Review: The 'Canadian' DA FAQ
12 June 2008 | 4th Edition
Games Workshop released a Dark Angels FAQ/errata on 09/06/08 from their Canadian website. It has caused a bit of a stir.
This FAQ has been eagerly awaited and many players wanted (expected) wholesale changes to things like allowing Sammael on jetbike to fire both his weapons etc. It is rare such things change in FAQs so my hopes were never set that high, FAQs are about rule questions and clarifications after all.
At first glance all seems OK. Their are 5 errated items where typos are cleared up, and 11 rules questions clarified and in some cases new rules added. But buy and large the rules clarified were those no-one had any problems with anyway although lets not be too churlish, as some were veru useful and much needed — but the major niggling issues that remain (Scout Sergeants with sniper rifles, how Ravenwing Attack Squadrons deploy in Escalation) are left unmentioned.
All the contents have been classified into one of three types:
a straight change or addition to the printed text.
where the rule was covered by RAW but was misleading or confusing or just needed reinforcing.
where the rule was not covered specifically by RAW so required further explanation.
where the FAQ has created something different to existing RAW, or something new entirely.
Let's have a look at what is in the FAQ.
Typo addition: Clearly stating rules apply to friendly units only.
Comment: Long overdue and a useful clarification but common sense would have pointed this way anyway. For those that use Sacred Standards at least it means that your rules-savy opponent can't claim any advantage.
Book of Salvation
Typo addition: Again clearly stating rules apply to friendly units only.
Comment: Long overdue and a useful clarification but common sense would have pointed this way anyway. And again stops any opponent rules-lawyering so ultimately that has got to be good.
Ravenwing Company Standard
Typo addition: Clearly stating only one Company Standard per army.
Comment: Useful, but by RAW was pretty obvious anyway I think. I hadn't heard of anyone trying to use more than one anyway so I can't believe this was ever a burning issue.
Typo addition: Clearly stating how searchlights function with regards Night Fight and shooting.
Comment: Useful but I hadn't encountered a problem with this anyway.
Q1 Combat squads in vehicles
RAW: Reinforcing the main Rulebook that clearly states that only one unit may occupy a transport at any one time.
Comment: Well it's RAW so it wasn't an issue really, but useful nonetheless. Has no great implications on how the game is played from a Dark Angel perspective.
Q2 Taking a Razorback for a 10-man squad
Clarification: Yes 10-man squads take a Razorback.
Comment: Long overdue this one and will save a lot of repeat questions I should imagine. Obviously all 10 can't sit in it at once, but for a combat-squaded unit it's a useful transport choice and it allows you to put either combat squad within it too don't forget as it is not combat squad-specific.
Q3 Drop pods, combat squads and arrival from reserve
New Rule: Apparently, DA can put combat squads into reserve, deploy one in a pod, and the other either from reserve or on the table. Also, the drop pod can deploy empty if desired.
Comment: This came completely out of the blue and seems to fly in the face of existing rules regarding the non-splitting of units into combat squads when they are held in reserve. I wonder if this was an oversight, because as far as I am aware no existing problem was found with the current drop pods rules in Codex Dark Angels.
It does open up possibilities of a prop pod wall (empty pods blocking Line of Sight), but the real implications here could be a lot more profound. For instance, what's stopping combat-squaded unit deploying the heavy weapon demi-squad on the table, while keeping the sarge/special weapon demi-squad in reserve and in a Rhino or Razorback? Nothing it seems to me as the mechanics are exactly the same — merely using a different transport. This has thrown the whole transport/combat squad/reserves issues into the melting pot.
Q4 Company Masters and three weapons
Clarification: Uniquely DA Masters can have three weapons — but they must follow WYSIWYG.
Comment: Although not a problem as it was covered by RAW it's useful primarily for the modeling comment.
Q5 Combi-weapons and costs for Company veterans
Clarification: Reinforces that all combi-weapons are the same cost.
Comment: Not a major issue and could have been sorted by common sense so no change here.
Q6 Assaulting from drop pods on the turn they land
Clarification: Shuts the gate once and for all on this one.
Comment: A very useful clarification to existing but confusing conjunction of rules (ie open topped vehicles and no assaulting on arrival from deep strike). It was contentious when the DA book first came out, but seemed to have died a death due to the imposition of common sense. Realistically no change to how DA plays as no one I knew or had heard of assaulted from pods anyway. In tournaments this was frequently included in House Rules anyway.
Q7 Thunder hammers and the stun effect
Clarification: Thunder hammers only stun models who can't save the hammers' wound.
Comment: I was not aware this was a problem. No fundamental change here.
Q8 Arcs of fire, drop pods, Rhino strom bolter and pintle-mounted storm bolters
New Rule: At last, we now know we can fire our Rhino's PMS backwards if we want!
Comment: A useful clarification for sure and might stop some arguments as sometimes this was indeed an issue. But really this will all be covered when the 5th edition 40k is published as there are now specific rules to cover this one. I should imagine there will be a further FAQ to retrofit the new rule if needs be.
Q9 Shooting psychic powers
RAW: Sorts shooting from assault phase psychic powers.
Comment: A useful clarification but not earth-shattering as the rules were pretty clear anyway. No real change to gameplay as you can only use one power per player turn anyway and with DA Librarians being so unpopular now (apart from those in Terminator armour) this will effect few people. But again, changes are afoot in 5th edition with regards to using psychic powers which will give Libbies a bit of a boost so sorting your shooting powers from your assault phase ones might become more critical.
Q10 Choosing to shooting bolt pistols rather than another weapon before assaulting
Clarification: Clearly states what can be done.
Comment: Good clarification, one of the advantages of carrying a bolt pistol now fully set in stone. Still, it doesn't help you to remember you can do it though does it? When the new Space Marine Codex is released all Marines will be this way anyway.
Q11 Choosing the Whirlwinds missile type
New Rule: Clearly stating when the choice has to be made rather than on the fly during the game.
Comment: A necessary addition to stop any ambiguity but no real change.
What isn't in the FAQ and should have been
It was disappointing that a few unresolved issues remain, all of which could have been covered in this FAQ as they have been well known for over a year now. Here are a few items I would have expected to have been included:
Can Scout Sergeants carry sniper rifles?
When deploying Ravenwing Attack Squadrons from reserve, can the Bike and Attack Bike units deploy on the table to utilise their Scout ability, leaving any attached Land Speeder in Reserve?
Can I still field DA named characters even when a 'Special' or 'Named Character' ban is in place as this has an obvious impact on how the Deathwing and Ravenwing perform? (This has recently emerged as an issue in some competitions and gaming clubs that ban named characters as a matter of course.)
Overall a bit of let down. I really can't believe that well after a year of listening to gamers that this is all they could come up with. For very little extra effort this could have been so much better. But I think maybe there is much more to come so hope is not lost. With 5th Edition 40k looming there might well be more clarifications required, and certainly with the 5th Space Marine Codex release I can see a few more additions depending on what new goodies/rules are deemed necessary to retrofit to the Dark Angels. However, given GWs poor record on frequency of updates maybe these FAQs won't appear until early '09 at best.
So lets just take this one on the chin and see what happens later in the Summer and Autumn when 5th Edition launches.