Warhammer 40k Dark Angels Tactics – Nights At The Game Table


Today on Nights at the Game Table, we are taking a deep dive into Dark Angels and all their new stuff from Ritual of the Damned. This is looking to be a great supplement, and I have also included a 2k example list in this article that is one of the meanest army lists I have ever designed. So lets get started!

Chapter Tactics and Combat Doctrines

  • Chapter Tactic : Grim Resolve. If a unit remain stationary in the movement phase you get to re-roll 1’s to hit in the shooting phase. While this is the same as before you now at least get it on your vehicles. This obviously is best on stationary backfield units that will be far away from a captain or chapter master. Units like hellblasters, Intercessors, and predator tanks will benefit from this ability.
  • Combat Doctrine Bonus: Relentless Hunt. While the devastator doctrine is active you add 6″ to the range of heavy and rapid fire weapons and 3″ to assault and pistol weapons. This is stronger than it may first appear to be. While a tad redundant on things with already impressive range like lascanons and eliminator sniper rifles, it is amazing on a lot of bolt weapons and plasma weapons. This also pushes weapons like assault cannons out to 30″. This can allow you to outrange a lot of opponents, and beat T’au at their own game. Even units like your bikers will be able to fire bolters at full effectiveness at 30″ and allow hellblasters to reach out and threaten targets from your back field. So, be sure to bring your Intercessors, hellblasters, and bikers to the table.

New Stratagems

  • Duty Eternal (1 CP): When a dreadnought  is targeted by your opponent , it takes half the damage inflicted, rounding up. While nice on almost any dreadnought, this is particularly nice on something like a Deredo or leviathan.
  • Bolt Storm (2 CP): Pick a squad of intercessors with Auto bolt rifles and all your shots will automatically hit as long as your target is within half range. This can be a great way of clearing away chaff units like guardsmen, gaunts, cultists, or Ork boys.
  • Hunter-slayer Missile (1 CP):  One use only per repulsor tank. Choose an enemy vehicle or monster within 48″ Then roll a dice, if it meets or beats your ballistic skill, then the target takes D3 mortal wounds. this can be a great way to finish off a stubborn model or vehicle. Such as an opponents repulsor, land raider, or even a hive tyrant.
  • Veteran Intercessors (1/2 CP): . Buffs a unit of intercessors with +1 attack, +1 leadership for the rest of the game. If you have 6 or more in the squad it cost 2 CP. Having access to this is always nice, but is best if used on a 5 man squad with a sergeant packing a decent melee weapon such as a power fist or thunder hammer. Otherwise probably skip it.
  • Rapid Fire (2 CP): Start of the shooting phase,  choose a squad of intercessors with Bolt rifles, and for the rest of the phase they become rapid fire 2. This one is particularly nice with Dark Angels. With devastator doctrine active you get +6 inches to your bolt rifles which means your Intercessors can reach out and fire four shots per guy at 36″. Enjoy pretending to be T’au but strictly better.
  • High-Speed Focus (1): Choose a ravenwing unit that your opponent has targeted with a ranged weapon. until your next movement phase they count as having the jink rule active even if they didn’t advance. This can be a really useful way to save a bike squad from multi damage weapons with good AP like plasma weapons, and battle cannons.
  • Big Guns Never Tire (1): choose a vehicle in your shooting phase and you get to move and fire heavy weapons without penalty. This is great on things like your predators, and can help make your fliers equipped with heavy weapons much more reliable.
  • Vengeance of the Machine Spirit (2 CP): If a land raider, Stormraven, or repulsor gets destroyed you can choose one of three things to have happen. You can have it Auto explode, shoot one of its ranged weapons at it’s top bracket, or have it fight in Melee. Using this one can be tricky, its best to avoid using it to fight again in melee, since their WS is lackluster. If your surrounded by enemy units, auto exploding might be a nice way to soften them up, however its generally better to fire one of your weapons. Particularly with a repulsor executioner.
  • Target Sighted (3 CP): Pick a squad of intercessors with stalker bolt rifles, an until the end of the turn they can target a character even if its not the closest. Also, a wound roll of a 6+ deals a mortal wound on top of the regular damage. This can do really nasty things to a character that thinks its safe. You will shred things like company commanders, and can even put the hurt on a chaos lord or space marine captain. Just be careful with how you use it as 3CP is very expensive, so don’t try to use this on something with a really good invulnerable save, like Guilliman
  • Fury of the First (1 CP): A Deathwing units adds +1 to hit for the rest of the phase. while decent on any terminator unit, this can really help out thunder hammer terminators, and will make Deathwing knights really scary, since their weapons will hit on 2’s. Keep in mind this also works in your shooting phase. Which can make your terminators hit on 2’s with their bolters and will work on the heavy weapons in you stood still. You can use this on a deepstriking Terminator squad to have them also fire twice with their other stratagem Deathwing assault.
  • Steady Advance (1 CP): Lets you move an infantry unit and still have them count as stationary for bolter discipline. This is best saved for your intercessor squads with bolt rifles. However this can be useful for your tactical marines and even your infiltrators that need to reposition.
  • Hero of the Chapter (1 CP): One use only, choose a character that is not your warlord and give them a warlord trait. A nice way to double up on Warlord traits in case your torn between options.
  • Gene Wrought Might (1 CP): When you choose a primaris infantry unit to fight with in the fight phase an unmodified hit roll of a 6 automatically hit and wound. This can be a great way to put wounds on something that is otherwise tough to wound, like tanks. Amazing with the Incursors paired combat blades, which generates an extra hit on an unmodified hit roll of a 6. Which will stack with this stratagem and give you two automatic wounds per to hit roll of a 6.
  • Stand Firm (1CP): Used when your opponent chooses a deathwing unit as a target of an attack. For the rest of the phase you can increase the units toughness by 1. This can be nice in a lot of situations, but is fantastic when paired with their codex stratagem Fortress of Shields (1CP). Which gives a deathwing unit -1 to wound rolls on attacks that target the unit. as long as they have at lest 3 storm shields in the unit. Which means that a lot of basic infantry will be wounding you on 6s. However for high strength attacks it might be better to use the transhuman physiology stratagem below.
  • Targeting Guidance (1CP): At the start of the shooting phase you can select an enemy unit within 12″ of a ravenwing land speeder. For the rest of the phase when shooting with any friendly dark angels at the targeted unit you can re-roll hit rolls. This is actually very nice, and can further reduce your need for a chapter master. While it only works against a targeted unit, it does allow you to focus down a big threat.
  • Full Throtle (1CP): In your movement phase you can select a ravenwing unit that has already moved and move it again, you can even advance it. However, you will lose the ability to shoot of fight with the chosen unit. This is great for when you need to grab an objective thats across the board, and can be used in conjunction with the next stratagem to pull of a nice combo.
  • Combined Assault (2CP): This is a fantastic one! This lets you deep strike a unit with with deathwing keyword wholly within 6″ of a ravenwing biker unit that has not advanced, and outside of 6″ of enemy models. This can make getting a charge from deepsrike way more reliable, as you will only need to make a 6″ charge. Dropping a 10 man unit of deathwing knights 6″ away from your opponent will absolutely wreck their day.
  • Transhuman Physiology (2 CP): Select a unit that is not a vehicle or servitor and has been chosen as the target for an attack. For the rest of the phase wound rolls of a 1,2,or 3 always fail regardless of modifiers. Use this when you know your opponent is going to be wounding you on 2’s with weapons like overcharged plasma, thunder hammers, or a battle cannon. Also pairs with shield wall (1CP), which can allow a terminator unit with storm shields to tangle with truly nasty units like greater daemons, knights, and even daemon Primarchs and walk away with most of the squad intact and smiling.
  • Adaptive Strategy (1 CP): Use at the start of the battleround as long as you still have character on the battlefield, and you can switch back to the previous doctrine. As Dark Angels, you most likely will stay in devastator doctrine for the entire game, but if you needed you rapid fire and assault weapons to have an extra point of AP against a well armored tar get for a turn, you can use this to go back into devastator doctrine.
  • Evasive Assault (1CP): Chose a ravenwing biker unit that has charged or been charged this turn and has been selected as the target of an attack. Until the end of that phase the unit gets a 5++ save. This is best if you know your getting tangled up with a scary close combat unit like a melee dread, daemon engine, or anything with high Ap melee weapons. This can be the difference between having a squad of bikers next turn or an empty space where they used to be.
  • Outnumbered but never outmatched (1CP): Add 1 to the attacks of a deathwing unit as long as one of the enemy unit has 10 or more models. While this wont help you against more elite units like custodes, it will help your terminators deal with hordes, and can make a huge impact against stuff like ork boys, and gaunts that they would normally struggle with.
  • Honoured By The Rock (1CP): If your playing a successor chapter, you can use this stratagem to give a character a relic of caliban as opposed to special issue wargear.

New Warlord Traits

The new warlord traits are only for deathwing and ravenwing characters. It’s also worth mentioning that your phobos characters have been updated to have access to the vanguard warlord traits table and the obscuration discipline.


  • Impeccable mobility. Ravenwing units within 6″ of this warlord can move and fire heavy weapons and advance and fire assault weapons without penalty. This is really nice for your land speeders, your fliers that will often be wielding heavy weapons, and of course those sweet ravenwing black knights.
  • Tactically flexible. Once per battle you can choose to have units within 6″ count as having the doctrine of your choice active for the turn. This one is probably a tad niche and would need to be built around to be properly utilized. Probably worth skipping this one.
  • Outrider. Before the first turn of the game your warlord and 1 ravenwing unit can move 12′ but have to stay 9″ away from enemy units. This should be skipped unless you want to sneak up a big squad black knights loaded with plasma.


  • Inexorable. Your warlord can’t be wounded on 1,2, or 3’s. A nice way to keep a character in terminator armor alive. However, it might be better to just use the Stratagem that does the same thing.
  • Lay low the Mighty. Deathwing units within 6″ can re-roll wound rolls against Characters and units with 8 or more wounds. This is actually really nice and can help you gun/smash down hard targets like tanks and monsters, or allow you to overkill some unfortunate character. A great pick
  • Watched. Once per game, your warlord can automatically deny a Psychic power, no need to roll, Infinite range. This can actually really mess up someones day. Maybe not the strongest pick, but really really funny.

New Relics

  • Reliquary of the Repentant. Biker only. Reduce the invulnerable save of enemies within 3″ by 1. This one ,while nice when it matters, is honestly way too matchup dependent, and requires your Character to get really close. However, if your opponents are playing daemons or even custodes, this can be really good.
  • Corvus Oculus. Ravenwing Talonmaster only. Add 6″ to all your weapons, and you get to add +1 to hit rolls. The range increase is nice but the +1 to hit allows him to hit on 2’s even on the move. A great pick for a talonmaster.
  • Standard of the Unforgiving Hunt. Add 1 to advance and charge rolls for ravenwing units within 6″. Honestly your units are already quite fast, and a majority won’t really want to be in combat (unless it’s against T’au, never pass up the chance to lock them in combat). So unless your spamming black knights I would take something else.
  • Blade of Burden. Deathwing Master only. Replaces a power sword. Has +2 strength AP-4 and damage 2. Also, comes with a neat little ability, where unmodified wound rolls of a 6 it deals 2 mortal wounds instead of the normal damage. Not a bad pick, and if your taking a power sword anyways, I see no reason to not give this to your deathwing master, however the next relic is way better.
  • Pennant of Remembrance. Deathwing Ancient only. Gives deathwing infantry models within 6″ a 5+ save after the save much like what deathguard units have. If you are leaning heavily into deathwing units this should be an auto include. While it does only go by model, the deathwing ancient already gives everyone +1 attack, but when combined with some of the other stratagmes that can increase a deathwing units survivability like Shield Wall, Transhuman Physiology, and Stand Firm you can get a big unit of deathwing terminators or knights to levels of durability that will make deathguard blush. Thats a unit with a 2+ 3++ (with storm shields) T5, 2 wounds and a 5+ FnP. That can only be wounded on 4’s or better with a -1 to wound rolls against them. Also, if a Darkshroud happens to be hanging out nearby they get a -1 to hit rolls against them as well.
  • Key of Achrabael. Deathwing model only, Add 1 to Strength and attacks for the model that has this. While not very exciting, there is one kind of unit that will benefit. A terminator smash captain. This will push him up to 5 attacks base, 6 on the charge, and a respectable Strength of 10.

New Special Issue Wargear

  • Adamantine Mantle. Model Gains a 5+ FnP , nice on just about anyone. If you need a character to hang around this is a solid pick.
  • Artificer Armor. Model gains a 2+ armor save and a 5++ invulnerable save. Same as what all the others chapters get, and is honestly best used on a librarian whom otherwise lacks an invulnerable save. Assuming they aren’t in terminator Armor, and if you try to give this to a character terminator armor Asmodai will come to your house and whack you with his crozius.
  • Master-Crafted weapon. Pick a non master-crafted weapon and increase its damage by 1, it then becomes master-crafted and counts as a chapter relic. Some of the best picks for this is either a thunder hammer or a combi- plasma.
  • Digital weapons. You get to make an extra attack and if it hits you deal a mortal wound. Neat, but nothing special, honestly you should probably pick something else.
  • Arbiters Gaze. You get to ignore hit modifiers, and you overwatch on your ballistic skill instead of 6’s. Much like Master-crafted weapon above, this is best on a model with a combi-plasma/ melta and a Thunder hammer.
  • Angels Ambit. Increase your aura and ability range by 3″. Just, skip this one unless you absolutely need a Chapter Ancient’s Aura to to encompass a truly large/ spread out castle.
  • Bolts of Judgement. Fire 1 shot with a bolt weapon it gets -2 AP and damage 3. Also, you only wound vehicles and monsters on 6+ but wound infantry on a 2+. The only unit that have any business taking this is maybe a phobos captain, mainly because it allows him to wound characters on 2’s with his rifle. Even with that said you have better options, unless your going for a full Phobos army and even then there are some better picks.

A Quick Word on Litanies

Ok, so you now have access to all the litanies that Codex Space Marines have and now your chaplains work the same way as well. So, lets focus on the unique one you get.

  • Stoic Prosecution. Pick a unit within 6″ that didn’t advance and fall back and they can shoot with weapons as if they didn’t move that turn. This is a great way to keep a squad with heavy weapons mobile or even just have a second squad get the benefit of standing still with bolter discipline. A solid litany.

Example List

The Dark Angel Castle of Doom

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium – Dark Angels) [97 PL, 1,582pts, 9CP] ++

+ No Force Org Slot +

Battle-forged CP [3CP]

Detachment CP [5CP]

+ HQ +

Azrael [9 PL, 150pts, 1CP]: 3. Brilliant Strategist, Warlord

Librarian in Terminator Armor [8 PL, 110pts]: Force stave, Storm bolter

Lieutenants [4 PL, 63pts]
. Lieutenant: Chainsword, Master-crafted boltgun

+ Troops +

Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 85pts]: 4x Intercessor, Intercessor Sergeant
. Bolt rifles

Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 85pts]: 4x Intercessor, Intercessor Sergeant
. Bolt rifles

Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 85pts]: 4x Intercessor, Intercessor Sergeant
. Bolt rifles

+ Elites +

Chapter Ancient [5 PL, 97pts]: Storm bolter

Deathwing Knights [24 PL, 280pts]
. 7x Deathwing Knight: 7x Storm shield
. Knight Master: Storm shield

+ Heavy Support +

Hellblaster Squad [16 PL, 330pts]: 9x Hellblaster
. Hellblaster Sergeant: Bolt pistol
. Plasma incinerators

Hellblaster Squad [16 PL, 297pts]: 8x Hellblaster
. Hellblaster Sergeant: Bolt pistol
. Plasma incinerators

++ Outrider Detachment +1CP (Imperium – Dark Angels) [27 PL, 416pts, 1CP] ++

+ No Force Org Slot +

Detachment CP [1CP]

+ HQ +

Sammael on Corvex [10 PL, 140pts]

+ Fast Attack +

Ravenwing Bike Squad [5 PL, 69pts]
. Ravenwing Biker: Bolt pistol
. . Space Marine bike: Twin boltgun
. Ravenwing Biker: Bolt pistol
. . Space Marine bike: Twin boltgun
. Ravenwing Sergeant: Boltgun
. . Space Marine bike: Twin boltgun

Ravenwing Bike Squad [5 PL, 69pts]
. Ravenwing Biker: Bolt pistol
. . Space Marine bike: Twin boltgun
. Ravenwing Biker: Bolt pistol
. . Space Marine bike: Twin boltgun
. Ravenwing Sergeant: Boltgun
. . Space Marine bike: Twin boltgun

Ravenwing Darkshroud [7 PL, 138pts]: Heavy bolter

++ Total: [124 PL, 10CP, 1,998pts] ++

How it works

Ok, So this the first part of this is all about the characters and support for your castle( Which is a term for large grouping of models that remain clustered together in the backfield to shoot at distant targets, usually with a bunch of buffs and synergy). So you have Azrael there to provide everyone with a 4++ invulnerable and a re-roll to hit aura, plus the lieutenant to re-roll wound rolls of a 1. The other supporting character is your chapter ancient, who will allow your units within 6″ (particularly the hellblasters) to fire their weapons on a roll of 4+ when killed. He also lets your resolve those shots at BS 2+. The last support unit, while not a character, is none the less important. The Darkshroud gives units within 6″ -1 to hit rolls for shooting attacks that target them. This means everyone in this castle will have a 4++ invulnerable save with -1 to be shot at an even after they die they get to shoot their weapons on a 4+ and hit on 2’s. This not only makes them hard to kill, but actively punishes your opponent when they die.

The units in the castle that will benefit from all the above buffs are your intercessors, but above all the 19 hellblasters. All of which have a max range of 36″ on their weapons! Meaning that they can reach quite a lot of the table. Also, while meant to primarily stay back from the front lines you can in fact move this castle up to grab an objective or move to a better firing position. The intercessors will put the hurt on infanty and screen your hellblasters, and the hellblasters are good against pretty much everything. Especially with the stratagem, Weapons from the Dark Age, which will add 1 to the damage characteristic of an entire squads plasma incinerators. Thats damage 3 plasma incinerators when overcharged!

The other component of the list is the 2 squads of bikes, Sammael , the deathwing knights, and the Librarian in terminator Armor. Sammael and the bikes have the job of moving up the board quickly to grab objectives and get into position for the deathwing deepsriking on turn 2. Also, the bikes will be re-rolling all their hits thanks to Sammael. You will be able to clear screening units with their twin boltguns. The plan for turn 2, or even 3 is to get a unit of bikes in position to use the Combined Assault (2CP) stratagem to drop the 8 deathwing knights 6″ away from your opponents Army. Ideally near something particularly tough like a knight or even a backfield artillery unit like Thunderfire cannons or centurions.

At the same time, you should have your librarian deep strike close enough to the deathwing knights to cast Righteous Repugnance (WC7) on them. Which will allow the entire unit re-roll hits and wound rolls in melee. The next power you will want to cast will likely be Aversion, in order put a -1 to hit penalty on the enemy unit you plan to charge with your deathwing knights. This means that you will only have to make a 6″ charge with your deathwing knights. All of which will be re-rolling all their hits and wounds. If you really need to kill your target you can always spend 1Cp for Fury of the First to have them hit on 2’s.

This list features one of the strongest castles in the entire game of 40k, but also has some great options for mobility . As far as relics I would honestly recommend giving the Adamantine Mantle to the Chapter Ancient. He will be a big target for your opponents sniper units, and will be thankful for the extra protection. Beyond that you can sprinkle in any other relics that you want.

In Conclusion

The Dark Angels got a big buff with the new supplement, and will now be able to go toe to toe with other space marine chapters. All while still bringing their own unique strategies and flavor from the deathwing and ravenwing. All and all this supplement absolutely rocks, and is a must for Dark Angels players. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go buy some Dark Angels.

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As always a big thanks to Games Workshop for the images provided for our article.

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