Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Unforgiven: Leading the Deathwing

The Sorrow (Metal Gear Solid reference)
One element that has changed with the introduction of the new Dark Angel’s book is the HQ selection.  Before there was really only one choice, and that was taking Belial to unlock Deathwing as Troops.  There were other choices, Interrogator Chaplains, Librarians, but none of them really brought anything useful to a Deathwing army.  The new book has given us multiple options that deserve serious consideration.

The real standout choice is the Librarian.  Starting at a base of 65 pts (from 120 pts last codex), he has access to arguably the best psychic discipline: Divination.  Its excellent primaris psychic power, Prescience, allows you to reroll all failed To Hit dice, providing useful assurance that your weapons will do what you need them to.  What’s more, he also has a psychic hood to help nullify spells and a lovable force weapon.  I am excited to get my Librarian in Terminator armour out of the case again.  He rarely found his way into my army lists last edition, but will likely be as staple in 6th.  He was a pretty simple conversion using Lysander, a thunder hammer, and the sword from the old Inquisitor model Covenant.

He was painted by Adam Wier.
Belial is back again in the book and still makes terminator squads Troop choices, making him a reasonable character to center a Deathwing army around.  He is more expensive than he was previously, but has a host of special rules that are actually significant.  In particular, when he is Deep Striking, he and his unit do not scatter (he also has a teleport homer).  Thankfully he finally has an iron halo, making a thunder hammer and storm shield not the only choice of weapons worth considering.  His Sword of Silence is now not only master-crafted, but also has Fleshbane.  Additionally, he makes Precision shots with his storm bolter on 5+.  These things make me seriously consider converting an new version of him (the new finecast one is awful, so no help there).  My current rendition of Belial has been leading my army for years, armed with a not so trusty pair of lightning claws.  He was constructed primarily using parts from the plastic Chaos terminator lord (containing one of the best sets of lightning claws that GW makes and a face filled with pure hate).  He steals his legs from Marneus Calgar and has a few of small parts from an empire general (a brace of swords and a feather).
His chestplate is from one of the plastic Black Templar space marine bodies.

He was converted when lightning claws were good.
I am still very much in the planning stages for a new version of Belial.  The new Command Squad box gives you a lot of options, and I have seen some nice versions of him constructed only using parts contained therein.  I would like to attempt something a little more ambitious, however.  I admit I do like the sword the box contains.  It is impressively large, but not to the point of absurdity.  It also has a very simple design, with a long blood groove running down its entire length.  Its only embellishments are a few keys hanging at the hilt and some Dark Angels’ iconography at the blade’s point (which I trimmed off and think it looks better as a result).

It is amazing what a little trimming can do.
I would like to capture some of the esoteric details seen on the Chapter Master painting that has adorned the last two versions of the Dark Angel codex.  I really like the uncompromising fury portrayed in the shards of wood haloing his head, fastened with numbered skulls tacked with hand-forged nails.  The little specter on his shoulder is something I would also like to emulate in some fashion.  Dave Taylor’s excellent flying servitors for his Adeptus Mechanicus army come to mind as a possible starting point (primarily based on night goblins and Talos parts).  Both of these elements, I feel would enhance the gothic mystery that surrounds the Dark Angels chapter.

 It is images like this that keep me excited about 40k.

The last HQ option that really benefits a Deathwing army is the Supreme Grand Master Azrael.  Most importantly, he unlocks not only Deathwing, but also Ravenwing as Troop choices.  This encourages a “Doublewing” army, taking advantage of Deathwing Assault and the Ravenwings’ teleport homers.  He also has the old Rite of Battle (4th edition Space Marine codex!) rule that allows the entire army to use his leadership.  Additionally, he can pick his Warlord trait from the Dark Angel specific table.  His model is a classic that has stood the test of time (who doesn't love that little Watcher in the Dark?).  Despite all of this and in the interest of only using terminator armour, I do not think I will use him that frequently.  If I experiment with using a lot of Ravenwing, however, I will seriously consider adding him into my army's ranks.

That is where things currently stand with the HQ options for my Deathwing army.  Any thoughts on how to make a new version of Belial?  Or what are your experiences with the Dark Angel HQ choices?  As always, any comments are appreciated!

-Godwyn Fischig


  1. Great idea using the TH arm for the Force Sword!

    Did you ever make any progress with Belial?

    1. Yeah I was pleased with how the sword turned out. It has been a long time since I did the conversion, and I have gotten a lot more ambitious with what I attempt now. In that vain, I wish I could say I started to work on the new Belial, but I have not gotten to it yet. I am still kicking around ideas, waiting for a muse to strike me. The last work on the Deathwing was a joint venture between Adam and I creating a banner bearer for a DW command squad.