Saturday 25 January 2014

DKK: Death Rider Unit Breakdown.

In my opinion, Death Riders are one of the best units in 40k. Okay, so they die pretty horrendously to Broadsides ignoring cover, but what doesn't these days? Let's look at Death Riders in focus, and see what we can do with them.

The best attributes about these guys is that they come with two wounds EACH. Second to that is their WS4 and Carapace armour. Third to that is Frag, Krak AND FNP 6+. Not to mention that they are cavalry with a re-roll on dangerous terrain tests. All that for a point more expensive then a standard marine!

Furthermore, being able to take them in a platoon has some awesome potential for an allies slot. In fact, it is likely to be more cost-efficient that way. I'll talk about this later though.


First charge and Frag Grenades means you are hitting at a higher Initiative then most ground infantry, and this is where the real damage potential of these guys come in. However, even after the first round of combat, you're still getting 4 attacks per Death rider on the charge, and five from a character with a power axe. That is pretty beastly.

Some math hammer:

5 Death Riders with Watch Master + Power Axe.
10 Marines.

Round One: First Charge:
5.333 Unsaved wounds on Marines.
8 Unsaved wounds on marines with Prescience.
0.7 Unsaved wounds on Death Riders.

Round Two: No Hunting Lances:
1.83 Unsaved wounds on Marines.
2.25 Unsaved wound on Marines with Prescience.
0.7 Unsaved wounds on Death Riders.

Count: 7.16 Unsaved wounds on Marines: 1.69 Unsaved wounds on Death Riders.

Round Three: 
1.83 Unsaved wounds on Marines.
2.25 Unsaved wound on Marines with Prescience.0.42 Unsaved wound on Death Riders.

Count: 10.16 Unsaved wounds on Marines: 2.11 Unsaved wounds on Death Riders.

Okay, so arguably that is two turns worth of combat for a 95 point Death Rider unit to take out 10 marines. Competitively, it means you run the risk of wiping them out in your own combat turn. You don't want that. Instead, you should bump the squad up with either prescience or an additional three riders to make sure that you get out of combat in your opponent combat phase.

OR, take the Platoon Command squad with a Power Axe Commander and Power Axe Commissar. Long story short, two rounds of combat. Even without prescience, you're wiping them out in round two.

Of course, the data is distorted by the fact that the marine equipment isn't taken into account, but you get the basic idea on the raw numbers. Plus, we are assuming that the unit makes it into combat in tact.


Their defence is somewhat concerning. Always stick them in cover. You get to re-roll dangerous terrain so there really is no reason why you shouldn't be doing so. If you're going to be routinely boned by Serpents and Broadsides alike, you will need to bring alternative means of protecting them. There are two valid ways, in my opinion, in doing this.

Firstly, bring a screening vehicle to Block LOS. Move a Chimera 12" and pivot. Use buildings and terrain in combination to block as much LOS as you can. If you're running an Assault regiment, bring the Scouting Salamanders for 55 points on their own. You can deploy the riders as far forward as possible and then scout move the Salamander in front of them (if you aren't facing servo skulls).

The second option is to bring in a Space Marine Captain on a bike, with Artificer armour and a Storm Shield. Sit out front and tank as many hits as you can. Plus, he will be pretty handy in a fight.


Some additional synergy:

It's good that Quad launchers can pin units more reliably. Pinning those units that can really hurt you will be the difference between being tabled turn two, or standing a real chance of winning.

Serpents will always be a problem for you, can't use over and you're being insta killed whenever you fail a single save. Same for tau.  So you need to bring something to take them out. Since you're gaming with Imperial armour, you might as well ally in regular guard and bring a Manticore and Vendetta.

I definitely think that the Platoon Command squad is a great option. Particularly since you can order yourself to gain Assault 2 Laspistols and Crusader! Doesn't sound like much but BS4 mass laspistols will make a dent in something, even if it's one wound. Crusader is good in a catch also.

Bringing Void Shields is another option for the entire army. If you have the points to drop in some shield generators, then don't hesitate to do so. Even if it's only a 100 point 3 shield job. You want them to reach combat, once they do - they begin to win their points back.

As an Allied Force:

Okay, so we have talked about their offence, defence and a bit of synergy. We also touched slightly on bringing in a Space Marine Captain on a bike to aid their defence. Well why not have two?

Take Space Marine primary with White Scars and watch them tank across the field with the added bonus of Hit and Run. Not bad! You could always go with Khan and an additional bike to give the two units Scout. 

I'd roll with something like this if I was running them as a cavalry allied force:

Death Korps Quartermaster.
10 Genadiers.
Death Rider Platoon Command, Power axe and Commisar with Power Axe.
Death Rider Platoon Squad with an additional two Death Riders and Power Axe.
Optional: Heavy Mortars with Carcass Shot or Colossus Bombard.

Attach a way and you're laughing. Add Psyker Inquisitors as you see fit.

Concluding remarks:

A lot of people will say "why take death riders in the first place? They just die to Serpent spam." Well, let's be honest here, you aren't taking DKK as a steam roller army. You're taking them because you want to have a themed army first and foremost, and are just trying to be as competitive as possible second. They definitely work better in smaller points, where the presence of mass Serpents doesn't exist. So really, if you're going to competitive tournaments, don't buy these guys. However, if you're going to some low point social events/games, then by all means pick them up. You will auto win on cool factor in my books, and against most non Spam lists, you will do pretty well with them. On paper, they rock. You just need to find your own way of transferring the paper hammer into real time assaults.I've suggested a few ways of doing this, but by all means do it your own way. Or, if you have an even better idea, drop it in the comments below!

I for one am extremely excited by the rumour about Forge World releasing a codex for these guys......that would be just incredible.

- Out.


  1. Hi. I really like these Death Rider guys, but can't seem to find the errata or source saying they have 2 wounds. I just bought the Siege of Vrax part 1, and it seems to say 1 wound. Can you tell me what the source is?

    1. Its in the latest 7th edition Siege Of Vraks Book.

    2. Rough/Death Riders don't count as 2ccw on the charge. Hunting lance is a specialist weapon


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