Monday, May 3, 2010

Revising the Dark Angels?

When Ron posted about his Deathwing, I have to admit that I made a face.  

His list isn't codex legal, it's just stuff that he wants to play, in terms of theme, fluff, and Unforgiven.  This sort of thing is totally fine for casual games, or games in a small group.  Jervis isn't going to kick his door in and arrest him for Doing It Wrong or anything... but it's not entirely portable.  It's not the sort of thing you can take to a tournament.  With as large a player base as we have in the IFL, it's not the sort of thing you can just drop on the table without some warning.

Boy, it's a nice idea, though, isn't it?  In many ways, I'm frustrated by the inconsistencies between the Dark Angels codex and the Space Marine codex.  I don't expect the two books to be the same (because, in that case, we wouldn't need two books), but the disparity between how things work in one book and how they work in another is just headache inducing.

This isn't helped by the fact that we're not going to see an update any time soon.  If GW keeps up their pattern alternating between Imperial and non-Imperial codices, maybe we could see an update sometime in 2011.  (It sounds like Grey Knights are dropping late this year, which covers pretty much all of the Imperial books save Black Templars and Dark Angels.)

It's a bit of a touchy subject for me: I've been rolling with the DA codex and plan to continue to do so (when running my Dark Angels and not my Khornate Daemons)... but I'm quite frustrated by the difference.  Folks who cannot understand that frustration really tick me off.  I gave the Imperial Vox Cast a try until they went on a rant about people who play Dark Angels should quit their bitching, etc.  Uh-uh.  :stop:  :delete:


Some folks have taken it upon themselves to try to reconcile the two books:  

Austin's taken a stab, with what's basically a single page document that suggests using the DA book, but with rules, costs and unit options for certain units taken from the Space Marine codex.  It's pretty spartan, but not bad.  Worth checking out.

The most recent issue of the AstroMag (#6) has a segment in that summarizes a much more in-depth attempt by Captain Kellen to bring the Dark Angels codex in line with the Space Marine book.  The full treatment can be found here (not really a page there, just a file host).  It's 60 pages, including fiction and art; the Astromag article summarizes the changes.  What's really great about this approach is that he tries to justify every choice he makes (in the full document).  There's a lot to be said to be said for that sort of transparency.

I'm on board with almost all of his changes.  He makes good cases for them and, in many ways they're a superset of the changes Austin proposes: just basic stuff that says a Cyclone Missile Launcher is a Cyclone Missile Launcher is a Cyclone Missile Launcher, you know?  He goes a bit further, though, and brings over units: he makes a fluff-based claim to Sternguard Veterans and Sgt. Telion Naaman, for example, but cannot do so for other units like Ironclad Dreadnoughts or Land Raider Redeemers.

The only place I disagree with him is where it comes to Librarians.  I'm on board with not bringing over the full list of Space Marine psychic powers... but his arguments for simply using the powers in the Dark Angels book don't hold up.  "It has been clear that the Dark Angels have different powers than other chapters," he says... but the basic Dark Angel psychic powers, Hellfire and Force Barrier aren't really different from The Avenger or Force Dome.  The former is an unreliable version of the Space Marine power and the latter has the same fluff as the Space Marine power, but is mechanically useless.  I'd swap the powers: The Avenger for Hellfire and Force Dome for Force Barrier and leave Mind Worm.  Mind Worm might not be all that useful, but it is unique.

I also don't like his treatment of Ezekiel's Psychic Hood.  The table-wide psychic hood is one of the extremely few things the Unforgiven have going for them, but I really feel that if we're updating equipment and options, we have to take the bad with the good.  That means making the Psychic Hood 24", you know?  I get why he made the choice, but I disagree.

I'm not likely to crack either of these approaches open and, even if I did, I doubt it would change my list in any substantial way... it'd just synchronize the way equipment behaves.  I honestly don't see having a better Storm Shield changing the number of Storm Shields I take, you know?

I thought I'd bring it because, between thinking about running Deathwing at 'Ard Boyz (using the unmodified Dark Angels codex) and Ron's confession that he's running fast and loose with the codex, it's rattling around in my forebrain.

What do y'all think?

(Images are from the Deathwatch RPG site and classic GW DA art.)
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