Thursday, 1 December 2016

Battle Report 88- 1500 pts Deathwatch vs Iron Hands/Adeptus Custodes

This week's second battle report sees my newly started Deathwatch army take on a mixed force of Iron Hands and Adeptus Custodes, commanded by William, in the Contact Lost maelstrom mission (3 cards each turn). 

My army consisted of:
Combined Arms Detachment
Watch Master- Beacon Angelis (with V2)
5 Veterans- 5 Stalker Pattern Boltguns (V1)
5 Veterans- 4 Frag Cannons, Storm Shield, Auspex (V2)
Drop Pod (DP)
5 Veterans- Infernus Heavy Bolter, Sergeant with Xenophase Blade and Combi-melta (V3)
5 Veterans- Black Shield with Power Sword, 2 Heavy Thunder Hammers, Power Sword, 2 Storm Shields (V4)
5 Bikers- 4 Power Swords, Power Axe, Meltabombs (B)
Corvus Blackstar- Extra Armour, Auspex Array, Blackstar Rocket Launcher (CB)
Vanguard Veteran- Heavy Thunder Hammer (VV1)
Vanguard Veteran- Heavy Thunder Hammer (VV2)

For my warlord trait, I got Lord of Hidden Knowledge, giving my warlord and his unit five re-rolls. 
I started the army with the Watch Master. He is essentially a Chapter Master with an AP2 power weapon that strikes at initiative, pretty handy! I gave him the Beacon Angelis to allow me to quickly re-deploy a unit.
I took a combat tooled-up Veteran squad to accompany him; a Blackshield with a power sword, two Heavy Thunder Hammers, a power weapon and a couple of Storm Shields for defence. I planned to put them in the Corvus Blackstar for assault. 

I then took a Veteran squad with 4 Frag Cannons. Deployed in the drop pod, these should eliminate any threat on the turn they arrive. I could use the Beacon to re-deploy them quickly to support the Watch Master. I also took a unit with Stalker Boltguns for some long range firepower. A final unit with an assault Heavy Bolter and a Sergeant with a Xenophase Blade was also added. 

I took a Bike unit with power weapons, this would give them some good mobility and combat ability. With the points left over, I took two individual Vanguard Veterans with Heavy Thunder Hammers. This would give them good mobility and could hit really hard in combat.

Apologies for the "grey army", I've just got them built and am waiting on some decent weather to get them undercoated. It may be some time.....

William's army consisted of:
Combined Arms Detachment
Chaplain- Axe of Medusa (C)
10 Tactical Marines- Lascannon, Sergeant with Power Maul and Bolter (TS11 and TS12)
10 Tactical Marines- Lascannon, Sergeant with Power Maul and Bolter (TS21 and TS22)
Thunderfire Cannon (T1)
Thunderfire Cannon (T2)

Golden Legion Task Force
5 Custodian Guard Squad- Guardian Spears (C1)
5 Custodian Guard Squad- Sentinel Blade, Storm Shield, Custodes Vexilla (C2)
Legio Custodes Caladius Grav-tank (CGT)

His warlord trait (Chaplain) gave him +1 to his feel no pain roll. He would also be using the Supremacy Tactical Objective cards.

We set up the objectives as shown below:

I won the roll for deployment and chose to go first. I put the Stalker squad in the central ruins beside the objective, with one of the Vanguard on the left. I put the Bikers between the ruins on the right, with the Veterans with the Heavy Bolter in the ruins to the right.

William deployed two units of Tactical Squads on the right flank, with the other two units in the central ruin. The Custodes units and Grav-tank deployed in the centre, with the Thunderfire Cannons in the ruins as well.

William managed to seize the initiative and took the first turn.

In the first turn, William drew Secure the Field (hold two odd numbered objectives), Defend Objective 3 (hold objective 3 for two turns) and Storm Objective 5 (take objective 5 from me).

The Iron Hands tactical squads on either flank advanced towards the enemy, while the Custodes and their tank moved out of cover to attack the Deathwatch,

The Grav Tank opened fire on the Bikers, wounding them three times with its main gun, but the cover saved the Bikers from harm. The Heavy Bolter on the tank succeeded in downing one of the Bikers. The Iron Hands opened fire with their Lascannons, killing one of the Deathwatch from the Stalker squad.
The Thunderfire Cannon opened up on the Stalker squad in the centre, wounding 5 times and felling three of the Deathwatch. The other Thunderfire Cannon fired at the squad opposite it, but failed to harm any of the veterans

At the end of his turn, William scored no points and discarded Storm Objective 5.

In my first turn, I drew Domination (hold all the objectives), Objective 4 and Blood and Guts (kill a unit in the assault phase).

The Drop Pod crashed to the ground beside the Grav Tank after a 12" scatter, the Deathwatch emerging to target the enemy vehicle with their frag cannons. On the right flank, the Vanguard Veteran and Bikers advanced on objective 4, while the other Vanguard Veteran moved up on the objective.

The Deathwatch fired their Frag Cannons at the enemy skimmer, penetrating it 4 times, but the Jinking pilot saved all but one of the hits. The Cannons managed to immobilise the enemy skimmer with their shot though.
The Infernus Bolter squad opened fire on the Tactical Squad in front of them, wounding them once, but failing to get past their armour. The Bikers opened fire on the squad, killing two with their AP3 shells.

At the end of my turn, I scored Objective 4 and discarded Domination.

Iron Hands/Custodes- 0
Deathwatch- 1

This turn, William drew Storm Objective 6 to go with Defend Objective 3 and Secure the Field.

The Custodes reacted to the arriving Deathwatch. The Chaplain split from the Adeptus Custodes unit as they both advanced on the Frag Cannon Deathwatch. The other unit continued its advance, supported by the Iron Hands. On the right flank, the Iron Hands advanced into the ruins besides objective 6.

On the left flank, the Tactical Squad fired at the Vanguard Veteran, wounding him once, but failing to get past his armour. The Custodes opened fire on the Bikers, getting an amazing 7 wounds out of their ten shots. Two of the Bikers fell from the saddle under the barrage.
One of the Tactical Squads opened fire with their Lascannon on the final Stalker Deathwatch marine, but failed to hit him. The other two squads opened fire on the Vanguard Veteran on the right flank. The Lascannon struck and wounded the Marine, but the cover saved him from harm.

The Thunderfire Cannons both opened fire at the Deathwatch shelter in the ruins on the left flank, killing two of the squad with their combined firepower.

The Grav Tank fired at the Vanguard Veteran, hitting twice despite having to fire snap shots and killing the Veteran.

The Custodes charged the Deathwatch Marines. The Deathwatch opened fire with their Frag Cannons. Despite getting 8D3 shots (this was before the final FAQ), I scored only 11 hits. This was enough however and one of the squad died, causing them to fail their charge. The Chaplain was able to assault.
The Chaplain struck at the squad, wounding them four times. However, the Storm Shield in the squad was able to block all four wounds. The Deathwatch struck back, only managing to score a single wound with their 10 attacks, which bounced off the Chaplain's armour. The combat was drawn and both sides remained locked.

The other Custodes squad attempted to charge the Bikes, but failed the make the distance, taking one wound from overwatch fire in the process.

The Tactical Squad charged the Vanguard Veteran, cutting him down before he could attack with his Heavy Thunder Hammer.

At the end of the turn, William scored First Blood and discarded Storm Objective 6.

This turn, I drew Objective 3 and Objective 5 and had Blood and Guts from last turn.

The Corvus Blackstar arrived, moving on the left flank to engage the Custodes units. The Bikers moved towards the central objective, turbo-boosting to get into range.

On the right flank, the Deathwatch opened fire on the Tactical Marines in front of them, killing one. The Corvus Blackstar fired on the Grav Tank, but failed to cause any damage to the vehicle.

The lone Deathwatch marine fired his Stalker Boltgun at the Custodes, wounding one of them.

In the assault phase, the Deathwatch struck at the Chaplain, killing him. They consolidated into the cover of the nearby crates.

At the end of my turn, I scored all three maelstrom cards for 3 points, as well as Slay the Warlord.

Iron Hands/Custodes- 1
Deathwatch- 5

At the end of turn 2, I was starting to move ahead on victory points. However, I had lost a fair portion of my army so far and had done little damage to the enemy army. If this kept up, I would have nothing left. The two Thunderfire cannons were causing a lot of damage, but I had little in the army that could deal with them at this point.

This turn, William had Storm Objective 2, Defend Objective 3 and Secure the Field.

One unit of Custodes advanced on the Frag Cannon Deathwatch, while the other unit moved to engage the Bikers. The Iron Hands continued their advance on the remaining Deathwatch.

The Grav Tank fired on the Corvus Blackstar, hitting once, but failing to cause any damage. Both Tactical Squads fired both their Lascannons at the flyer, but failed to hit.

One Thunderfire Cannon targeted the Deathwatch Marines in the ruins, killing one of the squad. The Tactical Squad added their firepower, killing another one of the squad and leaving only one member remaining.
The other Thunderfire Cannon fired at the Frag Cannon unit, killing two of the squad. The squad failed their morale test and fell back.

The Custodes opened fire on the Bikers, wounding twice but failing to get past their armour.

The Custodes charged the fleeing Deathwatch squad. Once again, some poor D3 rolls saw only 6 hits out of 4D3 shots. The fire failed to wound any of the Custodes. In reply, the Adeptus Custodes easily wiped out the squad.

At the end of his turn, William scored no points, discarding Objective 2.

This turn, I drew Objective 1, Objective 5 and Overwhelming Firepower (kill an enemy unit in the shooting phase).

The Bikers attempted to move up on the Grav Tank, but one of the Deathwatch marines fell to their dangerous terrain test. To make matters worse, the survivor failed his morale test and fell back towards my board edge.
The Watch Master led his squad up to the Custodes, the Corvus going into hover mode to secure the objective.

The Watch Master led his squad on a charge on the Custodes and Grav Tank. The Watch Captain killed one of the Squad, using three of his re-rolls to do so. The Custodes struck back, killing three of the Deathwatch. and the Heavy Thunder Hammers took out the Grav Tank and wounded one of the Custodes. I won the combat, but the Custodes were going nowhere.

At the end of my turn, I scored Objective 1 and Objective 5, and discarded Overwhelming Firepower.

Iron Hands/Custodes- 1
Deathwatch- 7

This turn, William drew Secure Objective 5 and had Defend Objective 3 and Secure the Field.

The Custodes moved up on the Corvus Blackstar, as the Iron Hands continued to advance.

The Tactical Squads opened fire on the Corvus with their Lascannons, but failed to hit. The Thunderfire targeted the lone Deathwatch Marine opposite, but the shot scattered off target and caused no harm. The second Cannon fired at the Biker, but failed to wound him.

The Tactical Squad on the right flank fired at the Marine in the ruins, killing him.

The Custodes assaulted the enemy flyer. They struck at the Deathwatch vehicle, taking two hull points from it.

In the combat between the Custodes and Deathwatch, the Watch Master struck, killing two of the Custodes. In reply, the Custodes killed one Deathwatch marine and wounded the Watch Master twice. The Deathwatch carrying the Heavy Thunder Hammers struck, only hitting once with their 4 attacks. They wounded the Custode, but he managed to make his 6+ invulnerable save!

At the end of his turn, William scored no points.

This turn, I drew Objective 3, Supremacy (hold at least 2 objectives and twice as many as your opponent) and Assassinate (kill an enemy character).

The lone Biker moved to secure the objective in the Deathwatch deployment zone. The Corvus Blackstar remained in hover mode to contest the central objective, knowing it would likely lead to its demise the following turn.

The Corvus fired at the advancing Tactical Squad, killing one and leaving one member remaining.

In the assault phase, the Watch Captain slew the remaining Custodes, the unit consolidating 5" away.

At the end of my turn, I scored Supremacy and Assassinate.

Iron Hands/Custodes- 1
Deathwatch- 9

At the end of turn 4, I was well ahead in points. William would probably need to wipe me out to win. This was easily achievable, as I had only 7 models left and he had much of his army remaining. I just had to hope I could hold out for the remaining turns.

This turn, William had Secure Objective 5, Defend Objective 3 and Secure the Field.

On the left flank, the lone Iron Hands' tactical marine moved up towards the objective. The Custodes moved to target the enemy flyer once more.

The Tactical Squads targeted the Corvus with their Lascannons. One weapon hit, but failed to damage the flyer!
The Thunderfire Cannon targeted the Watch Master and his squad. The mighty barrage struck true, killing the Watch Master and one of the squad. The nearby Tactical Squad fired at the survivor, killing him as well. The other Thunderfire Cannon targeted the last Biker, killing him as well. The lone Tactical Marine launched a Krak grenade at the Deathwatch Marine, hitting him but failing to wound.

In the assault phase, the Custodes assaulted the Corvus Blackstar, destroying it. The Tactical Marine charged the Deathwatch Marine, but was cut down by overwatch fire as he advanced.

At the end of his turn, William scored Slay the Warlord and discarded Objective 5.

This turn, I drew Objective 6 and Big Game Hunter (destroy an enemy vehicle) and had Objective 3.

With only a single Marine and the Drop Pod, this would be a quick turn. The Marine stayed hidden. The Drop Pod fired at the Tactical Squad, but failed to cause any damage.

I discarded Big Game Hunter.

Iron Hands/Custodes- 2
Deathwatch- 9

We rolled to see if the game would continue and it did. I had only two models left, but was well ahead on points. It would be interesting to see if I could survive.

This turn, William drew Defend Objective 1 to go with Defend Objective 3 and Secure the Field.

The Iron Hands continued to advance across the field as the Custodes held onto Objective 3. The Lascannon fired at the Drop Pod, penetrating it once and stunning it. The Thunderfire cannon fired at the Deathwatch Marine, killing him. The second Cannon fired at the Drop Pod, but failed to cause any damage.

At the end of his turn, William scored Defend Objective 3 for 2 points.

This turn, I drew Psychological Warfare (force a failed Morale test) to go with Objective 3 and Objective 6.

The Drop Pod fired at the Tactical Squad, but caused no harm.

I scored no points.
We rolled to see if the game ended there and it did! We both scored Linebreaker.

Iron Hands/Custodes- 5
Deathwatch- 10

A win for the Deathwatch, with only a single Drop Pod remaining. 

Thanks to William for a great game. He took a lot of stick for losing to a Drop Pod in the end. 

Those were my first two battles with the Deathwatch. Not a huge amount of experience to draw on, but I did learn some lessons on the army. 

1. Deathwatch die easily. This is not too surprising as they are essentially just more expensive regular Space Marines. They will fall quite easily to a lot of weapons, which hurts when you have such a small army. I also miss the skilled rider on my Bikes, as they can now be killed by dangerous terrain tests (EDIT- Turns out that the Deathwatch Bikers actually do have Skilled Rider! I somehow missed this when checking my codex, so no more dangerous terrain tests for me!). I think putting the Squads in transports at the start of the game would help mitigate the losses early on. I think you really need to get up close into Rapid Fire range to use them most effectively. 

2. I kept forgetting about the Mission Tactics. These give the Deathwatch re-rolls against certain units in the game. I would generally use them to target the biggest threats first, but kept forgetting to change them with my Watch Master. It would have helped against the Custodes in combat had I changed to get re-rolls against them.

3. I think that I should deploy the Watch Master and his unit in a Rhino or Drop Pod rather than the Corvus Blackstar. Having them on the table would have allowed me to use the Beacon Angelus to possibly save the Frag Cannon unit from the Custodes. 

4. Frag Cannons are brutal. This will probably not be a surprise to many. This unit in the drop pod is a potent alpha strike and will eliminate most threats when they arrive. The do only get D3 shots each for overwatch, no 2D3 per Frag Cannon due to the recent FAQ. I forgot about the Auspex in the unit, so may have been able to take out the Grav Tank on turn 1 had I remembered it. 

I'm not entirely sold on the Deathwatch army yet, it seems to be very fragile for the damage that it can put out. I think it will take a lot of practice to do well with them and look forward to many more games. 

Any Deathwatch players out there have any advice for the army?


  1. Will here. My thanks for letting me try the grav-tank out, being the first (and currently only) time I've used it. The supremacy cards are a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes you get some good draws, that let you get quite a few points quickly, and sometimes you get times like this, where you don't really get anything really achievable in a hurry (looking at the next few i would have drawn, it was the remaining storm objective cards then about 2 or 3 others till a truly viable objective).

    As for the Custodes themselves? If you're not using them as the fire magnets their shiny golden bodies are, then transport is a must, really, as a ranged unit they are not. If you can take em in a Land raider, or even just a rhino or chimera or, heck, stuff em in a taurox (depending on who there with) they will wipe out almost any other squad in CC, and they can easily withstand a turn of anything short of demolisher level firepower.
    The grav-tank itself seems, to me at least, more of a TEQ or multi-wound model killer, with a couple of special rules that, unfortunately, i didn't get to take advantage of this game.

    For the deathwatch the same sort of rule applies. Rhinos, Drop-pods and razorbacks are highly recommended to increase survivability, as a lot of people spec their armies with space marines in mind, and the DW are basically just elite space marines.

    Other than that? Just a basic bit of advice really. Don't ignore something like a drop-pod in you're deployment zone like i did. If you get the chance, kill it ASAP. Don't just assume that you will have something that can handle it later on. It just might cost you like it did to me.

    1. Hey Will, thanks for commenting! I think you did suffer with the cards drawn, they were worth more points, but you struggled to get the right conditions to score many of them.

      The Custodes were really good. They might suffer a bit against Grav, but fortunately I had none in my army. Transports would be a good shout for them to help them get into combat faster.

      I hope to be adding some transports myself. A couple of drop pods and a Rhino would be useful. You got very unlucky with the drop pod, a hell of a way to lose the game!

  2. I mean, death watch bikers have skilled rider... soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    1. Yeah, I have no idea how I missed this. Will know for the next game though.