Dark Angels Deathwing – A Review

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Following on from my review of Codex Dark Angels a few days ago I thought I’d follow it up with a kit that has got more than a few people yapping. I refer to, of course, the Deathwing Terminator box…

m2990106a_99120101096_DeathwingXtBox_873x627Now the first thing is that the box gives you enough plastic to make either a Deathwing Command Squad, a Deathwing Terminator Squad or the new, shiny, and the much lusted after Deathwing Knights. That’s three sprues crammed with lots and lots of bits and pieces. That includes two lots of shoulder pads, two lots of torso front halves and lots of weapons and very shiny command squad components including a 3D banner.


Now if you’re the sort of gamer that likes to keep their models simple then the Dark Angels and especially the Deathwing may not be for you. Every surface is crammed with detail. Wings, cloaked figures and swords litter every surface. Even the barrel recesses of the assault cannon have Deathwing swords.

There will be those that don’t like this seemingly limitless upchuck of Imperial and Dark Angel iconography but it is canonical as the Dark Angels are all about demonstrating their loyalty to the Imperium, all the while hunting down the traitorous brethren. Even the exhaust vents on the back half of the bodies have intrados like church windows. And, I have to be honest, it’s those simple touches that go a long way to making the Deathwing kit awesome. Aside from all the overt awesome features.

You also get a healthy range of weapons which are equally decorated and due to the flexibility of the kit the storm bolters, for the first time, aren’t attached to arms. This does mean, should the mood so take you, you can have your Deathwing Terminators looking pretty gangsta.

It’s hard not to marvel (and be slightly overwhelmed) by the sheer amount of detail on each of the components. Yes it may be a little over the top in places. In others it’s ludicrously over the top. But every component was sculpted by someone who embraced what it means to be a Dark Angel and a member of the Deathwing. There’s also lots of nice little touches that suggest that these suits of Terminator armour were some of the first of their kind possessing design features that hark back to the Horus Heresy or just after. This is an extremely cool touch. Apart from the studs on the groinal area is a bit much though.


There is, however, a bit of a design fault. The back half of the torso is the part of the model where the shoulder mounts go atop, which you glue the arms of your choice to the Terminator. The arms on the standard Terminators have a recess that allows you to, essentially, slide on the arm which ensures a good bond and keeps the arms nice and close to the body. With the Deathwing, however,  the raised are on the back half is there but the recess on the arms isn’t. They’re flat which means there’s a gap.

There’s also nothing to stop the arm from slipping out-of-place. This is not only going to add to build time as you’ll have to make sure the arm is set before moving on, but will most likely lead to mistakes, especially if you’re the kind of gamer who just likes to get em built and get em on the board. In fact, if you look at the images above, and the one below.


It just makes the Deathwing look a bit…slopey shouldered. This could be how they’ve been built but it proves the point that unless you get the positioning exactly right or trim down the raised parts of the torso. The shoulders themselves are also wider than normal so, once the pauldrons are stuck on they appear blockier than they otherwise should. However I rather feel like the arms were designed for the Deathwing Knights as the bulkier bodies means they need slightly wider arms so the shoulder pads don’t get in the way. Plus they’re far less noticeable for the same reason.


The Deathwing Knights have gotten a lot of attention within the community because they’re a new unit, with new rules and big sticks of smiting. They also look fucking awesome. If the monastic aspect of the Dark Angels wasn’t apparent enough, it is with these bad boys. They all look hard as nails with the aforementioned sticks of smiting – which is probably the coolest weapon I’ve seen in a while – and their flashy storm shields. The cowled heads are immense, especially the dude with the Osmotic Gill, and add a touch of menace. Except for the Knight Master, he looks a little daft, but that’s as much to do with the pose.

The big fat downside to the kit – and specifically the Deathwing Knights – is that the flexibility has come at the cost of versatility. You can only have your Deathwing Knights in one pose – slight moving of arms up and down aside – because the heads are attached to the bodies and the bodies don’t allow for any repositioning because the tabards get in the way. The result will be that if you choose to take more than 5 in an army they’ll be looking near identical. Admittedly there’s only so much variety with other plastic Terminators but I’ve got 55 in my Ultramarines army and I’ve managed to make them all look different, albeit slightly. Plus, you only get 4 maces in a Deathwing box which means if you choose to take a squad of 10 you’ll have to do a conversion because you can’t take two flails of absolution. Not being funny or anything but that was a bit thick of the Games Workshop. Plus everyone’s Deathwing Knight squads are going to look roughly identical, which is a bit of a shame.

Personally, if money was no object for them as a business and me as a customer I would have liked to have seen the Deathwing Squad as one box and the Command/Deathwing Knight squad as another. I think it would have allowed for far more diverse kits with the iconography ramping up depending on how senior the members of the Deathwing are. It’d also leave room enough on the sprues for a sufficient number of weapons and a bit more flexibility. Weirdly, by cramming so much in they’ve made them less multipart and more like push-togethers.

One thing I’m not entirely sold on is the Watcher that comes with the set. Now I understand that he’s to bear the perfidious relic into combat – which you’re mental not to take – but unless Mammas and Pappas survive to see the 41st millennium and are making suits of Power Armour Junior I really struggle to see why the model is sculpted with a power armoured foot poking out of the bottom.

Conversion wise, there’s a lot of potential. There are lots of options and spare odds and sods that can be used for other things. Lop off the arm of the plasma cannon and, with a little patience, you can convert it with a regular marine to spice up a tactical squad. And if you have the patience of a saint and the hands of a surgeon you can carefully scrape away all the iconography on the Knights and they would look awesome in a Black Templars army or, and this is where my thinking is, in a Chaos army. Especially for the likes of the Word Bearers, Thousand Sons and my (in development) Dark Knights.

It’s a great kit with lots of options. If you want Dark Angels but don’t want the bangles and baubles then get the standard boxes because they will put you off. There is a lot going on with these models. Personally, as I’ve always been a…ahem…closet Dark Angels fan I’m not afraid of it. The models are brilliant and capture a lot of the theatre that made the Blood Angels Terminators in the Space Hulk box so good.

The Deathwing box is available from Firestorm Games priced £31.50.

Shell Case Shorts Contribution

Way back in May I proposed the question that if I were to write something for the Shell Case Shorts Anthology, what would it be. I let my readers decide with a poll. The majority wanted a Warhammer 40,000 story with 25% of the vote. So without further a do I give you…


Orias stood in the lee of a gargantuan dockyard crane, shrouded in shadows, as it went about the arduous task of unloading hundreds of tonnes of raw materials for the never-ceasing manufactorums that covered the surface of Equinox. The onboard systems of the bulk freighter he had stowed aboard had informed him that he was at the South Luminus dockyards, the most South Westerly point of the planet’s capital of Obsidian. At its heart lay the imposing yet ornate palace and the seat of power for the world and the sparsely populated mining colonies established the orbiting moons.

Orias had been on the move for the best part of three years having fled the Goagothan system, hopping one freighter or another, bartering passage or using good old-fashioned intimidation to gain passage. He changed ships at every translation point or layover in an effort to evade the attentions of his pursuers and their allies. For all the times he’d made similar journey’s all over the galaxy, a destination had always presented itself as if through divine intervention. This time was no different.

He had heard rumours surrounding the Forge World of Equinox as he’s travelled through the subsector. It’s  prodigious production rates, non-existent crime and string of unremarkable yet efficient planetary governors. There weren’t many worlds outside of Ultramar or the Sol system that could boast those claims. It seemed ripe for his needs and to provide him with enough minds to veil him from the psychic scouring of his enemies.

However, as he travelled every closer to Equinox he heard troubling tales of dark giants and people disappearing in the night. Although a Chaos cult dabbling in low summonings would impact on his plans it wasn’t the first time he had to crush an uprising before inciting his own.

As Orias moved through the alleys of Obsidian, occasionally scaling up buildings and darting across hab block roof tops he realised he would have to move quickly to solidify a base of followers. If law enforcement was as stringent as he suspected, it wouldn’t take long for them to respond and they would crush his insurrection before it began.

Spying a small run down chapel calling the faithful to prayer, Orias carefully crept into the building via a collapsed roof section. He lurked in the shadows as the minister, dressed in a simple grey garment akin to that of a serf, shut the doors and moved to the pulpit at the rear of the shabby, damp smelling building. The chapel was poor, devoid of even the most basic of Imperial iconography. Even the pulpit was a plinth of simple parawood. Orias reached out and locked the door before breaking from the gloom and striding purposefully up the aisle, black robes billowing as he moved.

At first he went unnoticed such was the deadly silence with which he moved. The minister spotted him first and his fear almost out paced his outrage but Orias was on him before he could make a sound. He lifted the priest by the throat, letting the old man dangle, legs flailing as he pulled hopelessly at Orias’ iron hard grip.

‘Brothers and sisters,’ He said to the stunned congregation. ‘You have been living a lie. The Emperor does not love you. He cares not for your woes. He only cares for power and conquest.’ The crowd erupted in to chaos. Orias smiled to himself. Always the same.
‘I know this brothers and sisters,’ His voice easily cut through the noise, ‘Because I have strode alongside him and saw his heart.’ He crushed the throat of the priest and let him fall limply to the floor to emphasise the point. ‘I know the true path. Walk it with me and be granted immortality.’

The congregation bolted at once, all of them rushing for the firmly locked door, the key of which was buried within Orias’ robes. He sighed. He had misjudged their fealty. Even the poorest of sanctuaries can breed devotion. As the first of the citizens reached the locked doors Orias was amongst them, crushing throats and skulls with monstrous hands, shattering sternums and pulping organs with kicks and jabs. All fifty of them were dead in less than three minutes. Orias’ took in the carnage he had wrought, the viscera and matter splattered walls and the blood staining his hands. He breathed in the smell of blood as he felt his metabolism return to normal. As the battle fury subsided he realised the screams would have attracted attention. He had to move.


Orias had travelled to every corner of the city preaching his sermons to the masses. Wherever people congregated he tried to win them to his cause. He’d even tracked down small groups of cultists who were performing their own form of occult worship. Even they rejected him and he was forced to butcher them as he couldn’t risk detection. Only his super human abilities had kept him ahead of the Obsidian authorities but even now he felt like they were closing in on him. It had been three months since arriving on Equinox. Three months with nothing but failure and a string of corpses that followed him like a grizzly trail. If he could not muster some form of support from the masses, at least enough for a distraction so he could seize direct control from the planetary governor, he would have to move on. Too much time had been wasted and to wait any longer would risk detection from his enemies.

He stood in the shadow of a hulking fabricator plant waiting. Heat bled from the plasteel walls and the sky above was a dirty, soot filled, haze chased with the organge of furnaces that never slept and endlessly produced weapons of war. This would be his last endeavour on Equinox. If he could not rally support here in the manufactorum districts, crammed full of exhausted and exploited workers, then he would make all speed back to the docks and jump the first freighter off world.

A klaxon sounded, echoing around the densely packed factories signalling the end of the day shift. Massive ceramite doors, adorned with a heavily stylised badge of the machine cult, ground open and thousands of dirty, grime streaked, workers were released from their bondage for a few short hours of rest and food. Fatigue weary eyes watched blankly as the night shift trudged past them, their overalls clean and pressed, their faces and souls yet to be sullied.

Orias stepped from the shadows into the densest part of the throng and spread his arms wide, using the natural acoustics of the cramped environment to amplify his voice.

‘Workers hear me,’ He cried, ‘Hear me and know that you are not slaves. Hear me and know that you can be free.’ At first no one listened. No heads turned. No one stopped. ‘Brothers and sisters of Equinox rise up with me and break your shackles of bondage. Cast down those that would repress you. Cast down the false God. Be free.’

As the paused he realised that he had drawn a crowd at last but they weren’t listening with intent or curiosity, it was fear. But not for him. Their eyes were skywards, scanning the tops of buildings. Whimpering could be heard amongst the crowd. Orias’ own eyes drifted upwards but he couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary; the buildings were like any other in the Imperium. Then he caught the slightest movement. His gene-enhanced vision focussed and he began to pick out details. Familiar details began to resolve and he felt something close to fear grip. He froze as he began to discern more and more shapes. For what felt like an age he stared out in the darkness watching and waiting. Then he ran.


The workers had scattered, screaming with fear but not for him, for the creatures that descended the sides of buildings with agility that far belied their size and bulk. The screams echoed round the buildings and from nowhere monstrous winged creatures took to the sky on trails of flame. They screeched their irritation before descending on the workers, scooping up bodies in jaws and talons.

Arms and legs pistoning, Orias pounded through the streets, cutting through every alley and side passage he could find in an attempt to throw off his attackers but wherever he went he would just catch on of them in his peripheral vision and then they were gone. Long enough to let him know they were closing on him, not long enough to get a clear view. They were toying with him.

He rounded a corner as one of his attackers dropped in front of him. His super human mind took everything in within moments. It was a space marine clad in mkIV power armour painted in dark grey and black with livery he had never seen before. He bore no trophies or other iconography, not even an Imerial Aquila. A cold realisation started to form at the back of his mind but he didn’t have time to process it. He leapt and swung out with his elbow, putting all his mass behind it, and slammed it into the visor of the space marine. The front of the helmet crumpled and the vision lenses cracked. Pain flared in Orias’ arm as he felt his elbow fracture. He was under no illusion, in his unarmoured state he was no match for the space marines, whomever they were, but he was more agile. Spinning past the space marine as it blindly reached out for him he continued his flight towards the docks.

For what felt like hours Orias led the mysterious space marines on a chase through the city. At one point he let himself believe he had lost them only to find three waiting round a corner. As he left the industrial district and found himself on a massive bridge that lead directly to the docks he knew this would be his last chance to make for a freighter and escape Equinox for good. Giving up all subterfuge Orias ran for the docks. All around him the citizens of Obsidian scattered in all directions, screaming in terror. It was only when a shadow briefly passed over him that Orias realised they weren’t afraid of him.

A space marine dropped in front of him with effortless grace, a cloak as black as night billowing around him, casting out the light and casting everything nearby into shadow. His armour was coloured in the same grey and black on his was far more ornate and his helm possessed two horns that speared straight upwards. Orias faltered, transfixed by the pure fury that was held in check by an unbending will.

‘None shall pass.’ Said the warrior just as Orias became aware of two more figures behind him before everything went black.


The prisoner was tossed to the ground like so much meat, skin slapping against marble and reverberating against the dimmed armaplas windows of the throne room. However for all the bruises, welts and cuts that covered his body there was no hiding the imposing, transhuman, form of a space marine. He lay there for a moment breathing heavily before he gradually drew himself up into a kneeling crouch. Dark piercing eyes stared at his captors with the hatred born of a life time of betrayals. Malakai, lord of Equinox and chapter master of the Dark Knights cared not. He had seen similar looks from far greater foes before he’d ended their miserable lives.

He rose from his ornate golden throne, marching across the sparsely populated audience chamber atop the Governor’s palace and came a halt before the prostrate form, two of his personal retinue stood on either side, crude, heavy bladed power axes held in their hands ready to meat out violence at the merest gesture from their lord. Malakai’s own blade, Niktwingh, pulsed in his hand, the creature forged within its blade twitched as it sensed fresh, free-flowing, blood.

‘On your feet.’ Malakai commanded.

The space marine considered resisting. He could see the defiance in him. And something more. Something that suggested that he was far more accustomed to giving orders in a chamber such as this than taking them. The space marine rose on unsteady, bruised, scab covered legs. The wobble was a feint. A ruse to give the impression he was weakened and bowed. Malakai was no fool and the gifts of his Primarch went far beyond the physical. Scions of the Night Haunter hunted with far more than their eyes and ears. To prove the point Malakai’s gauntleted hand shot out and struck the space marine. The warriors training asserted itself, any pretence of frailty gone, as he rolled with the punch that would have otherwise shattered even his gene-enhanced bones. He immediately made for the counter move. The axe haft was pressed around his neck dragging him back to the cold, hard, floor before the space marine could fully form a fist.

Malakai stood in front of the man as he thrashed against the unnatural strength of the warriors that held him.

‘Now we have dispensed with the theatrics,’ He said staring down at him, the warriors image reflected in the cold opalescent lenses of Malakai’s helm, ‘You can explain who you are and what you are doing on my world.’

The space marine relaxed and with an imperceptible nod from Malakai was released. He got to his feet once more, this time with all the strength and confidence befitting a being such as he.

‘My name is Orias and I seek sanctuary.’

Malakai’s laugh was not a pleasant sound. It was as much to do with its cruelty as its rare occurrence.

‘I don’t know what amuses me more,’ Sneered Malakai, ‘The fact that you lie or that you would think me ignorant to who you really are. Dark Angel.’

Orias winced. ‘I am no Dark Angel.’

‘Indeed,’ Said Malakai, ‘I have fought both with and against the sons of the Lion in my long life and never once did they scrape and beg and deceive like a child caught in the pantry. Even when they faced defeat they did so with their back straight and heads held high.’ Malakai’s piercing gave turned away. ‘You possess no such qualities.’

‘You know of what I am?’ Orias couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice.

‘Coward and a traitor to your brothers? Yes, Dark Angel, I know what you are.’

It took all of Orias’ control not launch himself at Malakai. The space marine knew his life would be over in an instant.

‘You speak of treachery yet you threw off your bounds of loyalty to the Emperor and even your traitor-bastard Primarch. You are a traitor of the worst breed.’

Malakai could sense Orais’ desire to goad him, to provoke a confrontation, but he knew better.

‘What would you know of our gene-father?’ Malakai scoffed.

‘I know that only the whelps of the Konrad Curze know of the tortures you inflicted upon me.’

Malakai made no effort to deny it. ‘We remain true to our oathes. Our Primarch betrayed his father for selfish, petty, reasons and broke with his own teachings. We hold true to those words and minister judgement and justice to those that prey on the weak. This Imperium was not the Emperor’s vision and we work to bring about its undoing for His sake and the sake of the people. We do not make war against the Emperor, coward, we make war that grow fat in His name.’

Malakai returned to his throne and gestured for his warriors to leave the room. They dutifully turned on their heels and marched from the chamber, their grey and black armour shimmering in the glow of the luminorbs that lined the room.

‘Yet you consort with the Ruinous powers.’ Orias jabbed an accusing finger at the blade in Malakai’s hand. Malakai nodded slowly.

‘We have been forced, over the centuries, to make certain bargains to ensure our survival. We offer them a tithe in souls and flesh and blood. In return they lend us a measure of their strength so we may make war.’

‘And you believe that is all, I have seen the true-’

‘Face of the warp,’ Malakai waved a dismissive hand. ‘Yes, yes, you are not the first of your kind to come here by accident or foolishly seeking sanctuary.
You think because we are not of the Imperium that we are of Chaos and welcome scum like you with open arms?’ Malakai scoffed. ‘Members of our ranks do consort with the daemonic but that is the price we pay.’ Malakai sighed, momentarily the weight of the galaxy resting briefly on his shoulders, before he straightened and continued. ‘How little you understand of the galaxy. And how easily you think your erstwhile kin give up the hunt for you.’

Orias’ features wrinkled in confusion as a cold knot of something approximating fear settled in his stomach. He had been sure the world’s population would have hidden his psychic spark in the warp. Perhaps the attentions of his captors had caused his tortured soul to burn brighter than ever.

He had endured torture the likes of which he had never known. Only the scions of Night Haunter knew pain like that. They had kept him on the edge of death for two days before they asked him the first question. With dozens of small incisions across his abdomen he had been trussed up, ankles and wrists bound together behind his back. As the flesh of his stomach slowly ripping open, he had been presented with his ancient suit of power armour that had been, Orias thought, perfectly concealed. The question was simple, and was the only one that mattered. His captors knew everything else. ‘What are you doing here?’ He answered as his guts had finally spilled from his stomach in slimy ropes and he’d loss consciousness. Reality had swam back into focus as he was presented to the Lord of what he’d learned to be the Dark Knights.

‘Our scryers detected a large fleet moving through the warp towards the Equinox system as you arrived on my world.’ Malakai had returned to his throne and thumped at the arm rest. ‘The hard edges of the minds aboard could only belong to the sons of the Lion. You have brought unwelcome attention on us, scum. But you are fortunate that the death I would give you would do nothing to deter the fleet that hunts you. They would land here and we would be outed and our work undone.’ The massive chamber doors, carved with rampant chimeras, swung open and Malakai’s retinue returned in force. ‘This I cannot allow, so you will leave this place, we will make good your escape and in exchange for your life you will give us your silence.’

Orias couldn’t react in time. Four of the retinue, hulking brutes with horns sprouting from shoulder pauldrons and helms, pinned him to the ground, effortlessly restraining his un-armoured form. A fifth drew a cruel ceremonial blade and with practised ease sliced Orias’ tongue from his mouth. The scream that shook the room was of pure frustration. Pain was nothing to an astartes. Malakai knew what he was taking from the fallen Angel. His pride, his dignity. And to flaunt the fact that his millennia of cowering and scuttling in shadows had led him to this. Malakai knew the humiliation would be too much for his martial soul to bear.

The Chosen warriors released Orias leaving him to dribble blood into the white marble as his immune system responded and sealed the wound whilst flooding his body with pain killers. He glowered at Malakai unable to give voice to his rage. The chest containing his armour was unceremoniously dumped in front of him, the black paint long scuffed of its sheen.

‘Prepare yourself Orias of the Dark Angels, you have a long way to travel.’

Malakia smiled behind is helm as he left the throne room, black cloak billowing. The silence would make the Angel reflect inwards, Malakai knew. It might even make him repent. But one thing Malakai was certain of; by journey’s end the Angel would wish Malakai given him death.


On board the Dark Angels strike cruiser The Lion’s Pride the master of auspex looked up from his monitor screens.

‘My lord, a fast line freighter has broken orbit from Equinox and is moving at maximum speed for the translation point to the solar East of the planet.’

Knight Master Barachiel smiled to himself and cast a glance the librarian who stood at the view port, eyes firmly closed.

‘Brother Librarian, does our quarry attempt to flee our clutches?’

The Librarian didn’t say anything. Reaching this far into normal space to touch one mind was taxing. Even one as vile as that of a fallen. Barachiel stood at the centre of the cavernous command room, cogitators and terminals chattering all around him straining to here over the din in case the Librarian uttered anything. But all he did was nod, but it was all Barachiel needed. He turned, energised:

‘Master of the Vox, signal the fleet; we are to follow the light liner at all speed, prepare to translate into the Immaterium. He’ll not escape us this time.’

Codex Dark Angels – A Review

warhammer 40000 logoA long time I ago, in the latter years of the 20th Century I saw a picture of Space Marines painted dark green. They had red shoulder trims, red boltguns and looked awesome. A real contrast to the bright red and bright blue Space Marines that I was used to seeing. So I bought a book called Codex Angels of Death because within its pages was the history and army list of these dark green heroes of the Imperium. And they were called the Dark Angels.

It was at that moment that I started wargaming properly. I read the book cover to cover. Then I read the Dark Angels section over and over and over again. I was intrigued by their relentless pursuit of justice. Their dogged devotion to duty. And character models back in 1996 looked the tits.


Although I’ve collected many armies and played many games since then I have always had a soft spot for the scions of Caliban. Aside from the looking cool, they had the Deathwing, the Ravenwing and the grittiest background. More than any other loyalist Space Marine force. The previous Codex was an opportunity for the Games Workshop to rekindle the fire that was largely snuffed out by the Codex Pamphlet era supplement that offered sod all background and sod all excitement. It never really delivered. It was badly written, confusing and offered nothing new. And the new models gave us nothing more than a Deathwing box with a sergeant head with a hair helmet.

So when the rumour mill started to grind away about the Dark Angels being the first marine codex for 6th edition I was cautiously optimistic. I saw 6th edition Codex Dark Angels as the wargaming equivalent of the upcoming Man of Steel following 5th editions piss poor Superman Returns.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. The book is full of typos and mistakes. It’s pretty inexcusable for a company as big as Games Workshop, with the resources of Games Workshop to release a book that clearly wasn’t proof read and charge £30 for it. It’ll inevitably be corrected with the second print – or at least I hope so – but anyone buying it now should be aware of it. It’s not going to ruin your life or anything but you should be aware. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Games Workshop releases an Errata that includes amended entries you can cut out and stick into the book.

That aside, the book is beautiful. The artwork from the borders to the illustrations are stunning. They’ve also learned their lesson with the back page fold out, making the page of slightly thicker stock so it’ll take the punishment of being constantly opened and closed. I also thought it was marginally undersized so it won’t get crease to buggery like the Codex Chaos Space Marine one did but it was actually folded at such a woefully wonky angle that I can only conclude that it was done by a child. And as with Codex Chaos Space Marines, the lining paper at the front of the book is only single skin so it sinks where the embossing is.

The book also follows the same layout as C:CSM: history, units, pretty pictures (of which there are many), army lists. Which also means it still has that irritation of not including all the special rules in the book so you’ll spend your games jumping between the Codex and the rule book just to find out what all the cool stuff is for your units. For the sake of half a page it would have been worth it.

But what of the content? Well, the background isn’t that much different from the previous iteration other than it being far tidier, coherent and with far greater emphasis on the deep dark secrets that the Chapter is known for. Actually, I’m under selling it. The background is great. It cleverly highlights the colossal levels of deviousness displayed by the chapter on a local and galactic scale. The close ties that they share with the other Unforgiven Chapters is described as ‘legion building’. Very strong words within the canon and has significant implications considering the inevitable second Heresy that the fluff is strongly hinting at.

They also go to lengths to fully explain how the Dark Angels chapter functions and how, in fact, everything is lies with in lies within half truths within rituals. The Dark Angels do everything they can to monitor, and hoodwink one another until enough trust has been garnered to take your next step up the ladder. And then you get a dose of truth that blows your mindhole. It kinda reminds of the Cardassians from Star Trek Deep Space Nine – not to be confused with the Kardashians who, as far as I can tell, make money by pimping themselves out.

Now I can’t quite remember if the previous codices ever spelt out what the biggest secret of all – that no one knew – was. But they do in this one. Which kind of tickles me because there are loads of passages that start with or include the words ‘shrouded in mystery’ and the biggest mystery of the lot they just lay on the table. Ho-hum, at least it’ll kill off a few pointless debates on hobby forums.

Army list wise a few things are apparent: 1. Dark Angels have plasma weapons up the arse. 2. Those plasma weapons still get hot. 3. Lots of your Space Marines are going to die from self inflicted plasma wounds. But more than this, the Deathwing and Ravenwing are getting more attention (and more of the good shit) than ever before. And rightly so as it is these two secretive companies that give the Dark Angels their unique selling point both in game and fluff terms.

The interesting twist from the fluff point of view is the introduction of Knights in both the 1st & 2nd companies. I’ll get on to what that means in game terms in a moment but these new additions brings them far more in line with the Dark Angels we’ve seen in the Horus Heresy series. Those books weren’t for everyone but it threw up some very interesting ideas about the Dark Angels and their internal politics and moved them away from the warrior monk role and firmly into a pseudo-religious brotherhood of crusading knights. They are superstitious and paranoid and ritual is very important. It ties them in with the murky past of Caliban and it certainly explains and justifies all the trinkets and baubles hanging off their armour far more than before. And knowing that now, I like the models a heck of a lot more than I did.

Interestingly it makes them the opposite side of the same coin to Space Wolves more than ever before. Whereas the Space Wolves totems etc are barbaric and rooted in paganism, the Dark Angels icons are far more in line with the Imperial Creed. Where the Space Wolves are hot headed and seemingly unruly the Dark Angels are taciturn and disciplined in the extreme. For the Dark Angels the line between Space Marines worshipping the Emperor as a God instead of just an immortal being of extraordinary power has been blurred more than ever.

But what of the new units themselves?

The obvious candidates are the Deathwing Knights, the Ravenwing Knights and the two new flyers. It’s safe to say that we can expect a new/mental (delete as appropriate) unit for each new army as they come out. The interesting one will be the Space Wolves seeing as they hate to fly. But again this is a nice contrast with the Dark Angels who seem to bloody love it.

The Deathwing generally are pretty nails. The Deathwing assault rule means you can just heap misery on your opponent in the form of deep striking Terminators that you don’t have to role reserves for. Co-ordinate that with homing beacons and there’s going to be a world of hurt. Especially when you throw in Vengeful Strike which makes all ranged weapons twin-linked for that round of shooting. As if assault cannons weren’t nasty enough. Command Squads get the added bonus of split fire. Which has the potential for utter face-kickery.

The Deathwing Knights are at first glance horrid. They get to run about the place with weapon skill 5 and providing they’re base to base with two or more models they get +1 Toughness as well. Before they get into combat this’ll be invaluable, dramatically reducing the effectiveness of assault cannons, plasma guns etc. At 235 points for 5, it’s worth the fussy positioning. They also get precision strike in combat as if weapon skill 5, and fist fulls of dice weren’t enough. Weapon wise, the majority of the unit are armed with Maces of Absolution which are +2 strength AP4 power mauls which although you’ll be wounding they won’t be spanking units of Chaos Space Terminators around the board, even with Bane of the Traitor. Which is kind of what they’re there for. They can, however, once per game, amp up the power to +6 strength and AP2. So Knights will be able to spank something big without breaking a sweat. But only once. My concern about fielding Knights against a Chaos army is that units of Chaos Terminators, Possessed or Chosen could run rings around them in a fight for the simple fact that the Dark Angel player will be forced to either use their Smite Mode for a swift and decisive kill or risk holding it back against the next threat. The Flail of the Unforgiven with +2 strength and AP3 is slightly better but you can only give it to the Knight Master (with his 3 basic attacks) and will just about mang anything.


The Ravenwing also get some love with the new and utterly awful looking Land Speeder Vengeance which basically gives you a rapid firing plasma cannon that you can overcharge. On a really flimsy skimmer. Or you can take the Dark Shroud which can…er…shroud your Dark Angels. If I’m honest, aside from the nonsensical design it feels like over egging the pudding as the Dark Angels list has an abundance of unique rules and units like the completely awesome looking Nephilim and slightly silly looking Dark Talon which adds all the heavy fire that the Ravenwing could need. Not that they really needed any. And not that the Vengeance offered any because it’s just an expensive Land Speeder with a plasma weapon. That Dark Angels seem to have a fetish for.

The flyers themselves are armed to the teeth and for the first time since all the flyers came out I can see a genuine tactical use for them. Especially the Nephilim. And for all the hype around the mysterious Rift Cannon it’s fairly uninteresting. Beyond blinding your opponent, it’s a strength 5 AP zero frag missile. I’d rather take the Avenger Mega Bolter. Which is mega. And a bolter. And is strength 6. And fires 5 shots. A turn. Am I over selling it?


The Ravenwing Black Knights are much like the Deathwing Knights. Lots of attacks, lots of rules to make them utterly heinous and come with Plasma talons – short ranged plasma guns – and Corvus Hammers which render. So they’re horrid. Easily on par with Terminators albeit in a slightly modified role. But they are best used in concert which exactly reflects the background.

I suppose the thing that excites me about the Dark Angels (please hold the Lionel Johnson jokes) is that the army list intensely reflects the background. The look of the models, the obvious tactics as well as some of the more eccentric wargear all embodies the most secretive, mysterious and grim Space Marine chapter in the Imperium.

Codex Dark Angels is available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00

Of Dice & Men – Episode 3

ODAMRoundel copy

A new year and a new episode. This episode we have a very special guest in the form of @docbungle, writer of Miniature Musings of a Bear. We talk about #MiniatureMonday, the new Dark Angels (that we make out to be a Greek Tragedy), hobby resolutions and a bunch of other stuff.

Be warned it contains adult humour right from the start and may affect your IQ…


Of Dice and Men – Episode 3

More Dark Angel Image Leaks

As 2012 draws to a close some cheeky bugger has chucked a whole load of Dark Angel snaps onto the internet including a few close-ups of rules, unit details, the new Asmodai model (about fooking time) and a few other choice bits and bobs including the Dark Talon/Nephilim kit. Be warned, the images are blurry.


DeathwingKnight1 DeathwingKnight2 DeathwingKnight3 DeathwingCommandBox DW_WDPage1 Turret DarkTalonCloseUp Rules DarkTalon1 DarkTalon2 DAChapterOrg_WD Units Rules2 Sammael Successors ForceOrg Ravenwing1 Ravenwing2 DTDetail DWKnight DWKnight2 Banner DWKnight3 DW_CommandDetail DeathwingKnight4 DeathwingCommander DeathwingKnight5 DeathwingDetail Watcher ForceOrg2 BannerDetail Nephilim DeathwingKnight6 NewAsmodai Asmodai RavenwingDetail Commander2 NephilimCloseUp DeathwingCommandApothecary Bethor

White Dwarf Dark Angel Pages Leaked

Another month, another hacked off employee taking snaps on their mobile of the upcoming White Dwarf. Specifically the Dark Angel releases.

I’ve got to say, my feelings are mixed. The new Deathwing Terminators look pretty cool and have lots of conversion potential for other Chapters. The Ravenwing ‘Black Knights’ are a reboxing of the standard Ravenwing bikers with a few more baubles. And yes they all have plasma weapons. The air superiority flyer rumours were clearly true. And it looks pretty cool. The landspeeders on the other hand… They’re certainly bigger and meaner than they use to be but they have all the aerodynamics of a brick.



Painting Dark Angels with Robin Fitton

For those that haven’t heard of the awesome Robin Fitton, he’s the genius behind Gruntz 15mm. If you haven’t heard of the game flagellate yourself then click here.

Robin has been working on a new Dark Angel army for Warhammer 40k and he asked me if I would mind posting his progress on The Shell Case. All too happy to oblige, here’s the first part in his journey to a horde moody green Space Marines…

Phase 1 : Initial construction and base spray coating on a Dark Angels force.
I recently bought the Warhammer 40K Dark Vengeance and decided to build a Dark Angel force using the models in the box as a base. The chaos models from the box set were sold to a friend but I was sad to see them go because the detail level was very good.  I have 30 years experience of painting and playing wargames but have not played 40K since the days of Rogue Trader rules, when I had a mix of Imperial Guard and Space Marine models.  Now drawn back to the game with this latest set of rules I decide to follow the guides provided by GW for the paint work.  I am following the “How to paint Dark Angels”  iPad book from Games Workshop and I am going to use almost exactly the technique they suggest in the guide.
The Citadel paints from the new 2012 range will be used for all the paint work with the possible addition of the odd non-GW paint, thinner or wash where appropriate. The iPad painting guide is straight forward with some nice stage by stage images, however the first 3 stage images on of the Dark Angel space marine is very “Dark” and considering that I am viewing on a super sharp iPad retina display I would like to think that they could have done a better job of the photography. It is interesting how they suggest airbrushing them in the guide to complete a base coat but they don’t provide any tips on how to do it. I have been airbrushing for about 6 years, so I am familiar with the technique and it would have been great to see at least a photo in the iPad guide of the airbrushing or painting stages.  There are also no tips on actual brushing in the guide with no video content. It just shows you what sized GW brush to use and the only video is a 3 second Games Workshop logo that appears when you open the iBook.
The construction of the miniatures from the box set was very easy. What I did not factor into the time frame was the amount of mould lines on the models that would need cleaning. They have done a good job with the models and a lot of the plastic lines are hidden behind joins but I boosted the basic set with 10 tactical squad members which added to the clean up.  The main clean up locations on a space marine are the outside and inside legs,  arms (wrists), the rounded exhausts on the back packs, the top of head seam, the weapon seam (down the centre line of the bolters) and last but not least the top of the back pack. The top of the backpack is an ugly spot. It is slightly recessed, so you can’t easily get a knife in to clean it up. If it is a model that you are adding a plastic symbol to you can hide the top of the back pack.  All of these lines were cleaned up using a fresh sharp blade and I use  a subtle scraping action along the lines to scrub them off, rather than cutting a hack through them.  I then finished off most of the tidy up with some ultra fine sandpaper from Tamiya. This is made for plastic manga kits and does a great job of cleaning up the edges and seams without making them rough.   Weapon barrels were all drilled out and the bikes had their exhausts drilled (photos of bikes in next phase).
I took a lot of care and about 3 weeks to slowly prepare the models.  This was completed in front of the TV with the family and was probably about 12 hours total prep time over the course of 3 weeks.  There are an additional 5 terminators and 10 space marines plus a dreadnought in this prep.  Despite the hours and effort I still missed the odd line or edge on the models, but I am happy with the overall result.
Before priming I based the models using a mix of coral sand, GW gravel and other chunks of slate. I use neat PVA glue to stick on the sand, then once dry it gets a water thinned extra coat of PVA to seal the sand onto the bases.  Sealing the sand makes it rock hard, like mini-concrete bases and won’t rub off.
For the base primer spray I used Tamiya fine grey, instead of the black from GW. The black would not take the dark green very well when airbrushing and I prefer to be able to see the colour going onto the model when airbrushing. So the mid tone grey from Tamiya is perfect for me.
I always lay them down for a final spray to make sure the primer has got in all the nooks and crannies.
I used the Valejo airbrush thinners with the Caliban green from GW and it thins it down perfectly.  I was worried the thinner would react with GW paint but it was spot on and mixed up well with a cocktail stick before poor the result into the airbrush. Getting the mix right to thin the thick GW paint takes some care and I end up with a liquid with the consistency of milk. You can watch my airbrushing tutorial at the bottom of the page.
It can take a little while to dry…

I was impressed by the speed of the new GW painting guide, it is all about getting the best tabletop look to the model but with minimum time. However if you want to follow the guide fully for the Dark Angels you need about 35 pots of the new paint which is expensive and in many cases they appear to switch to a different grey or brown colour on some details which you could get away with using a similar colour on, rather than buying about 40% of the new colour range.

The line up: Small team of 5 veterans on the back row, Middle row tactical squad from the new 40K box set, Front row addition tactical squad. And as an added bonus a close up of my Belial conversion…



Unboxing Dark Vengeance

I know more than a few unboxing articles and videos have been done by now for the 6th edition but I wanted to add my thoughts to the mix all the same. And all with my unique blend of sarcasm and bitterness.

So here we go, the unboxing of the 6th edition Warhammer 40,000 boxset; Dark Vengeance.

The first thing that stands out is the uncharacteristically minimalist box cover. I actually quite like it but it almost seems a shame that the cover art for the book wasn’t used because it’s absolutely stunning. It’s also an interesting contrast compared to the bright and colourful Warhammer Fantasy boxset and, interestingly, the 40k rule book is at odds with WFB’s minimalist hardback book. But on to the best bit; breaking the seal…

I have bought a lot of Games Workshop boxsets over the last 23 years and one of the best bits is the smell of the box when you open it for the first time. The smell of plastic and cardboard and untold possibilities. On that front Dark Vengeance was was a little disappointing, not because it lacks plastic – although compared to the likes of Necromunda and Warhammer Quest it does – but because the bits of paper in it are so ink heavy it over powers that lovely plastic fragrance.

In the box we have 4 sprues (although really only 3), the limited edition chaplain, bases, templates, dice and a big stack of paper. In terms of gaming forces you get a Dark Angels Chapter Master, a Librarian, 5 Deathwing Terminators, 10 Tactical Marines, 3 Ravenwing bikes, a Chaos Lord, 6 Chosen, 20 Cultists and a Hellbrute.

The Space Marines are a big improvement on those in the Assault on Black Reach box, which is saying something because they were of a pretty good standard. Although the sergeant looks a bit shit as have all Dark Angel sergeants since the dawn of time. The main thing is the variety of poses, particularly the terminators. There’s also a slight improvement on detail. Especially the terminators. Although quite what the one with the assault cannon is doing I have no idea but that crap wouldn’t fly in the Ultramarines, no-sir!

The Chaos faction is the star of the show, however, because no matter how cool the Dark Angels characters or the Deathwing look they’re just nothing compared to level of awesome of the Lord, Chosen and Hellbrute. Because the big coup is that Games Workshop are finally producing Chaos Space Marines that don’t look like regular marines with spikes stuck on.

Now I’ve always been of the opinion that there still needs to be an element of that because renegades or the recently corrupted aren’t going to be that Chaosified (it’s a word!). The Chosen and the Hellbrute on the other hand have embraced the dark gods and all their gifts so, quite rightly, their armour should look utterly mental and as organic as it does mechanical.

The Hellbrute is the replacement for the Chaos Dreadnought (according to my sources) and lives up to its name. The exposed head makes it a little comical but overall it’s a fantastic kit, intelligently designed and in game terms makes everything go splat.

The cultists however are really special. It’s not that they’re the best sculpted models in the world but they’ve got bags of character and lend themselves massively to conversion. I particularly like the unit leader with the Blood Pact mask.

However, it’s not all good news. I say 3 sprues because two of them are duplicates.What this means is that of the 10 Dark Angel tactical marines only the sergeant and plasma cannon dude are individual. This also means that of the 6 Chosen and 5 Deathwing, who should all be very individual looking, there are 2 duplicates. The same obviously goes for the cultists but it doesn’t matter quite so much.

The result, however, is that the majority of the boxset are duplicate models which is a far cry from the 3rd editions multipart loveliness but as 2nd, 4th and 5th edition had no shortage of duplicate models it’s hard to moan about it with any legitimacy, it’s just disappointing for the amount of money you’re being asked to part with.

Although a portion of that coin is going on the small forest worth of paper in the box. There’s no denying the quality of production, although the building instructions is printed on staggeringly heavy stock and this unnecessary cost will have inevitably been passed on to us.

That said that Dark Vengeance booklet looks ace and is well written and it’s the first time since GW started doing narrative driven boxsets that I’ve actually bothered to read it. This, I assure you, has nothing to do with the Dark Angels being my very first Space Marine army all those many many years ago. Promise.

The mini-rulebook is equally plush in its production with lots of original artwork and illustrations. When I think back to 2nd and 3rd editions it sill seems a bit mean that you only get a stripped out version considering the outlay but in truth a mini book is ace for gaming and it’s well made so will take the rigours of the game. I’ll be doing a separate review on the 6th edition rules but I’d like to get a look at the full book first. Mainly because I want to read the ‘new’ fluff.

I’m not entirely sure how balanced the two factions are as the cultists will be quickly reduced to smears and if the Deathwing can grapple with the Hellbrute then it’ll be over very quickly. Especially with the woeful new hull point rules. But it’s a well presented set with some really nice models within – duplications aside – and an array of nicely presented printed materials. Relatively the boxset is good value as just the space marine faction alone would cost around £95. All in all, it looks great, the models are class and it’s got all you need to get playing, or playing the latest version. So you can colour me impressed.

The limited edition Warhammer 40,000 Dark Vengeance boxset is available from Firestorm Games.

Dark Vengeance Delayed

Sources within the Games Workshop revealed to me yesterday (and since been all but confirmed by Bell of Lost Souls) that the standard edition of Dark Vengeance will be delayed.

There’s some speculation about why but my source tells me that it’s a combination of the Limited Edition box not being as limited as was originally implied and the sales of said box not being as strong because customers are holding off for the cheaper box.

It’s a rare thing for me to feel sorry for the Games Workshop as the limited edition box was a nice idea. Personally I’d like them to pay a bit more attention to the video games market to understand what a limited edition box should be. One extra bloke a special box does not make. But that aside, they attempted to garner some excitement with the release and it all seems to have fallen a bit flat. Although the whole thing was compounded by the retail division not getting their copy until the day before release which meant they couldn’t ramp it up.

I remember the days of preview nights, the odd cheeky peek at the book or WIP models both as a staff member and as a customer. It built hype and the life blood of the hobby – enthusiasm. This new ‘strategy’ of not telling anyone anything until it’s about to happen just doesn’t work because the world is on a budget. Plus all that happens is pages of White Dwarf get leaked on the internet by a disgruntled employee.

This is bad for three reasons.

1. Crappy photos taken on someone’s iPhone (other smartphones with crappy cameras are available) don’t do the models justice

2. It garners ill feeling from the community because the Games Workshop should be, perhaps, a little more willing to share in lines they’re expecting us to buy

3. Customers don’t necessarily have £65 handy at a week’s notice. I certainly didn’t.

Marketing aside, perhaps the answer to lacklustre sales would have been a limited model for each side making it worth while for gamers of both factions to spend that extra little bit of money.

But whatever the reasons and whatever Games Workshop should or should not have done, the message is clear; if you’re holding off for the standard box set, give in and pay the extra two or three quid because you’ll be waiting a while.

I shall be reviewing 6th edition 40k and the Dark Vengeance box set very soon.