Dark Angels Tactics: Elites
Alright, with Headquarters out of the way, now we get on to a juicier bit: Elites. This is the section of the book that contains the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the bees knees... you get the idea. Most of these choices are drastically different than their generic counterparts, so lets go over them: Deathwing Terminators: These guys are awesome wrapped in bacon, I'm going to start with what is probably the most popular unit in the Dark Angels book. They are 3 points more than their vanilla counterparts, but lets see what they get for that:
- Fearless - With a 2+ save, being fearless wont frequently cause you additional wounds, and if you are taking enough wounds for fearless to be an issue, you're probably dead anyhow.
- Deathwing Assault - This is basically the same as Drop Pod Assault, if you take 3 units of terminators, then 2 will arrive turn 1. As an optional rule though, you could still foot slog it, or reserve like normal.
- Weapon Options - Absolutely every weapon option available to vanilla terminators, all in one convenient location. You want a guy with Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield and Cyclone Missile Launcher? Go right ahead! You want your sergeant with Lightning Claws, be my guest. The possibilities are endless.
Now when it comes to specific tactics, I definitely recommend if you plan on using Deathwing Assault, be sure to take at least 1 unit of Ravenwing bikes in your army. Ravenwing bikes are all equipped with Teleport Homers, and they scout; the tactic is simple, scout the bikes, drop the terminators within 6" for no scatter on turn 1, then throw down some drop pods around them when they're available and suddenly you have a fire-base set up. On objective games, this means you'll probably be grabbing anything not in the enemy deployment zone with a potentially scoring terminator squad as well as their dreadnought back up.
There is a lot of debate on how to equip your terminators, and everyone has their preference. For what it's worth, I say ALWAYS take at least 1 model with TH/SS; that poor chap is for absorbing lascannons, meltaguns, plasmaguns, etc. Aside from that there are a couple things that are good to remember: your Sergeant is a separate model for wound allocation, regardless of equipment, and Cyclone Missile Launchers don't take any hands, so they are the most flexible weapon choice. Here are the 2 kinds of units I run in my personal army, the first is my faux Command Squad for Belial and the Interrogator-Chaplain, while the second is what I run for my line squads:
- 5x TH/SS, Cyclone Missile Launcher, Apothecary, Standard Bearer - this gives you 5 models for wound allocation, 20 attacks on the charge, a 2+/3++/4+FNP set of saves, and with the chaplain, you're re-rolling hits. This squad hits HARD!
- 1x TH/SS, 1x CML/SB/CF, 2x SB/PF, Sergeant with Pair Lightning Claws - You could take the Chainfist from the CML trooper and give it to one of the SB/PF models, to maximize wound allocation, though I put it on the Cyclone so that if I only take 4 hits, there is no chance of me losing it. I used to run the sergeant with just a power weapon and storm bolter, but the 2 shots lost for an extra attack and re-rolling wounds is great for a model that is going to strike at initiative and hopefully soften the blow you receive in combat.
For all that they gain, they do lose the ability to take transports, and they cannot be taken in units larger than 5. The transport loss is kind of annoying, but something which I'd rarely take advantage of anyhow, and the 5-model cap is annoying when you're filling a LRC, but it's a small price to pay I think.
If you want to read more tactics about doing a pure Deathwing army, check out Isiah's "Cyclonewing" lists and tactics here. I prefer a bit more variety, but he definitely has a competitive perspective on it.
Dreadnoughts: Dark Angel dreadnoughts are a bit more restricted than their Vanilla counterparts. They come 20 points more expensive base, though they have an Assault Cannon stock, which would cost the vanilla dread an extra 10. They can exchange their Assault Cannon with a multi-melta, plasma cannon or twin-autocannon for free, or the twin-lascannon for 20 points. They don't have the option for the second twin-linked autocannon.
Now, where the Dark Angel dreads have the advantage is that for +20 points, they can be upgraded to Venerable. A DA Venerable Dread with Assault Cannon is 30 points cheaper than their vanilla counterparts, though they lack the additional WS/BS. For 30 less points though, I definitely think they're worth looking at. As with vanilla marines, they can take drop pods, though DA pods cost a bit more.
Company Veterans: This squad is probably the most versatile marine squad in all of 40k. For 20 points a model you get a marine with an extra attack, as well as the option to pick between Bolter/pistol and Chainsword/pistol. Every single model may purchase a storm bolter, combi-weapon, plasma pistol, power weapon, power fist, lightning claws, thunder hammer, combat shield, storm shield and meltabombs. Also, one model per squad can take a special weapon and another can take a heavy weapon; this means that you can take a heavy and special weapon in a 5-man squad, which you normally cannot do. Be careful with all these upgrades though, it is easy to make a veteran squad cost a ton, and typically they die just as easily as a normal tactical marine. I think these squads really shine though when equipped for combat, give them a couple storm shields and power weapons, and a fist or hammer, and you'll have a surprisingly effective unit, especially if you throw in a Chaplain. Try and keep the cost down, but the potency up.
Scouts: Most people's first reaction is "WHY ARE THESE ELITES?!" to which I respond, "so they don't take up precious troops choices." With the ability to take terminators and bikes as troops, you will find it easy to fill all 6 slots, so having these guys as an elite isn't always that bad. Compared to normal scouts, these guys have +1 WS/BS at a mere cost of +5 points for the squad of 5, and adding 5 more models is the same cost as vanilla marines pay. My recommendation is that you take advantage of their +1 BS by always giving them a heavy weapon, and if you want to spend the points, sniper rifles, all of which hit on 3's, while normal marine scouts are hitting on 4's. They do not have the Scouts rule that normal marine scouts get, but instead they can take a Drop pod transport, which can be kind of cool I suppose.
Techmarines: Finally we have the venerable Techmarine. DA Techmarines have +1 W/A/LD for a cost of 25 more points, though they do not take up any force org slots and you can take 1 per vehicle taken from Elites or Heavy Support (not counting transports). Their only equipment options are for a plasma pistol or a Servo Harness. Their servitors are 10 points more than standard, don't have mindlock, get +1 WS/BS, and they can take any number of heavy weapons for +10 points each. A servitor with heavy bolter is the same cost as for normal marines, but their cost with multi-meltas and plasma cannons are 10 points cheaper, that is all great news when you remember that they're BS4! Unlike the vanilla Techmarines, these guys can take a Rhino, Drop Pod or Razorback transport. In all, I think they're quite a bit better than vanilla Techmarines, but I rarely have the points for them. If I were to use them, it would either be a squad with 4 plasma cannons (25 points more than a dev squad, but with a techmarine instead of sergeant), or 4 multi-meltas in a drop pod.
Phew! That was a lot more wordy than I expected. Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear what you think about the Dark Angel Elites section as well! I know I could have gone into a more detail, especially about the Terminators, but instead I thought I'd let a veteran Deathwing player guide you.