Tayne’s Dark Angels: Knowledge is Power by Graeme Nicholls

3 Aug

Ok, that dang thing called real life interrupted me this week so I’m yet to test last week’s initial list, so this week won’t be the review I had planned but a theory-based musing instead. I’ve done a lot of reading about this hobby, and fantasy, and I’ve generally found a major piece of advice missing from guides. It’s basic, very basic, but if we’re building on the fundamentals to improve our gaming then we have to establish a solid foundation to build on. This advice is:

Know your army, know your list.

Simple eh? I mean, everyone’s looked at their army book, added together the points to make units, checked against the FoC chart and built an army, so why raise such a moronic point? Knowledge is power and many people will advise someone wanting to play competitively to study the local/national meta game, to analyse the lists and bear this in mind when creating their army. This is all true, there’s no point building a list dedicated to taking down infantry when the local game is all about the mechanised armies for example.

Without a thorough understanding of your own army, specifically its limitations, this knowledge will not be put to the best use it can. Let’s examine a tooled up Ravenwing Assault Squad. Assuming it is equipped take out infantry,  we have 6 bikes, a power weapon on the sergeant, two flamers, an attack bike with heavy bolter and the landspeeder with assault cannon. Assume Sammael is the HW choice, and give them the apothecary and banner upgrade (+1 attack for each model in unit). At first glance, this seems a fairly solid unit on paper made completely legally from the army list in the back of Codex: Dark Angels.

Now, the Ravenwing don’t have a special rule like the Deathwing and Deathwing Assault to investigate, so we might then move on to the next unit without checking the rules on page 27. The Combat Squads rules box on the bottom right confusingly contains rules that do not apply just to Combat Squads. Attack Bikes and Landspeeders are bought as part of the unit, yes, but after deployment operate as “completely independent scoring units”, diminishing both the assault power of the unit and the ability to soak up some ablative wounds.

This leaves us with six bikers. The banner boosts them to two attacks each, three on the sergeant. Thirteen attacks, three of which are ignoring armour, are not enough to constitute a powerful assault unit even against regular infantry, a regular assault squad is slightly cheaper (and ours are heavily overpriced these days) and would bring 21 attacks base, though they would lack the apothecary admittedly.

So we have an averagely useful anti-infantry unit we understand now. Well, not quite. Ravenwing are Fearless. If they get bogged down in a combat you know they will not run away from it. Getting trapped in a fight is the exact opposite of desired action for any bike based squad, their power comes from their sheer manoeuvrability. Even if the squad ultimately wins the combat, they will have suffered some casualties and been pinned into place, letting your opponent make his counter-moves to take out the squad if they so wish. Needless to say, I only plan to use Ravenwing to support an assault, not launch their own.

Much of this can be learnt before play, either by careful codex study or research; online or asking your local gaming group for advice. Some might come out during play, either from observing how your units perform in situations or others pointing out a rule you might not have understood or applied properly yet.

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2 Responses to “Tayne’s Dark Angels: Knowledge is Power by Graeme Nicholls”

  1. david August 4, 2011 at 01:47 #

    Top blog and really good info, thanks

  2. 40KUK August 9, 2011 at 11:03 #

    I would put knowing your army as possibly the most important piece of advice, that and practise, practise practise, though they may well lead to the same outcome.

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