Dark Angels Review: Elites: Ravenwing Command Squad

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Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the elite of the Ravenwing, the Ravenwing Command Squad. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

Overview:

The Ravenwing Command Squad are the elite of the mighty Ravenwing Black Knights, riding into battle accompanied by the Chapter’s greatest heroes. On the tabletop, they are one of the best units in the codex. They possess great firepower and combat ability and can be upgraded to boost the already incredible durability of the Black Knights. The basic squad consists of 3 Black Knights for 40 pts each, with the option to increase the squad size up to six.

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Wargear:

  • Bolt Pistol
  • Plasma Talon
  • Corvus Hammer
  • Frag and Krak Grenades
  • Teleport Homer
  • One Ravenwing Black Knight may take the Ravenwing Company Banner or a Sacred Strandard.
  • Up to two Black Knights may replace their Plasma Talons with Ravenwing Grenade Launchers.
  • One Ravenwing Black Knight may be upgraded to an Apothecary.
  • One Ravenwing Black Knight may be upgraded to a Ravenwing Champion armed with the Blade of Caliban (+1S, AP3).

Special Rules:

  • ATSKNF
  • Grim Resolve- Stubborn and fires Overwatch at BS2 (unless they Jink)
  • Honour or Death (Ravenwing Champion only)- Must issue and accept challenges.
  • Hit and Run
  • Ravenwing- my re-roll failed Jink saves.
  • Scout
  • Skilled Rider

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Tactics:

The Ravenwing Command Squad are basically Ravenwing Black Knights with some useful command options that improve the unit even further. For a review of their capabilites, check out the review of the Ravenwing Black Knights in the Tactics Corner.

A summary of their benefits is as follows: The unit has some impressive firepower with the Plasma Talons. These are essentially shorter ranged twin-linked Plasma Guns. This allows them to harm a wide variety of units in the game with some fairly accurate firepower. They also pack a big punch in combat. Their wargear gives them each four S5 Rending attacks on the charge. A unit of 5 or 6 Black Knights will win a fight against most units in the game and will hold their own against many dedicated combat units.

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In addition, they have some of the best durability in the game. The Ravenwing rule gives them a 3+ re-rollable Jink save, which can be easily upgraded to a 2+ re-rollable save by the inclusion of a Darkshroud in the army.

The Ravenwing Command Squad takes these abilities and gives you the option to upgrade them to make them even more effective.

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The Apothecary is a great addition to the Command Squad (as it is with most Command Squads). Feel No Pain increases the durability of the Black Knights even further. Combined with a Darkshroud, the unit is practically unkillable when it Jinks. As an added bonus, the Apothecary does not lose his Corvus Hammer when upgraded to carry a Narthecium. I would always recommend taking the Apothecary in the Ravenwing Command Squad.

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The Ravenwing Company Banner is another great addition to the unit. It not only buffs nearby Dark Angels units with a 12″ morale re-roll bubble, more importantly, it allows the unit to automatically pass Hit and Run tests and move 4D6″ out of combat when they do. Automatically passing Hit and Run is great, as we all have those games where you fail a critical test, and the extra D6 for movement helps you to gain maximum distance from the enemy or allows you to move to seize an objective in a maelstrom mission or late in the game.

The Sacred Standard can be useful too, providing the same re-roll morale bubble and giving the unit Counter Attack (they are already Relentless as they are mounted on Bikes), but is a bit pricey to pay for simply gaining Counter Attack. The Ravenwing Company Banner is a lot more useful in my opinion.

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Generally, I don’t bother with the Ravenwing Champion. Having a S5 AP3 power sword on a unit Champion is great and seems like a bargain for only 5 pts. However, he comes with the dreaded Honour or Death special rule, forcing him to accept and issue challenges. Against another unit Champion this is great, as the Ravenwing Champion will most likely kill his enemy counterpart and take some his unit with him. However, any decent combat character will most likely kill the Champion and take out a lot of the Command Squad with him before they get a chance to strike. I will generally put another Character with the Ravenwing Command Squad in order to accept tricky challenges or tank wounds that may kill off the Command Squad. Having the Ravenwing Champion renders this tactic impossible and more often than not is detrimental to the unit.

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As I mentioned in the Black Knights review, the choice of whether to take the Ravenwing Grenade Launcher is mostly up to player preference. I find that the often don’t really achieve much in the game and prefer to stick with the Plasma Talon. If you do wish to take one, I would recommend that you only take one and not both that the unit allows.

The Ravenwing Command Squad makes a great accompanying unit for a combat character such as an Interrogator-Chaplain on a Bike or Sammael. These two characters really boost the combat potential of the Command Squad; The Chaplain through his Zealot re-rolls and Sammael with his warlord trait giving a +3″ charge range, as well as being equipped with an AP2 Power Weapon that strikes at initiative.

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My standard build for the unit would be 5 or 6 Black Knights (6 if I have the points to spare) with an Apothecary and the Ravenwing Company Banner. The unit will be accompanied by a Character; either Sammael or an Interrogator-Chaplain with a Bike and the Mace of Redemption. A Darkshroud is pretty much mandatory to accompany the unit and help keep them safe. When deploying the unit, I will generally try and point them at the biggest threat in the enemy army and go for it at full force. Scout move and a full move gives you 24″ to play with in the first turn, so you should have no problem getting within rapid fire range of the enemy army.

If I am deploying first, I will generally put the Command Squad in the centre of my deployment zone. This gives them a good starting point to counter the enemy deployment with their Scout moves. Most of the time, I will Jink with the unit when they come under fire. The loss of each Black Knight is severe, so you want that 3+ (or 2+) re-rollable Jink save to help keep them alive. Don’t worry about the reduction in firepower coming from the unit, the re-roll on the Plasma Talons will score a few lucky hits to harass the enemy, but the real strength of the unit comes from combat. You want to get the Command Squad into combat by at least turn 2 and keep chaining together combats until you run out of enemy units or Black Knights.

Overall, the Ravenwing Command Squad is a great choice for a Dark Angels army. They bring all the benefits of the amazing Black Knights and somehow managed to improve upon them. They are a welcome choice to any competitive 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.

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