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February 10, 2011

40K: The Stormraven - Tactical Analysis and Use

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Guest Post By Black Blow Fly

Now that the new official model has been released I think we will start to see a lot more of these fantastic gunships on the tables. There are some big misconceptions regarding the Stormraven we need to tackle.

I would like to state up front that I believe most of these misconceptions are based upon theory hammer, not actual gaming experience. Of course if the player does not wisely use the flyer then, of course, it's bound to fail. This article will teach you how to most effectively use your Stormraven.

Misconception #1 - Every gun in your opponent's army will be pointed at the Stormraven, it won't last one turn so why bother ??

If you have been following my series of articles here you'll know I specialize in the use of aggressive DoA tactics. The Stormraven makes a fine addition to any DoA army. So let's first look at what the flier has going for it that will keep it shaking and baking all your opponents.

AV12 all around - Might not sound that great but in fact it is. S8 glances 50 percent of the time and penetrates one third of the time. Extra armor negates most adverse effects from glancing hits and you can move flat-out for the 4+ save versus penetrating hits. If you factor in the roll to hit and the cover save you'll find that your chances of dropping the Stormraven with one shot are greatly reduced. For example suppose a Space Marine Devastator shoots it with his missile launcher:

0.67*0.33*0.33 = 7 percent odds to penetrate and destroy

The almighty melta only rolls 1d6 versus the ceramite plating putting it basically in the same class as a missile launcher except for the +1 on the AP table. It's even worse odds when you use an autocannon or plasma. You don't see many lascannons these days, and who seriously plays Tau as a competitive army? Sure a railgun is your worst nightmare but I don't expect to see any on the top tables at a big tournament.

AV12 in the rear is also huge as it is great defense versus landspeeders and other fast vehicles that can shoot. If you're playing it right though your tail will never face those enemy guns but then it doesn't really matter.

Finally there will be tables setup with high LOS blocking terrain you can hide the Stormraven behind. Cityfight tables are a great example!

Misconception #2 - The Stormraven is a huge point-sink. Why would anyone bother putting a jump troop inside?

There are lots of options how you can configure the Stormraven. My favorite is extra armor, twin linked lascannon and twin linked multi-melta. In one game at BoLScon last year my Stormraven destroyed three landraiders - that's lucky but still very impressive. The Stormraven is cheaper than a landraider and in many ways much more of a potent threat. Mine is geared towards anti tank but you could go with the flying Land Raider Crusader if you want anti horde. It's very flexible and the four Bloodstrike missiles are just more gravy on the biscuit.

I like to run an Epistolary (Sword/Rage) with a choppy Honor Guard. They've all got jump packs and the Chapter Banner for the +1 attack. To me they are the ultimate Blood Angels deathstar - furious charge, FNP, reroll hits all the time and the 3++ save (i.e., stormshields on three of the Honor Guard). I also have a Furioso with a pair of Bloodfists onboard. Together they can destroy anything in close combat including the mighty Thunderwolf cavalry. By running them in the Stormraven I can quickly move them and place them in the best position to spearhead my assaults. The rest of the army plays a very vital role coming in from reserve via deepstrike and first eliminating threats to the Stormraven.

As I've shown it actually requires a high volume of shots on average to drop the flier so by taking out shooty enemy units early in the game my Stormraven has much more freedom to move about the battlefield. The Librarian and his Honor Guard can quickly cover open ground once they disembark since they have jump packs and stay in the fight. A unit such as assault terminators on the other hand are very slow once they disembark; versus a wise opponent they will engage one or two units max then they are out of the fight.

So by fielding an uber assault jump unit in the Stornraven paired with a close combat dreadnaught you have a fast unit you can insert where needed the most and they can still quickly reach other enemy units once they've disembarked. Being able to field a dreadnaught in the Stormraven has brought another dimension to the game - it's the best delivery system for the walker and ensures they will reach close combat untouched.

Misconception #3 - Sure the Stormraven has some great guns but what is the value there when you've got assault units embarked? It can't practically fulfill both roles!

Sure it can. Here is my basic approach to wielding the Stormraven:

1) Start in reserve.
This helps to protect the flier and let's your deepstrking units arrive first eliminating the most immediate threats. Typically it will arrive on turn 3 to turn 4... Still plenty of time left to seal the deal.

2) Arrive from reserve.
If possible I'll move onto the table and alpha strike an enemy tank or unit using the 60" range of the Bloodstrike missiles to outrange my opponent. It's best to fire them all in one fell salvo rather than plink off single shots turn by turn. Also the salvo very effectively negates those pesky cover saves such as smoke launchers and flickerfields.

3) Endgame
After the initial alpha strike the Stormraven will most likely be moving flat-out and you can use it's Power of Machine Spirit to fire the multi-melta or lascannon. At this phase I move the Stormraven into a position to deliver the embarked assault units. At this point it's fulfilled it's role and not a big deal if its destroyed late in the game. You have to finally expose it to pull off the grand assault - it is what it is. If it does survive the post assault phase then it can still tank hunt and contest objectives.

So in conclusion let's wrap up what are the main advantages to the Stormraven:

* Fast skimmer
* Assault vehicle (transport + dreadnaught)
* AV12 all around
* Extra armor
* Ceramite plating
* Power of the Machine Spirit
* Wide array of weapons to choose from

How would you use a Stormraven in your force? Don't listen to those naysayers - go out and try one - you just might like it !!

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