Friday, December 30, 2011

The Stormraven Gunship - Tactics and Opinions

Ah, the Stormraven Gunship. A beautiful model that just screams "Space Marines" in my opinion. When pictures of the model leaked on the internet, many people had a knee-jerk "I hate it!" reaction, and even I admittedly wasn't thrilled with the only picture that was available at the time. Just like the Venomthrope and Blood Talon fiascoes, after waiting just a few weeks we had better shots of it from GW and size comparisons. I immediately fell in love with this Thunderhawk-esque skimmer and I'm the proud owner of two of them.

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.

Special Rules
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!


  1. Great article. I kindly thank you for indulging my curiosity. I've gotten permission from a couple friends to field it with my vanilla marines (HELLO IRONCLAD!) but you've presented some really interesting methods of fielding it. I was also wondering how you kit it out as far as the weapons options and what ones you've had the best results with.

    And, on the modeling side of things, have you been able to magnetize yours or do you just snap the bits you need in? Mine just arrived today and was curious about how to get the most out of the model before gluing stuff to it willy-nillly. :)

  2. Great post, thank you. I'd love to read battle reports showing off how you use your Stormraven(s) and highlighting your army lists.

  3. @Steve - Thanks! I'll try to put one up in the next week or so, after I recuperate from our club's holiday party and get my Apocalypse force sorted back into my collection lol.

    I've got a tame, well-rounded "club night" list that has one in it, and I can certainly do a battle report next time I run it (which *might* be Monday, who knows).

    In the mean time, I'll keep up with my series of Unit Reviews (though I've found I have more to say than I thought lol), but again I'll keep my camera with me in case I get in a game.

    Thanks for watching/reading guys!

  4. @Son of Dorn

    Thanks a lot for the kind words!

    "I was also wondering how you kit it out as far as the weapons options and what ones you've had the best results with."

    Well, I usually add Extra Armor (as stated in the article), along with a Searchlight, a Twin-Linked Multi-Melta, and a Twin-Linked Assault Cannon. Due to factors like my play-style and the math that goes into certain weapons, I've found those to be the best options for me. That Twin-Linked Multi-Melta just rips into enemy vehicles thanks to that re-roll (I need re-rolls!), and the Assault Cannon is great at both anti-infantry and anti-tank.

    "And, on the modeling side of things, have you been able to magnetize yours or do you just snap the bits you need in? Mine just arrived today and was curious about how to get the most out of the model before gluing stuff to it willy-nillly. :)"

    I actually haven't fully built mine, they're sort of just dry-fitted (which has worked great so far). I guess that makes me a bit of a lazy-ass but it's been a ton of fun experimenting with different options without having to commit to a specific weapons set or go through the effort of magnetizing (which I DO plan on doing, someday).

  5. So most of the bits have dry fit with sucess? Got mine half assembled, but not sure where I want to go from there. Also can't decide whether to paint it yellow and hope it gets approved for my Fists later this year or to start Grey Knights. The idea of shooting off the 4 missiles after moving sounds awesome :D

  6. @Son of Dorn:

    Yeah, I tried a three Stormraven alpha-strike list where I launched 12 Blood Strike missiles in the first turn at some Dark Angels vehicles (a Land Raider included) and man it felt awesome! It reminded me of a Robotech volley of missiles, just streams of smoke tracing all the way back to the Stormraven lol. Unfortunately I rolled like garbage and only one missile managed to glance and it only stunned the Land Raider. I cried a bit.

    Anyways, yes a lot of the bits dry-fit perfectly. The wings, turret, turret canopy, cockpit canopy, air intake hood, and turret weapons all fit together snugly without too much effort. You just gotta be careful not to knock it or it will look like it took a "Wrecked - Explodes" result for real lol.

    I'm not sure I feel comfortable saying this next bit, but I'd wait on painting it until the Marine codex comes out unless you know you're going to dedicate it to one army or the other. If you make your Imperial Fists and Grey Knights have a bit of history together because they fought in X campaign against some Daemons, then it can be done in Imperial Fists colors with some Grey Knights iconography here and there (representing honors bestowed by Brother-Captain so-and-so).

    If you think you can acquire another Stormraven for the Knights in 6-8 months, then go ahead and paint it up!

  7. Good to know the pieces fit that well. Working together with a friend to magnetize my rhinos because I got some great dozer blade kits for them and thought maybe he could help me out with this at the same time.

    I may just paint it up yellow and run it with GK if I decide on playing them later. Won't make a lot of difference in the long run. Most of the players in my area don't really paint their stuff anyway (including myself :P)

    That sounds like an epic salvo. A lot of AP 1 to be thowing around. Too bad they all whiffed :( Sounds like my luck. Looking into square dice right now because of it. I was actually talking about the GK missiles though. With only S4, you could move 12" and fire all of them and hurricane bolters and use your PotMS to fire your secondary weapon, too. It's a really neat unit as is. Really hope normal marines get to use it even though it's supposed to be exclusive. Then again, so was the Land Raider Crusader... Money usualy wins out in the long run I think. Good for me in this case :)

    I asked about weapon combos because I was curious if you'd used the twin linked plasma cannon. Seemed like a reliable way to soften hard targets before your cargo assaults. Plus, the twin link would make it a little more reliable. I imagine it flying up and cooking a couple termies with AP2 before marines and the dreadnought inside assault and clean up the rest.