Raven Guard Review 5: Skyhammer Orbital Strike Force


Victorus aut Mortis! Here’s the 5th installment in our Ravenguard review. This time, the Skyhammer Orbital Strike Force! Be sure to check out the Tactics Corner for more great reviews.

When the Raven Guard need to secure a beachhead, they use this formation to secure a foothold, scouring the enemy from critical objectives.


This is a straightforward formation, but has some very cool aspects to it. You drop in some Tactical Marines supported by Land Speeders with offensive buffs. However, it has one glaring drawback: no ObSec! Is it worth the trade? Read on to find out.

The Formation consists of:

  • 3 Tactical Squads, each of which must purchase a Drop Pod
  • 1-3 unit of Land Speeders

Special Rules:

  • Dropsite Clearance: Pick a point on the battlefield at the start of your first turn, all Drop Pods from this formation only scatter D6″ if they land within 12″ of that point, and all units from this formation reroll to hit and wound rolls of 1 against enemy units within 12″ of that point.
  • Shock Assault: Tactical Squads from this formation can Run and then shoot the turn they disembark from their Drop Pods.

raven guard


This formation is built for offense. You play it very aggressively, choose your target zone, drop all the pods and then unleash everything you’ve got. In my mind, you’d want to run this with min/maxed Tactical Squads for a few reasons. One, you give them a special and combi weapon and consider them largely disposable. Two, since they don’t have ObSec, don’t sweat maxing them out, just maximize their offensive punch. If you play in a meta where the Bolters will be useful, then by all means, take 10 man squads, but in general terms, a Melta/Combi-Melta or the same with Plas, is going to be your best bet. Reroll 1’s, don’t scatter very far, and smack some key units in your deployment zone.

The Land Speeders also really dig this as they benefit greatly from it. Typhoons can stay back at a safe range, and fire into the kill zone, so to speak, with much improved efficiency. Frag Missiles with reroll 1’s to wound are solid, you’ll be surprised how much damage these fellas can do. Alternatively, you could go Assault Cannons and heavy Bolters to really gain benefit form rerolls or dual Multi Meltas to compliment meltas on the Tactical Squads to provide a potent anti tank punch.

If you are using this formation as a part of the Talon Strike Force, you get to roll for reserves starting turn 1, which is awesome, and your boys have Shrouding turn 1, also awesome. Edit: you don’t get Shrouding for the RG is you start in a transport, sorry for the confusion. This formation would combo very well the Shadowstrike Kill Team and Skyhammer Annihilation formations. You overload your opponent with threats and if you manage to pop open some transports, you provide a means for the assault elements in other formations to then attack the occupants.

It would also compliment a Battle Demi Company (which you can take in the Talon Strike Force) mounted in pods as they provide the scoring power, and also pack a solid punch, themselves. Also, the Pinion Battle Demi-Company works great with them as while they too lack ObSec, they can pack a nasty sting themselves with Scouts providing them Ignores Cover shooting. Also, pairing this formation with something like a Librarius Conclave to provide multiple, accurate entry points for Libbys who can spam out a power like Psychic Shrike, can be devastating to some armies. And again, with everything potentially coming in on turn 1 (again, Lias Issodon is a perfect compliment), you can hit with a Super Saiyan alpha strike. The means to reroll your reserves means you can drop in an crazy number of units, all turn 1. This formation plays into that well, and provides some fun special rules to give them a roll in the overall battle plan.

The real question is why would you take this over a Battle or Pinion Demi Company in the Talon Strike Force? That’s a tough call. I think this formation certainly has a place and makes Land Speeders much more attractive, but it will be seen relatively rarely compared to some of the other all-star formations available to Raven Guard.


About Reecius

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

11 Responses to “Raven Guard Review 5: Skyhammer Orbital Strike Force”

  1. jpwyrm December 2, 2015 5:36 am

    Nice review! I think this can be a usefull formation as an alpha strike like you said. Unless you really plan on building a list around them though, I think it should be kept at minimum and used as disruption – even the speeder is more of a tax than anything else. I must say tough that I had not thought about a Conclave, I might look a little bit more into that…

    Unfortunately, only unit that start the game out of Transports can benefit from Shroud. So no special protection for these guys!

    • fluger December 2, 2015 10:53 am

      Yeah, was just about to point out no shrouding coming out of pods.

      • Reecius
        Reecius December 2, 2015 11:16 am

        Doh! Good catch, guys, will edit.

        Glad you liked the review, though.

        • fluger December 2, 2015 1:15 pm

          Enjoyed it, honestly, I’m glad there’s someone out there putting out content about my favorite chapter. RG are so cool fluff-wise (IMO), but GW just can’t do them any favors for the most part.

          This formation feels like a good one for people more interested in fluff than power gaming, which is fine, as it gives landspeeders more pop.

          I’d like to see more landspeeder love out of formations and was hoping for something better than what we got in this supplement as both WS and RG are notable in that they (fluffwise) use speeders a lot. The “spotter” style formations here and the one with whirlwinds are neat.

  2. Rawdogger December 2, 2015 10:24 am

    Great review! Might use this at Adepticon if Battle Company is not allowed.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 2, 2015 11:16 am

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. westrider December 2, 2015 12:26 pm

    This one feels like it could be pretty awesome in a couple of cases where you know the Mission ahead of time (particularly The Relic and Emperor’s Will), but for general purposes, when I’ve tried to work it into a list, it’s always felt kind of awkward, too many extra Tactical Squads without ObSec for too little benefit.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 2, 2015 12:59 pm

      Yeah, kind of my thoughts, too.

    • jpwyrm December 2, 2015 1:07 pm

      Well, maybe this can be mitigated by the Extensive Planning SR from the Talon Strike Force – reroll the Mission to get the one your army is taylored for the most.

      Won’t be much help in a tournament were Missions are fixed, but maybe some will come to include random Missions as part of their format…

      • WestRider December 2, 2015 4:04 pm

        I generally either play in Tournaments or Maelstrom, so fixed Missions, or not a selection where the re-roll can get me Emperor’s Will or The Relic. That is a good point, tho.

      • EmbraceYourInnerGeek December 3, 2015 11:52 pm

        That’s a good question – Reece – in the ITC, how are you playing Extensive Planning? Re-roll on the maelstrom missions?