Deathwatch Review- Warzone Octarius

Hi everyone, Michael here to take a look at the new tools for the Deathwatch from the Warzone Octarius book. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

Kill Team Strike Force

The Deathwatch get access to a new way of running the army in the recently released supplement book. The army is actually very restricted in how it can be run. It can only include Characters, Corvus Blackstars, Kill Teams (upgraded to have a specialism) and dedicated transports (one per kill team).

For this, you get access to Veterans of the Long Vigil. With each, each turn, you are allowed to pick a Chapter Tactic or Successor Chapter Tactic from Codex Space Marines to replace Xenos Hunters (the Deathwatch Chapter Tactic), but can only use each one once per battle. You also get access to a new warlord trait, relic and stratagems (more on this below).

This reminds me of the old Deathwatch army, pre 9th edition, but is even more restrictive, given that you cannot include any Dreadnoughts (who have been tearing up the meta themselves recently for the Deathwatch). In addition, you have to upgrade every Kill Team to a specialisation. While these give some nice bonuses to each unit, at a cost of an extra 15-30 pts per unit, that starts to add up very quickly in the army!

You do get to double up on each specialism though, so you can take a couple of units with the decent ones, giving you more versatility in the army.

Overall, this is going to force you into a very restrictive army build. If you like running lots of kill teams, then this is going to be right up your street. However, being forced to buy a specialism for each kill team is a big points investment, but they can give you some useful buffs to the unit in question.

This army is likely to be infantry heavy, with a few Bikers in support and maybe some transports to help out with keeping your units safe from enemy firepower. This is how I normally run my Deathwatch any, so will be an interesting army to try out.

Veterans of the Long Vigil

This is a great boost to the army to help them out against a variety of opponents. Xenos Hunters is nice, but is less useful against a whole range of armies, as they lack the keywords to get the most out of it. Re-rolls of 1’s to wound against certain unit types is also useful, but this role can be taken over by a Lieutenant if you really want it.

Getting access to the whole range of Codex Space Marine Chapter Tactics is a big boost for the army and could really boost their effectiveness. You do need to plan a bit in advance if you are going to make the most of them, as you can only use each Chapter Tactic once.

Turn 1, you can use Raven Guard to boost the saves of your army and get -1 to hit for units in cover. Or use Salamanders if you are up against a lot of AP-1 firepower to boost your saves.

On turn 2, switch to White Scars to advance and charge and force your way up the board. Or if you are going for combat punch, Blood Angels will really boost your damage output, or Black Templars will make your charges more reliable.

Turn 3, you can use Ultramarines to fall back and shoot with units engaged with the enemy, boosting your firepower with any units that are tied up.

If your opponent thinks they are safely on the objectives at the back of turn 5, you can have Space Wolves to allow your remaining units to heroically intervene and steal the objective from them, or clear them off an objective.

Being able to choose any Chapter Tactic gives you some real tactical flexibility in the army. This is essential, as you will generally have a smaller and more limited force than normal.

Warlord Trait- Xenos Bane

This is a 6″ aura that allows a Kill Team or Character to gain the benefits of both Xeons Hunters and a Chapter Tactic chosen from Veterans of the Long Vigil. This is a great boost, especially with the bonuses of the Kill Team specialisations.

This pairs very well with some Chapter Tactics if you are getting full re-rolls to wound certain units with your Kill Team Specialisation. For example, getting +1 to hit and exploding 6’s on your Bolt weapons thanks to Crimson Fists is a great bonus.

I think this is a strong Warlord Trait, that could pair very well with Vigilance Incarnate to create some powerful combinations. A strong warlord trait for the Kill Team Strike Force.

Relic- Inquisitorial Cipher

This essentially allows you to switch out one of your secondaries for another once they have been revealed. All the normal rules for selecting secondary objectives apply, except you are allowed to take two Deathwatch secondaries if you want.

Not sure this relic is worth it. You choose secondaries after seeing your opponent’s list and the mission. I can’t think of too many situations where you would want to choose again after seeing your opponent’s choices. Getting to take two codex secondaries would be really nice in some situations, but the Deathwatch ones aren’t that great, so I’m not sure why you would bother.


The Strike Force gives Deathwatch access to four new stratagems to use in their games.

Specialism Extremis (3CP)– Use when a Strike Force Kill Team is chosen to shoot or fight. Each time a model in the unit makes a successful hit roll, the attack automatically wounds if the attack was made by an Aquila model or another kill team against its specified unit (i.e. a Furor model is firing at a Troops choice). The same Kill Team can only use this stratagem once.

This is the stratagem that has been touted as making the Strike Force viable. It is expensive at 3CP, so you won’t be using it many times during a game, but it should be well worth the investment when it does go off. You’ve seen how powerful automatically wounding hits have been on Skitarri units, now the Deathwatch get their own version with no limitations on the roll.

The unit you select to use this on can have Watch Master re-rolls, or +1 to hit from Chapter Tactics (such as Dark Angels or Crimson Fists). This creates some very powerful combinations, when you buff up the firing unit, and gives the Deathwatch the tools to deal with a number of enemy threats with relative ease. The only downsides are the high CP cost and limit to using it once on each unit.

This stratagem could see the return of the Storm Bolter Veterans. Forty Storm Bolter shots with full re-rolls to hit and in the Tactical Doctrine, will do an average of 36 automatic wounds at AP-1 against most standard targets. This is enough to shred most units they will be firing at, and can potentially devastate a couple of units if you split fire or use the right combination of Chapter Tactics.

This could also work very well with Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics, giving you exploding 6’s and ignoring cover, to make your Tactical Doctrine bonus have maximum effect.

A great stratagem that should really boost the firepower of the army.

Battlefield Teleportation (1CP)– Select a Strike Force Kill Team or Character at the start of your movement phase. Remove the unit from the battlefield, and set it up in the next reinforcement phase in your turn, using the usual teleport rules.

A really nice stratagem for re-deploying your units during the game. This can be a really nice one to use to get into a better position for your forces. Also great for getting points for Retrieve Octarius Data, as you can use this to teleport a small kill team into different areas of the battlefield to carry out their actions.

Also useful for getting out of a protracted combat, as there are no restrictions for being close to the enemy army for a unit to select.

A nice stratagem to have. Not going to be of use in every game, but handy to score those extra secondary points for ROD or Engage.

Honoured Veteran of the Watch (1CP)– Gives a Sergeant model an extra wound and a warlord trait, can only be used once per game.

A nice stratagem to boost one Sergeant in your army. There are a number of warlord traits that could be of use with your Kill Teams. However, I can see it being more useful to give an extra trait to a character model over a squad Sergeant. However, it is more difficult to target a squad Sergeant for removal, so the trait may be active for much longer than on a character model.

Black Vault Bolts (1CP)– Use on a Strike Force Kill Team or Character when selected to shoot. All Bolt Weapons are changed to Heavy 1. Each time a model makes a ranged attack with a Bolt Weapon, an unmodified wound roll of a 6 inflicts one mortal wound in addition to normal damage (up to a maximum of 6).

Probably one I would give a miss. You will most likely be getting 10 shots at most with this stratagem, and may not even roll any 6’s to wound to gain mortal wounds. Could be useful if you really need to finish off a character or vehicle with mortal wounds, but I wouldn’t really count on it.


The Deathwatch Strike Force gives you a new way to run the army. I’m not sure it will be the most competitive of armies, as you are severely limited in your army selections and have a big points investment for upgrading the Kill Team Specialisations. However, it does give you access to a very powerful stratagem, as well as a useful teleport stratagem to help you score secondary points.

I think it is an army I will be interested to try out in my casual games, to see if it gives any boost to the army performance.

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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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