How To Play Raven Guard

Pew Pew, Punch Punch, Or, Why Sun Tzu Ain’t Got Nothing on Me

Let’s talk some Ravenguard!! In this article, I- Brad Chester of Art of War I’m going to rock through the best units, why you should take them, and some of the strats, tricks, and tactics to use while putting the beats to your opponents and listening to them whine for another balance update. Strap in, shit is about to get real.

Lias “Pimp Daddy” Issodon: The grand poobah of the Raptors, a successor chapter of our trusty Ravenguard, sets up so many combos he’s just a must take in any Ravenguard army. He comes built-in with the ability to deep strike himself and three units, which frees up command points, gives you more options for reserves, and lets you deliver your Sniper Scouts with deadly precision. He gives old school Chapter Master rerolls, and, with proper placing on the deep strike, his 6’ aura can benefit all your deep striking units, and with a little pre-measuring, the majority of your forces on the ground. His gun, ‘Malice’, is no slouch: 3 shots at str5 ap4 d3 damage ignoring cover. It’s the perfect finisher to take the last few wounds/models off a unit or squad. In my not so humble opinion, Lias’ most overlooked ability for Lias is bonus movement aura. He gives a 1-inch bonus to movement, advance, and charge. You can just bewilder your opponents with the extra movement using some of the Ravenguard stratagems. Going first, you can combo his ability with the Smash Cap warlord trait of advance and charge and the Hungry for Battle chapter tactic to get a huge movement on a powerful yet slow unit like Centurions. 

Credit to Warhammer 40k wiki
Credit to Warhammer 40k wiki

Brad dropped this forbidden knowledge on me. Shall I share it? Why, yes, I think I shall.

1. Start Lias, the Cents, and the Smash Cap midfield on the line.

2. Pregame move the Cents and the Smash Cap because of Lias and Hungry for Battle. You’re looking at a Cent move of 5+d6+2 or 8 to 13 inches!

3. Go first with no seize in ITC missions, and you can advance and charge with your Smash Cap, and you can be inside your opponent’s deployment zone with a unit of Cents and a Smash Cap. 

4. Profit 

The next unit we need to talk about is the Primaris Lieutenant with Ex Tenebris. This bastard has been an MVP for me in every version of Ravenguard I’ve created. With the number of shots Centurions put out, and the chances for mortal wounds with your Sniper Scouts, his reroll ones to wound aura is just a must-have. You should make sure that he is properly positioned and that he is moving up with the army to ensure he’s ready to give those sweeeeet sweeeet rerolls to all your deep striking units. The Ex Tenebris adds one to the hit roll and is an assault weapon, so advance away when you move LT Dan to make sure he’s properly positioned. Ole Painless Ex Tenebris is a great all-around weapon at str 4 ap 2 d2 with a 36″ range and ignoring cover. It’s able to snipe characters, at plus 1 to hit and wound in tactical, and it’s also great for taking out Primaris Marines with its 2 damage. 

Smash Captain Billy is just so useful in Ravenguard and has a number of options depending on what you are playing against. 

1. His pregame movement is terrifying for your opponent’s feeble buff characters in the backfield. He can Master of Ambush outside of 9″ of your opponent’s deployment zone, but the big money prize is that the pregame movement gives zero fracks about the deployment zone restriction; it only cares about the 9″ away from enemy models. This is just nasty and can turn a game if you can get your shiny Thunder Hammer on the face of a key buff character or fight twice on a big tank. He’s a great threat to make your opponent have less optimal deployment as he tries to protect his soon to be destroyed characters. 

2. Playing vs big tanks or planes? Give him the warlord trait for ignoring overwatch and have him go ham on those pesky vehicles with your damage 4 Thunder Hammer. 

3. Want some extra range for you and your chunky boy Cents? Take the “advance and charge” warlord trait and watch your opponent try to do the quick math on how far you can move to drop some hammer love on them.

4. Didn’t take advance and charge? No worries. You have a jump pack, and Ravenguard comes with a handy dandy stratagem to give you advance and charge, and it adds plus 1 to the charge roll. 

Credit to
Credit to

The Chaplain is your friend, and before you do anything else, upgrade that friend to Master of Sanctity so he gets two litanies and gets a reroll when he casts? Chants?… He rerolls whatever it is that he does to make them happen. Throwing two buffs on a unit of Cents makes them sooooo good and able to put significant damage on units that might have been poor targets before. Planes giving you a headache? Well, slap some +1 to wound on the closest targets, shoot that plane with your 11″ flamers, and watch them fall from the sky. Getting charged by a unit? Well, remind them that your +1 to wound applies on the overwatch and send them to meet their false gods as they fall in front of you. Meeting a psyker heavy match? Well, it’s always nice to have an extra 5++ save vs all their mortal wounds. Oh, hey, I didn’t even mention the best trick you have as Ravenguard, which is his litany to leave combat and still fire, which he auto gets as a Ravenguard chaplain. Hey, remember when you touched my Grav Cents but didn’t manage to wrap them and thought you were safe??? Surprise MFer!!! 

Speaking of surprises, they should have renamed the Umbramancy Discipline the “Are You Sure That Works That Way?” Discipline because it is full of tricks. Oh yeah, we’re talking about Ravenguard Librarians now, so keep up already. Throw a jump pack on them, and they become the bane of the skies with Spectral Blade. Warp charge 5 and your strength becomes your leadership, 9, and your force weapon becomes ap 4. Not bad for a squishy caster. Need to get to an objective across the board or put the beats on a unit hiding out in Guam? Then you’re going to want to Shadowstep a character, which is warp charge 7, targets a character within 18″, and then you can set him up anywhere on the board with standard deep strike rules. My favorite power from Umbramancy is Enveloping Darkness. Oooh scary, warp charge 7, range of 18”, and until the start of the next psychic phase, the unit can’t fire overwatch and is -1 to all it’s hit rolls. Yes, that’s a great power, and you’re welcome for telling you about it. I’ll pick my money up off the dresser, thank you very much. 

Guys, Infiltrators are just so good for your mono Ravenguard builds, and I’m going to tell you why – mostly because Nick said I have to, or he wouldn’t let me write any more articles for you. Your Ravenguard army needs space to drop down and target those precious little characters your opponents are trying so hard to protect, and Infiltrators are the best at creating that space. They are the ideal option for giving your other units a landing zone to come down and creating a no-fly zone for your opponent’s units. Their 12″ no deep strike zone makes a huge footprint to keep out your opponent, so you can’t be assaulted on the deep strike. Proper planning can give you considerable control of where your opponent can deep strike. This is key for giving you the edge on planning your counter attacks on your opponent’s reserves. They are also amazing at defending your backfield, and a unit of them can hold a backfield objective with little risk because of the 12″ deny. I typically run two units because I like the flexibility of having the option to have one midfield and one in my backfield or running them both aggressively to control the mid-board. And because Kramer refused to use any less in testing, and it seemed to work for him. Try them, and you’ll like them. I guarantee it. Can I say that? OK, if you don’t like them, I’ll buy you a drink and explain why you’re wrong, how about that? 

Credit to Beasts of War
Credit to Beasts of War

Let’s talk about Assault Centurions because they are a powerful unit that a lot of people frack up. You may have heard that these guys are pretty good and that they come at a low, low bargain price, and you better shut up about it because you’re going to get them nerfed… again. Seriously, this unit is a must take for a Ravenguard army with the flexibility of being able to deep strike for 1cp a unit, pregame move, advance and charge with the warlord, and getting that extra movement with Lias. They are just so versatile. I always have one unit close to the Chaplain to soak up those buffs and try and control the early game before the rest of your army comes down like the fiery tears of Allah to rain holy vengeance on your opponents. Guys, I see this unit played way too aggressively and picked up way too often, and I want to talk about Centurions’ positioning and play. 

1. Don’t set up for YOLO charges that will leave you in a terrible position if you don’t make the charge. This is the most common and most costly mistake I see with Centurion play. Unless you have to make a charge to turn the tide of a game, you need to set your Centurions up to maximize their shooting, give them a reasonable assault target, and a defend-able location if they don’t make the assault target. 

2. You don’t have to charge the turn you come down. I typically deep strike my Centurions behind walls to set up fire lines where I can split my flamers and hurricane bolters and receive very little return fire from my opponent. Taking a 2 to 1 or just sniping one unit and controlling the board is a tremendous strategic boon. Your opponent has to fear the threat of assault, has limited units that can challenge them in assault if they can make it, and is going to have a difficult time shooting a unit that is out of sight and has a 1+ save in cover. 

3. It’s a good tactic in today’s ITC missions to have a Cent unit taking mid-board and protecting the rest of your firebase. Your opponent is a lot less likely to send in a couple of primaris units to take care of your Scouts when he has to deal with some big boys rolling out to wipe the floor with them. Play to win the mission and not just to get into early assaults. 

4. Set up your Cents thinking ahead for how they will need to react to your opponent. 

Centurions have a 4″ move that can be buffed with Lias, but they are still limited in their scope, so you need to forward deploy your Centurions thinking of how they will need to move in the later game. Make sure you are setting up lines of sight for them and making sure you are forcing your opponent’s deep strikes so that you give your Centurions the ability to leverage their volume of fire on your opponents. Wasting turns to redeploy your units is a mistake I see made time and time again and can be the difference between a win and a loss. Should I bold this… ? I think I should bold this. 

Gravitonichowlyshitonic Centurions: These guys are scary, and they will be the main focus of your opponent the turn after you reveal them. Each guy has 12 hurricane bolter shots and four grav shots which are str 5 ap 3 and d3 damage to anything with a save of 3+ or better. You should be setting these up next to reroll to hit buff characters and popping the grav amp stratagem so that you can reroll all to wound roll and all damage rolls. Yeah, you heard me right: all wounds and damage, which is a crazy high roll for the unit when you are going against 3-wound hard targets. I see you looking at me, Paladins; why don’t you go on and walk away before you get shot? 

These guys put out a crazy amount of damage, and if they are on the board, you can pop some Chaplain buffs on them to give them an even better chance to clear the way. Whether I’m going first or second and what the board looks like is going to determine whether you start them on the board or deep strike them in. You will have to make that call depending on how the board looks, but it’s hard to pass up Chaplain buffs and crushing a target if you have first turn. Your opponent will typically make this unit a priority target, which isn’t a bad thing since they are toughness 5 with a 2+ save, 1+ in cover where you should be. You can use the turn that your opponent is dedicating their firepower on the Grav Centurions to make some aggressive board controlling moves with the rest of your units for the greater good. That’s not us? Ummm, then they sacrifice themselves to further the Emperor, or something like that. 

Let’s talk about a couple of sniping units that are a terror for your opponents on turns 2 and 3. Phobos captain with a master-crafted instigator bolt carbine (long enough name?) with the warlord trait for plus 1 damage to ranged attack is a nightmare to opponents characters. 33″ if you chose long range marksman as a tactic (as you should have) and able to shoot indirectly, ap 3 if in assault doctrine, and doing flat 4 damage is nothing to scoff at. Eliminators are hard to remove targets, coming in with a 1+ save in cover. They can cause serious problems to your opponent’s deployment and movement throughout the game. Their indirect firing mode is plus 2 to hit, so you can move and still hit characters on a 2 so you can have a tactical positioning and still keep the pressure on opposing characters. Their more deadly rounds require direct fire, so you have to decide whether you would like safety or if you want to put the pressure on with a little extra damage. I’m always in favor of hiding like a daisy, so there’s that. 

Let’s not forget the humble Sniper Scout. The backbone of mortal wound delivery. Dropping three units of snipers along with Lias is just a backbreaker of a move to a lot of armies. Plus one to hit and wound with rerolls to hit, and rerolls of 1 to wound if you correctly positioned your Lieutenant Dan, is enough to drop most characters from mortal wounds alone. If your opponent is unable to take them out after they land, especially if you throw some chappy buffs on them, they can cause some great damage and disruption on character movement for turns to come. 

Guys, I hope you liked the article and were able to draw a few laughs and a few more tricks. I’ll be following this up with an article that talks about combining different detachments of marines and how each chapter synergizes with other chapters. If you have any specific questions you want answered in the article, throw them up in the War Room, and I’ll make sure I tackle them when I pound out the next chapter in my memoirs. 

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



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