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Ravager Battlefield Tactics

Submitted By: Date: January 10, 2006, 10:54:31 AM Views: 2952
Summary: The Ravager is a staple of many Dark Eldar armies and is considered a solid unit by most Dark Eldar players. It has deadly firepower and is fast, a perfect combination for an attacking Dark Eldar army. Here I'm going to outline a few methods of using them, in the hopes of helping new players get a feel for this useful unit, and of course reminding veteran players of some tricks they may not already know, or at least don't consider all the time.

Ravager Battlefield Tactics

First off, its a good idea to take a look at Scorn's guide for equipping Ravagers, which can be found in the same section as this article. There's no need for me to repeat the information there. I consider the Ravager to be primarily an anti-personel gunship equipped with 3 Disintegrators, so bear that in mind when reading the tactics below. I've included a section on Dark Lance Ravagers at the end for players who equip them that way - Wych Cults in particular often do this to add much needed anti-tank weapons to their lists.

Minor Note: a quirk of mine is that, though an Englishman, I love the German name for the Ravager: the 'Wyvern'. Much cooler. But to save confusion among the English-speaking world, I've forced myself to use the duller name 'Ravager' throughout. I hope you appreciate the great sacrifice I've made. BTW, if you agree with me that Wyvern is a better name, get sending letters and E-mails to Games Workshop.

Solo Ravagers

Many lists take just a single Ravager for support purposes.  Now while the Ravager does carry great firepower, gone are the days when it could wipe out entire squads on its own.  You might be able to solo-kill small fragile units of 5-6 models if you're lucky, but the Ravager just doesn't have enough punch to kill anything other than the smallest units under normal circumstances, and it's also fragile enough that many units can damage or destroy it without a lot of hassle.

So remember the word 'support': use a lone Ravager in combination with other units, not as a solo-act.  There are always exceptions to every rule - in this case, isolated squads without any weapons of S5+ can be dealt with fairly handily by a lone Ravager - but you won't find this situation cropping up often.

A classic example of a Ravager in a supporting role is the Ravener which first volleys to soften up an enemy unit before it is assaulted by nearby close-combat specialists. This is generaly helpful as it increases your odds of winning the upcoming assault significantly, especially if your assaulters are not your most elite, such as Warriors, Hellions, Reavers, or Mandrakes for example.  Be careful though; don't waste shots softening up enemy squads that are already going to be hugely outclassed in the ensuing assault (e.g ignore most squads if Incubi are going to charge them). Also be wary of softening up the enemy squad so much that the opponent can remove casualties in such a way as to leave your lurking assaulters out of charge range, or for that matter be wary of forcing a squad to fall back out of charge range. There's nothing worse than having expensive, fragile assault troops standing around in the open in front of the enemy firing line because they couldn't get into assault last turn.

A Disintegrator volley at Maximal will generally kill 3 or 4 models with a salvo against a squad not packed very tightly, but with good rolling you could expect to kill 5 or 6 not that infrequently.  Factor this in when deciding what to shoot at.  If you do decide to take a 'risky' shot with a chance of leving your assaulters out of range, then make sure you shoot with the Ravager first! At least then the assault units can choose  to run (barring Incubi) to hopefully get back into charge range, or direct their fire and subsequent assault at a different enemy unit in range.

Of course, you needn't always fear units falling back from Ravager support fire.  40k is fat with Fearless units and units with other morale-boosting abilities such as Orks in large-mobs and Tyranid Synapse rules. These units will stalwartly brave even the most withering hails of fire and still await your assault rather than run away in terror (this is why extreme bravery and extreme stupidity are often said to be the same thing).  So you can feel more free to blast chunks out of units such as these, just do try not to wipe them out completely with shooting and as always, watch out for the opponent being able to remove casualties so as to prevent assault.

Ravagers can also be used to augment the shooting of other units to cripple or wipe out enemy units with guns alone.  A Ravager and a couple of Warrior or Raider squads are a good way to deal with small but dangerous units that can do a lot of damage but have only a few models.  Heavy weapon teams are a good example, as are expensive jump-pack troops. People often like to keep the cost of these units down by using less models in them - punish them for skimping by wiping these units out before they can do any damage. This is the ideal way to use Ravagers in early turns before your assaulters have gotten close to the enemy lines.

Multiple Ravagers

Many Dark Eldar players love Ravagers so much that they'll use two or three of them in a list. Multiple Ravagers used together can be very potent, and unlike solo Ravagers they can be used unsupported by other units if you pick your targets carefully. Two Ravagers will cripple a 10-man Tactical Squad with a turn's shooting, while three will quite likely wipe it out altogether. If using Ravagers in this way it's generally best to fit two for anti-infantry, with three Disintegrators each and a third with Dark Lances if some additional anti-tank firepower is needed.  Focusing fire can be very powerful on our gunships.  Do watch out for fast-shooty units when using Ravagers as a stand-alone team, things like SM Land Speeders, Necron Destroyers, Eldar Falcons, etc are especially dangerous to our relatively lightly armoured skimmers.

Even when fielding multiple ravagers the option to use each of them individually as seperate supporting vehicles remains. The support firepower of three Ravagers can be a major boon to a Dark Eldar army no matter how they are fielded, as long as a few important guidelines are followed. 

Disintegrators: Sustained or Maximal

Sustained mode is what most will generally use more often than not.  Ravagers enjoy a great deal of mobility, and when moving over 6" at least two Disintegrators can only fire on Sustained mode.  Even with 2 (or even all 3) disintegrators on Sustained the overall killing power of the Ravager is not significantly diminished. The Blast Weapon rules for Maximal firing don't always kill more models than Sustained firing if the target squad is spread out too much.  Arcas also points out that "...sustained mode isn't as susceptible to luck as maximal mode. Nine shots are more often close to the expected average in killing than three are, things balance out somewhat more with them.".

So, does Maximal ever have a use? Indeed it does. Scattering blasts can potentially harm other targets even if they 'miss', which makes them particularly effective against tight enemy formations.  They're also obviously excellent at destroying swarms, due to their high strength combined with a swarm's vulnarability to blasts.  It's great against tightly packed units where you can guarantee a lot of hits, particularly if a unit has Deep Striked and is all bunched-up. 3 blast markers slapped over them can hit every model in the unit with S7 AP2 death. Maximal is also good against T3 multi-wound models to gib them with Instant Kill. We like splatter. Lastly, 3 S7 templates can do well against groups of light vehicles.

Ravager positioning and protection:

Ravagers can be used as close-support for you attacking squads, as described in the first section. When doing this, you'll almost certainly be firing Disintegrators on Sustained mode. While Sustained mode does have 12" less range than Maximal, this is nicely made up for by the fact that you can move 12" and fire when using it. While this is close support, it's often a good idea to fire from close to maximum range (24" for Sustained) to avoid return fire from weapons like meltaguns, plasma guns, and S4 small-arms fired at the rear.

Another use for Ravagers is to hang back and shoot. If hanging far back alongside Sniper Squads then the Ravager will probably need to fire on Maximal to reach the enemy, at least for the first couple of turns. This means moving less than 6" limiting your mobility a bit, and it's important to avoid return fire where possible.

Ravagers are not very sturdy. The AV of 11 is no real protection against the high-strength anti-tank weapons that are often targetted at Ravagers.  In fact, even many mid strength weapons can be a threat, particularly when such weapons tend to have a higher rate of fire. So, you need to take advantage of terrain and anything that can obscure the opponent's LOS to the Ravager, including other ravagers and raiders. Or, you can use target saturation combined with concentration of force, if the enemy has lots of threats in one small area then he can't effectively deal with all of them. This applies to Ravagers no matter how you use them.

If hanging back, you may want to consider using a Night Shield. I don't find Night Shields to be useful for a Ravager that will be getting too close the enemy, such as if you plan to use alot of sustained disintegrators, or a Horrorfex for that matter. Nightshields only offer a significant benefit if you are already close to an enemy's maximum range.  Consider it to be a useful bonus, NOT an invincibility button.

The Night Shield won't protect from fast units with long-range weapons that can fire on the move, nor will it always save your Ravager from long-range (48"+) anti-tank weapons like Lascannons and Missile Launchers, or heavy tank fired ordinance weapons (unless they have unusually short range).

Use the Night Shield in conjunction with other defensive tactics, don't just fly a Night Shielded Ravager out in the open and think it will survive - because it won't, unless your opponent is so woefully short-sighted as to not bring any long-range firepower.  Nightshields are particularly effective on Triple Lance ravagers, as they have little to no reason to ever get closer than 36" to their enemies.

As mentioned above, fast or long range anti-tank teams, along with units carrying mid strength high rate of fire weapons, are the most dangerous threats to your Ravagers. Consider spending the first turn or two dealing with these. Reavers, Warriors, Raider Squads and the Ravagers themselves are all generally good at dealing with such units.

When using Ravagers as part of a Webway Portal army, there are a couple of tactics you can use and there are both advantages and disadvantages to starting your Ravagers inside the portal. When facing a strong shooty army with a large portion of their force starting on the table, the Ravager is likely to die quickly as lots of heavy weapons will focus on it deploying on the board. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it draws fire from your portal carriers.

You may even want to use your Ravager with suicidal aggression to force the enemy to take notice of it - when they blow it up, leave the wreck to block their LOS to units behind! Remember, Dark Eldar players often have to sacrifice units to win, and the Ravager is no exception. Be ruthless, it's both effective and in-character.  However, sacrificing it does mean the Ravager won't get to do much damage (if any), so you might prefer to have it lurk in the Webway ready to emerge with your assault squads and wreak havoc on the turn you open your portals.  But aiding your portal carriers is often the more useful role.

Screaming Jets are good for fun too, though many consider them overpriced. An unexpected Deep Striking Ravager behind enemy lines once in a while can be a great way to set your opponent's off balance, and it will certainly get their attention and cause some chaos at the very least.  If well coordinated with other attackers it can be very effective, but the random nature of Deep Strike complicates this.  I would say that if your Screaming Jet Ravager gets to Deep Strike before the rest of your army is ready to attack, then just put it behind some terrain on a flank ready to cause trouble next turn, or if nowhere there looks safe, just put it with the rest of the army and accept that those points were wasted this game.

Ravager Tank Hunters

Three Dark Lances is the armament of the Ravager Tank Hunter, or the JagdWyvern as I also like to call it.  These are indeed potent tank-busters. Because of it's heavy armament, the Dark Lance armed Ravager cannot fire as effectively when moving as the Disintegrator Ravager, so you'd think this means you will always be using it to hang back and snipe at tanks. However, don't be afraid to use the 24" move aggressively to get into a good forward position from which to attack next turn, if one is available. A nice trick is to fly behind some tall Area Terrain within 36" of your target tank, then fly over the terrain next turn to shoot. That's true gunship-style, a tactic that an Apache Longbow would be proud of.  If and when you've killed all the enemy vehicles and monstrous creatures (which often happens quickly in Dark Eldar armies due to all the Lance weapons available) then the Ravager can start to target heavy infantry and bikes.

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