Guest Editorial by Captn Dees: Ravenwing Options

As I mentioned on my last post I’ve been looking over the Ravenwing option

for my Marine biker army.

There are some

big differences you get if you want to play Ravenwing over normal Vanilla bikes

army. This is by no means an exhaustive review of Ravenwing either, but really

my observations as someone who is interested in moving from a Marine biker army

over to the Ravenwing.

I would break the key differences down to the following for simplicity:

Sammael vs Captain

Free Skills!

Ravenwing Combat Squads

Supporting Cast

-SAMMAEL-
So first in order to make any Bike army we need to pick the HQ to unlock the

bikes as troops.  There is no Captain on a bike

option for the Ravenwing, which is a bit of a shame.   Azrael will unlock bikes as well as

terminators, but I’d argue that’s the blend you really want there of both units.  So if we want a pure Ravenwing army it is all

about Sammael.

Sammael is no slouch for sure.  First

there is a Speeder option that is 14/14/10, a 4++ save, and TL Assault Cannons

and TL HB.  This is nice, but really I

want him on his jetbike so he is able to join and lead a unit.

His jetbike is nice over a normal bike in and of itself, and has a Twin

Linked Storm Bolter (instead of twin linked bolter) and a Plasma Cannon.  The later is really cool since we do love us

some Plasma in 6th edition.

He also gets an AP2 sword that is Master Crafted, so he can get through

anyone’s armor though the lack of a Str boost is a downer compared to say my

typical Captain with a Power Fist.

Sammael always has the Rapid Maneuvers skill that essentially means that he can give his unit an extra d6 to any turbo boost.  This is pretty great in a bike army though I

wouldn’t really want to count on it for that last minute objective grab knowing

my penchant for rolling 1s.

His stats are very captain like and he boasts a 3+/4++.  This is respectable given the bike makes him T5,

though my normal Captain would boast a 2+/3++.

He does gain Eternal Warrior, so Str 10 and Force Weapons are not a

threat.  Does this come up?  Yes, it actually came up in my last Biker

game (curse you Typhus!) but in reality T5 shrugs off most of the threats to Instant Death.  So this seems almost wasted on Sammael instead of the other HQs like Belial or Azrael.

He has a number of skills like Hit and Run and Scouts that other Ravenwing

Attack Squad bikes have, but the big one is Skilled Rider.  Skilled Rider let’s you auto pass your

Dangerous Terrain but many people forget that you also GAIN +1 to your Jink

save.  This means a 4+ jink save with

normal movement or a 3+ Jink if you turbo boost.  Don’t forget that he CONFERS this skill to

his unit if they don’t have it, which is pretty sweet in my opinion!

It is also important to note that Sammael, like the other HQs in the book, have the Inner Circle rule to boot.  This gives him Fearless, which is great, but also preferred enemy Chaos Space Marines.  Remember that Preferred Enemy confers to the unit he is with as well!
In the end I think the Captain edges out Sammael in

survivability due to his saves, but for the extra 10 points the amount of tools

that Sammael brings to the table makes the trade off more than worth it.

-FREE SKILLS!-
There are some big skills you gain on the Ravenwing Attack Squad over

regular Marine Bikers:  Grim Resolve, Hit & Run & Scout.  When I say Free Skills that is exactly what

this is all about.   The cost of 3 RAS bikes is

10 points less that the marine equivalent of 3 bikers.  You do lose the LD 9 2 Attack Sarg the marines

would have, whom you can upgrade to for 10 points and is called a Vet Sarg (see

how that works out to be the same essentially?).  I’m not sure how worth it that 10 points is

for the Vet Sarg in the end so you may get some point savings there.  However is also worth nothing that the Attack

Bike w/ MM is 5 points more.  But for the

sake of argument the unit costs about the same when we just look at the bikes

themselves.  That means these skills are

essentially FREE.   Let’s go through

these all a bit and figure out how much this is really gaining us in the bike

themed army.

Grim Resolve is the new DA gimmick, but it is essentially stubborn on you

can auto fail morale checks.  It sounds neat, but I question is this is

huge improvement of ATKNF?  With my current bike army I am usually

avoiding assaults.  Once in combat I’m

usually either dead or in some kind of stalemate.  If I’m losing bad enough where stubborn would

be helpful that usually means I’ve only got a bike or two left.  I think this might be neat for other units

but less so for bikes, especially since we’ve got …

Hit & Run is wonderful and I think trumps Grim Resolve for usefulness for

bikes.  I know I’ve been tied up in combat I want to get out of in a

hurry.  This lets you leave combat to try to get away and save your scoring units, or line up more plasma/bolter death and another possible charge.

Lastly the RAS bikes get Scout which is something these guys have had going in

the past.  For my mobile shooty bikes I don’t know that it adds a lot, as

I usually don’t want to get too close to the enemy.  I think there are

some CC options and range limitations for a few units in the Ravenwing (Black Knights) that might encourage you to move up a bit or just redeploy around terrain to maximize your formation.  However if the name of the game is scoot and

shoot this is not so helpful.  However

outflanking a small unit could indeed be helpful, which leads directly too…

Dark Angels Battleforce
-RAVENWING COMBAT SQUADS-
Ravenwing Combat Squads are different than what we see in the Marine Codex.  You start with 3 bikes.  You can add 3 bikes, and with that total of 6

bikes you can combat squad into 2×3 squads.

Neat, though maybe only practical for sending a few small squads into

outflanking mode.  3 bikers tend to wilt

on a sunny day, though there is some help we’ll get into in the Supporting

Cast.

The other bit here is your attack bike is ALWAYS a separate unit.  This makes him a bit vulnerable being out

there on his own (and a possible easy first blood), so I’d argue he almost

always might as well go and try to do some outflanking on any army that plays

with vehicles parked in the backfield.

Ravenwing Combat Squads also let you pick up a speeder in your troop

section.  He can’t score and he’s always

on his own.  The plus side is you aren’t

giving up a bonus point in the Scourging.

The downside is he isn’t scoring in the Scouring, and you can take a

unit of 5(!) in the Fast Attack slot.  So

I’m not sure how needed he is here in the troop section, which brings us to our

supporting cast for the Ravenwing.

-SUPPORTING CAST-
Let’s talk about the supporting cast around the Ravenwing.  I’ll start with one difference between

Ravenwing and Space Marines: there are no

Attack Bike Squadrons for the Fast Attack.

This isn’t new to Ravenwing players but my own current biker army

usually has 6 of these guys running around for tank busting.  As 6th edition progresses we have

seen less and less heavy tank lists, so I’m debating how much losing these

squads is going to mean to me.

Thankfully there are some other great options we should cover that

add some depth to the Ravenwing force.  A

few really stand out to me so I’ll cover those; there are more options in the

book that might tickle your fancy.

Ravenwing Command Squad
Ravenwing Command Squad– Limited

to 3 guys is a bummer that we need to start off talking about a bit. These guys

start off not cheap and can get real expensive.

They gain Skilled Rider over normal bikes so a bit of survivability

there, plus you can upgrade an apothecary if you choose.  These guys are armed with the new courvus

hammer (+1 Str, Rending) and the Plasma Talon (18” Str 7 AP2 Gets Hot, Twin

Linked, and Rapid Fire if you go by the digital version of the book and the back page summary).  The gun is an interesting take

on a Plasma Gun in that Twin Linked is helpful as is rapid fire if only at 9″ to double tap.  Still this could be helpful to take down light fliers and makes overwatch pretty deadly to the enemy.

Where these guys can really earn there keep is with the banners.   For instance there is a banner that can give

FNP and reroll failed morale and pinning tests to Dark Angels within 12″.

WOW!  The downside is of course

the banner is 85 points (yikes!), and you have to keep your guy (did I mention there were

only 3?) alive to make this work.  Still

I think there are some really interesting things that can be done with this

unit to keep your normally low model count bike army alive!My first look over these guys and I think you either keep them cheap with a banner, or go whole hog building them out and adding HQs (techmarine on a bike anyone?) to make some kind of super unit.   I’m not sure the super unit really works out better than other options, so I’ll be going cheap!

We should also at this point mention the Ravenwing Grenade Launcher.  These have 4 ‘modes’ but two of them fall

under a similar Frag and Krak like you would see with normal grenades but a 24”

range.  The two other modes are Rad Shell

and Stasis Shell and both are only 12” range.

The Rad shell has a Str3 blast where every model in a unit hit (not

wounded) suffers -1 T.  The Stasis shell

is also a blast that every model in a unit hit suffers -1 WS and -1 I until the

end of the turn.  So those really aren’t

about killing guys, but instead debuffing a unit before an assault.  I’m not so sure I’d plant one on the Command Squad but how about…

Ravenwing Command Squad
Ravenwing Black Knights– These

guys are pretty much equipped like the Command Squad, but the big benefit here

is these guys can go up to 10 guys.  If

these were troops we’d be loving it, but it can get expensive as a

fast attack choice.  Still they can shoot

plasma death and hit pretty hard in CC, and with skilled rider the jink save

can help them shrug off low AP weapons a bit better than the troops.  This unit is pretty much your only CC answer, so a grenade launcher in a unit of 5+ guys I think makes sense.  Overall I’m very interested to see how these

guys play on the table top.

Land Speeder Vengeance
Ravenwing Darkshroud- This thing

is relatively cheap though it isn’t going to kill much.

It is also an AV 10 skimmer so that is always a concern.  It has two basic functions.  First it gives +1 to assault results to Dark

Angels within 12”.   I’d say this is

situational as best for the Ravenwing army.

What makes this guy shine is he is always shrouded and units with 6” have

Stealth.  That means this guys jink save

is normally a 3+ and tuboboosting a 2+.

Units around him gain +1 to the jink, but I think this would stack with

skilled rider, which would be great (turboboosting Black Knights have a 2+ jink!).

The challenge here is going to be keeping one of these near several units to

get the most out of it.  I’d probably

keep him turboboosting around to try to keep him afloat and then have to work

the units around him to be most effective.

This could prove challenging on a heavy terrain board but on most

tournament type boards which usually are more limited on terrain this might be workable.

There are a few other things I’ll mention in the supporting cast.  I mentioned the speeders already and these

are a great and cheap way to get some long range fire support going.  When supported by a Ravenwing Darkshroud

their survivability does increase.  There

is also the Land Speeder Vengence in the underused Heavy support slot.  I find this a bit expensive for the Plasma Storm

Battery’s limited range of 24”.  I think

we can find plenty of AP 2 elsewhere in the army to pass on this guy.

Ravenwing Dark Talon
Lastly there are the fliers.  Both

look interesting and points expensive.  I

find I’m running out of points in every list I’ve built for Ravenwing.   I’m a little worried about fighting heavy

flier armies so the Nephilm probably has a place, but I’m wondering if the army

packs enough Str 7 shots to hopefully bring down one or two fliers.I also am really interested in adding a Librarian on a bike with Divination.  We all know Divination is great, though the Primaris power is less useful since we have so many rerolls for shooting.  It is still nice in CC, but I’d really only sub it out if I felt Scrizer’s Gaze (the 6th power) would not be useful.  All the other powers are pretty wonderful really.

-Conclusion-
SO, where does that leave us?   Well

here is the first list I’d like to run to see how it does.

Sammael
Ravenwing Command Squad, Banner of

Fortitude

Librarian, Bike (Divination)
Ravenwing Attack Squad- 6 Bikes, 2

Plasma, 1 CombiPlasma, Attack Bike MM, Typhoon

Ravenwing Attack Squad- 6 Bikes, 2

Plasma, 1 CombiPlasma, Attack Bike MM, Typhoon

Ravenwing Attack Squad- 6 Bikes, 2

Plasma, 1 CombiPlasma, Attack Bike MM

Darkshroud
6 BlackKnights, 1 Grenade Launcher
This comes out to just under 1750.  The

Libby will almost always go with the Command Squad to give them a bit more ‘beef’ and Sammael could join there

or go with a RAS to give them skilled rider as well.  There are two Typhoons for some long-range

support, and you could always choose to put these in the fast attack squad as a unit if you choose.  The Darkshoud is there to boost

the jink save of everyone who can stay close.

You have potentially 9 scoring units when combat squads break down, and

at the least 6 thought 3 single attack bikes aren’t usually going to hold objective all game long.  I’d probably always drop

the attack bikes to outflank against an army with a few tanks in the backfield.

There aren’t a lot of bodies but if you can get moving on turn one and have

good positioning you can play scoot and shoot with a 4+ jink save and FNP on

the bikes.  I’m not sure I’m still dying

to combat squad down to 3 man bike squads even with this extra fancy support,

but it is an option that probably works until those key pieces (FNP Banner and Darkshroud) start going down.  Even if that only lasts a turn or two I’ve

got to think you’ve got the firepower to be picking apart the enemy forces.

I think there is an interesting army here though I think it will take some

practice to maneuver to gain the maximum benefits of the units.  It is by no means flawless and there are

weaknesses to the army but this isn’t unfamiliar to any bike army general.  For instance a few helldrakes will ruin your

day, but the same could be said for a normal Space Marine Bike Army!

What

do you guys think?  I’m certainly going to try to give it a whirl though I think for the next month or two I’ll be sticking with my current Marine bikers for tournament play.

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About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

15 Responses to “Guest Editorial by Captn Dees: Ravenwing Options”

  1. JGrand January 17, 2013 8:55 am
    #

    The format…my eyes!!!

  2. jadedknight January 17, 2013 10:14 am
    #

    Some reactions to the list in the spirit of being competitive whilst staying within a Ravenwing theme. 🙂

    That banner of fortitude is just going to die horribly. Plus I think the devastation banner is much better with the bikes. One increases survival rate by 1/3 the other quadruples firepower. Firepower is already much higher so boosting that yields a higher return, plus it frees up the points you spent on plasma in the RAS.

    The attack bikers… are weak, free kill points, first blood. Can you really count on hiding all 3? They have to get point blank to do something. A small 3x RAS w/ meltas and maybe a combi melta is a better suicide squad and gives away less in VP.

    Take the typhoons as a 2x fast attack choice. You have the slots.

    These changes I think increase offensive firepower and frees up 220 points for something else. Either more bodies which will more than offset the loss of FNP or you can close some other holes in the army with stuff like more long range shooting, melta, or even a few flamers.

    The former is especially key I think. You need to force the battle to flow on your terms with a fragile list like this, if you have to go to your opponent bad things will ensue. Superior distance shooting gives you a card to play in this regard. The question should be how can I snag first blood and then set up my ambush.

    Reactions?

    • Captn Dees January 17, 2013 11:04 am
      #

      Yep, I’m considering all these things. I guess the real question I’m struggling with is with those changes you suggest is it really any better than my vanilla marine biker army? I’m not so sure.

      I think the list I posted shows how a Ravenwing list might be ‘different’ in that you are playing up some of the unique units that can add to bike survivability. But if we drop those out does Ravenwing offer ‘enough’ for me to want to make the move.

      It certainly may be a better Ravenwing force, I need some games to see how it all actually works!

      • fulcrum January 17, 2013 1:05 pm
        #

        Also note that the FNP banner has 12″ range while the salvo banner only has 6″. So you can keep your squads spread out much better against those blast & particularly flamers & heldrakes.

  3. fulcrum January 17, 2013 11:54 am
    #

    I just realized I can join Sammy with my Deathwing termis to hit & run with them!

  4. Jeremy Veysseire
    MikhailLenin January 17, 2013 1:56 pm
    #

    Funny, I submitted a similar article this morning to Reecius. In my opinion and after having limited practice using the Banner of Devastation. It is quite Devastating.

    • Captn Dees January 17, 2013 2:11 pm
      #

      Yes the Banner Of Devastation does look awesome.

      For those that haven’t put it all together the Banner gives you Salvo 2/4. But since bikes are relentless you basically can continue to move (which is important for the jink save) and basically shoot 4 times every round.

      This is indeed Devastating firepower. Of course I’ll be hating pulling off Black Knights due to get’s hot!

      • Jeremy Veysseire
        MikhailLenin January 17, 2013 3:19 pm
        #

        Plasma Talons are Twin Linked, and you get your Save. Dying to Gets Hot! from them would seem really hard. Also, why bring up Black Knights? The Banner doesn’t help them.

        • Captn Dees January 17, 2013 3:42 pm
          #

          Oh snap that’s right, it is only Boltguns isn’t it!

  5. Reecius
    Reecius January 21, 2013 12:03 pm
    #

    Sorry about the formatting, guys! I was out of town this weekend and couldn’t fix it.

  6. Smurfykins February 8, 2013 8:37 pm
    #

    Other things not touched on –

    Banner of Devastation – Quadriples the shot count out of biker bolters.
    Ravenwing Company Banner – Auto-pass Hit and Run checks, +1D6 Hit and Run moves (for a total move of 4D6)

    Both are great to have in different goals of a Ravenwing list. One is more expensive than the other obviously, but it’s notable that Banners are points where the Ravenwing list can be built around like the…

    …Power Field Generator! Heldrakes + IG Colossus give Bikes the roughest time, this piece of equipment helps protect the most important bits of the army. Should be a staple since you can’t reliably get survivability against the mentioned two otherwise.

    Auspex – Helps vs the blob/opposing Aegis Defence Line, neutering a opposing fence to a 5+ Cover is HUGE, and will help vs say the likes of a Harliestar, changing their 2+ Cover to a 3+ is also a biggie.

    Sammael is also a Force Multiplier on non-Ravenwing units due to conferring Scout and Hit and Run to those units he joins, keep in mind.