[Guide] The Enemy: Dark Angels

A review of past Tactics by commanders during the First, Second, Third & Fourth Phase Expansion.
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[Guide] The Enemy: Dark Angels

Post#1 » Jul 16 2013 11:40


[Guide] Facing Dark Angels Space Marines
Welcome, Commander, to the strategic aid for combating Dark Angels. This compendium contains the basic information deemed valuable
to commanders that will face a Dark Angels strike force on the battlefield.

Authored by DaSkyman


Greetings ATT. I present, for discussion, the second file of The Enemy. I've chosen Dark Angels because it only seemed natural, given that it is the other Dark Vengeance army after Chaos Space Marines. I have a little bit of experience playing against Dark Angels, but oddly enough have yet to encounter any Ravenwing whatsoever.
The first article went very smoothly, so I'm using the same format as before. If you are unsure what we are looking for in these articles, check out the Chaos Space Marine article over HERE.
Any information is helpful, but this is what we'd like to see:
-Keep It Simple: these articles can never prepare a player for every situation, no matter how detailed. So instead, we can focus on the basics of the army, how it plays, and maybe the key units to watch out for.
-Experience: I have very little experience playing against the new DA codex, so I've gleaned what information I could from other forums and extensive study of the codex. Experienced players can tell us things we'd never think of ourselves just from reading the codex and theorizing.
-From a Tau perspective: Some things just don't matter that much to us, and some things matter more. With a Tau perspective in mind, we can focus on the most important basics to know when playing against DA.

I will be keeping this as up to date as possible. My time is not unlimited, so bear with me on format issues or updates.


Table of Contents

Section 1: An Introduction to the "Unforgiven"
Section 2: Key Characteristics of the Dark Angels
Section 3: Warlord Traits, Artefacts and Banners
Section 4: Commonly Encountered Units
Section 5: Less Common, but Dangerous Units
Section 6: Rarely Encountered Units
Section 7: Notable Commanders
Section 8: Basic Thoughts, Tactics and Field Experience
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 16 2013 01:16, edited 3 times in total.

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Compendium Section 1

Post#2 » Jul 16 2013 11:40

Introduction to the "Unforgiven"

The Dark Angels are a dour and mysterious chapter. They are proud, like most space marines, and their primarch was one of the emperor's most brilliant generals, second only to Warmaster Horus. Long ago, during the Great Betrayal, half of the Dark Angels turned to Chaos, betraying their brethren and their sworn emperor. The ensuing struggle consumed their planet. Now, all that remains of their homeworld is the massive spacefaring asteroid known as "The Rock". Many of their traitorous brethren were transported by a warpstorm through time and space throughout the galaxy.

Dark Angels and their kindred chapters are continuously hunting their tainted brothers, or "Fallen," in an attempt to redeem their chapter's honour. They will stop at nothing to purge the taint from the chapter and gain forgiveness for their sordid history. However, only the most senior members of the chapter know the truth of their forefathers. Those privy to the secrets of the Dark Angels are more deadly than their younger brethren, due to a righteous anger that cannot be quenched.

A Dark Angels strike force can take many shapes, and can catch a Tau commander off guard with their unconventional organization and strategies. Dark Angel commanders are brilliant tacticians and superb generals, taking after their lost primarch. Be it against the swift rapier of the Ravenwing, or the momentous hammer of the Deathwing, a Tau commander will be hard pressed to be victorious.

The Dark Angels will kill entire cities of innocents if they think there is the remotest possibility that one of their fallen brethren resides within. Though Dark Angels may fight alongside a Tau cadre with a common goal in mind, they cannot be seen as allies. Indeed, other Space Marine chapters and Imperial Guard armies do not wholly trust these mysterious warriors. Be wary when conducting combined actions with a Dark Angels commander, for his agenda is known only to him, and it is never for the Greater Good.

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Compendium Section 2

Post#3 » Jul 16 2013 11:40

Key Characteristics of the Dark Angels

Dark Angels are a fast and hard hitting army. They will almost always be advancing for the up close and personal kill, and they usually get it. They have one of the most flexible Deployments in the game and their potential for first turn combats and kills are quite impressive.
In order to defeat the Dark Angels, you first must weather the first and second turns. If your army can survive these two turns intact, then you stand a fighting chance.

Army Special Rules

Combat Squads
This rule applies to all of the "regular" units, as well as large units of Ravenwing. A 10 man unit with this rule can be broken down into two 5 man units. This must be decided just before deployment, and once split they cannot rejoin during the battle. However, two combat squads from the same unit can share the same Transport vehicle (assuming it can carry all of them).
Ravenwing attack squads can split 6 man bike units into two 3 man combat squads (attack bikes and land speeders form their own units automatically).

Grim Resolve
Not every Dark Angel has this special rule, but it is the special rule of most "regular" Dark Angel units. If a model does not have the Inner Circle special rule, then it has this one. This grants the Stubborn universal special rule. In addition, any unit with one of these models in it cannot choose to automatically fail a Morale check.

Inner Circle
This rule only applies to high level characters within the Command elements (Masters, Librarians, Interrogator Chaplains) and all Deathwing units. Since it is superior to Grim Resolve, units/models with this rule do not have the Grim Resolve rule. Models of the Inner Circle are Fearless and have Preferred Enemy: Chaos Space Marines.


The first company of the Dark Angels is known as the Deathwing. In the Deathwing, every space marine veteran wears Terminator armour. These warriors are those deemed worthy to know the truth of their Chapter's betrayal, so every Deathwing has the Inner Circle special rule. The Deathwing are few in number, but they hit hard. Their terminator squads come in all the traditional flavours rolled into one versatile squad, with the addition of Deathwing Knights and Command Squads.
One of the big differences between regular terminator squads and a Deathwing terminator squad, is the turn they arrive. Deathwing Terminators can all arrive on turn 1 or 2 (player's choice during deployment), and when they do they fire all ranged weapons as if they were twin-linked (thanks to Vengeful Strike)! In addition, a Deathwing vehicle (Land Raiders or Venerable Dreadnoughts) has the Preferred Enemy: Chaos Space Marines rule and can force a reroll on the Damage table whenever it suffers a penetrating hit.
Armies with large numbers of Deep Strike suffer from having their firepower spread out over a few turns, but Deathwing does not. They can arrive right away, and they all hit hard when they do. Should the Deathwing player's terminators be riding in Land Raiders, you will face one of the most difficult vehicles to kill in the game, and often you will face more than one at a time.


The second company is built for lightning raids and swift surgical strikes. The Ravenwing can perform regular reconnaissance for Dark Angel armies, as well as carry out their own surgical attacks. Every 2nd company marine rides either a bike, land speeder, or a jet fighter. The Ravenwing's primary function is to hunt the Fallen, and there is no deed they will not do in order to capture them. This mission is reflected in their rules. All Ravenwing bikers carry teleport homers and have the Scouts special rule and all Land Speeder variants have Deep Strike.
Ravenwing Knights and Command Squads have access to deadly plasma weaponry, exotic grenade launchers, and all the usual deadly toys carried by other Bikers. They are also Skilled Riders, so even difficult terrain will not slow their assaults. The fighter aircraft and some of the land speeders are unique to the Ravenwing, affording surprising new abilities and firepower. Armies like the Ravenwing present a particularly dangerous threat to the Tau, as they can get to grips with our infantry lines almost immediately, and can weather impressive amounts of firepower by using cover saves and higher toughness. Indeed, should even a single squad of bikers reach a Tau battleline, it can be enough to turn the entire battle against us.


Dark Angels have one of the most flexible forces available during Deployment. Terminators or Bikes could both become Troops choices, command elements can match the deployment capabilities of the rest of the force, Ravenwing bikers can all Scout move, and Ravenwing Land Speeders have more deployment options than a standard Space Marine's.
Deep Strike: Assault Marines, Deathwing Terminators, All Ravenwing Land Speeders, Marines/Dreadnoughts in Drop Pods
Scout: Space Marine Scouts, Ravenwing Bikes, Land Speeder Dark Shrouds
Infiltrate: Space Marine Scouts

Dark Angels can access Elites or Fast Attack units as Troops, but only if they take the necessary Special Character. Azrael makes both options into troops, so armies including him are especially well equipped to play to the mission.
Troops: Scout Squads, Tactical Squads
Potential Troops: Ravenwing Attack Squads (including the attack bikes and land speeders), Deathwing Terminator Squads (Both require appropriate Special Character)

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Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 24 2013 09:27, edited 6 times in total.

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Compendium Section 3

Post#4 » Jul 16 2013 11:41

Warlord Traits, Artefacts/Equipment and Banners

Dark Angels Warlord Traits

1- Warlord+unit may roll 2 dice for Run, choosing the highest, or +D6" to a Turboboost
2- If Warlord/unit kills the enemy warlord in the Assault Phase you gain +1 VP
3- 12" aura. Roll an extra D6 for Leadership tests, discarding the highest
4- Warlord+unit have the Furious Charge special rule
5- May modify reserve rolls by the Dark Angel player by +/- 1 as long as he is alive
6- Warlord+Dark Angels unit have Feel No Pain if within 3" of an objective

In comparison to some of the other 6th edition Warlord Trait tables, these seem a little lacklustre. However, some can be very useful. Ravenwing commanders would favor offensive traits like #1 or #4, while a Deathwing Commander would find the added assurance of #3 or #6 quite appealing. A regular commander would find #5 particularly useful in orchestrating Alpha or Ninja strikes.
As always, consider the trait that your opponent gets and decide how much of an advantage it will be to your opponent. Some opponents will ignore their warlord trait if it was not the one they had hoped to roll, so read your opponent's reaction, army composition, and deployment with the Trait in mind.

Artefacts/Special Equipment

Most of these weapons prove little threat to Tau in general, but they should be noted none the less. These are unique items and there can only be one per army.
Foe Smiter: A master-crafted Storm Bolter with 1 extra shot and a lower AP value. Especially dangerous to Tau Battle armour.
Lion's Roar: A combi-weapon that has a mid-range plasma cannon as its secondary. Very deadly against Broadsides.
Mace of Redemption: Concussive, high strength low AP melee weapon. Very dangerous for Crisis and Stealth battlesuits
Monster Slayer of Caliban: Randomly generated stats of varying S but all AP3. Possible Instant Death. Most dangerous to Tau commanders not in Iridium battlesuits.
Shroud of Heroes: Feel No Pain. Also, Shrouded if wearer is not in a unit. An uncommon upgrade considering it's narrow utility.

Special Equipment
Not every piece of wargear is listed here. These have been deemed a particular threat that can catch Tau commanders by surprise.
Auspex: At 12" can reduce target's cover by 1 for the rest of the shooting phase.
Displacer Field: 3+ invulnerable save. After passing this save, the bearer scatters D6".
Power Field Generator: 3" aura, 4+ invulnerable save. Note, when the bearer is transported, the field does not extend to the vehicle.
Narthecium: Carried by Apothecaries. Grants the unit Feel No Pain
Signum: Carried by Devastator sergeants. Grants one model in the unit BS5 for that phase.

Banners and Standards

All banners convey a +1 to an assault result that they are a part of. These banners only affect friendly models from the Dark Angels codex.

Chapter Banner: 12" aura, +1 attack and re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests
Company Standard: 12" aura, re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests
Revered Standard: 12" aura, re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests, 6" aura, grants Crusader
Ravenwing Banner: 12" aura, auto-pass Initiative tests for Hit and Run, roll +1 D6 for Hit and Run movement (only affects Ravenwing units)
Deathwing Banner: 6" aura, +1 attack (only affects Deathwing units)

As should be expected, these banners inspire those around them to great feats of bravery and heroism. The Ravenwing banner, in particular, provides some very applicable benefits. The Deathwing Banner and Chapter Banner are less important from a Tau perspective, as almost anything that affects combat matters little to us.

A Dark Angels army can only have one of these Sacred Standards. Like the banners, these only affect friendly models from the Dark Angels codex.
Standard of Retribution: 12" aura, re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests, grants Counter-attack
Standard of Fortitude: 12" aura, re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests, grants Feel No Pain
Standard of Devastation: 12" aura, re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests, 6" aura, boltguns become Salvo 2/4 weapons

These standards are very expensive but convey significant bonuses. These relics actually imitate and surpass some of the Elemental Invocations of the Ethereals, so killing the model that carries these standards may be the difference between victory and defeat for many Tau commanders.
The Standard of Devastation is particularly useful for Ravenwing, as they will fire as if stationary (thanks to Relentless) getting the absolute most out of the standard. Standard of Fortitude meshes well with Deathwing, as they already have an invulnerable save and the Standard of Devastation does not apply to Storm Bolters.
Be aware of standards buried inside Land Raiders. They will still affect nearby units, and the Land Raider effectively increases the aura range due to its bulk.

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Compendium Section 4

Post#5 » Jul 16 2013 11:41

Commonly Encountered Units

A Tau commander may not face all of these units in an encounter with Dark Angels, but he is almost certain to encounter some or most of them. Learning the threat capabilities of these units will prepare a Tau commander for the majority of a Dark Angel strike force's abilities.

Ravenwing Bikers

All Ravenwing bikers have the Scouts, and Hit & Run special rules. They also carry teleport homers for bringing down Deathwing into your lines after scout moving forward (remember that a teleport homer must be on the table at the beginning of the movement phase in order to have any effect, and only benefits models in Terminator armour).
Attack Squad
A unit of 3-6 Ravenwing on bikes. Has access to the regular special weaponry, but no standards. Can take an Attack bike for heavy weapon support (usually with a Multi-Melta) and can also take a Land Speeder if it is a full squad of 6 bikes. The Attack bike and Land Speeder each form their own units, effectively giving the Ravenwing player 3 choices from the same Force Organization slot, and 4 if they split the unit into combat squads (Troops if Azrael or Sammael is present).
Black Knights
Basically a regular Attack squad on steroids, but they have the special rule Skilled Rider and can come in units of up to 10! Skilled Rider increases their jink save by +1 and they also ignore dangerous terrain tests. Black Knights near a Darkshroud will be nigh impossible to kill without Markerlight support. They all carry Corvus hammers (Rending weapons with a strength boost), making them somewhat efficient at hunting rear armour on vehicles, Plasma Talons (18" twin-linked Plasmagun) and often include a Ravenwing Grenade Launcher with 4 firing modes, one of which can reduce the target unit's toughness by 1 until the end of the turn (allowing Instant Death against most battlesuits, and easy wounds on Riptides).
Command Squad
These are Black Knights, except with access to the Champion, Apothecary, and a standard. The Champion's weapon is a strength boosted power sword, the Apothecary carries the invaluable Narthecium (see Artefacts/Special Equipment) and the standard could be the Feel No Pain aura, Salvo Bolter weapons, or one of the lesser standards granting Crusader or +1 attack. They can only come in a unit of up to 5 (6 including a commander).
A Command Squad's standard bearer will usually be the target of choice for precision shooting. The Apothecary is high priority too, in order to increase your shooting effectiveness overall. The Ravenwing Grenade Launcher can also be an important weapon to remove, simply due to its utility against battlesuits. With so many important targets to choose from, Command Squads can be particularly difficult to cripple through precision shooting.
Counters: High Strength Weaponry, Low AP Weaponry

Ravenwing Land Speeders

All Ravenwing Land Speeders are AV10 all around, and have 2 hull points. They are fast skimmers that also have the Deep Strike special rule, making them highly flexible when deploying and highly mobile once they are deployed. All are Fast Attack choices with the exception of the Land Speeder Vengeance, which is a Heavy Support choice.
Land Speeder
Like the Tau Piranha, it is a cheap platform for support weaponry, carrying the Heavy Bolter as standard. However, it is more expensive than the piranha (40% more expensive). It can carry a Heavy Flamer or Multi-Melta for different targets. The Tornado pattern takes a second weapon of essentially the same weapon options, but this pattern is expensive and just as fragile. Land Speeder Typhoons are a bit more versatile, carrying a Missile Launcher with two shots in addition to the primary weapon.
Carries a Heavy Bolter or an Assault Cannon, and the Plasma Storm Battery. The Plasma Storm Battery has two firing modes: Burst and Charged. The Burst and Charged modes are almost identical to the Ion Cannon's two firing modes. However, the Plasma Storm Battery always fires as Gets Hot and is always AP2.
It is excellent for removing heavy infantry. Despite this, it is actually not very common due to its inability to deal with battle tanks. It provides AP2 support to an army that has access to a lot of AP2 weaponry, so it is often left at home.
Like the Vengeance, it carries a Heavy Bolter or (more rarely) an Assault Cannon. It is Shrouded, making it particularly difficult to destroy without Markerlights. It has the Scouts rule, so it can keep up with any bike squadrons while providing them mobile cover. It shines as a support speeder, providing a 6" aura of Stealth and a 12" aura adding +1 to the result of assaults.
Counters: Anti-transport Weaponry

Deathwing Terminators

Deathwing have the special rule Inner Circle, Vengeful Strike, and Deathwing Assault in addition to the regular rules associated with Terminators.
Terminator Squad
Just as resilient as regular Terminator squads. However, unlike the traditional Terminator squad, they can mix their unit between close combat and ranged models, so it is common to include 2-3 Deathwing with Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields in a squad to provide protection for the rest of the team. This allows them to Deep Strike and fire into their enemies while they tank wounds with Storm Shields.
A special close combat Terminator unit. They have the special rule You Cannot Hide (precision strikes like a character) and Fortress of Shields (T5 if base to base with 2 other Knights). They carry Storm Shields and Power Mauls. They have Hammer of Wrath and can make their melee attacks at a high strength and AP2 once per game.
They are a very tough unit to crack and will tear through anything they get into combat with. They are expensive, but barely more than a regular Deathwing squad.
Command Squad
Identical to the regular Deathwing squad, but with a couple differences. It can contain an Apothecary, a Champion, and a standard and is limited to 5 models. The Champion carries the Halberd of Caliban, which is a strength boosted, very low AP melee weapon. Standard of Fortitude is a particularly strong choice in a Deathwing army (see Banners and Standards).
If the squad includes an Apothecary or the Standard of Fortitude, these should be your priority targets for precision shooting. Feel no Pain is very strong on models like Terminators, so it should be removed as soon as possible.
Counters: Low AP Weaponry, Early Warning Overrides

Tactical Marines

Combat squads and access to special and heavy weaponry makes every unit a threat to almost any target. Drop Pods and other transports can shield them from attack until their special weaponry is in range. Any Dark Angels army that is not entirely composed of Ravenwing and Deathwing will likely contain at least a couple of these squads.
Tough, versatile and reliable unit. Not too expensive either.
Counters: Low AP Weaponry, Volume of Fire


For every HQ choice in the Dark Angels army, he can include a Techmarine. He is cheaper than a Fireblade Cadre, and comes complete with a 2+ save and Servo-arm (Like a Power Fist, except AP1). For a 50% increase in points he can take a Servo-harness, which adds another Servo-arm, a Flamer, and a short ranged plasma weapon. He increases the cover save of a single piece of terrain in his deployment zone, and he has the ability to repair vehicles he is in base contact with. He has only a single wound, so he will almost always be hidden. Infiltrating Stealth Suits or Kroot can be useful in drawing LOS.
He can be accompanied by up to 5 Servitors. They carry Servo-arms and increase the Techmarine's odds of repairing a vehicle. The Servo-arm can be replaced with a Heavy Bolter, Multi-melta or a Plasma Cannon but then they can no longer increase the odds of repair.
A Techmarine with a Power Field Generator, trailing behind a Land Raider is a popular combination. He can repair any stripped hull points or Immobilized results, is largely hidden from sight, and grants the Land Raider a 4+ invulnerable save. Techmarines are usually only taken to accompany armoured columns including Land Raiders, as they benefit the most from a Techmarine's presence, but they have been known to ride among Ravenwing units in order to grant a small invulnerable aura to key units.
Counters: AP2 weaponry, Infiltrating Units

1 Anti-Tank Weaponry: Heavy Rail Rifles, Railgun Solid Shot, Ion Accelerator, Fusion Blasters, Longstrike
2 Anti-Transport Weaponry: Missile Pod, High Yield Missile Pod, Ion Weaponry, Seeker Missiles

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Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 24 2013 10:04, edited 7 times in total.

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Compendium Section 5

Post#6 » Jul 16 2013 11:41

Less Common, but Dangerous Units

A Tau commander can expect to see these units from time to time, but should not expect to see them in every game he plays against Dark Angels (unless, of course, he keeps playing the same opponent). The units described here are by no means useless units and can be very effective in their respective roles. In some ways, it is more important to know the rarer units' capabilities than the common ones, since these will be the most likely to surprise.

Land Raider

Dark Angels Land Raiders can come in the traditional, Crusader, or Redeemer variants. All are very close in points cost and can be used as anti-tank, anti-infantry, and assault support. For the cost of a Piranha it becomes a Deathwing Vehicle (see Deathwing, under Key Characteristics of the Dark Angels). A Deathwing Land Raider is a frightening vehicle to be facing, and oftentimes a Deathwing army that uses Land Raiders, contains more than one.
It is possible that a Tau cadre will not be sufficiently equipped to deal with even one of these. In these situations, the Tau commander must make necessary sacrifices to distract his opponent and ensure victory for the Greater Good.
Counters: Anti-Tank weaponry, EMP Grenades


Always a consideration in Space Marine armies, simply for its massive Demolisher Cannon. A Nova-charged Ion Accelerator blast is dangerous to anything, especially considering it is an even higher strength. Thankfully, their somewhat shorter range (24") forces them to move forward to engage the enemy. This allows easier targeting of side and rear armour with Anti-Transport weapons.
Counters: Anti-tank Weaponry, Anti-transport Weaponry (against side armour)


Sometimes, the only way to get enough heavy weapons into the army is by using Devastators. They can be equipped to deal with any target at range, and are the only ground unit capable of anti-air fire. They can take Lascannons for tank hunting, Heavy Bolters for anti-horde, or Missile Launchers for a little bit of everything. They come in units of up to 10 members and 4 of them can carry a heavy weapon. The sergeant comes with a Signum as standard (see Artefacts/Special Equipment)
Counters: Low AP Weaponry, Vespid


Dark Angel armies are very well equipped to deal with Power armour and Terminator armour equivalents, but sometimes suffer when faced with large hordes of infantry. The Whirlwind provides long range anti-infantry ordnance. It can fire either cover ignoring large blasts with Boltgun stats or regular large blasts with Heavy Bolter stats. It also has a minimum range, and cannot target units that are within 12" of it. Both of these large blasts are Barrage weapons, so an Aegis defence line does little to protect against them. It is a danger to all Tau infantry, especially those in Recon armour, and it is a pretty cheap to boot!
It will be deployed out of sight whenever possible due to its low armour value and no need for LOS, making it a perfect target for infiltrating Stealth teams or Kroot packs (especially ones armed with Kroot Guns).
Counters: Anti-transport Weaponry, Infiltrators

Nephilim Jetfighter

A fairly expensive flier, but it excels at bringing down other fliers. A twin-linked Heavy Bolter, twin-linked Lascannon, and 6 single use missiles (like a higher strength Heavy Bolter). Instead of the Lascannon it can take a Megabolter (Like a High Yield Missile Pod, but with slightly lower strength and 1 extra shot). If needed it can provide a high volume of AP4 shooting and still have the power needed to kill most fliers. It also has the Hunter ability which allows it to turn any Weapon Destroyed result into an Immobilized result.
It is uncommon because of its cost (which rivals a base Riptide), despite being an excellent anti-air platform. AV11 all around and 3 hull points means that it isn't particularly survivable, but it isn't made of paper either. AV11 makes it difficult to bring down with Pulse Rifles, so dedicated anti-air will usually be required.
Counters: Velocity Trackers, Seeker Missiles


Company Masters
Commonly mounted on a bike or wearing Terminator armour in order to increase survivability and utility. Doing this gives him access to a Ravenwing or Deathwing Command Squad. They do not unlock more Troops however, so named special characters are often taken in order to make their respective units into Troops and maintain themed lists. This makes regular HQ choices less popular.
Chaplains/Interrogator Chaplains
As expensive as a regular Company Master (or more) with only a few differences. They automatically have a 4+ invulnerable save, carry a Power Maul, and they have the Zealot special rule. Only Interrogator Chaplains have access to chapter relics and Terminator armour, so make sure your opponent paid the extra points to be able to buy the fancy stuff.
A basic psychic commander with the option to become level 2. Unlike some other Space Marine librarians, the Dark Angel Librarian has access to all wargear (including Terminator armour) and generates his powers from the Divination, Pyromancy, Telepathy and Telekinesis disciplines. He is only slightly more expensive than a Cadre Fireblade points and comes standard with a Force Weapon of his choice (usually an Axe for the extra strength and very low AP)
Counters: Player Discretion


Rhinos and Razorbacks are common in Dark Angels armies that are not entirely composed of Ravenwing or Deathwing. Since those armies are relatively rare, traditional transports are an uncommon sight as well. Drop Pods are slightly more common because they can carry Deathwing Dreadnoughts. They are identical to traditional Space Marine transports with straightforward purposes.
Drop Pods: They protect by being in reserve, they Deep Strike reliable and safely, and half of them automatically arrive on turn 1. Can usually be ignored once they arrive, but if they carry the Deathwind Missile Launcher then they could be a danger to Tau infantry. They can also be an easy First Blood for any nearby Fusion Blasters or EMP grenades.
Rhinos: Simple armoured boxes with treads. They are cheap and if the Dark Angels player goes first then they will get at least 18" of movement. Plus two models can fire from the top hatch.
Razorbacks: Just as fragile as Rhinos, but can only transport 6 models and have no firepoints. However, they come fitted with twin-linked Heavy Bolters and the option for more powerful anti-infantry or anti-tank weaponry. They tend to be low priority targets unless they are transporting assault units (and they rarely do) which sometimes allows them to cause disproportionate amounts of damage over the course of a game by flying under the radar.
Counters: Anti-Transport Weaponry, Early Warning Overrides (Drop Pods only)

1 Anti-Tank Weaponry: Heavy Rail Rifles, Railgun Solid Shot, Ion Accelerator, Fusion Blasters, Longstrike
2 Anti-Transport Weaponry: Missile Pod, High Yield Missile Pod, Ion Weaponry, Seeker Missiles

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Compendium Section 6

Post#7 » Jul 16 2013 11:41

Rarely Encountered Units

These units are usually only taken out of curiosity, specific needs, or lack of models. They can be very good at what they do, but for one reason or another, are often left at home in favour of cheaper or better units. Though it may be that you rarely see any of these units, it is important to understand them in order to be prepared for the few occasions you will be facing them.


Similar to a regular Tactical squad, but cost extra. However, for those points they get +1 leadership and +1 attack (and the Veteran Sergeant is already included) so it isn't a bad deal. They differ from Tactical Marines in that they have access to more specialized close combat weaponry and can take more special ranged weapons. A full Veteran squad could take a heavy weapon, 2 special weapons, and any number of combi-weapons; a full Tactical squad could only take one heavy weapon, one special weapon, and one combi-weapon.
This makes Veteran squads very capable at fulfilling any role required, more so than any tactical squad. As Elites they will be entirely focused on eliminating enemy threats, rather than surviving to hold objectives. This makes them a high priority target in most games, so expect them to be protected by some sort of transport (Drop Pods are a popular choice).
Counters: Low AP Weaponry

Assault Marines

When compared with their biker equivalent, Assault Marines tend to get overlooked. They are Tactical Marines with jump packs and close combat weapons, so they are a Fast Attack choice. They can carry Meltabombs and up to two squad members can carry a Flamer or Plasma pistol.
They are not very versatile, and have a very specific range of uses. For this reason they are rarely taken in Dark Angel armies. However, if the Dark Angels player needs cheap units with lots of basic attacks, Assault Marines will be his unit of choice. Especially as they can carry Flamers and engage units in cover. Pathfinders and Kroot will be ideal targets for Assault Marine squads.
Counters: Low AP Weaponry


A sturdy battle tank, and capable of putting out an impressive amount of anti-infantry or anti-tank firepower. For 115 points it can carry an Autocannon and two Heavy Bolters, for a total of 8 AP4 shots. For 180 points it can carry a twin-linked Lascannon and two Lascannons (3 S9 shots).
It performs either of these tasks very well for the points spent and the only reason it is rarely taken is because it does not always fit with the theme of an army. It is not quick so it does not fit with Ravenwing, and it is not especially hard to kill, so it does not fit with Deathwing. It's place is in a gunline army with at least a couple other tanks for target saturation, and Dark Angels weren't designed to be a gunline army.
Counters: Anti-tank Weaponry, Anti-transport Weaponry (against side armour)

Dreadnoughts/Venerable Dreadnoughts

Comes with Storm Bolter, Power Fist and Multi-Melta standard. It can be upgraded to Venerable and comes in all kinds of flavours except double close combat weapons. When Venerable it is WS5 BS5 in addition to being a Deathwing Vehicle.
Most commonly deployed in a Drop Pod due to its relatively weak armour. In the case of Venerable Dreadnoughts, you might be better off directing your anti-tank firepower elsewhere and glancing it to death.
Counters: Anti-tank Weaponry, Anti-transport Weaponry (Venerable especially)

Dark Talon

A bit cheaper than the Nephilim, but entirely geared towards anti-infantry. It carries two Hurricane Bolters, a Rift Cannon, and a single Stasis Bomb. The Rift Cannon fires a single blast that is only 18" range and inflicts Blind. This is useful against ranged units, but all Tau battlesuits are immune to blind, so it has little effect on our heavy hitting units.
A big drawback to the Dark Talon, is that it only carries a single bomb. The Stasis Bomb isn't intended for inflicting heavy casualties, instead it reduces the unit's Weapon Skill and Initiative until the end of the turn. Not very useful unless the Dark Angels commander is dropping it on a close combat unit that he is about to engage. Since Tau do not have close combat units, this one-use bomb is largely a waste.
The Dark Talon is less expensive than the Nephilim Jetfighter, but it is much less effective. For this reason, Dark Talons are a rare choice for Dark Angels commanders.
Counters: Velocity Trackers, Seeker Missiles


Dangerous solely due to their deployment flexibility. However, the deployment flexibility of Ravenwing can be just as good, if not better. They can only take a few support weapons aside from Sniper Rifles and everyone except the sergeant is BS3 WS3. They are usually taken as snipers, so that they can sit in cover near an objective. Compared to the sniper units of Tau or Eldar, they pose little threat at range, but can still get lucky with a Rending shot on a Riptide.
Counters: Missile Pods, Ion Weaponry

Command Squads

Since traditional HQ's are rarely taken over the more exciting alternatives, regular Command Squads are also very uncommon. They are highly versatile and can adopt any role they choose, be it dedicated assault, fire support, or army support. Azrael will almost always be accompanied by a Command Squad, and will often ride inside a Land Raider for added protection. The Command Squad's banner or standard can be very useful when inside a Land Raider, as it still affects the units outside.
Counters: Low AP Weaponry, Precision Fire

1 Anti-Tank Weaponry: Heavy Rail Rifles, Railgun Solid Shot, Ion Accelerator, Fusion Blasters, Longstrike
2 Anti-Transport Weaponry: Missile Pod, High Yield Missile Pod, Ion Weaponry, Seeker Missiles

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Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 24 2013 10:36, edited 3 times in total.

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Compendium Section 7

Post#8 » Jul 16 2013 11:42

Notable Commanders

Dark Angel characters can be simple or complex. There are few characters that benefit the army as a whole, and fewer still that can engage any target with impunity. Sammael, Belial, and Azrael are by far the most common, due to their ability to alter the Force Organization Chart. It is important to know what these characters are capable of, in case you should face them on the battlefield.


Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels, and he is a powerful character to deal with. He costs well over 200 points, making him the most expensive Dark Angels special character. He can choose whatever Dark Angels Warlord trait that he wants, and, if he is on the battlefield, his leadership (10) is used for all Dark Angels when testing for Pinning, Morale, or Leadership. His equipment conveys a 4+ invulnerable save to him and his unit and Feel No Pain (6+) to Azrael. Finally, Azrael turns all Ravenwing Attack Squads or Deathwing Terminator Squads into Troop choices.
Azrael, like most characters, will destroy any Tau unit in close combat. He carries a combi-weapon with a Plasma Gun as the secondary and a high strength Power Sword. His weapons make him especially effective against light vehicles and marine equivalents (Stealth and Crisis battlesuits). Azrael and his unit can withstand a large amount of firepower, so prioritize correctly. Keep your vehicles out of his reach, since he is Strength 6 in close combat and can easily destroy them (especially if he takes Warlord Trait #4)
He is very expensive, but can be well worth it if your opponent is taking both Ravenwing and Deathwing elements. A force like this would be well balanced, highly scoring, and exceptionally hard to kill or run of the table. Despite his benefits, Azrael is not taken as often, since he does not fit in well with themed Deathwing or Ravenwing armies. He does however fit perfectly with a mixed Deathwing/Ravenwing force.


The Dark Angels high level psyker. He is a level 3 psyker with the permanent power "Mind Worm" and can generate his other two powers from Divination, Pyromancy, Telepathy or Telekinesis. He always has warlord trait #3, so he will be constantly looking to get into close combat with your own warlord. He has a 6" aura that increases the weapon skill of those around him, and he carries an AP3 Force weapon.
Mind Worm is a short ranged AP2 Focused Witchfire attack with D3 shots. It ignores cover and, in addition, any models that take wounds from this attack have their Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Initiative, and Leadership reduced by 3 for every wound for the remainder of the game. This power does not affect most of our units, but poses a particular threat to our Tau Commanders and other battlesuits. It is AP2, so it will bypass even Iridium plate, and is a Focused Witchfire so it can target your characters specifically. It also ignores cover, so even Shadowsun is not safe from this attack. Keep in mind, that a Focused Witchfire only hits a specific model on a psychic test of 5 or less, should he roll higher, the power is resolved against a different random model from the unit.
Ezekiel is a powerful character in close combat, and can be a devastating force against Tau battlesuits. It will be difficult for him to wound a Riptide with any of his attacks, but if even one of these wounds gets through, the Riptide could either be dead or useless for the rest of the game. Be wary of his capabilities, and keep your high value units out of his reach. By giving him regular infantry or vehicles to target, his effectiveness drops considerably. Ezekiel is a great choice for players who want a psyker in their Dark Angel force, but often is not found in pure Ravenwing or Deathwing armies.


The Master Chaplain. He is as tough as any Chaplain (3+ 4++), shares the same warlord trait as Ezekiel (#3), and inflicts Fear. He carries the traditional Crozius Arcanum, making his attacks very effective against Tau Battle armour. He is a particular danger to Ethereals, Cadre Fireblades, Darkstrider, or Shadowsun (since his S6 attacks will inflict Instant Death). He can also use his specialist weapon, which has no AP value, but inflicts Instant Death. Asmodai only has 3 attacks base, so he poses less of a threat to Tau Commanders. His real strengths lie with his multitude of special rules. Zealot, Fear, and Inner Circle make any unit he joins a force to be reckoned with.
Despite his relatively low points cost, Asmodai is usually ignored in favor of more powerful characters.


Grand Master of the Deathwing. He makes Deathwing Terminator squads into Troops, has the #3 Warlord Trait like Ezekiel and Asmodai. He is a slightly tougher Terminator (4+ invulnerable save) with precision shooting attacks on a 5+ and a low AP Fleshbane close combat weapon. In addition, if the rest of the unit he is with are members of the Inner Circle (most of the time, since all Deathwing Terminators are Inner Circle members) he does not scatter when Deep Striking. Finally, he also carries a teleport homer, increasing the accuracy of consecutive Deep Strikes from other Deathwing.
A solid character that fits well with the Deathwing forces. If he chooses he can also switch out his weapons for a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield, or a pair of Lightning Claws, so he is more flexible than most special characters. Interceptor weapons work best against him, as he'll be Deep Striking 99% of the time. Like all Terminator characters, he will be difficult to remove, so weigh your options carefully before dumping your entire army's arsenal into him and his squad.


Grand Master of the Ravenwing. He makes Ravenwing Attack Squads into Troops, has the #1 Warlord Trait, and is a popular choice for Dark Angel players. He can ride either a jetbike or a Land Speeder and he always has a 4+ invulnerable save.
When on his jetbike, he has the special rules Eternal Warrior, Scouts, Hit and Run, Skilled Rider, and Inner Circle. He carries an AP2 sword and his jetbike carries a Plasma Cannon and twin-linked Storm Bolters, making him very effective both in and out of combat. Like all Ravenwing bikes, he carries a teleport homer, so he can move incredible distances before calling down Deep Striking Terminators to his location. He is most vulnerable to pulse fire in large quantities when riding his jetbike, however his maneuverability allows him to dictate when and where you are able to bring your pulse weapons to bear on him.
When in his Land Speeder, he is AV14 on the front and sides, with 2 hull points, a twin-linked Assault Cannon and a twin-linked Heavy Bolter. He can Deep Strike, like all Ravenwing Land Speeders and he can be a real pain to deal with. AV14 is difficult to penetrate anyways, but his 4+ invulnerable save and the ever present Jink save makes him that much harder to kill. He can also Deep Strike behind an Aegis and lay waste to your infantry with a high volume of hyper-accurate AP4 shooting.
He is a tough, fast, and deadly character. He does not bring very much to his army in terms of global benefits, but he is one of the most deadly characters available. Keep in mind, that his jetbike can only leave another squad during the movement phase, just like our own jetpack units. So he cannot move with a Ravenwing bike squad without giving up some of his maneuverability, and he cannot use his Thrust move without exposing himself to dedicated shooting.


The special edition model from the Dark Vengeance boxed set. He is simply an Interrogator-Chaplain with a Plasma Pistol. In addition, instead of the Zealot special rule, he has the Litanies of the Dark Angels special rule. By comparison, Zealot is a better rule overall, so you will almost never see this character.

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Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 16 2013 12:32, edited 1 time in total.

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Compendium Section 8

Post#9 » Jul 16 2013 11:42

Basic Thoughts, Tactics and Field Experience


Ravenwing armies can field an impressive amount of scoring units if Sammael or Azrael is present. A full Attack squad with Attack bike and Land Speeder makes 3 separate scoring units (4 if you split the 6 bikes into combat squads) all from the same Force Organization slot! This makes late game objective grabbing a very real danger, so be watchful of lone models within Turboboost range of objectives.
Ravenwing rely heavily on cover saves to survive. The Darkshroud Land Speeder's Stealth aura, coupled with a Jink save (+1 to that for Black Knights) can be quite the headache. Markerlights are key for eliminating Ravenwing cover saves, so dedicated Markerlight units should start deployed on the board (despite the risk) in order to get the most out of your first turn of shooting.
Bikers have the Hit and Run ability and Scout. They also carry teleport homers to call down Deep Striking Terminators
Land speeders have Deep Strike (Darkshroud also has Scout)

Like Ravenwing, have few models, but can endure much more punishment at the cost of speed. large numbers of scoring Terminators (when Belial is present) with decent shooting capability. Land Raiders are common in a full Deathwing army and often come in multiples to create target saturation.
Deathwing vehicles (Land Raiders and Venerable Dreadnoughts only) can force a re-roll on the damage chart for penetrating hits.
Deathwing Terminators deep strike on turn 1 or 2 (Player's choice before Deployment) and fire ranged weapons as if twin-linked when they arrive.

Dark angels units have access to a lot of plasma weaponry. Bikes, Terminators, vehicles, they can almost all take it. The large amount of S7 weaponry makes our lighter vehicles (Piranhas) very fragile, even with Jink. However, by comparison, our gunships (Skyray, Hammerhead) can prove exceptionally hard to crack. Dark Angels will try to kill our vehicles with close combat attacks or Melta rather than heavy weapon fire. Crisis suits need to be kept out of sight and Broadsides need to be positioned in hard cover to survive the fusillade of plasma, while our vehicles need to be able to move in order to avoid close combat with Power Fists and Meltabombs.


Due to the high level of Deployment flexibility and first/second turn mobility, it will be very difficult to glean any advantages during the Deployment phase. When facing Deathwing force them to Deep Strike outside of your lines by spreading your units out and keeping them close together. When facing Ravenwing either block or avoid board edges to avoid Outflankers. If you are using Aegis Defence Lines, deploy them in a full circle to avoid exposing your units to Deep Strikers.

Target Priority is incredibly important when facing Dark Angels. They are tough units, so you will not be able to kill them all right away, and if you do not kill off the right models, then your whole battle line may collapse. If even a single Ravenwing or Deathwing squad gets to grips with your infantry or vehicles, then you have a real problem on your hands.

Field Experience

The Orbital maintains a library of documented encounters with Dark Angels. Consulting these battle logs can improve your knowledge of Dark Angels tactics and force composition, and is highly recommended. These are listed with the most current reports first.
Tau + Iron Warriors vs Dark Angels - 2000pts
Tau/Kroot vs. Grey Knights/Dark Angels 3000pt
1500 pts Tau vs Dark Angels grudge match
Keep in mind that some of these reports are outdated and can only offer small amounts of relevant information. For this reason, all Shas'O are encouraged to deploy recorder drones and submit logs of their own encounters with the Dark Angels.

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Last edited by Das'Kyman on Aug 08 2013 02:42, edited 5 times in total.

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