Friday, September 16, 2011

Beep Beep, here comes the Raveners

They're fast little bastards and in 40K speed kills.  Anything you do to move this brood even faster is worth doing.  Of course there's a bit more to it than simply winding them up and watching them go.  Don't expect to win games simply because you collected, painted and deployed a big brood of Raveners.  You still have to use them correctly.
The first key to getting the most of these little speed daemons is to know their limitations.  They're relatively cheap per wound, roll a ton of dice on a charge that re-roll misses, are fast as hell and can tear up most squads before they can an attack.  Unfortunately toughness 4 with a 5+ save means you're bolter bait.  Therefore you need to expect losses.  That doesn't mean you throw these broods at your opponent and hope for the best while ignoring the worst.  Making the best use of cover will help save them from needless losses but that tends to slow them down, Feel No Pain from a nearby Tervigon casting Catalyst will help out but your speed will probably outrun him when you need him around the most.  They also lack some of the best upgrades like Boneswords and Fleshhooks.

So what does a Ravener have going for it?  The first and most obvious is it's speed.  Move through cover, a 12 inch charge and fleet means you can cover a ton of ground fast and with decent predictability.  That speed has an unspoken secondary effect.  If a Ravener player times his charge just right he won't ever be targeted with rapid fire.  The Ravener has a minimum threat range of 19 inches.  Beasts allows it to Fleet and charge 12 inches in addition to it's standard move.  A Marine squad's threat range when rapid firing is 18 inches.  As long as no cover slows you down you should only suffer 1 round of shooting from long range.
How would I use this type of brood in a Tyranid army?  My biggest worry in early rounds is the Ravener's poor leadership.  If it's not in Synapse I'm going to loose control if this unit to Instinctive Behavior or it will suffer a few bolter shots and run off the board.  It's speed also needs to be addressed for synapse.  Although a Tervigon can provide Synapse it can't provide it fast enough.  The Ravener's charge range is enough to get it out of synapse.  You will need a synapse creature fast enough to keep up or with a long enough synapse range to keep these guys under control.  Tyranid Shrikes can do a decent job.  They can keep up fast by flying 12 inches a round.  They're also just as fragile as the Raveners so you might want something tougher.
A flying Hive Tyrant is another good option but at 230 points it's an expensive beast.  My personal favorite is the Swarmlord.  Pardon my hypocrisy for complaining about the winged Hive Tyrants price when this model is a full 50 points more expensive and isn't any faster.  The Swarmlord can some abilities that no other model in the codex can match.  It has an 18 inch synapse range which is long enough to keep up with the Raveners.  It also has the Swarm Leader rules.  This rule allows the Swarmlord to bestow Acute Senses, Preferred Enemy, or Furious Charge to a unit within 18 inches in the shooting phase.  Obviously I'd pick Furious Charge to boost their strength up to 5.  Since this happens before the charge the Raveners won't be out of range.  Preferred Enemy is nice but the Ravener's have 2 sets of scything talons.  They get to re-roll misses anyway.
How does this work out on the battlefield?  Vrs Marines the Ravener gets to attack first at Initiative 6, rolls 5 attack dice, hits on 3+ with a re-roll, and wounds on 3+.  A medium sized brood of 5 should be able to kill 5 Marines on the Charge.  A combat squad will be wiped out completely and a full sized squad should be weakened enough to be ineffective.  Swap one set of scything talons for rending claws and you should kill an additional 2-3 Marines and pose a serious threat to most vehicles.  In either case a squad of Guardsmen will be wiped out completely.
Is this a guaranteed win?  No.  Will it make an easy win?  No again.  Will it make a win easier if you can learn to use it's speed and mass of attacks to your advantage?  Yes.

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