New Dark Angels Codex: First Impression

Dark Angels CodexSo with the holidays well behind us, and me surviving a bout of bronchitis, I have returned to continue my hobby and review of Warhammer 40k. I ventured out Saturday and picked up the Dark Angels codex, and this is just my first impression of the book. I do plan on taking a little bit of time reviewing the codex along with my continued review of the Horus Heresy.

In short, I’m a little disappointed with the Dark Angels codex. Basically, I’ve taken to calling it the Ravenwing codex with Deathwing attached and Codex Space Marines copy and pasted for the rest. My disappointment steams from a couple of places. Many of the previous codices released starting with Space Wolves did a great job in creating a number of great units, and carrying the feel and fluff of the army through to every unit. I’m most familiar with the Space Wolves codex, so I’ll use that as an example. In the Space Wolves codex, there is a desire to take or try every unit, and every unit has a Space Wolves feel to them. They are not just simply Ultramarines with fur pelts taped to their armor. The most recent codex, Chaos Space Marines, does a similar thing. There are options and wargear to give your chaos army a unique and particular feel to them. I’ve been playing around with making a Death Guard army, and there are plenty of ways to make my army look, feel, and play like Nurgle without necessarily taking Plague Marines. The Dark Angels codex seems to fail in this area. It seems with the release of all the previous fun almost over the top codices Games-Workshop scaled this one way back. As I mentioned, beyond Ravenwing and Deathwing, the Dark Angels just feel like green Ultramarines. Which brings me to the other reason why I’m disappointed by the Dark Angels codex, my connection with the Dark Angels and their back story.

Dark Angels was one of the first Space Marines army I ever played, so there’s a special place in my heart for them. In my opinion, they also have one of the most interesting and rich back stories of any Space Marine army. I felt there was so much potential for the new Dark Angel army, and maybe it’s my fault for setting my expectations too high. However, I feel given the potential the Dark Angels have and the previous line of codices that this codex should have been more. There should have been a way to carry the Dark Angel back story and feel through to every unit not just Ravenwing and Deathwing. I almost wish most of the rumors I had heard were true like taking Chaplins similar to the Blood Angels Apothecaries or getting Plasmas for really cheap, and despite all the hate he gets, I wish Matt Ward had written it or even Phil Kelly. Most of the Special Characters are bland and bring little to the table except Sammuel. The Company Veterans don’t have much that make them special and are overshadowed by Deathwing and Deathwing Knights. The Dark Angels don’t have Vanguard or Sternguard vets, which Blood Angels got. Most discouraging of all, there’s very little that can be done to upgrade a tactical squad to give it a Dark Angel feel.

To all those who play Codex Space Marines, I think you just got a preview of what your codex will be like.

I can already hear some people ask what I would have done. When I go through the codex in more detail, I think more of this will make sense. I would have followed through with some of the more sensible rumors. You would be able to take three Chaplins as single elite choice a divide them into different squads. I would have made plasma weapons cheaper. Similar to what Chaos Space Marines did, if I made a company master a Deathwing terminator or Ravenwing biker, then I would open up Ravenwing and Deathwing as troop choices. I would have created a set of Dark Angels psychic powers. Intergator-Chaplins would be more than more expensive chaplins. I would do something to represent they single-minded pursuit of their foe regardless of who or what is in their way, and their intimating presence. I will admit that the tactical squads is a bit of a hanging point, but I think there could something: a special rule or an upgrade option that does a better job at representing the Dark Angels secretive and knightly characteristic.

Before everyone blasts me in the comments section, I want to once again point out that this is a first impression. It all might change when I begin to pick apart the codex. However, as it stands right now, I’m disappointed. I’m also a little frustrated because it seems that the codex is set up to make me choose Ravenwing or Deathwing. Then again I guess it should have been evident given that it was just Ravenwing and Deathwing models that Games-Workshop put out.