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 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.