Tuesday 15 May 2018

Deathwatch Codex Review: Part 4- Troops

Today's section of the Codex Deathwatch review will look at the Troops section. I imagine most of the Deathwatch army will be comprised of Kill Teams, so there will be a lot to talk about in this section. 

Deathwatch Veterans/Kill Team
In 7th edition, the Kill Team/Deathwatch Veterans were the core of the army. In 8th edition, they are still a strong choice, but have a bit of the shine knocked off them by the new boys in the codex, the Primaris Kill Team.

The good news is that the Deathwatch Veterans have got a bit cheaper. They were seriously overcosted in the index. Each Veteran now costs 16 pts per model (down from 19 pts per model). However, they now need to pay 1 pt for their Boltgun, taking each Veteran up to 17 pts. The cost of the Special Issue Ammunition (SIA) has now been folded into the wargear costs. This is great, as you now no longer need to pay for SIA if you take another weapon that doesn't use it.

Some of the more common weapon choices have now gone down in points. A Deathwatch Veteran with a Frag Cannon now comes in at 41 pts (down from 49 pts) and a Veteran with a Shotgun now comes in at 19 pts (down from 24 pts).

The Veteran squad has gotten a bit cheaper, meaning you can field a few more models in your army or take some extra wargear. A nice trick to look out for is that you can replace each Veterans Bolter with a Bolter and a Chainsword in the equipment list, essentially giving each Veteran 3 attacks in combat. You can also take a Shotgun and Chainsword, Combi-weapon and Chainsword, etc.

As one of my readers pointed out in a recent comment, you can arm a Veteran with a Storm Bolter and Chainsword for 20 pts per model. A unit of 10 Veterans could deep strike in using the stratagem and unleash 40 Bolter shots with Special Issue Ammunition. If you wanted, you could replace a Veteran with a Terminator for morale mitigation. This is a lot of very strong firepower for not too expensive a points cost. This is a nice combination that I might try out to see how it performs on the tabletop. Add in a deep striking Captain with a jump pack to give them re-rolls or a Watch Master using the Teleportarium stratagem for full re-rolls.

One of the unique features of the Kill Team is the ability to take Vanguard Veterans, Terminators or Bikers in the squad. Each gives unique special rules that benefit the Kill Team; the Terminator makes them immune to morale, the Vanguard Veteran allows them to fall back and still shoot, while the Biker allows them to fall back and still charge.
The only downside of loading up on different unit types is that it can limit their transport options, meaning the Corvus Blackstar is the only transport vehicle that can carry them. However, the introduction of the Teleportarium stratagem means that a Kill Team with Veterans, Vanguard Veterans and/or Terminators can "deep strike" to get into position. Unfortunately, you can't have any deep striking Bikers.

Combat Squads now interacts with Kill Teams in a different way. A 10-man Kill Team can be split into 2 units of 5. There is no restriction on what models go in what unit. This allows you to create some more powerful combinations of units that benefit from the overlapping special rules of the Kill Team.

For example, you could build a Kill Team comprised of 5 Veterans, 4 Bikers and a Vanguard Veteran. You could combat squad the team into one unit of 5 Deathwatch Veterans and one unit comprised of 4 Bikers and the Vanguard Veterans. This gives the Bike squad the ability to fall back from combat and still shoot while the Vanguard Veteran is alive. This stops their impressive firepower from being shut down by being stuck in combat. You could even arm the Vanguard for combat, allowing him to advance each turn to keep up with the Bikers, as you don't really need his firepower.

As you will see below, the Primaris Kill Teams are probably a better option for the Deathwatch troops squad. However, you will still probably see Deathwatch Veteran units, as they have access to better wargear options and transport options in the army. The Deathwatch Veterans have suffered a bit thanks to the Primaris getting SIA, but they are still a solid option for the army.

Intercessors/Primaris Kill Team
The Deathwatch now get access to Primaris Marines in their codex, with the big news being that they now get access to Special Issue Ammunition on many of their guns.

Each Intercessor costs 20 pts with equipment. For only an extra 3 points on the Deathwatch Veteran, you get an extra wound, an extra 6" on the weapon range and an extra -1AP. That's a pretty good bargain in my opinion.

When combining the Bolt Rifle with SIA, you get an even better basic gun on the Deathwatch Intercessor. You get a Bolt Rifle that is range 36" and AP-2, or a 24" range gun that is AP-3, on a 30" range weapon that wounds on a 2+. That is pretty impressive on a basic troops unit.

I can see the Intercessor squad being a strong choice for a backfield objective holder in the army. They have the range to be able to threaten most of the enemy army, as well as the durability to survive a fair bit of long range firepower.

You can also swap out the Bolt Rifle for an Auto Bolt Rifle (21 pts per model) or Stalker Bolt Rifle (22 pts per model).
The Auto Bolt Rifle gives you a 24" Assault 2 Bolter with SIA, while the Stalker Bolt Rifle is 36", Heavy 1, AP-2. The Auto Bolt Rifle is great for being on the move and still firing. It can give you a 30" Bolter at AP-1 that gives you two shots at full range.

The Stalker Bolt Rifle is amazing for a backfield objective unit. It can either fire 42" at AP-3 or 30" at AP-4! It only gets one shot regardless of range and penalises the unit for moving, but with a source of re-rolls to hit nearby, it is an incredibly powerful weapon that can put out a lot of high AP firepower. This gun should shred Marines and most heavily armoured units with ease, even worrying vehicles with the use of the correct stratagems and Mission Tactics.

EDIT- As MRC pointed out in the comments below, the AP is capped at -2 for the Kraken Bolts and -3 for the Vengeance Bolts. This makes it a bit less powerful on the Stalker Bolt Rifle, so you will probably be sticking to the wound on a 2+ shells in most cases.

As with the Deathwatch Veteran kill team, you can add different unit types. You can add up to five models from Intercessors, Hellblasters, Inceptors, Aggressors or Rievers in any combination.

Inceptors allow the unit to fall back and still fire, Agressors allow the unit to ignore the penalty for moving and firing Heavy Weapons or Advancing and firing Assault Weapons, while Reivers give a -1 Ld bubble to enemy units within 6". Hellblasters give no specific bonus, but they come with some powerful Plasma Weaponry.

One of the big issues with Primaris squads is limited mobility and transport options. The Deathwatch Primaris Kill Team gets around this issue somewhat. You can put several units in the Teleportarium and deep strike them in to prime positions later in the game. In addition, you can always arm the squad with assault weapons, such as the Auto Bolt Rifle or Assault Plasma Incinerator, add an Aggressor to the unit and Advance and fire without penalty. This allows you to move quickly around the board and still keep up a solid rate of firepower.

As with the other Kill Teams, a unit of 10 Primaris can be split into 2 units of 5. Again, there is no restriction on which models go in which unit, allowing you to set up several powerful combinations.

Giving the Primaris Marines access to Special Issue Ammunition has made them very powerful, making their basic weapons incredibly strong. I can see them being used a lot in a Deathwatch army. The Teleportarium stratagem combats one of the main issues with Primaris Marines, slow speed on the table and lack of cheap transport options.

It also boost the durability of your army. With two wounds each, the Primaris should help your army survive for longer. Back at the start of 8th edition, I said that the Deathwatch would be really strong if they had 2 wounds each. I wish the standard Veteran had just gone up to 2 wounds each and not reduced in price. As it was, the Primaris Marines can kind of fill this gap in the army. I'm looking forward to building my Primaris Marines and getting them incorporated into my force.

The Deathwatch have some interesting options for the troops choices. On paper, the Intercessors are the clear choice. They are not much more expensive than Deathwatch Veterans, but get several bonuses. The extra wound alone would be worth the 3 extra points in my opinion, but a better gun that still gets access to SIA is fantastic.

The stratagems and special rules in the army help to make them even more effective on the tabletop.

However, the Deathwatch Veterans still have a use in the army. They get access to a much wider range of wargear, such as the awesome Frag Cannon, and better transport options in the game. I think the Deathwatch have some very strong options for their basic troops choices and I look forward to seeing how they perform on the tabletop.

Deathwatch Codex Review
Deathwatch Codex Video Review
Part 1- Special Rules, Relics and Warlord Traits
Part 2- Stratagems
Part 3- HQ Units
Part 4- Troops
Part 5- Fast Attack
Part 6- Elites
Part 7- Heavy Support
Part 8- Flyers and Dedicated Transports


  1. I fear that "veterans still have a use" is a grudging admission, that the primaris for the mere 3 points difference are quite clearly a better choice. It means those of use who don't particularly want to incorporate primaris are playing with only half a deck in essence. I know it's my own stubbornness but I'd considered that army to be pretty much done... maybe another Corvus or two because that model was a joy to build but, essentially, army finished. I had plenty of spare models for shaking up my options. Now I feel like among my options, I'm quite clearly missing the optimum half of the codex...

    1. Yeah, it does seem like the Deathwatch Veterans are struggling in the new codex. The Primaris are certainly much better in most respects. Unless you are taking Frag Cannons or a combat squad, there is little need to take them.

    2. It going to come down to two things.

      pay 20 pts for a Stormbolter Vet
      pay 21 pts for a Intercessor with Bolt Rifle.

      Either you get 2W or Rapid Fire 4.

      I think both are strong but Intercessor come off slightly better

    3. Definitely. I'm going to have to playtest the Intercessors and Storm Bolter Marines in my future games.

  2. Great content here, as always on your blog! Appreciate your work in providing these quality analysis articles for 40k players.

    Two small notes here... first, unfortunately, SIA is capped at AP -2 for Kraken rounds and AP -3 for Vengeance rounds, so the Stalker Bolt Rifle option for Intercessors can only ever get up to these APs (so no AP-4 at 30" or AP-3 at 42").

    Second, the Stalker Pattern Boltgun on Veterans is a viable option in place of a Storm Bolter... for 20 points a model, 10 Veterans can have a Stalker Pattern Bolter and Chainsword and camp in cover (or better yet, inside a fortification and be immune to enemy shooting entirely) and then put out the following:

    -20 x S4 AP-2 shots at 36"
    -20 x S4 AP-3 shots at 24"
    -20 x S4 AP-1 shots at 30" that alwats wound non-vehicles on a 2+

    Throw in a nearby Watch Master for rerolls/countercharge purposes and possibly a Primaris Apothecary to resurrect dead models (at 20 points each, each successful resurrection is a big win) and you can have a pretty solid fire base for your self.

    1. Cheers MRC!

      Ah, you are totally right about the capping on the AP. Forgot about this when writing it up.

      Yeah, the Stalker Bolters are a solid option as well. Gives you some nice backfield objective holders for getting two shots at full ranges as well.

      I really need to add an Apothecary to my army, I think it will be a big help. The only issue is only the Primaris one is available.

  3. Oh, so even as part of a Veteran kill team, a biker can’t be teleported? Like 5 vets, 3 termies, 2 bikes. A bike squad by itself can’t, but as apart of a Veteran unit the unit has the infantry keyword?

    1. I'm not so sure. If you are treating the unit the same as embarking in a transport, I would say that the Biker as part of the Kill Team stops them from deploying in the Teleportarium. However, it could be argued both ways. I imagine well get an FAQ on it in the coming weeks to clarify.

    2. I was just looking through now I've got the Codex myself, and I really can't see anything Rules-wise to link the Teleport Stratagem in any way to the Transport Rules. And honestly, it doesn't seem unreasonable that a force that has an exclusive Flyer that can Transport Bikes would also have their Teleport gear set up for them.

  4. Ya, it makes a huge difference for us!

  5. Definitely some excellent options for us here in the Troops slots. I'm in with the chorus of those annoyed by how much the Primaris outclass the Vets as a general-purpose Unit, but I do feel like I still have some pretty strong Kill Teams available with what I've already got. I think I do want to build up another Squad with Storm Bolters, tho. Pretty sure I've got enough parts around to manage that.

    1. Yeah, I'm thinking of picking up some Storm Bolters myself. Need to add some to my Biker Sergeants as well.

  6. I'm interested in checking out using combat squads to split a vet squad up so bikers could run with vanguard vets. As you point out, gaining the ability to fallback and still shoot if good for bikes. The vanguard vert could have a storm shield to tank incoming fire...and he's T5 if there are more bikes due to the mixed toughness rule, right?? But while cool it may be gimmicky and not as useful in a game as it sounds...