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Friday, July 8, 2011

Deathwing Tactics, or The Evolution of My Deathwing List

I decided to throw this into a post rather than writing a ridiculously long comment-reply to Slate Blank.

My list started out as doublewing, pure and simple. Three units of terminators, three units of bikes, and both Belial and Sammael. I wanted to play these guys at the NOVA Open, so I only bothered building it at 2,000 points. What I learned very quickly was that Deathwing assault is good, but only two terminator squads arriving on turn one is not enough. The second thing was that the ravenwing upgrade squad is not nearly as good as a space marine bike command squad. Oh, and also that Sammael is not an independent character. That blows.

That first list had one six man bike command squad that would run alongside Sammael, with an apothecary,  +1 attack banner, and a pair of meltaguns. The other two squads each had three men and a pair of meltaguns. All three squads were bought with a multi-melta attack bike, which then functions as an independent unit for the rest of the game. I had fun with that list, it was fluffy as hell, but it wasn't that effective.

The next evolution involved dropping Sammael and his upgrade squad, and buying more terminators, three more squads. I was running six thunderhammer/stormshield terminator squads, each with a cyclone missile launcher (one of which was Belial's upgrade squad), and a pair of three man bike squads, each with two meltaguns, and the obvious multimelta attack bikes.

I largely abandoned deathwing assault at this point, shooting all six missile launchers on turn one was always more effective. That number of stormshields makes it entirely possible for the army to survive a march across the table (HERE is a great video by The 11th Company demonstrating the ability of large numbers of thunderhammer/stormshield terminators to cross a table and remain effective). In this list the attack bikes were always worth their 50 points, but the other six bikes, which end up costing around 40 points each, were not so great--they have to be within six inches to be truly effective against vehicles, and would typically not survive the aftermath. I realized that if I moved to landspeeders, I would be able to get more functional and versatile shooting, which would function throughout the game, rather than occasionally... if I got lucky... maybe. If I had the option, as C:SM allows, I would take all attack bikes, but in the Dark Angels codex they are saddled with the dead weight of the standard bikes, I'm running two typhoons, and one assault cannon landspeeder. I've opted to put multi-meltas on all of these, which is not the optimized configuration, but my army needs melta for anti-armor. I didn't want to risk loosing my essential fire support by equipping them with the popular melta/flamer combo, and getting their paper thin armor within assault range of anything. The two typhoons hang back, and the assault cannon hovers at around 24 inches, unless there's armor to deal with, in which case they only need to be within 12 inches to crack armor, and if they can get in at combat speed they can add krak missiles to the mix.

The other thing that I added after removing the bikes was an Interrogator-Chaplain. This Dark Angels HQ choice is superior to the standard C:SM chappy; he's got a captain stat-line (WS 5 in the Dark Angels Codex). Having an additional three-wound model is really helpful for keeping squads effective; he and Belial often function as wound sponges to keep missile launchers alive. Its also nice to be able to field them both in the command squad, it makes that unit last a lot longer against other powerhouse (or just large) units. Re-rolls on the charge, I 5, and a combi-melta are also nice for only 150 points.

I am still feeling out this most recent, and hopefully final, variant. It has performed well so far, although I'm  still pretty new to assault-oriented, foot-based gameplay. Deathwing is an entirely different beast from shooting marines, it has been a nice change, and hopefully will be a fun list to use for the NOVA Open.


  1. Very interested to hear how it plays out. Larry is also building an all termie army, will have to send himthis so he can read up.

    Think i'll be taking my tau to Bolter Beach, will let you know how that tunrs out.

  2. Bolter Beach? Sounds very sexy.

    How's the scene down there, have you been playing much since relocating?

  3. Off and on. Also been back to CA a few times and managed to get some games in there. Played in Nick's tournament a couple of weeks ago. Been learning to paint necrons and playtesting DE lately to chaneg up my armies...