40K: Raven Guard: The Pinion Battle Demi-Company

Raven_guard_marineWe’re back with more Raven Guard reviews.  This time we take a closer look at the very cool Pinion Battle Demi-Company.

First of all, you can check out part 1, here! Be sure to go to the Tactics Corner for more great reviews and tactics articles!

The Pinion Battle Demi-Company takes elements of the very awesome Battle Demi-Company with support from the 10th company scout units to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

raven guard scout

Overview:

The Pinion Battle Demi-Company is a very cool, very fluffy detachment that allows you to field the iconic units of the Raven Guard in new, and effective ways. By taking the familiar codex structure (Battle Demi-Company) and giving it some slight tweaks, you get a familiar army (Space Marines) played in a uniquely Raven Guard way.

The formation is comprised of the following:

  • 1 Captain or Chaplain  (Can’t take Termie armor on the Captain or Chaplain)
  • 0-1 Command Squads
  • 3 Tactical Squads
  • 1 Assault Squad
  • 1 Devastator Squad
  • 1-5 units of Scouts and/or Scout Bikers

Special Rules:

  • Scout Support: In the shooting phase, each Scout Sarge or Vet Sarge can grant the Ignores Cover USR to another unit from this formation that is within 9.”
  • Wayfinders: A unit of Scouts or Scout Bikers in this formation can escort another unit from the formation onto the tabletop, including via Outflank even if the escorted unit normally can’t. You roll 1 reserve roll for both units, and so long as both units come on the table within 9″ of one another, the unit being led by the Scouts has Stealth until the start of its next turn.
raven guard

Pinion Tactics:

So how to use this formation? It presents some fairly unique play-style options, particularly when taken as a part of the Talon Strike Force “Decurion” style detachment. On its own, you can have a lot of fun with it. The ability to Outflank other units such as Tactical Marines with escorting Scouts, who then grant them Ignores Cover and Stealth for a game turn is very useful. You can save points on Transport vehicles by bringing in some 5 man Tactical squads toting a Melta and Combi Melta (or whichever special weapon you prefer) behind a 5 man Scout squad, and cause major disruption in the backfield. With Stealth, you gain increased defense too, and if you are playing Raven Guard Chapter Tactics (and you can use any CTs with this formation in case you were wondering) in the Talon Strike Force (only available to Raven Guard) you can start rolling for those reserves on turn 1 due to the Command Benefit, Know When to Strike. This means you can also have a situation where your units come on with Stealth from this formation and Shrouding from the Raven Guard CTs.

The Assault Squad in the formation can be used traditionally with Jump Packs (a great place for the obligatory Captain or Chaplain to go!) or in a Drop Pod where you can create a list that fully null deploys and then starts coming out of reserves en masse, turn 1. You can also of course do this with Deep Striking Jump Packs, but the Drop Pod is certain to come in, which makes it easier to formulate your battle plan by eliminating variables. This unit can also function as an effective screening unit to other units in your army arriving via Deep Strike with Raven Guard CTs, as they will have Shrouding, jumping them up to a 3+ or 2+ cover save behind them in most cases.

The Devastator squad in the formation lend themselves to taking weapons such as Las Cannons and then sitting in the back next to a unit of Sniper Scouts and gaining Ignores Cover from them, which is–obviously–really good. The Sniper Scouts hanging out with them can also take the very characterful Nihilus relic sniper rifle which we will get into further depth about in an upcoming article. Basically it grants Split Fire, is AP3 and is strength 6, armorbane vs. vehicles. Sweet!

If you opt to take a unit of Scout Bikers in this formation, they can provide fantastic combo opportunities for you with other formations such as the Shadowstrike Kill Team or Skyhammer Annihilation formation. You slap a Homing Beacon on the Scout Bikers and deep strike in without scattering. With units that come in turn 1 and assault from reserves, that can be a brutal combination!

The weakness of this formation compared to a Battle Demi-Company is the lack of ObSec. ObSec really cannot be understated. It is just so good for most missions. The question you have to ask yourself is: would I rather have units coming in from multiple threat vectors, potentially with Ignores Cover on any unit I choose, or the ability to decisively take objectives from my opponent? I think in most instances, you will want to go with ObSec, but it isn’t totally clear-cut. In my games with the Pinion Battle Demi-Company I felt that it was slippery enough and packed enough punch to bear serious consideration in a Raven Guard army.

Plus, it is honestly just a ton of fun to play!

  • Victor Hartmann

    I really like this formation because Scouts actually do scouty things instead of just being cheaper marines with different options. And they make sense. Guiding in standard troops along the safest route, represented by gaining Stealth, is exactly what scouts should be doing. Spotting targets for heavy and/or special weapons also makes complete sense. Sounds like the Imperium learned something from fighting the Tau in the Kauyon campaign because this works a lot like Markerlights without having to create a token system for the Imperials.

    This is really a great implementation of the formation system that is also very fluffy and actually makes sense. And has a balancing cost. These tricks only work by adding Scouts to your Demi-company (not an unreasonable cost but if you really want to take advantage of this formation, your going to need a few squads of them) and you lose Objective Secured. Which also makes sense internally. Kind of. The Scouts are too busy being scouty to use their usual ObSec tricks. Not sure what the Tacs’ excuse is. Too busy trying to listen to the Scouts?

    And it doesn’t get OP. The Scouts can’t “guide” in grav Centurions with their outflank maneuver, let alone a Superfriends Deathstar. They can’t grant Ignores Cover to an Imperial Knight. It’s all self contained. The “scariest” combo would be whatever weapons you pack into a single Devastator squad. Which would have to Snapshoot if it tried to move anywhere. Hardly the stuff of 40k nightmares.

    Not sure if it fits into my style of play but it’s pretty cool and I might give it a try.

    • Victor Hartmann

      It is worth mentioning that “guiding” in a command bike squad with grav guns and whatever kit you’re willing to price into them could be pretty killy. Conveniently I’ve got most of the parts for the custom bikers I’ve been planning on . . .

      But even that balances out due to the cost of all those other units. That’s a lot of points to invest into one gimmick. There wouldn’t a lot of points left over for high cost cheese mongering.

    • Djbz

      They can still guide in devastators with grav.
      But that’s all marines do anymore, spam grav and make every moderate or higher armour save a liability rather than a bonus.

      Doe’s anyone else miss plasmaguns?

      • Spacefrisian

        I remember the times of plasma/lascannon 8 men tact squads and full lascannon Predators with extra armour and smokelaunchers…the good times

        • euansmith

          The lack of Smoke in 40k is ridiculous. It is such an integral part of small unit tactics. I know that combatants are supposed to have broad spectrum sensors that would nullify normal smoke… but then you just use broad spectrum smoke.

          • nurglitch

            As in the classic Blind Grenades?

          • euansmith

            I’m think that the ability to drop LoS blocking smoke templates from launchers and grenades would give a boost to assault armies.

      • euansmith

        Maybe Grav should have a “Gets Heavy” special rule that crushes the shooter.

        • Djbz

          It’d be nice if there was some sort of downside to grav, plasma weapons got “gets hot” to offset their power. Grav get’s more shots than many anti-horde weapons with the kick of plasma weapons without the risk of it melting your own face, kind of a no-brainer really.

          • euansmith

            I guess GW wanted everyone to upgrade at least one guy in each squad to drive the sales of minis.

            Maybe they should do this more often. They could have archo-techs discover an STC for some new “long lost” weapon that requires a new model with the fresh wargear. They could release multipose clampacks of the dude with the new special or heavy weapon. Rinse and repeat.

          • nurglitch

            Grav has lousy range, and is utter crap against Sv4+, making it worse than a Lasgun against stuff like Orks, Tyranids, and Daemons.

          • Djbz

            4+ is still a decent to wound roll, grav only becomes “meh” against 5+ or worse armour.
            Which get shredded by the bolters that the non grav marines are carrying (or even the grav marine’s bolt pistol)
            And it’s not as though plasma/melta or flamer weapons have much better range really is it, marines have tonnes of outflank/deepstrike availability to counter short range weapons

          • nurglitch

            4+ to wound would be decent if you hadn’t given up a bolt gun and paid 15pts to do it.

      • Victor Hartmann

        “They can still guide in devastators with grav.”

        But they’d be snap firing unless you found a way to make them relentless (Biomancy but you’d have to get someone in there like Tigurius to have the best chance of getting it to work but then you’re investing even more points into a one shot gimmick). Then they die next turn. Nobody wants devs in their backfield.

        “And more ignores cover is not what the game needs, certain armies (Dark Eldar/Imperial guard are almost completly reliant on cover saves to survive)”

        The Ignores Cover is nice but it does require an investment in non-ObSec scouts which are pretty easy to kill. Kind of like Pathfinders. If they’re one the table, kill the scouts first. If they’re outflanking, no worries because their heavy weapons are snap shooting anyways. Assault weapons are a threat though

        “Doe’s anyone else miss plasma guns?”

        Nope. When I use it, my guys die. When other people use it, my Dreadknights die. 😉

        • Djbz

          Grav weapons are salvo, they don’t have to snap fire, they just shoot at shorter range with fewer shots.
          ObSec can be useful, but barely comes up in my games (and both sides use way more troops than the average tournament list)
          And the comment about plasma is kind of my point, plasma was powerful enough anyway, grav just outdoes it in every way.

          • Victor Hartmann

            “Grav weapons are salvo, they don’t have to snap fire, they just shoot at shorter range with fewer shots when moving”

            Ah, a noob mistake on my part. I guess that shows how often I use grav weapons. And it’s been a busy month so I’m not getting enough sleep. My sincere apologies for missing such an obvious point. Although dropping to half range with fewer shots does limit them, as well as the high point cost.

            And I don’t completely disagree with your point about grav vs plasma. When it came out I was surprised GW introduced a gun that was effective vs many targets, had a high volume of fire, and could pierce all armor. And wasn’t available for any of the armies I was playing at the time. Since then I’ve added Space Marines to my repertoire for the tanks, not the grav, although those are not as handy to have around with all the D weapons out there.

            The reason I’m not against grav is it seems pretty necessary now with all of the MCs and GCs with 6+ wounds and high toughness preventing your usual high rate of fire weapons from being much use. Clearly the two were meant to balance each other. Except grav is only available to Space Marines while giant models of one type or another keep getting added to many factions. Maybe grav should have a variation on the Monster Hunter rule which makes it effective vs giant models but much less so vs basic infantry. Tying the Armor Save to the To Wound roll kind of does that but the high volume of fire mitigates the down side. Maybe there should be more downside vs infantry.

            But there isn’t and it’s unlikely to change. So I just accept it as is.

          • nurglitch

            The kicker might be the grav-amp, allowing re-rolls to wound on models that pay up the yin-yang for the toughness and armour to resist that volume of firepower.

      • nurglitch

        I feel like Ignore Cover should get a modifier, so stuff can be “Ignore Cover (3)” for a -3 to cover saves or something.

    • nurglitch

      This sort of thing is why I love 7th edition.

  • euansmith

    “This means you can also have a situation where your units come on with Stealth from this formation and Shrouding from the Raven Guard CTs.” Do you want extra cheese with that? 40k looks such a hot mess.

    • Necro Alienerd

      When the chaos space marines get updated they will be able to combat all this cheese with better rules for grater daemons.

      • euansmith

        😀 😀 😀

      • Djbz

        That’s a very optimistic comment.
        I’ll believe it when I see it, underpowered and overpriced is all chaos is right now….

        • Necro Alienerd

          It was the only way I could sneak in cheese grater, don’t read into it in a sensible way.

          • euansmith

            It is a top joke.

          • Djbz

            Ha ha, apparantly my sarcasm on the internet detector isn’t working properly…

    • Markus Beckers

      Would be awesome, if they would counter this with a “keywords” system like we got in AoS. “Scouts grant stealth to all units in 6” with the [B]Raven, assault, infantry[/B] keywords.”…

      • euansmith

        I like the AoS keyword system and it would go along way towards clearing up stuff in 40k.

        By the way, formatting on BoLS works as follows…

        • Markus Beckers

          Thanks for the tip. Edited it

    • Eric Buchanan

      extra cheese? With the amount of ignore cover shooting in this game, its a minor buff, that last 1 turn. Its not invisibility. Its not full game stealth.

      Add in the fact that the RG chapter tactics are pretty limited. First turn shrouding, jump packs in movement and assault, and reroll hammer of wrath. Not exactly white scars hitting and running. Or even bolter drill.

      I know you like being a little cheeky and I enjoy your posts, but I think you might want to reconsider.

      • euansmith

        Fair points; I expressed my self poorly. What I was really objecting to was the way that 40k seems to have turned in to a game of trying to shoehorn as many different abilities from as many different publications in to one list.

        • Eric Buchanan

          Thats a very valid criticism. I like the idea of trying to find synergies with combos. I’d also like to believe it results in more varied lists through out the game, but that might be a pipe dream.

          But yes, some of those combos now are just too powerful.

          • euansmith

            Its not just the power… its the confusion too… I struggled to make a workable list just using a single codex back in 5th Edition 😀 I need things simple.

          • Eric Buchanan

            Yeah, I’m new since 6th edition. I felt I had a good handle, but I’m a little confused about things like sticking the hq from one formation in a Strike force(Decurion) and another for instance. Thats where I start to see the stuff that worries you.

  • nurglitch

    An interesting downside is that you still need to take an Auxiliary choice in a Talon Strike Force and those extra Scouts are going to leave you crunched for points.