Hi everyone, Michael here with a review on the newest Ravenwing HQ unit, the Talonmaster. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.
The Ravenwing Talonmaster is a new HQ unit for the Dark Angels army in 8th edition. He provides some fast, mobile, mid-strength firepower to add to your army. He also provides some nice buffs for nearby Dark Angels units, especially those of the Ravenwing. His boosted profile and firepower make him much more valuable than a regular Ravenwing Landspeeder, and being a character he has some added buffs in that department. The Ravenwing Talonmaster costs 188 points.
I would rate the Talonmaster as somewhere between Efficient and Competitive. With the right army, he provides a lot of strong buffs to the Dark Angels and Ravenwing. However, he is not the most points efficient unit in the codex for providing the mid-strength firepower that he does.
- Power Sword
- Twin Assault Cannon
- Twin Heavy Bolter
- And They Shall Know No Fear
- No Escape- Enemy units do not gain any bonuses to their saving throws for being in cover against shooting attacks made by friendly Ravenwing units within 6″.
- Explodes- If this model is reduced to 0 wounds, roll a D6 before removing it from the tabletop. On a roll of a 6, it explodes and each unit within 3″ suffers a mortal wound.
- Tactical Precision- You can re-roll wound rolls of 1 for friendly Dark Angels units within 6″ of this model.
- Grim Resolve- You can re-roll to hit rolls of a 1 for this unit whenever it shoots so long as it did not move in its prior movement phase.
- Keywords- Imperium, Adeputs Astartes, Dark Angels, Ravenwing, Character, Vehicle, Land Speeder, Fly, Talonmaster
The Ravenwing Talonmaster has a pretty impressive statline for a mid-level character. He has WS 2+ and BS 3+, S4, T6, 6 wounds, 4 attacks and a 3+ armour save. He is also one of the most mobile characters you can get, with a fantastic 16″ move.
He is pretty decent in combat, with WS2+, four attacks at S4 and a power sword. He should do well against standard infantry with T4 or lower, but will struggle to wound tougher opponents. This can be mitigated, however, by some of the Relic choices available to the Talonmaster. He also has the bonus of the Fly keyword, allowing him to fall back from combat and still shoot, making it even tougher for the Talonmaster to be tied up in combat.
The Talonmaster also has quite an impressive array of firepower. A Twin Assault Cannon and Twin Heavy Bolter will put out 18 shots at S5 and S6 and -1AP. One downside is that the Talonmaster is only BS3+, meaning he will be hitting on a 4+ when on the move. Still, with an average of 9 hits, he should be able to do a fair bit of damage to infantry units and might even worry some heavier units. Thanks to his special rules, he also ignores cover bonuses, meaning the 1-AP of his ranged weapons will actually have an impact on the enemy unit.
The Talonmaster provides the standard Lieutenant-type buff, allowing all Dark Angels units within 6″ to re-roll failed to wound rolls of 1. This is a nice bonus for many of the weapons in the Dark Angels arsenal. He also grants all Ravenwing units within 6″ the ability to ignore cover. This is great for getting the most out of your strong firepower such as Plasma Talons, reducing a 5+ armour save in cover to a 6+ armour save. A unit of Black Knights accompanied by Sammael and a Talonmaster is a potent combination, able to put out a lot of Plasma Talon shots with re-rolls to hit and to wound in most cases (when overcharging). The Ignores Cover ability gets even better with the introduction of the Prepared Positions stratagem, denying your opponent his cover save on the first turn for units near the Ravenwing character.
The Talonmaster is actually a fairly durable character. With T6 and 6 wounds, he is not the easiest to take down. In addition, he has the Character keyword, which is great for keeping him safe from the enemy guns, unless they have a special rule allowing them to target him. Behind a Ravenwing unit or infantry unit, he will be relatively safe from the enemy firepower, with most enemy units having trouble killing him in combat without some high strength weaponry.
Where the Talonmsater does fall down is the lack of an inherent invulnerable save. This makes him vulnerable to high strength, high damage weaponry or dedicated combat units and characters. He can gain a 4+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks if he advances, but this robs him of his potent firepower. You can always use the Speed of the Raven stratagem to allow him to advance and still fire and assault at full effect. However, there are times where you will want to sued this stratagem on a more powerful Ravenwing unit, leaving the Talonmaster to fend for himself.
There are a number of Relic upgrades that are of use to the Talonmaster and Dark Angels.
The Heavenfall Blade is a great upgrade to give the Talonmaster more combat punch. This takes him up to 5 attacks at S6, AP-3 and D3 damage per wound. This gives him the ability to take on tougher enemy units and characters, though he still lacks an invulnerable save to protect him in combat.
The Shroud of Heroes is also a popular upgrade for the Talonmaster. It forces your opponent to subtract 1 from all hit rolls targeting the bearer. This gives the Talonmaster some good protection against shooting and melee attacks. When paired with the Ravenwing Darkshroud, this gives your opponent -2 to hit against the Talonmaster, making him very durable to enemy firepower.
The Eye of the Unseen is also an often overlooked Relic for the Dark Angels. All enemy units within 3″ subtract 1 from their Leadership. In addition, any enemy characters that start the Fight phase within 3″ must fight last in the Fight phase. This is a great Relic for getting the drop on enemy characters and potentially taking them out before they can strike back. This is very useful for units such as Imperial Knight Characters or Space Wolves characters, especially when doing Heroic Intervention tricks. I’ve used this Relic to great effect when accompanied by Azrael, allowing the Dark Angels Chapter Master to slay enemy characters before they get a chance to strike him down.
There are a couple of useful stratagems that can benefit the Talonmaster.
As has been mentioned above, Speed of the Raven can be a big boost for the Talonmaster. This allows him to Advance and still fire and assault, making the most of his potent firepower, while also giving him an invulnerable save against enemy shooting attacks.
Bear in mind that Armour of Contempt can apply to the Talonmaster, as he is a vehicle. This gives him a 5+ save against Mortal wounds for a phase, valuable to potentially block psychic attacks, such as Smite.
Unit Synergy and Uses
Obviously, the Talonmaster works best when accompanying Ravenwing units. He has the speed to keep up with almost all Ravenwing units, providing his buffs to them anywhere they go.
As mentioned above, if you want to use Black Knights, he is a strong addition to the army, allowing your Plasma Talons to re-roll wound rolls of 1 and ignoring cover, maximising the damage output of the squad. They can also be accompanied by Sammael and a Darkshroud to buff them even further.
Having the Talonmaster near Sammael is also great for him, allowing him to re-roll to hit rolls of 1 and 2 on the move, which should increase his damage output considerably. I’ve found that with Sammael nearby, the Talonmaster can actually put out a considerable level of firepower against most enemy infantry units.
However, there are certainly cheaper options for the Lieutenant-type buffs. A Lieutenant with a Jump Pack can keep up with Ravenwing units just as well, while also being a considerably cheaper option. You don’t get the Ignores Cover-type bonus, but this isn’t going to come up much of the time.
Equally, if you are looking for a Landspeeder platform with a Twin Assault Cannon and Twin Heavy Bolter, then Sammael on Sableclaw is a solid option. Not only do you get an improved BS and re-rolls to hit, you also get an invulnerable save and boosted combat ability.
I do think the Ravenwing Talonmaster is a solid addition to the Dark Angels army. He has some strong firepower, but is hampered by his BS 3+ and the fact that his weapons are heavy, so suffers a penalty for moving and firing. With the right Relic upgrade, he can gain a big boost to his durability or combat potential, allowing him to be a potent combat character for accompanying a Ravenwing unit.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!