I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Raveners weren’t very good in the last edition. I know I’m running the risk of catching alot of flak for that (especially amongst my friends, who seem to think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread).
I suspect many of the internet fan-boy types will agree with this assessment though, even if it’s based only upon the fact that they aren’t scoring units. Hopefully they changed these in the new codex…
Starting at the top, their price is going to drop by about 20%. At first glance, they seem identically priced, but you have to figure that in the previous codex you were required to buy biomorphs–so the minimum cost did come down quite a bit. For the new lower cost, you also get more wounds and a higher attack stat (which is really nullified with the new changes to scything talons).
Raveners run pretty lean, not suffering from unecessary upgrades, like many of the other units in the codex. They’re straight and to the point. They’ve retained their ability to purchase the same three weapons (for slightly cheaper cost). Of these, your choices really seem to boil down to spinefists or deathspitters (if you’re considering taking a devourer, just man up and buy deathspitters, will ya?).
The new rules for scything talons benefit Raveners. Rerolling your misses is always good-especially when paired with rending claws, since there’s another chance to ignore armor. Likewise, these units now benefit from acute senses (whoopie! re-rolling distance for night-fighting for a unit that has an 18″ maximum gun), and move through cover. While the last option sounds like a bonus, it’s really a nerf in disguise. The nerf isn’t to Raveners though, because previously ALL tyranids gained the move through cover special ability. Now only a few select models have it. Well, at least the Raveners got to keep it.
Lastly, the maximum size of a brood increased from 6 to 9. I s’pose this lets you tack a few more spare wounds on the squad in the hopes that they’ll actually see combat. Otherwise, the unit remains relatively unchanged from the previous codex.
The bad boils down to the fact that they lost their 12″ charge due to not being beasts anymore. With them not being fleet, and not having a 12″ charge, they’re the epitome of foot sloggers. While they can deep-strike, they can’t charge that turn, and have to rely on their pityful 5+ armor save to keep them alive until shooting. If an enemy lets you deep strike these down and doesn’t obliterate them in the shooting phase AND is silly enough to stay within 12″ of them, they deserve to die. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s gonna’ happen too much–unless you force them to make a bad decision.
Like the rest of the codex, these guys lost their immunity to instant death (when within Synapse range). This hurts all multi-wound models in the army (well, all that aren’t toughness 6 or more–and even them when faced with a Callidus and a Psyker Battle Squad). It sucks, but it’s just something we’ll have to live with.
Their leadership also took a major hit. Previously, these guys effectively had the “brood telepathy” special rule that ‘stealers possess. Though they are forced to make leadership checks when out of synapse, their high leadership almost ensured they could operate independantly. With their drastically reduced score, it’s going to be harder to pull that off.
Lastly, their minimum squad size tripled. In 4th edition, you could run with a squad of a single ravener on the board (though I don’t know anyone who did, or would want to–especially with the 5th edition KP missions around), but it could be seen as a *slight* nerf. Realistically, I see the changes to the squad size as a whole as an improvement (albeit slight).
Well, they’re cheaper and slower, and less likely to do what you want when your brain bugs aren’t around. All in all, the changes don’t excite me much. Considering I wasn’t a fan of the unit in the previous codex, I doubt I’ll run them too often in the new one.
Between having an extra wound per model and them being 20% cheaper, you’re looking at almost double the wounds on the board per point spent in raveners. That’s great–if you’re not fighting against str8+ weaponry (or other things causing instant death). Likewise, you’re looking at 20% more attacks (because of the cheaper models), so more chances to rend (assuming you’re running them with claws).
The loss of beasts will make them an unattractive choice, but the changes to instinctive behavoir will almost nullify the lower leadership (since Raveners will now charge the closest enemy when synapse fails them). All in all, I’d say this is still a mediocre unit–though I’m sure my friends will still love them to death.
I expect to see them coming out of Trygon (alpha) holes on a board near me when I play against my friends, but still won’t be getting a lot of playtime in my armies. Sorry boys: better luck next codex.