Beginners Guide to Deathwatch - Part 5 - Deathwatch Assault Marine

Well lets get stuck in shall we?

Deathwatch Assault Marine - An Overview.
If your idea of an ideal Space Marine involves wading into the enemy and then hacking him/them to pieces then the Assault Marine is the character for you.

Though each Specialisation has access to abilities outside of its expected range of expertise, it's unlikely you'll have the points to spare on them for quite a while if you choose the Assault Marine. Due to the combat mechanics of Deathwatch your far more likely to get hurt in melee than at range so if your going to be charging into the enemy as your primary method of getting shit done then you need to be wholly dedicated to it from the start. I'm in no way trying to put you off the Assault Marine because they're extremely fun to play, It's just that unlike a more support character (like a Techmarine or Apothecary) your role in the team is focused exclusively on one thing.....Of course if your into that 'one thing' then your going to enjoy this guy a lot, lol.

There are of course still role-playing opportunities to be had.

My own group has two Raven Guard characters in it (One's a Tactical Marine geared towards sneaking and sniping and the other is an Assault Marine) and they quite often work together with the sniper wounding a powerful enemy or forcing it to waste it's dodge move and then the Assault Marine leaps in and finishes it off. Though this might not seem like typical Assault Marine behaviour it is very typical Raven Guard behaviour as they are known for exploiting enemy weaknesses. Conversely we previously had a Black Templars Assault Marine who would just charge headlong into any enemies (regardless of their strength or numbers) meaning that the rest of the team had little choice but to join him as we were all now at penalties to shoot because the fucker was in the way....

As you can see from those examples, hyper-specialised needn't mean one-dimensional ;-)

Characteristic Advances.
The Assault Marine advance table prioritises Weapon Skill, Strength, Agility and Perception. Weapon Skill decides how likely you are to hit what your swinging at, your Strength bonus adds to your Melee damage done and your Agility governs how easy you can dodge an enemies attacks as well as deciding who goes first. As you can see you need to increase an Assault Marines Characteristic scores in a number of areas (rather than for example a Techmarine who only really needs to up Intelligence at first) to make him effective. Of the three areas I mentioned Weapon Skill and Agility are (imo) the most important as a Space Marines strength bonus is already doubled due to Unnatural Strength and will get an extra +2 on top of that due to your +20 strength from wearing Power Armour. Perception isn't anywhere near as important in comparison. It's also worth mentioning that your Agility bonus governs how far you can move as well which becomes important when charging (or running away tactically withdrawing to a superior position in order to reassess the situation).
Toughness and Fellowship. Any damage received is reduced by your Toughness bonus and as Marines come with Unnatural Toughness they can absorb quite a lot of damage by default. Saying that though you can never be too tough in a game of Deathwatch so I'd be increasing that stat as soon as possible. Fellowship is only really an issue if you want your Marine to be in a command position in the group.
Ballistic Skill, Intelligence and Willpower. The first time our Black Templars Assault Marine used his Bolt Pistol the GM made him use a half action to take the wrapper off.....I'm joking of course but none of these stats are of any real importance to you at first unless you have a pressing role-playing reason for wanting them to be.....

Okay then. Weapons Skill needs to be upped as a priority with Agility a close 2nd then follow that with increases to Strength and Toughness. As your Primary characteristics can be upped relatively cheaply it's worth upping all those (except for Perception) by two levels at first and then seeing how it goes from there.

Standard Equipment.
So you get the usual Astartes Power Armour, Astartes Bolt Pistol, Frag Grenades (3), Krak grenades (3), Astartes Combat Knife, Repair Cement and one Chapter Trapping.

Additionally an Assault Marine gets,

Astartes Chainsword.
It's a better weapon than the standard Combat Knife but as hitting things is your 'bread and butter' you'll be wanting to use the 'Signature Wargear' Talent to get yourself something better as a matter of priority. Signature Wargear is available at Rank 1 for an item of up to 20 requisition and you can up that item (or exchange it completely) to one of up to 40 Requisition at Rank 2. You'll need a renown level of 'Respected' to get a Power Sword or Power Axe (both 20 Requisition) so be patient and then grab one or the other as soon as they're available.

Astartes Jump Pack.
This doubles your Base Movement when using it and obviously allows you to leap over things while your doing it. It also gives you the equivalent of the Flyer (12)* trait for up to a minute. You need the Skill Pilot (Personal) to operate one effectively but Assault Marines get that ability for free anyway.

* there's a whole section on Flying in the rulebook and I'm not going to be covering it her, sorry.

Starting Skills.
Pilot (Personal).
You can use an Astartes Jump Pack.

The Personal Pilot Skill is governed by the Agility Characteristic so that's another good reason for making sure it's as high as possible. You shouldn't be required to make a test in normal circumstances but expect to take one if your attempting to do something.....tricky.....

Special Ability.
You gain the 'Swift attack' Talent as standard and then get a choice between either 'Wings of Angels' or 'Wrathful Descent'

Swift Attack.
As a Full Action in combat you get to attack twice. This Talent and the similar ones available later are what makes the difference between a character suited for combat and one that isn't and it's why it's difficult to make an effective melee character who isn't an Assault Marine. Later on you can purchase Lightning Attack which ups your attacks to three and this can be done as soon as Rank 2 for a mere 600 XP.

And now decision time. You can only choose one of the following and you can't change your mind later (Unless your GM is very kind or you can come up with a clever reason for doing so , I suppose).

Wings of Angels.
You can go an extra 20 metres of Movement if you pass a Challenging (+0) Pilot (Personal) test. If you use this ability in conjunction with a 'Charge' you add additional 1d5 Damage to your melee attacks. This only works in Solo Mode.

Wrathful Descent.
When making a Charge against a Horde you may inflict an additional 1d10 damage to the Hordes Magnitude** on his first successful attack. You need to be in 'Squad Mode' to make this work.

**Basically this means he'll kill an extra 1d10 of the enemy Horde he's charged into.

Which of these you pick is entirely up to you and will somewhat depend on whether your particular Kill-Team uses the Squad Mode rules much. If forced to make a choice I'd go with Wrathful Descent as my GM seems to turn anything we face into a Horde of some description, lol.

Advance Tables.
As I'm sure you've guessed these are biased towards abilities that enable you to kill shit more efficiently in assault.

The various 'Hatreds' from the Deathwatch Advance Table are nice for their +10 Weapon Skill Bonus but you need one for each race. Hunter of Aliens also gives +10 Weapon Skill and additionally adds 2 to your damage (Vs. Aliens only obviously) and stacks with Hatred for a nice +20 should your 'Hatred' be appropriate to the race your fighting.
The Generic Space Marine Advance Table has Sound Constitution at Rank 1 for the bargain price of 500 XP and you can take it twice at that Rank for an always useful extra couple of Wounds.
There's nothing particularly exciting at Rank 1 of the Assault Marines Advance Table and you'll most likely be using all that initial XP on statistic upgrades anyway. However at Rank 2 you'll be wanting to take Lightning reflexes (Doubles your Agility Bonus for Initiative rolls) and Lightning attack (So you get three attacks in melee). Occasionally overlooked is the Sure Strike Talent which you may find particularly interesting. Basically when you roll to hit in Deathwatch the number on the dice is reversed to decide upon hit location. Sure Strike allows you use the result 'as is' which makes your chance of hitting somewhere vulnerable a bit more likely ;-)

Some General Advice.
I think I've covered most of it as I went along, but to summarise.
Up Weapon Skill, Agility and Strength as soon as possible, followed by Toughness. Get yourself a better weapon via Signature Wargear as soon as your Renown level is high enough and make sure you buy the Lighting Reflexes and Lightning Attack abilities as soon as they're available.

I think were done now.....Next time....the Devastator.....
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