Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the head honcho of the Ravenwing, Sammael, Grand Master of the Ravenwing. For more reveiws, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.
Sammael is a strong special character for the Dark Angels, but carries a hefty price tag to go with his abilities. He has some decent combat ability, with a great sword for combat, but is hampered by his average strength. He also has some good firepower and can provide a range of buffs for any unit that he joins. He has a Space Marine Captain’s stats and comes mounted on a jetbike for 200 pts, but comes with a whole host of special rules.
- Bolt Pistol
- Plasma Cannon
- Twin-linked Storm Bolter
- Frag and Krak Grenades
- Iron Halo
- Teleport Homer
- Raven Sword- A master-crafted, AP2 power weapon.
- Eternal Warrior
- Grim Resolve- Has Stubborn and fires Overwatch at BS2 (unless Jinking).
- Hatred (Chaos Space Marines)
- Hit and Run
- Independent Character
- Ravenwing- can re-roll failed Jink saves
- Skilled Rider
- Swift Vengeance- Can fire two ranged weapons in the shooting phase.
- Rapid Manoeuvre (Warlord Trait)- Sammael and his unit adds 3″ to their maximum move for moving Flat Out, Turbo-boosting or assault moves.
I really like Sammael, both the models and the rules that he brings to the table. He has some decent combat ability and brings a lot of special rules to any unit that he joins, but I just don’t think he is worth his high points cost in a competitive Dark Angels list. In a casual game, however, he is a lot of fun and will generally perform well against a range of opponents.
As a character, Sammael is actually quite durable. With T5, 3 wounds, Eternal Warrior, and a 3+/4++ or 3+ re-rollable Jink save, he can actually take a fair amount of damage. He can act as a reasonable tank model in any unit he joins, but lacks the 2+ armour save or 3+ invulnerable save to make him really effective in this role. Eternal Warrior is great though, allowing you to risk using him to tank a single high strength shot with his 4++ if you don’t want to jink with your unit that turn.
Sammael is also pretty good in combat. He has WS6, I5 and has 5 attacks on the charge with an AP2 power weapon that strikes at initiative. The only thing that lets him down is his strength of 4. This makes it difficult for him to take out any models other than basic infantry (T3 or T4). If he had access to Furious Charge, this may go some way to mitigating his weaker aspects in combat, but he does not have this as standard. He is best going after standard infantry or those with 2+ armour saves that lack the strength or volume of attacks to seriously worry him in combat (such as Devastator Centurions).
His firepower is actually pretty good too. He comes with a plasma cannon, which can actually be quite potent when he fires it. BS5 means you are more likely to hit with it, but it does come with the risk of getting hot and wounding Sammael. The other downside is that you cannot fire it if you choose to Jink, which you will probably be doing much of the time. Getting to fire two weapons in the shooting phase is useful, but more limited if you are going to be Jinking with him.
He also comes armed with a Teleport Homer. This can be useful in the right circumstances, but only really applies to Terminators, so is likely to be of limited use in most competitive armies.
Where Sammael does well is in the special rules he can grant to his unit. Any unit he joins will gain Fearless, Hit and Run, Scout and Skilled Rider. These are some potent buffs to grant to a combat unit. Scout allows them to get to the enemy faster, Fearless will stop an inopportune failed morale check from wrecking your plans and Hit and Run will give the unit a chance to run from an unfavourable combat or allow them to go in for a second charge for maximum impact. Having Sammael as your warlord also gives the unit access to Rapid Manoeuvre. An extra 3″ bonus to charge range is great, making your average charge a whopping 10″. This allows you to make it into combat with most targets and even allows you to risk some longer range charges as well. The additional 3″ to turbo-boost is also useful for late game objective grabbing. Given that Sammael has a potential 39″ move (normal move and 27″ turbo-boost), he can actually be quite useful for late game objective grabbing, allowing him to travel far to secure or contest objectives.
One of the ironies is that Sammael has limited use in joining a unit of Black Knights or Ravenwing bikers. The Ravenwing already have access to Scout and Hit and Run, with the Black Knights also having access to Skilled Rider. He can provide them with Fearless, but an Interrogator-Chaplain on a Bike will grant this, as well as giving them access to Zealot re-rolls. If I do take Sammael in a Dark Angels army, I will still put him with a unit of Black Knights though. The extra 3″ to charge move is great for the Black Knights, as well as allowing Sammael to challenge any characters that may slaughter the Black Knights with ease. You just have to hope that Sammael survives the attacks.
In other Space Marine armies, Sammael can be a useful addition to another squad, giving them the bonuses listed above. This can make Sammael a popular choice for Deathstar-type units or for boosting another Bike unit that lacks Skilled Rider, Scout or Hit and Run. Though there are cheaper ways to gain access to Fearless and Hit and Run, Sammael can still pack a punch in combat which makes his inclusion worthwhile. Adding Sammael to a unit of Space Marine Bikes gives them access to a host of great special rules for this unit. It will be of limited use for White Scars bikers as they already have Scout (assuming you take Khan) and ignore difficult terrain when moving, but will come in very handy for other Chapters’ Bike units.
In conclusion, I really do like Sammael. I think he is a fantastic model and certainly has his uses on the battlefield. Whenever my Ravenwing Strike Force goes to battle, they are invariably led by Sammael (in fact, this was the only way to take them for a long time!). He is not the most competitive of choices, but he is damn fun in a game and generally survives till the end if you point him at the right targets.
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!