Warhammer 40K: Mastering the Ravenwing Talonmaster
Hi everyone, today let’s take a look at the Ravenwing Lieutenant, the Talonmaster in 9th Edition.
The Ravenwing Talonmaster serves as a Lieutenant for the Ravenwing, allowing them to benefit from re-rolls while on the move, as well as some additional special rules and firepower to make it one of the best characters you can take in the Dark Angels army. I would rate the Ravenwing Talonmaster as Competitive!
- Twin Assault Cannon
- Twin Heavy Bolter
- Power Sword
- Angels of Death
- Jink- Gains a 5+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks if it has not remained stationary in the turn, or a 4+ save if it advanced.
- Inner Circle
- Tactical Precision (aura)- Friendly Dark Angels core units within 6″ can re-roll wound rolls of 1.
- No Escape (aura)- In your command phase, select one enemy unit visible to this model. Until the start of your next command phase, while friendly Dark Angels Ravenwing Core units are within 6″ of this model, the selected enemy unit does not gain the benefit of cover to its saving throw against attacks by the Ravenwing unit.
The Ravenwing Talonmaster is an extremely good choice for the Dark Angels army. Coming in at 175 pts (they went up by 15 pts in the recent Munitorium Field Manual), it provides excellent mobility, very strong firepower, modest combat ability and a nice buffing character for your Ravenwing units. Most competitive armies will include at least one, if not two of these models, thanks to their strength. The addition of some relics and warlord traits make this model even more powerful, allowing them to maintain a strong firepower output for most of the game.
The Talonmaster has WS and BS 2+ (an improvement to its BS over it’s 8th edition rules). Thanks to the changes to vehicles moving and shooting, the Talonmaster has some very accurate firepower, which is just as well. Armed with a Twin Heavy Bolter and Twin Assault Cannon, the Talonmaster excels at anti-infantry firepower, with a high volume of mid-strength weaponry with a reasonable AP, and 2 damage from the Heavy Bolter. It can also take on enemy vehicles at a pinch, plinking a couple of wounds off of a tough vehicle if you need him to.
With a power sword, he has some modest combat potential. With three attacks base, hitting on a 2+ at S5, AP-3 and 1 damage, he is not going to be chewing through elite infantry in a single phase. However, he has the potential to do some damage if he finds himself in combat, or needs to clear a last straggler off on an objective. However, you don’t really want him in combat, as this is not where he gets the greatest use in your army.
The Talonmaster is also one of the most mobile characters in your army. With a base move of 18″ and Fly, he can get almost anywhere you need in order to use the most of his firepower. Thanks to the Speed of the Raven special rule, he gets an extra 3″ of movement in the Devastator Doctrine, so can move 21″ in turn 1. He can also advance and still fire at -1 to hit in the Devastator doctrine. Not only does this allow him to cover a huge distance on the battlefield, but he also benefits from the boosted 4+ jink save against enemy firepower.
The Talonmaster has a Land Speeder chassis, making him a very durable character as well. He has T6, 8 wounds and a 3+ save, making him incredibly tough to kill in combat, and will require some dedicated shooting to put him down. He lacks an invulnerable save in combat, but will get a Jink save against shooting as long as he is moving each turn. He should be moving to get into position and let loose with his firepower each turn anyway, so should get the save most of the time. In addition, being a character with less than 10 wounds, he is able to be protected by nearby squads of sufficient size, or any vehicles in your army, further boosting his durability.
He also provides some nice buffs to your army. The Talonmaster has the standard re-rolls of 1’s to wound from a Lieutenant, allowing him to boost your firepower for nearby Core units, or giving them a buff in combat. He is able to keep up with all Core units with ease, so will be able to get into position to utilise this to the best effect. He works well with a unit of Ravenwing Black Knights to boost their already powerful Plasma weaponry.
He also allows you to negate the cover save for a single enemy unit for nearby Ravenwing Core units. This helps to make the most out of your Doctrine bonuses to your AP firepower, as you will be denying a key enemy unit their cover save. It has no effect on the -1 to hit from cover, so you will still be getting reduced firepower by units in dense cover.
There are a couple of solid Relic options for the Talonmaster, but only one is likely to see much play in a competitive list, the Arbiter’s Gaze.
This relic means that the bearer’s attacks always hit on a 2+ in shooting and combat, even in overwatch. In addition, the target does not gain the benefit of cover.
This is an incredible boost to the Talonmaster. Your ranged weapons will always hit on a 2+, regardless of moving, advancing, cover or any other abilities that the enemy unit has. This allows the Talonmaster to put out strong anti-infantry firepower in almost all situations. If he does find himself locked in combat for a turn, he will be still be hitting on a 2+ against any targeted units in your shooting phase. Hitting on a 2+ for overwatch is also incredible and can make charging a Talonmaster a scary prospect for most infantry if you have any CP left.
This also allows you to advance in the Devastator doctrine to get a 4+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks, while also hitting on a 2+, giving the Talonmaster a boost to his durability, while also maintaining a high rate of fire.
Another Relic option is the Heavenfall Blade. This is a power sword that is +2S, AP-4 and 2 damage that gives you an extra attack. While not as powerful as the Arbiter’s Gaze, this is a solid option if you want to give the Talonmaster a bit more combat punch.
Brilliant Strategist is a common warlord trait to give the Talonmaster. This allows you to choose one unit within 6″ each command phase and wind the doctrine back one for that unit (i.e. if in the Tactical Doctrine, the unit counts as in the Devastator Doctrine).
This is great for using on the Talonmaster, allowing him to stay in the Devastator Doctrine for the first 3 turns of the game. Not only does this make his ranged weapons AP-2, but allows him to advance and still fire, gaining the boosted Jink save for the first 3 turns of the game. With the Arbiter’s Gaze, he is able to still hit on a 2+. This gives him 18 shots, hitting on a 2+, wounding most infantry on a 3+ at AP-2. This will chew through most infantry units you will face, making the Talonmaster a potent threat.
He can also take Lightning-Fast Reactions to give him -1 to hit. This is solid for further protecting your Talonmaster against enemy firepower or combat attacks.
Master of Manoeuvre allows him to fall back and still shoot or charge. This is a solid option if you find the Talonmaster locked in combat. However, there are a number of stratagems that allow you to fall back and shoot (such as Hit and Run warfare or Intractable). Failing that, you can simply open fire on the unit you are in combat with. However, this does allow you to save CP and may be a useful option if you arm your Talonmaster with the Heavenfall Blade.
The Ravenwing Talonmaster is a solid choice for your Dark Angels army. He has great mobility, firepower and durability. He boosts nearby Dark Angels units and can work well when supporting a range of Dark Angels units. With the boosted abilities of Relics and Warlord Traits, his power can be significantly boosted, so it is well worth considered spending a CP or two to boost him before the game starts.
Adding one to your force will be a great choice for your force, particularly if you are running a number of Ravenwing units.
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