Codex Supplement: Deathwatch Review- Kill Team Specialisms

Hi everyone, Michael here to take a look at the new upgrades for Deathwatch Kill Teams in the codex supplement, the Kill Team Specialisms. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

The Codex Supplement gives you the ability to increase the power of your Kill Teams with the use of Kill Team Specialisms. These represent a points cost increase to give you to wound bonuses for your kill teams.

In a battle-forged army, you can upgrade a Kill team to have one of the following specialisms; Aquila, Dominatus, Furor, Malleus, Purgatus, Venator. You can only have one of each kill team specialism in your army.

Each of the specialisms (except Aquila) have a set battlefield role(s) attached to them. Your upgraded kill team can re-roll wound rolls of 1 against that selected battlefield role. However, if you have chosen that battlefield role as your Mission Tactics (the Deathwatch Chapter Tactic), then you can re-roll all wound rolls for that kill team.
For example, if you upgrade a Kill Team to Furor specialisms, that kill team can re-roll 1’s to wound against Troops units. However, if you have selected Troops as your battlefield role for Mission Tactics, then the Furor Kill Team can re-roll all wound rolls against Troops.

As you can see, this sets up some very powerful combinations for your kill teams. Getting to re-roll all wound rolls against certain units is a very powerful ability for a range of weapons.

The Kill Team specialisms are as follows:

Aquila (+15 pts)– Select one additional battlefield role after choosing one for your Mission Tactics. This kill team can re-roll 1’s to wound against either of your chosen Battle field roles.

A nice generic specialisation that allows you to pick two choices for a selected unit. This is useful for tournament settings, as you can adjust which additional battlefield role you are choosing when you see your opponent’s army.

Venator (+20 pts)– Uses the Fast Attack and Flyer battlefield role.

Malleus (+30 pts)– Uses the Heavy Support, Lord of War and Dedicated Transport battlefield role.

Dominus (+20 pts)– Uses the Elites battlefield role.

Furor (+30 pts)– Uses the Troops battlefield role.

Purgatus (+20 pts)– Uses the HQ battlefield role.

For me, the Malleus and Furor kill team specialisms are the most useful, hence they are the most expensive.

The game is very much focused on securing objectives, so troops giving objective secured are a strong choice for any army. This makes the Furor specialism a strong option, as I have found targeting Troops with Mission Tactics to be the most common choice for my games, so getting full re-rolls to wound is very strong for the right kill team.

Equally, an Indomitor Kill Team with the Malleus discipline is a very powerful option. This allows your Eradicators to re-roll 1’s to wound against their prime targets, or allows them full re-rolls to wound if you choose one of their options as your mission tactic choice. I think full re-rolls to wound are worth the extra 30 pts it costs for this.

Unit Builds

Let’s take a look at some potential unit builds for adding Kill Team Specialisations to your Deathwatch army.

Proteus Kill Team– 10 Deatwatch Veterans with Storm Bolters and Astartes Chainswords. Furor Specialsim (250 pts).

The might Storm Bolter may have fallen from grace in Deathwatch armies with the loss of Special Issue Ammunition, but I still think there is a place for it in the army. The ability to fire 40 Bolter Shots from reserves almost anywhere on the battlefield is great for clearing away screening units or those holding an objective. This Kill Team gives you 10 Storm Bolter veterans that will re-roll 1’s to wound against Troops units. If you choose Troops as your mission tactics (which you will likely be doing), you can get full re-rolls to wound.

The above unit in the Tactical Doctrine (and Troops Mission Tactics) will kill 20 Ork Boyz or Guardsmen on average. While this may not seem like a lot of firepower for their points cost, it can be invaluable for clearing a screen or removing a unit from an objective to stop them scoring the next turn. Against Marines, you should kill about 5 Primaris or regular Marines on average.

If your firepower is not sufficient enough, charging the squad in to combat will give you 41 attacks on the charge that will be re-rolling to wound against Troops and at AP-1 thanks to the Chainswords. You can always throw a couple of Storm Shields in for added protection if you wish.

Having a character with the Beacon Angelis will allow you to teleport the unit to other parts of the battlefield, where their firepower will be more useful on subsequent turns.

Indomitor Kill Team– 5 Heavy Intercessors with Executor Bolt Rifles, 5 Eradicators, Malleus Specialism (370 pts).

This is a really expensive kill team, but should demolish any enemy vehicles that they come up against. You could combat squad this kill team to give you a unit of backfield Heavy Intercessors and a unit of 5 Eradicators to put into the Teleportarium.

If you choose Heavy Support or Lords of War for your Mission Tactics, full re-rolls to wound on the Eradicators will easily turn them into the most incredible vehicle slayers. This might even allow you to split fire, the re-rolls to wound potentially mitigating only firing one shot per Eradicator. This could be useful for taking out multiple small targets, such as Venoms or Mek Gunz, rather than wasting the firepower of a whole squad on just one target.

You could even split the Kill team into a squad of 3 heavy Intercessors and 2 Eradicators and a squad of 2 heavy Intercessors and 3 Eradicators. Five eradicators is probably overkill for any enemy unit, so splitting up into two squads allows you to spread and maximise your firepower. With re-rolls of 1’s to wound, or full re-rolls to wound in some cases, even your unit of 2 Eradicators has the potential to destroy enemy tanks in a single volley. The Heavy Intercessors can add their firepower to plink off a few more wounds and act as ablative wounds for the Eradicators.


I think the Kill Team specialisations have the potential to increase the damage output of your squads to a high degree, depending on what Mission Tactics you choose. However, adding too many can get very expensive, very quickly. I would probably only choose the Malleus or Furor kill team for selected units.

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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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