Dark Vengeance Brings Value Back
Games Workshop released the 6th edition Warhammer 40k ruleset earlier this year along with an overhaul of the beginner’s best friend, the Assault on Black Reach (ABR) boxed set. Games Workshop has long offered a beginner friendly starter set that includes everything a novice needs to jump right into the Warhammer 40k hobby. The value has been so good that veteran players routinely purchase the kit due to the fantastic point per dollar of the included miniatures. The starter sets of the past have been fantastic values and an easy entry point for new players while also being a good value for long-time players. The biggest question that I had going into this review was if the extra cost of the latest set is justified over the outgoing ABR set (full comparison here.) In this review, we will be focusing mostly on the Dark Vengeance (DV) set alone, is it worth the price?
The biggest change introduced in DV is getting rid the long running Ultramarine army for Dark Angels. Rounding out the major changes is the introduction of the Chaos instead of Orks. More subtly, the overall feel of the boxed set is more serious and darker than the out going set. Orks are innately comical and over-the-top, while the Chaos and even Dark Angels are more sinister. ABR was, to me, a call back to the early 90’s with the bright blues of the Ultramarines paired with the traditional Orks. Chaos and the Dark Angels definitely set a new tone going forward and it will be interesting to see how it does with the new crowd (and for parents buying for their children.)
Games Workshop decided to lose the diorama of war that has traditionally adored the front of their boxed sets in leu of promoting traditional Warhammer 40k copy. The box looks more serious and imposing than prior sets, almost as if it is made of something more substantial than game-box cardboard. The box has a matte finish that gives it a high quality look and feel.
Flipping the box over, the back shows a table top scene with all the models painted by the ‘Eavy Metal crew. Boilerplate Warhammer 40k lore accompanies two close up images of the most anticipated models included in the Chaos roster, the Chaos Lord and Helbrute.
Included in the set are the following items:
- How to play quick start booklet 48 pages
- Abbreviated rulebook- 168 pages
- Assembly guide- 15 pages
- Reference sheet
- Template set with dice pack and range finders
- 28 Chaos minis: 1 Chaos Lord, 6 Chosen, 1 Helbrute, 20 Chaos Cultists
- 20 Dark Angels: 1 Company Master, 1 Librarian, 5 Terminators, 10 Marines, 3 Bikes
- Base pack
Opening the Kit
Pulling the top off, we see a mostly unchanged set of dice, templates, and range finders. Neatly packed to the right are four sets of sprues that hold all the miniatures. Under the game tools, a vacuum sealed package contains the literature attached to a piece of strong cardboard. This is a nice touch as it seats the booklets to the bottom of the box and keeps them from bumping around. The booklets were in great condition with crisp corners.
The greatest value for new players is the included literature. A normal rule book costs over 70 USD now, so the included abridged version is almost worth the entire cost of entry for new players. Also vital to new players is the vastly improved quick start booklet that guides new players through their first game and offers a basic introduction to missions. A little bit of lore is sprinkled throughout both booklets to give an overview of the Warhammer 40k universe. There’s not much new there for veterans, but having a copy of the abridged 6th edition rule set is a must have for most players. Hauling a 5lb, 70 USD tome around to every battle can be both tiring and costly.
New to the boxed set is an assembly guide that makes putting all the pieces together very easy, especially for new players. I still fumble around with sets that do not include assembly instructions, so having a guide is a great addition. Lastly, my set included two quick reference guides. One is made of card stock while the other was made of a glossy and fragile paper. I’m not sure if every set includes both as the back of the box says only one is included. The card stock version is much better, so hopefully that’s the standard version that is included in the set.
The included range finders, templates, and dice are everything a new player needs to get right into a game of WH40k. Not much has changed here except the color of the templates being a bit more vibrant than previous kits. Although the items are practically the same, there wasn’t much of a need to change them. The dice are smaller than I typically play with, but are completely serviceable.
The meat of the DV set is, of course, the minis. I’ll start by saying, the models are very well made and detailed. GW has consistently improved their plastic molding process and it certainly shows in this latest kit. The sprues are absolutely jam packed with miniatures and parts. They’ve etched out the maximum amount of usable space on these sprues.
Upon closer inspection, the models are more “dimensional” than prior sets. It is hard to relay, but the models are thicker and more weighty than the previous sets. They must have been able to extend the height of the z-axis when designing these models to allow for better poses. The detail is improved as well, which is most noticeable in the Chaos models. The crisp and precise cuts in the chain mail, warped flesh, and runed weaponry is leagues above the previous kits. The Chaos Lord’s sword is a work of art that needs to be seen in person to completely appreciate.
As for points:
Points-wise, the included armies are well matched. It is strange to have two hero units with so few points in the Dark Angels army. It is great for looks, but the functionality of multiple hero units with few troops doesn’t work too well. Chaos is certainly a more balanced army. There are not many extra bits, so new players are pretty much stuck with the default equipment list. I was a little disappointed at the customization options. Having a power fist option for the sergeant would have been nice. The Ravenwing Bike Squad could use more differentiation as well. This is really nit-picking though, due to the value of the kit as a sum of all its included parts.
As a value proposition, Dark Vengeance adds much needed value to the aging ABR boxed set, especially after the recent price increase of ABR. ABR launched at around the 65 USD mark but slowly increased over the years to 99 USD. What used to be a fantastic bargain was beginning to become very mediocre. GW managed to infuse the DV boxed set with enough oomph to bring it back in line with the type of value veterans and new players enjoyed when ABR and Macragge first launched. The increase in model quality, increase in points value, and totally revamped rulebook plus the expanded quick start guide make the WH40k boxed set a fantastic value once again.
For new players, there is no better time than now to jump into WH40k. DV gives you everything you need in the best detail that GW has ever made. For veterans, the pocket rulebook and ~1500 pts worth of miniatures are well worth the price of entry. We are pleasantly surprised by the major improvements and absolutely recommend checking out this fantastic addition to the WH40k lineup.