Shadowstrike Kill Team (New RG Formation)

So, it appears we have leaked rules for Shadowstrike Kill Team (i.e. the new Raven Guard Formation):

Looking over these, this formation has 2-4 Scout Squads and 1-3 Vanguard Vet squads. With those units, the formation gets the following special rules:

1 – Can choose to automatically fail or pass reserve rolls for Vanguard Vets

2 – Vanguard Vets do not scatter if they DS within 9″ of one of the Scout squads

3 – Vanguard Vets can charge the same turn they DS

Combine this with RG Chapter Tactics (i.e. Shrouded Scouts turn 1, which can be combined with Camo Cloaks and regular terrain for an automatic 2+ cover save; Jump Packs able to be used in both Movement and Assault for Vanguard Vets) and you have a very decent little formation here.

I think the best way this can be employed is to kit the Vanguard Vets out as “Monster Hunters” (i.e. PF, SS, and JP for all models) and then use the Scouts to bring them in turn 2 automatically with no scatter and charge an enemy “uber” unit of their choice, be it Eldar Wraithknight, Tau Ta’unar Lord of War, AM Leman Russ Squadron, Grav Centurion Deathstar, Imperial Knight, Necron Phalanx, Orky Battlewagon Brigade, Nid Hive Tyrant, or CSM Nurgle Obliterators.

Just for an example, imagine a 10 man VV squad charging an Eldar Wraithknight (with Prescience cast on them from a nearby Librarian). WK strikes first with 4A base, causing 0-1 unsaved wounds on average against the SS equipped VVs. With 9 VVs left, that means they strike back with 27 attacks, 20-21 hits, 10-11 wounds, and 6-7 unsaved wounds after the Wraithknight gets its FNP rolls (i.e. the Wraithknight is dead)… the VV still have to absorb any Stomp hits, but with good spacing and use of their Storm Shields, they should be able to economically absorb these hits (especially in exchange for killing the Wraithknight).

Take the same Vanguard Vet squad and have them multi-charge several enemy Leman Russ tanks (remember, no penalty for Multi-charging because of Heroic Intervention rule)… even with AV11 rear armor on the tougher Leman Russ variants, the squad should get 30 attacks, 26-27 hits (with Prescience), and 17-18 glancing hits (or better), meaning that they can easily wipe out an entire squadron of Leman Russes without breaking a sweat. Same logic can be applied to mass Ork Battlewagons (i.e. from the Blitz Brigade formation), except with even better results, since Battlewagons have AV10 rear armor and are open-topped.

Against an enemy Centurion Deathstar with 6 x Grav Centurions and Invisibility cast on it, this same squad gets 30 attacks, about 9-10 hits (6+s to Hit due to Invisibility, with re-rolls from Prescience), and about 8 unsaved wounds (or 4 dead Centurions), which is more than enough to cripple the Deathstar for the rest of the game. Finally, against an Imperial Knight this squad generates 30 attacks, 22-23 hits, and 7-8 glancing hits on average, which translates into one 400 point Imperial Knight destroyed.

However you slice it, I think this formation is going to be a winner, particularly if used in a role as a designated “titan killer” type unit that is equipped and deployed to destroy enemy super units.

Raven Guard Scout Bikers, 10th Company Task Force, and Nemesis Strike Force allies…

Like the other Scout units in the new Codex: Space Marines book, Scout Bikers got a boost to BS4/WS4, with no additional points cost (and basically no change to their profile, wargear, and rules).

What Scout Bikers did gain, though, was the ability to be chosen as part of a new formation, the 10th Company Task Force. You can choose up to 3-5 units of Scout Bikers (plus Telion, if you want him; Scout Bikers must upgrade with Cluster Mines though) if you take this formation and gain access to two rules:

1 – Concealed Positions — Free Stealth until the unit moves, turbo-boosts, charges, or falls back, then loses it entirely.

2 – The Trap is Sprung — All Scout Bikers gain Precision Shots for the first game turn.

So, how does all this work on the tabletop to best effect? Well, if you take Raven Guard Chapter Tactics, that means that turn 1 all non-vehicle models/models not embarked get Shrouded. Combine that with the “Concealed Positions” rule and the Scout Biker’s ability to Infilitrate/Scout into terrain within 18″ of your opponent’s army and the Scout Bikers have a 2+ cover save that first turn.

Additionally, they have the ability to use their TLed Bolters (and Astartes Grenade Launchers) with BS4 and the Precision Shots rule (from “The Trap is Sprung”) to target key enemy units/characters on the frontline. Additionally, they can use their Locator Beacons to precisely bring in allied units… such as GK Terminators, Strike Squads, Interceptor Squads, and Dreadknights from an allied Nemesis Strike Force.

Imagine bringing in 2 GK Terminator squads and 2 Dreadknights turn 1 right in front of the Scout Bikers… you can basically apply blitzkrieg principles (i.e. overwhelming force at the critical point) with this tactic and outmass your opponent at exactly the place you want to.

So, what does 3-5 squads of Scout Bikers do once they bring in their Ordos Malleus allies?

Well, if you look at it, for only four points more than a normal Tactical Marine, Scout Bikers have the following advantages over an equivelant Tactical Marine:

1 – Mobility — With Scout, Infilitrate, 12″ move, and 12″ turbo-boost, Scout Bikers are EXCEPTIONALLY more mobile than Tactical Marines. This is especially important for seizing objectives, setting up rapid fire shooting, charging enemy vehicles with Krak grenades/MBs, and using their Locator Beacons to bring in reinforcements precisely throughout the game.

2 – Firepower — With BS4 and TLed, Relentless Bolters, Scout Bikers are accross the board more accurate than Tactical Marines. Additionally, they can take up to the three Astartes Grenade Launchers, no matter the squad size, giving them very decent anti-horde and anti-light vehicle options. The only advantage Tactical Marines have here is their ability to take a Special/Heavy weapon or, if they have 10 members, one of each. Scout Bikers cannot take Grav weapons, but other than that their 3 Astartes GLs should be quite versatile and mesh well with the TLed Bolters of the rest of the squad.

3 – Durability — While Tactical Marines have a better armor save, Scout Bikers have better Toughness. When you do the math, against anything from Bolter Fire to Plasma shooting to krak Missiles, Scout Bikers and Tactical Marines end up basically having identical survivability odds. Better yet, Scout Bikers can choose to Jink, giving them a 4++ cover save if they need it, which is generally superior to Tactical Marines’ option to go to ground, especially since Scout Bikers can still move and charge (and even shoot Snapshots) if they Jink.

4 – Combat — While neither Scout Bikers or Tactical Marines are great in assault, Scout Bikers have the advantage on a couple of fronts. First, being much more mobile, they have a significantly improved chance of getting the charge (instead of being the charged themselves). Second, they have Hammer of Wrath attacks, which Tactical Marines do not, and with Raven Guard tactics, they also get to re-roll failed to Wound rolls for those Hammer of Wrath attacks. Finally, because they are Relentless, Scout Bikers can double-tap their target and still charge that same tunr…. all told, a Scout Biker can potentially inflict 5 x S4 attacks on the turn they charge… two Rapid Fire Bolter shots, one S4 HoW attack, and two S4 normal attacks.

5 – Force-multiplying — As already referenced, Scout Bikers have access to Locator Beacons, which is quantitatively superior to Teleport Homers since they work on ALL forms of Deep Strike (not just teleporting Terminators) and even on Gates of Infinity “jumps.” Additionally, while not a major item, their mandatory Cluster Mines allows each squad to make a peice of terrain into Dangerous Terrain to enemy units, which can give a slight edge to your army.

So, why take all this effort to outline how Scout Bikers are superior to Tactical Marines? Well, when used as allies to Grey Knights, Scout Bikers from the 10th Company Task Force can support the initial GK entry into the game, but then for the rest of the battle can serve as a very mobile, durable, and versatile “counterpart” to the much more elite (and expensive, points-wise) Grey Knight units. Overall, I think Raven Guard Scout Bikers and Grey Knights from a Nemesis Strike Force make for a balanced task force in a competitive, all comers list.

The Shadow Captain and the Death Company…

An interesting combo that I see, based on the new Space Marine codex and the changes to Chapter Tactics and Shadow Captain Shrike’s special rules, is as follows:

1) Take Shrike as your Warlord from your RG army

2) Take Astorath as an allied Blood Angel HQ (taken from Baal Strike Force detachment)

3) Attach Shrike/Astaroth to a 15 man squad of Death Company before deployment (DC have Jump Packs and power weapons/PFs to taste and are taken from the Baal Strike force Detachment)

4) Deploy the entire unit in a Fortification with an Escape Hatch upgrade, which you position 12″ away from the building toward your opponent’s DZ

5) Turn 1, disembark the entire unit 6″ from the Escape Hatch, then run another D6″ (for a net 19-24″ movement), with the goal of getting to terrain near your opponent’s DZ

6) Shrike gives the whole unit Stealth and Shrouded turn 1. Combined with terrain/cover, that means everyone gets a 2+ cover save, on top of the Death Company’s FNP (for extra survivability) and Fearless for the entire unit (so no way to make them run away). They should be able to absorb a tremendous amount of firepower, especially using LoS! rolls with Shrike and Astorath.

7) Turn 2, use their Jump Packs to charge a target enemy unit and unleash Shrikes WL trait, which causes the enemy to take a Fear test on 3D6. Unless the enemy is Fearless/has ATSKNF, they are quite likely to fail and be reduced to WS1, meaning that the entire squad hits them on 3+s and the enemy only hits Shrike/Blood Angels on 5+s.

Additionally, everyone, including Shrike, get’s re-rolls to Hit from Astorath’s Zealot USR and everyone but Astorath gets re-rolls to Wound (DC from the Liturgies of Blood and Shrike from his Lightning Claws). Astorath and the DC also get +1S from Furious Charge, while the DC also benefit from Rage (for 5 attacks a piece) and and I5 (from the Red Thirst special rule).

That means that 15 DC get 75 x S5 attacks on the charge, all at I5 and will re-rolls to hit and re-rolls to wound (and hitting on 3+s if the enemy failed their Fear test). Shrike gets 5 x S4 AP3 attacks at WS6 and I5, all with re-rolls to Hit and Wound and Rending as well. Finally, Astorath gets 4 x S6 AP2 Unwieldy attacks at WS6 with re-rolls to Hit and Instant Death on any to wound rolls of 6+. FNP should help the unit survive, as should striking before most opponents with massed attacks and massed re-rolls, thus allowing the unit to “rinse and repeat” this tactic on subsequent turns.

As you can see this, is pretty devastating combination, harnessing the advantages of both Shrike/RG Chapter Tactics and Astorath/Death Company rules.