Michael here with a review of the Deathwing Strike Force Detachment; designed to bring the white termys to the tabletop in force.
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The Deathwing Strike Force is a special Dark Angels Detachment designed to allow players to field a force of Deathwing units. The formation gives the player a great degree of reserves manipulation when combined with a Ravenwing formation, making it very useful to take the Ravenwing Attack Squadron or Ravenwing Strike Force. The big downside of the formation is that, unlike the Ravenwing Strike Force, this detachment cannot be used to build an all-Deathwing army, as all units must begin the game in reserve.
- Compulsory- One HQ and 2 Elites choices
- Optional: Two HQ and 10 Elites choices
- All units in the Detachment must have the Deathwing special rule or be Dedicated Transports.
- Summoned to War- All units in the Detachment must start the game in Deep Strike reserve if they are able to do so, or in reserve if they can not. If the army includes a Ravenwing Attack Squadron or Ravenwing Strike Force, you can choose to automatically pass or fail any reserve rolls for units in the formation.
- First Knight of Caliban– you can re-roll your Warlord Trait on the Dark Angels table if this is your primary detachment.
- Take the Fight to the Enemy– Units in the formation that arrive from Deep Strike can shoot and run or run and then shoot on the turn they arrive.
This detachment allows you to field (in general terms) a strike force of Terminators, Characters in Terminator Armour and Venerable Dreadnoughts. Some Dark Angels players may lament the ability to field an army comprised entirely of Deathwing Terminators, but the detachment does give some nice bonuses to a Deathwing Strike Force, which is designed to work ideally in conjunction with other Ravenwing units and formations in the army.
First off, the Detachment should always be used in conjunction with the Ravenwing Attack Squadron or Ravenwing Strike Force. Taking these formations/detachments gives you complete control of when each unit in the Deathwing Strike Force will arrive. This eliminates the random nature of reserves rolls and allows you to plan your strategy with much greater efficiency than normal. The Ravenwing Attack Squadron also gives a benefit to deploying using the Bikes’ Teleport Homers, extending their range from 6″ to 12″. This will make getting the Terminator units into position much easier, allowing your reserves to arrive exactly where and when you want them to in most cases. The army only has to include either of these Ravenwing Formations to benefit from the special rules, they don’t have to be on the board or even alive for you to still benefit from choosing when to pass your reserve rolls.
Any units that arrive from Deep Strike reserve also gain a psuedo-battle focus, allowing them to run and shoot or shoot and then run. This allows you to maximise your firepower (which is also twin-linked thanks to Vengeful Strike rule) and then spread out your unit to minimise the effect of template/blast weapons or to increase/decrease your range from the opposing army.
The downsides of the Detachment are that is can be quite expensive if you take a number of Deathwing units, and it is mostly composed of Terminators and Dreadnoughts, two units that are not considered highly competitive in the current game.
One possible tactic could be to use the Deathwing Strike Force and Ravenwing Strike Force in combination to try and combat an alpha-strike army. By taking at least one Venerable Dreadnought in a Drop Pod, you ensure that you have at least two units that can be deployed on turn 1, so as not to auto-lose. The rest of the army from both Strike Forces can then be held in reserve and can all arrive en masse in turn 2 using the special rules from each respective formation. Given the Deep Striking nature of the Deathwing army and the fact that most of the Ravenwing units can Outflank, this should give you the option to strike back at your opponent from any direction. If you are able to go second, you can null deploy your army and force your opponent to deploy most or all of his forces before the bulk of your army arrives to deal with them. If you are forced to go first, you can either risk that your single Dreadnought and Drop Pod will survive the enemy firepower or deploy the Ravenwing Strike Force and wait for the Deathwing to come in.
The Deathwing Strike Force is a fun detachment to use in your games, but doesn’t really have much of a place in competitive lists. This is less to do with the benefits of the Detachments (which are pretty good), and more to do with the fact that you are taking less competitive and cost effective units such as Terminators and Dreadnoughts.
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