Sunday, May 20, 2012

How to run Stormravens

The Storm Raven is one of the main reasons why I started my Blood Angels army. I love the look of the ship, sort of a baby Thunderhawk and filled with heavy weapons! I think that was GW's intention, to make a smaller Thunderhawk usable in normal 40k games. Despite what the interwebs might say about the model, I enjoyed painting it and will enjoy to wreak havoc with it *feral grin*.

So how to use it? let's take a look at what it actually offers. It's a fast skimmer with AV12, nerfs melta and can move flat out to generate its own cover save. With POTMS it will always be able to  fire a weapon anyway, and there is enought to select from. It also houses an assault ramp so you can move and assault out of it - yummy - and it has a good transport capacity, with 12 units (or 6 terminators/jump packs) and 1 dreadnought. Wow.

It comes with a twin-linked heavy bolter, which can and should be upgraded to a TL multi melta with a 30" threat range. Pretty tasty if you ask me. It also houses a secondary heavy weapon system in the turret, and all the options are good here: TL assault cannon for duality anti infantry/anti tank, TL Plasma cannon to bring down those pesky terminators or a TL lascannon to hunt down vehicles. It comes down to personal preference and what else your list has / is missing. The 'Raven also has 4 one-shot Str8 AP1 missiles, and can get hurricane bolters for some extra points. Being a defensive weapon it can always be shot, but points will be tight enough I'm afraid. On the other hand, extra armor is a must if we plan to carry anything valuable in it... and sure we want as we are paying for it.

So these impressive stats are the main problem for the 'Raven - it's damn good both as a gunboat and as a transport, you're paying for both but you can't play both roles at the same time. As I see it there are better options for the fire support - predators autolasers, riflemen dreads and missile devs come to mind -  and hell, I like to play BA the Sanguinius way - unleashed!

This means I'm going to use the 'Raven to deliver a strong combat unit + a combat dread to the opponents line. We'll need two for saturation and to avoid putting all of our eggs in one basket. In my experience playing SW, I need to dedicate all my firepower to bring down 1 SR/Vendetta in cover; that is, I need 15~20 missiles / living ligthning shots to bring it down. There's always the chance of having both 'Ravens down before they can deliver the cargo, but at least the cargo will be 24" in. Assuming we deliver the cargo and the SR is still moving, we can use it as a gunboat, supporting our assaulting units, and to rapidly reposition units across the battlefield.

This is putting a lot of eggs into one big, juicy basket so alternatively we could tone it down and just run 1 combat unit per 'Raven, But this brings us back to the original problem - we're paying for the ability to transport 2 units per SR and the assault ramp, so we better use it.

So how to run it? 

It has a LOT of weapons
This is pretty straightforward. Load it with combat rocks - assault terminators with a sanguinary priest, uncle Mephiston, death company, furioso dreads - and wisely select your targets. These units should be selected and equiped to deal with different types of threads: hordes, heavy infantry, MCs, etcetera. I would run one dread with blood fists for str10 ID joy (and vehicle smashing) and another with blood talons (aka meat grinder). Since the DC dread has furious charge and 1 more attack, I'd go for blood talons here. During deployment, combine the dreads and infantry in the most appropiate way.

The rest of the army (typically assault marines in razorbacks) should be following behind largely unhindered and ready to go for objectives or help your rocks finish the job. And if they're not, the 'Ravens are. Fine by me! If going first, deploy the 'Ravens as far forward as possible. If the enemy seizes, well trust in the 5+ saves from the Libby. If going second, reserving is a good choice. Alternatively, you could deploy them out of range of the opponent's guns and either move 6" and shot everything or surge forward.

It's not the most balanced of armies, but it's an army I'm looking forward to play. Being a regular SW player, what interests me of playing BA is the ability to play in a very fast and aggressive way.

The list:

Librarian (Shield, Unleash rage or blood lance).

1 Sanguinary priest
5 Assault terminators (2xLCs, 3xTH/SS).
1 Furioso Dread (with blood fists).

5 Assault marines, meltagun, LasPlas razorback
5 Assault marines, meltagun, LasPlas razorback
5 Assault marines, meltagun, LasPlas razorback
5 Assault marines, meltagun, rhino
8 DC (1x PF, 1x PW)
DC Dread (with blood talons).

x2 Storm ravens, TL Las cannon, extra armor.

Fly me to the moon
But give me a couple of lighting claws!
This is the core of the list. There are some variations, like running all the assault marines either in razorbacks or in rhinos, replacing the libby and one of the assault units for Mephiston, etcetera.

The libby is the most cost-efficient HQ and can give a 5+cover to both 'Ravens if needed (the aura extends from the wings!). Pretty happy with this choice. There are no points for honour guard and with two mobile TL MMs, we should be fine there.

The reclusiarch is needed if we are to take a certain controversial unit, for the sheer joy of to hit and to wound rerolls. Yes that unit.The Reclusiarch could be swapped by Lemartes for the extra joy when hi loses his first wound.

The not so good part is that our elite slots are already occuplied and I'm forced to take DC to be able to access the DC dread. I'd rather leave them home with their rage but that means we need to take a regular dread, which is nowhere near as good as a furioso or DC dread. Or take 2 Furiosos in Elite and take no sanguinary priests; being the staple unit of the BA codex and giving FnP/FC joy, I just can't leave without them. The Sanguinary Priest will normally hang with the termies to give them durability against small arms fire and to give 2 of them Str5/I5 lightning claws attacks which should be devastating against most units.

What's left out

No shiny boys in the 'Ravens
Unfortunately this type of list doesn't match well with some of my preferred units of the codex, namely sanguinary guard or jump packs. Sanguinary guard are a good beater unit but their limitation in numbers and lack of an invulnerable save make them suboptimal as cargo. Plus, they don't need a SR to get where they want to be. As for assault marines in jump packs, well it's best to go the mech way to saturate with targets, and to access some much needed heavy weapons. I'd also like to take some scouts to camp at home but well, assault marines are more versatile and runnning only 20 of them is already pretty tight.

Final thoughts

This is a rock list, and as such limited in concept - it will have a hard time against certain armies, and some bad dice rolls can ruin its day. On the other hand, it will wreak havoc against some armies as not many things can survive a combined charge of 4 specialist combat units. I once played against a list with a ~900 points super rock containing Dante, a Libby, Lemartes and a lot of DCs with JPs and lots of special weapons. Had it been annihilation it would have autowon, but it was a variation of objectives and it was close to autolose.  I'll be playing it for fun's sake though, happy to leave the 9 rhinos / 15 long fangs home and go head to head with whatever nasties I'm facing. I'm also glad to bring a couple of Dreads, which are characterful and choppy enough. And it's going to look amazing in the tables!

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