Today, we’re taking the time machine back to 2003 to check out the original roots of the Deathwatch from 3rd Edition.
3rd Edition was a heady time for the Grimdark. It was the Edition that finally saw 40K grow into its current company level miniatures battle incarnation. 3rd edition saw the game finally throw off its early quasi-skirmish-RPG roots. The ultra complexity was toned down and the game was put on the path it still walks to this day.
However it was still growing and White Dwarf was a primary vehicle for this expansion, opening up new details and planting seeds that would come to fruition years or even decades later. On such seed planted was the Deathwatch.
We are headed back to the 2003 Chapter Approved, 3rd Book of the Astronomicon, a 3rd edition White Dwarf rules anthology. Take a look at the formative Deathwatch minis and rules. Here we first saw the basics on the Deathwatch, what equipment they carry, and how to add a kill-team to your army.
Here we see the early basics of the lore penned by Andy chambers and Pete Haines. We see the roughing in of their lore being formed by individuals from various chapters, some basics of their unique equipment, and how to add them to your army. Back in 3rd Edition, you could only add a single Kill-team, but you did have the option of adding single Deathwatch Veterans into your standard Space Marine army, once they had returned to their chapters – neat! Their main hallmark was their bolters with specialist ammo.
Here we see their unit entry, cost, and equipment stats. This unit is the origin of the special issue ammo that later made it’s way to Sternguard, and let me tell back in 2003, the Assault 3 18″ suspensor option on the Heavy Bolter was the bee’s knees! The Kill-teams weren’t cheap but you could only field a small squad so it didn’t break the army construction bank and added a lot of flavor to your force. Note that the squad had the option to Deep Strike back in the day – a handy option to get those Hellfire-Heavy Bolters right into the thick of it.
True Grit was a quirky rule to make the models more viable both in shooting and melee, and it would grow into a USR in later days.
Also, notice the option of the Captain or Librarian to lead the squad, the seed of what would grow into the HQs of the Deathwatch Codex decades later.
Behold the original Deathwatch metal accessory sprues. This was it. You just bought a few of these sprues and added them to your existing plastic marines. Back in 3rd it was noted that your models MUST have the Deathwatch pauldron to count on the tabletop. No counts-as for the early Deathwatch. Of course with a max size of 1 squad, you didn’t need too many of these.
~ Who has some of these metal guys in their collection?