Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of one of my favourite Dark Angels formations- the Ravenwing Support Squadron. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.
The Ravenwing Support Squadron, as its name implies, is a great support unit for the Ravenwing. The formation consists a number of Ravenwing Landspeeders with some great special rules for helping your bike units in a game. Depending on how you arm them, they can put out a lot of very impressive firepower. This can really add to the cost of the formation and make it quite expensive, but I think it is well worth the cost.
The formation consist of:
- A Ravenwing Darkshroud or Ravenwing Land Speeder Vengeance
- A unit of Ravenwing Landspeeders (must have at least 3 models)
- Grim Resolve- Fires Overwatch at BS2.
- Strafing Run
- Ravenshield- When an enemy unit charges a friendly Ravenwing unit within 24″, the Ravenwing Support Squadron may make a special overwatch attack against the charging unit, even though vehicles cannot normally fire overwatch. Template weapons can only use the Wall of Death special rule if they are within 6″ of the friendly unit. You can only fire one overwatch attack per turn.
- Support Squadron- All vehicles in the formation must form a single squadron. However, it still counts as two units for the purposes of calculating victory points if it is destroyed.
The Ravenwing Support Squadron brings a lot of incredibly useful firepower to a Dark Angels army and is especially useful in a Ravewning-heavy force.
Strafing Run is great on the formation, meaning that you will be hitting on a 2+ against most targets. This is really useful for increasing the damage output of the formation. Interceptor is also a great special rule for the formation, and one of the few ways to access it in a space marine army. This can provide a nice shock for any alpha-strike units, as your Ravenwing Support squadron can pepper such a unit with assault cannon or typhoon missile shots as they land. I once had a the Ravenwing Support Squadron take out most of a unit of Deep Striking Wraithguard (along with their accompanying Shadowfield Archon) before they could bring their dreaded D-Scythes to bear in a tournament game.
Where the formation really gets its strength though is in the Ravenshield special rule. This is essentially taking the Tau on at their own game, allowing you to fire overwatch shots at any enemy unit that tries to assault another Ravenwing unit within 24″. If you arm the Support Squadron correctly, this can cause a serious amount of damage, potentially crippling an assault unit or forcing them to fail a charge. Added to this is the fact that Grim Resolve means you will be firing Overwatch at BS2 (unless you were Jinking), which adds up to a serious amount of firepower you can level at an enemy unit (in addition to the Overwatch fire of the unit being assaulted). This is an amazing special rule for any formation to have and can be a real game changer in the right circumstances.
As amazing as I think the formation can be, it does have its downsides.
First up is the cost of the formation. It’s base cost is 230 points. While this is not crazily expensive, it only gives you 4 Heavy Bolters in the formation. This is a serious waste of the Support Squadron’s special rules and you will probably want to at least upgrade the Landspeeders’ weapons to fully take advantage of the formation’s rules.
Secondly, the formation has a big footprint on the table. Just the minimum of a Darkshroud and three Landspeeders takes up a lot of space on the table. This makes it difficult to deploy well in certain deployment or board types and can make the formation vulnerable to blast weapons, as even a high scatter will usually hit one of the vehicles in the formation.
The formation is also very vulnerable to combat. With only armour 10 and 2 or 3 Hull Points, most units will have no problem in utterly destroying the formation if they get into combat with it. The firepower that the Ravenwing Support Squadron can put out, in addition to its great special rules, makes it a prime target for the enemy firepower and assault. Fortunately, the unit has some really good defences depending on how it is built that can make it very durable to enemy firepower, but has little in the way of defence in combat.
My personal preference for the Ravenwing Support Squadron is as follows:
- Ravenwing Darkshroud with Assault Cannon
- 3 Ravenwing Landspeeders with Assault Cannons and Heavy Bolters
This squadron comes with 4 Assault Cannons and 3 Heavy Bolters, a great amount of firepower in the unit. The formation puts out 16 S6 rending shots and 9 S5 shots that hit on a 2+. The Assault Cannons are great for Interceptor shots, the medium strength shots are useful against most targets, with Rending having the potential to harm tougher units such as Drop Pod Grav Centurions or other alpha-strike units. This is a pricey formation though, coming in at just over 300 pts.
I think the Darkshroud is the clear choice over the Land Speeder Vengeance. Not only does it provide more defence against enemy shooting, it also grants the unit Scout, allowing them to keep up with other Ravenwing units on deployment or allowing you to reposition to safety once you see your opponent’s deployment or if they happen to seize the initiative. With the Darkshroud, the Support Squadron gets a 2+ re-rollable save if they Jink or gives them a 2+ cover save behind most cover.
I normally use my Squadron to support a unit of Ravenwing Command Squad (led by Sammael or an Interrogator-Chaplain). The Darkshroud provides the Command Squad with a 2+ Jink save, as well as preventing Overwatch fire against the Command Squad when they charge. The Ravenshield rule also helps to discourage assaulting enemy units, especially when added to the twin-linked Plasma Talons of the Command Squad.
Do not be afraid to Jink with the Support Squadron if it helps keep them alive. Even though you diminish your firepower, I find that with my load out, the volume of shots the squadron can make still allows for one or two casualties from overwatch or Interceptor fire. You can even add a nearby Librarian to cast Prescience on the unit to help ensure maximum casualties.
The Ravenwing Support Squadron also makes a great addition to the Lion’s Blade Strike Force. One of the Command Benefits of this detachment is to allow the formations in it to fire Overwatch at their full BS if they have Grim Resolve. This makes the Support Squadron a very potent Overwatch unit, with a large range for Overwatch potential against enemy units.
In conclusion, I think the Ravenwing Strike Force is a very powerful formation for the Dark Angels and well worth the inclusion in any army. Whenever I run an all Ravenwing force, it is an almost mandatory choice for the benefits it provides the army.
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