Dark Angels Review: Lord of War: Azrael

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Hi everyone, Michael here with the review of the Deathstar army’s Chapter Master of choice, Azrael, Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

Overview:

Azrael is a solid special character, not just in a Dark Angels army, but in any army of the Imperium. He is a decent combat character. He will chew through MEQ in combat, but his lack of Eternal Warrior makes it a risky proposition to take on other buffed characters or models that could Instant Death him. However, his main purpose is that he provides serious buffs to any unit that he joins, as well as any army that he joins. At 215 points, he is pretty expensive for a special character, but with the right army composition, he is well worth the points cost.

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Wargear:

  • Master-crafted Combi-plasma
  • Bolt Pistol
  • Frag and Krak Grenades
  • 2+ Armour save
  • Sword of Secrets- A Master-crafted Power Sword that is +2S and AP3.
  • Lion Helm- Confers a 4+ invulnerable save to Azrael, as well as any unit he joins and any vehicle he is embarked in.

Special Rules:

  • Deathwing- Fearless and Hatred (Chaos Space Marines)
  • Feel no Pain
  • Grim Resolve- Stubborn and fires overwatch at BS2.
  • Independent Character
  • Master Tactician- An army that includes Azrael adds +1 to any Seize the Initiative roll it makes.
  • Rites of Battle- All friendly models in the Dark Angels Faction can use Azrael’s Leadership in place of their own.
  • Supreme Strategist- Azrael may choose any trait from the Dark Angels Warlord Trait table.

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Tactics:

First, lets take a look at Azrael on his own. He has a Chapter Master’s stats with a 2+ armour save, 4++ and Feel no Pain. This makes him a pretty durable character in most situations, and it will actually take some dedicated firepower to kill him off or some serious potent combat ability. The biggest downside of Azrael is the lack of Eternal Warrior. For a Lord of War, this is insane, meaning that a single Lascannon shot or Sergeant with a Power Fist has chance of instant killing the Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels. As long as you keep him out of challenges with powerful combat characters or keep him in a unit to stop him being targeted, he should survive the game.

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He is armed with a Master-Crafted Combi-Plamsa, great for reducing the chance of killing yourself with it when you fire. It is decent for giving him some serious firepower in a single turn, but nothing too great.

In combat, he is actually pretty potent. On the charge, he will get six S6 attacks at AP3, and with a WS of 6, he will generally be hitting on 3’s. He is not going to take out an entire Tactical Squad on his own, but will cause a fair amount of damage and will probably win you the combat. If his power sword was AP2, he would be phenomenal, but AP2 power weapons that strike at initiative are getting rarer these days (could he not borrow Sammael’s sword once in a while?). On his own, Azrael is actually a solid character. He suffers mobility issues from not having a Bike or Jump Pack, but you could easily put him in a transport vehicle with a unit to make up for this. He is a very strong special character to lead an army.

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However, it is the buffs that Azrael provide to a unit and the army that make him such a potent Lord of War, and a favourite of Deathstar armies.

The Lion Helm is a fantastic Relic, providing a 4+ invulnerable save for Azrael and his entire unit. This obviously boosts the durability of any unit he joins and can lead to some very powerful combinations. Put him in a unit of Dark Angels Tactical Marines or Devastator Marines and he will seriously boost their survivability for the game, put him in a unit of 50 Astra Militarum Conscripts with a Priest and he creates an almost unstoppable unit. Azrael will give that unit of 50 models all a 4++. The Priest has a special Hymn that gives a re-roll to failed Invulnerable Saves. With both in combination, you have a unit of 56 wounds that has a 75% chance of stopping any wound against it (outside of full power D weapons), is Fearless and can even have the option of getting Feel no Pain (thanks to the Dark Angels Warlord Traits). There are very few armies in the game, never mind units, that will be able to put a serious dent in that unit over the course of a standard battle. Another popular option is to have him in a huge unit of Fenrisian Wolves. Azrael with the Lion Helm will boost any Deathstar unit even further without having to rely on psychic powers. You may not like Deathstar, but they are a powerful army build in the current meta, and Azrael is a big help to them.

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In addition, allowing Azrael to pick his own Warlord Trait from the Dark Angels table is a great boost as well. Using this ability, you can give a unit Feel No Pain when within 3″ of an objective, Furious Charge or +3″ to their run, turbo-boost and charge distances. You can also get a Fearless bubble for Dark Angels units and some useful reserves rolls modifications. The Feel No Pain trait is very popular, but the Furious Charge bonus can help mitigate some issues with damage output of units such as the Wolfstar (large pack of Fenrisian Wolves backed up by buff characters).

Azrael also provides any army he is included with a +1 to seize the initiative. A one in three chance of seizing is a pretty potent bonus to any army. Add in the Strategic Genius warlord trait (a further +1 to seize) or Coteaz and his re-rolls and you have an army that has a very strong chance of always going first in any game. You don’t need me to tell you that practically always going first in a game of 40k is a huge bonus, with many match ups being decided by which player gets the first turn.

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Another bonus for the Dark Angels army is that all your units get to use Azrael’s Leadership of 10 if you wish to. Space Marine units with Ld 10 and Stubborn and not going to run from a fight very often. Add in ATSKNF, and your units have little to fear from morale in combat.

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Overall, Azrael is a fantastic option for any Dark Angels army, or really any army of the Imperium. You may not like Deathstars much, but they are a potent force and expect Azrael to be featured in many of them due to the buffs that he provides.

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About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.

13 Responses to “Dark Angels Review: Lord of War: Azrael”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius January 6, 2017 8:30 am
    #

    Azrael is a boss! My first special character and one of my first 40k miniatures. He’s great as a force multiplier, I just wish he was EW and he’d really be a tier 1 special character. Instant Death is a flawed game mechanic, IMO, it makes so may otherwise rad characters and models non-starters in competitive play due to their propensity for being destroyed so easily at a high points cost.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr January 6, 2017 11:51 am
      #

      Yeah, removing instant death would make a great number of units and characters much more viable. Maybe they could limit what causes instant death, keep it for powerful S10 AP 1 or 2 weapons that are supposed to be able to obliterate a unit in one shot.

      • Reecius
        Reecius January 6, 2017 12:50 pm
        #

        Yeah, exactly. Even make it say, 2 wounds instead of all. ID just crushes so many units out of competitive play.

      • Threllen January 6, 2017 1:58 pm
        #

        I don’t mind instant death because it really helps mitigate some units like Paladins and Flesh hounds who can be sent packing by a well-aimed strong attack. Otherwise strong weapons become pretty useless against multi-wound models because they don’t get enough shots.

        But if they’re going to keep ID their should be some sort of protection for expensive characters or things like MC. A 300+ point daemon prince shouldn’t die just because a rail gun looked his way. Or a 200+ point character just because someone melta gunned him. Even worse for armies with T3 base instead of T4. Multiple times when I played DE I had asdrubael vect die because he failed his 2++ against a scatter laser.

        Maybe, like Reece said, a good solution would just to say any unsaved wound turns into two wounds (doesn’t spill over). Then it’s still slightly more powerful and will instagib two wound units but not enough to one-shot HQs or MCs.

    • MagicJuggler January 6, 2017 1:08 pm
      #

      My view is: Replace any and all auto-destroy effects that are not explicitly “remove from play” with Brutal Damage. The target automatically takes another D3 HP/wounds. If a vehicle drops to 0 HP as a result of an attack that causes this additional Brutal Damage, it explodes.

      Make Brutal Damage easier to attain, and up HP and wounds axcordingly. Make tank-busting less about rapid HP-stripping, as much as it is about some preliminary damage followed by a few solid hits.

      • Reecius
        Reecius January 6, 2017 2:05 pm
        #

        I dig it, something like that would be preferable–to me–over the all or nothing system we have with ID.

        • abusepuppy January 7, 2017 12:41 am
          #

          I feel like ID doing two wounds would feel a lot better. Although, honestly, I think what it really should be is Power Fists not doubling your strength- it’s too easy to get that S8 attack, and it’s like an absolutely mandatory requirement for any “good” combat character to be able to survive it.

  2. Innes Wilson January 6, 2017 9:20 am
    #

    Definitely one of my top 3 favourite special characters in the game!

    His effects on making Deathstars so much more survivable and flexible is truly awesome, and he’s such a great force multiplier.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr January 6, 2017 11:50 am
      #

      You and your Deathstars Innes………. 😉

      I think he is still an awesome model, it has really held up over the years.

  3. GRUNT January 6, 2017 11:45 am
    #

    Does the 4++ helm bearer die with him or does it stay attached to the unit it was assigned?

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr January 6, 2017 11:48 am
      #

      The Helm Bearer is only decorative for Azrael. He is not counted as a model for the purposes of the rules (number of hits under a blast, etc), you don’t even need to use it if you don’t want. He is removed if Azrael dies, so the unit will lose the 4++.

  4. Loofa4 January 7, 2017 5:20 am
    #

    The priest only gives the reroll sv in assault. Also, he has to pass a ld test on ld7 to get it. Still pretty good, but I find it’s often better to protect my imp guard blob with a Libby conclave.

  5. Desc440 January 7, 2017 6:34 am
    #

    Lack of mobility is the one thing that really irks me about azzy. I really wish characters always had the option to purchase a jump pack or bike. It’s not like they wouldn’t be able to requisition one whenever they wanted.