For the Emperor!
This is the first starter set where I didn't feel even a little cheated that the good guys were More Bloody Space Marines. The last two sets gave us well-made but ultimately very static, blonked out Marines, functional but uninteresting. The Black Reach Tactical Marines looked like they were lined up on parade: standing ramrod straight with their bolters held straight across their chests. With a very small shift in posing the Dark Vengeance Tacticals have a sense of motion and more varied posing through the unit which looks so much more satisfying.
And I like that they're Dark Angels, even though I've never really been a Dark Angels fan. For one thing it means you don't have to paint any fiddly chapter symbols on their shoulders (always a plus). Whether I'll actually get around to painting them is anyone's guess, my dance card already being full of other projects.
The Terminators are fantastic too, again a great advance their Black Reach predecessors. Iconography! Tabards! Assault cannon! Chainfist! Giant bunny ears!
My friend and longtime Dark Angels fan Dave has just informed me via the medium of frying pan that they are not bunny ears but racks of feathers.
… yeah, that's so much manlier...
Greatest advancement on the More Bloody Space Marines side? Bikes that look great. Space Marine Bikes are a divisive subject and I swing back and forth on them: in general I think they look terrible but every now and then I get a yen for a White Scars army which lasts for exactly one model before I realise I cannot and shall never be able to paint white and abandon the project. These bikes however can be painted black (so much easier) and have been posed slanted to one side so it looks more like they're moving at speed.
The Company Master is a groovy character with a big ass sword and his friend the Librarian looks properly sinister. I even had a stroke of luck and picked up the last limited edition in the store so I got one of those fantastic Interrogator-Chaplains, which is a model I'm really going to have to take my time over whenever I get around to it.
Death to the False Emperor!
But never mind the good guys, I'm a servant of Chaos at heart, always have been. Codex: Eye Of Terror, oh how I miss you, which is why the inclusion of Cultists in this set did my depraved old heart good. Twenty of them, as well! Woohoo! Woot! I shall not squee, I have some shred of dignity.
Yes, the frying pan again, as my co-worker Kerry reminds me I really don't.
Beyond those twenty Cultists the Chaos side is a little sparse: you get a Chaos Lord in that cool pose with a downthrust sword (not enough models like that) and his six mates, a unit of Chosen with various cool weapons options. To be honest the two bolter-armed Chosen are the only time in the set that duplicate models stand out. All the others are hidden in much larger units aside from the Terminators but they're big enough that it's somehow less noticeable. Chosen are supposed to be mini-Chaos Lords so having two identical ones sort of stands out.
The Chosen Champion has this weapon: a maul topped with a head that looks like the Chaos starburst. That and the third eye makes me think he'd make a good Sorcerer but at a pinch I think you could also use him as a Dark Apostle since the Accursed Crozius now counts as a power maul.
Finally comes the Helbrute, the insane mash-up of Dreadnought and Chaos Spawn. It looks great! Great in a disgusting, makes me worry about the sculptor's mental health sort of way, granted. It'll be a bugger to paint, though, as it's mostly flesh and I'm not quite sure where the metal starts in some places. Still, it's a Dreadnought with toenails, I can hardly argue with that.
Oh, and you get some dice and shit but who cares? Cultists! Squeeeeeeee!