Philosophy 101: Ravenwing or White Scars?


Bonne Aprem mes amies! I hope all of you are celebrating the anniversary of the greatest gift to mankind England has graced us with, America. (And France but I like to diminish English successes more than recognize French ones, call me a romanticist)

I come to the Frontline with an article I wrote as someone asked me a philosophical question whos answer changes quite literally every edition of this game about my first and only true love: “Ravenwing or White Scars”. As I literally turn 30 this year, it has come to my attention that I have bought my first White Scar commander model on my 15th birthday. Well lets walk down this nostalgia trip! His question was simple but yet I can only provide him with a complex set of answers that will enable him to derive his won decision.

So who is better and why, Raven Wing or White Scars? For the sake of this topic let’s say that if you put an IC on a bike they get RW special rule so either side can get a maybe not so great but cheap HQ. I want know about the bikes that come as troops or fast or elites, which is better and why?

First lets start with the obvious rules difference in a vaccuum:

white scars

White Scars Chapter Tactic has available to them Str 5 Hammer of Wrath on Bikes, Skilled Rider and Hit & Run. (Other Benefits include Reroll run for non Bikers)


Ravenwing has available to Regular Bikers Re-Roll Jink Save, Hit & Run, Scout and BS2 Overwatch if not Jinking. Black Knights add on top of that Skilled Rider.

Ravenwing Biker versus a White Scar Biker has an increased durability, Scout and BS2 Overwatch Potentital (Which I feel is better than Str 5 HoWrath) but lose the ignoring difficult terrain. Though with the inclusion of a cheap warlord, the White Scar gain Scout so where does this leave them?

The variance and preferability comes from if you want to build an Army almost entirely of Biker. Baring the current limitation of Ravenwing Strike Force only having Sammael or Sableclaw as an HQ option, I prefer the Ravenwing over the White Scars and here are my reasons why.

In a White Scar Biker Army, I will mostly likely have a lot of Bike, a above average Deathstar Command Squad and a sprinkling of Tanks or Flyers (or none of either and go full body count). I would retain Objective Secure but I will have to invest 150 points in an mediocre Character who has to be my Warlord to gain Scout. Also if I wanted to give my Command-Star the best Space Marine Tanking Character on a bike I could, I would lose my Hit&run and Skilled Rider as he is an Iron Hands IC and chapter tactics would cancel out. (The Character I am referring to is a Clan Rankaan Chapter Master with a Bike, Gorgon’s Chain, Artificer Armour, Thunder Hammer: Eternal Warrior,IWND 2+/3++ 3-4FNP with Apothcary) That leaves me at most a Chapter Master with 2+/3++ 5+ FNP and Eternal Warrior for almost the exact same points. (My little silver medallist).


In a Ravenwing Biker Army, I will be focussing on a similar Army breakout but with some clear differences. My Command Star will include 6 Black Knights which is already 1 extra body and are by far superior in every regard to a Command Squad on bikes from SM. I gain the ability to lower the WS and Ini of my prey before charging with 1 RW Grenade Launcher, all of my Attacks are now Str5 and Rending through the Corvus Hammers and I gain PlasmaTalons which is in my opinion almost on par with purchasing Grav Cannons for a Command Squad. They lose the Str5 HoW but gain BS2 Overwatch which will work wonderfully with the RW Strike Force Mechanic which I will go into details later. The other huge additions to RW is the Ravenwing Support Squadron Formation which can literally function as your stop gap for everything. A Darkshroud + 3 Typhoon Speeder will be the most recurrent Setup. As the unit now gains Scout from the Darkshroud (and Shrouding) and they all benefit from the Ravenwing Special Rule (unlike SM Speeders) meaning that when they Jink, they have a 2+ Rerollable Cover Save. They also gain Strafing Run (+1 BS at anything taht isnt a flyer or skimmer), Interceptor (to protect your army from reserve and if you get lucky on objectives with a Skyfire Nexus, than flyers even), Grim Resolve (BS2 Overwatch) which in conjunction with the Formation unique rule of Ravenshield is a great Support mechanic. (Allows the Squadron to Overwatch in support of another Dark Angel unit within 24″ but still limited to 1 Overwatch a turn). The Darkshroud also grants Stealth to all other DA units with 6″ for additional survivability and finally if any DA unit declares a charge with 6″ of a Darkshroud, it cannot be overwatched and gains Fear. This is where the RW Biker army takes the Cake; the Speeder Formation and the Black Knight Command Squad literally beats out their White Scar equivalent.

Now not only does my Command Squad gains the ability to retain all its USR with my Clan Rankaan Chapter Master but they have a Support Squadron behind them increase their survability in almsot all phases of the game turn. Losing Objective Secure does hurt but there is some major gains from the Ravenwing Strike Force such as the fact that I can have the entire Detachment enter play automatically on Turn 2 which with the Tough as Nail Support Squadron deploying (unless my opponent takes a crapload of ignore cover weapons) means that I can safely wait out their Drop Pod Reserves or minimize their alpha strike. The Formation also grants me the ability to just Turboboost turn 1 or turn 2 if I reserved to gain the full benefit of Jinking without Jinking. Meaning that my Command Star can just flat out and still benefit from Jink and Grim Resolve if someone wants to charge them. 1 Major advantage that the Ravenwing have over their Regular White Scars brother is they do MSU a lot better with a lot more tactical flexbility. In a White Scar army, I can take a unit of a minimum unit of 3 Bikers or a full size if I want to combat squad down to 2 (or keep full strength if Kill Point) but a Ravenwing Unit is 6 man + Attack Bike at full size and can combat down to two 3 Man biker unit and 1 Attack Bike (granting 3 Units over 2 from SM).

Overall I feel the Ravenwing bring a lot more durability, pinpoint firepower and flexbility than the White Scars without sacrificing much. Now if you want to build a mitch of Bikers and Foot soldier army, I think at this point White Scars offer some much better advantages especailly if you want to have a lot of IC with Hit&Run and Skilled Rider sit in non SM units.


At the time of this Post, my current working playtest list is the Following:

RaveningWing Strike Force:

HQ – Chaplain with Crozius Arcanum, Bike and Auspex

2x FA – RW Bike Squad (6x) 2 Grav Guns

2x FA – RW Bike Squad (6x) 2 Meltaguns, (1x) Attack Bike with Multi Melta

RavenWing Support Squadron:

FA – Darkshroud with Heavy Bolter

FA – RW Speeder Squadron (3x) Heavy Bolters, Typhoon Missile Launcher

Combined Arms Detachment: (Clan Rankaan)

HQ – Captain with Chapter Master, Gorgon’s Chain, Artificer Armour, Thunder Hammer, Bike.

2x Troops – Scout Squad (5x) Bolters

Total – 1,850 pts.


About Jeremy Veysseire

Long time Pacific Northwest Warhammer 40k player feared and loved by the masses of pluviophiles in Portland Oregon. Commonly known as the French Overlord or MikhailLenin, has participated in many cross USA tournaments for 40k. Now, relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, he is looking to bring his terror down south,

27 Responses to “Philosophy 101: Ravenwing or White Scars?”

  1. tortuga932 July 4, 2015 1:54 pm #

    Im sorry, i could not read this article. Far too many run on sentances, and grammer errors. I think there is an interesting article buried there. But it would take a bunch of editing to dig it out.

    • Doomfield July 11, 2015 11:05 am #

      Is this a joke? Did you misspell everything and use terrible sentence structure to be ironic?

      • narceron July 14, 2015 7:11 am #

        Cheers, excellent internet irony!

  2. Hotsauceman1 July 4, 2015 1:58 pm #

    Im sticking with my white scars.
    Unless I can somehow run the guys I have as black knights. I could use my command squad as them

  3. Karaghul July 4, 2015 4:41 pm #

    I might just be missing something here, but, in a Ravenwing list, why exactly would you take your Clan Raukaan “silver medalist” Chapter Master with Gorgon´s Chain, instead of just taking the conventional C:SM Iron Hands Chapter Master with Shield Eternal?

    • MikhailLenin July 4, 2015 5:25 pm #

      Well the Gorgon Chain gives the IC +1 FNP on top of the fact he is an Iron Hands Chapter Tactic IC. So until he loses a Wound he would in fact have a 5++ FNP from the Narthecium, +1 from being Iron Hands, +1 from the Gorgon’s Chain and thus has a 3+ FNP until he is sits at 3W. The Silver Medallist Chapter Master is any Chapter Master that isnt the guy with the Gorgon Chain.

      Keep in mind taht if you roll on the Clan Racaan Warlord Table, there is a Trait that grants another +1. He could sit at a 2+ FNP.

      • jadedknight July 4, 2015 7:18 pm #

        I don’t think 1/6 chance of this is worth the Full CAD. Strategic traits synergizes really well too with DA bikers

        • MikhailLenin July 4, 2015 9:02 pm #

          Well aside from the -1 Reserve, I fail to see which one synergize well with the Ravenwing Strike Force one.

          The Hunt on the DA one is quite good for the Command Squad as well.

          • jadedknight July 4, 2015 9:48 pm

            Conquer of cities is great for Jink saves 2/3 + rerollables

            Knight attacker is also great for Jink saves -> 2/3 rerollables turn 1

            Master of ambush, you can get even closer to the enemy

            Strategic genius -> this is an alpha strike army, not a beta strike one so the seizing bonus is nice. Reserve manipulation is handy if going second and outflanking.

            Dive to conquer is ok, -1 reserves

            The only meh result is 6, Pricepts of decepit

            So it is 5/6 chance of a useful and good trait versus 1/6 re-rollable, and only if you pay a 1 scout squad tax. This is not a debate.

          • MikhailLenin July 5, 2015 1:42 am

            Conqueror of Cities only works for Ruin Cover so not sure how that applies to Jink but it will give you move through cover in ruins.

            Night Attacker is neat if you dont want your Darkshroud to give you stealth so not sure its necessary unless you want Night Vision.

            I disagree, i view Ravenwing and Biker armies in general has being great at either beta or alpha but with a RW Strike Force I can competely remove the need to manipulate my reserve

            -1 to enemy reserve can be blessing or curse but by far better then the rest.

      • Karaghul July 5, 2015 3:55 am #

        Gotcha, the way it is written it sounded like you meant the opposite.

        While I dont think it makes that big of a difference, I guess there is some room for debate though.

        Disregarding Warlord Traits:

        With 4 Wounds CR one is better (1 point better FNP), good trade-off for Adamt Will.
        With 3 wounds both are the same, but C:SM one has Adamantium Will.
        With 2 wounds C:SM is clearly better, Adamt Will, and CR one has now lost EW.
        With 1 wound CR one is down to a 4plus invo with no EW.

        So I guess it all comes down to how much you value a 4plus FNP becoming a 3plus FNP for that very first wound, since after that, C:SM one is better. And the effect of IWND in boosting you up to 4W again.

        (I am disregarding Warlord Traits, because, until an FAQ arrives, Sammael has to step in for the Chaplain, which forces you to cut out a Scout squad, so the CR one cannot be Warlord. Plus there is only a 1/3 chance to get the FNP trait, even with a re-roll to begin with).

        • Karaghul July 5, 2015 3:56 am #

          Ofc, a C:SM one would not me able to be Warlord either (Allied Detachment). Sammael would have to pre-FAQ.

  4. Jax July 4, 2015 5:21 pm #

    This list looks like a suboptimal pseudo-White Scar list with a Darkshroud. Why are you making a Ravenwing bike army without Black Knights? That’s the big reasons to choose them over White Scars. You don’t want to get in close combat with White Scars EVER. They lack a good melee bike unit. Black Knights fill up that role perfectly and on top of that have a grenade launcher and storm talons.

  5. jadedknight July 4, 2015 7:15 pm #

    A few observations

    1) I guess you are assuming that FAQs or an ITC ruling permits taking someone other than Sammy as the HW for the Ravenwing Strike force. Currently that’s not RAW. (Though I agree its clearly RAI in some shape or form)

    2) Black Knights and Ravenwing Command squads are so painfully superior to regular Ravenwing bikes why bother with the grunts. Seriously it’s not even a contest. A BK = a regular biker with a grav gun in cost. But he ignores terrain and always has a 3+ re-rollable plus his weapons are just better in shooting and CC, period. Plus with the D shroud he goes’ to 2+ rerolling.

    3) Why not an allied detachment for the Chain master? A scout unit worth of points to play with elsewhere.

    4) Something like Cent Star with perfect timing is going to eat your alive so I don’t think this list can compete at the highest levels. To that end I believe a Culexus is a superior ally to the Support Squad, as great as the support squad is.

    5) I think when you factor in the above you’ll find a regular DA CAD is better than the strike force.

    • MikhailLenin July 4, 2015 9:01 pm #

      1) Correct, I am basing it off the Ravenwing Detachment on page 15 which as a Ravenwing Chaplain.

      2) Ravenwing are better than the Traditional guys but a lot spendy and thus less bodies. And Black Knights cannot Combat Squad which is crucial for objective taking at ITC.

      3) I didnt pick the Allied Detachment so I could roll Warlord on the Iron Hands Warlord Table with a reroll.

      4) Well the Cent Star is threatening but so it is against really just about any armies with not a serious amount of bodies, Smart Play will have to prevail. (Cent Star has a lot of Hard Counter in regular tournament play nowadays)

      5) I really like having the option of a Beta Strike. If there was someway to get Black Knights in any force in a DA Gladius, I would totally try running a Gladius.

      • jadedknight July 4, 2015 10:02 pm #

        1) Right again I agree that’s RAI but the page you cite is fluff, not rules. That won’t fly in a tourney unless they have a special ruling.

        2) This is mathematically not correct. A RWCS is the SAME pts as a bike squad model it’s purchased a grav gun. But it’s also 2.25x more robust with it’s jink save and not to mention the CC benefits. So 4x RWCS puts out ~2x more firepower, a ton more CC, and is ~50% more survivable than 6x RW w/ grav and 20 pts cheaper. Plus with the CAD you have pts for scouts which do a much better job of objective chasing.

        3) Understood but paying that tax for 30% chance for a great trait versus a 98% chance for a good to great trait is a questionable investment. Or if you like Sammy his trait is also excellent +3″ charge, guarenteed.

        4) Right but my point is Centstar if one of the very few bad match ups for DA bikes. Bringing a Culexus completely reverses this.

        5) Beta strike is a strength of the black knights. They are very resilient to most ranged fire, especially with a dark shroud on hand. So even going second you can scout forward with impunity against most armies and lay down the turn 2 hurt.

  6. CNitram July 4, 2015 7:23 pm #

    I’m going to assume you forget to type the RWCS in your WIP list? Apart from that, it looks like a solid list that I may have to shamelessly test out myself.

    • MikhailLenin July 4, 2015 9:01 pm #

      That is correct, forgot to add the RWCS.

  7. IndigoJack July 4, 2015 9:50 pm #

    I’ve been toying with the idea of RW + WS libby conclave. Those 3 libbies can split up and grant skilled rider to the RW bikers, giving them the 3+ re-rollable cover save as well as ignore dangerous terrain. And of course, the benefit of the libby conclave. The CM goes with the RWCS, and goes on full tanking duty.

  8. Ming July 5, 2015 11:00 am #

    Lol, I’d have gone all dark angel. Units start to lose all chapter tactics when you mix in other chapters. I otherwise disdain cherry picking as bad form. It’s more like you just want to build a counts as army from the models you have, and blow your premise of dark angels being better but “only” if you add a third party.

    • MikhailLenin July 6, 2015 9:11 am #

      I don’t think of it as Cherry Picking since I am building a list within the framework of allowance of GW (except minus the RW HQ issue).

      To quote AbusePuppy regarding Chapter Tactics impacting each other:
      You don’t lose Chapter Tactics when joined by someone with a different Tactic- you lose any unit-only benefits conferred by Chapter Tactics. So a White Scars unit joined by a Raven Guard character would still have Hit and Run (because that is conferred to any WS model) and Shrouded (because that is conferred to any RG model) but would not be allowed to reroll its Run distances (because only WS units can do so.)

      • droozy July 6, 2015 11:35 am #

        Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe DA, SW or BA special rules count as chapter tactics. I think you’re in the clear rules wise.

        • MikhailLenin July 6, 2015 3:15 pm #

          You are correct, I just dont see it as Cherry Picking because you can still have two chapter tactic units from SM work together except for certain specific mechanic

  9. RoockieBoy July 5, 2015 3:00 pm #

    Great annalysis! Talking about the CR CM with the Gorgon’s chain… Would you pay both a thunder hammer and a lightning claw if you had some spare points? I’ve just modeled mine like that, but don’t seem to find anyone playing it like that…

    • MikhailLenin July 6, 2015 9:10 am #

      I think, that would a great add to the model if I had the points RoockieBoy

  10. Nightman July 6, 2015 10:53 pm #

    Great article. Feels like both picks are viable which is pretty good game design. I had a game vs new DA, my impression of their weakness compared to White Scar is the units contain more points in general. 3 man bike units with obsec seems very annoying to deal with in ITC format.

    If you can force a unit to jink then move on to the next it really reduces their dmg. I guess that is kinda obvious, but it felt much less overwhelming to play against DA then i expected. Black Knights being fairly strong in assault will help mitigate this.

    How would you feel about DA and pod Skitarii (vanguards)? Due to scout move and drop pod assault the target saturation would be pretty good turn one. Feels like going first is quite strong due to the bike alpha and going second means your not gonna loose many ground units due to DA survivability.

    • MikhailLenin July 7, 2015 9:47 am #

      I think anything with Drop Skitarii will be great at the current moment but I have always played Bikes more of a Beta Strike army that just can cover any objective they need and over saturate my opponents with targets while keeping 1 Unit as a Rock/Hammer.

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