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23/05/2013

Tactica: a guide to Ravenwing


I haven't done a tactica for sometime and instead have been doing the no spam army lists and posting articles on various discussions. Considering all this, I decided to write a guide to Ravenwing, which is done from a newbie's perspective as I haven't been playing Ravenwing myself.

Know Thy Raven

The Ravenwing is made up of fast moving units such as Land Speeders (all variants) Nephilim Jetfighter though the bulk of the force is made up of bikes, which are named Ravenwing Attack Squadron. As standard all these units are fast attack choices.

If you're unaware, bikes are pretty bad ass, they give +1 toughness to the rider (so T5 Space Marines) and can move 12". In addition bikes have the relentless and hammer of wrath special rules, they also ignore terrain rolls, though if they go through terrain then it counts as dangerous. If there's two models on the bike then the bike can fire two weapons i.e twin-linked bolter and multi melta on an Attack Bike. If that's not cool enough bikes also get the jink rule, so a nice 5+ cover IF they moved or 4+ cover if they move flat out (bikes move 12" flat out by the way)

Ravenwing Attack Squads have the normal twin-linked bolter as standard though unique to themselves they also get a teleporter homer - this works great if you're adding some Deathwing into the mix to give the Ravenwing some close combat punch. For some reason they have a bolt pistol too, not sure why as special weapons say MAKE TAKE a flamer, melta or plasma, it doesn't say REPLACE.

Special rules wise the Ravenwing get a chock load; grim resolve (army wide special rule makes them stubborn), and they shall know no fear, hit & run, ravenwing combat squads and scouts.

Master of the Flock


If you want a pure Ravenwing army (which is probably one of the reasons you started a Dark Angels force) then you will need Sammael as this fella makes Ravenwing troops. Not only do you have fast moving scoring bikes but also these frees up the fast attack for much valued support units.

Sammy is a typical Space Marine Captain, though he comes on a jetbike. He has the same special rules as the normal Ravenwing (scout, hit & run etc) but also has skilled rider and inner circle (preferred enemy: CSM). He also has a special warlord trait from the D.A codex which gives D3" extra turbo boost move to Sammy and any unit he is with.

For wargear Sammy has a AP2 master crafted sword, a cloak which gives eternal warrior and night halo which gives a 4+ invulnerable save.

Sammy has a choice taking Corvex, which is a jetbike and gives Sammy a twin-linked bolter and a plasma cannon or Sable Claw which an av14-14-10 Land Speeder which has an assault cannon and heavy bolter. Personally I would take Corvex as you get to use the master crafted sword and also eternal warrior comes in effect, if using Sable Claw then these won't apply.

For all of the above Sammy costs 200 points, which in my opinion is a little too expensive. The reason for this is a normal Company Master is 90 points and has an identical profile to Sammy. I feel Sammy is about 20 points over costed. I've also never found Sammy to be mega awesome in games either, only can mash up basic infantry or finish off units which have had a plasma cannon to the face i.e 2+ armour save models.

Using the Flock

Arming the Flock

Ravenwing have options for flamer, melta and plasma weapons all which are useful, however the flamer is probably the least useful of the bunch as Ravenwing come with twin-linked bolters (will talk more about these later). Due to their speed, meltas can get into 2D6 armour pen range quickly and plasma can flank that side or even rear armour - plasma also gets the benefit of the relentless bikes.

For some reason the Ravenwing do not come with a Veteran Sgt and just come with a normal Sgt. You can pay 10 points to get the Veteran Sgt who gives the unit LD9 and an extra attack. Personally I do not think 10 points is worth getting +1 leadership and an extra attack, after all it is not like the Ravenwing are awesome in combat and they are stubborn thanks to grim resolve. Both Sgts can take melta bombs and access the armoury.

Ravenwing can be six man strong units, which I highly recommend doing as this allows you to combat squad the units (split into two units of three). At first this seems odd as three bikers aren't hard to kill, but take it from my experience, it is a lot better as because 1. It allows you to have dedicated special weapon units i.e 2 x meltaguns and melta bombs 2. It saturates the board with more targets 3. If you lose a unit you're only losing three bikes and not an entire squad.

Ravenwing Attack Squadron can also take an Attack Bike, which I would pop a multi melta on, thanks to the bikes speed, the multi melta will soon be in range.

If the squad does number six then you can add a Land Speeder to the squadron. This Land Speeder isn't part of the unit but is included in the same FoC slot. Again, this is another handy way of getting units into your army without taking extra fast attack FoC slots. The Land Speeder has the typical weapon options (multi melta, assault cannon etc) so it comes down to which you fancy. Dual multi meltas is pretty evil and will be advancing with the Ravenwing. Typhoon missile launcher is also handy for laying down long range fire power and breaking open transport vehicles so the Ravenwing can dakka inside.

Short ranged guns which can shoot you better

Speaking of range, it may appear at first glance that Ravenwing are a short ranged army. While this is partly true consider that the ENTIRE Ravenwing army has scout. Lets say you deploy 12" from your table edge, you then scout 12" and then take your first turn and move 12" - that's 36" across the board in a single turn and you're now in the opponent's face. There is a 12" gap from the other table edge and in that gap the opponent would have deployed, even if the opponent would have held their units back the Ravenwing guns will be in range. So do you need Land Speeders with typhoon missile launchers?

The scout ability not only lets you get into shooting range quickly if you get first turn, but it also allows you to spread your units out if you're going second and threatened by long range blast templates. Another nice thing is if the opponent tries to out deploy you then you can scout towards them anyway.

*Note - scout is a REDEPLOYMENT and if you scout then you do not get the jink save if you go second as jink only works if YOU MOVED in your movement phase, which you wouldn't have done if you go second.

Time to piss off!

A brilliant rule Ravenwing have is hit & run; this basically allows you to break away from combat if you pass an initiative test (I4 for Marines). This is an awesome ability as Ravenwing are a costly pointed army (fairly I will add - except Sammy) and every model loss starts to add up quickly. If Ravenwing charge an enemy unit then the enemy cannot shoot at them (providing still locked in combat), this also gives protection from flyers which Ravenwing generally have a problem with as the Dark Angel flyers aren't exactly boss. Now Ravenwing aren't exactly hardcore in combat, so providing you pick an average target the chances are the target unit will survive and keep you in combat. Keep in mind that Ravenwing also get hammer of wrath.

IF you survive combat, on the opponent's end of assault phase do hit & run and you're now free from combat and can shoot the enemy units to death - something which is Ravenwings strength.

Use hit & run as a survival tactic and keep yourself out of harms way and your Ravenwing will survive a hellvua a lot more.

Supporting Elements

Deathwing


Deathing mesh with Ravenwing very well thanks to the teleporter homers the Ravenwing have as standard and fill in the gap of Ravenwing's weakness in close combat. Throw in the deathwing assault rule and you can decide to have the Deathwing AUTO arrive on turn 1 or turn 2.

I would scout all the time to get those short ranged Ravenwing weapons into range and have the Deathwing arrive turn 1 - at this point you should be already half way across the board so the Deathwing shouldn't have far to get into assault range. Also, the longer the Deathwing are in reserve the longer they won't be making an impact on the game and not getting into assault. So now at the early stages of the game you have ALL your army in the opponent's face and some of those units are nasty looking Deathwing Terminators.

The Deathwing have some cool abilities such as inner circle, split fire and vengeful strike (weapons are twin-linked when they land). They have usual Terminator options i.e assault cannon, thunder hammers etc though they do have the option of a plasma cannon which is unique to them.

Like the Ravenwing Black Knights (will talk about them later), Deathwing also have their own 'super' version - Deathwing Knights. Basically they come with a storm shield and awesome close combat weapons, whose ap is increased by 1 when fighting against Chaos Space Marines. They also have inner circle (preferred enemy: CSM), for some reason I get the impression they do not like CSM. Oh, they also have precision strike as well!

One big defence of the Deathwing Knights is if a model is in base contact with two or more models, then it gains T5. When the Deathwing Knights deep strike they will be T5 with 3+ invulnerable saves - yikes!

Ravenwing Command Squad


I am going to kill two birds with one stone here and talk about the RCS (Ravenwing Command Squad) and Black Knights at the same time, this is because they are basically the same unit - RCS is made up of Black Knights.

Before moving all the Black Knights and RCS get all the usual Ravenwing special rules and wargear but they all get skilled rider.

There's two three reasons why you want to bring Black Knights and that's either to make an all bike army (like I have), add a shit load of plasma talons (18" twin-linked plasma guns) and close combat goodness. RCS offer all this and a little bit more, which I will explain a bit.

The Black Knights make up the close combat element as they bring the corvus hammer, which is basically a little pick axe which gives +1 strength and rending. The Black Knights have 4 attacks each on the charge - a unit of 5 can bring down a total of 20 attacks and that's after plasma death!

If plasma death isn't cool enough you can switch the plasma talon for a grenade launcher (only every three). The grenade launcher can drop frag and krak rounds at rapid fire rate, but rad and stasis shells are more interesting; rad shell does -1 toughness to the opponent as long as it hits, it is S3 as well by the way - as the -1 toughness penalty is done when you HIT, you can double out multi wound T4 models i.e Paladins, Nobz Tyranid Warriors etc I've even had it work with bolters and had bolters double out Scarab Swarms! The statis shell does -1 to weapon skill and initiative - very handy when going against other Space Marine armies and pesky Eldar etc.

I'll point out that a unit of three Black Knights cost 126 points while a unit of RCS cost 120 points, so you're getting essentially a HQ choice of Black Knights for a few points difference. The down side to the RCS is you cannot make the squad any bigger than 5 models strong (thanks FAQ).

The RCS has the options of taking an Apothecary and Ravenwing Champion, though more importantly they can take various banners. The Ravenwing Banner lets all units within 12" auto pass hit & run tests; handy. Standard of Fortitude gives all units within 12" feel no pain and the Standard of Devastation gives all units within 6" salvo 2/4 boltguns - as Ravenwing are relentless this means they will always fire 4 shots - huzzah!

So from these two units you get more dakka, close combat element and from the RCS some nice buffs - all which are very handy in a Ravenwing army.

Ravenwing Darkshroud


The Darkshroud is basically a Land Speeder which hands out cover saves to the Ravenwing like an old man gives candy to a child. Any unit within 6" of the Darkshroud gains stealth - so jink saves now become 4+ instead of 5+ and if moving flat out those saves become 3+. If you're using RCS or Black Knights then they will get a 2+ cover save if they move flat out thanks to skilled rider.

In addition the Darkshroud allows all units within 12" to +1 to their combat results.

As the Darkshroud is basically a Speeder it needs some form of protection, which it gets via shrouding - so if this thing moves it will be getting a 3+ cover save and 2+ cover save if it moves flat out.

I will point out that the Darkshroud is a big ass model (it does have half a church on it to be fair) and due to the buffs it provides will attract some attention. As Ravenwing is mostly an infantry based army you probably won't have loads of armour, which means the Darkshroud will have even more anti tank guns coming at it's face. However, the Darkshroud only needs to escort the Ravenwing up close and then it has done it's job. Once in the opponent's face the Ravenwing should be killing stuff or using hit & run in close combat to keep themselves alive.

Nephilim Jetfighter


Out of the box Ravenwing themselves don't have a huge amount to deal with flyers. The fluff tells us that Nephilim Jetfighters escort Ravenwing and give them aerial support.

The Nephilim is basically a flying Rhino but with av11 on the rear. It has a heavy bolter, twin-linked lascannon and six blacksword missiles (S6 AP4 - one shot). You can switch the lascannon for an avenger mega bolter (S6 AP4 heavy 5).

It has the strafing run rule (+1 ballistic skill against certain targets) and unrelenting hunter, which allows you to treat weapon destroyed results as immobilised - handy if shooting enemy flyers (keeps them as locked velocity) or if you want to stop a vehicle carrying troops reaching an objective.

While the Nephilim does give the Ravenwing air presence it comes very points heavy and then it has limited missiles and a lascannon which is truly anti vehicle. I have found myself that twin-linked plasma talons and mass bolters into the rear of flyers (most are av10 on the rear) can do the job reasonably well. If not just use hit & run to escape from flyers fire power - cannot shoot you if you're locked in combat.

Ravenwing sample list - unlimited points

HQ

Sammael, Master of the Ravenwing
Ravenwing Command Squad - grenade launcher, apothecary & standard of devastation
Librarian - bike, power field generator & mastery level 2
Ravenwing Command Squad - grenade launcher, apothecary & standard of fortitude

Troops

6 x Ravenwing Attack Squadron w/ Attack Bike - 2 x meltaguns - Sgt w/ melta bombs - Attack Bike w/ multi melta
6 x Ravenwing Attack Squadron w/ Attack Bike - 2 x meltaguns - Sgt w/ melta bombs - Attack Bike w/ multi melta
6 x Ravenwing Attack Squadron w/ Attack Bike - 2 x meltaguns - Sgt w/ melta bombs - Attack Bike w/ multi melta
6 x Ravenwing Attack Squadron w/ Attack Bike - 2 x plasma guns - Attack Bike w/ multi melta
6 x Ravenwing Attack Squadron w/ Attack Bike - 2 x plasma guns - Attack Bike w/ multi melta
6 x Ravenwing Attack Squadron w/ Attack Bike - 2 x flamers - Attack Bike w/ multi melta

Fast Attack

Nephilim Jetfighter
Nephilim Jetfighter

I suspect this list is about 2,500 points. This list is based off my own list, except I have some Black Knights, don't use the Jetfighters and have a Techmarine instead of Librarian.

The Librarian in this list hopefully will get invisibility and give some mega cover saves to the dakka banner unit. Personally I prefer the Techmarine as psychic powers are not guaranteed and the 2+ armour save on the Techmarine can tank a lot of none AP2 wounds and then has feel no pain to protect.

I was thinking about adding the Darkshrouds, however the army really needs to stay together to gain maximum benefit from the banners and if the army is altogether then all should get benefit from the Darkshroud. Usually I like taking units in pairs, but I do not see the point in taking two Darkshrouds if one can do the job. Then you have the issue of that single Darkshroud getting blown away - it is a double edged sword! In the end I left out the Darkshroud and added the Nephilim Jetfighters for aerial support.

Hope this guide to Ravenwing comes in handy, probably several things I missed as it is all pretty new to me, but hopefully you can learn from what I learnt.