Sisters of Silence Deployment Tactics

Well, just like Custodes, Sisters of Silence now have a formation that allows players to field them without going the Unbound route. Sisters of Silence have the following stat line:

WS4 BS4 S3 T3 I5 A2 Ld 10 Sv3+ (15 points cost per model, +10 points for Sister Superior)

Additionally, they are Fearless, cause Fear, and have “Bane of Psykers” (get Precision Shots and Precision Hits and may re-roll at to Hit rolls against any enemy units that contain at least one model with Psyker/Brotherhood of Psyker/Psychic Pilot rules) and, more importantly, Psychic Abomination, which is basically the same as the Culexus Assassin’s special rule (i.e. ALL Psykers, friend or foe, within 12″ have -3Ld, do not generate any Warp Charges, and can only harness Warp Charges on a 6+; also, units with this rule can never be affected by any kind of Psychic Power, good or bad, and ANY blessings or maledictions that are “active” within 12″ of a model with this rule are immediately cancelled).

In terms of Wargear, Sisters of Silence come stock with Bolters, CCWs, and Psykout grenades, but can trade out their Bolters for Executioner Greatblades (S: +1 AP2, Two-handed) for free or for Flamers (+2 points per model), giving them solid options for both close range shooting and combat.Obviously, their real value is their ability to shut down enemy psykers (and the Deathstars dependent on them) for a very economical points cost.

Aside from their fragility (T3, 3+ armor saves means they are pretty much like Aspect Warriors), Sisters of Silence’ greatest weakness is mobility, since they lack any form of special deployment like Deep Strike, Infiltration, Scout, etc. and also do not have any inherent access to any dedicated transports.

Out the gate, here are a few ideas on how to get Sisters of Silence “into the mix” and close up to the enemy where they can effectively employ their Flamers, I5 S4 AP2 Greatblades, and/or anti-Psyker abilities:

[1] Lias Issodon — Taking him as your Warlord gives you the guaranteed ability to Infiltrate himself and three friendly units… this obviously works amazing with Sisters of Silence, getting them at least within 18″ of the enemy (as close as 12″ away, if they can find LOS blocking terrain)… on Turn 1, the Sisters move up 6″, then run another D6″, basically guaranteeing that you are within 12″ of a selected enemy unit (or units) and cancel any Blessings cast on it (we are thinking Deathstars here, especially ones that rely on durability buffing spells like Invisibility, Endurance, Warpmetal Armor, Veil of Time, etc.)

[2] Allied Stormraven (with Locator Beacon) and Skyshield Landing Pad — The Sisters cannot start the game in the Stormraven, but they can mount up turn 1 and the flyer can then “dash” forward turn 1, using Jink to help keep it alive. Turn 2, the Stormraven can switch to Zooming mode, making it able to get almost anywhere on the board, and then use Skies of Fury and the Locator Beacon to basically “precision drop” the Sisters of Silence wherever you need them, whether to unleash mass flamer templates on tightly packed enemy infantry or to neutralize enemy Psychic capabilities.

[3] Allied Land Raider Spearhead formation — If you want to go the expensive route (and equip the Sisters for close combat via Executioner Greatblades), then you can use this formation to get three Land Raider transports (which ignore all vehicle damage table results except for Explodes if they are within 6″ of each other) that can safely an entire three squad Null-Maiden Task Force to the front safely. Not only can they get the Sisters of Silence in range to pop out and unleash multiple anti-psykers “bubbles,” but since they are Assault Vehicles the Sisters can also charge in the same turn, putting their 3 x S4 AP2 I5 attacks per model to good use (this should wreck almost any MEQ squad, especially with the Sisters of Silence’s high initiative, but can also be great against 2+ saves enemies that strike at lower initiative, such as Devastator/Assault Centurions, Terminators, Mega Armored Nobz, Broadside Battlesuits, etc.). As with the Stormraven tactic described above, the Sisters have to start the game outside the Land Raiders, but can jump in turn 1, then have their transports move up 12″ + 6″ from Flat Out to get into position quickly.

[4] Allied Fortification with Escape Hatch — As I have discussed a number of times in previous articles, the Escape Hatch trick is a relatively secure (and cheap, points-wise) method to get a friendly foot-slogging unit between 19-24″ across the board turn 1 (i.e. Escape Hatch is deployed 12″ toward the enemy DZ before the game begins, turn 1 the unit disembarks 6″ from it, then run another D6″). While this is not a foll-proof method, it can reliably “sling-shot” a squad of Sisters of Silence toward the enemy DZ and allow them to begin shutting down enemy Psychic abilities/powers as early as Turn 1, in turn making the rest of your army much more powerful against opponents that rely heavily on these abilities.

 

Ideas for Deathwatch Special Weapons

I think Deathwatch is a very interesting and challenging faction to play right now, especially given some of the really good things GW did in designing the codex and also some of the pretty significant missed opportunities that exist in that book.

One of the best things about the new Deathwatch book, IMHO, is the unique weapons like DW Shotguns and Infernus Heavy Bolters, which really set this army apart from all the other “Marine equivalent” factions, is true to its fluff and style, and also helps it be competitive.

Based on that, I think GW should have gone “all the way” in giving Deathwatch an entire armory of unique, better-than-average weaponry, both to reflect their fluff of getting access to the best/rarest equipment and to make them more competitive in the niche as a “glass cannon” army.

Here are my ideas for a “complete overhaul” of the DW armory along the lines of what I described above:


—DW RANGED WEAPONS—

*”Deathwatch” pattern Bolters and Combi-Melta/Flamer/Plasma/Grav (with Special Issue Ammunition) – No change except all Combi-weapons only cost 5 points to upgrade and all of these weapons gain “True Grit” rule (model that has a Deathwatch Bolter or Combi-Weapon and another, non-Specialist CCW get +1A)

*”Deathwatch” pattern Storm Bolter – Gains access to Vengeance (18″ S4 AP3 Gets Hot!, Assault 2), Kraken (30″ S4 AP4 Assault 2), Dragonfire (24″ S4 AP5 Ignore Cover, Assault 2), and Hellfire (24″ S2 AP5 Poisoned (2+), Assault 2) Special Issue Ammunition.

*”Deathwatch” pattern Bolt Pistols/Hand Flamer/Grav-Pistol/Inferno Pistol/Plasma Pistol – All gain “Quick Fire” rule, which enables them fire Overwatch at full BS (vice normal BS1) and, for template weapons, to automatically get 3 hits from Wall of Fire (vice normal D3 hits).

—DW SPECIAL WEAPONS—

*”Deathwatch” pattern Shotgun – No change

*”Stalker” pattern Boltgun – No change

*”Brimstone” pattern Flamer — Torrent (6″) S4 AP5 Assault 1 (5 points)

*”Hellion” pattern Melta Gun — 18″ S8 AP1 Assault 1, Melta (10 points)

*”Nova” pattern Plasma Gun — 24″ S7 AP2 Rapid Fire, Blind  (15 points)

*”Spectre” pattern Grav Gun — 18″ S* AP2 Salvo 2/3, Graviton, Concussive, Monster Hunter (15 points)

–DW HEAVY WEAPONS–

*”Infernus” pattern Heavy Bolter — No change

*”Deathwatch” pattern Frag Cannon – No change

*”Cyclone” pattern Missile Launchers (available only to DW Terminators) – No change

*”Beowulf ” pattern Missile Launcher (25 points) – Missile Launcher with multiple special ammo types “organic” to the Missile Launcher:

(a) Firefang Missiles – 48″ S4 AP5, Small Blast, Ignore Cover, Heavy 1
(b) Ironspear Missiles – 48″ S8 AP2, Sunder, Heavy 1
(c) Skyfury Missiles – 48″ S7 AP3, Skyfire, Interceptor, Heavy 1
(d) Venomcraft Missiles – 48″ S2 AP3, Fleshbane, Heavy 1

*”Wolverine” pattern Assault Cannon (25 points — available only to DW Terminators) – 24″ S6 AP3 Heavy 4, Shred, Rending

*”Draken” pattern Heavy Flamer (10 points — available only to DW Terminators) – Torrent 6″ S5 AP4 Heavy 1

–DW MELEE WEAPONS–

*”Deathwatch” pattern Close Combat Weapon (Free) – S: User AP5

*Heavy Thunder Hammer (30 points) – No change

*”Reaper” pattern Lightning Claw (15 points) – S: User AP3 Shred, Specialist Weapon, Deadly Precision (user gains +1WS when fighting with this weapon)

*”Xenophase” pattern Power Sword (15 points) – S: User AP3, Molecular Realignment Field (enemy units must re-roll success Invul saves taken against wounds caused by this weapon)

*”Furion” pattern Power Lance (15 points) – S: +1/User AP3/4, Swiftstrike (gains +2I on the charge)

*”Direblade” pattern Power Axe (15 points) – S: +1 AP2, Bulky (always strikes ay I2 with this weapon)

*”Shieldbreaker” pattern Power Maul (15 points) – S+2 AP4, Concussive, Sunder (re-rolls failed Armor Penetration rolls)

*”Bellator” pattern Power Fist (25 points) – S: x2 AP2, Unwieldy, Rampage, Specialist Weapon

*”Xenosbane” pattern Thunder Hammer (30 points) – S: x2 AP1, Unwieldy, Concussive, Specialist Weapon, Master-crafted

*”Praetor” pattern Relic Blade (30 points, only available to a DW Watch Captain) — S: +2 AP3 Two-Handed, Champion Bane (gains AP2 and “Pulverize” when bearer is in a Challenge)

*”Redemptor” pattern Crozius Arcanum (DW Chaplains only) – S: +2 AP4 Concussive, Rending

*”Vigilance” pattern Guardian Spear (DW Watch Master only) – S: +1 AP2, Two-handed, Block, Armourbane (Shooting portion has profile of a DW Storm Bolter with Special Issue Ammunition)

—DW SPECIAL ISSUE WARGEAR—

*”Durendal” pattern Combat Shield (5 points) – Gives model a 5++ save

*Omnispex (5 points) — Bearer’s unit gains Split Fire and Night Vision rules

*DW Locator Beacon (15 points) — Any friendly unit arriving by Deep Strike within 9″ of the bearer does not scatter

*Long-ranged Auspex (10 points) — If bearer does not shoot, he may nominate one enemy unit within 24″ during that shooting phase. That enemy unit has -1 cover save against all friendly shooting during that Shooting Phase.

*Digital Weapons (5 points) — No change

*Melta Bombs (5 points) — No change

*Rad Grenades (15 points) — Same as used by Ordos Xenos Inquisitor from Codex: Inquisition

*Blind Grenades (5 points) — Same as used by Vindicare Assassin from Codex: Assassins

*Psykout Grenades (5 points) — Same as  used by infantry units from Codex: Grey Knights

*Orbital Strike Relay (25 points, DW Watch Master only) — Same as carried by Inquisitor Karamazov from Codex: Inquisition

Custodes Tactica

With GW releasing 40K rules for the new Custodes models (albeit without a way to field them quite yet, aside from Unbound; I am going off the assumption that that will be corrected soon), I think they have solid potential for competitive play. Looking at their stats/rules, they have the following:

-WS5 BS5 S5 T5 W2 I4 A3 Ld 10 Sv2+

-Guardian Spear (Shoots just like a Bolter and, in close combat, has the following profile: S: +1 AP2, Two-Handed, Block — Gives a chance to block one enemy attack per turn, if you roll higher than their To Hit roll) and Power Knife

Custodes can trade the Guardian Spear for Sentinel Blade (Power Sword with 12″ S4 AP5 Assault 2 shooting profile built in, which also can make Snap Shots at BS2) for free, which means you go down to S5 AP3 and lose AP2 (and the Block special rule), but gain +1A (since the sword is not Two-handed and combines with the Power Knife for two close combat weapons) and the ability to shoot and assault the same turn (unlike the Guardian Spear, which cannot assault after shooting, since it is a Rapid Fire weapon).  More importantly, if you do NOT have a Guardian Spear, each Custodes can take a Storm Shield, giving them a 3++ and counter-acting a critical vulnerability, namely the lack of any Invul Save in their “natural” state.

Special Rules wise, the whole squad is Bulky, can Deep Strike, has Adamantium Will, is Fearless, and (most importantly) has Eternal Warrior! GK Paladins are dying with envy for these kind of stats! 😉 Seriously, though, this makes them quite flexible and reliable, with the option to deploy by Deep Strike or ride in Land Raiders, no danger of every failing a Morale check, and insurance that they will never lose both their wounds to a single attack (except it is a Destroyer attack, of course). One small interesting note is that all Custodes are Characters, not just their “sergeant,” meaning you can choose any of them to take a challenge (great for saving attached ICs) and also any of them can try and Look Out Sir! on a 4+ to preserve their wounds.

Finally, one Custodes in your army can trade his Guardian Spear out for a Custodes Vexilla Banner, giving Fearless to any friendly Imperium units within 12″ and +1A to any friendly Imperium. Combine all this with the Shield Captain “squad sergeant” (who is mandatory and has +1WS, I, and A above normal Custodes) and the option to add up to 5 more Custodes, at 10 MBs per model, and you have an expensive but potent unit, especially in close combat.

OK, now that we have gone over the basics, how do we get the most out of these expensive models? I think their primary weaknesses are lack of an Invul save (unless they drop Guardian Spears for Sentinel Blades and Stormshields), their lower mobility (Deep Striking aside), and their mediocre shooting (basically just Bolter shots at BS5). On the other hand, they strike at S6 AP2 with I4 and WS5, with 4A per model on the charge (5A if the unit has the Custodes Vexilla banner), they are T5 with 2W and Eternal Warrior to make them VERY survivable against anything that is not AP2/1, and they can mix up Guardian Spears/Sentinel Blade + Storm Shield combos to give them both hitting power and durability in the same unit.

Here are some ways I think to “force-multiply” them right out the gate and take them to the next level in terms of competitive game play:

[1] Azrael — Attaching the Dark Angel Chapter Master gives them all a 4++ (even with Guardian Spear), making them MUCH more durable without sacrificing their S6 AP2 attacks at full initiative. Additionally, if they are riding in a transport with him (say a LR Redeemer or a Spartan Assault Tank), then his 4++ is conferred to the transport, making it more 50% more survivable and thus more likely to deliver them to combat successfully. Finally, if Azrael your WL, then he can choose his trait, ranging from adding +3″ to the unit’s Run and Charge moves to giving the squad Furious Charge (so all the Guardian Spear Custodes are hitting at S7 on the charge, making them a real threat to most vehicles) to FNP for the unit if they are close to an Objective.

[2] Brother-Captain Stern — With guaranteed access to both Hammerhand and Sanctuary, he can make the already dangerous Custodes into almost invincible Close Combat monsters. Hammerhand makes their Guardian Spears strike at S8 AP2 (at I4 still) and even models with Sentinel Blades attack at S7 AP3. Better yet, Sanctuary ups any Custodes with Storm Shields to a 2++, allowing them to “shrug off” an average of  83% of all enemy AP2/1 attacks for the rest of the squad. Finally, he adds his own close combat power, especially his Force Weapon, into the mix and also gives the whole unit Preferred Enemy (Daemons) and enhanced Deny the Witch (which synergizes well with the Adamantium Will of the Custodes).

[3] Sevrin Loth — With guaranteed access to Endurance, Enfeeble, and Life Leech (in the Biomancy Discipline), he can double the survivability of the Custodes against anything that is not S10 (or has Instant Death inherently) via FNP(4+), he can reduce enemy Toughness by -1 (so S6 Guardian Spears “double out” T3 Space Marine, for example), and he can restore lost wounds to Custodes via Life Leech. Alternately, he can go Telepathy instead, with guaranteed access to Invisibility, again making the whole unit vastly more difficult to hurt via shooting or close combat. Finally, he is very solid Close Combat fighter himself, especially with his ability to have a 2++ save using the Armor of Selket.

[4] Ulrik the Slayer — While not as dramatic as some of the HQs already mentioned, he gives the entire squad of Custodes he is attached to Preferred Enemy, without any requirement to pass any Psychic Tests, and he also gives them FNP(6+), for a small buff in durability. Ulrik is not amazing as a fighter, but does have a BS5 Plasma Pistol and 5 x S6 AP4 attacks at WS6 and I5 on the charge, so he can add a little more “uummpphh” to the Custodes, especially against vehicles and units with 4+ armor or worse. Finally, if he is the WL, he also gives the unit Monster Hunter, which is quite solid for dealing with enemy MCs and GMCs that are more and more common in the game these days.

[5] Sanguinary Priest with The Angel’s Wing relic — A cheap way to give the Custodes FNP, without any need to roll for Psychic Powers or pass Psychic Tests. Additionally, the Angels Wing allows the entire unit to Deep Strike more safely/accurately and also makes it much less vulnerable to enemy Interceptor fire (mainly thinking of Tau here).

[6] Deathwatch TDA Librarian with Dominus Aegis relic — The DW Librarian can move normally with the Custodes or Deep Strike in with them, depending on the circumstances, and can also use any Psychic Powers he rolls to enhance them (imagine if he got Warpmetal Armor and cast on the Custodes squad, making the entire unit majority T6!). The Dominus Aegis gives the whole unit a 4++ if it does not move, which also activates on the second round of any combat (since they cannot move, by default, if they are stuck in combat), making the entire squad much more durable at a bargain points cost.

[7] Ordos Xenos Inquisitor with Rad Grenades, Ulumeathi Plasma Syphon, and Liber Heresius relic — The Rad Grenades reduce enemy Toughness by -1 on the first round of any combat, making the Custodes more potent in combat than they already are, the Plasma Syphon reduces the threat of Rapid Fire Plasma Weapons significantly, and the Liber Heresius relic allows the squad to Scout at the beginning of the game and gain Counter-attack and Hatred for one turn each later in the game, which can be quite useful in the right circumstances.

 

[8] Two Adepta Sororitas Ministorum Priests, one with the Litanies of Faith relic — The Priests gives the Custodes Hatred for re-rolls to Hit in the first round of combat (the Custodes already have the Fearless portion of Zealot), which is a solid buff in and of itself. More importantly, the Litanies of Faith allows both Priests to auto-pass their War Hymns tests, meaning that as long as they are alive, the whole unit AUTOMATICALLY gains Shred for its close combat attacks and AUTOMATICALLY re-rolls any saving throws (both Armor and Invul) in close combat… taken together, especially with a few Custodes with Storm Shields up front for “tanking” purposes, and you should be able to tear through even the most deadly opponents like Wulfen, Ork War bosses in Mega Armor, Hive Tyrants, GMCs, Iron Hands Chapter Masters with the Gorgon’s Chain relic, etc. etc.

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Tactical “Buddy Team” — Dreadknights and DW Kill Teams

I saw this mentioned on a 40K forum, and I think the poster was exactly right: what Codex Deathwatch is missing in terms of a “critical, competitive capability” is something like a Nemesis Dreadknight i.e. a mobile, durable, hard-hitting Monstrous Creature that can economically threaten enemy forces and draw attention away from the potent, but very fragile and low in numbers, Deathwatch units. This would fill in several “tactical gaps” in the codex and also would take a lot of pressure off the Deathwatch units, making them more effective and more survivable.

Since there is no way that the Deathwatch are actually going to get a Monstrous Creature of their own (at least not until a new version of the codex comes out, probably several years from now, and even then pretty unlikely), the next best thing is to take allied Grey Knights and bring Nemesis Dreadknights into your army via that route. This of course involves a pretty substantial “tax,” given that Grey Knights (like Deathwatch) is one of the most expensive points-per-unit factions in the game.

With an allied GK Nemesis Strike Force, you have to take one HQ and one Troops choice and that “opens up” two Nemesis Dreadknights. Taking a Brother-Captain (HQ) with Psycannon and a 5 man GK Terminator squad (Troops) with Psycannon/MB on Justicar meets the “tax” and gives you a solid little unit with two Relentless Psycannons, eight 2+/5++ wounds, and access to host of Psychic Powers for the Grand Master, plus the ability to Deep Strike starting Turn 1. This plus two Dreadknights (with Heavy Psycannons, Heavy Incinerators, Personal Teleporters, and Daemon Hammers) comes in at 800 points, leaving you with 120 points for your primary Deathwatch detachment in a 2000 point army.

In terms of “pairing up” with Nemesis Dreadknights, I think a DW CAD with lots of MSU Veteran squads is the best way to go. Imagine the following battle group:

-Dreadknight with Heavy Psycannon, Heavy Incinerator, Personal Teleporter, and Daemonhammer

-Veteran Squad with 2 DW Frag Cannons, Rhino

-Veteran Squad with 2 DW Frag Cannons, Rhino

 

Since you have two Dreadknights from the NSF, you can create two of these battle groups in your army. The idea is to have the entire force advance together, with the DW Veterans using the Dreadknight for cover and also to absorb enemy attention, all while firing their Frag Cannons from the Firing Points of their Rhinos as they get closer and closer. At the same time, the Dreadknight moves forward and engages with its shooting weapons, while serving as “counter-charge” deterrent against enemy assault units (or an assault threat of its own, if the enemy is more shooting focused). This battle group also has four Objective Secured units (two Rhinos, two DW Veteran squads) and is mobile enough to “dash” out and get where it needs to be (i.e. 12″ move + 6″ Flat Out for Rhinos, 12″ move or 30″ Shunt for Dreadknights).

With this as the backbone of your army, you still have to take at least one Deathwatch HQ (probably a Librarian with the Beacon Angelis relic) and multiple options for Elite, Fast Attack, and Heavy Support. You can go “ultimate MSU” here, with one man squads of DW Bikers (with Power Axes) and DW Terminators (with CMLs and Chainfists), which play like Space Wolf Lone Wolves (except they have alternate options and can take objectives). You can take up to three DW Bikers and three DW Terminators in a CAD, giving you even more options for grabbing objectives and further ways to diffuse enemy combat power (i.e. if they ignore these single man units and concentrate on the Veterans/Dreadknights, then the DW Bikers and Terminators are free to grab objectives, shoot, and even charge/tie up enemy units. If they focus on eliminating these units, then they are committing combat power against them that is not directed against the advancing Veteran/Dreadknight battle groups.

While this will require a skilled player to use to maximum ability, I think it provides a unique and potentially very flexible (and dangerous) army that will have a solid chance of competing on the table top.

 

Wulfen and Grey Knight Deathstar

While there are many other ways to build a deathstar battle group these days, especially among Imperial Armies that are Battle Brothers with one another, I think a very potent combination is something like this:

-Lord Kaldor Draigo

-Brother-Captain Stern

-Wulfen Pack (9 TH/SS, Pack Leader with Frost Claws and Stormfrag Auto Launcher)

-Ulrik the Slayer

The key to this force, of course, is guaranteed Gates of Infinity from Draigo, guaranteed Sanctuary from Stern, and Hammerhand on both of them. For Mobility, use Gates of Infinity to “bounce” the unit anywhere on the board starting turn 1 to set up a solid turn 2 charge.

Then, use Sanctuary to increase Draigo and the Wulfen Storm Shields up to a 2++ save (and Stern and Ulrik up to a 3++ save). Between this, FNP on all the Wulfen, and lots of T4 wounds across the entire unit, plus good use of Look Out Sir, you should be able to absorb a ton of enemy firepower between turn 1 and turn 2 (even Tau/Eldar levels of shooting) and be in solid shape to charge in wreak general havoc on your turn 2. Just to illustrate the point, in order to kill a single Wulfen with Sanctuary cast, it would take:

-54 x BS4 Bolter shots or BS3 Pulse Rifle shots

-36 x BS4 Grav Cannon/Amp shots

-32 x BS4 Plasma Gun shots

-28 x BS3 High-Yield Missile Pod shots

-11 x BS4 Lascannon or Krak Missile or Bright/Dark Lance shots

And that is just ONE Wulfen in the squad… short of your opponent having a power like Null Zone to drop their Invul save from a 2++ down to a 4++, it will be VERY hard to defeat this battle group with shooting, even highly concentrated shooting.

Once the unit does get into combat, it hits like a Mack Truck. With Hammerhand cast successfully, that is 5 x S9 AP2 I5 attacks (Draigo), 4 x S6 AP3 I5 attacks (Stern), 5 x S8 AP4 I5 attacks (Ulrik), 45 x S10 AP2 I1 attacks (TH/SS Wulfen), and 7 x S8 AP2 I5 Shred attacks (Wulfen Pack Leader) on the charge. Throw in Preferred Enemy for EVERYONE, thanks to Ulrik, and Monster Hunter (also from Ulrik, if he is your Warlord) and you should be able to “buzz saw” through multiple enemy units a turn, including even GMCs, Super-Heavies, and enemy death stars (this is still very a very deadly unit even if you have a Disordered Charge with less attacks, due to multi-charging). Successfully casting Sanctuary before you charge means that you whole squad (except the Wulfen Pack Leader) has a 3++ or 2++ save in combat, which again synergizes with the FNP(5+) on the Wulfen and FNP(6+) on everyone else (thanks to Ulrik’s Healing Balms) to let the unit absorb a ton of opposing “counter-punches,” if anything does survive long enough to hit back.

If you are not comfortable relying on Gates of Infinity, then you can use the Escape Hatch trick from a friendly building to “sling shot” the unit across the board turn 1. Alternately, you can go all in with the Deathstar concept and load the battle group in a friendly Spartan Assault Tank (with Ceramite Armor, of course) and dash it 18″ across the battle-field turn 1 to set up a turn 2 charge.

Of course, like most Deathstars, this is very pricey points-wise, so you really have to build your entire army around this unit, but even in spite of this I think this battle group can be quite competitive if you want to field a deadly, durable force focused almost exclusively on assault 😉

Tactica: Deathwatch Special Weapons

With so much going on in multiple new (or updated) codices, and with a lot of focus on different weapons (e.g. like the DW Frag Cannon and the Genestealer Cult Metamorph weapons), I think that the humble Deathwatch Veteran squads have been somewhat overlooked, especially with their access to DW Special Weapons. Specifically, ANY Veteran in the squad cam replace his Boltgun with:

-DW Shotgun (Free)

-Stalker Boltgun (1 MB)

-Flamer (1 MB)

-Meltagun (2 MBs)

-Plasma Gun (3 MBs)

-Grav Gun (3 MBs)

The ability to take up to 10 Special Weapons per squad is pretty good in and of itself, but what really sets this apart is the fact that each Veteran can replace his CCW with a Bolter (that can use the Special Issue Ammunition) for free. That means each Veteran can have a Bolter AND a Special Weapon, giving them tons of versatility and making them significantly better than an equivalent SM Sternguard with a Combi-Weapon.

Taking a look at each of these Special Weapons in the context of the Deathwatch army as a whole, here are some thoughts:

[1] Flamer — While the DW have plenty of options in dealing with hordes, the ability to take up to 10 Flamers per squad (and still have Bolters for longer-ranged engagements) can be quite devastating, especially when paired with a Drop Pod or Rhino/Razorback, to set up optimal Flamer “firing lanes” as the unit disembarks. These obviously complement Infernus Heavy Bolters quite well, since that adds more Heavy Flamer templates (to supplement the normal Flamers) and long-ranged shooting (to supplement to the Bolters), giving you a very potent unit against light-medium infantry.

[2] Plasma Gun — Though this can get overlooked a bit because of the other Special Weapons, Plasma Guns are actually quite versatile, being able to deal with ALL kinds of infantry and also light-medium vehicles. Their big disadvantage, Get’s Hot, also can be mitigated by Deathwatch armies, thanks to re-rolls of 1s to Hit from the “Mission Tactics” special rules, making them much less dangerous than when used by other armies. I actually think this can combine quite well with DW Frag Cannons, making for LOTS of S7 shooting against vehicles and also very solid anti-MEQ/TEQ firepower as well.

[3] Grav Gun — Obviously, the go-to weapon for killing most MCs and Heavy infantry, as well as a decent tool against vehicles in a pinch. Without Relentless on the Veterans and with no Grav Amps for re-rolls, this is obviously not as powerful as, say, Grav Cannon Centurions or Grav Cannon Devastators in a Skyhammer Annihilation Force, but I think they still have a definite place in a DW army, especially since the Veterans can use their Bolters/Special Issue Ammo against any targets that the Grav Guns are not effective against (i.e. light infantry, units in cover, targets greater than 9″ away if the Veterans have moved, etc.).

[4] Melta Gun — This one is a no-brainer, being the best weapon against heavy vehicles/Super Heavy LOWs and also a strong weapon against multi-wound T4 models (like Wulfen) that are vulnerable to ID from S8+ shooting. Like all the other Special Weapons, it is significantly better in the hands of DW Veterans when they also have a “free” Bolter with Special Issue Ammo strapped to their backs… if you kill a vehicle on your first turn arrival, you then have the versatility to switch to the Bolters if your melta weapons are not as optimal against the remaining enemy forces.

[5] DW Shotguns — One of the “new” Special Weapon types, this is a very versatile option that can put out lots of wounds with Cryptclearer ammo (thanks to S4 and Shred), can take down enemy with 4+ armor or worse before charging with Xenopurge rounds, or can use Wyrmsbreath shells to, in essence, give the entire squad “free” Hand Flamer templates. Like everything else, the ability to combine all these options with the four different Bolter Special Issue ammunition types makes DW Veterans amazingly versatile, especially since a Veteran can take both a Bolter and a DW Shotgun for free (i.e. only the base 22 points per model that they normally cost).

[6] Stalker Boltguns — This may actually be the “crown jewel” of the DW Special Weapons, with the ability to engage targets with 2 Sniper shots a turn per model at between 24″ and 36″, depending on the ammo, and also do everything from Ignore Cover (Dragonfire Bolts) to Ignore 3+ Armor (Vengeance Bolts) to always wound on a 2+ (Hellfire Bolts). Add in the “quasi-Rending” of Sniper weapons and you have a genuinely potent, long-range Special Weapon that can devastate enemy-non-vehicle units at stand-off distances (especially with the help of Mission Tactics and Doctrines from different Kill Teams). The primary weakness of the Stalker Boltguns, their inability to move and shoot, is mitigated by the option to have both a Stalker Boltgun and a normal Bolter on every DW Veteran in a squad, thus giving them the ability to engage a whole slew of non-vehicle targets at various ranges with great efficiency.