Thursday 8 December 2016

Battle Report 89- 1850 pts Deathwatch vs Iron Warriors

This week's battle report sees my Deathwatch take on Gareth's 30k Iron Warriors in the Cloak and Dagger maelstrom mission. 

My 1850 pts Deathwatch army consisted of:
Black Spear Strike Force
Watch Master- Guardian Spear, Beacon Angelis (with V1)
5 Veterans- 2 Heavy Thunder Hammers, Blackshield with Power Sword, Power Maul and Storm Shield (V1)
10 Veterans- 4 Frag Cannons, 2 Storm Shields (V2a and V2b)
Drop Pod- Locator Beacon (DP)
Corvus Blackstar- Hurricane Bolter, Auspex Array (CB)

Aquila Kill Team
5 Veterans- Frag Cannon (AKT)
Terminator- Heavy Flamer, Auxiliary Meltagun
Librarian- Level 2 Psyker, Meltabombs, Force Sword

4 Bikers- 4 Power Swords, Meltabombs (B1)
4 Bikers- 3 Power Swords, Power Axe, Meltabombs (B2)
6 Vanguard Veterans- Hand Flamer, 2 Heavy Thunder Hammers, 3 Pairs Lightning Claws (VV)

I decided to mix up my army from its first iteration to change up the army. Only on writing this and double checking the codex, I realised that the army was not legal. Apologies to Gareth for the incorrect list. I had planned to put the whole army in the Black Spear Strike Force, thinking all the codex options could be taken as individual units, but this was not the case. Instead, I took an unbound section with the Bikers and Vanguard Veterans, neither of which used the benefits of the Black Spear anyway, but most people don't like playing against unbound without knowing.

My Warlord Trait was Master of the Void Hunt, giving my warlord (Watch Master) a special shooting attack each turn, which of course, I completely forgot about during the game. The Librarian rolled on Biomancy, getting Smite, Enfeeble and Warp Speed.

For the army, I decided to test out the Black Spear Strike Force. Given the mobility issues I had in my last games, I decided that deep striking with some of the army would be useful to counter this. I took the Watch Master and an Aquila Kill Team, as well as the Corvus Blackstar.
I also took a CAD, led by a Librarian. I was keen to see if the Biomancy powers could boost the survivability of my units. I didn't get Endurance, but Enfeeble could be useful and swing some combats for me. I took a unit of Veterans with 4 Frag Cannons and two storm shields in a drop pod. This would allow me to deploy at least one unit on my first turn. I also took a Locator Beacon to help with my deep striking. I planned to combat squad the 10 Veterans and put two Frag Cannons in each. This would hopefully allow me to keep some of the Frag Cannons alive, my opponent having to take out two units instead of one. I took another combat unit of Veterans that would join the Watch Master once more. I also took two units of Bikers and a combat unit of Vanguard Veterans.

This force would allow me to Deep Strike several units, as well as changing my Mission Tactics twice.

Gareth's army consisted of:
Legion Praetor- Legion Standard, Volkite Charger, Artificer Armour (with CS)
7 Command Squad- Artificer Armour, Banner of the Eye, Volkite Chargers. Lightning Claw, Three Power fists, Apothecary, Augury Scanner, includes Forgelord, Centurion and Legion Herlad (CS)
5 Tactical Marines- Heavy Bolter, Apothecary, Sergeant with Artificer Armour (TM1)
5 Tactical Marines- Heavy Bolter, Apothecary, Sergeant with Artificer Armour (TM2)
5 Havocs- Lascannons, Augury Scanner (H1)
5 Havocs- Missile Launchers, Augury Scanner (H2)
5 Tyrant Seige Terminators- Cyclone Missile Launchers, Cataphractii Terminator Armour

His warlord trait was Master Tactician, allowing him to redeploy a single unit after deployment and before the game began.

Damn. That was a lot of Interceptor fire to have on a deep strike heavy army. The Terminators and Command Squad would be the biggest threats with their 2+ armour. I could count on the special issue ammunition to deal with most of the other squads, but would need the Frag Cannons or combat weapons to take on those two units.

We rolled for maelstrom mission and got Cloak and Dagger, where you get three secret objective cards each turn that are only revealed when you score them. This makes it difficult to stop your opponent from scoring as you don't know what he will be going after. We set up the objectives as shown below:

I won the roll for deployment and chose to go first. I wanted to try and deal with some of the enemy firepower before they had a chance to whittle down my already small army. I chose to only deploy the two Bike squads on each flank. Their mobility would give me a good chance of scoring the objectives. The rest of the army went into reserve, the Watch Master joining the combat Veterans, the Librarian joining the Aquila team and the Vanguard Veterans in the Corvus. I was originally not going to use the Corvus Blackstar for a squad, but the combination of low AP firepower and interceptor meant that the Vanguard Veterans would struggle to make it to combat without the protection of the flyer.

In reply, Gareth deployed his Lascannon Havocs in the trenches to the left, while the Missile Launcher Havocs went on top of the Bunker in the centre. The Terminators went in the open on the right, not really needing the cover to protect them, while the Command Squad went in the middle of the Havocs. He decided to keep the two units of Tactical Marines in reserve to Outflank later in the game.

Gareth failed to seize the initiative and I took the first turn.

In turn 1, I drew Behind Enemy Lines (have a unit in the enemy deployment zone), Hungry for Glory (issue a challenge) and Objective 4.
The Drop Pod carrying the Frag Cannon Deathwatch arrived, landing in front of the Iron Warriors Terminators and using the cover of the Bunker to stay out of sight of the Lascannon Havocs. I did not know the Interceptor on the units was restricted to 18", I thought it was full range, so deployed with the Deathwatch out of line of sight of them. The Marine carrying the Storm Shield went at the front of each unit to offer more protection.

The Bikers moved up to support the Deathwatch, while on the right flank, the Bikers advanced onto the objective in the trenches.

The Havocs opened fire on the newly arrived Deathwatch. In another surprise, the Havocs were BS5, so hitting on 2's. The Missile Launchers caused 3 wounds. I failed the first Storm Shield save and lost three Marines, including the two Frag Cannons who I had positioned forward to use their flamer shots.

The Deathwatch turned their Frag Cannons on the Terminators, wounding them three times and killing one of the squad. The two remaining Deathwatch Marines targeted the Havocs, hitting them all four times with their AP3 shells, but failing to score a single wound.

The Bikers on the left flank fired at the Havocs, killing two with their firepower. The other unit of Bikers fired at the second Havoc unit, but failed to cause any harm and lost one of their own to Gets Hot from the Bolters.

At the end of my turn, I scored Behind Enemy Lines and Objective 4. I discarded Hungry for Glory.

Due to the scenario being played, I would not know what cards Gareth drew in his turns.

The Terminators advanced on the Deathwatch Marines, while the Command Squad advanced through the trench system.

The Terminators split their fire, targeting the squad in front of them with their missiles, which were saved by the Storm Shield. The rest of the squad fired at the two survivors of squad 2B, wiping them out. The Havocs fired their Lascannons at the Bikers, wounding them 4 times. I managed to fail all four Jink saves and the squad was wiped out.

The Terminators assaulted the Deathwatch. The Marines struck at the Terminators. Out of my 10 attacks, I rolled six 1's, but fortunately I had chosen the Malleus mission tactics, giving me re-rolls against Heavy Support units. The Deathwatch wounded 4 times, but could not get past the Terminator armour. The Terminators struck back, wounding the unit 5 times. The Storm Shield held for two of th blows, but then shattered, killing the Sergeant and two of his comrades. The squad held firm though.

All my wonderful attack rolls.

At the end of his turn, Gareth scored Overwhelming Firepower and First Blood, discarding Psychological Warfare.

Deathwatch- 2
Iron Warriors- 2

This turn, I drew Objective 3, Objective 5 and Objective 6. The way my forces were falling, I decided to go for as many maelstrom points as possible early on.

Fortunately, the Deathwatch reserves all arrived. The Watch Master's unit and Kill Team Aquila centred on the Drop Pod's locator beacon to arrive on the left flank, while the Corvus Blackstar moved to engage the right flank. The Havocs on the Bunker fired at the Watch Master's unit, but were unable to get past his armour.

In the psychic phase, the Librarian cast Smite on the Command Squad, but the attempt was blocked. He then cast Enfeeble on the Command Squad.

In the shooting phase, Team Aquila targeted the remaining Havocs, wiping them out with their Flamer attacks. The Corvus fired on the other squad of Havocs, killing one with their Bolter and one with a missile. The Bikers fired on the Command Squad, killing one of them.

In the assault phase, the Terminators killed the rest of the unit, consolidating towards the Aquila Kill Team.

At the end of my turn, I scored Objective 5.


Both units of Tactical Marines arrived, one moving on from each flank and moving towards the objectives. The Command Squad and Terminators advanced on the Kill Team.

In the shooting phase, the Havocs opened fire on the Deathwatch Marines, but failed to wound them. The Terminators split their fire once more, one Cyclone Missile Launcher targeted the Kill Team, killing one of the squad. The other Missiles targeted the Bikers. The Krak missiles struck the unit, wounding them four times. I managed to fail all four of my 3+ Jink saves and the unit perished. My rolling was really punishing me in this game!

The Command Squad assaulted the Kill Team. One of the squad was slain by the overwatch fire of the Kill Team and they failed the charge. The Terminators made it in to combat. The Deathwatch struck at the squad, killing two of them. The Terminators then struck back, killing the Kill Team Terminator and two of the Marines. The Deathwatch passed their morale test and were locked in combat.

Gareth scored no points at the end of his turn.

Deathwatch- 3
Iron Warriors- 2

At the moment, I was slightly ahead on points. My inability to pass a single Jink save this game meant that I was losing units quickly, with over half my force dead already and it was only turn 2! It looked like I was heading for another tabling quickly.

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

The Watch Master used the Beacon Angelis to withdraw the Kill Team from combat with the Terminators, teleporting them beside objective 6. The Watch Master led his unit to target the Terminators, while on the right flank, the Vanguard Veterans emerged from the Corvus Blackstar to attack the Havocs.

The Librarian, now freed from the combat, cast Enfeeble on the Terminators. He then attempted to Smite them, but failed to manifest the power.

The last remaining Frag Cannon targeted the Command Squad, but the damage was saved by their Artificer Armour. On the right flank, the Corvus Blackstar opened fire on the Tactical Marines, killing three with its combined firepower. The Vanguard Veterans targeted the Havocs, killing one with the squad's Hand Flamer.

In the assault phase, the Vanguard Veterans assaulted the Havocs, killing the squad for no loss in reply.

The Watch Master led his unit in a charge on the Terminators. The Watch Master struck at the Terminators, wounding three times, but the damage was easily deflected by their Invulnerable saves. The other members of the Deathwatch struck, but were unable to get past the Terminator armour. In reply, the Terminators struck at the Deathwatch, killing only one of the squad thanks to the Storm Shield. The Deathwatch with the Heavy Thunder Hammers struck at the Cataphractii, killing only one after some more great invulnerable saves. In the end, the combat was drawn, not the result I was hoping for.

At the end of my turn, I scored Objective 6 and discarded Psychological Warfare.


The Tactical Marines continued to move up on each flank, while the Command Squad moved towards the Deathwatch.

On the left flank, the Tactical Squad fired their Heavy Bolter at the Librarian, but failed to harm him. The other Tactical Squad fired at the Vanguard Veterans, but both wounds were saved.

The Command Squad launched an assault on the Watch Master's unit, but once again failed the charge. The Watch Master finally finished off the last Terminator in combat.

Gareth scored no points at the end of his turn.

Deathwatch- 4
Iron Warriors- 2

At the end of turn 3, things had started to turn around. I was slightly ahead on points and had managed to kill a lot of the enemy army. I thought that failing to kill the Terminators in my turn was going to punish me, but Gareth once again failed a quite short charge with the Command Squad (7 or 8 inches if I recall correctly).

This turn, I drew Objective 1 and Assassinate (kill an enemy character) to go with Objective 3.

The Deathwatch and Vanguard Veterans advanced on the Command Squad, while the Corvus Blackstar screamed across the battlefield.

The Librarian attempted to cast Enfeeble on the Command Squad, but the attempt was denied. He then failed to cast Smite on the Tactical Squad in the ruins.

In the shooting phase, the Corvus Blackstar opened fire on the Tactical Squad in front of it, but all its wounds bounced off the Artificer Armour of the squad Sergeant. The Deathwatch and Vanguard Veterans fired on the Command Squad, but failed to cause any damage.

With shooting exhausted, the squads assaulted the Command Squad. The Watch Master struck at the squad, killing one of the squad. The Legion Praetor attacked the Vanguard Veterans, but missed with all four of his attacks (despite only needing 3+). Looks like Gareth was now suffering from my rolling.
Both sides launched themselves into the attack. At the end of the frenzy, four of the Deathwatch lay dead (three Vanguard Veterans) and the Iron Warriors Command Squad had been wiped out. The Deathwatch consolidated towards the remaining Tactical Squad.

At the end of my turn, I scored Assassinate for 3 points, Slay the Warlord and discarded Objective 3.


With only the Tactical Squads remaining, they moved up to engage the Deathwatch and sell their lives dearly. The squad on the right flank opened fire on the remains of Kill Team Aquila, wiping the out.

The other squad fired at the Vanguard Veterans, but failed to cause any harm.

At the end of his turn, Gareth scored Assassinate.

Deathwatch- 8
Iron Warriors- 3

This had definitely turned around for me in the game. Gareth only had a couple of Tactical Squads left, and I was far ahead on points.

This turn, I drew Overwhelming Firepower (kill an enemy unit in the shooting phase) and Objective 4 to go with Objective 1.

The Watch Master led his unit up on the objective, while the Vanguard Veterans went after the Tactical Squad. The Corvus Blackstar went into hover mode to target the squad in the ruins.

The Corvus opened fire on the squad, killing one of the Iron Warriors.

The Vanguard Veterans assaulted the Tactical Squad. The Iron Warriors killed one of the Veterans and were wiped out in reply. The Veterans consolidated onto the objective.

At the end of my turn, I scored Objective 1 and Objective 4.


The last remaining Tactical Squad moved into the cover of the ruins, the day was lost.

Gareth scored Objective 3. We decided to call the game there.

Deathwatch- 10
Iron Warriors- 4

A win for the Deathwatch.

Thanks to Gareth for a great game, I don't think either of us saw me turning that game around after the first couple of turns.

I thought that my usual terrible rolling was going to do me in in this game. A particular lowlight was the Jink saves on the Bikers. I don't think I passed a single one of the eight or so 3+ Jink saves I had to make in the first two turns, leading to me losing a lot of my mobility for the game.

On top of my terrible rolling, Gareth's Cataphractii Terminators would simply not fail an invulnerable save. I hit them with two Frag Cannons in the first turn and they saved 3 out of 4 hits. In addition, I thought I was in real trouble when the Watch Master's squad charged them and they tanked most of the AP2 wounds from the unit. I thought this was going to be a game when the dice conspired with my opponent to crush me.

However, about half way through the game, things started to change. Suddenly, Gareth was the one unable to hit with anything and I was suddenly rolling quite well with my attacks. Had you asked me at the end of turn 3 if I would win the game, never mind wipe out most of the opposing army, I would have had some very choice words for that suggestion. Just goes to show that you should keep playing the game to the end.

Even though I won, there are still a few things I could have done differently. When Gareth said his units had Interceptor, I was very cagey with my deployment. I wanted to try and minimise the number of units that could fire at my deep striking units. I didn't realise that Interceptor was limited to 18" for his units, as it was granted by wargear rather than an inherent special rule. Gareth didn't point it out as he thought that all Interceptor fire was limited to 18", so it was an innocent mistake on both sides. Based on this, I may have deployed further away with the drop pod units in turn 1. I would still have been in Frag Cannon range to take on the Havocs (with the AP3 shots), but would not have suffered from their firepower.

When I landed the Drop Pod, my plan was to flame the missile launcher Havocs with the Frag Cannon, hopefully causing some damage with the 20 hit I probably would have gotten. I deployed with the Storm Shield at the front to try and tank the missile launcher interceptor hits. There were two errors here; I did not know the Havocs were BS5 and I should have placed the two Frag Cannons at the rear, but still able to fire. As I only lost three of the squad, the Cannons could have still fired and might have taken out most of the Havoc squad.
The other unit went after the Terminators. I also forgot the Cataphractii had a 4+ invulnerable. With a normal Terminator invulnerable save, I might have taken out 2 or 3 of the unit and seriously hindered them for the rest of the game.

I am still playing the Drop Pod Frag Cannon unit as an alpha-strike suicide unit. They are perhaps a bit too expensive a unit to be used in this fashion.

This is only my third game with the Deathwatch, but I am learning some more things about the army.

With such a small elite army, it helps to gang up on certain parts of the enemy army. I was lucky in this game that the trench terrain and bunkers managed to allow me to block much of my force from the Lascannon Havocs and Command Squad.

The Black Spear Strike Force gives a very nice mobility bonus to the army. Getting to deep strike with most of the army helps on two fronts. First, it stops me having to slog it across the board to get into rapid fire range or in to combat. Second, it helps with the durability of the army. Your opponent can't shoot at what is not there, generally allowing me a free turn of shooting before he can target the marines.

The Mission Tactics and Kill Team re-rolls are very useful. Given the small, elite nature of the army, maximising hits and damage from shooting and combat is key to getting the most out of them. Getting re-rolls of 1's to hit and 1's to wound is a really nice bonus for the units. Initially, I was not wild about the Kill Teams in my review, but can see the benefits of them now as I play with the army more.

I was able to utilise the Heavy Support Mission Tactics this game to nice effect, giving the number of HS units in Gareth's army. Once they were dealt with, the Chapter Master allowed me to switch to HQ to take on the Command Squad. I actually forgot that I had the option to change the Mission Tactics for a second time, but it would have been useful to take on the Troops units in the end game.

The Corvus Blackstar works well as an assault transport, but is very expensive for this. It has a decent level of firepower in the game, but I was struggling to cause many casualties with its shooting. Armour 11 in the rear is very useful, making it a bit more survivable in assault when it goes into Hover mode.

One thing I did forget to do was put Auspexes on my shooting units. The Sergeant in each unit has access to an Auspex and it would have helped with the cover saves. With so many AP3 shots available in the army thanks to Special Issue Ammunition, it is well worth investing in an Auspex for each shooting unit to help cause more casualties against marines.

Overall, I am getting used to the army. I still have a long way to go with them, but am enjoying the experience of playing with a different style of army to my regular Marines and a different way of painting the force. 


  1. It's not just you, I don't think anyone reading the report would have thought you could have turned it around - I was all ready to commiserate with you over appalling dice rolling by turn 2!

    Without knowing too much about it, I must admit to being disappointed by the Blackstar's performance, it seems these hybrid transports/gunships are cleverly designed so that you need to utilise both elements to get value out of them. I've always felt the same about the Storm Raven - as a gun platform it's disappointing, but combine that with transporting an assault unit safely into combat and all of a sudden it gains value.

    1. Yeah, we were both stunned after I was able to pull it back.

      I think the Corvus works well as an assault vehicle, it has a lot of speed and is actually quite difficult to destroy if you go for the re-roll Jink. Even in hover mode, it is armour 11 in the rear, so most infantry will struggle to destroy it.
      The downsides are it is very expensive as just a transport and the weapons on it are not great. The bombs are multiple use, but I haven't even used it once yet, never mind several times. I think bombers suffer in many games, especially if they also have a role as a transport vehicle. I would much rather fire its guns at a unit than try and use the bomb on them.

  2. Perseverance is rewarded!

    Unbound is actually even harsher on you than you thought. If any part of the Army isn't in a Detachment, the whole thing becomes Unbound, and unable to benefit from Detachment bonuses except Formations, so you would have lost the Deep Strike benefits from the BSSF as well.

    Also, in Turn 4, I think only the Praetor should have counted for Assassinate. The Command Squad dudes have a special Rule that lets them Challenge, but they're not actually Characters. That's not on you, tho, that's your Opponent's Army, he needs to know his own Rules.

    Finally, there's a typo in the intro that led me to misread the mission as "Cloaca and Dagger" D:

    1. I didn't realise you didn't get the detachment benefits with unbound. That's a shame, the Blackspear Strike Force is pretty damn good, but doesn't allow you to take Bikers or Vanguard Veterans that are not part of a Kill Team, reducing their mobility.

      There were actually 3 characters in the unit, I got the roster wrong when typing it up (so easy to miss things on Battlescribe), so would have still got the points.

    2. Yeah, Unbound is actually pretty detrimental in some regards, especially these days where there are a number of Detachments with really good benefits.

      Got it. I'm still getting used to 30K, so I wasn't actually entirely sure on that myself. Thanks for confirming on it.