A Beginner's Guide to Deathwing

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This is for all those who are thinking about starting a Deathwing army.  I have limited experience with ravenwing and doublewing, so I'll be staying away from that.  While I may not have as much experience as some Dark Angel veterans, I have played more than enough games to know what works and what doesn't.  The aim of this guide is to assist those who are just getting their armies off the ground.  I tend to have a fairly brief writing style, so expect a lot of information to come in quick bursts (save a few specific instances).  I will also use a lot of acronyms (such as SB Definition: Storm Bolter- Storm Bolter).  If you don't know any of them, feel free to ask (hopefully a lot of them will be self-explanatory if you check the codex, however).  This is also written assuming that you are using only the rules within the dark angels codex (such as the old Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield and Cyclone Missile Launcher rules) and not using any of the wargear updates from the SM Definition: Space Marinescodex.

What is "Pure" Deathwing?

Deathwing, in its purest form, is nothing but terminators, venerable dreadnoughts, and land raiders.  As you add varying levels of impurity, you can add things such as allies (DH/WH, preferably still in terminator armour), non-venerable dreadnoughts, and vindicators.  This topic will deal with pure or nearly pure Deathwing (terminators are the only troop choice).

Army Selection

The first rule of building an army with the Deathwing in that its easiest to think of the army in terms of 250 point "blocks."  If you build like this, you'll find your lists sitting at the common point values quite nicely.  A block could be anything from a terminator squad to a land raider or two ICs.  That said, it means building a list for something like 1700 points can be a little more difficult; it's still possible, of course.  Deathwing are also very difficult to run at under 1000 points.  750 is literally the minimum value (2 squads of termies, Belial, and a points filler) possible.  At 1500 both shooty and choppy armies are viable and, at 1750, an assault-oriented Deathwing army reaches its optimum level of performance (3 choppy squads, 3 land raiders, belial and a choppy filler).

HQ

For our HQ choices, one is mandatory: Belial, Maser of the Deathwing.  The only question you really need to ask is whether you want to give him the SoS and Storm Bolters or the LCs.  The thunder hammer wastes his precious initiative five (a bit of a rarity for the Deathwing) and doesn't give much of a bonus save close combat.  Both the SoS/Storm Bolters and LC are excellent choices.  Obviously, if you're running an assault-oriented army, take the lightning claws.  In a shooty army, you can take either (although I prefer the SoS/Storm Bolters for those extra BS5 shots and highly reccomend this setup).

At almost any points value, you'll want to take either a second HQ or something like a dreadnought to fill the rest of the 250 point block that Belial begins (he's quite cheap for what he does, really).  An interregator-chaplain in termie armour is good in any list with land raiders (even shooty, as re-rolling to-hit rolls with powerfists is rather scary for your opponent).  He loses some usefulness in foot lists as you'll often give the initiative to your opponent.  A librarian can help shooty lists out with some extra shooting but are less efficient in an assault-oriented list.  The problem with a librarian is that he's only ld9, so his psychic hood only works about 25% of the time vs ld10 psykers.

Another completely viable option is to ally an HQ choice from the Daemonhunters or Witch Hunters codex.  A DH brother-captain with psycannon and psychic hood is a cheap alternative (ableit with only 1 wound) that nicely fills the 250 point block and adds both impressive shooting, close combat, and anti-psyker ability to your list (it's the cheapest possible way to get a LD10 psychic hood, which is around ~42% effective vs ld10 psykers).  I don't have any experience with Wtich Hunter HQ's, but it's definetely an option as well.

The final point to add regarding Belial are his two possible squad upgrades: the standard bearer and the apothecary.  In an assault-based list, I highly reccomend the standard bearer.  Put it in whatever unit of termies you plan on Belial hanging out in (as well as your second HQ if you're running one).  In a shooty list, the apothecary is well worth it (if he even saves one terminator per game, he's more than made up his points value).  Both options could be used in the opposite style armies, but their effectiveness is diluted slightly.

Elites

The only real option here is the dreadnought.  There are two loadouts that I reccomend: tl-lascannon and missile launcher or stock with the venerable upgrade.  The former will help greatly with the Deathwing's greatest weakness (long-range shooting) and the latter can advance with your squads and do good in assault and shooting.  I don't reccomend adding venerable to the shooty dread as it should really be hugging cover in the back as much as possible.  Dreads are a great addition in a walking list but suffer in a mechanized list as they compete for valuable land raider point blocks.

Scouts, veterans, and techmarines all don't fit the Deathwing qualification.  Remember that if you manage to fill 6 troops of terminators, you can still take Deathwing Terminator squads as elite slots.

Troops

Now we get to the meat and bones of any good Deathwing list: the Deathwing Terminator Squads.  First of all, you're probably looking at all the options and thinking: "Wow, I could easily give all 5 guys different stuff and abuse wound allocation!"  Let me say right now that I've done it and all you end up with is a squad that isn't quite as effective as it should be.  It's quite easy to have 3 or 4 "sets" of termies with the same equipment in one squad and that's really all you need.  Also, despite the fact that you can, I don't reccomend mixing and matching tactical (Storm Bolter/Power Fist) termies with assault termies.  You'll end up with a squad that doesn't perform quite as well as it should (and, really, a powerfist is plenty strong against the armies you should be fighting in close combat).

For an assault-oriented squad, the general line of thought is to maximize the number of lightning claws while keeping at least one powerfist-type weapon.  For this, I highly reccomend the chainfist along with a special weapon (either the heavy flamer or assault cannon).  Give the other 4 members of the squad lightning claws and go at it!  The bane of this squad is anything initiative 5 and anything with a good invulnerable save (i.e. codex marine Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield termies).  If you're running assault squads, land raiders are virtually mandatory in order to garner a huge threat range (approximately 21" - 12" movement + 2" deployment + 1" base + 6" charge) for your termies.

For your shooty squads, the first thing you need to decide is what special weapon to give.  The heavy flamer is a cheap addition that can wipe out entire squads at a time.  The cyclone missile launcher is nearly worthless in my experience; with only one shot, you'll find that even with 2 Cyclone Missile Launcher squads, they don't do very much all game.  The longer range is nice, but largely unnecessary (you want to be within 24" to fire those storm bolters anyways).  The only real upside to your weapon is the fact that you can fire your storm bolter as well, but this is really like putting icing on gravy (yes, this is a horrible metaphor... live with it!).  The final choice is the most expensive: the assault cannon.  Far better than the Cyclone Missile Launcher at both infantry and anti-tank (rivalling a lascannon in this department), it is the clear choice for a shooty squad.

You're now stuck with one final choice: to chainfist or not to chainfist?  In my experience, it's only necessary against certain armies.  If you expect to ever fight against soul grinders or ironclad dreadnoughts, you'll find a chainfist to be invaluable in punching their high front AV.  Even against standard dreadnoughts, the chainfist will put the hurt on them.  Against vehicle heavy armies (such as mech guard), that one termie with a chainfist will often be able to destroy a vehicle by himself (provided he hits it, of course Wink ).

As one final tip: if you want five powerfist type weapons in your squad while retaining storm bolters,  you can replace the sergeant's power sword with a chainfist.  I'd recommend not as I like to assign low-AP wounds to the sergeant, but the choice is yours.

Tactical marines are obviously out for Deathwing.

Fast Attack

Assault squads are out.  Ravenwing squads are used in doublewing lists, but are out for pure Deathwing.  Next!

Heavy Support

Devastators, predators, whirlwinds, and vindicators are all out as far as pure Deathwing is concerned (although vindicators can complement walking termies very well).  Land raiders are where we're concerned.

The land raider is a magnificent beast: AV14 all around with plenty of twin-linked guns means it's literally walking death.  However, they're expensive; as much as a termie squad, if not more.  That said, I've often found my land raiders to be invaluable.  In a capture and control mission, they're one of the best vehicles in the game to contest enemy objectives and are responsible for around 3/4 of my C&C wins (instead of draws).  As far as upgrades go, extra armour can be useful if you're running assault squads, but still aren't 100% necessary as Power of the Machine Spirit can keep you moving in a straight line.  I generally don't upgrade my Land Raiders at all.

Now the choice is between the Land Raider and the Land Raider Crusader.  Really, this comes down to both personal choice and what you're running.  The Land Raider can only fit 5 termies, so no ICs can join a full squad for a ride.  Its lascannons greatly help the Deathwing's limited anti-tank, however.  On the move, it can only fire 2 of its 3 guns at 6".  At 12", it obviously cannot fire any.

The Land Raider Crusader can put out more firepower than a full terminator squad and, up close, is actually more dangerous to vehicles thanks to its multi-melta (the twin-linked assault cannon is also statistically better than a twin-linked lascannon against everything save AV12).  With 8 termies able to hop on board, there's plenty of room for a full squad and two ICs.  Also, when moving 6", it's capable of firing every single gun (hurricane bolters are still defensive weapons) thanks to Power of the Machine Spirit.

If you're running a land raider, I generally recommend at least 2.  To start, I'd recommend proxying both the Land Raider and the Land Raider Crusader to see which you like more.  Both are useful.  In my opinion, the Land Raider Crusader slightly edges out the Land Raider due to pure volume of fire and the fact that it operates very well at the Deathwing's chosen range (24" and in).

Sample Army Lists

Here are a few sample lists you can try running.  The first is a walking list, the second is my mechanized shooty list (the one I am currently primarily gaming with) and the last is an assault-oriented list.  The first two are 1500 points, the last 1750.

#1

HQ:
Belial w/Storm Bolter & Sword of Secrets
DH Grey Knight Brother-Captain w/Nemesis Force Weapon, Psycannon, Psychic Hood
Troops:
Deathwing Squad 1 - Sergeant, Assault Cannon, Chainfist, Apothecary, Storm Bolters & Power Fist
Deathwing Squad 2 - Sergeant, Assault Cannon, Chainfist, 2x Storm Bolters & Power Fist
Deathwing Squad 3 - Sergeant, Assault Cannon, Chainfist, 2x Storm Bolters & Power Fist
Deathwing Squad 4 - Sergeant, Assault Cannon, Chainfist, 2x Storm Bolters & Power Fist
Deathwing Squad 5 - Sergeant, Heavy Flamer, Chainfist, 2x Storm Bolters & Power Fist

#2

HQ:
Belial w/Storm Bolter & Sword of Secrets
DH Grey Knight Brother-Captain w/Nemesis Force Weapon, Psycannon, Psychic Hood
Troops:
Deathwing Squad 1 - Sergeant, Assault Cannon, Chainfist, Apothecary, Storm Bolters & Power Fist
Deathwing Squad 2 - Sergeant, Assault Cannon, Chainfist, 2x Storm Bolters & Power Fist
Deathwing Squad 3 - Sergeant, Heavy Flamer, Chainfist, 2x Storm Bolters & Power Fist
Heavy Support:
Land Raider
Land Raider Crusader

#3

HQ:
Belial w/Lightning Claws
Interrogator-Chaplain w/TDA
Troops:
Deathwing Squad 1 - 4x Lightning Claws, Chainfist & Heavy Flamer, Deathwing Company Banner
Deathwing Squad 2 - 4x Lightning Claws, Chainfist & Heavy Flamer
Deathwing Squad 3 - 4x Lightning Claws, Chainfist & Assault Cannon
Heavy Support:
Land Raider
Land Raider Crusader
Land Raider Crusader

Tactics

Deathwing are a very small, elite army.  You need to focus your efforts on small portions of the enemy army.  You will virtually never win by spreading out your forces and attacking huge swathes of the enemy.  For shooty Deathwing, the #1 rule is to focus your firepower!  Keep plugging away at the biggest threat until it's dead, do not dilute your firepower!  Part of the reason I love land raiders is that they help you to accomplish this goal.  Don't underestimate your storm bolters, they're surprisingly effective; have faith in the emperor and you will be amazed at what your "lowly" bolter rounds can accomplish!

I'll now go into some general tactics, mission specific tactics, and finally army-specific.

General Tactics

Deathwing Assault

What?  It took all the way to the tactics portion to even mention Deathwing Assault!?  Yes, that's absolutely correct!  Why?  Because I find it to only be useful in the tactical sense, not the strategical.  What I mean by that is you should use DWA to take advantage of your enemy's mistakes (or even their army!) rather than using it as a general strategy for your army.  DWA is not mandatory and, quite often, completely unnecessary.  For a walking list, it can help you get to grips with an army that out-shoots you.  For a mechanized list, it can help take the focus off of your land raiders.

When you do choose to deepstrike, be ballsy!  Go for it!  Plop that heavy flamer squad virtually adjacent to the enemy's veteran squad!  What people tend to forget is that, more often than not, a deep strke will scatter 6 to 8 inches.  Keep that in mind and keep that 7" bubble.  Go for the seemingly gutsy moves and you'll find yourself living more often than the seemingly "safe" deep strikes.

One of my favourite tricks, whether walking or mechanized, is to deepstrike my squad with the heavy flamer right next to my opponent's largest concentration of infantry.  In the last game I did this, I brought one squad of kroot down to 4 men left turn one and finished them off the next turn with storm bolters.  My squad took heavy casualties, leaving only the heavy flamer terminator left.  On my next turn, I walked him 6" towards another squad of kroot and let loose; that squad ran off the table.  With only one troop choice left for him, victory was easy given that it was an objective game.

24 and 0

There are two ranges which the deathwing are at their most effective: 24" and 0".  At 24", your full firepower comes to bare (save LRCs).  Against an army that can out-assault you, this is where you want to be.  From here, kiting (walking away from the enemy and shooting) is an excellent tactic.  Use your terminator's 6" movement to stay on the move and keep that distance while firing.

The second distance is 0".  This is where you want to be against any army that can outshoot you.  Stuck in close combat, you're virtually immune to shooting.  When assaulting, you want one of two things to happen: 1, you utterly obliterate the enemy; 2, you do some damage but ultimately finish the enemy off in their assault phase.  Against shooty armies, you'll want to be stuck in until your opponent's turn whenever possible.  This isn't always possible when assaulting, but can be possible by doing things such as not shooting, not killing a ld-boosting character such as a commisar (stubborn with a re-roll? I think I'll kill you in your own assault phase... thanks for not letting your demolishers shoot me up!).  If you know you're going to win, try and assault in such a way that you can use your consolidation move to get in terrain; either LOS-blocking or simply a 4+ cover save is good.

Cover!

Lacking that 3+ invulnerable of a Storm Shield, we're forced to rely upon our 5+ invulnerable whenever our (considerable) armour save fails us.  Use cover whenever you can and take that 4+.

Refused Flank

If you do not know what a refused flank is, it's essentially focusing your entire army on a portion of the enemy.  For example, in this Vassal image, you can see me using a refused flank against an incredibly mechanized guard army:

Article image
It's very rare that you'll win a game with the Deathwing without using a refused flank.  With anywhere from 15-25 infantry models on the board at 1500 points, you will virtually always be outnumbered.

Mobile Terrain

If you're using land raiders, one of the greatest uses for them is hiding your terminators.  No, not hiding your terminators in them, but hiding your terminators behind them.  In combination with a refused flank, it's entirely possible to hide your terminators to 3/4 of the enemy army by forming a wall with your land raiders.  Using this trick, you can take little to no return fire while picking off the enemy piece by piece.

The Way of the Water Warrior

I highly recommend you read the following article by Silent Requiem.  Deathwing fall into what's known as a water army (or at least shooty deathwing); that is, they're capable of playing to your opponent's weakness rather than playing to your own strengths.  The strength of shooty deathwing is that they can do everything decently (movement [through deepstriking or mechanization], shooting, and assualt).

http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/index.php?showtopic=101214

Go Second!

Except against the shootiest of shooty armies, go second whenever possible!  Having that last turn will help you immensely for contesting objectives and last-second kill point snagging.  It also falls into playing a water style army.  This doesn't mean you let your opponent control the flow of the battle, however; it just means you're that much more able to see what he's doing and stop him from doing it.

Mission Specific Tactics

Sieze Ground

Take a look at the picture above of the refused flank example.  Notice how the objectives are set up: three on one side (the side I'm on) and only two on the other.  This is the easiest thing you can do to make objective games easier.  Even with only a few units, you're able to concentrate on 1/3 of the battlefield or less.  Let your opponent have the other objectives; that's that much less of his army you have to worry about (of course, during turns 4 and 5, ram your land raiders right down his throat and contest Wink ).  If you place an objective first, place it in some cover near one of the left or right board edges.  Your opponent will generally either mirror this or place an objective on the opposite side of the board.  Either is fine.  Regardless of what he does, set your next objective up either opposite your own or in the middle of the "triangle" that the three objectives make.  In 3 objective games, use a 2+1 setup.  With 4 objectives, try and use a 3+1 setup whenever possible.

Capture and Control

Against a balanced army, I reccomend placing the objective opposite your opponent's.  If you place first, place it on the left or right third of the battlefield (remember the refused flank!).  If you're fighting a heavy shooting army that you plan on engaging in close combat, place your objective midfield for easier access after the carnage.  Land raiders will turn many draws into wins as they are amazing at contesting turn 5 (but they're not fast enough to get across the entire field in one go, you'll generally need to start moving them towards the objective at least on turn 4).

Remember, in both C&C and sieze ground, you're playing an objective mission.  Kill points do not matter.  Focus on the objective and you will have success.

Kill Points

Deathwing have a huge advantage in this mission in that we'll often only have 7 or 8 kill points to give up, even at 1500 or 1750 points.  Focus on weak opponents and try and rack up kill points early on.  Against armies such as mechanized marines, it's entirely possible to merely kill off transports and Independent Characters  and get a similar number of kill points as your entire army.  Against most opponents, however, this won't happen.  Stick together, focus your fire, and don't be afraid to waste a few shots to finish off a weakened unit.

Pitched Battle

If you're going first, try and set up in cover.  Stick together.  A refused flank, while useful, can mean your opponent can corner you if he gets to react to your deployment.  What I actually reccomend is deploying one unit more central with the rest on one flank.  This gives the apperance of a somewhat standard deployment (one or two movement phases and/or running can easily pull your army back into a refused flank, however).  When going second, look at your opponent's setup and identify his weakest link for the given mission.  Focus on that!  But stick together no matter what.

Spearhead

Don't be scared to put your entire army into reserves in this mission.  Using DWA plus regular reserves means ~75%+ of your army will be in beginning of turn 2; it also means you're not forced into deploying in one corner of the table.  If your opponent doesn't know where you are, it's harder for him to deploy appropriately.  If you're going second, feel free to deploy according to how your opponent does.  Don't be afraid to play the short board edges as "your" board edge.  If you look at the table from a different angle, all of a sudden you're playing that same old and comfortable refused flank.  Against a shooty army, I highly reccomend deploying as far forward as possible (and also going first).  If you and your opponent both deploy at the very corners of that 12" bubble, there's only ~16" (IIRC) between your troops.  So, yes, that means you can get off a first turn charge in a land raider (although this is very unlikely, especially against skilled opponents).

Dawn of War

Put your entire army into reserve.  Maybe DWA assault something, but everything that isn't should walk on turn 1.  If you're going second, this will effectively negate an entire turn of your opponent's and allow you to react to not only his deployment but his first turn of movement as well.  I absolutely love dawn of war, it works perfectly with water tactics.

Army Specific Tactics

If an army isn't listed, then that means I don't have enough experience fighting them to be able to give solid advice outside of theoryhammer.  Unfortunately, there really aren't many Dark Eldar players in my area (2, maybe... and neither of them ever bring their Dark Eldar anymore).

Daemons

I don't care what the deployment is, put your entire army in reserve.  By doing this, you are able to take the initiative from the daemons.  If you really don't want to put everything in reserve, then castle up.  Take up as much board space as you can muster to maximize the chances of a mishap, but castle up as much as possible.  Most daemons are slow, so use that 24" range to wipe out their almost universal 5+ save.  Take the charge instead of the daemons whenever you can, regardless of your setup.  Things like Bloodletters get too much of an advantage when they charge.  A psycannon is great here, especially against something like the fateweaver.  Stay together, take out the daemons one unit of a time, and try to not let more than one of your squads get charged per turn (you can string out 5 Terminators pretty far if you try).

Chaos Marines

(or... "stupid lash")

A psychic hood will help with lash, but your best defense is to plug the lash-wielder full of bolter rounds.  A squad of 5 Terminators with an assault cannon will generally put around ~1.2 wounds on a Slaanesh prince.  At the types of point's values where lash is powerful, you should be able to down a daemon prince in one turn without too much trouble.  Stick in cover to minimize plasma/demolisher rounds.  Whenever possible, charge Plague Marines.  Your power weapons will ignore their FNP and armour and make quick work of them (although losing a bonus attack on the charge kinda sucks).  Most chaos lists will want to get close, so expect combat.  Kite whenever possible, but, like with daemons, don't be afraid of sacrificing a squad to stop charges to the rest of your army.  If they've brought land raiders, take them out with your Chainfists and smile knowing that his lack of obliterators/vindicators has made your job easier.  Also, Berserkers suck to fight against.  Get the charge if you can (blowing their transports will make it easier) to stop them getting S5 (they'll still hurt either way, however).  A smart player will have these guys threatening charges turn 2, so be ready.

Daemonhunters

The Daemonhunters play very similarly to the Deathwing in many ways, save with power armour for the most part.  Don't be afraid of taking an IST squad's fire in order to hit them with a heavy flamer the next turn.  Focus on one part of his army at time and you'll do fine.  The land raider wall is particularly effective against non-mounted Daemonhunters (this was actually the first army I started using this particular tactic against).

Eldar

Psychic hood!  Besides that, don't try using psychic powers if you have them.  Their transports are stupid difficult to destroy, but don't be afraid to try.  I've taken down wave serpents with assault cannons and war walkers with storm bolters; it can be done, despite the odds being against it.  As a general plan, "shoot the assaulty ones and assault the shooty ones."  Eldar are an army of specialist, you are an army of generalists.  Have fun countering his units one at a time.  Versus wraithguard, try and maintin that 24" range.  Their guns are short-ranged but deadly.  Assault cannons are great against seer councils and the like; S6 means every failed save is disastrous.  Don't try and outmaneuvre Eldar, it just doesn't work.  Stay together, even more so than against other armies.  If you split up, you will be decimated.  Don't be afraid of castling up behind raiders if you have them.  Yes, bright lances suck, but it's still only S8 vs AV12 at that point.

Imperial Guard

Laugh maniacally as you move your land raiders up first turn and pop smoke (only glances! go old smoke).  Continue to laugh maniacally turn 2 as you get a charge off against half his army (read the rules for multiple assaults, they're actually very generous) and proceed to send him off the table.  All joking aside, close combat is where it's at.  FRFSRF will decimate your Terminators, lasguns or not.  Laugh as you take your 2+ save against their battlecannons.  Cry when he outflanks three demolishers (haha, like a guard player would ever actually try this) then bust em with everything you've got.  Don't waste shots against his tanks, even side armour.  Close combat is how you're going to take those out.  A terminator squad can easily pop a sentinel or two.  Valkyries are annoying, but assault cannons and lascannons (if you have them) can pop them pretty easily.

Necrons

Move your land raiders up first turn and don't bother to pop smoke because all can do is glance you anyways.  Continue to laugh maniacally turn 2 as you get a charge off against half his army and proceed to phase him out.  Necrons really need a new codex, I've only not tabled a Necron player once.  Their C'tan are honestly scary if you're a foot list.  If you're in land raiders, drive around them and phase their army out.  The 24 or 0 rule is 100% applicable here, as both can work.  If you have lascannons, heavy destroyers are your first priority.

Orks

Stay close (I'm sounding like a broken record, aren't I?) and feel free to sacrifice a squad in order to set up a good heavy flamer hit.  Similar to daemons, get the charge whenever you can.  Especially if you have an apothecary sitting behind the lines, a charging shooty squad of Terminators can easily win combat versus a mob of boyz and force ridiculous numbers of wounds.  Powerfists rock against Nob Bikers.  Orks are, in all honesty, probably the hardest fight for Deathwing.  A good ork list will swamp you and force you into your corner turn 2.  Like I mentioned in the spearhead tactics, turning the table sideways is a great way to look at an ork army, especially one with lots of footsloggers.  Take his army on one piece at a time and you'll pull off a win.  Get swamped with half or more of his army and you're in bad straits.

Space Marines

An interesting fight, for sure.  Follow the 24 or 0 rule and you'll do great.  You can both outshoot and outfight tactical squads and assault squads (their fist will hurt, though).  Scouts will crumble to your assaults.  What scares me the most about a space marine list are Thunderh Hammer/Storm Shield Terminators.  You absolutely must kite these guys.  Don't even think about beating them in close combat unless you majorly outnumber them with lightning claw Terminators.  There are so many possible builds for space marines it would be hard to document them all here.  In general, if you assault anything save Thunderh Hammer/Storm Shield Terminators and ICs you'll probably come out on top.  Pop his rhinos if he has them and you'll win the mobility game.

Space Wolves and Black Templars will both most likely try to play the close combat game.  Watch out for BT land raiders full of LC Terminators with FC (ugly combination), try and take those out if you can, but be prepared to lose whatever he points that thing at.  I don't have much experience with space wolves, but they do seem to like drop pods.  Against drop pods (same as daemons), reserve your army.  Take the initiative away from them.  Against ravenwing, stick together and take out his melta (generally attack bikes are your biggest concern).  If you have raiders, run around in those shooting his melta-less army and having fun.  Without raiders, stick together and try to charge if you can.

Tau Empire

Unlike the guard and necrons, the Tau are the hardest shooty army for the Deathwing to fight in my opinion.  A good Tau player will force you to take several turns to get to grips with him.  As such, I highly recommend DWA'ing a heavy flamer squad into their lines turn 1.  If he has troops exposed, they're dead.  If he doesn't deal with this squad, it will run amok in his lines having fun; more importantly, however, it allows the rest of your army to advance relatively unmolested.  Our old smoke comes into play here, as his railguns won't be able to get penetrating hits on our raiders for at least one turn.  With a bit of luck, this means we can be in their lines turn 2.  Plasma and fusion will hurt your Terminators as well as rapid-firing pulse rifles (thank your opponent for delivering squishy troops right to your front lines, however, if he tries this).  Biggest advice I can give is to hide cover and pour bolter fire onto those crisis squads.  They're not much tougher than marines.  Stealth squads shouldn't give too much trouble; if you're in range of them, they're in range of you (if you move 6" towards them, you should be around 18" away and stand a good chance of passing your night fight roll).  Close combat whenever possible, take out the low AP first, hug cover, and you should be able to manage.

Tyranids

Unless you're 100% assault, pretend that 0" doesn't exist.  Stick to 24" and fire at whatever's closest.  Take their shooting if you have to, focus on whatever can assault you next turn.  If he has outflanking genestealers, this is the one situation in which I reccomend the middle (at the very least, be 19" away from either board edge so that he can't charge the turn he comes in).  Kite, kite, kite.  Don't worry about the gribbly ones too much if there are other threats nearby.  Thinning their numbers is often enough.  Beware of WON squads in objective games.  Pray to the emprah and shoot yer boltguns!

Conclusion

Hopefully this has given you, the aspiring Deathwing general (or anyone reading this, really), some ideas for your army.  What I've said here is not law, it's simply opinions based on personal experiences of playing with, watching it being played, talking to other players, and playing against Deathwing and similar lists.  Certaintly, there are plenty of reasons to take things like Thunderh Hammer/Storm Shield and Cyclone Missile Launchers, but I feel as though they're sub par choices in an army that's generally considered to be "weak" for varying reasons.  To that, I say phooey!  The Deathwing are a strong army that are just as capable as any other.

I hope you enjoyed the read.  Feel free to ask questions, pick apart my arguments, or whatever you like.




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