Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Raven Guard new detachment, formations and rules - review.

Greetings brothers. Well, although I wasn't expecting to have to write any Astartes-related articles until Heresy time, GW have pulled not one but two surprises out the hat with the Tau release. First and largest of these is the Raven Guard release, which has given them not only a new Captain model but a wealth of new rules. About time the Sons of Corax got some proper love. This is a fantastic new precedent set by GW which expands upon that set with Flesh Tearers in Shield of Baal this time last year and the snippets in WD we got for Salamanders, Crimson Fists and Black Templars. It focusses more on making them more than just Black Space Marines while utilising the new Detachment structure and formations found in Codex: Space Marines. Hopefully all the first founding Chapters will get the same treatment. Without further ado, on with Raven Guard, with Whitescars featuring next time.  

Talon Strike Force:
Much like the Gladius, the Talon is a 3 tier system allowing you to Choose from the following. So it operates on the same principle as all the new style detachments, allowing you to make a compilation of formations from the book, with this one being a combination of new formations and ones from the SM codex.  Those marked with an asterisk are new and will be discussed below, the others are from codex SM. Obviously, they must all be Raven Guard. It's also worth noting that the formations below work especially well within the detachment, but are not specifically Raven Guard Formations and so can be used individually in other Space Marine armies.

Core (1-2)
Battle demi company
Pinion battle demi-company*

Command (0-2)
Strike force command
Reclusiam command squad

Auxillary (1+)
1st company task force
10th Company task force
Shadowstrike kill team*
Raptor Wing*
Skyhammer orbital strike force*
Shadow force*
Bladewing assault brotherhood*
Ravenhawk assault group*
Anti-air defence force
Supression force

All  the models in the detachment will benefit from the following command benefits:

Extensive planning - if Warlord in this detachment, can reroll mission, deployment and who goes first. Yep, all 3, so pretty good for having the game on your terms.

Know when to strike - can roll for reserves from turn 1 on a 4+. Excellent for alpha strikes - especially in conjunction with some of the formations below.

Know when to fade - can always choose to fail morale checks. So the old Ultramarine Chapter tactics, which I actually liked a lot but admit were better suited to a Chapter like Raven Guard. Great for getting out of a scrape when you're outgunned and about to be charged.

Pinion battle demi-company

More restrictive than a regular Battle demi -company, but better suited to Raven Guard. You choose 1 Captain/Chaplain (no terminator armour) an optional command squad, 3 tactical squads, 1 assault and 1 Devastator. In other words, no Dreadnought or alternative assault/dev options. The last element is 1-5 scout/scout biker squads. Interestingly, the Captain may be swapped out for a multitude of Characters in the SM codex, suggesting that while the Talon is exclusive to Raven guard, the Pinion can see more widespread usage.

The special rules are scout support and wayfinders. Scout support allows each scout sergeant to spot for another unit from the formation within 9" granting it ignores cover until the end of the phase. Wayfinders allows each scout/scout bike squad to lead another unit in reserve (from this formation) onto the battlefield when it itself enters from reserve. This includes outflanking. They both arrive at the same time and the unit being led gains stealth so long as it is within 9" of the scouting unit.
So, on the on hand we have no Objective secured, no free transports (if taking 2), less options within the formation and no Tactical benefits, such as you get with the regular demi-company. On the other hand, you get to include the same amount of scouts you could normally take as an auxillary, but the benefits are very much in fitting with the Raven Guard. Don't forget also that Raven Guard Chapter tactics give shrouded on turn 1 and the detachment allows reserves to come on from turn one. So potentially, you get a better chance of first turn, bring on paired reserves with ignore cover and +3 to their own cover saves on the first turn. Nasty.

Shadowstrike kill team

Consists of 2-4 scout squads and 1-3 Vanguard squads (with jump packs). The aptly named 'on time' rule, means that you can choose to pass or fail your reserve rolls for Vanguard, useful enough on its own but very handy when combined with the detachment rule giving you first turn reserves.  Not much good when you have to stand there and get shot however. Unless of course, you have the other rule, 'on target', which allows your vanguard to charge on the turn they arrive from deep strike like the good old days,. If they arrive within 9" of two scout squads, they don't scatter either. In summary, with careful planning and precision you can alpha strike the hell out of your opponent.

Raptor Wing

Comprising 2 stormtalons and 1 unit of land speeders, there are 2 rules granted by this formation. Incoming support means the stormtalons arrive automatically in turn 2 if not already on the board. Priority target received allows a land speeder in the formation to nominate a an enemy unit in 18" and LoS. Until this unit is destroyed or another nominated, both the stormtalons get re-rolls to wound and to pen against the target. Pretty nice to use in a regular marine army TBH, although the Raven Guard detachment sweetens the deal.

Skyhammer orbital strike force

3 tactical squads in drop pods and 1-3 squadrons of land speeders. Dropsite clearance means that at the start of your first turn you can pick a point on the battlefield and you get rerolls to hit and to wound of 1 against enemy units within 12" of that point. Drop pods also only scatter D6 if arriving within 12" of that point. Lastly, shock assault allows tactical squads to run then shoot the turn they disembark. Good to clear out threat zones and control areas of the battlefield.

Shadow force

1 Captain, 1 Sternguard squad, 1 Vanguard Squad and a unit of Land Speeders. This is effectively the same as the boxed set Formation (see below), with a few twists in that it allows any of the Captains / Chapter Masters from Codex: SM to be taken, except Lysander or a Terminator Captain. All units gain acute senses, move through cover and scout, as well as swift redeployment , allowing non-vehicle units to re-roll run moves (vehicles gain an extra 6" flat out). A mediocre formation more designed to sell a boxed set ultimately, but at least it allows a relatively elite strike force to get up close and personal relatively fast.

Bladewing assault brotherhood

This formation is meant to represent a jump pack force deploying and redeploying from a Thunderhawk - awesome for representing 8th company. It consists of one Captain or Chaplain (including Shrike0, 1-3 Vanguard squads and 2-4 Assault squads, though must number no more than 30 models maximum (Thunderhawk capacity). They obviously all need jump packs too. On wings of fire means that once per game you can disengage and leave the battlefield in your movement phase even if locked in combat, ending up in ongoing reserve. Thunderhawk assault allows you to arrive from reserve all at the same time using a single roll (if needed) - simply draw a straight line from one table edge to another and deep strike each unit onto a point on this line. The scatter dice can be re-rolled. So probably worth starting the game on the table, hitting somewhere hard and then pulling out before being hit by massive retaliation.

Ravenhawk assault group

This formation consists of 1 Sternguard squad, 1 Dreadnought/Ironclad/Venerable and 1 Stormraven. Targeted strike allows you to nominate an enemy target when the first unit arrives from reserve. The formation can then reroll failed to hit rolls against it for the rest of the game. Vertical insertion allows the stormraven to deep strike but it must then hover the turn it arrives.

Shadow Force Solaq

Exactly as per the shadow above below, but specifically using the units below, all of which occupy the equivalent FOC slots.

Shadow Captain Solaq

Captain Robotnik himself, this is the limited model from the boxed set. He is effectively a standard Captain with a power sword, plasma pistol, Angel of death as a fixed trait and the Raven Helm, which means non-vehicle units targetting Solaq and his squad must pass a leadership test or only be able to fire snap shots that turn.

Vanguard squad Darvos

From the boxed set, this squad costs 185 points and has 5 jump pack Vanguard, 4 with twin lightning claws and a sergeant with hammer and shield. In addition to all the standard Vanguard / Raven Guard rules, they also get fear.
Sternguard squad Amerex

A 5-man squad with fixed loadout - 2 standard veterans, one with sotrm bolter, 1 with heavy flamer adn the Sergeant with a plasma pistol and power sword. As well as standard Sternguard and Raven Guard rules, they also get 'one with the shadows ' granting shrouded so long as it remains stationary that turn.

Land Speeder Darkwind

Stole a trick from the Ravenwing here. This is a 75pt Land speeder with a heavy bolter and assault cannon which has deep strike, scout and can reroll jink saves.

Relics of the Ravenspire

Armour of shadows - 35 - 2+ save and stealth if moves / shrouded if stationary.
Ex Tenebris - 10 - assault 3, rending, precision shots storm bolter.
Nihilus - 15 - armourbane, AP3 sniper rifle, which gets split fire and S6 vs vehicles. (for veteran scout Sergeants only)
Raven skull of Korvaad - 15- +1WS and LD - if removed as a casualty then Raven Guard have hatred and rage within 6" of the point he died.
Raven's fury - 15 - jump pack granting S+2 strikedown HoW attacks.
Swiftstrike and murder - 35 - pair of lightning claws which double the amount of scored hits.


11 - Strike from the skies - 1VP if enemy unit destroyed by Raven guard unit with jump pack or that arrived in a drop pod this turn.
12 - Keep to the shadows - 1 VP if all non-vehicle units are embarked in a vehicle/building or within 1" of a terrain piece.
13 - Let them know fear - 1VP if at least one enemy unit failed a morale/pinning/fear test.
14 - Prioritise and destroy - D3VPs if enemy warlord/super heavy or gargantuan creature destroyed.
15 - Highly mobile assault - 1VP if enemy charged by Raven guard and destroyed in assault phase. (3+ = D3)
16 - Cripple the enemy - 1VP if you destroyed one enemy FA or DT (if 3-4 = D3, if 5+ = D3 +3)

Warlord traits

1. Vanish into the gloom - Warlord and unit can use when targetted, moving D6" - if in cover after this move they gain +1 to their cover save against that attack. Once per turn unless falling back/charging.
2. Concentrated attack - in the charge phase an enemy unit in LoS of you Warlord can have charge rolls against it re-rolled.
3. Master of Shadows - Once per game in your movement phase, can effect night fighting until your next turn so long as Warlord on battlefield.
4. Silent stalker - enemy units firing overwatch at your Warlord must pass a leadership test. (-2 if he moved through terrain)
5. Exit strategy - Can +/- 1 from variable game length roll.
6. Swift and deadly - once per game Warlord and unit can charge even if ran.


Well, this is certainly a pleasant surprise and hopefully will follow suit with the other Chapters in future. An excellent way to expand the generic formations available to the Astartes while at the same time making Raven Guard (arguably the weakest of the SM Chapter tactics) more competitive with their exclusive detachment. It's always great to have a few more ways to use existing units to keep them more interesting and is especially good that these ones can be used best in the Talon detachment, but also as individual formations in any Codex Marine army. The Ravenhawk and Raptor wing are definitely ones I would consider using in my Crimson fists army, and I will definitely try to use the Talon detachment alongside a combined arms in my upcoming raven guard game. (great timing) Likewise, the relics are great and I will definitely fit as many as possible into my lists. Next time I will look at the Whitescar offerings. Cheers.


  1. Good rundown. Some people have been complaining about the Ravenhawk one not being very good, but IMO the Vertical Insertion rule is about the coolest thing ever in terms of fluff. I really like the flavor of all these rules, even if some fall a little short on the table.

  2. Really nice post! Congratulations!

  3. This may be a silly question, but can you use these formations with chapter tactics other than Ravengaurd?

  4. This may be a silly question, but can you use these formations with chapter tactics other than Ravengaurd?

    1. You can use the formations but not the Talon Strike Force and the bonuses that come with it I believe.