So, a lot of this based on the rumor leaks out there, since we have a bit before the actual codex comes out yet, but it looks like Codex: Deathwatch will bring quite a lot to the game of 40K (I know I have wanted a Deathwatch codex for a long time now, and in the mean time have tried to figure out how to proxy them with everything from counts as Grey Knights to Sternguard from the 1st Company Task Force formation).
Here are two things that jump out to me, right off the bat, in terms of competitive playing:
***Deathwatch Veteran Squads — The “baseline” unit of the codex and the only Troops choice (so mandatory in a CAD or Allied Detachment), we’ll see when all the exact rules come out, but based on what we know right now, they appear to basically be Sternguard, except with the options to take Special, Close Combat, and Ranged Weapons on ANY model, plus up to FOUR Heavy Weapons and a special “Xenos Sword” option for the Watch Sergeant (a power sword that forces enemies to re-roll successful Invul saves). Additionally, they can give any model a Heavy Thunder Hammer (S10 TH that is Two-Handed and causes ID on 6+ to Wound), can upgrade one model to a Blackshield (he has WS5 and bonus attacks when locked in combat with a vehicle, IC, MC, or when his unit is outnumbered), and can upgrade another model to a Watch Sergeant. Finally, they can take a Rhino, Razorback, Drop Pod, or Corvus Blackstar (new Flyer) as a DT and, if part of the Deathwatch “Decurion” detachment, can get access to Deep Strike as well. Combine all this with their Mission Tactics rule (all DW units have this, since it is their version of “Chapter Tactics), which allows them to re-roll 1s to Hit against a selected FOC type (i.e. all enemy Fast Attack units, or all enemy Elite units, etc.), and Deathwatch Veteran squads are easily the most versatile and customizable Troops choice in the game, with the ability to kit them out for any mission:
a) Close combat — PWs all over, with 2A base and BP for 4A on the charge, plus a Black Shield with Heavy Thunder Hammer, can make for a dangerous assault unit, especially riding in an Assault Vehicle like a Land Raider (any variant) or Corvus Blackstar.
b) Tank hunting — Meltas or Combi-meltas for all hands in a Rhino or Drop Pod, plus some Heavy Thunderhammers for S10 goodness in case the Meltas don’t finish the job the first time.
c) Horde hunting — Dragonfire Rounds plus four of the new Infernus Heavy Bolters (combine a Heavy Flamer and an Assault 3 Heavy Bolter and you have the Infernus Heavy Bolter.. pretty ridiculous) can make hash of any unit with 4+ or worse armor saves, even those with a strong cover saves.
d) Monster Hunting — Massed Grav Guns or Combi-Gravs (or the same with Plasmas, if you are up against MCs that have poor armor saves, like most Daemons), plus Silenced Boltguns or Hellfire rounds and some Heavy Thunder Hammers thrown in for close combat insurance means not even the mightiest Gargantuan Creature is not safe.
e) MEQ Hunting — Maxed out squad with four Deathwatch Frag Cannons and a Drop Pod (at close range, unleash 8 x S6 AP- Rending Templates, up to 12″ hit them with 8 x S9 AP2 shots, and up to 24” put out 8 x S7 AP3 shots), plus Vengeance Rounds will deal with this quite handily.
These are just a few of the potential Deathwatch Veteran load-outs and doesn’t even account for the Special Kill-Team formations that combine them with other units from the Codex to get bonuses against certain enemy unit types. As you can easily see, even if there were no other options, the Deathwatch Veteran squad could almost make a codex by itself since it is so versatile and, properly equipped/employed, lethal.
***Deathwatch Unique Weapons — People already know about the DW Frag Cannon from Kill-Team Donatus, but now you can take up to four of these per squad and they gain the “Impact” rule, which means at 12″ or less their shots become S9 AP2 (in essence, short-range, 2 shot Lascannons). This makes DW Frag Cannons one of the most versatile and competitive Heavy Weapons in the game, competing directly with Grav Cannons/Amps and in many ways more versatile than them.
Besides the DW Frag Cannon, I have already mentioned the new Infernus Heavy Bolter above, which is BOTH a Heavy Flamer and an Assault 3 Heavy Bolter (it appears you can choose either one every turn, with no “one use only” restrictions), but this too will be a game-changer against any enemy that depends on lots of light/medium infantry, since the DW will be able to keep moving, attrite them at range, and then engage them close in with Heavy Flamers offensively, followed by a charge, or defensively, with good old Wall of Fire overwatch.
In terms of Special Weapons, DW Vets can take the normal Flamer/Melta/Plasma/ Grav options, but also have access to Stalker Pattern Bolters and Deathwatch Shotguns. Stalker Pattern Bolters are 30″ SX AP5 Heavy, Sniper, so basically two shot Sniper Rifles… and they are compatible with Special Issue Ammo, meaning you have Sniper Weapons with Ignore Cover, AP4, AP3/Get’s Hot, or perhaps even Poisoned 2+. This take Sniping from a pretty mediocre capability to a real threat, with a 10 man kill-team able to put out 20 BS4 Sniper Shots a turn (with re-rolls of 1s to Hit against the right target), meaning that all kinds of units are vulnerable to them.
Regarding the DW Shotguns, the rumors give them three profiles (or ammo types, depending on how you look at them):
1 – 16″ S4 AP- Assault 2, Shred — Great for just putting out a lot of wounds on something that will get its armor save/invul save anyway, since the Assault 2 and Shred characteristics mean even TEQs are going to likely suffer some unsaved wounds
2 – 16″ S4 AP4 Assault 2 — Against infantry with a 4+ save, like Fire Warriors, some Aspect Warriors, Wulfen, Scouts, Orky ‘Ard Boyz, Necron Warriors, Tyranid Warriors, Scion Squads, etc. the AP4 on these rounds a great, especially since the DW models can still assault after shooting with them.
3 – Template S3 AP6 Assault 1 — Basically a Hand Flamer, this shooting option for the DW Shotgun gives them a very potent tool against tightly packed enemy forces, especially when jumping out of a transport or Drop Pod (the fact that the entire squad of up to 10 models can use this means that, combined with the Misfortune power, you can generate ridiculous amounts of Rending wounds).
So, of course, these are rumors right now, but they are still quite interesting and I think, based on the DW Veteran Squads and Unique Weapons options alone, that this is going to be a unique, fun, and competitive codex, whether used as stand-alone or as an allied force (I am already looking at allying at least one DW Kill-Team with my Ultramarine army).