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Monday, January 13, 2014

Raven Guard Chapter Tactics and Shadow Captain Shrike



 The Raven Guard are the stealth and infiltration specialists of the Adeptus Astartes, able to close with and annihilate their unsuspecting enemies. In order to represent this on the tabletop, Raven Guard (that aren’t Bulky or Very Bulky) have Scout and Stealth during the first turn of the game. Both are nice rules, though I would have liked Stealth to last all game. Because they’re bird themed, Raven Guard also have Winged Deliverance, which allows their jump infantry to use their jump packs in both the movement and assault phases. As a Blood Angel player, this rule makes me jealous. That change alone could make Assault squads actually able to reach close-combat. In addition, Jump Infantry re-roll failed wounds from Hammer of Wrath hits. This also makes your Assault squads a bit better, forcing more wounds on the enemy, but isn't as major as the first part of the rule increasing their speed and allowing them to reach combat.

The Raven Guard Chapter Tactics are commonly looked down upon for two reasons. First, White Scars can easily get Scout from Kor’sarro Khan, and they pair it with Hit and Run, which is far superior to one turn of Stealth. Therefore, half of their rules can be easily improved upon by using White Scars instead. Second, not many people like Assault Marines and no one really wants to run multiple squads of them, at least not with their Space Marine rules. Sadly, jump units don’t even benefit from Scout and Stealth as they are Bulky. If the Blood Angels had Winged Deliverance (Angels have wings too!), their Assault squads might actually see the table. However, most players don't see much reason to take them in a standard Space Marine army, certainly not in the numbers necessary to make good use of the Raven Guard special rules.

That's not to say that Raven Guard Tactics aren't useful; they can tremendously help certain army builds. Particularly, I see very aggressive forces with Tactical squads in Rhinos backed up be Assault squads getting into your opponent's face very quickly and being quite playable. I imagine it as sort of a return to the old Rhino Rush list, but I haven't seen it played firsthand so I don't know how well it will work on the table.

Shadow Captain Shrike

Kayvaan Shrike is the Captain of the Raven Guard 3rd Company and is famous for operating behind enemy lines for years at a time without support. He has the standard Captain statline and equipment, augmented by a pair of master-crafted, Rending lightning claws and a jump pack. He only has one unique rule, See, But Remain Unseen; Shrike has Stealth for the whole game rather than just the first turn and he can Infiltrate along with a squad of Jump Infantry. This allows him to pull a jump squad up the field, making up for their lack of Scout. Shrike’s Warlord Trait is the always underwhelming ability to cause Fear.

Shrike is a delivery system for a Jump Infantry squad, and that’s about it. He’ll shred normal units, but he doesn’t have the durability to go toe to toe with any dedicated assault units or characters. However, he can get a squad of Vanguard Veterans (at their newly reduced points cost) into assault during the first or second turn (depending on whether you have first turn or not). This will put a lot of pressure on most enemy armies, but you’ll have to build your army to capitalize on this before Shrike and his squad are neutralized. There will only be eleven power armored models, so don’t expect them to last long without support.

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