Raven Guard Review 7: Shadow Force


Victorus aut Mortis!Reecius here again with part 8 in our Raven Guard review. This time, the Shadow Force formation is up for review! Be sure to check out the Tactics Corner for more great reviews!

Shadow Force is comprised of a team of stealthy veteran Space Marines, killers all! They sneak up on their foes with recon provided by the Land Speeder, and attack the enemy at their most vulnerable point!


This is a fun formation that while not amazing, is certainly not bad. The benefits it grants are characterful and a nice boost, but can feel like they fall a bit short compared to other formations available to you as a Space Marine player. The ability to Scout move up these units does provide some fun options and the ability to put units into a good position to strike at the enemy on turn 1 for an alpha strike, or to outflank if you find yourself going second.

  1. Space Marine Captain: can be swapped out for Sicarius, Khan, Vulkan, Shrike, Kantor, or Helbrecht. The Captain cannot be equipped with Terminator Armor.
  2. 1 Sternguard Veteran Squad
  3. 1 Vanguard Veteran Squad
  4. 1 unit of Land Speeders

Special Rules:

  • Acute Senses
  • Move Through Cover
  • Scout
  • Swift Redeployment: Non-vehicle units in this formation can reroll the dice when Running, and vehicles can move an additional 6″ when moving Flat Out which gets really crazy with a unit of 3 Land Speeders which gain an additional 6″ from the Anti Grav Upwash special rule.

raven guard 3


This formation appears to fall a little flat in comparison to other Space Marine formations, but, it has some really fun options if you get creative. For one, Scouting Sternguard is–obviously–good! If you get first turn, you can move into position to blast someone with combi-weapons or specialist ammunition turn 1! This is even easier to do if you have them in a transport vehicle, which would have Scout conferred onto it, too. If you are playing Raven Guard Chapter Tactics, you would also start with Shrouding so long as you are on foot. Vanguard getting a Scout move can be very useful, too, as they will almost certainly get a turn 2 charge.

If you do need to use your Scout move to instead Outflank, Acute Senses let’s you reroll the die for choosing the side you come in on, and in conjunction with the Talon Strike Force, you can come in on an enemy flank with an 8/9 chance of getting the side you want on turn 1. So good! That will really disrupt enemy battle plans.

Another benefit is Move Through Cover, which clearly helps Jump Infantry to avoid annoying fatalities due to crashing, but any dedicated transport would also love this ability, as would the Land Speeder. The extra speed on the Flat Out move is slick too, as it turns any dedicated transport into a Blood Angels quick vehicle. A Rhino particularly loves this and Sternguard with a Heavy Flamer can be put into position to really do some work. Rerolling the Run move is also great for ensuring you snag objectives throughout the game…just ask any White Scars player how solid that one is! The Land Speeder with a Flat Out move of +6″ means he can grab an Objective almost anywhere on the table! Not bad.

I’d run this formation with a unit of 10 Sternguard in a Rhino, with combi-weapons to enable them to Combat Squad and potentially pop two units on turn 1, or on foot if using Raven Guard CTs. With Shrouding turn 1, they can be pretty resilient. I’d run the Vanguard in a unit of 5, with the Captain packing a Jump Pack to accompany them. The Land Speeder would be ran Typhoon style (my favorite). This pairs very well with Lias Issodon (as does EVERYTHING in the Talon Strike Force, haha) due to the fact that he comes with the infiltrate warlord trait and allows you to reroll reserve rolls. Infiltrate + Scout is a potent combo on this formation, and if you go second, you can get a reroll 4+ to come in from reserves/outflank on turn 1. Cool!

Salamander Chapter Tactics would work very well here, too as a self-contained force. If you took Vulkan with the Vanguard in a Razorback or Drop Pod (which would love MtC to drop into any terrain!), slap a Master Crafted Relic Blade on the Sarge and some kit on the rest of the Vets, pack a Rhino full of Combi-Melta or Flamers on the Sternguard and dual Multi Meltas on the Land Speeder, you have a fun little formation that packs quite a punch! Could be a lot of fun and effective, too, as an addition to an army that needed some punch.

On a final note, reader Ragnulf suggested putting the IC in a unit from another detachment and confer Scout / Outflank onto them and any dedicated transport they might be using. Terminators, or Assault Centurions in a Land Raider. Or, stick him in a unit like an Imperial Guard blob squad, etc. Quite handy as he also grants Outflank!

In all, I would rate this as a mid-tier formation that will perform well, but may not rate as an all-star.


About Reecius

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

17 Responses to “Raven Guard Review 7: Shadow Force”

  1. westrider December 11, 2015 2:54 am #

    This is one that I really overlooked, partly because of the more-specific version of it that came in the Shadow Force Solaq box, which required an absolutely terrible loadout on the SternGuard, but more so because I was always just looking at it in isolation. In combination with the other Rules from the Talon Strike Force, that does open up a number of fun possibilities.

    I also kind of want to take a full Unit of Speeders for this one, to benefit from both Anti-Grav Upwash and Swift Redeployment for a 30″ Flat Out move 🙂

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 11, 2015 9:17 am #

      Hey, nice catch on the speeder squadron, I missed that! Yeah, that makes them lightening quick.

  2. Maeglin December 11, 2015 4:08 am #

    What’s your opinion on upgrading the Captain to a Chapter Master in these formations since you can swop out for a named Chapter Master.?

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 11, 2015 9:17 am #

      It’s certainly not very clear, but my reading of it is that if they list named Chapter Masters as an option in the formaiton, you can upgrade the Captain to a generic CT.

      • fluger December 11, 2015 1:25 pm #

        Does that have any effect on the Battle Company ruling?

        • Reecius
          Reecius December 11, 2015 1:37 pm #

          There’s doesn’t list anything but Captains.

          • fluger December 11, 2015 4:07 pm

            OK then. I still think they should be able to upgrade, but no worries. 😛

  3. Kroll December 11, 2015 11:51 am #

    The way I see it, is there is no restriction on chapter masters. It’s an upgrade of the captain unit, not a unit in itself anymore.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 11, 2015 12:04 pm #

      Well, that is debatable, actually. 40k has a lot of precedent of models with a different name being a totally different entity, such as a Space Marine Sargent is not a Space Marine, etc.

      • abusepuppy December 11, 2015 4:44 pm #

        That’s true for Sergeants/etc, but the Chapter Master upgrade is just that- an upgrade. It’s not really any different from, say, taking Artificer Armor.

        • Reecius
          Reecius December 11, 2015 8:27 pm #

          Not really, he has a different stat line and name.

          It would have been significantly less confusing had GW just gave the CT his own Data Slate.

  4. Ragnulf December 11, 2015 12:25 pm #

    So – attach the captain/CM who now has scout to a unit outside of the formation with a dedicated transport – say assault centurions in a land raider… or a Black Templar crusader squad…

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 11, 2015 12:43 pm #

      Hey, nice one! I hadn’t thought of that. Will add it to the article.

      • fluger December 11, 2015 4:07 pm #

        Wait, does Scout transfer like that? I thought it had to be the whole unit?

        • Reecius
          Reecius December 11, 2015 4:13 pm #

          No, that’s Infiltrate. Scout is just one model.

        • abusepuppy December 11, 2015 4:43 pm #

          Scout is specifically “at least one model,” and unlike Infiltrate has no restrictions on how you can join or be joined.

          However, if you have an IC with Scout and you join them to a unit in a dedicated transport, I don’t think the transport gains Scout- this is only true if the unit the transport was bought for has it.

          • Ragnulf December 11, 2015 10:49 pm

            That was something I was wondering, but was largely talked out of on a forum.

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