Home > Dark Angels, Modelling & Painting, Reviews, Trenchmates, Warhammer 40,000 > Trenchmates – The Dark Talon by Tim Chant

Trenchmates – The Dark Talon by Tim Chant

Can it really be ten months since we heard from Tim?  Not really, I’ve been ultra crap and lost this article in the Inbox From Hell for the better part of two months (sorry, Tim!) so without futher a do, here’s a review of the Dark Angels Dark Talon flyer, AKA Holy Fuck, Run!

Tim has done an amazing job on this model.

Tim has done an amazing job on this model.

If wargaming has an equivalent to a crazy cat lady, it would probably be me – the crazy Space Marine collector. Right from catching the bug in the very late ‘80s I’ve liked the power armoured fist of the Emperor, perhaps because my first introduction was playing as the Imperial side in ‘Space Marine’. Since then and across both 40K and Epic I’ve dallied variously with various styles – Codex, Space Wolves, Blood Angels and Dark Angels as well as a variety of other good(ish) guys. Yes, I even had the Army that shall not be named (but who were quite short and angry).

Right now I’ve only got three Marine forces on the go – my own Codex Chapter, the Reavers Redemptor, Space Wolves, and Dark Angels (plus I’m planning on painting some spare squads as other Chapters just to give myself some variety). I’ve always loved the followers of the Lion – the backstory and the style really appeal to me, and I think the latest Codex has done an excellent job in making them completely different from vanilla ‘Rines, when before they’d felt like a Codex Chapter with a few funky things thrown in. One of the best examples of this evolution is the Dark Talon. The addition of flyers to the 40K tabletop has really added to the dynamic of the game. I feel that both Dark Angel flyers add to the unique flavour of the Chapter, particularly the Gothic look and mysterious technology of the Dark Talon.

To begin with, I think it’s a lovely model. Obviously derived from the Storm Talon STC, it’s gone in a completely different direction in terms of style and effect. The fuselage is essentially the same design, but it’s a fixed wing and the designers have outdone themselves to layer on enough architecture and skulls to make it look like a flying reliquary (with some real teeth – more on that later). This detail was one of the things that made it a joy (and a bit of a fiddle) to paint. I’ve painted a lot of the skulls as being ‘real’ and think of them as either the skulls of slain enemies or the skull of dead serfs given a position of honour in the reliquary. I didn’t attach the side panels of the ornamental section until everything was paint, as they would have been a nightmare to paint. The hardest part, though, was doing the Aquila panels on the wings – I made the classic error of trying to emulate the professional painted style on the miniatures in the book and ended up with a bit of a mess and more layers of paint that the Forth Rail Bridge. The rest of the model was pretty straightforward after that…

I’ve now deployed the Talon twice, once against Chaos Daemons (in 6th ed) and once against John’s Heralds of Desolation Chaos Marines (in 7th). I used it in similar but slightly different ways.

First time out was against a force of mostly Tzeentch with some Khorne thrown in. I was fielding a force of Reavers Redemptor with some Dark Angel friends (mostly because the Reavers are currently undergoing some restructuring and I didn’t have a complete force painted). I played it reasonably cautiously, not having gone toe-to-toe/claw/hoof with Daemons before, and went for a gunline with a whack of air support (Storm Talon and of course the Storm Talon). Things got more than a bit hairy, particularly with a fairly large pack of Bloodletters closing in on my Librarian commander and the Tactical Squad he was leading. My airpower came on in turn 3 or 4 on the opposite flank to that little bundle of fun, and the Storm Talon in particular did some good harm to the Pink Horrors that formed the backbone of the army. The Dark Talon, though, really came into its own on the next turn. I was able to send the Talon hurtling across the battlefield and just had range to deploy the Stasis Bomb in a ‘danger close’ fashion on Khorne’s finest just as they had closed into charge range.

For anyone not familiar with it, the Stasis Bomb has an alright profile in terms of the numbers (Str 3 large blast with no AP one shot) which in its own right means it can cause casualties in low toughness horde armies, though in this case I don’t think I caused any casualties. It’s real strength is to knock 3 off both Weapon Skill and Toughness. This was decisive – I was able to follow up the bombing with a charge with the Librarian and his Tactical Marines which wiped out the Daemon pack, something I would never have considered if the Bloodletters were at full strength. It was still a tough fight, and I took casualties, but I don’t think I would have won it without that intervention. That and the judicious use of Chapter Tactics to deal with a Screamer infiltration stabilised my left flank and turned the battle (just) in my favour. As an interesting side note, the manoeuvring required for the bombing run meant the Dark Talon had no shooting targets that turn and would almost certain ended up going off the table the next turn if the game hadn’t ended there, but I still considered it a worthwhile move.

It’s second deployment was against John’s traitor scum. I’d gone for a more aggressive force this time, again mostly Reavers with some Dark Angel support. My plan was to anchor my right flank with Tacticals and Devastators and then hammer through John’s right with Captain Tann Hauser and his entourage on bikes accompanied by a six-strong Bike Squad. I put them through the city streets, a move expedited by the White Scar Chapter Tactic. I again deployed a Storm Talon and Dark Talon (they’re two of the paint jobs I’m most proud of so why not?) and this time used the Dark Talon to pave the way for an assault rather than stabilise a defence.

The heretics were coming against my left flank with a twenty-strong squad of Marines led by a Sorcerer, while their vile Cultists camped on an objective. First turn out the Sorcerer in particular handed out some punishment, but the Dark Talon’s arrival was perfectly timed. The Talon was able to go straight over this slightly terrifying behemoth squad (I like to visualise it tearing down the street below telephone wire level like a 2nd World War Mosquito) and plant the Stasis Bomb square on the Traitors before going on to give a light (but less than impressive) peppering to the dug in Cultists with its forward firing weapons. Again, the bomb run was danger close – I have a bad history with scatter rolls and my bikes were close enough that they might have been caught, but this time the dice were on my side. I hit the Chaos Marines with both bike squads and it was, to be frank, a bit of a massacre. Captain Hauser and battle brothers are unsurprisingly close combat oriented. Hauser challenged the Sorcerer and took him apart while the rest of the Blacktoppers (the Reaver’s name for their Third Company bikers) savaged the enemy footsloggers, breaking and overrunning them in a turn.

Dark Talon 01

There was a twenty man squad of Chaos Marines here a second ago, stupid Dark Angels!

Now that was a fight my bikers would probably have won anyway. Standard Chaos Marines are better in close combat than Tacticals by dint of their two hand weapons and the Sorcerer, while not the tastiest in a fight, is still pretty flavoursome. Assault-optimised bike Veterans (with T5) and a Bike Squad to beef up the numbers would still have done the business. A straight pile in, though, would probably have lasted at least another turn and degraded both squads (as it was I don’t think I took any casualties). What the Dark Talon did was make it a walkover (sorry John) which meant on the next turn my Command Squad was able to burn, blast and hack the Cultists off the Objective they were holding before continuing on to roll up the Traitor’s right flank. That allowed my infantry, Vindicator and Storm Talon to focus on the slightly scary combination of Kharn and friends, a Chaos Terminator Squad and a second Chaos Marine squad that had become bogged down after I immobilised both the enemy Rhinos. (Kharn was the last foul follower of the Dark Gods on the field and fell in a hail of gunfire having wiped out my flanking Scouts and ripped up a Vindicator).

My initial assessment of the Dark Talon, then? Standing on its own merits it’s handy – the forward firepower of the Rift Canon (Str 5, Ap-, blast, Blind) and two sets of Hurricane Bolters will be pretty good against low toughness, low armour but numerous enemies (the humble bolter is not to be sniffed at) though in both times I’ve fielded it I’ve not used the guns a lot. For a longer battle or if you manage to bring it on early I imagine they’ll be good for harassing fire after you’ve used the Stasis Bomb.

The bomb is a force multiplier for your units on the ground and needs careful timing and placement. I think the temptation, as the Dark Talon may not be made of tissue paper but is not super tough either, is to drop the bomb as soon as you have a target and hope it causes some casualties. I think it’s well worth holding on to until you have the right target, even if that means risking a blue-on-blue strike. It can make a next to impossible assault proposition something worth attempting (like tactical Marines taking on a screaming mass of assault daemons). It can make a nut that would be tough but not impossible to crack an easy proposition, allowing your own assault units to clean the gore off their chainswords and charge on after a quick round of combat. While I’ve not tested it yet, I’m guessing it will make the really scary stuff something you can at least think about charging. I don’t think I’d bother with it against Guard (though they can stand their ground in an assault, that’s more to do with Commissars than any combat capability), but I reckon against an assault optimised Eldar force (either flavour) or against Nids it will be more than useful.

Marines, for me, are all about synergies (people who say Marines are the boring army have completely missed the point imo) and the Dark Talon expresses this very well. I’m certainly looking forward to getting a squad of Ravenwing Knights on the table to see how the combination of rad shells and stasis anomalies works out.

I also need to bear in mind that I can’t rely on the same things over and over again – in our next battle in the Eternal War, John demonstrated that he’s really hitting his stride with his Chaos Marines and future battles are going to require different stratagems.

I’ve toyed with what to name the Dark Talon and have now settled on Tacet Ultionis – not that I’m going to be able to paint that on, of course.

Flattery will get you everywhere sir 🙂  Thanks again to Tim for a fantastic article, if you’d like to contrtibute you can find all the information you need here.

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