September saw the official release of the Warhammer 40k 6th Edition Rules starter set. This set called “Dark Vengeance” comes in the usual sized box that we’re all used to from Games Workshop. There was a limited edition variant produced that included a limited edition plastic miniature.
Read the full review below
First off I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I don’t own this boxed set. A good friend of mine bought it and kindly gave me the Chaos miniatures and allowed me to review this at his house. This is why I don’t have any pictures in the review!
What’s in the box?
Four sprues that hold a total of 48 miniatures:
Dark Angles – 3 Ravenwing bikers; 5 Deathwing terminators; 10 Tactical marines; Librarian; Lord
Chaos – Lord; 5 Chosen; Champion; Hellbrute; 20 Cultists
Documentation: Rulebook; How to play; 2 quick reference sheets; miniature assembly guide
Other: 2 red range rules; blast templates; dice
Additionally if you purchased the limited edition boxed set you also get a Dark Angels Chaplain and an A4 stat sheet.
The box is crammed full of stuff, but not to the point of denting the rule book or similar.
As you would expect the box contains a pair of red range rules, the design of which dates back to 1995. In fairness they work so why change them!
The dice are pretty standard and contain enough to get going, including the mandatory scatter dice. As any 40k player will tell you though, you will need more – a lot more in order to play a game.
The blast templates are made from a substantial yellow-green acrylic, unlike the previous incarnation of flexible whitey colours plastic. This is a good improvement and the transparent nature of acrylic will make it a lot easier to see exactly what your template is over.
Books & Documents
The documents within the boxed set are actually pretty standard for a Games Workshop boxed game. The assembly guide is black and white and intended to be thrown away once you’ve put your miniatures together – you are going to need to use this as some miniatures are spread across multiple sprues.
The full colour quick reference sheets are printed on medium weight card and would benefit from being laminated for regular use.
The rulebook is an A5 version of the rules section of the main Warhammer 40k rulebook – even down to the number of pages and is also in full colour. This does mean that you know 100% that you’re using the same rule set as your opponent. The font is actually quite small so anybody who needs glasses for close up work may struggle to read it. My biggest disappointment is that the cover is a lightweight glossy paper, infact the cover of White Dwarf is thicker.
The How to Play booklet is what really stands out in the box though. Rather than some awful examples of two squads engaging in a fight that would likely never happen in a real game, it provides you with a minimal set of rules and then some scenarios to play through to get you used to not only the rules, but all of the miniatures in the box. The first and second scenarios are actually solo plays so you can practice without feeling like a moron. The very last scenario allows you to field both sides in their entirety. This booklet also goes into depth about the background of most of the miniatures so has fluff too.
The layout of the sprues is actually very fascinating as sprue layouts go. Games Workshop have exceeded themselves in tessellating all of the miniatures to get everything into the box, yet the sprues don’t appear necessarily crowded. There is some repetition in the miniatures which is a bit of a shame, but significantly better than other boxed sets have been in the past and at most you get two identical miniatures and no more. The Chaos Cultist Heavies are clever in that although the bodies are identical, there are two different weapons and backpacks.
Some of the Chaos Chosen are a little peculiar in that you have arms that are in two halves – I don’t mean hand and biceps, I quite literally mean you have half of a shoulder pad on one component and the other half on a separate one. Due to the obvious join join line you’re going to get I do wonder if Games Workshop couldn’t have thought of a better way of doing these items, even if it resulted in more components.
I’m not particularly impressed with the “push fit” nature of the models. If I’m truthful it’s a complete load of crap as some of the bits will never stay together unless you use some glue – the Chaos Champion’s helmet and hand are a good example of this as are all of the backpacks. I actually think they would have been better off with locator lugs rather than push fit rods and holes and to have included a pot of polystyrene cement in the box. I don’t care what anybody says – a £70 game isn’t intended for “children” to play unsupervised.
The Hellbrute is a complete monster and it’s impressive how they’ve tackled this. It’s an amazing model but I can’t help feeling that it might have been nicer to have had something a little smaller and put in more models for both sides.
Anybody who tries to twist these miniatures off the sprue is also on a hiding to nothing as pieces have anything up to eight points of contact some of which are quite thick. A pair of snips is the only way to go.
One thing I do find sad is how limited the tactical marines and bikes are. The tactical marines just don’t have the dynamic punch of the rest of the miniatures and in comparison are very bland. The bikes are nothing special either, just bog standard (impractical) marine bikes at a slight angle with wings on the back, hardly exciting. Considering what a good job has been done to the other miniatures and looking at the latest Space Hulk game I just get the impression these had less design time spent on them than everything else.
First off, this has to be the best starter sets that Games Workshop has produced. Space Hulk was fantastic but this one seems to cram in more high quality miniatures and bits into the same space. The How to Play guide is a brilliant booklet and I’m quite looking forward to getting enough miniatures painted to have a go at the solo scenarios.
A few big negatives stand out for me though:
- The assembly of some of the models where you have arms split in half mean that you’ll need to fill some gaps – I believe this could have been avoided.
- Tactical marines & bikes – I’m sorry but they’re just bland in comparison to everything else. Space Marine bikes also need a serious face lift as they’re both very old and crap.
- The rule book isn’t substantial enough and will get dog-eared and knackered very quickly. This means you either have to use a knackered small rule book or the 2 kilo hard backed version. A thicker cover would have solved that with very little additional cost.
Even taking these negatives into account Dark Vengeance gets a big thumbs up from me. All of the Chaos miniatures are superb and the Chaos Lord is an absolute joy to paint. The miniatures have just the right amount of detailing on them to make them an interesting miniature to paint but also fairly simple and straight forward.
As you would expect Games Workshop has released a number of bits to accompany the new boxed set and you can purchase an audio book, reading book, carry case and painting guide.
The carry case has a three layers of sponge – one for the Chaos, one for Dark Angels and one generic for £40. Not entirely sure what the point is as it doesn’t seem to fulfil any specific role. If you are expanding Chaos you don’t want the Dark Angels foam or visa versa if you’re expanding Dark Angels. Equally if you’re not going to expand either then you don’t need the generic foam? I think the real reason is that Games Workshop is using the bog standard miniature case rather than have a new one produced.
My biggest gripe out of all the additional bits, is that the painting guide has been released for £4.99 and is only available as a digital download for the iPad. Although this is 50 pages long the guides are “tabletop” standard rather than “‘Eavy Metal” standard and limiting it to digital only strikes me as counter productive. Bringing it out as a booklet would have been much more useful or better still as something viewable online.