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BREAKING NEWS: Deathwatch Stratagems Revealed, with Analysis!

These are about the only Stratagems from the recent Warhammer Community reveal you need to know about, turning the otherwise lacklustre power of bolters into something terrifying:

deathwatch stratagems analysis warlord trait

This is great! It's like Veterans of the Long War, which makes the shooting from Rubric Marines and Stormbolter Chaos Chosen a cheap and devastating tool. Combined with Special Ammunition, Reivers in particular can pop up and put in some truly devastating damage:
  • Grav-chute into position
  • Load Vengeance rounds
  • Enable the appropriate doctrine
  • Enjoy power armour shredding fire
  • Re-roll any 1s if you match your appropriate Mission Tactic Target
This turns Bolt rifles into 1 Damage plasma guns against Terminators!

You could also mimic Chosen by fielding Stormbolter Veterans, for 20 shots wounding on 3s! But the uses don't stop there. By taking the Deathwatch shotguns, you now have a weapon that can:

  • Wound Dreadnoughts (T7 vehicles) on 4s, doing 2 damage each
  • Gives you flamers with do 6d auto-hits, wounding up to 4s on Toughness 7

I'm going to have to do some maths on this, but the stratagem can give you a lot of surprises against people. Your opponent will have to be very careful sending anything to fight your Troops!

One slight issue I have... I'm all for fluff, but was it necessary to waste all that ink and page space on copy/pasted Stratagems? I think all it does is stop you from splitting fire on other targets. That, in addition to it being twice the cost of Veterans of the Long War makes it a little annoying, but I concede that the combination of Special Ammunition, Mission Tactics and Stratagem justifies the cost.

Now be aware that this is "per attack". Veterans of the Long War lasts until the end of the phase, and so can be used with any rule that can shoot or attack in close combat twice. The Deathwatch stratagem only works on one attack, but that word attack could apply to Overwatch too.

This can also turn your Deathwatch into Blood Angels for a turn, and is in fact better because it can be used off-charge. All the great things that can be done with Blood Angel close combat squads based on the Red Thirst apply to Deathwatch squads too.

I feel like I've only scratched the surface of shenanigans that can be done with this stratagem, so let me know if you can think of more in the comments below.

Xenos Specific Stratagems

I like these, as it's nice and fluffy, but I think some have limited utility. Since Stratagems are meant to be situational anyway, I don't think it's a major issue.

deathwatch stratagems analysis warlord trait

A nice way of reducing the chances that Necrons will get back up. Save this for the elite multi-wound units that were a pain to kill, but I think the Command Point is best used elsewhere. If you're using it to stop 1-wound Necron Warriors from getting back up, it's probably a waste of CP.

deathwatch stratagems analysis warlord trait

I can't see much use in this. Unless you're rocking flamers and shotguns, you're unlikely to kill enough of the rampaging horde with Overwatch. Those CP are probably best used elsewhere. With that said, if you do see a huge block of 30 boyz coming towards your little Kill Team, a chance at stopping it is better than none!

deathwatch stratagems analysis warlord trait

Can be devastating for the morale of a Tyranid horde. Being able to snipe out buff aura characters is always useful, and this can turn Stalker bolter and bolt rifle Marines into true snipers for a while. Just bear in mind, you will probably need some bigger guns to bring down a Tyranid character.

Or hellfire rounds.

deathwatch stratagems analysis warlord trait

Certainly an entertaining way of stopping Dark Eldar and Eldar using their hover-vehicles to get board control. You effectively gain double Overwatch against Hellions and Reaver jetbikes.

Hilariously, you can use this with flamers and the appropriate Doctrine to melt planes on attack runs. Imagine a unit of Aggressors pointing their auto-hitting flamers into the sky, making a fireball for a Void Raven to fly into!

deathwatch stratagems analysis warlord trait

Counter-troll the T'au. This stratagem forces the T'au to either split their Marker Lights across your force, or risk losing all of them. That effectively splits their firepower, making the T'au gun line quite weak. Very useful, considering you will be at a numbers disadvantage against them.

Warlord Trait

deathwatch stratagems analysis warlord trait
Great to have the extra re-roll, and even better to have a way of recycling CP. With Stratagems like the xenos ones designed to be counter-play to your enemy, you'll be wanting to burn through them quite quickly.


It's really good that the Deathwatch Kill teams are so versatile, as you're going to want loads of Troops to fill out Battalions. The Deathwatch have so many good stratagems to choose from, and so many options to make for great narrative play, you're going to want as much as you can.

This is really shaping up to be a thinking man's force, and Games Workshop have done a great job of getting me all excited. My Space Marine Field Police started off as Deathwatch, and they might well be turning back in that direction.

Nos es Lex.

deathwatch stratagems analysis warlord trait

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  1. "One slight issue I have... I'm all for fluff, but was it necessary to waste all that ink and page space on copy/pasted Stratagems?"

    In matched play, if it were one stratagem, you'd be limited to one a phase. Would you use all in one phase? Probably not. But maybe you'd want to use 2...

    1. Ah, really good point! That does give it an edge over Veterans of the Long War, and probably explains why they thought it needed to be 2CP as opposed to 1CP. That prevents spamming. Thanks for the insightful comment.

    2. Also, was thinking a lot about the "Stem the Green Tide" stratagem. I imagine those would be particularly useful against units with things like Infernus Heavy Bolters (I wish they were better, because they look awesome) and Frag Cannons. I feel like anything with flamers is a pain to charge unless it was done outside of 8'', but those weapons also traditionally gave up a weapon in the shooting phase unless you were right in the enemy's face. The above weapons don't seem to have that issue, and I think that's something to consider.

      Frag Cannons are definitely worth taking, so I imagine using those as a way to dissuade Ork charges would be amazing. 2d6 Autohitting S6 AP-1 shots? Yeah, that'll probably do some amazing damage - especially if you have more than 1.

    3. Just a quick look at the Mathhhammer gives impressive results for Frag canons on overwatch, leaving about 18 boyz dead for a 4 Frag Canon unit (and that's before Mission Tactics re-rolling 1s to Wound). Points intensive, but a pair of them of them would cripple most charges.

      4 flamers will get about 6 boyz, which does a decent enough job at making charges unlikely. A single Aggressor attached to a Primaris Kill Team can be annoying for mid-range charges. 5 shotguns with Dragonsbreath rounds can get about 5.

      Orks get to re-roll charges for free though, which makes the prospect of spending 2CP on this less good.

      Doing a bit of maths, if you manage to get the average wounds for the shotguns (probably the cheapest option), you can take the chances of a 2-inch charge down to 82%, with a 4-inch charge being just below half at 50%. 7-inch charges effectively become 12-inch ones, and 8-inch charges automatically fail.

      9-inch charges are out of range of flamers, so that might be the safest bet for ork players.

      Honestly, it doesn't sound compelling... until you remember that Deathwatch forces will be outnumbered all the time, and any charge at your unit is a life and death situation that needs any resource you have thrown at it!

      A great argument for hand flamers though... I hope they come down to the same price in the Blood Angels codex (from 8 points down to 1).


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