Dark Angels Tactics: Heavy Support
Heavy Support is where the biggest guns in the army live. The Dark Angels have a fairly typical selection of vehicles and guns at their disposal, but that isn't to say that they aren't good. This section often takes a lot of consideration when building an army, as you always want to get plenty of hard hitting elements in your list. Devastator Squad: The Devastator Squad is the way to get the highest concentration of weaponry in your army. They aren't particularly different than any other marine, except for the amount of big guns that they carry. Unlike the vanilla marines, Dark Angels don't receive a Signum for their Devastators, they all only come with the standard equipment, though that does mean that the Sergeant gets to keep his bolter. The squad comes 90 for 5, and can add in 5 more bodies for 75 more points. The Sergeants options are the same as they are for the Tactical Squads, though I seldom take any upgrades for him at all. The rest of the squad can take up to 4 heavy weapons though from the regular assortment: heavy bolter, multi-melta, missile launcher, plasma cannon, and lascannon. The only point differences between vanilla and DA for the weapons is that DA pay a 5 point premium for their missile launchers, which isn't the end of the world. The weapon I avoid when equipping them is typically the Lascannon; it is expensive, doesn't reliably penetrate heavily armored vehicles and isn't much more effective than the numerous missile launchers that DA can get against light vehicles. Typically, when I use a Devastator Squad, I take 2 pairs of weapons, and split my squad into 2x 5-man combat squads, one pair with plasma cannons (GG Deepstrikers) and either a pair of multi-meltas or heavy bolters to keep it cheap.
Land Raider: This AV14 behemoth is one of the most iconic vehicles in all of 40k. It's big, it has a pair of lascannons on either side and twin-linked heavy bolters in front, just in case. I absolutely love this vehicle, and it makes me sad that I rarely get to use one. At 250 points, this beast is taking a chunk out of your list, so logically, if you're going to use it, you should be maximizing it's capabilities. As an assault vehicles, it can hold a squad and they can charge out to beat some face in. If you're going to use a Land Raider, you absolutely should also be taking a Terminator or Veteran squad to put inside and charge out with. It's capacity is 10 models or 5 terminators, so you cannot attach a character to a terminator squad inside, and since many units in the DA bo0k require you buy 5 or 10, it may be tricky to get a decent squad with character inside. It's twin-linked lascannons are perfect for cutting open a transport and charging the goodies inside. When I'm using one, I will typically have a 5-man terminator squad inside, waiting for the opportunity to charge out and wreak havoc.
Land Raider Crusader: The second variant of the Land Raider is well equipped for anti-infantry, packing a pair of hurricane bolters, a twin-linked assault cannon, and a multi-melta for good measure. It is also an assault vehicle, though it boasts a capacity of 16 models or 8 terminators! This is the gold, you can now take your 5-man terminator squad, as well as Belial and an Interrogator Chaplain, then once in assault range you're pretty much going to decimate anything in their path. My only complaint is that it doesn't quite have the transport killing power that the standard version has, meaning you're probably going to have to go with targets that are already on foot. It's anti-infantry firepower is somewhat redundant, since your terminators will annihilate any infantry in their path, and shooting them may only cause you to be out of assault range. The advantage it has over the regular version in transport is hampered by it's firepower. I recommend trying out both versions to see which fits in your army and playstyle best, as they are very much up to preference.
Predator: This is a vehicle after my own heart. Modestly cost, decently armored and quite well armed. It can take an autocannon turret or twin-lascannon, and it can also go with either heavy bolters or lascannons on the sides, or no sponsons at all if you're low on points. A stripped down version will only set you back 70 points for a mobile AV13 autocannon, which is pretty fun to use on occasion. The DA version is 10 poitns more than the vanilla one, though the point cost for the twin-linked lascannon turret is 10 points cheaper, that however doesn't mean that the twin-linked lascannon is a great choice. With that upgrade you're instantly putting the vehicle over 100 points, and with the sponsons as well, you're up to 165, which is quite steep if you ask me. My personal predators all have the autocannon turret, and the sponsons are upgraded to lascannons. That gives my vehicle 4 shots per turn, all of which are great for cutting up medium vehicles, and all for a tidy package of 130 points. Three of these vehicles will set you back 390 points and give you 6 autocannon shots and 6 lascannons, which is pretty much guaranteed to get the enemy out of their transports.
Whirlwind: Oh Whirlwind, how I want to love you. This is a good budget vehicle, when you know that you're fighting non-marines, which doesn't seem as often as it should be. 85 points gets you a S5 AP4 large blast, or a weaker S4 AP5 large blast that ignores cover, it is a barrage weapon, so you can fire it indirectly if you want. The only time the S4 AP5 template will be good is when you're fighting something in cover which has a 5+ save or worse, so not bad against troops inside a Kustom Force Field. If you have 85 points to spare, can't take any more fast attack (typhoon speeders) and have an extra heavy support choice, it may not be a bad thing to try out, otherwise you probably have better options.
Vindicator: This is the biggest gun available to marine armies, rocking a S10 AP2 Ordnance pie plate of death. They are 135 points and have the armor of a Predator, which is their direct competitor in the Heavy Support department at that point cost. If you're going against an army which is deep striking, this will really ruin their day. Even against vehicles, if the center of the hole is over the hull, you'll probably make a dent. I believe when using Vindicators, use them as area denial weapons, nobody is really going to want to get within 24", especially not clumped up, so place them near bottle necks in the terrain. I prefer Vindicators in pairs, or even in threes, since that guarantees that no matter where the enemy comes from, you're going to be in range and reduce the enemy to fine mist.
Well, that sums up the unit-by-unit analysis of the Dark Angels book, I hope you've enjoyed it! I'll be posting an article soon on how to tie in all that information to create some interesting and competitive lists. See you next time!