Friday 18 May 2018

Battle Report 148- Deathwatch vs Aeldari

Today's battle report is the first outing for my Deathwatch with the new codex, taking on Doug and his Aeldari force, a mixture of Eldar and Dark Eldar units. 

I was excited for the new Deathwatch codex. I really like the look of the army and was excited to see what the new codex could do. For my first use of the army, I took a nice mix of units to test them out. I didn't take any Primaris Deathwatch yet, as I haven't had a chance to assemble and paint them up yet. 
I did a video preview of the army, going over the units I was taking and some of my thinking behind the list. 

My army consisted of:
Battalion Detachment
Watch Master- Guardian Spear, Banebolts of Xeryia (Relic), Lord of Hidden Knowledge (warlord trait) (M)
Watch Captain- Relic Blade, Jump Pack, Bolt Pistol (C1)
Kill Team 1- 8 Deathwatch Veterans, 2 Frag Cannons, 2 Storm Shields, Blackshield with Power Sword and Bolter, Bolters, Chainswords, Vanguard Veteran with Pair of Lightning Claws (KT1)
Kill Team 2- 5 Deathwatch Veterans with Stalker Pattern Bolters and Chainswords (KT2)
Kill Team 3- 5 Deathwatch Veterans with 2 Missile Launchers, Bolters and Chainswords (KT3)
5 Bikers- Twin Bolters, Storm Bolter (B)
Corvus Blackstar- Twin Assault Cannon, Hurricane Bolter, Blackstar Rocket Launcher, Infernum Halo Launcher. (CB)

Battalion Detachment
Librarian- Force Sword, Bolt Pistol, Null Zone, Might of Heroes (L)
Chaplain- Jump Pack, Crozius Arcanum, Bolt Pistol (C2)
Kill Team 4- 5 Deathwatch Veterans with Shotguns, Storm Shield and Chainswords (KT4)
Kill Team 5- 9 Vanguard Veterans with 3 Frag Cannons, Bolters and Chainswords. Terminator with Power Fist and Storm Bolter (KT5)
Kill Team 6- 5 Deathwatch Veterans with 2 Missile Launchers, Bolters and Chainswords (KT6)
Kill Team 7- 5 Deathwatch Veterans with 3 Meltaguns, Bolters and Chainswords (KT7)
5 Vanguard Veterans- Bolt Pistols, Chainswords (VV)

A good spread of units and Kill Teams to mix out the force. I went for two battalions to give me 13 command points in total. 
I went for all four characters to test them out and see how they performed in the list. I took a mix of kill teams, with many to teleport in using the Teleportarium stratagem. 

The Watch Master and Librarian would accompany Kill Team 1 in the Corvus Blackstar. I had three units of Veterans as backfield objective holders, two with Missile Launchers and one with Stalker Bolters. 

I was going to put the Meltagun Kill Team, Shotgun Kill Team and Terminator Kill Team in reserve, with the option to put the Vanguard Veterans and Chaplain in reserve. 

Doug's army consisted of:
Spearhead Detachment (Aeldari, Alaitoc)
Warlock- Shuriken Pistol, Witchblade (W)
Fire Prism- Shuriken Cannon, Spirit stones (FP1)
Fire Prism- Shuriken Cannon, Spirit stones (FP2)
Fire Prism- Shuriken Cannon, Spirit stones (FP3)
Crimson Hunter- 2 Bright Lances (CH)

Spearhead Detachment (Drukhari)
Archon- Blaster, Huskblade, Phantasm Grenade Launcher, Labyrinth cunning, Writ of living muse (re-roll 1's to wound) (A1)
Archon (A2)
5 Kabalite Warriors- Splinter Rifles, Blaster (KW1)
5 Kabalite Warriors- Splinter Rifles, Blaster (KW2) 
5 Kabalite Warriors- Splinter Rifles, Blaster (KW3)
Ravager- 3 Disintegrator Cannons (Rv1)
Ravager- 3 Disintegrator Cannons (Rv2)
Ravager- 3 Disintegrator Cannons (Rv3)
Raider- Disintegrator Cannon (R1)
Raider- Disintegrator Cannon (R2)

Air Wing Detachment (Drukhari)
Razorwing Jetfighter- Twin Splinter Rifle, 2 Disintegrator Cannons (J1)
Razorwing Jetfighter- Twin Splinter Rifle, 2 Disintegrator Cannons (J2)
Razorwing Jetfighter- Twin Splinter Rifle, 2 Disintegrator Cannons (J3)

Deathwatch really struggle against vehicles, so this will be a really tough match up. An Eldar mechanised list was one of the worst matchs ups possible for my new Deathwatch. Vehicles that have invulnerable saves to block the AP on my special issue ammuniton, units that can fly so they can't be tied up in combat, and vehicles armed with weapons that make a mockery of my armour saves and multi-wound models. 

Let's just say, I didn't think this game would last that long. 

We were playing the Targets of Opportunity maelstrom of war mission. This is where you get 3 cards per turn, and only have one turn to try and achieve the cards.

We deployed the objectives as shown below:

We then rolled for deployment zone and got Search and Destroy. I got to choose the deployment zone and chose the bottom left quadrant.

We then deployed our forces. I put the two units of Missile Launcher Kill Teams on the south flank, both in ruins. I put the Stalker Pattern Kill Team in the ruins towards my centre, with the Bikers and Watch Captain nearby. The Corvus Blackstar went at the back of my deployment zone, with Kill Team 1, the Watch Master and Librarian inside.

I used three command points on the Teleportarium stratagem to put three Kill Teams in reserve. I also put the Vanguard Veterans and Chaplain in Jump Pack Assault Reserve.

Doug then deployed his vehicles. He put both Raiders up in front, holding the objectives in the ruins. The three Fire Prisms went along the top face of the battlefield, spread out over the deployment zone. The three Ravagers went towards the back of the deployment zone, with the Archon and Warlock taking cover in the ruins besides them. The four flyers also deployed at the back of the board, as they would be able to use their speed to get where they wanted as the battle began.

I lost the roll off for first turn, but Doug chose to go second, giving the Deathwatch the chance to strike first.

In my first turn I drew Secure Objective 3, Secure Objective 4 and Advance (have all my units out of my deployment zone). I chose Malleus Mission Tactics, giving me re-rolls of 1's to wound against Heavy Support options. My plan for the first turn was to move up with the Bikers to secure objective 3. The Corvus would also move up, as it was likely to die quickly, so I was hoping to get the squads inside up nice and close to do damage when they got out.

The Bikers raced up the central line of the battlefield towards the enemy vehicles, the Corvus Blackstar moving alongside them to support the Deathwatch. The Watch Captain advanced to get into range of the Corvus Blackstar (to give him re-rolls to hit).

The Bikers opened fire on the Raider with Kraken Bolts. They managed to put 8 wounds on the skimmer, 5 of which got through its invulnerable save.

The Corvus Blackstar also opened fire on the Raider. The Assault Cannons only managed two wounds, both of which got through. The Blackstar Rockets rolled a 3 and a 1 on 2D6 for their shots. I used a command point to re-roll the 1 and got another 1! I didn't get the command point back, but neither did Doug. Of the four shots, only one hit on a 3+ and failed to wound. The Hurricane Bolter fired at the Raider, but did no damage.

The Stalker Marine Kill Team fired at the Raider, wounding it twice, but failing to get past its invulnerable save.

One of the Missile Launcher Kill Teams fired on a Ravager, one of the Krak Missiles hit and wounded, causing 5 damage to the vehicle. The Bolters of the squad fired at the wounded Raider, doing one more wound to the vehicle.

The final Kill Team fired its Missiles at the Razorwing Jetfighter, hitting and wounding once, but the invulnerable save held once more. The Bolters of the squad managed to hit the Raider and took another wound, leaving it on one.

In the charge phase, the Bikers assaulted the Raider to try and destroy it and get in range of the objective. The Bikers were able to take down the Skimmer, the Kabalites disembarking and suffering no casualties.

At the end of my turn, I scored First Blood, Secure Objective 3 and Secure Objective 4.

Not a great first turn for me. Almost all of my army on the board fired at a single Raider and was unable to even destroy it. Doug has 11 more vehicles on the table. If the game went on for 11 turns and I didn't lose a single model, I may have a shot in this game!
One thing I discovered during my first turn is that Dedicated Transports cannot be chosen as a Mission Tactic or as a Doctrine Stratagem (+1 to wound stratagem). This seems like a bit of an oversight, making all Dedicated Transports immune to the Deathwatch Chapter Tactics and Doctrines.

In his first turn, Doug drew Behind Enemy Lines, Defend Objective 5 and Secure Objective 1.

The Eldar flyers moved up on the Deathwatch lines, landing on the south to surround the Space Marine forces. One flyer moved next to the Watch Captain to target the enemy character. One of the Fire Prisms moved around the ruins to target the enemy flyer.

The Kabalite Warriors moved spread out to block enemy deep strikers, moving up to the ruins. The Ravagers moved up to target the Corvus Blackstar. I used the Intercepting Volley Stratagem to target the damaged Raider with the Bike squad. However, Doug played the Agents of Vect stratagem to try and block the Deathwatch stratagem. He rolled a 1 and failed the block, using another command point re-roll to pass and block my attack.

In the psychic phase, the Warlock attempted to cast Jynx on the Bikers, but failed to manifest it.

The shooting phase began with the Ravager shooting at the Bikers, killing two of the squad. A second Ravager fired on the Bikers, wiping them out. The Fire Prisms used the Linked Fire stratagem to target the Corvus Blackstar.

The Kabalites on the ruins fired their Blaster at the Corvus Blackstar, hitting and wounding and taking the maximum of 6 damage from it! The Crimson Hunter fired at the Corvus Blackstar, taking a further three wounds from it. The final Ravager fired at the Corvus Blackstar, destroying the enemy flyer. All the squad inside survived the crash.

The Kabalites in the Raider fired at the Stalker Bolter Kill Team, killing two of the squad.

One of the Razorwings fired at the Kill Team from the Corvus Blackstar, hitting four times and wounding them three times. The Storm Shield in the squad managed to block all the wounds. The Crimson Hunter fired at the squad, killing two of the Veterans. The Razorwing fired at the Watch Captain, but only managed to do a single wound on him.

The Fire Prism fired at the Kill Team from the Corvus Blackstar, hitting and wounding three times. The Storm Shield Marine tried to block the attack, failing and being obliterated (despite using a command point re-roll, which I got back). One more member of the squad perished.

The final flyer fired at the Missile Launcher Kill Team, killing one of the squad.

In the charge phase, the Fire Prism assaulted the Kill Team in front of it. The Frag Cannons fired at the charging tank in overwatch fire, but I only rolled 7 hits total on 4D6! The tank took one wound, the Bolters of the squad taking another wound. The Archon also charged the squad.

The Archon struck at the Kill Team, killing two of the squad. The Vanguard Veteran attacked the Archon, wounding once but failing to get past his invulnerable save. The rest of the Veterans did 8 wounds on the Archon, but Doug passed all his saves (using one command point re-roll to do so).

At the end of his turn, Doug scored Behind Enemy Lines for one point.

Deathwatch- 3
Aeldari- 1

That turn could have gone a lot better for Doug. I was expecting him to do a lot more damage to my army, but I got lucky with some armour saves and Storm Shield saves. Annoyingly, I was unable to collapse the shadowfield of the Archon in combat, so he would need to be dealt with quickly.

In my second turn,  I drew Overwhelming Firepower, Mission Critical Objective (objective 3) and Secure Objective 1. Not a bad draw. With my reinforcements coming in, I was hoping to be able to take out at least 3 units in the shooting phase, if not, things would be a lot worse for me in the following Aeldari turn.

The Kill Team in combat with the Archon fell back to grab the objective from the Aeldari. The Watch Master and Librarian moved up on the Archon.

The Watch Captain leapt over the Razorwing, moving to support the coming reserves.

At the end of the phase, I brought in all my reserves. The Meltagun Kill Team landed beside the Watch Captain, while the other two Kill Teams landed on the other flank to take on the Dark Eldar. The Vanguard Veterans and Chaplain landed to the north, hoping to take on the enemy Raider.

In the psychic phase, the Librarian attempted to manifest Null Zone, failing the power even with a command point re-roll. He then attempted to cast Smite, but only rolled a 4 in total. Not great for me. I really needed Null Zone to go off to take out the Archon.

In the shooting phase, the Deathwatch Veterans fired their Shotguns at the Kabalites, only managing to kill two. Kill Team 1 fired their Bolters at the Kabalites, killing one more. The Frag Cannons targeted the Ravager, getting 13 hits and wounding it 7 times. The Ravager took four wounds from the Volley, leaving it on one wound. The Vanguard Veteran threw a Krak Grenade at the skimmer, hitting but failing to wound.

The Librarian and Watch Master fired at the Archon, but could not get past his save.

The Kill Team with the Terminator fired their Bolters at the Kabalites, wiping them out. I fired the three Frag Cannons at the wounded Ravager. A bit of overkill, but I needed to kill it off to try and get three kills for overwhelming firepower. The Frag Cannons were able to obliterate the enemy vehicle.

The Meltagun Kill Team fired at the flyer, hitting and wounding 3 times, but Doug made all three invulnerable saves!  The Bolters from the squad managed to do a couple of wounds.

The backfield Kill Team fired their Missile Launchers at the flyer beside them. Doug used the Lightning Fast Reflexes stratagem on the Razorwing. One missile hit and wounded, taking 3 damage from the flyer.

The second Missile Launcher Kill Team fired at the damaged Razorwing next to the Captain. One Missile hit and wounded, taking 6 damage from it. The Bolters of the squad did another wound. The Watch Captain threw a grenade at the flyer, hitting but failing to wound.

Finally, the Stalker Marines fired at the Razorwing, taking it down to one wound remaining.

The Vanguard Veterans and Chaplain fired their Pistols at the Raider, but failed to do any damage.

Annoyingly, I had killed two units in the shooting phase and took a flyer down to one wound. One more and I would have got my D3 points for Overwhelming Firepower.

In the charge phase, the Watch Master and Librarian assaulted the Archon. The Watch Captain charged the wounded Razorwing. The Vanguard Veterans tried to charge the Raider, failing even with a command point re-roll. The Chaplain tried to charge, but also failed to make the distance.

The Watch Captain struck at the Razorwing, taking its final wound. The flyer exploded, taking a wound from the Captain as payment for its destruction.

I used the Decapitation Doctrine on the Watch Master, but Doug once again used Agents of Vect to block me. This time he rolled a 6, so not only did I not get to use the stratagem, I lost the command points in doing so.

The Watch Master struck at the Archon, hitting four times, but only wounding once when I rolled three 1's to wound! The Archon saved the wound. The Librarian struck, but could not get past his Shadowfield either.

The Archon struck back at the Librarian, killing him.

At the end of my turn,, I scored Overwhelming Firepower, Mission Critical Objective (for 3 points) and Secure Objective 1. Doug scored Defend Objective 5.

In his second turn, Doug drew Advance, Supremacy and Defend Objective 3.

Two of the Razorwings moved up behind the Vanguard Veterans, the Crimson Hunter moving up to support them. The Raider moved up to engage the Watch Captain. The two Ravagers moved up on the Kill Team holding objective 3.

The Warlock cast Jynx on the Watch Master, weakening his defences.

The Fire Prisms used the Linked Fire stratagem to target the Terminator Kill Team. The first Fire Prism fired at the squad, killing four of them.

The Crimson Hunter fired at the squad holding objective 3, killing two of them. The squad in the Raider fired at the Captain. Only the Blaster managed to wound. I failed my invulnerable save, using a command point re-roll, but also failing the save and the Captain was slain. I did get the command point back, however.

The Raider then fired at the Kill Team on objective 3, killing another of the squad. The Fire Prism fired at the remaining members of the team, wiping them out.

The other Ravager fired at the Shotgun Kill Team, managing to kill two of the squad after the Storm Shield Veteran blocked a couple of wounds. The last Ravager fired at the same Kill Team, wounding them 7 times. I managed to make 5 of seven 5+ saves and one Veteran survived.

One Razorwing Jetfighter fired at the Vanguard Veterans, wiping them out. The second flyer fired at the Chaplain, killing him.

The final Fire Prism fired at the Terminator Kill Team, wiping them out.

In the fight phase, the Archon struck at the Watch Master, killing him in combat.

At the end of the turn, Doug scored Slay the Warlord.

Deathwatch- 8
Aeldari- 4

At the end of turn 2, I was well ahead in points, but suffering on the tabletop. I had only a few units left and had only managed to kill three of the 12 enemy vehicles. I didn't have enough firepower to take out many more, not with the way Doug had been rolling invulnerable saves, at any rate.

This turn, I drew Area Denial, Psychological Warfare and Kingslayer. Area Denial was the only feasible card to score this turn, but I would need to take out the enemy Raider. I changed my Mission Tactics to Raptoris Tactics to target enemy flyers using the stratagem.

The Meltagun Kill Team moved up on the Raider, while the rest of the Deathwatch trained their guns on the enemy vehicles.

The Meltagun Kill Team fired at the skimmer, hitting and wounding 3 times (using a command point re-roll), but Doug made all three 5+ invulnerable saves once more!

One of the Kill Teams fired their Missile at the wounded Razorwing, hitting and wounding once, but I only rolled a 1 for the damage. The other squad fired their Missiles at the same flyer, but both shots failed to hit.

At this point I decided to concede the game. The dice were simply not with me and Doug was passing invulnerable save after invulnerable save. It was unlikely I would have any units left after the next turn.

You know those games where you look at your opponent's list and know that you don't have a hope in hell of winning. This game exemplified that feeling.

Thanks to Doug for the game, it's just a shame I couldn't have given him more of a match! We had a good chat after about the strengths and weaknesses of the army, as well as about other aspects of the game.

The Deathwath continue to really struggle against vehicle armies. They don't have a cheap source of anti-tank firepower in the army, having to either go with Meltaguns or Missile Launchers on the expensive Veterans, or Lascannons on the vehicles. I could add a unit of Hellblasters to deal with enemy units, but I don't really want to load up the army with Primaris Marines.

I don't think there is much I could have done in that game. I simply didn't have the firepower to take on so many vehicles, especially as all the invulnerable saves made a mockery of my special issue ammunition. Annoyingly, because all the vehicles had Fly, I couldn't even tie them up in close combat to stop them from shooting at me.

The Corvus Blackstar still struggles for me. I really like the model, but it just seems to die so easily and is a big investment in the army to lose after a single turn.

The Bikers were useful, but again, die so easily in most of my games. They are a powerful unit, but you only really get a single turn of their firepower before they are targeted and wiped out.

I think the Deathwatch are still going to struggle against many armies in 8th edition. They don't have the best tools for dealing with many enemy vehicles and can lack the volume of firepower to take on horde armies, despite the benefits of special issue ammunition.

I am loathed to get rid of the army after the time I have spent on them and I really like them, but if my games with them don't improve with the new codex, I think they will be shelved again for a good while.

Sadly, this was a terrible game to showcase the new codex, but it does highlight some of their weaknesses that they have. I don't really want to have to replace my entire army with Primaris Marines to simply be able to compete in games. 


  1. Great writeup as always!

    I think my opinion on deathwatch is largely unchanged - they are a fantastic elite force for an imperium army, but aren't such a balanced, stand-alone codex. Deepstriking storm bolters with special issue ammo could easily replace command squad plasma drops while being backed up by more anti-tank. (Whether thats thunder hammer captains, bikes, hellblasters or tank commanders etc doesn't matter)

    I totally felt like 'that-guy' during deployment however! I promise to bring fewer vehicles and a more balanced list next time.

    I will also freely admit to being totally outplayed on the mission front. I think the score line said it all really

    1. Cheers Doug, we'll definitely get a rematch in the coming weeks to test our skills once more!

    2. Just a heads up Doug. You can't re-roll a shadowfield save, even with a command point. Apologies if this didn't happen, it reads as though you did in turn 1.

    3. He did use a CP re-roll in his first turn. Does it specify you cannot re-roll it?

    4. Yeah, it specifically says that the Shadowfield save cannot be re-rolled for any reason.

    5. Good to know for the future. I'll have him next time!

  2. Why not making an imperium army with your DW and Guard? I think it’s clear at this point in 8th ed that, unless lists are balanced at the list writing stage, it’s hard for elite armies to compete in a TAC fashion. I think your DW with a little investment in Primaris and mixed with your Guard could do well enough, and it would be a better solution than shelving the army. Just my 2c :)

    1. Yeah, I think Deathwatch with IG allies is the way to go for competitive play. I do prefer to run single faction armies in most of my games, it just suits me better.

      I'll just need to update the bases on my Guard to match the Deathwatch and White Scars, so that'll be a big project to do!

  3. Your sentiments based on one game are depressing. Good write up, but bad analysis. You’re obviously not the brightest player either if your talking about shelving the army completely after ONE game. Lol And lamenting the idea of replacing every unit with Primaris. Why not just add a squad or two of Primaris as support? Maybe some hellblasters to help with vehicles? Who the hell is throwing their entire army away and replacing them all with Primaris? Are you nuts? Thanks but no thanks on your conclusions.

    1. No, of course I am not getting rid of my army after one game. I have many armies and from time to time they get shelved to focus on playing other lists to keep some variety in my game.

      I have played the Deathwatch a lot in 8th edition and was merely commenting on some of their flaws that have persisted in the codex. Sorry you found the analysis bad, but there is not need to go for personal insults, especially under the cloud on anonymity. I shelved them after many games and tournaments at the start of 8th due to their poor showing and moved to other armies in my collection. I will certainly give the Deathwatch a fair shake (you are welcome to follow the future battle reports to see how the get on).

      I am planning to add some Primaris Marines to the force, but simply echoing the sentiment of many other Deathwatch players that don't want to see the time, money and effort spent painting their Deathwatch Veterans to be wasted if they want the army to stay competitive.

      I think Deathwatch are still going to struggle against vehicles in this edition. There is not much in the codex that leaves me to believe otherwise. This game was a particularly bad example of the codex, but there is still some good in it.

    2. You know you've made the big leagues when you start getting anon hate comments ;)

    3. Haha! Cheers WestRider! Yeah, kind of to be expected at times.

  4. Any particular reason you didn't use Tempest Shells or Flakk Missiles at any point? Seems like those could have helped, especially when trying to plink the last Wound or two off of some of the Vehicles. A couple of (possibly Infernus) Heavy Bolters to give opportunities for Hellfire Shells could help pitch in there, too.

    Also on that front, a Jump Pack Librarian with Psychic Scourge seems like a handy option. Lots of Vehicles are down in the Ld7 range, which gives very good odds on adding in at least one Mortal Wound. A fair number of Support Characters have only moderate Ld as well, and the power doesn't follow the usual targeting restrictions.

    1. I think I probably just forgot about them for the most part. With the -1 to hit on most of the flyers and many vehicles, I didn't want to risk the command points on the chance I would miss.

      I think some psychic defence for Smite would be useful, especially if I am not going for a Guard screen in the army.

  5. Shame about the game. Sometimes it just happens that you come up against an army you can't beat. Especially when the dice gods abandon you.
    Great write up as usual.

    1. Cheers Padman! Hopefully the next Deathwatch game will be more exciting.

  6. Aye dice gods and rock/paper/scissors nature of the game can lead to that. I'd also suggest maybe another bike squad or 2 (maybe instead of the blackstar if you're not having joy with it?) To give you more mobility and not a solo 1 that'll get picked off? I think they're awesome especially since their price drop :)

    O and screw the anonymous person above, seriously throwing those insults was petty and pathetic. Comment and critic by all means but there's no need for those kind of insults.

    1. I actually somehow managed to leave a bunch of my Deathwatch army at home when I moved. Need to pick up the Dreadnought, more Bikers and Rhino when I go home.

      Don't worry, after putting articles on Frontline Gaming and having them posted on BoLS, I'm used to ignoring them by now!

  7. Do you think assassins would make good allies?