The Dark Fortress

A short interview with Jervis Johnson

5 March 2007 | 4th Edition

During the course of a store visit in March 2007, Jervis Johnson, was asked a series of questions about his latest creation — the new Dark Angels Codex.

The interview was first posted on the Bolter & Chainsword by Beef (a Space Wolves player) who asked the questions, so my thanks go to him for allowing its publication here.

The anwers Jervis gave are illuminating to say the least, giving insight to both his view on the playability of the dark Angels as an army, as well as his views on Dark Angel players themselves.

Onto the questions:

Question 1

I'd like to ask if the Codex is pretty much tight and we take everything literally ie RAW. One example is the Company Master who comes armed with Bolt Pistol and Chainsword. One of the options state that he could replace the chainsword with twin lightning claws.


Yes by RAW you can if it's in the list. But he said all the wargear would have to be modelled onto the model and if somebody wanted to be that extreme then by all means.

Question 2

I'd really be interested in knowing what playtesting process is used when developing new army lists and rules. For example, would there be 10, 20, or 100 games played? Is the new list pitted against all types of opponents, and variations? Are only other games designers in Games Workshop involved, or do they let any fresh eyes take a look over things? Do they pay any attention at all to the various forums out there with opinions and wishlists? Also what to you say about the people who claime you have killed the DA codex?


When it came to listening to the forums he said he does and some designers do and some don't. He added that the forums are usually for veteran players who are more into the game and sometimes too much into the rules. He does not exclusively listen to them as he would then alienate the rest of the consumers who do not use the forums.

He tries to take in all opinions.

For playtesting, they try to get in as many games as possible (he did not give a figure) and usually it's the GW teams that play.

As for the people who think the DA codex is bad he has had loads of people say it's the best yet, Owen Rees adding it's the best he has seen. He said you can't please everybody and this codex is more based on fluff and the miniature range, not to say its not a viable codex for winning games but its aimed at the more experienced player that love DA and would rather play with them in line with there fluff than to pick up and army just to win.

Question 3

Is Games Workshop planning to release plastic Deathwing Terminator models?


Nothing confirmed but in the meanwhile you have the Dark Angel sprues with extra bits for the Deathwing Terminators.

Question 4

Why had he removed the second assault cannon (from Deathwing squads), and why had Scouts been made Elites and not Troops?


The Dark Angels, he said use 5-man Terminator squads fluff-wise and have one heavy weapon weapon so it made sense to get rid of the extra heavy weapon. "Two assault cannons per squad were a no-brainer" he said so he wanted to move away from that. This codex was driven by a fluff-point to make it different to Codex Space Marines. "If people want to play two heavy weapons per Terminator squad then play Codex Space Marines".

Same goes for the Scouts due to them having the stronger shotguns shells. Jervis felt it was better to make them Elites.

Question 5

Why is wargear now so limited, what were the pros and cons of doing that and why was it decided upon in the end?


This was so you did not need to keep flipping backwards and forward from the Dark Angels Codex to the Space Marine Codex.

Question 6

Characters all bear much more protection now in the form of invulnerable saves, but less availability to Terminator Armour and Artificer Armour, what was a reason for this?


The Terminator armour is reserved for the Deathwing so only a Deathwing captain would have it. Jervis wanted to see the Termie armour stay with the Deathwing army.

Question 7

What were the reasons for the changes in pure Deathwing armies?


Just to make it more fluffy and in line with the new codex.

Question 8

I think the thing I most want to know is how much of the Dark Angels Codex you expect to make its way into the next SM Codex (and the Blood Angels one). I assume Combat squads, repriced vehicles and restricted wargear will all be transferred in some manner.


It's the way forward. At present they are not sure that if and when they redo Codex SM whether it will be just Ultramarines or not. But especially Codex Chapters will be more in line with the new Combat squads. This may not be the case for divergent Chapters like the Space Wolves or some other DIY chapters.

Question 9

Finally, what happened to Asmodai?


The original model they had for Asmodia fits the profile for the new Interrogator-Chaplain so they did not make him a special character. With hindsight he said he should have put him in as a special character as a lot of people really liked him. He also said that they will perhaps do that in future along with some more background about him.


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