Building a 'Pure' 3000 point Deathwing army

5th Edition

For those who like their Deathwing unsullied by non-first Company units.

You will notice a distinct lack of cyclone missile launchers and models wielding thunder hammer and storm shields here, this is because this article was originally put together way before the January 2011 faq update and these weapons have not been incorporated. A link to an updated Deathwing 'Cyclonewing' article featuring more post faq items can be found at the bottom of this page.

The approach reflects the classic armies of the pre-4th Edition Dark Angels Codex. With the exception of course of the compulsory Master of the Deathwing, one heavy weapon per squad, and squads of a maximum of 5 Terminators per squad we are as near pre-4th edition as we can get.

Another useful by-product of producing this list, and expanding it to 3000 points, as it demonstrates quite dramatically the limitations from within the Codex as far as 'Pure' Deathwing is concerned.

You will see that as Deathwing Terminator Squads are now restricted to Troops and Elite slots only, it becomes very difficult to field a full 3000 point Deathwing army, with the army's points total reaching anywhere near the total all your Force Org slots become fully occupied so it becomes a question of juggling weapons and Dread upgrades to fill up the 3000 points. Interesting.

The first 2000 points

Unit Points
w/ pair of lightning claws
(1 x Apothecary upgrade, 1 x Standard Bearer upgrade)
Venerable Dreadnought
Venerable Dreadnought
Command Squad
3 x LC, 1 x TH/SS, 1 x acannon, (plus Apoth and Standard Bearer)
Squad 1
1 x Sergeant w/ PW/SB, 1 x acannon, 1 x LC, 1 x SB/CF, 1 x SB/PF
Squad 2
1 x Sergeant w/ PW/SB, 1 x acannon, 1 x LC, 1 x SB/CF, 1 x SB/PF
Squad 3
1 x Sergeant w/ PW/SB, 1 x acannon, 1 x LC, 1 x SB/CF, 1 x SB/PF
Squad 4
1 x Sergeant w/ PW/SB, 1 x acannon, 1 x LC, 1 x SB/CF, 1 x SB/PF
Squad 5
1 x Sergeant w/ PW/SB, 1 x acannon, 1 x LC, 1 x SB/CF, 1 x SB/PF

For the HQ Belial is armed with lightning claws as I feel these offer greater potential for that decisive turn one drop — taking advantage of his higher initiative and extra base attack — he ends up with 5 attacks on the charge. Notice too the Apothecary upgrade Belial unlocks for me. This guy conferring Feel No Pain can potentially save 50% of all models in his squad that at any time fail their armour or invulnerable save (conditions apply of course), it is ridiculous not to take him.

Same with the Deathwing Company Banner, if Belial is teamed with the Termy assault squad (where the banner will be) that's 17 lightning claw attacks (21 on the charge) so not too shabby. And that doesn't include the thunder hammer or powerfist swinging. You will notice the assault cannon is in this Assault Squad, it is here to thin out large units before the termies charge in.

Venerable Dreads provide long-range support fire one a traditional Deathwing support unit with hard-hitting twin-linked lascannon and a missile launcher. The other the a twin-linked autocannon — useful for hitting fast skimmers/light vehicles penetrating up to AV12 and with good range too. The option here is to swap the autocannon for the plasma cannon, a good horde-killer but useful against light vehicles if the need arises or of course just leaving on the ubiquitous assault cannon. If extra armour is required for these Dreads, the way to pay for it is to replace assault cannons with cyclone missile launchers and remove the chainfists from two squads.

The real meat here are the termy squads. Each has an assault cannon (naturally) and, apart from the Assault Squad, each has a pair of lightning claws for extra close combat punch. The sergeant retains his power weapon for additional Initiative attacks to support the claws.

But with no Ravenwing with their teleport homers the Terminator squads face a risky Deathwing Assault or a long footslog towards the enemy. Nevertheless the six squads allows me the flexibility to hold them all in reserve and bring three plus Belial in on a Deathwing Assault. But, should I decide to deploy one squad on the table (leaving five in Reserve) three squads are still available to DWA on turn one. Actually, there are loads of variations here on which squads to deploy and which if any to put into reserve.

Further 500 point expansion to 2500 points (OK it's actually 520 points)

Unit Points
w/ Crozius Arcanum/combi-melta/Rosarius
w/ Plasma Cannon/DCCW
Land Raider Crusader
w/ Hurricane bolters/TL assault cannons/multi-melta

Yes there's 520 points here so we must take out either an assault cannon from a termy squad and replace it with a cyclone, or, remove the Venerable status from one of the original Dreads. But it is illustrating a point here, a restricted Army list and fixed squad sizes means a juggling act to build an army that fits let alone be effective.

With all the troop slots full further expansion becomes tricky. But the addition of a second HQ IC to help out Belial in assault, attaching himself to a termy squad to DW assault in, or just footslog it, seems a reasonable selection. It could be argued that he should appear in the first 2000 points.

A third Dreadnought with a plasma cannon fills up the last Elite slot. I love the plasma Dread, it does a great job against most things including MEQs and has the added benefit of not over heating.

A Crusader comes next, giving the option of loading the Chaplain and the Assault squad into it and roaring across the battlefield and dumping them into the enemy's lines — seems appealing if a little reckless. The Crusader gives out a tremendous amount of firepower and is far the better option from the Deathwing Heavy Support stable.

Further 500 point expansion to 3000 points

Unit Points
Land Raider
w/ TLLC sponsons/TL heavy bolters
Land Raider
w/ TLLC sponsons/TL heavy bolters

Well here we go with the heavy Deathwing vehicles backup. a normal Land Raider with Godhammer lascannons vital for anti-armour killing. This fills up the remainder of the heavy Support slots, and this in termy fills up ALL the Force Org slots — remember there are no Fast Attack options in a pure Deathwing force.

So what can be done differently when building a pure Deathwing army?

Well of course there are many ways to skin a cat, I realise that my first 2000 points pretty much filled all the Troop slots and two of the Elite which for me is preferable as troops are the things that win battles but, left little room for manoeuvre in the larger army. I am please that I have remained loyal to the 'Pure Deathwing' ethos, even if in the long run the army has maxed out yet still isn't really as competitive as it's previous pre-4th Edition incarnation.

The restriction to just two Independent Characters is a real bind, as I would like to run a Librarian attached to a command squad but sadly this is now not an option for the Dark Angels.

I also feel the lack of effective dedicated transport options (none) is a real bind to anyone fielding a pure Deathwing army. Drop pods would have been a nice addition and given more choice without, in my opinion, destroying the Deathwing's 'surgical srike' capability.

But there is no use looking back. Only by playing and testing a variety of many army lists will we be able to take the Deathwing forwards and keep them both competitive AND fun.

Note that since this was first put together we have had an faq update in Jan 2011. Another list looking at DW post faq can be found here: Experimental 'Cyclonewing' lists

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