2015 Space Marine Codex: Raven Guard tactics – Part 2

Note: These articles were written before the Damocles book. Read a few of my (Tibbs, not GreyCrow) thoughts on the rumored formation here: Raven Guard Formation Rumors

Hey guys, GreyCrow again. This is the second part in my tactics series, aimed at helping Raven Guard players get the most out of the new Codex: Space Marines. In the last post, I introduced the Gladius Strike Force and the buffs it brings to the table. This time, I’ll address how to actually build your strike force.

Structuring your Gladius Strike Force

We all know where this is going, but I heard your like formations ?

We all know where this is going, but I heard you like formations?

One complaint that came up early on about the Gladius Strike Force (GSF) was that it was extremely restrictive, and not without cause. It forces the player to field at least a Demi Company (25 MEQ wounds at its cheapest iteration which is 3 Tactical Squad, 1 Devastator Squad, 1 Bike Squad and a Chaplain, all at minimal size), with one or more auxiliary formations that each require at least 3 specific units.

So, it’s going to be very hard to fit in the odd Stormtalon or Predator Annihilator. However, there are ways to turn these restrictions into solid strengths! They require us to approach army building differently than previously, but are close enough to what we are used to that this mindset should be easy to slip into.

When building a Combined Arms Detachment (CAD), unit selection was directed by what was the overall goal of your CAD and how each unit would contribute to that overall goal. This defined the structure of your CAD.

With a GSF, instead of having one level of structure, there are two levels of structure : what we’ll call the metastructure, namely your formation selection, consequently followed by the structure of your formations, meaning how units within your formations synergize between one another to achieve their goal.

To define both the structures and metastructures within your army, you have to start by setting goals to each of your formation starting by your Core choice which is your Demi Company. Why the Demi Company first? Because it’s going to be the formation with the most battlefield presence (aka highest number of bodies) relative to most of your formations. Despite seeming like a collection of weak units, the Demi Company is very interesting because it provides a reliable balance of firepower, staying power and point cost. Secondly, because all of your units get Objective Secured which incentivizes using the Demi Company for board control.

Now, the goals you give your Demi Company are as varied as what they are effective at doing. In my previous example, I designed my Demi Company to aim for control of the midtable Turn 5, with:

  • 3 Tactical Squads at 5 with ranged special weapons and combis, and the odd melee Sergeant
  • 5 Devastators with 2 high quality heavy weapons to provide covering fire from long range (not 4 per 5 models in order to have ablative wounds and keep the cost of the squad cheap)
  • 1 Assault Cannon Dreadnought to guard my footslogging Tacticals and slowly advance alongside them, offering a mobile heavy weapon and nasty melee unit
  • 10 Assault Marines with a Jump Pack Captain to counter assault any unit daring enough to come close and skirmish at the edge of the enemy deployment zone.

You could also go for a very defensive Demi Company with Heavy Weapons Tacticals in Rhinos, Centurions Devastators and a Bike Squad to hold objectives in your table edge and create a killzone. Alternatively, you could opt for a full Drop Pod Assault Demi Company to take the fight to the enemy. There is no optimal Demi Company structure as an absolute, it all depends on the role you want to give it in your metastructure.

The point is: start with minimal squads, pick a goal you enjoy for your Demi Company, then pick the “gear” (squad size, special weapons, transport options) that will allow the Demi Company to perform that job effectively at the lowest cost.

Once the structure of your Core is complete, it is time to work on the metastructure. I believe the goal of a GSF is to allow your Demi Company to achieve its intended goal with the least effort (hence why other formations are called auxiliary formations). Identify which challenges your Demi Company will face when aiming for its goals, then pick Auxiliary Formations to help them overcome the obstacles they will face. In my previous example, I picked one First Company Task Force and one Tenth Company Task Force respectively to provide a counter attack force and deter scary units to come into the midfield with the First Co, while the Scouts would Infiltrate forward and both provide a speedbump as well as a bait for his assault elements so that I could set a counter charge in Turn 1 with my Assault Squad and Captain should I go second.

The point is to pick the auxiliary formations to compensate the weaknesses of your Demi Company according to two criteria: are the units I pick able to work together to reliably do their job over the course of the battle? Are the special rules the formations give helping them do the intended job? If the answer is yes on both counts, then congratulations are in order for you have successfully metastructured your Gladius Strike Force!

Check back soon for the next part in the series: Using the new Raven Guard chapter tactics! 

In case you missed it, you can find the previous installment right here: What is the Gladius Strike Force?

EDITOR’S NOTE: I want to keep these short and easily digestible since there’s so much good stuff here. This will also allow more focused comment threads. I’d love to see a good discussion here, so let’s all make GreyCrow feel welcome. He worked hard on this series, and it will be pretty impressive once it’s all done.