Friday, December 30, 2011
The Stormraven Gunship - Tactics and Opinions
Aesthetics aside, this thing comes with a metric shit-ton of weapons and special rules that makes it a formidable transport-gunship.
Let's break it down and see what we've got:
It costs 200 points base.
Sure, it's expensive, but as I'm going to point out below it's actually worth its points value. Once you get a better grasp of what this thing is capable of I think you'll see why it's not 150 points or so.
It can transport 12 models AND a Dreadnought.
This is THE ONLY VEHICLE that Space Marines have that can transport two different units, and only Blood Angels and Grey Knights get it. First, that 12-model capacity means 12 dudes without Jump Packs, or 6 dudes with Jump Packs, or even 6 Terminators. That's right, this thing can bring even Jump Pack models to the front lines, which is also another exclusive ability. However, being able to also bring a Dreadnought is icing on the cake. Since the Stormraven has four access points, and each 2" disembarkation zone overlaps, you can place disembarking models anywhere within 2" of the base (which is what the FAQ says you use when measuring). Honestly this makes the "transport" part of this vehicle totally worth it as it might as well be "open-topped". This comes into play big-time when you disembark both a normal unit and a Dreadnought as it allows you to split the units across an almost 8.5" area. Since it is an assault vehicle that means that after a 12" move and that ~8.5" spread, you can get some pretty nasty range with this thing.
Next up we have quite the list of special rules to go through. First I'll discuss the basic ones. The Stormraven is a Tank, and a Fast Skimmer. This means it is capable of ramming, and it can also go flat-out to get a 4+ cover save by moving over 12" up to 24". That's some serious distance with a nice benefit. It also has Power of the Machine Spirit. This means that the Stormraven can fire one additional weapon even at a separate target while it is shaken/stunned and also if it has moved flat-out. It can also move 12" and fire two main weapons (similar to how a Land Raider operates). And finally, the Stormraven is immune to the Melta special rule because the vehicle is designed for atmospheric re-entry. That's pretty solid considering that the current meta is all about spamming melta weapons as the Anti-Tank weapon du jour.
It is only Armor Value 12
I can't tell you how much I hear on the internet that since this thing is only AV12 that it's not worth taking (even though the same people will call this a "flying Land raider" which is way off-base). They couldn't be further from the truth. AV12 is considered "medium armor" in this game and most people dedicate some decent firepower to taking medium and heavy armor out. This means we're talking about Strength 8 and higher weapons, often with multiple shots or special rules tied to them. With the abundance of S8 weapons in 40k that means that with AV12 its armor is only penetrated on a D6 roll of 5+. Only one-third of S8 weapons penetrate the Stormraven. When you combine that with ignoring the Melta special rule, and that it can have a 4+ cover save from moving flat-out, this actually does make it quite durable. The kicker is that it is also Rear Armor 12. A lot of people overlook this part. This means that you can freely face the vehicle in any direction when it moves without the fear of showing its Rear Armor to the enemy. Additionally this helps it a lot when getting assaulted. They're hitting Rear Armor of course, but you're still AV12 in the back so it's like fighting against a Dreadnought the whole time.
The Stormraven is equipped stock with a Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter, four Bloodstrike Missiles, and a Twin-Linked Assault Cannon. Right out of the box it's already capable of tearing units apart. However, it can change out those weapons for all kinds of crazy junk (including a Typhoon Missile Launcher, Twin-Linked Plasmacannon, and even a Twin-Linked Multi-Melta!). Then, it can also take Hurricane Bolter sponsons which puts it over the top for me. While some options may be expensive (those Hurricane Bolter sponsons are 30 points total), the Stormraven easily lives up to its "Gunship" name when it is fully kitted-out. You can give it a Twin-Linked Assault Cannon, a Twin-Linked Multi-Melta, and Hurrican Bolter sponsons. Doesn't that sound familiar to anyone? ::cough:: Land Raider Crusader ::cough:: ::cough:: As for the Grey Knight's version, give this thing the Fortitude Psychic Power and some S4 missiles that do nasty things to Psykers, and you've got a winner! It can move 12" and fire its two primary weapons (with PotMS) AND all of its S4 missiles! That's pretty hot!
As if the points above weren't enough to suede you into using one of these babies already, it has some decent wargear options too. It can take a searchlight for one point, so that when you turbo-boost in the first turn of a game using the Dawn of War deployment, you can reach out and touch someone with one of your long-range weapons and if that unit is still alive, you've lit it up so that the rest of your army can see it. Next, it has a Locator Beacon. This allows other Deep-Striking units to land safely within 6" of it without scattering. So, you could zoom into the middle of their lines and in the next turn any Deep Striking units you have in reserve just appear in the middle of their army precisely where you want them to. And finally, you can also take Extra Armor. I've discussed this with DZero before and honestly I won't ever take a Stormraven without that 15 point piece of heavenly wargear. In my opinion, the Stormraven should be mobile the entire game so if it ever suffers a "Crew - Stunned" result (which can be often), Extra Armor allows it to still move (and then you have Power of the Machine Spirit to still be allowed to fire a weapon). Believe it or not, but this one wargear item has gone on to save me the Stormraven over a dozen times, and has easily won me those games. Try it out for yourself, I promise you'll be happy you took it.
Now that that's out of the way, we can move on to tactics. Here's a few I employ often:
Normally I'll fly this thing up the middle of the board on turn one, making sure to get my 4+ cover save for moving flat out, and being careful to line up a nice Twin-Linked Multi-Melta shot against a juicy target like a Land Raider. I have played dozens of games where said Land Raider or equivalent will be wrecked or disabled by that single shot, and then the rest of the game the Stormraven will fly around and wreck other vehicles. The alternative is during one of the turns it goes 12" and drops off its cargo, and pops smoke. This still gives it the 4+ cover save AND now my troops/dreadnought are in striking position to assault the units I want them to. Remember, I believe they made this thing fast with Power of the Machine Spirit for a reason. If you're experiencing bad die rolls and in every game you play with it the thing falls out of the sky, please just keep that in mind that it's the dice. The Stormraven is nowhere close to being invincible so try not to put it too much at risk. When I fly it out into the middle of the table, that's usually supported by 5-10 other vehicles providing target saturation (a target-rich environment). The thing is going to get weapons blown off here and there, but I haven't had game after game of it getting wrecked. It just doesn't happen. Now, if you're unfortunate enough to have to go second, don't try to deploy the Stormraven behind some crappy Line of Sight-blocking terrain because there are always ways around that (and the Stormraven is HUGE so you're probably not obscuring it from everything). Just put the thing in reserve, and have it go 24" forward from your table edge when it arrives, and have it use its Twin-Linked Multi-Melta or Twin-Linked Assault cannon right away.
As for what to put in it, I've found that a 6-man walking Death Company with an attached Chaplain and a Furioso Dreadnought to be a perfect fit. Sure it's a lot of points, but what in this game that's worth it isn't expensive? And again, for their points they definitely do some serious damage. I go with a Furioso Dreadnought instead of a Death Company one so that I can control where it goes AND because I think AV13 and WS6 is better than AV12, "None shall stay my wrath", and WS5. Sure the Death Company one has Fleet, but with the Stormraven's movement you really shouldn't need it. You're delivering these special packages where you want them.
Now, I've tried dual-Stormraven lists, and for a while I was thinking about three of them, however they actually are expensive. As I said, they're worth every point but you've got to think of them like Land Raiders. Are you really going to put more than one in your list? That's a lot of points tied up in big nasty vehicles. I prefer to take one and fill out the rest of my list. And if I'm feeling froggy, I might just take a Stormraven AND a Land Raider, along with a few Baal Predators and Razorbacks. Still, you should remember during list-building that you need to have a goal or a theme in mind (though the two are not mutually exclusive). If you want a flying tank army, cool take three of them and some Land Speeders. if you want an alpha-strike list, take two of them, some Land Speeders, and some Drop-Podding Dreadnoughts with Multi-Meltas. If you just want to take one then make sure they have other things to shoot at too. The best thing we can have happen is our opponents spread their shooting across all of our units instead of focusing on one at a time until it's dead (a Sun Tzu principle by the way).
Well I hope that has helped you guys out, and if you want some battle reports showing off how I use my Stormravens then I can totally do that. Just let me know in the comments!