My Tactics pledge: I am not the greatest player, nor a seal pup. I will endeavor to speak from my experience and always be honest about what is theory and what is play tested. Never will I assume to know better than anyone else... unless I must call out ego or pretension.
Praying to the wrong Gods
Games Workshop often creates units to fill gaps missing in a codex, but sometimes they make units that are inconsequential and superfluous the Dark Apostle could just be that unit.
Chaos Space Marines finally get their Chaplain, too bad no one ever asked for it in the first place. The Dark Apostle is also a case of Games Workshop not only designed a terrible looking model, but simultaneously giving it poor rules.
The Dark Apostle gets one thing right, then follows it up by getting everything else wrong. A close miss for a unit that should never have been created in the first place.
Let us start by looking at the rules that make the Dark Apostle a weak choice for your Chaos Space Marine army.
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Highs & Lows
- Cost: 105
- Beseech the Dark Gods
- Chaos Marks
--Preaching Doesn't come Cheap--
Another two wound model, but unlike others, you don't have to spend much extra on a Dark Apostle to get the most out of it. The Dark Apostle comes stock with a Sigil of Corruption and Power Maul making the math equal for the same Chaos Lord-- minus the extra attack, extra wound, better weapon skill, higher initiative, but hey who keeps track of those things.
--Hate, Hate, Hate--
The best thing about the Dark Apostle is the ability to give Hatred to unit they join. Zealot also confers Fearless. This makes Dark Apostles the Chaplain of the Chaos Space Marines and at a 25 point reduction.
The Dark Apostle also gets a Leadership bubble. This power is great when used with Cultists giving them Leadership 10, only problem it is 6" inch range. Most leadership bubbles are 12" so this smaller radius really makes you bunch units in if you want to use it effectively.
--Pray for Rain--
This power would be cool if you it effected every Champion of Chaos on the board, instead it only works for the Dark Apostles unit. The chances of this being of any use is minimal, mostly because Phil Kelly made a point to have it only work on Chaos Boons acquired during the game, not from purchasing Gifts of Mutation.
--Pick me, Pick me--
Mark of Khorne - 10 pts
With Hatred by your side taking Mark of Khorne isn't the worse of ideas for a Dark Apostle. It also gives the Dark Apostle access to the Axe of Blind Fury, which isn't terrible with Weapon Skill 4.
Mark of Slaanesh - 15pts
Mark of Slaanesh is pretty useless for a Dark Apostle. Mark of Slaanesh is good for challenges, but with the Dark Apostle you want to avoid most challenges. Since there is no unit joining restriction for being unmarked, better to save the points.
Mark of Tzeentch - 15 pts
Perhaps the best Chaos Mark for a Dark Apostle. Dark Apostles get the Sigil of Corruption stock so having 3+ invulnerable with Mark of Tzeentch isn't bad. In addition, a Thousand Sons unit with a Aspiring Sorcerer and Boon of Mutation takes good advantage of the the Dark Apostles Beseech the Gods.
Another two wound model, but unlike others, you don't have to spend much extra on a Dark Apostle to get the most out of it.
Putting it all Together...
The Dark Apostle suffers from a case of Games Workshop not pricing two wound models correctly. Even with the upgrades the Dark Apostle is hard to justify, when only Mark of Nurgle can give you any Instant Death protection. Dark Apostles not having access to Chaos Mounts or Special Issue Wargear, means mostly foot slogging with only a Power Maul at your side.
The Dark Apostle does have one saving grace over other HQ choices (Warpsmith and Chaos Sorcerer): Fearless. The Zealot power confers Fearless, which if you plan on running Chaos Space Marines is a true blessing. Dark Apostle takes the place of having to spend points on Veterans of the Long War as well. But with poor survivability and running into unwinnable challenges has its problems.
The idea of having 20 Chaos Space Marines running around with Hatred and Mark of Khorne has its appeal, but at the same time why not just take Kharn? The Dark Apostle other powers are pretty useless; Demagogue only is good if you like bunching up your units. Then you have Beseech the Dark Gods, which is most effective with another Independent Character, and only provides a re-roll.
Dark Apostle’s by fluff and design does beg for a Cultist army. With Zealot, Cultists become not so terrible at assaulting, having three attacks on the charge.
Dark Apostle is a decent secondary choice for many armies. If you really want a force multiplier with a death star than the Dark Apostle isn't bad. The Dark Apostle has a one up on other Chaplain equivalents because of the large unit sizes available to Chaos Space Marine players.
Why not take a Khorne Lord on Juggernaught with 20 Chaos Space Marines and a Dark Apostle with a Black Mace, just to see what happens? What about a Dark Apostle, Typhus, and a full squad of Zombies?
Dark Apostle would have been better served as an Elite choice, like Chaplains in the Blood Angels codex. As it is the Dark Apostle for the most part, limited, by lack of options and lesser stat line to be a primary HQ choice. If you want a cheap HQ you can do better-- even a Burning Brand of Skalathrax on a naked Chaos Lord. At least a naked Chaos Lord can open up the Force Org where a Dark Apostle cannot.
--Ways to play Dark Apostle--
The following configurations are by no means meant strictly for competitive play, they represent a cross-section of the Chaos Space Marine codex allowing for flexibility and variety.
Death Star Configuration: 160 pts Dark Apostle with Mark of Khorne, The Black Mace,
Balanced Configuration: 105 pts Dark Apostle with nothing extra
Shooting Configuration: 135 pts Dark Apostle with Burning Brand of Skalathrax
Khorne Configuration: 150 pts Dark Apostle with Mark of Khorne, Axe of Blind Fury
Slannesh Configuration: 120 pts Dark Apostle with Mark of Slaanesh
Nurgle Configuration: 120 pts Dark Apostle with Mark of Nurgle
Tzeentch Configuration: 165 pts Dark Apostle with Mark of Tzeentch, Scrolls of Magnus
If you have any questions feel free to email me using the contact information below.
Overall, the Dark Apostle is great as a literary concept, but not so much a game play concept. Dark Apostles make fluff sense for all Cultists army, but otherwise you have better choices for your primary HQ. As a secondary choice, Dark Apostles only excel if you take full advantage of Hatred. With two wounds and Kharn sitting around, you're better off skipping the Dark Apostle all together.
It's Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.
For tactical articles feel free to email me to continue the discussion or if you discover an inaccurate interpretation of the rules-- edits will be made accordingly.
Also check out other articles in this series...
- Getting Restarted
- Breaking Down the Codex
- Chaos Space Marine Unit Review
- Cultist Review
- Khorne Berzerkers Review
- Thousand Sons Review
- Noise Marine Review
- Plague Marine Review
- Chosen Review
- Mutilator Review
- Helbrute Review
- Possessed Review
- Chaos Terminator Review
- Chaos Bikes Review
- Chaos Spawn Review
- Raptors Review
- Warp Talons Review
- Heldrake Review
- Havocs Review
- Obliterator Review
- Defiler Review
- Forgefiend Review
- Maulerfiend Review
- Rhino, Vindicator, Predator, Land Raider Review
- Abbadon the Despiler Review
- Huron Blackheart Review
- Kharn the Betrayer Review
- Ahriman Review
- Typhus Review
- Lucius the Eternal Review
- Fabius Bile Review
- Chaos Lord Review
- Chaos Sorcerer Review
- Daemon Prince Review
- Warpsmith Review
- Dark Apostle Review
- Final Breakdown