Wednesday 24 August 2016

Deathwatch Codex Review: Part 2- HQ and Troops

The second part of my Codex Deathwatch review will look at the HQ and Troops units available in the new book. 

HQ Units
Being a Space Marine Chapter, there are many similarities between the HQ units in the Space Marine and Deathwatch Chapters. 

Watch Master
The Watch Master is essentially the Chapter Master of the Deathwatch army. He comes with the Chapter Master stats, along with a 2+ save, Guardian Spear, Iron Halo and Clavis. He also allows you to change the Mission Tactics for your army once during the game. 

A Watch Master is a solid character to lead the Deathwatch. He comes with a 2+ save and 4+ invulnerable, meaning he can be quite durable in combat or to shooting. The Guardian Spear also allows him to strike at S5 and AP2 at initiative, which is quite good for taking on a range of opponents. Changing your Mission Tactics is also great for some added tactical advantages during your game.

One downside of the Watch Master (and most Deathwatch HQ units) is that he is unable to take a Jump Pack or Bike. This seriously hinders his mobility on the battlefield and will force you to take a transport vehicle and an attached squad if you want him to move around the battlefield quickly, with some additional protection. 

Watch Captain
The equivalent of a Space Marine Captain in stats. He can be upgraded to carry a range of wargear options including Artificer armour, a Storm Shield, Terminator Armour, a Relic Blade or Xenophase blade, as well as the Deathwatch Relics. He is also the only HQ unit able to take a Jump Pack (though no bike). 

This gives the Captain a mobility advantage over the other HQ units and would allow him to join a unit of Vanguard Veterans or Bikers. 

A standard issue Space Marine Chaplain with special issue ammunition. Great for giving a unit Fearless and re-rolls to hit thanks to Zealot. Again, suffers from mobility issues unless attached to a squad with a transport. I would love to have the Chaplain leading a unit of Vanguard Veterans or a Bike squad to provide them with Fearless and Zealot re-rolls, but this is not an option with the Deathwatch Chaplain (if you want to keep the mobility of those units). 

A standard Space Marine Librarian. He has access to the standard Librarian powers, including the Angels of Death psychic powers. A Librarian is a decent addition to a Space Marine army, but I find a single Librarian really struggles to have much of an influence on the game. 

Overall, the HQ units are the standard Space Marine fare. However, with the exception of the Captain, they lack the ability to take a Jump Pack and none can take a Bike. This will limit their mobility in the game and could cause problems if you want them to get into combat quickly. 

The Deathwatch codex features only a single Troops choice, the Veterans. These are essentially Sternguard Veterans, with some really nice upgrade options.

Any Veteran may take a Storm Shield or Heavy Thunder Hammer. Any model may take Melee, Ranged or Special Weapons and up to 4 may carry Heavy Weapons. 

Even though the Deathwatch only have one troops unit, the wealth of options available to them means that they can be outfitted to perform almost any battlefield role. You could load up the squad with special weapons or heavy weapons and put them in a pod for a great alpha-strike unit. You could choose to arm them all with power weapons and Storm shields for an assault unit, or simply arm them with two close combat weapons for additional attacks. You could even choose to give them no upgrades, as the Special Issue Ammunition provides great utility for the unit as it is. 

The only problem with this unit is that the cost will quickly rise with lots of different options added on. I like the ability to give any veteran a Storm Shield. One or two in a squad should help with their durability to shooting and close combat. 

The Squad Sergeant can also be upgraded to a Veteran Sergeant and may also purchase a Xenophase blade. 

One Veteran can also be upgraded to a Black Shield. This gives him the Atonement Through Honour special rules, giving bonus attacks in certain situations. 

The Veterans unit provides a solid choice for the Deathwatch army. The only issue is that they are quite expensive and die just as easily as normal marines. Their wargear upgrades are brilliant though, allowing you to tailor them to your play style very easily.

Deathwatch Codex Review


  1. Another write up, I love the versatility of the veterans. Looking forward to your opinions on transport options.

    1. Yeah, the Veterans are hugely versatile. The points can really add up though as you upgrade them.

  2. I think the best way to run Deathwatch is going to end up being a CAD with a load of Veterans with this loadout: Veterans - 4x Missile Launchers, 4x Boltguns/Shotguns, Watch Sergeant (Boltgun, Shotgun) - 170, then a Furor Kill Team with 4 Frag Cannons and an Aquilla Kill Team with 9 Stalker Pattern Boltguns and a Librarian with the Banebolts (Poisoned 2+ Rending, Re-rolls 1's to wound? Yes please)

    1. Yeah, I think the standard troops choice are very strong and very versatile.

  3. I'm looking forward to hearing the formations rules and tactics.

  4. I think one application of the Watch Captain, despite not having access to a Space Marine Bike, is taking a Jump Pack, attaching to mobile Allied squads, and serving as a fast-moving "caddy" for one of the Relics of the Vigilant, like some of the following examples:

    1 - Watch Captain with JP, AA, SS, TH, and Dominus Aegis attached to a squad of Sanguinary Guard -- While the unit moves 12" upfield early game using its JPs, the Watch Captain can "tank" for the Sanguinary Guard with his SS and 3W. Once the unit gets locked in combat, on the second friendly turn after the initial charge, the Dominus Aegis is activated since the unit cannot move in the Movement phase, thereby giving all the Sanguinary Guard a 2+/4++ save, which makes them WAY better in close combat.

    2 - Watch Captain with JP, AA, SS, TH, and Beacon Angelis attached to a squad of RW Black Knights -- The Black Knights confer their Scout rule to the Watch Captain, allowing him and the entire unit to make a free 12" move before the game begins, which combines with the Beacon Angelis to allow you to bring in Drop Pods with no scatter 6" away from the enemy DZ (and/or "teleport" a friendly Deathwatch unit to within 6" of the enemy DZ in the same manner).

    3 - Watch Captain with JP, AA, SS, TH, and Dominus Aegis attached to a squad of Ruststalkers (with Omniscient Mask on their Princeps) from a Skitarii Maniple detachment -- Not only do the Ruststalkers confer Scout and Crusader on the Watch Captain, but they can basically keep up with his 12" JP move via their 9" Move and 3+D6" run moves (compared to his normal D6" run ability). The Omniscient Mask gives everyone Zealot and the Watch Captain can use his 2+/3++ to absorb damage for the squad until it can get into combat with its Transonic Blades and survive one round... once that game turn is completed, the Transonic Blades become AP2 and the Dominus Aegis "turns on" to give the whole unit a 4++, making it much more potent.

    1. Some really nice synergy tactics you gave going there! I think a lot of the Deathwatch can make for some really nice combos with other armies.

    2. Ooh, good call on the RavenWing. I was trying to think of good ways to Scout the Beacon Angelis that far forward.

      Also nice to see a good combo with RustStalkers. I love those guys, but they're so fragile, it's frustrating.

  5. DW Librarians, I think, really come into their own in the Kill Teams. You can easily fit in 3-4 that way in a BlackSpear, plus a couple more as Command Choices if you really want to. Also, they're the only way to pick up Kill Teams that can still go in Rhinos or Razorbacks.