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Monday, February 7, 2011

The Stormraven: An Analysis & Review

So with the new plastic kit, Grey Knights and the potential rumor running around that Stormravens will at some point be added to all Marine books (I don't think they will be but you never know) this post is long overdue (particularly since I keep saying it's coming!). What this post will look at is a brief overview of the Stormraven in general and how it can be effectively used on the tabletop. Because the Stormraven is confirmed for at least two books I won't go into specifics in lists for each book but rather look at a general overview of the unit itself. I'll also review the weapon loadouts and upgrades possible with the Stormraven.

To start with we have a 200 point AV12 all round fast-skimmer that has melta protection, can carry a unit (including Jump Packs and Terminators) plus a dreadnought and is an assault skimmer. Skies of Blood lets you do some nifty disembarks as well whilst going quickly and power of the machine spirit allows you to keep firing whilst on the move at a higher rate than usual. The Stormraven is also capable of deep-striking which adds some deployment options to the controlling player but with its size and movement potential isn't too special. Overall seems pretty good, maybe a bit overpriced (for 200 base points I'd like extra armor as well) but not horrendously so. What is often overlooked I think is the amount of weapon systems the Stormraven has. It comes standard with two heavy weapons, can take a 3rd sponson system and has four bloodstrike missiles. That's an insane amount of shooting which can split fire and fire on the move (all weapons at 6", 2 at 12" and 1 at 24"). Importantly as well you can run both anti-tank and anti-infantry weapon systems and with PotMS you can pop a tank and gank infantry elsewhere. Before we look at how to run the Stormraven let's check the upgrades possible.

Stormraven Upgrades:

Extra armor is a must. I don't care if you're running it as a gunboat or assault transport (discussed later), take EA. Again, I feel this should of been included in the points cost; water under the bridge. EA allows the Stormraven to always keep moving and with PotMS, this means move and shoot. Whether you are a gunboat or assault transport being able to always move is a huge plus and can really hurt armies which rely on combat for anti-tank. Locator beacon makes disembarking whilst going flight out (Skies of Blood) a lot more reliable obviously and is an excellent upgrade if you are planning on running Stormravens as an expensive Air Cav force. This is obviously expensive but has the merits of a good follow-up assault the next turn. From there you've got two weapon systems to look at. You can add a third (hurricane bolters) for 30 points and I would generally recommend this as it adds some nice anti-infantry and another weapon system. Both good things. Otherwise you start with a TL-heavy bolter and twin-linked assault cannon. Both bring pretty good dakka to the table and combined with the Bloodstrike missiles provide a good mix of firepower but both also have upgrades.

The TL-heavy bolter can be upgraded to a TL-MM (free) or Typhoon Missile Launcher (25points). The MM upgrade for free is always a's a free and mobile MM damn it (and twinlinked)! The TML is nice, particularly at 25 points, but with the Bloodstrikes already it's not as flash a deal. It is certainly an option for a stand-offish Stormraven though as it outranges the MM by 24". The TL-assault cannon can be upgraded to a TL-PC (free) or TL-lascannon (free) which gives you three really good options. With twin-linked both the lascannon and assault cannon are pretty decent suppression fire whilst the PC becomes excellent at taking out infantry in the open. The assault cannon is really the only gun with duality built into it but with PotMS the Stormraven can take specialist guns and split fire. With the understanding that the MM is in the other slot, taking the TL-PC seems like the best bet as it offers up the ability to drop an AP2 blast on any clumped infantry which jump out of a transport. Otherwise the TL-LC adds some more long-ranged punch if you're looking for a stand-offish gunboat style Stormraven.

Stormraven Uses:

So how to run the Stormraven? Obviously you want to take advantage of its special abilities as much as possible which generally means pushing forward to assault, assaulting out of the vehicle with things like Jumpers and Dreadnoughts whilst not really caring about melta and being a mobile gunboat. This last role is underutilised IMO as many people seem to simply throw their Stormravens at their opponent (or design them to do this). Whilst they are cheaper, faster and more durable against meltaguns than Land Raiders, they are still quite expensive in this role and often quite expensive with both the Stormraven, Dreadnought, squad inside and quite often a character to join them. On the other hand simply running a 200+ point gunboat which has all those good abilities for getting close becomes pretty expensive for something which isn't that hard to suppress. Like many things in the end, a balance between the two is your best bet.

Whilst running a full Stormraven list with Dreadnoughts and Jumper squads (or any assaulted based squad really) as a pure in your face offensive list is possible, it's generally not too balanced and if any opponent drops one or two of your Ravens early, a lot of your punch is lost. This issue arises from spending points on three units yet combining them into 'one.' This is a 'problem' with most transports obviously but most transports aren't 200+ points and don't carry two units which can easily be over 350 points combined. It simply becomes a problem of too much firepower localised in one point. Therefore, instead of running both a Dreadnought and assault unit in the Stormraven, running one or the other makes the Stormraven cheaper but also still capable of throwing units forward and then acting as a gunboat and/or ferry later game. This keeps the cost down, allows for more saturation and lowers the priority of the Stormraven in terms of your opponent's shooting.

The opposite style of this would to run the Stormraven as a gunboat. Whilst a 200+ point gunboat is pretty point efficient, placing a small scoring unit inside it suddenly makes it a ~300 point scoring gunboat. It's still pretty expensive but with the mobility and firepower (imagine 3 scoring Stormravens + Typhoons) it's a very nice addition to a force. With its melta protection as well, the Stormraven is quite happy to push if needed later game to disrupt your opponent and/or own/contest objectives. Even combining the two roles of gunboat and assault transport with a scoring assault unit (large or small) such as Assault Marines or Sanguinary Guard in a Dante list allows the Stormraven to sit back and use its three weapon systems + missiles to full effect whilst being a scoring unit. As the game unfolds the Stormraven can move forward and drop off an assault unit on the fly. This is a bit more expensive than normal but adds quite a bit of flexibility to the list.

Another role the Stormraven can fill is a ferry. Whether it is 'designed' as a ferry (i.e. gunboat role) or does this after it has dropped off its cargo, a Stormraven can pick up a wide variety of units across your army and move them quickly. This is particularly important for Dreadnoughts. Being able to rapidly reposition dreadnoughts up to 24" is a great boost when they are stunned/shaken or in some other way incapacitated (i.e. Furiosos not getting Wings off) or simply moving units more rapidly than they normally could from midfield. This isn't really a primary focus of the Stormraven however but it is a great utility for a Dread heavy army. Whilst Blood Angels will have issues with this as Stormravens compete with Dreadnoughts for the Heavy Support slots, other armies might have more options available to them.


In the end you need to make sure you keep your Stormraven combo as cheap as possible without making it too weak (i.e. 5 man scout assault units). Although the Stormraven can be a really good flexi-unit, AV12 isn't super survivable like a Land Raider so I'd pick a role and build your list with that role in mind. Whether it's operating as a scoring gunboat with ferrying and assault transport as utility or operating as an assault transport with gunboat and ferrying as utility really is up to personal preference and the list. But keep it simple. Don't load up on upgrades, a super combat unit, a Dreadnought and an IC to lead the attack otherwise you'll find your army becomes two massive rocks which can be halted with two separate lascannon shots.

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