Chapter Approved 2018- Deathwatch Changes

Hi everyone, Michael here to take a look at how the new Chapter Approved 2018 book will affect one of my favourite armies, the Deathwatch. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

Chapter Approved 2018 was released this weekend and has provided some big shake ups for 40k as a game, many of which I am looking forward to trying out in the coming year. It has also seen some changes to points values for the Deathwatch, many of which are great news to friends of the Xeonos hunters. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at some of the changes and what I think they will mean for the army going forward.

Personally, I like to run pure Deathwatch armies in my games of 40k. Now, I will be the first to admit, this is not the most competitive of armies and I don’t see the new points values changing this to a huge extent. The Deathwatch can struggle as a mono-faction for many reasons. They are generally a smaller, elite force made up of expensive infantry, and can lack a lot of the tools that regular Space Marines have access to (Scouts being the biggest loss to the army by far, in my opinion). However, I think some of the points changes have helped to give them back a bit of an edge and I look forward to testing them out in the future. I also think they serve as a valuable detachment force to supplement an existing army, giving you some very strong firepower and board control (through the Teleportarium stratagem) when used in conjunction with a strong balancing force to shore up their weaknesses.

Let’s take a look at what some of the points adjustments will mean for the army. Note, this will only cover units from the Codex, not any units from Forgeworld. I know that the Deathwatch can benefit hugely from certain Forgeworld units, but they are not something I use, so can’t comment on them with any authority. If you have any recommendations on the best units to use and how/if they have improved, comment below and share your thoughts!

Deathwatch Veterans

One of the core Troops choices in the army, the Deathwatch Veteran squad, has dropped from 16 pts per model to 14 pts (15 pts with the Bolter). Any drop to the core unit cost is a bonus for the army, so the cost of your basic infantry squads has gone down.

Deathwatch Veterans have a lot going for them. Special Issue Ammunition is a great special rule, allowing you to deal with a wide variety of threats in the enemy army. A basic Deathwatch Veteran with a Bolter is a scary opponent to many units in the game, able to wound on a 2+ or go up to AP-2. You also no longer pay 1 pt for a Bolt Pistol, meaning that you can arm all your Veterans with Bolt Pistols for free, as opposed to swapping them out for Chainswords for an extra attack that most players did before.

The Bolt Pistol with Special Issue Ammunition is also a bargain, and I am probably going to equip my Veterans with this from now on. If they find themselves in combat, being able to shoot in your turn at an enemy unit your are engaged against with Special Issue Ammunition is a big boost. With 2 attacks base, the Deathwatch are reasonable in combat against weak infantry, so the Chainsword is not essential. I would rather trade an extra attack each round of combat for the ability to fire at the enemy unit in my shooting phase with the Special Issue Ammunition.

Some of the changes to the equipment costs have also been of great benefit to the Deathwatch Veterans.

Probably the biggest change and source of joy is that Storm Shields now cost only 2 pts for non-character models, down from 5 pts. This is a huge change that will really boost the durability of the Deathwatch Veterans. There is no other Adeptus Astartes army that has such access to the Storm Shield on their basic Troops as the Deathwatch. If you want, you can arm every Deathwatch Veteran with a Storm Shield. You can essentially give every Veteran a 3+ invulnerable save and they still cost the same as they did pre-Chapter Approved 2018. If you would have told me before that I could give every Veteran a 3+ invulnerable save without increasing their points cost, I would have laughed at how ridiculous that sounded.

You do lose out on the Bolt Pistol or Chainsword, but that is a trade well worth it in my opinion.

One of the best units in the army is the Storm Bolter Deathwatch Veterans. For 200 pts, you can take 10 Veterans with Storm Bolters and Storm Shields. Now, not only does this unit put out 40 Bolter shots at rapid fire range with Special Issue Ammunition, you have also greatly increased their durability against enemy attacks. Previously, I used to run two Storm Shields in the squad. They were great at tanking powerful shots, but sometimes would fall without making a save. Now, I can take 5 Shields for the same cost as two before Chapter Approved, giving the squad a big boost.

Kill Teams

Taking mixed squads is one of the hallmarks of the Deathwatch, and the support models to add to the Veterans have also seen a points reduction. Bikes have dropped from 29 pts to 25 pts (with wargear), Vanguard Veterans have dropped from 19 pts to 17 pts and Terminators have dropped from 47 pts to 35 pts (or 30 pts if they take a Power Weapon instead of a Power Fist).

With each model added to the unit, the benefits to the Veterans increase, allowing them to fall back and still shoot or charge, and giving them immunity to morale. This should help add to the tactical options available for the Kill Team and at a cheaper cost overall.

Anti-Tank Firepower

One of the areas that I find Deathwatch struggle is with anti-vehicle firepower. The Special Issue Ammunition covers most threats (including Monsters), but they didn’t have many options for high strength, high damage firepower.

Some useful options were a Twin Lascannon Razorback and Twin Lascannon Venerable Dreadnought for providing some long-range firepower. Both have now gotten cheaper, 10 pts for the Razorback and 20 pts for the Venerable Dreadnought.

Missile Launchers, Meltaguns and Combi-Meltas have also gotten cheaper in the army. Giving you more tools for dealing with enemy armour.

Another potentially useful unit for dealing with enemy armour is a unit of Veterans with Plasma Guns. Each Veteran costs 25 pts with a Plasma Gun, a full 8 pts cheaper than a Hellblaster with Plasma Incinerator. With the Teleportarium stratagem to get them into rapid fire range, and re-rolls from a nearby Watch Master, a unit of 10 can potentially put out 40 damage when overcharging their shots.

A unit of 10 Plasma Gun Veterans costs 250 pts. Assuming re-rolls from a Watch Master, overcharging at rapid fire range and using the +1 to wound stratagem, the squad will do on average; 24 damage to a standard vehicle (T7, 3+ save), 16 damage to an Imperial Knight (5+ invulnerable) or 12-14 damage on an Imperial Knight with Rotate Ion Shields (4+ invulnerable save).

I have not tried out this unit yet in practice, but am looking forward to giving them a go in future games.

Deathwatch Intercessors

The Deathwatch Intercessors also saw a 2 point reduction from 20 pts to 18 pts (the Intercessors went down 1 point and they don’t pay 1 pt for a Bolt Pistol). For an extra 3 pts on top of a Deathwatch Veteran, you get an extra wound on the Primaris Marine, an extra 6″ on the gun and an extra AP-1. You don’t get the durability of the Storm Shields on the Veterans, but they are still a solid unit. The extra -1AP on the Bolt Rifle is a strong bonus when added to the Special Issue Ammunition, and I have had great success with a unit of 10 deep striking to strike at the heart of the enemy army.

Unit Roundup

The Corvus Blackstar was dropped 15 pts on its base cost. With the Twin Lascannon getting cheaper, the Corvus with the Twin Lascannon and Stormstrike Missiles comes in at 217 pts, thirty-five points cheaper than it was before. This gives you some more anti-tank options for the army. I still don’t think it is worth the cost, but it is now cheaper to add the flyer to your army.

Bikers have dropped four points to 25 pts including wargear. For me, Bikes are still not great in 8th edition, but for 77 pts, you can take a unit of 3 Bikers with a Storm Shield on the Sergeant. This gives you a fast and mobile unit, with some good firepower and an invulnerable save. This can be useful for getting in the face of the enemy army or for grabbing objectives.

The Redemptor Dreadnought has gone down a massive 35 pts in its base cost, as well as a reduction in the cost of some of its weapons. Given that Deathwatch Dreadnoughts can come in from reserve with the Teleportarium stratagem, this makes the Dreads more valuable in being a good distraction unit to throw into the enemy army.

Drop Pods also got significantly cheaper, going from 85 pts to 65 pts. While they are not going to be as ubiquitous as they were in 7th edition, I still think there are uses for them in a Deathwatch army, allowing you to keep more units in reserve without using additional command points (or if you are maxed out on units in the Teleportarium).

Mission Changes

Another big bonus for the Deathwatch is the change to the mission structure, most specifically the Acceptable Casualties special rule.

This means being tabled no longer means that you automatically lose the game. With an elite army such as the Deathwatch, this is a big deal, as you can be at risk of losing much of your army to enemy firepower. The new Eternal War and Maelstrom of War missions have a great focus on actually playing the mission over going for the easy kills. This means you should always be focusing on the maelstrom cards and scoring progressive objectives in your games with Deathwatch (or play the great ITC missions, where you do this anyway!).


Chapter Approved 2018 has been pretty kind to the Deathwatch for the most part. Making both Troops choices cheaper is a nice bonus to the army, hopefully getting you a few more models. Equally, the drop in Storm Shields to 2 pts has been a massive boost for the Deathwatch Veterans, giving you a massive boost in durability for many of your squads.

What does this mean for my Deathwatch army?

First up, I am certainly going to be modelling more Storm Shields for my Veterans. This will give them a much needed boost against enemy firepower and should hopefully help them to stick around for longer. I will also be saving points in most of my units, as well as with my Missile Launcher squads.

Adding a few more Twin Lascannon Razorbacks and Dreadnoughts will also be a focus, to give me a bit more anti-tank firepower in my force. I will also be trying out some Plasma Gun Veterans to see if they are an effective tool to help me deal with enemy vehicles.

I also might start taking a look at Bike squads once more. A few minimum sized squads with a Storm Shield on the Sergeant could really help boost the mobility of my army and give me units to threaten the enemy deployment zone before my reserves arrive on turn 2.

I might also revisit Terminators in the army. A unit of 5 Terminators with Storm Bolters and Power Swords comes in at only 150 pts. While not the most points efficient or competitive, they might provide a useful distraction when deep striking in to the enemy army. They are probably not a unit that can be ignored, as a 2+ armour save is still pretty strong in combat against a variety of weaker enemy units.

As good as Chapter Approved 2018 has been, there are still some areas that I think need improvement.

Heavy Thunder Hammers are still a complete waste of points for the army. They either needed a big points reduction, or a rule making them D6 damage to a minimum of 3 (much like other similar weapons).

The Corvus Blackstar is still not great for me, a shame as I really like the model. It needs Power of the Machine Spirit or Strafing Run to be an effective firepower vehicle for the army. The transport capacity is great, but it is too big of a target and easily destroyed by most opponents.

Overall, the Deathwatch got some nice boosts with Chapter Approved. I still don’t think it is enough to make them a top tier army, but it should help them to hold their own against a variety of opponents. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what they can do in my future games and to see if the new points and missions are going to make a big impact on how the army plays.

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.

21 Responses to “Chapter Approved 2018- Deathwatch Changes”

  1. Avatar
    MosNes December 16, 2018 8:22 am #

    Can a 10man unit of Deathwatch Intercessors benefit from the Indomitus Crusaders detachment stratagem from Vigilus? Rapid Fire 2 bolt rifles with special ammo would be nasty.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr December 16, 2018 8:57 am #

      I don’t believe so, I think it only applies to Space Marines. However, big caveat, I don’t have the book at the moment, so just going by what I have heard so far.

  2. Reecius
    Reecius December 16, 2018 9:31 am #

    My preference is to go as cheap as possible, and take only the Storm Bolter and Chainsword but I can see the value in having a few Storm Shields for sure.

    • ChrisG
      ChrisG December 16, 2018 1:34 pm #

      I have actually been loving the intercessors for my deathwatch. The extra wound and AP helps quite a bit. Can’t wait to try them with the new point values.

      • Michael Corr
        Michael Corr December 16, 2018 2:23 pm #

        I always run a unit of 10 Intercessors in my army. They are a solid choice and you are right, the extra AP is a big bonus for going up to AP-3 on a bolter! The extra range also means you can still rapid fire when arriving by Teleportarium.

        • Avatar
          Dr Zaius December 17, 2018 1:02 am #

          And now that the Sargent can take a Power Fist they have a punch in close combat too

          • Michael Corr
            Michael Corr December 18, 2018 2:15 am

            Agreed, three attacks with a power fist is pretty good for doing some damage. Now that it’s cheaper too, it’s a good addition for the Sergeant.

  3. Avatar
    Rob December 16, 2018 1:48 pm #

    Ever thought of trying a brigade? I know it’s restrictive but with all those command points it could interesting to try out if nothing else 🙂

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr December 16, 2018 2:24 pm #

      The extra command points would be awesome, but I don’t think a brigade codex-only Deathwatch is feasible. The only heavy support choice is the Land Raider, so you are looking at well over 800 pts just for those three choices alone.

      • Avatar
        Dakkath December 16, 2018 2:44 pm #

        2 battalions is only 2 less cp than a full brigade and much easier to work with.

        • Michael Corr
          Michael Corr December 16, 2018 3:10 pm #

          Agreed, that’s how I normally run my Deathwatch. I rarely bother with Elites, FA or HS in the army, the Troops and HQ units are the focus of most of my armies.

      • Avatar
        Rob December 17, 2018 1:27 am #

        Don’t you have Hellblasters in heavy support too?

        • Avatar
          WestRider December 17, 2018 1:42 am #

          That’s still almost 500 Points. 500 relatively fragile Points. I’d rather take the Land Raiders, I think.

          • Michael Corr
            Michael Corr December 17, 2018 3:40 am

            Oh yeah, I always forget about the Hellblasters.

  4. Avatar
    Rob Butcher December 16, 2018 2:32 pm #

    It would be useful to know how many points over all your competitive army saved.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr December 17, 2018 1:01 am #

      My standard “plug in” Deathwatch Detachment for my competitive army consists of:
      Watch Master
      Watch Captain- Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
      10 Veterans- 10 Storm Bolters, 2 Storm Shields
      10 Intercessors- Bolt Rifles, Bolt Pistols
      6 Veterans- 2 Missile Launchers, 4 Stalker Bolters

      This used to come in at about 820 pts, With Chapter Approved, I am now saving 73 pts on this detachment. Not a huge points saving, but over a whole 2000 pts army, I might save enough to buy an extra unit of Veterans, adding more bodies to the force.

  5. Avatar
    Whiskie December 16, 2018 6:59 pm #

    Excellent review as always. I think you’re pretty much entirely on point here. I’m not sure I think much of running Terminators as their own unit but mixing them in with Veteran squads makes a lot of sense to me. Having one or two models to tank AP0 shots while the storm shield Vets try to absorb everything else sounds quite strong to me. I also think Deathwatch Bikers went from decent to deadly with the points reduction. I have a friend who’s running an Outrider detachment of 3x 5 man Bike squads, all of which give the Sergeant a storm bolter to pour SIA shots into enemies wherever needed. They sort of act like super mobile Veteran squads. My only complain when it comes to Bikers is that they can’t take special weapons like meltas or whatever…

    • Avatar
      AJShadowhawk December 16, 2018 8:17 pm #

      I agree 100%. Our bikers have so few options compared to main codex space marines. No plasma, or melta or flamer or whatever. It’s just weird. No attack bikes either. No land speeders either. And they all fit the theme of the army too.

      I would love for us to get some updated options. And I’m pretty fine with the bikers otherwise. I have 12 of them built, with a variety of options, and they always do well. They do get exposed horribly if they fail charges or whatever, but all that special ammo fire, with the added storm bolter from a sergeant, and either the chainsword or power weapon attacks can really make a difference. I need to get some more now.

      • Michael Corr
        Michael Corr December 17, 2018 12:55 am #

        I have been giving more thought to Bikers with the price drop. For only an extra 2 pts, you get +1 attack and SIA over regular Space Marine Bikers. However, I still don’t think Bikers are amazing in 8th.

        I’ll probably start running a few squads with 3 Bikers, Storm Bolter and Storm Shield. Comes in at 81 pts and gives you a fast unit that can put out a fair bit of firepower at close range.

        Giving Bikers access to Melta would be a massive boost for the Deathwatch. Really hard to deliver Melta into short range easily with the Deathwatch I’ve found.

  6. Avatar
    TTJ December 17, 2018 12:21 pm #

    For antitank options I think I like venerable dreadnought most as these get mission tactics. Three with Missile launcher + twin lascannon or heavy plasma cannon (for a budget version with reduced cost) fills in the role nicely.

    Watch Captain can provide reroll 1’s to hit and can perhaps take stalker boltgun to use tempest shell for long range shot as well. Equip with Tome of Ectoclades to get reroll 1’s to wound as well against preferred target or maybe The Dominus Aegis if you are facing lot of high ap fire (although need storm shield). As he is most likely to spend the battle on backfield it might be good idea to use him as warlord and maybe use nowhere to hide w-trait to ignore cover.

    In some cases could be useful to use teleportarium to get at least single turn of shooting also.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr December 18, 2018 2:14 am #

      That is a solid firebase.

      I often make a backfield Captain my warlord for the reasons you have listed. The Smash Captain and Watch Master tend to play more aggressively, so are more likely to die, giving up warlord.

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