Army Review: Codex Deathstar


Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of one of the more infamous releases from GW, the dreaded Codex: Deathstar! Space Marine Edition!! Now with added Psychic Powers!!! For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

These army reviews are intended as tongue in cheek looks at popular army builds in 40k. No digs at any playstyles or players are intended, it’s all just a bit of fun! (This one’s for Reece!).



Codex: Deathstar was first released as a supplement in early 6th edition, brought about by the return of the allies chart into regular 40k. It was available for most armies, but had a strong focus on armies of the Imperium thanks to their newly introduced Battle Brothers allies, part of GW’s “here Space Marines, just have all the rules” policy. Codex: Deathstar is quite unusual amongst all the other 40k codices in that it contains absolutely no background section. There was no attempt to explain or justify the composition of the army, the Codex simply launches into the rules of the army and how to use it.
You can generally recognise a Codex: Deathstar army by the suffix “star” added to the name. For example, you have Wraithstar-star, Wolfstar-star, Barkstar-star, Super Friends-star, and the very common, “you’ve got to be f@!cking joking”-star.


There is a very common misconception that players that run a Codex: Deathstar list are Win At All Cost (WAAC)-type gamers, who just want a crushing victory in their games with no regard as to whether their opponent has any fun. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those that use Codex: Deathstar are consummate artists. They spend a great deal of time carefully crafting their lists, and lavish loving attention on each model in their army to create an impressive force. They share an empathy with their army that cannot be matched by any other army in the 40k universe. It physically pains them each time they have to remove a model from the board, so design their army to ensure that this heinous tragedy never has to occur.


Another common misconception is that you actually play a “game” against an army from Codex: Deathstar. Don’t think of it as a game against a Deathstar army, it is more of a modern art “performance piece”. The job of the opponent of the Deathstar army (more accurately known as ‘The Observer’) is simply to remove models from their army as the Deathstar moves around the table in its dance of death, and to roll dice. The dice don’t actually do anything or have any meaningful impact on the game, but they add a nice staccato rhythm to the performance piece as it proceeds. Once the Observer understands his part in the performance, it leads to a far more enjoyable gaming experience for both sides.



The actual units in Codex: Deathstar are wide and varied, too varied to review here. There are, however, some common trends that are observed in many of the armies. These include:

  • Chief Librarian Tigirius
  • Librarius Conclave
  • Azrael
  • Sammael
  • Wolf Priests
  • Thunderwolves
  • 300+ Fenrisian Wolves
  • Command Bike Squads with all the grav
  • Grav Centurions
  • Assault Centurions
  • Inquisitor Coteaz
  • Servoskulls


Special Rules:

All of them. All the special rules.



The way a Deathstar army plays is quite nuanced compared to many other competitive army builds. There are two main ways to use the army from Codex: Deathstar. These are:

  1. Get the first turn. Cast Invisibility and miscellaneous other psychic powers. Win the game.
  2. Don’t get first turn. Enemy army pours all firepower into the unit before you can cast Invisibility and miscellaneous other psychic powers. Lose the game.


Advanced Tactics:

The Librarius Conclave is an almost mandatory unit selection in Codex: Deathstar.


All armies from Codex: Deathstar come with Invisibility as standard. There are a myriad of other useful psychic powers that can be added to the unit to make them even more unkillable. The addition of the new Space Marine psychic powers have greatly benefited Codex: Deathstar as well, adding even more to the unit synergy. Popular powers include Veil of Time (for save re-rolls), Warpmetal Armour (for +1 toughness), Electrodisplacement (for teleporting 2 feet and still getting to charge), Phase Form (for ignoring line of sight and cover saves, because why should anyone else be allowed special rules) and Shifting Worldscape (for sheer insanity).


Players should not be too complacent about casting these powers. Yes, the Librarius Conclave gives you a nice boost on casting the powers on a 2+. However, many of these powers are warp charge two or three, meaning you will need to throw at least 4-5 of your 37 power dice to ensure that they can be cast. In 8th edition, all these useful powers will be consolidated into the one Discipline, the new “What the actual f@!k” Discipline (Space Marines only).


Azrael  is also a valuable choice in Codex: Deathstar. Much is spoken in the 40k universe about Azrael’s tactical genius and zealous pursuit of the Fallen, but little is mentioned of his important and charitable work for the ESPCABH (the Emperor’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Burning of Heretics). Azrael travels to many far worlds rescuing Fenrisian Wolves that have been abandoned by their owners and providing them with a valuable 4+ invulnerable saves as they run in one massive, unkillable pack around the battlefield.


Another Dark Angels Veteran, Sammael is also a significant choice in Codex: Deathstar. After the loophole was closed, negating chapter tactics for units comprised of models from several Space Marine Chapters, Sammael stood on hand to grant Deathstar units Fearless, Scout, Skilled Rider and Hit and Run in a loophole of his very own. This helps ensure that Codex: Deathstar armies maintain their grip on all the games’ special rules.


Inquisitor Coteaz also makes a frequent appearance in Codex: Deathstar. Allowing the Observer to gain first turn frequently leads to false hope and Coteaz’s inclusion, and the Seize the Initiative re-rolls he provides, helps to mitigate this troubling development. Other members of the Inquisition are also sometimes deployed to bring along Servo Skulls. These awesome pieces of wargear shut down your opponent’s Scout and Infiltrate moves. This is very useful, as any opportunity to restrict the opponent’s ability to do anything in the game simply hastens their progression from the opponent to the Observer and leads to a more enjoyable game for both parties.

DC Super 1

As well as being well versed in the performance art that is a Codex: Deathstar game, many expert Codex: Deathstar players quickly become masters of comedy too, particularly Deadpan comedy. Veteran players are able to audibly complain about how overpowered Stomp is after a single roll of a 6 on the Stomp table kills half their unit. The same unit with a 2+ re-rollable armour save, 3+ re-rollable invulnerable save, 2+ Feel no Pain save, that is invisible and has just travelled 30” across the board and charged on the first turn. With a straight face. It truly is a work of art.


Some players are not true disciples of the Codex: Deathstar way. They include other units in the army that are not part of the deathstar. These players are too overly concerned with trifling matters such as tactics or winning the mission and do not appreciate the true art of the Deathstar- tabling your opponent, making them cry and vow to quit 40k altogether, and gaining full points for the tournament round.


Since its release in 6th edition, Codex: Deathstar has been adding to the game of 40k immeasurably. There is nothing quite like firing an entire army’s worth of shooting at a unit and not causing a single unsaved wound that gives both players an immense sense of satisfaction. Other armies try to do Codex: Deathstar justice, but it is truly the Armies of the Imperium that best adapt to the supplement’s playstyle.

I hope you are enjoying this series of articles. What spoof codices would you like to see reviewed?

And as always, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day!

You can also pick up some cheap models in our Second Hand Shop. Some of these gems are quite rare, sometimes they’re fully painted!



About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.

34 Responses to “Army Review: Codex Deathstar”

  1. Hiveminded September 5, 2016 7:34 am #

    Lol…nice article.

    Deathstars are the bane of 40k.

  2. jy2 September 5, 2016 8:08 am #

    So when is this codex coming out? I’ma buying 2!

    • Michael Corr September 6, 2016 11:02 am #

      If you buy 2 you get access to the super secret Deathstar formation- infinite wounds on every model!

  3. AngryPanda September 5, 2016 8:59 am #

    So many gems in this. I’m particularly fond of the part about the opposing player just being there to throw dice that don’t do anything.

  4. hillshire September 5, 2016 10:31 am #

    You laugh because it’s funny, you laugh because it’s true. A well deserved send up of the Deathstar. Which is why the only Deathstar I’ve used is the Sisters of Battle/Grey Knights Deathstar. Which would have been great if it could have accomplished something before Turn 3 . . . ah well, moot point now. The Battlebrothers FAQ nixed that anyway. Might work with Shifting Worldscape but I refuse to use that power. Tempting though.


    Looking forward to Codex T-t-t-t-tau shoot ’em up:

    Tau have got so much shooting that they can’t even contain it to their own shooting phase! They shoot during their shooting phase, then your movement phase, then your assault phase!

    But wait, there’s more! To encourage their armies to move even less than they already do, Tau Stormsurges can double their shooting if they don’t move!

    What?! That’s not enough shooting? Well have we got the deal for you! The Riptide Wing! No need to bother with pesky HQ and Troop requirements! You can just deploy Riptide Wings and enjoy double the fire power once per game! Stack your rules well enough and you get quadruple the shots! Riptide Hailfire plus Ripple Fire means four times the fun!

    Of course, such a powerful formation as the Riptide Wing requires a heavy tax to balance it out. After all, the Riptide was a highly effective unit already. Not like it was Assault Marines or something. Let’s see . . . +1 BS if the other Riptides fire at the same target as another Riptide . . . nope, that’s pretty good actually . . . re-roll failed Nova Reactor attempts . . . actually, that’s incredibly awesome . . .

    Aaahhh, actually, the Riptide Wing special rules fix two of the main weaknesses of the model: average BS and the risk of self inflicted wounds.

    I’m sure there’s more but I’ll leave that to the pros!

    • JKD September 5, 2016 7:00 pm #

      I miss the old 5th edition Sister of Battle HQ with repentina + Corbulo + LandRaider + Evicerators out the ass.

      Or Blobstar with SoB HQ + Book of Lucius + SoB Priest + Imperial Guard Platoons with a few hidden fists scattered around and eviscerators out the ass.

    • sheit27 September 5, 2016 7:32 pm #

      I’m going to guess you play marines if you’re complaining about tau

      • AngryPanda September 5, 2016 7:42 pm #

        And they call Chaos playery whiney 😉

      • hillshire September 5, 2016 9:36 pm #

        “I’m going to guess you play marines if you’re complaining about tau”

        And I guess you must play Tau since you missed my saying “A well deserved send up of the Deathstar.” Every army deserves some ego bruising from time to time.

        Or are Tau somehow above some humorous ribbing? Was anything I posted untrue?

    • Michael Corr September 6, 2016 11:04 am #

      hillshire- some nice stuff in there. Hope you don’t mind if I steal it and keep all the credit! 😉

      • hillshire September 7, 2016 1:48 pm #

        Go for it! Happy to help!

    • Joshua Taylor September 6, 2016 12:42 pm #

      And will all that shooting they might take out … 1 model from a deathstar.

  5. sonsoftaurus September 5, 2016 3:04 pm #

    Well done.

  6. C-Stock September 5, 2016 6:19 pm #

    Death Stars are literally why half the 40k community in my city quit playing tournaments and now spend time playing Warmahordes and Malifaux. And Armada.


    They’re poison. And the notion this article is pushing that death star players are good for the game or “artists” is laughable.

    • westrider September 5, 2016 6:24 pm #

      The joke. You missed it.

      • AngryPanda September 5, 2016 7:43 pm #

        This is why there is no point to adding a disclaimer. The people who don’t get the joke somehow manage to ignore that too.

    • Vercingatorix September 5, 2016 7:16 pm #

      well you’re not wrong. It is laughable.

    • Turok117 September 5, 2016 7:28 pm #

      I’d suggest looking up the meaning of “tongue and cheek.”

    • hillshire September 5, 2016 9:40 pm #

      Maybe your 40k community could work together and create army building guidelines they can agree on instead of justing giving up. You could even have separate tournaments based on highly competitive and mildly competitive play.

      That’s not a dig, that’s a sincere suggestion. Lots of feel bads can be avoided if people talk and work together.

      • Alex r September 6, 2016 12:09 am #

        We call it in aus community comp

        • Dan September 6, 2016 7:47 pm #

          I have to say I have not been impressed with community comp.

          About the only thing it has really done is remove the invisibility power and the new Marine geomancy powers from most lists (but not all of them). Sure this has taken out a few certain power units/combo’s that rely on said powers to work, but it still lets through a number of others, including several deathstars.

          Things that are still perfectly viable under community comp (and usually don’t cost much in the way of credits):
          – Thunderwolf spam.(some lists have still managed to cram in Invis as well).
          – Chapter master smashf***er and his biker command squad, now further improved in the new Iron hands detachment for extra FNP boost.
          – Pretty much any Skitarii/Cult mech power combo.
          – Imp fists can take up to 18 Devastator centurions with tank hunters in a single CAD for no comp hit whatsoever as long as you don’t take split fire upgrade or drop pods. And even then, putting 1 squad of 3 with grav in a pod isn’t that much of an extra hit.
          – Tau kinda lost riptide wing and piranha wing, but everything else from the codex is still perfectly playable.
          – Necron Decurions were a hit quite hard for a while, but are now back in force again after the recent comp update last month.

          Community comp also holds the distinction of being the one and only 40k comp system I personally know about worldwide that actually allows players to take an Eldar Lynx with a sonic lance (at not too much of a comp hit either).

      • AngryPanda September 6, 2016 11:06 am #

        To be fair, it’s not their job to make the game fun. If you buy one it’s kind of your basic assumption as a customer that they did the work for you.

  7. punchymango September 5, 2016 10:04 pm #

    “300+ Fenrisian Wolves”

    I lost it. Bravo, I love this post.

    • Michael Corr September 6, 2016 11:06 am #

      Thanks man. Glad people are liking them, humour is quite subjective at times.

  8. Leth September 6, 2016 12:59 am #

    Now do something on codex WWW – Wraithknight, Warp Spyder, and Windriders

    • Michael Corr September 6, 2016 11:05 am #

      Codex: Scatbike is already in the works. Wraithknights and Warp Spyders will be making a cameo, but I’m sure they deserve their own entry.

      • Vercingatorix September 7, 2016 7:13 am #

        Don’t forget farseers!

  9. Laserfrog September 6, 2016 11:23 am #

    The part about Deathstar players crying OP had me dying laughing. Good stuff man!

    We actually used to have a guy at our LGS who played a Draigo-Star list every damned night, and he had the gall to complain about how “overpowered” stuff in our armies were. For the record, our armies were Dark Eldar, Chaos Space Marines, Imperial Guard, and Tyranids.

  10. Marandamir September 6, 2016 11:36 am #

    I love these articles 🙂 Please spoof codex apocalypse in 40k. This includes stupid super heavies and D weapons. That would be entertaining 😛

  11. Joshua Taylor September 6, 2016 12:59 pm #

    I have posted in the forums that invisibility is a problem. As this post states one of the total Keys to most death-stars is Invisibility.
    There is an evolution here however that some people may not be aware of.
    Break people into categories
    Group A: I like playing assault armies
    Group B: I like playing shooting armies
    Group C: I like winning
    6th edition hits and Group B is loven them some tau, cus they can shoot the crap out of everything. Enter Codex eldar more shooten love.
    Group A does some brainstorming and comes to the conclusion that if they want to play an assault army, that thing has to be invincible to make it through the ludicrous hail of fire they take while marching up the board. also exit all things that don’t move 12″
    Enter group C and they are loven this whole death-star idea because it makes things invincible and lets them win more.
    return of group B. as it seems if you like to shoot you can make a shooting deathstar just a good as a an assault one, so lets get that rollen.
    so they only thing that is left in the meta is deathstars and eldar, who stay in because they still have the ludicrous fire power that totally decimates any non-deathstar army, yet at the same time has ludicrous mobility that allows them to ob-sec objectives away for a cool 51″ has good MSU capability, and and some of the best psykers in the game. and wraith-knights.
    now you see the progression.

    • Vercingatorix September 7, 2016 7:17 am #

      yeah, death stars are really the only way to run any kind of assault army. I suppose you could go for skyhammer or something like that. Generally though, if you want to make through a round of riptides firing all their weapons 4 times, you need some pretty ludicrous durability.

      The only non-death star assault armies I’ve seen do well is khorne daemonkin and murderhorde-skyhost.

  12. GDT September 8, 2016 2:44 am #

    Best article ever. Loved it!

  13. jesper77 September 8, 2016 8:30 am #

    Love the comments as much as the article 🙂

  14. firewaspuk September 9, 2016 1:49 pm #

    Fantastic article. One of the funniest ive read in a while. Up there with APs accurate codex entry series.

Leave a Reply