Thursday, 5 January 2017

Birthday Bash 2.0 Tournament- Deathwatch Initial List Thoughts

Over the holidays, I began to think about what list I may want to take to Dave's upcoming Birthday Bash 2.0. This is a 40k tournament in February, so I decided to take my Deathwatch Marines. They are one of my newest armies, so this tournament gives me the perfect opportunity to practice with the Deathwatch and to get most of the units painted up in time to use. In a recent post, it was suggested that I could do more posts on list building and tactical thoughts in games. I thought I would use this post to go through my thought process on what I wanted in the army and my first initial list that will go through some playtest games. 

First off, let's take a look at the restrictions for the tournament:
  • 1500 pts army
  • Single Combined Arms Detachment (CAD), no other formations or allies allowed. 
  • Lords of War are allowed, subject to ITC restrictions.
  • Tournament comprised of 3 Maelstrom games (maximum of 2 scoring cards per turn). 
Having to use the CAD with the Deathwatch is pretty good, but I think the Black Spear Strike Force would be a better option. I'm surprised that Lords of War are allowed for the event. With 1500 points and no formations allowed, I think having an Imperial Knight or Wraithknight would be a big boost to an army. You do get to choose a Warlord Trait from Escalation if your opponent has a Lord of War and you do not, so this is a nice bonus (it is in addition to your regular warlord trait). 

I really like maelstrom missions. They are very tactical and need different types of armies to a regular game. The missions will be using a reduced deck of 18 cards. I'm not sure why the deck is reduced to only two scoring cards per turn. I guess this is so that you don't run out of cards or can get a score that is so far in advance of your opponent that they are out of the game early on. Based on this, I am assuming the missions will be the three card ones or drawing cards equal to the number of objectives you control. Limiting you to scoring only 2 cards per turn is pretty harsh in the missions where you draw 5 or 6 per turn! 

Army Thoughts
I would probably have chosen to use a CAD anyway for my army. In maelstrom games, Objective Secured is simply too good to not have. Fortunately, my Deathwatch army consists mostly of troops choices, so I will have quite a few Objective Secured units running around. 

Also, in maelstrom missions, good mobility or deployment options are key. You need either the speed to grab the objectives when they come up or the ability to deploy on objectives and grab them. In the reduced deck, there are only one set of card for grabbing objectives (6 in total), so mobility will be important, but not as good as when using a regular maelstrom deck. This will make my deep striking and Bike elements important in the game. 

List Thoughts
My first choice in any army is the HQ unit that will lead the force. I had decided pretty early on that I wanted the army to be led by Watch Captain Artemis. This is a character from the Death Masque boxed set. He is a Watch Captain with a Power Sword, poisoned (2+) flamer combi-weapon and a special Stasis Grenade. The grenade allows you to do a single D hit in combat (the downside being Artemis takes the hit if he misses!). In addition, he gets Fearless and Feel no Pain (6+). He also gets the Vigilance Incarnate warlord trait, allowing me to change the mission tactics one more time. 

I thought about taking a Watch Master. He is an awesome character, but pretty expensive for a 1500 point army. 

I like Artemis for the D weapon. If I come up against any lords of war or tough characters, he may give me a Hail Mary attack that could take them out. He also has a great Flamer and will give Fearless to a unit he joins. The 6+ FNP is also a nice bonus. It shouldn't come up too often (around 1 in 6 times, oddly enough!), but can be a great frustration to your opponent when it does. He will lead a combat unit most likely. 

Next up, I need to pick a couple of Troops options for the army. The first pick was a unit of Veterans with 4 Frag Cannons in a Drop Pod. They will be led by a Sergeant with a Storm Shield and an Auspex. This will be my alpha-strike unit. The Frag Cannons are potent against a range of targets with their two main weapon profiles. The Sergeant should provide some protection against AP3 shots, while also reducing the enemy cover save to make the Frag Cannons more effective.

Next, I wanted a unit for Captain Artemis to lead. I took a unit of 5 Veterans in another Drop Pod. One had a Heavy Thunder Hammer, two have Storm Shields and Power Weapons (Sword and Maul) and two have Deathwatch Shotguns. The Shotguns are a new addition to the army. They also have different firing modes, allowing me to fire effectively two hand flamers from them, or a number of S4 shots. This is primarily a combat unit, so will be more effective with Artemis. The Drop Pod is not an ideal delivery vehicle. I would prefer the Corvus Blackstar, but it is a little expensive for 1500 points. Also, it hasn't really performed all that well in my games with the Deathwatch so far. I will just need to risk the Pod and hopefully still get to charge. We'll see what happens in the practice games.

Next up, I chose two units of 4 Deathwatch Bikers, all with Power weapons. This will be great for grabbing the maelstrom objectives or closing with the enemy. They are a solid unit, Skilled Rider being a big bonus to them. The only thing they are missing is Hit and Run, meaning that they could get bogged down in a combat easily. I'll see how things work out in the practice games, but I could always split the two units of four into two units of three and a unit of two. This would give me an extra unit for objective grabbing and more deployment options.

I then chose to field a lone Terminator, Garran Branatar from the Death Masque set. He comes armed with a Heavy Flamer and Power Fist with an auxiliary Meltagun. He costs the same as a Deathwatch Terminator with the same weapons, but gets a Master-crafted Meltagun, Master-crafted Power Fist and re-rolls to wound with his Heavy Flamer, essentially for free. I am planning to Deep Strike him in the games, either to grab a far away maelstrom objective or to do some vehicle hunting with his twin-linked Meltagun. I'm not worried about giving up first blood with him, as he shouldn't arrive before turn 2. I'll see how he works out in the practice games, if he is not useful, I'll ditch him and use the points elsewhere.

Next on my list, I decided to add a unit of 10 Veterans in a Rhino. I gave the unit two Infernus Heavy Bolters. These are assault Heavy Bolters with a Heavy Flamer attached, useful for taking on a number of infantry units. I will probably use the Rhino to close with the enemy and get the best out of my Rapid Fire special ammunition. I gave the Rhino extra armour to keep it moving. The squad might be better in a Drop Pod, but I'm not sure if I'll have time to paint up two Drop Pods by then.

Totalling this up gave me 1275 points, so still a bit to work with.

For another Objective Secured unit, I took a unit of 5 Veterans with Stalker Patter Boltguns. These should give me some long ranged sniper firepower. These will be useful for holding an objective in my deployment zone and shouldn't have to move for the whole game if I am lucky.

After totalling up my points, this gave me 90 points left. Here it is a bit trickier. I don't have enough points to add another Veteran unit. If I drop the Extra Armour on the Rhino, I could afford a Chaplain with Meltabombs or a Level 2 Librarian with Meltabombs. Alternatively, I could add extra models to some of my units.

At the moment, I think I will go with the Librarian. Using Biomancy could provide a nice boost for my combat unit or de-buff the enemy units.
The Chaplain may also be a nice addition, giving me Zealot re-rolls for my combat unit (and less chance of Artemis killing himself with the Stasis Bomb).

I'll need to playtest the list and see what works and what needs changed.

So, for the moment, the initial list is:
Watch Captain Artemis
Librarian- Mastery Level 2, Force Sword, Meltabombs
5 Veterans- Heavy Thunder Hammer, 2 Deathwatch Shotguns, 2 Storm Shields, Power Maul, Power Sword
Drop Pod
5 Veterans- 4 Frag Cannons, Auspex, Storm Shield
Drop Pod
10 Veterans- 2 Infernus Heavy Bolters
5 Veterans- Stalker Pattern Boltguns
4 Bikers- 3 Power Swords, 1 Power Axe
4 Biker- 3 Power Swords, 1 Power Maul
Garran Branatar- Terminator Armour, Heavy Flamer, Power Fist with Auxiliary Meltagun

This army gives me 7 Objective Secured units (8 if I combat squad the 10-man unit), some decent mobility with the Bikers and a tank hunter in Garran Branatar.

In order to have this list fully painted, I need to paint a second Drop Pod, the Terminator, the Librarian and Captain Artemis. I should be able to get these all done for February. I look forward to testing out the list and seeing how I get on.

As an alternative, I could drop the Rhino squad down to a 5-man squad and lose an Infernus Heavy Bolter. This would allow me to take a second unit of 5 Stalker Pattern Boltguns. This would give me some longer range firepower in the army.

What do you think of the list? Any suggestions on changing it up?


  1. We had a mass debate ;) about the tournament, if I'm honest there's still loads that we didn't think of - The Maelstrom missions being one of them. I think the reduced deck came from another tournament so we'll have to ensure we manage that. I'll probably run out some cards for everyone so it's easier to play (note to self: make cards).

    As to the Lords of War, Ben did not want them, full stop. Much as I agree with his reasoning I felt there may be some folk who can only run a force with them and I didn't want someone not to be able to come because we ruled them out. Given the nature of the event and having fun we'd hope anyone who can play without one wouldn't bring one but the option is there for those that can't play any other way. We added in the extra Escalation warlord trait solely to help balance this. It was a further concession we thought might help dissuade folk from taking them and at least help out those that possibly didn't expect to face LoWs.

    It'll be really interesting to see your force, you've made me realise it's going to come round a lot sooner than I realised! Thanks for posting about it.

    1. I think the Lords of War will be interesting. We'll need to see how many take them, but at 1500 points, they will be a sizeable investment in the army. I think the Escalation trait will work well. I've never used them before, but I had a look at them online and some of them are pretty powerful! The fact you get to choose and don't need to roll is a big bonus too.

      A lot of tournaments use the reduced maelstrom deck and max of two scoring per turn. A lot of these have Kill points and end of game objectives to score as well, so this will be different. I prefer maelstrom to kill points, as I think the Deathwatch will suffer in kill points, they just die so easily.

      How many tickets have been sold? I need to book my hotel soon, but don't want to do it too early in case the event is cancelled.

    2. I think there was 8 sold but we worked out there was another 4 at least who hadn't bought and Martin is going to start pushing it this month. He has an Itc tournament this weekend that he thinks some of them will be interested in it.

      Its definitely going to happen, so I think you can feel safe in booking your hotel. The only unknown is numbers. 20 is what Martin is hoping for but those numbers won't prevent it taking place.

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