Dark Angels Tactics: Troops
Dark Angels troops seems like a limited category at first glance, but due to Sammael and Belial, you actually have a bit of variation you can do. The main focus of this article though will be the humble Tactical Squad. Lets take a look at what we get for a Tactical Squad. For 90 points, we get 5 marines with the full kit (bolter, pistol, grenades), and you can purchase an additional 5 for +75 points, note that you can't purchase individual marines, it's either 5 for 90, or 10 for 165. As far as upgrades go, they can take a special weapon, and if you buy a full squad of 10, they can take a Heavy Weapon. While they don't get their weapons for free like their Vanilla brothers, they do have the ability to take special weapons in squads of 5, while the normal marines have to take a full squad to upgrade any weapons at all. This is probably the most important difference between the books, as far as Tactical Squads go. Like most other marines, they can also split their 10-man squads into two 5-man squads when they are deployed. There are no restrictions over who goes in what squad, so you could put both the heavy/special weapon in one squad and the sergeant with 4 regular marines in the other, if you so want. The squad sergeant can swap his bolter for a close combat weapon, Power Weapon or Power Fist, unfortunately there is no way to keep the bolter with your Power Fist in the Dark Angels book. He also has the ability to take Meltabombs or a Plasma Pistol if you want.
Tactical Squads have access to 3 types of transport: Razorback, Rhino, and Drop Pod.
Rhino: The Rhino is the most common transport vehicle taken by marine armies. They are cheap and provide adequate protection for the marines inside. Since 2 models can fire out the top hatch, it allows your heavy/special weapon troopers to shoot out unencumbered. For 35 points, these are always worth while. I personally use mine as mobile bunkers, keeping the squad inside alive while pumping out heavy weapon shots, once the enemy gets near, high tail it out of there.
Razorback: This is my favorite transport. It can't hold a 10-man squad like the Rhino can, but it comes with it's own set of guns, and is pretty inexpensive for what you get. They have two weapon options: twin-linked Heavy Bolter or Twin-linked Lascannon. Even when running a 10-man unit, I still frequently take a Razorback, just for additional fire support, plus they can transport a combat squad if needed. The standard Razorback will set you back 50 points, which is 10 more points than the normal marines, though with a twin-linked lascannon, they are only 5 more points than the vanilla marines pay.
Drop Pod: The Drop Pod is probably the least common transport for Dark Angels players, the reason for this is the lack of Drop Pod assault. Unlike normal marines, you cannot drop pod in half of your squads before the game in the Dark Angels book. This means that every Drop Pod in your army must start the game in reserves and come in like normal. There is an advantage to this though that I've learned from my Eldar playing friends, if it's not on the field, it can't be shot at! At 50 points a piece, these transports may be a tad steep for something that doesn't add any fire support to your army.
When equipping a Tactical Squad, first is that you should obviously figure out the role they are going to play in your army. If you are doing a mobile army, then smaller squads in Razorbacks may be a better choice. I personally run 5-man squads with Meltaguns in Razorbacks with Twin-linked lascannon. That gets me 2 good anti-tank weapons in a single force organization slot. The squad stays inside the Razorback until they are in range of their meltaguns, then they hop out and pop whatever vehicle is close. Alternatively, I also occasionally run a 10-man squad with missile launcher and meltagun, in a rhino, or if I don't need the protection in the list, a Razorback for additional fire support.
In the Fast Attack article coming up next, I'll be going over the Ravenwing units, which you can also use as troops with the corresponding special character.