Why build another Dark Angels army?
Since I started playing 40k again a couple of years ago, the Dark Angels have been my marine army of choice. The
last marines I painted 15+ years ago were a Deathwing Terminator for Space Hulk and a DA Marine Librarian for a painting competition,
so I was already predisposed to the Chapter. After finding the Fortress of the Unforgiven online, and reading about the layers
of secrecy and mystery that had been added over time, the Dark Angels became the obvious choice for my comeback army.
So, my army grew to 3000+ points of painted Battle Company Dark Angels, the same in Deathwing, and about 1500 in Ravenwing,
for about 7500 points of the First and the Finest. It grew organically, over the course of a couple years, as I ventured into
new areas and units, and growth brought with it some issues.
My painting skills redeveloped over time, meaning I had to either keep repainting old minis to keep them up to standard,
keep my newest ones at a quick and dirty standard to match the first ones, or just accept I would have a mismatched army with
some units of much poorer quality alongside the latest and greatest. In addition, I was stuck with some basic choices I made
in the beginning of collecting, such as unit markings, basing, color schemes, etc. Again, this meant massive repainting projects,
as I had to make even the smallest improvement or change to hundreds of minis.
In the end, it came to a point where I didn't feel comfortable fielding my Dark Angels in games anymore. They
weren't painted to a standard I could accept anymore, they had multiple inconsistencies, and there were no more small (relatively!)
changes I could make to eke out some more playing time. This was an unacceptable turn of events!
So, I decided to build a whole new Dark Angels army
for 2006. The theory being that I had played most of the units so there shouldn't be too much "organic" growth, and could
keep a consistent level and style of painting much more easily in this fashion. However, this would be a project on a scale
I hadn't attempted before, so I would need to think it though the procedures I would follow much more carefully. The plan would be to rough out a 2000pt list, then collect and build
the entire army at one time. Over the course of creating, I knew some units would drop in and some out, but this gave me a
good working blueprint.
Look and Feel of my Dark Angels
The first thing I settled upon was the look and feel of the force. I knew there were some things I wanted to do differently
than my previous Dark Angels, while still staying true to the general guidelines in the Codex.
The piece of art that originally got me interested in the Chapter was the cover for the old Space Marine Epic game.
This year it was reissued as the cover for an anthology, but when I was starting this project I had to do some research to
find it. It was just as powerful as I remembered, and gave me the basis for my army; very dark armor, outlined squad markings,
blond super clone looks, and only the occasional personal heraldry to add color splashes.
The combination of the Black Templar artwork and the Horus Heresy art books added some final elements
I wanted for my marines, in the robes, chains, and Heraldry. As a fleet based Chapter, with a medieval religiosity, and permanent
quest for redemption, I see the Dark Angels as the perfect crusading Chapter, a feel the new Black Templar models conveyed
The rumors of the Citifight campaign were stirring as I began, I wanted my force to feel like it was engaged in an
Urban Campaign, so like every other player I went with urban basing. It seemed rather novel at the time, and gave them a different
feel than most other armies I was seeing at the time.
I knew I wanted to do something different with my Deathwing too. I had painted 35 or so Terminators in the white scheme
before and fancied a new look. According the Dark Angels' lore, the Deathwing changed from black armor to memorialize a squad
(or more) saving a recruiting world from genestealer invasion. By my math, the genestealers had only been appeared as a known
threat to the Imperium in the last 5,000 years or so, so that gave me 5,000+ plus years when the Deathwing would have been
fighting in black armor, post Heresy. Perfect. This historical time frame would also add credence to why so many of the old
armor styles from the Black Templar minis would be found in the force.
Finally, I knew I wanted to have a nice centerpiece for the force in a Command Squad, a transport, and a Dark
Angels Banner. I didn't care the point cost, I wanted that high profile showcase unit to field, and to try my hand at
hand painting one of the Sacred Standards. I also wanted to field representative units from every unit the Dark Angels could
field. This meant I could work on models that might not make too much tactical sense in the force structure, like Assault
Terminators, and units I had never played with before, like the Predator.
I'm very big on the idea that it's the little things, done consistently, that make an army come together. Those little
things that make it appear as if the soldiers come from the same army, the same background, and the same battle theater. You
might not even realize they are there, but you realize something's missing when they're not!
The most basic elements that needed consistency were obviously the bases and armor. In order to make sure I didn't
"evolve" my scheme over time, I spent quite a bit of time on various paint tests to make sure I had the dark armor and urban
bases exactly as I wanted and could replicate.
The Dark Angels are or course known for their robes, but rather than use any of the existing minis I decided to give
all my Veterans the new Black Templar robes and model hoods on them too. In fact I decided every Veteran Sergeant would need
hoods, even the scouts. Once they are initiated into the secrets of the Deathwing, they must hood up for secrecy!
Just as closely linked to the Dark Angels as robes are swords. The winged sword appears in every icon, and their very
founding mythology revolves around the broken sword of their Primarch. Swords are a big deal. That meant no other power weapons
would be available to my boys, and it also meant that all the cool sword icons in the Black Templar box would find their way
onto my vehicles.
The other bits and pieces in the Templar box really fit the Dark Angels' monkish them too, and I made sure every single
marine got at least one icon, seal, or scroll for good measure. I also added the great Forgeworld icons to shields and
vehicles as appropriate to keep the gothic theme going throughout the force.
I decided not to add Campaign Badges and 4th Company markings to each marine, in order to keep to the uniform darkness
of the armor, but still value these icons for their unifying affect on the army. Therefore I made sure each vehicle sported
the badges, and any purpose-built shields or badges in the army, like those of the Deathwing and the occasionally worn by
the line marines would display the colors.
As a homage to the Horus Heresy art books decided all power weapons and plasma coils would glow green. In addition
this made them stand apart form most other marine models. Finally, in order to add an aura of secrecy and violence to the
army. I decided all glass, windows and lenses would be red.
Changes and Growth
After a few games I decided I needed more Termies. Specifically, ones with guns. I have always loved the Deathwing, and
Assault Termies were just way too limited to be my only Terminator option, so an old squad was stripped, slightly converted,
got some Forgeworld pads, and was added to the force. On the other hand, I decided to remove the Ravenwing bikes.
I am a big fan of combined armies, and love the Ravenwing rules, but I just wasn't feeling the bike squadron, so they went
back in the box.
When the new Scout Snipers were released I felt compelled to add them to the list because they were so cool, and when
I had a chance to lay my hands on a Forge World Vindicator for a steal, I added that too.
My final additions were for a local Rogue Trader tournament. I added the Librarian a week prior and decided to
model Fear of the Darkness onto him to add to the presence and special nature of the Command Squad. The only surviving models from
my previous armies were my home made drop pods. I like playing a drop pod force, it really fits the marine fluff as I envision
it, so I had to add some serious painting touchups to bring them into line and make them ready for the tournament.