Dark Angels Review: Fast Attack: Ravenwing Black Knights

Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the elite of the Ravenwing Bikers, the Ravenwing Black Knights. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

Overview:

The Ravenwing Black Knights are the hard hitters of the Fast Attack section, and the best fast attack choice in the codex, in my opinion. Each Knight is expensive, but comes with the hard-hitting Plasma Talon, allowing them to put out some serious damage in shooting, as well as being a fairly capable unit in the combat. When backed up by some other units in the Dark Angels codex, and with access to some of the best stratagems in the codex, the Black Knights become a phenomenally strong unit on the tabletop.

The Black Knight squad consists of one Huntsmaster and two Black Knights, with the option to increase the squad size up to 10 Black Knights. Each Black Knight costs 46 points.

I give the Black Knights the Competitive rating, as they are a fantastic unit that will find a place in any strong Dark Angels army.

Wargear:

  • Bolt Pistol
  • Frag and Krak Grenades
  • Plasma Talon- 18″, Assault 2, S7, AP-3, damage 1. Can overcharge to give S8, AP-3 damage 2, but on a roll of a 1 to hit, the Black Knight is slain after the shots are resolved.
  • Each Black Knight may take a Corvus Hammer- Melee, +1S, AP-1, 1 damage. Each roll of a 6+ to wound causes D3 damage instead of 1.
  • The Huntsmaster may take a Corvus Hammer, Power Sword or Power Maul.
  • The Huntsmaster may take Meltabombs.
  • For every 3 models in the unit, one Black Knight may replace his Plasma Talon with a Ravenwing Grenade Launcher for free- Frag shell: 24″, assault D6, S3, AP0, 1 damage. Krak Shell: 24″, Assault 2, S6, AP-1, D3 damage.

Abilities:

  • Inner Circle- This unit automatically passes Morale tests. In addition, you can re-roll failed to Hit rolls in the Fight phase when targeting Fallen units.
  • Jink- If the unit advances, it gains a 4+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks until the start of your next movement phase.
  • Turbo-boost- This unit automatically adds 6″ to their move when advancing rather than rolling a die.
  • Grim Resolve- You can re-roll to Hit rolls of 1 for this unit when it shoots as long as it did not move in its prior movement phase. In addition, you can never lose more than a single model as a result of a failed morale test.
  • Keywords: Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, Dark Angels, Ravenwing, Biker, Ravenwing Black Knights.

Tactics:

Black Knights are one of the stars of the Dark Angels army, providing some fast and mobile Plasma firepower and some decent combat ability that will be able to take on most units in the game. They have a Space Marines Veteran’s profile on a Bike, so come with WS and BS 3+, S4, T5, 2 wounds, 2 attacks, Ld 8 and a 3+ save.

They are a fast unit on the board. A basic move of 14″ means that they will generally be getting into range with their Plasma Talons very quickly. They automatically advance 6″, meaning they can potentially go up to 20″ per turn, allowing them to have a great deal of board presence for grabbing objectives or getting to enemy units. What is great is that as their Plasma Talons are assault weapons, they can advance and still fire them (but at -1 to hit). This means that the unit can be highly mobile and still put out a reasonable level of hard-hitting firepower, especially if you have a nearby source of re-rolls. Just be careful not to overcharge when you advance unless you REALLY need to, as the Black Knights will be killing themselves on a to hit roll of a 1 or a 2 after advancing in most cases. I would be inclined to be advancing with the Black Knights every turn in order to access the 4+ invulnerable save against enemy shooting. This massively increases their durability to enemy firepower, and still allows you to fire your Plasma Talons with reasonable accuracy (especially when buffed by nearby characters or with Stratagems).

The Plasma Talon is a great weapon to have on the Black Knights. Assault 2 at 18″ means that you will be able to keep the enemy at range and still get to fire two shots each turn. In 8th edition, Plasma weapons are king once more, able to put out a number of high strength multi-damage shots that practically tear through the enemy armour. On the basic firing mode, S7 will be wounding most things on a 3+ and negating or severely reducing the armour save of most enemy units with AP-3. This potent firepower even allows you to have a reasonable chance of damaging enemy vehicles or monsters. Overcharging the Plasma Talons makes them even more potent, as you go up to S8 and 2 damage with each shot, making them a huge threat to just about every unit in the game. I would only overcharge the Plasma Talons if you have a nearby source of re-rolls to hit, as at 46 points each, the lose of each Black Knight to an overheat roll is going to be felt in your army.  If it comes to it, you can always stay put for a turn in order to gain access to the re-rolls of 1’s to Hit through Grim Resolve, offsetting the dangers of overcharging your Plasma weapons. The Plasma Talon can be made even better with the right use of Stratagems, as I will discuss below.

You can also take one Grenade Launcher for every three Black Knights in the unit. In general, I probably wouldn’t bother with it. I think the Plasma Talon is the superior weapon and will be of more use against a wider variety of units most of the time. The only reason to take the Grenade Launcher is to access the Stasis Shells stratagem. This is useful, but I think there are better ways to spend your command points a lot of the time.

Each Black Knight can take a Corvus Hammer and there is no reason not to do this. It costs no points and does not replace a weapon. The Corvus Hammer is what gives the Black Knights their combat ability. With it, each Knight will get 2 attacks in combat, hitting on a 3+ at S5 and with -1AP. This allows them to take on a wide range of enemy units, wounding most standard infantry on a 3+ and other Bikers on a 4+. In addition, each to wound roll of a 6+ does D3 damage instead of 1, meaning with some good rolling, this unit can threaten multi-wound models and even vehicles can suffer, as roughly have your successful wounds will be doing D3 damage each. Despite their abilities, they are not amazing in combat, so you will need to use them to finish off basic infantry or units that have been weakened by your Plasma Talon fire, as they are not going to be able to mow through dedicated combat units with ease. In general, you want to ensure that you will finish off any unit that you charge, as you don’t want the Black Knights to be trapped in combat where you cannot use their Plasma Talons each and every turn.

Stratagems

The Dark Angels codex features a whole host of Stratagems that make the Black Knights an even more powerful and threatening unit on the board. In fact, it can be really easy to simply spend all your command points on buffing the Black Knights for the whole game.

Speed of the Raven allows a Ravenwing unit to advance and still shoot and charge in their turn. This is an incredible stratagem to use on the Black Knights, allowing them to move up to 20″ in a turn and still shoot and assault to full effect. The stratagem doesn’t say whether the unit suffers the -1 to hit penalty for advancing and shooting assault weapons. Hopefully, this will get an FAQ, but I would argue that the spirit of the rule would not have them suffer the penalty, as other weapon types are allowed to advance and fire without any additional penalty. On most standard deployment types, this will almost guarantee a first turn charge by the Black Knights if you want them to. Not only does this give the Black Knights a huge threat range, it also allows them to Jink, giving them a 4+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks without any penalty to their shooting or combat ability. This is a stratagem that my Ravenwing Black Knights will be using all the time to great effect.

Weapons from the Dark Age is another incredible stratagem for boosting the Black Knights. This adds 1 to the damage of all Plasma Weapons fired by the unit. Given that all the Black Knights are armed with Plasma Talons, this gives you maximum impact for your command point. Going up to 2 damage on the basic fire mode for the Plasma Talons is great, allowing them to threaten multi-wound models such as Terminators, or put serious damage on an enemy vehicle or monster. When you overcharge the Plasma Talons, each successful wound will be doing 3 damage. This is incredible for putting a serious dent in or even destroying a serious threat to your army. In a recent game, I used this stratagem on a unit of Black Knights when firing on Mortarion. With Sammael nearby, I was able to overcharge the Plasma Talons without losing a single Knight, and put 12 wounds on the Daemon Primarch, severely reducing his abilities, before the Black Knights were able to assault and finish him off in the Fight phase.

Intractable can also get a lot of use for the Black Knights. This allows a Dark Angels unit to Fall Back and still shoot in their turn. Given how powerful the Plasma Talons can be, this is a great stratagem to use. It prevents your opponent from charging the Black Knights with a transport vehicle or chaff unit, not to harm the Knights, but to stop them from shooting in the following turn. Intractable allows you to fall back and still unleash the devastating firepower of the Black Knights in your shooting phase.

Stasis Shell can also be useful in the right circumstances. This stratagem is used when firing on an enemy Character with a Ravenwing Grenade Launcher. You only make one to hit roll (with +1 to hit), but if you hit you deal D3 mortal wounds automatically. This can be a useful stratagem if you find yourself with a wounded enemy character to target and a good chance of killing them with some mortal wounds. This does require you to have the Grenade launcher in the unit, so I’m not sure if it is worth replacing the Plasma Talon. It could be useful under the right conditions, but don’t count on using it in every game.

Honour the Chapter can also be useful on the Black Knights thanks to their boosted combat abilities. Although expensive at 3 command points, it allows your unit to fight again at the end of the fight phase. This can be useful to finish off an enemy unit or weakened vehicle/monster to score you points in a maelstrom game or grab an objective at the end of the game.

As you can see, the Black Knights are boosted by a number of very useful stratagems in the Dark Angels codex. As a result, you will want to have access to a number of command points in order to use them to full effect during the game.

Unit Synergy

Black Knights are a fantastic unit to field on their own, but they have some synergy with other units in the Dark Angels codex that boost their abilities even further. Here are just a few of the units that can really help them on the battlefield.

As the Grand Master of the Ravenwing, Sammael provides some great benefits to the Black Knights. Getting a 6″ bubble to re-roll all failed To Hit rolls for Ravenwing units with Sammael really improves the damage output of the Black Knights. He is great for overcharging with nearby Black Knights. He is also great for providing a nearby combat threat to charge in with the Black Knights or to possibly perform a heroic intervention if the enemy gets close enough. If Sammael is too expensive for your army, you can always go with a Master with a Jump Pack, giving him the mobility to keep up with the Black Knights and allow them to re-roll 1’s to hit.

The Darkshroud makes another great support unit for the Black Knights. It grants them a -1 to hit against enemy shooting attacks if they are within 6″ of the skimmer. Added to the 4+ invulnerable save from Jink, this really improves the durability of the Black Knights and helps keep them in the game for longer.

A new addition to the army, the Ravenwing Talonmaster adds some great buffs to the Black Knights. A unit of Black Knights within 6″ of the Talonmaster will get re-rolls of 1 to wound and enemy units will not get cover save bonuses from the Knights’ shooting. This helps to make the Plasma Talons even deadlier, as Marine equivalents will only be getting a 6+ armour save against their shooting. The re-rolls to wound are also great, allowing you to re-roll roughly half your failed wounds against most targets.

The Librarian can also be a big boost to a unit of Dark Knights when properly supporting them. The Righteous Repugnance psychic power allows the Knights to re-roll all failed to Hit and to Wound rolls in the Fight phase. This will dramatically improved their damage output in combat, making them a potent melee threat in your army. The Librarian will need a way to keep up with the Black Knights, as the power range is only 12″. This means you will need to give him a Jump Pack, some Terminator armour for the Teleport deployment option, or go with the Index version for a Bike. Aversion can also be a useful power, giving one enemy unit -1 to hit. Paired with the Darkshroud, this can make one key enemy unit have very poor firepower against the Black Knights (and rest of your army) and make them a bit less potent in combat too if you want to charge in and attack with the Knights.

The Ravenwing Ancient and Ravenwing Apothecary are also useful support characters for the Black Knights. The Ancient gives all Ravenwing units within 6″ +1 attack. This brings each Black Knight up to 3 attacks, which further increases their combat potential and can make them a considerable threat. The Ravenwing Apothecary can be used to heal damaged Black Knights or bring them back from the dead, though both characters can be quite expensive to field.

As you can see, there are a huge number of unit that can boost the Black Knights, as this list is by no means exhaustive. It can be easy to spend most of the points in an army to boost just one unit. It may not be an efficient use of points, but when the Black Knights hit something, they will got right through it when properly buffed.

Using the Black Knights

The Ravenwing Black Knights can be an expensive unit to field, so can’t be idly through away on the tabletop. I normally field them in units of 5. This gives them a decent level of firepower and combat ability to tackle most enemy units they come up against without any other buffs to boost them.

However, a larger unit of Black Knights will be a potent threat on the tabletop (and a prime target for your opponent). Fielding a larger unit of Knights (up to 10) makes more efficient use of your command points, as the larger units will get more benefit from each stratagem. A unit of 10 is a potent investment, coming in at 460 points, almost a quarter of your army in most cases. If you plan on running a large unit of Black Knights, I would say that they need to be supported by a Darkshroud at the minimum. This will make them a bit more durable to enemy firepower and help keep them alive for longer, especially if you don’t get the first turn.

If you are going to invest so many points in one unit, it can be tempting to double down and buff them with a number of support characters, but this can leave you vulnerable to a heavy hit if your opponent can take them out in the first turn before they get a chance to perform. I tend to run all-Ravenwing armies, so go for two units of 5 Black Knights. One can go on each flank to cut down the firepower coming at each unit, or you can put them together to benefit from the Darkshroud and Sammael.

I tend to send the Black Knights after the biggest threat in the enemy army. They are unlikely to survive the game long, but should hopefully cause enough damage to make their sacrifice worthwhile. In the first turn, use Speed of the Raven to push the Black Knights forward and get into range of your target. Remember, to keep them spread out so as to still have the unit in range of the Darkshroud and any support characters they have. Remember, these characters can still turbo-boost to get into range to buff the Knights and also gain an invulnerable save into the process in many cases.

Based on the target, you can then use Weapons of the Dark Age to boost the Plasma Talons and eliminate the threat with Plasma Fire. It is always a good idea to try and get into charge range of multiple enemy units. If the Plasma Talons take one out, you can charge into another and try and finish them off with your boosted combat attacks. With the enemy units tied up, you can try some long range charges with your support characters (as long as they didn’t advance) to try and help out, safe from overwatch if the unit is already engaged in combat.

While the Black Knights are engaging the enemy heavy hitters, the rest of your army is free to shoot at other units, or your other Bikers can focus on grabbing objectives or going after weaker enemy units.

Overall

The Ravenwing Black Knights are an extremely strong unit to field in a Dark Angels army. They are able to bring high mobility, strong durability, great firepower and decent combat ability to your army. For this reason, they will find a place to fit in any competitive list of the Dark Angels. With the proper support and Stratagems, they should be a valuable addition to your army.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

secondhandhsop

Tags:

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.

4 Responses to “Dark Angels Review: Fast Attack: Ravenwing Black Knights”

  1. Andy f December 24, 2017 12:53 am #

    I really want to like this units as I have loads of them. You need a big unit for them to benefit from the amount of cp you will likely spend on them. I just can’t see a way of them surviving if you don’t get first turn. If only they had some way of staying in reserve

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr December 24, 2017 9:44 am #

      I would recommend the Darkshroud at the very least. Also, have lots of line of sight blocking terrain on the table. You can hide them in the first turn, then advance to get into range to fire and assault (if you use the stratagem).

      Alternatively, Azrael makes a great warlord in the army. You can deploy him next to the Black Knights to give them a 4+ invulnerable if you do not get the first turn. Added to the -1 to hit from the Darkshroud, this will give them a high level of durability. You may lose a few to enemy firepower, but each shot focusing on them is a shot not going into the rest of your army.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 24, 2017 1:10 pm #

      It just depends on what your opponent has and the terrain. I like to start them hidden if at all possible and near Azrael and a Darkshroud. That gives them solid defense. Terrain is the big one, though.

      They’re bad ass though, definitely pack a mean punch.

  2. Sossen December 25, 2017 3:12 am #

    Advancing every turn to activate Jink is practically necessary, like you say. It’s a shame that it is so anti-synergistic with their plasma talons. They would be more competitive if they had a way to overcharge safely, Weapons of the Dark Age compensates a bit but losing the extra strength hurts vs tanks.

Leave a Reply