Deathwatch Review: HQ: Watch Captain

Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of one of the premier HQ units for the Deathwatch, the Watch Captain. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.


The Watch Captain is one of the best HQ options for the Deathwatch army, surpassed perhaps only by the Watch Master. He provides a solid combat character for the Deathwatch, some great mobility and wargear options and some nice buffs for the rest of the force.

With the right wargear options and Relics, he can be a powerful force multiplier for the Deathwatch, as well as being a solid combat character to target big threats in the enemy army. The Watch Master comes at 80 pts base, with no additional wargear upgrades.

I would give the Watch Captain the Competitive rating. He should find use in any Deathwatch army.


  • Chainsword
  • Master-Crafted Boltgun
  • Bolt Pistol,
  • Frag and Krak Grenades
  • May replace his Chainsword with a Relic Blade or Xenophase Blade.
  • May replace his Chainsword and Master-Crafted Boltgun with two items from the Deathwatch Equipment List.
  • May take a Jump Pack.
  • May be armed with Terminator Armour, coming armed with a Relic Blade and Storm Bolter.
  • In Terminator armour, may replace his Relic Blade with a Power Sword, Storm Shield or an item from the Terminator Melee Weapons List.
  • In Terminator armour, may replace his Storm Bolter with an item from the Terminator Combi-weapons list.


  • And They Shall Know No Fear
  • Special Issue Ammunition
  • Iron Halo- This model has a 4+ invulnerable save.
  • Rites of Battle- You can re-roll hit rolls of a 1 for friendly Deathwatch units within 6″ of this model.
  • Jump Pack Assault- If equipped with a Jump Pack, you can deploy this model in reserve. At the end of any of your movement phases, you can deploy anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 9″ away from any enemy models.
  • Teleport Strike- If equipped with Terminator armour, you can deploy in the teleportarium chamber in reserve. At the end of any of your movement phases, you can deploy anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 9″ away from any enemy models.


The Watch Captain has the standard Space Marine Captain profile, meaning that he is no slouch on the tabletop or in combat. With WS and BS 2+ and re-rolling 1’s to hit, he can be relied upon to hit with all of his shooting and combat attacks without any modifiers.

He has has some good defensive capabilities, with 5 wounds, 3+ armour save and 4+ invulnerable save. He can also be given Terminator Armour, going up to a 2+ save and an extra wound. The Watch Captain is not invulnerable, but he should be able to hold his own against most infantry units and characters on a similar level.

My favourite load out for the Watch Captain is a Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield. This gives the Watch Captain some good mobility from the Jump Pack, either moving 12″ per turn or the ability to “deep strike” in from reserves. The Thunder Hammer gives him some good punch in the Fight phase, hitting on a 3+, re-rolling 1’s at S8, AP-3 and 3 damage per wound. This gives him the ability to take on most infantry and characters with ease, while also giving him the ability to threaten enemy monsters and vehicles. The Storm Shield also gives him some added durability, increasing his invulnerable save. He also retains his Bolt Pistol, so can add some light firepower to his arsenal, particularly effective when combined with Special Issue Ammunition.

I prefer to start with the Watch Captain on the table, rather than putting him in reserve. A single character is able to hide behind terrain or vehicles more easily and can normally be relied to get into range of the enemy for a turn 1 or turn 2 charge. Deploying from reserve, you need to make a 9″ charge, which can be difficult to rely on, leaving the Watch Captain open to be targeted and eliminated in most cases.

The Relic Blade is also a nice option for the Watch Captain, giving him S6, AP-3 and D3 damage. The benefit of the Relic Blade is that you still hit on a 2+ re-rollable, so are almost guaranteed four hits with the Captain’s attacks. The downside is that you will be wounding most infantry on a 3+, rather than a 2+ with the Thunder Hammer and have the variable damage, rather than a flat 3 damage. Due to this, I prefer the Thunder Hammer.

If you are looking for a cheaper option, the Xenophase Blade is a good choice. The benefit of this is that it forces your opponent to re-roll any successful invulnerable saves. This is great for taking on units such as Necron Wraiths, Daemons, other Characters, etc. One of the downsides of the Xenophase Blade is that it is only strength user and 1 damage. meaning it is generally only useful for T4 infantry units or characters with low number of wounds. However, with the Doctrine stratagems giving you +1 to wound and/or Castellan of the Black Vault warlord trait increasing the damage to 2, it could be a potent combination for causing a lot of damage to selected enemy units.

The Watch Captain in Terminator armour can also have some interesting wargear options that the Watch Captain can take advantage of.  You can arm the Watch Captain with a Combi-Melta and Power Fist with built in Meltagun. While very expensive at 154 pts, it can be a nasty surprise for your opponent after turn 1, as the Captain can teleport into threat range and fire off two Meltagun shots that hit on a 2+ re-rollable. This makes a great way to target tough enemy vehicles or character assassination if you are able to deploy the Watch Captain in a good position to target an enemy character. Coupled to the correct Doctrine and Mission Tactics, your Watch Captain will be hitting on a 2+ re-rollable and wounding on a 2+ re-rollable against most standard vehicles and monsters. With some good damage rolls, you could destroy or cripple an enemy target in a single shots. Again, this is certainly not the most cost effective way to get a couple of Meltagun shots in the army, but with a 2+/4++ and 6 wounds, the Captain may soak up a lot of enemy firepower in return before going down.

The basic Watch Captain is also a nice, cheap HQ to add to the army. The Master-crafted Boltgun coupled with Special Issue ammunition means that the Captain can get a Bolter that is AP-3 and 2 damage, or one that wounds most enemy units on a 2+ with 2 damage. This makes a nice, cheap character for babysitting backfield objective-holding units and providing them with re-rolls, or for filling out an HQ slot for cheap in the army.


There are some strong relics in the Deathwatch that can boost the abilities of the Watch Captain even further.

The Beacon Angelis is a great relic to take on a Watch Captain with a Jump Pack. This allows you to teleport a Deathwatch Infantry or Biker unit on the table or in the Teleportarium at the end of your movement phase. The unit must be set up within 6″ of the bearer and at least 9″ from an enemy unit.

This can be a nice way to get past the reserves Beta rules and get a Kill Team into rapid fire range on turn 1. The Beacon cannot be used to teleport a unit from the Teleportarium on turn 1 to deploy them outside of your deployment zone, but can be used on a unit that is already on the tabletop. This allows you to move the Watch Captain 12″ in the movement phase (more if you Advance) and teleport another unit on the board up to 6″ further, as long as they end up 9″ away from the enemy army. This gives you the ability to get a Deathwatch unit close to the enemy lines on turn 1, able to threaten a lot of key units in the enemy army. As it happens at the end of the movement phase, it also gives you some protection if you don’t get the first turn. You can hide the unit to teleport in a transport vehicle or out of line of sight in your turn, then teleport them into a key position at the end of your first turn.

The Tome of Ectoclades is also a good Relic to take on the Watch Captain. This allows you to deep strike in with other units in the Teleportarium, without spending the CP if you have a Jump Pack or Terminator Armour, and give them a key Mission Tactic for the turn that they arrive to make the maximum of their firepower.


There are a number of key stratagems that can be used with the Watch Captain to boost his effectiveness on the tabletop.

If you are taking a Watch Captain armed for combat, such as with a Thunder Hammer or Relic Blade, there are a number of combat stratagems that can be of use. Only in Death Does Duty end is great for 2CP if your Captain gets slain in combat. This allows him to attack again and possibly kill or cripple an enemy unit. Honour your Brothers is also great for allowing the Watch Captain to attack again, though is pricey at 3 command points. However, this has the potential to allow your Watch Captain to do 24 wounds in a single turn with a Thunder Hammer.

The Doctrines are also great stratagems for a Watch Captain, giving him better odds of wounding an enemy unit he is attacking. With a Thunder Hammer or Power Fist, using the right Doctrine, you will be able to wound most enemy vehicles on a 2+. This will also allow you to wound tougher units such as Imperial Knights on a 3+. With the right Mission Tactics as well, you will be re-rolling 1’s to wound, giving you even better odds of damaging or killing an enemy unit.

The Decapitation Doctrine can also be of use if you find your Watch Captain facing off against the enemy warlord, giving you re-rolls to wound against the enemy warlord.


In an all-Deathwatch army, I will frequently field a couple of Watch Captains and a Watch Master. One Captain to act as an aggressive combat unit and the other to babysit a backfield Deathwatch unit and act as the Warlord.

The Watch Captain is a strong addition to the Deathwatch army. I tend to use him as a combat threat, going after tough units in the enemy army to try and eliminate them or tie them up in combat to reduce their firepower. In this role, he rarely survives to the end of the game, so it’s not best to make him your warlord and give up Slay the Warlord too easily.

A backfield Watch Captain does, however, make a good choice for army warlord. He can babysit a backfield objective-holding unit, giving them re-rolls of 1’s to hit. Give him the Lord of Hidden Knowledge warlord trait to regain command points and your opponent will need to go out of his way to try and kill him. This helps to keep him safe, while also buffing nearby units to improve their firepower output.

Most players may take the Watch Master as their warlord in order to get a cheaper Adaptive Tactics stratagem. However, I use the Watch Master quite aggressively, teleporting in with a couple of Storm Bolter Kill Teams to give them full re-rolls to hit. As with the Watch Captain, this is an aggressive use of the Watch Master and likely to make him a target of enemy reprisal.

I think the Watch Captain is a strong choice in the Deathwatch army. In fact, I find it useful to field at least two Deathwatch Captains in most armies, with different battlefield roles. He can be tooled up for a variety of threat roles in the army, or kept cheap to fill out an HQ slot in a Battalion Detachment to access more command points.

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



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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3 years ago

I like banebolts on a stormbolter captain personally cheap and is hell of a lot of use.

4 shots hiting on 2s

Using SIA can wound on 2 or use the ap- ammo

Those 4 shots also can do a mortal wound on a wound roll of 6 in addition to other damage

Also the shots themselves will be 2 dmg a shot

This also not stating combat tactics for rerollable wounds or stratagems for +1 to wound then you get mortal wounds on 5s

I’ve had mine shoot many of canifexs, rhinos, dreads, and other big nasties dead

All this on a captain with storm bolter!

Michael Corr
Michael Corr
3 years ago
Reply to  Madman

The Banebolts on a Storm Bolter are very strong on the Captain, the potential to do 8 damage in a single shooting phase is great. As you said, the Doctrines allow you to potentially harm the toughest of enemy vehcicles and get you bonuses on the mortal wounds rolls.

Rob Butcher
Rob Butcher
3 years ago

What do you think of the named characters like Captain Artemis ?

I’m glad you’ve only got one Watch Master and the Captain with Jump-pack and TH/SS.

Michael Corr
Michael Corr
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Butcher

I’ve actually done a review of Artemis, it should be up soon. The summary is, he has a nice gimmick in the Stasis Grenade, but is simply too expensive to justify in a competitive list.

Yeah, only one for me. He is certainly effective, but I feel bad about running more than one in my list.

Robert F Mohun
3 years ago

You feel bad about playing pure Deathwatch? I don’t think anyone will object to you taking more than one Captain…

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