Deathwatch Codex Rumors: Terminators, Bikes, and Vanguard

Continuing on with my initial look at the incoming Deathwatch Codex rumors, here are my thoughts on some of the options outside the DW Veteran Squads and new unique equipment:

[1] – Deathwatch Terminators (ELITES) — While not as versatile or customizable as the DW Veteran squads, the DW Terminator rumors have me quite excited… honestly, this is what “Tactical Terminators” in other codexes ought to be, highly flexible in load-out, survivable, potent in both shooting and combat, but expensive points wise and limited in squad size.

Basically, DW Terminators start out just like “normal” Tactical Terminators with TDA, a PF, and SB (and Fearless as well, but no Special Issue Ammunition, unfortunately, as this is a missed opportunity I think). Where they differ is there squad size (Minimum 1 model, max 5 models) and most significantly, their weapons options. ANY DW Terminator can replace his weapons with dual LCs for free or with TH/SS for 2MBs. Alternately, ANY DW Terminator can trade out his PF for a Power Sword (free), CF (1 MB), or PF with attached Meltagun (2 MBs). Finally, according to the rumors, ANY Deathwatch Terminator can take a Heavy Flamer (2 MBs), Assault Cannon (4MBs), or CML (5 MBs), which is pretty incredible.

So, what does all this mean in terms of tactical application? Well, to start off, DW Terminators, just like DW Veterans, can be customized to many different roles, based on the wargear layout of the squad. Being able to give the entire squad meltaguns on their PFs means you can maximize their DS ability and create a real threat to enemy heavy armor, something that other types of Terminators cannot due with their shooting alone. Alternately, you can max out on a specific type of HW, be it 5 x Heavy Flamers for close range anti-horde, 5 x Assault Cannons for 20 S6 AP4 Rending shots at 24″, or 5 x CML for either 10 Krak Missiles or 10 Frag Missiles a turn. You can also build a genuinely “multi-role” squad if you wish, mixing TH/SS Terminators to tank AP2/1 attacks with “shooty” Terminators to deal with enemy units at range and also provide useable combat power on the turn that the squad arrives by DS.

[2] – Deathwatch Bikers (FAST ATTACK) — This unit costs 6 MBs a model (so 9 points more than a normal SM Biker) and they too are limited in size to 1-5 models per squad. For those extra points/limits, the DW Bikers come with Skilled Rider and Split Fire “stock.” Additionally, they get Special Issue Ammunition (which are great for their TLed Bolters on their Bikes) and 2A base for their veteran’s profile. Finally, any Deathwatch Biker can upgrade with a Power Sword/Lance/Maul/Axe (1 MB), a Teleporter Homer (1MB), and/or Melta Bombs (1MB… go figure 😉 ). Combine all this and you have a small, expensive unit that is nevertheless quite versatile, with Skilled Rider allowing it to ignore Dangerous Terrain and get 3+ Jink saves, Special Issue Ammo making its TLed Bolters dangerous to anything but TEQs and vehicles, and the option for cheap power weapons means the unit can be dangerous to enemy non-dedicated assault units (Teleporter Homers and MB options just give the unit more versatility, but at a price). If I were to sum up DW Bikers, I think they are kind of an “elite skirmisher” unit that can run around, seize objectives, bring in DSing units accurately (their TH work on Terminators and normal DW units arriving by DS), beat up small squads and shooty units, and generally “shape” the battlefield for the rest of the army.

[3] – Deathwatch Vanguard Veterans (ELITES) — Basically the same as normal SM Vanguard Vets, except that their Bolt Pistols have access to Special Issue Ammunition, they must have their Jump Packs (no option to run without them), and they come in squad sizes of 1-5. The best thing about Deathwatch VVs, outside of Heroic Intervention for re-rolls on Charge distances and ignoring Disordered Charges, is their cheap PWs/LC/PFs/THs and affordable Storm Shields, all of which can be combined with the superior mobility of Jump Packs to make a very agile, very “punchy” unit (giving a Vanguard Vet both a LC and PF, for 4A of either kind on the charge, only costs 4MB per model). Additionally, Deathwatch VVs can take Hand Flamers, Grav Pistols, Inferno Pistols, and Plasma Pistols, making them quite versatile and even a very “shooty” unit if you go Gunslinger mode and equip them with two pistols per model. Finally, like the normal DW Vet squads, they can take Heavy Thunder Hammers at 6MBs a model. Summing up, if DW Terminators are the de-facto “Devastator” or “Devastator Centurion” equivelants in the DW codex, DW Veterans are the “Tactical Squad” squad equivelants, and DW Bikers are the kind of Deathwatch version of RW Black Knights/SM Scout Bikers, then DW Vanguard are the primary fast-moving “shock” troops of the army, given their unique mobility and close combat wargear advantages.

I haven’t even got into how these three units can be integrated into the various “Black Spear Strike Force” Kill-Team special formations (I think they are less unwieldy than they might initially appear), but as you can see each of them is quite useful, viable, and competitive within its niche for a Deathwatch Codex.

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