I write this on Saturday evening after Perils of the Warp 2, and I am ridiculously 40k fatigued right now (by my standards). But no matter, on with the blogging.
Today sees the start of my second series of Codex analysies. This time around being the Dark Angels. As an unfamiliar Codex in 5th/4th edition, they are possibly even more unfamiliar right now with the new Codex, as not many people played them before and I doubt that this Codex will have sold as many as the Chaos one so it's probably useful to understand what's going on.
Starting again with the backbone of the army. The Troops.
I'm going to start by comparing the base standard tac marine from the Dark Angels Codex to what I know. Grey Hunters. And actually, they stand up quite well. They lose the close combat weapon and counter attack, but they do gain Combat Squads, which is excellent. The ability to decide to MSU or stick together to avoid losing kill points is not to be underestimated.
The also get a special rule called 'Grim Resolve'. Now, this makes them Stubborn, but it also means that they can never choose to fail a morale check. I do not really see this as a down side, as the only instance in which you would be choosing to fail a morale check with this squad is for, 'Our weapons are useless!' so it's not really too bad. I'm not too certain on whether Stubborn is a good thing though (going in deep here) if you're losing combat surely you would want to leave with your tactical squad as you're unlikely to be using them to tarpit anything (especially with 'and they shall know no fear' where you can't get run down), but stubborn just makes it more likely that you don't.
They are also 1pt per model less than Grey Hunters, which is nice.
Anyway, moving on. You can have a maximum squad size of 10, and a minimum squad size of 5. However, where this gets interesting is the criteria for special weapons. Anything below maximum squad size can choose to take either a heavy weapon or a special weapon. Just quickly running through the weapons choices.
Special weapon options are Flamer, Meltagun and Plasma gun. For the usual points costs.
Heavy weapons. Heavy Bolters and Multi-meltas come in at the same points costs as a Meltagun, with a Lascannon costing double. But it's the midpoint that I find the most interesting. For the same points cost as a Plasma gun you can take either a Missile Launcher or a Plasma Cannon, and these are the 2 heavy options that I'd consider.
Starting with the latter, if I asked a group of people if a Plasma gun or a Plasma cannon was better most would probably say, 'Plasma cannon, duh'. But there is a case for the Plasma gun.
Starting with what each has over the other. The Plasma cannon has a 12” longer range, and has blast. It also only ever fires 1 shot so the risk of suffering 'gets hot' is decreased.
The Plasma gun is rapid fire, so you can fire 2 shots and although this increases the chances of taking a wound it also increases the amount of damage you can put out. This also means that you can fire on the move and don't have to stay static. As well as firing straight off your BS which is more accurate than a Blast template.
Blast is not as good as it is made out to be. If you're playing against a strong player, they are likely to spread out their units to near maximum coherency if they know that you have a lot of Plasma Cannons knocking about, and especially with the larger base sizes of the Terminators which are going to be most frightened by this, you are only likely to hit a single model at best, providing you hit at all.
Therefore, your choice is essentially: Hit up to 1 model with a plasma shot from 36”, or, hit up to 2 models from 18” away and 1 from 18 – 30” away, taking movement into account.
I personally would go for the Plasma gun, even if you're trying to be a deckchair. It is so useful to move around in this edition, even when staying remotely static, so that you can push forward a little if you need to or move to cover certain models, etc. Plus, if something is within 12” of you and you need to hold an objective you really need to get as many hits out as you can, and the Plasma gun is slightly more accurate at this range and has a higher killing potential.
That said, I can see the appeal of the Plasma cannon, and if you have any points that you would like to make on this matter, please make use of the comments section. That's what it's there for, and I like to hear from you.
Now, for the Missile Launcher. It has the option to take Flakk, however if you do, it become pretty expensive. I do however, think that this can be a good option. In the Chaos Codex, the only real anti-flyer that you had were the Heldrake (which is awful for knocking out flyers for the mostpart) and the Havocs. The problem with the Havocs was that, although you could insert more marines to take the first hits for your Flakk missiles, you were still throwing all of your eggs in one basket, as in, that's where all of your anti-flyer would be. So your opponent could just shoot that squad down and his flyers would be, for 5/6s of the time, fine.
With the Dark Angels though, let's say that in each of your troops choices you have 1 Flakk Missile launcher. Now, if your opponent wants to take it out, they will have to spend their precious shooting phases going through marines just to get to that 1 missile, it's not really worth it. Of course, having 3 or 4 Flakk missiles isn't the best flyer defence in the world, but it's a start, and at least you have something. If I want anti-flyer, I have to ally in a whole new army just to get a flyer to shoot down other flyers.
If you have 10 marines in that squad, that is going to take a while to chew through. The only disadvantage here is that you can't take a second heavy weapon. But, if you are going to go down the route of big squads. I'd probably go with Plasma gun and Flakk missile launcher. That way if you need to you can break the squad into 2, have the Flakk team squat on an objective whilst the Plasma team moves forward and covers for them, forming a speed bump if needs be. The only problem with that is that it is now easier to kill each of the teams, and so easier to take out the special/heavy weapons as there aren't as many bodies in the way and easier to get kill points. That squad will cost you 180pts though.
Further upgrades. Your sergeant can be upgraded to be LD9. Not a bad option for a big squad, especially if you intend to sit at the back of the board where you will disappear off the table edge before 'and they shall know no fear' can kick in.
He can also take close combat weapons like power fists, power weapons, lightning claws, etc. I wouldn't bother personally. He's a sergeant, not a close combat monster, these points would be better spent elsewhere. Just not on a Plasma Pistol or a combi-weapon, the latter costs too much considering that it's 1 shooting phase from 1 guy and the Plasma Pistol is the same cost as a Plasma cannon. The Storm Bolter could be ok I suppose, but I still think that it's a little too much. Melta bombs, in this edition, not that many vehicles are going to get close to you, maybe you could use it against monstrous creatures but that's extremely situational.
Finally, you can take a dedicated transport. These come in the form of the Rhino, the Razorback and the Drop Pod, but I'll come on to these later in the series. Right, that's me done for today. Tomorrows post will be on the second Troops choice that the Dark Angels have access to, the Scout.