Thursday, September 19, 2013

Raven Guard

Shadow Captain Shrike

Suijin typing:

It is rough being a Raven Guard player. Specializing in covert warfare, stealth and speed, along with relying on their scout company more than other chapters; the problem comes in how do they portray this on the field? (there is a rumored supplement coming out soon, which may be around a month after White Scars or into 2014, which may help any or all these issues, and if you use Forge World then you can take Shadow Captain Korvydae to make assault squads troops).

Raven Guard Chapter tactics are:
Strike From the Shadows:
Models in this detachment have the scout special rule. In addition, on the first game turn, models in this detachment have the Stealth special rule. Note that units that include models with the Bulky or Very Bulky special rules do not benefit from either rule.

Winged Deliverance:
Jump Infantry models in this detachment may use their jump packs in both the movement and Assault phases of the same turn. Furthermore, they must re-roll failed To Wound rolls caused by their Hammer of Wrath hits.

What do these actually work on though (Jump Infantry and bikes are Bulky or Very Bulky, along with vehicles not having Chapter Tactics, mean they don't benefit from the first tactic):
HQ units
Tactical Squads
Scout Squads (they already have scout though)
Sternguard Squads
Devastator Squads
Techmarine Gunner from Thunderfire Cannon

Many HQ units can take jump packs, but Honour Guards and Command Squads can not take jump packs. So, if you are going for a Jump Infantry themed list to use the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics then that is the first strike against them.

Assault marines are not a troop option is the second strike against taking many of them.

Assault marines cannot get into assault without first going through an opponent's shooting phase, they don't have Hit and Run, and melee weapons that make them good at assault price them well over terminator costs is the last strike against them.

This doesn't mean you can't take assault marines in an army, but it does usually mean that you don't want to take many of them which virtually negates the bonus rule of Chapter Tactics for Raven Guard.

Consider the differences between White Scars Bikes and Raven Guard Assault Infantry:

Raven Guard Assault Infantry:
85 points for 5 marines with the option to buy flamers, or plasma pistol for 2 marines

with special rules of:
Combat Squads
Use Jump Pack both Move and Assault phases for re-roll of charge distance
Hammer of Wrath w/ re-roll wounds
1 squad only can be given Infiltrate with Shadow Captain Shrike

White Scars Bike:
105 points for 5 marines with the option for flamers, meltaguns, plasmaguns, and grav-guns for 2 marines

with special rules of:
Combat Squads
+1 Toughness
Jink w/ +1 save
Hammer of Wrath w/ +1 S
Auto-pass Dangerous terrain tests
Hit and Run
multiple squads can be made into troops with Kor'sarro Khan, Bike Captain or Chapter Master
multiple squads can be given scout with Kor'sarro Khan

The ones that stand out for the bikes are Troops, Scout, Hit and Run, Relentless, Special Weapons, and +1 T. The negatives are smaller with higher cost (offset mostly by the increased toughness), cannot go to ground (but if they at least move they get a 4+ cover save with Jink) and a larger base footprint. In a game of capturing objectives having them as troops options really helps along with the longer range and/or better weapons. They even have good rules with assault of HoW +1 S and Hit and Run. All this is coming from someone who likes the fluff and models of Jump Pack Infantry much better than Bikes, but finds the rules of Bikes quite a bit better. I know I would love to play an army of Jump Pack Infantry with the special rules that White Scars get.

Some people say to focus on what they do get, so that is stealth and scout for those listed units without having to buy Kor'sarro Khan. Both of these rules operate under the condition that if a single model in the unit has the rule then it gives it to the whole unit. Your best bets for these are the Librarian and the Techmarine, but again most of this is all predicated on trying to spend the least on the HQ slot and trying to get an advantage for yourself. You are still spending too many points to really make this work though typically. I can't think of something that makes spending those points for scout and stealth (stealth only first turn) useful over just taking more of those units you would use it for.

Another useful point is that scout and stealth transfer to the Thunderfire cannon since the Techmarine Gunner has the stealth and scout special rules when he has Raven Guard Chapter Tactics. You could also transfer these to Terminators, Centurions, etc. when you join an Independent Character to that squad.

Learned from using Dominions from Sister of Battle, you can scout your various units forward for an alpha strike shooting attack. This is fairly effective especially with meltaguns and flamers, but you do leave yourself exposed to enemy fire almost always afterwards. If your entire army is trying this you are also going to have issues with not having room to put them in good places. This build is also able to trim out expensive HQs which is good for games at 500-1000 points, but I don't know that I can say much else for it.

Other possibilities include an all infiltrate and/or drop pod armies, but neither of those take advantage of Chapter Tactics of Raven Guard, so some other Chapter would work better like Salamanders for instance.

It will be very interesting to see what is in the White Scar Supplement and then the Raven Guard one after that.

Sorry to be kind of a downer here on Raven Guard, but these are the rules that they were given. Most sites I have read agree that Raven Guard didn't get very good rules. If I ran Raven Guard I would mostly just play against friends and would use Shadow Captain Korvydae from Forge World to make assault marines troops and just go mostly fluffy and not worry so much about how powerful the build is.


  1. As a fellow raven guard player I have to admit that what you said in this article is what I´ve feeling lately.

    I liked a lot more the raven guard stuff of 5th edition, as well as I´m still trying to think why command squads cannot sport a jetpack...

    1. You would think that if chapter masters and captains can get jump packs that the fluffy themed squads that go with them would be able to take the same.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I definitely can't argue that their tactics are better than White Scars (who probably have the strongest), but I like it for what it does and what I think it was intended to do, which is give just a little different flavor. The trap with chapter tactics, particularly this one is picking an army designed to maximize the chapter tactic; that is, fielding assault marines and a bunch of non-bulky infantry units to try to use the special rules as much as possible.

    If you're going full out competitive you obviously wouldn't go with Raven Guard, but I think a themed army would be viable and not get stomped every game.

    1. That is more or less what I said in the last paragraph, and many of the issues also stem directly from the rules of assault marines themselves totally separate from chapter tactics.

      You can always bias things heavily towards assault marines by loading the table with impassable terrain, but I don't typically see that much used.

  3. Been behind on my reading of the SM codex. Seems rather crappy to have bikes be troops for White Scars but not for jump units to be troops for Raven Guard. Yeah they would be pricy. That would be a decision made by the player.


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