40k List-Tech: How to Win With Deathstar-Free Dark Angels

The list-tech segment is a series of articles designed to focus on unique, competitive lists crafted by players in the community in order to provide new and experienced players with tactics, tips, and tricks to use in the heat of battle. Today we have the top BAO list. Dark Angels!

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Keep calm and make a list

Today on List-Tech I will be highlighting the two most requested lists from the 2016 BAO. One of the lists will be posted here on Frontlinegaming and the other list will be posted on Bell of Lost Souls. If you would like to check out Danny Kwan’s 11th place Blood Angels army (5-1 record) and the List-Tech for it click here. Otherwise keep on reading to find out how to beat over 170 players with an uncommon Dark Angels list.

One other quick note: Check out the players Brandon had to beat to win! James Carmona won the Broadside Bash , Carlos, and Jacob were best overall in their respective factions and Geoff and Matt consistently do well at major tournaments. All in all Brandon had to go through Eldar, War Convo, CabalStar, 5 Knights, Orks, and GuardDar for the top spot.

brandons army

Brandon Grant’s Dark Angels

Lion’s Blade Strike Force

Company Master: (Warlord) Fist, Artificer Armor

Chaplain: Bike, Auspex

Tactical Squad: Rhino, Grav-Cannon,

Tactical Squad: Rhino, Multi-Melta

Tactical Squad: Razorback (HB), Heavy Bolter

Tactical Squad: Razorback (HB)

Tactical Squad: Razorback (HB)

Tactical Squad: Pod, Melta/Combi-Melta

Assault Squad: 2x Flamers, Pod

Assault Squad: 2x Flamers, Pod

Devastator Squad: Rhino, Grav-Cannon

Devastator Squad: Rhino, Grav-Cannon


Ravenwing Strike Force

Techmarine: Bike, Auspex

Ravenwing Command Squad: 5 Black Knights, Apothecary, 5 Plasma Talons, Grenade Launcher

Ravenwing Black Knight Squad: 5 Black Knights, Huntmaster, 5 Plasma Talons, Grenade Launcher

Ravenwing Darkshroud

Belt of Brandon

1. Tell us a little bit about your army, why did you go with certain units? Why did you pick this army list in particular? Is there anything special about your army that you want to highlight?

The army list isn’t particularly special looking but it does have a few tricks worth mentioning. A Dark Angels battle company has all the strengths of other battle companies, namely lots of objective secured marines, but lacks hit&run and the scout move provided by Khan in a White Scars battle company. There are some Dark Angels only bonuses which help such as stubborn, the Darkshroud stealth bubble, and overwatch at full BS. Stealth combined with the techmarine’s boltster defenses ability give some measure of additional protection while the auspexes help limit enemy cover effectiveness. Drop pods help get marines across the table, however, the Dark Angels battle company is still much slower than the White Scars version. That’s where the Ravenwing Strike Force comes in. The black knights provide competent melee threats wherever I need them on the battlefield, particularly because of their scout and outflank abilities. Many opponents must play around where the knights are (or where they could be if they’re in reserve) giving me some measure of board control. The black knights also have re-rollable jink saves, handy formation bonuses, can attach objective secured characters from the battle company, and have hit&run. It’s worth noting that the black knights are not a deathstar: they work best attacking things that don’t hurt them back as they’re actually rather fragile in melee. Attached characters can help but they’re still going to die against the scary stuff. These strengths help bring the power level of the combined army more in line with the White Scars Gladius it is superficially similar to.


2. What expectations did you have for the meta? Were there any armies you were worried about? What match-ups did you feel most comfortable with?

Nearly every army at a tournament has something that my army has to be seriously concerned about. I would roughly categorize the threats as alpha strike lists, deathstar lists, and outlast lists. Alpha strike lists would include things like marines with skyhammer, Eldar warp spider spam, and many Tau armies: all of them attempt to eliminate enemy threats as quickly as possible and avoid retaliation. Deathstars are well defined elsewhere, but generally revolve around making one or two units unkillable while hitting hard enough to destroy anything they touch. Outlast lists would include Necrons and most battle companies in my opinion: they’re not going to hurt you immediately, but they’re going to keep enough of their army alive over the course of the game to out score you when the game ends. Most lists are going to have elements from each category and might even be classified differently depending on who they’re facing. (An alpha strike list might have to play like an outlast list against a deathstar army for example.) Having a plan to deal with the various styles of play ahead of time is key as you’re nearly always going to find your bad matchups in a tournament. As for armies I felt comfortable against, that would be zero armies. While some lists are scarier than others every army can bring something that I have to worry about.

brandon v geoff

Brandon Grant vs Geoff “Incontrol” Robinson

3. How did you prepare yourself and your list for “meta” armies like Eldar varients, Battle company, and Daemon lists? Who did you beat on the way to victory at the tournament?

It definitely helps to be aware of what your list and your opponent’s list might do and the only way to do that is practice. I’m lucky to have a local gaming group in southern California to practice against who bring the pain in tournaments. I also have skilled friends with whom I can practice casually yet deliberately, taking the time to understand how various armies work and how to improve and/or deal with them.

In order of play, I faced Chris Jones’ 5 Imperial knights in an Exalted Court, Jacob Ballard’s Ork bikes with Big Mek Stompa, Geoff Robinson’s Admec with Librarius Conclave, Carlos Kaiser’s Guard/Dar with Inquisition, James Carmona’s Cyclopean Cabal with dogs and screamers, and Matt Schuchman’s Seer council with Skathach Wraithknight and scatbikes. I’m thankful that I got to play such great players and armies, it was the kind of variety, skill, and sportsmanship you hope for at these events.

4. Hindsight is 20-20 and looking back on the tournament was there anything you would have changed about your list to better accommodate the meta you experienced?

The list lacks long range fire support right now, particularly against void shields! If it becomes a problem I might shuffle points around, but I will be practicing more before finalizing serious changes. Sometimes it’s better to play around weaknesses than compromise your strengths.


5. What are some tips or tricks you have for people who might want to start using your army?

If someone were to “netlist” this army and take it for a spin they would definitely want to practice with the list first. In a tournament there isn’t time to thoroughly think things through and you have to rely on heuristics (rules of thumb) instead. A perfect example of what can go wrong was the time I charged black knights into a unit of Necron wraiths and lost the entire unit without killing a single wraith. At the time it felt like the right thing to do, but I later realized that both of us had rolled close to average and learned not to do that again. You’ll want to know ahead of time how many ripple firing double firing riptides it takes to kill your black knights to a man (~3). Or how many wyverns it takes to completely wipe out a black knight squad (~6). Or how many scatbikes it takes to get to the center of a rhino (~3). Math it out so you know if your opponent just rolled well or if that’s going to happen almost every time. You’ll know you’re getting better when things stop surprising you as often.


got a list
Did you just win an ITC event? Is your list dominating everyone it crosses? Did you just recently do well with a unique list at a large event? I want to hear about it! Just send it to
Please do not send your army list in a format such as Army Builder, send them in an easy to read, typed format. Thanks!


About Petey Pab

Aspiring 40k analyst, tournament reporter and Ultramarines enthusiast, Petey Pab only seeks to gather more knowledge about the game of 40k and share it with as many people as he can in order to unite both hobbyists and gamers. We are, after all, two sides of the same coin.

10 Responses to “40k List-Tech: How to Win With Deathstar-Free Dark Angels”

  1. Avatar
    Dakkath August 1, 2016 1:02 am #

    The question on everyone’s mind: Where does the fist master go?

    • Avatar
      Morollan August 1, 2016 3:29 am #

      In a porn film?

      • Avatar
        AngryPanda August 1, 2016 8:16 am #

        There is no wrong place to put that fist.

    • Avatar
      Brandon August 1, 2016 7:34 am #

      Long answer: in a drop pod, with reserved bikes, or even outflanking scouts. His job is either to tank ap3 ignores cover for the bikes, add obsec to bikes, or pick on backfield units with an assault squad.

      Short answer: wherever he needs to go.

  2. Avatar
    Vercingatorix August 1, 2016 4:31 am #

    That was some really great advice at the end with the heuristics. You really do have to do a lot of “Gut-feeling” decisions and it pays to have that gut feeling decided based on doing the math in practice games. I know I’ve definitely seen that play out in tournaments with something completely average happening and either me or my opponent being surprised.

  3. Avatar
    donthemagnificent August 1, 2016 8:19 am #

    Awesome job Pablo! Keep these coming. Congratulations to Brandon on his success.

  4. Avatar
    Heldericht August 1, 2016 8:58 am #

    Love these List-tech articles, excellent work Pablo! This one in particular was quite insightful. Brandon seems like a very intelligent and articulate player. He played a really diverse and difficult group of top tier armies and players.

    A tournament win that didn’t rely on bamboozling the field with an unexpected list, but solid tactical footing and knowledge. Very well deserved victory.

  5. Avatar
    Kolobius August 1, 2016 10:15 am #

    “If someone were to “netlist” this army and take it for a spin they would definitely want to practice with the list first.”
    I have played my DA with a list similar a few times and had the same results. Win some, lose some. Most of the losses are from when I was unfamiliar with my opponent’s army or I was not focused on the game all the time.
    In my opinion playing this type of list of DA is one of the best competitive all comers.

  6. Avatar
    JJ November 27, 2016 10:11 am #

    I am curious about the choice of Rhinos over Razorbacks. Being that the Lion’s Blade grants free transports, and each unit is not more than 5 strong what advantage do the Rhinos have over the Razorbacks? Do Razor backs not have the firing ports that Rhinos do? What am I missing here?

    • Avatar
      Alexandre November 30, 2016 6:45 am #

      Unfortunatly the Razorback has no firing ports.

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