Deathwing: Squad Sergeants
Note: This tactica is now old and needs an update. Many facts will not be correct for current game. However the general gist is pitched right.
Written by: Lion El Jason with additions by Ezzeran, both Deathwing commanders
Deathwing armies are blessed with one useful trait that's often overlooked: all sergeants have access to the armoury. So let's look at what useful wargear they can have to improve their squad.
Deathwing sergeants do have access to the weapons section and so as long as they don't exceed the weapon limits (two one-handed or a one-handed and a two-handed) they can have cool extra weapons! Also they get the "1 wound discount". Terminator squad sergeants can benefit from this by having a little extra firepower.
Deep striking with Tank Hunters and cyclone missile launchers? why not add a combi-melta? Even at 12" range its a Str9 AP1 weapon and if you do get within 6" it's 2D6 +9 penetration will ensure a dead tank along with the two CMLs.
Maybe you're using a deep-striking assault cannon squad then a combi-plasma may help out a little. Within 12" two AP2 shots are always useful.
The combi-flamer makes a great sergeant upgrade. It's the same price as a storm bolter and, while it provides a little less firepower past 12", it more than makes up for it when you get close. Template weapons are often overlooked, but I've fought many opponents who naturally have or make use of extensive cover saves. Template weapons ignore cover saves outright, and what's more, you never have to make a to hit roll with the weapon, which is a real boon for a model that still misses 1/3rd of the time. Even better, if even a portion of the model is hit by the template, you can roll to wound, none of these partial hits.
Lightning claws, thunder hammers and storm shields
The power sword is a useful thing to have so upgrading to anything else probably isn't worth it. Though I've seen some use a single lightning claw in my opinion the cost is too high. In a similar way I've seen a squad with a Sgt with power sword/storm shield. Only a few points but in my opinion storm shields are quite useless and so this is just a waste.
If you aren't using a combi-weapon, an idea is to try twin lightning claws on the sergeant, it's helluva expensive but the extra assault capability can be worth it and it's one way of getting back the Deathwing's 'mix and max' capability.
For Terminator Assault Squads we have a different situation. Some like to get a shooting weapon as a bit of firepower in a squad that otherwise couldn't have any. Personally I don't bother. I prefer my lightning claw squads to have as many attacks as possible for clearing infantry. I do need the occasional anti-tank/big creature attack though. Often this is achieved by adding a thunder hammer terminator to the squad, however I find it better to give the Sgt the thunder hammer and upgrade the storm shield to a power sword (The "El Jason pattern" sergeant). This gives him the four thunder hammer attacks on the charge for vehicles/creatures but also leaves him the option of four power weapon attacks too: almost ike the lightning claws!
The wargear for Terminators is limited, Lets look at the useful stuff available.
Let's not go there though eh?
These are often used to fill up points, However since you'll always have to roll over 18 on 4D6 they aren't all that good. Using lots of them may get you a lucky roll though (and against 'Nids I'll be wanting to kill that Broodlord ASAP!).
If you buy nothing else for your Sgt and have points left over, consider buying bionics. Just remove the sergeant first and he has a chance of not dying! If you do this for all your Sgts you'll have a couple of good rolls per game and they may keep your squads going a little longer. It's not my prefered tactic but I've seen it used to good effect.
If you roll poorly then because they are such a small cost it's no big deal. But if you are a little lucky (say three or more '6's) then they were well worth it — and if it's an independent character who saves then the whole army's compliment of bionics have paid for themselves three times over!
Master Crafted Weapon
A MC power sword can boost your combat at initiative just a little to help, those power fist boys live to strike! Alternatively a MC combi-weapon can provide a more likely result from your 1 shot gun (on plasma it can also stop an overheat). They are expensive though. On Assault Terminators they can also be useful if you only have one thunder hammer on an "El Jason pattern" sergeant, mastercrafting is a bit of insurance to prevent bad luck ruining your plans. Don't bother if you have a Chaplain with you. Re-rolls on first turn of combat is usually enough!
Deathwing know they are the purest of the emperors servants and need no wax and paper to tell them! Seriously, these look cool on the models but are actually useless.
I try to buy one of these for anyone I can afford it for. Even if I don't plan to deep strike, sometimes it'll be there as an option so be prepared!
So, next time you buy a Deathwing squad look at all these options, it opens up whole new ways of using squads if you're willing to shell out a few points.
Personally I have Terminator Assault squad sergeants with thunder hammer and power sword and Tactical Terminator squads with assault cannon deep striking with combi-plasmas. I'm about to convert my first combi-melta sergeant to see how much use they are.
Lion El Jason