Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Codex Deathwatch Review: Part 8- Flyers and Dedicated Transports

Welcome to the final part of my Codex Deathwatch review, looking at the Flyer and Dedicated Transport options available to the Deathwatch. 

Corvus Blackstar
The Deathwatch's unique flyer and a fantastic model as well, I just wish it was a bit better to warrant inclusion in most of my armies. 

On paper, the Corvus Blackstar is not too bad. It has T7, 14 wounds and a 3+ save. Not only that, but you get the -1 to hit when it is in supersonic mode. Added up, it is a fairly durable vehicle to have in the army. It also got a 10 pts reduction over the index, which is a nice drop, but not enough for me. 

It also has some decent firepower, with a Twin Assault Cannon and two Stormstrike Missile Launchers as standard. It has the option to take a Hurricane Bolter, swap the Twin Assault Cannon for a Twin Lascannon and/or swap the Stormstrike Missiles for two Blackstar Rocket Launchers. The big problem for me is that it lacks Power of the Machine Spirit, Strafing Run or any other special rule that would boosts its accuracy. 

As most of its weapons options are Heavy, the Corvus Blackstar will be hitting on a 4+ on the move. It is one of the only "big" Space Marine flyers not to get Power of the Machine Spirit, and its lack of this great special rule really does hold it back from being a powerful gunship for the army. You can offset this somewhat by giving the flyer an Auspex Array, allowing it to re-roll 1's to hit. This goes some way to mitigate the effects of moving and shooting, but not enough for me to make up for its price tag. 

For me, I prefer to go for the Twin Assault Cannon, Hurricane Bolter and Blackstar Rocket Launcher. This load out gives you the most firepower for the Corvus, able to take on a number of infantry threats or units with the Fly keyword. With only two shots each for the Lascannons and Stormstrike Missiles, it is too expensive for only to be hitting with half the shots on average. 

The other benefit of the Corvus Blackstar is the transport ability to take almost all non-Primaris Deathwatch models. This is one of the few ways to safely transport Bikes in the army, as well as the only way to transport mixed unit Kill Teams. 

I think the Corvus Blackstar works best as a transport for a combat unit or a unit with short ranged weaponry, such as the Frag Cannon. This is a relatively safe way to transport these units to the heart of the enemy army. 

The new rules for the Infernum Halo Launcher make it -1 to hit against enemy units with the Fly keyword (as per the most recent FAQ). Against many units with the Fly keyword, they will be firing at the Corvus with -2 to hit. This can be quite good for keeping it safe from enemy firepower, but it does nothing to help against the range of ground units that can target it with ease. 

The biggest problem with the Corvus Blackstar for me is that it is a huge fire magnet in the Deathwatch army. As an army with little in the way of vehicles or big individual models to field, it is a prime target for your opponent's anti-vehicle firepower. Every time I have fielded the Corvus Blackstar, it rarely survives past turn 1, being quickly targeted and destroyed. This can leave the squad inside out of positon or at the mercy of the enemy guns, to be quickly wiped out without doing anything. 

I haven't tried this, but I think the best way to run it is with 2 Corvus Blackstars in the army. I've certainly seem many Deathwatch armies running with two of the flyers. This will normally force your opponent to go after the one or the other. However, this can get quite expensive, especially with tooled up Kill Teams inside, eating up a big chunk of points in an already expensive army. 

Dedicated Transports
I think the humble Rhino is a bit underappreciated in 8th edition. It is a nice and cheap way to get your infantry squads to the heart of the enemy army. If you are taking the Rhino, always go for the extra Storm Bolter. For only 2 extra points, you can get up to 8 shots from the vehicle at rapid fire range. 

The Rhino is a bit less useful thanks to the introduction of the Teleportarium stratagem, making it easier for the Deathwatch Veterans and Kill Teams to get close to the enemy lines. 

I still think there is a place for the transport vehicle in the army, thanks to the limited number of positions in the Teleportarium or the desire to save command points. 

I think the Razorback has a big role in the Deathwatch army. It is one of the few units that can take a Lascannon. I think a Razorback with a Twin Lascannon is a great source of anti-tank firepower for the Deathwatch army. Sitting with a Watch Master or Watch Captain for re-rolls to hit, as well as potential re-rolls to wound from the Tome of Ectoclades, this can be a nice way of getting high strength, high damage in the army. 

As a bonus, it can also be used to transport a unit if you wish, though moving and firing will reduce its accuracy. 

Drop Pod
With the new stratagems, I think there is little use for the Drop Pod in the Deathwatch army now. 

One benefit is that it could potentially allow you to put more units in reserve, outside of the Teleportarium. Another benefit is that it can protect the unit that is inside the drop pod, as any "Auspex Scan"-type stratagems can only be applied to the Drop Pod, not the units inside. 

However, these types of interceptor stratagems can be negated with Special Issue Ammunition, allowing a unit to deploy more than 12" away but still rapid fire with their Bolters. 

I'm not sure the few advantages of the Drop Pod outweigh the cost of including it in the army, as I would rather have more bodies on the field than not. 

The Deathwatch also get access to the shiny new Primaris vehicle. 

The Repulsor is pretty much a flying Land Raider. It stats are comparable, moving 10" at full strength and with a toughness of 8, 16 wounds and a 3+ save. It is going to take a considerable amount of firepower to take it down.

The Repulsor also packs a considerable amount of firepower as well. Its basic load out includes a Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannon (30" heavy 12, S5, AP-1), a twin Heavy Bolter, an Ironhail heavy stubber (a S4 heavy bolter), an Icarus heavy stubber (a S4 heavy bolter that gets +1 to hit against Fly units and -1 to hit against other units), two krakstorm grenade launchers (18", assault 1, S6, AP-1, D3 damage) and auto launchers (essentially smoke launchers).

This allows the Repulsor to put out a lot of medium to long range S4-6 firepower, great for taking on hordes of infantry. It also has the option to replace many of its weapons with higher strength firepower such as twin Lascannons or Las-talons, as well as an Icarus Rocket Pod. This allows you to tool up the Repulsor for hunting infantry or for targeting mosters/vehicles. In addition, power of the machine spirit allows it to move and fire to full effect.

The Repulsor also does not suffer one of the big disadvantages of the Land Raider. As it has the Fly keyword, it cannot be tied up in assault and can fall back from combat and crucially still fire to full effect. In addition, it gets to ignore terrain when moving, making it a bit more mobile, able to jump over ruins rather than having to go round them. Enemy units also suffer -2 to their charge roll when attempting to assault the Repulsor, so even better for keeping it safe.

It is also one of the only transport options for Primaris Marines, able to transport 10 Primaris Marines or 5 Inceptor Marines.

It actually works out cheaper than the Land Raider, but still comes in at a huge 287 points for just the base model. If only it could transport something other than Primaris Marines, this would be a fantastic addition to the Space Marine arsenal.

Again, the stratagems for the Deathwatch army mitigate the need for the Repulsor in the army, allowing you to "deep strike" Primaris units and kill teams at the cost of a command point, significantly cheaper than the cost of the Repulsor. 

I think there are some useful options in terms of flyers and transport vehicles for the Deathwatch army. They are a good way of bringing some anti-tank/anti-monster firepower to the army, as well as providing these on a durable chassis.

If you enjoyed the Deathwatch Codex reviews, check out the links below if you missed any parts. Also, you can follow the blog on the St Andrews Wargaming Facebook page to keep up to date on all the new articles. 


  1. Thanks for all your time spent on these. Add I mentioned before I'd love to see a discussion on kill team options, but this has been a very handy series. More and more I think I could get away with no elites, fast attack or heavy support choices. Maybe no transports too, and just have HQ and troops.

    1. *As I mentioned
      Darn mobile and lack of edit!

    2. Hey Russell, thanks for your comments.

      I did see your previous comment about a special kill team article. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try and put something together soon, talking about the different kill teams I've been thinking about running and how I think they could be useful.

  2. Great review series on Deathwatch Codex, found it very useful as I design army / plan purchases

    1. Glad you have found them useful Dave! Nice to see another brother joining the ranks of the Deathwatch. I love the army, but it is so rare to see anyone else playing them.

    2. Thanks Mike. I’ve had DW Overkill marines sat untouched since its release and now had urge to purchase / build small imperium force, so seems like best option. Plus big fan of Corvus design.

  3. Drop Pods are just way too expensive for what they do in 8th. It was true even in the Index, and the addition of Stratagems like the Teleportarium really hasn't helped.

    Razorbacks serve as an excellent fire support option for the DeathWatch. I might have managed to drop Mortarion in my last game if I'd kept my Watch Master back with them for the re-rolls instead of putting him up with the Combi-Melta KT that flubbed all their Wound rolls and then got melted by PlagueSpewers.

    The Rhino seems to still be the workhorse it's been for ages. Nothing amazing, but it gets the job done. Affordable, reasonably durable, good Transport Capacity, non-negligible firepower with the extra Storm Bolter. The only real drawback for DW is that it can't Transport anything other than basic Veterans and Characters.

    I have no actual experience with the other two, but the Repulsor seems like a good platform for more Anti-Tank, with a Las-Talon and twin Lascannon. It's also the only way to drop off Flamestorm Aggressors within 8" of their target, which is a pretty useful role.

    The Blackstar, as you say, really needs PotMS or Strafing Run or something to compensate for all its Weapons being Heavy. They probably really work best in a list built around them, with 2-3 of them carrying pretty much all of the Army that isn't Teleporting in (and something hidden somewhere to keep Boots on the Ground), and offering no other targets at the start of the game.

    1. Yeah, it's a shame that Drop Pods have gone from "must have" to practically useless. I've got three in my Deathwatch and four in my White Scars that are just gathering dust now.

      I've got a Twin Lascannon Razorback that is just awaiting a paint job to join my Deathwatch. I think it will be a strong addition to the army and give me some nice anti-tank firepower. It see it babysitting a unit of Veterans with Missile Launcher, with mabye a Watch Captain in tow to give them re-rolls.

      I have a Repulsor for my Dark Angels army, but it is yet to see the field. Hoping to get an all Primaris force of Dark Angels built up to try in my games.

  4. Thanks for the in-depth review mate. Although on paper the Intercessors are much stronger, the rule of cool (and because we will already have lots painted) I will still be using as many veterans as possible! I would welcome an Adeptus Custodes review next if you were interested ;)

    1. Cheers, glad you enjoyed it. I'm with you, painting up a new unit of Intercessors, but not going to abandon all the Veterans I already have painted up.

      I'll have a look around, see if I can scare up a copy of the Custodes codex for review!