A Ravener (Tyranicus ophidius subterra) is an assault-specialized Tyranid creature, much like the Space Marines' Assault Squads. They both focus on being in close quarters, they can Deep Strike, and they are both ill-suited for dealing with lots of dakka. Raveners can be equipped with ranged weapons, which are built into their chests instead of giving up some of the limbs they use for melee and tunneling. Appearance-wise, Raveners are serpentine creatures, looking essentially like the Hive Mind stuck the upper torso of a Tyranid Warrior on the body of a giant alien snake, Lamia style.
They have the distinct honor of being one of the two strains to initially have special characters, in the form of the Red Terror - much like how the Carnifex genus had Old One Eye. The Red Terror was a unique-looking blood-red Ravener with multiple sets of scything claws and the, at the time, unique ability to burrow under the ground to ambush other models and to swallow its victims whole. The other is Dawn of War II's Ravener Alpha, which is essentially just a bigger Ravener. It takes a page from the Trygon's book and can build large tunnels for allied units to crawl through.
On the tabletop
Raveners are serpetine blenders designed to shred any GEQs that they can get their hands on. And their profile shows it: more or less Warriors with an extra wound, two extra attacks and double the speed for a 5 point increase (and an identical power level). Raveners also substract 1 from all your opponent's melee attack roles, greatly helping in their survivability against a small number of heavy-hitting attacks. They are one of the fastest units in your list, outpaced by only the largest winged creatures. Because of their massive speed using an Advance is less of a necessity, but can be enhanced by using the Onslaught power. Their speed is enhanced by their ability to use Death From Below, allowing you to set them up 9" away from an enemy unit. While you can charge on the turn you arrive, the 9" distance gives you a 1 in 4 chance to actually succeed. So make sure to keep them safe on the first turn they arrive, but afterwards it's chow time.
Once Raveners close the distance you learn of their true potential. The five base attacks is a good start, but with two pairs of Scything Talons this goes up to seven. If you equip the Thoracic Spinefists you end up with two additional attacks on account of them being Pistols. Do not forget that Raveners are equipped with both Scything Talons and Ravener Claws, the latter of which have S5 AP-2 D1. This comes down to five S5 AP-2 D1 attacks, two more at AP-1 and two AP-1 from the Spinefists, which in a base unit is 27 total. This is more than enough to take a massive bite out of a large blob of GEQs, if not outright destroy them.
Raveners have two options out of the box: replacing their Scything Talons for Rending Claws, and taking a gun or not. The point cost for these options are the same, so you will not be hindered by this:
- Scything Talons VS Rending Claws is a matter of what you're up against. Talons add 2 additional attacks, but the Rending Claws are S6 AP-4 D1. Five such attacks per Ravener can threaten MEQs, but because of the math they lack the sheer damage output they have against TEQ. That doesn't mean that they aren't going to deal some damage, it just means that they won't be wiping squads of Marines with the same ease.
- Gun VS No Gun. On paper having a gun sounds objectively better, but Raveners have one additional rule that only takes effect if they don't have one: they get to reroll all melee to hit rolls of 1. Rerolls are always nice, but for a Ravener with Scything Talons it's actually better to go with the Thoracic Spinefists. These have the same stat line as your Scything Talons, and the two attacks you get from them are mathematically superior to what you'd get with the rerolls. The other two guns are assault weapons, so they cannot be used while in melee. The reroll is better when used together with the Rending Claws, since the reroll makes up for your smaller amount of attacks (about one extra wound per trio of Raveners).
The Raveners can pick from three guns with the same cost (since getting them strips the Ravener of its rerolls), which are:
- Thoracic Spinefists, mentioned above. 12" S5 AP-1 D1 Pistol 2 is a perfect addition for a GEQ hunting Ravener with Scything Talons.
- Devourers, 18" S4 AP0 D1 Assault 5. A whole lotta damage output against GEQs, but if you thin them out too much you run the risk of overkill and wasting the damage output of your Raveners. Effective, but only if you have enough targets.
- Deathspitters, 24" S5 AP-2 D1 Assault 3. The best statline of your guns with improved performance against MEQs, the Deathspitter can do damage without risking overkill as badly as the Devourers. Has the same stat line as your Ravener Claws, but lacks the rate of fire.
While the other two guns aren't that bad compared to the Spinefist, their issue is that they deal ranged damage against GEQs, which is what you have Termagants for. They lack the sheer firepower to wipe out an entire squad of them in one go, and Raveners are far from durable enough to deal with any return fire.
Another risk that comes with fielding Raveners is their low Leadership. Because there's a good chance they won't be anywhere near your Synapse creatures once they surface, losing a single Ravener results in a 1 in 3 chance to lose a second one on the ensuing morale test, and the ensuing combat attrition test has another 1 in 3 chance to wipe out the final one. So losing one Ravener carries a 1 in 9 risk to lose the entire unit in one go. There are two ways of dealing with this. The first is the tried and true tactic of target saturation. Sure those Raveners are looking mighty scary, but if you shoot them those Warriors will be on your opponent's ass the next turn. Will two Heavy Bolters be enough to make the unit less of a threat, or will you need three? Make sure to punish your opponent for this no matter their choice. The second is the Encircle the Prey stratagem: for 1 CP your Raveners are removed from the table and can pop back up next turn. Your opponent can't shoot what's not on the table, after all. The downside to this is that it's risky for Raveners to try and charge on the same turn that they arrive, and that this plays into the whole target saturation thing. Sure it'll hurt to lose your Raveners, but losing another unit will be just as bad. Time its use correctly and this statagem will be of immense use.
|Leader Organisms:||Broodlord - Hive Tyrant - Norn Queen |
Swarmlord - Tyranid Warrior
|Small Creatures:||Gargoyle - Genestealer - Hormagaunt - Ripper - Termagant|
|Biovore - Hive Guard - Lictor - Neurothrope - Pyrovore |
Ravener - Tyrant Guard - Venomthrope - Zoanthrope
|Monstrous Creatures:||Carnifex - Dimachaeron - Exocrine - Haruspex - Malanthrope |
Maleceptor - Mawloc - Tervigon - Toxicrene - Trygon - Tyrannofex
|Gargantuan Creatures:||Cerebore - Dactylis - Hierodule - Malefactor - Nautiloid - Viragon|
|Flying Creatures:||Harpy - Harridan - Hive Crone - Mucolid Spore|
|Spaceborne Creatures:||Tyrannocyte - Mycetic Spore - Ether-Swimming Brood|
|Bio-Titans:||Dominatrix - Hierophant - Hydraphant - Viciator|
|Floral Structures:||Capillary Tower - Reclamation Pool|
|Other Organisms:||Bio-Weapons - Cortex Leech - Meiotic Spore |
Spore Mine - Sporocyst - Zoats
|Unique Creatures:||Deathleaper - Laius Horror - Old One-Eye - The Red Terror|