Now that we have had a month plus to look at, consider, and make cunning plans; lets get down to the brass tacks of this book. Some would say that the strength of this new codex lies in the Ravenwing and Deathwing special rules. Some have said the strength of this codex is in the special characters. I disagree with all of these opinions. The heart and soul and strongest rule of this codex is Combat Squads. Some readers may ask why I think this is the greatest achievement of this codex. I’ll explain.
Recently I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend in Basic Marine Armies. Many Marine players have been moving in the direction of squads as delivery systems for tooled up characters. I don’t blame players for this shift.
Since 3rd edition 40k I’ve seen marines played one of two ways: Firing Line, and Blitzkrieg. The Firing Line tactic has been the most prevalent, while Blitzkrieg has been a more recent advent of 4th edition.
Most Marine players, myself included, have noticed that most of the unit weapon upgrades were point sinks to stick unused points in. Flamers, if taken, barely got fired. Melta Guns, might have, got a single shot off per game. Plasma Guns are useful if you plan on standing off and shooting, but are otherwise a waste especially if you wanted to assault. Infantry heavy weapons of any sort were only useful when you were standing off and shooting, but became completely useless when the battle became a running gun fight.
The Combat Squad special rule finally allows the heavy weapons to do their job, while the special weapons can move up and get into firing range. It gives the Dark Angels a strong firebase, without affecting their ability to run and gun.
I touched on this a little in the last section. Most of the missions require that the player move out of their deployment zone and secure, capture, or destroy something. Very few of the missions allow the player to win by sitting back and shooting. Because of this many Marine armies went with the objective denial strategy, which would almost always run into problems if their opponent got last turn.
Combat Squads allow the Dark Angels to send out elements to accomplish the mission. It also provides an on the field reserve element by making the opponent engage the units more likely to accomplish the mission. (On the field reserves are units that will most likely still be at full strength near the end of the game, and able to be a scoring unit.)
Besides the Imperial Guard and the Land Raider Transport option, there are no other armies that I know of in 40K that can create multiple scoring units from one slot on the Force Organization Chart. The ability to have multiple scoring units from one slot is invaluable. It is invaluable because the chosen force will give up Victory Points stingily.
What these multiple units also do is saturate the field with individual units. Imagine for a moment that you and your opponent both have 11 Force Organization selections, but because you are playing Dark Angels your 11 selections are 22 scoring units. Not only are they 22 units, but they are 22 individual units that must each be targeted separately. Most armies have a difficult time killing 5 marines with a single unit, and that alone is the beauty of the Combat Squad special rule.
The Ravenwing and the Deathwing have their place within the ranks of a Dark Angels army. However, if you want tactical flexibility, the ability to accomplish your missions, and more scoring units than your opponent then accept no substitutions. Take Combat Squads.