Although my last installment involved another space marine vehicle, there is a reason to my madness for writing about two tactical situations involving two different space marine vehicles. The madness will be justified in later posts, but as for now, lets discuss some tactics involving this unit that can bring absolute death from the sky!
The Stormraven s quite a versatile vehicle that is currently only available for two space marine armies. The Blood Angels and the Grey Knights are the lucky few who can use this vehicle as a pure gunship or transport unit. The pros and cons to choosing such a vehicle are somewhat similar to that of the Land Raider Crusader, but the tactics involved in the use of such a vehicle can be vastly different.
Pros-Flexibility in deployment is an automatic pro, becuase the ability to deep strike the vehicle onto the battlefield can add some interesting options to the game. Along with deepstriking, this vehicle has the capability of moving up to 24" a turn, and can even shoot one of its weapons with power of the machine spirit. This type of movement means that depending on the weapon being fired, there is the possibility of hitting almost any target on the battlefield in the first turn. The Stormraven also assists with deployment in that it can successfully get embarked troops into a position early in the game to gain a tactical advantage on an objective or specific unit.
The Stormraven also has the ability to move up to 24" and drop troops or dreadnoughts embarked in the vehicle along the path that it has traveled. This means that a Stormraven can move up to 24", and along the way deploy a dreadnought and another unit embarked inside, thus successfully moving not one, but three units deep into the enemy line or flank. Depending on the weapons equipped on the dreadnought and Stormraven, the amount of firepower that can be used while doing such a movement can be quite advantageous. Of course, the tactic that I prefer to use is moving up to 24" and using the twin linked multi-melta, blasting an enemy tank or walker. After the movement and shooting, I keep the units embarked in the vehicle, forcing the opponent to fire at the Stormraven, or else deal with the units inside the next turn. with the ceramite plating, the Stormraven is immune to the extra D6 from melta based weapons, which increases the survivability of a unit that does well when getting close to the enemy line. Another benefit of the unit is the fact that it is also an assault vehicle. This rule grants the embarked unit the ability to assault even after the Stormraven has moved, even if it has moved up to 12". This specific move can enable a player to move the Stormraven 12"into the enemy line, a flank, or near an objective and fire one weapon, power of the machine spirit another weapon at the same or different target, AND disembark a unit and possibly a dreadnought so that the units can then assault into the unit fired upon. This combination of immense firepower and assault capability at one or more targets being delivered by the Stormraven and its units inside will definitely influence the outcome of the battle, as well as adding excitement to the given turn. Regardless of target priority, this tactic will force the opponent to adapt to the newly delivered units and the firepower they have brought. The opponent now has to deal with multiple units right near its line or objective, forcing them to devote shooting and possible assault moves on the units aforementioned while the rest of your army takes advantage of the extra time to get into position to be the most tactically useful they can be for the battle. Despite all of the useful advantages the Stormraven offers a given army, there are cons to fielding such a vehicle.
Cons- The Stormraven does have some definite drawbacks to an otherwise ideal gunship. The vehicle is only armor 12, making all weapons strength 6 or greater capable of glancing or penetrating the armor, sending the vehicle to the ground. While AV12 sounds quite substantial, keep in mind that the opponent is not going to let the Stormraven sit on the other side of the battlefield without throwing some shots at it. A lascannon only needs a 3+ to glance/penetrate the armor, and missle launchers only need a 4+ to do the same. Even some guardsmen with grenade launchers can glance the vehicle, possibly destroying some weapons or immobilizing it.
If the Stormraven moves over 12" and is immobilized, then the vehicle automatically becomes a wreck. This is a definite drawback to using such a fast moving skimmer, and can ruin your plans if your trying to get the vehicle and its occupants close to the opponent's army. The Stormraven also falls into the "putting your eggs in one basket" category, especiallly if you load the Raven up with infantry and a dreadnought. If the Raven gets shot down early, then the units may get stranded away from objectives and enemies, possibly leaving them out in the open and vulnerable to enemy small arms fire and assaults. The units may then be picked apart while footslogging to the enemy. It is quite easy for this result to happen, and for hundreds of points to be wasted as the enemy picks apart the units that were embarked in the Raven. Another obvious disadvantage is the size and flying level of the vehicle, making it very difficult to get cover saves and makes it quite easier for the opponent to shoot at it with almost any weapon in range, regardless of where the weapon is and how dense the surrounding terrain my be. This lack of a cover save makes the Stormraven more susceptable to being destroyed, possibly hindering the plans of the army and changing the outcome of the battle.
The Stormraven has many pros and cons, both of which must be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to field it in a Grey Knights or Blood Angels army. As of right now, the tactical flexibility of such a unique vehicle is limited to those two armies, leaving other armies to dream and wonder what "could" be. I beleive that this vehicle can be the foundation of many fast moving, "Alpha Strike" armies, making it possible for a fast striking, hard hitting army to be designed around it. This vehicle gives smaller, more elite armies the ability to be quite mobile and flexible, letting them reach objectives and targets early in the game before the war of attrition can take its toll. The versatility and speed by which this vehicle can be used should never be overlooked,while still remembering that there are many draw backs to choosing an AV12 fast assault skimmer. Ultimately, this particular unit can and will add not only tactical flexibility, but a level of surprise and risk in any game it is used, while still keeping the level of fun and excitement quite high for all players.