Wednesday 25 November 2015

Blog War X- Ravenwing Army Review

Once I have completed a tournament, I like to take a look over my list and battle reports to see how the army performed; what units met expectations and which units didn't really do much in the game. With my battle reports from Blog Wars X now finished, it is time to review my list and see how it performed.
As a reminder, my list was:
Sammael- on Corvex
Interrogator-Chaplain- Space Marine Bike, Mace of Redemption, Auspex, Meltabombs
5 Ravenwing Commnad Squad- Ravenwing Company Banner, Apothecary, Grenade Launcher
5 Black Knights- Grenade Launcher, Huntsmaster has Meltabombs
5 Ravenwing Bikers- 2 grav guns, sergeant has Meltabombs
5 Ravenwing Bikers- 2 plasma guns, sergeant has Meltabombs
5 Ravenwing Bikers- 2 meltaguns, sergeant has Meltabombs
Dark Talon- Rift Cannon, Two hurricane bolters, stasis bomb
Ravenwing Landspeeder- Multimelta, Typhoon Missile Launcher
Ravenwing Darkshroud- Assault Cannon
3 Ravenwing Landspeeders- Heavy Bolters, Assault Cannons

First off, my results at Blog Wars X were way better than I was expecting. I didn't think I had taken that tough of a list to the tournament and was really surprised with how well some of my games went. I don't know if this was due to some great dice rolling from me and some poor rolls for my opponents, but I don't think I faced any weak armies over my three games (in fact, Matt's army was specifically designed to counter lists like mine). With that said, let's take a look at my units and see how they performed.

The Ravenwing Chapter Master was a compulsory choice for my army (in that I wanted to take the Ravenwing Strike Force and needed a special character), but I probably would have taken him anyway.
Sammael was my Warlord in all three of my tournament games (as well as the practice games), mostly due to the fact that he is a tough character (T5, 4+ invulnerable and Eternal Warrior) and for his guaranteed warlord trait (+3" to charge moves). His warlord trait is very handy, allowing me to risk long range charges with a greater chance of success.

His plasma cannon can be pretty powerful, but it does come with risks. In game 1, he almost killed himself firing it during the game, taking two wounds when it overheated. In fact, a lot of the time, I never got to fire the Plasma cannon as I was too busy Jinking with his unit.

In combat, Sammael was quite successful too. He did fight in a couple of challenges, but these were against low level sergeant models. In game 1, he slaughtered a power fist wielding sergeant to help save his squad from harm and took out several of the enemy Command Squad too. In game 2, he wiped out a unit of Eldar Jetbikes in combat and secured an objective on his own. In game 3, he took out some Pink Horrors in combat, but them embarrassed himself by being slaughtered by a lowly Thousand Sons Champion in a challenge.

Sammael certainly works better when provided with re-rolls to hit in combat (he does get one with the master-crafted sword), as occasionally you will roll poorly and struggle to get many hits with him in combat. His strength of 4 is also a bit unfortunate as he can often struggle to take on more powerful characters or even bike-mounted foes.

Overall, Sammael worked very well in the army, only dying in one of the three games. I would definitely take him again.

When originally playtesting my list, I swapped out the Librarian for an Interrogator-Chaplain and it was one of the best changes that I made.

In most of my practice games, I paired in the Chaplain with the unit of Black Knights to provide Fearless to a second unit (Sammael providing it to the Command Squad) and re-rolls to hit. In the tournament, I put him with Sammael and the Command Squad to form a pseudo-deathstar unit. For me, this was a better choice. Providing Sammael and the command squad black knights re-rolls to hit in the first turn of combat greatly increased their damage output.

I also recommend arming him with the Mace of Absolution. This made the Chaplain strength 7 AP3 and allowed him to deal with most enemy models, wounding them on a 2. The combination of Sammael and the Interrogator-Chaplain meant that this unit could deal with most enemy units without the Command Squad getting involved. As I mentioned in my review, I think the +1 attack, initiative and wound of the Interrogator-Chaplain (over a standard Chaplain) is well worth the 20 pts.

One downside of the Interrogator-Chaplain is that he lacks Hit and Run (and is the only non-vehicle unit in my army without it). This didn't affect me in the tournament, but was a problem in my practice game against Pete.

I would definitely add him to the force again, as he provides serious buffs to the army and can hit hard in combat. The only problem is that in order to use him at a tournament with the Ravenwing Strike Force, the formation needs to be modified by the organisers to allow their use.

Command Squad
For my army, I took a 5-man command squad with Apothecary, Ravenwing Banner and a single grenade launcher.
The Apothecary is almost a mandatory upgrade, providing some added durability for the unit by providing Feel no Pain. This helps for the few times you fail your Jink saves or can help the unit when you don't get cover saves or take wounds in combat. Generally, I don't tend to make Feel no Pain saves that often, but from loose recollection, I think the Apothecary was very successful in my Blog Wars X games. I particularly remember Matt's frustrations in game 3, where a combination of Sammael's Invulnerable save and Feel no Pain saves stopped the majority of a psychic shriek attack on the unit.

I don't think I used the Ravenwing Banner once during the tournament to Hit and Run with the Command Squad. I'm not sure if other units were in range to benefit from it in my games or that I simply forgot that other units within 12" could benefit. I also completely forgot about its secondary benefits (re-rolls to morale checks), but again, was not sure if I was ever in a situation where it mattered.
The reason for not using it was that Sammael and the Interrogator-Chaplain were able to wipe out most enemy units, so did not get to use Hit and Run, or alternatively, the unit was wiped out and could not use Hit and Run. Even with this knowledge, I would still recommend taking the Ravenwing Banner. Better to have it and not use it than really need to use it and not have it.

The grenade launcher got a bit of use over the three games, mostly firing frag, krak or rad shells. I thought the main use for it would be for the stasis grenade, to weaken enemy units before charging them. This didn't work out as most of the time I would want to use it, I was Jinking, so was unable to use the blast of the stasis grenade. In this instance, the extra plasma talon would have been more useful.
I don't recall any of the command squad killing themselves with "Gets Hot" rolls during my games.

I also think I made the right choice in dropping the Champion. Being forced to issue and accept challenges reduces your tactical options in many combats. I would much rather use Sammael or the Interrogator-Chaplain to deal with any power weapon/fist-wielding sergeants in a challenge than have to rely on the Champion to get the job done.

A very strong unit that I would definitely include in another tournament list.

Ravenwing Black Knights
I'm sorry to say that my second unit of Black Knights really did not achieve much over the three games of the tournament.

In the first game, they killed an attack bike, a Landspeeder and a terminator. In the second game, they killed a single Warp Spider. In the third game, they took a hull point from a Predator.

I think the reason the Knights achieved so little was that they were targeted pretty early on as a real threat in my army. In both games where they were wiped out, they were targeted by AP3 ignores cover weapons, so didn't really have much chance of surviving.
Another reason they suffered is that I used the Darkshroud to support the more valuable command squad. This left the Black Knights without additional protection.

I would still probably take the unit again in another tournament list as they are a potent threat in the list that need to be dealt with quickly by your opponent.

Ravenwing Bike Squads
The main bulk of my army, I took three squads of bikers; one armed with grav guns, one armed with plasma guns and one armed with meltaguns.

The bikes provide a fast, manoeuvrable force with decent firepower for taking on the enemy or grabbing objectives. The special weapons are useful, but sometimes struggle to get hits if the unit is jinking.
The grav guns were great for taking on terminators and other troops, but didn't work too well against vehicles thanks to the low volume of shots. The meltaguns didn't really achieve much from what I recall, but I didn't come up against any particularly tough vehicles in my three games. The plasma guns were the most useless. I had plenty of plasma weapons with the two units of Black Knights and prefer the re-roll that they get (less chance of them killing themselves). I would probably swap the plasma guns for grav guns or drop them entirely and take a flamer and power weapon/power fist for one of the sergeants.

All three units were useful in the army in some capacity or another over the course of the three games.

Ravenwing Landspeeder
I took the solo Ravenwing Landspeeder to be an anti-tank vehicle. Armed with a multimelta and typhoon missile launcher (capable of firing Krak missiles), it should have been able to take on the toughest of vehicles.
I didn't really face too many tough vehicles in my games. In fact, I don't think I ever got the Landspeeder close enough to the enemy to benefit from the melta rule of the multimelta.

The Landspeeder was very useful in many of my games, especially game 3. It helped stop me from being tabled and even helped me to score maelstrom points and deny maelstrom points to my opponent.
The firepower of the speeder was seriously diminished when it had to jink to survive. I wonder if taking a heavy bolter/assault cannon option would have been more useful for the increased volume of shots.
The armament I took was to provided some long range firepower. With a range of 48", the typhoon missile launcher was the longest range gun I had in my army. It was useful for staying back from the enemy and firing long shots from relative safety.

Dark Talon
I completely forgot to include this unit in my first draft of the review- whether that shows how it performed on the table is yet to be decided.

In the first game, I don't think the flyer achieved anything. I shot at the Deathwing Knights, but failed to get past their invulnerable saves.
In the second game, the Dark Talon took out a couple of Wraithguard and managed to kill off the Fire Dragons and Prince Yriel.
In the third game, it took out a few Bloodletters and stopped me from being tabled.

The Rift Cannon is a powerful weapon, able to damage most units on the table. I never had it turn Vortex at any point during my games, this would have been a powerful ability to use.

The Hurricane Bolters were great. Being twin-linked and with Strafing Run means that you will most likely be hitting with all your bolter shots each turn. While not going to do a huge amount of damage to most enemy units, the volume of shots means they should hopefully fail a save or two.

I never fired the stasis bomb once during my games. I rarely, if ever, fire the bomb during my games. With an all Ravenwing army, you will generally be charging the enemy on turn 2 or 3. In order to use the stasis bomb to full effect, you would need the flyer to turn up on turn 2 and (probably) forgo your first round of shooting in order to make a bombing run. I can see the use for the bomb, but never really find it is needed. The stasis grenades on the Black Knights can make most units easier to hit and ensure that you strike first without the need for the bomb.

Having Hover is useful, allowing me to grab objectives late in the game and getting an extra turn of shooting with the flyer.

Overall, I don't think the Dark Talon was worth the points value in my army. It did well in the second game, but struggled to achieve much in the other two. A lot of the time, I was Jinking with it when it got shot at, so didn't get to use the Rift Cannon much.

I think the Nephilim may have been a better inclusion. It would have given me some anti-air firepower in my army, something that is lacking. This may have enabled me to take out the Helldrake in the third game or allowed me to focus on other targets with its higher strength weapons.

Realistically, your flyer is only going to be shooting for 3-4 turns of the game, assuming it shows up on turn 2 and has viable targets for the turns it is on the board without having to leave. The points cost for the flyer depends on whether it is worth it for these few turns. In the case of the Ravenwing flyers, I just don't think they justify the points cost.

Ravenwing Support Squadron
This squadron was the star of the tournament for me. My squadron was armed with four assault cannons and three heavy bolters and could put out a lot of firepower, even when Jinking.

Strafing run is great on this unit, meaning that the majority of your shots are going to hit (assuming you don't Jink). Add in rending assault cannons and this squadron can seriously damage most enemy units on the board.

Ravenshield is a fantastic special rule, allowing the squadron to overwatch when friendly units are charged. Interceptor also comes in handy on the unit and you will generally be firing at full ballistic skill as you don't have to Jink until the enemy shooting phase in most cases. In addition, the presence of the Darkshroud provides you with a stealth bonus and prevents your opponent form overwatching your units.

I think that the support squadron was pivotal in all three of my tournament games.

In game 1, it prevented the overwatch fire from the enemy Command Squad when I charged them with my own Command Squad. It also killed three Deathwing Knights with its overwatch fire, meaning that they failed the charge and suffered for it in the next turn.

In game 2, the Interceptor fire killed three of the five D-Scythe toting Wraithguard when they deep struck next to the squadron. I think this alone helped win me the game, turning an almost guaranteed slaughter into a few manageable casualties.

In game 3, it prevented the Burning Chariot from hitting the command with its AP3 flamer when they charged in to finish it off. With just a little bit more luck on the "to hit" rolls with interceptor, it may have been able to wipe out the chariot before it fired (I rolled eight 1's to hit out of 16 shots with interceptor!).

I would definitely include the support squadron in another tournament list. It is a very valuable unit that brings a lot to a Ravenwing force.

General Overview
Objective Secured:
I thought the lack of objective secured would be a big problem in the second and third mission and it could have been.
In game 2, I got very lucky with taking out the last unit of jetbikes and Yriel. Had I not done this, they could have grabbed two objectives from me in the last turn, meaning that a 30-0 victory would have turned into a 25-15 defeat.

In game 3, I think the lack of objective secured did hurt, as it prevented me from scoring or contesting some of the objectives during the course of the game.

Jink Saves:
The Ravenwing special rule gives a huge boost to the durability and survivability of my army, particularly for the Black Knight units and in combination with a Darkshroud.
Unless my opponent had an AP3 ignores cover weapons, the Ravenwing are very hard to kill with their re-rollable Jink saves.

Ravenwing Strike Force
I didn't use the special rules for the Strike Force all that often during my games. Speed of the Raven was handy in game 1 and game 3 to ensure that I got a decent amount of firepower after Jinking. However, if you don't go first, you are more likely to be Jinking and not receive the benefit for the formation.
The Formation was necessary for the army I wanted to use, but it would have been nicer to be able to use a normal Combined Arms Detachment (with bikers as troops) as I don't feel the Formation special rules are worth the loss of Objective Secured. Unfortunately though, this option is no longer available and this is one of the few ways to field an all Ravenwing army.
I think the army list worked very well in my games.
The only changes I made would be minor, such as:
  • replacing the plasma guns on a bike squad with grav guns
  • splitting the three 5-man bike squads into five 3-man bike squads. This would give my opponent more targets to take out and I could possibly add more special weapons by dropping the Ravenwing Landspeeder.
So, what do you think of my review? Any changes or improvements you can suggest, let me know.


  1. Extremely valuable info for when I actually get round to painting a Ravenwing model! Re: bike squad numbers is there any benefit to switching 3x5 for 3x4 plus 1x3 as a middle ground between 5x3? My only attempt at using them so far and the unit of 3 was killed really easily, more bodies in a unit aids survivability so Iwould think it's an easier compromise but please educate me if I'm wrong.

    1. Thanks Dave. I like the units of 5 as it means I have to take a couple of casualties before I start to lose important models such as the special weapons or sergeant with meltabombs. I can see the appeal of taking smaller units; more targets for your opponent, more units for you to use in the game for objective grabbing or tying up the enemy, but as you say, they can be wiped out pretty easily. I think four would be a good number to try- you can take a couple of special weapons and meltabombs in the unit.

      I might even consider taking a full squad of 8 bikers and an attack bike and combat squadding them to give 3 units. This would limit the number of special weapons options, but to be honest, I didn't find the special weapons did that much in my games as I spent most of the time Jinking, which severely reduced their damage output. It might be best to save the points on special weapons and add a sergeant with power axe or power fist to do the job in combat.

      I would probably hold on to the grav guns in case I came up against something with high toughness that the plasma talons might struggle to wound, but I don't think dropping the meltaguns and plasma guns (to get another biker, attack bike or power weapons on the sergeant) would have made any difference in my games as I really can't recall if they achieved anything.

  2. Did you try deep striking the landspeeder - it's something a lot of people forget in my experience, and with a multi melta getting up close without jinking is key. I often take a pair kitted out how you've said as a highly mobile tank hunting unit, and because they can drop in and fire before the enemy shoots they often achieve their objective and then become a nuisance.

    1. It's something worth considering, but can't be done with the Ravenwing Strike Force. All units must either start on the board or enter on turn 2, so I would auto-lose if I kept everything in reserve.

    2. Most ridiculous rule ever. How is it not a detachment special rule to avoid auto-lose??

    3. When used in conjunction with other Dark Angels units, it sort of makes sense and can be a really powerful ability, but in a pure Ravenwing army, it is more of a hindrance.

  3. How did the dark talon perform?

    1. I completely forgot to include it in the review, I will amend it to include it.

      It did pretty well, the Rift cannon was powerful, but didn't do a lot of damage in my games. I think the hurricane bolters may have accounted for more casualties. I didn't drop the bomb once, there was no need for it in my games.

    2. The Dark Talon has now been added to the review.

  4. With the TL Plasma on the Black Knights, I really don't see much reason for Plasmaguns on regular Bikers in a RavenWing list. Even without that, given the higher Rate of Fire for Grav (especially in the 12-18" range band), Plasmaguns feel pretty redundant on Bikes to me.

    I like having some Melta around, but I think that may be because I see more Knights and other Super-Heavies where I play, and Grav is kind of underwhelming against them, while Melta's likelihood of stripping multiple HP in one go is really handy.

    I haven't used them in a while, but one of my go-to Units for a long time was a pair of Speeders with Multi-Meltas, and then one or two Heavy Flamers. I'd generally Deep Strike them in, and there was usually something worthwhile for them to go for. Risky, but awesome when it worked.

    Maybe consider adding a RavenWing Strike Squad to give yourself a bit more flexibility in Deployment? Or are you generally stuck with a two-Detachment limit?

    1. The only reason I ran the plasma was that I didn't have time to get two more grav gun bikers assembled and painted, I'd probably drop them in the future.

      The two detachment limit was imposed for the tournament. My original list had a Ravenwing attack squad in it, but I had to fold them into the strike force as I had too many detachments.

  5. Nice review and some interesting comments.

    my points are:

    ravenwing squads - make them 6 man squads and if necessary use the combat squad ability. you pay the pints for it so may as well use it. Combat squads are very useful and an often overlooked trait. KP only 3 but if need b 6 units to go objective grabbing. i read you were thinking of adding attack bikes to them. a nice option but re read the rules for combat squads with ravenwing as it is a bit different that with a normal tactical squad or even a space marine bike squad.
    i second Westriders point about plasma in bike. save them for the knights and give the normal bikers grav
    the land speeder. personally i don't like mixing long and short range guns. stick to one and play to its strengths. also it may be a bit redundant with the support squadron
    Dark Talon, agreed with your review of changing it to a Nephilim.

    i look forward to seeing more of your reports and armies

    1. Thanks!
      I think I got confused between the White Scar and Ravenwing when it came to combat squads. Ravenwing have fewer in a full squad if I recall, so a 6-man squad may work well for splitting into 2 units with a special weapon in each. Do you not need to add an attack bike to the squad for it to be full strength to combat squad?

    2. RavenWing Squads need to be 7 including the Attack Bike to Combat Squad. However, when you split, you get 3 Units out of that, not just 2.

  6. Combat squad ding is a super valid point. What I'd say thou is that if you can take combi grabs on the Sargent then for one turn that's 9 grav shots. And squads of three are really easy to hide. That's how I play mine anyways