Friday, November 21, 2014

Space Marine Codex Review: Stormraven Gunship

The Stormraven Gunship is one of the heaviest flyers in the game (not including Forgeworld), with AV12 on all facings. It has fairly been called a flying Land Raider, and it shares the Assault Vehicle and Power of the Machine Spirit rules with Land Raiders. It can carry up to 12 models, including Terminators and jump infantry, as well as a Dreadnought. It comes with a turret mounted twin-linked assault cannon, which can be switched for a twin-linked plasma cannon or twin-linked lascannon for free, and a forward mounted twin-linked heavy bolter, which can be traded out for a twin-linked multi-melta or upgraded to a typhoon missile launcher. It also comes with 4 stormstrike missiles, and you can add hurricane bolter sponsons.

The Stormraven also has Skies of Fury, meaning that its passengers can deep strike from it along any point of its movement. This isn’t without risk, as they must take Dangerous Terrain tests if they scatter and the entire unit is destroyed if any model cannot be deployed. Unfortunately, a unit cannot assault when deployed by Skies of Fury.

There are two, non-exclusive ways to use the Stormraven. The first is as a gunship; with so many weapons able to engage two targets each turn, it really excels in this role. I commonly see them run with lascannons and multi-meltas for hunting vehicles, especially other flyers. I prefer mine to be a bit more flexible, so I replace the lascannon with an assault cannon. This lets me do some damage to infantry while still performing well against vehicles (the stormstrike missiles really help in this regard). I also add the hurricane bolters if I have the points. While their firepower is not amazing, the Stormraven can get into position to reach vulnerable targets. I’ve won a lot of games by using the Stormraven to mow down weak scoring units on important objectives.

Dumping assault units directly into undamaged enemy lines turns out to be a good way to lose both the Stormraven and assault unit.

The second use of the Stormraven is to deliver units, generally assault units. In this role, it competes with the Land Raider. As a flyer, the Stormraven is faster and will more reliably reach its delivery point, but it cannot arrive until Turn 2, so it can’t disembark assault units until Turn 3. Unfortunately, in order to deliver assault units, the Stormraven must drop into hover mode, which makes it very vulnerable to enemy fire. Due to both of these considerations, I find it best to use the Stormraven to launch assaults late in the game, once the threats to the Stormraven have been eliminated. This strategy works well, though you have to plan it into your army list; you will likely be keeping a very expensive assault unit out of the battle until late game. You need to be sure that it doesn’t overly weaken your army in the opening turns and that you use it to launch a decisive assault in the late game.

An alternative use of the Stormraven’s transport capacity is to carry as small Objective Secured unit inside. You can deploy this squad at the end of the game to take an objective without risking your expensive flyer.

A Stormraven and Stormtalon make a great team, as they can reliable arrive on the same turn.
 The Stormraven is a useful unit, even if it is not the most efficient source of flying firepower. Two Stormtalons will do more damage than a Stormraven for a similar cost, but they are much easier to shoot down and can’t transport a unit. I’ve had the best results using a Stormraven as a gunship before unloading a small squad of Scouts to secure an objective.

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