Assault Vehicles for All!

While I think there is a need for “macro-changes” in 8th edition to help rectify the current discrepancy between shooting and assault, one thing I think that would help accomplish this at the more immediate level would be to provide an additional, affordable assault transport for every major faction so that their close combat troop are not stuck with either footslogging, riding in non-Assault vehicle transports, and/or paying 200+ points for Assault Vehicles.

Here is my stab at making this kind of vehicle for each faction (minus Chaos Daemons):

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RETALIATOR APC — (FAST ATTACK choice for Space Marines, Space Wolves, Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Deathwatch, Sisters of Battle, Inquisition, and Chaos Space Marines) — 100 points

BS4   AV13/11/10   3HP (Vehicle, Tank, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 10 models (no Bulky/Very Bulky/Extremely Bulky models)

WAR GEAR:

-Pintle-mounted TLed Flamer (may upgrade to a TLed Melta Gun or TLed Plasma Gun)

-Siege Shield

-Omni Grenade Launcher — Every turn may choose to use Smoke Grenades (not limited to one use, unlike most vehicles) OR Concussion Grenades (enemy forces may not fire Overwatch at any unit that has disembarked from the Retaliator APC for the rest of the turn)

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Advanced Repair Servo — Can repair Immobilized or Weapon Destroyed results or a lost HP on itself each turn (instead of shooting or moving Flat Out) on a successful roll of a 5+

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TELEPORTATION POD — (FAST ATTACK choice for Grey Knights) — 80 points

BS4   AV13/13/13   3HP (Vehicle, Immobile)

Transport Capacity: None

WAR GEAR:

-Gatling Psycannon

SPECIAL RULES:

-Deep Strike

-Drop Pod Assault

-Psychic Pilot (3) — Always knows Force, Banishment, The Shrouding (from Telepathy), and “The Summoning” powers (“The Summoning” is a WC1 blessing with 72″ range and no LOS requirements that teleports one friendly Grey Knight non-vehicle unit or Walker unit to within 6″ of the caster with no scatter, using the rules for Deep Strike; you can upgrade it to a WC3 power which acts in the exact same way, except that the teleported unit can charge on the same turn that it is teleported)

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CERBERUS APC — (FAST ATTACK choice for Astra Militarum and Genestealer Cult) — 75 points

BS3   AV12/12/10   3HP (Vehicle, Tank, Fast, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 20 models

WAR GEAR:

-Pintle-mounted Quad Heavy Stubber

-Smoke Launchers

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Suppressive Fire — Any non-vehicle units hit by the Quad Heavy Stubber must take a Pinning Check at the end of the Shooting phase

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CHAMELEON — (FAST ATTACK choice for Craftworld Eldar and Harlequins) — 90 points

BS4   AV12/12/10   3HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Fast)

Transport Capacity: 12 models

WAR GEAR:

-TLed Shuriken Cannon

-Specter Holo-Matrix — Vehicle may re-roll failed Jink saves

-Star Engines

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Assault Vehicle

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SCORPION (FAST ATTACK choice for Dark Eldar and Harlequins) — 110 points

BS4   AV10/10/10   3HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Fast, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 18 models

WAR GEAR:

-6 x Black Venom missiles (72″ S6 AP1 Fleshbane)

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Unrivalled Assault Vehicle — Any units that charge into combat on the same turn that they disembark from this vehicle add +3″ to their charge range and gain +1S to all their close combat attacks during that fight sub-phase.

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KROOT WAR SKIFF (FAST ATTACK choice for Tau) — 60 points

BS3   AV11/11/11   3HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 16 models

WAR GEAR:

-2 x Heavy Kroot Guns

SPECIAL RULES:

-War Totems — Only Shapers, Kroot, Kroot Hounds, and/or Krootox may embark on this vehicle. On any turn that a unit disembarks from this vehicle, it gains Hatred, Rage, and Furious Charge for the rest of the turn.

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DA CHOPPA’ WAGON (FAST ATTACK choice for Orks) — 110 points

BS2   AV14/11/10   4HP (Vehicle, Tank, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 30 models

WAR GEAR:

-4 x TLed Big Shootaz

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per Ork Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-More Dakka! — All vehicle weapons can fire at full BS if the vehicle has moved 12″ or less

-Da Biggest to da Front! — Every Nob, Mega Nob, and/or War Boss in a unit that disembarks from this vehicles gains +1A until the end of the phase.

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NECRONTYR WAR BARGE (FAST ATTACK choice for Necrons) — 80 points

BS4   AV11/11/11   4HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Fast, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 10 models

WAR GEAR:

-Gauss Cannon (may upgrade to a Tesla Cannon)

-Quantum Shielding

SPECIAL RULES:

-Living Metal

-Combat Protocol Beacon — Any friendly Necron non-vehicle units within 12″ of this vehicle gain Hatred

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BROODOFEX (FAST ATTACK choice for Tyranids) — 130 points

WS3 BS3 S6 T6 W4 I2 A2 Ld8 Sv2+  (Jump Monstrous Creature)

WAR GEAR:

-Acid Spray

-Stinger Salvo

[***May take normal Biomorph upgrades, per Tyranid Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Fearless

-Instinctive Behavior (Hunt)

-Brood Beast — Up to 30 Termagaunts/Hormaguants, 15 Genestealers, or 10 Tyranid Warriors may ride on a Broodofex exactly as if they were embarked on an open-topped transport vehicle (i.e. they can all shoot their weapons, they can disembark 6″ and assault the same turn, they are vulnerable to Template Weapons due to the No Escape! rule, etc.).

Hidden Gem: Centaur Weapons Carrier

Something which all the different Imperium factions have lacked, and still lack, is an affordable open-topped transport that provides their infantry with some mobility and protection, but still allows all the embarked models to shoot and/or assault when required. The closest thing to meeting this criteria is the Land Speeder Storm, but while an excellent multi-purpose transport, it is only allowed to transport Space Marine Scouts, so its utility in this role is quite limited for anything besides those Troops.

Enter the Centaur Weapons Carrier, a Forgeworld Astra Militarum vehicle that can be taken as a Fast Attack option in a CAD or Allied detachment (not to mention as a DT for certain DKOK and Armoured Battle Group units). The Centaur has the following stats/rules:

BS3 AV11/11/10 HP2 (Transport, Fast, Open-Topped)

*Heavy Stubber, Searchlight, Smoke Launchers

*Transport: 5 models

*1-3 Centaurs per Squadron, costs 8 MBs per model

On first glance, this vehicle costs the same points as a Land Speeder Storm and seems inferior in almost every way, with less mobility (Fast Vehicle vs Fast Speeder), less firepower (BS3 Heavy Stubber vs BS4 Heavy Bolter and Cerberus Launcher), and roughly the same survivability (AV11 on the front vs the ability to Jink).

So, why even consider taking a Centaur Weapons Carrier? Well, number one, it is not restricted to SM Scouts, so ANY Imperium infantry that can fit into it can load up as passengers (note: unlike Rhinos/Razorbacks, there is no restriction against Bulky models as passengers) and, number two, since you can take up to three Centaurs in a squadron, you can get a lot of them cheaply with even a “bare bones” AM Allied Detachment. On top of this, Centaurs are Fast Vehicles, meaning they can move 12” and then Flat Out another 12” turn 1, setting up an almost guaranteed Turn 2 charge if they are not destroyed (also, almost guaranteed to be in range of short-range shooting like meltas and flamers on turn 2). Combine this with some Psychic support, like say casting Invisibility on the Centaur squadron, and you can rapidly and reliably have up to 15 models in your opponent’s face by Turn 2 of the game.

So, based on all this, what are some tactical applications for the Centaur and allied Imperium units? Here are some ideas that come to mind for each major faction:

[1] Grey Knights – The Centaur makes an excellent little transport for a 5 man Purifier squad, since not only can the entire unit shoot out of it with SBs/Incinerators/Psycannons, but they can also using Cleansing Flame and assault out of the vehicle all in the same turn, thus maximizing all their different strengths while mitigating their lack of mobility and durability issues.

[2] Dark Angels – A Centaur makes for an excellent “mobile bunker” for a DA Command Squad with 5 Grav Guns and Relic Banner (making them Relentless). The Centaur can move up-field and have its passengers put out 15 Grav shots at 18” all game long, all the while protecting them from small arms fire and even serving as a LOS blocking vehicle for other DA units (i.e. say some RW Bikers moving up behind the Centaurs).

[3] Space Wolves – Whether using Centaurs as cheap Bunkers for Long Fangs (all five Heavy Weapons in a Long Fang squad can shoot out, since it is Open-Topped) or as cheap, mobile transport to “Rhino Rush” Blood Claws or close combat oriented Wolf Guard up-field, the Centaur can synergize quite well with a SW force (and again, the Centaur(s) can form an excellent LOS blocking shield for foot slogging Wulfen as they advance toward the enemy as well). Finally, even Lone Wolfs and Wolf Scouts can grab a ride in a Centaur to make them more effective on the table-top, especially in getting into assault.

[4] Blood Angels – BA Vanguard Vets (whether of the melee or gunslinger loadout) and Death Company without JPs both benefit tremendously from having a mobile assault transport that can move 24” Turn 1 and get them in range to assault the rest of the game. Similarly, basic BA Tac squads (with Heavy Flamers and dual Hand Flamers on the Sgt) and BA Assault Squads (with two Meltaguns and dual Inferno Pistols on the Sgt) get much better when they have a cheap Open-Topped transport to shoot and assault out of.

[5] Deathwatch – Unlike most factions, Deathwatch can take Terminators in squads of 1-2, which means they can load them into a Centaur (despite each TDA model being Bulky) and move safely up-field, all the while shooting with whatever Heavy Weapons they are packing (i.e. CMLs, Assault Cannons, Heavy Flamers, Melta PFs, etc.). On top of this, they can subsequently charge out of the Centaur later on, maximizing their value as close combatants as well. Aside from Terminators, DW Veterans also benefit tremendously from grabbing a ride in a Centaur, whether using it as a static Bunker for a Stalker Boltgun squad, an Assault Vehicle for a squad loaded up with PWs and Heavy Thunder Hammers, or a mobile firebase for a squad with maxed out Frag Cannons or Infernus Heavy Bolters. Even if you just keep the baseline Bolters/Special Issue Ammo or the DW Shotguns, a 5 man Veteran squad in Centaur is much more durable and mobile than normal for a relatively cheap points investment and suffers no loss in firepower in the process.

[6] Space Marines – Honor Guard, Command Squads, Devastator Squads, Vanguard Vets, Sternguard Vets, min-sized Tactical and Assault squads, Crusader squads, and even Sniper Scout squads can all take great advantage of a squadron of 1-3 allied Centaur Weapons Carriers. Of all of these, I think Honor Guard are one of the units that truly get the most out of riding in Centaur APC, as it allows them to rapidly move across the battlefield and assault into combat, thereby maximizing their tremendous points-value while mitigating their weakness, namely lack of mobility and no Invulnerable saves. Alternately, a Devastator squad with max Grav Cannons can move into mid-field and set up a massive, 48” “area denial bubble” with their 20 Grav shots fired safely from within the Centaur “bunker” (at least until your opponent takes out the Centaur itself). Finally, the Centaur makes an exceptional transport for a Librarius Conclave, which can use it to move into position to disembark and cast their powers, cast Witchfires from inside the vehicle, and even assault out of the vehicle if you have Iron Arm and Endurance up on the squad!

[7] Skitarii – Both Rangers and Vanguard can make excellent use of Centaur support, especially since they lack any organic transport of their own, and also because it mitigates their poor durability while simultaneously letting them still use all their firepower to full advantage (especially with their Plasma Calivers, Arc Rifles, etc.).

[8] Imperial Assassins – Whether it is a Vindicare using a Centaur as shooting bunker or an Eversor/ Callidus/Culexus using it as an “assault taxi” to get the quickly across the board into combat, I think Centaur squadrons can be quite a force multiplier for Imperial Assassins (especially in new detachments, like the Castellans of the Imperium, where you can have up to 6 Assassins on the field at once).

[9] Sisters of Battle – Dominion squads, Retributor squads, Battle Sisters squads, and Command squads all can benefit from an extra layer of mobility and protection while they employ their ranged attacks to best advantage. Additionally, Centaurs can take Repentia from almost unplayable to very dangerous, since it protects them from enemy firepower and allows them to get into assault reliably, even against units on the other side of the battlefield.

[10] Inquisition – Henchman War Bands, whether they are close combat oriented (i.e. like DCAs, Crusaders, and Priests) or shooting oriented (i.e. like Acolytes, Joakeros, and Heavy Weapon-toting Servitors), can all benefit from the Open-Topped nature of Centaurs, especially if you take multiple War Bands riding in a squadron of multiple Centaurs (attached Inquisitors can also shoot and/or assault effectively from these vehicles).

[11] Militarum Tempestus/Astra Militarum – Whether as a transport for Scions/Scion Command Squads or as mobile Bunker for AM Command Squads, Ratlings, and/or Wyrdvane Psykers, there are lots of applications for the Centaur with a MT/AM list proper, especially if you flood the battlefield with them (i.e. up to 9 Centaurs if you take three squadrons of them in CAD Fast Attack slots). In particular, I think Scion Command Squads with four Hotshot Volleyguns and AM Command Squads with four Special Weapons are excellent candidates for grabbing a ride in Centaur APCs.

As you can see, there are numerous options for utilizing Centaur Weapons Carriers with Imperium allies, and I did not even touch on using them as a “Hero Hammer APC” to ferry around 1-5 Independent Characters for shooting, Witchfires, and/or Assault (i.e. imagine, say, an AM Priest and four Wolf Guard Battle Leaders with Runic Armor and TH/Wolf Claws all assaulting out of a single Centaur). Bottom line, while this is a little known Forgeworld vehicle, I think it could be a tremendous boost to the competitive lists of most Imperium armies out there.

Lias Issodon and the Deathwatch

I still consider Lias Issodon one of the best Independent Characters in 40K, in particular due to the versatility of his special rules and wargear, and I think he pairs up especially well with the Deathwatch faction, which right now is struggling in the competitive meta due to its extreme “glass cannon” nature.

In particular, here are some things about Lias Issodon that mesh well with a Deathwatch force:

[1] “Master of Ambush” Warlord Trait — Being able to GUARANTEE infiltrating himself and three other non-vehicle units is a very big deal for Deathwatch, not only because they have limited mobility options and they cost a lot for even their base units (meaning it can be prohibitive to purchase lots of transports for them), but also because it allows them to maximize their close ranged shooting and assault abilities, which really are the Deathwatch’s main strengths. Lias Issodon allows you to potentially put up to three Kill Teams with max Frag Cannons, or three units of Terminators with max Assault Cannons, or three units of Combi-Grav Veterans, 18″ away from their target before the game even begins. Turn 1, you either move the units up 6″ (i.e. for Frag Cannons, Heavy Flamers, etc) or stay still and unleash full powered Grav Gun Salvos, thus maximizing your “alpha strike.” Significantly, if one of these units has a DW Independent Character in it (like an Aquila Kill Team with a Librarian), then you can equip him with the Beacon Angelis Relic and “summon” a fourth DW unit in close to concentrate your close ranged firepower even better turn 1.

[2] Shrouded USR and Locator Beacon — Since Issodon has Shrouded in his special rules, he confers it to any squad he joins. This means that he can attach to an allied Deathwatch unit and give it a 3+ cover save in even basic terrain (Note: this will make him lose his Chapter Tactics and the squad he is attached to lose its Mission Tactics, so there is a drawback to this). This obviously works well for a “fire base” unit like a squad of Veterans with Stalker Boltguns camping back in your DZ. Alternately, if you Infilitrate him along with a DW Biker squad, then even in the open they will get a 2++ Jink save (i.e. 4++ save from Jink + Shrouded), helping them survive until they can charge in on Turn 2 with their cheap PWs. Finally, since Lias Issodon has a Locator Beacon as part of his Wargear, he gives a DW army the ability to have two separate units for bringing in Drop Pods, Terminators, Jump Infantry, Kill Teams, etc. with no scatter (i.e. Lias Issodon can bring in one and a DW character with the Beacon Angelis can bring in another), thus increasing the flexibility and precision of a Deathwatch force, which is critical for them, given their low numbers and lack of durability.

[3] “Cunning Strategist” and “Infiltrate, Isolate, and Destroy” rules — The “Cunning Strategist” rule basically gives your forces free Reserve re-rolls and causes enemy Reserve rolls to have a -1 modifier, in turn giving you better control of your reinforcements and improving your chances of out-massing your opponent at the critical time and place on the battlefield, even if he has a bigger overall army than you (which is almost guaranteed when playing Deathwatch). As for “Infiltrate, Isolate, and Destroy,” this gives you small bonus chance to sabotage/weaken an enemy unit or vehicle before the game begins. While it is not necessarily a game changer, I once got lucky with this rule and “Haywired” to death a Necron Triarch Stalker before the game even began, which meant that my opponent did not get to boost the BS of his surrounding Necron forces the entire game, helping my cause significantly.

[4] Allied Support — Of course, you can only include Lias Issodon with a Deathwatch army by taking him in a Space Marine CAD or Allied Detachment alongside the main DW force. While this can reduce it the points you have to spend on DW units, it also opens up the possibility of bringing some very solid reinforcing units that synergize quite well with the enforcers of the Ordos Xenos. Examples include Space Marine Scouts in Land Speeder Storms (great as cheap Objective Seizers and harassment forces to take the pressure off your main DW squads), Drop Pod Centurions with Grav Cannons (to provide heavy ranged fire support against TEQs, MCs, etc.), Quad Mortar batteries (for a versatile, long-ranged fire base to mitigate enemy hordes and even deal with light vehicles), Ironclad and Siege Dreadnoughts (to soak up enemy attention, provide good close combat punch, and serve as a “shield” for nearby DW squads), and Bike equipped Chapter Masters/Chaplains/Librarians (to lead the mobile DW Vanguard and Bike squads, since currently no DW characters can take Space Marine Bikes and only a Watch Captain can take a Jump Pack).

 

Overall, while Lias Issodon is an excellent addition to any Imperium army, I think he combines particularly well with the forces of the Deathwatch and really bumps them up from “struggling” to at least the “moderately competitive” level in terms of competing with other armies, especially if you flesh it out with some of the supplemental Space Marine units noted above. Since they are all Astartes, from a fluff and painting perspective, you can easily represent Lias and his Space Marines as “counts as” Deathwatch in order to not break up the flow and visual presentation of a pure Deathwatch army.

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.

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.

 

My 2000 point TAC list Analysis

So, here is my current Take All Comers (TAC) list at 2000 points, which is the level I usually play at. It draws from three different formations/detachments (White Scar CAD, Skyhammer Annihilation Force formation, and Aquila Kill Team formation) and is designed to provide flexible deployment options and the ability to deal with some of the most common, dangerous opponents out there, like Gargantuan Monstrous Creature, Psychic Deathstars, multiple Imperial Knights, close combat heavy Space Wolves, and all varieties of Tau/Eldar/SM Battle Companies:


—White Scars CAD—

-Librarian with Hunter’s Eye relic

-2 x Scout Squads with 5 models, all with BP/CCW

-2 x Fast Attack Drop Pods

-2 x Devastator Centurion squads with 3 models, Grav Cannons/Amps and Hurricane Bolters

-Battery of two Quad Mortars

—Ultramarines Skyhammer Annihilation Force—

-2 x Assault squads with 5 models

-2 x Devastator squads with 10 models, 4 Grav Cannons, and Drop Pod DT

—Aquila Kill Team—

-DW Veteran Squad with 6 models, all with Meltagun and Bolter, and one model upgraded to Watch Sergeant with Auspex, all in a Drop Pod DT

-DW Terminator squad with 2 models, both with Melta PF


So, the idea behind this whole army is provide overwhelming Grav and Melta firepower, backed up by the Ignore Cover Quad Mortars (thanks to the attached Librarian with the Hunter’s Eye) in either an alpha strike or a “beta strike” (i.e. if you delay the Skyhammer to come in on Turn 2).

The Devastator squads can combat squad as they come out of their Drop Pods, since they have 10 models each, allowing me to field up to six separate Grav Cannon/Amp units (4 x Devastator Combat Squads and 2 x Grav Centurions) coming out of Drop Pods turn 1 and thus deal with MSU opponents, or I can mass my firepower on a few key targets, if required. This also forces my opponent to split up his firepower, thus helping my Grav units survive longer. If I need to simply suppress a few targets, then I can Combat Squad with all 4 Grav Cannons in one Combat Squad and 5 Bolter Marines in the other Combat Squad, with the Bolter Marines “suppressing” and the Grav Cannons taking down heavy infantry/MCs/vehicles.

In terms of the Aquila Kill Team, its included primarily to give me a “vehicle assassination” unit using the 8 Meltaguns, but it can also switch over to Bolters with Special Issue Ammo to take on infantry, using the Aquila Doctrine to re-roll 1s to Wound/Penetrate against any target they encounter. The two Terminators provide 2+/5++ tanking for the squad, plus their PFs provide some very solid close combat capacity in case the unit gets charged (or needs to charge itself). The Drop Pod DT safely delivers the whole package and also ensures that I can bring in 4 Drop Pods turn 1 (2 from the Skyhammer Annihilation Force and 2 due to the Drop Pod Assault rule) if I want to.

The CCW/BP Scouts and “bare bones” ASM squads are included partly as the “tax” for their respective formations, but also serve roles as cheap objective seizers, skirmishers to block enemy forces from assaulting my Grav Cannon units, and even assault units in their own right to tie-up/bully enemy shooting units when required. The Librarian and Quad Mortars provide a backline “firebase” that can help against vehicles and light infantry, especially with re-rolls to Hit from Prescience and Ignore Cover from the Hunter’s Eye.

In terms of Chapter Tactics, I chose Ultramarines for the Skyhammer because being able to re-roll ALL shooting to Hits for the Devastators on the turn they come in (via Devastator Doctrine) is very solid and, on later turns, being able to use Assault Doctrine for the ASM is not too bad either. For the CAD, I chose White Scars because of the Hunter’s Eye Relic (which may be the single best piece of Wargear in the game, for its price of just 4 MBs) and because, even though I do not have any bikes, Hit and Run is SO very valuable on the Scouts and on the Grav Centurions (they are so bad at combat that they want to get out of it as quickly as possible and then shoot the unit that assaulted them in the face with lots of Grav weapons and/or Hurricane Bolters). Finally, the ability to re-roll Run moves is a nice little bonus for the Scouts, especially when they are trying to grab Objectives late game.

Overall, I think is a pretty solid force. Against MEQs, TEQs, and MCs/GMCs I have TONS of Grav shooting divvied up among multiple MSU squads, giving me the ability to take on everything from Marine Battle Companies to Eldar Jetbike spam to “Monster Mash” style lists. Against vehicles, I can use Grav weapons as well, I have the 8 x S8 shots from the Quad Mortars, and I have the meltas in the Aquila Kill Team for Super Heavies. Against hordes of light infantry, I am a little light, but I have the Quad Mortars (8 x S5 AP5 Small Blasts with Ignore Cover), I have Hurricane Bolters on the Centurions, and I have all the “auxiliary” Bolters and CCWs in the Devastator Squads, ASM squads, and Scout squads.

Honestly, I think Flyers and horde infantry are my weakest matchup (I guess I would not do well against an Astra Militarum “Air Cav” list, would I 😉 ), but overall I feel like this force gives me the flexibility to counter most competitive lists out there, provide I play well and make solid tactical decisions. I also think it provides me with solid deployment flexibility, given the control over reserves I have via the Skyhammer Annihilation Force units and the option to begin the game in basically a “null deploy” mode (I can also go for “full deploy”, with the Centurions, Scouts, Quad Mortars, and Aquila Kill Team on the table and their Drop Pods coming in empty just to grab objectives and block LOS).