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Improving the Deathwing, in the Dark Angels Codex


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#1
Berzul

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Hello everyone.

 

First time posting in this side of the forums. Hope this post can provide some use.

 

There have been plenty of discussions in the Dark Angels subforum, about how to improve the Deathwing Terminators. In the current edition, these units suffer from a short list of severe deficiencies, that makes it little more than a fluff choice and a handicap to use them.

 

What follows is a summary of my own personal analysis of the unit and a proposal of fixes. I hope other users form the DA subforum might add to this, and that a discussion may be created with which to come up with an effective proposal of how the rules for the Deathwing could be improved.

 

At present, the Deathwing have the following issues, which boil down to mobility and survivability:

 

1) They have too little resilience to small arms fire.

 

As per the lore of the unit, Tactical Dreadnought Armor is supposed to be quite more durable than what it currently is on the board. The high cost of a unit of Terminators does not balance out with its low survivability once on the board. Their 2+/5++ save only really means something when faced with AP-4 weapons, and even low AP weapons can shoot a unit of Terminators out of the board with relative ease, when they are supposed to weather through small arms fire.

 

2) They can use their shields to reduce wound rolls against them, but for some reason, only against melee attacks.

 

Back in previous editions the Deathwing could lock shields to improve the units survivability. Which is something that made it into 8th edition. Only, it made it in a way that is kind of pointless. This ties to the issues with mobility for the squad, but I'll try not to get ahead of myself.

 

In essence, the squad that has three shields can, for 1 CP, reduce wound rolls against them by 1, in the fight phase. Which is good. But makes little sense for it to be useful only against melee attacks.

 

Makes no sense lore-wise, and game-wise. Specially when you consider...

 

... 3) The Deathwing lost pretty much all its mobility in 8th edition.

 

Inside of 8th edition the Deathwing lost its ability to move after deepstriking, and its ability to deepstrike by a teleport homer carried by a Ravenwing squadron.

 

This damaged the units terribly. Not only by taking out the synergy between the Deathwing and the Ravenwing (which is the theme of the Codex), but also by forcing a squad to just act as a sitting duck once dropped.

 

Dropping beyond 9 inches of the enemy in a codex that has almost no way of aiding charges, save from one warlord trait (which forces you to waste an HQ slot and your choice of warlord, just to rerroll charges), and a command rerroll, means you will often drop, fail your charge, and sit there while you get blasted out of the table.

 

In essence, the Deathwing do little in melee because they cannot get IN melee. With their low survivability, their use boils down to drop-shoot-die, in every match. Which is specially grievous since 2 out of the 3 stratagems that they have (Fortress of Shields, which gives the -1 to be wounded, and Never Forgive, Never Forget, which grants possible extra attacks against the Fallen) are for melee.

 

4) And, speaking of Stratagems, they have almost no good stratagems nor synergy with the rest of the codex

 

The three stratagems the Deathwing have are

Fortress of Shields, which only works in melee, and the Deathwing can hardly ever even get into melee.

 

Never Forgive, Never Forget, which only works on melee, and the Deathwing can hardly ever even get into melee. Aside from the fact that it is meant to be used against Fallen, who few players use, really.

 

Deathwing Assault, which allows a squad to fire twice in the turn in which they deepstrike. Which is good, but not as good as it sounds, since (a) you reduce your enemy in size and put yourself at a larger distance for a charge; (B) costs 2/3 CP, which is expensive; © is pretty much just storm bolters, which are good with the Beta Rules, but not all that great save for killing screens and chaff; and (d) still means you are only getting back the 1 round of shooting you didn't get to use, on your 1st Turn, while the squad was waiting to deepstrike, which means that net-number of shots, you spend 2 or even 3 CP just to stay even.

 

So, 2 out of 3 are for a situation in which you will hardly ever get them in, since you are always rolling for 9+ inch charges with little to no ways of improving them, and none of this stratagems give any of the synergy between squads that is a central theme of the codex and was an actual mechanic from previous editions.

 

5) Other issues

 

The previous points are just the general idea. With a unit being so iconic in the codex, it makes little sense that the Deathwing Terminators are just so underpowered and hindered in their effectiveness.

 

Every codex that has a signature unit has a way to boost them and make the most out of them, after all. Blood Angels, for instance, are all about Assault Marines, and (last revision of Jump rules aside) they have some tools to get them into combat, and use them properly.

 

Dark Angels have had something akin to this, but only and exclusively for the Ravenwing. The Deathwing? Nothing at all.

 

In fact, amongst other issues the 1st Company of the First Legion has, is the fact that:

 

- unlike the Greenwing and the Ravenwing, the Deathwing have no lieutenants.

- when the point costs were reduced for the Terminators across the Imperium armies, they forgot to adjust the costs for the Deathwing Champion, Apothecary and Ancient

- the weapon options for the Deathwing are kind of limited when compared to Terminators of other codices.

 

 

So, what rules can be offered to change this up a bit?

 

A lot of players have different ideas. Myself, I'm thinking of the following, which is heavily inspired by the current balance of power of the edition and the old rules and flavour the Deathwing had in 7th and earlier editions:

 

1) Make Fortress of Shileds be activated in the movement phase, and make it work against all attacks until the beginning of the next turn.

 

2) Add a stratagem that allows a squad to Deep Strike entirely within 3 inches of a Ravenwing unit, and entirely 1 inch away from enemy units. Make it cost 1 CP for a squad of 5 models, and 2 CP for a squad of 6-10 models.

 

3) Add a stratagem that allows a squad to Deep Strike in Turn 1. Make it cost 2 CP for a squad of 5 models, and 3 CP for a squad of 6-10 models.

 

4) Give them a special rule that allows them to ignore the AP value of AP-1 weapons.

 

5) Adjust the cost of the Deathwing Champion, Deathwing Apothecary and Deathwing Ancient, in accordance to the cost reduction done for all Terminators.

 

6) Allow squads to be able to equip Storm Shields and Storm Bolters, as a weapons option.

 

7) Give Deathwing Assault the rule that the squad can move and then shoot, or shoot and then move, after they Deep Strike in. The stratagem is already costly enough for what it does. And dropping-moving-shooting or dropping-shooting-moving was a staple of the squad in the previous edition.

 

8) Include a Deathwing Lieutenant. Make him a Terminator model that has a Power Sword and Storm Bolter, and give him both a 6 inch aura that allows for to-wound rerrolls, and adds 2 inches in advance and charge moves for Deathwing units. Would give us a way to improve our charges within a limited range, as an alternative to burn through too much CP with previously suggested stratagems, and would be thematically balanced with the Talonmaster, which is the Ravenwing Lieutenant; a model that aside from granting rerrolls for wound rolls, also gives a secondary beneft to the Ravenwing (Ignore Cover).

 

9) Make the squads T5, like the Ravenwing Bikers.


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#2
Angel of Solitude

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My view on any rules change for Deathwing is that you have to be crystal clear why it would not apply to regular Space Marine terminators, or equally why some of the other rules that are available for other similar units now also apply to Deathwing. (3), (4), (6) and (9) fit into this category.

 

1) Make Fortress of Shields be activated in the movement phase, and make it work against all attacks until the beginning of the next turn.

I think this one has great potential, but perhaps given its increased benefit, the cost should be increased to 2CP. Also, perhaps the number of SS required could scale depending on squad size? So 2 in a 5-man squad, 3 in a 10-man?

 

2) Add a stratagem that allows a squad to Deep Strike entirely within 3 inches of a Ravenwing unit, and entirely 1 inch away from enemy units. Make it cost 1 CP for a squad of 5 models, and 2 CP for a squad of 6-10 models.

This certainly fits will with Ravenwing / Deathwing synergy fluff. As written, it's a bit too powerful as potentially I could (1) fly my Dark Talon to behind enemy lines, (2) deepstrike my 10-strong unit of DWK 1" away from a knight, (3) wreak havoc. I'd suggest the following improvements:

  1. BIKER and LAND SPEEDER units only
  2. Within 3" of friendly units, no closer than 6" from enemy units
  3. 2/3 CP for 5/10 man squads

7) Give Deathwing Assault the rule that the squad can move and then shoot, or shoot and then move, after they Deep Strike in. The stratagem is already costly enough for what it does. And dropping-moving-shooting or dropping-shooting-moving was a staple of the squad in the previous edition.

GW have made every effort to close down any mechanism that allows movement immediately after deploying from reserves. There are exceptions to how close you can deploy to the enemy (looking at you, GSC), but that's it. Why should Deathwing be special in this regard compared to all other armies out there - be it Imperium, Chaos, or Xenos?

 

8) Include a Deathwing Lieutenant. Make him a Terminator model that has a Power Sword and Storm Bolter, and give him both a 6 inch aura that allows for to-wound rerrolls, and adds 2 inches in advance and charge moves for Deathwing units. Would give us a way to improve our charges within a limited range, as an alternative to burn through too much CP with previously suggested stratagems, and would be thematically balanced with the Talonmaster, which is the Ravenwing Lieutenant; a model that aside from granting rerrolls for wound rolls, also gives a secondary beneft to the Ravenwing (Ignore Cover).

Agreed that there should be a DW Lt, as thematically it doesn't feel right bringing a regular Lt with jump pack as support. Like the idea of a +2 to charge rolls - plenty of units have a +1 to charge rolls, here the +2 reflects the extra efficiency / discipline of the 1st of the 1st.


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#3
Berzul

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Good point.

Lets reformulate this then.

First, I think some modifications should indeed be done to all Terminators. Also, yeah. Some rules are probably too good.

So, rules for all terminators would be:

1) Ignore AP on AP-1 weapons. Terminators are supposed to shrug off such attacks with ease.

2) Have a Toughness of 5. Terminators are supposed to be more resilient than regular marines. I mean, if riding a bike adds a point of toughness and a wound, why would the Tactic Dreadnought Armor just add a wound?

3) Allow a Storm Shield and Storm Bolter weapon loadout option.

 

***

Then, there are rules Id give exclusively to the Deathwing, but Id also change them a bit from my original proposal:

4) Change Fortress of Shields. Make it require 3 shields in the squad still, and cost 1 CP still, but make it so it is played as a reaction to the squad being targeted by a shooting attack or a melee attack. To wound rolls against the unit are at a -1 for the rest of that phase.

5) Change the name of the stratagem Deathwing Assault for Vengeful Strike.

6) Add a new stratagem called Deathwing Assault that, for 1 CP on a character, 2 CP on a 1-5 man squad, and 3 CP on a 6-10 man squad, allows said squad to Deep Strike in Turn One, as long as it is more than 9 inches away from enemy models and outside the enemy deployment zone. Deathwing formations were known for Turn One deep striking, so we would be getting back a signature move, which gives reason and justification to the fact other Terminators don't get it.

7) Add a new stratagem called Summon the Deathwing. Make it cost 1 CP for characters, 2CP 1-5 man squads, and 3 CP for 6-10 man squads. The unit can deepstrike entirely within 6 inches of a Ravenwing Bike or Ravenwing Landspeeder (that is, Ravenwing Bikers, Ravenwing Attack Bikes, Ravenwing Black Knights, Ravenwing Landspeeders, Ravenwing Darkshroud, Landspeeder Vengeance, Ravenwing Champions, Ravenwing Apothecaries, and Ravenwing Ancients), as long as they are placed more than 6 inches from enemy models. If used in conjunction with Deathwing Assault, the squad still must deploy entirely outside the enemy deployment zone.

8) Adjust the cost of the Deathwing Champion, Deathwing Apothecary, and Deathwing Ancient.

9) Add a Deathwing Lieutenant. Make him a Terminator Character with Power Sword and Storm Bolter, and allow weapon options. Give him an aura of 6" for wound rerrolls and an aura of 6" that grants deathwing units +2" on advance and charge rolls.

And, 10) Make all our TDA characters Deathwing again. Why they changed that into a Stratagem, I still dont understand. How COULD a battle brother gain the use of a suit of TDA, without having been in the Deathwing to begin with?

 

This changes would give the Deathwing their own sense of identity again, would fix the issues the units have, but would so with clear and important limitations and restrictions, as well as to great expense, forcing armies to still bring batallions and brigades to fuel the stratagems (which is something GW has stated is their idea for the game, that we do not play just vanguards, or Deathwing-solo armies).

 

EDITED to correct some mistakes of the text.


Edited by Berzul, 09 April 2019 - 03:00 PM.

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#4
Berzul

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Per an addition by G8Keeper here: http://www.bolterand...tion/?p=5298365

 

I am adding another suggested rule change.

 

11) Change how Watchers in the Dark work, by making it cost 10 points and making them grant the squad a Deny the Witch role per Psychic Phase, instead of costing 5 points for a single use 50/50 chance of denying a power.


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#5
MistaGav

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Good point.
3) Allow a Storm Shield and Storm Bolter weapon loadout option.

 

Man I would love to see this! The idea of 5 terminators with shields up firing boltguns looks so cool. I would even add other options like with the heavy weapons, power swords etc.

Some of my own ideas on top:

Change DWT to 2+ BS and DWK to 2+ WS to reflect their nature and veteran status.
ALL terminators ignore penalties for moving and firing heavy weapons and for power fists.

Specialist detachment: If all units in a Vanguard detachment contain the DEATHWING keyword, change the CP bonus to +3 instead. Gives a small incentive and bonus for taking a Deathwing detachment if you want to play all Deathwing army.



#6
Berzul

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I think giving DWK a WS2+ makes sense.

I'd much rather have the terminators NOT be affected by the -1 to hit with the fists and the -1 to fire heavy weapons when moving, over having a BS2+


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#7
Angel of Solitude

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I just finished playing a casual tournament in which I took a 1,000pts detachment of Deathwing. Admittedly there were few competitive meta lists, but it gave me enough of a feel to work out what's good with DW, and what needs improving.

 

First off: points. Mentioned above, but here's some perspective for you: the new Primaris Iron Father is 110pts; a Deathwing Ancient is 114pts. +1A from the Ancient and +1A on the charge makes DWK an absolute wrecking ball, but the Ancient is just too pricey. I took it in my list because it was a deliberately casual tournament.

 

Now, charges. For a unit that wrecks stuff in melee, it is just daft that the DWK do not have access to some mechanism to improve their charge odds. I took Master of Manoeuvre with me, which had a 50:50 success rate. Thankfully, careful deep strike positioning allowed me to survive the next turn and do damage then. While I can understand the synergy of having a Ravenwing homing beacon mechanism, I think in reality bikes are still too fragile for this to be effective, and my other Ravenwing units I'd want elsewhere on the field. For efficiency, you'd want a dedicated, durable Ravenwing unit to do this job. I think a 3"+D6" is probably a better deepstrike mechanic in this regard.

 

Next, Storm Shields. Oh boy, these make things so much more survivable. I took a 10-man squad with 3 TH/SS. Sure, I sacrificed firepower, but the 3 SS allowed me to play Fortress of Shields against some Sydonian Dragoons. Made the difference, I only lost 4 terminators but took out the 5 Dragoons in reply. Thinking about it, if I'd have instead had Storm bolter/SS combo, then my melee response would have been so much lower - I'd have lost 9 TH attacks, which is a massive damage output. The Wolves can keep their SB/SS combo; Deathwing are designed to drop in, shoot, charge and then smash stuff. Having said that, Fortress of Shields against shooting would also be awesome - particularly with so much D2 stuff on the table.

 

Last thought: toughness vs wounds vs armour save. We've now seen what GW have changed with Gravis armour - 3W, T5, 3+. Terminators are 2W, T4, 2+/5++ (to 3++ if Storm Shield). If Terminators are going to get a buff (in addition to points reduction), then you either do 2 -> 3W, or T4 -> T5. Not both.  Personally, I think 3W is the way to go. A Stalker Bolt Rifle hits on 3, wounds on 4, and one-shots a Terminator if they fail a 4+. Doesn't feel right to me. Two shots, on the other hand, feels a bit more reasonable.

 

Anyway, we'll see what GW brings us when they release the next DA Codex. They won't change any of the underlying Terminator stats, but we can hope for some cool stratagems and rules...


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#8
WoodsyMP5K

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I like all of the suggestions here.

My DWK and DWT stay at home unless im feilding a really fun list with a Storm Raven.

 

Adding a DS buff with RW would be very decent though i have the feelign this role will go to the Vanguard Primaris!

 

A buff to Fortress of Shields would be great, but could also be a decent out the box rule for the DWK unit.

Perhaps make it quite thematic in that it is active when the unit arrives via RESERVE. The unit joins shiled to whether the storm of fire coming their way! Once they move, Fotress of shields is no longer active. Would certainly mitigate their issue with charging after arriving.

Maybe even, if a charge is declared against a unit where Fortress of hields is active, that unit can immeidtely move 6".

 

Some cost effective DW characters would go a long way! i think it very unlikley that any new terminator charcters get released. Point reductions for the current batch would be grand 

 

 

However a fundemental flaw is that terminators in general are in a lot of ways entirely overshadowed by Agressors or even Intercessors.

 

As OP says, the 5++ save only really helps against -4 AP. The only difference against a primaris marine is the +1 save. 

 

I was talkign with a buddy only yesterday about how iconic the Terminator is.

Visually, there isnt alot different between a tac maine and an intercessor. But nothing comes close the visual of a terminator!

 

They wage war in Tank armour and should be almost entirely impervious to small arms.

 

My suggestion; ignore the AP charcateristic of all wepaons (to a maximum of -3) that target terminators and entirely drop their Invul save.

 

The fluff remains, termiantor armour has a force field type device, but instead of this providing an invul, it dampens the power of the weapon taregtting them unless that weapon is crazy powerful!

 

Small arms on mass could be an issue but you would need 36 MEQs shooting bolters or 73 GEQs shooting lasguns to kill a single temrinator! Sounds about right!

 

Probably need a point increase but would make all terminators very decent.






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