Friday, June 10, 2011

Talkin' Tactics #3-Stormraven vs. Land Raider

One opponent stares at the dice as it rolls across the board. He is going to deploy first. But, what does his opponent have? What should he prepare for? Is it going to be a goliath on the battlefield, barreling at his line with a slow and steady purpose, or is it gonna be a quick and swift skimmer with the stinging power of the mightiest of weapons? If it is one of these, which should he fear more?

After discussing both the pros and cons to fielding a Stormraven and a Land Raider, I figured it was time to compare them directly to one another. Both vehicles have definite strengths and weaknesses that I have already discussed in greater detail in earlier posts. Here I will examine how those strengths and weaknesses compare to one another and try and give a better situational understanding of when and where these two beasts shine, and how they might stack up against one another. By now, many of us have played with or against a Land Raider and a Stormraven. I myself used to use a basic Land Raider in my 3rd edition Grey Knights army, but soon dropped it for the tactical flexibility of three dreadnoughts. After the new codex came out, I absolutely loved the tactical capabilities of a Stormraven, and how they can add so much variety of play and create unusual situations for both the enemy and myself. The Stormraven at its basic form is cheaper than the Land Raider of any variant, but lacks the awesome firepower that the latter can wield. The basic Stormraven comes equipped with a twin linked assault cannon and heavy bolter, with the upgrade capabilities of replacing the assault cannon with a lascannon and the heavy bolter with a multi-melta for free. Replacing either one of these will give the Stormraven more tank hunting ability, making the vehicle more deadly towards mech heavy lists. The Stormraven can add side sponson hurricane bolters for 30pts and can even replace the heavy bolter with a typhoon missile launcher. The different weapons payload can make the Stormraven more versatile, as you can field them in almost any situation and find it useful. The Land Raider variants tend to be more expensive than the Stormraven, but have a heavier payload without having to add weapons onto the vehicle. The Land Raider variants are not as customizable as the Stormraven, leaving you with specific fixed weapon variants. Now, the customizability of the Stormraven does not mean it is a better vehicle, it just means that you can tailor the skimmer to fit almost any situation where you want it to be effective.

The Land Raider variants on the other hand, each have enough firepower to handle both heavy infantry and mech on the same chasis. The weapons range from twin linked lascannons and multi-meltas, to flamestorm cannons, assault cannons and heavy bolters. The Land Raiders automatically have the ability to go into battle prepared to take on any foe, be it a mech heavy list or a horde, and still have the survivability of AV14. Both vehicles have power of the machine spirit, but the Stormraven can be brought down with a far wider array of firepower than the mighty raider. Both vehicles are also assault vehicles, leading both to carry infantry and IC's, making both vehicles a multi-purpose tool on the battlefield. Both vehicles can move 12" and have the models disembark and assault in the very same phase, making both of them very effective at delivering troops to the precise location where they can cause the most damage as quickly as possible. The Stormraven however, trades survivability for speed, as it is able to move up to 24" flat out, but still can only rely on armor 12 to protect its inhabitants from the opposing force. The Stormraven does get the 4+ cover save from moving flat out, but if you have a 200+ unit inside with a 200+ unit carrying them, a 4+ cover save is the only thing keeping 400+ points alive on the board. While some people ay be risk takers, preferring to get their troops as far down the enemy's throat as possible, others prefer a slower, yet safer method of transportation that has enough firepower to ensure that your opponent's nearby forces will feel the raw furry of the oncoming onslought. survivability is a vital component that, depending on the player's tactics, may be more important than speed and maneuverability. The Land Raider variants can only be destroyed by weapons with a strength value of 8 or more (not counting rending weapons or weapon modifiers that make an attacking model or weapon projectile strength 8 or greater). Forcing the enemy opponent to devote a high powered weapon or unit at a specific target can help to keep that weapon from firing at other units with less survivability, and can cause huge problems for armies that lack in tank killing weaponry. Forcing someone to change their target priority is a huge tactical advantage to a player using any of the raider variants, and can change the whole battle strategy that the opponent may have had upon deployment. However, lets not forget that the Stormraven has some unique traits that can make it quite a viable vehicle in any army.

The Stormraven is susceptible to a much larger array of firepower, and can be shot down a lot easier than the Land Raiders. But, it should not be underestimated just because it is not AV14. The raven can get troops across the battlefield, and can even carry a dreadnought as a passenger as well, possibly delivering another heavy mech shooting platform that can then draw attention away from the other embarked units and the Stormraven itself. Being able to carry and deliver a small army all in one skimmer can change the tide of any game, changing the layout of the battle and forcing the enemy to possibly fight on two or more fronts. The controlling player can even split the battlefield in half, or quickly advance on a seemingly unimportant objective before the opponent has the ability (or mobility) to react. The embarked units in a Stormraven can even deep strike out of the Stormraven, even if the vehicle has moved flat out. Units such as jump infantry (or grey knight interceptors) scatter less than regular deep striking models if jumping out of the Stormraven, and can deliver another squad of reinforcements into battle even before the raven has reached its intended destination. The downside to moving flat out is that the Stormraven can be destroyed even if the enemy merely immobilizes it. Everything it seems, has its claws as well as its achilles tendons.

Ultimately, it matters not the firepower or maneuverability that makes either one of these vehicles better or worse than one another, it is the controlling player and his tactics that dictate their successes or failures. With that being said, I think that the style of army that a player wants to run will lead that person to the best vehicle for the job. A more mobile, fast striking army may prefer the speed of the Stormraven, while a slower, yet hard hitting force will crave the payload of firepower brought by the Land Raider variants. Neither one of these vehicles are cheap, but the Stormraven may save some much needed points. The raven may have a more customizable weapon payload, but the add ons may cost you. The Land Raider variants come stock with a massive array of firepower that cannot be underestimated by any foe, but the fact that it is a slow moving 250+ point model will draw plenty of fire, forcing the player to use it wisely and tactically as it will not be on the battlefield for long if one is too careless with it. The Stormraven may be faster, but is only AV12 and can be blown up even if only immobilized while moving flat out. Both vehicles are powerful in many ways, and yet have weaknesses that can be exploited by any cunning adversary.

Despite the strengths of the Land Raider, I tend to lean towards the Stormraven. I pick the raven not becuase it is the new "cool" model, but because it fits almost perfectly into my fast moving, extremely mobile Grey Knights army. The Land Raiders are great vehicles, but almost every army I face has at least one in it, and I have always strived to create new and challenging tactical situations for my gaming group as well as myself. The Stormraven gives me the ability to create new tactical dilemmas and problems for my friends, making for more interesting and exciting games and scenarios. Both are fun, exciting vehicles that make any enemy question their deployment and overall battle strategy, and can make your opponents murmur all kinds of profanity under their breath as either one of these vehicles get closer to their intended targets.


  1. One of the biggest pros to the StormRaven is that it is immune to melta based weapons which are the most effective way at popping a Land Raider. This results in Lascannons being the number one platform for opening up the Stormraven. WIth the Lascannons comes great range thus a higher chance at getting destroyed before your vehicle is in position. Mean while the Landraider is shrugging off the majority of Lacannon shots at that same range. As the Landraider rolls in closer it increases it chances of getting wrecked as it enter melta weapon ranges.

    To me this is the biggest reason for weighing the two vehicles against each other. Essentially I think your odds of delivering your package to the enemy are the same. I might be wrong but like hell am I going to math hammer that one out. In the end you essentially are just picking both your opponents and your own poison.

  2. HOTpanda, you are absolutely right. The ignoring melta was one thing that I forgot to mention, and it can be quite annoying to a melta heavy army. I do think that both of these vehicles are quite effective, and that the level of effectiveness really depends on the strategy being used by the controlling player. Thanks for your thoughts on that.

  3. Would love to see a post on your thoguhts behind various strategies that compliment botht he Land Raider and the Stormraven. This would be the defining factor in picking one over the other. Not sure if there is army specific ones for the blood angles and the Grey Knights or if there is common ground between the two of them. I know I am struggling to pick which one to use in my Grey Knight army.