New Deathwatch Rules for 2020. (And Hobby Update)

Some Hobby Shots:

Just some more pictures, hopefully better shots, of the army as it stands today:

I think the points coming down in this squad do make them a decent harrassment unit.
Death forest Vs. Deathwatch: Who wins?

I did a tutorial up on painting the deathworld forest terrain super fast over here if anyone is interested.

The two main transports from the army.
The Ol’ Corvus doesn’t get out much anymore.
Artemis! I still use this guy. His Grenade is always good for a chuckle.

New Deathwatch Rules:

What’s new is a really lethargic effort by GamesWorkshop. This is allegedly the new rules for Deathwatch for Psychic Awakening. But as I’m sure most of you know by now they aren’t in the appropriate Psychic Awakening Book. This was ‘leaked’ a few months ago and it set alarm bells off in the online community as it definitely indicated Deathwatch weren’t getting a very thorough treatment.

Unfortunately this turned out to be true. Games Workshop opted to publish the Deathwatch rules in White Dwarf issue # 453. So what did the new rules change?

  • No “unique” Statagems. A very disappointing aspect of the White Dwarf rules. There are extra Stratagems via the vanilla Codex Astartes, however none of these are Deathwatch specific.
  • Recycled Stratagems: Basically these are all of the basic Strats that pertain to Deathwatch. (IE: you’ll see stuff like “Transhuman Physiology” but not “Tremor Shells” because we obviously don’t have access to that unit.
  • Doctrines: Doctrines are very good for this army. While it’s true that there is nothing ‘new’ here for Deathwatch, it helps with some of the extremely lackluster boltgun type ammo that we rely so heavily on. In a nutshell: While in Dev Doctrine, we’ll enjoy +1Ap to stuff like Stalker Bolters. While in Tactical we’re getting +1 AP to Stormbolters, Boltrifles, AutoBolters, etc.
  • No “Super” Doctrine: This was a strange omission. Was it intentional? Every other Astartes army with typical Doctrines gets one Super Doctrine. In other words White Scars in Assault Doctrine do an extra damage for Assault weapons. Ultramarines on the other hand get to act as if they never move with Tactical Doctrine. Deathwatch get no such advantage. It’s very strange, on the other hand it could be explained away as SIA (Special Issue Ammo.) is an enhancement to our Doctrines.
  • No Psychic Enhancements: Another very strange omission to me. These guys are screaming for Xenos-centric Psychic Powers. This happened for so many Astartes Chapters and even in Psychic Awakening. This was an easy win for GW that they chose to skip.
  • Missing Primaris? This makes zero sense to me. If you are good at killing Xenos, you’re bound to find your way to the Deathwatch. But for some unknown reason GW failed to add -any- new Phobos units. So while we still have the mediocre Reivers, we get no Phobos LT, Captains, Librarians, Incursors. and even Invictor Warsuits! – All missing. Heck even the Impulsor transport is missing. These are easy sales for GW and they are skipped entirely. They would help flesh the army out, and increase sales. A win/win if you ask me.
  • Missing Upgrades: For some reason, perhaps a timing issue, the Deathwatch cannot upgrade their specialized units. Specifically the Librarian, Chaplain, and Apothecary cannot use any upgrade shown in the recent Psychic Awakening books. While it’s nice to have a chaplain running around, for some reason none of our veteran elites can use these upgrades.

The Silver Lining:

As someone who moderates on the Bolter and Chainsword forums, I can tell you the reaction to the above was largely…. negative to say the least. However if there is a silver lining to this it is access to the basic Stratagems and the Doctrines.

Some examples of this:

  • Big Guns Never Tire (1CP): While no one is going to argue the Corvus is a ‘good’ unit, this takes some of the bite out of the fact GW refuses to give it Machine Spirit. Being able to move and shoot without penalty takes some of the sting out of its point cost, and makes the shooting a touch better. Perhaps you may revisit Lascannons on the Corvus?
  • Duty Eternal (1CP): This reduces all incoming damage by 1 on your specified Dreadnought. We needed this since we are very likely to include a wide variety of this unit to handle some heavy firepower. (NOTE: This is erroneously copy/pasted in White Dwarf. This Stratagem has been altered in an FAQ, similarly to how I’ve worded it in this review.)
  • Boltstorm (2CP). Slightly expensive, and not very useful to standard marine armies, however with our army choices the Autobolter, automatically hitting at half range is a good tool against armies stacking the ‘you can’t hit me’ powers against you. Think of Possessed bombs, or Death Guard powers.
  • Target Sighted (3CP). Super expensive, but with Deathwatch able to make specialized squads of Stalker Bolt Rifles that can move and shoot without penalty, this becomes a scary option for your opponent relying on an aura based character army.
  • Veteran Fury (1CP): Adding 1 to hit for a Terminator unit, combined with a Chaplain, and potentially +1 to wound (via Stratagem) could prove to be quite useful and economic. Terminators are in a bad place overall, but perhaps Deathwatch have the most valid combinations of weapons, shields, and specialized choices like “Melta Fists” which may make our Terminators a tempting option.
  • Transhuman Physiology (2CP): There’s no great trick here, except it’s worth noting that my other Marine based armies have used this to basically cancel an ‘auto kill’ for my opponent and turn into a bit of grind.

Deathwatch Additions.

So considering the new (May 2020) Deathwatch rules, what do I want to add to my collection?

  • Stronger Bolt type variation Intercessors. The addition of Doctrines, and the new Stratagems mean there’s more reason than ever to add Primaris weaponry of this type.
  • Dreadnoughts: In order to keep troops high in number, I think I have to increase my Dreadnought collection. Right now I have a basic shooty dreadnought, and one dual Las Contemptor. I’d like to add another Contemptor plus a possible Leviathan to keep it rolling.

There really isn’t a lot more to add. The lack of new Primaris content is a bottleneck in expanding the army. The good news is that most of the strength of these new rules comes for the basic troops!

Hopefully soon I’ll be able to order some intercessor kits and get the whole army painted.

More games coming in the next week and hopefully I’ll pull out the ol’ Deathwatch with the new (recycled) rules!


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