Thursday, January 24, 2013

Codex DA: First impressions

I know, why so soon?

Well, I just got my book in the mail yesterday as I ordered it through a discount retailer and they decided to send it media mail which took a week or so. Wah wah... But it's here and I've given it a look over so I wanted to talk about it a bit. Because that's what I do here!

 First look: The book itself
Dark Angels as fuck!

This is the first hardcover codex I've bought so it's a bit new to me.
The good - The artwork is very nice and it will look good as a tabletop display piece. The page stock seems very good and the art inside is well done as well.
The Bad - The part that everyone complains about, the price. I paid less than msrp for mine, but it was still more than any other codex I've bought. I'm not sure where they are claiming this value for the $20 jump in price. And the fact that the apple store codex is the same price is atrocious. The book also looks like it's too fancy for extended tournament play. The binding appears to be a bit weak and the pages do this weird curling in thing when the book has been open for more than a couple minutes.
Protip to GW: Make the rules available separate from the fluff in a durable, travel friendly pamphlet size(Something akin to the Dark Vengeance rulebook). Reprint it with the proper errata. Sell it for $20. Make mass profit.

The units (Game Wise)
The Good -

Tac Marines: Cheaper, but with lower base leadership, Tac marines in the DA book are a solid option to fill space and sit on an objective. They can take a special or heavy weapon at 5 men which makes this a really flexible, scoring option. I hope this means that future codexes will make troops more "takeable" in that they are a cheap number of points and can do something on the field other than try not to die.

Better to stab you with, deary!
Scouts - Also cheaper with cheaper camo cloaks, scouts are finally troops in the DA book. This means that their ws and bs drop, but they will sit in cover and score all day while taking 2+ cover after going to ground.

Bikers - Ravenwing got a significant boost in this codex with the addition of the command squad and the black knights. They really needed support units like these to flourish and take some of the heat off of the scoring units. the black knights are boss though. They make for a hell of a death star and I will be exploring that more fully as I look into the codex more.

Deathwing knights - This is what regular deathwing terminators wish they could be. This unit borrows heavily from warmachine in that it has a mini-feat and an ability that works in base to base contact. But I really like this unit. It's too bad that they can't take a thunder hammer or two per squad, but dudes striking at initiative with storm shields and possible precision strikes is pretty good. Asking for more is a bit greedy. 

Characters -

Belial: Now costs more, but doesn't scatter when dw assaulting and gets precision shots on 5+ when shooting his storm bolter. He also has an iron halo like every other captain in the universe of space marines, so you can feasible take him with something other than a TH/SS combo.

Azreal: Unlocks both wings as troops! That's awesome! He is a hefty investment of points, but he is the all purpose hq. He's whatever you need him to be. The only downfall here is that he can't take Terminator armor to deep strike so he has to hoof it or be in a transport. I think he's the perfect HQ for the banner of devastation list.

Ezekiel: ML3 lib for under 150 points? 2+ armour save??? And he has an aoe buff????? Sign me up. Ezekiel is a boss.

Sammael: He strikes at i5 with an ap2 weapon and carries a plasma cannon on a jetbike. What more can I say? He also makes the all ravenwing army feasible as he can soak up a lot of punishment for your black knight squad.

The Bad -
Flyers - I really, really want to like the nephilim jetfighter. I just wish it was either less points or had a more focused anti-air role. Even if it had potms it would be worth it cause then you could use it's anti ground weapons against ground targets and have the lascannon as one off tank hunter.  And I'm not really sure what you're paying for with the dark talon. The stasis bomb is an ok one off trick, but your opponent has to set themselves up for failure to get an important unit caught by it. It's easily counterable with screening units or engaging in CC. And at the point level that these guys are at, I would rather just ally in a stormraven or a squad of vendettas if you need flyers. I would consider taking a jetfighter if I was low on anit-infantry firepower, but the codex doesn't appear to have that problem.

Expensive fancy land speeders - The darkshroud and the vengeance appear to me to be super gimmicky. If the vengeance was 40 less points it might be playable, but 140 points for a single model with av10 and 2 hp is not worth it imo. The darkshroud could be cool if you play it with a bunch of bikes for a 3+ cover save while on the move, but then you just make it an even bigger target and make the rest of your units weaker for relying on it. 

Asmodai and the other int chaplain are ok. They don't bring anything too great to the list and are really outshone by the other characters and the generic guys

I want you to be awesome soooooo bad!
Veterans - I hate to say this. But this unit is terrible. I love DA vets. Marines in robes are the bees knees and I have a ton of them.  But GW did them no justice as there are just better options for the points now. I would take a PA command squad over these guys 100% of the time.

The Units (appearance)
The Good -

The Deathwing knights are some of the coolest models out there. I really like how they look and how they represent DA in general.

I like the nephilim jetfighter a lot. It's sleek and dangerous looking and I like the ravenwing paint job. If I were to build it, I think I would put the angel on the tail that is for the dark talon. The rest of the crap is kinda silly though.

Ravenwing black knights - Just like they did with the deathwing knights, the special ravenwing unit looks bad ass. The corvus hammers are a cool touch and the plasma talons are very intimidating.

The Bad -
The Dark talon and the darkshroud have the same problem. There's just way too much going on there and it looks ridiculous. Really? Elite engines of war with weapons from the dark age of technology need to have a bunch of masonry and statues on them? I haven't gone through the fluff yet, so maybe they have some reason for this? But let me assure you, they could have come up with something better than some statues on your plane makes it better...

Belial just looks silly. I think he would look ok minus the banner and weird eyeballs above his head, but it's a finecast only model so it may not be that easy to fix. I think I'll just stick with my generic terminator Belial for now. Or make one out of the deathwing box if I get one.

Both of the new landspeeders look like they took a regular landspeeder and just glued a bunch of shit on the outside. What are all those turbine engines for? They don't go faster... It doesn't have any more armor... And why did they need to move the co-pilot dude to the front of the damn thing? Dudes in land speeders have been able to shoot the front weapon for years without having to sit on the nose of the damn thing. And doesn't that block the drivers sightlines? Why would you make it harder to drive that big turd?

So far I really like the codex. I plan to look into the various army lists a bit further in the upcoming week. I want to play with a mono-deathwing build, a mono-ravenwing build and then do a mix. Building a list that focuses on banner of devestation seems too narrow, but it may be worth a shot. If anything I will be taking a DW list with potential GK or BA allies to the BAO. I have a full DW army and I think they are well complimented by GK.
What do you guys think of the codex so far? I'm sure most people have had time to give it a thorough examination (which I'm excited to do), so where are the key strengths and terrible weaknesses??

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