Back in 5th edition the Stormraven was a flying APC with big teeth, couldn'r really stand toe-to-toe with enenmy anti-tank units with it's AV12. he 6th edition Stormraven is a very dfferent beast now as the flyer rule provides an added layer of protection since normal shots need 6's to hit a flyer and the jink rule allows it to have a 4+ inv save. This is not to say you can blindly fly into the teeth of a guard lascannon battery and icaraus lascannon/autocannon emplacements will ruin your day (more on that later in the tactica).
So we have a complicated beast with the best troop carrying capability in a non-apocalypse game and some very effective anti-tank and anti-tank weaponry. The stormraven has truly become a multi-role gunship in 6th edition and needs some careful planning to use effectively.
So, you have an idea to use a nice, shiny Stormraven. What boomsticks do you want to use in order to suitably chastise the enemies of Humanity? It all comes down to what you want the 'Raven to actualy do. The loadouts allow for 3 broad configurations:
The Lascannons are a no-brainer, they are there to put nice shiny holes in the other guy's nice shiny tanks. one shot (with a twin-linked re-roll) at str9 and an AP2. With it's range you can pretty much reach anything on a normal sized board you can see and being on a flying base you can see almost everything. Most flyers in te game are in the AV10/11 range so a str9 lascannon will be putting roles in eemy flyers on 2's and 3's and being AP2 you get +1 on the damag roll which increases the chance of really ruining the enemy aircraft's day
Compare this to the other turret option.
The Assault cannons have a much reduced range compared to the lascannons, however the mobility of the 'Raven makes this less of a drawback than it looks on paper. You get 4 Str6 shots with an AP of 4. Sounds like a no-brainer anti-Infantry weapon right? The AC has 2 advantages over the Lascannon when it comes to anti-armour work. First it's rending, any roll of a 6 to penetrate nets you between 1 and 3 additional points of "your armour is toilet paper", I'd advise against factoring Rending into any calculations however, it's useful but unreliable.
The second advantage is rate of fire, 4 shots with re-rolls as opposed to one. Against armour 13 or 14 the AC is pretty much useless and even AV12 relies on a rending shot. However many armies rely on AV10 or AV11 mechanised waves and against these armies the AC is king. Examples include ork speedfreak forces, Ravenwing Speeder swarms and Astartes Razorback hordes.
Now let us look at the AC in an anti-infantry role. Str6 AP4 will kill MOST infantry with a hit followed by a 2+ assuming they are not in cover. Even against the big boys like 'Nid monsters you are looking at 4+ to wound on most things, there isn't that much out there with a toughness higher than 6. Again rending is useful but can't be relied upon.
In the Anti-air role the Assault cannon is really nasty with 4 shots penetrating the average flyer on 4's an 5's and since most flyers have 3 hull points, even the glancing hits can cause serious problems and the AC has 4 shots re-rolling misses.
Finaly we have twin-linked Plasma cannons. Plasma weapons are a little hard to use, they lack heavy punch for anti-tank work and do not fire fast enough or have large enough templates to kill infantry. Plasma cannons are marine killers, the small blast is generaly large enough for use on squads with 3+saves and will wound them on an easy 2+. Against the big boys in the 'nid armies some prefer plasma to weapons like the assault cannon as you'll get easier rolls to wound. It all dependson personal choice, I tend not to use plasma but if you go up against allot of power armour (or Eldar aspect warriors, Necrons etc.) then Plasma cannons can be an effective choice for an anti-infantry build. In 6th edition vehicles are no longer immune to gets hot! So be wary, even twinlinked these things have a nasty habit of rolling 1 folloed by 1
Bear in mind that plasma cannons are useless against flyers as they can't be hit by blast weapons.
For turrets I'd recomend the twin-linked AC's in most cases unless your army lacks any dedicated anti-tank weapons (an example of this is my own SG force which is limited to 6inches when it comes to shooting tanks).
Ok, now for the hull. we have 3 options here and it's a slightly more dificult choice.
The first option to look at is the humble Heavy Bolter, mainstay of the Astartes with a Str5 same AP as the AC but ony having 3 shots and no rending, it does however have an extended range compared to the AC. While the AC is flexible, the HB is a dedicated anti-infantry weapon and it excells in this role, it can and will destroy most infantry in the open (excpetions, as always, being those annoying 3+ save units). Being twin-linked helps get those shots on target so this weapon can and should be relied upon if your going for an anti-infantry build.
In the anti-air role the Heavybolter is less effective as it's only str5, if you want your Stormraven to dogfight it's better to consider other options.
The next option is a tad more complicated, the Multi-melta. Outside of range 12 this thing is a poor man's lascannon. Under range 12 however and it almost guarantees a penetrating hit on any vehicle (with a VERY shortlist of exceptions such as the 'Raven's ceramite and the necron living metal monoliths). But this is a potentialy lethal catch, you need to get within charge range of the vehicle in question (and anything the vehicle is carrying). You may be putting your 'Raven at risk from other units defending the target vehicle. I will discuss various tactics for avoiding some of these risks but they can never be completely ignored.
6th edition brought another use for the humble multi-melta, it's an AP1 weapon so has a +2 to the roll for penetration and being str8 it's very effective at burning through aircraft armour.
The last option is a multi-role and unique in being the only main-weapon on the 'Raven you have to pay for. The Typhoon missle system is essentialy 2 missle launchers. This is an inportant distinction as you are firing 2 shots, not one shot and re-rolling misses like the other weapons. On average you'll nail 2 missles most of the time but there is a chance of missing both. The Typhoon is an expensive compromise, frag missles are not as good as HB shells and Krak missles are not as good as point-blank melta shots and lack the AP value to ignore feel no pain rules.
However against swarms of AV10 vehicles the Krak is better than a melta or HB ad against swarms of average/low toughness (gaunts, eldar, guard) units the frag missles are actualy better than a HB. Its a compromise weapon, but not without some distinct advantages to consider.
The Krak missles are effective against flyers, while you don't get the re-roll on the miss or the AP1 you get an additional shot which couldmakethe difference.
Now we come to the last two weapon systems of the Stormraven, the first are it's 4 one-shot, Bloodstrike missles. These are anti-tank weapons, Str8 is normaly enough to reliably hurt anything that isn't AV13 or 14 (which is most vehicles). The AP means the Bloodstrike ignores FNP and can insta-kill most IC's that are not eternal warrior. The problem with the damn thing is you only get 4 and most games are six turn jobs. It can be a problem figuring out when and how to use them.
You can only fire two a turn now so the old tactic of firing them all off from the edge of the board is no longer an option. Blood missles are an awesome anti-air choice with their AP1 and they chew through light vehicles. They are oneshot so can be situational, but very effective if you pick the right targets.
Last, but by no means least, is the option to add 2 Hurricane sponsons, this does not come cheap but has it's uses. Defensive fire is gone in 6th ed but weapon destroyed results are random so having another 2 boomsticks to pad your main guns is no small thing. A flyer can shoot 4 weapons a turn so you can have a pretty impressive alpha strike at range 12 or less.
There are three items of equipment you can strap onto a Stormraven.
Extra armour used to be essential in 5th edition as it kept you moving and glancing hits where notorious for stopping you from moving. The rules have changed and extra armour is not as essential as it used to be. It's still very useful and if you have the points to spare then strap on the armour plating. But now if it's a choice between extra armou or a plasma pistol I think in more detail than used to.
Searchlights are now a bit more useful than they used to be as allot of games will have a turn of nightfighting and the rules have change. It's still not an essential piece of kit but if you have a point spare they may as well be equipped.
The locator beacon is an interesting bit of kit, very useful to almost every Space marine army EXCEPT the Blood Angels. Descent of Angels means that we can reliably deploy via jump-pack without needing a beacon. Drop pod armies will normaly have beacons in the first wave of the pods anyway and we tend not to use terminators that much. If your army needs a beacon then put it on but in general it's a waste of points for the Blood Angels.
Now the fun bit!
Ok, first and foremost, unless you are packing a squad into the 'Raven, don't take a 'Raven. A predator can do everything a 'Raven can do in regards to firepower and it many ways can do it better. A raven is an assault transport, if your not using it in this fashion you are wasting it's potential! This is true even in 6th edition with the intorduction of flyers, sure the Stormraven is one of the best anti-air units in the game but it also has the single best troop carrying abilities in a non-apocalypse game.
Now, what to put into the bloody thing? The best results come from small, elite units that need to get into action quickly. Sanguinary Guard, Death Company, Terminators and vanguard Vets are the prime candidates. The 'Raven is unique in being the only non-apocalypse transport available to the astartes than can carry jump pack troops. To make best use of this versatile aircraft, load a Dreadnought in aswell. A 5 man DC squad with lemartes backed by a DC Dread is a very effective choice.
The combination of a 'Raven and a JP squad allows for quick re-deployment (especialy if you have Dante hit and running) a 12 inch move allows the JP squad greater latitude. Just jump to within 2 inches of the 'Raven and load-up. next turn you can either get the hell out of dodge or assault from the 'Raven.
I like to run my 'Raven's in pairs, the idea is target saturation. Also remember once they have unleashed their cargo the enemy has a harder choice on targets, allowing the 'raven to act in a gunship roll. Giving the other guy a choice between a JP elite close combat squad, Furioso and 'aven in thier backyard
increases the survival rate of these units as opposed to them being on their own. I tend to use my 'Ravens to deliver troops to target before lurking above them, targeting enemy armour that can cause issues my little inferno pistols can't reach.
Finaly we come to dogfighting, the Stormraven is one of the best anti-air weapons in the game as you can unload with 4 AP1 missles, an AP1 multi-melta and an AP2 lascannon. Enemey flyers will rightly fear your Stormraven and you can force them to do nothing much more than jink for half the game while you dominate the skies. Don't be afraid to detach your Stormraven to combat air patrol before/after you deliver it's troop payload.
Thankyou for your time. This is not meant to be a comprehensive essay on the use of the 'Raven but instead a primer allowing new players to consider the Stormraven and employ it in their first few games giving them time to appreciate the aircraft and develop their own style and tactics.
Edited by Brother Captain Kezef, 30 July 2012 - 03:56 PM.