Dark Angels Review: Formations: Deathwing Strike Force


Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of a Detachment designed to bring the Deathwing to the tabletop in force, the Deathwing Strike Force. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.


The Deathwing Strike Force is a special Dark Angels Detachment designed to allow players to field a force of Deathwing units. The formation gives the player a great degree of reserves manipulation when combined with a Ravenwing formation, making it very useful to take the Ravenwing Attack Squadron or Ravenwing Strike Force. The big downside of the formation is that, unlike the Ravenwing Strike Force, this detachment cannot be used to build an all-Deathwing army, as all units must begin the game in reserve.



  • Compulsory- One HQ and 2 Elites choices
  • Optional: Two HQ and 10 Elites choices
  • All units in the Detachment must have the Deathwing special rule or be Dedicated Transports.

Command Benefits:

  • Summoned to War- All units in the Detachment must start the game in Deep Strike reserve if they are able to do so, or in reserve if they can not. If the army includes a Ravenwing Attack Squadron or Ravenwing Strike Force, you can choose to automatically pass or fail any reserve rolls for units in the formation.
  • First Knight of Caliban- you can re-roll your Warlord Trait on the Dark Angels table if this is your primary detachment.
  • Take the Fight to the Enemy- Units in the formation that arrive from Deep Strike can shoot and run or run and then shoot on the turn they arrive.



This detachment allows you to field (in general terms) a strike force of Terminators, Characters in Terminator Armour and Venerable Dreadnoughts. Some Dark Angels players may lament the ability to field an army comprised entirely of Deathwing Terminators, but the detachment does give some nice bonuses to a Deathwing Strike Force, which is designed to work ideally in conjunction with other Ravenwing units and formations in the army.


First off, the Detachment should always be used in conjunction with the Ravenwing Attack Squadron or Ravenwing Strike Force. Taking these formations/detachments gives you complete control of when each unit in the Deathwing Strike Force will arrive. This eliminates the random nature of reserves rolls and allows you to plan your strategy with much greater efficiency than normal. The Ravenwing Attack Squadron also gives a benefit to deploying using the Bikes’ Teleport Homers, extending their range from 6″ to 12″. This will make getting the Terminator units into position much easier, allowing your reserves to arrive exactly where and when you want them to in most cases. The army only has to include either of these Ravenwing Formations to benefit from the special rules, they don’t have to b on the board or even alive for you to still benefit from choosing when to pass your reserve rolls.

Any units that arrive from Deep Strike reserve also gain a psuedo-battle focus, allowing them to run and shoot or shoot and then run. This allows you to maximise your firepower (which is also twin-linked thanks to Vengeful Strike rule) and then spread out your unit to minimise the effect of template/blast weapons or to increase/decrease your range from the opposing army.


The downsides of the Detachment are that is can be quite expensive if you take a number of Deathwing units, and it is mostly composed of Terminators and Dreadnoughts, two units that are not considered highly competitive in the current game.

One possible tactic could be to use the Deathwing Strike Force and Ravenwing Strike Force in combination to try and combat an alpha-strike army. By taking at least one Venerable Dreadnought in a Drop Pod, you ensure that you have at least two units that can be deployed on turn 1, so as not to auto-lose. The rest of the army from both Strike Forces can then be held in reserve and can all arrive en masse in turn 2 using the special rules from each respective formation. Given the Deep Striking nature of the Deathwing army and the fact that most of the Ravenwing units can Outflank, this should give you the option to strike back at your opponent from any direction. If you are able to go second, you can null deploy your army and force your opponent to deploy most or all of his forces before the bulk of your army arrives to deal with them. If you are forced to go first, you can either risk that your single Dreadnought and Drop Pod will survive the enemy firepower or deploy the Ravenwing Strike Force and wait for the Deathwing to come in.


The Deathwing Strike Force is a fun detachment to use in your games, but doesn’t really have much of a place in competitive lists. This is less to do with the benefits of the Detachments (which are pretty good), and more to do with the fact that you are taking less competitive and cost effective units such as Terminators and Dreadnoughts.

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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.
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5 years ago

How come you can’t field only Deathwing? Don’t they get to arrive turn 1 if you wish so that you don’t auto lose from no units on the board?

Can I attach SM codex conclave terminators to them and enjoy the deepstrike bonuses?

Could always field 2 knights then have a force of deathwing with librarian drop in. They do that in Freeblade all the time!

5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Corr

I feel like the dark angel conclave is quite inferior by not having the 2+. And you have to have Ezekiel or whoever (does he have termy armor?). I play as fallen angels so Ezekiel on board feels like heresy overload.

5 years ago

When the Codex first dropped, and it was no longer possible to take an all-DeathWing Army, I didn’t mind so much. It actually does fit with the fluff of how they operate with the RavenWing pretty well. But as the supplements have piled up, and I recently realized that DA are now the only Loyalist SM Faction that can’t do an all-Terminator Army, that has really started to bother me.

5 years ago
Reply to  WestRider

Dark Angels are a Loyalist SM Faction? 😉

Sadly, they’re also the only traitors that can’t run all-Terminators either; the Black Legion can bring a big pile of spiky Terminators that deep strike on turn 1!

5 years ago
Reply to  MidnightSun

Shhhhh. As far as anyone knows…

And yeah, the Legions Supplement, as much as I love from my perspective as a CSM Player, was just twisting the knife.

5 years ago
Reply to  WestRider

Just be brave and run the DA conclave in termie armor (ok, my bad ezekiel doesnt have termy armor he’s got artificer or something) on foot in a ruin in the corner hiding, waiting for turn 2!

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