Now to add to this, most legions have rules that either increase their damage out put or increase their resilience. The third thing they often pick up is timing progression. It's often overlooked by most generals, but it's critical to under stand how list progression impacts your legion. Some legions are stronger in early turns, some in in the mid game and some in the end game. And what you take in your list should match your progression. This is especially important for Raven Guard, as they have very strong rules for early game progressions with decapitating strike and Alvarex Maun. However they can also have strong mid game progressions with outflank and lists that rely on reserves. It's even possible to build strong late game progression lists with Raven Guard if you stay away from decapitating strike.
All that said, anything you kill first turn never gets to hurt you back which mean you are basically starting with more points than your opponent.
So with that back drop let's discuss Raven Guard strengths, but let me preface this article with this:
- THE TRUE STRENGTH OF RAVEN GUARD IS IN POINT EFFICIENCY.
So first off, By Wing an Talon is the rule that makes Raven Guard special but let's look at both parts of the rule separately.
- Non terminator Infantry have infiltrate and fleet.
- Note: It's been clarified that jump pack marines do not get these rules, even though 7th ed rules are pretty clear that they do.
Infiltrate gives us a couple enormous advantages.
- It allows us to deploy after our opponents, letting us dictate locational fire power and assault supremacy. (Increase in damage output).
- It allows us to also get better angles on shooting vehicles to hit side armor. Increase in damage output)
- It allows us to deploy in terrain. (Increase in resilience).
- It allows us to deploy on objectives. (Increase in early game scoring)
- It allows us to deploy out of range of threatening units. (Increase in resilience).
- It allows us to save points on transports. (Increase in point efficiency)
- It allows us to deploy shorter ranged weapons more efficiently. Which actually translates into a lot of different efficiencies. We save points on the range premium tacked onto weapons like las cannons. Rapid fire weapons can shoot more. Short ranged weapons can shoot earlier in the game. It's more likely we will actually get to shoot a weapon before it gets killed.
- Dedicated transports get infiltrate (including landraiders!), which can be helpful in a lot of ways. It adds another unit (which often has objective secured), but you can also use them as mobile bunkers or movable LOS blocking terrain. Or even as a platform for more fire power with options like combi meltas or hvy bolters.
- Infiltrate also gives outflank, which allows you to run a reserve list, thus shifting your list progression towards mid game progression. (Increase in resilience)
Fleet increases our mobility letting us run faster and make it into cover more often, but I think the most important aspect of fleet is the re roll to charge range. A lot of winning games is about risk mitigation. Fleet helps us make charges, it also means we are more likely to get the charge, which sets up certain combos.
Raven Guard Units that take advantage of these rules:
- Mor Deythan, Heavy Weapon Squads, special Weapon squads, seekers, tac squads, rapier artillery platforms, vets, ICs, apothecaries, Ad Mech units (think castellax), destroyers, breachers, recon squads
- Tac squads (especially with extra ccw), destroyers on foot, vets, units with melta bombs
Now let's look at the second part of the rule:
- Jump infantry, bikes, jetbikes, termies all get furious charge.
- So basically we are 1/6th better on the charge than other legions, which a force multiplier.
- Grenades are more effective, so we can hurt contemptors and knight titans on the charge with crack grenades, not to mention melta bombs are slightly better.
- You oblit T3 models, which create efficiency and combs with S5+ weapon and rad grenades. This is especially important for killing units with Feel no Pain.
Raven Guard Units that take advantage of furious charge:
- Units like forge lords, tech marines, moritats and destroyers can all take rad grenades.
- ICs on jet bikes, with jump packs or in termi armor
- Dark fury or assault marines
- bikes and jet bikes can take melta bombs
- Terminators, especially power axe and chain fists get better.
In conclusion, if you are taking units that are not in either of these lists or are not set up to take advantage of these rules you are basically taking units that are fundamentally equal or worse than other legions, so you probably shouldn't be taking them ;)
There are a few exceptions when you are start taking into consideration decaptitating strike and alverax maun, think things in drop pods, fire raptors, alpha strike units etc. but I'll cover those in other articles.