Friday, September 23, 2016

Deathwatch Review Part 1 of 4: HQ and Elites + Intro

Xeno Hunters.  There are very few things in the 40k universe more “40k” than that designation.  And now, I can field an entire army of them?  Fantastic.
When the new Deathwatch Overkill box came out, I read the rules for using the models for 40k and gave a big “eh”; I didn’t typically play Imperial Armies, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the way that the squads were layed out.  I was most disappointed in the lack of Battle Brother Allies for Nids from the other half of the box, but the Deathwatch half didn’t really register on my radar.
Until they announced that it would be its own codex several months later.  So cool!
So, I got my codex a little bit later than I was hoping to due to some shipping issues (no biggie, it’s in my hot little hands now), and I’ve got to say that the quality is very high.  I’m not sure they re-used any of the awesome art from the Deathwatch RPG, but since they’ve never had a codex before, I believe most of the art is original (and decent, at least).  It seems like they’ve tried to use the squads from Death Masque as much as possible.
The rules are interesting; the formations really add something new to the game.  In the Deathwatch formations, instead of just taking a combination of different units and a set bonus, they instead combine the units to a maximum size of 10 models; then give them a benefit.  It’s sort of neat to have a unit that’s a combination of Veterans, Terminators and Vanguard all in one squad.  The benefits are pretty substantial (re-rolling to wound or armor pen against a particular force org slot), but I’m not sure they overshadow the basic kill team formation, the Aquila Kill Team, which gets to re-roll to wound and armor penetration rolls of one against everything. 
The special rule the army has is called Mission Tactics – this rule lets you gain a bonus against a certain battlefield role type when you enact it at the start of the game.  It lets you re-roll 1’s to hit against said unit type (or a squad containing at least one model from that particular battlefield role).  There are numerous ways to be able to switch is as the game continues.
So, with that in mind, I’d like to briefly go over all the various army selections.


Watch Captain:   

The Watch Captain is just a basic marine captain that costs 5 more points, but has special ammunition (the same as Sternguard, and this is a recurring theme in the army for characters).  He is a little more limited in the wargear he can take, so no bikes for our lovely captain, or any of the special Deathwatch swords/hammers.  I really feel like this is a missed opportunity for GW.

Watch Master: 

The Chapter Master analogue.  Comes stock with artificer armor, which is a nice touch.  Also comes with a great weapon, the Guardian Spear, which is basically the same weapon that the Adeptus Custodes get to use.  It’s a +1 Str AP2 at I weapon, so pretty good; plus it has an inbuilt bolter with specialist ammo.  He also lets you switch Mission Tactics an additional time.  He’s good, but I don’t really see taking him a lot compared to some of the other characters.


A normal, codex standard Chaplain with less options (no bike or JP) and costs 5 more points (for specialist ammo).  Not a bad deal, and can really augment some of the super bad ass Deathwatch CC squads.


Again, 5 more points..blah blah blah.  However, an awesome character for Deathwatch.  Since most of the formations, including the humble Aquila Kill-team, can take a Librarian as an add-on, you can score just a ton of these dudes in your army.  Luckily, they have access to all the new Marine powers as well, so you can really customize your psychic phase with these bros.

Watch Captain Artemis:  

 I really feel like the special character Captain from Death Masque needs his own mention.  He’s 145 pts, so 50 extra points over a standard Watch Captain.  You get a power sword, unlimited use poison 2+ template, a great set warlord trait (change Mission Tactics once), and FnP 6+.  In addition, he has a Statis Bomb that lets you make a D-strength close combat attack that hits himself if it misses – which is pretty rad.  He’s a great character, well worth the extra points you pay for him.  I’d take him over a standard Watch Captain any day of the week (which you need one of in order to field the Watch Company, which we’ll talk about later).



Deathwatch Terminators are pretty boss, as terminators go.  You can take them in squads of 1+ (another theme for picking units), and they’re Fearless standard.  Also, they have the option for every single terminator to take a heavy or special weapon – I’d love to see a squad of all Assault Cannons tearing up the field.  The can also mix and match their squads – like Deathwing, so some Assault Terminators and some shooty ones.  Finally, they have the option to take a new close combat weapon – a powerfist with a built-in meltagun.  A super solid option for a squad that is going to deepstrike often!  I think they really shine in the combined units with the different kill-team formations, as they grant the squad fearless plus give some nice CC attacks.


Standard Dreadnought fare.  If you bring them in the Decurion formation, they can DS without a drop pod, which is nice.

Venerable Dreadnoughts:  

Again, same stuff.

Vanguard Veterans:   

Vanguard Vets are a little more playable in Deathwatch.  With combined squads, they give you the option to add some really cheap specialist close combat weapons to your units.  They have Jump Packs stock, and come with special ammo for their bolt pistols.  Definitely a great choice, either as part of a kill team or on their own.

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