Dark Angels Review: Formations: Ravenwing Strike Force


Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the Ravenwing Strike Force, all Ravenwing, all the time! For more reviews, tactics and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.


The Ravenwing Strike Force is a detachment that allows Dark Angels players to field an army composed of entirely Ravenwing units. As the Ravenwing are arguably the most powerful of the units in the latest Dark Angels codex, this is a pretty powerful army to build and is very popular in both the casual and competitive scenes. It allows you to create a strong thematic army that is also extremely able on the battlefield.



  • Compulsory- One HQ and two Fast Attack choices
  • Optional- Two HQ, 1 Elites, 10 Fast Attack and 3 Heavy Support
  • All units in the Detachment must have the Ravenwing special rule or be a Dark Angels character equipped with a Bike

Command Benefits:

  • First Huntsman- If this detachment is your primary detachment, you can re-roll your warlord trait.
  • Strike as One- All units in the Detachment must either be placed in reserve or deployed as normal. If in reserve, all units in the detachment automatically arrive at the start of the second turn.
  • Speed of the Raven- During the first turn (or second turn if the detachment deploys in reserve), any units in the detachment that Turbo-boost or move Flat Out count as Jinking until your next turn. However, they do not have to snap fire the next turn, they may fire as normal.



I have always been a big fan of the Ravenwing and have been regularly fielding armies composed entire of Ravenwing units since 5th edition. Previously, taking Sammael as your warlord enabled you to take Ravenwing Bike Squads as troops choices, allowing you to take a CAD for your all Ravenwing army. Unfortunately, this is no longer an option, but Dark Angels players did get the Ravenwing Strike Force to allow them to still field their army on the tabletop.

The Ravenwing Strike Force is a very popular formation for those, like me, that wish to field an all Ravenwing army, or for those players looking to ally a couple of units of Black Knights into the Lion’s Blade Strike Force or another Imperial army.

When first released, Sammael was the only HQ unit available to the Detachment, as he was the only HQ unit with the Ravenwing special rule. This was later errata’d to allow other HQ units that could be mounted on a Bike to be taken in the formation. This allows the detachment to be led by Sammael, an Interrogator-Chaplain, Chaplain, Librarian or Techmarine. I prefer the Interrogator-Chaplain to lead the Ravenwing Strike Force. He is a decent combat character and really boosts a unit of Black Knights he joins.


For the Fast Attack choices you can take a Ravenwing Bike Squad, Ravenwing Attack Bike Squad, Ravenwing Landspeeders, a Ravenwing Darkshroud, Nephilim Jetfighter, Ravenwing Dark Talon or Ravenwing Black Knights. Black Knights are by far the most powerful and popular choice, as they are the best unit in the codex.

If you wish to take either of the Ravenwing flyers, the entire detachment must start the game in reserve as the flyers must begin the game in reserve. If you wish to take an all Ravenwing army, this excludes you from taking the Nephilim Jetfighter or Dark Talon, though this is hardly a huge loss.


Strike as One is a special rule can be a bonus and a penalty. If you wish to place the Ravenwing Strike Force in reserve, a guaranteed turn 2 arrival is pretty good, as a string of poor reserve rolls can hamper any battle plan. This can be useful if you wish to reserve the detachment to Outflank the units or to avoid taking a large number of casualties if you are facing an alpha-strike army. If you are using the Ravenwing Strike Force to field an all Ravenwing army, then this rule limits your tactical options as you are not allowed to reserve any of your Ravenwing units to perhaps Outflank or keep them safe for late game objective grabbing.


Speed of the Raven seems like a great special rule for the formation on paper. The ability to benefit from the impressive re-rollable Jink save of the Ravenwing and fire at full effect the following turn seems like a real winner. However, I find that I rarely, if ever, make use of this special rule. If you get the first turn, between your Scout move and regular move, your units will most likely be in firing range of the enemy units (probably even Rapid Fire range) and will not be turbo-boosting or moving flat out instead of firing. If you are going second, you are most likely going to be Jinking when fired at by the enemy units, so will need to snap fire the following turn and will gain no benefit from Speed of the Raven. It can be useful when you are deploying first and find some of your units out of position thanks to your opponent’s deployment. This allows you to turbo-boost into a better position, jink in your opponent’s turn for added protection and put out a reasonable amount of firepower on the following turn.

One of the downsides of the Detachment is that you do not get Objective Secured on any of your units. This can be a problem problem for objective-based or maelstrom missions if you come up against a CAD or Battle Demi-Company force. However, given that most of your Detachment is likely to be incredibly fast moving on the battlefield, this can help you grab maelstrom points, assuming the enemy does not hold the objectives with their Objective Secured units.


The Ravenwing Strike Force can make an excellent Detachment to add to another Imperial army. Two units of Black Knights and an Interrogator-Chaplain on a Bike will boost just about any army that they are added to. For example, added to an Astra Militarum gun line, this would give you two powerful and mobile assault units that automatically arrive on turn 2 and can Outflank to get quickly to the heart of the enemy army. This allows your gunline to sit back and do what it does best, allowing the Ravenwing units to target key enemy targets or grab objectives with their greater manoeuvrability.

I find that the Ravenwing Strike Force works really well when paired up with the Ravenwing Support Squadron. Given the volume of Ravenwing units that you will on the table, you will be making good use of the Ravenshield special rule to gain additional overwatch fire at enemy units.


Overall, I am a big fan of the Ravenwing Strike Force, not for the Command Benefits it provides, but for the type of army it allows you to field on the tabletop. It makes a great basis for an all Ravenwing army or makes a fantastic allied detachment for any other Imperial army.

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About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.

8 Responses to “Dark Angels Review: Formations: Ravenwing Strike Force”

  1. Beau November 11, 2016 8:29 am #

    99% of the time I am facing eldar or tau. I usually have good luck against eldar, but difficulty vs riptide spam. I generally, play only 1k point games for time purposes. Would the solution be moar black knights?

    • Adam Vollrath November 11, 2016 11:32 am #

      Target all of their markerlights first turn, then they can’t hurt you much so camp the objectives.

      Also the darkshroud is excellent against Tau because it negates their super overwatch and they can’t threaten it in close combat so you can move it up aggressively.

      And yes maor Black Knights is always the correct answer.

    • jadedknight November 11, 2016 8:07 pm #

      Black Knights just aren’t that reliable in close combat against monstrous creatures, even riptides. You really are dependent on A) rends and B) them not having the 3++, otherwise the riptide are going to grind you down.

      More Knights is decent but hard hitting characters with an invuln is better. Chaplain’s w/ powerfists and/or a CC ally on a bike/mount is a much better solution I’ve found. (redundancy helps) Think about it this way. Can you army win if you go second? It’s too easy to build Ravenwing Strike force lists that HAVE to go first against someone with ignores cover shooting or lose. That’s not a game it’s a coin toss.

      Agree with the other comments about focussing on marker lights and in general for Knight heavy armies whatever they have that ignores cover is target priority one to the exclusion of all else. Even non low AP shooting like various artillery units can really mess you up.

      Unfortunately the only reliable answers I’ve found to the above problems are allied forces in one flavor or another. A single 35 pt drop pod can turn a nightmare of a game into devastating beta strike.

      • beau November 11, 2016 11:06 pm #

        I have been thinking about adding an allied conclave to the BK forces. Would some CC biomancy psykers and their instant death force weapons be very reliable against 3 riptides?

        • jadedknight November 12, 2016 9:56 am #

          It’s conditional. Force axes certainly helps with the offense but the librarians lack of invulnerable save is an issue. If you manage to get the 4+ FNP power that would certainly do the trick but it’s less certain.

    • Andrew November 14, 2016 8:41 am #

      The regular ravenwing bike squad can take 2 grav guns per unit of 3 which are very effective vs riptides (as well as a variety of other units).

  2. WestRider November 11, 2016 3:45 pm #

    If you really wanted a Nephilim or Dark Talon and/or the option to Reserve some of your Army, I guess you could take a second RWSF. Pretty much everything you’re going to want is from the FA section, so the only real tax there is another HQ.

    • Michael Corr November 12, 2016 11:05 pm #

      I guess that would work too. Though, the two flyers really aren’t all that amazing to want to include one in the first place.

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