Welcome to a much debated and much loved topic that is the Deathwing and how best to use them. They are essentially Fearless terminators that can combine ranged and CC weaponry, and can count as troops if Belial is present. All pretty nifty right? Obviously they come with a price tag (but a fairly reasonable one), and have their limitations in transport options and manouverability. So…
Types of DW unit:
Shooty: These guys essentially either drop in or walk up and provide as much firepower as possible. Most commonly found in pure DW lists where firepower is hard to come by, they are best employed against light infantry, but the cyclone launcher or assault cannon is good enough to take out vehicles and heavy infantry too. My preferred loadout is 3x SB/PF, SB/CF, and TH/SS/CML. The chainfist is there in case of vehicle assaults, and the TH/SS provides better defence against low AP firepower, but can still shoot the CML. Alternatively the chainfist dude can drop the stormbolter for an assault cannon, and then lose the CML. The TH/SS is optional, but I would recommend it for defensive purposes. I would employ one of these minimum in a DW or Dualwing list, as otherwise you have very limited anti-infantry firepower. However, never take a HF as you’ll never get within range to use it, and really these guys don’t want to be seeing assault, particularly against CC specialists. The only exception there is against vehicles.
MEQ killers: This type of squad does what it says – kills MEQ. Typically loaded out with all DLC (maybe a TH/SS or CF for emergencies), they go around hunting troops and other infantry with the MEQ statline. Obviously due to their low invuns and lack of mobility they are best deployed in a land raider (crusader), or they’ll be a tremendous waste of points. Watch out for vehicles or MCs though as lightning claws do naff all against those. I find them a bit specialist tbh, and will only run them either in a high points DW list, or if I now I’ll be up against MEQ or even hordes (initiative 4 is a godsend against orks and crons). A note I will say is that, no matter what type of squad you’re using, always take a CML. You can have any other wargear in addition, and it’s dirt cheap for what it does – never leave home without one.
Take all comers (TAC): Probably one of the more common types, these squads are fit for every occasion, but through this flexibility sacrifice some of their effectiveness. Most often found in DW lists where they make up numbers as objective holders, as Dualwing and triwing lists often require more specialist support. Deep striking is a viable option here due to a mix of shooty and defensive wargear, and are probably wasted if mounted in a land raider. A typical loadout would be 1 DLC, 1 TH/SS, 1 CF/SB, 1 TH/SS/CML, 1 PF/SB – you can play havoc with wound allocation here while having something for every occasion. Feel free to add in or sub out particular options to suit your individual whims.
CC retinue/assault: This is the
most common type of squad and are mostly found tearing up the opponent’s infantry in CC. Most tend to use a balance of DLC and TH/SS, often with a chainfist thrown in for good measure. It is important to maintain this balance, as if there aren’t any initiative strikes you’ll be suckered by hordes or large squads, but if you don’t have enough thaminators then MCs and power weapon troops will eat you for breakfast. You need at least 2 of these squads in dualwing or DW lists, but one is sufficient in triwing. It is almost obligatory to mount these guys up in land raiders, as they can’t do anything until they hit CC, so deepstriking and walking leaves them vulnerable, even if you do take the recommended CML. This is essentially the only unit where you want the HF, as they’re guaranteed to be riding into the fray so will get into the necessary range.
MC/vehicle hunters: These guys essentially are all about Thunder Hammers. Need an annoying Hive Tyrant or Daemon Prince taking out? These are your guys. So pretty obviously, you want at least 4 TH/SS, maybe 1 CF for anti-AV14. The option of the CML or AC is entirely your decision, but I’d opt for the former. You’ll only ever need one of these squads, as they have a very specialist role, but do remember they are hard as nails. You can walk/DS them in, but I would personally opt for the LR as it is simply quicker and more effective.
Land raiders vs. additional squads.
In all honesty, I don’t like using DW at all below 1250 as you simply don’t have the resources to support them well enough, and they’re taking up around ¼ of your army. Above this level, that tricky question comes into play – should I buy a ride, or just fit another squad in? Well essentially, you need at least 2 squads in any dualwing list, and 3 or 4 in any DW list. Of these, at 1500ish points only one really needs a ride or it’s too large a point sink. At higher point games you can go for the full AV14 spam, but otherwise it’s unnecessary. In triwing games you only really need 1 squad to be effective, and they could probably use a ride. In any case it should be the squad with Belial in that needs the ride most.
Standard Bearers and Apothecaries
In all honesty, I never use the standard unless I have points to spare, as the extra attacks rarely see a return. It works well in MEQ hunter squads where the lightning claws have a field day, but otherwise I tend to just leave this. It goes without saying never take it on a shooty squad, and all comers don’t really benefit from it either.
On the other hand I think the apothecary is a godsend. Essentially it makes you all but immune to anything above AP2, or doesn’t ignore armour saves. I like using this on my command squad so it takes a determined round of shooting or assault to finally take them out, by which time the rest of my army’s perfectly poised to pounce.
Essentially, make sure your valuable DW squads are hidden behind other squads or cover if footslogging, as they may suffer from ranged weaponry like plasma and other low AP stuff. With regards to deepstriking, most of the time you will only ever want to deepstrike shooty squads so they can get within 24” sharpish and draw firepower away from the rest of your army. However, in a DW list it may be necessary to drop in TAC or even CC orientated squads onto objectives – note that you should concentrate your drops onto one area at a time to avoid getting spread out and destroyed piecemeal. This way your army can form a cohesive force once on the board. In most cases, you’ll only drop in one or two squads unless obviously, you’re running pure DW. Therefore, having one CC unit running up in a land raider, allows you to DWA two shooty squads to support the main assault – nifty huh? Always remember the half forces thingy for DWA, as it can be limiting but also very useful.
Librarians – Just don’t. Really, to pay out of your nose for a glorified terminator with a psychic hood and half a flamer really isn’t worth it. The only time you want DA lobbies is when they’re as cheap as possible in order to get psychic defence – giving them termie armour is absolutely pointless and adds nothing to your CC potential.
Chaplains – Fuck yes. Giving re-rolls on the turn you assault works a treat with DLC, and even TH/SS. Not to mention Fearless and Ld10, these guys are a force to be reckoned with. Keep in mind that if you’re footslogging or running in a land raider, you don’t even need to pay for termie armour. Also, when taking two HQs, try not to put them in the same squad so you can split your threat and not put all your eggs in one basket.
Any other HQ – Not really worth it. Ezekiel’s just an extrafied libby, company masters don’t add anything you don’t have already, and Azzie’s 4++ doesn’t really buff the squad by much.
**Belial goes without saying in any DW or Dualwing list where you want termies as troops. However, don’t include him otherwise as his stats are pretty shoddy and he doesn’t bring anything else to the table.**
Just to sum up with some basic playstyle tactics.
Pick your enemy. Don’t just assault the nearest or the baddest unit out there – think! Watch out for tarpits, and when in land raiders be weary of melta. Stay in cover when not in CC, and pick the fights that you’ll win. Remember, if they have no troops then they can’t capture objectives. Similarly, they also tend to be the easy killpoints
You’re not invincible. Just because you have a 2+ armour save doesn’t mean certain units can’t wipe the floor with you. Stay away from those that can and don’t get reckless – these are pricey units. Also, you only have 5 models per squad that cost about 40 points apiece, so don’t squander them.
Cohesion and synergy. Make sure you target one area at a time and don’t get spread out. This makes you harder to pick off one by one and allows you to clear entire sections of the board at a time.
A sneaky tactic! So we all know (I hope) that DW work really well with the RW teleporter homers. So is there a nasty camping squad at the back of your opponent’s army giving them buffs/fire support/psyker support, whatever? *I’m looking at you CCS’s and PCS’s*. Simply, scout some RW bikers within 12” of them (providing you get 1st turn). Drop in your shooty squad, and let the RW crack open their vehicle with melta. Then mop up the interior with the DW firepower. Bye bye orders, bye bye Guard. Adjust as appropriate