As of late all the buzz at GW (and the community at large) has been split between the Skaven death machines and a quirky little shoebox full of guns called the Stormraven. Yes when this big uggo was released to the blogosphear articles sprang up left and right proclaiming there love or hate for the new model. But where is the tactica? Certainly there where more then a couple people who chose to kitbash the then mysterious flying box including this handsome devil made by Brent, but there was only a smattering of actual tactics related posts. Now I will again state that I do not play Blood Angels, that's Ian's bat. Why then would I talk about this unit in battle. While I may not field the "that time of the month" marines I have watched this unit get thrown about and smashed time and time again (I also read the codex but thats not really an important point.) So let us regard this as my thoughts on the unit based upon observation.
Where to start, how about the size? Ahh yes the size, the Stormraven is not a small piece, its roughly the same size as the Valkyrie, add to that it is stuck atop a tall flying base and thus making it one tough bastard to hide "but Scott it gets its own cover save for moveing flat out" You have a point there imaginary heckler. While it dose gain the 4+ save for moving flat out its not practical to use it, especially if you are currently transporting a unit. Flatout saves where effectively castrated in the last FAQ, thus making it a rather risky proposition to chance several hundred points worth of units and up to three possible kill points on a 4+ cover save "but what about the ceramite plating, that's gotta count for something right?" Why yes it does, it discounts one weapon from the massive arsenal of anti armor based units. Don't get me wrong, flipping the bird to melta based weapons is all good in my book but its no eldar energy field (I hate those damn things) Fancy armor aside you are essentially fielding a beefier Valkyrie, this means that like the Valkyrie your opponent is going to throw every anti armor unit he has at it (well the ones within range anyways)
How would I field it in combat? Well lets look at what its designed for, which naturally is clubbing baby seals at close range (baby seals being guard, tau, eldar, nid gaunts) It also has fairly decent anti armor capability but we will get to that later. Hurricane bolters and nose mounted rocket launchers say this bad boy is good at wracking up a high body count with light infantry (baby seals) Compound that with the ability to drop off a squad of rather ornery Deathcompany and there Big black armored buddie gives you a pretty good picture as to why I see this more as a striker unit then a blocker or a hunter. The ability to drop in on an objective point and unleash a crate full of raged up armored killing machines makes the Stormraven an ideal unit for objective clearing, and after its done unleashing hell it can go on its merry way to harass other would be threats to your precious blasted out husk/holy shrine that you currently do not wish to share with the other player/s.
Ok so deep striking shoebox with assault vehicle rules makes it an awesome striker, but how about that anti armor I mentioned earlier. Lets start off with the first and for some reason most popular choice, TL lascannons. Ok these bad boys are pretty much at the top of the heap when it comes to popping heavy armor, and twin linked makes them even more potent, but here's the trade off, your almost guaranteed at the very least one glancing shot, the down side is you get one glance/pen, one. Call me greedy but I would like a little bit more out of my shooting phase when I am dealing with those pesky template chucking bastards that are currently blasting the new finish off my tac marines. This is the reason I prefer the assault cannon, sure its only strength 6 but that will hole most anything short of a Landraider (and yes I have a plan for that to) and instead of banking on one solid shot from the lascannon you now have three twin linked possible glances that your opponent is now forced to divy up amongst his squad (or forced to take all three on his precious command squad rhino/carnifex/unicorn) Let us then add a little power of the machine spirit to the mix, when opening up a transport (insert which ever soup can you are currently facing) you now have that lovely possibility of squeezing those units out into the open, then forcing saves with your trusty hurricane bolters/typhoon missile launcher. Barring some truly terrible (and very possible) rolls you can in theory have your cake and eat it to (the cake in this instance being the slagged remains of your enemy's ride and the eating it part refers to said units inside sucking the business end of your bolters) Of course kitting your raven out with some fangs (nose mounted tl multi melta) and tl lascannons can also be a nasty prospect for any armored unit so really its up to you weather you want to punch hard or land more hits.
So using the above statements one can see that the Raven dose indeed have the capability to be both gunship and transport and still manage to balance the two. As a rule of thumb though you might want to take two. Using the same logic applied from lessons learned with the landraider its usually a good idea to split your opponents target priority, this also gives you the ability to outfit one unit as a striker and one as a hunter.
I have yet to formulate any pardigrams (fancy word for another word that means organization I think) for the Ravens use with the Grey Knights. This is mostly due to the fact that I cant see into the future and don't have many solid facts about the new composition. That aside though I see the greatest value in the Stormraven being it's ability to drop off all the kids at the pool (even the chubby one) A full unit of infantry plus a dred is great, and saves the need to throw that big bastard in a drop pod. That and the cornucopia of weapons options available also add a little extra spice to the mix. I still feel though that this unit is more suited as an infantry blender then part time tank hunter. There are also a few reasons that make the Raven a less then optimal choice when it comes to points and the force org, making the Raven a heavy support rather then a fast attack really limits its potential as a game changer, you have to choose between mobility and fire power when you field this thing.
Over all I don't see the Stormraven as a big game changer, I have seen it in action and I have read the reports, most of the time it's shot down shortly after deployment. In the land of IG mech lists and razor spam its hard to weather the storm of firepower being thrown around, at best you can really pummel a dug in unit That's been eyeing up that objective point. I have been wrong before though (so we entered an abandoned mine shaft instead of the gift shop big whoop) so I am fully prepared to eat crow on this one should things turn out different.
BH Senior Editor.