Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ready to Brew: Blood Ravens

Having thus been largely unsuccessful thus far in finding a list for my beloved Ravens, I thought I'd open the door a bit into my process and look at the three lists I've been toying with. Likewise, I'm very much looking for community participation in the process, hoping to see if there's blind corners I've led myself down, or plays/units/combos I'm missing. So, without further ado, let's get started. There's so little to do and so much time to do it in. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it. (Internet cookie after the break for the reference!)

Let's open with a few quick and easy ground rules for what I'm looking for with my Marines. First and foremost, I want to play to my chapter. Generally speaking, this means never leaving home without at least one drop pod (though three is my usual home) and a Librarian. Both of these feel highly indicative and unique to my chapter, arguably more so than any "codex adhesion" (despite them being an otherwise codex-adherent chapter). Second, I want to shoot things. My Necrons have delighted me more in the assault phase more than my Marines ever have, in no small part due to lack of Land Raider tax, and no reliance on Assault Marines (which, like Devs without rerolls of some kind don't seem to work for me). These two elements will (hopefully) provide very very loose yet quantifiable rules for defining "fun" beyond the generic statistic of "#WINNING". While my target would be to eventually win approximately half my games, that's not a prerequisite to enjoying myself. Close games are more what I'm after than outright wins, and it'd be nice to have a list flexible enough to work both Maelstrom as well as Eternal War. So, with these points in mind, let's take a peek at what I've been playtesting and theory crafting.

My first list plays to my love of psykers, and includes the one and only Tigurius. The best part of this list is obviously displaying more than a few Raven traits: Librarian, and MULTIPLE SIMULTANEOUS DEEP STRIKES! The low spots are fairly obvious as well, with Ultramarines Chapter Tactics (Consumables are icky!) and "weak" tactical squads which don't really want to play aggressive, leaving me disadvantaged against Guard and Tau. Past that, the list feels stretched thin with regard to handling MCs, meaning that Daemons and Nids will probably give me problems, though front 13 (on my dread) might be enough against new smash. Though on that note, my only consistent anti-tank outlet is that devastator team. The three plasma guns can plink at rhinos and even wave serpents, but it requires wasting a lot of boltguns to do so.

HQ - Tiggy - Warlord

Elites - Sternguard w/ drop pod (my usual kit of 2x Heavy Flamer and 4x Combi-Melta)

Elites - Ironclad in drop pod w/ 2x HKM, Heavy Flamer, and Assault Launchers

Elites - Dreadnought in drop pod w/ multi-melta

Troops - 3x Tactical Squads in rhinos w/ plasma guns

Fast Attack - Skyhammer Stormtalon

Heavy Support - Devastator team w/ 4x Lascannons

Heavy Support - TFC

My second list plays similarly to the first, but replaces the deep strikes with a second flyer, second TFC, and a Knight Paladin. The list follows Imperial Fists, just to give some aggression back to the tactical squads (and the knight helps with that too), but they've also done some wargear swappage to help define their roles. To add to that, it supercharges the Centurion team. About the only thing they can't "really" hurt is a Riptide, and he, in return, can't "really" hurt them, these guys even do a good job of knocking down enemy Knights and Serpents. Unfortunately, the Knight does feel a touch weak after the D nerf, and the flyers have typically disappointed me as they only feel good at cutting through AV10/11, or forcing a few saves on disembarked infantry (which with 7th feel scant). Eldar with 4+ serpents gave this list a few issues as the TFCs feel very weak if the other guy opted to bring tanks or chill out low in ruins. In with this, the librarian throws two dice at telepathy, and just kind of hopes for the best, which is a shame since 1-2 of those powers are real duds for a guy hanging out with the Centurions.

HQ - Epistolary - Warlord

Troops - 2x Tactical Squads in rhinos w/ meltagun + power fist vet

Troops - Tactical Squad in rhino w/ plasma guns + cannon

Fast Attack - 2x Skyhammer Stormtalon

Heavy Support - Dev Cents w/ TL-Las and ML

Heavy Support - 2x TFC

Knight - Knight Paladin

The third list sees me roll back to late 5th/early 6th where I ran Vulkan Steel Rain. My drop pods have shrunk in their capacity, but throwing 4 heavy flamers over an enemy unit (Libby, Vulkan, and 2x Sternguard) was almost always overkill. So, I give up combat squads on two tactical squads to squeeze in 4 of them total, and pick up some free power fists along the way. Sure, with trimming upgrades I could find another pod, but that really doesn't net me anything. On the whole though, this list has heavy reliance on tactical squads doing work for me, and that's not always the best bet, as mech heavy armies could give it fits (if they're fast enough to avoid my fists).

HQ - Vulkan - Warlord

HQ - Epistolary

Elites - Sternguard w/ drop pod (2x Heavy Flamer + 4x Combi-Melta)

Elites - Ironclad in drop pod w/ 2x HKM, Heavy Flamer, and Assault Launchers

Elites - Dreadnought in drop pod w/ multi-melta

Troops - 2x 9 man Tactical Squad in drop pod w/ flamer + vet sarge w/ combi-flamer + power fist

Troops - 2x Tactical Squad in drop pod w/ meltagun + vet sarge w/ combi-melta + power fist

Each of these lists show off a different chapter tactic, and have their own strengths and weaknesses, but I'm still not sure if I'm content with them, in no small part due to my distaste for the Tactical Squad, something which may prevent me from ever truly enjoying the codex. There's also a consideration to be made about named characters. Godfrey is an advocate of straying from them, at the very least if they aren't a part of your army directly, but that certainly catches me at a crossroads with the rules GW has presented me with, telling me that my Ravens have no identity beyond what I assign to them, and this includes choosing chapter tactics. While my chapter is canonically codex adherent, I've yet to find anything enjoyable with those tactics, outside of Tiggy. Not only that, but I'm having to grapple with the fact that the fluff for my chapter is in limbo right now, along with the broader fate of the DoW franchise.

They're better than grumblecakes!

Nevertheless, my earlier comment still stands, am I doomed to have this love hate relationship with my marines because of my distaste of the Tactical Squad? I understand that my love of my Necrons is almost entirely mechanical (heh) but I don't dislike the way anything in that army plays. If there's no hope, I'll probably quickly find myself buried into some Eldar or Guard (if I ever finish my Lizardmen that is...). All of that said, thanks for tuning in, and hopefully I'll see you shortly in the comments below!

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