real attempt to play Warhammer 40000 at a competitive level. I’ve chosen the somewhat odd choice of Dark Angels, and in this first post I’ll give my reasons why.

Firstly, I’ve never been keen on playing the latest flavour of the month aspect of any hobby, miniature based or otherwise.  I dislike how quickly some folk jump on the latest uber-killy, never losing list which never quite seems to work that way anyway, but also, I enjoy the underdog side of affairs.

This does have its advantages. Last week at the local gaming club I’ve recently joined, I took my Tau army, only to play a Space Marine player who’d never fought them. Ok, it was just a friendly, so I was very open, pointing out what units were capable of what, but he was unaware of potential Tau-specific tactics I could bring into play. Of course, the opposite is also true, these armies can be well known and understood by your opponent but in my experience people focus on the latest releases, not the older ones, and so memories fade.

So what brings me to Dark Angels? There have been many older releases to go through, only Dark Eldar and Grey Knights within the last year, Tyranids and Blood Angels in the six months before that. I was tempted by regular Marines, Eldar, Chaos Daemons and ‘nids. All bring a very different play style to the table compared to Tau, but I shan’t detail why I didn’t pick them, this is about why I did pick Dark Angels.

Ravenwing. Outflanking, scouting bike squadrons with a heavy bolter/assault cannon toting landspeeder in the squad. Yes please! Combat squadding the unit results in two units of three bikes, an attack bike and the Land speeder independent of each other. Add in Sammael as an HQ and the unit(s) count as troops. I see great potential here.

Deathwing. The Ravenwing’s more famous brother, terminators in Bone coloured armour. Again, a HQ can make these guys troops, but they have more differences than this to a regular marine army. They can only be taken in units of five, but have a versatility in armament over their smurf-like brethren. Deathwing units are a single option, with any model being able to gear up for close combat or distance. Finally, we have Deathwing assault, a variant of drop pod assault BUT factor in the scouting Ravenwing with their built in teleport homers and tactical options open up unique to this army.

Fearless. Dark Angels lack the Combat Tactics for regular marines, but can field an entire army of Fearless units. Every HQ option is Fearless: no great benefit, it’s passed from units onto characters but not the other way. It’s a nuance, such as various named characters from the vanilla codex grant their armies, stubborn for Lysander, outflanking transports with Khan and so on.

Rites of Battle. Each Special character (save Exekiel) and the Company Masters have this rule, allowing other Dark Angel units to use his Leadership 10 for any leadership based test except psychic tests. Between fearless and Rites, Dark Angel marines are capable tar pit units.

Style. Warhammer 40k is a game of uniforms. Whether it’s regular marines, Imperial guard, Dark Eldar, Tyranids, Grey knights and so on, the army you see fielded has little variance between units. Sure there are odd units, Tau have kroot and vespid, Blood Angels have the Death Company and Sanguinary Guard whilst the Eldar show a far greater range across the army. The Dark Angels always grabbed me though, with the robe wearing veterans (monk marines? Sweet) and bone-white terminators to the sleek, black land speeders and bikes. Making any army is a substantial expenditure of time and effort, being able to vary my painting with definitely ranks as a plus to me.

There we have it, the main reasons I have for selecting Dark Angels, both hobby and gaming. I know they are far from supreme, they lack options of other Marine codices, some of their items are overpriced (their wargear has been updated in the latest FAQ however). I could take a three mechanised Blood Angel list, or Imperial Guard with all the shots ever, but this is my choice. Now time to see how I’ll fare.

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13 Responses to “‘Tayne’s Dark Angels: A Venture into Tournament Play’ by Graeme Nicholls”

  1. Franco June 4, 2011 at 13:49 #

    I reckon you’ll fare well. They may not be the most efficient, but I love the Ravenwing. Having an entire army that is fearless and can turbo boost as a scout move is terrifying. Either you’re going first and getting first turn charges/melta shots or going second and getting a 3+ cover all over. Full of win.

    • Rupert F June 4, 2011 at 18:52 #

      Totally agree and the thing is it’s very unique. I haven’t seen anything like this about.

  2. Leon S June 5, 2011 at 01:16 #

    Other than the fancy toys there still a marine and overall have enough of there own strengths to be considered equals

    • Arnold1 June 5, 2011 at 11:38 #

      That is just the thing, they ain’t efficient for their points and there lays your problem. It is an old dex with old costs and because of that your up against it from the start. I’m not saying you won’t win some games, but it isn’t going to set the tournament world alight in England or over here.

  3. KirstySharpe June 5, 2011 at 11:40 #

    Well I think it is a brave choice and Graeme seems to know what he is talking about in his blog. My guess is with practise he could surprise some people. xx

    • 40KUK June 5, 2011 at 11:51 #

      Yes Miss Sharpe, I think I’m gonna lean in your direction on this one.

      Graeme may not set the world alight at a tournament, but unless your name is Josh Roberts (The Masters Champ), or Gaz Jones (UK NO1) who is? At the end of the day, the aim of this game is to have fun and enjoy what your playing with. Hell, if you can even make a successful army out of this while getting those first few things then your onto a win win. Armies like leafblower guard which set the tourney world alight rarely come along anyway, but the one thing I like about Graeme’s idea is the same as Rupert said: it is unique.

  4. Graeme Nicholls June 5, 2011 at 22:17 #

    That’s it exactly. I’m not going to win tournaments any time soon, I’ve only recently rejoined the hobby after a long break.

    Yes, the codex is old, and some of the points are overpriced (not all, check out Typhoon Landspeeders). That’s nothing new, there will always be old codices that are not the “easy” internet favourite option, and that’s just fine with me. If I enjoy my time playing, making and painting my army, I consider it time well spent. If I somehow end up with shiny trophies, all the better.

  5. BadBoy June 6, 2011 at 17:41 #

    Fun you may have, but shinny trophies you ain’t.

  6. StigChow June 6, 2011 at 17:50 #

    This is an interesting idea – it would be good to see what you are thinking specifically with regards to an army list.

    • 40KUK June 7, 2011 at 11:42 #

      Graeme will be submitting a second piece very soon to follow this one – so keep your eyes peeled.

  7. Elostirion41 June 17, 2011 at 09:03 #

    I’m interested to see your progress. I’ve been working on a Dark Angels/Deathwing/Ravenwing army since August 2010 but haven’t gotten it finished yet as I’m working on about 6 or 7 other armies at the same time (sigh).

    • Graeme Nicholls June 17, 2011 at 20:00 #

      Heh, a hobby butterfly too huh? I’m about to start a new fantasy army alongside the Dark Angels. There is a second post in Dave’s hands, and (now that real life has given me a break) I’ve finally tested the initial list and will give feedback on it.

      • 40KUK June 20, 2011 at 22:33 #

        Yep, We’ll be knocking it out at the end of this week.

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