BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

Warhammer 40K: Deathwatch – Narrative Crusade Rules Review

5 Minute Read
May 10

Today let’s take a look at Codex Deathwatch! The Narrative Crusade Rules are pretty awesome for those of you looking to expand your gameplay horizons.

There’s a lot more to the wide world of Warhammer 40,000 that just Matched Play. Let’s dive into the Deathwatch’s Crusade rules and forge our own narrative in the Grimdark!

Special Rules

The Deathwatch have some special rules up their sleeves! When a Captain levels up one new option for a battle trait is a Master Specialism. These specialties come in several varieties that allow a unit that destroyed a minimum 1-2 units of a certain role, and is also marked for greatness, to get 5 experience points vs 3. These rules make me a little sad as they are so close to being decent. Captains are limited to one specialty at a time and the fact that it causes you to forgo another upgrade. I think it should be something that triggers when a captain reaches a certain point level, or all HQs have the option to get the upgrade.

Agendas and Relics

The Deathwatch have an interesting array of agendas. There is one that makes your opponent set up an objective anywhere on the battlefield. You need to complete an action by the marker, and then you get an additional bonus if the unit that completed the action also ends the game in your deployment zone. If you achieve both then you can use the Relic or mini-relic requisition for free. Watch Eternal is an option that rewards you for keeping enemy units out of your deployment zone. If you do then every non-destroyed units gets 2 extra exp. Suffer Not the Alien gives you 1 exp for every two enemy Xenos units a unit destroy. Strength through Diversity is such weird agenda. If a unit destroys a unit in both melee and with a ranged attack the unit gets 2 exp. Xenopsycher Assault is a situational, but really strong agenda. Every time a unit successfully denies a Xenos psychic power it gets 1 exp. if it destroys a psyker that unit gets 2 exp. If you don’t face Eldar or Nids this won’t do much for you but can be good even if you are just fighting Orks!

For relics, the artificer relic the Arachnosavant’s Illuminator is decent relic which gives a unit the ability to inflict mortal wounds if they successfully wound. Their antiquity relic allows you to select a enemy unity and subtract 2 from their charge ranges. The legendary relic is also close to being decent. It makes all units within 6″ of the bearer un-targetable if the enemy is firing outside of 30″. Additionally anytime this unit is targeted for a ranged attack it is -1 to hit. This is a decent bonus but only exceptional for apocalypse game.


Army Traits and Requisitions

For the army traits the Death Watch get some unique options. One of which allows you to select a unit to benefit from the captain or watch master’s ability for the rest of the turn even if outside 6″. The Chaplain and Librarian tables are both decent, with the Chaplain getting automatically inspiring litanies if within 12″ of a xenos unit. Finally, they have a full, 6 option, table for non-vehicle units has some interesting options, like the ability to always count as stationary for the bolter-discipline rule. You can also have a unit get a +1 to hit when targeting a specific xenos army, which is fun and fluffy.

In addition to these traits, there is also a new special wargear table. This is quite clever and I wish they would expand it to other chapters. You can choose between two tables, the first gives you a bunch of different keyword options such as: Smokescreen, or Melta, or even the ability to teleport. The other table introduces a lot of new special issue ammo options! Almost all the options are usable with the first two options restricted to certain armies (Necrons, and daemons or psychers).

Battle Scars

Finally, they have added some custom battle scars! The first is limited based on the experience the unit got in the previous battle. If it only got 1 exp, it can select this scar which can limit it to only shoot or charge the closest enemy unit (not limited by visibility apparently), if you roll a 1 on a D6. However, it also gets to use the heroic intervention stratagem for free all game. A Brotherhood in Turmoil makes the unit ineligible for any auras or stratagems but also gives them +1 strength and +1 to their advance and charge rolls. You may only select this option if you lost the previous battle. Finally, if a Deathwatch unit was destroyed by a xenos unit you can select the final option which gives the unit +1 attack against that xenos faction. This unit can’t hold objectives or complete actions.

Honestly, I think these scars are pretty balanced. They do make the unit perform differently and all the blessing are mixed. In addition they are restricted based on how the unit performed in the previous battle.


While this army could be hamstrung by your opponent’s army choice they have a very balanced set of Deathwatch Crusade Rules. They have upgrade options that give units a lot of flexible options that fits the lore and their army type. Their agendas are decent especially if you play defensively. Certainly better then playing vanilla marines!

For the Emperor!


And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

Latest News From BoLS:

  • Advertisement
  • Warhammer 40K: Guilliman Is Planning To Destroy The Imperium