Warhammer 40,000/Tactics/Deathwatch (9E)

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This is the current 9th Edition's Deathwatch tactics. 8th Edition Tactics are here.

Why Play Deathwatch[edit]

Cover art for the 7th Ed codex. Yes, he has a Necron sword. Just plug in the batteries....

The battle-brothers of the Deathwatch are the foremost xenos hunters in the Imperium. They are a black-clad brotherhood of noble warriors, bound by ancient oaths to defend Mankind from the alien, no matter its form. Hand-picked from the breadth of the Adeptus Astartes for their expertise in the slaughter of xenos threats, each of those who have joined the Long Vigil is a hero, tempered in the furnace of conflict and girded for battle with an arsenal of specialist weaponry. When the Watch Companies of the Deathwatch go to war en masse, there is no alien in the expanse of the galaxy that they cannot overcome.

"Amongst a hundred men, there may be one fit for the Adeptus Astartes. Amongst a hundred Space Marines, there may be one fit for the Deathwatch."- Watch Captain Brand MacLir


  • Operation Operators Operating Operationally - The Deathwatch are the Imperium's premier xenos-hunting special forces, and as a result they get the best gear.
  • Codex: Your Dudes - The relatively small model count and composition of many different chapters allows for great modelling and character opportunities. More so than any other army - you can really individualize each model, as they are all experienced veterans from different chapters. Trade bits with other Marine players to make each model stand out. Run your Kill-team from the Deathwatch RPG as part of your army!
  • Awesome Paint Scheme: Because Black and Silver is the new Black.
  • Quick And Easy To Get Onto The Table - The simple, yet awesome, paint scheme, combined with the low model count, means Deathwatch are one of the fastest armies to get built, painted, and battle-ready. And, if you like to play Sternguard and Vanguard veterans as count as Deathwatch, you likely already have the beginnings of a kill-team or two ready to go.
  • Forge World Support: As of the FAQ 1.1, Deathwatch can now field units from the Forge World Index: Forces of the Adeptus Astartes book. This opens up a wealth of possibilities with access to tons of dreadnoughts, flyers, tanks, super-heavy transports, and other craziness.
  • No longer are your Veterans just Sternguard in disguise, you are now the only guys with access to special issue ammunition.
  • One of only two armies with Frag Cannons. Though somehow only Deathwatch have the portable version while Blood Angels are limited to mounting Frag Cannons on their Dreadnoughts.
  • Because Squad Loadout is the personal theme of your local gaming group.
  • You're a fan of XCOM and the FFG board game just doesn't work for you. With some work, Inquisition allies means you can build a fully upgraded Psi-operative and a close approximation of the Commander's Avatar. Tech-Priest Lily Shen and the misanthropic snarky robot sidekick cost extra.
  • Corvus Blackstar, the coolest looking flyer in the game. Subjective. "Objectively subjective".
  • One of two factions that can take Terminators in the troops slot(for now). Though yours require a bit more work than Grey Knights as they are add-ons for Power Armor squads. You could count Space Wolves but they only get one Wolf Guard Termi per squad as an upgrade.
  • Lots of wound re-rolls and a focus on adaptability. With Stratagems geared against specific xenos foes and bonuses against units with specific battlefield roles, list tailoring is a cinch.
  • Primaris-friendly; (access to Special Issue Ammunition?) and mixed squads does a lot to address the NuMarines' issues with overspecialization.
  • Excellent anti-horde capabilities. Between frag cannons, combi-flamers, a decent amount of melee attacks, and more, your veterans can handle any horde with ease.
  • 9th Edition finally lets you take the entire marine vehicle pool and Vanguard Primaris units, as well as the shiny new Bladeguard and other new Primaris toys if you feel so inclined.


  • Low model count - Just like the Grey Knights and Adeptus Custodes, each model is extremely expensive, even when compared to other Space Marine chapters, without gaining much by way of added durability.
  • Few transports - Because Deathwatch are fucking expensive, and 9e 40k is a game of board control (which is decided primarily by how much of the board you can fill with models), you will have to decide whether your Meme Teams are going to ride to war in transports or walk their way to work. This means you may start the game with naked squads in your deployment zone vulnerable to whatever long range, first strike, bullshit your opponent sends their way.
  • There are some oddities with loadouts and conversions when compared to the Vanilla Marines.
  • You're still Space Marines, and are still vulnerable to anything they struggle against, especially when it comes to non-xenos armies.
  • If you're not keen on Forge World models or Primaris Marines, you'll need some allies to patch the miles-wide hole in your long-range shooting game.
  • Having a squad where every single model has a different equipment loadout can make for slow play despite the low model count as each weapon is resolved individually, to say nothing of keeping track of how their rules interact with each other. Not recommended for beginners who need to constantly refer to datasheets.
  • If you're lucky, 4 of your Stratagems will be meaningless. If you're unlucky? 5.
  • This is not a beginner army by any means, mastery of the Deathwatch will take time and a lot of trial and error. Knowing which Mission Tactic to use and how to set up your squads is crucial to success.
  • GW has decided to be fucking stupid again and removed special ammo from Storm Bolters, Twin Boltguns and all the Primaris Bolt Weapons. this could be Subject to change, seeing as how it’s only in the index but still - Come on, GW!! Didn't happen in the supplement. You want SIA, use a boltgun like girlyman wants you to.

Special Rules[edit]

  • Troops gain Objective Secured.
  • Chapter Command: Most non-named Characters (i.e. all except Lieutenants and Judicars) can have a Chapter Command upgrade for PL and pts. Each <Chapter> Army can only have one Chapter Command model and some named Characters already have the relevant keyword. Crusade forces cannot start with a non-named Chapter Command model.
    • Deathwatch cannot upgrade a Captain to a Chapter Master, as you already have the Watch Master.
    • Using <Ultramarines> as an example, your army cannot have Marneus Calgar and an <Ultramarine> Captain upgraded to a Chapter Master in the same army. However, you can have an <Ultramarine> Chapter Master and a <Salamander> Chapter Master in the same army.
  • Combat Squads: Can split a single full-sized unit into two smaller units before deployment. Works just like it always has, but more unit types can do it (e.g. Centurions). While MSU is better, it does give Space Marines a unique way to circumvent the Rule of Three or Detachment Limits. Now they just need to have spammable units worth Combat Squadding.
    • With the introduction of Shock Assault (See below), there is worth considering the use of some of the older tactics, back when a Tactical Marine was worth more than just a bolter. One such tactic was to put your guns in one squad and your melee in another, using the ranged weapons to soften up a target then the melee (basically a Sergeant either a power weapon or fist) to finish off or better yet to tie up the target unit and finish it off (hopefully) during the opponents turn, denying them a turn at shooting and forcing them to basically waste their melee on chaff. You can also put the Sergeant in the ranged unit with a combi-weapon for a total of three bolters and two special weapons in one squad, and a heavy weapon in the other for a makeshift Devastator Squad.
  • Angels of Death: A rule owned by all Space Marine whatever its colour, subdivided into four. Because GW likes to keep it simple.
    • And They Shall Know No Fear: When taking Combat Attrition Tests, ignore all modifiers.
    • Bolter Discipline: Models using a rapid fire bolt weapon can double their number of shots (i.e. rapid-fire) if at least one of the following conditions is met. They don't stack, so no triple or quadruple shots if you meet more than one condition. The conditions are:
      • The target is within the weapon's half range (normal rapid fire rules).
      • The model is Infantry (excluding Centurions) and every model of its unit remained stationary during the previous Movement Phase. If a Devastator's Heavy Weapon Marine moves, the Sergeant cannot use Bolter Discipline on his boltgun.
        • It gives your Marines the option to commit to those objectives instead of having to get close to the enemy. Factions like T'au may have long ranged small arms, but Space Marines can rapid fire from full range away.
      • The firing model is a Terminator or Biker.
        • This right here is the good shit. Footslogging Terminators now have a significantly improved threat capacity and Bikers are somehow even more deadly fast than they already were.
    • Shock Assault: If a unit with this rule charges, gets charged, or performs a Heroic Intervention, models in the unit gain +1A until the end of the turn (meaning +2A if they can fight twice like with a stratagem).
      • Gives the generally lackluster melee of most Primaris Infantry and chainsword Assault Marines a little bit of a boost. Killer on units with power weapons like Terminators. Also means foes have to be a bit more careful about charging at Tacticals and such to tie them up, more so if you use larger units, and that they can assist in a melee in a pinch.
      • Remember that this ability is not Infantry exclusive; Dreadnoughts really appreciate the extra attack and even your Transports can hit a little harder in the first round of combat (Space Marines bring a whole new meaning to road rage).
    • Combat Doctrine: Feel like it's 7th edition all over again. Each of the three Combat Doctrines gives an AP-1 buff to different weapon types in your armies (non-cumulative with buffs from other sources). You have to use each Doctrine in order, starting with the Devastator Doctrine, and then must move through each Doctrine. Once you switch there's no going back, so pay attention to the rhythm of the game. Your army gains this if all units in it have this rule, meaning taking a Guardsman Battalion would prevent the Marine detachment from getting this rule, but allied Marine detachments are okay even from a different <Chapter>.
      • On top of that, Chapter Supplements give First Founding Chapters (and their descendants) a Specialist Doctrine that is a bonus active on top of the regular Doctrine. Bringing Chapters with different Specialist Doctrines prevents either Chapter from getting theirs, which encourages you to have a one-Chapter army.
      1. On Turn 1, your army will always start with the Devastator Doctrine turned on, giving all your heavy and grenade weapons the extra -1 AP so that you can soften entrenched Infantry and cripple enemy Vehicles from afar in preparation for your advance. Remember the first points of AP are the most important ones: AP-2 heavy bolters and assault cannons are more noticeable than AP-4 lascannons. Do keep in mind that the plethora of sniper rifles and heavy flamers (incendium/inferno/flamestorm cannons) are heavy weapons.
      2. On the 2nd turn you switch to Tactical Doctrine, shifting the boost to your rapid fire and assault weapons. Be it to close the distance to the enemy or because your vehicles are about to give their last, this mostly passes the ranged baton to your Infantry. Storm bolters and auto bolt rifles work wonders here love this.
      3. On the 3rd or 4th turn you shift to Assault Doctrine (you MUST change to assault on the 4th turn) giving the extra AP to your pistol and melee attacks. Don't forget your pistol can be fired if you're in melee with an enemy unit.
  • Armour of Contempt: The Q2 2022 Balance Dataslate came ringing in again to show how much GW fucking LOVES Space Marines. Now any attacks against your army reduce their AP by 1, now absolutely forcing enemies to grab their AP2 guns. The only time this doesn't apply is if you already have a shield (Because otherwise we'd see the busted Bladeguard again) or any other AP reduction power.
  • Death From Above/Teleport Strike: Deep Strike in another name, most common on Jump Pack and Terminator models. Set them to side during deployment and set them up 9" from enemy models during the Reinforcement Step.
  • Concealed Positions: Infiltrate in another name, most common on Scout and Phobos models. Set them up anywhere on field 9" from enemy deployment zone or models during deployment.
  • Outflank: Like Deep Strike, but must be wholly within 6" of a board edge and 9" from enemy models during the Reinforcement Step.
  • Martial Legacy (FW): Relic unit rules for certain Forge World models. If your army is battle-forged, each unit with this rule increases the cost of a detachment that includes it by 1CP. Essentially you pay 1CP per Martial Legacy unit in your army.

Chapter Tactics and Unique Rules[edit]

  • Xenos Hunters (Chapter Tactic): Remember Preferred Enemy? Re-roll melee hit rolls of 1 against Tyranids, Aeldari, Ork, Necrons or T'au Empire units. After deployment, pick a battlefield role (Troops, Fast Attack, Elites, Heavy Support, HQ, Flyers, or Lords of War), all units re-roll 1s to wound against anything belonging to one chosen battlefield role (i.e. against all enemy HQs, or all enemy Troops, or all enemy Heavy Support, etc).
  • Special Issue Ammunition: Got nerfed to be restricted to much fewer weapons than the previous edition. Mostly only Deathwatch boltguns and stalker boltguns carried by Deathwatch Veterans and the combi-part of Deathwatch combi-weapons gain them, as well as select Named Characters and the Watch Master. The rule of thumb is to choose the ammo that affects whatever the enemy has in abundance. The SIA has received a decent rework, probably to try and make players use more than one type of ammo (hellfire rounds were monstrously overpowered compared to the other ones). Models with the privilege of having the trademark Deathwatch gimmick pick their SIA before choosing targets.
    • Dragonfire Bolts: Each time an attack is made with this ammo, the target does not receive the benefits of cover against that attack. Better than the previous edition, but still not that great. You'll want this for units that gain rely on cover for a good armour save, such as Scouts with camo-cloaks and Eldar Rangers.
    • Hellfire Rounds: Attacks with this ammo gain +1 to the wound roll against non-Vehicle and non-Titanic targets. A monstrous nerf from last edition and likely going to be the least used this edition. Remains the best choice against single wound units with a low to moderate armor save, especially in the Tactical Doctrine.
    • Kraken Bolts: This ammo grants +6" range (+3" if it's a pistol) and improves the AP by one. This is one of the few rules that is explicitly cumulative with Combat Doctrines. No longer restricted to a maximum AP value either, so enjoy AP-4 stalker boltguns in the Devastator Doctrine.
    • Vengeance Round: Add 1 damage to the wounds caused by bolt attacks.
  • Mixed Units: The Kill-Team rules. If you have a squad with mixed toughness scores (by adding Bikers to a Veteran Squad for instance), you use the majority toughness for the unit. If there is an even split, you choose. The unit as a whole is treated to only have the Infantry keyword for the sake of simplifying terrain interaction. Terminators, Bikers, and Jump Pack models retain their keywords only for the purpose of Bolter Discipline, Transports, or they make a unit of only them.
  • Kill-Team Specialisms: As added incentive for using Kill-Teams, you can also spend points to give them a upgrade. Only one unit in your army can have a given upgrade. This lets you re-roll wound rolls against specific battlefield slots.
    • Aquila: After picking a Battlefield Role for your Chapter Tactic, this unit can pick another role to re-roll wounds against.
    • Venator: Re-roll wound rolls of 1 (or all wound rolls if you picked this role for your Chapter Tactics) against Fast Attack and Flyers.
    • Malleus: Re-roll wound rolls of 1 (or all wound rolls if you picked this role for your Chapter Tactics) against Heavy Support, Lord of War, Dedicated transports.
    • Dominus: Re-roll wound rolls of 1 (or all wound rolls if you picked this role for your Chapter Tactics) against Elites.
    • Furor: Re-roll wound rolls of 1 (or all wound rolls if you picked this role for your Chapter Tactics) against Troops.
    • Purgatus: Re-roll wound rolls of 1 (or all wound rolls if you picked this role for your Chapter Tactics) against HQ.
  • Mission Tactics: If every unit (except Agents of the Imperium or unaligned units) has the Deathwatch keyword, then every unit that has the Combat Doctrines ability and is in a Deathwatch Detachment gains this ability. Instead of following the normal rules for combat doctrines, at the start of each battle round, select which doctrine is to be active for that battle round. However, here are some conditions:
    • You cannot select the Devastator Doctrine to be active more than once.
    • You cannot select the Tactical Doctrine to be active more than twice.
    • You cannot select the Assault Doctrine to be active more than three times.

Crusade Additions[edit]

  • Secure Xenotech - "Steal Alien Weapons" if you selected this Agenda then, after Deployment, your opponent must place 1 additional Objective Marker anywhere on the battlefield that is not in their respective Deployment Zone. Deathwatch Infantry units can perform Secure Xenotech Action at the end of your Movement phase, while within 3" of this objective and there is no enemy units within 3" of the Objective. This Action is completed at the beginning of your next Command Phase and if it is completed the Xenotech Objective is removed. At the end of the battle:
    • If Unit completed this action it receives 3 Exp;
    • If this Unit is wholly within your Deployment zone, it receives 5 Exp instead of 3 and before the next battle you can use Relic Requisition or Bestowed in Honour and Necessity Requisition for 0 RP.
  • Watch Eternal - if there are no enemy units within 6" of your Deployment zone at the end of the battle each alive Deathwatch unit gains 2 Exp;
  • Suffer not the Alien - can only select this Agenda if you fight against Xenos Faction. Keep a tally for each unit increasing it by 1 for each Xenos unit detroyed by them. The unit gains 1 Exp for each 2 points of their tally.
  • Strength from Diversity - keep Ranged and Melee tallies for each unit increasing it by 1 for each enemy unit destroyed by ranged or melee attack. Your units receive 2 Exp if they have at least 1 point in each tally;
  • Xenopsyker Assault - can only select this Agenda if your opponent have Xenos Psyker units in their army. Keep a tally for each of your units, increasing it by 1 for each successful Deny the Witch test and by 2 for each Xenos Psyker unit killed. Your units receive Exp points equal to their tally.
  • Bestowed in Honour and Necessity (1 RP) - finally the way for Sergeant to have a Relic! Purchase this when you add a Crusade Card or when unit gains a rank. You can give one of the following Relics to Sergeant model as if they were Character: Artificer Armour, Master-crafted Weapon, Digital Weapons, Banebolts of Eryxia or Artificer Bolt Cache;
  • Kill-Team Specialism (1 RP) - give one of the Specialism to your Kill-Team unit when it reaches Battle-Hardened rank;
  • Expiation in Vigil (1 RP) - some more Black Shields in your army! Purchase this requisition when you add a Deathwatch Core unit to your Order of Battle, one of it's not-Sergeant models becomes a Black Shield - it gains 2+ WS, +1A and +1W and counts as Black Shield for the purposes of Atonement through Honour Stratagem;
  • Rearm, Reform, Redeploy (1 RP) - Purchase this Requisition before or after the Battle. You can reconfigure wargear options for one of your Kill-Team units and also change it's optional models. As with all Requisitions like this, your Order of Battle must have enough Supply Limit to handle extra weight of your units, should it increase.
  • Watch Master or Watch Captain only:
    • Voice of Experience - pick a Deathwatch unit within 6" of the model in your Command Phase and until the end of the turn it is considered being in range of all aura abilities that this model have;
    • Executioner Emeritus - improve the AP of each attack the model makes by one, both ranged and melee.
  • Deathwatch Chaplain only:
    • Perpetual Repugnance - if Chaplain is within 12" of any Xenos Faction he is to angry to be uninspiring, so his rolls for Litanies automatically pass;
    • Promulgator of the Litany - increase Chaplain's Spiritual Leaders aura radius by 6".
  • Deathwatch Librarian only:
    • Scholar of the Forbidden Librarius - each time at the beginning of battle Librarian can change Smite to one of the Xenopurge Discipline powers for the duration of battle;
    • Mental Duellist - once per enemy Psychic Phase Librarian can reroll one of Deny the Witch tests.
  • Deathwatch Units only (except Vehicle units):
    • Duty's Bond - unit can use Brotherhood of Veterans Stratagem for 0 CP;
    • Unwavering Enmity - while unit is in Engagement Range of any Xenos it always counts as charged for the purposes of Shock Assault;
    • Chosen Prey - pick one of the Xenos Factions (Necron, Aeldari, T'au Empire, Orks or Tyranids). Add +1 to hit each time unit attacks selected Faction in both Shooting and Melee;
    • Rapid Appraisal - unit can use Special-issue Loadout Stratagem for 0 CP;
    • Mobile Hunters - unit counts as Remained Stationary for the purposes of Bolter Discipline;
    • Special Operations - while unit is in opponent's Deployment zone it counts as having ObSec (or twice as many models if it already has ObSec, which will come much more often).

Deathwatch alternative to Space Marines Honorifics for your Watch Masters and Watch Captains. Watch Captains can only have one of them and you can't have 2 Captains with same specialism in your Order of Battle. Watch Master are exempt from both of this rules - they can have more than 1 specialism and RAW you can have more than one Watch Master with the same set of Specialisms.

  • Master Aquila:
    • Character gains Aquila Specialism.
    • At the end of the battle they took part of, you can also pick a Core unit that destroyed an enemy unit. If it is "Marked for Greatness" it receives 4 Exp instead of 3.
  • Master Venator:
    • Character gains Venator Specialism.
    • At the end of the battle they took part of, you can also pick a Core unit that destroyed an enemy Fast Attack or Flyer unit. If it is "Marked for Greatness" it receives 5 Exp instead of 3.
  • Master Malleus:
    • Character gains Malleus Specialism.
    • At the end of the battle they took part of, you can also pick a Core unit that destroyed an enemy Heavy Support, Lord of War or Dedicated Transport unit. If it is "Marked for Greatness" it receives 5 Exp instead of 3.
  • Master Dominatus:
    • Character gains Dominatus Specialism.
    • At the end of the battle they took part of, you can also pick a Core unit that destroyed an enemy Elites unit. If it is "Marked for Greatness" it receives 5 Exp instead of 3.
  • Master Furor:
    • Character gains Furor Specialism.
    • At the end of the battle they took part of, you can also pick a Core unit that destroyed an enemy Troops unit. If it is "Marked for Greatness" it receives 5 Exp instead of 3.
  • Master Purgatus:
    • Character gains Purgatus Specialism.
    • At the end of the battle they took part of, you can also pick a Core unit that destroyed an enemy HQ unit. If it is "Marked for Greatness" it receives 5 Exp instead of 3.

Captain Artemis is considered to have Master Furor.

Deathwatch specific Battle Scars are interesting, as they simultaneously buff and debuff your units:

  • Bring not Shame to Your Chapter:
    • Buff - Affected unit is able to use Atonement Through Honour Stratagem even if it doesn't have Black Shield in it. In case it has - the Stratagem costs 0 CP.
    • Debuff - Each time affected unit is selected to Shoot or Charge roll a D6 - on a roll of 1 it can only Shoot or Charge the closest enemy unit.
  • A Brotherhood in Turmoil:
    • Buff - Affected unit gains +1S and +1 on Charge and Advance rolls.
    • Debuff - Unit suffers from both Disgraced (can't use any Stratagem's on the unit) and Mark of Shame (unit is unaffected by friendly aura abilities) Battle Scars from the Core rulebook.
  • Xenophobic Furore - can only be received if unit was destroyed by Xenos Faction and works only if the same Faction is present on the battlefield (doesn't matter whether said Faction is friendly or enemy):
    • Buff - Affected unit gains +1A.
    • Debuff - Unit can't perform any actions and are ignored for the purposes of holding objectives (Black Rage: Light Edition I guess...).

Deathwatch Infantry and Biker units can pick SIW or SIA from this categories as their Battle Honour, but no more that one from each category per unit.

  • Special-issue Wargear:
    • Onyx-class Blind Grenades - gain Smokescreen keyword;
    • Dragonheart Charges - gain Melta Bomb keyword;
    • Neurostun Grenades - gain Shock Grenades keyword;
    • Heuristic Revelators - if you attack enemy unit within 18" it doesn't receive benefits of cover (thanks to FAQ all of them: Light, Dense, etc.);
    • Teleport Transponders - each model in the unit gains Teleport Strike ability;
    • Soultrawl Divinator - Lowers the cost of Auspex Scan Stratagem to 1 CP for the unit and increases the Stratagem's range to 18".
  • Special-issue Ammunition - can be picked even by units, whose weapons don't have Special-issue Ammunition rule, but will only be able to use it through Special-issue Loadout Stratagem or Artificer Bolt Cache Relic.
    • Derevenant Shells - can't make Reanimation Protocol rolls for Necron models killed by this SIA;
    • Helspears - Psyker and Daemon units invulnerable saves are only successful on an unmodified roll of 6 against this SIA;
    • Tempest Bolts - the weapon loses 6" of range but wounds Vehicle units on unmodified roll of 4+;
    • Metal Storm Frag Shells - weapon becomes Assault D3 with Blast rule.
    • Thermic Penetrator Rounds - gain +1AP (-1 becomes -2) and +1 to hit. AP buff is cumulative with the one from the Combat Doctrines;
    • Inertial Fusion Bolts - models can't use any rules to ignore wounds (aka Feel no Pain) against wounds from this SIA.
  • Artificer Relics - Can be taken by any Deathwatch Character
    • The Arachnosavant's Illuminator - something to bump up your weapons with access to Special-issue Ammo, the target suffers a mortal wound per each successful wound roll instead of other damage.
  • Antiquity Relics - Can be taken by Heroic or higher ranked Deathwatch Character and increases their Crusade Points by 1 (to a total of 2 if you account Battle Honour).
    • Mag-Pulse Discharger - once per enemy Charge Phase select charging enemy unit within 12" of the bearer. The selected unit suffers -2 to their charge roll.
  • Legendary Relics - Can be taken by Legendary ranked Deathwatch Character. It requires 1 RP to be spent and increases Character's Crusade Points by 2 (3 in total with Battle Honour).
    • The Watcher's Veil - makes Deathwatch Core and Character units within 6" of the bearer untargetable for enemy units further than 30" and enemy units also suffer -1 to hit them with ranged attacks.

Secondary Objectives[edit]

  • Cull Order (End Game): After deployment, both players (starting with your opponent) alternate picking Battlefield Roles from units in your opponents army until both players have selected three in total (if your opponent has no Heavy Support units, you cannot nominate that as one of your three choices). Score 5VP at the end of the game if you destroy all units in your opponents army with that role.
  • Suffer Not The Alien (End Game): Score 1VP at the end of the battle round for each Aeldari, Necron, Ork, Tau Empire, and Tyranid unit killed by a Deathwatch unit.
  • Cripple Stronghold (Progressive): after deployment, your opponent selects one objective as a stronghold. If there are objectives in your opponents deployment zone, one of those objectives must be picked. Deathwatch Infantry units can perform the Cripple Stronghold Action by being the only friendly unit in range of that objective at the end of your Movement Phase until the start of your next Command Phase. Score 6VP if you successfully complete this action.
  • The Long Vigil (Progressive): +5VP at the start of your Command Phase if there are no enemy non-Aircraft units within 6" of your deployment zone and one non-Aircraft Deathwatch unit entirely within your deployment zone. Cannot be scored in the first battle round.


  • Death to the Alien! (1 CP): Used when a DEATHWATCH unit is selected to fight. Gain +1 attack when in engagement range with a Tyranid, Aeldari, Ork, Necrons, or T'au Empire unit.
  • Prognostication Volley (1 CP): Anti-Eldar. When a Deathwatch unit shoots at a Aeldari unit, ignore any hit and ballistic skill modifiers.
    • Since you can only take a final max of -/+ 1 for hit rolls this is especially useful for shooting flyers, as it is effectively a normal round of shooting against something with the "hard to hit" rule. Alternate take... However you can still shoot bikes, HQ's and all of the other non-aircraft units that have flying, not to mention this also works against Drukhari as they also have the correct keyword. Of course, don't forget that you do have access to auto hitting weapons like heavy flamers that will put Eldar jetbikes in a world of hurt no matter how many debuffs to hit those pointy-eared cowards hide behind.
  • Synaptic Severance (1 CP): Anti-Tyranid. Until the end of the phase, a DEATHWATCH unit auto-wounds on hit rolls of 6 against Tyranid Synapse units.
  • Adaptive Tactics (2 CP): In the command phase, if you have a Watch Master on the battlefield, you can change the battlefield role you selected for Xenos Hunters.
  • Atonement through Honour (1 CP): During opponent's charge phase, a Deathwatch unit with a black shield can heroically intervene.
  • Sanction of the Black Vault (1 CP): One use. A sergeant can take Artificer armour, Master-crafted weapon, Digital weapon, Banebolts, or Artificer bolt cache. The best uses here are either storm bolters a bolters-only Centurion SERGEANT with an Artificer bolt cache (this is the only way to put special-issue ammunition on heavy bolters or hurricane bolters, and you can do both on one model), or a master-crafted thunder hammer. Hell, double down and mastercraft a heavy thunder hammer for a whopping D5 beat-stick hidden away in your vet squad. Overkill? Maybe, but hilarious nonetheless!
  • A Vigil Unmatched (1 CP): One use. Give an additional DEATHWATCH warlord trait to your DEATHWATCH character Warlord. Absolute bargain, the potential combos are mouthwatering.
  • Priority Doctrine Adoption (1 CP): Usable only if running a pure DEATHWATCH army. A DEATHWATCH unit can benefit from a different combat doctrine.
  • Brotherhood of Veterans (2 CP): For the turn, a DEATHWATCH unit can replace Xenos Hunters with another Chapter or successor tactic.
    • This is actually so incredible, and so versatile. Got a backfield unit with lots of heavy weapons, whack the Dangles tactic so they're hitting on a 2+. Got a melee unit about to charge in, stick the Flesh Tearers' tactic to get your rip and tear on. With all the different chapter tactics available its less of a "should I use this?" and more of a "who do I use this on?" Not to mention super fluffy.
  • Disruptive Launch (1 CP): A DEATHWATCH unit with a Jump Pack model can shoot when they fallback.
  • Teleportarium (1 CP): You can set a DEATHWATCH INFANTRY unit, DEATHWATCH Biker or DEATHWATCH DREADNOUGHT in a Teleportarium chamber instead of placing it on the battlefield. One use only for small-sized games, two uses in Strike Force games, and three uses for Onslaught sized games.
  • Relentless Assault (1 CP): A DEATHWATCH unit with a biker model can fall back and charge.
  • Overkill (1 CP): Anti-Necron. After fighting or shooting a Necron unit, -1 to its reanimation protocols from that attack.
  • Stem the Green Tide (2 CP): Anti-Ork. Use when a Ork unit charges a Deathwatch unit, they can fire Overwatch and grant the charging unit -2" to their charge roll if you kill a model. High risk high reward: reducing enemy charge ranges is always useful, but you have to hit the orks in overwatch first, let alone kill them. Useful if you have a Captain nearby, but still a gambit against armoured things like Mega-armoured Nobz. Useless if the ork charges with the transport first.
    • Auto-hit weapons (Frag Cannons, Combi-Flamers, Flamestorm Gauntlets) benefit the most; they'll need to be in the 8" range, but even such a close-range charge will automatically fail if you kill 5 orks. Only 4 kills needed to completely deny a 9" deepstrike charge, and even a single casualty debuffs the Here We Go chance from roughly 1/2 to 1/3.
    • Now it only subtracts 2" if you kill any models, so arguably lost a lot of its function.
    • Doesn't require you to use the Overwatch stratagem, so you can use this to Overwatch twice
  • Targeting Scramblers (1 CP): Anti-Tau. Use after an enemy T'au unit has resolved all attacks in the shooting phase against a Deathwatch unit. Remove all markerlight tokens from it.
  • Shroud Field (2 CP): During the first battle round, Corvis Blackstars can't be targeted with shooting unless they're the closest target.
  • Clavis (1 CP): During fight phase, Select a vehicle within 1" of a Watch Master. The Vehicle suffers D3 mortal wounds and it fights last. Good for dealing that last bit of damage to destroy it or bring it down a wound bracket, and then letting the guys beat it up more in case it's a Dreadnought or titanic.
  • Special Issue Loadout (2 CP): Can give one Deathwatch infantry's bolt weapons Special issue ammunition but their type is changed to Heavy 1. For obvious reasons this works well with bolt weapons that are already Heavy 1 (e.g. stalker bolt rifles, executor bolt rifles). Can't be used with the bolt sniper rifles the Eliminators use since they already have their own specialist ammunition.

Warlord Traits[edit]

Named Characters MUST use their designated Chapter-Specific trait, thus increasing the appeal of taking an unnamed character.

  1. Vigilance Incarnate: Each Command Phase, pick a Battlefield Role. Deathwatch Core units within 6" re-roll wound rolls of 1 against those units. Useful on a Captain to save you taking a Lieutenant. Watch Captain Artemis fixed trait.
  2. Paragon of their Chapter: Pick <Chapter> Warlord Trait from Codex Space Marines (you can't pick one from a supplement). Note you have to pick one from the Chapter your Character is modelled from. Successor Chapters must choose the WT of their parent chapter.
    • White Scars - Deadly Hunter: When the Warlord makes a charge move, choose one enemy unit within 1" and roll a d6. It suffers a mortal wound on a 2+.
    • Space Wolves - Beastslayer: +1A and +1 to hit and wound rolls when fighting a Monster or Vehicle. Use a S8 weapon to wound most models on a 2+.
    • Imperial Fists - Architect of War: Nearby Deathwatch Core units in cover treat AP-1 attacks as AP0. Lessens the effect of common AP-1 multi damage weapons. The only Aura guy.
    • Crimson Fists - Refuse to Die: When at the end of the phase in which this model loses their last wound. On a 4+, they are placed as close as possible to their last position with d3W remaining.
    • Black Templars - Oathkeeper: 6" horizontal and 5" vertical heroic intervention. Not being left out is good, I guess.
    • Blood Angels - Speed of the Primarch: Always fight first. And you're the faction with heavy thunder hammers and invulnerable-ignoring swords.
    • Flesh Tearers - Merciless Butcher: +d3A if there are five or more enemy models within 3" of the Warlord.
    • Iron Hands - Adept of the Omnissiah: Non-Techmarine Warlords heal one Deathwatch Vehicle within 1" by one lost wound. Techmarine Warlords heal d3+1 lost wounds.
    • Ultramarines - Adept of the codex: Refund 1 CP on 5+. You always need more CP.
    • Salamander - Anvil of Strength: +2S. Rarely a bad thing. You always wound T3 on a 2+ and T4 on a 2+ if your weapon is at least +2S (power axes and relic blades).
    • Raven Guard - Echo of the Ravenspire: If your Warlord is 6" or more from an enemy model, then once per game you may remove the model from the board at the end of your Movement Phase and Deep Strike him at the end of your next one. Lets your Warlord keep up with your Spectrus team when they do their own "Guerrilla Tactics" teleport.
    • Dark Angels - Brilliant Strategist: Select one friendly unit within 6" of the Warlord. Until the next Command Phase, that unit counts as being in the Devastator Doctrine if the Tactical Doctrine is active for your army, or in the Tactical Doctrine if the Assault Doctrine is active for your army.
  3. Nowhere to Hide: Select an enemy unit at the start of each Shooting Phase. That unit cannot claim cover against attacks made by Deathwatch Core units within 6" of the Warlord.
  4. Optimised Priority: Deathwatch Core units within 6 of a Warlord can shoot and make an action.
  5. Castellan of the Black Vault: The Warlord can take one of the following in addition to any other relics: Master-Crafted, Artificer Armour, Adamantine Mantle.
  6. The Ties That Bind us: Deathwatch Core units within 6" of the Warlord re-roll morale checks. In addition, in your Command Phase pick one Deathwatch Core unit within 6" of the Warlord to gain Objective Secured. If that unit already has Ob Sec, each model counts as two for purposes of deciding who controls the objective.
  1. Fear Made Manifest (Aura): Enemy units within 6" suffer -1Ld and -1 to Combat Attrition Tests.
    • Can be combined with other Ld debuffs to make a leadership bomb, but even on its own losing people on a 5+ Combat Attrition roll already means losing 1/3rd of the unit, or half of it when understrength.
  2. The Imperium's Sword: What Smash Captains are made of. Warlord gains +1S and +1A when he charges or Heroically Intervenes, and rerolls failed charge rolls. The bonus attack stacks with Shock Assault.
  3. Iron Resolve: What Smashfuckers are made of. Warlord gains +1W, and can ignore wounds on a 6. Not dying is nice, and it's better the more wounds your character has.
  4. Champion of Humanity: Warlord gains +1A if an enemy Character is within 1", and gains +1 to hit and wound rolls against Characters within 1".
    • Remember, you don't have to attack the Character to gain +1A, you just need to be within 1".
  5. Storm of Fire (Aura): Wound rolls of unmodified 6 made by and <Chapter> Core unit within 6" gains an additional point of AP. This does not stack with Combat Doctrines.
    • Since light weapons with high rates of fire are often cheaper than stronger, single-shot ones, this Warlord Trait can allow a detachment to pull its weight even at low point limits. Furthermore, it's easy for them to synergize with your Warlord because many are Infantry or Transports that can accompany him. While mechanized and Biker lists are shooty, Bolter Discipline means bolt-using units from this list are no longed forced to move into rapid fire range.
  6. Rites of War (Aura): Friendly <CHAPTER> Core and <CHAPTER> Character units within 6" gain Objective Secured.

Available only to Phobos characters, aka the tacticool Captain, Lieutenant, and Librarian found in the Shadowspear box. Chaplains can suck it because yelling catechisms isn't stealthy and Tech Marines haven't yet learned whatever trick the Helix Adepts are using to fix broken things quietly, so they can suck it, too.

  1. Shoot and Fade: After one <chapter> phobos unit within 6" of the warlord shoots, They can move or advance but can't charge.
    • Imperial stealthy Jump-Shoot-Jump baby! Break LoS and avoid retaliation. That way your Infiltrator/Incursor squads can keep up with your Eliminators, the first dashing in and out of LoS while the later shoot without visual contact with complete impunity.
  2. Lord of Deceit: After both sides deploy, you can remove and redeploy up to 3 <Chapter> Phobos units present on the battlefield or put them into reserve for no CP.
    • Results depend on the mental games you can play on your enemy - it's not going to be a surprise to your opponent, but being able to make corrections after your enemy's cemented his choice instead of being part of the simultaneous deployment process can be an amazing benefit, and one that Eldar pay 2CP for.
    • Bear in mind, this trait now goes off after deployment, which means you haven't yet rolled off for first turn.
  3. Master of the Vanguard (Aura): Friendly <chapter> phobos units within 6" of the Warlord gain +1" to their move, advance, fall back, and charge distances. Useful to Reivers or charging out of Deep Strike, pairs well with the Chapter Tactic Hungry for Battle as well as several characters.
  4. Stealth Adept: Can't be targeted by ranged attacks unless he is the closest target. Protects from snipers or if you find yourself with just one of two guys from your accompanying squad left. Often get more mileage on your Phobos Librarian trying to get off their close range power.
  5. Target Priority: Select a friendly <chapter> phobos unit within 6" in the Command phase. Until the start of your next Command phase, that unit gets +1 to hit. And he doesn't have to give up his shooting either. Now all those pointy finger models have found their worth!
    • Less helpful for Eliminators now they have BS2+, but could be used to negate cover penalties. Doesn't affect Infiltrators' automatic wounds as they only happen on an unmodified 6.
  6. Marksman Honours: +1D to all of the Warlord's guns, but not grenades or relics. Completely wasted on a Librarian or Lieutenant, but bumps the Phobos Captain's Instigator Bolt Carbine to an eye-watering D4.

Psychic Powers[edit]

In addition to Smite, you have access to a faction-specific table of powers. The Librarius Discipline has power for pretty much every situation, but they're mostly niche enough that it's difficult deciding upfront which powers to take. The Phobos Librarian-exclusive Obscuration Discipline focusses on messing with movement and dice rolls at the cost of mortal wound output.

Your Deathwatch-specific psychic discipline.

  1. Peremorphic Resonance (WC6, Blessing): a Deathwatch unit within 18", until next psychic phase, it hits on 5+ on Overwatch and fights first plus +1 to melee hits.
  2. Fortifed With Contempt (WC6, Blessing): a Deathwatch infantry or Deathwatch Bike unit within 18", gains a 5+++ FNP. Useful against Mortal Wound spam and high ap.
  3. Neural Void (WC7, Malediction): One enemy unit within 18" loses -1 attack and can only charge the nearest enemy unit. A really useful power, especially powerful against melee armies/units. With clever positioning you can force a debuffed enemy unit to either charge your CC kill team, or not charge at all.
  4. Psychic Cleanse (WC6, Witchfire): Roll a dice for each enemy model within 9", on a 6 they take a MW. Librarians lack an Invul save and this requires them to be in the thick of an enemy horde. Very situational and risky.
  5. Mantle of Shadow (WC6, Blessing): a Deathwatch infantry unit within 12", If they don't shoot or charge, enemy models can't shoot them unless they are within 12" or closest eligible target. Useful for protecting either a backline unit that isn't shooting for whatever reason, or a unit doing an action this turn. The main limitation is that if the unit charges or shoots, the power is broken. Use with caution.
  6. Severance (WC7, Malediction): one enemy Character within 18", they take 1 MW, -3" on their Aura range, and if the psychic test is greater then their ld, then their subordinates can't benefit from their auras. The singular mortal wound isn't great, but shutting auras down can be really helpful. Good if you know there's a buff character being the lynchpin for your enemy's army like a Synapse Tyranid or an Apothecary. Note that it says enemy units cannot benefit from the total aura shutdown, so debuff auras will still effect your guys, even if the range of the aura is reduced.

General-use powers for Marines. Depending on your <Chapter> they may not have the greatest synergy but still fairly useful with many melee and close range blessing.

  1. Veil of Time (WC6, Blessing): Select one <CHAPTER> unit within 18". Until the start of the next Psychic Phase, that unit re-rolls charge and advance rolls, and always fights first.
    • 9" charges are still below a 50% chance at 47.84%, although you can combine it with a CP re-roll. If you can find a source for +1" to charge distances, your odds rise to 65.97%.
  2. Might Of Heroes (WC6, Blessing): Select one <CHAPTER> CORE or CHARACTER model within 12". That model gains +1S, +1T, and +1A.
    • An awesome power for your beatstick models. Dreadnought CHARACTER's will love this, as well as Chaplains buffed by Mantra of Strength. Sergeants kitted for melee are also viable models to buff.
  3. Null Zone (WC7, Blessing): Until the start of your next Psychic Phase, ALL units within 6" can't take invulnerable saves, and enemies cut the results of their Psychic Tests in half.
    • Obviously most powerful against enemies that depend on their invulnerable saves or psychic powers (Harlequins, Hive Tyrants, Daemons, for example). Less effective against heavily armoured units (Terminators, Wraith Guard, Mega-Nobz). Don't be afraid to advance into position and let other things do the murder work for you.
    • IMPORTANT REMINDER: This affects ALL invulnerable saves on ALL units in range, even yours. Don't use with your own storm shield units in range.
  4. Psychic Scourge (WC6, Witchfire): Select one visible enemy unit within 18" of the caster. The caster and the target unit roll off and add their units Ld to the result. The target suffers d3 mortal wounds if your score is higher, one mortal wound if the score is equal, or nothing if your score is lower.
    • Less powerful than smite, but it's better for sniping Characters since it isn't restricted to the closest enemy unit. Best used in combination with something that inflicts a Ld penalty to the target or a Leadership bonus to the caster, if you brought any.
  5. Fury of the Ancients (WC7, Witchfire): Select one visible enemy model within 18" and draw a line from any part of the casters base to any part of the targets base. the caster to that model. The target unit and each enemy unit this line passes through suffers one mortal wound.
  6. Psychic Fortress (WC6, Blessing): <CHAPTER> units within 6" gain a 5++ invulnerable save. Just awesome due to the lack of restrictions allowing even your Land Raiders to gain this buff.

These powers can only be used by Phobos Librarians. They don't do much damage, but god damn can they fuck with your enemy. They'll only buff Phobos units, so no combo-ing with Aggressors.

  1. Shrouding (WC6, Blessing): Pick a friendly <CHAPTER> Phobos unit within 18". Until the start of the next Psychic Phase, enemies can only shoot that unit if they're the closest eligible target. Protects from snipers, but not enemy psychic powers.
  2. Soul Sight (WC6, Blessing): Pick a friendly <CHAPTER> Phobos unit within 18". Until the start of your next psychic phase, that unit re-rolls all failed hits when using their ranged weapons and their ranged attacks ignore enemy cover save bonuses.
  3. Mind Raid (WC6, Witchfire):: Select a visible enemy unit within 18". It takes a mortal wound and if the power targeted a character, roll 3d6. If the result is greater than or equal to the target's Ld, you get a free Command Point! Remember the limit on 1CP gained per battle round though, not a power to use if you have a Relic or Warlord Trait that also refunds CP.
  4. Hallucination (WC6, Malediction): Select a visible enemy unit within 18". They suffer -1Ld and -1 to all hit rolls until your next turn.
  5. Tenebrous Curse (WC7, Malediction): Select a visible enemy unit within 18" that does not have the Fly keyword. It takes a mortal wound, their move distance is halved, and suffer -2 to their advance and charge distances. Effectively pin one Death Guard unit in their half of the board.
  6. Temporal Corridor (WC5, Blessing): Pick a friendly <CHAPTER> Phobos unit within 6". It can make a normal move or advance as if it was the Movement Phase, and if it advances it adds 6" to their move rather than rolling. However, the unit cannot shoot or fight this turn. Great repositioning tool at the cost of damage output.

Litanies of Battle[edit]

Litanies happen in your Command Phase, going off on a 3+. Like psychic powers, each litany can only be cast once per turn, no matter how many Chaplains know it. Deep Striking and passenger Chaplains are a touch less-useful on their first turn, as they arrive AFTER their casting window. There is the 2CP Commanding Oratory stratagem that can be used to cast a litany in any phase if the Chaplain has not already cast one this turn.

Litany of Hate: Default prayer, 6" aura of re-rolling all melee hit rolls (not just misses) for your <chapter> core or <chapter> Character units. Stronger now that the Chapter Master's Aura has been reigned in.

  1. Litany of Faith: 6" Aura of ignoring mortal wounds on a 5+ for friendly <chapter> core or <chapter> Character units. Not cumulative with other rules, as per usual.
  2. Catechism of Fire: Select a friendly <chapter> core or <chapter> Character unit within 6" to gain +1 to the wound rolls when "resolving a shooting attack" against the closest enemy unit, meaning it affects Overwatch, too.
    • You're already accurate, so you'll get the most out of +1 to wound rolls from units that hit often but not hard; Intercessors with auto bolt rifles, Flamer Veterans, and Aggressors.
  3. Exhortation of Rage: Select a friendly <chapter> core or <chapter> Character unit within 6". They get +1 to their wound rolls in melee. Very strong (unless you're the Blood Angels of course). This is often worse than the default Litany of Hate. If you're hitting on a 3+ or worse and wounding on a 4+ or better (e.g. most attacks with fists, hammers, lightning claws, and power weapons), use Litany of Hate. If you're hitting on a 2+ or wounding on a 5+, use Exhortation of Rage. Of course, a Master of Sanctity can use both.
  4. Mantra of Strength: The casting Chaplain gains +1S and +1A, and one melee weapon gains +1D.
    • Smash Chaplain is a viable build. Combine it with the Benediction of Fury (WS2+, S7, AP-2, D4) or a powerfist (WS3+, S9, AP-3, D3). Add Warlord Traits, stratagems, doctrines, and psychic powers as you can afford and be bothered with.
  5. Recitation of Focus: Select a friendly <chapter> core or <chapter> Character unit within 6" to gain +1 to their hit rolls when shooting.
    • While +1 to hit is better than a Captain's re-roll, this alone isn't a replacement for it (since it has a 1/3 chance to fail, affects single unit and doesn't work in melee or when the chaplain doesn't start on the field). Instead, it's better used when a unit cares about +1 to hit beyond improving BS by 1. If you just want a second HQ to support a gun-line bring a Lieutenant instead.
  6. Canticle of Hate: Non-cumulative 6" aura of +2" to charge distances and +3" to pile in and consolidation moves. In all cases, the friendly <chapter> core or <chapter> Character unit in question has to be within the aura by the time the move is made - the consolidate move especially will often not happen unless the Chaplain also made his charge.
    • Amazing for those who can re-roll charge distances, increasing the odds of a successful 9" charge up to 85% (58.3% for non-rerolling lads).
    • Do keep in mind the Chaplain has to be on the field at the beginning of the battle round to cast his litany. A Jump Pack or Biker Chaplain is fast enough, but if you are patient, you can use an Impulsor or Drop Pod to get him in position in the first turn and use the Litany for your deep strikers in the second turn.


In addition to the standard Space Marine fare of Ranged and Melee weapons, the Deathwatch get access to some of the rarest and deadliest wargear the Imperium has to offer.

Melee Weapons[edit]

  • Astartes Chainsword: SU, AP-1, D1, +1A. As of 9E, all Space Marine chainswords get AP-1 on top of the extra attack, making them even better against lightly armoured hordes while also giving them a little utility against tougher foes.
  • Lightning Claws: SU, AP-2, D1, re-roll failed wound rolls and +1A. This will outperform all other 1 damage melee weapons against any target (except T8-9 with a 2+ or 3+, where the power sword wins, but why are you picking D1 weapons for those). Your best bet for mulching single-wound hordes.
    • RAW: "Each time the bearer fights, it makes 1 additional attack with this weapon". Exactly the same as the Chainsword, this should be interpreted as +1A for one claw, +2A for two claws.
  • Power Weapons: Each type of power weapon has its own profile now, so pick the right one for the situation. Unless you have the option for a lightning claw, then you should always take that instead.
    • Power Axe: S+2, AP-2, D1. Offers a compromise between the maul's strength and the sword's armour penetration.
    • Power Maul/Power Lance: S+3, AP-1, D1. This is the one you want to use against lightly armoured units that rely on toughness to shrug off hits. The lance is identical to the maul because of reasons.
    • Power Sword: S+1, AP-3, D1. Best against targets that rely on armour saves over toughness to shrug off hits. Except against frail things with good invulnerable saves like Crusaders, who ignore AP anyway.
  • Powerfist: Sx2, AP-3, D2, -1 to hit rolls. Good against everything, cost-effective, and very common to find.
  • Thunder Hammer: Sx2, AP-2, D3, -1 to hit rolls. A powerfist that trades 1 point of AP for an extra point of damage. The extra damage could mean the difference between one-shotting a Custodian Guard/Aggressor/Terminator or getting a guardian spear/powerfist in the face. When you have a thunder hammer/storm shield-Captain with Jump Pack, every enemy model begins to look like a nail. BUT, at typically twice the cost of a powerfist, it's not worth ditching up to three extra special or heavy weapons just to squeeze out a few extra points of damage. Still quite viable on everything that isn't a Character at least, so feel free to spam with Terminators or Vanguards.
  • Chainfist: Sx2, AP-4, Dd3, -1 to hit rolls, becomes D3 against Vehicles. A Terminator-only weapon that's only open to Terminator Veterans and Terminator Captains. Marginally better than a powerfist against other highly-armoured models that lack an invulnerable save, and strictly better against Vehicles. Costs the same as a powerfist, so trading the fist's reliable damage for better AP could be worth it.
  • Relic Blade: S+3, AP-3, D2. Available to Honour Guard, Vanguard Veteran Sergeants, and Captains. It has a good comparison to the powerfist; Ignoring S bonuses or wound-roll buffs, the powerfists bumps you to S8, whereas this takes you to S7. This only matters against T4, T7, and T8 targets, as you go from wounding on a 2+/3+/4+ respectively to a 3+/4+/5+.
  • Heavy Thunder Hammer: Sx2m AP-3, D4, -1 to hit rolls. Only available to standard Deathwatch Veterans and Vanguard Veterans. An enormous two-handed thunder hammer that lets you play whack-a-mole with Carnifexes.
    • Taking a melee weapon that costs almost as much as the marine who's carrying it isn't always a great choice, but multiple lascannon-strength melee attacks boosted by Mission Tactics can lay low even the biggest of xeno monsters (or enemy Vehicles and Characters). Be wary of overkill and choose your targets wisely - if you're killing enemies with 3 wounds or less, the regular Thunder Hammer is slightly cheaper and does a consistent 3 damage. However, if you fancy ghetto stomping a Carnifex, here is your weapon of choice.
    • Two basic Vanguard Veterans will put out 6 attacks with these on the charge, costing 68 points for the two models, and will on average kill a single 8 wound, T7, 3+ save Carnifex every turn before even a single re roll or modifier is applied. When combating foul Xenos monstrosities, sometimes brute force trumps complex strategy.
  • Xenophase Blade: S+1, AP-4, D1, ignores invulnerable saves. More common than the heavy thunder hammer, literally jacking Necron Phase Swords, at only an extra 5pts over the standard power sword it's not a bad choice at all, particularly when facing enemies who fall back on invulnerable saves regularly. Deathwatch Veteran Sergeants, Veteran Bike Sergeants, and non-Terminator/Primaris Captains can take this.
    • Master-crafting this weapon makes it quite the Character-killer, with the bump from D1 to D2, the high AP, and ignoring invulnerables really pushing it into the realms of excellent.


  • Deathwatch Combi-Weapons: A Deathwatch boltgun taped to one of the special weapons below. Exclusive to Deathwatch, you still retain Special Issue Ammo with these weapons. Replaces a Deathwatch Veteran's boltgun.
  • Boltgun: You know what a bolter is, but if you somehow forgot it's 24", rapid fire 1, S4, AP0, D1.
    • Combi-Weapon: A boltgun taped to a special weapon (plasma, flamer, melta, grav). Check below for the special weapon profiles. You can fire one of the weapons at full BS, or both with a -1 to hit rolls. Note that combi-flamers don't care for no BS.
    • Storm Bolter/Combi-Bolter: A boltgun taped to another boltgun. Cheap as chips rapid fire 2 boltgun, typically seen on Bikers and Terminators, also available as upgrades on most of your vehicles. Their abundance, the majority of bearers ability to go fast (Bikers) or Deep Strike (Terminators), and Bolter Discipline means you should usually be getting four shots per turn with this weapon.

Special Weapons[edit]

  • Flamer: 12", assault D6, S4, AP0, D1, automatically hits. 9th edition has been good to all flame weapons, boosting their range from 8" to 12". A classic anti-horde option, at least it's cheap.
    • While they DO auto-hit airborne units with Hard-To-Hit, don't bother; they're too tough and armoured.
  • Meltagun: 12", assault 1, S8, AP-4, Dd6, +2D if you're within half range of the target for a potential of 8D (5.5D average). Good against anything with lots of wounds, be they Vehicles, Monsters, or even heavy Infantry. **At 12" range supercharged plasma is better (but riskier) however, and this gun is more expensive, so you really should try and get into half range. While you can advance to close the gap, it is convenient that the unit's other weapons are assault weapons as well.
  • Grav Gun: 18", rapid fire 1, S5, AP-3, D1, becomes D2 against targets with Sv3+ or better. Against most Vehicles, MEQ's, and TEQ's, this is a safer plasma weapon at the cost of less S and the same amount of pts.
  • Plasma Gun: 24", rapid fire 1, S7, AP-3, D1. Their gimmick is having a safe profile and supercharged profile, which gives them +1S and +1D at the risk of killing the bearer on a hit roll of unmodified 1. Sticking close to a Captain can mitigate this risk.

Pistol Weapons[edit]

Pistol weapons are equivalent to their bigger brethren, with different ranges and weapon types. Other than that, S, AP, D, and unique rules are the same.

  • Bolt Pistol: 12" and pistol 1. One of the most common weapons in the Space Marine armoury and available on most things as either an option or as part of their wargear. Just don't forget it exists and that you can fire it in melee.
    • Heavy Bolt Pistol: 18", pistol 1, S4, AP-1, D1. Primaris-only, as the Firstborn don't have the wrist strength to hold them.
  • Hand Flamer: 12", pistol D6, S3, AP0, D1, automatically hits. Unique to you and the Blood Angels, but also costs 5pts. The boost to 12" is welcome, but the lack of S hurts against anything that's not GEQ-tier. Don't forget to fire it in close combat.
  • Inferno Pistol: 6" , pistol 1, S8, AP-4, Dd6, +2D if within 3" of the target. Another weapon you share with only your red-armoured brethren, and an excellent way to pull a General Kenobi/Indiana Jones in the middle of a swordfight and vaporise an enemy Character.
  • Grav Pistol: 12" and pistol 1.
  • Plasma Pistol: 12" and pistol 1.

Heavy Weapons[edit]

  • Infernus Heavy Bolter: The heavy version of a combi-flamer, being a heavy bolter taped to a heavy flamer. Works in the same way, being that you suffer -1 to hit rolls if you fire both profiles, which the flamer part gives exactly zero fucks about.
    • Also of note, with modifiers to hit rolls being capped at -1, you're more free to move and shoot this as you please. If you fired both profiles in 8th edition, the heavy bolter would have -2 to hit rolls; -1 from moving and shooting a heavy weapons and -1 from firing both profiles. 9th edition has capped this at -1.
  • Deathwatch Frag Cannon: A slight modification from 8th edition's version. Frag is now 12", assault 2d3, S6, AP-1, D1, blast and shell is now 24", assault 2, S7, AP-2, D2. A big fall from the S6 heavy flamer and 12" lascannon they were a year ago.
  • Heavy Bolter: 36", heavy 3, S5, AP-1, D2. A solid choice for taking down light-medium Infantry, if one that tends to be overshadowed at times by the assault cannon and heavy flamer.
    • They can quickly raise the cost of your army due to their huge availability, so be a bit cautious about spamming against armies that are not mainly 2W.
    • Hellfire Shell is a unique stratagem that can be used on Infantry-carried heavy bolters; instead of shooting normally, make a single hit roll that deals d3 mortal wounds. Make the most of this with re-roll auras or Devastator Sergeant Signums.
  • Heavy Flamer: 12", heavy d6, S5, AP-1, D1, auto-hits. More effective against armoured targets than its smaller brother, but cannot be fired after advancing. Can be found on Dreadnoughts, Terminators, and Sternguard Veterans.
    • Another thing you have special access to, your Deathwatch Veterans have access to this as part of their heavy weapon option.
  • Multi-Melta: A 24" and heavy 2 meltagun, meaning you can't run with it, but can shoot in melta range out of a deep strike, now fulfilling the role of Drop Pod threat-removal.
  • Plasma Cannon: 36", heavy d3, and blast effectively means the same shots as a plasma gun, but from 36" away instead of 12" and better against infantry. You need to be careful when you supercharge, due to the sheer cost of this weapon.
  • Grav-Cannon: 30" range and heavy 4 grav-gun. Akin to a heavier heavy bolter to deal with bigger targets.
    • A unit with grav-cannons will become a serious target for your opponent, so consider sticking them in a Transport of any flavour so they can't be Basilisk'ed off the table turn 1.
  • Lascannon: 48", heavy 1, S9, AP-3, Dd6. Your primary long-range anti-vehicle weapon, and is as common as the heavy bolter.
  • Missile Launcher: Can fire either frag missiles (48" and heavy d6 bolter shots with blast), or a krak missile with (48", heavy 1, S8, AP-2, Dd6). Not quite as good as an assault cannon, heavy bolter, or lascannon in regards to dealing with Infantry and Monsters/Vehicles (respectively), but still pretty good at both of those roles.
    • Similar to heavy bolters, this weapon has a unique stratagem. Flakk Missile deals d3 MW's as well, but only against Aircraft targets.
    • Hunter-Killer Missile: A single-use 72", heavy 1, S10, AP-2, Dd6 missile for 5pts, just in case you didn't have enough anti-tank. The vast majority of your ground-based non-Dreadnought Vehicles can have one. Ironclad Dreadnoughts can take two, and Leviathans can have three.
  • Assault Cannon: 24", heavy 6, S6, AP-1, D1. Haha minigun go brrrt. Not hard to find, available as a Terminator heavy weapon and Dreadnought option. Twin-linked variety is on Razorbacks, Land Speeders, Land Raiders, and most Aircraft.
    • Onslaught Gatling Cannon: 24", heavy 8, S5, AP-1, D1. Found on multiple Primaris armoured platforms as a secondary weapon, and puts the hurt on infantry.
    • Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannon: 30", heavy 12, S6, AP-1, D1. Mounted on Redemptor Dreadnoughts, Repulsors, and Gladiators, the bigger brother of the onslaught cannon that does everything better.
  • Ironhail Heavy Stubber: 36", heavy 4, S4, AP-1, D1. A weird GW trend of putting stubbers on the hover tanks, but better than a storm bolter or the Imperial Guard heavy stubber.
    • Icarus Ironhail Heavy Stubber: As above with +1 to hit Aircraft. Realistically too weak to actually deal damage to Aircraft however.
  • Fragstorm Grenade Launcher: 18", assault d6, S4, AP0, D1, blast. Boltstorm Aggressors come with one, the Redemptor Dreadnought can swap their two storm bolters for two of these, and they can also be found on most of the Primaris tanks (the repulsor can have a whopping five).


If your Warlord is a Space Marine Character, you can give one Character a Relic, absolutely free. Weapon Relics can only be taken by a unit that can take the weapon it's based on and you have to pay for the base weapon (e.g. a Terminator Captain does not have access to a chainsword and thus cannot take the Teeth of Terra). The Relic of the Chapter Stratagem can be used for extra relics, number depending on the size of the game.

Named Characters and vehicles cannot be given a Relic. But only That Guy would try to force a Chaplain Dreadnought into the Armour Indomitus or something like that.

  • Beacon Angelis: Once per battle, in the reinforcement step of your Movement Phase, you can teleport a Deathwatch Infantry or Biker unit from any point on the battlefield or from reserve to within 6" of the bearer and more than 9" from enemy models.
    • With the addition of Litanies of Battle, a Chaplain with an active litany can be beaconed over to our deep strikers, or a fast-moving Chaplain (say, on a bike) can chant the litany, move/turbo-boost where needed, and then beacon over a unit for some nice turn one alpha-strike shenanigans.
  • Dominus Aegis: A buffed shield that replaces a combat, storm, or relic shield. +1 to armour saves and all friendly Deathwatch Core and Deathwatch Character models within 6" gain a 5+ invulnerable save.
  • The Osseus Key: Watch Master only. Enemy vehicles get -1 to hit and -1 to attack if they are within 12" of him.
  • Thief of Secrets: Replaces bearers power sword, master-crafted power sword, or xenophase blade. Identical to a xenophase blade, but becomes D2 against the Xenos (Tau, Tyranids, Orks, Necrons, or Aeldari).
    • You are always better off with a master-crafted xenophase blade if using on a Firstborn Captain, as it has D2 against everything rather than just Xenos. There are also ways of master-crafting and taking an additional relic with the right warlord trait.
    • Note that this is the only way to take a xenophase blade on Characters other than a regular Firstborn Captain. If you have a Biker, Terminator, Primaris, or Gravis Captain, Company Champion, Company Ancient, Firstborn or Primaris Lieutenants, or even a Techmarine that you feel could use some extra bite against invulnerable saves, this is what you're looking for. Beware that some options will cost more than others if they're locked into swapping a master-crafted sword, and that you'll lose the extra damage from master-crafting unless you're facing Xenos.
  • Tome of Ectoclades: Once per battle, during the command phase, pick an enemy datasheet; all Deathwatch Core within 6" reroll wounds against units of that datasheet until your next command phase.
    • Works best on units that your opponent is spamming and is integral to their list. Riptides, Drones, Boyz, Dreadnoughts, etc.
  • Adamantine Mantle: When this model loses a wound, roll a D6; on a 5+, the wound isn’t lost. Not that great in an army with access to so many rolls to negate wounds.
  • Artificer Armour: Gives a model a 2+ armour save and a 5++ invulnerable save.
  • Master-Crafted Weapon: Give a weapon +1D. Good on a thunder hammer for D4 or on weapons with variable damage (force weapons and chainfists) to guarantuee at least 2D.
  • Digital Weapons: When you fight, you make one extra attack that scores a mortal wound if it hits. Not terrible, but your Characters are pretty much renown for how hard they punch stuff. It's better to invest Relics in durability or supporting other troops.
  • The Blackweave Shroud: In case you really need to tank things up and don't expect high AP, you can grab this. The bearer gains +1T and a 4+ save against MW's.
    • It's enough to protect you a bit more against plasma, but it's nothing against meltas and lascannons. Characters with an innate 2+ armour and any invulnerable save are pretty fond of this relic.
  • Spear of the First Vigil: Upgrade for your Watch Master's Vigil Spear. The mele profile gets an increased fire rate by 1 (now Rapid Fire 2) and it's Mele profile gets +1S (now +2) while upgrading it's D from d3 to a flat 3.
    • If you don't care about going from S5 to S6 (like being against MEQ's), just Master-Craft a Vigil Spear; The melee profile deals 2-4 damage (averaging out at 3), but you also gain +1D to the boltgun welded to the top to let you pop Terminators, Custodes, etc, with one-shot. Since 9th the increase in fire rate makes this upgrade strictly better than Master Crafting it.
    • If you use this, Imperium's sword and Anvil of Strength (Through Paragon of their Chapter) your watch master can have 6 attacks at Str 9, AP3, 3 on the charge.
  • The Soul Fortress: Librarian only. 24" Hood and can ignore all modifiers for a psychic test.
  • Banebolts of Eryxia: Let a bolt weapon fire a single shot with S6, AP-2, D3.
    • Somewhat debateable use. You can use it on anything with a bolt pistol, but there are better relics. It's a little boost the the dedicated shooting Characters (master-crafted heavy/instigator/stalker bolt rifles, etc).
  • Vhorkhan-Pattern Auspicaction: Deathwatch Core within 6" gain +1 to hit a unit with fly.
  • Artificer Bolt Cache: A bolt weapon gains special issue ammunition.
    • Not bad use on one of the vanilla Characters from the Codex and is much more flexible than Banebolts.
  • Eye of Abiding: The bearer can ignore any and all modifiers to hit, wound, WS, and BS, and the enemy can't use invulnerable saves against your attacks that make an unmodified 6 to wound.

Unit Analysis[edit]


  • Watch Master: For footslogging, this is your top HQ choice. A Deathwatch 'Chapter Master' equivalent, his stat line is impressive with WS2+, BS2+, W6, Sv2+/4++. Has a Captain's Rites of Battle Aura (Deathwatch Core units within 6" re-roll hit rolls of 1) and a reskinned Chapter Master's ability (One Deathwatch Core or Character unit within 6" re-rolls all failed hit rolls). So whether at the front lines or in the back, there's a place for him. You get him for 130pts.
    • His (quite good) loadout is fixed, but the guardian spear (master-crafted bolter with SIA and S+1, AP-3, Dd3 melee weapon) packs a punch both at melee and range. Furthermore, it can be improved substantially with the Spear of the First Vigil relic, which pumps the bolter half up to Rapid Fire 2, and the melee profile to S+2, AP-3 and a flat D3. The Clavis is now a stratagem, which is better to some and not to others.
  • Watch Captain: Only difference is that if this model is a regular Captain (no Primaris, Terminator, Bike extras), then he may take a xenophase blade (S+1, AP-4, D1, ignores invulnerable saves). Jump-pack is now an upgrade, not an additional datasheet, so he is your best option for fielding a xenophase blade.
    • We now have one of the best smash-captains in the game. At the cost of 1CP for 'A Vigil Unmatched' we can get two warlord traits, going with a Salamanders 'Paragon of their Chapter' and 'The Imperium's Sword' on a captain with jetpack, storm shield, and master-crafted xenophase blade. On the charge, you get six S8, D2, AP-4, ignoring invulnerable save attacks hitting on a 2+, and can reroll failed charge rolls. Even better on those times it combines with Xenos Hunters. SMASH.
    • Also if in a pinch, don't forget you can pay 2CP to swap chapter tactics with 'Brotherhood of Veterans'. Notably, the Blood Angels +1 to wound or +1 to charge rolls can help with a hail-Mary charge on something big and nasty, or White Scars to fall-back and charge again if you get bogged down by a blob unit and to re-proc Imperium's Sword.

Special Characters[edit]

  • Watch Captain Artemis: A throwback from the days of Inquisitor. Regular Watch Captain in terms of stats and rules, but also has Unstoppable Champion (ignores lost wounds on a 6). He's armed with the Hellfire Extremis (a Deathwatch combi-flamer whose flamer wounds non-Vehicle/Titanic targets on a 2+), a master-crafted power sword, and a stasis bomb (one-use grenade 1 weapon that inflicts d6 mortal wounds if it hit the target). An interesting alternative to a standard Captain at 110pts, so make his stasis bomb count.
    • In terms of cost, a Captain with Power Sword and Combi-flamer is 95pts to Artemis's 110. You're paying 15pts for his FNP, a boosted Deathwatch combi-flamer, a master-crafted power sword (saving you a relic slot), and a fuck-you grenade. I'd say it's worth it, but only if you want that kind of kit - Artemis is good for killing infantry and exactly one tough thing up close, and he doesn't have a jump pack to get him in range with his more effective weapons. He's only useful if you can get him up the table. Put him in a Corvus Blackstar with a squad of Veterans outfitted with close-range weapons and he'll pay for himself quickly by one-shotting an enemy HQ. Save a command reroll if you really want to screw somethings day!
  • Chaplain Cassius: Took a time machine and now back in Deathwatch, with his datasheet even suggesting that you don't use Primaris units in your army for a thematic fit. Compared to a normie Chaplain, he gains +1A, +1Ld, SIA on his bolt pistol, +1AP on his crozius, and yells his litany on a 2+ instead of 3+. Well worth the +20pts.
  • Codicier Natorian: New to 9th edition, he's a named Librarian from the Blood Ravens from the Kill Team Cassius box. WS2+, +1 to casting smite or witchfire, SIA on his bolt pistol, and +1AP on his force sword. Bargain for an extra 10pts.
    • Unfortunately locked to the Deathwatch psychic powers, which makes his +1 witchfire spells pretty meh. Still good for smiting, but is tooled for close combat with no speed to get there and only just better than Librarian stats. Give him a transport, or go with a regular jump-pack, primaris or terminator librarian instead. Like Cassius, very useful for smaller games where he can footslog his way around.


  • Deathwatch Veteran Squad: Deathwatch Kill-Team Default. The unit is 5-10 Vets and forms the core of a Proteus Kill-Team. The default models, yet the best if what you want is to keep it simple. Deathwatch Veterans and Sergeants share stats with a regular Veteran team (i.e. Sternguard or Vanguard). The Blackshield is a Veteran with +1A, rising to +2A if they have any two melee weapons. As standard, each model has a boltgun with SIA, power sword, and grenades. Any model can replace their boltgun+power sword for a shotgun, stalker boltgun, or two weapons from the Deathwatch Equipment list (aka the Sergeant Equipment). Any four models have access to a unique list of heavy weapons (heavy bolter, heavy flamer, infernus heavy bolter, missile launcher, and frag cannon), and only 1-in-5 models can swap their weapons for a heavy thunder hammer (best candidates are Black Shield or Sergeants for the +1A stat). Finally, the Sergeant can take a combat shield without swapping a weapon. With so many options it can get tempting to go overboard, but try not to make a 'jack-of-all-trades' unit. Pick what you want them to do, and do it well.
    • Black Shield: Good candidates for weapons are lightning claws (7A on the charge that re-roll wound rolls), the aforementioned heavy thunder hammer (make the most of those 3A's), or powerfist and power sword (able to take on everyone).
    • Stalker-Pattern Boltgun: 30", heavy 1, S4, AP-2, D2, Special Issue Ammo. Replaces a Deathwatch Veteran's boltgun. Finally, your manlet Marines get the stalker bolters the big boys can use. This weapon has the range and damage output to allow you to use your Deathwatch Veterans to cheaply squad on your home objective or cover without being completely pointless.
    • Deathwatch Shotgun: The Deathwatch Shotgun uses its own selection of special shells and slugs for your xenos-purging needs. Versatile and awesome-looking. Replaces a Deathwatch Veteran's boltgun. Keep in mind if you're considering a lot of assault weapons elsewhere, with the ability to swap to White Scar's chapter tactics (Brotherhood of Veterans) we can create quite a surprise when advancing.
      • Cryptclearer Round: 18", assault 2, S5, AP0, D1. The longest-range shell you have, and possibly the one that will see the most use against W1 models.
      • Xenopurge Slug: 12", assault 2, S4, AP-1, D2. the anti-MEQ shell, just beware that you'll be putting yourself within rapid fire range of almost everything if you use this.
      • Wyrmsbreath Shell: 8", assault D6, S4, AP0, D1, autohits. Someone crammed an 8th edition flamer into a shotgun shell. Neat-o.
    • Deathwatch boltguns/storm bolters and storm shields combined with their Troops nature still make them a good choice to hold an objective. 125/135pts gets you five T4, W2, Sv2+/4++ models spitting out either 20 boltgun shots or 10 SIA boltgun shots per turn. Giving them combi-weapons keeps their SIA while also giving every Marine a special weapon, but this obviously gets more expensive per model. Gone are the days of the stalker-boltgun and storm shield combination however.
    • While for melee they have the same limitations of a footslogging Vanguard Veteran Squad, you do have neat transports. Heavy thunder hammers are kind of a gambit, but they are one of the hardest-hitting melee weapons available to Infantry. Dont forget your teleportanum either.
    • If you don't care about SIA, you can have an Objective Secured Devastator Veteran Squad to sit in your home objective. Missile launchers are your only thing that will reasonably take-out big targets, with the heavy bolter being your best troop mulcher. Infernus heavy bolter and auspex scan stratagem to alpha-strike any cocky Deep Striking units can be a huge surprise, without compromising your range.
  • Kill-Team Cassius: A fixed-loadout nine-man Deathwatch Veteran Squad that automatically passes morale tests and has the Smokescreen keyword. Most of the individual models are baller as fuck though. In addition, kill team Cassius is upgraded to an Aquila kill team for free and it doesn't block you from upgrading another kill team to have the Aquila specialism in your army.
    • Sergeant with only a boltgun and SIA. Not even a melee weapon to make the most of the 3A. Thanks a bunch.
    • Veteran with plasma pistol and power sword.
    • Veteran with a boltgun, SIA, and chainsword.
    • Veteran with combi-melta and SIA.
    • Veteran with frag cannon.
    • Vanguard with twin lightning claws.
    • Vanguard with hand flamer and chainsword.
    • Terminator with unique loadout of Deathwatch heavy flamer, powerfist + meltagun, and Deathwatch teleport homer. The powerfist-melta combo is now unique to this model and no longer an option for any Deathwatch Terminator. The Deathwatch heavy flamer is also unique to this kill team and model, and has three different flame profiles for your xenos roasting needs; hellfire (12", heavy d6, S2, AP0, D1, wounds non-Vehicle and non-Titanic models on a 2+), infernum (12", heavy 2d6, S4, AP0, D1, blast), and promethium (regular heavy flamer).
    • Biker with twin bolter, SIA, and power sword. Worth noting is that this is the only Biker with SIA (wargear states "twin Deathwatch boltgun" compared to "twin boltgun" on the regular Bikers).
  • PROTEUS KILL TEAM: The classic Kill-Team, A.K.A. Deathwatch Kill-Team. One of your four Kill-Team options and what may well be the most complex unit in the whole Emprah-damned game. The Hammer to your Intercessors' Anvil, the unit starts at five Deathwatch Veterans, a Kill-Team's core. Adding models is where things begin to get odd since vets aren't your only choice. You have a plethora of transport options, including the bike-carrying Corvus Blackstar and teleportation, so that won't be much of an issue. Each model other than veterans adds a possible stratagem to use on your entire unit:

The default models, yet the best if what you want is to keep it simple, praise Emps and pass the Special Ammunition. Deathwatch Veterans and their Sergeant share stats with a regular Veteran team. They have nice Leadership values and 2 attacks base. Up to four of them can take heavy weapons (like a different Devastator team), for every 5 vets one of them can take a heavy thunder hammer, and the sergeant can pick up a combat shield.

Like the Elites version (up to three with special weapons) but with Defenders of Humanity instead of Teleport assault. More than firepower, you bring them to tank damage, especially AP0. They can also have TH/SS, but Veterans are better Stormshield bearers - they don't have to give up their shooting to get one unlike the termie, two 2+/4++ storm bolter marines cost slightly more than a single 2+ (adding 1 to the roll)/4++ termie (27pts, you're NOT giving them Thunder Hammers) and if one of them tanks a lascannon, you only risk losing up to one marine instead of the 3W 2+save model. Keep your termies simple, focus on what you want the unit to do and they'll make their points back.

14" move, T5 3W, with a Twin Bolter and a melee weapon (taking the bolt pistol is stupid). All of which is wasted unless you combat-squad three of them alongside two Vanguard Vets. Which is useful, since the Relentless Assault stratagem lets them charge even if they fall back. One comes stock with a teleport homer - more bikers don't bring more homers. They're not bad by any meaning of the word, it's just that terminators are better, and Vets are cheaper. If you really want access to Relentless Assault and a teleport homer, go ahead. Bear in mind that these guys take up 3 spaces in a Blackstar, so 9 vets and a biker can't bring a character along with them.

While at least one Vanguard Veteran with a jump pack lives, the entire unit has access to a stratagem that allows them to fall back and shoot. Doesn't have Fly unless the whole unit contains only vanguard vets with jump packs, so various AA things don't get +1 to hit while shooting him or his squad. If you brought one for the stratagem, don't give him a Storm shield to tank wounds - if he dies, you lose the bonus. Now what? Give the storm shield to a regular no-name Vet, it's not like they gave up shooting to get the invulnerable. Vanguard vets are the only models with no restrictions on the number of heavy thunder hammers. Meaning, 5 normal vets + 5 vanguard vets with jump packs and heavy thunder hammers + combat squading gets you a 5 man assault unit of pure melee hatred. Be sure to give them some kind of rerolls to maximize their hatred. This even makes Blood Angel players jealous.

Sample unit builds: The sky is the limit! Three tenets here: what you want them to do, how you want them to do it, and transport options. As in, if they bring a Biker, they're forced to ride a Blackstar. The same principals of the regular veteran squad apply, the addition of the extra possible units doesn't provide as much extra boosts as it did last edition, but it does open up a few extra stratagems. While expensive, you can put out some extreme firepower with this unit by adding three Terminators with heavy weapons to your existing four Veteran Heavy Weapons.

  • The Krak Dealers: Four veterans with missile launchers, three Terminators with cyclone missile launchers & 3 vets (inc sgt) with storm shields. VERY expensive (just shy of 400pts), but hilarious none the less. 10 Krak missiles a turn with some additional bolter/storm bolter shots & ablative wounds with the storm-shields is some serious firepower, especially considering it can switch to flakk in an instant for anti horde. As all weapons are fired at once, you can split fire and get the most out of the blast rules before casualties are taken away. Can be combat-squaded into two pseudo devastator squads pumping out five missiles each, or kept as one to take advantage of stratagems like 'Brotherhood of Veterans' to give them the Dark Angel's +1 to hit. Provides some great back-field support that Deathwatch often lack, but beware of line-of-sight issues.
  • Killteam TROGDOR: BURNINATING THE COUNTRYSIDE, BURNINATING THE XENOS! Same vet/terminator combination as above, but with infernus heavy bolters, heavy flamers on the terminators & combi-flamers on the remaining three. Can also swap one of the vets for a vanguard vet (with hand flamer of course) to get access to the 'Disruptive Launch' stratagem to enable them to fall back and shoot if they get bogged down in close combat (not that anyone is stupid enough to face THAT overwatch). Put them in a Teleportarium or use the Beacon Angelis to get them in somethings face and watch it go up in flames. The infernus heavy bolters & combi-bolters are capped at -1 to hit no matter how many negatives, so feel free to run and shoot with them at whatever you want, it's still only a 4+ to hit. Give the terminators chainfists to deal with any vehicles trying to ruin your day too. 7D6 S5 AP-1 autohits, 3D6 S4 autohits, 12 S5 AP-1 D2 BS4+ shots & 4 BS4 SIA rounds deepstriking straight into range? Thats enough flaming death to make both Vulkan and Celestine weep joyful tears of pure promethium. Dont forget we can pick when and where we use our combat doctrines, so make sure devastator doctrine is in place for maximum burninating.
  • The Five Horsemen: Ravenwing/White Scars, eat your heart out! Five veterans (inc sgt) and five veteran bikers. Whilst the Fortis killteam with Outriders has the better bikers, this runs about 60pts cheaper, which co-incidentally is the same cost as four heavy weapons, meaning that you can combat squad the unit into the equivalent of an obsec bike squad and an obsec devastator squad should you wish. The bikers can also be swapped out for one or two vanguard vets as well, giving the bikes the ability to treat terrain as infantry and the vanguards to absorb some wounds with storm-shields, at the expense of 2" movement & some bolter rounds. As with the vet-biker squad elsewhere in the list, theyre better off with power weapons (axes your best bet) than chainswords, as the outriders vastly outperform in that area, but like most firstborn VS primaris arguments, it's often an argument of flexibility VS specialization. Both have their merits.
  • Hammer Town: 5 veterans with anything you want. BUT most importantly, 5 Vanguard vets each with jump packs and heavy thunder hammers. Combat squad them and now you have a melee unit with obsec that can take out any vehicle/monster or elite 3-4 wound model unit (such as Deathguard terminators) in a single blow. Be sure to give them some kind of "rerolls to hit" and try to optimize their close combat with your active combat doctrine and "rerolls of 1's to wound" chapter tactic. Although not very durable, use their maneuverability to keep them alive as long as possible until their job is complete.
  • FORTIS KILL-TEAM: The Primaris "Tacticus" Armour Kill-Team. Intercessor Squads can be taken similarly to their vanilla cousins, but where they really shine is their role as the base for the mixed Primaris units called Fortis Kill-Teams. Where normal Space Marine armies can sometimes struggle to find a use for Intercessors, the Deathwatch actually appreciates them a bit more, namely as backfield cover-campers and cheap-ish wounds. Your normal Kill Teams, being as loaded with great gear as they tend to be, are damn expensive, while a unit of Intercessors is unlikely to run you much more than their base cost. Take 5, then add other flavours of Primaris Marines to match the role you have in mind for them:

The shooty core of the team. Your going to have 4 of them plus a Sergeant. Sergeant has become better in melee with access to Astartes chainswords, power swords, hand flamers, and thunder hammers.

The choppy Primaris marines. The Intercessors can hold their own in melee with 3 attacks each, give cheap chopyness but the Intercessors portion prefers shooting. could use combat squad to separate from the guns portion and make a separate melee squad with the Outriders.

Pay extra for a bike ridden by a Primaris. Has extra durability (+1T and +2W) and makes more attacks, especialy on the charge. And remember - you can take more than 3 and then Combat Squad them to recieve up to an ungodly unit of 5 Outriders with ObSec. Spicy!

Does not add any extra rules of its own. It does add a lot of extra firepower, and they definitely benefit from being in a unit full of models far more expendable than itself.

Sample Unit Builds: As there aren't quite as many potential combinations to work with for these guys as there are for their shorter cousins, here are some example Primaris kill-team loadouts to consider using:

  • Intercessors and Outriders: You get a unit of five Intercessors to hold objectives, which is ok, and also get a monstrous five Outriders that can hold objectives if they wish to. It's the biggest Outrider unit you can field for now, and with the ability to hold objectives, they can steal lightly defended objectives and keep them for quite a while.
    • Alternative Opinion - as with Proteus Kill-Team Bikers, you actually better of taking 4 Outriders and an extra Primaris of your choice because of Mixed Squads rule, as if the unit contains at least 1 non Biker model it is still considered Infantry for Terrain and Movement. While you do sacrifise an extra Outrider and automatic 6" Advance, you can benefit from such rules as Breachable, Scalable, Defensible, etc.
  • Intercessors and Hellblasters:
    • Most obvious composition - Intercessors with Stalker Bolt Rifles can shoot from afar while the Hellblasters with either Heavy or Rapid Fire Plasma Exterminators can bring on the pain. If you get hit, just prioritize the Intercessors to save points.
    • It is also worth considering to take 5 Intercessors with Auto Bolt Rifles accompanied by 5 Hellblasters with Assault Plasma Exterminators. As Assault PE now have extra shot and blow on an unmodified hit roll of 1, they provide a decent if a bit expensive midrange objective holder with quite a bit of plasma to punish someone.
  • INDOMITOR KILL-TEAM: the Gravis-armoured Kill-Team. These big boys are your most durable option when it comes to kill teams, having Toughness 5 across the board, making them very survivable. In addition, they might have the most shooting attacks per model of the Primaris kill teams, with loads of options to tear through GEQ and MEQ units. Sadly, the one thing that their let down by is their speed; unless you stick these guys in the Teleportarium, they aren't going anywhere quickly. Still, plop them down on the objective and laugh as your opponent cries salty tears while struggling to shove them off of it.

The thickest of the intercessors, these big lads are the core around which you will be building your most durable unit. While expensive in terms points per model cost, they more than makeup for it with their weapons, which are STR 5 versions of the normal bolt rifle variants. Just don't stick them in melee, though, as they have 0 options outside of punching people.

With the loss of their special rules, these guys have lost their coveted top spot on the throne of Primaris units, but they are still some of the best objective holders and assault units available to the Space Marines. Combat squad these guys, stick them with a Gravis Captain, and watch them work wonders together. Unlike regular marine lists, their lack of mobility can be mitigated by putting them in the teleportarium.

These guys have also sadly lost their Meteoric charge rule, but they are still very good flanking units; combat squad them together and plop them down with some units from the Teleportarium, and rip the enemy a new one with either assault bolters or plasma exterminators.

The only unit in this squad with an actual special rule, and GW says only they can use it! Well, actually this one is kind of understandable. These guys are your means of combatting a glaring weakness in the Deathwatch's arsenal: mid-range anti-tank weaponry. Being able to fire at the same unit twice with their melta rifles means that whether in line with the Heavy Intercessors or moving forward with the Aggressors, these guys can take care of your tank problem.

Sample Unit Builds: Given that these thick lads are all T5, any loadout you could take will be a tough nut to crack for your opponent. Here are some example Indomitor Kill-Team loadouts:

  • Heavy Intercessor and Inceptors: Similar to the other two Kill-Teams above that mix the minimum compulsory models with the optional models that have better movement speed. Combat squad them at the start of the game and the five Heavy Intercessors can do an excellent job of squatting on an objective with heavy bolt rifles or clearing one with the assault version. The Inceptors can make best use of their faster speed to zip around the board as needed while also being objective secured to cap anything that may present an opportunity.
  • Five-man Eradicator Squad: Combat squad some Heavy Intercessor's for some back-field objective camping and you've got a five-man Eradicator Squad that can Deep Strike with the Teleportarium into melta range. There is very little (if anything) that can survive that. Throw in the fact they're now obsec too, probably one of the most dangerous units in the game.
  • The Immovable Object: Five Heavy Intercessors with hellstorm bolt rifles and five Aggressors. Throw them in the Teleportarium, drop them onto the most important objective and laugh as your opponent tries to shift them off it. The Aggressors provide enough combat punch to deter any assaults and they spit out a lot of shots to remain a danger. Swap a single Aggressor for an Eradicator if you want to add some extra anti-tank in the same way you'd add a heavy weapon to a firstborn squad.
  • SPECTRUS KILL-TEAM: The Phobos Kill-Team, for when you want maximum Sneaky Beaky. Being able to deny deep strikers, ignore all penalties to hit, and/or just flat out ignore cover, these guys are the stars of the new Kill Teams. Starts off with 4 Infiltrators and an Infiltrator Sergeant. From there, you can add in up to 5 more dudes, of the following:

Your basic Vanguard Marines. Capable of either taking a comms array (which means the squad always counts as being within aura range of your Phobos Captains/Lieutenants), or a helix gauntlet (which turns the first failed save into 0 damage). Other than that, each also has a marksman bolt carbine, which is a boltgun that on a hit roll of unmodified 6 auto wounds as well.

Similarly armed to the Infiltrator, but instead of the auto wound gimmick, ignores cover instead. 1 Incursor can take a haywire mine, which once per game, when an enemy unit charges the squad, on a 2+ that unit takes d3 mortal wounds, or 3 if that unit was a vehicle. The Incursors themselves can ignore negative BS modifiers, but this ability does not transfer to the whole squad, unlike the Infiltrator's comms array or helix gauntlet.

Gives the whole unit a fear aura of -2Ld to enemy units in 3". Also does NOT have concealed positions, so if your Kill-Team has one of these scary marines, you have to deploy normally. In terms of loadout, they're in an interesting place, as the Infiltrators and Incursors are way better at shooting, and the unit as a whole doesn't want to be in close combat, so the knife will be wasted. Should probably give this guy a pass unless you plan on combat squad them for maximum deep striking shenanigans.

Let's face it, this is why you took a Spectrus kill team. Armed with either the delicious bolt sniper rifle, or the not-quite-as-strong-as-a-lascannon-but-is-more-reliable las fusil. Unlike Vanilla Marines, you can mix and match as to which Eliminators carry what, allowing for way more versatility. Also come equipped with camo cloaks, which is an additional +1 to armour saves if they're in cover, and the Eliminator is taking the brunt of the attack; probably not a good idea as you want these guys alive. If you're taking 5 of these snipers (and you should, they're amazing), then take the comms array on one of your meat-shield Infiltrators, so you're always in range of those sweet sweet auras. For 275 points, that's a 10 man squad, 5 of which are some of the best snipers in the game, a guy who's buffing them to high hell, and 4 meat shields. Dodge this bitch.

Sample Unit Builds: While there aren't quite as many potential combinations to work with for these guys as there are for their shorter cousins, Spectrus Kill-Teams have extremely versatile sniping units, able to assassinate characters from long range and just generally make your opponents day worse. Here are some example Spectrus Kill-Team loadouts to consider using:

  • Eliminators with Haywire Mine or Comms Array: The number of Eliminators depends if you want both Haywire Mine and Comms Array. Four Eliminators with a Comms Array Infiltrator would be the ideal, but you can swap an Eliminator for a Haywire Mine Incursor if you think you're going to get charged. The Comms Array lets your Phobos Captains and Lieutenants do something more useful than babysitting, and this unit in general is one of your best home objective squatters.
  • Infiltrators and Reivers: The other half of the above. Four Incursors and a Reiver gives you okay-ish shooting, but the Reiver really gives the Squad a buff to melee.


  • Deathwatch Vanguard Veterans: Vanguard Veterans, but with slightly more toys. Replace both weapons for a heavy thunder hammer and start playing whack-a-mole with Carnifexes, or replace one weapon for hand flamers or inferno pistols.
  • Deathwatch Terminator Squad: Smash together a Terminator and Terminator Assault Squad, and this is what you're left with. They start out equipped like a regular Terminator Squad (sword and bolter Sergeant, and four fist and bolter Terminators). But up to three of them can swap out their bolter for a Terminator Heavy Weapon (which includes plasma cannons this edition), any powerfist can be replaced with a chainfist or power weapon, and any model can swap their default guns for a thunder hammer and storm shield, or a pair of lightning claws.
    • 9th edition has been a kneecap for these guys. Losing special issue ammo for their storm bolters and the bonkers-tier customisation that they used to enjoy makes them a little less flexible in their desired role.
    • The points difference between a power weapon and a powerfist is only 2pts for these guys. Sarge is stuck with the pointy sword, but any other guy can take whatever they wish.
    • TDLR version of the Dark Angels comparison: Plasma Cannons excel against hordes and the odd TEQ. Assault Cannons are great against MEQs and light vehicles. While Cyclones are the most expensive option, they are superior to both. Since Deathwatch doesn't have a reliable source of rerolls such as DA Grim Resolve without HQs. You might as well take all three Cyclones. Combined with Bolter Discipline they can put out an absurd amount of Dakka.
    • The best IC for them is obviously a Terminator Watch Captain with a Combi-Plasma (for four shot rolls at 12") and a wrist mounted grenade launcher. The best relic option for him are the Banebolts.

Fast Attack[edit]

  • Veteran Bike Squad: Their twin boltguns have lost Special Issue Ammunition and they lost the teleport homer, because GW's balancing department is run by idiots. Where they shine is in close quarters; four boltgun shots followed up by three power weapon attacks the charge from each model will bring the pain. For their troubles, they do now have the ability to take a single Attack Bike. Woo.
    • If you give these guys chainswords, have a think about taking Primaris Outriders instead; Outriders will hit just as hard (S4, AP-1, D1), but they hit far more often (6A on the charge with Outriders compared to 4A on the charge with Bikers). This in addition to having +6" range and AP-1 on their boltguns AND heavy bolt pistol to fire in melee. The only one-up Deathwatch Bikers have is the power weapon option and even then they're only 33pts each.


  • Corvus Blackstar: The Blackstar is a solid choice for getting your Marines around in style, even if it's as aerodynamic as a Brick. A hover-jet stealth bomber, it's quick and tough with a massive 20-50" move, T7, and 14W. It can carry 12 Deathwatch Infantry or Bikers, with Terminators and Jump Packs taking up the usual two spaces and Bikers taking up three (still no Primaris transport though). It has the usual Airborne, Supersonic, and Hard to Hit rules as most Aircraft, but it also has Hover Jet to reduce your movement distance to 0-20" at the cost of ditch those three rules. The Blackstar Cluster Launcher gives you a chance to dish MW's against a unit you moved over; roll a d6 for each model in that unit (10d6 maximum) and each 6 deals a MW. It has the option of taking an Auspex Array (ignores cover with ranged attacks) OR an Infernum Halo Launcher (+1 to armour saves against ranged attacks made by enemy Aircraft). It comes with a twin assault cannon or twin lascannon, two Blackstar rocket launchers (30", heavy 2d3, S5, AP-1, D1, blast) or two stormstrike missile launchers (72", heavy 1, S8, AP-3, D3), and an optional hurricane bolter.
    • Weapons-wise, you get to pick between "fuck W1 targets" and "fuck big targets". You can try mixing, but none of the weapons by themselves will be enough to delete most units in one phase.
    • The Blackstar does have drawbacks when compared to the Storm Raven; no Machine Spirit keyword, no Dreadnought transport, and fewer/less flexible weapons. That being said, the Blackstar is only 180pts without the optional wargear or hurricane bolters (but it's free to mix any of the weapons) and the Storm Raven starts at 310pts.


Without Allies[edit]

8th to 9th[edit]

In early 8th, Deathwatch were arguably the Marine Army that made the most use out of Intercessors, as SIA could turn the then mediocre bolt rifle into a 2+ to wound machine, amongst other things. In 9th, Deathwatch have seen the reverse, now seemingly favouring Firstborn, with Shock Assault, Bolter Discipline, extra range and improved stats on our Combi Heavy Bolter Heavy Flamer, and 2 Wounds base. At least one of our unique heavy weapons has seen a marked improvement, you can get up close and deal real damage in 9th. If you plan on bringing Primaris, especially units that can’t benefit from SIA or any other Deathwatch Specific Abilities, it’s worth asking the following question, what are you getting out of the unit that another chapter or a Deathwatch specific unit can’t do better? If you do bring Primaris, remember kill teams. ObSec is a hell of a boon when you were grabbing those non-troops units anyway. In most matchups you will be outnumbered, so focus on key threats to your army and their best units like in the fluff and de-claw your opponent with surgical precision.

The Old One-Two (Three)[edit]

Take a Battalion. Fill your HQs with whatever you like. Your 3 Troops should be 2 Vet Squads, one tooled as an Anvil and one tooled as a Hammer, and a foot-slogging Intercessor Squad. Also take a Corvus and a Redeemer. Combat Squad all three troops choices, put the Anvil in the Redeemer and the Hammer in the Corvus. Deploy the Intercessors in your backfield and have them foot-slog and advance everywhere or camp a home objective. The Corvus should drop its 2 squads near something that needs to die and then all three should spend the rest of the game killing important units. Finally, the Redeemer and its 2 squads should be delivered to 1-2 objectives and refuse to move for the rest of the game if possible.

Forge World Assistance[edit]

With the introduction of Combat Doctrines, there is now a slightly greater incentive to try to run without allies. Unfortunately, as a monofaction, Deathwatch have some serious holes (anti-tank is a big one). Forge world has a number of units that can help fill them in, most notably their dreadnought line up. Contemptor Dreadnoughts are an excellent source of lascannons, and the ability to deep strike a Leviathan or Chaplain Dread is very strong.

With Allies[edit]

Some general advice[edit]

While primaris look good on paper, they are still not exactly worth their points, unless you are hell-bent on playing a pure DW army. The codex greatly encourages getting your DW units right into your enemy's face, where you deal maximum damage with plasmas, meltas, frag cannons, and bolters. While your kill teams race towards the enemy in their Corvus Blackstars and Land Raiders, you need something that actually wants to sit back and can contribute efficiently to the fight. One of the biggest problems any DW player will face is that you won't have many units on the table at the beginning of the game. Thus, it's really easy for your opponent to focus fire on lone Corvus or a Raider, destroying it first turn and leaving your kill teams far away from the enemy and exposed. That is where Ad Mech and Guard comes in. Both factions have cheap troops that want to stay back (Skitarii snipers, Infantry Squads with heavy weapons), have excellent sources of long-range firepower that will ruin your opponents day if not dealt with (Cadian HWTs, Leman Russes, Basilisks, Onager Dune Crawlers). For example, for 670 points you can field 4 infantry squads, 2 company commanders, and 3 Leman Russ Battle Tanks. Use your Kill Teams as scalpels - eliminating key enemy threats while your allies deal with the rest of enemies army (Hammer of The Emperor Style). It's fluffy, looks cool, and is brutally efficient.


An IMPERIUM force can include a single INQUISITOR in one of their detachments without breaking "pure army" rules, and they can also hitch a ride in your vehicles. They have access to a unique psyker discipline, that includes Terrify, which turns off overwatch. They're kinda squishy to be used as a warlord, especially when stuck in with a front-line melee unit, however, they have a nifty 1CP (!) stratagem that allows them to take both a warlord trait and (as long as they are not a named characters) a relic. The Blackshroud might be a good choice, as its -1 to wound makes this character pretty much immune to sniper mortal wounds.

Selecting the Ordo Hereticus makes the No Escape Warlord Trait available, a 6" heroic intervention and enemy units can't fall back on a 4+. Alternatively, the Ordo Xenos' Warlord Trait Esoteric Lore generates a CP on a 5+ whenever your opponent uses a stratagem.

Best of all, they're super-cheap, starting at a mere 60pts. Unfortunately, there are only two deepstrike options: Hector Rex and the expensive Ordo Malleus terminator. Of course you can pop them in a Deathwatch drop pod with your killteam, so it's not all bad news.

The top choices:

  • Basic Inquisitor - CP farming - Mental Interrogation psychic power, Esoteric Lore warlord trait and Seize For Interrogation stratagem; switch the bolt pistol for a Boltgun and take the Blackshroud Relic. If you want some support swap Mental Interrogation for Terrify. Cheap (55 points and 1CP), consistent with the fluff (Ordo Xenos and Deathwatch BFF!), maximizes your stratagem usage, and the best choice if you are short on points.
  • Hector Rex - Deny the witch - Psychic Mastery warlord trait: knows 3, casts 3 and denies 4 (with +1 within 12"). Powers should be: Mental Interrogation to generate CP, Terrify to bypass overwatch, and Dominate. Tanky (2+/3++), can deep strike, and he is BRUTAL vs daemons. Amazing if you have enough points (100 points and 1CP) available.

Space Marines[edit]

You can ally with Space Marines but you will lose the Mission Tactics ability. That said, unless you REEEEEAAAAALLLY have the urge to field scouts, lascannons/grav-cannon devastators, scout bikes, or unique units, there really isn't much point. Almost anything you can do, the Watch can do better!