Unsung Hero: Death Company Dreadnought Tactics

In all of the excitement/interest about the new formations and units from the Angel’s Blade supplement, I think it is easy to over-look how good Death Company Dreadnoughts are now, especially after the recent FAQ by Games Workshop which brings them up to 5A base.

Looking at their profile, a baseline DC Dreadnought takes up an Elites slot (or is a 1-3 requirement in the Death Company Strike Force formation) and come in at a cost of 25 MBs per unit. They also come “stock” with 2 PFs (one with a meltagun and one with a storm bolter), Rage, Furious Charge (which only comes into play if they lose both of their PFs/Blood Talons), and “None Can Stay my Wrath” (DC Dreads ignore Crew Shaken/Crew Stunned results).

Between their 5A base, dual PFs, and Rage, on the charge they put out 8 x S10 AP2 attacks at I4. If you replace their PFs with Blood Talons (only 2 MBs to do so), they become 8 x S10 AP2 attacks with the Shred USR, so this is basically an “auto-take” upgrade. Finally, if they are part of any detachment or formation with the Red Thirst rule (or they are within 6″ of Corbulo’s Red Grail relic), they strike at I5 on the charge (and WS5, in the case of Corbulo’s buff).

If you step back and look at this objectively, we are talking Chapter Master Plus level close combat abilities here (i.e. 8 x S10 AP2 Shred attacks at I5 and WS5 if within 6″ of Corbulo)… there are very few units that can go head to head with this and win… just for comparison, a DC Dread charging a Wraithknight (with Corbulo support) has 8 attacks, about 5-6 hits, about 5 wounds, and about 3-4 Unsaved Wounds after FNP rolls… for a model that costs a little over 1/3 the points of a Wraithknight, that is pretty exceptional. A pair of DC Dreads ought to reliably kill a Wraithknight outright on the charge, with the Wraithknight only getting 4 x S10 AP2 attacks back before it, on averages, dies. Similarly, against a unit of enemy Thunderwolf Cavalry, two DC Dreadnoughts (with supporting Corbulo) would have 16 attacks, 10-11 hits, about 10 wounds, and about 3-4 dead TWC this is presuming all the TWC had Storm Shields; if no Storm Shields, then that is 10 dead TWC, all before the TWC get to strike).

In terms of force-multiplying DC Dreads, there are several options. First of all, if the Sanguinor is nearby, then they get +1A. Similarly, if they are part of the Death Company Strike Force and within 12″ of a DC Chaplain, they get +1A as well (these could potentially stack, giving a single DC Dread 10 attacks on the charge!).

In terms of Psychic support, Prescience gives them re-rolls to Hit (making even better use of their S10 AP2 Shred attacks), Unleash Rage gives them +1A, Invisibility makes them VERY hard to damage with either shooting or close combat attacks, Warpmetal Armor makes a DC Dread AV13/13/11, Magnetokinesis gives them a free 18″ move in addition to their normal 6″ move/D6″ run (but takes away the ability to assault that turn), and Forewarning gives them a 4++ Invul against both shooting and close combat attacks (so, in essence, doubling their survivability).

In terms of mobility, there are a couple of different options to mitigate their mediocre 6″ movement each turn. First and foremost, they can take Drop Pods as DTs, putting them in the enemy’s face as early as Turn 1 (although they have to “weather the storm” of enemy shooting before they charge on turn 2). A Baal Strike Force detachment has 4 Elite slots, so if you take a mass Drop Pod force (say, 4 DC Dreads and 3 Tactical Squads, all with Drop Pods), then you could have up to 4 DC Dreads come  in via Drop Pod Turn 1 and overwhelm your opponent’s target priority, potentially. Aside from Drop Pods, DC Dreads can also ride in friendly Stormravens, giving them lots of mobility and protection, but at a high “tax” cost of purchasing a Stormraven for each Dreadnought that needs a ride. Since the Stormraven is an Assault Vehicle and can Zoom before dropping into Hover mode and unloading its cargo, this is a very reliable way to get the DC Dread into combat (but this also means a Turn 3 charge at the earliest, unless the Stormraven starts on a Skyshield Landing Pad).

Finally, while shooting is not the main purpose of a DC Dreadnought, its SB/meltagun provide some decent anti-personnel/anti-vehicle shooting, especially coming out of a Drop Pod. Alternately, against lots of infantry, you can replace both of these weapons with Heavy Flamers, letting the DC Dreadnought put out 2 x S5 AP4 Templates each turn, which can be devastating against anything without a 3+ save or better (i.e. Necron Warriors, Eldar infantry, Tau infantry, Ork Hordes, Tyranids, Dark Eldar, Genestealer Cult, Skitarii, Astra Militarum, Chaos Cultists, Chaos Daemons, SM Scouts, etc., etc.).

Overall, I think DC Dreadnoughts provide very strong value in an army, whether taken singly or in mass and whether used by a pure BA force or taken as part of an allied contingent to another style of army.


One comment on “Unsung Hero: Death Company Dreadnought Tactics

  1. Brottor says:

    I completely agree. DC Dreadnoughts are,possibly, my favourite unit on BA codex. Sadly they’re no part of Chapter Ancients formation, a cool way of having some of these dread on list.


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