A review of Codex Dark Angels!
Let me say up first, I am still struggling to find a good format to review Warhammer 40K Codex books (or, I suppose, game-material more general).
Unlike book reviews, not everything that is good or bad or noteworthy about a given supplement is immediately obvious (at least not to me). Things usually take some time to fall into place on the table. I tend to need some time to really digest things.
Anyhow… learning by doing. Here I go.
Summary: Games Workshop’s Codex Dark Angels has a lot of good things going for it. It caters to different playstyles, adds interesting units and emphasizes unit synergy. Some oddly pointed options and a deluge of spelling mistakes (and a ninja-FAQ) make it feel rushed. A few more weeks of fine-tuning would have surely made it a far better book.
#1 – Good Things About Codex Dark Angels
- Synergy Units
I enjoy Warhammer 40K most when it isn’t only about spamming point-effective units (hello Space Wolves!), but encourages you to build combinations of units and models that, together, are more killy, more dangerous than the sum of individual units by themselves.
Dark Angels take a stab at this. Sometimes it’s worth it (Darkshroud), sometimes not (Dark Talon).
One thing is certain, Games Workshop tried to push the idea, including in the release-battle report, with Ravenwing-homers + Deathwing-teleport (which I don’t see played a lot). I like the direction.
- Different Playstyles
Deathwing, Ravenwing, “Greenwing”, the defunct (?) Ironwing. The Dark Angels background makes them an obvious army for building a list that accommodates several different playstyles.
Ravenwing-lists are the obvious beneficiaries. Deathwing plays as it should in the new book too. Giving support to lists other than the “pure-wings”, notably with Azrael, is a welcome addition.
As far as playstyle-versatility of the list in this Codex goes, Dark Angels clearly feels meatier than the 6th Edition Chaos Space Marines Codex (despite fewer FOC-swap-options).
- Exotic New Weapons
I like seeing new stuff.
In my humble opinion, there is really no point really making a new Codex (Army Book, whatever), if all you’re doing is to re-hash what’s been there before.
Some of the best things to come from the CSM-Codex, in my opinion, are the Fiends and the Drake. Yet somehow it seems the new stuff added to Warhammer 40K always ends up being what’s (initially) most hated by the fans (Stormraven, Dreadknight, Helldrake, Landspeeder Vengeance, etc.. – Plague Drones apparently being an exception).
Well, I really liked that Dark Angels broke away from the same-old, same-old Bolter-Lascannon-Powerfist routine and added a healthy number of new weapons and equipment options, both for the Marines stuck in the thick of it and for the vehicles supporting them.
#2 – Bad Things About Codex Dark Angels
- Relics and Flyers
There are some odd, even point-less units/options in the Codex, including the Chapter Relics and the two new flyers.
They’re not Mutilator/Mandrake-level brain-farts. Still, they are puzzling additions for what they do and offer. They beg (to me at least) the question whether or not someone either unwisely tinkered with the Codex at the last-minute.
A few more weeks of playtesting wouldn’t have given the thing a more polished feel (and likely would have avoided the odd ninja-FAQ they released shortly after the Codex-release).
- Dry Fluff is Dry
I am, in general, quite a fan of the Dark Angels background, both for its many easter-eggs and for its quintessential “grim-darkishness”. Yet this Codex made for mostly dry reading, I thought.
Too often it felt like paging through an encyclopedia, rather than the awesome stories and mysteries of the Warhammer 40K universe.
Example: The entire “hunt-for-the-Fallen” was presented (for my taste) far too matter-of-fact. Bland descriptive phrases such as “The Black Templars fight alongside the Dark Angels, though a dispute over a Black Templars prisoner causes both Chapters to briefly engage.” (p. 25) is a far cry from the essentially same story, told very differently in Crusade of the Ophidium Gulf.
- Spelling Mistakes
Holy! Who ever did a proof-read on that Codex? Soo many typos (you can see one scanned in the second pic of this post).
I am probably the wrong guy to start throwing bricks. I am sure there are gazillion of typos on my blog too. Hell, there is no doubt proof-reading is dull and boring and I too avoid it like the plaque.
Still, for a “professional” product, Games Workshop really let it slip a bit too far on that one.
#3 – My Other Dark Angels Ramblings
As noted, it took me a month of so of musing on Codex Dark Angels. Here’re some of the blog-posts I wrote on the 6th Edition Dark Angels Codex, reflecting my initial thoughts and reactions.
Having had a month or so to let the new Dark Angels Codex sink in, what do you think of it?