Codex Supplement: Deathwatch Review- Warlord Traits

The new Deathwatch supplement gives the army access to a whole host of new warlord traits to use in the army. Let’s take a look at how effective they are. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

The Deathwatch have access to some great new warlord traits to boost their fight against the evil Xenos.

Here is the rating systems I will be using in the review:

  • Competitive: This is a codex entry (unit, stratagem, item, etc.) that has a place in essentially any competitive list built with this faction regardless of unit choices or is the source of a significant force multiplication effect for other units.
  • Efficient: This is a codex entry that can stand on its own merit in a matched play list but works best when combined up with other units or in specific situations to become very powerful but may not always be seen.
  • Situational: This is a codex entry that may not pass as competitive on its own merits but can be made effective in a creative list, as a meta-buster, or in a specific combo or scenario where it ratchets up in power to potentially very high strength but otherwise will not be seen very often.

Obviously, most stratagems are Situational as you need specific things to happen to be able to use them. However, this rating does not refer to that, but rather that you will rarely be using the stratagem, even when the right conditions come up to allow you to use it.

Warlord Traits

Vigilance Incarnate– In the command phase, select one Deathwatch unit within 6″ of the warlord. Select one battlefield roll. Until the end of the turn, when the unit targets that battlefield role, re-roll wound rolls of 1.

Competitive. I think this will be the favoured choice for most Deathwatch warlords. It essentially allows you to gain the Chapter Tactics re-rolls against another unit time for a single unit within range of your warlord. A watered down version of the Tome of Ectoclades, but still very effective. Could be useful on a backfield character babysitting a long ranged kill team to make the most out of any heavy weapons when attacking more elite enemy units.

Nowhere to Hide (Aura)– Select one enemy unit on the battlefield in the command phase. When Deathwatch units within 6″ make attacks against that enemy unit, it does not receive the benefit of cover to its saving throw.

Situational. One of the weaker traits for me. If it ignored the effects of cover, I would be more interested in it. However, with Doctrines and special issue ammunition, the saving throw bonus to cover can be mitigated by the Deathwatch, so I don’t think you need to use a warlord trait on this.

Optimised Priority (Aura)– While a Deathwatch Core or Character unit is within 6″ of the warlord performing an action, they can make a ranged attack.

Competitive. A very strong warlord trait. An elite army, such as the Deathwatch, cannot really afford to have a unit unable to do anything when performing an action during their turn. This allows you to still perform an action and get the firepower bonuses of a unit in your turn. Could be useful on a Biker or Jump Pack character, allowing them to zoom around the board and allow a core unit to raise the banners on an objective or any of the other secondary objectives. Can also be combined with the Uncompromising Fire stratagem to get a couple of units doing actions and firing in your turn.

Castellan of the Black Vault– You can give your warlord the Adamantine Mantle, Artificer Armour, Master Crafted Weapons and Digital Weapons. Can be given in addition to another relic.

Efficient. Good for doubling up on Relics on a character to boost their combat potential.

The Ties That Bind (Aura)– When a friendly Deathwatch Core unit is within 6″ of the warlord, they can re-roll failed morale tests. In your command phase, you can select one Core unit within 6″ of the warlord, they gain the objective secured rule.

Efficient. The only reason I don’t put this in competitive is that thanks to the kill team mechanic, the Deathwatch have a way to make a number of useful units that can gain the objective secured rule, such as Eradicators, Outriders and Terminators. Still, a nice bonus that could allow you to steal an objective from your opponent. Not sure I would use one of my warlord trait selections to pick this one though.

Paragon of their Chapter– Allows you to pick one of the Chapter-specific warlord traits from Codex Space Marines.

Competitive. This gives you access to 12 more warlord traits to equip to a character, giving you much more utility in your force. Some of the stand outs for me are:

Ultramarines- Allows you to regain CP on a 5+ when you use a stratagem. Great to throw on a character and should net you a few extra CP during the course of the game.

Black Templars- Can heroically intervene up to 6″ horizontally and 5″ vertically, with a heroic intervention move of up to 6″. The boosted range of the intervention makes it harder for your opponent to get into range of an objective while avoiding combat with the character.

Blood Angels- Fight first in the fight phase when in engagement range. Great for allowing your character to strike and try and finish off enemy units before they get a chance to strike back.

Salamanders- Add 2 to the strength of the character. A great boost for a combat character. Going up to S10 with a Thunder Hammer or Power Fist is a great bonus against tough enemy units and infantry. It also makes a Captain with a Xenophase blade a potent combat character, as they will be striking at S7, AP-4 that ignores invulnerable saves. Damage 1 is not great, but you can add the Master Crafted Weapon relic to boost the damage and make him a great killer of models with invulnerable saves. This guy will shred Marines and should do some work against Terminators and Bladeguard Veterans.


The Deathwatch have some very strong warlord traits to boost their army. If you want to farm some CP over the course of the game, take the Ultramarines tactic for the chance to reclaim some. I think Vigilance Incarnate is going to be the go-to for most Deathwatch players, due to the versatility it gives you with your army.

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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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