"Victorus aut Mortis."
Battlecry of the Raven Guard
The Raven Guard are one of the original Space Marines Legions. They are known for their hit and run tactics and their ability to strike unseen from the shadows. Stealth and infiltration is their forte and their attacks are precise and focused. By striking at their opponents weak points, they leave their opponents disorganized and confused; making them susceptible to the fury of the Space Marines.
My second thematic army from the C:SM Codex was the Raven Guard. After playing Crimson Fists for a bit, I decided to needed to spice it up a bit. After looking through the codex for some inspiration, I came along a Special Character named Kayvaan Shrike, Captain of the Raven Guard 3rd Company. Being one of the more familiar names in Space Marine lore, I quickly looked over his special rules and noted what he can offer to the table. The first thing I noticed about Shrike is that he trades Chapter Tactics for Fleet. This makes the assault elements of your army even more deadly as they can close the distance and engage in battle much quicker. The other thing to note about Shrike is that he can give him and the squad that he's in Infiltrate. This means that regardless of where your opponents deploy, Shrike's squad can start 18" away from them (or 12" if they're out of LoS). The ideas quickly started to pour into my head. I needed an army that can have enormous first strike potential at the weaker points of my opponents' army. The army needed to be precise like a surgeon's knife and hit hard like a hammer. This is how I came up with my army list:
Shrike = 195
10x Tacticals (Rhino, PF, Meltagun, PC) = 240
10x Tacticals (Rhino, PF, Meltagun, MM) = 235
10x Tacticals (DP, PF, Meltagun, MM) = 235
3x Scout Bikes (Beacon, MB) = 100
5x Vanguard Veterans (JP, 2x MB, 2x LC, PF) = 225
10x Sternguard (DP, 8x CbM) = 325
Ironclad Dreadnought (DP, HF, IAL) = 195
At first, I was tempted to take Assault Terminators as my infiltration unit, but they were unfluffy and couldn't guarantee I'll get into assault first turn. My next option was 10-strong Assault Space Marines.. but I couldn't get the weapons layout I wanted in them. My last option was the Vanguard Veterans. Now if you guys ever seen me post on Warseer, you would know how much I hate VV. They're completely overpriced in the C:SM Codex (not in BA) and are hardly worth the points most of the time. They do, however, function perfectly as Shrike's elite, personally trained warriors known as Shrike's Wing. The weapon layout consists of Jump Packs, 2x Meltabombs, the Sergeant carrying a Raven's Claw (regular Lightning Claw), another claw and a Power Fist. Because they start out 18" away from the enemy (12" if deployment's in my favor), I can fly 12" first turn, Fleet and then charge my target. This attack combined with my Scout Bike's Infiltration, Scout Move and Locator Beacon, puts 2 Drop Pods on top of my enemy's forces at the start of my turn. Once the first wave sets down, my Bikes will turbo-boost to the next major objective: Be it my opponent's exposed flank or a worthy objective, their locator beacon will be ready to guide my last pod of Tacticals. During this mayhem, my Tacticals in Rhinos move into the firing lanes and prepare to assist their brothers.
It's to no surprise that I chose a Ironclad and Sternguard to go in the first wave with Shrike. They represent amazing first strike potential and can follow up next turn with devastating results. The layout for my Sternguard are 8x Combi-Meltas; designed to target and destroy the heaviest armor that my opponents can offer. Keep in mind that though they replace Combat Tactics for Fleet, they can still combat squad into 2 squads of 5x Sternguard with 4 meltas a piece. With the correct positioning, they will be able to melt armor and expose the inner troops to the rest of my army. With that said, the Ironclad is equipped with Ironclad Assault Launchers (giving me offensive and defensive grenades), a meltagun of his own and a Heavy Flamer. Let's just say he'll be following up the Sternguard's work with great enthusiasm.
The rest of my list is pretty standard. Three Tactical squads; 2 in Rhinos and 1 in a Pod to contest and conquer objectives. They will provide MM and PC fire from their locations and assist in whatever task Captain Shrike commands them. The first turn will no doubt be the most brutal for my opponents. I've had players fold by turn 2 because the situational looked so grim for them. First turn charge from Shrike and his Wing, an Ironclad Dreadnought on his flanks and Sternguard Veterans melting his transports puts my opponents in a rather.. uncomfortable position. Keep in mind that Shrike doesn't always have to assault nearby the SG and the Ironclad. They can comfortably assault enemy heavy weapon emplacements elsewhere, further splitting up my opponents retaliation fire and possibly exposing their rear armor.
A lot of fun can be had with this list. I think by employing Scout Bikes, Drop Pods and the Vanguard Veterans, I was able to replicate the fighting ideals of the Raven Guard quite handsomely. Their first strike potential is amazing and they break the traditional method of playing as Space Marines (moving as one). A list like this is great every now and then to off people's game since everyone's used to playing vs. Vulkan Mech. Speaking of which.. my next Chapter will be Salamanders.