Why Play D-99?
Because you want the Ordo Xenos to have a military arm, or maybe you like the Imperial Guard, but don't like their statline, which makes the D-99 perfect for you. The D-99 sit perfectly in-between Guard and Marine thanks to their special enhancements, and best of all, nearly EVERYTHING can take flyers. Yep, even their vehicles can take flyers as transports.
With 7th edition, these guys are made both better and worse, they have no Psykers (though since they're an Inquisition task force the obvious solution is to ally in Inquisitors) and no heavy armour of any kind (ally them in) but what they do offer, is the most effective mobile force in the game and if they're properly supported they can wreck armies many times their size and even several points above them.
While outperforming every type of Guardsmen (including Stormtroopers), D-99 are still squishy though, always be careful about that. They're a very specialized force that must be used precisely like a scalpel.
you also like making Militarum Tempestus players cry tears of jealousy (at least until armour saves are needed, you land in difficult terrain, or you like using orders).
- Deep Strike: The infantry and sentinels can Deep Strike. Yeah. Slap yourself if you thought otherwise.
- Combat Drop: Half of your Valkyries (sky-talons included), sentries and drop sentinels can deep strike on turn one. Combined with veterans holding homing beacons gives you a very good starting point as long as you go first/your veterans aren't killed right away (keep them in cover).
- Geno-surgical Enhancement: What makes the D-99 into the D-99 and the entire reason you're playing them, Inquisitor-Lord Varius's modifications give them +1 WS/I, Stubborn and the Preferred Enemy (Tyranids) Special Rules. Inquisitor-Lord Varius must really have been a genius since they get all of this for what's essentially only a 3 point increase.
- Inqusitorial Experimental Detachment: If for some reason you want to exchange preferred enemy (nids) for something else, just in case you're fighting somebody whose army doesn't suck as hard (or you're feeling charitable) you can choose this as your Warlord trait and gain one of the following Preferred Enemy options: Orks, Tau Empire, Eldar, Dark Eldar, or Necrons. You cannot get Preferred Enemy against Daemons or Humans though, you are still playing a detachment created by the Ordo Xenos after all. Unfortunately you do have to take one of the following drawbacks if you do this:
- Unstable Metabolic Reaction: Heart attacks. Whenever you test Leadership or charge, you have to test S (using the majority of the Strength in the unit). If you fail (which is 50% of the time), a random member dies, no saves. Oh BELIEVE me this will hurt, and you shouldn't be helping your enemies kill you.
- Anomalous Dermal Calcification: Arthritis. Roll an extra D6 when running or charging and discard the highest. Pretty bad news against very shooty armies, especially if you fudge the roll and get stuck within range, on the other hand, what the hell are you doing charging? you're still guardsmen, not space marines (maybe because if you don't charge, you'll just get charged or gunned down anyway? Might as well get some last hits in before you bite it).
- Hyper-Aggressive Tendencies: Roid rage. All D-99 units must move to the nearest enemy when making a consolidation move, and if they don't shoot, they have to run towards the enemy (aka what you would do normally). There's next to no reason why you shouldn't choose this one over the other two.
Oh that's the only warlord trait you get by the way, you wanted more? Tough, go roll for them in the main rulebook.
Luckily, being a part of the Ordo Xenos gives you access to some fun toys that some units can take for everyone:
- Auxiliary Grenade Launcher: Like a combi-grenade launcher for your lasgun, except that it doesn't have the One-Use special rule and is Assault 1, meaning you should just use grenades all the time rather than the flashlight. Thing is, it's only available to veterans in the command squad who could also take actual grenade launchers with Rapid Fire, though since several options there stop the model from getting an actual grenade launcher (like medi-packs, vox casters or standards) you can take this instead.
- Spotter's Magnoculars: You know what sucks about Snipers? 36" range, however Magnoculars increase this to 60" so long as the model who has them doesn't shoot. They're all around pretty awesome.
- Long-Range Ground Scanner: Gives one of two effects before the game starts...
- Long-Range Sweep: You can deny Infiltration on a 4+, which is pretty neat. Also, while it's still in play (and not retreating), all enemy reserves take -1. This can't stop automatic reserves emerging on Turn 4 though.
- Short-Range Lock: On every shooting phase, pick one unit within 12"/Unit with Vox-Caster. On a 4+, this unit gets to re-roll to-hit for all non-Ordnance and non-Barrage shooting. Awesome.
- Breacher Charges: Imagine the melta bomb, but with one use only, a 3" blast and if you could use them against more than Monstrous Creatures and vehicles. Yep, these are your go-to MEQ killers, and since they're not Unwieldy and you're I4, you even strike at the same time as most MEQ's (or even before), as well as above most things in assault, because fuck those Orks. If you outfit a unit with these, they can even take on an entire squad of Nobz or Terminators many times their own points size, and Instant-Death everyone in the unit (don't forget about Preferred Enemy). Even the downside isn't that scary, at WS4 you'll be hitting often enough and the amount of points you can make back just by having a few successful hits far outweighs any potential downsides of a miss, but make sure you position your models very carefully, you don't want to have fucked up and made it so that you can't use them, as they can't be used if any of the template covers friendly models.
- Lascutter: The even floppier sibling of the Powerfist, this S9 AP2 weapon isn't only unwieldy, but it also can only make ONE attack at WS1 in assault. These fucking suck. You're already paying a premium to be WS4/I4 and now you're dropping down to WS1/I1? Take it for only a few models to ID anything T4 or lower (or if you're up against a lot of high Toughness models) and even then, only if you're 100% sure they'll be in assault, otherwise you're better off sticking with your standard gear. Its only saving grace is that it's dirt cheap.
- Tracking Beacon: No scatter within 6". Fucking awesome since everything has the Deepstrike rule.
- Vox Caster: Since the army doesn't have the ability to use orders, you might think that Vox Casters are a waste of points. They only function with Long Range Scanners on Short-Range Lock mode, so consider this before making any purchases.
Interestingly, if you were playing a large game you could potentially fit the entirety of D-99 on the Tabletop without going ridiculously high in points, since what's left of them is just an over-strength company (somewhere over 6 Infantry Platoons), though in a few cases this actually is factored into a few of their unit entries.
- Inquisitor Solomon Lok: The leader of D-99, Lok's an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor with WS5/I5, a Master-Crafted Sword and Digi-weapons, so he gets re-rolls to-hit/to-wound in melee, and comes with artificer armour/refractor field and his warlord trait is FnP when standing on objectives so is a bit more survivable than other Ordo Xenos inquistors too. His bolt pistol is also S5 due to Psybolt ammo, which is still a thing in the Inquisition codex, despite being lost to the Grey Knights, and despite the fact that he's not a Psyker. At 60 points just for himself he's actually a fairly good option for HQ choice, since that's cheaper than a command squad if you wanted to save points. He also allows you to take a retinue of Inquisitorial Henchmen without taking up another FOC slot or allied detachment, so you can spend more points and make a bit of a dangerous unit. You may also add Major Durra (see below) to the Henchmen for a mere 35 points as well.
- Major Markus Durra: The last surviving character of Inquisitor Lok's retinue, Durra can be used alone to replace a D-99 Captain, or he can join Lok's retinue. He's pretty decent too, as he has a nice WS5/S3/I5 statline for his heavy chainsword (oh yeah, he has one of those), a shotgun, a laspistol, and a 4+/5++ which makes him slightly less squishy. He's pretty good to grab as he's definitely a lot tougher than the basic Captain, but his chainsword makes assault a less-than-ideal prospect (though at least he'll hit faster than MEQ's), so he's best to grab if you don't want Solomon Lok, and want the one D-99 specific Warlord Trait.
- D-99 Command Squad: There is no ability to use orders in this army list as your Captains don't get the Senior/Junior officer rule, so this pretty much makes D-99 commands squads function like space marine command squads: just a heavily customizable unit. Just tool them up for whatever role you want:
- For Shooting, go with one of the following: grenade launchers as they're dirt cheap and you can spam them (with auxiliary launchers on the ones who can't get them), plasma guns for a very expensive anti-armour squad, or lastly meltaguns for another expensive anti-armour squad (deep-strike them to scare the shit out of your opponent). Take whichever option you don't already have with your other units.
- For Support, you want to first get several long range ground scanners as well and possibly a Regimental Standard. While getting more than one long range scanner might seem odd, each of them can select a different unit (or the same unit if the first is unsuccessful). Spread them out, and know that your units will have a hard time breaking and have a hard time missing (on top of being BS4). This should be the Command Squad's main role, all of your other needs should be covered by their own specialized squads. Just be sure to screen them well, giving them several scanners and the regimental standard is going to get expensive fast.
- For Assault, you want to be playing Zone Mortalis, otherwise slap yourself for thinking it's a good idea to intentionally send the Command Squad into assault. If you're playing Zone Mortalis, go with some laspistols, a few lascutters, and otherwise leave them bare. Have them cut through any obstacles you might come across to clear the way for the troops who'll actually do something.
- A final note, if for some reason you haven't upgraded everyone in the squad, ALWAYS give them a sniper rifle, it's free and is taken in addition to everything else.
- D-99 Veteran Squad: Oh you wanted large units? Well unfortunately D-99 is not known for its army size, so they number between 5-13, so you can take minimum sized units just to spam Valkyries or you can get some big groups, but there's no real benefit to getting more besides getting more bonuses to the squad if you use a scanner on them. They have most of the shooting options that the Command Squad has, so use them in a similar shooting role (they can't have scanners so Support's out, and they can't have pistols so Assault's out). Of important note is that they cannot have all of their members with special weapons, so the more members you add, the less you'll be able to take those weapons. If you want to use them most effectively, stick to MSU spam.
- D-99 Valkyrie Airborne Assault Carrier: Hell yeah, a BS4 Valkyrie with Scout for the same cost as the codex BS3 Valkyries, total bargain. A rather nice Transport to grab especially when combined with the Combat Drop special rule, enabling you to place a good portion of them on the Table turn 1. Their options should specialize it to a specific role, want high S? Go with lascannons. Want to take care of mobs? Go with heavy bolters + rocket pods. Don't try to mix and match, your entire army is specialized in one area or another, and it works best if you can keep it that way. If you want them to be as efficient as possible though, go with anti-horde options on a Valkyrie carrying troops with high S weapons.
- D-99 Decimation Squad: Fuck yeah, your best unit. There's little reason to not get more snipers, as they can get a vox caster (it works wonders with your scanners) and magnoculars for some sweet 60" sniping. If you're worried about them getting into combat, give them some breacher charges and nobody will ever want to charge them. If you do want to get regular Veterans though, give them breacher charges, infiltrate near a CC oriented unit and try your hardest to get them into combat (just dare your opponent to charge you). Veterans with breacher charges also make a fantastic Distraction Carnifex. Something important to note is that they cannot take a Valkyrie, but with Infiltrate, why would you need to?
- ALTERNATE NEGATIVE NANCY TAKE: these guys will never get much done in a game when compared to your other elite choices. The sniper rifles will rarely kill anything per game, despite their range, and if you do decide to infiltrate them up close with the breacher charges, they are likely to just die from a flamer. While they are a cool unit, they just don't do much.
- D-99 Extermination Squad: Where Decimation squads run on subtlety and shooty, these boys get flamers. Lots of them, INCLUDING the sergeant. Upgrading to heavy flamers might seem a little weird, but since you should have preferred enemy they'll actually be far better than you against T3. If for some reason you want to be more shooty though, you can exchange that for grenade launchers, but if you do so you should give them breacher charges, since they'll be far more like to be charged than if they're armed with flamers, and since these guys can take Valkyries and DS with them, enjoy incinerating FUCKING EVERYTHING. Of special note is you can skip the Sergeants close combat upgrades, if you feel like you're going to get into close combat, even with the heavy flamers, just stock up on breacher charges.
- D-99 Execution Squad: They start off pretty unimpressive, with only 4 guys and a sarge with options for shotguns everywhere. But the kicker is that the goons get to grab plasma and melta. ALL OF THEM. Just imagine how that'll be when you Deep-Strike it to hell. Dropping a kitted squad at the rear flank of a force to blast them to shit is AWESOME, if not pricy. They also have monster hunter. In the age of dickhead MC's this is beyond useful. Deepstriking 10 of these with Plasma, a Vox Caster and then boosting them with a scanner is the answer to half the bullshit units in the game and will cost a neat 255 points.
- Drop Sentinel Squadron: The priciest of Sentinels, but with that comes the sweet advantage of Geno-surgical Enhancement. Unfortunately they can only get heavy bolters, multi-melta's, and heavy flamers (don't ever get heavy flamers, you're wasting that BS4 of theirs). Aside from searchlights (just in case) and maybe some multi-melta's, just leave them basic. Deep-strike them where they can be used best (or grab them a Sky Talon to safely fly there) and use them as-is.
- D-99 Tauros Squadron: Not the ugly bull tank, these are the basic tissue-paper version and the only reason you'll want them is because they're dirt cheap cost and maneuverable. Keep the regular one for anti-toops, get the Venator for anti-armour/anti-monster. Either way, don't expect them to live long, in fact the Sky Talons they can purchase as DT's will likely last longer than they will.
- D-99 Valkyrie Sky Talon: A Valkyrie with stripped weapons, but now gets Vector Dancer for some extra swerving action to carry a Tauros/Tauros Venator or 1-2 Drop Sentinels. These are the only Valkyrie that CAN be Fast Attack, and if for some reason you don't want to use them as Dedicated Transports for your vehicles then you might find some use in spamming them to take advantage of the Combat Drop rule. If that is your plan though, go all high S on your regular Valkyries, the Sky Talons can handle the hordes just fine.
- D-99 Vulture Gunship Squadron: The basic Vulture, but with BS4 and a metric shitload of options. Multilasers can now become autocannons, lascannons, missile launchers (all TL btw) or two rocket pods. Missiles now become 2 Hellfury missiles, 6 HK, 6 Tactical Bombs, or 2 more rocket pods. For 50, you can even exchange the multilaser and missiles for a TL. Punisher. Gatling Cannon. That's 20 re-rollable S5 AP- shots fired at BS4 (BS5 if you strafe along, which you totally should). And you can grab 2 per slot. FUCKING HELL FW. Make sure to always get the armoured cockpit, infra-red targeting and/or the launchers, you don't want to lose a turn of shooting, but the other non-gun options can be skipped, you should have Command Squads for Morale and Searchlights for Night Vision on your other units.
- D-99 Gun Sentry Battery: You can only take 0-1 of these, but that's because the Tyranids hit them pretty hard, so D-99 only has 3 of them TOTAL. The only thing in your army that isn't BS4, they make up for it by being Twin-linked and dirt cheap. Stick them wherever you don't want the enemy to be and forget about them, they're locked out of your control for pretty much the entire battle anyway. Note that even if you don't want to use them, you should take at least one anyway to abuse the Combat Drop rule to ensure you get more Valkyries on the table in Turn 1.
- D-99 Cyclops Demolition Squad: Hardcapped at 0-1, and the unit has no options at all, though once again that's because D-99 only have 2 Cyclops in the entirety of their force. They look really expensive, but luckily their Valkyrie is part of the units cost, meaning that the two Vets and two little boom-tanks only cost 60 points. The issue with this is that if you want the bombs to do anything, you have to babysit them, though thankfully the range is pretty decent. As for their intended purpose, these are oddly suited best to Zone Mortalis games, which they cannot be used in since they need to arrive in a Valkyrie, or against MEQ's, but you've got several solutions to that already. They might be useful if you're able to kill multiple Tyranid Warriors with one blast, but for the most part it's just a good idea to skip them entirely.
Lords of War
D-99 do not have any LoW, and cannot use any LoW of any type, no matter where you get their rules from. This is both thanks to them needing to keep their mobility and how small they are in size. After all, they ARE just a single company of a decimated IG regiment, don't even have more than 3 Turrets, or two Cyclops, so how could they possibly get a massive tank/aircraft?
Don't take this to mean you can't have Super-Heavies in your army. It's just that the D-99 do not have access. Never forget knights are a thing.
Mentioned before, the D-99 are an army that must be used very specifically. Every unit has a function and if you cannot make them perform that function then you shouldn't have bought it as you've essentially wasted the points. With that in mind here are some general ideas on how to use your army, how to focus them best and what to defend against:
- Target Priority: This is your number one concern, you need to know what to focus on more than usual, mostly because a large portion of your army will likely be in deep-strike for a good portion of the game and partially because everyone has a specialty. To start off, you want to destroy whatever has interceptor and/or skyfire. If you've brought a lot of planes (more than 4) don't worry so much about Skyfire, and go for Interceptor first. You'll likely have more guys arriving via deep-strike than you will by plane since buying a DT for everyone gets expensive. The reason for this is because you're paying a premium for units with random deployment times, Interceptor can result in your forces being bottlenecked and unless you're up against a terrible opponent or a terrible army the first two turns will seem like an uphill battle. Something that can help you accomplish this is if you deploy some sort of distraction, for example infiltrate a squad with Breacher Charges or buy the Cyclops unit. After you've taken care of the Interceptors you can divide your targets up by the units they specialize in. Get your Decimators on any sort of support units/models, break that Synapse web, snipe that Aspect Warrior, kill that Nob. Get your extermination squads on blobby units and do not try to double down on what the Decimator's are already doing, if they cannot handle support units/models on their own then you bought/are using them wrong. Make sure your execution squads take care of the armour (both light vehicles and 2+) and/or monstrous creatures, as well as any transports in the area. Always make sure to have them target the transports first, the longer the opponent is footslogging it the longer it'll be before the inevitable assault. Leave the heaviest of tanks for when your Vulture/anti-armour Valkyrie comes in, or maybe to a Sentinel/Gun Sentry if you've equipped them with Multi-meltas/Lascannons (though that'll make them large targets and they're not very good at tanking hits).
- Supporting the Front Line: Never underestimate what Command Squads with scanners can do for you, so always get at least one with scanners to make your other units better at their jobs. Always have backups, don't assume that just because you have a few Execution squads you'll be safe from blobs. While they can certainly can destroy a good number of them, always bring them in with the expectation that they'll get destroyed/be unable to do their job properly. For this reason, get Vulture's/Valkyries for heavy armour, in addition to what you already have and Sky Talons for more anti-blobs. Also, keep your priorities straight on which units you are bringing in, out of all of them, Extermination squads and Veteran squads are usually the ones you want to bring in last, and you'll want to use them defensively. You don't do well in Assault with a few exceptions (WS4 is more for helping you survive than it is killing shit) so they're more suited to a turn when the enemy is going to draw closer. In addition, the best the Veteran Squads can do is taking a missile launcher with flak missiles so that you don't have to waste one of your Valkyries turns taking down other aircraft, so they're also more suited to a turn where the enemies aircraft is going to appear (ie not turn 1). In general for duplicates, it's best to kit out the Valkyrie to have the opposite function of whatever it is transporting (ie if a Valkyrie is carrying an Extermination squad then kit it for anti-armour). The unit the Valkyrie is carrying should always be able to handle whatever you need them to do, so drop the unit off, then send the Valkyrie off to do something else.
- Surviving the Assault Phase: Never let WS4/I4 fool you into thinking that you can do well in an assault. When the enemy draws close, you want to gain as many advantages as possible. Spreading out a few Decimation squads and giving them Breacher charges is a good way of deterring Assault as you can try to make the enemy pass near enough to them that you can wipe out the enemy unit with the charges. Even if you have a few holes, you can abuse this by forcing the enemy to funnel to where several grenade launchers/flamers can make short work of them. Use the terrain as best you can for bunching up/slowing down your opponent. If they're spread out as much as possible to avoid the blasts, you'll have it easy, kill enough that it'll be unlikely for them to make it in range, and even if they do make it to assault they won't have many models in range (and that's where WS4/I4 really shines). If they're all bunched together, dump templates on them and your problem will be solved. You can also try to use the Cyclops unit to deter assault on two separate locations, though since they're just one use wonders they won't have as much of a threat to your opponent as a Decimation squad and will likely get shot before assaulting units reach them.
- If you're extremely scared of the Assault phase, get Inquisitor Lok and a Crusader Squad to screen your army, plug up the biggest hole with them or put them near your priciest units.
- Using Combat Drops Best: Combat Drop is one of your best rules (tied with Geno-surgical Enhancement). You need to know what to bring in turn one and what to leave out, and this changes the most depending on who you're up against. Thankfully this is pretty self-explanatory, however the above mentions still apply, if your opponent has fielded a lot of blobby units, do not rush in to bring the Valkyrie's with the Extermination squads. Stay out of range and bring your other guns/anti-infantry Valkyries first. Also to maximize your Combat Drops, always bring a few Sky Talons and at least one Gun Sentry, and deploy those as needed. Their cheap points will really help you with the air-spam you're about to unleash.
- Zone Mortalis: D-99 are both better and worse in Zone Mortalis. They're better in that they have a shitload of template weapons to take (as well as Decimators with Breacher Charges being able to Infiltrate) and their Lascutters make very short work of whatever doors/obstacles you're up against. This comes with the drawback of losing almost all of your BS4 Vehicles, which makes up a good portion of your normal army strength. Now since you now no longer have to worry about vehicle spam (as well as nearly all long-ranged weaponry), abuse the fuck out of Template Spam, and the fact that every Infantry squad barring Decimators can take Power Fists/Weapons. Decimators too get a lot more awesome, always make sure to hide Decimators around vital corners, bring a lot of them and use them as speed bumps while you get the rest of your army into a good position. If there's a Decimator Squad with a few Breacher Charges around a corner then that is a corner your opponent will be scarred to come around unless they want to lose that squad, though since they cost very little (2 D-99 with Decimator Charges costs only 55 points) they can easily make those back by killing Gaunt squads. Make sure to remember that Decimators do not make an army on their own however, so they absolutely must keep away from everything T5 and above/anything with Eternal Warrior. If you're playing with the blip rule, then they can also help you out a lot since they're the only thing with Infiltrate, so your opponent will always know/where they are, but this also lets you know where their big guns are. If they send a unit towards them it's most likely a T5+ unit or one with Eternal Warrior as an example. For your other units, by the time the Decimators are killed your army should be in an ideal location, controlling more than half of the table with flamers/grenade launchers around each corner, and by that point you should have figured out where their armour/high T models are for your Execution squads to take care of. Just keep focused and take the board one inch at a time, never be afraid to have a few sacrificial squads (for example a Command squads focusing on Lascutters to deal with doors) to get the rest of your army into a good vantage point.
- Commander Asshole: For those ridiculous games, go unbound and take nothing but squads pf Decimator Snipers with Magnoculars and squads of 2 Decimator Veterans with Breacher Charges for at least 60% of your points. Spam MSU, since each unit has a minimum squad size of TWO MODELS. if one of them dies you've lost 25 points minimum, or 55 points if both Decimators have Breacher Charges. The amount of pie-plates you can drop down on the enemy (as well as using Infiltrate to get close) will cripple the enemy army very quickly.
D-99 can ally with Codex Marines, Inquisition and IG as Battle Brothers, but can ally with Sisters and Blood Angels/Grey Knights/Dark Angels/Space Wolves as AoC, which stings particularly for the Knights and Sisters who really benefit from flyers. While the D-99 can handle pretty much every role, the allies are better for getting them Heavy Armour if you still really want that. Generally though, the best use for allies is IG for Artillery (to kill the long ranged weapons and/or Interceptor and Skyfire first) and/or Inquisition for Psyker support. So long as you can make your opponent come to you, you can dominate the battlefield.