Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Deathwatch Codex Review: Part 6- Elites

Part 6 of my Deathwatch Codex review will look at the Elites section of the codex. This is an area which has seen a few new units added and some improvements to some existing units from the codex. 

Primaris Apothecary
The Deathwatch finally get access to an Apothecary! You only get the Primaris version, though it would have been nice to have a normal version to join units in transports or take a Jump Pack. I'm not sure why they didn't include the normal option, it's not like the models are not available or the Primaris Apothecary is specific to the Deathwatch.

I'm not a big fan of taking the Apothecary in a "normal" Space Marine army, but I think there is a place for them in the Deathwatch. With such a small, elite army, every casualty counts, so having an Apothecary to revive members of squads or heal other Primaris models is a nice bonus to the army.

I see the Apothecary supporting backfield units, such as objective holding Veterans or models armed with long range firepower, such as Missile Launchers or Stalker Bolters. I have actually purchased a Primaris Apothecary to add to my Deathwatch army.

On top of Venerable Dreadnoughts, the Deathwatch now have access to regular Dreadnoughts and Redemptor Dreadnoughts.

The various Dreadnoughts do not gain access to Special Issue Ammunition, but do get Mission Tactics, allowing them to re-roll 1's to wound against selected targets.

I see the Dreadnoughts as having a support role in the Deathwatch army, perhaps for tank-hunting abilities. They are one of the few units that can take a Twin Lascannon, so can provide some nice anti-armour punch to the army on a fairly durable gun platform. The benefit of Mission Tactics also allows them to have more chance of wounding in some cases, allowing you to re-roll half your failed wounds with a Lascannon against a standard vehicle.

One of the big bonuses of the Deathwatch Dreadnought is that they can use the Teleportarium stratagem to "deep strike" into battle. This allows them to get up close to the enemy lines very quickly, something it will take several turns for Dreadnoughts in other Space Marine armies to achieve. While Dreadnoughts may not be the best unit in the game, most armies probably won't do well with one rampaging around their deployment zone for long and it could quickly become a prime target.

I think it could be a powerful distraction unit for the Deathwatch. It's just a pity it can't deep strike out of your deployment zone on turn 1 now. It could have served as a nice distraction for the Corvus Blackstar on turn 1.

I look forward to trying out my Deathwatch Dreadnought in my army to see how it performs. I might even pick up a Redemptor for the army to test it out in my games.

While Terminators are not great in 8th edition, the Deathwatch Terminators do get some nice bonuses over those of the regular Marine Chapters.

First off, they get access to special issue ammunition on their Storm Bolters. This does boost their firepower efficiency a great deal. Secondly, each Terminator can swap out their Power Fist for a Power Axe, Power Maul or Power Sword. This helps to make the unit a bit cheaper, as well as allowing them to hit on a 3+ in combat.

Each squad can also take up to three Heavy Weapons and each Terminator can take a Power Fist/Meltagun combination if you really wanted to. While this makes the squad incredibly expensive, it would be an incredibly potent unit for dealing with vehicles or monsters.

One of the big benefits of Terminators is that they can be added to Kill Teams. This makes the Kill Team immune to the effects of morale. This is a big boost, as you may want to field Kill Teams in larger numbers to get maximum benefit from the Teleportarium stratagem and other stratagems.

Overall, I still don't think the Deathwatch Terminators are worth their points cost, but they do get a lot closer than the regular Space Marine Terminators do.

This Primaris unit can actually do quite well in a Deathwatch army.

First off, they have a number of deployment options to allow them to get closer to the enemy without having to use up command points.

They can be armed with either Bolt Carbines or Heavy Bolt Pistols. The Heavy Bolt Pistols are a strong option, being able to fire at 18" at AP-2. In addition, you could fire them in combat at AP-3, great for shredding your opponent's armour if you find yourself tied up in combat.

The Assault 2 Bolt Rifles are also quite nice. You won't have to worry about range thanks to their deployment options and special issue ammunition. They can also advance and still fire with good range if they find themselves out of position.

I think a squad of Reivers would be a strong addition to the Deathwatch army. The shock grenades would be great for stopping enemy overwatch if you want to charge in with a squad of combat Deathwatch Veterans on a key enemy unit.

This Primaris unit can put out a lot of S4 shooting if it remains stationary to fire. The problem with that is getting them into the 18" range to use their firepower. The Teleportarium stratagem is great for this, allowing the unit to deep strike close to the enemy army and use their firepower to full effect.

While they will not be able to fire twice on the turn they arrive, in subsequent turns they can use their full firepower to good effect. You can also use the stratagem to get them in close with their Flamestorm Gauntlets if you arm them with those. This will allow a unit of 3 to put out 6D6 automatic flamer hits. Unfortunately, the short range does not allow them to fire on the turn they arrive from the Teleportarium, but in following turns they should be a big threat to the enemy army.

The only issue with that is that they are not really durable enough to stand up to much enemy firepower, with only 2 wounds and a 3+ save. They are T5 which helps, but there are many weapons that will still take them out easily.

One big benefit of the Aggressors is adding them to a Primaris Kill Team. This allows a squad to advance and fire Assault Weapons without penalty or move and fire Heavy Weapons without penalty. With the right armament on a unit with Hellblasters, you can advance and fire your Plasma Weapons without penalty, giving them a great threat range.

I'm not sure there is much need for a unit of Agressors in a Deathwatch army. The Deathwatch army does not lack for anti-infantry firepower, so there are plenty of sources for that. The Frag Cannon can also compete with their Flamestorm Gauntlets, as well as being able to fire the solid shots to take on vehicles or monsters.

However, I think there are good reasons to take an Aggressor in a Primaris Kill Team, giving the squad much greater mobility, able to move and fire heavy weapons without penalty or advance and fire assault weapons without penalty.

Vanguard Veterans
I love these models and have a squad of them myself, but I don't think there is much need for the Vanguard Veteran squad in a Deathwatch army, now that we have the Teleportarium stratagem.

They are good melee specialists, but everything is reliant on the ability to charge out of deep strike reserve. I've been burned a lot of times bringing in a unit, only to fail the 9" charge, even with a re-roll.

Just a note that the Heavy Thunder Hammer is still ridiculously expensive for what it does. At 30 pts, this costs at least 10 pts more than it should. Given the fact it does D6 damage, so you do equal to or less damage than a normal Thunder Hammer half the time on average.

I think a bare bones Vanguard Veteran squad could be useful for deep striking in to grab objectives. Plus, you don't need to use a command point to deep strike them.

Of all the Elites choices, I think only a few are worth taking. The Apothecary, Dreadnought and Reivers may be worth adding to the army.
All the other choices are better folded into the appropriate kill teams, where they gain more benefit from overlapping special rules and better weapons options.

What do you think of the Deathwatch Elites choices? Anything stand out as an essential pick in the army?

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 have seen some competitive lists based around Aggressors and a chapter master - I think deathwatch does this better than anyone (except maybe raven guard) when you combine the watch master with mission tactics, saving a lot of points on lieutenants.

    But then again, primaris kill teams just seem more flexible and are troops choices sooooo...

    1. I'm looking forward to getting some Deathwatch Primaris painted up for my army.

  2. I'm guessing the best place for vanguard vets is in kill teams to provide the ability to shoot after falling back from combat?

  3. Great series, Mike. Good insight and very thoughtful. Thanks for taking the time to put it all together!

  4. Another great article.

    I also think the Apothecary might be at its best when supporting some "fire base" kill teams in cover back in your DZ... something like 8 Vets with Stalker Boltguns (6 chainsword, 2 SS) and 2 Terminators with CMLs... while expensive, they put out a lot of damage, the Terminators can tank small arms fire, the SS Vets can tank high AP weapons, and the Apothecary has a 50% chance of reviving a dead CML Terminator each turn (gaining you back 97 points worth of models each time you do that) or a dead SS/Stalker Boltgun Veteran (gaining back 25 points worth of models).

    1. Cheers MRC!
      I hadn't considered Terminators in kill teams. Expensive, but with Apothecary nearby to heal/revive, could be worth it.

  5. Honestly, other than maybe the Reivers, I have trouble thinking of a Unit that's available as part of a Kill Team that I would want to take on their own. If I did want a Unit of, say, Vanguard Vets or Terminators, I feel like I'd rather just take them as half of a Kill Team and Combat Squad them, so they get ObSec. If you wanted a Unit of more than 5, I guess, but that gets kind of sketchy in terms of Morale for anyone but Terminators.

    The Dreads do appeal (I'm planning on two Venerables, both with twin Las), and the Apothecary certainly does have some potential with the right Units.

    1. Yeah, taking them in the kill team and combat squading them gives them objective secured, so a much better option than in an Elites slot.

      I just wish I hadn't left a bunch of units back home. Going to have limited options for a little while!

  6. I find myself wanting to field an army of lots of troops and bare minimum hq. Maybe with some single elites choices in the troops.

    Even the compulsory 2 for that detachment I can't remember that needs 3-6 troops choices, that feels like a ton. I guess I'll end up fielding two watch masters and just living with it. Maybe a cheap Guard detachment for more CPs and heavy weapons, cos buying more DW HQs would cost so much.

    1. A Jump Pack Librarian or Jump Pack/TH/SS Watch Captain are both solid HQ options as well. Other than those and Dreads, I really don't see a reason to take anything that isn't Troops. And yeah, a cheap Guard CP farm could definitely be a good investment. The DW have some really good Stratagems.

    2. A teleporting team of hellblasters in rapid fire range doesnt sound too bad.

    3. In a recent Deathwatch game I fielded two Battalions. I actually quite liked the force, it was very infantry heavy and gave me a good range of characters to use. I think the Deathwatch Troops choices are solid and not a bad way to build the army.

      However, if you are simply wanting command points, Guard allies would be the nice, cheap way to go, as well as giving you access to some cheap anti-tank firepower.

    4. Sounds like fun. Which characters did you use in the game? I don't see much value in a chaplain for DW, and the librarian looks bad to be due to their powers, so I'm very curious what you choose.

    5. I went with a Watch Master, 2 Captains and a Librarian. One of the Watch Captains and Librarian had Jump Packs for deep striking.

      Not sure about the Librarian, so I've been running a Watch Master and 3 Captains in more recent games. They are solid in combat and provide a lot of buffs to the nearby units.

  7. hey Mike great stuff so far, will there be a Part 7 or 8???

  8. Aye I'm definitely interested in how the heavy supports look