Old School here to continue my initial thoughts on the New Dark Angels codex. This time we will be looking at my favorite section of the book (possibly tied with the HQ slot), the Fast Attack section. Let's start with the original Raven Wing, where this crazy business all began!
The Raven Wing Attack Squad
The basic RW biker took a points reduction of 6 points per biker! In exchange, they did lose fearless, but gained Stubborn LD8 (LD9 with a 10pt Vet Sgt), Hit and Run and kept ATSKNF. The bikes kept their Teleport Homers, their old RW style combat squad and the ability to take 2 special weapons at any squad size. The attack bike upgrade is cheaper if you are taking the heavy bolter version, but you must pay 10pts to gain the multi-melta. Additionally, you can take a speeder as well, which can be kitted out as either a Tornado or a Typhoon (which is pretty cheap).
There are a ton of options when running RW bikers. I would prefer to run them as troops through Sammy or Azreal, but if necessary, I would add a small squad or two in a regular list (though in that case, I would likely just want Black Knights!). What I like about the bikes is the ability to run them in so many different way. I can run small assassin squads with two special weapons, in large squads that can break down or be kept together in the rare case you need KP denial, taken with or without scoring attack bikes in single-man scoring support or even as a way to get extra speeders on the board. With units like Black Knights and RW command squads around, I would leave the plasma to them and give the bikers melta in order to provide fast ant-tank support. If you say no to melta, then I guess flamers may be your thing, but my Necron barges say you should think twice on that call!
Raven Wing Support Squadron
The RW support squadron isn't you old choice of speeder, no, it is access to 1-5 speeders in a single slot! Now, you could take 5 speeders in the last book, but you didn't have full access the way you did before. Now, Any and all speeders can be upgraded to your desire, including the 75pt typhoon, which is a pretty good deal, though my trusty multi-melta version went up by 10 points from the last book. My personal opinion is that I wouldn't take 5 speeders in a single squad, though, I do see value in a single or maybe 3 speeder squad that could come in from reserve or hit behind some ruins to be a sort of hit squad. I may tool around with it to see what I can come up with. In the meantime, keep your speeders specialized to handle threats the rest of your army has trouble with.
These guys are the stars of the fast attack slot for me. No matter what list I write for DA, I always end up with a unit of them in my list. Let's break it down: They get all the benefits of regular RW bikers, but come with twin-linked 18" plasma guns, LD9, 2 attacks base with S5 rending and skilled rider! They are a pretty penny at 42 points a model, but used correctly can seriously decimate the enemy! The addition of the grenade launcher makes them even deadlier with the chance to make the enemy either -1 toughness (good for instant death from the Plasma on two wound units) or -1WS and I, which is good if you plan to follow up with an assault (be damn sure you will win it though). Now, keep in mind that they cannot combat squad and that a RW command squad is cheaper, but will never score in any mission the way the knights might. I plan to try bare-naked 10 man squads, 10 man squads with grenades and maybe even smaller squads depending on my army build, but to have this kind of killing power and resiliency for slightly more than the cost of a SM terminator, consider me all in!
The Nephilim Jetfighter has been sold to us as the anti-flyer flyer, but for its hefty price tag, it is a little underwhelming. Sure, your 6/4 missiles, heavy bolter and lascannon may scare ground pounding xenos and transports (somewhat), but against the other air threats out there, it really has a hard time standing up. AV12 flyers will simply have a laugh at it (minus the las cannon) and again, S6 even isn't super awesome at downing AV11 flyers either. Meanwhile, the nightscythe and Storm Raven alike will blast this thing out of the sky, Heldrakes will run it over and even storm talons will get the jump on it. Bottom line, there is something missing here and you are better off using your other slots (including allies) to get good flyers.
The Dark Talon is slightly cheaper than the Nephilim and comes with two hurricane bolters and a rift cannon. Neither weapon is super impressive on a flyer. What is pretty nice, is the Stasis bomb, but again, I just see the RW grenade launchers out there and the units they come on and much like the Nephilim, I have to write off the Dark Talon. Sorry.
The Dark Shroud
Finally, we turn to one of the most lamented models in recent history. Often called the "DJ mobile, Space Church and even worse, the Dark shroud does however prove useful in DA lists. The ability to hand out a +1 cover save to units is pretty huge in a shooting game. It can keep up with bikes, keeping RW bikers alive and improving upon the already impressive save of bikers with Skilled Rider. It can also be taken to bolster units behind an aegis defense line, making them officially not care if you pack plasma or not. This thing is by no means a gunship, carrying a heavy bolter or an expensive assault cannon. I think the idea here is to keep the threat low, hang back, turbo boost and stay alive to keep up the bubble. Biker lists will likely do well with just one protecting key units, which gun line style lists will want two to turbo boost criss-crossing one another to keep a cover save across the line. Am I saying it's an auto include? No, but then again nothing really is.
Overall the entire fast attack slot is pretty nice, with the exception of the let down in the flyers. The bikes and speeders are fast and deadly and with cover saves and virtues like Skilled Rider, some units have some extra resiliency. I will say that the big weakness of bike armies and others that depend on cover will be Heldrake lists and Tzeentch Daemons (for now) who have quick units that don't care about your cover save. Their saving grace will be skilled players finding ways to outmaneuver their foes to strike them down or punch through delicate back armor. Pure RW is totally possible and I think Dual or Multi Wing is really the way forward.
With all that said, what are your thoughts and opinions of the DA fast Attack section? Want to call me out on the flyers? Discuss RW tactics and lists. Fire away, the floor is yours!