Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Stormravens: Not FOR You

The Stormraven is an excellent addition to the Blood Angel's arsenal- it is not only a fast skimmer, it also is an assault vehicle and carries non-ignorable amounts of shooting. It's a fantastic way to deliver not one but TWO units into close combat with the enemy.

That doesn't mean it can or should go in every army, however.

In a recent thread at BoLS, our friend BBF wrote a fairly decent article, but kneecapped himself at the end by espousing the virtues of the Stormraven in DoA/jumpers lists. After a bit of arguing DisQuis's crappy comment system broke down, making further replies impossible, so I'm pasting things over here in hoeps that we can get some good discussion out of things.

I probably don't need to say this, but just as with the Orc articles in the past and other controversial subjects this isn't here as a way to point and laugh at someone I/we disagree with, it's intended as a forum for open discussion. Disagree all you want, but keep it civil.

The below text is BBF's last post; parts in quotation marks are him quoting my own text from the post before that.

"The Stormraven is a lone vehicle in a list- that is always a bad thing, because it gives them something to aim their anti-vehicle weapons at."

If you hold the Stormraven in reserve odds are most of your jump infantry will arrive first. The first wave of jump troops should focus on eliminating threats to the Stormraven. Meltaguns and infernus pistols destroy enemy tanks while Vanguard veterans use Heroic Intervention to assault heavy weapons teams.

This is the problem, though- having your force arrive in two distinct "chunks" weakens your ability to cripple the enemy's firepower/assault capability when you arrive. Anything you do to dilute your primary strategy- which, in this case, is "show up with a ton of hard-to-kill mans and blow up everything important, then assault the remainders"- is dangerous. It needs to add the capability to deal with something your main force cannot- and the Stormraven does not do this. It brings more heavy AT guns and a unit that assaults the turn after it arrives- both of these are things a jump list already has in abundance.

Note also the point costs- if you're running a Stormraven (with Dread and a hammer unit for it to deliver), an HQ unit, and two squads of Vanguard Vetrans (as BBF recommends above), you're already looking at close to eleven hundred points before you even add troops or support units (Honor Guard, Priests, etc).

The Stormraven can transport both an assault unit (take your choice here) plus a dreadnaught. The ability to deliver both an assault unit and a dreadnaught armed with Blood Talons is very powerful synergy. You're combining the strength of three individual units that split apart and fight the opponent on three fronts. Most units assaulted by a dreadnaught with Blood Talons have no chance at all. Front armor 13 for the Furioso nerfs power fist / generally two attacks, one misses and you need to roll a 6 to penetrate / good luck with that.

So no it's not a lone vehicle, rather a highly mobile transport that can deliver your best assault units into the heart of the enemy line. I rarely if ever see anyone fussing about running terminators in a landraider. Why should the Stormraven be any different. I'll go so far as to say for less cost if properly utilized the Stormraven is superior to the landraider. The Stormraven is quite resilient if used properly. Rear armor 12 means it's immune to many attacks from close combat. Meltas only roll 1d6 for armor penetration - you will only penetrate 1/3 of the time... That's better than a landraider. The Stormraven can outrange most weapons due to the 60" range of it's Bloodstrike missiles.

It can move flat-out for the cover save and still fire a twin linked weapon such as the multi-melta even if it's shaken. That's very powerful in my opinion.

The fact that the Stormraven brings friends to the party is irrelevant- it's STILL a lone vehicle. The turn it arrives, it is vulnerable- it's still going to be reasonably distant from the enemy (24" off a board edge generally doesn't get you in assault range), and if it gets shot down then and there you probably will have to spend another turn moving before you can assault anything. It's AV12 with a 4+ save- that is to say, it's about as tough as a Chimera in cover. Everyone here has wrecked a Chimera before, right? Yeah, I thought so. As the only target for all the Missiles, Lascannons, Impaler Cannons, Dark Lances, etc on the board, it IS going to get knocked out of the sky, all the more so because Immobilized results will be killing it, too. (Moved flat out, remember?)

Furiosos are quite dangerous is combat, it's true, but again- they're the only armor in your list. The enemy will aim their guns at them and they will fold. For a Stormraven combo to work, you need to insure that you are delivering your packages reliably and can stop the enemy from knocking them down prematurely; mixing jump troops and Stormravens does not do this, it divides your efforts.

The Bloodstrike Missiles are mostly an irrelevant factor, because you will be moving in close to deliver your packages. Once you've dropped them off, you may have a chance to move 6" and volley them into something else while pointing the Lascannon/MM at a different target with PotMS, but often you will be much too dead for that to be a possibility. Stormravens are fragile, high-priority targets. This needs to be an assumption of your plan when using them.

"It provides minimal firepower for its cost- Stormravens are for delivering units to the front lines, not for shooting, just like a Land Raider."

That is wrong on so many levels. The Stormraven is an excellent weapons platform - you can move 6" and fire everything, using one shot to target a different enemy unit. It's all about where you position it. A salvo of four Bloodstrike missiles can drop a Hive Tyrant in one go or blow a predator off the table. It comes in from reserve and first finishes off other threats then moves in for the kill. So no it's not just a transport by any means.

"Can" drop a Tyrant- I would never expect it to. What kind of idiot isn't running with Tyrant Guard for the ablative wounds and easy cover save? For 200pts, a Stormraven simply doesn't bring as many guns to the table as the other options. Look at how many ASMs with Melta weapons you can get for that price, or Honor Guard, or Sternguard, or shooting Dreads, or Predators of either type, or what have you.

I thought you were coming in moving 24" from reserve, for the quick drop and cover save? You can't do that and also "finish off other threats," because moving flat out means only firing one weapon with PotMS, which is rarely going to finish anything off.

"Jumpers does not have a problem getting its troops to the front lines- by its very nature wherever it decides to show up _becomes_ the front line. It doesn't need more Melta weapons, it needs ways to eliminate the threats to its squads (Dreadnoughts, fast transports, etc.) The Stormraven is not an efficient platform for dealing with any of these things."

I want my best assault units protected before they go in for the big kills. The Stormraven can deliver them where you want them and it's got an assault ramp on top of all it's other great things.

Completely fails to address my point. Yes, the Stormraven is good at working to deliver an assault unit to the enemy, but if that's what you want to do, take two of them and a bunch of firepower units to suppress/distract the enemy and really GO for it, don't half-ass things with one random Stormraven thrown into a jumpers army. As I said before- the Stormraven doesn't do anything the army needs. The only unit that jumpers wants to bring for assaults are Vanguard Vetrans, which don't need protection- they assault right away, with no need to sit around for a turn.

So let's sum of the pros going for a Stormraven:

* Armor 12 all around
* Fast skimmer
* Ceramite plating (nerfs meltas)
* Power of the Machine Spirit
* Assault Ramp
* Transport infantry/jump infantry plus dreadnaught
* 4x Bloodstrike missile (S8 AP1 R48")
* vast multitude of weapons to choose from - you can kit if for anti infantry much like an LRC or anti-tank

This isn't a list of "pros," it's just a list of qualities that the unit has. Look at the BA jump army- what does it need? What does the Stormraven do? How do these two things intersect? That is how you decide whether a unit is a good choice for an army, not simply looking at it and saying "Wow, this unit does a lot of neat stuff- I should put one in my force!"

Transporting jump infantry is irrelevant to the equation because you rarely want to put any in it. (Terminators and Death Company are the best cargoes for it, but Sanguinary Guard are... acceptable, if not great.) Occasionally it will survive past the early turns and you can stick an ASM combat squad into it for extra protection, but this is the exception, not the rule.

The guns, as I said, are an afterthought on this vehicle. They're nice to crack a transport so you can get at its contents, but they aren't terribly impressive for a 200pt vehicle that is going to be taking a lot of fire from the enemy.

The fast skimmer status, assault ramp, etc, are just things that make it VIABLE for use- they are not advantages, they are the bare minimum requirements for what we are doing with it.

And sure there is always the chance that one lucky shot will get through if you're pounding it with everything you've got - but then you've got one nasty squad of jump infantry and possibly a raging dreadnaught ready to rock your world. Good luck with that.

To be honest, if your opponent can't deal with one squad of 2+ save guys and a Dread, they're going to lose no matter what you use against them. The key is to present OVERWHELMING force, not merely a somewhat strong presence. Deposit something that CANNOT be stopped, not something that is difficult to stop.

A double Stormraven army does this by dumping two of the above onto the enemy- perhaps they can kill one, but both? While the rest of the force is shooting them? Unlikely, one hopes. A jumpers army does this by depositing a very large number of guys very reliably in their face on turn 2 almost every time, all with FNP bubbles. Hybridizing these two armies results in weakening both of their fundamental strengths- now you have fewer Marines in your enemy's face on turn 2, so they can more easily wipe them out, and when the Stormraven finally arrives, it deposits less troops than a pure SR-focused army and has no/little support (remember, you gave your opponent a turn or two to deal with the jump troops where the SR couldn't help.)

Good hybrids use each of their pieces to cover the other's weaknesses while still working together. Poor hybrids are just 50% of two random armies shoved together, trying to do different things. Hybrid armies are much more difficult than "pure" armies to design, but when they work they are very dangerous and very flexible.


Second point - you've got a Stormraven (215 points), Furioso with Blood Talons (+ extra armor & heavy flamer) at 150 points, Epistolary (jump pack) clocking in around 175 points plus a choppy Honor Guard (jump packs & banner) clocking in around 300 points. That's more than the points you've listed above. With the points left over for a 2000 point list I can fit in another HQ, two full assault squads and a very choppy unit of Vanguard veterans. I've won best overall at two tournaments and best general at two other tournaments. There are some games where the Stormraven comes in, pops a tank and releases it's cargo straight into close combat... Never fails to produce favorable results - three or more enemy units destroyed in one go. I think you're missing this potential that the Stormraven offers. Other times it moves onto the table 6" and alphastrike a couple of enemy tanks - the next turn it then delivers it's cargo and major carnage never fails to ensue. Late game it can easily swoop in contesting an objective. The last tournament I played the Stormraven survived all three games versus lance heavy dark eldar, gun line SM (lots of AT) and finally versus a Vulkan Marine army (heavy melta). My opponents were no slouches so maybe I'm just very lucky in this regard... Or maybe there is something to my tactics. The choice is yours. So there ya have it. I hope that addresses all your queries.

So, just so we're clear on things: assuming all your non-Stormraven stuff arrives first turn (doesn't always happen, but not horribly unlikely), you are looking at twenty ASM, five Honor Guard, and one unit of Vanguard against your opponent's entire 2000pt army. We'll be generous and assume your VV took out the single best unit they had. So if you're fighting, say, Tyranids, you're going to get shot by ~70 Termagants, nine Hive Guard, and two Tervigons, and then all of that plus a TyrantStar is going to assault you. And you think thirty T4 guys are going to live through that?

Or, to take a different tack, that after wiping out one unit of Broadsides, the remaining four XV-88s, ten Crisis, and miscellaneous Kroot, Devilfish, Piranhas, etc, aren't going to sweep your guys off the board?

You Stormraven is not there to help you. You are voluntarily giving up a HUGE chunk of your army and just saying "Hey, these guys aren't going to do anything to you, so you can safely ignore them this turn, okay?" That is EXACTLY what they want. That is an ideal situation for ANY army out there, and you're just handing it to them on a silver platter.

I won't say you haven't won tournaments- frankly, I have no idea and it's not really relevant. But the fundamental strategy of dividing your forces like that is poor, and a good opponent will punish you for it heavily.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...