Review: Fantasy Flight Games – Deathwatch

Product Name: Deathwatch
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Author: Ross Watson
System: Deathwatch
Theme: Warhammer 40K, Sci-Fi
Type: Core

This review was originally posted at The Mystical Throne.

Are you ready to step up to the next level of role-playing? Do you think you could take on an entire army with only a team of 5? You think hack and slash is where the combat ends? That’s where Deathwatch enters. This book is AWESOME!

The Deathwatch core rulebook starts out with a bang that says more than 10,000 words. Space Marines… as a mere human would view them. They are God-like in their stature and even the tallest man would have to look up to see into their eyes. When you notice there is a chainsword in your face, that’s when you begin to really understand the power that these marines yield. Now that the cover has drawn you in, how can you resist wanting to play?

The core mechanics of Deathwatch are the same as Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader and fit very well within this book. However, Deathwatch has introduced some new mechanics so that your small band of Battle-Brothers can not only face but rip apart an entire force of enemy soldiers/creatures/whatever! These new mechanics really make this book stand apart from the other two of the Warhammer 40,000 RPG series.

It’s not an easy task trying to create a Space Marine without creating an unstoppable force that could stand up to anything and never miss a beat. Fantasy Flight Games has managed to flesh out those details to create very detailed and three-dimensional characters for players to create. With new options for solo and squad modes along with a whole bunch of new powers and abilities, these Space Marines are not only created dynamically but are created in a way to keep the players interested without becoming a boring game of move and shoot, move and shoot.

And it doesn’t stop there. Fantasy Flight Games has not only created a new selection of weapons and ammo that a Space Marine needs to face the most horrific foes in the galaxy, they managed to take the Space Marine armor and gene-seed and bring it to life. Not only do these characters have enhanced genes and armor, but these enhancements have a purpose and add not only to the role-playing perspective but add bonuses to a Space Marines abilities, skills, and talents.

So is it perfect? Not quite. While I like the character creation section, I find it lacks some detail that I would be hoping for from a Space Marine and it lacks options. However, this can easily be remedied by subsequent supplements. With that in mind, the core rulebook contains enough for a group to put together a powerful kill-team that will remain fun and exciting.

To top it all off, FFG has added another level of role-playing to the Space Marines with a system called Demeanors which allows a player to create a character that is unlike the other characters giving them options to act and operate in a fashion that is inherent to their chapter or position. All of these options combined produce an exciting way to play some of the most powerful beings mankind will ever know!

This is the one area of the book where I felt a little letdown. There is fair amount of illustrations, but many of them seem too cartoon-like and don’t really follow the normal trend for Warhammer 40,000 art. However, there are pieces here and there that really stand out, but they tend to be overshadowed by a slightly dull and flat illustration on a previous page. I would have liked to see more art following the cover art, but then the bulk of the new mechanics are the main attraction for the book.

The layout of the book is typical Fantasy Flight Games. Functional, easy to follow, and consistent. It contains a nice flow from beginning to end and keeps the player from having to flip back-and-forth between sections during character creation. They also keep consistent with previous books on how the rules are presented giving players of Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader and easy way of getting into this new system with ease.

While the fluff is not overly-involved with the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Deathwatch core rulebook does a great job of giving the players ideas on how their characters’ chapters operate and how their particular function meshes with the rest of the team. The rest of the fluff in the book is consistent with giving a Game Master the ideas and tools needed to create an in-depth campaign setting that stands out from the others and is full of life. The Jericho Reach (the location of the Deathwatch core rulebook) is the PERFECT setting for operating a Deathwatch kill-team. Without giving anything away, your band of battle-brothers will have plenty of roadblocks to overcome.

I rate this book very highly not only because you finally get to play a Space Marine, but because it’s written so well that your character is an individual that stands out from the crowd without simply blending into a monotonous background. The new mechanics are outstanding and will most likely lead to hours and hours of exciting game play!

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10

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