Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the Raven Guard special character, Shadow Captain Shrike. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.
Shrike is primarily a combat character that gives a boost to a unit of Assault Marines that he is clearly meant to be used with. Much like the chapter he represents, the Raven Guard, Shrike is the most restricted in terms of what he can do. The theme you will see with this Special Character is unfortunately, that he is only situationally useful. He is extremely overpriced for what you get and what you get is a decent melee character that will make a mess of most marine equivalents, but will really struggle against dedicated combat units, other combat characters and anything with a 2+ save. Shrike comes with a Space Marine Captain profile and costs just shy of 200 points.
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag and Krak grenades
- Iron Halo
- Jump Pack
- The Raven’s Talons- A pair of Lightning Claws with Master-Crafted and Rending.
- Chapter Tactics (Raven Guard)
- Independent Character
- Angel of Death (Warlord Trait)- Warlord causes Fear, enemy units locked in combat must take a Fear test on 3D6.
- See, But Remain Unseen- Shrike has Stealth and Infiltrate. Before deploying, he may only join Jump Infantry.
Shadow Captain Shrike has a great back story and aesthetics, and I think a really great model. Unfortunately, that is all for a rather weak special character with limited combat capabilities.
A Space Marine Captain’s stats with a pair of master-crafted Lightning Claws is no slouch in combat. Five attacks on the charge with two re-rolls and Shred is actually capable of putting out a decent amount of damage. Getting Rending on those attacks is also pretty good, giving him a chance of hurting high toughness targets or those with 2+ saves, but it can hardly be counted on. Toughness 4 makes him relatively easy to kill outright with Instant Death, with only his Iron Halo save to prevent this in combat. A unit of Terminators with Power Fists is probably going to crush him in combat and Shrike is unlikely to take many with him when he goes.
He also has the ability to infiltrate with a unit of Jump Infantry, either Assault Marines or Vanguard Veterans (the recent draft FAQ stated that the Jump Infantry unit he joins IS allowed to infiltrate). The only downside is that neither of these units are particularly amazing on their own.
Infiltrate is rather useful in that it essentially allows you to always deploy second. You can see where your opponent puts his units and then counter deploy. This is REALLY helpful with a unit like Shrike and his Assault Marine squad. They have to be very selective in what they assault as, for reasons stated above, they just can’t hang with a lot of the true assault units in the game. You have to play them like bullies, picking on weak unit, with the ability to infiltrate making this a lot easier. It also, obviously, allows you to start a lot closer to your opponent. It also allows you to outflank, which can be fantastic if going second against a shooting army or if you find yourself facing an army that is also reserving. With the speed of Jump Packs, you don’t have to worry so much about which side of the table you come in on in most cases. It is also a lot safer than Deep Striking. While you cannot assault from Infiltrating (or Outflanking), it does allow you to close with the enemy army faster or get into more favourable positions once you have seen how your opponent deploys.
Getting Stealth on the unit is also a nice bonus. Combined with the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics, Shrike and his unit will have a 4+ cover save in the open or a 2+ cover save in almost any terrain on the first turn of the game. This can really boost their survivability if you don’t get the first turn or even just waiting for your chance to charge on turn 2. The Raven Guard Chapter Tactics definitely benefit Jump Infantry, allowing them to use their Jump Packs in the movement and assault phases. This means you will be getting Fleet re-rolls on your charge distances and Hammer of Wrath hits, boosting the combat potential of the unit even further.
Shrikes Warlord Trait, while not amazing, is pretty good. Taking a Fear test on 3D6 means that most units will probably fail. The downside of this is that there are a lot of units immune to Fear. It probably won’t help Shrike too much, with WS6 he will be hitting most things on 3+, but could be very effective for a unit of Assault Marines or Vanguard Veterans, boosting their damage output.
The big downside of Shadow Captain Shrike is his cost. A generic Space Marine Captain with a Jump Pack and a pair of Lightning Claws comes in at 50 points cheaper than Shrike. You are paying that extra cost for Infiltrate, Stealth, two master-crafted re-rolls and Rending on your Claws. Is that worth it? I’m not too sure.
For much the same cost as Shrike, you could take a Chapter Master with a Jump Pack and the Relic, Swiftstrike and Murder. This Raven Guard Relic is a pair of Lightning Claws that gives you a bonus attack for each initial hit that you first roll. This load out comes in at 5 points cheaper than Shrike. Not only does the Chapter Master have an extra wound and attack, but the Relic gives him the potential to put out 12 attacks on the charge. Unlikely, but he will probably cause carnage against a unit of Marine equivalents, averaging around 6 dead Marines on the charge. In addition, you have the option to give the Chapter Master Artificer Armour to further increase his durability.
I would play Shrike as follows: take him with a unit of 10 Assault Marines with 2 Flamers and meltabombs. Infiltrate or Outflank them as appropriate, and then in most cases split Shrike off from them once he is in a position to assault and send them each into a separate target, thereby causing a great deal of disruption in the backfield and forcing your opponent to split up their firepower. Plus, it is relatively easy to hide a single model like Shrike with careful positioning. Vanguards unfortunately die just as easily as normal Marines, but at a higher point price. Again, unless you are predominantly playing against other Marine equivalents, Vanguard Veterans are just a points sink that will rarely pay dividends. Assault Marines kill wimpy stuff just fine and Vanguard don’t kill the tough stuff well enough to pay so many more points.
In summary, I think Shrike is not bad at all, he is quite good at what he does; killing other MEQs. However, the current meta of the game really doesn’t suit his skill-set at all, rendering him a bit lacklustre. In most cases, a true beatstick Chapter Master with Eternal Warrior who will consistently deliver the goods in the same role will be more useful every time. Shrike is definitely a finesse character that can be great, but will often disappoint and as such, I think we will rarely see him in anything but fun, fluffy lists. Which is a shame really, as he is too cool not to love.
You can also pick up some cheap models in our Second Hand Shop. Some of these gems are quite rare, sometimes they’re fully painted!