Monday, January 14, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Belial

The Grand Master of the Death Wing is still extremely potent and an awesome HQ choice from the Dark Angels codex. Vitally, he makes deathwing terminator squads in to troops (NB: not death wing knights!) and is therefore an auto-include for any pure Death Wing army list.

His armaments can vary.  His basic load-out is the Sword of Silence (think: fleshbane power sword) with a normal storm bolter and built in iron halo and teleport homer.  The latter is incredible when teamed up with Belial's ability to deep-strike without scatter (including any squad he's teamed up with).  He gets in position from turn 1 (or 2 -- remember you can choose) and then brings down his friends (if any are left in reserve that did not death wing assault) in turn 2 onward.  This is much better than what codex: daemons can do even, and is therefore to be respected and feared.  Death Wing terminators appearing exactly where they're needed are going to be incredible. His ranged attacks are precision shots on 5+.  Not that he vastly needs this, but its a strong, cute benefit.  And he also gets the usual inner circle benefits.

Alternatively, he can be kitted out with a pair of lightning claws or a thunder hammer plus storm shield.  Both of these options are clearly close combat orientated and therefore waste a few of his rules (precision shot, vengeful strike), but can clearly help in certain situations.  To be honest, given the meta-game that contains a reasonable amount of dark eldar, I think I'd be erring on the side of thunder hammer and storm shield over the lightning claws.  Leave the claws at home: if you're tempted to take some in case you're facing fast opponents, just take some inside a regular squad instead.  But equally, weigh this thought against Chaos Space Marine's problem of always issuing challenges.  I hope that 2+/4+ (or 2+/3+) armour will get you through any high initiative issues.  Hence I'd be taking Belial either with the standard equipment, or with the thunder hammer.

In terms of play style, I would advocate making maximum benefit of his deep-strike without scatter ability and team him up with a good squad of terminators (whether they be regular death wing, a command squad, or death wing knight squad).  I'm still on the fence about whether to field a 10 strong terminator squad which is possible with normal death wing terminators: it certainly maximizes Belial's ability to get them on the board where they're needed, but a 10 strong squad of terminators has manoeuvrability issues all of its own -- especially if they're valuable scoring terminators.  Hence I'd be tempted by knights instead, or a command squad, if lots of terminators are desired.  

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