Originally one of the six "Wings" of the Hexagrammaton, descending from the Host of Crowns. A separate set of organisations within the First Legion that was overlaid upon the rank and file. A "normal" Dark Angels squad could be made up of members of any of the six wings and those members could be senior or subservient to his squadmates in different ways. When battlefield conditions required it, the members of the wings could reorganise themselves into other more specialised units in order to bring their experience and training to best effect.
After the Second Founding, each Chapter descended from the Dark Angels Legion has a formation of Deathwing (often under different names) in place of the traditional First Company and membership is traditionally used as a requirement to further promotion. Unlike the First Companies of Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters, the Deathwing exclusively fights in bone-white Indomitus Pattern Terminator Armour, and never forms power-armored Veteran Squads. The Dark Angels First Company commander is currently Belial.
The Deathwing were originally the linebreaker troops and veterans, capable of shattering enemy formations and creating openings for other units to exploit. They were required to go toe to toe with the enemy and were most often elite units called upon to act as bodyguards for senior officers. As the Horus Heresy progressed, the Wing gained prominence as the officers the bodyguards were protecting died off, leaving the Deathwing veterans to get thrust into command roles.
The Deathwing were said to excel in special operations alongside other legion units, especially working in support of the larger Stormwing; getting right up close to the foe and disrupting the enemies plans and formations. They excelled at heavy assault and teleportation strikes, as they liked to get right into the face of the enemy and pummel them into the ground.
Like the Ravenwing, the Deathwing have a different colour scheme from the rest of the Dark Angels, wearing bone white Terminator Armour. Originally, members of the Deathwing could only bear white armour if they had taken a blow intended for another and survived the encounter. The new colour scheme recognising their selfless devotion. Otherwise they retained the black and white colour scheme of the Dark Angels Legion. But after the break up of the legion into Chapters, all members of the Deathwing wear white, the idea possibly being that they take the 'blow' of knowing the forbidden history for the rest of the chapter.
According to apocryphal chapter legend, a group of Terminators under Captain Ezekiel (birth name Cloud Runner, no relation to the Chief Librarian) returned to the Dark Angels ancient recruiting world of Plains World to find that the planet had been infiltrated by genestealers. Rather than subject the planet to Exterminatus, at the urging of Librarian Lucian (real name Two Heads Talking), the Terminators, all natives of Plains World, decided to fight off the genestealers and save the still uncorrupted native humans. They proceeded to undergo Plains World's death ritual, where warriors would paint themselves in ashes, but since they didn't have that, they repainted their armour white. The warriors succeeded in eradicating the genestealer's cult at the cost of everybody but Captain Ezekiel and when the Dark Angels later returned to reclaimed the suits of armor if not their bearers, they henceforth kept the suits of the First Company painted white in memory of their battle-brothers glorious final battle.
This story was written way back in early 2nd edition, and doesn't really gel with current 40k canon (especially the parts where 300-year-old veterans are worried about dying of old age or the concept of retirement). The story is kept in the Dark Angels lore out of tradition, but modern writers heavily imply that it's a metaphorical tall-tale made up by the Inner Circle. Partly as an easy justification for outsiders and neophytes, but also as a mean to prepare the Dark Angels for eventually learning about the Fallen (warriors long gone from their homeworld returning to find outside influences corrupting it bears more than a little similarity to Lion El'Jonson coming back from the Horus Heresy to find Luther had fallen to Chaos). Lore written in 2020 confirms the story is just a folktale, and Deathwing have been bone-white since the Great Crusade.
Function and Strength
They are part of the Dark Angels' Inner Circle, the secretive cabal that hunts the Fallen Angels, members of the Dark Angels Legion who (allegedly) fell to Chaos during the Horus Heresy -- in fact, the traditional way to join the Inner Circle (and thus earn promotion to a Company Master, Librarian, or Interrogator-Chaplain) is to be inducted into the chapter's secrets during their time in the Deathwing. It should be mentioned that Azrael was inducted directly into the Deathwing Knights without passing through the "lower" ranks of Deathwing, meaning that there are exceptions.
The Ravenwing are the exception to the promotion rule, having their own Inner Circle in the Black Knights where their veterans are gathered, taught the truth and from which their new captain is chosen. It also explains how Sammael became captain without ever donning the old bone white blast suit.
The old 6e Dark Angels codex was sketchy about how many members make up the Deathwing, though heavily implied that it's more than just a "mere" 100. While the 7e codex played with this even more, on one page stating an exact number of squads that the Deathwing is reported to have while openly contradicting that number on other pages; leaving just as much open to debate and assumption... The "official" list for 999.M41 denotes twenty regular squads and up to three squads of Deathwing Knights, plus the Command Squad. So if assumed to be at full strength could total around 235+ members, but the book also goes on to state that the true number is a carefully guarded secret and that: "as with Deathwing squads" the numbers of Deathwing's support assets are deliberately obfuscated to outsiders. By the way, this applies to the Ravenwing and Inner Circle too.
The 8th edition Codex plays with this even more, stating that during the Siege of Dominus Prime, the Dark Angels and Angels of Vengeance both deployed their entire 1st companies, officially recording nearly two-hundred terminators as part of the action, but states that in truth their number was substantially higher than that.
With the fact that each of the Unforgiven chapters also appears to include a similar formation (though under different names) implies that the original Dark Angels Legion had a metric butt-ton of terminator armour lying around that no-one else knew about, which is "a luxury few chapters can match" and in fact other chapters like the Novamarines and Minotaurs are considered exceptional in that they can muster that many suits or Terminator armour for their veterans when the Unforgiven do it as a matter of course. I guess the Lion decided to run off with all the terminator armor because Leman took all the Dreadnoughts and Ships. Or the Dark Angels were the only ones smart enough to ensure they were capable of producing their own everything. Certainly fits with their paranoia (or is it common sense in 40K?).
You thought normal Deathwings were bad. Oh boy, you do NOT want to meet this badass bro-force in battle, ESPECIALLY if you are part of the Heretic Astartes
Deathwing Knights are fierce warriors with ridiculously over-the-top armor that it loops all the way back to Awesome. These are the elites of the elites who are part of the fighting organization of the Dark Angels and their successors' Deathwing units. It is said that in them lives on some semblance of Lion El'Jonson himself and they embody his silent strength. These veterans are the most trusted and experienced warriors of the Deathwing and make up the Company's own exclusive Inner Circle, learning the some of the hidden truths of the Unforgiven.
Deathwing Knights are garbed in long robes, hold huge storm shields, and are most commonly armed with Maces of Absolution. The squads are themselves led by a Knight Master, who wields the Flail of the Unforgiven. Deathwing Knights are also frequently accompanied by Watchers in the Dark.
Deathwing Knights are considered as the Dark Angels answer to close combat superiority. As most Dark Angel players should tell you, it is essential to have at least a couple of Deathwing Knights to cover the rear as the rest of your forces spray a unholy amount of Dakka and plasma from far away.
In previous editions, Deathwing Knights were the monsters of Dark Angels' CQC specialists. However by 8th edition, they got hit with a Nerf bat to some decree. On one hand, they lost a whole bunch of special rules including the Fortress of Shields ability. On the other hand, they are still extremely beefy and scary close combat monsters. Their Maces of Absolution are still terrifying, striking at S8 AP-2 and doing THREE damage each, basically losing out to Thunder Hammers by a point of armor penetration but with no drawbacks to accuracy. Plus they have an extra wound for being Terminators. This means a squad of these guys can theoretically take out any high value target in one turn of combat.
Unfortunately, their number of attacks are rather lacking and since damage does not carry over from dead models, it makes these Knights exceptionally vulnerable to being Tarpitted by a horde of cheap GEQs. Which is odd, since in previous editions, these guys ate GEQs like a Mawloc chowing down on some squishy Guardsmen. As such, the Knights require far more assistance from other Dark Angels troops rather than being a one-squad army all by themselves.
In a nutshell, the Deathwing Knights are still the elite choice for the Dark Angels. They are just far more effective being synergised with other Dark Angels troops that deal with hordes like the Mortis Dreadnought for example.
While only okay in 8th edition 9th edition makes these guys Insane. While their offensive potential isn't that much greater (all they got was an upgrade from 3+ Ws to 2+ Ws) They're (along with regular Deathwing terminators) ridiculously durable due to their rule that prevents anything from wounding on better than a 4+ (and an extra wound like all terminators this edition. That means they essentially treat everything from Assault cannons to Volcano lances as plain old boltguns. They additionally have access to a special ancient banner that can subtract 1 from damage. All these buffs combine with the 1+/4++/6+++ granted via their storm shields and a nearby apothecary make for a squad that's nigh impossible to kill.
Not to be confused with the Emprah's closet friends with 'benefits'. The Deathwing Companions were the finest warriors from the Dark Angels Legion's Deathwing during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy.
These were warriors who were honour-bound to form the personal bodyguard of the Legion's officers. Each had taken an oath to lay down their lives before letting harm come to the one they were tasked to protect. Any among the Companions that took a death-blow meant for their charge and survived was granted the right to wear bone-white armour in recognition of their selfless devotion. Commanding officers were known as Oathbearers.
The Companions were equipped with Artificer Terminator Armour, not Artificer Armour or Terminator Armour, but Artificer Terminator Armour, which goes to show how baller the Dark Angels were back in their heydays. They are armed as standard with either a Terranic Greatsword or Calibanite Warblade as well as Melta-Bombs, Power Fists, Lightning Claws, Thunder Hammers, Grenade Harnesses, Combi-Weapons, and Plasma Pistols. They also had access to the unique Cytheron pattern Aegis.
It is unknown if any of these companions still exist in the 41st/42nd Millennium.
Crunchwise, on the Horus Heresy Tabletop, these are your Elite squads armed with either Calibanite Warblades or Terranic Greatswords, they all have Artificer Armour and the option of Terminator Armour (their choice of pattern) or Jump Packs if their Praetor has a Jump pack. Non-terminators can take Cytheron Pattern Aegis shields granting them a 4+ invulnerable save against shooting or a 5+ in melee (this would be redundant on Terminators anyway). Their special rules make them quite possibly the best bodyguard squad ever: they don't take up a Force Org slot (but can only be taken with a Praetor/Primarch); they are all Chosen Warriors and can accept challenges where they reroll hits thanks to the Scions of the Deathwing rule; and they always pass Look Out Sir rolls and their character cannot be picked out by Precision Shots.
Deathwing Venerable Dreadnought
The Dark Angels Venerable Dreadnought or more simply called the Deathwing Dreadnought since the majority of the Dark Angels' Venerable Dreadnoughts seem to comprise almost entirely from the Deathwing. As such, they are the most secretive and quiet of the Venerable Dreadnoughts which is one hell of a feat by itself.
As part of the Inner Circle, these Dreadnoughts only seem to partake in battlefields when there is a
certain intel report on Fallen Angels activity FILTHY HERETICS FROM THE TRAITOROUS LEGIONS! Deathwing Dreadnoughts are thus, only found in the Deathwing Redemption Force formation. This formation comprises of units entirely from the Inner Circle such as the Company Master, Interrogator-Chaplain or Librarian, two to five Deathwing Terminator Squads, one Deathwing Command Squad, one Deathwing Knight Squad and a single Deathwing Venerable Dreadnought.
As one can imagine, having a entire force of Inner Circle Dark Angels members including a squad of the infamous Deathwing Knights and a Deathwing Dreadnought all coming to get you, is not the most pleasant of idea to any members of
The Fallen FILTHY HERETICAL RUINOUS POWERS!
On tabletop, these Deathwing Dreadnoughts are similar to a classic Dreadnought but with WS2+ and BS2+ and a new rule where it can ignore unsaved wounds on a 6+. Not too shabby. Apparently, something went wrong in the Codex where the Dark Angels Venerable Dreadnoughts got demoted and they're only Deathwing and Inner Circle if we spend a CP. Sigh. But otherwise you get all this for only a slightly higher price tag. Oh, Yeah. Weapon options for the regular Dreadnought apply here too.
While these guys got the ax in 8th edition, they're (kinda) back in 9th edition with a 10 point upgrade that gives them the Deathwing keyword. while they don't gain much in stats from this upgrade, it does let them benefit from Deatwhing Strategems and aruas, and fit into Deatwhing detachments without losing detachment abilities.
Deathwing LOVED 8th edition. With regular terminators retaining all bonuses over vanilla terminators and now being able to Deep Strike them AND charge them is something that they've always been wanting. Deathwing Knights are still badass as they now have super powerful maces and a flail that spills its damage over. 5-wound Apothecaries, Ancients and Champions are now a thing so they can go around separately doing what they need to do. Ven Dreadnoughts are still here as well, so, Deathwing enjoy kicking lots of ass this edition. Also, they're some of the last Fearless units in the game, so, good on them!
Unfortunately, once the 'new and shiny' effect wore off of 8th edition Deathwing players (and lovers of termies in general) noticed that their dudes are dying just as fast if not even faster than before. 2+ armor is now affacted by AP-1 weapons which used to be AP4 and thus did jack shit to termies. They can still be drowned in saves just as in previous editions and anti-tank weapons now deal flat 2, D3 or D6 damage which is enough to down a 2-wound termie quite easily. All of this means that despite the double wounds, termies are rather fragile outside of cover or holding storm shields. Chapter Approved publications have helped a lot by reducing points though, so it's not all bad. Still, to kick ass with Deathwing you need to be a) fighting against weaker codices or b) play really well with Deathwing.
9th edition has brought Deatwhing back full force. They get a new Inner Circle ability that lets them shrug off everything from lascannons to plasma. They get an extra wound (up to 3 now), and a sweet new detachment and doctrine. Essentially, you can, and are actively incentivized to run full Deathwing detachments. Essentially you'll become a better version of custodes with troops that have 1+/4++ and 3 wounds and abilities that are arguably better than T5. They're crazy good.
It's worth noting that in 40k, ALL members of the Inner Circle are also members of the Deathwing by default, so it's only really worth mentioning characters from the Great Crusade / Horus Heresy era who were explicitly members of the Deathwing.
- Holguin: Voted-Lieutenant of the Deathwing during the Horus Heresy, wields a 9 ft greatsword (was briefly in possession of the broken shards of the Lion Sword, though it was later reforged and used by the Lion to stab Leman Russ, cleansing the bad blood between them). Holguin vehemently disagreed with not going back to Terra when the Lion prosecuted his war against the traitors' homeworlds.
- Corswain: The Lion's Seneschal. A Caliban born Dark Angel he was despite his young age widely considered one of the finest blades among the Legiones Astartes, his name ranking among such legends such as Sigismund and Sevatar. Despite coming from such a taciturn and insular legion he had by the time of the Heresy gained a well-respected reputation among the other legions with even Guilliman referring to him as “beloved Corswain”.
- The "-wing" suffix has come to be used as shorthand to refer to other all-Terminator armies, like Draigowing, where Kaldor Draigo allows a Grey Knights army to take Paladin (super-Terminator) squads as Troops, or Loganwing, where Logan Grimnar (of the Space Wolves) causes Wolf Guard (which may be Terminator-armored) to count as Troops. As of 7th edition, most codices let you run -wing armies through ways other than force chart position manipulation, but Pepperidge Farm Remembers. *BLAM* /tg/ remembers.
Streum On Studio, the developers behind E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy (aka Tutorial Videos: The Game), developed a first-person shooter featuring Deathwing Terminators in a Space Hulk setting. The singleplayer campaign involves a Librarian (your character) and his two bros (a devastator and an apothecary) assisting in a Deathwing assault on a Space Hulk, with Belial handing out mission objectives. The enemies in the game are various forms of Genestealers, who make a credible threat and whose hybrids have some firepower. You go through ships of various stripes--Mechanicus, Imperial Guard, etc--and they have their differences and nice details. You also have a large armory--Do you want to use an assault cannon? Do that. Want to use Lightning Claws? Go for it. Power fist? Sure, watch those genestealer hybrids explode when you punch them.
Multiplayer campaign involves picking a class with specific abilities--tactical, assault, devastator, apothecary, Librarian, Interrogator Chaplain --and working with your squad to achieve goals and squish bugs.
If it's got a downside, controls and action can be clunky. The upside is, the level of detail and setting accuracy is stupidly high--you can read the words on purity scrolls and notes on the wall. And using a Force Sword or a Heavy Flamer to wipe out a genestealer wave is fun as hell.
- You can watch it here
- And here is the second official trailer with extra-TROLLING pop-mariachi music, who needs bland gothic chants anyway? (Ah! The RAGE!)
- And here is the better edition, a little editing by some fans
- some FAGGOT with no inspiration decided to make a more GRIMDARK cookie cutter action movie trailer version.
- ACTUAL gameplay trailer.
- The Gamescom teaser - we now have a release date! And no backflipping terminators!
The Models of the Deathwing Knights Are as awesome as you'd think.