Fans of the Dawn of War faction rejoice! In July’s issue of White Dwarf, we get finally get the rules for the Blood Ravens, having first been teased a while ago and ‘confirmed’ in the June issue.

Except, if you cannot wait until Friday, the rules have been leaked and are available to view on the interwebs, and so we do what any good hobby site would do and preview them and have a chat about what we think!

Chapter Tactic

First, we have the Chapter Tactic, Relentless Seekers. In the game fluff, the Blood Ravens seek out knowledge and artefacts, in an attempt to uncover their Chapter’s mysterious past. This desire makes them determined and prepared to withstand attacks to meet this goal.

In terms of trying to represent this with in-game rules and abilities, we have an ability where an unmodified wound roll of 1 or 2 always fails, irrespective of any abilities that the weapon or model making that attack may have.

In addition, when a Psychic test or Deny the Witch test is taken for a Psyker model with this tactic, re-roll any or all dice rolls of 1.

Breaking this down, we get some quite interesting effects, which may not be initially clear. First, the more obvious effect, even a lascannon needs a 3+ to wound a Blood Raven marine. No matter the strength of the weapon, it will at best be a 3+ to wound. First instinct to this is “huh, that’s pretty cool”. But then you think about how often T4 marines get targeted by lascannons and melta weapons. Plasma weapons, perhaps. So a nice little effect, but maybe not game breaking.

Until you read it again. An unmodified wound roll of 1 or 2 always, irrespective of any abilities… the model making that attack may have. Bye, bye lieutenant rerolls. Bye bye Bobby G rerolling failed wounds.

Stratagem

This is a pretty decent 1CP stratagem, you can upgrade one Blood Ravens Librarian to be your Chief Librarian. Doing so gains one additional psychic power and an additional deny attempt. Given librarians are a key part in making Space Marines at least somewhat competitive currently, this is a nice bonus.

Relic

I hope this is not the only relic the Blood Raven’s are going to get, especially considering their fluff from the Dawn of War games. Sure, as Pistol weapons go, it is alright. Two shots at strength 5, AP -3 and D2 is pretty tasty. But the 12-inch range means it is always going to be an afterthought.

Named Character

I love a named character in 40k. As much as I like creating my own heroes to lead my armies, nothing makes you feel more like you are playing a part in the grim darkness like using a named character as part of your battle.

As named characters go, Gabriel Angelos seems pretty reasonable and has a healthy amount of fan service to boot. Standard S4 and T4, with 6 wounds and the WS and BS of 2+ we expect from a Chapter Master, along with the re-rolling hit rolls for friendly Blood Ravens.

You will likely note the Terminator keyword, and 2+ save, which we expect from a wearer of Terminator armour, but double check that movement distance. Yep. 6-inch move in terminator armour. Tasty.

Doing a quick ‘feedback sandwich’, you will note that Gabriel does not have a ranged weapon or even grenades, meaning he either hits stuff with his hammer or goes home.

Right, back to the good stuff. That hammer. God-Splitter, what a name. When attacking, you can either go standard Thunder Hammer mode, suffering -1 to your hits but doing 3 damage at -3AP. But do not forget you are rerolling failed hit rolls.

Or you can go crowd control mode. An additional 3 attacks, at 1 damage each and -1AP, and take out 3 more, say, Orks that turn.

Lastly, but by no means least, we have Leap into the Fray. A nice representation of his signature in-game move, immediately following a charge move you pick a unit within 1-inch of Gabriel and on a 4+ you cause D3 mortal wounds. You know, just to get the party started.

Thoughts

So, what do I think? Gabriel seems like he could be fun, but I wonder if the lack of range weapons will hurt him. You will either want to deep strike him down, in which case his 6-inch movement is largely irrelevant on that turn, or you want to stick in a Land Raider to get around without being shot at, again making his 6-inch movement irrelevant to start with.

Jumping at people with a massive hammer is generally good fun in the game though. The Librarian stratagem is pretty nice for 1CP and should help in a tangible way on the tabletop. The relic leaves me feeling ‘meh’ but the standout is really the chapter tactic.

As an Ultramarines player, I know how great it feels to reroll dice, and have seen it really improve my damage output in a game. Denying those rerolls, and limiting the potential effect of Plasma, Melta and Lascannon weapons will almost certainly increase their survivability and allow them to continue hunting for more relics and knowledge.

Tune in next time!

So what do you think about the Blood Raven rules? Enough to tempt you into running a Blood Raven army? How about the relic, am I missing something? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and tune in next time!

Until next time, peace out.