I'd recommend getting the Dark Angels Company Veterans/Fallen kit, it's full of useful bits for this. I'd also recommend the Forge World Dark Angels heads and shoulders, as those fit the Fallen's Heresy-Era aesthetic better than the Chaos Marine and normal Dark Angels kits.
A roving band of renegades, traitors, freedom fighters, tragic heroes, secessionists, idealists or all or none of the above – their true motivations have ever been in shadow, and even in a universe of mysteries, there are few whose goals are as inde-cypher-able as theirs – and that’s why I love ‘em. Then there’s Cypher himself: even amongst his peers, the pistol-toting Lord of the Fallen stands out. He is the iconic Fallen, sitting in the near-mythical venn diagram overlap of gunslinger, questing warrior-knight, and redemption-seeking angel, and is my favourite hero* in the 41st Millennium.
Even before their recent resurgence was a force in the 41st Millennium, I was a fan.
My Fallen army started a few years back as part of a Lutherite Horus Heresy force. Most of the troopers in the army are made of a mix of Mk IV and Mk III armour, mixed with parts from Citadel kits, primarily the Dark Angels Veteran Squads (back then, I used Forge World resin for the older armour marks, but these days it would be even easier, as both are available in plastic). I built a few guys with boltguns for all the squads, as well as a variety of special weapon options for each, depending on how I chose to field the units each game. I really like the idea that those Legionaries that take to the battlefields of the Horus Heresy in the Age of Darkness are the same ones that find themselves the quarry of “The Hunt” 10,000 years laters – re-banded together into new units as their often desperate situation demands.
After I had the basic troops done, I started adding in more stuff. This is where some of the more warped and chaotic units joined the collection. I like to think that there are some Fallen who still hold to their oaths to the Lion or the Emperor, and are untainted after 10,000 years. And then there are others who have gone all-in with the malign powers of the Warp in exchange for glory and power. In my army, alongside un-corrupted Dreadnoughts and heavy-weapon troopers, march Helbrutes, Daemon Engines and other Chaos-tainted machines – united only by half-remembered brotherhood, and necessity. (In games of Warhammer 40,000, I use these additions as Chaos Space Marines units to fight alongside the Fallen Angels. If you opt for less-gribble, and more gadgets, you can always ally them to Space Marines as Fallen can, uniquely, fight easily alongside both.)
The armies rough theme was the force that amassed at a planet freshly dubbed “New Caliban” under the leadership of the Daemon Prince “The Black Lion”. There are references in Dark Angels archives to at least one of the Fallen ascending to Daemonhood, and I figured you’d need someone like that to band a large force of Fallen together (even Cypher is lucky if he is joined by more than a dozen or so of his former brothers).
There are a lot of vehicles in the force too. These are almost all converted in some way, sticking with the tried-and-tested First Legion aesthetic of “put a cathedral on it” (a technique that works just as well on land-speeders as it does on asteroid-borne fortress monasteries). The most impressive model in the army is the Lord of War – Yvain, the Lost Knight. The name is an old Arthurian one: I imagine the Fallen would have bestowed upon it him. Ye olde knightly names are my go-to resource for naming Fallen characters, as it sits perfectly for me with the former role of the order on lost Caliban.
Naturally, Cypher is in the army. The new model really is fantastic – Cypher is my favourite character in the entire Warhammer 40,000 setting, and the model is everything I could have hoped for. I painted mine up with black armour, but edge-highlighted in green, so there is some uncertainty about whether it is really the tone of Calibanite winter forest, or if is a strange trick of the light… He’s actually the second Cypher in my army. I had built myself one already, from a mix of other Dark Angels parts. This original Cypher now gets demoted to Chaos Lord with plasma pistol, but on the up-side for him, I might now let him draw his sword when he gets in a fight…
Using Fallen in your games Cypher
Apart from the fact that the model is phenomenal, and his backstory is the coolest in the entire setting, you’re going to add Cypher to you army for two reasons: to blast stuff with his pistols or to bolster one of your squads.
Cypher is an unusual character in games of Warhammer 40,000, in that you don’t tend to want to get him in combat. He has a stat-line that out-classes most lord-level characters, and he has the ever-useful Eternal Warrior rule, but no invulnerable save and only power armour means he can be fragile. He’ll be a match for most squad leaders, but you’ll want to stay well clear of dedicated combat characters in melee.
His main damage output lies in shooting. At range 12″, you will reliably cause 2 plasma hits and 2 bolt pistol hits on anything, then one more of each against anything that charges in overwatch. Then, with his high initiative, possibly another two of each before they get to swing, before using Hit and Run to bounce out of combat to do the same again (assuming you survived). You can pick your fights using Infiltrate too, so it’s well within the realms of possibility that he can take out whole squads this way over a few turns, unless the enemy can bring some serious firepower to bear, or catch him with a dedicated combat unit in melee.
While that’s cool, this alone doesn’t necessarily make Cypher a must-have choice in your army. Where he really shines though, is when you put him in a squad.
The Lord of the Fallen is able to join either Imperial or Chaos units as Battle Brothers, giving you loads of options on what to do with him. He brings with him a raft of useful special rules – not least of which are Hit and Run and Shrouded. As well as bringing the not insignificant threat of his blazing pistols, he also makes one of your units incredibly durable to enemy shooting when in cover and all but impossible to pin-down in combat. Unless the enemy devotes considerable resource to dig this unit out, they’re going nowhere.
His other key rule is Infiltrate, and all of the above counts double if you join him to a unit that get to set up last – exactly where you want it. The best unit for Cypher to join? Fallen
Effectively Veteran Space Marines, the Fallen have an arsenal of kit to choose from. If you take them alongside Cypher, they gain Infiltrate, and when near him, they also gain Stubborn and They Shall Know No Fear – these guys are as reliable as they come.
You can take up to three units of 5- to 10-strong Fallen alongside Cypher. It’s worth noting that, while they will all gain Infiltrate, and the morale bonuses when nearby, only the unit Cypher actually joins will get Hit and Run and Shrouded, so the other units will be more vulnerable to enemy shooting and assault. For this reason, I tend to favour one big unit equipped to the nines rather than multiple units, as two will be an easier target (though even without those bonuses, two units of infiltrating veteran Space Marines with special weapons is nothing to be sniffed at).
It’s a good idea to have a target in mind for your Fallen unit. While you can kit them out in a “take on-all-comers” style setup, you might find more luck by specialising. Here are some examples: – Melt armour
A small unit infiltrating with 5 meltaguns will make a mess of most enemy armour. Chuck a meltabomb or power fist on the Champion if you have the points, just to be sure. – Elite-killers
The Fallen can be excellent Space Marine and Terminator killers. The unit can include a terrifying 5 plasma guns and a combi-plasma. This is a great unit for Cypher to roll with, as together at range 12″ the units kicks out a power-armour-melting 14 plasma shots. Ouch. – Ranged support
Use Infiltrate to set up a big unit with boltguns, backed up by accompanying autocannon or heavy bolter in the building with the best field of fire on the board. Add in Cypher to make full use of his Shrouded rule to help keep the unit intact against enemy fire, and dominate that area of the battlefield. – Blades of Caliban
All Fallen are rolling at least 3 dice in the Assault phase, every turn, but you can really make them up-close killers if you want with 5 of the your squad able to take a range of deadly power weapons. This unit can be equipped to tackle most enemy unit types, but remember: you can’t charge directly after Infiltrating , so getting the most from this unit can be tricky, as you will need to take a least one turn of enemy fire before closing. Adding Cypher to this unit means he can help them bounce between enemy units with Hit and Run, causing no-end of problems in the enemy deployment zone.