Raven Guard combat doctrine is based on infiltration, ambush and assassination not attrition or frontal assault. The Raven Guard were often deployed to "Cut the head off the snake" to bring enemies to their knees. To represent this combat tactics the Raven Guard have the unique Rite of War: Decapitating Strike.
- Gain Preferred Enemy (Indpendant Characters)
- May re-Roll dice for who goes first/deploys first
- Tacs, Vets, Support, Seekers and Heavy Support get drop pods
- Deathstorm Drop Pods can be taken as Elites instead of Heavy
- 1 Heavy Support Max
- 1 Consul Max
- No Fortifications
- No Space Marine Allies
At first glance, what you get is pods and the good chance to go first in exchange of some force org chart limitations. Now add in Alvarex Maun, who gets re rolls to seize the initiative and re-roll reserve rolls. Now you have an ROW that goes first 87% of the time and can bring in reserves (i.e. pods) reliably as well. So with this ROW you can build efficient first turn alpha strike lists.
Solid Turn 1 alpha-strike units include:
- Mor Deytahn w. Flamers in Rhinos
- Rapier Artillery (I like grav cannons for Spartan Hunting)
- Heavy Weapon Squads (I like lascannons)
- Support squads (plasma guns have the range for infiltration)
- Predator squadrons
- Artillery Tanks
- Super Heavies (I like Typhon Siege Tanks)
The Decapitating Strike Rite of War also gives Raven Guard access to drop pods. Most legions would turn traitor for drop pod access. We get it in spades.
IMPORTANT: Most people overlook the fact that you can re-roll the dice for first turn, even if you won. With an all or mostly drop pod mounted force, you would normally prefer to null deploy and go second. Go ahead and re-roll that die. #petehappens
Good units for Drop pods:
- Mor Deythan. What?! Yeah, they can't get them. It sucks... That said, Maun has a private garage of vehicles and you can put a Mor Deythan unit in that pod. Although, you will likely be deploying him on the ground for his no scatter rule.
- Seekers (I like rapid firing the blast templates)
- Support Squads (insert preferred special weapon)
- Tacs (I use them to change the timing on my other pods)
What is especially nice though, is that you don't have to take pods for everyone, like in the Orbital Strike ROW. And you shouldn't, especially now that you can't camp out in your drop pods and shoot out of them anymore. Often you will find that infiltrating rhinos are a better choice, so pick your pod usage appropriately based on unit timing.
Finally, pods are great but a list with a combination of alpha-strike and reserves is just as viable.
Good units for reserves:
- Fire Raptors
- Lightings w. Kraken Missiles
- Termies with combis or Mor Deythan in Cestus, Dark Wing or Storm Eagle
- Contemptors in Avillus Drop pod
- Long Range Javelins
- Deepstike speeders with grav or melta
A quick note on Deathstorm Drop pods. When they land the weapons shoot multiple times, each. They are OK, not amazing. That said, leadership check taken first turn when units are near their board edge can be game winning. Add a librarian for additional tests and a minus to leadership.
Decapitating strike is all about controlling timing, which is what makes it powerful.
To take advantage of this, you should be deciding if you want to go first or second WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR LIST.
IF you are building a list to go second, you will probably be fielding some support units on the ground. Maun comes to mind. He not only helps you land reserves where you want them, but he gives you re-roll on reserves. Note: This is on FAILED reserve rolls. So no re-rolling successful reserves unfortunately. A damoclese rhino might work as well.
IF you are building a list to go first, the ROW + Maun gives you a very good chance at pulling off a 1st turn alpha strike. Raven Guard have the right units to do A LOT of damage quickly. Thus you are basically playing with more point than your opponent and eliminating threats of your choice. Plus with infiltrate, you deploy after your opponent, so you have a huge opportunity to set up locational firepower superiority.
A strong alpha-strike acts as a force multiplier for unit coming in from reserves. Alpha-strike anti-air and rule the skies. Alpha-strike a spartan, drop pod in some support tacs with plasma to kill the termies. Alpha-strike big blobs and clean up with Mor Deythan,
Thoughts? Other tactics?