Guide to Deathwatch
Slayers of the Alien Horde
Spoiler: Special RulesAnd They Shall Know No Fear: Re-roll Morale Tests. Nearly all units you own are Ld8 or 9, which means that by the time you're taking Morale tests on 5-model units, they're all dead. This rule is basically irrelevant ~90% of the time for most armies you're going to make. Useful when you need it... But you wont.
Special Issue Ammunition: From a list of Bolt weapons, each unit can add a particular buff to their attacks;
- Dragonfire Bolts; +1 to hit against units in Cover. Sure, you get +1 to hit, but they're in Cover, for +1 Armour save. So this 'buff' actually gets you nothing, except that you trade one number for a different number down the track. All's this does is get you back to 'neutral'.
- Hellfire Round; Always wound on a 2+, except against <Vehicle> and <Titanic> units. Against a T3 model, you might say '+1 to wound', against T4, '+2'. Against T5, '+3 to wound'. Pretty solid, almost always useful.
- Kraken Bolt; Add 1 to the weapon's AP (max. AP-2), and increase the range.
- Vengeance Round; Add 2 to the weapon's AP (max. AP-3), and decrease the range.
So, when you break the Ammos down to modifiers, you'll notice that against T3, Poison (2+) and AP-1 are basically the same thing. Against, something like, say, an Ork (T4/6+), Poison (2+) effectively gives your Boltgun +2 to wound, whilst AP-1 (and -2, which may as well be the same thing against 6+), are only a modifier of -1. Therefore, Hellfire Rounds are more effective. However, an important factor in choosing ammo, is Rapid Fire range. As Kraken Bolts increase the range, if Kraken Bolts would put you in Rapid Fire range...They're better. Basically, which ammo you use depends on the net modifier. Seems simple when you type it out. But most players aren't going to think that way.
Combat Squads: If your unit contains 10 models (or 6) you can split the squad in half. This is incredibly strong for Deathwatch, and their ability for mixed squads, which skirts the 3-cap, and, additionally, gives Defenders of Humanity to units that definitely shouldn't have it in other Codecies. But, that's just something that makes Deathwatch units better than their Codex counterparts for no real reason, short of the fact that GW didn't actually think about the ramifications of what Combat Squads a mixed unit would actually do - they didn't have Combat Squads in the Index!
Hunters of the Alien
Defenders of Humanity: All Troops units in <Deathwatch> Detachments gain Objective Secured. Cool. Not important. Almost all Codecies are going to have some version of this rule, which means that you're almost always going to fall back on 'most models', as per usual. Unfortunately, you're Deathwatch, so the cheapest Troops model you own, is 16 Points. Deathwatch units take and hold Objectives by straight up murderlising whatever is on the Objective. Falling back on Objective Secured is going to be very rare...It's going to come into play almost as much as And They Shall Know No Fear will.
Mission Tactics: All of your <Infantry>, <Biker> and <Dreadnought> units in <Deathwatch> Detachments, in your entire army, gain re-roll 1s to wound against a Battlefield Role that you choose before the battle (not Lords of War or Forts). That's cool. Read your opponent's army list. See their scariest units, and gain re-roll 1s to wound against all of them. Neat.
1. Re-roll To Wound against <Vehicle> and <Monsters>. That's something.
2. Lord of Hidden Knowledge; Gain a bunch of free re-rolls, and gain CPs back every time you use a Stratagem. Always the best, because GW doesn't know what they're doing.
3. One of your Warlord's non-Relic weapons gains +1 Damage...*fart noise*
4. I guess once you've thrown out the 'Gain CPs Back' Warlord Trait, you just shart out the rest, right?
5. Change your Mission Tactics for the rest of the game. Why even bother?
6. Models within 6" of your Warlord ignore Cover against one, specific unit, per turn.
As mentioned, once the 'Gain CPs Back' Trait is read, you can stop reading.
Relics of the Vigilant - If your Warlord is <Deathwatch>, get one.
Banebolts of Eryxia; Anytime your Character uses Special Issue Ammo, +1 Damage, and also do Mortal Wounds on a 6+ to Wound in addition to normal damage. Very strong.
The Beacon Angelis; Teleport an <Infantry> or <Biker> unit to your Character...You still have to set up more than 9" from enemy models. Lame. At least you can do it to models already on the board. But...Why? It's not like you can get a Character into your opponent's DZ on Turn 1.
Dominus Aegis; [Storm Shield]. If your Character doesn't move, he throws out a 5++ Aura. Strong.
The Osseus Key; Watch Master. Enemy Vehicles within 9" get -1 to hit. That's cool. Additionally, against <Vehicles> in the Fight phase, your Watch Master can make an additional attack. If it hits, do D3 Mortal Wounds. Neat.
The Thief of Secrets; [Power Sword]. It does 2 Damage and re-rolls To Wound against Xenos.
The Tome of Ectoclades; At the start of each turn, the bearer picks a Mission Tactic. Deathwatch units within 6" can use that Mission Tactic, or keep using the existing one. This is...Really strong. As it gives you access to 'clutch' Mission Tactics, that you can use, based on the specific unit that you want to use around your Character, without hamstringing the rest of your army by switching your Mission Tactic wholesale. The...'Even More Better' factor behind this Relic, is that you get to change it every turn. This Relic is much better on a Melee support character than a ranged support Character.
There are two good Relics to pick. Maybe even three! Making choices is hard - depends on your army.
1. Target <Adeptus Astartes> unit can re-roll their Advances, and their Charges. In addition, they Always Fight First, until your next Psychic Phase.
2. Target <Adeptus Astartes> model gains +1S, T and Attacks, until next Psychic Phase. Remember that your magic numbers are S6 and 8...Or anything that lets you Wound your intended target on at least a 4+.
3. A targetable not!Smite with Damage based on Leadership conditions.
4. A Power with a random range, that deals one Mortal Wound to each unit it hits. Garbage.
5. Target <Adeptus Astartes> unit auto-passes Morale tests, and ignores Mortal Wounds in the Psychic Phase on a 4+.
6. Warp Charge 8 makes it almost unusable. Enemy models can't take Invulnerable saves, and enemy Psychic tests are halved. The 6" range makes this almost unusable. To use this Power at all means that your Librarian has to be backed up by whatever strongest Melee unit you own.
1 and 2 are really good for your 'Soup' Detachments.
Tactical Objectives - If your Warlord is Deathwatch, these are not optional.
11. Get the Objective closest to your opponent's Warlord. If your opponent's Warlord is already dead, they get to pick. Ugh. Terrible.
12. Hold a randomly determined Objective for three consecutive turns (i.e; Until the end of your next turn). Holy Hell.
13. Destroy enemy units. Preferably with Veterans or Intercessors. Yeah, alright.
14. Kill Characters.
15. Destroy your opponent's unit with the highest Power Rating. I hope they know what they're doing. If the model was a <Monster>, get more points. Gee. I hope you're playing against an army with <Monsters>, and not <Vehicles>.
16. Destroy enemy units. Perferably Xenos ones.
These Objectives run between totally horrible, and totally fine. Do you even want your Warlord to be <Deathwatch>? ...Ugh. But you lose access to those really useful Relics. ****. What do?
Spoiler: StratagemsArmour of Contempt; After a <Vehicle> is dealt a Mortal Wound, ignore it on a 5+, and gain a 5+ save against Mortal Wounds for the rest of the phase. Neat. Use as needed. Remember, you don't suffer the Mortal Wound for Smite (or any random Damage Power), until after the D3 is rolled. If you're only taking 1 Mortal Wound, fine. If you're taking 3? Definitely use it. Especially if your opponent has more Smites (or similar) to come.
Auspex Scan; You can make an out-of-sequence shooting attack at units that SUA (<12") at -1 To Hit. Good. Use as needed. It's 2 CPs, so don't do it too often. But you shouldn't really have to. It's not that good.
Armoury of the Watch Fortress; This is occasionally useful. As mentioned, you have access to more than one good Relic that you actually do want.
Hellfire Shells; Best Stratagem. Use it every turn. As you're making a To Hit roll, all of your re-rolls to hit apply.
Orbital Bombardment; If your Warlord hasn't moved (why?), spend 3 CPs to fail 4+ roll, and if you pass do a random D3 Mortal Wounds. Do not pay 3 CPs for this garbage. Ever.
Empyric Channelling; If you have 3 <Deathwatch Psykers> together, one of them can manifest an extra Power, and add +2 to the roll when he does. The only reason you need this is if you desperately need to cast Null Zone...And you're willing to bring 3 Librarians to do it.
Teleportarium; Give 1-3 <Infantry> or <Dreadnought> units SUA. It's cheaper than a Drop Pod. Sort of.
Death to the Alien!; When you roll a 6+ to hit against a Xenos unit in the Fight phase, generate another attack. Rad. Probably.
Only in Death Does Duty End; When one of your <Characters> dies, basically get Honour Your Brothers for one less Command Point.
Honour Your Brothers; At the end of the Fight phase, one of your <Infantry> or <Biker> units can Fight again. Really strong when used properly - that's why it's 3 Command Points!
Wisdom of the Ancients; For a phase, your <Dreadnought> gains the Rites of Battle buff. It's a shame that Dreadnoughts aren't very good.
Flakk Missile; Make one attack against a model with <Fly> (not 'Fliers only') at +1 To Hit. You're making a 'To Hit' roll, which means on a standard BS3+ model, you're hitting on 2s. With potential re-rolls. Do D3 Mortal Wounds... Like Hellfire Shells, you'll want to use this Stratagem as often as possible, as both Hellfire Shells and Flakk Missile, are some of the only Stratagems that are caused on totally modifiable To Hit rolls.
Adaptive Tactics; Spend 2 CPs to change your Mission Tactics for the rest of the game. 1 CP is your Warlord is a Watch Master. Yep. Seems kind of pointless to make this your Warlord Trait...Especially after if you were smart, you could could use this Stratagem, potentially get your Command Point back, and use it again for free. Geez.
Stem the Green Tide; An <Ork> unit gets -1 to their Charge distance for every model that dies during Overwatch.
Targeting Scramblers; Immediately remove all <T'au Empire> markerlight counters from one of your units.
Intercepting Volley; Kind of like Auspex Scan, but you can use it pretty much whenever you want and it isn't <Infantry> only. Any time an <Aeldari> unit with <Fly> ends its move within 12" of one of your units, said unit can make 'free' shots at it with -1 to hit. This Stratagem is so good, and completely shuts down one of the best armies in the game.
Synaptic Severance; 'Shoot the Big Ones'. One of your units can shoot <Synapse Characters>, even when they're not the closest unit. Unfortunately for you, there aren't too many Tyranid Characters with Synapse that don't already have 10+ Wounds. But, still. It's really useful if you need it.
Overkill; If a <Necron> unit makes Reanimation Protocols rolls within 12" of one of your units, you can force -1 to the roll. 1 CP! Okay!
Doctrines; Six Stratagems in a row, that give +1 to Wound against whatever Battlefield Role you want - not Lords of War or Forts. The fact that they're all named something different, means that you can use many of them in the same turn. However, at 2 CPs each, they'll add up really fast if you use a whole bunch in the same turn early on.
Optimised Salvo; When one of your units fires Special Issue Ammo, you can actually pick and choose which ammo gets used, per model in a single unit. Definitely has a use. No idea what it is, though.
Clavis; In the Fight phase, pick an enemy <Vehicle> within 1" of a Watch Master. Roll a 2+ and the Vehicle takes D3 Mortal Wounds. Wait. Isn't this a Relic? Why would you waste your Relic slot on something you can pay Command Points for? That seems...Really stupid. Unless you want to do both? In which case how do you make it so your Watch Master get into Melee with a Vehicle every game?
Decapitation Doctrine; Re-roll to wound in a phase when one of your units targets your opponent's Warlord. Yep. Wouldn't the +1 To Wound HQ units (or whatever Role, they could be an Elite) be better for the exact same CP cost? Or you could hate yourself, and use both for 4 CPs.
Tactical Flexibility; A unit that is eligible to use Combat Squads, can Combat Squad. That's really good, since you get to do what you kind of want to do anyway, but you cut down on the number of your deployment drops, which slightly increases your chance to go first, if you want to.
Tempest Shells; When a <Deathwatch Infantry> unit uses Special Issue Ammo against a <Vehicle>, make a single to hit roll, and do D3 Mortal Wounds. Combine with Flakk Missile and do a whole ton of Mortal Wounds in the same turn.
Spoiler: HQWatch Master: Gives all your <Deathwatch> models re-rolls to hit. Yep. What else is there to say? There's a handful of Deathwatch stuff that requires your Warlord to be a Watch Master, so...Why not? You may as well bring one. It's not like re-rolls to hit Aura is bad, and, since you can't even equip your Watch Master with different wargear, it's not like you can **** him up by giving him stupid wargear. Put him with your shootiest unit, and shoot. It's not rocket science. However, the main problem with the Watch Master, is that there just aren't any good Relics for him to take. But, that doesn't really matter, since if you're playing pure Deathwatch, you'll have other Characters. If you aren't playing pure Deathwatch, then you have no need for Deathwatch Relics.
Watch Captain Artemis: His Warlord Trait is terrible. Gives <Deathwatch> models re-roll 1s to hit. That's fine. Wait. He costs the same as a Watch Master!? Why!? Oh? He ignores Wounds on a 6? Is that all. No, you see, he has a super special Grenade attack that gets used once per game. If it hits (BS2+rr) do D6 Mortal Wounds. Wait...Just the once? 'Kay. How is he getting within the 6" range? Oh? He's not? Rad.
Watch Captain: Remember; The whole point is to not just make a Watch Master that sits in the back and does nothing - the Watch Master already does that, better. Alternatively, take a Storm Bolter, bit the bullet, and take the worse Watch Master that costs less. A Captain that doesn't move had better be taking Dominus Aegis.
- ...in Terminator Armour: SUA on Turn 2 and trying to make a 9" Charge is way too slow.
- ...with Jump Pack: There it is. Add a Storm Shield - Watch Masters can't get those. Add a Storm Bolter (Banebolts for days) or Thunder Hammer, and rock out.
- Primaris: Since the Master-Crafted Stalker Bolt Rifle comes with AP-2 stock, you can use Hellfire Rounds with relative abandon because you already have Vengeance Rounds built in. It's a shame that you only get one shot, can't target Characters and does nothing at all.
Librarian: The whole point is to take one and manifest Veil of Time or Might of Heroes on your Melee unit/model of choice. All the other Powers are terrible and/or simply just inferior to Smite. You can try an manifest Null Zone, but... Good luck with that.
- ...in Terminator Armour: Access to extremely potent Storm Bolters, and an Invulnerable save. Pretty good.
- ...with Jump Pack: Allows you to keep up with your Melee unit.
- Primaris: Hot garbage.
Chaplain: It's a Watch Master that has a vested interested in actually moving around, as he drops out re-rolls To Hit in the Fight phase, which isn't going to be useful on a model that hangs back in your DZ.
- ...in Terminator Armour: Yay Storm Bolter. The Invulnerable save does nothing, and if you're SUA'ing on Turn 2, unlike a Librarian, a Chaplain isn't going to hand out Veil of Time, so the Terminator Chaplain is strictly inferior to a Terminator Librarian.
- ...with Jump Pack: Take the Power Fist, and keep up with your Vanguard. Re-rolls To Hit is extremely potent on models that already partially re-roll To Wound. As choosing who to Charge is much less flexible than choosing who to shoot, generally who you Charge is "Whatever is closest.", even when you have <Fly>. Having Tome of the Ectoclades on your Chaplain, not only hands out re-rolls To Hit, but you have much better access to force multiplication on your Melee unit.
- Primaris: Just...No.
Storm Bolters with Banebolts are really strong if you can get into Rapid Fire range.
Tome of the Ectoclades is really strong because you don't always get to choose what to Charge.
Dominus Aegis turns your Character into a Custodes Vexilla.
Spoiler: TroopsVeterans: This is pretty simple. The only thing you have to watch out for, is whether or not to equip your models with Storm Shields.
- Black Shield: A Veteran with an extra attack, and your unit must perform a Heroic Intervenion, if able. This can be a disaster for a ranged squad. However, for a melee squad, it's an extra attack and extra ability for free.
- Terminator: Completely useless. But, if you have a lot of spare points, you can add in an Assault Cannon to the squad.
- Biker: Give the unit the ability to Fall Back and Charge in the same turn. Always bring a Chainsword, as usual. There's no reason not to. The Teleport Homer is completely pointless and does nothing.
- Vanguard Veteran: Gives the unit the ability to Fall Back and shoot in the same turn. Very strong. Give it melee weapons...Or more probably, don't.
- Deathwatch Frag Cannon; If you have more than one per squad, that's too many.
- Storm Bolters; If possible, equip as many dudes as possible with Storm Bolters...
- Boltguns; ...If you can't, it's okay. Special Issue Ammo is still really, really good.
- Heavy Bolter; Gives your unit access to Hellfire Shells. However, since Hellfire Shells is a Stratagem shared across many Codecies, you don't need to use it on Deathwatch models. If Hellfire Shells is your jam (and it should be), then just pick up a Patrol of Scouts from somewhere else.
- Missile Launcher; Ditto for Flakk Missile. Unless you're desperate to be using your Veterans to destroy Vehicles.
- Plasma Guns; In a pinch, you can use your Veterans for destroying Vehicles.
Maybe it's time to learn that Deathwatch can't be played solo?In which case, Plasma Guns are really good...Except wrong. Because why the **** are you taking Veterans with Plasma Guns when your Codex has Hellblasters in it?
- All of your Veterans - except those with Heavy Weapons, obviously - should have Chainswords. Trade your Boltgun, for
BoltgunStorm Bolter & Chainsword. If Chainswords are free, why don't Veterans just start with them? Whatever. Doesn't matter. Convince your opponent that your models have Chainswords. Doesn't matter how. Just do it.
- Alternatively, since all of your Veterans have two attacks each, and access to real wargear, all of the options are useful for killing Infantry. Take whatever's cheapest. Power Weapons do the job just fine. But so do dual Chainswords for free.
- Trying to use your Veterans to Melee Vehicles, is an even worse idea than using them to shoot Vehicles. Still - and this should be obvious - Power Fists, Thunder Hammers and Heavy Thunder Hammers. They're all pretty much equal, because HTHs do the most Damage, but they also cost the most. However, a model with a HTH can't take a Storm Shield, and for the same points as a HTH, you can get two models with Power Fists and a Storm Shield.
Basically, there's no reason to not just spam Veterans. Adding extra models to the unit just isn't that useful. Unless you're going to use Combat Squads, which you kind of want to.
Intercessors: Intercessors with Bolt Rifles are better than Veterans with Boltguns (and Chainswords), but worse than Veterans with Storm Bolters (and Chainswords). If you look at the points costs of the models, that checks out. Fair enough. Intercessors with Auto Bolt Rifles are about as good as Deathwatch Shotguns, with better range. However, Deathwatch Shotguns weren't mentioned for Veterans, and that's how you can tell 'being as good as a Deathwatch Shotgun' doesn't actually mean anything at all. Stalker Bolt Rifles get one shot, each, and can't target Characters. Rad. Does it really have to be pointed out that your Intercessor Sergeant has no reason to not take a Chainsword? Everything except Intercessors, suck. Look, watch...
- Hellblaster: Adds a Plasma weapon to the squad.
- Inceptor: Brings two not!Heavy Bolters and allows the the unit to Fall Back and Shoot. Useful if you want to get real aggressive. If you don't, then your Intercessors should be in the second-storey of a Ruin, and thus immune to being Charged in the first place.
- Reiver: Does nothing.
- Aggressor: Brings a ton of small-arms fire to the squad, which doesn't do anything. If you have an Aggressor in the squad, your unit can Advance and shoot Assault weapons, or move and shoot Heavy weapons, without penalty. However, we've already established that Heavy and Assault weapons are the worst ones, so Aggressors are basically useless. Awesome.
Spoiler: ElitesPrimaris Apothecary: No.
Venerable Dreadnought: Twin Lascannon and Missile Launcher. Done.
Dreadnought: Absolutely not.
Redemptor Dreadnought: It's a worse Venerable Dreadnought, that actually degrades with Damage.
Terminators: Take 5 in your Veterans squad, use Combat Squads. Give them Objective Secured for the cost of the Sergeant's attack. Run three Assault Cannons. You can shave 8 Points (yeah) off of the squad if you swap the other two to Lightning Claws.
Reivers: Take 5 in your Interces- No. You know what? Still useless.
Agressors: They kill Infantry real good. So what are Storm Bolters with Special Issue Ammo for? Oh, right. Aggressors are bad. Of course.
Vanguard Veterans: Take 5 in your Veteran Squad. Use Combat Squads, give them Objective Secured for the price of the Sergeant's attack. You could even have a Biker in the unit of 4, and allow them to Fall Back and Charge. And everything Deathwatch that isn't Troops is now useless, because GW gave Veterans a rule that they shouldn't have.
Spoiler: Fast AttackBikers: Shouldn't these be Troops? Imagine if they had a Vanguard in the squad, and could Fall Back and Shoot with their Twin Boltguns, and Charge in the same turn. As Troops. That'd be neat. They definitely shouldn't be allowed to do that. That would be dumb.
Inceptors: Shouldn't these be Troops?
Dear GW, why doesn't Deathwatch have Fast Attack choices?
Spoiler: Heavy SupportHellblasters: Ooh. A shooty squad that doesn't care about Sergeant attacks. Why are they Heavy Support? That makes no sense.
Land Raider: Shoots Lascannons. Doesn't even Transport models.
Land Raider Crusader: Transport your Melee Veteran squads across the battlefield. Can be handy. Usually isn't.
Land Raider Redeemer: Like a Land Raider Crusader, except worse.
Spoiler: Dedicated Transports & FlierRhino: Nope. You have models that move 14" per turn with Objective Secured that have Storm Bolters that actually get Special Issue Ammo. What are you doing with Rhinos that have Storm Bolters without it?
Razorback: It's a cheaper and not-as-good Venerable Dreadnought.
Drop Pod: Turn 2 is too slow. Welcome to 8th Ed.
Repulsor: It'd be real useful if there was a Primaris unit that could actually Melee worth a damn. But, there isn't.
Corvus Blackstar: It's not great. You can re-roll 1s to Save if you have Supersonic (i.e; Not while you're using Hover Jet). Anyway. Take the Hurricane Bolter, keep your stock weapons. In any case, the Corvus Blackstar is a Razorback that flies, and can carry Jump Packs and Bikers. Which is super-useful because everything you own is Objective Secured - or should be.