Drukhari Codex Review: Fast Attack: Reavers

This article is about the Drukhari jetbike unit. For the useless Space Marine assault troops, see Reivers. For the manic space zombies, see reivers. For the flowing body of water, see rivers. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

Reivers are the Drukhari version of the common Aeldari jetbikes; being part of the Wych Cults, they focus largely on speed and close-in hitting power, a role which they succeed at to varying degrees. Their basic statline is a bit hit or miss; on the up side, their movement value is one of the highest in the game at 18″, making them able to keep up with even Flyers in some cases. Weapon and ballistic skill 3+ are both useful, as the unit tends to be some kind of hybrid between shooting and assaults. Strength three is a bit low, but is actually irrelevant in most cases, while toughness four is a decent little bump to their survivability. Two wounds also helps there, though the 4+ armor save is something of a limiter. Two attacks gives them a bare minimum of functionality in combat, and leadership seven is low but usually irrelevant due to the squad size. One model can be upgraded to an Arena Champion, getting an extra pip in attack and leadership. Squads come in a minimum of three and maximum of twelve models, with a basic price of 16pts per body.

Special Rules and Wargear

Reavers come with a decent list of special rules, many of which can help shore up some of their weaknesses, and they have a surprising number of good wargear options to boot. Power From Pain is, of course, standard to most Drukhari units, giving them an escalating series of bonuses, most notably a 6+ chance to shrug off wounds. They also come with Combat Drugs, which add +1 to a single stat for the unit (or +2 Ld/Move), which can be extremely nice for a number of reasons. As they make excellent use of both abilities, Reavers are off to a good start.

We follow that up with Matchless Swiftness, which gives the unit an automatic 8″ when advancing, no dice roll needed. Paired with their already-high movement value and other abilities this can make Reavers blindingly fast, with easily the highest unsupported threat range in the game.

Each bike comes equipped with a Splinter Rifle (24″ AP0 Rapid Fire 1 Poisoned) that provides a modicum of ranged firepower, though nothing to write home about, and the rider has a Splinter Pistol (12″ AP0 Pistol 1 Poisoned) and Bladevanes (S4 AP-1 melee). The latter is the reason their native strength is irrelevant, as unlike most weapons Bladevanes has no relation to their user’s strength- but even so, they end up being a passable weapon to fight with, able to cut up light infantry fairly well when needed.

The squad leader can take either a Power Sword (S+0 AP-3 melee) or Agonizer (AP-2 melee poisoned) for a token price; neither are exceptional options but are also pretty inexpensive and thus can be a fine way to spend a few points that are left over.

More relevantly, every three models in the squad gives you a pair of weapon options. First, one model per three can replace their Splinter Rifle with a Drukhari special weapon- either a Blaster (18″ S8 AP-4 DmgD6 Assault 1) for some heavy hitting or a Heat Lance (18″ S6 AP-5 DmgD6 roll two and pick the better for damage when within half range). The Blaster is almost always the superior option, although with Centurions and other T5 being the new hotness the Heat Lance does have some potential value.

Every three models also gives you the option to add one melee-ish upgrade to the squad. Both cost the same (3pts) and have similar overall effects; the Grav Talon causes a mortal wound on a 4+ if its model finishes a charge within 1″ of the enemy. Cluster Caltrops, meanwhile, cause a mortal wound on a 4+ when the enemy falls back while within 1″. I think the Talon is better, since Reavers are fragile enough that the extra casualties can make a difference to you, but there is an argument to be made that leaving more models to trap in combat is superior, and since they are so similar I will leave the decision to the reader.

Uses

Before we talk about how to use Reavers at all, we need to discuss their Obsessions, because even more so than most units they are critical to how the unit functions. Unfortunately, the Obsessions that work best for Reavers are also somewhat mediocre for most of the other units in their subfaction, which can leave them at odds with the remainder of the army, but we should still dip in for a bit here.

The obvious starting point is Cult of the Red Grief, which lets them rerolled failed charges and charge in the same turn they advanced. With a potential 26″ movement (28″ with a combat drug), this gives them immense mobility, able to plausibly threaten anything within 33″/35″ of their starting position- and that is the same range many units threaten with shooting. There are, of course, other units in the game that can have these kinds of melee threat ranges, but they usually can only do so with the expenditure of CP, casting of psychic powers, and/or use of character auras to do so- the fact that Reavers need absolutely no additional investment at all to get this kind of reach is a huge point in their favor.

However, as already mentioned, Red Grief does not sync well with most of the other Wych units. It does, of course, benefit them in a pretty decent way, but several of the other Obsessions benefit them a lot more, which can create a conflict. Cursed Blade- often the go-to choice- is extremely lackluster for Reavers, since their melee weapon strength is not dependent on the model’s strength and their squad size can be quite small. Custom Obsessions offer a more attractive mix; Test of Skill is actually quite good for Reavers, being that they can already carry good anti-tank guns and their native S4 means that they will wound the vast majority of vehicles/monsters on 4s in melee, something of a rarity for Drukhari. Combining it with Slashing Impact to cause mortal wounds on the charge presents an interesting option, although perhaps not one that overall is going to completely impress. Still, it does give the unit is a pretty decent ability to mix it up with both light targets (thanks to their natural rules and wargear) and heavier ones (thanks to squad upgrades and the Obsession), so it’s possible we may see some use out of it at some point.

With that out of the way, let’s talk a bit about the unit more generally. Reavers aren’t a unit that have been seen extensively in 8th edition, but I believe they are on the borderline of being good- their combination of speed, resilience, and firepower is potentially quite useful, with only the presence of the omnipresent high-rate of fire multidamage weapons keeping them from ever appearing in numbers. As people build to beat Primaris Marines, unfortunately Reavers will tend to get caught in the crossfire.

However, if they aren’t getting shot to pieces, Reavers can be very good. They have the potential to carry some pretty solid firepower and their high movement and Fly can let them surround and trap units in combat in order to keep themselves safe, then fall back on your next turn. This is a great strategy when it works, but the issue is that as soon as it doesn’t work, you will evaporate. There also is the problem of not being particularly tough even when in combat, since things like Primaris Marines will be able to punch back hard enough to cause casualties that can be a problem. Still, if you can catch a vehicle or something else “safe” it is a very good time.

There are also some stratagems that can help with their survival significantly. Lightning Fast Reflexes is always an option, of course, but Fire and Fade actually has a lot of value for them as well- a 7″ move can be enough to tuck them behind a piece of terrain where they can’t be shot, especially thanks to Fly. The other, more specialized stratagems (like Eviscerating Flyby) are mostly not worth it and should be ignored, unless you are in a really weird situation.

Also, don’t forget your Combat Drugs. While they do compete with other units for picking the better choices off the table, having a T5/W2/4+/6+++ unit can be a very problematic thing for many armies, so it can be well worth investing that choice into them. Movement is also one that can benefit them a lot, and thankfully that one doesn’t usually compete with other units so much and is thus a bit of a free pick. More than any of the other units I would avoid rolling for your Drugs with Reavers, since they have an extra “blank” result in the form of the strength bonus; the chances are simply too high for them.

Reavers can also do a lot of other side jobs pretty well, such as tagging objectives, snagging secondaries, etc, but Drukhari generally don’t lack much for these roles- they have an abundance of cheap, high-mobility units in their codex (not the least of which being the Venom), so very few armies will lack for such choices. However, it is worth keeping in mind, since a bare-minimum 48pt unit of them is one of the better ways to fill a Fast Attack slot and can do some useful stuff.

Countering

Reavers are a very binary unit- they are either out of sight/trapped in combat, where they cannot be shot and are safe, or are exposed to shooting and thus dead almost immediately. They aren’t completely paper-thin, given their decent toughness, wounds, and armor characteristics, but neither are they resilient enough to really survive under any kind of concentrated firepower. Weapons that ignore LOS are their bane, as they rely heavily on hiding from the enemy’s firepower on turns in which they aren’t trapping something (such as before their first turn)- any kind of indirect fire can be very bad for them, including Thunderfires and Smart Missiles.

Similarly, while they like to hide in combat, they are no match at all for a real combat unit- so if you have any kind of countercharge, be it a block of heavy hitters like Paladins or even just an HQ toting a nice weapon around, Reavers will fold up almost instantly.

Lastly, don’t forget their poor morale- while killing a full squad of twelve is not very plausible without dedicating a lot more shooting than you might like, it’s also somewhat unnecessary- their low leadership means that any kind of significant casualties can threaten to pull several more expensive models unless they spend 2CP, which is also an unattractive prospect in most cases.

Final Thoughts

Reavers have a lot of good qualities and fit well into the Drukhari paradigm, but suffer from not quite being good enough to make appearances at tournament tables in most cases; the changes to the Rule of Three also didn’t help them any, as they often work best as an MSU unit. However, neither are they so bad that they shouldn’t be kept in mind, as it would only take a few small bonuses from stratagems, price drops, or added synergies to make them suddenly viable, so they’re definitely a unit that you should keep your eye on for the future.

As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.

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About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

7 Responses to “Drukhari Codex Review: Fast Attack: Reavers”

  1. Avatar
    Vipoid April 22, 2020 4:23 pm #

    Reavers are a unit that (at least in my experience) seem almost the definition of mediocre.

    The main issue I have with them is that excels at speed but nothing else. Hence, you end up with a unit that’s almost unmatched in its ability to get places . . . but which struggles to actually accomplish anything when it gets there.

    Their melee isn’t great, though it speaks volumes about the DE codex that S4 AP-1 D1 is probably on the higher end of the melee weapons available. And it’s not improved in any significant way by Grav Talons or Cluster Caltrops.

    Blasters are decent (if a little expensive), but being limited to one-per-three really hurts their efficiency as any sort of shooting platform.

    I know that one of their main uses is just supposed to be tying down enemy units for a turn or two, but I always seem to end up playing against armies where the units I actually need to tie down will just vaporise the Reavers with Overwatch.

  2. Avatar
    Liam April 23, 2020 6:05 am #

    Great article with a very good runaround view on the unit.

    I especially like the section about the stratagems as there are some, that do greatly improve on their effectiveness. (Hunt from the Shadows improving survivability or the +1A combined with Hyperstymm Backlash can really help up their damage output)

    Would you say that the unit being part CC glass-cannon and thus adding another level of difficulty to an army including them, is one of the main reasons one doesn’t see them in tournament play. Especially as they are less complex units (Venoms with Warriors + Blasters e.g.) that reduce the complexity of the army and in turn reduces the likelihood of player mistakes?

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy April 23, 2020 5:19 pm #

      I think it’s the combination of being a bit too fragile along with not having a super-distinct role; being fast, in and of itself, doesn’t generally _do_ anything, so as Vipoid pointed out, once they get there they can sometimes not really have anything to do. However, I think the biggest problem they suffer from is a lack of melee punch; if they could hit harder, their speed would mean a lot more. I would love to see Bladevanes work more the way they used to (causing mortal wounds to units that you passed over) or be like some other weapons where they are simply S4 AP0 but 6s to wound caused an additional mortal wound to the target- that would make them a lot more scary. A larger number of attacks and/or the ability to fall back and charge could also help.

      • Avatar
        gvcolor April 23, 2020 6:45 pm #

        Geez – mine are painted up so nice too! Sweet models but get shot to hell – their shooting is meh and their melee, as mentioned, is just bad. So many datasheets that need a revisit 🙁

  3. Avatar
    Gojky April 23, 2020 8:09 am #

    Hunt from the shadows is infantry only. It doesn’t work on the jetbikes.

    • Avatar
      Liam April 23, 2020 11:39 am #

      You are totally right. I guess its best used on Hellions or Scourges then 🙂

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy April 23, 2020 5:15 pm #

      I missed that. Will update the article.

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