Dark Vengeance Review - Top Bryss

Tonight, Sooty falls down a well, Panda discovers nitroglycerine and I flip a £2 coin...

Hello, and welcome to the Top Bryss studio. Now, Games Workshop’s latest entry-level 40k model, the Dark Vengeance, has been released, with a slew of new models under the bonnet. But is it any good?
We'll find out after the jump. There's a video bit and everything.

Obviously, comparisons to the model it is replacing, the Black Reach, are inevitable, but GMW has done its very best to ensure that it’s a completely positive transition. The old, black and white V5 engine that powered the Black Reach pales in comparison to the full colour V6 at the helm of the Vengeance. The rulespower fits into that tiny book with incredible ease, although for reasons that baffle me, the image of Mat Ward wearing a ridiculous waistcoat is retained.
This central, 6th Edition engine is supplemented by a number of things. The main turbo-injection
comes from the How To Play manual, which holds your hand as you proceed step-by-step through the first turn of a game of 40k. This makes a crucial error in that it gives the Dark Angels their Reserves on Turn 1, but I suppose GMW’s creative people would argue this to be ‘cinematic.’ Other than that, this approach works well, replicating closely the style of a GMW rep while not clouding your mind instantly with every single rule in the game.

Moving on to the scenarios, I shall leave out the first two as they will be covered at a later point in two short films, but the remaining scenarios will be mentioned now. Missions 3&4 have a certain narrative flair to them that works quite well, and ensures the scenarios are not biased in favour of the Dark Angels as I was afraid they would. Mission 4 in particular is good for introducing Psykers in a controlled setting before including them in a larger game. However, the larger 5th and 6th missions are as bland as eating flour, essentially replicating the Purge The Alien and The Relic scenarios from the main book, with the use of the full armies ensuring an easy Dark Angels victory.

We will now move to the Top Bryss test track, where earlier I tested the so-called ‘snap fit’ models, to see if they really work. You may wish to adjust your set.

(That took me literally hours to upload so watch it in a bigger format so I get my time's worth)

Welcome back to the studio. To expand on the snap-fit test, the Chosen and other models were an easy fit, with some rather inventive joins made by the design team. For example, the Power Axe Chosen’s left arm, the pauldron trim and the top of his helmet are all one piece that fits onto the front of the model, which to me was Nobel Prize-worthy engineering. Admittedly, this doesn’t explain the Terminator issue and seems like a marked contrast in design skill.

Every GMW products has some minus points to be found, and this is no exception. The lack of points values is irritating, even given the fact that the two armies are eligible for an update soon. Some people have complained about duplicate models, however given the look of the whole set, this is easily excused. What’s important is that two of the Chosen backpacks are replicated, giving you two backpacks that reload the Chosen’s bolter for him, which immediately adds more coolness factor to the unit and the set as a whole.

Dark Vengeance is also the first starter box to come with optional extras, in this case a laminated piece of paper with some stats on them and a Chaplain model.  The Chaplain serves to further the case for Fantasy-style plastic characters in 40k, as he is made exactly in that vein, grey scenic base and all. The internet is divided on the aesthetics of the model, mainly his comparative girth to other Marines and the smoke effect, but I think that his bigger body just makes him closer to real Marine proportions, and the smoke effect is excusable if painted correctly. And besides, what would be wrong with a fat man of the Imperial cloth? Friar Tuck wasn’t that bad, was he?
Before I wrap up, I’ll get all the minor points out of the way. The set comes with two few dice in my opinion. There should be at least 10 and a Scatter, but there are only 6 and a Scatter, which is more annoying than the World Chipmunk-Style Singing Competition when you’re trying to shoot or assault with pretty much every unit in the box. This is no doubt a ploy to make you buy dice, and it sickens me. The other minor points are better ones. The box comes with two Quick Reference Sheets, both with the stats of all the units in the box, making it easy for both players as they don’t need to share like they did in Black Reach. The mini-rulebook has no fluff, therefore it is easier to flick between the rules and the unit summaries at the back. Finally, there are Beakie Marines. I love Beakie Marines.
Overall, Dark Vengeance is a massive step up from Black Reach. The models are more interesting to look at, there is a greater variety of units and the starter guide is much more helpful than the Black Reach one. Admittedly there were a few teething problems in the construction stage, but considering how much three Ravenwing Bikes would have cost a third of this set’s cost, I’ll try not to gripe too much about it.