Tabletop Spotlight: Codex Deathwatch

deathwatch-horThe Tabletop Spotlight is on: Codex Deathwatch!

Hey BoLS Readers! I haven’t really tried to hide my love for the Deathwatch – I think they are one of the coolest aspects of the 40k Lore. So when our friends at Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy brought over the Codex I was ready to dive in and take a look:

Now I’ve talked about the Deathwatch before. I loved the RPG for FFG’s Dark Heresy line and I really liked the models from the Overwatch set as well. But this Codex marks new chapter for the Deathwatch because it’s the first time they have a fully supported “Army” that you can build. Sure, they had a White Dwarf list and they had a chapter approved list as well – but this is the first fully Deathwatch Codex ever created. And I know I’m not the only person glad to see it!

From a narrative perspective, this book has a ton of new lore and background to mill through. I’m really looking forward to sitting down and reading the new stuff about the Deathwatch. The RPG book was great, but this is the new canon and I want to know all about them!


Space Marine players have long used “Deathwatch” themed units in their lists before. I, personally, painted up a unit of Deathwatch Marines to use as Sternguard Vets because that was the closest thing to represent them in the Codex. It fit thematically because of all the special ammo options and it was a fun modeling project as well. Besides, it’s a great way to have a single unit of Sternguard painted in Deathwatch colors that you can use for any Space Marine Army. But because of that the Deathwatch has long been considered an “ally” unit with some awesome fluff from an 80’s action movie. But not anymore…

I’m really liking the way this army is setup. It’s supposed to be a smaller fighting force that is super deadly in any situation. Unlike the Grey Knights (who I never really liked) they don’t just have str 5 bolters – they have a wide array of tools and tactics to get the job done. It’s not just the Bolters that have alternate fire modes, many of their other weapon systems can swap ammo to fit the situation. My personal favorite is the Frag Cannon – get ready to see squads with 4 of those bad boys drop in and do some serious damage!


The Mission Tactics are also interesting – they enable you to swap their focus during the game. Combined with the right formations and you’ve got an army that can re-roll to hit and wound vs specific unit types for a turn (or longer). They can really lay down some impressive firepower! On the downside, they are still Marines and have those same flaws. While I wouldn’t say that the army is fragile, it’s certainly not the most resilient army around. Couple that with their higher-than-regular point cost vs normal Marines (due to upgrades) and your going to have noticeably fewer bodies to feed to the grinder.

But if you can deal with those limitations, use your “toolbox” of gear & tactics effectively, and play to the objectives I think the Deathwatch and this Codex will serve you well. Codex Deathwatch is in stores now – Go check it out!


Codex: Deathwatch $50


Suffer not the alien to live.

The elite amongst the elite, carefully selected and recruited for their exceptional abilities, the Deathwatch are a thin black line, a sentinel that stands between the Imperium and alien threats unimaginable. Always outnumbered – such is the staggering scale of the hordes they face – this noble brotherhood has stood stout against countless invasions, and will face countless more.

Organised into small, elite companies plucked from Space Marine Chapters that have pledged a tithe of their strength in the struggle against the alien, the Deathwatch counts only heroes amongst its ranks. Each member has been hailed as an expert in his field even before his training as a Deathwatch operator has begun. His armour painted the blackest of hues, his Chapter icon intact upon his pauldron as a mark of respect to the Chapter that made him, the Deathwatch Space Marine and his highly-specialised Kill Team descend to the edge of destruction, there to repel whatever dire threat they face.


Are the Deathwatch Recruiting? Where do I sign up?!

  • Osedaxx

    Codex: Frag Cannon.

    • Walter Vining

      there is so much other stuff that is good in this book. there is a lot more flexibility. if you take only frag cannons you are missing out on a lot of other options that are stellar

  • krisbrowne42

    I’m planning to super-friend these with Grey Knights – Narratively, the Knights bamf in, realize they’re f**ked, and the Deathwatch swoops in on Backstars and saves their tails.

    • OldHat

      Wouldn’t that be usually the opposite? GK are supposed to be the BAMF-ist of the BAMF.

      • krisbrowne42

        Ah, I can see the confusion in my statement – Bamf as in the onomatopoeic sound of squads deep-striking into turn one…

  • Xodis

    My current Deathwatch plan is to have small detachments of each chapter, and a large force of Deathwatch that “saves the day”. Just hope 8e does not turn this all into garbage.