Sunday, August 27, 2017

Raven Guard 40K - Vanguard Veteran Squad



Raven Guard Vanguard Veterans, with their white arms and shouler pads, ambushing from the shadows, jump packs blasting and lightning claws shredding foes. It's the iconic squads that made me want to run Raven Guard.

On the battle field, Vanguard Vets are the glass hammers of the Space Marine HTH arsenal. With jump packs, no other unit can be so efficient at delivering pure damage to the enemy. In a Raven Guard force, they can "wraith-slip" with the Strike from the Shadows (SftS) stratagem making them even more deadly.

In addition to all this goodness, Raven Guard have a couple ways to increase the power of this unit.

UNIT FORCE MULTIPLIERS: 



Shrike: 
  • Winged Deliverance: Grants re roll charges for jump pack units within 6" 
  • Chapter Master: Grants re toll hits to all Raven Guard within 6". Note: This is for HTH and shooting. 
  • Warlord Trait: If he's your warlord, enemy units cannot fire overwatch at your warlord. So if you charge him in first, the Vanguard Vets aren't overwatched either. 
Rievers: 
  • Shock Grenades: If an infantry unit is hit my a shock grenade, it is stunned and cannon fire overwatch and your opponent must subtract 1 from any hot rolls made for the unit. 
Chaplains: 
  • Litanies of Hate: Re roll all failed hit rolls in the Fight phase for units within 6" 
  • Spiritual Leader: Units withing 6" can use the chaplain's leadership of 9 for moral. 

Captain: 
  • Rites of Battle: While not nearly as good as shrike or a chaplain, Captains to let Raven Guard units within 6" re roll 1's to hit. Note, that it's all hits including shooting. 
Lieutenant: 
  • Tactical Precision: Units within 6" re roll 1's to wound. 
Company Ancient: 
  • Astartes Banner: Units within 6" add 1 to their leadership and when a model dies it can make a single attack (shooting or hth) on a 4+. 
  • No Jump pack option, but the index has a version on a bike. It's annoying that Blood Angels get the option... 
Apothecary: 
  • Narthecium: Adds a dead guy back to the squad on a 4+ 
  • No Jump pack Version, but the index has a version on a bike. It's annoying that Blood Angels get the option... 
Primaris
  • A lot of these units come in a Primaris version, but none of them can take jump packs. It doesn't mean they are useless though. You can always trail a guy back to be within the 6" character aura. 
PSYCHIC FORCE MULTIPLIERS:

Librarian: 
  • Veil of Time: 6 to cast. Unit within 18" (until the start of your next psychic phase) can strike first, re-roll charges and advance rolls. 
  • Null Zone: 8 to cast. Enemy models within 6" cannot take invulnerable saves and halve the result of any enemy psychic test. 
STRATAGEM FORCE MULTIPLIERS: 

Strike from the Shadows (SftS): 1CP
  • This awesome stratagem lets you deploy with 9" of the enemy after the Seize the Initiative Roll but before the the start of the first game turn. Which, basically means you know who is going first, then you get a full move / advance and you can shoot and assault. For Jumpers it's a weird double edge sword. 
Honor the Chapter: 3CP 
  • This stratagem lets a infantry or bike units attack a second time at the end of a fight phase. While expensive, it's extremely powerful especially when combined with going first and strike from the shadows. 
Death to the Traitors: 1CP
  • Against Heretic Astartes every attack roll of 6+ trigger allows that model to take another attack. Very powerful for high attack units. 
Tactical Flexibility: 1 CP 
  • Split a unit of 10 marines into 2 units of 5 
VANGUARD VETERAN ANALYSIS:

First off, Van Guard Vets are only 2 pts more than an Assault Squad Jumper, which nets you an extra attack, and extra point of leadership and considerably better war gear options. Vanguard Vets also get jump packs for cheaper as well. 

Upgrading to a jump pack is only 2 points per Vet, which makes it a pretty obvious choice. The harder choice is deciding on how to equip them... 

VANGUARD VETERAN SQUAD PREFERRED PAY LOADS:




10 Vanguard Vets w. Lightning Claws: 300 pts

The most iconic Raven Guard build for Vanguard Vets is dual lightning claws. Taking 2 claws nets you an additional attack and lightning claws give you a straight up re roll to wound. 10 of these guys will cost you 300 points and will absolutely shred infantry. When combined with Shrike you will be re roll hits and wounds. 30 s4 ap-2 attacks will hit 26 times killing 13 MEQs or 23 GEQs.



10 Vanguard Vets w. Thunder Hammers: 340 pts

First off, for the same points you have the choice between power fist or thunder hammers. Thunder hammers have identical stats but do 3 damage, while power fists only do d3 damage. So take the T Hammers every time. 

Thunder Hammers have the unfortunate -1 to attack rule, but a Thunder hammer has a straight 3 damage, which is basically inline with a missile launcher. So for 16 points you get 2 x 4+ S8 ap-3 3 dmg attacks, which makes each guy 34 pts. 

When combined with Shrike or a chaplain and a lieutenant, the Vets are getting 20 attacks that do 26 wounds against t8 3+ or kill 15 MEQs or 17 GEQs.



10 Vanguard Vets w. 2 plasma pistols: 320 pts

Destroyers were a unit originally created by Corax and were jump capable gun fighters. In this squad, we will be running plasma pistols. Plasma pistols have range of 12" and 2 modes of fire, standard S7 -3 1 dmg or over charged at S8 -3 2 dmg. If you roll a 1 to hit with an over charged pistol the user is slain. 

Destroyers are interesting in that they don't really need to be in hth to be effective. They essentially have 2 plasma shots and 2 S4 hth attacks. So you can do you damage and then charge something you just don't want to shoot you back.

In general, these guys hit like Thunder hammers. With Shrike around, they have 20 S7 (non super charged) attacks that Kill 15 MEQs or 17 GEQs just like Thunder Hammers. However, you do 17 wounds against a T8 3+ save target. And these kills are not taking into consideration the 2 s4 HTH attacks.

There is a downside though. For one, you don't get the plasma pistols on your opponents turn. So if your opponent is a HTH army, you are missing out on half the overall damage. The other big loss is that these are shooting attacks, so you can't use Honer the Chapter to attack twice. Both of these are a fairly big deal against certain match ups. 



10 Vanguard Vets w. 2 chainswords: 180 pts

2 chainswords gives you +2 attacks to a total of 4 attacks for a 18 pt marine. It pumps out a grand total of 40 attack or 6 dead MEQ or 13 GEQ. However, it's close to half the price of the Thunder hammer squad. In short, this is your cheapest anti horde HTH unit you have in the Space Marine codex and you can spend 3 CPs to double attack with them... So 180 points and 3 CP to kill 50 conscripts turn 1. From an efficiency perspective, 2 chainswords is almost identical to twin lightning claws (lightning claws being slightly better, but a lot less durable). 

For comparison sake, 4 aggressors with bolter gauntlets (the most efficient mob clearing available) is 172pts and throws out 76 S4 shots if they don't move. So the two units are really quite comparable in damage output, 4 Agressors shoot 38 S4 shots.

From an Alpha strike perspective, the Aggressors are more efficient as they can trigger the double shots without spending the 3 CP. On the flip side, the vanguard vets are a great option if you go second because their huge range lets you deploy behind terrain and still engage the enemy.

Other Options:

  • Plasma Pistols: For 7 points you can add a 3+ plasma pistol shot to a Thunder Hammer Van Guard Vet Squad. It starts making the unit really expensive, but it's a considerable chunk of extra fire power. It's basically a plus .5 attack per model, which is a deal when you are paying 34 points for a model with 2 attacks at 4+, so 17 pts per attack. So for the ultimate alpha strike unit, Thunder Hammer Plasma pistol is the way to go, netting 35 unsaved wounds to a T8 3+ save unit. 
  • Bolt Pistol: An over looked option, but don't forget you have them. They do add a chunk of damage this edition. However, I would steer away from chain sword / bolt pistol or bolt pistol / bolt pistol, because you basically lose the 2 attacks in your opponents phase and their is no way to double attack with them with a stratagem. That said, those 10 shot on my thunder hammer VVs have come in huge if you have a couple more conscripts you need to get out of your way... 
  • Storm Shields: When you pull a Bane Blade or 2 Storm Ravens off the table turn 1, you can expect to receive some considerable return fire. Storm Shields offer you a cheap 3++ save. The 3++ is also really important if you end up going second and have to take a turn of fire. You also give up your bolt pistol, which is something often overlooked. 
  • Power Fists: With their shiny new 12 pt cost, they come in identically priced as twin lightning claws. However, they kill GEQs and MEQs identically to the Thunder hammer, but do considerably less damage to tougher units like tanks. A let's face it. You want to be hunting tanks / monsters. Finally, from an efficiency perspective you are much better off with thunder hammers on a damage per point basis. So when do you field power fists? When you can't take a thunder hammer, or you are running out of points, or it's the models you have...
TABLE TOP TACTICS:

As sexy as strike for the shadows is... there are times when you will want to deploy your jumpers to deal with your opponents delayed drops. Shrike's winged deliverance gives you the re roll to charge and works well with your standard deep strike deployment. That said, your chances of making that 9" charge is 40% or 60% with a re roll. 

When you use Strike from the Shadows, tactics become a little more tricky, and it deserves it's own article. But You have 2 big issues to deal with. The first is bubble wrap. Whether you go first or second, you should expect to have to get through 50 conscript equivalents (GEQs) before you can smash the target of your choice. The issue is that you can't remove the bubble wrap until your shooting or assault phase, so our high movement is partially wasted. That said, our special deployment and high movement often defeats all but largest of bubble wrap attempts. Worst case scenario build your list to shoot 50 guys out of your way and use shrike to give you a re roll to charge (Cough. Cough. Aggressors. Cough.). From an efficiency perspective, consider Deep striking Shrike and SftS the Vets, while leaving a trail of vets to be within Shrikes 6" re roll hits and charges bubble.

The second issue is going second. Often, this puts you in a position of counter assault. You basically have 2 options. Either maximum threat overload, i.e. multiple similar units aggressively deployed to create difficult target prioritization or rely on terrain and the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics to stay alive for a turn. 

A third option, is to deploy in a fortification and play very defensively. If you play a very shooty RG force, this might a be a strong option, as your opponent will want to shut down your shooting. 

With Vanguard Veterans, it's really important to think a couple turns a head. 

  • Prior to deployment you might want to split a 10 man squad to deal with a heavy MSU army. 
  • Be careful with how you use your characters. Shrike is great for giving re roll charges but if your units roll big and he fails your charge, you might lose his aura and give up a Kill Point for your warlord. 
  • Keep your Chapter Tactics in mind. Attacking a flank often lets you stay at 12"+ to most of your opponents shooting force and a unit with 2+, 3++ and -1 to hit can suck up a lot of fire power. It's feel weird, but going backwards with a consolidate might be the best way to advance a unit forward. 
In conclusion, Vanguard Vets can be everything from tank hunters to mob clearer to elite busters. They are an efficient scalpel unit. BUT they can't do it alone. They need a lot of support to be effective and a good chunk of CPs to spend. However, their value varies a lot based on if you go first or second, so you really need to build your list around them and to have a Beta Strike strategy in mind, should you go second. 

Oh... and don't forget that if you have 2 lightning claws or thunder hammer / storm shield you can still throw a grenade. Shrike is a krak grenade sniper ;) 


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