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BREAKING NEWS: Deathwatch Special Issue Ammunition, Primaris Deathwatch and Chapter Tactics Explained!

It's been a good long time since I've pumped out a BREAKING NEWS! rules analysis post. But I have to admit, the Deathwatch Codex has me all pumped up!

The Deathwatch are the Space Marine equivalent of the SAS, Navy Seals, or any other modern day elite fighting unit. They have a specialised role in the Imperial forces; the hunting and destruction of xenos. Whilst that might be as simple(?) as dropping in the path of an ork WAAAGHH!!, sometimes it might be vicious street fights against a Genestealer Cult in a hive city.

deathwatch special issue ammunition primaris marines intercessors reivers chapter tactics mission tactics stratagems wargear relics warlord traits


Whatever battle they're in, if they've been called in it's more than just a bug hunt. I would argue that they're more important that the Grey Knights, in that... well I could justify it a number of ways, but mostly it's because Deathwatch were some of the first models I painted for the Space Marine Field Police. I remember those wild, heady days, when you could drop pod behind an Imperial Knight an unload 8 lascanon-grade shots into the soft squishy back armour...

deathwatch special issue ammunition primaris marines intercessors reivers chapter tactics mission tactics stratagems wargear relics warlord traits
"JUDGE DREADNOUGHT APPROVES OF NOSTALGIA"
Good times.

Anyway on to news, sourced from Warhammer Community.

Special Issue Ammunition


Actual crunch is not available for the standard special issue ammunition, but it looks as though the rules in the Index apply to the Primaris bolter weapons. In summary here:
  • Dragonfire Bolts: Add +1 to hit when shooting at a unit in cover. 
  • Hellfire Rounds: Wound everything except vehicles on a 2+.
  • Kraken Bolts: Add 3" to the range of a bolt pistol, 6" range otherwise. Improve the AP by one. 
  • Vengeance Round: Subtract 3" from the range of your pistol (now 9") or 6" from other weapons. Improve the AP of the weapon by two. 
The regular Intercessor becomes quite nasty with these upgrades, with only vehicles being safe from these weapons. Reivers also become a remarkably good shooting unit, able to put out a similar amount of damage to Rubric Marines in either a Turn 2 Deep Strike or Outflank.

Dragonfire is a bit of a dud in the list, but may have a very (very) niche use against Space Marine Scouts in camo-cloaks. I will eventually do a bit of Mathhammer on that, but my initial instinct says that Kraken or Vengeance rounds will out-perform it. However, we'll just wait to see if there are any stratagems which allow for exploding attacks on 6s. That makes this suddenly worthwhile.

Hellfire turns your regular rank and file into monster killers, as each Intercessor firing at a high toughness (non-vehicle) model is effectively firing a weapon better than an autocannon. Bolt rifles in rapid fire range are going to leave a big mark, wounding on 2s and still reducing armour saves.

Kraken and Vengeance have fairly obvious uses; the former for long range and the latter for shorter. Kraken bolt rifles would be rapid firing out to 18 inches, and at 9 can switch out to AP-3 Vengeance rounds. That's just plain disgusting for a Troop unit. 

With all these options, they will be shredding anything that's not a vehicle. But then they have this tool to deal with them:

deathwatch special issue ammunition primaris marines intercessors reivers chapter tactics mission tactics stratagems wargear relics warlord traits

d3 mortal wounds is nothing to be sniffed at. One little quirk of rules wording would be to use Dragonfire rounds with this against vehicles in cover for a +1 to Hit... but that would be a bit of a stretch to suggest to your opponent!

Only two notable weapons are missing from the list that Special Issue Ammunition applies to. The first is a bit of a bugbear for most; stormbolters. The other is the boltstorm gantlets attached to Aggressors. The reason for either of them not having Special Issue ammo is probably the same... one Marine kicking out 4 or 6 AP-2 bolter shots each is going to be rather nasty, and the tears that Tyranid players would cry over the Hellfire rounds would flood the Eye of Terror.

Unless they do get them, in which case, welcome to bullet hell!

Mission Tactics


The chapter tactics of the Deathwatch are the same as they were in 7e, and allow you to re-roll Wound rolls of 1 against a specific unit type.

deathwatch special issue ammunition primaris marines intercessors reivers chapter tactics mission tactics stratagems wargear relics warlord traits

A good trait to have, and encourages you to focus fire on specific units at a time. It will also punish spam lists, making them a lovely reactive army to the specialist detachments (Vanguard, Outrider or Spearhead). 

You will have options to switch them around through a Warlord Trait, Stratagem and a Relic:

deathwatch special issue ammunition primaris marines intercessors reivers chapter tactics mission tactics stratagems wargear relics warlord traits

deathwatch special issue ammunition primaris marines intercessors reivers chapter tactics mission tactics stratagems wargear relics warlord traits

deathwatch special issue ammunition primaris marines intercessors reivers chapter tactics mission tactics stratagems wargear relics warlord traits

The Warlord trait is a probably the worst way of changing the focus, depending on what other options are available to you. 

What you'll be using the most is Adaptive tactics stratagem, which makes a very strong case for using the nameless Watch Master. If you're changing focus each turn, it can start costing  huge amount in CP otherwise. 

The Tome of Ectoclades turns your Warlord into a pseudo-Lieutenant, allowing you to change the focus for a single unit for a turn. This makes it a good relic for baby-sitting a firepower unit. 

The conclusion


The rules for Deathwatch really put the firepower in the hands of the regular Troops. They've become tremendously tactically flexible, and with being able to change their Mission Tactics, can be strategically flexible too. They'll be rewarding to reactive players, who like to counter-play their opponent and spend long evening working out the best way to tackle different armies.

In short, the nerdiest of the nerds.

We can expect to see some Primaris upgrade packs coming out for the Deathwatch, and I look forward to seeing how the Primaris Kill teams can be put together, and what special rules each Primaris speciality will provide.

As one final thing; this may well be the segue into Primaris Tactical squads. Mixed Hellblaster/Intercessor units may well be a reality now.

Until next time!



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Comments

  1. Regarding the relic, do you think since it allows you to apply a mission tactic to any notu that it could apply one to vehicles?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment and it looks like it could! It appears to only need the DEATHWATCH key word. That's fairly consistent with the usual buff from Space Marine Captains and Lieutenants.

      What's great about this is that the Deathwatch Captain can fulfil both roles for a unit it's babysitting (Re-rolls to Hits and Wound rolls of 1). Considering most units are slightly more expensive than regular Marines, not needing to take the Lieutenant is a nice saving... even if it isn't a huge buff for Infantry who already get the re-roll to Wounds against the Mission Tactic target.

      Delete
    2. Oh, good point regarding the LT. I think my one regret for missing out on the LT is that DW won't get a named Primaris LT model like the Blood Angels and Dark Angels.

      Though I suppose you could just repurpose those guys as something else in a DW force thanks to the way DW allows you so many different modeling opportunities...

      Delete
    3. In all honesty, my Primaris LT has been filling in for a non-Gravis armour Captain for a while now. Not my proudest conversion job, but I have an extra power sword blu tacked on to his waist.

      Delete

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