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
GreyCrow here once again. Welcome to the third part in my tactics series, aimed at helping Raven Guard players get the most out of our the new Codex: Space Marines. Now that we’ve covered the basics of the Gladius Strike Force, we can dig into how the Raven Guard make it their own.
Using the new Raven Guard Chapter Tactics
The 2015 Codex: Space Marines brought revamped our beloved Chapter Tactics. Core changes have been made to the Chapter Tactics that we have gotten used to using since October 2013, so it is only normal that our armies will not perform similarly. Let’s delve into these changes and take a look at how we can take advantage of them!
Understanding the Bonuses of the Chapter Tactics
Much like most other Codex Chapters, the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics are composed of two distinct rules: still called Strike from the Shadows and Winged Deliverance.
Strike from the Shadows grants Shrouded to all Raven Guard models (with Chapter Tactics) that are neither a vehicle nor started the game embarked in one. It also allows us to get Night Fighting in the First Game Turn on a roll of a 3+ instead of a 4+.
Winged Deliverance allows Jump units to use their Jump Packs both in the Movement and Assault phases. It also allows all models (including Bikes and Dreadnoughts unless it gets FAQ’ed by Games Workshop) to reroll their To-Wound rolls when resolving Hammer of Wrath hits.
Strike from the Shadows has changed a lot since the 6th edition Codex and this leads to major changes in the core structure of many Raven Guard armies. When Tacticals in Rhinos/Razorbacks were previously chosen because Scout allowed them a 12″ redeployment move, the current Strike from the Shadows highly deincentivizes mounted Troops.
What it does, on the other hand, is provide an armywide +2 bonus to cover saves and an additional +1 on a roll of a 3+ (because of Night Fighting -Tibbs). The true benefit of this Chapter Tactics is that it allows us to strongly mitigate any shooting-based Alpha Strike that might cripple our army by providing up to a 4+ cover save in the open and up to a 2+ cover save in any piece of terrain or when obscured by other units.
Having tried that bonus in several games, this is simply amazing and well worth the loss of Scout to me.
However, there is a trap with that Chapter Tactic. While a 2+ cover save is absolutely amazing, trying to maximize the first turn cover save for all units might prove inefficient. Indeed, the true benefit of this Chapter Tactic is that is allows to take forward positions more safely. By the second Turn, all the Raven Guard units will be exposed, and if you spent your first turn hunkering down with your Assault elements, you might find them exposed in the open in the second where they will get absolutely no benefit of the Chapter Tactic.
So, instead of trying to aim for a 2+ cover save, aim for the most advantageous position Turn 1, and if that yields a 2+ cover save, the better. To illustrate that point: in one game, my 10 Assault Marines and my Captain had to rush into a gunline to get into Assault as fast as possible to avoid firepower from Devastator Centurions. My First Turn move allowed me to position so that I would be out of line of sight from them, but I would be staight in the open in the fire corridor of a TriLas Predator Squadron of 3 and a Plasma Cannon Tactical Combat Squad. As expected, both units fired at me and I only took 3 casualties thanks to the 4+ cover saves. Yep, Strike from the Shadows is that good. Bold commanders will find the risk/reward option thrilling when choosing between an aggressive move and a 4+ cover or a more defensive Turn 1 with a 2+ cover. In essence, I find that making the entire open terrain count as Ruins for cover saves without difficult terrain opens up as much tactical opportunities as bunkering up for a 2+.
Winged Deliverance on the other hand wasn’t changed as drastically. It still gives bonuses to Jump units and allows them to reroll their charge range, but it now allows rerolls to Hammer of Wrath wounds to both Bikes and Dreadnoughts on top of giving Jump Marines Hammer of Wrath due to using their Jump Packs in both phases.
While many would say that it makes Bikes even more interesting than Assault Marines, I beg to differ. While Bikes get their rerollable Hammer of Wrath and higher Toughness, Jump Marines get the ability to reroll their charge range (which is unique in the Codex bar Vanguard Veterans) and a rerollable Hammer of Wrath at similar strength than Bikes. Paired with the ability to reroll charge ranges, you can turn a low charge roll into Hammer of Wrath mayhem even if the roll needed to get into combat was only 2 or 3 ”. And we all know how automatic hits that reroll to wound at Initiative 10 sound, right?
If that’s got you excited, check out my next (and final) post: Selecting Raven Guard units with Tactics in mind.
Catch up on my previous posts here:
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.