Here we have another elite style army, the best of the best with all the latest and greatest technology that the universe has to offer. Not all of it straight up legal by the standards of the Imperium, but the Deathwatch are above the petty laws that govern the lesser man.
The one thing that this army does that is very different than most other elite style armies, is that everyone is good at everything. Every unit can be built to handle nearly any and every situation that they may have to come up against and a good chunk of that diversity is due to their only real army wide special rule, Special Ammunition. These special rounds apply to a whole long list of bolt weapons which you can find on page 64. There are 4 special types and you can choose which to use before the unit fires any of the listed guns and you apply the relative modifier. Dragonfire rounds give a +1 to hit against units that are in cover, which is pretty good at taking out Eldar Rangers with their to hit shenanigans. Hellfire rounds always wound on a 2+ unless targeting vehicles or Titanic units making them an absolute nightmare for Daemons and Tyranids, along with other large monsters. Kraken rounds increases the range of the weapon up to 6" and improves the AP by 1 to a max of -2. Vengeance rounds decrease the range of the weapon but improves the AP by 2 to a max of -3.
Now, before I get to the units, there is one more special rule that I want to go over. The Mission Tactics is one of the abilities gained by INFANTRY, BIKER, and DREADNOUGHT units that are in a Deathwatch detachment. Before the battle you can choose one of the 6 abilities which will apply to the applicable units for the entire battle which allow you to re-roll wound rolls of 1 against one of the 6 battlefield roles, Troops, Fast Attack, Elites, Heavy Support, HQ, and Flyers. It's not huge, but it's a pretty good little boost that you can use to maximise the damage dealt, and it can be changed mid game with a relic, Warlord Trait, and/or a stratagem.
To start off the list of units we have the least customisable unit in the book, the Watch Master. In fact, you can't give him any upgrades unless it's a relic and even then none of the relics really lend themselves to being great in the hands of a Watch Master except for the Osseus Key and that's only because only a Watch Master can take one. It allows him to make one additional attack against a vehicle each time he fights, if it hits he does D3 mortal wounds. You could make an argument for the Banebolts of Eryxia which would make his Guardian Spear shooting profile 3D with mortal wounds on a 6+. You could then use one of the Doctrine stratagems to give him a +1 to wound and then take your pick of the special ammo. You could either wound on 2+, have -2AP or -3AP (depending on range requirements), 3D, and mortal wounds on 5+. That might be a too much effort for a weapon that's only Rapid Fire 1 though. He also allows units within 6" to re-roll all failed hit rolls, so that's nice...
Next is your various flavours of Watch Captain from jump pack to Primaris. Regardless of all their various forms, he is a well equipped re-roll booster(only hit rolls of 1 though) with a fairly extensive array of weapons given is various forms. Ultimately you want him for his re-rolls, but he can be a threat if you need him to be. The Castellan of the Black Vault Warlord trait can be used to make your own Slam-Guinius captain with a D4 thunder hammer. Hitting on 3's re-rolling 1's, S8, AP-3, D4, and the ability to get +1 to wound and re-rolling 1's to wound. Then, if you happen to die, you can attack again with Only in Death Does Duty End, and if you don't die you can Honour Your Brothers and attack again. Not quite as awesome as the Blood Angel version, but still pretty damn good.
I'm going to glaze over the Chaplain and Librarian as, like the Captain, they comes in several different forms but we all know what they can do. The Chaplain hands out those sweet sweet combat re-rolls and the Librarian shoots mind bullets and stuff. You won't likely see the Chaplain all that often as his re-rolls are limited to combat while the Watch Master and Captain's aren't. The Librarian you will see and use more often as psychic powers are extremely powerful and stopping a key power at an opportune time could spell doom for your opponent. He has access to all the normal marine powers so I won't bore you with all the details, but I will point out that Psychic Fortress will be very useful in defending against smite spam armies like T-sons. This is even more important due to the lack of throw away screen units this army has.
Now that we got all our boss men out of the way, lets talk grunts. You know, those run of the mill super elite soldiers. This is where we get the feeling that every unit can be built to do absolutely anything and everything. There are 2 Troops units, one made up of Veteran Space Marines, the other made up of Primaris Space Marines and the thing that makes them so versatile is due to the fact that they can take several different types of models in a single unit, and each type grants a boon to the unit.
|Its like this, except everyone is different and has a unique set of skills...so nothing like this.|
So lets run this down step by step starting with the Veterans which starts with 5 models. One of the Veterans may be replaced with a Watch Sergeant, and one may be replaced by a Black Shield, and you can add up to 5 more models in any combination of Veterans, Terminators, Bikers, or Vanguard Veterans. If the unit contains any Terminators it automatically passes Morale Checks, can Fall Back and charge if it contains any Bikers, can make Heroic Interventions if it contains a Black Shield, and can shoot after it Falls Back if it contains a Vanguard Veteran. Considering the staggering array of weaponry that this unit can be equipped with, from chain swords to thunder hammers and bolters to frag cannons, all those special rules really help them make use of all of them. You don't want to get close to them cause they will beat you down, but you also don't want them to be able to shoot you up either. Their biggest downfall is that they are only marines, in the end, and die just as easily.
You might be asking how do we get them into position, after all they can only walk around. Well, other than the couple transports that exist, you can use the Teleportarium. This stratagem can put up to 3 units in to "deep strike" reserve, for 1 CP per unit, keeping them safe to drop in with their full compliment of shots. You are gonna want to remember this Stratagem cause it's gonna show up again.
The Primaris unit starts with 4 Intercessors and an Intercessor Sergeant and can include up to 5 more models in any combination of Intercessors, Hellblasters, Inceptors, Reivers, and Aggressors. The different units don't share all of their buffs with the unit so much as keep their own abilities while being within the unit. Inceptors deal a mortal wound on a 6 when they finish a charge move within 1" of an enemy, Aggressors are able to shoot twice if they remain stationary, and Reivers can ignore vertical movement if they have grapnel launchers, but they don't pass those abilities to the rest of the unit. However, because sharing is caring, if there is an Inceptor in the unit it can Fall Back and still shoot, enemy units subtract 1 from their Ld if they are within 3" of a unit with a Reiver, and if the unit has an Aggressor it ignores the penalty for moving and shooting heavy weapons and advancing and shooting assault weapons. Now, it surprises me that they kept the Primaris Marines shitty at combat. I would have really liked to see some close combat weapons in the hands of the new kids on the block because try as you might, your gonna get into combat, and it sure would be nice if they could each take chainswords.
Taking these guys as bland as possible is the way to go, with an Inceptor for the ability to fall back and shoot. While not doing as much damage initially, this unit is far more durable having twice as many wounds, being cheaper, and having a longer range. This means that it's damage output does not drop nearly as quickly as the Vets does. With far fewer options, its actually fairly easy to keep them around 230 points. Now, you might be asking "but all the other models add so much to the unit...why not take them?" The main answers is because the Intercessors hold the other models back, and when you can take those other units on their own they can stretch their legs and operate at their full capacity.
Terminators, Reivers, Aggressors, Vanguard Vets, Bikers, Inceptors and Helblasters can all be taken as their own units and they get all the "bonus rules" listed above, such as terminators being immune to morale, and Bikers being able to Fall Back and charge, or Inceptors causing mortal wounds when charging, but they don't get the bonus rules that the other model bring to the table. The units you will most likely see are the Aggressors and Hellblasters simply due to the amount of firepower they can deal out, the Aggressors to light infantry and the Hellblasters to everything else.
Hey, did you remember that thing I told you to remember? Yeah, the Teleportarium stratagem. I bring it back up because putting 2 units of Aggressors and a Watch Master in it and bringing them in at optimal range, all the while keeping them safe from enemy fire is pretty awesome. 6 of these guys dropping down with a Watch Master and the right mission tactics will kill 26 Guardsmen or 10 Marines for around 350 points. With their range of 18" you don't have to put them right up front and you can drop them in cover, which turns them into a T5 unit with a 2+ save, making them idea for wiping out screens and staying alive afterward. However, due to their 5"M you still have to centralise them somewhat, even if they can Advance and shoot without penalty, or the enemy can just walk away, but if they don't get far enough away, you can shoot Aggressors TWICE if they don't move. So take those results and DOUBLE them. Keep that in mind when your opponent wants to assault them too, lots of shots, lots of re-rolls, lots of overwatch.
The Primaris Apothecary actually becomes important in this army with the mixed units and the bonuses each model applies. If you happen to lose that terminator trying to tank a bunch of light infantry shots you can try to revive him bringing back that immunity to Morale. It's a 4+ to try it, and if you fail the Apothecary can't do anything else for that turn, but he's not that heavily armed anyway so you're not missing much for trying.
|Useless things for 1000 Alex...|
Dreadnoughts are good or anything.
Next in the list we have all the transports, Land Raiders, Rhinos, Razorbacks, Drop Pods and the cartoonish gunship the Repulsor. We all know the Land Raiders are way too expensive, and while Razorbacks are pretty good in certain settings, they don't really work in this army as well as they do in others. The Drop Pod is pricey, especially when you have the Teleportarium stratagem, and the Rhino is what it is so I won't bore you with that. All in all, this section of the book is really quite lack luster. The Repulsor is pretty great, it costs far less points than a Land Raider for an equal stat line but puts out way more fire power and has FLY which means it's harder to lock down in combat and can still shoot if it falls back. The only downside it that it can only transport Primaris models.
The last unit we have to talk about is the fancy cool flier, the Corvus Blackstar, and while not the best flier in the game, its possibly the best non-FW Imperial flier in the game. You can give it twin lascannons and stormstrike missile launcher for hunting big things, or the twin assault cannon, blackstar rocket launcher, and hurricane bolter for anti infantry and you can't forget about the mortal wound bombing run it has. On top of it's ability to deal damage, it can transport 12 non-Primaris infantry models. This makes it a bigger target, but it allows you to lower your number of drops helping you get that first turn, it also helps you keep unit out of reserve so you can use the Teleportarium to greater effect, AND it helps get models to where you need them to be without that annoying 9" deep strike buffer zone.
Lets talk stratagems, I've already gone over a few, but there are a handful that I really want to emphasise on so that we can squeeze all that juice out of these lovely lemons. First up is the mortal wound stratagems. Helfire Shells, Flakk Missile, Clavis, and Tempest Shells are all great ways to inflict mortal wounds on the enemy. Pay attention to the Tempest Shells and the Clavis, because if you combine those with the Osseus Key your Watch Master is potentially doing 9 mortal wounds to a vehicle in a single turn WITHOUT any of his normal attacks. The Helfire shells can reach out and touch something with their 36" range. That makes them amazing at reliably removing that last wound from the large beastie that ate up all your other firepower. Don't forget that the target of the Flakk missile only has to have the FLY keyword, not actually be a flier. These are pretty damn important with this army because there are not a ton of ways to deal out mortal wounds.
The next set of stratagems are the Doctrines, which I won't go on too long about, but they work in tandem very nicely with the Mission Tactics. You pay 2CP when attacking (shooting or combat) a unit in one of the Battlefield Roles, and you get +1 to wound rolls. This is really dangerous when you combine it with the special issue ammunition that boosts AP, or at least something that can put out a metric shit ton of firepower, you really want it to be worth the 2CP. Here is a hint, do you still remember the thing? Yeah, that's awesome right?
|Suffer not the alien to live.|
Stem the Green Tide is 2CP, and you use it before you shoot overwatch. For each model you kill, you subtract 1 from the charge roll. So your Vet squad that we made above, with the 7 Stormbolters firing Hellfire rounds will kill 3 Orks, and that is with no buffs or re-rolls. Watch Master re-rolls and the Mission Tactic brings the death toll up to 7. That means if they are 5" away they have to roll 12 to get into combat.
Targeting Scramblers is 1CP and is used immediately after a unit has been hit with one or more markerlights, Immediately remove the markerlight counters. This is super effective since Tau really need those markerlights to make the most of their impressive shooting. You will need to be careful about timing with this one as if you use it too early they will likely just pour more marker lights into the unit and then use their stratagem to top it off. If you use it too late, they will move on and spread the markerlight love giving them more targets and options.
Intercepting Volley is another 2CPer but I think it's probably my favourite. Immediately after your opponent moves an Aeldari unit with the FLY keyword in their movement phase, pick a Deathwatch unit within 12" of it and immediately shoot at it with a -1 to hit rolls. Ok, so if you are playing Aeldari, there is a chance that there is also those damn Drukhari with Agents of Vect, but you will likely get those CP back. Then if he things he outsmarted you and brings something in from reserve, you can use Auspex Scan on anything that lands within 12" and he can't stop it since you can't use the same stratagem twice a phase. If he doesn't have Agents of Vect you just kill him.
Synaptic Severance is 2CP, which is too high in my opinion, but it allows you to target a Character with SYNAPSE even if it is not the closest target. With 3 Flying Hive Tyrants flying around it's not quite as effective as you might want.
Overkill is used at the beginning of your Necron opponent's turn, and for 1CP you can reduce his Reanimation Protocol rolls by 1 on a Necron unit within 12" of one of your units. With all the bonuses and re-rolls they can get it's probably just better to kill the unit entirely, but if you happen to leave a couple left alive it could come in handy.
The last thing on my list today is the Warlord traits, and unlike some other lists, there are a couple good ones here. Lord of Hidden Knowledge is maybe the best as it gives you that once per battle re-roll and each time you use a stratagem you roll a D6 and get a CP on a 5+. With all the really good, and fairly expensive, stratagems this is a pretty good option. Vigilance Incarnate allows you change the Mission Tactics at the start of each of your turns, which gives you some serious flexibility.
So that's it for the book, all the rules worth talking about, and a bunch of cool combos and abilities, but how do we bring it all together? Well, I honestly think that this army can't go solo. There is a lack of screening units, in that there are none. You are paying premium points for a Vet to get better Ld and an extra A when all you want them to do is fire their storm bolters. Their bikes can't take any upgraded ranged weapons so they have a weird lack of mobility. Sure they can show up just about anywhere, but once they get there they just move average speed. What these guys can do is shore up any deficiencies your army has. Lack of good quality combat? A couple Slam-Captain Jr.s in a supreme command detachment hidden within your lines will help with that. Need lotsa bullets to clear away screens? I did talk about Aggressors, and they are 111pts for 3. You could take 3 units of 3 and a captain with jump pack and deep strike them all turn 2 just in time for you to charge past that big hole in their front lines.
As Forrest Gump says, "That's all I have to say about that." I hope you enjoyed this article, I know it's a long one but if you've made it this far, thanks for reading.
Until next time, keep them dice rollin.
SPONSOR TIME! As always, these codex reviews are brought to you by...
Maxx Collectibles is busy with Games Workshop stuff and there are guys playing games in the back room every day and the paint seminars will be starting up again in September with the MMSS guys on the third Saturday of every month. Hell, he even stays open late on Wednesdays so guys can play more games, and he needs to because he has Leagues going on for everything...
Those are all the Leagues that are currently underway or will be starting very soon. He has other non-GW stuff, Malifaux, Guildball, Magic: The Gathering and a whole wall of D&D minis. That's just the gaming systems, you can't forget about all the comics and other collectibles that you just collect and not play with. For more information that what I've given you, you can contact Garth on the Maxx Collectibles Facebook page.