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Archive for February, 2011

Further to my article Stormraven General Tactica (Blood Angels) Part 1 couple of days back, here’s Part 2.

Blockade! Alright, you could decide to Reserve your forces if your opponent is going first (maybe do a Sudden Strike! on him)… but guess what? So can your opponent, if you’re going first! He may in fact Reserve everything! You will therefore find it hard to Lightning Assault! on turn 1… or is it?

Depending on your opponent’s army composition, you could answer this by way of Blockade! This is the tactic of zooming your Ravens and vehicles to your opponent’s table edge over the first 2 (unopposed) turns, and COMPLETELY blocking off any means he has of bringing his forces onto the table!

Yes, you read right. You can do this. When a Reserved unit becomes available, it MUST be deployed, otherwise it is LOST (ie destroyed). Just like any unit going out of the table, eg falling back or forced out. (Mishap only applies to deepstriking). You could utterly annihilate your opponent’s army if he Reserved everything. Seriously.

Obviously, not all armies are susceptible. If your opponent army has no Deepstriking or Infiltrating units, and what he has can’t fly, and ESPECIALLY if he’s all mech-ed up (which is quite common), then he’s done for.

How? Well, if you’re playing with Ravens and a combination of other vehicles (like what’s being covered by this article), then they have the range (being FAST or have a large body, like the Land Raider) to reach the opponent’s table edge in 2 turns and place themselves such that they cover the entire table edge with <5 inches between them (4 from the side edges of the table)… This is because standard tables usually aren’t EXACTLY 6 feet, they fall 2-3 inches short, and you can cover 69 inches with 3 Ravens and the Dreadnoughts they carry (for example). Each Raven is 9.5 inches long, each Dreadnought has a base of 2.5 inches, and no enemies can come closer than 1 inch to any of them. The narrowest enemy tank is 3 inches. There’s no way a fully mech-ed up army will be able to move onto the table if you placed 3 Ravens and 3 Dreadnoughts correctly. And the enemy cannot successfully ram themselves onto the table (0 movement, so the highest strength is 5 if having armour 14 and a tank), insufficient to penetrate even armour 12.

If the table is slightly longer than that, you can create a single gap of several inches where his forces have no choice but to funnel through. Place the 3 infantry units that were carried by the Ravens onto the gap, blocking it. Now, only by Tank Shock-ing can any vehicle enter the table. Ideally, all your infantry should be armed with melta. Place at least 1 melta-toting marine from each of the 3 units close together in the gap right at the edge of the table. When he tries to tank shock, you have 3 chances to succeed your leadership test and probably 3 chances to Death or Glory successfully. Believe me, the chances of success is high. He’ll lose most of his army trying to get through, which means he’s probably lost even if he does.

Note that even if some of your opponent’s units can deepstrike or infiltrate, but he decided to put them in a transport during Reserving, they CANNOT come out of their transport and deploy by deepstrike or infiltration. They MUST deploy by coming in with their transport from the table edge… unless he’s Blood Angels and his transport Deepstrikes! 🙂

If you have only 2 Ravens, you can still have a Raider or fast Rhino chasis vehicle substitue for the 3rd Raven, but they would have to be placed in the forward position at deployment, in order to reach where they need to be, by turn 2.

If he’s not completely mech-ed up, use your infantry to plug holes along the table edges to prevent enemy infantry from coming in. Remember that they still cannot come within 1 inch of your forces. The only exception is during the Assault phase, but the enemy has to come in during Movement, so those units would be ‘lost’ when they can’t.

This tactic is possible only with Ravens because:-
1. They ignore intervening difficult, dangerous and impassable terrain
2. They carry Dreadnoughts to help with the crucial extra inches
3. They also carry infantry to plug holes and threaten melta
4. They are frigging 9.5 inches long
5. They move frigging up to 24 inches

If the opponent has 1 or 2 Deepstrike or Infiltrate units, this tactic is still good, unless those units are ridiculous anti-tank, with like 5 melta. Anything else, he would likely lose when Reserving everything. Diagnostic: In Killpoints, he must come close to destroy your forces, which are all along his table edge, concentrated. He’ll likely be destroyed by the combined fire from all your vehicles and the 3 infantry units assaulting BEFORE he can destroy 1 of your vehicles and let the rest of his forces come in from the table edge. In Objectives missions, he may decide to drop one near an objective. On turn 1, move your Ravens towards Blockade! but Skies of Blood your 3 infantry units on objectives to intercept the lone enemy unit, or if there’s more than 2 objectives, wait out till the end and zoom the Ravens with troops to claim 2 objectives as a Last Minute Grab to win.

Important Note: You should tell an opponent with a susceptible army about this tactic when he says he’s Reserving everything or close to everything, after you roll to go first. Although it might be interesting to read, it’s probably not interesting to play, for all parties involved. Once he knows, there are few people who would risk losing most of his army on the small chance that he would get extremely lucky, and somehow break through the Blockade! without losing the game.

Essentially, the existence of this tactic limits the opponent’s options in that he must deploy a sizeable chunk of his forces on the table in the beginning, so that you can do a Lightning Assault! on him whenever you get to go first. He can’t Reserve everything or close to everything, and not reasonably expect to be trounced.

Wow, that was another long post. Next post: Part 3.

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In view of the spanking new Stormraven kit released by GW recently, it’s perhaps inevitable that I would return for another scrutiny of the Stormraven’s place in the game, tactics-wise.

This Tactica is meant for Blood Angels. Grey Knights are expected to get the Stormraven in their upcoming Codex, and indeed I may collect an army of them, but at this point in time, I’m (obviously) not privy to insider information regarding that Codex, and so have no way of forming an informed opinion regarding its use for Grey Knights.

I’m not some tournament-winning super gamer who can be considered an expert in matters 40k, but for what it’s worth, I’ve come up with the following Stormraven Tactica:-

Value-For-Money? In all honesty, purely looking at the unit entry, it’s not easy to justify it’s 200+ point cost. The Valkyrie, also a fast skimmer with an impressive array of guns and its own version of Skies of Blood and only slightly inferior armour and passenger capacity, is HALF the cost of the Stormraven.

The Wave Serpent of the Eldar is even cheaper than the Valkyrie, and is arguably more resilient than the Stormraven. Plus, with Star Engines, it can be made even faster. TWELVE whole inches faster, to be exact.

What neither of those comparisons have is this: Assault Vehicle rule. So the question then becomes: Is that rule and a little upgrade in the guns / armour department worth something in the region of a 100 points? Depends on how you’re going to use those Ravens, I say!

(I don’t consider Ceramite Plating to be an important factor in this discussion because being HUGELY visible and having armour 12 means that even missile launchers (very common and numerous these days) will easily blow the Raven apart; so is the extra d6 armour penetration on the melta (still Strength 8!) such a big deal? If you had Ceramite on a Land Raider, now THAT would be phenomenal, but not on the puny Raven)

It should be noted that, with the Stormraven, a Space Marine (S4 T4 3+ save) army is given the option of a Fast Skimmer Transport for the very first time. Tactically, this changes how the army can be played. The value of the Stormraven, then, lies in the tactical options it opens for the army, which is an ‘external’ consideration, and not on its inherent value on a point-for-point comparison with equivalent units (eg Valkyrie and Wave Serpent) in the game.

Strengths & Weaknesses As you analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the Stormraven, you will begin to realise that utilising any of its strengths also brings about weakness. For example: If you want to use the Assault Vehicle to unload your embarked ‘assaulty’ units on the enemy, you can only move the Raven 12 inches. Which means that, though you can shoot some of your weapons, you lose the Obscured protection that comes with moving faster (there’s no smoke launchers on the Raven). And you would be CLOSE to the enemy in order to get the Charge in, exposing the Raven to assault, shooting and yes, even MELTA (which everyone and their mothers seem to have, in abundance!). Only an idiot thinks he can rely on Ceramite Plating when the hull is made of cardboard. Unfortunately, the Stormraven is not a 35-point Rhino the loss of which can be easily shrugged off – it is a significant point investment, and you WILL feel the pain if it goes down.
On the other hand, if you choose to move flat-out all the time and stay far away from the enemy, you only get to shoot once per turn with the Power of the Machine Spirit, and you can’t use Assault Vehicle. You can still do Skies of Blood, but is all these worth 200+ points? Obviously not.
If you use the Stormraven purely as a gunship, and granted, the armaments are impressive, you might as well field Predators, Devastators or other units that can deliver far more punch for their points than the Stormraven, which has a large part of its cost sunk into transport and the Assault Vehicle rule, that you’re simply NOT utilising. But even staying in cover (not easy to do with a big model) and relatively static all the time in order to make full use of all the Stormraven’s guns is no guarantee the enemy won’t blow it up anyway. At 200+ points, won’t you rather have a Predator with better armour, for way cheaper?
All that means that you can’t really have it all when it comes to the Stormraven. Clearly, you have to play a very tactical game in order to make good use of something so expensive, ie flexibly flowing from one function to another function as and when it’s advantageous, following the dictates of scenario, enemy composition and tactics, terrain and environment.
In addition, fielding the Stormraven means that you will need to invest even more points on quality units to be transported inside, and will probably have to build your army around it. This limits your options and increases your predictability for an experienced opponent, and can be considered yet another disadvantage.
With so many limitations, how then can this beautiful model be used in a game of 40k, without having your @ss handed to you each and every time?

Sudden Strike! Unlike a Land Raider, the Stormraven can’t take even a moderate beating. And it’s arguably even harder to hide. So, in a situation where you’re not going first in a game, your opponent has a lot of big guns that can touch you, and there is hardly any cover on your deployment zone, it might be prudent to put the Raven(s) in Reserve. This way, it doesn’t get shot at before it can do anything. The obvious downside is that you have little control over when it actually arrives (Descent of Angels doesn’t apply here), and there is a danger of your forces arriving piecemeal, thereby getting easily picked off from concentrated enemy attention. You can alleviate this by having most of your army come in by Descent of Angels, so that you can time their arrival better to coincide with the Raven’s. The best way though, is to make sure that the Raven’s arrival is so devastating that the enemy return fire / assault is crippled, and does negligible damage before the rest of your forces come onto the table.

You are usually at a disadvantage when you move second. But by fielding Stormravens, you can Reserve and have your forces come in strongly and swiftly from your table edge.

When the Raven becomes available, your approach should depend on whether there are any enemy units within range of an assault, ie can your Raven move 12 inches from your table edge, disembark passengers and have them charging the enemy? That usually means whether there are any enemies on your side of the table, as the charge range is easily 20 inches to 29 inches (with Fleet and good rolls) from your table edge. I call assaulting out of the Stormraven manouvre ‘Raven Rush’ (TM), which also involve shooting at 2 different units with the Raven in addition to assault. I elaborate more on the Raven Rush in the Lightning Assault! section further on. For now, it is simply getting in the charge after moving 12 inches with the Raven.

If you can Raven Rush, priority should be given to positions from which you can consolidate (after victory) into a ‘safe’ spot (ie hidden or has cover), as opposed to an open area, where your opponent may have been trying to bait you with a throw-away unit. Charging multiple units may also be a good idea, depending on your forces, where you can allocate attacks just so that they remain locked in combat and finish off the enemy on the enemy’s turn, just in time for you to move them again on your turn! Hopefully, to charge into another unit!

If there are no enemies in range… Deepstriking is usually not a good idea as there’s a chance of mishap, scattering badly, and on top of that, you don’t get an Obscured save. Far better just to move flat out from a table edge, fire one weapon, and remain Obscured. This is still better than not Reserving in the first place, and deploying to be shot at without an Obscured save, and not getting off a shot before the enemy. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky with the one shot, and reduce what he can bring to bear on your Obscured Stormraven. In any case, fly towards a ‘good’ target for assault, and follow-up for a charge on the next turn.

One thing you can do after moving flat-out is Skies of Blood. If you loaded up on shooty units, they can deepstrike in this manner. Note that having a Locator Beacon helps. You’ll also give the enemy more targets to shoot at, diluting the effectiveness of his attacks. The problem is getting suitable units to carry on the Raven. Dreadnoughts with good shooty are Heavy choices, meaning that they are competing with Ravens themselves for slots. Good shooty infantry that can fire well on the move would be… Sternguard? But obviously Codex Space Marines does it better with drop pods, Pedro Kantor (makes them scoring and is quite shooty and defensive with fist) and Lysander (Bolter Drill + makes the squad hard to be taken by enemy walkers). Using the Stormraven to deploy Sternguard is just a waste of points. It’s far better to carry assaulty units on the Stormraven instead!

The beauty of Reserving with Stormravens is that your enemy doesn’t get to shoot, effect, or assault anything before the Ravens first fire off a salvo and/or assault with whatever they are carrying. It’s a Sudden Strike! out of nowhere!

Lightning Assault! This is not to be confused by the Apocalypse Datasheet of the same name. This tactic is very suitable if you’re going first. Deploy in a forward position, in anticipation of the Raven Rush (TM). Pray that your opponent doesn’t Seize. You can reduce risk by having a psyker with Shield of Sanguinius at the centre of your forces, just in case an unlikely Seize happens. More likely, you get to go first. The Raven zooms 12 inches toward its prey, shooting 2 high strength weapons and its hurricane bolters (if any), and dislodge its deadly cargo of assault-ers…

Here, I should note that it’s possible for Blood Angels to get Fleet assault-ers in the form of Mephiston and Death Company Dreadnoughts. If you load this combination on a Raven, it now has an AVERAGE charge range of 24-26 inches (max 29 inches)! [Math: 12 inches Raven move, 2 inches disembark, 1-3 inches diametre of model base, 3.5 inches average run, 6 inches charge]

If you’ve deployed correctly (ie way in FRONT), there’s basically nowhere the enemy can hide from you on a standard 6X4 table, and you can get a 1st round assault easily.

Yes, you can also do this with a Land Raider, but the Stormraven is better for this because:-
1. It’s cheaper than the Land Raider
2. It ignores intervening difficult and impasssable terrain (flying)
3. It carries an accompanying Dreadnought, for added punch!
4. It shoots TWO high strength weapons, at up to 2 DIFFERENT targets, AND all defensive weapons after moving 12 inches

With any luck, you can down TWO transports with the Power of the Machine Spirit (possible as Stormraven guns are twin-linked and high strength), forcing their occupants to become vulnerable to assault in the same turn. As the Raven carries 2 distinct units, it can charge both, even if they are far apart, as long as both are within the 360° charge radius of the Raven. With Fleet, that’s a lot of leeway (about 10-17 inches).

The effectiveness of the Rush is improved if you have more than one Raven, obviously. A combination of Land Raiders and Stormravens is also good.

Side Note: Raven Rushing Mephiston is better than Mephiston by himself, even though he can fly 12 inches himself, because:-
1. No need to rely on psyker power to get to the enemy. A lot of armies have psy-defense, and there’s also a chance of Perils
2. Extra 3 inches gained from disembarking the Raven + size of Mephiston’s base
3. Protected by transport’s hull against nasty powers and shooting, before assaulting (enemy may get first turn, or Seize)
4. Raven cracks enemy transports and/or softens enemy with shooting before the charge
5. Accompanied by Dreadnought (usually can’t fly, and those who can, don’t have Fleet). There are things out there that even Mephiston can’t handle on his own!

Once you’ve shot up the enemy and the assault-ers are out, your opponent will have a lot more to worry about and have a harder time shooting down your Ravens, so their survivability should improve despite the absense of 4+ Obscured save!

Raven Rage Control You probably want the Death Company Dread for the Fleet, but this means that ordinary Death Company must also be fielded. Both Death Company and the Death Company Dreadnought have the Rage USR, which as of the 5th Edition Codex, cannot be cured by the presense of a Chaplain. Ravens can perform a Rage control function. And they can do it better than normal transports because they have a large body, move up to 12 inches, and can fly over difficult and impassable terrain AS WELL AS OVER the Death Company / Dreadnought to park at a convenient (or ‘safe’) spot for embarkation. Be aware that you can’t move flat out and still embark. After the compulsory Rage move, fly the Raven within 2 inches of the Death Company / Dreadnought, and they can all embark into the Raven for transport towards your intended enemy unit(s) next turn.

Raven Butt This is a manouvre in which you ram an enemy as hard as you can. Do this in a non-Annihilation mission if the Raven has no more working weapons and the transport function is not needed anymore. You can do a Strength 10 attack if you moved 24 FULL inches. It’s actually at a disadvantage because of low armour and the fact that IT”S NOT A TANK. So don’t treat it as if it were a Wave Serpent, and expect results! Do it only if there’s no better choice. The Raven may not survive.

Last Minute Grab This is the tactic beloved of Eldar. At the 5th or 6th turn zoom the Raven (preferably with a scoring unit) up to 24 inches to an objective and SIT ON TOP OF IT. Even if they destroy the vehicle, the scoring unit would still disembark onto the objective. Sadly, the Raven IS NOT A TANK, so you can’t do the cheesy Eldar Tank Shock out of the blue to force an Enemy scoring infantry unit already on an objective out of the way, and rely on Energy Fields (max Strength 8 and no extra D6 armour penetration) to withstand Death Or Glory! Sitting on the objective with the Raven would prevent the Eldar from Tank Shocking your own scoring unit away though! And as a skimmer, the Eldar would find it hard to ram the Raven as well! WIN!

Blood Saturation You should field more than one Stormraven or have other transport tanks (such as Land Raiders) to saturate vehicle targeting for your opponent. This makes your Ravens much more survivable, and you have Rush redundancy in case some transports go down. It would not be a good idea to have only one Raven and no other vehicles, because your opponent will most likely channel all available firepower at it to bring it down. It doesn’t really help the rest of your army because people usually have a mix of anti-tank and anti infantry guns. All the anti-tank will go to the Raven and THE SAME AMOUNT OF anti-infantry will target the rest of your army. So you’re not really drawing fire AWAY from the rest of your army! Either have sufficient vehicles or NONE AT ALL (ie all-jump Blood Angels, also For The Win!)

Modelling and Hiding If you read the 5th Edition 40k rules properly, you realise that as a skimmer, you have to take the Stormraven off its stand and SET IT ON THE TABLE after it finished its move. This means that you can legally obscure the Raven with your other vehicles, like the Land Raider (easily), another Raven (obviously), or even with the Rhino (harder). You can also choose to retract the landing gears of the Stormraven kit to give it a lower profile, thereby making it easier to obscure / hide. If you play 3 Ravens, the centre one can carry a Librarian or Librarian Dreadnought with the Shield of Sanguinius power, which can give all three a 5+ cover save from any angle. And they can all fly together, at any speed, and still get a 5+ save regardless of terrain.

Next up: Stormraven General Tactica Part 2, covering Options and Load-outs, supporting units to take, things to watch out for, and the conclusion!

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At long last, GW has released the Stormraven. Got my grubby hands on one yesterday, and gave it a crack.

My take: It is an impressive kit. In terms of manufacture, it’s top-notch. All the parts come together wonderfully, with hardly any join-gaps and very little mold-lines.
In terms of optional parts, it’s got all available options, and everything is represented correctly.
In terms of packaging and documentation, it’s more or less the same as the last major kit, except that the price has gone to the stratosphere (Really, GW? £41?). There are some errors in the assembly manual, but nothing a little judicious consideration won’t sort out.
In terms of design (ie looks)… yeah, it’s a bit of a ‘guppy’. The front portion looks too bulky ie it’s over-bloated with over-sized weapons, turret, redundant air-intake and… Blood of the Primarch!, why’s there a SERVITOR in charge of the guns?!?

Still, it’s without doubt an Imperium design, and very much a mini Thunderhawk, as indicated in the Blood Angels Codex entry.

To address the unfortunate ‘guppy’ resemblance, I’ve made a little modification to the standard build. I’m trying to streamline the overall design, make it more aerodynamic. Let’s call it my Aeroform pattern…

1. Remove completely that ridiculous air intake from the  top;

2. Remove the gun-canopy and the nonsensical servitor manning it, leaving only the guns (without casing) on the turret;

3. Fully retract the landing gears.

Ahhh, now it looks much better:

Next post: Either Part 2, or Stormraven Tactica!

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