Thursday, 9 February 2017

Birthday Bash - Deathwatch List 2.0: Playtest revisions

Later in the month, I will be attending Dave's Birthday Bash 2.0 tournament. I have been painting and practising with my new Deathwatch army to try and get them ready for the event. This post will discuss some of my experiences with the army and what changes I have made to the list. 

As a reminder, the rules for the tournament are:
  • 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). 
Based on these criteria, I came up with an initial list based on the Deathwatch units that I had. This list was:
Combined Arms Detachment
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 BranatarTerminator Armour, Heavy Flamer, Power Fist with Auxiliary Meltagun

I played a few practice games with the list and here are the lessons I've learned from the games. 

1. The army struggles with Vehicles
Aside from the Frag Cannons, there is little in the army that can deal with vehicles. The Frag Cannons are better going after infantry, as the template rounds will decimate any unit that they fire at. I brought Garran Branatar (the lone Terminator) to deal with vehicles, but he was really ineffective in this role. The Heavy Thunder Hammers could take out vehicles, but this would be a waste of the combat potential of the rest of the unit. 
A second version of the list would be need to include more tank busting capabilities. 

2. A Drop Pod is a poor delivery unit for combat
I put Artemis and his combat unit in a Drop Pod. Unsurprisingly, they are not the best delivery vehicle for a combat unit as they are unable to assault from it. Most of the time, Artemis and his unit are wiped out before they can get into combat. I need a better way to get them into combat. Deathwatch Shotguns are also pretty awesome. Being able to access multiple template weapons for free is great on the unit. 

3. Lone Librarian and Terminator are not effective
This was pretty much as expected, but a lone Librarian is not really too effective. I think the points would be better spent elsewhere and two HQ units in 1500 points is a bit much. 
In a similar vein, the lone Terminator was a nice idea in theory, but he didn't really pan out in the games. His Meltagun was pretty ineffective on its own and a 2+ save is not that hard to get past. I think I will drop both of them from my next list. 

Based on these experiences, I have come up with a second version of the list. 

Combined Arms Detachment
Watch Captain Artemis
5 Veterans- 4 Frag Cannons, Storm Shield
Drop Pod
5 Veterans- Meltagun, 3 Combi-meltas, Auspex
Drop Pod
5 Veterans- 5 Stalker Pattern Bolters
5 Veterans- 5 Deathwatch Shotguns, Storm Shield
4 Bikers- Power Weapons, Meltabombs
4 Bikers- Power Weapons, Meltabombs
4 Vanguard Veterans- 2 Heavy Thunder Hammers, 2 Pairs of Lightning Claws
Corvus Blackstar- Inferno Halo Launcher

As you can see, much of the list has remained the same, but there have been some significant additions. 
The Frag Cannon squad has mostly stayed the same. I have lost the Auspex, as the new FAQ stops the Sergeant from taking an Auspex and Storm Shield. It's not so much of a loss, as the template rounds ignore cover anyway. I may actually drop these down to 2 or 3 Frag Cannons, as 4 may be a bit of overkill. 

I have added a squad of Veterans armed with a Meltagun, three combi-meltas and an Auspex. These should significantly help with my anti-tank requirements. With the right Mission Tactics, I should reliably hit with three or four of the shots and hopefully take out any vehicle. The Drop Pod should help them get into Melta range. 

A third unit of Veterans is armed with Shotguns and a Storm Shield. The Deathwatch Shotgun is pretty good. The template mode is great for multiple hits. I have initially put the squad in a Rhino, I might put them in a third Drop Pod if I have time to get one painted up in time. I will need to run the list past Dave though, I'm not sure if three Drop Pods is too much for the event he is running. 

The four unit remains with the Stalker Pattern Bolters. These are some great long range firepower and good objective holders. 

I split the Bike squads into two units of three and a unit of 2. This will give me an extra unit for claiming objectives. I'm not sure this is the optimal set up, but I'll see how it goes in a few games. 

I stuck with Artemis for my Warlord. He may not be the best, but I really like the model and spent so long on the painting that I want to take it. He will lead a unit of Vanguard Veterans. They get cheap weapons, so I took two Heavy Thunder Hammers and two pairs of Lightning Claws. I took the Corvus Blackstar to transport them. Even though it is expensive, it is the best delivery vehicle for an assault unit in the army.

So that is the second iteration of my Deathwatch army. I have a few weeks left to make any further revisions to the list before the tournament. One thing I am thinking of doing is adding a second unit of Stalker Boltgun Marines to the list. In order to do this, I would need to drop one Biker from each squad, lose one Frag Cannon and one of the Vanguards with Lightning Claws. This would give me another unit for shooting and for backfield objective grabbing. 


  1. All changes look to make sense to me mate, I was always a little surprised that GW thought a lone terminator was ever a good idea, even with the mix of weapons he's got.

    Let's hope they grasp the idea that terminators need some attention in the next edition because they aren't all that tough at the moment.

    As for the changes, so pleased to see the Corvus in there, I know it's not exactly anti air now with the death from the skies changes, but just being that hard to hit is a significant bonus as an assault transport.

    My only suggestion would be perhaps see if there's any way you can improve the chances of it coming in - I got burned with poor reserve rolls last game and it would make a huge difference - Artemis potentially not charging till the last turn of the game? even he'd struggle I think to make a particular impact then.

    1. I am right with you there on reserves manipulation Nick, but unfortunately, the codex doesn't have much in the way of answers to it. I could use my Aegis line with the reserves upgrade, but I'm pretty sure it is back in Glasgow and I won't be up before the tournament!

  2. As usual, very much enjoy your articles and especially this ongoing series of battle reports and army lists refinements for you Deathwatch.

    I know it might be an issue of models, but have you considered taking a couple "solo" Terminators with CMLs? I think the key to one man Terminator units is to keep them at long range and, with the CML, you can put out 2 Frag or 2 Krak missiles all game long at 48". This not only provides solid anti-tank and anti-infantry support for your DW army (especially if you take 2-3 of these "solo" CML Terminators), but it also allows them to stay out of range of the most dangerous threats, namely double-tapping Rapid Fire weapons, Grav Weapons, Plasma Weapons, etc. If your opponent does choose to use a Lascannon or similar long-range, heavy weapon on them, then he is not able to use it on your Bikers, your Rhinos, you Blackstar, or you expensive Veterans with Frag Cannons (at least Terminator has a 5++ to defend himself, whereas except for your two Storm Shields, the veterans have nothing).

    The other thing I though might be useful for your force is a Skyshield Landing Pad. Number one, it gives you a "shooting platform" of sorts for your Stalker Veterans, with both elevated LOS and a 4++ save. Number two, and more importantly I think, it allows you to start your Corvus Blackstar/Vanguard on the board turn 1, with a 4++ to protect them. If your opponent has first turn and moves toward you, then you have a solid chance of getting off a turn 1 charge with your Vanguard Vets (i.e. Corvus moves 6" + disembark 6" + 2D6" charge, with re-rolls thanks to Heroic Intervention). Alternately, if you have first turn, you can move the Corvus 12" + 18" Flat Out (for counting as a Fast Skimmer) and use its re-rollable Jink to keep it alive until Turn 2, where you can then disembark and assault with the Vanguard... right now, the soonest they could assault it Turn 3 (i.e. come in from Reserves Turn 2, drop into Hover mode and assault Turn 3), and that is dependent on making your Reserve rolls, as Nick points out above.

    In terms of points for a Skyshield, if you trade out Artemis for a stock Librarian and drop the Auspex on the Drop Pod Melta squad, then you have exactly enough to pay for a Skyshield with the "Ready for Takeoff" upgrade. The Librarian could then take Prescience and attach himself to the Melta squad, the Stalker squad, the Frag Cannon Squad, or the Vanguard squad and try and "twin-link" them, as appropriate, based on what opponent you are facing and which unit needs the reliability.

    Finally, in terms of adding a CML Terminator, if you drop a Biker from one squad and one of your Frag Cannons, that is exactly 65 points to get that TDA model on your force (who, BTW, can also use the Skyshield as a firing platform and to get a 4++ save).

    Anyway, just some thoughts. Please keep up the great work and this blog as a whole, which I think is one of the "standard bearers" for excellence in the 40K community right now.

    1. Hi Rudd, thanks very much for your in-depth reply.

      A lot of great suggestions there, but unfortunately I don't have the models available to implement any of them!

      Don't worry though, I have just scoured ebay to try and get some cheap terminators and cyclone missile launchers to add to the force, so your efforts will not be in vain. They won't be ready for Birthday Bash, but should come in very useful in other games. I hadn't even considered the CML lone Terminator as an addition to the force, but I can really see the benefits of it as my army does lack long ranged firepower (since I haven't armed any of the Veterans with other Marine heavy weapons such as the missile launcher or Lascannon).

      The Skyshield is also a great shout. Not having the combat squad come in till turn 3 or 4 is pretty brutal, as they generally need an extra turn to get into position and assault the following turn. I can only hope that they arrive early enough in my games for it not to be a problem. I will definitely also be looking into picking up a skyshield as well, as I am on a bit of a terrain kick at the moment too.

      Also, a big thanks for your comments on the blog as a whole. It is great to hear that people are enjoying all the work (and amazing that you hold it in such high regard given the other great quality work out there). I have been quite fortunate recently in having a lot of content to post on a regular basis.

    2. Michael, glad it was useful and also glad to provide positive feedback on your excellent blog.

      One more thought, if you ever do end up playing higher points games like 1850 or 2000 with your DW, you might consider adding a Leviathan Dreadnought into the mix. Below is an article I wrote about the Leviathan and Deathwatch:

  3. Hi Michael,
    this is Tim from Duesseldorf. I really enjoy browsing your blog! Around Christmas I found it on google while looking for a Deathwatch Codex review. You did an excellent job with your articles! Thank you for that.
    For me your blog is a really nice way to see and learn how a lot of good combinations of units work on the battlefield. Due to the lack of time, I can't make that many games as you do.
    I although wanted to mention that I watched the battlereport on YouTube. Great work!

    To your latest army list:
    I really like the Corvus as a model. But I am really concerned about its usage against armys that will modify your reserve rolls. You might be missing almost a third of your force for 1-4 turns. Be aware of that, but I guess you already know that.

    Thanks for blogging, it is always a good read!
    Regards, Tim

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words Tim! I'm not normally a fan of video battle reports, but I am starting to like them more. Featuring in one really does help in that regard! I like Harry's (the Dark Artisan) reports, there is enough discussion that I can watch them while I paint, not having to be looking at the screen the whole time.

      Yes, reserves manipulation against me is a real problem. If I come up against a force that is going to make me suffer, I can always put Artemis in one of the Drop pod squads and start the Vanguards on the table. It is not ideal, but better than having around 500 pts of a 1500 pts army off the board until turn 4!