Dark Angels Combos: Post FAQ, New ITC, and you

Things have certainly been shaken up for the first legion since their Psychic Awakening came out. It was the best of times, it was the worst of…. Wait. Wrong book. Anyways, let’s take a look at how Dark Angels can roll with the times. For more awesome tactical content, check out the Tactics Corner!

Ok. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

Games Workshop nerfed our super doctrine, in that it will only be active turn one now. So, those builds which were looking to maximize the extra range we got are now gone. While I don’t feel this was necessary (and perhaps GW should revise the DA super Doctrine now), it is also not a huge loss, especially when compared to everything else the first legion has gained.

So let’s focus on that and combos we can now do.

The Make-Iron-Hands-Players-Weep-At-What-They-Can-No-Longer-Do Combos

Iron Hands had a great ability to let them move and shoot heavy weapons without penalty. They still do have this, but as it is tied to the Devastator Doctrine, they now get it only on turn one. DA have two ways to accomplish this, neither of which is tied to their doctrines.

First up is the Chaplin with Stoic Prosecution.

Every one of your Chaplin’s gets this in addition to any other litanies they know. Save CP for re-rolling this shout if need be, as DA cannot take Master of Sanctuary chaplains. A base Chaplin is 72 pts.

Units that can combo with this bubble:

  • Intercessors with Stalker Bolt Rifles
  • Tactical Squads with Heavy Weapons
  • Scouts with Sniper rifles / Heavy Weapons
  • Terminators with a heavy weapon
  • Devastator Squads
  • Eliminators
  • Hellblasters with Heavy Plasma Incinerators

Let’s take a look at a few things we can do here

Trying to make Terminators work

197 points nets you 5 Deathwing Terminators with a Cyclone Missile Launcher, if going bare bones. With two CML, 4 Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields, and 6 pairs of Lightning claws you have a unit that can threaten at range while moving up the board. This will run you 498 points – which is a lot. 570 points when you factor the Chaplin in.

Defensively, we can make them +1 Toughness via a strat as well -1 to hit via a psychic power. Getting an Ancient with the Pennant of Remembrance nearby too will give them a 5+++ feel no pain save.

Offensively, you can do some serious damage with this unit. Deep strike them, and then spend 3CP for Deathwing Assault to fire immediately. You can burn another CP on Fury of the First to make them hit on 2’s. Spend it again in your shooting phase and you have 4 shots with the CML, hitting on 2’s, re-rolling 1’s.

If you don’t want to go the shooting route, a Melee focused one could be viable as well. Same loadout as above, but we drop the two CLM’s. This brings the squad down to 362 points. We are going to try and combo with the Deathwing Ancient again as well as Asmodai. We will give the Ancient the Warlord trait Lay Low the Mighty. Asmodai is shouting the Canticle of Hate, for the +2 on charges. This lets you have a 7″ charge out of deep strike, and with a CP re-roll, or the Combined Assault strat can really make your charges accurate. Both the Ancient and Asmodai give the terminators +1 attack, which means your base terminators have 5 attacks on the charge, and 6 for the sergeant. We can also use Fury of the First to give them +1 to hit.

So, breaking that unit down…

That is 21 Thunder hammer attacks, hitting on 3’s, and 36 Lightning Claw attacks hitting on 2’s. The Claws will always get to re-roll wounds, while the hammers can vs anything with 8+ wounds or are characters. Honestly, you don’t really need the Lay Low the Mighty trait, but it’s added insurance.

These combos takes a lot of work and resources to do, but it can certainly be an effective punch. Is it good enough to make termies viable again? That is to be seen, but it certainly makes them playable.

In the New ITC format, this unit could give up 1 Marked for Death point or 1 Reaper point.

Revisiting Hellblasters

Hellblasters were the go-to unit for Dark Angels players at first, able to put out a fair bit of hurt with their plasma guns. Most people would take them with the Plasma Incinerator variant, to try and get 20 shots at 15″. Using the Weapons From the Dark Age stratagem, they could get, on overcharge, pushed up to str 8 and 3 damage per shot. Pretty deadly.

This unit has fallen out of favor for a few reasons.

It’s expensive (330 points), easy to kill, needs to get closer than it wants for max damage, and has a nasty habit of killing themselves when rolling a 1 to hit. If you want to mitigate that, then you need a Master to baby sit, or they can’t move.

Now, the Incinerator variant has your typical plasma profile, Str 7, ap -4 and 1 damage. If you overcharge, that increases to Str 8 and 2 damage.

The Heavy Plasma Incinerator starts at Str 8, although still only one damage. Overcharge pushes it to Str 9 and 2 damage. It is also a 36″ range gun. This means, turn one, they have a threat range of 48″. Of course, turn 2 and on your are forced to lose your Chapter Doctrine trait, so you lose 6″ of threat. Still, a 42″ or even 36″ threat range is decent. Being Str 8 also means you do not always need to overcharge, which lessens the times you blow yourself up.

Finally, the Chaplain gives you some play. In times when you don’t need to move, putting a +1 to hit, or +1 to wound closest target on the squad can make them that much more deadly.

On the Defensive side, they gained access to Trans-human Physiology, which on top of their potential -2 to hit can make them fairly hard to shift at range.

Is this enough to make them completely viable again? Maybe, but I do think the Heavy version has some serious play now. Like the Terminators before them, they will give up 1 Marked for Death point or 1 Reaper point.


Intercessors are simply good.

With their standard bolt rifles, they don’t need the Stoic Prosecution bubble, but they do like being able to move, double tap at full range, and get to re-roll 1’s to hit.

Where the interesting play comes in then is with the Stalker variant. Full 10 man squad runs you 170 points, able to 10 str 4, ap -2, 2 damage shots down range. Those add up pretty quickly. Add in re-rolling 1’s to hit, and their 3 CP Target Sighted strat to snipe at a character, and a few units of these are nothing to scoff at. With the nerf to Iron Hands now, these may even be easy to acquire second hand. Like the Hellblasters above, they can benefit from a +1 to hit or wound bonus if they don’t need to move.

The Ravenwing Combos

Much like the above Stoic Prosecution ability, Ravenwing also got a Warlord trait, Implacable Mobility, to let them have a move-and-ignore-heavy-weapon-penalty bubble for Raven guard units.

Ravenwing units love this, as previously it was holding them back a fair bit. Units that can make use of this are:

  • Talonmasters
  • Sammael of both variants
  • Attack Bike squads
  • Bike squads
  • Land speders
  • Dark shroud
  • Vengeance
  • Dark Talon
  • Nephilm

Those above in Blue also have the Vehicle keyword, and so can also make use of the Big Guns Never Tire Strat if they need to split off.

Let’s take a look at a few things that really gained from this

Talonmasters: They were once good, now they are Great

Coming in with only Heavy Weapons, Talonmasters (TMS) are prime candidates for benefiting from this. TMS are also perfect for putting this trait on in the first place. Having a set of un-target-able characters sitting back, sniping away with Assault Cannons and Heavy Bolter shots can be quite annoying. Putting Sammael also nearby to give them full re-rolls makes them make the most of their BS 3+.

Being that they are 6 wounds each, even taking three of these means they will only give up one Big Game Hunter point between them.


Landspeeders to me were always iconic Space Marine and Iconic Ravenwing. In previous editions, while not always being the best of units, they were rather playable. 8th hit them hard. But with the ability to move and fire heavy freely, they make have a place back now…

A single speeder with a Typhoon Missile Launcher and Heavy Bolter clocks in at 87 points. A full squad of five at 435. Whilst not the most competitive build, these are a nice harassment unit that if left unchecked can put some serious hurt on the enemy. With a movement of 16″, or 20″ if taken as a unit of three or more, they have the ability to out range a lot of targets and backline to harass. With the High Speed Focus Strat too, they can pick up their Jink 4++ save without advancing.

The Planes

The unique planes of the First Legion are very similar in their stats and special rules. Both are Toughness 6, with 10 wounds a a starting BS of 3+. If they target a target that cannot fly, they get +1 to hit.

The Darktalon has two Hurricane Bolters, a Rift Cannon (Str 10, ap -3, 3 damage, and a chance to do extra mortals), and a once-per-game bomb. It can also elect to hover for 185 points.

The Nephilim has an Avenger Mega Bolter (str 6, ap -1, 1 damage), a Twin Heavy bolter, and Blacksword Missiles (Str 7, ap -3, 2 damage) for 142 points. It can elect to trade the Avenger Mega Bolter for a Twin Lascannon for an extra 5 points.

Of the two, I like the Nephilim much more. Either variant is fine, depending on what role you need it to do. Keeping it in range of Implacable Mobility will be rather tricky, but when it’s not, it can pick up Big Guns Never Tire to make it shoot just as efficiently. If you really wanted an airwing of these, and the bubble to run them in, you could use a Ravenwing Champion and advance them each turn to get that 20″ move. But that is probably not the best use of the trait.

Playing to the ITC Secondaries

DA have a few interesting options to play towards the secondary missions in the ITC.

First up, we have Postman.

The Postman: Select a single model from your army that does not have the Vehicle, Monster or Titanic (with the exception of Imperial Knights and Chaos Knights which may be made The Postman) keywords to be The Postman (this model can be in a unit). This model may choose to gather intel on an Objective within 3” that you control at the end of your turn. You may only gather intel from each objective once per game. Earn 1pt per objective you gather intel from. If at the end of the game you have gathered intel from every objective on the table, you automatically score all 4pts.

My first thought: a 60 point Ravenwing Apothecary. Let it pick up some easy points for you whilst being un-target-able and it can even advance for a 20″ move and still do it’s job of healing if need be.

Second mission that jumps out at me is another new one, Born for Greatness.

Born for Greatness: Pick one of your single model Character units. This unit gains 1pt for accomplishing each of the following objectives up to a total of 4pts. Each objective can only be achieved once per game.

Destroy an enemy unit that does not have the Character keyword.
Destroy an enemy unit that has the Character keyword.
Deny an enemy Psychic Power.
Hold an objective outside of your deployment zone.
Heroically intervene into an enemy unit.
Begin and end a Battle Round wholly within your opponent’s deployment zone.

This one is a bit more situational, but I see it on a Deathwing Character that you give the Watched Warlord trait to. That Trait allows you to auto deny a psychic power. And there is one point. DS him onto an objective outside your deployment zone and there is another point. I’d probably do this on a smash master to try and pick up a kill for another point and potentially being within the opponents deployment zone as well. This is not for every match up, but it can be a good one in certain match ups.

Finally, King of the Hill.

King of the Hill: At the end of their turn, the player who chose this secondary objective scores 1 point if they have two units that are any combination of non-character, multi-model units or units with the Titanic keyword wholly within 9 inches of the center of the table. Beginning in the second battle round, if the player who chose this secondary has four or more qualifying units wholly within 9 inches of the center of the table, that player instead scores 2 points. ‘Multi-model unit’ means a unit that consisted of more than a single model immediately prior to the start of the game.

Dark Angels can make some fairly tough infantry lists to move up to the center of the board and hold it. Capitalizing on this, you could easily push up for King of the Hill, and by Turn 2 already have three points to it.

Bonus Thought: How to fix the Super Doctrine

From the very start I thought this was an odd doctrine. Whilst in the Dev doctrine, you got all these bonuses to other weapons types…

While I love and applaud the forced move through the Doctrines now, and it certainly helps to curtail the IH and IF lists out there that abused it, it unnecessarily hurt DA in my opinion.

If GW were to ask me how to correct this, I would do as follows:

In the Devestator Doctrine, Heavy Weapons get their range increased by 6″

In the Tactical Doctrine, Rapid fire have their range increased by 6″, and assault by 3″

In the Assault Doctrine, Pistols and Grenade weapons have their range increased by 3″.

Maybe, I can hope GW will address this, but as it stands now, the DA Super Doctrine is only active turn one and is much more limited in scope as such than IH or IF are by theirs.

And so there we have it. A few combos the First Legion can pull. Not all of them, but some that jumped out to me right off the bat. What other combos have you found?

Thanks for reading, and happy Wargaming!

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



3 Responses to “Dark Angels Combos: Post FAQ, New ITC, and you”

  1. Avatar
    Carlos March 8, 2020 1:48 pm #

    Great article and insights and I do hope they change the super doctrine to what you recommended as it would make it useful again.

    One thing that I think you may have overlooked is the Ravenwing Warlord Trait Tactical Flexibility.

    “Once per battle, at the start of the battle round, you can select a combat doctrine that is not currently active. Until the end of that battle round, when resolving an attack made by a model in a friendly RAVENWING unit within 6″ of this Warlord, you can treat the chosen doctrine as being active instead of the currently active doctrine.”

    This will give your Ravenwing Moving Castle an extra turn of Devastator Doctrine. It does mean you will need another Character besides Sammael to give this to but I think combining this with Impeccable mobility will be well worth it (and an extra Talonmaster never goes astray).

  2. Faitherun
    Faitherun March 10, 2020 3:55 am #

    Hey Carlos, glad you enjoyed it mate.

    I do think there is some play in the Tactical Flexibilit trait. However, it’s limited to one RW unit. It could be useful, but I think other traits edge it out.

    I’m still a proponent of azriel, and letting him be your wl for cp regen and an extra cp. At that point, you only have one more trait to give, and I think other traits are more useful.

    Not saying it can’t be used, and certainly has some play in a full faven wing list.

    • Avatar
      Carlos March 12, 2020 5:25 pm #

      I’m fairly certain it is not limited to one unit otherwise it would be like some of the litanies where it would say “pick a unit and that unit has Dev doctrine for the rest of the turn”.

      This reads the Warlord declares Dev doctrine at the start of the battle round (lasting for the battle round) and any Ravenwing unit within 6″ can use Dev doctrine instead of the current doctrine that is active. Essentially the Warlord has a Dev doctrine aura for Ravenwing units for a turn.

      The CP regen strat is always a good second trait to use (or first if you aren’t running any Ravenwing) and that will always be a given but if you are running a Ravenwing castle or even just Sammael and 2 to 3 Talonmasters, an extra round of Dev doctrine will make a huge difference.

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