Codex Supplement: Deathwatch Review- Xenopurge Discipline

The Deathwatch have a brand new psychic discipline to take to the field to purge their enemies, let’s see if it’s any good. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

The Deathwatch gain new psychic powers for the first time; the Xenopurge Discipline.

Here is the rating system that I will use 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 powers 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.

Premorphic Resonance (WC6)– Select one friendly Deathwatch unit within 18″ of the psyker. The unit’s overwatch attacks hit on a 5+, it can fight first in the Fight phase and you get +1 to hit in melee.

Competitive. I like this power. It is easy to cast and will be highly effective on a combat-centred Kill Team. The overwatch bonus is nice, especially as you only really get one instance of overwatch against most armies. Against Xenos units, you will be hitting on a 2+ and re-rolling ones to hit. Pair with Death to the Alien for the +1 attacks, and a kill team will be putting out an incredible amount of highly accurate attacks. A unit of 10 Veterans with Chainswords will be putting out 50 attacks on the charge, hitting on a 2+ and re-rolling 1’s against Xenos with this power and the stratagem active.

Fortified with Contempt (WC6)– Select one friendly Deathwatch Infantry or Biker unit within 18″. Each time a model would lose a wound, on a 5+ that wound is not lost.

Competitive. Not as good as Psychic Fortress in most situations, but still a useful power for blocking damage to your squads. A Kill Team or Terminator squad with Storm Shields and this power will be very hard to shift with small arms fire. Forcing your opponent to put more firepower into a squad to deplete them is always a good bonus in any game.

Neural Void (WC7)– Select one enemy unit within 18″ of the psyker. Subtract one from the unit’s attacks characteristic (to a minimum of 1). Each time a charge is declared for that unit, it may only target the closest enemy unit as the target of the charge.

Competitive. The -1A is a nice bonus and should reduce the damage output of a number of key enemy units. However, the real bonus of this power is the ability to dictate your opponent’s move and charge. The real strength of this power is that the closest unit can be the only target of the charge. This means you can screen your important units more effectively, as your opponent cannot declare both the target of the charge and hopefully get in to both. Yes, they still might be able to tag you with consolidation moves, but they are not attacking your unit at least. Plus, Deathwatch have a variety of methods available to be able to fall back and still act, so getting tagged in combat is not terrible for the army.

Psychic Cleanse (WC6)– Roll a D6 for each enemy model within 9″ of the psyker. On a roll of a 6, that model’s unit suffers a mortal wound.

Situational. Not a big fan of this power. First off, it requires your psyker to get in very close to the enemy army to get the most effect out of the power, and generally, your psykers don’t really want to get that close as they can be killed quite easily. Second, doing a mortal wound on a 6 is generally not going to net that many dead models on average, unless you roll really hot. Could be useful if you are surrounded by a unit of 30 Ork Boyz, but even then, you are only killing 5 on average.

Mantle of Shadow (WC6)– Select a Deathwatch infantry unit within 12″ of the psyker. If the unit does not shoot or declare a charge, they cannot be targeted by enemy ranged attacks, unless they are within 12″ or are the closest eligible unit.

Efficient. An elite army such as the Deathwatch generally don’t want units sitting doing nothing for a whole turn of the game. However, there are some times this power could come in handy. If you have an objective you must hold, or action that you must perform, it could prove to be useful for keeping the unit safe for a turn.

Severance (WC7)- Targets one enemy character unit within 18″. The unit suffers 1 mortal wound. Until the start of your next psychic phase, reduce the range of any aura abilities by 3″. If the psychic test roll was higher than the character’s leadership, then units can no longer benefit from their aura abilities.

Competitive. This could put a huge spanner in the works of any opponent’s battle plans. Suddenly, a 6″ aura is down to 3″. This can either mean re-positioning of the character or units to get into range of an aura, which could reduce their firepower or combat effectiveness. If you roll high enough, you can even shut down a character’s auras entirely, making them useless for buffing the rest of the army for a turn. This is less likely, as most characters you want to use it on are going to be Ld9, but still useful when it happens, just don’t count on it. This power also does not need line of site and ignores Look Out, Sir, making it useful for sniping at characters within range. Great if you have an enemy character hiding with a single wound left.


I’m actually quite pleased with the new Xenopurge Discipline for the Deathwatch. I can see uses for all the power listed, with the exception of maybe Psychic Cleanse. A Librarian backing up a combat Kill Team with Premorphic Resonance and Fortified with Contempt will create quite a melee powerhouse that your opponent will find it difficult to deal with. With the new Corvus Blackstar shrouding stratagem, this makes getting a melee unit into combat a more reliable prospect.

There are a few powers here worth taking this discipline over the Librarius discipline in Codex Space Marines. As mentioned above, in certain situations, Fortified with Contempt is a good choice over Psychic Fortress, especially if you are still running a few Storm Shields in your kill teams.

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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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