Dark Angel Tactics for Warhammer 40000 8th Edition

Warhammer 40000 Dark Angle Space Marine Deathwing Knight

In this section we will have a look at the Warhammer 40000 Dark Angel army, the successor chapters and how to win more games using them.

To use the information in this section you will need the main Warhammer 4000 Rule Book and the 2017 Codex: Dark Angles or regular access to them.

Introduction to the Dark Angels

Ok, let’s get something out of the way up-front. Even though the Dark Angel army looks like the generic Adeptus Astartes Ultra Marine army, they are not the same and have quite a different style of play. If you play your Dark Angle army in the way that you play standard Space Marines, you will loose!

The next major point is that the Dark Angel army is not one army, but three. There in the Battle Line army with your tactical Space Marines, there is the Ravenwing with the fast strike force units, and there is the Deathwing with the Terminator armoured close combat troops. To win games you will need all three, and you will need then in the right balance.

In the 2017 Codex: Dark Angels you can find the army specific rules starting on page 134.

Dark Angle Chapter Tactics

Pre-heresy Dark Angel Space Marine

Warhammer 40k Dark Angel in pre-heresy colours

On page 134 of the Codex: Dark Angles we are introduced to the Dark Angel Chapter Tactics. These are two special rules that you can use if you have a detachment that is battle forged and only contains Dark Angel units. You can find the rules for battle forged detachments in the main rule book on page 240. Basically the Chapter Tactics are rewards for playing a well formed detachment using only Dark Angles ( or successor chapters ). If you can create a battle forged army then the extra rules certainly may it worth while!

Defenders of Humanity

This is a special rule that we have seen (by other names in all the 8th edition codexes. In 7th ed this rule was called objective secured and worked in a similar way. Basically it means that it is easier to capture and hold objectives if you have a Dark Angle only detachment. Not all battle have objectives and objective marker, but since their introduction in the 7th edition of WH40k they are very popular as they force the game to be more dynamic. Before objective marker player use to just form barricaded battle lines and shoot at each other from a distance.

With this rule if you have a TROOPS unit contesting an objective you will win it even if your opponent has more models contesting that objective. As most armies that you will face will be battle forged too this rule does tend to cancel it’s self out. However if you are not playing a battle forged detachment you will be at a disadvantage.

Notice that this ability only effects TROOPS units, not HQ, ELITE, HEAVY SUPPORT, FAST ATTACK, or any other unit type. For the Space Marines it means that it’s effect is limited to Tactical Squads, Intercessor Squads, and Scout Squads. So if you are contesting an objective and you have one Tactical Squad in 3″ of the marker, and your opponent has three ELITE Terminator Squad and a HQ Captain there, you still will the objective even though you seem to be outnumbered!

The Defenders of Humanity special rule boosts the value of TROOPS units way above the actual points cost. If winning games is what you are after, you need to see that you need to place the TROOPS units at the centre of your strategy. In a Space Marine army you will be helped with the ‘Combat Squads’ special rule and Dedicated Transport units. More about those later!

Grim Resolve

This is a uniquely Dark Angel special rule. The Grim Resolve special rule has two parts. The first represents the Dark Angel superb defensive fire control, and the second part represents the legendary Dark Angle stubbornness.

Strict Fire Discipline

Dark Angel Battle Forged Detachments can re-roll 1’s to hit in the shooting phase, if they did not move in the previous movement phase. As I understand it, coming in from reserves counts as moving, so new arrivals do not get this bonus when they arrive.

This bonus is slightly different from the Company Masters ‘Rights of Battle’ special rule. The Rights of Battle allow re-rolls of 1 for units withing 6″ of the Master, and works in the Fight phase as well as the Shooting and Overwatch phases. The Rights of Battle also works even the unit has moved. The Strict Fire Discipline only affects Infantry, Bike, and Dreadnought.

The effect of the Strict Fire Discipline is that it encourages your Battle Line troops to get in to position fast and stay there. The result of this special rule is that stationary units will hit 7 out of 9 times. This is up from 6 out of 9 for standard Space Marines. This is great except that Tactical Objective based games favour armies that are more fluid. The way around this is to have units who’s objective is to hold the line and some units that will go forth and grab objectives under the covering fire provided and some units that specialise in close combat. Enter the Ravenwing and Deathwing!

Dark Angle Stratagems

On page 135 of the 2017 Codex: Dark Angels you can find 26 stratagems for the Dark Angel army. This a good number of stratagems for a single army.

Battle Line Dark Angel Units

5 man Dark Angel Squad with Assault WaeponsYou won’t find references to Battle Line Units in the Codex. Battle Line Units is a phrase I use to identify the rank and file units of the 3rd to 9th Companies. The battle line units will be the core your army.

In the Battle Line section you will find most of the Dark Angle units. Dark Angel Battle Line Units include:

  • Azrael: Leader of the Dark Angels: Lots of toys including a combo-bolted and an area effect 4++ force field.
  • Belial: Head of Deathwing: A terminator armour clad character that boosts nearby Deathwing units to hit rolls.
  • Asmodai: Named chaplain character with lots of toys. He is a member of Deathwing too.
  • Interrogator-Chaplain in power or terminator armour: Beefed up Chaplin. What to use Asmodai if you do not want a named character. Also a Deathwing member.
  • Chaplain, Primaris Chaplain: Your basic chaplain. Not part of Deathwing.
  • Ezekiel: Named librarian character. Part of Deathwing and has lots of close combat toys.
  • Librarian, Primaris Librarian: Basic librarian with Deathwing rules.
  • Master in Power, Cataphractii, or Terminator armour: Senior Dark Angle leaders. Members of Deathwing.
  • Master in Primaris or Gravis armour: Senior Primaris leader, but not a member of Deathwing.
  • Lieutenants, Primaris Lieutenants: The de-facto standard leader for Dark Angel armies.
  • Techmarine: The go to guy to get your tanks fixed. His Servo arm gives an extra Power Fist attack in close combat.
  • Tactical Squads: The all round tactical units that should be at the hart of every Dark Angel force.
  • Intercessor Squads: Bolt Rifle only marines with Primaris armour.
  • Scout Squads, Scout Bike Squads: Light armored that can sneak forward. Scout bikes are where you go if you want two wheels without Ravenwing.
  • Apothecary, Primaris Apothecary: Medic! These characters where part of the command squad. Now they are independent Elite units.
  • Chapter Ancients, Ancients in Primaris armour: The armies Battle Standard Bearer (BSB). Was part of the command squad but is now are independent Elite characters. One last push lads!
  • Company Champion: Veteran Dark Angel with a really big sword and shield. Good in close combat. Useless in a fire fight.
  • Company Veterans: The Elite version of the Tactical Squad. This unit can be tooled up with heavy and special weapons. With careful configuration, these guys are very useful.
  • Dreadnoughts, Venerable Dreadnought, Redemptor Dreadnought: Big walking machines. Can be given big guns or close combat weapons. A mix of each normally works out best.
  • Devastator Squads: Marines with big guns. These units are designed to take the high ground and shoot at anything that moves!
  • Hell blaster Squads
  • Predator
  • Stalkers, Hunters, and Whirlwinds
  • Land Raider, Crusader, Redeemer and Repulsor
  • Stromraven Gunship

Deathwing Dark Angel Units

Warhammer 40k Dark Angel Deathwing Squad

Dark Angel Deathwing Terminator Squad

Deathwing Terminator armoured units can be tactical, backed up with Land Raiders they can even be fast, however they are too expensive to field in enough number to win games. For this reason they are best used as close combat troops, and as close combat troops they are awesome!

Dark Angel Deathwing Units include:

  • Masters in Terminator or Cataphractii Armour
  • Chaplains and Interrogator Chaplains in Terminator Armour
  • Librarians in Terminator Armour
  • Deathwing Apothecary
  • Deathwing Ancient
  • Deathwing Champion
  • Deathwing Terminator Squads
  • Deathwing Knights
  • Deathwing Cataphractii Terminator Squads
  • Deathwing Tartaros Terminator Squads

Venerable Dreadnoughts use to be Deathwing too, but this seems to have been dropped.

Ravenwing Dark Angel Units

When there is a need for speed the Dark Angles go to the Ravenwing. Like the Deathwing the Ravenwing could operate as an independent army, and on a large open battle field they would work well. However in the more close confines of the regular wh40k battle table the Ravenwing need to call upon the regular battle line and Deathwing units to go where they can not (up stairs!).

  • Sammael on Corvex or Sableclaw: Fast moving leader of Ravenwing: Boosts to hit for both Ravenwing and other Dark Angles nearby.
  • Ravenwing Talon Master
  • Ravenwing Apothecary
  • Ravenwing Ancient
  • Ravenwing Champion
  • Ravenwing Bike Squad
  • Ravenwing Attack Bike Squad
  • Ravenwing Land Speeders
  • Ravenwing Darkshroud
  • Ravenwing Land Speeder Vengeance
  • Ravenwing Black Knights
  • Ravenwing Dark Tallon
  • Nephilim Jetfighter