Tonight we have a guest article centered around Dark Angels. definitely a good read. 

Jonathan here with some in depth tactica, hidden gems, and great ally combos for all our taciturn, robed, space warrior monks out there.  I think time will show that this is really a strong codex, and not only for the Ravenwing.  A few of these combos may apply to standard SM codex too.  

The focus here is not entire army strategies (with the exception of the last one), but small combos & ideas.  Note that I am only listing the key units here, not the entire detachments required to bring them.  These detachments can vary based on preference and the collection available to an individual.  Please give credit, thanks!

DA Combos
1) Command Squad, grav gun x 5, Sacred Standard, drop pod.  Pricey but packs a punch for any monstrous creatures, terminators etc.  Relentless means you're firing salvo to full effect.  That's 15 grav gun shots at 18in range.  Plus counterattack, and overwatch on 5's if you get charged.  Next turn you can shoot AND charge.  Throw in an apothecary for durability, and a champion for some punch (yes he can carry a grav gun, S5 sword and combat shield).  

Don't strand them in the enemy deployment zone - they're cheaper than a kitted black knight squad, but still expensive - you want to get at least 2 turns of shooting and maybe even an assault.

2) Command squad, plasma gun x 5, drop pod + Librarian, auspex, eye of the unseen.  If plasma guns are your preference, you can now get them with guaranteed preferred enemy via a relic so you won't kill yourself!  Slap an auspex on that librarian to maximize effect on daemon princes jinking in hover mode, or monstrous creatures with their toes in cover.

More expensive than above, so if you're dropping them into the jaws of death, bring some friends so they don't get wasted.

3) Vets, plasma gun x 2, combi x 8, drop pod + Librarian, auspex, eye of the unseen.  Same as above with twice as much plasma on turn 1 only.

4) Command Squad, flamer x 5, apothecary, drop pod.  I would have never taken this in the past edition, but command squads are now elite choices.  This one is super cheap, somewhat durable and can really mess up horde units, open topped transports with low toughness models inside (dark eldar!), and light units.  Use to mess up the enemy backfield.

5) Ravenwing Support Squadron formation: 3 Land Speeders in a flavor of your choosing + Darkshroud.  Everyone has been raving about this, and yes, it is awesome.  Dark shroud is so cheap and adds so much - as much as it is tempting to take the LS Vengeance, this is better.  Dark shroud has shrouded and confers stealth on anything in 6in.  But because it is a single unit, the whole unit gains both shrouded and stealth no matter how far apart they are.  That means you always have a 4+ even without jinking.  Put yourself in ANY cover, and you automatically have a 2+ cover - WITHOUT jinking.  If you jink, you always have a 2+ re-rollable (2+/4+ for ITC).  Also comes with BS 2 overwatch, supporting fire (like Tau) for any other Ravenwing within 12in, interceptor & strafing run (hit ground targets on 2's!).  

Use either as fire support, or a super survivable jinking anchor turn 1&2, and then late game fire support.  Watch out for ignores cover / ignores jink which will turn these guys into paper toys.

6) DA Librarius Conclave - Ezekial + 2-4 Librarians.  Buy the dataslate.  Why use this instead of standard SM conclave?  You can only cast on a 3+ instead of 2+.  One answer: Interromancy.  Aversion is a WC 1 malediction that causes snapshots.  They have a flying hive tyrant that shoots 12 twin linked S6 shots + a haywire flamer and they flew in my face turn 1?  I have minimal anti-air?  Now they hit on 6's and have a broken flamer - call it a UselessTyrant.  Apply the same strategy on heldrakes, fire raptors, wraithknights etc.   Mind Wipe can also be ridiculously good - causes BS1 and WS1 - permanently if they fail leadership next turn (combine with telepathy terrify to increase odds).

Ezekiel adds +1 attack to any DA unit - which is perfect for any deathstar unit setup he joins.  Also, DA librarians have access to 4++ wargear unlike their SM brethren, if you want to kit them out to fight.

7) Azrael + Aquila Strongpoint, escape hatch, void shield + scouts.  Azrael may not be a close combat beast like his peers Draigo or Dante, but he's got a bag of tricks.  Unlike his peers, he does not have a set warlord trait.  Instead he can choose his from the DA tree.  Choose "the Hunt" to give his shooting attacks ignores cover.  Now have him man a D gun/missile.  Also, his helmet, carried by his mysterious little spiritual friends, gives the fortress a 4++ invul.  That's armor 15 with a 4+ invul.  Add void shield to nullify an extra melta shot in case of a drop pod attack.  Put strongpoint near an objective, put escape hatch near an objective midfield.  Late game, have scouts jump out of escape hatch.  You now have 2 objectives, and a BS 5, D, ignores cover vortex to drop on enemy's objective.  Oh and you seize on a 5+ - which is just enough to make them think twice about trying to go first.

Super expensive!!!  Will end up being half your list.  Aquila is a bit overpriced.  Still this will be very hard to deal with for a lot of lists.  Take plenty of troops.  Necrons will also weather the D storm with their cheezy get back up again rolls, so some backfield assault to make sweeping advances and clean up is helpful.

8) Azrael + Plasma obliterator, escape hatch, void shield, scouts.  Same as above but around 250pts cheaper.  No D, but S7 AP 2 ignores cover can deal with soft targets and bikes etc.

Survivable, but will still die to a full squad of melta vets in a drop pod.  Bubble wrap out 6in if needed.

9) Belial + drop pod.  Belial's no scatter precision does not only apply to deathwing now.  Not totally sure on this one, but seems like you can have him join a unit of your choosing in a drop pod and they will not scatter.  Use his termie armor to then soak up wounds.

10) Deathwing command squad, champion, apothecary, DW banner, hammer & shield, claws, plasma cannon.  Combine with anything, these guys got significantly cheaper.  Only 4 meltabombs chaper overall, but DW banner is 5 meltabombs cheaper, and apothecary is now only 1 meltabomb in cost (was 6 before)!  Also, the narthecium switch is worded how it originally was in 6th ed. prior to the FAQ.  This means you can replace the power fist with a narthecium, and then replace all remaining weapons with a thunder hammer & shield - meaning the apothecary is not useless.

A relatively cheap (as terminators go) mini-melee take all comers deathstar.  S6 Ap2 at I4, hammer & shield at I1 to deal with hard hitters, claws to deal with blobs, plasma cannon (with split fire and twin linked on deep strike) so you have some bite in the shooting phase (and he has a power fist so he's not useless in assault).  Everyone is base 3 attacks due to banner.

11) Azrael + Ravenwing Command Squad.  The biggest downside of Black Knights & Rav. Cmd Sqd is they can't get storm shields like their SM brethren.  Azzy gives these guys a 4++ all around which makes them much more durable in an assault, and survivable against ignores cover.  Give him furious charge warlord trait and they're also now at S6 rending attacks at I4.  Azzy also adds some melee punch at S6 AP3 base 4 attacks I5.  Most people wouldn't pair these guys up because Azzy isn't on a bike.  Put Azzy in the front to start, after movement leave 1 bike 2in behind the others and Azzy can be as far as 2 in behind him so he can keep up.  Do this in both the scout and movement phases and you still are going to get around 20in of overall movement.  Oftentimes that is plenty.  You might have 1 less plasma shot than usual - big deal!  Sometimes they'll be coming to you also, in which case it's all a moot point.  Remember that in the assault, everyone moves 2D6 regardless.  So Azzy puts on his fast shoes when the assault phase comes despite not being on a bike!  Give him Rapid Manouvre warlord trait instead of furious charge and you add 3in to that assault move.

12) Hammer of Caliban formation (squadron): 3 vindicators, land raider, techmarine with servo-harness, 2 servitors.  Facing hordes?  Drop a S10 AP2 apocalyptic blast with ignores cover.  Facing monstrous creatures, terminators, vehicles or bike stars?  Drop 3 Large blast, S10 ap2, monster hunter, tank hunter, ordinance shots.  Now add BS5 land raider shots.

Place formation to the side of a table edge with Land raider in front and side facing enemy.  Land raider soaks up fire for squadron and repairs on a 2+.  Drive up to mid-table.  Jump guys out for a flamer, plasma shot and 8 melee S8 AP2 I1 attacks if needed.  Use techmarine's 2+ and 2 wounds to soak up hits.

Combine with Azrael if you want to burn points for a 4++ land raider and more melee punch.

Ally Combos

1) Belial + Kaldor Draigo.  Belial's no scatter precision does not only apply to deathwing now.  Gate of infinity wherever you want, exactly.  Bring those paladins in on target!  Or use grav-centurions - will get expensive adding a 3rd army though.  Instead, optionally use one of the DA command squad options at the top of this article.

Draigo and Belial are too expensive and beastly to not use in melee.  So you'll likely want to have them hop out of the shooty squad turn 2 or 3 and assault, depending on the situation.

2) Azrael + Captain Karlaen + Inquisitor Coteaz or Callidus Assasin + alpha strike or shooty list.  Make BA your primary with Karlaen as the warlord.  He always gets strategic genius from the strategic traits.  Now seize the initiative on a 4+ re-rollable.  Use Raphen's Death company or Cassor the Damned as troops to squeeze Karlaen in with some punch instead of a tax.  Use coteaz if you need psychic support, use Callidus if you want to drop an ap2 flamer on enemy's face turn 1 - both allow re-rolls to seize.

3) Azrael + Astra Militarum infantry or conscripts blob + priest.  Same as last edition.  30+ cheap, durable objective grabbers.  4++ for whole unit.  Priest passes leadership in assault, then entire unit can re-roll 4++.  He is so cheap, always take him.  Make Azrael warlord with furious charge trait.  Now the entire blob is S4 on the charge.  Or give him FNP within 3in of objective trait & camp blob in the midfield.

4) Azrael + SM Honor Guard.  Same principle as above, except for a hard hitting melee unit.  Honor guard are super cheap for having artificer armor and a power weapon.  Only downside is no invul - hence Azrael.  Now you have a melee deathstar that can make sweeping advances and also has either furious charge or FNP (near objectives) from Azrael.  If you take 10, give 6 or 7 axes to deal with 2+ saves.  Azzy and the remaining 4 swords can whittle down any 3+ or worse save units in the way just prior.

5) Deathwing Knights, relic + Astra militarum priest.  Durable, versatile terminators.  You take these guys because they have cheap access to storm shields, are WS5, and are T5 usually which means they tend to survive.  Just get them into combat safely and they'll get their points back.  Priest means most of the time they'll have a 2+, 3++ re-rollable in the assault.  On top of that they're T5 with hammer of wrath, precision hits, fear and adamantium will.  Precision hits is very useful for picking out apothecaries, champions, sergeants, power fist/claw wielding models.  All attacks are S6 AP3 now - that's the equivalent of a relic blade + concussive, not bad.  Optionally get 1 S8 AP2 attack.  They're not the Lord of War hunters they used to be, but they're much more versatile now due to AP3 and no more one use only smite.

Knight master has AP3 fleshbane and a base of 3 attacks, which should not be overlooked.  He alone can nearly wipe out a SM tactical squad in the backfield.  Fleshbane is also one of the most powerful rules in the book, you always wound on 2+.  Against certain units this is very good - any gargantuan or monstrous creature with a 3+ or worse - wraithknights, barbed heirodule etc.

6) Deathwing Knights + Brother Captain Stern.  Stern is somewhat lacklustre, but he always has access to Sanctuary psychic power (+1 invul).  Which means those DW knights are now at a 2++ T5.  Stern can also re-roll his 2+ once.  So he can soak up any small arms fire wounds if you put him in front, and then look out sir any AP2 to a knight with a 2++.

7) 7-10 Deathwing Knights + Master Hareth Shen (FW Salamanders) + Librarius Conclave + Sammael.  The ultimate deathstar.  Somewhat slow.  Super expensive - will be just about your whole army.  Shen gives a 4+ FNP.  Scout unit up 6-12in via Sammael and Librarians on bikes.  Move another 6in, then run / flat out up to 9in b/c of Sammael's warlord trait.  Stretch out your movement as much as possible with bikes, while not exposing yourself (if you're not invisible esp).  String them out as close as you can to any unit you will charge.  This positioning + Sammy's warlord trait to add 3in to the charge is what will (hopefully) get you a turn 2 charge.  Cast all kinds of crazy psychic powers.  Enjoy invisible 2+/3++/4+++ terminators multi-assaulting the whole table.  Then hit and run on their turn and multi-assault again.  Beat other deathstar armies to a pulp using smite or normal on each model as fits the situation.  Beat hordes to a pulp with a crapload of S6 AP3 I4 concussive attacks + HoW, whilst smooshing the Nobs/leaders via precision strikes.  Move and flat out Sammael in fly mode over structures a whopping 39in last turn to claim objectives.

Lastly, I just want to add that the new army wide "Grim Resolve" special rule should not be underestimated.  Most people online seem to think this inferior to SM tactical/devastator/assault doctrines (don't forget that DA also get Deathwing and Ravenwing special rules).  But you can only use doctrines if your overall strategy has kept you alive and worked out to a point where you can remember to use them to effect.  Grim Resolve is always in effect.  With anything twin linked, this is especially powerful.  Twin-linked rapid fire plasma hitting on 5's is the same mathematically as shooting a BS4 SM with a plasma gun.  This opens up whole new options where instead of charging, you can sometimes force your opponent to charge you and essentially get a whole extra shooting phase in.  This also makes command squads and vets more survivable against assaults.  A few meltas can have a huge effect on Maulerfiends, Imperial Knights etc.  Even twin linked BS2 storm bolters can hurt against ork boyz, tyrnaid chaff troops etc.  BS 2 is twice as good as BS1.  Now think about BS3 or full BS via formations - it's not bad.  And again, it's not reliant on your strategy and memory to be useful.


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