Playing Deathwing: First Impressions

Hey everyone, Reecius here to talk about (finally!) getting a game in with my Deathwing!

So first off, why Deathwing? When I read the new rules for them I instantly saw an army that would be relatively easy to play, is resilient and forgiving, has a low model count, and can be good in the shooting and assault phases.

That all sounded great as a small, simple army that is fast to play is really where I am at with what I want in an army at this time. Plus, I love Terminator models and they really haven’t been good since 4th ed, so this was a way to see some old favorites rise up to past glory!

I went with a Guardians of the Covenant paint scheme as for one, I think it looks cool and for two, it’s relatively easy to paint. Nice! Above is my first model painted up, I just need to find a sharp looking, high contrast basing scheme to really make it pop. I am thinking a desert scheme would do nicely.

Here’s my list so far:

  • Vanguard Detachment: 12cp
  • Belial
  • Master of Sanctity in Terminator Armor
  • Deathwing Terminators x 10: Cyclone x 2, L.Claws on Sarge
  • Deathwing Terminators x 10: A. Cannon x 2, L.Claws on Sarge
  • Deathwing Knights x 5
  • Deathwing Command Squad x 5: L.Caws x 1, T.Hammer/S.Shield x 4
  • Deathwing Chief Apothecary
  • Deathwing Chapter Champion
  • Deathwing Chapter Ancient
  • Outriders x 3

A low model count army that is tough and hits hard. I also super enjoy kitting all of the characters with the various upgrades, extra relics and warlords traits, etc. It makes each of them feel truly heroic!

In my first game I played against a really interesting Sisters list featuring:

  • Celestine
  • Canoness (who is insanely powerful for the points in the right set up)
  • Imagifier
  • Priest
  • 3 units of Repentia and one Repentia Superior
  • 1 Rhino
  • 3 full units of Mortifiers
  • 1 full unit of Zephyrim
  • 2 units of Seraphim
  • 3 units of Sisters

I am ultra rusty and so didn’t do anything fancy, just deployed everything but the Outriders on the line in the open counting on my army’s innate toughness. I put the Deathwing Knights in reserve to come in off of the Outriders using the Combined Assault strat.

The game was interesting, I went first and immediately started pouring on the pain with buckets of bolters and heavy weapons buffed by Belial and the Chappy. The big units shred infantry quite easily with all the buffs available to them. The +1 to wound and rerolls to hit make them really scary and on the first turn the extra range from Relentless Hunt is quite good.

My opponent put insane amounts of firepower into my Terminators with the Mortifiers which each rock dual Heavy Bolters, and barely did anything to them. What damage was done was quickly healed by the Apothecary. The Apothecary was awesome in this army (as they are in most Space marine armies) and as the Termies have so many wounds you really get your money’s worth from the upgraded healer.

The Inner Circle rule meaning Deathwing can only be wounded on a 4+ combined with the natural Terminator resilience, 3 wounds, FnP form the Chappy and/or the Ancient and the Apothecary to heal is a potent combo. The Terminators still die but just much, much slower than they did in prior editions, making them feel like the lore. It’s so much more enjoyable to play them now.

When my opponent’s Mortifiers hit me in melee (and they have an insane number of attacks, lol) they still failed to punch through the ultra tough Termies and in exchange got mulched. It was his Repentia and Canoness that did the majority of the damage to me. I found that particularly if the big units of Termies got out of range of some of the buffing auras while moving up the table, they became much more vulnerable. While in range to get optimal buffs though, they’re uber tough.

In melee, particularly with the re-rolls from Belial and the +1 to hit from the Chappy, they deliver the pain. Nothing made it through a round of combat with them unless the Termies attacking had been greatly reduced in numbers.


By mid game it was fairly clear the Deathwing would win but my opponent had some glory when his Canoness went ham-sammich and chopped 7 of my boys down before dying, lol. She and the Repentia accounted for the vast majority of damage done to my Deathwing.

The first wave of 20 Termies were all dead by the bottom of turn 3, but they had done a boatload of damage and taken my opponent’s entire army’s attention. In the second wave were the Deathwing Knights, Command Squad and all the Characters, each of whom is quite powerful. They were able to sweep through what was left of the Sisters taking minimal losses in return.

The Outriders were stupid good. That unit is just honestly ridiculously strong, lol. But, the mobility they gave me really helped in the objective game which Deathwing struggle with quite a bit due to slow speed and low model count. They delivered the Deathwing Knights 6″ from an enemy unit, making the charge into combat quite easy, then went around picking off all of my opponent’s fast moving scoring units of Seraphim.

The Deathwing Knights were ballers. Their only real drawback is their speed. I prefer Tactical Termies for the majority of the list due to their solid shooting and melee combo, but the Knights are super strong in combat and they look rad as well.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the army. I ended up tabeling my opponent on turn 4 with about 2/3’s of my army dead in return. He could have easily beaten me with a few changes to his overall strategy, though. The outcome didn’t really represent our army’s relative power levels. Coming right into me wasn’t a great plan. Had he used his superior speed and played for objectives, I think it would have been relatively for him to just outscore my Deathwing and win the mission. Playing my game and going head to head with the Deathwing isn’t going to work very often for most armies I think.

I will continue to bring updates on the army as I play it and learn more but so far they’re good fun. Each model feels heroic, and the army is quite easy to play, and plays fast.

Thanks for reading, more to come!


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

10 Responses to “Playing Deathwing: First Impressions”

  1. Dakkath December 11, 2020 9:11 pm #

    Shouldn’t you only have 9 cp to work with since the vanguard, outrider, and spearhead detachments don’t have the line about refunding the cp spent on them if your warlord is in the detachment?

    • Reecius December 12, 2020 9:20 am #

      I will double check, I may have goofed it. Like I said, I am crazy rusty and just getting back into the swing of it. Thanks for pointing that out!

  2. Ghosar December 12, 2020 1:03 am #

    Great write up, because of you I want to play my Deathwing now hah hah ! Perhaps with less terminators and more fast units can work to better play the mission, or go screw the opponent s mission plans.

    • Reecius December 12, 2020 9:21 am #

      Yeah, they are really easy with the secondaries IME. And I think a Ravening army would slay in this edition, honestly.

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Michael Corr December 12, 2020 2:20 am #

    Great write up! I’m looking forward to trying an all Ravenwing army with my Dark Angels. My only concern is lack of obsec for playing the mission.

    • Reecius December 12, 2020 9:21 am #

      Thanks and can’t you make the Ravenwing Ancient hand out ObSec like the Deathwing Ancient does? That was clutch in my game.

  4. Bellerah December 12, 2020 10:49 am #

    Great write up, only gotten a few games in in 9th edition, but one thing that has been cropping up in my games against marines and ravenwing has been yes you can win, but you get beaten to a pulp the entire game. An observer would look at the game and see a lopsided victory one way, but you show them the book keeping to show your sizable victory the other. I feel this edition is a little to close to playing against Dwarves in bloodbowl, win or lose, the game was not fun for you 🙁

    • Reecius December 12, 2020 11:05 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, games are really bloody in this edition. I don’t mind that too much myself, it makes things pretty fast.

  5. Crispy December 13, 2020 8:33 pm #

    Great write up man!

    Look forward to hearing more about the army.

    My mate has a deathwing army, but due to covid restrictions we’ve not been able to test the new inner circle rule. I think that’s going to be a pretty strong change when we do go head to head.

    • Reecius December 14, 2020 7:53 am #

      Thanks and yeah, the Inner Circle rule is a big part of what makes the army work, otherwise they’d get smoked with all the strength 8 out there these days.

Leave a Reply