Unit Tactica: Ravenors

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The idea here, is to simply ask that question to all of you hive minds. Where are the Ravener Broods? I rarely see them fielded, hardly ever. I think I've seen them once or twice in years on the battle field. Are they all that bad? Are they just an ugly model or something? Are the other fast attack options simplyway better? Or perhaps it is because other options that are non-fast attack are simply better than Ravener Broods and make more sense overall instead of taking them? I ask the question because I'd like to see them hit the boards. I'd like to see some use

Quick Reference:
 Exploring the Ravener Brood
 Possible Use of the Ravener Brood
 Raveners in Assault
 Raveners & Shooting
 Raveners in Standard Missions

Exploring the Ravener Brood

Before diving in, let's take a little sample of the blood here and see what makes our Ravener Brood tick, both the good and the bad, via some Pro & Cons that I can see-please fill me in if I'm missing something here:
  • Brood sizes are very flexible, allowing for single model entries (great for scoring!).
  • Great stat-line for combat; fast & hard hitting.
  • Beast/Cavalry movement; updated in 4th for very fast movement (19 to 24 inches).
  • Hordes of attacks available.
  • Rending option coupled with great number of attacks.
  • May deep strike into the battle field.
In summation, it's a great close combat beast that moves very fast and has everything it needs to cause quite a good bit of damage, with up to 6 attacks on the charge depending on upgrades. The seeming key to me, is that they may deepstrike in single broods, behind cover, or in area terrain and then the following turn, use their very nice beast/cavalry movement in order to speed upwards of 19 to 24 inches right into combat, where they can cause some quick damage to something that perhaps only needed another few hits to cause it to fall (such as a heavy weapon team that was shooting down some of your broods). Another seeming advantage, is the ability to throw down a few cheap scoring models into the battle field, in different locations such as table quarters, where they can quickly move on objectives or hide and simply "exist" for cheap.
  • Weak armor save & no possibility of upgrading it.
  • Too many in a Brood quickly becomes too expensive.
  • Too few in a Brood means subpar performance in combat.
  • Shooting abilities are shadowed by the combat abilities based on profile.
  • Poor chances of survival in combat & shooting phase.
  • Not a Synapse Creature.
  • Warriors taken as Elites or Fast Attack can probably bebetter.
In summation, they're not a resilient unit, but that is like most Tyranid beasts whom are not monstrous creatures. The problem stems from lack of numbers to be efficient in combat, and too expensive to go for those large number squads. Combine their small brood size with high price and weak survivability and no Synapse and we have something that could fall apart a little too easily for most tastes. In close combat, they hit hard first typically, but even normal infantry and hit back and slay them due to their poor saves. So they work like a shock unit that fizzles out fast.

Possible Use of the Ravener Brood

In terms of actual assaulting, the Warrior Broods are superior, due to price and speed and the ability to make them more resilient via armor, stronger with strength and as an Elite with Syanpse as well. They're just a much sweeter deal for the same kind of function. But Warrior Broods come in pairs of three as a minimum. And since our other fast attack options are either very dodgy or a very weak, but fast version of a flying Gaunt, the Ravener has a few things that could be useful to us, as a fast attack.
Single Model Brood:
The single model brood is cheap and easy to take. You will no doubt have plenty of fast attack options open in your army list, and this is a quick way to buy something like the following:
Fast Attack: 40 points.
Ravener Brood
Ravener x 1
-Rending Claws & Sything Talons
As a single model unit, they do not start the game by taking last man standing tests nor have any problems with moral or anything thanks to high leadership. But as a single model unit, they're a scoring unit (unlike Zoanthropes which specifically are not scoring units). That means, for very little points, we can throw down a fast moving single model unit which is a far less attractive target to waste guns on compared to our other nasty little beasts, in a table quarter to contest or claim, or any other objective that is in an obscure location. We deploy them last in the list since they are Fast Attack and may deep strike them, for added surprise since our opponent won't know about them until turn two.
The Ravener Brood is not limited to 0-1, like Zoanthropes, and so we may span them out across the Fast Attack forge organizational chart slots. That's three extra scoring units, deployed separately in different places that cost pretty little for each individual unit as whole in the end (using the above scheme, a mere 120 points total for three extra scoring units).
Assault wise, it's probably best to not use the single model brood to attack anything really, unless there's simply no other option. The idea would be to preserve a scoring unit and use it a means to surprise opponents in missions with something they're not used to dealing with (the non-aggressive bug!).
Two Model Brood:
Taking two models, we're still carrying a great scoring unit (unlike the odd number of the Warrior Brood). We can lose a model and still count as a scoring unit. That's quite a fine line, but a perk none the less.
Consider the following:
Fast Attack: 80 points.
Ravener Brood
Ravener x 2
-Rending Claws & Sything Talons
For very little, we have a scoring unit which we could use as counter assault or as surprise "added" punch to a current combat somewhere, near turn three perhaps. As they are deep striked into an obscure location in cover perhaps, they're not a major threat and they're not Lictors, and so may have less attention put on them. With their combined number of attacks, we can actually expect some good damage finally thanks to Rending. On the whole, if they were to charge a unit of infantry or a normal tank that was stationary or moved only 6 inches, we could score some very nice damage:
~ Average results of Assault against MEQs ~
The two Ravener's charging a squad of Devastators (6 MEQs) for example:
  • Step 1: Ravener's assault with 10 total attacks combined.
  • Step 2: Our initiative is higher and we strike first: ~7 hits on average.
  • Step 3: On average, thanks to rending, we may score 1 ~ 2 rending hits.
  • Step 4: Taking our Rending hits out of the total hit pool: ~3 wounds on average.
  • Step 5: After saves are made, including Rending hits & average failed saves: 2 ~ 3 loss.
So we could on average, basically expect to kill 2 or 3 Devastators on average. They have one attack a piece when they strike back, only able to on average score a single wound (and that's a 0 to 1 maybe). Even if fail that save, we're going to mop them up next turn, having only 3 models attacking us.
If you extend this kind of extrapolation to something like a lone Crisis Suit in a Tau force, for another example, it's a quick way to doge cover and pound upon a hiding jet pack using XV8 or Stealth Team.
Verdict: Great odds against small elite squads of MEQs with two-handed weapons.
~ Average results of Assault against GEQs ~
The two Ravener's charging an Infantry Platoon with a Heavy Weapon (10 GEQs):
  • Step 1: Ravener's assault with 10 total attacks combined.
  • Step 2: Our initiative is higher and we strike first: ~7 hits on average.
  • Step 3: On average, thanks to rending, we may score 1 ~ 2 rending hits.
  • Step 4: Taking our Rending hits out of the total hit pool: ~4 wounds on average.
  • Step 5: After saves are made, including Rending hits & average failed saves: 4 ~ 6 loss.
Against a large group of guardsmen, we can effectively break them below scoring level even when we're outnumbered 5 to 1. After we clobber them, they strike back but are only able to cause a wound very rarely, not even close to being able to cause a single wound on average with only 4 to 5 attacks coming back to us.
Verdict: Good odds of busting small squads with heavy guns and surviving combat even with a poor armor save. This is a good way to finish off a squad, or spear head and assault for another Brood.
If you consider that we could take two Broods as designed above, for only 160 points, we only take slightly more points than the single brood setup. This setup allows us two scoring units which are useful for simply scoring, but also can prove to theoretically be useful in an assault if they were needed.
The goal of all of this in mind, thus far, is not to prove a reason to take Raveners for killing enemy infantry. While they're capable of this, they're also useful forother things. If we want raw point for point killing power, we have other units which are superior to the Ravener Brood. What we're looking to do here, is to maximize our use of all slots on the force organizational chart in order to increase our total number of individual scoring units. The purpose of all this-the Stanard Mission. This is the most common played format, and killing your opponent is not how you win them; though it can be done that way. Missions are won with scoring units and victory points depending on the level of the game. So let's explore how Ravener's fit into that bill.

Raveners in Assault

We have options in assault, since we're not helpless. But that is not our overall goal here perhaps. For some, assaulting their Raverners may help them do something useful for the mission. But we have other options that are safer.
Single Broods in Assault: Really, we probably don't want to do this. Even if we know we can win. The chance of losing the single Ravener as a scoring unit in a standard mission, unless it absolutely going to break their scoring unit that we're after, is not good for us. Single Broods supporting another assault, are different as that requires the opponent to choose to attack the Ravener as well, instead of being forced to attack it-big difference.
Multiple Model Broods in Assault: As mentioned above, the 2+ model broods are going to be more effective in assault, even on their own. They're built specifically for that chance to try to knock something below scoring level. In a standard mission where we're after victory points, consider that a Ravener Brood would be more likely used to assault something stationary in the opponent's deployment zone or near it. That means, we may be assault small squad of marine devstators, heavy weapon teams, reapers, xv-88s, and variants of those kinds of units. These units are typically small model counts and not very difficult to break, especially with Rending. So while we want to guard our own victory points, assaulting the small stationary heavy teams such as those, are what we probably would gun for, since we have the chance to break them, and possibly keep our own Brood scoring towards the end of the game (such as a move made on Turn 5 or 6).
Overall, the idea is to avoid assault however. We're looking to simply increase our scoring unit count and have units which are not going to be ideal targets for enemies-especially those who are simply locked in combat and cannot fire.

Raveners & Shooting

Raveners aren't an apparent shooting unit at first glance. However, they can shoot decently. Unfortunately it's mostly only effective in larger brood sizes, where lots of shooting attacks can be massed. But for the sake of argument, let's look at them:
Deathspitter: - The spitter gives us a good range attack. As an attack, we're only looking at a single shot, at 50% odds to even hit. This is very average. So at 24 inch range, we can effectively lay down a Strength 5 template on our foe. With one shot, this isn't a great idea. With 4 Raveners, we'll average 2 hits. We're already breaking the bank to do that. Are the shots so important? Not really. Granted the range is great, should be have terrible scatter or simply hoof it from deployment normally. But, shooting prevents us from using fleet of foot, which means we move a miserable 6 inches. This cuts down our usefulness a lot. Overall, this is a gun to avoid. Single shots at average ballistic skill aren't worth their salt.
Devourers: - Devourers are probably our best option. We're looking at a lot of shots. A lot. Taking even two ranevers will be throwing out simply a lot of dice, and with Strength 3 as the result, we're looking at good wounds (thanks to living ammunition for re-rolling wounds). So as a quick way to roll a lot of dice, we could expect on average easily 6 hits at strength 3 (with re-rolls for wounds, that's 55% accuracy for wounding marines), which would even kill marine class infantry. Granted, not a lot of them, but still a good shot. Against weaker infantry, this is simply going to be devastating--dropping guardsmen below scoring level instantly (75% accuracy in causing wounds against T3). Again, range is prohibitive here because we lose speed to shooting. This could be useful after a deep strike however, to quickly deliver a load of shots. Overall, if you wanted a gun--this would be the one to take..
Spinefists: - Spinefists aren't very useful to bigger bugs. They have normal strength, the lower range but at least have twin-linking. The good news, is that we have a good number of shots. So at close range, we're going to lay down our basic strength in shots, twin-linked (ie: 75% accuracy instead of 50% accuracy) on our ballistic skill. Is this to die for? Not really. One Ravener isn't going to kill much with that, and two of them would kill about three guardsmen in the shooting phase on average. That's not incredible. So overall, I wouldn't bother with this weapon based on the lower range, and lower levels of actual killing potential.
Devouers simply are prime. When Ap isn't involved, dakka is king and the sheer volume Devourers deliver, they're your best shooting solution. Unfortunately shooting isn't very good and slows down Raveners in most cases; so I would probably avoid it and stick to a cheap Ravener with his normal assault potentials. Shooting puts you in action and not defensively guarding your points.

Raveners in Standard Missions

Now let's look at the Standard Missions and how we could be using various single model and multi-model Broods of Raveners in those missions.
Cleanse: In this mission, the objective is to hold table quarters. In alpha level, it will be very "win, lose or draw" since victory points are not in place. So in this game level, we simply want to break as many scoring units as our enemy has and keep scoring units in our army in each table quarter. Raveners in single broods would be idea for Gamma and Omega level games, where victory points are what we seek, as well as objectives. Raveners would be doing both for us, by holding quarters as scoring units (or contesting them) and surviving. Even if destroyed, which takes a real effort from our opponent since they will waste a lot of shots to do it against a single model brood, they do not donate a lot of points at all to our opponent-perk. The multi-model broods of 2 models, will be able to effectively break smaller squads below scoring level, while surviving as a scoring unit in a one on one match against targets as described above. By this, we effectively trade scoring unit for scoring unit, in which case ours was cheaper, as well as possible remain scoring, for a win-win situation.
Secure & Control: In S&C, we're looking to control Loot counters as the objective, as in 3 to 5 loot counters, rolled randomly. This is where a lot of Ravener abilities come into play. For the loot counters that are placed far from both armies, they will be situational choices. In alpha level, only fast moving units will grab them. That's where single model broods of raveners will have an edge. Especially having up to three of them, separately. Our move through cover skill greatly comes into play here too, since our normal move can be made better with the extra dice in terrain, our fleet move ignores diffiult terrain all together, allowing for a small infantry model to quickly gain ground. And if it's area terrain, we're out of sight from most shooters after 6 inches. In the Gamma & Omega levels of this mission, we want to get those counters as well as guard victory points (or steal our opponents). The multi-model brood will be great for suddenly showing up in cover, using said cover to move close to the enemy and assault them-breaking them below scoring if possible, and then controlling the loot counter. If we're in area terrain, we can attempt to wait to do this towards turn 5 or 6, making it a last move effort, and forcing our opponent to either attempt to break them from holding the counter or simply giving it to us, not having enough guns for our separate targets (remember, lots of guns are wasted on one model as a unit, even on two models).
Seek & Destroy: S&D is a simple mission for Tyranid. If we have more scoring units-we win. It's that simple. In alpha level, all we have to do is attack, break everything and simply guard a few scoring units for the end, who will be untouched to give us 1 or 2 more units than out opponent for the win. This is where the single model brood of raveners are very useful. That's three more scoring units for cheaper than most single units cost. And if we place them in very obscure locations, out of range and sight where possible, we just bought ourselves a 3 scoring unit lead on the win, in all game levels from Alpha to Omega. The multi-model brood will also be able to do the same, but they will also be able to be useful to break other hiding enemy units who are attempting the same thing we are. If a small team of something is hidden in an obscure location, we can easily strike down with multiple squads (two of them for example) and probably end up at least assaulting with one of them, both eliminating their scoring unit (or breaking it) and instead, placing one of our own there instead. Raveners would be great in this mission in single broods mostly as a pure advantage in keeping scoring units & victory points.
Recon: In Recon, we have another big advantage. No matter the level, the more scoring units in the enemy deployment zone we have, the better. Raveners are fast and can move through most terrain just as fast. So even in Alpha level, we're going to be able to use single or multi-model broods to quickly take a flank, and speed forward to deployment zone opposite of us. Having multiple squads will keep our opponent from being able to stop them with one shooting unit, but instead, forcing them to dedicate two or three at the minimum to attempt to stop us. At great range, this isn't always possible for them, and it's not always wise for them if we have more dangerous units on top of them already anyways. In the Gamma & Omega levels, we have a clear advantage with the single model brood, being able to deep strike 3 extra scoring units mid-game in their deployment. We can do this into cover, or into area terrain and simply hold out. Or, we can use the multi-brood, that if it survives, to assault and remove the scoring level from an enemy stationary unit that was left behind to "guard" or "block." Again, the single model brood has the advantage of simply boosting our scoring unit count by up to 3, for the same cost as most single units.
Take & Hold: Take & Hold is more of a problem in terms of the objective for the Ravener. It's the one time that it may not be a good idea to throw them down, due to the chances of having them stranded in the middle of the board alone, or destroyed scattering into another squad that was there. So in Take & Hold, we're probably more likely to use the Raveners to drop them at covered locations, that are going to be hopefully within the 19 to 24 inch assault range of the Ravener to help break enemy artillery, heavy weapon teams, etc; anything stationary and small. The multi-model brood will probably be better off for making those assaults worth while, while single model broods will simply be good to increase the number of scoring units last turn. The idea with the single model brood, would be to attempt to simply sit in cover and hope your opponent doesn't bother with them nearly as much as the other more dangerous and obvious threats you have, and focus on the mission-the most scoring units in the center win. So if last turn you can add another 1, 2 or even 3 units to that, you can take a win perhaps just by having those little broods use their terrain moving skills to quickly enter the 12 inch diameter (which isn't that difficult even when leaving area terrain).

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