Thursday 29 March 2018

Deathwatch Codex- What I'd Like to See

Games Workshop recently announced that the Deathwatch codex will be coming this year. This was quite a surprise, as I expected this to be one of the last to come out, being a relatively new Faction in the game. I was very happy about this, as the Deathwatch are one of my favourite armies. I love the look of the army, as well as the background for the force. 

It helps that my Deathwatch are one of the armies that I have painted to a higher standard than my others, so any excuse to field it or take it to tournaments is something that I would jump at. 

I've made no secret of the fact that my Deathwatch are struggling in 8th edition. They are very expensive Marines that lack a lot of durability. They can hit hard in shooting and combat in the early turns, but really suffer in the long game. 

With the new codex coming out, here are some of my thoughts on what I would like to see in the book and how the Deathwatch could potentially improve. 

Deathwatch Veterans
The basic Deathwatch Veteran is a little overpriced for what he can bring to the table. At 19 pts per model, he is just a Veteran Marine with some Special Issue Ammunition. This discrepancy got even worse with the release of Chapter Approved, where Primaris Intercessors went down to 18 points per model. 

Comparing the Deathwatch Veteran and Primaris Marine is not too favourable. The Primaris Marine costs 1 point less, but gets an extra wound and attack on their profile. The Deathwatch Veteran does get special issue ammunition, but the Primaris Marine does get a decent basic weapon that pretty much matches one of the special issue bolts.

The initial fix would be to lower the points cost of the Deathwatch Veterans. However, I'm sort of in agreement with Nick over at the Burning Eye. He mentioned a while back that the Deathwatch should remain an elite force. Lowering the points would go against this, allowing you to field more models in the army.

Therefore, I think it would be nice to increase the number of wounds each model has to 2. This would take them into line with Primaris Marines and make their price comparable. Alternatively, some form of feel no pain save for the army would be a nice boost if they wanted to keep them at one wound each.

Frag Cannons
This is probably a pipe dream, but I would love to see the range of the Frag Round on Frag Cannons increase to 10" or 12". There is something quite pleasing about the image of a Deathwatch Drop Pod crashing to the ground and the squad inside spraying the Xenos filth with cleansing fire.

It will probably stay at 8", but it is nice to dream. Increasing the range would make the Deatwatch's best weapon more effective and give them a nice alpha-strike capability once more.

Heavy Thunder Hammers
These are a joke weapon in the index. At 30 pts, they now cost 2.5X the cost of a regular Thunder Hammer. That is way too expensive on a 2 attack model that hits on a 4+. Plus, the variable D6 damage means that you will only be doing more damage than a regular Thunder Hammer 50% of the time and actually have a 33% chance of doing less damage.

I think these need to be cheaper and have a flat damage of 4 or 5 to even make them worthwhile.

Corvus Blackstar
I think the Deathwatch flyer really needs to gain Power of the Machine Spirit. It is one of the only Space Marine heavy flyers that does not get it. Even giving it Strafing Run would be a big boost to its accuracy against most enemy units.

As it is, I think it is too expensive for the low accuracy firepower that it has at the moment.

I can see most of the stratagems being focused on killing Xenos units, as it should be for Deathwatch.

I would like them to get the generic Space Marine once like Hellfire Shells, Flakk Missiles and Auspex Scan. The last one would be particularly useful, as Deathwatch are likely to still lack cheap screening units in the codex. Getting to fire on enemy units before they can attack would be a big boost for the survivability of the army.

I would also like to see some form of deep strike stratagem, allowing Kill Teams to teleport in to battle. Certain Kill Teams could do this in 7th edition, so it would be nice to have the ability again, as mixed Kill Teams are more limited in their deployment and transport options.

Chapter Tactics
Not sure what these would be for the Deathwatch. I would like to see something similar to the old Mission Tactics rules, where you could change your Chapter Tactics during the game to better suit the situation on the tabletop.

Perhaps you would get one free change per game, and could use a stratagem to further change the chapter tactics or getting the effects of two chapter tactics for a single turn/phase using a stratagem.

So, those are some of my initial thoughts for the Deathwatch codex. I would love to see them become a competitive army once more so that I can have fun fielding them more often.

Are you excited for the new codex? What would you like to see included? 


  1. i don't see any stat line changes to deathwacth marines. a marine is a marine. but i do see a points drop by a point or 2 (which is the same for sternguard + special ammo). i potentially see access to primaris stuff coming to the deathwatch but not sure how that would work in the army.

    i dont see the frag cannon changing changing as it is basically a heavy flamer and something with that many potential auto hits needs a short range

    agreed heavy thunder hammer too much. i see them keeping the randomness, but maybe 20ish points for it

    blackstar looks about right. it has the re roll ones and a few other funky rules so that should make up for lack of machine spirit and it is a few points cheaper than stormravenraven.

    agreed with startagems

    agreed with chapter tactics. maybe a warlord trait will change it

    it will be interesting to see how GW lay this codex out. this and the other 2 out at a similar time (knights harlequins) are sort of "mini/half" codex's. i see them as a stand alone army at low point levels, but they then need support or become support with other codex's when the game size gets big

    1. You are probably right with the stat changes, to keep consistency across the armies.

      The Corvus does get the re-roll of 1's to shoot, but I like the re-roll of the saving throws myself.

  2. I am definitely looking forward to the codex. I agree that a statlien change seems unlikely. I believe the reveal from GW made mention of Primaris marines for Deathwatch...or maybe that was just in some rumors I read. I'm expecting them regardless. Hopefully veterans get a points drop at the same time instead of any new Primaris being even more expensive. It will be interesting to see the new strategems and to see how many new units come into the codex; assuming that Primaris are indeed coming in.

    Anyway, I agree with most of your thoughts on a new codex and look forward to the book when it arrives! In the meantime, I need to put a kill team or two on the painting table in preparation...

    1. I think Deathwatch can already use Primaris Marines, but having them in the codex would solidify this.
      I wouldn't want to be forced to run them though, just to be competitive.

  3. Heavy Thunder Hammer should get the same fix as the GK DreadKnight Hammer: Damage d6, minimum of 3. And a bit of a price drop, too. Like you say, 30 Points for something that's only available to Models with WS 3+ and has a -1 is way too expensive.

    It's entirely possible that they'll get treated like BA/DA (and I think GK), where they're basically considered more complicated Chapter Tactics, so they don't get any sub-divisions beyond that. Something like the Mission Tactics would be cool, tho.

    There are a few other generic Stratagems they'll probably get, too, like the fight twice one, and having a Character fight again before dying.

    1. I think minimum damage on the Thunder Hammer would be great, it would give it a real damage boost and make it a valuable choice over the regular Thunder Hammer.
      I also see them getting most of the generic stratagems that the Marines have, they already have the "exploding" 6's from combat one against Xenos (rather than Traitor Astartes).

  4. So, I'm not a gamer, having not played a single game of 8th (nor 7th) edition since getting back into the hobby - my interest is purely in collecting, converting and painting. So my thoughts are purely fluff / modelling based.

    Given that DW are the elite-of-the-elite, I'd like to see marines on loan from particular Chapters have the ability to retain some of their Chapter-specific wargear / rules.

    For example, if a Ravenwing biker was on loan to the DW, why (from a fluff perspective) would he give up his RW bike and ride a standard bike? Surely he'd want to keep using the steed that he's ridden into hundreds of battles?! And with it should come the twin-linked plasma guns...

    Now, I appreciate that from a rules perspective this needs balancing - but this could easily be done by adding limits of, say, "1 per army" for each use of a Chapter specific piece of wargear, etc.

    Also - from a financial perspective, this makes sense for GW too. Because you'll have people like me buying Chapter-specific kits, to get the bits to create these cool like additions to our force.


    1. I think that would be a very cool concept, Nick. Certainly lots of scope for modelling and conversions for a hobbyist such as yourself!

      Deathwatch are known for their unusual and unique wargear, so getting to add more unusual stuff to their arsenal would be a great boost for them.

  5. Good article, I agree with all the points you made.

    2 wounds on Vets would be nice and I agree preferable to a points drop. The Corvus needs an improvement most in my mind, again a drop in points at least. I would like to have a reason to run infernus heavy bolters as well as frag cannons too.

    I will be disapppointed if all they do is slap on some primaris marines as I don’t want to use them alongside the smaller mini marines. A Redemptor Dred maybe, but I want to use veterans, not Intercessors.

    It would be awesome if they release the Japan exclusive space marines heroes alongside the new codex as those models would be perfect for deathwatch veterans and special characters!