Deathwatch Review: Troops: Storm Bolter Veterans Kill Team (post-CA2018)

Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of one of the best new units in the Deathwatch codex and one you are likely to see a lot in competitive play, the Veteran Squad armed with Storm Bolters. A very strong unit in the Deathwatch army, that got even better with some points reductions in CA2018. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

Overview:

The Deathwatch Veteran Squad has a huge amount of variety in the Deathwatch codex, able to take a range of Wargear options and mixed build units thanks to the Kill Team rules. In the first part of my review, I took a look at a general overview of the Deathwatch Veteran squad and how they perform on the tabletop. With these Kill Team reviews, I am going to break down what I think will be popular builds for the Kill Teams and what tactics might be effective for them. The format of these reviews will be a little different, without a list of wargear options and abilities at the start. To get an idea of these, check out the Deathwatch Veterans Review. This review will assume you are familiar with many of these rules.

If there are any specific Kill Team builds you would like to see reviewed or analysed, please comment below.

The first Kill Team up for review is the one I think most players will be fielding, the Deathwatch Veteran squad armed with Storm Bolters. One of the most basic builds for the Kill Team would be 10 Deathwatch Veterans (including Sergeant) armed with Storm Bolters and Chainswords/Bolt Pistols. This Kill Team costs 180 pts.

I would rate this Kill Team as Competitive. They can put out a lot of potent firepower, have great deployment options and access to some great Stratagems to further boost their firepower output.

The only downside is that the Deathwatch Kill Team box doesn’t come with a Storm Bolter. Luckily, there are a number of Space Marine kits where you can scavenge for Storm Bolters to equip the squad (were you really using those Terminators anyway?).

Tactics:

A squad of 10 Veterans with Storm Bolters is probably the minimum you will want to field this squad in. This maximises the firepower output for the unit, as well as maximising the bonuses of stratagems, re-rolls, etc. With a 10-man squad, the Deathwatch Veterans can be susceptible to the effects of morale, but there are ways to mitigate this, as we will see below.

One of the best ways to deploy this unit is with the Teleportarium stratagem. For one command point, you can place the unit in reserve and deploy them at the end of one of your turns using the normal rules (more than 9″ from the enemy, no turn 1 deployment, etc). This allows the squad to deploy in rapid fire range of the enemy for most of the special issue ammunition options, with only Vengeance Bolts being out of range on the turn they arrive.

Let’s take a look at the average damage output for a unit of Veterans armed with Storm Bolters. In the table below are the average number of unsaved wounds from a unit of 10 Veterans deploying just over 9″ away from the enemy unit (the Hellfire profile only applies to Monsters, as they have no effect on Vehicles).

Aeldari Guardian

(T3, 5+ save)

Chaos Space Marine

(T4, 3+ save)

T’au Fire Warrior

(T3, 4+ save)

Ork Boy

(T4, 6+ save)

Vehicle/Monster

(T7, 3+ save)

Hellfire

15.0 7.4 11.2 18.6

7.4

Kraken 15.0 6.8 12.0 13.4

4.4

Vengeance 9.0

(18.0 rapid fire)

4.5

(9.0 rapid fire)

7.4

(14.8 rapid fire)

6.8

(13.6 rapid fire)

3.0

(6.0 rapid fire)

In most cases, Hellfire shells seem to be the superior choice when deploying from the Teleportarium stratagem. It is only when facing units with a save comparable to T’au Fire Warriors or Vehicles that you will want to be using the Kraken Bolts to do extra damage.

If you can get into Rapid Fire range with the Vengeance Bolts, then these are your big damage dealers against anything that is not a Monster or very lightly armoured infantry (such as Ork Boyz).

As can be seen from the table, even with average rolls, you will be wiping out most enemy infantry units in the turn that they arrive. With each Veteran armed with a Chainsword, a unit of 10 will be putting out 31 attacks in close combat, so you can even use the Storm Bolters to fire at one unit and charge in to another enemy unit to potentially do some damage in the Fight phase or to grab an objective from your opponent.

There are some instances where the Kraken Bolts will be more favourable, even if they do less damage on average. The extra range of the Kraken Bolts allows you to deploy 12-15″ away from the enemy unit and still get to rapid fire with the Storm Bolters. This is important if your opponent has some form of interception-type stratagem (such as Auspex Scan) that allows them to target units arriving from reserve. The extra range allows you to deploy out of range of most of these stratagems, while still getting the full firepower output from the unit.

The new Beta Bolter rules are also a huge boost to the Storm Bolter Veteran Squad. This allows you to fire double the number of shots if you remained stationary in the previous movement phase. This means that if you stay still on the turn after you deploy from the Teleportarium, the unit still has the ability to put out 40 shots at up to 30″, allowing them to still have a significant impact on the game. Before these beta rules, it was possible to find the unit out of position after destroying an initial enemy unit and not utilising their potent firepower to full effect in future turns. However, the unit can now still put out an incredible amount of firepower if they remaining stationary at a very strong threat range.

The changes also allow you to get full effect from the Kill Team if you start with them on the table on turn 1. This allows you to still fire 40 shots on your first turn up to 30″ if you don’t move, giving you a potent firepower unit to have in your own deployment zone. Your opponent probably won’t want several turns of this firepower, so expect them to be a key target from early on in the game.

There are a number of buffs and special rules that can be used to benefit the Kill Team even further, some of which will be discussed below.

Options for the Kill Team

A Kill Team such as this is a prime target for the enemy firepower, especially if you are deep striking close to or in the enemy deployment zone.

One of the easiest ways to help protect the unit is to add a few Storm Shields to the squad. The cost of Storm Shields for non-character models dropped to an amazing 2 pts per model, so you can afford to add a number to the squad. If you wanted to, you could arm the entire unit with Storm Shields for only 20 pts. This is a bit of a bargain to give the entire unit a 3+ invulnerable save. While arming the whole squad with Storm Shields may be a bit of overkill, the addition of 2-5 per unit is a sound investment, in my opinion.

The Storm Shield is there to take on the high strength, high AP weaponry that will be coming the Kill Team’s way, such as Lascannons, Missile Launchers, Reaper Missile Launchers, etc. This boosts the durability of the unit and helps them stay around for longer, especially if you can use command point re-rolls to pass more saves. Against small arms fire with no AP value, you are better off using normal Veterans, as you don’t want to risk not having the Storm Shield when you need to use it.

One of the benefits of the Deathwatch Kill Team is the ability to take mixed units composed of Veterans, Vanguard Veterans, Terminators and Bikers. These new additions add their own special rules and benefits that can boost the Kill Team.

A Terminator is a great addition to the Storm Bolter Kill Team. You can swap out a Veteran for a Terminator with Storm Bolter and still keep up the same rate of firepower. There are several benefits of taking a Terminator in the Kill Team. First off, it makes you immune to the effects of morale. Even with ATSKNF, a 10-man squad can suffer the effects of morale if they take enough casualties, so having the Terminator stops any of your valuable Marines from fleeing the field.

Another benefit is the Terminator’s 2+ armour save. You can use this to block wounds caused by small arms fire on the unit, giving you a better chance of shrugging off Bolter wounds, etc, than with the Veterans’ save. If the unit is in cover, you can also use it against -1AP weaponry to give better odds of saving a wound.

The Terminator also gives the Kill Team the ability to use a Teleport Homer. These are an upgrade for any Bikers in your army. You can deploy your Teleport Homers in your deployment zone and use them at the start of your movement phase to take selected units from the table and re-deploy them within 6″ of the homer (and 9″ from an enemy unit). This can be a useful extraction tactic for the turn after the Kill Team has arrived from the Teleportarium. If the squad finds themselves out of position after eliminating an enemy unit and any have survived the enemy turn, you can use the homer to re-deploy the unit to your own deployment zone.

I find objective markers to be a useful position for the Teleport Homers, allowing you to quickly move to secure an objective to score maelstrom points or to go after end of game objectives.

The Terminator can be armed with a Power Fist to give you some high strength punch in combat, or you can swap it out for a cheaper Power Weapon and still do a bit more damage in combat. You could also give the Terminator a Cyclone Missile Launcher or other Heavy Weapon, but this starts to get pretty expensive quickly.

You can also add a Vanguard Veteran to the squad. This has the benefit of allowing the Kill Team to fall back and still shoot in their turn. This is obviously a huge boost for the Kill Team, as combat is one way to negate their potent firepower.

This is great for stopping the unit from being tied up in combat and negating their firepower if they are forced to fall back. I’ve recently been running a unit of 9 Storm Bolter Veterans and a Vanguard Veteran with Storm Shield and Bolt Pistol. You get a slight reduction in firepower for the unit, but benefit from an extra invulnerable save and ability to fall back and fire.

I probably wouldn’t bother with a Bike in the Kill Team. The rules are a bit fuzzy on whether a Kill Team with a Biker can use the Teleportarium Stratagem. I’m leaning towards the ruling that they cannot use it, but I can see the argument from both sides. I don’t think the Bike adds to the Kill Team. You would need to add 5 Bikes to benefit from T5 in the unit, and this starts to get really expensive. Also, the ability to fall back and still charge is less useful for this Kill Team, as you don’t really want them in combat.

As well as the unit build options, there are a few weapons options to consider. You probably want to maximise the number of Storm Bolters in the unit, but adding a combi-weapon or two will allow you to keep up a solid rate of fire while also giving you the tools to deal with other threats to the army. Adding a couple of Combi-Meltas will allow you to take on enemy vehicles, while the Storm Bolter shots are used elsewhere. A couple of Combi-Flamers will also add to your anti-infantry firepower, while serving as a nice deterrent to charging enemy units.

If you have the points to spare, you could also take a couple of Power Weapons on the squad or the Sergeant. If you do get charged, this could help you deal a bit more damage to the enemy unit. I probably would avoid taking a Black Shield in this Kill Team. While it gives you an extra attack, it does force you to perform Heroic Interventions with the unit. This could get the Kill Team locked in combat where you don’t want them.

Unit Synergy

A Watch Master is a great accompanying unit for the Storm Bolter Kill Team. He gives you full re-rolls to hit if deployed within 6″ of the unit. This really boosts the damage output of the unit, allowing you to hit with around 90% of your shots on average. He also provides some nice combat support, being a solid character in melee. Putting him in the centre of the unit that is deep striking in allows him to perform heroic interventions if the unit gets charged. You will need to spend a command point to put the Watch Master in the Teleportarium to deploy with the unit if they are also in the Teleportarium though.

Giving him the Tome of Ectoclades Relic is also a great option. This allows you to pick an additional Mission Tactic and apply it to Deathwatch units within 6″. This allows the Storm Bolter Kill Team to choose the optimal re-rolls of 1’s to wound against their target on the turn they arrive.

A unit of 10 Veterans with Storm Bolters accompanied by a Chapter Master and with Mission Tactics re-rolls will hit and wound with 35 of their 40 Bolter shots when using Hellfire shells, on average. This will seriously harm a number of units that they would want to target on the turn that they arrive. I’ve had this unit wipe out Marine Squad in cover thanks to the sheer number of wounds, as well as T’au Crisis Suits. They will also worry any big Tyranid beasts they can get into rapid fire range of with their Storm Bolters.

A Watch Captain with a Jump Pack is also a great accompanying unit for the Kill Team. While you only get re-rolls of 1’s to hit, the Jump Pack allows you to deploy from reserve without using another command point, as well as giving you greater mobility when on the board. Your shooting accuracy will drop from about 90% with the Watch Master to around 80% with the Watch Captain, but you are still looking at about 30 wounds using Hellfire Shells and Mission Tactics.

Another useful tactic for the Kill Team involves the use of a Watch Captain with a Jump Pack and the Beacon Angelis. You can use the Captain to move up on the enemy army, advancing if necessary. Then, at the end of the turn, you can use the power of the Beacon Angelis to teleport a Storm Bolter Kill Team to the Captain’s position (as long as they are deployed at least 9″ from the enemy). This allows you to bypass the turn 1 reserves rules limitations to move a unit already on the board. For added protection, you can deploy the Kill Team in a Rhino or out of line of sight to keep them safe if you don’t get the first turn.

Transport vehicles are also a useful option for this unit. A Rhino or the Corvus Blackstar are great choices for keeping the unit safe from enemy firepower until they get into rapid fire range. While your first choice may be to use the Teleportarium, if you are running multiple units of Storm Bolter Kill Teams, a Rhino is a good alternative for units that are not in the Teleportarium.

Stratagems

There are a number of stratagems that can be used to boost the effectiveness of the Storm Bolter Kill Team.

As mentioned above, the Teleportarium stratagem is one of the key stratagems for the army and one that you will most likely use often. This is a great way of getting the Kill Team into rapid fire range on the turn that they deploy.

The various Doctrine stratagems are some that you may find useful with the Kill Team. These give you +1 to wound against selected enemy units for a single phase. While the Hellfire Bolts may take care of most enemy units that are tough to wound, there may be situations where you need the additional AP of the special issue ammunition, or the +1 to hit. In these cases, the Doctrines can be useful for getting additional wounds on a tough enemy unit.

It can also be useful for taking on enemy vehicles. A unit of 10 Storm Bolter Veterans firing at a standard vehicle (T7, 3+ save) with Kraken Bolts and a Doctrine will be doing around 7 unsaved wounds on average. While it’s not going to destroy an enemy vehicle in one volley, you can take it down a tier or two and reduce its effectiveness on the tabletop. If you add in re-rolls to hit from a Watch Master and Mission Tactics re-rolls, that goes up to around 10 unsaved wounds on a vehicle in a single round of shooting. Not bad for Bolter fire.

You might also get some use out of the Tactical Flexibility stratagem. If the Kill Team survives the enemy turn intact, you can use this to split them into two separate units of 5 models. While it is rare that you will not suffer any casualties, in some situations it could be useful to force your opponent to have two different targets to shoot at. If your game does not use kill points, this could be a useful tactic, but as stated above, it will be on rare occasions that you can use it.

Overall

Those are just some of the tactics and uses for the Storm Bolter Kill Team. I think this is a solid unit for the Deathwatch army, with a lot of variety even within itself. Its uses are fairly simple. Point them at the biggest enemy threat and hopefully eliminate it.

The squad can be backed up by a number of powerful support characters and stratagems that will increase their effectiveness greatly. I would say that the support of a Watch Master of Watch Captain is essential for getting the most out of the Kill Team.

The Squad will generally be deploying from turn 2 onwards thanks to the reserves Beta rules. This means you need a solid presence on the board to be able to take the enemy firepower on turn 1. This also gives you the opportunity to try and clear out any screeing units on your first turn to allow the Kill Team to deploy in the optimal position on turn 2.

The other thing to watch out for is if your Watch Master is your warlord and is with the Kill Team in the Teleportarium. The Warlord needs to the be on the table to use the Lord of Hidden Knowledge warlord trait. This means you will not be regaining command points with this warlord trait until he is deployed, though this is less of an issue with the new limits on regaining command points.

The Storm Bolter Kill Team is one of the best new options to come out of the Deathwatch Codex, boosted by the access of the Storm Bolter to Special Issue Ammunition. I think you will be seeing this unit in a range of Deathwatch armies, as well as making a powerful allied unit for other Imperial armies.

The new Beta Bolter rules also boost the utility of the Veteran Squad, allowing them to put out a lot of potent firepower at longer ranges if they remain stationary in their movement phase. This makes it much harder for the Kill Team to find themselves out of position and their firepower neutered in the later stages of the game.

Are there any other strong Kill Teams you think will be strong in a competitive environment? Comment below and let me know your builds.

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

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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.

14 Responses to “Deathwatch Review: Troops: Storm Bolter Veterans Kill Team (post-CA2018)”

  1. Dakkath February 6, 2019 10:40 pm #

    Between the beta bolter rule, SIA, and the termie homer, you make an excellent case for a blob 10 storm bolter vets. Drop in, waste some stuff with 20-40 SIA shots, then if needed you can poof back to an objective and _still_ be chucking 4 shots per dude out to 30″ while objective camping.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr February 8, 2019 12:13 am #

      Yeah, the new Beta Bolter rules make them a very strong proposition for long ranged firepower.

  2. Rathstar February 7, 2019 4:11 am #

    I’ve never been worried seeing what looks like a basic marine on the battlefield, but now these marines play how the novels depict marines, and I am a bit concerned.

    Also the combination of a 2+ save, 3+ inv save as well as basic 3+ saves, means they can pick the perfect save to make your firepower as inefficient as possible, making them more resilient than they initially seem.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr February 8, 2019 12:14 am #

      They are pretty strong in isolation, but massed firepower will still send them packing.

  3. GABMAT February 7, 2019 9:02 am #

    I think that they are still not that competitive. A veteran with a stormbolter (4p for deatwatch) and the storm shield is 20p Even if u don’t put the storm shield on all models but take a terminator and give the sergeant a combi-melta u are well over 200p.
    For 10 models with 11 wounds and u fail 33 percent of 0 ap wounds without the terminator that is not impressive at all. IF u kill of the terminator first u will die on morale. If u want to put them in reserves u will need 1cp. And if u come in as reserves your rapid fire range will be still 12 only which is not that big of a threat if your opponent has a screen. And the watchmaster plus even the cheapest hq is more then 200 points. U will not see them as a support detachment for sure.

    The intercessor squad is a far better troop option with the built in -1 ap and 30 range weapon and with 2 wounds each.Camping on objective double taping -1p rounds wounding on 2s everything except vehicles and titanic (poor tyranids) or -2ap rounds on 36 or -3 ap on 24 range .Sorry but its the time of the new marines according GW.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr February 8, 2019 12:15 am #

      I like the Intercessors, but the Storm Bolter Veterans have double the firepower for the same cost. They simply demolish enemy units when they come in from reserve. The Primaris Marines are strong, but don’t have the raw firepower of the Storm Bolter Veterans.

      • GABMAT February 8, 2019 8:57 am #

        They are pretty equal in cost/effectiveness , because u have the better range and ap on the bolt gun and u have double wounds. Veterans are better when coming from reserves they are more like glass-cannons, intercessors are better when they start on the board and use their range with better ap and extra wound.
        What i meant with not so competitive is the combination with other armies. If u make a battalion with them u don’t get much cp from it if u put them in reserves. And when they are in reserves u don’t have screening units. And u already spent a big chunk of points on that battalion.

  4. GABMAT February 7, 2019 9:52 am #

    The best combo after the chapter approved and with the bolter beta rules now are the veterans supporting terminators. 5 stock veterans with 2-3 storm shields combined with 5 terminators. Morale will not be a problem and u can tank the high ap multi dmg weapons on the veterans with the shields and the low ap single dmg weapons on terminators. And the deathwatch terminators can change all their power fists to a cheaper power weapon. U get even more value from your mighty terminators because they are still a troop choice , almost sounds like cheating :).
    And keep in mind that in the deathwatch veteran pack u have 2 storm shields and dont have a single stormbolter Storm bolter is not even in their gear list in kill team. IF u build them with stormbolters u cant use them in kill team.

  5. Lemondish February 7, 2019 12:09 pm #

    You’re insane.

    No other obsec troop unit is this lethal, durable, and mobile for such a small cost.

    • GABMAT February 7, 2019 3:16 pm #

      They were obsec and lethal before chapter approved They are marines with rapid fire weapons don’t know what u mean by mobility. And they were too expensive as all 1wound marines. Now they are just expensive. The stormbolter veteran without the storm shield is 2 points cheaper. The storm shield stormbolter veteran is 5 points cheaper. Did this made them into absolute op troops that everyone will take , im not so sure about that. And i still think the deathwatch intercessors are the better choice after chapter approved and the bolter beta rules

      • Michael Corr
        Michael Corr February 8, 2019 12:17 am #

        I think they are one of the best troops choices available to Marines. The special issue ammunition gives you so many ways to deal with threats in the enemy army. They absolutely destroy non-vehicle units that are T5 or more with the Hellfire bolts.

  6. Desc440 February 13, 2019 6:20 am #

    You are vastly underselling the usefulness of having a biker in a squad. They allow the whole squad to move much faster, as they can charge, fall back and then charge again, gaining an incredible amount of extra movement a turn.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr February 14, 2019 12:15 am #

      True, but you generally don’t want them in combat, as it reduces their effectiveness. Plus, if your opponent plays it right, they can trap them in combat to prevent them from falling back.

      If you take a Biker and a Vanguard Veteran in the squad, you cannot use the Teleportarium stratagem and are limited in the choice of transport options. In this case, your mobility is still pretty limited, as you actually need to get up the battlefield to get into charge range. When it comes to mobility for the Veteran squad, I much prefer the Teleportarium or a Rhino to get up close closer, and with relative protection for the squad.

      • Dustin March 8, 2019 5:43 pm #

        If you have a terminator in the kill team and at least one group of bikers, you can teleport them back out of a losing situation.

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