Wednesday, 20 December 2017

8th Edition Codex Dark Angels Review: Part 3- Ravenwing

Part three of my 8th edition Dark Angels codex review will take a look at the Ravenwing units in the army. My Ravenwing force is one of my favourite armies and I have been playing them for several editions of 40k. Let's see how the new codex treats the black-clad warriors. 

One thing I have noticed is that almost all the Ravenwing units got some form of points reduction from the Index. As an example, my recent 2000 pts Ravenwing army that I used in several battle reports now comes in just over 200 pts cheaper in the codex. This is great news and something that I think needed to happen. This will allow me to field at least another Bike squad or some Speeders to bulk out my force a bit. 

Special Rules
The main special rule that applies to the Ravenwing is Jink.

If the unit Advances, it gains a 4+ invulnerable save against all shooting attacks until the start of your next movement phase.

This rule applies to Ravenwing units in the army. To me, this is a big boost to the Ravenwing units. In the index, they only got a 5+ invulnerable save, but it is now boosted to a 4+ invulnerable. This actually makes a big difference and makes Jink a good prospect for a unit of Bikers and will really help in certain missions, particularly maelstrom ones, I think. You can turbo-boost onto an objective to score it and get a reasonably level of durability against enemy fire. I think this will be a big boost for my Ravenwing army.

Forces of the Ravenwing

Sammael on Corvex
The Grand Master of the Ravenwing has seen some useful upgrades in 8th edition. As with many characters, he is a lot tougher in the new edition of the game.

Sammael has T6 and 6 wounds, a 3+ save and 4+ invulnerable. He also has WS and BS 2+, with 5 attacks, making him quite potent in combat. His Raven Sword thankfully gets a strength boost in 8th edition, being +1S (so 5 in combat), AP-3 and 2 damage with each wound. It also gives him double strength if Sammael charges, taking him up to S9 in combat. This gives him some pretty potent attacks on the turn that he charges into combat.

He comes with a twin Storm Bolter and Plasma Cannon, giving him some strong firepower (8 Bolter shots at short range). He also has Fly, enabling him to fall back and still fire.

He also provides some really nice buffs, giving re-rolls of 1's to hit with Dark Angels within 6" and full re-rolls for Ravenwing within 6". This makes him a great addition to a Ravenwing army, making the most of the powerful weapons the Ravenwing can field.

I will definitely be including him in my Ravenwing army in many games.

Sammael in Sableclaw
This is Sammael in his Landspeeder variant. In previous editions of the game, this was the worst option for him as he was far too easy to kill.

In 8th edition, this is actually a solid option to field him in. In the speeder, he goes up to 7 wounds, making him even tougher. He also gets a Twin Assault Cannon and Twin Heavy Bolter, greatly upping his firepower  over his jetbike version.

He also gets the Raven Sword and can charge into combat under the new rules, as well as all the buffs listed above. This actually makes him a decent prospect to take on the Landspeeder. He comes in at 216 points, actually making this a reasonable option to take over Corvex. Another solid option to lead your Ravenwing or Dark Angels army.

Ravenwing Talonmaster
A new addition to the Ravenwing arsenal in 8th edition, and I think a very useful addition. He is the Ravenwing equivalent of a Lieutenant.

The Talonmaster comes in a Landspeeder with a Twin Assault Cannon and Twin Heavy Bolter, similar to Sableclaw. The rider also comes with a Power Sword, giving him a bit more punch in combat.

He also has a decent profile, WS2+, BS3+, T6, 6W, 4 attacks and a 4+ save. His S4 means he is not going to take out everything in combat, but should be able to do some damage to standard infantry. He is a reasonably tough character, with good durability, strong firepower and some decent combat ability.

His real strengths come with the buffs he can provide. He gives the re-rolls on to wound rolls of 1 for all Dark Angels within 6" that a Lieutenant does. In addition, enemy units don't get save bonuses for cover against shooting attacks made by friendly Ravenwing units within 6" of the Talonmaster. This is a great bonus for Ravenwing units as well. This means that your opponent will be getting a maximum armour save of 5+ versus your plasma weapons when in range of the Talonmaster. In addition, denying infantry the benefits of cover on your Bolters is a big deal, making it easier to clear standard infantry out of cover.

The volume of shots he can put out offsets the penalty for moving and firing his heavy weapons to some regard.

I think the Talonmaster is a great addition to the Ravenwing army and I look forward to using him on the battlefield.

Ravenwing Black Knights
These are the hard hitters of the Ravenwing army. They come on bikes, so have a move of 14", T5 and two wounds each. Other than that, they have the standard Marine profile (but with Ld of 8). In addition, they come armed with the Plasma Talon. This is an 18", assault 2 plasma gun. This is brilliant, allowing them to stay at range and still fire 2 shots, as well as allowing them to advance and still shoot.

In addition, they can be armed with the Corvus Hammer, which is +1S, -1AP and does D3 damage on a to wound roll of a 6. With 2 attacks each, this gives the Black Knights decent punch in combat if you need them to go in and finish off an enemy unit.

They get even better when you add in some of the Stratagems the Dark Angels have access to, allowing you to advance and still shoot and assault, fall back and still shoot or add 1 to the damage of their Plasma Talons.

The Black Knights are a solid unit, able to shoot very hard and hit hard in combat. They also got a reduction of a few points per model from the index. At 46 points a model, they are still expensive, but worth the cost I think in a Ravenwing or Dark Angels army.

Ravenwing Apothecary
The Apothecary is basically a Black Knight that has access to a Narthecium. He has the Plasma Talon, so has some decent shooting ability, but is unable to take a Corvus Hammer, meaning he is a bit weaker in combat.

He also has a decent profile, standard Space Marine Biker stats, but with 5 and 3 attacks. At 92 points, he is a pretty expensive addition to a force, but can potentially bring back models or heal them.

However, I have found that in most games where I use an Apothecary, they are a little underwhelming. I find they frequently failed to bring back squad members and are rarely around long enough to heal big characters from harm. I would probably leave him out of most of my lists.

Ravenwing Ancient
The banner bearer of the Ravenwing. He is a Black Knight on a Bike, with the same raised stats as the Apothecary. He also can't take a Corvus Hammer.

His main role is to buff the combat ability of nearby Ravenwing units. Ravenwing units within 6" gain +1 attack. I think I would prefer the normal ancient ability of allowing casualties a chance to fire back or attack back that most Space Marine ancients get. They also don't get the Leadership bonus of other Banner bearers. The +1 attack is nice and should benefit some units, but I think the strength of Bikers is in their shooting and not in their combat ability in most cases.

Again, at over 100 points he is pretty expensive and I probably wouldn't take him all that often.

Ravenwing Champion
The Ravenwing Champion is a Black Knight character that comes with the awesome Blade of Caliban. This is a power sword that is +3S, -3AP and D3 damage. That is a pretty potent weapon to have in combat.
He comes with 3 attacks and WS2+, so has the potential to cause a fair bit of damage in combat, even being able to take on vehicles or monsters thanks to be S7 and dealing multiple damage. In addition, he also gets the benefit of a Plasma Talon shot to soften them up before charging in.

He has the Honour or Death special rule, meaning that he must perform a Heroic Intervention if he can, but also gets re-rolls to hit in the Fight phase against Characters. This can make him useful for hunting down mid-level buffing characters to weaken nearby enemy units. His speed will also make him more valuable at this role. At 106 points, I think he is a strong addition to the army and will probably be trying to field him in a few games to test this out.

Ravenwing Bike Squad
This is the standard Bike unit for a Ravenwing army. They got a huge points reduction from the index, dropping 9 points to 27 pts each. This brings them into line with Space Marine Bikers, meaning that they essentially get Jink for free.

I think the points reduction was very necessary. Bikes are just not as good in 8th edition as they were in 7th edition. The loss of Jink to most Bikers has greatly diminished their durability on the battlefield. Gaining an extra wound in 8th edition was great for them, but there is no shortage of multi-damage weapons in the game or sheer volume of shots from Twin weapons that can still tear through Bikers.

In this regard, the Ravenwing Bike Squad gets a nice bonus in the form of the Jink save. I don't know how often it will be used, but it will be great for getting a big durability boost while moving quickly round the table. The downside is that you lose the Bolter shots from the unit, which is a big loss a lot of the time.

The squad can still be fielded in units of 3-9 (including an Attack Bike), but squads of more than 5 don't really seem to viable in 8th edition. The morale boost from Grim Resolve is nice and may come into effect every once in a while, but I don't see the re-rolls to hit being of  much use often, as the Bikers tend to want to be on the move.

The Bike Squad should work well with Flamers and Meltaguns. These weapons can still fire if you advance, meaning you can move far, get access to your invulnerable save and still fire some of your shots in the shooting phase.

I don't think the Bike Squad will be highly competitive, but regular readers will know that I am still a big fan of Bike units, so will likely be fielding quite a few of them in 8th edition.

Ravenwing Attack Bike Squad
I think that Attack Bikes have suffered a bit in the new edition of the game. My problem with them is that they suffer the -1 to hit penalty for moving and firing their Heavy Weapon.

A Multi-melta on an attack bike is great for getting into short range to get the two dice damage roll (picking the highest), but you are paying 60 points for a single Multi-melta shot that hits on a 4+ in most cases. To me, this is too expensive.

You could always go with the Heavy Bolter for more shots, but given the range of the Heavy Bolter, you are probably better off just giving it to an infantry squad if you want to field it. Plus, an Infantry squad with a Heavy Bolter has access to the Hellfire Shells stratagem that the Bikers do not.

The only reason I can see to field the Attack Bike would be to fill out a cheap FA slot to try and get more command points.

Ravenwing Land Speeders
I love the Landspeeder, but it suffers from the same issue as the Attack Bike. It is supposed to be a mobile, heavy weapons platform, but it is better not moving around and firing at range to not suffer the penalties to hit. It is useful in this role, but there are tougher and better vehicles/units in the codex that can do its role for cheaper or do it better.

They did get a nice 15 pts cost reduction from the index, so they are not terrible to field now. You could always arm it with a Heavy Flamer and go after isolated enemy units, using its Jink save to protect it from some harm in the shooting phase.

Overall, I probably wouldn't bother with the Land Speeder much in 8th edition.

Ravenwing Darkshroud
Another fantastic unit that gives a big boost to a Ravenwing army or any Dark Angels army. The Darkshroud has a reasonable profile, with T6, 9 wounds and a 3+ save, it has reasonable durability. It comes with a Heavy Bolter or Assault Cannon, meaning it can put out some decent support firepower when moving with the faster elements of your army.

The big reason for taking the Darkshroud is the Icon of Old Caliban rule. This gives all Dark Angels units within 6" -1 to hit when your opponent shoots at them. This is actually a big deal, making it more likely that the units your Darkshroud is supporting should last longer against enemy firepower.

When this penalty is added to the -1 to hit penalty of moving and firing heavy weapons, this can make your opponent's firepower highly inaccurate on the move.

The Darkshroud is a must have in any Dark Angels army, and my Ravenwing never leave home without it!

Ravenwing Land Speeder Vengeance
Previously a pretty duff unit in previous editions of the game, the Vengeance is actually a decent prospect in 8th edition.

It has the same stats as the Darkshroud, so has a fair bit of durability. The main reason for taking it is the Plasma Storm Battery. It fires in two modes. The standard mode is 36", Heavy D6, S7 AP-3 and 2 damage. With a good roll, this speeder can do a fair bit of damage in a single shooting phase.

If you overcharge it, it goes up to S8 and 3 damage for each shot. Any roll of a 1 to hit deals the Vengeance 3 mortal wounds.

At 132 pts, the Vengeance is an appealing prospect in the army. I think the best role for it would be to sit back at range and fire on key enemy targets. This way, you are not suffering the -1 to hit penalty. I wouldn't overcharge the Storm Battery too much, unless you have a source of re-roll 1's to hit nearby, as it could quite easily kill itself with a few bad rolls.

Ravenwing Dark Talon
This is a brilliant flyer for the Dark Angels that got even better with a 20 point reduction in the codex.

The Dark Talon comes with two hurricane bolters and a Rift Cannon. The Hurricane Bolters make it great for clearing screening units or horde units. If you get it into rapid fire range, it will put out 24 Bolter shots that will probably be hitting on 2's (thanks to it having Strafing run). Even against tougher armoured units, the volume of shots can make it quite effective at killing enemy models.

The Rift cannon is relatively short ranged (18"), but you shouldn't have a problem getting to the enemy target as it is a flyer. It is Heavy D3, S10, -3AP and 3 damage with each wound. It will wound anything on a 3+ in most cases, and on a 2+ against standard infantry and bikes. In addition, it's vortex rule has the chance of doing additional mortal wounds against any model it wounds. The cannon has the potential to do 12 wounds to a single model in one shooting phase, so it is a pretty potent weapon.

It is only T6, but has 10 wounds and a 3+ armour save. In addition, it is a flyer, so will be -1 to hit, helping to improve its durability. It can also go into hover mode, giving you more accuracy on the Rift Cannon if you need it.

For 160 points, I think the Dark Talon is a bargain and adds a lot of utility to a Dark Angels army.
Nephilim Jetfighter
The other Ravenwing flyer in the Dark Angels arsenal. It comes with an Avenger mega bolter, a twin heavy bolter and two Blacksword missile launchers.

The Avenger Mega Bolter is 36", Heavy 10, S6, AP-1 and 1 damage. With the twin Heavy Bolter, that is some serious mid-strength firepower that the flyer can put out, making it useful against infantry, bikes and light vehicles.

The Stormstrike Missiles are also potent weapons. Each is heavy 1, S7, AP-3 and 2 damage. This makes it useful for targeting vehicles or multi-wound models.

The Nephilim also gets strafing run, making it more accurate against ground targets. This is useful, as all of its weapons are heavy, so it will be hitting a lot of targets on a 3+ still. At 217 pts, I think it is a bit pricey for what it can offer in the army. I would probably go for the Dark Talon over this in most of my games.

I am quite happy with the Ravenwing units in the new codex. The points reductions for many units were great and were definitely needed. I think the army will be a lot of fun to play and look forward to getting it on the tabletop in the near future.