The original stubborn, hoody wearing, emo kids are back this month as they take up the mantle of first Space Marine Chapter to receive a 6th Edition Codex. Read on as I discuss fluff, art, models and army lists contained within the book. 
Before we look at each section of the book, it's worth going over a couple of things. If you're new to Warhammer 40,000 then this might be useful. This hardback book is the 2nd in the current series of Warhammer 40,000 Codex books (Chaos Space Marines was the first). Codex books are inspirational, reference material which include background information (sometimes referred to as fluff by hobbyists), rules, points values, art and photos of the models. It's 104 pages with a 6 page fold out quick reference sheet at the back. The cover is embossed and matt laminated with a gloss cut out of the title and Dark Angel. The pages are full colour throughout the book. The book is written by Jeremy Vetock and it's his first Warhammer 40,000 Codex. The cover artwork is by Raymond Swanland (he also produced the Chaos Codex cover). 


Background (fluff)

The background is a comprehensive look at the Dark Angels history, from their beginnings, how they found their Primarch to reunite the Legion and set out on the Great Crusade. It then goes on to talk about the Horus Heresy and then the Fall of Caliban. There are a couple of paragraphs on the feud between the Space Wolves and the Dark Angels as well. You then get to the bit about the Dark Angels' secret shame. I think Jeremy Vetock has been very thorough and concise whilst also keeping it sharp and on track. It keeps you reading, you don't lose interest. 


The fluff continues with Chapter Organisation and successor Chapters. After that it's all about the hunt for the Fallen with four pages dedicated to that. Four pages follow this with the brief history timeline of Dark Angel battles. I really like the bit where they fell for a distress signal sent out by Genestealers, with the Broodlord destroyed, the planet is marked for corruption testing. This excites the 2nd edition player in me as it screams Genestealer cult. I love these little extras and nods to previous editions. The final page of the fluff is called the End is Nigh, and talks about the Time of Ending. It also goes on to explain the Dark Angels' final secret, that only one man knows, that man is ++data encryption activated++ and the secret is ++vox cast terminated++. Quite a surprise really!


Artwork

The book has art on every page, from tiny paragraph divider pieces, to page borders, to full page art and even double page spreads. A lot of the art is new. Some of the art that has been seen before was previously black and white and they've now been coloured in digitally. The front cover art is gorgeous. It's true Grim Dark. It's unmistakably Warhammer 40,000. The grim determination in the marine's eyes as he pulls the trigger of his bolt pistol is really well captured. I also like the composition of the front cover. The angle of the marine is towering over the viewer, we can barely see over his shoulder pad. He's a towering engine of retribution. My other favourite art pieces are Tyranids battling the Dark Angels in a double page spread and the Drop Pod illustration on page 42 with a creature in the background I have never seen the like of. Overall, the art is a real treat for the eyes. 



Models

For as long as they've been producing Codex Books (early 1990s) the models have always had their own section and this publication is no different. The majority of models from the Eavy Metal team can be seen on the Games Workshop website. The website also has bigger, clearer pics and some have 360º views. We're not seeing anything new or exciting here. This section only really serves as a way of putting names to models for new-comers. It lacks any kind of hobby direction. No painting guides, no themed terrain. No conversions. Pretty uninspiring. One redeeming feature is because White Dwarf now has it's own photographers, the shots seen in White Dwarf and the Codex are different. It use to be that you buy White Dwarf and they'd just use the photography from the Codex. Now at least you're getting a bit more photography content from both publications.

A quick side note on models. All the units in the army list now have a model to represent them which you can buy from Games Workshop. There are no models in the the army list that are awaiting 2nd wave releases. This is true of the Chaos Space Marine Codex. Games Workshop are obviously clamping down on third party miniature manufacturers that have been making models to fill the gaps in the Citadel range.

Rules

Obviously I can't answer your questions on what does what and how many points this costs, for that you're going to have to buy your own Codex. However, I will point out some interesting things I've seen. Firstly, Librarians choose their powers from the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. You might have already worked this when you released that GW never released a Pyschic power card set to go with the Dark Angel release. The only Dark Angel specific power is Ezekiel's Mind Worm power. Talking about HQs, Belial or Sammael enables you to take Deathwing and Ravenwing Attack Squadrons as troops choices. Nothing new I know, but here's a better option, if you take Azrael then you can take both Deathwing and Ravenwing as troops, kind of makes Belial and Sammael redundant.

The Wargear list makes a return with a couple of interesting pieces added to the list... Infravisor, Porta-rack, Displacer field, Powerfield Generator. I remember the displacer field from 2nd edition, not sure about the others.

Land Speeder Vengeance is in the Heavy Support section which is odd to see a fast skimmer there, but then if you think of pure Ravenwing armies it makes sense. 3 of those with Plasma storm batteries and you still have all your fast attack choices left! Land Speeders can be taken in units of 5!

The Dark Angels get their own Warlord traits table they can choose to roll on, unless you have Azrael, then you can choose which trait you wish to take. 

Tactical Marines, Scouts and Devastators have the option for Flakk Missiles which is great news to fight off flyer spam. Scouts are also a troops choice now. 

Another interesting rule is if you take a Land Raider as a dedicated transport for any Deathwing unit then you have to pay to upgrade it to a Deathwing Vehicle. At 30pts this turns an already expensive unit into a massive points sink. It does give you preferred enemy (Chaos Space Marines) and you can make your opponent reroll on the Penetrating Hit table. That makes it pretty resilient. 


Overview

On every hobby forum there is the eternal rant of Games Workshop products are too expensive. This is obviously relative to the individual. I think smoking cigarettes is expensive, so I don't smoke. I think satellite TV is expensive so I don't have that. I DON'T think Games Workshop products are expensive, so I buy them. My conclusion is this Codex is good for £30. It's hardback, embossed, matt/gloss cover. Loads of great new art and well written fluff. The only downside is the model section which is dull when you can see better pictures all online and has zero hobby content. However, I would like to see a free digital download included if you buy a £30 hardback codex. That would just sweeten the deal further.

If you collect Dark Angel's then this is a must. If you like gaming competitively and knowing all the strengths of your enemies then this is a must. If you're a painter and looking for inspiration then don't buy this.

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