Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of another of the Dark Angels’ unique units, the Deathwing Knights. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.
The Deathwing Knights are the elite of the elite in the 1st company. They are a unit of Terminators with a some additional special rules to help mitigate some of the disadvantages of Terminators on the tabletop. They are a combat unit that will shred through any unit of MEQ, but their weapon also allows them to take on any Monstrous Creatures or vehicles that they may encounter during the game. They are a solid unit to add to a Dark Angels army, but are very expensive for what they can bring to the table and suffer issues in getting into combat, which is where they want to be. A unit of 5 Deathwing Knights (inc. Knight Master) comes in at 235 points with the option to increase the squad up to 10 members. The Squad has Space Marine Terminator stats, but with WS5. The Knight Master also gets 3 attacks base.
- Terminator Armour
- Mace of Absolution- A power weapon that is +2S AP3 and Concussive. In addition, a model may make a special Smite attack. In this case, they make a single attack, but resolved at Sx2 AP2.
- Flail of the Unforgiven (Knight Master only)- A power weapon that is +2S AP3, Concussive and Fleshbane
- Storm Shield
- May take a Perfidious Relic of the Unforgiven- Unit gains Adamantium Will and Fear
- May take a Land Raider (any of the three variants) as a Dedicated Transport.
- Deathwing- Fearless and Hated (Chaos Space Marines)
- Grim Resolve- Stubborn and resolve overwatch at BS2
- Hammer of Wrath
- Precision Strikes
- Fortress of Shields- Any model in the unit equipped with a Storm Shield (including Independent Characters that join the unit) in base contact with at least 2 other models in the unit gain +1 Toughness.
Deathwing Knights are actually a very solid combat unit. They gain a few special rules to give them a decent bonus to their durability and combat potential over a regular Terminator Squad.
The Fortress of Shields special rule gives a nice boost to their toughness, making them slightly harder to kill when in base contact with one another. Toughness 5 with a 2+ save and 3+ invulnerable save is going to be very tough for most units to get through in combat and will give some trouble to many shooting units without access to AP2 or a high rate of fire. The Fortress of Shields rule does have some downsides. It makes the unit more vulnerable to Template and Blast weapons; a direct Plasma Cannon hit on the unit will cause some problems. In addition, it does nothing to combat one of the biggest threats to Terminators- grav weaponry. Grav weapons will still be wounding them on a 2+, regardless of their toughness increase and have a high enough rate of fire that the unit can be easily wiped out in a single volley.
This unit really wants to be in combat and for good reason. First off, the unit gets Hammer of Wrath. Even though it is only S4, automatic hits and the chance to take out an enemy before they strike is always a bonus. Each Deathwing Knight gets two attacks (3 on the charge) at WS5 S6 AP3, striking at initiative. Against MEQ, you will be hitting on 3’s and wounding on 2’s, ignoring armour in most cases, meaning that you should tear through most Marine units on the charge and will be a serious threat to any Bike-mounted units. When facing a tougher opponent or tougher armour, each Deathwing Knight can make a single attack at S8 AP2 that strikes at initiative. This should give you a decent chance of taking out any Monstrous Creatures (such as Riptides), Vehicles or other Terminators before they get a chance to strike.
Each model also gets Precision Strikes, meaning that each roll of a 6 to hit allows you to allocate the attack against an engaged model of YOUR choice. This will be useful for trying to take out any AP2 weapons in the enemy unit, such as a Power Fist or Power Axe that may trouble the Deathwing Knights before they get a chance to strike (though characters will still get to make a Look Out Sir roll on Precision Strikes). The Mace of Absolution also has the Concussive special rule, giving you a greater chance of taking out larger, multi-wound creatures in subsequent rounds of combat if necessary. Deathwing gives a situational bonus with Hatred for Chaos Space Marines, but with more of the Traitor Legions likely to see the tabletop now, it is worth keeping in mind.
The Knight Master comes with the Flail of the Unforgiven, power weapon that is AP3 and wounds on a 2+ in most cases thanks to Fleshbane. With three attacks base, he is actually a decent threat to multi-wound models with a higher toughness. It is worth noting that Fleshbane still affects Gargantuan Creatures, wounding them on a 2+. One downside of the Flail is that you cannot make a Smite attack with it.
The biggest problem with the Deathwing Knights is actually getting them in to combat in the first place. They can take a Land Raider as a Dedicated Transport, which is an assault vehicle, but this adds significantly to the cost of an already expensive unit. Deep Striking them in is a good way to get them close to the enemy. The Dark Angels have the most access to Teleport Homers of any Army of the Imperium and there are many formations that give bonuses to Deep Striking reserves and the range of the Teleport Homers, but you will need to weather a turn of the enemy firepower before getting to assault. I think that the best option is to deep strike with them, using the Ravenwing to bring them on accurately and trust your increased toughness and Terminator Armour to keep you safe from the enemy shooting. This will obviously depend on your opponent, as an army with lots of AP2 weapons will likely make short work of the unit.
I think that a Librarian or Interrogator-Chaplain equipped with Terminator Armour makes a great accompanying unit for the Deathwing Knights. Be sure to equip them with a Storm Shield to gain benefit from the Fortress of Shields rule.
The Librarian has access to some very useful powers in the Interromancy Discipline, allowing you to give the Deathwing Knights additional attacks on the charge or de-buffing the enemy unit to make them easier to kill. You could also go for Biomancy to try and boost the durability of the unit (with Endurance) or the Librarius Discipline to get re-rollable 2+ saves.
EDIT- Dark Angels Librarians don’t have access to Biomancy. Sorry for the confusion!
The Interrogator-Chaplain is a solid combat character that will give the Knights Zealot re-rolls, maximising their damage output in the first round of combat.
Any Ravenwing Bike unit will also have good synergy with the Deathwing Knights. All Ravenwing Bikes are equipped with Teleport Homers, allowing you to bring the Deathwing Knights down with a high level of accuracy, the speed of the Bikes allowing you to get into prime position for the attack of the Deathwing.
Several of the Deathwing Formations give you a degree of reserves manipulation, either allowing you to automatically pass reserves rolls or choose which turn your Terminators arrive before the game begins. These will be very useful for the Deathwing Knights, allowing you to choose where and when the Deathwing will arrive in combination with the Ravenwing.
Deathwing Knights are a solid combat unit and a decent choice in a Dark Angels army. They will not have a place in a competitive list (no Terminators do), as they are simply too expensive for what they can do, but will be a lot of fun in a casual list, especially against Chaos Space Marines. It doesn’t hurt that they are some great looking models to have on the tabletop.
Frontline Gaming will buy your used models for cash or store credit!