Gunum Presents: Hear me out, Cyle!

An Exercise in Dark Angel Restraint

Hello everyone! Your friendly neighborhood Gunum here, bringing you a small write-up on the thought process I go through when building lists for any tournament I go to. They way I do this is that I start with a unit that I think has some real Gold-Star potential that you could bring to a competitive event and have a real shot at doing well, and then build a list around it. Hopefully, through my pain and almost methodical thought process, you’ll be able to glean some insight about how even if some units or even ideas are bad, you can still take a battle plan to an event and see it through. These lists will be primarily Dark Angels focused, but I play a wide variety of armies and will explore this format often.

This will be a list run through the filter of my partner in Hog-crime, Cyle “Naramyth” Thompson. Cyle is one of the best — and most boring — players that I know and he has been suffering through my focus on “Bad” units throughout our entire friendship. Cyle plays very meta-focused lists, sometimes even trying to craft that meta himself. Ideally, by the end of this I’ll be able to pull him over to my side of thinking and sell my list idea as the new meta-list I know it can be.


++++++Cyle’s Notes++++++


Sisyphus weeps for me dear reader.  

Imagine every interaction with your roommate opening the door with “HEAR ME OUT, CYLE” and them going on about some C tier xeno unit in a book you haven’t read, in a faction that you couldn’t imagine caring about, equipped with a relic that the author couldn’t tell you what its real intention was. 

Imagine Kramer bursting into your apartment, talking about plague drones, forever.

++++++End Notes++++++


Enough of these delays, this week the unit I will be trying to focus on is…

~Ravenwing Land Speeders~


The List

Hear Me Out Cyle! - Click to expand

Hear me out, Cyle! [131 PL, 8CP, 1,999pts]

Outrider Detachment +1CP (Imperium – Dark Angels) [99 PL, 1,458pts]
Ravenwing Attack Squadron [-1CP] Detachment [1CP]
+ HQ +
Ravenwing Talonmaster [9 PL, 188pts] Land Speeder: Twin assault cannon, Twin heavy bolter Talonmaster: Power sword

+ Fast Attack +
Ravenwing Land Speeders [30 PL, 370pts] 5x Ravenwing Land Speeder with Heavy bolter, Heavy flamer
Ravenwing Land Speeders [30 PL, 370pts] 5x Ravenwing Land Speeder with Heavy bolter, Heavy flamer
Ravenwing Land Speeders [30 PL, 490pts] 5x Ravenwing Land Speeder with Heavy bolter, Typhoon missile launcher

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium – Dark Angels) [31 PL, 5CP, 542pts] ++
+ HQ +
Master [6 PL, 124pts]: Jump Pack, Storm shield, Thunder hammer, Relic: Shroud of Heroes
Master in Phobos Armour [6 PL, 99pts]: Camo cloak, Master-crafted instigator bolt carbine – WARLORD – Target Priority

+ Troops +
Infiltrator Squad [5 PL, 110pts]
5x Scout (Combat Knife) Scout Squad [4 PL, 59pts]
5x Scout (Combat Knife) Scout Squad [4 PL, 61pts]
5x Scout (Combat Knife)

+ Fast Attack +
Ravenwing Darkshroud [7 PL, 138pts]: Heavy bolter

The Tactics

Surprised? You should be Cyle. When I first started playing Dark Angels, one of the standout play styles was focused on movement, and these Speeders sure are quick. When I first thought of this list, while traveling the backcountry roads of Nebraska heading towards a GT, I couldn’t stop thinking about our Stop Competing article and if I was really going to do the unique units dirty. I thought Land Speeders were the saving grace that the community might get behind me with and most of all, the key to having Cyle finally agree with one of my game plans.

++++++Thanks, I hate it.++++++

Let’s talk about the noble Ravenwing Land Speeder (RLS) and what the benefits we will be focusing on are.

So why RLS? Right now I think they are an interesting unit that is able to be equipped to handle all kinds of issues. With their incredibly high movement thanks to Speed of the Raven and their Anti-Grav Upwash mixed with the ability to avoid damage with Jink, these units are capable of going anywhere they really need to on the table. On top of that, being that they are T5, 6W and have a 3+ armor save, it makes them just annoying enough that opponents’ multi-damage weapons might have to focus on taking them down before they start charging those platforms. Mix in the massive amount of anti-infantry you can get into these units and I think it makes them a real threat. I also think they are small enough to hide on top of ITC buildings right now. Not only that, but we can take five in a unit, versus the terrible-in-the-Land-Speeder-department regular Codex Space Marines.

++++++Your defensive game plan is Jinking and Speed of the Raven-ing. Seems great until you go second. It seems like a great way to be set up for failure. You also need to spend CP to shoot with the waves of advancing heavy weapon-equipped front line in a list with a single Battalion.++++++

Looking at their offensive power can really give us a good view of how these are excellent tools in our toolbox. My current build is 10x Ravenwing Land Speeders with heavy bolters and heavy flamers. These will act as my speedy vanguard, fulfilling two roles of clearing screens and also engaging tanks or non-flying infantry that, due to their large bodies, makes it very easy to triangle just about anything you want. Even a Knight if it, you know, didn’t die.

++++++I’ve checked the math. It doesn’t.++++++

Next, we have the 5x RLS with typhoon missile launchers. These are a pretty deceivingly good gun, if not a little pricey. By making these Speeders the target of Warlord’s Target Priority ability (thanks again, Shadowspear!), we will be able to ensure their powerful missiles hit everything they’re point at. And if we really feel like lighting on some Lootas or hordes of Tzaangors, we can put 10d6 shots at S4 into them. Combine that with hitting on 2s and we can chew through any Grots that get in the way (along with some Lootas).

This will be our primary fire-base that, due to the Talon Master, will be re-rolling 1’s to wound while also ignoring cover. Their saving grace will be that they can sit 48″ away from what we are shooting at, while also being able to protect themselves using Jink rule and Speed of the Raven, upping their survivability a bit with a 4+ invulnerable save. Also, our turn one will be slightly protected thanks to the brave sacrifice of our Dark Shroud, lovingly called the Bullet Bank, since everyone wants to deposit their bullets inside of it. ++++++Phrasing.++++++ This list has shots, this list has assaults (kinda), it has the ability to be everywhere on the table, and it has the anti-tank to back it up.

++++++Land Speeders. It isn’t 5th edition anymore Chase and you aren’t playing Space Wolves. 490 points for 30 wounds with 10 krak missiles isn’t terrible. However they don’t get to ignore heavy modifiers, and do not have a real Chapter Master to get over the negative modifiers because you are still in Dark Angels. You are also spending a pile of points on a great model in the Talonmaster, but are using it to babysit backline units where his real strengths of having 18 shots and a power sword on a character platform aren’t being used.++++++

Dark Angels HQs
Look, a speeder! Credit: Greg “Greg” Chiasson

Looking at this unit from an ITC perspective, it’s not a great pick. I can be targeted by two really easy-to-achieve Secondaries. The first one being Gang Busters, as each model killed is one point. These are essentially worse (but faster) Kastelan Robots. The second one being Marked for Death, due to their high power level when we run a full squad. The things I do like them for are the Recon and Behind Enemy Lines secondaries. They are small enough that we should be able to hide some out of Line of Sight, and if we are able to commit to triangles we’ll be safe for all kinds of line-breaking shenanigans.

++++++I agree that this list’s ITC secondary game is solid. You lean into Gangbusters but Marked will honestly be a trap since your opponent has to kill all 15 Speeders for 3 points then either the Darkshroud (omg I just saw that albatross now) or Talonmaster and that seems unreasonable. After that it’s Butcher’s Bill which is a non-starter against a 10-drop list so then it’s positional picks and a pile of Land Speeders running around being in the way could really body out a lot of units.++++++

Finally, let’s talk about the LAME things that aren’t Speeders and what they will be doing for our list. I like having the TH/SS Jump Captain as an anti-flyer tool. He can answer a lot of medium threats alone, and if we wanted to be really clever we could make him Deathwing via Inner Circle and pick an enemy infantry character on the table to give our RAVENWING and DEATHWING units the ability to re-roll charges against that unit. That could be really nice for a sudden charge out of the left-field by a guy with a hammer.  Our scouts can also be very aggressive moving forward since our backfield will be the Rocket Speeders and the infiltrators.  I have found it hard not to take infiltrators in my lists, their ability to push deep strikers out has been one of the most helpful things I’ve used as of late.

++++++Let’s inject some sanity here and build a list that’s more reasonable++++++

UnChasing Ravenwing

Dark Angels Battalion
HQ: Lieutenant In Phobos Armor, Warlord, Trait: Target Priority
HQ: Smash Captain
Troops: 5x Scouts
Troops: 5x Scouts
Troops: 5x Scouts
Fast Attack: 5x Landspeeders (5x Heavy Flamer, 4x Heavy Bolter, 1x Multi-Melta)
Fast Attack: 5x Landspeeders (5x Heavy Flamer, 4x Heavy Bolter, 1x Multi-Melta)

Dark Angels Battalion
HQ: Smash Captain
HQ: Smash Captain
Troops: 5x Scouts
Troops: 5x Scouts
Troops: 5x Scouts
Fast Attack: 4x Plasma Inceptors
Heavy Support: 3x Eliminators
Heavy Support: 3x Eliminators

I think there are some good bones to the 10x Speeder rush/board control game but there is some room for improvement. I leaned into the best part of Dark Angels: Not updated rules. They still have cheap character thunder hammers and old Phobos Warlord traits.  I dropped the 5 krak missile speeders and all their support that try to make a mediocre unit ok and pick up three smash captains, since now we have a heck of a screen, and a set of 4 plasma Inceptors to be targeted by the Phobos LT and light something up with Weapons of the Dark Age. Running a bunch of Smash Captains means burning a lot of CP, so I bumped up to double battalion and having a load of Scouts running around isn’t the end of the world when board control is the name of the game. 3 sets of Eliminators provide Eliminators things: sniping, more board presence, some ok additional anti-tank for cleanup, etc. Finally, I had 25 points of flex so a couple of Speeders got multi meltas for some additional punch. 

Dear reader, I want to ask you a question, and say it out loud (if you don’t say it you will lie to yourself later) before you scroll down: How good are speeders in close combat?

Not bad, Right?! 2 swings a base, 3 on the charge, hitting on 3s. It’s not terrible. Do you know what army wants to advance and charge all the damn time? White Scars. Let’s follow this path a little bit:

~White Speeders, They Will Take Me Away~

White Scars Brigade Detachment
HQ: Smash Captain with Master of Snares
HQ: Smash Captain
HQ: Primaris Librarian, Plume of the Plains Runner
HQ: Primaris Chaplain
Troops: 5x Scouts
Troops: 5x Scouts
Troops: 5x Scouts
Troops: 5x Scouts
Troops: 5x Scouts
Troops: 5x Scouts
Elites: 4x Aggressors
Elites: 3x Aggressors
Elites: 3x Aggressors
Fast Attack: 3x Landspeeders with Heavy Bolter, Heavy Flamer
Fast Attack: 3x Landspeeders with Heavy Bolter, Heavy Flamer
Fast Attack: 3x Landspeeders with Heavy Bolter, Heavy Flamer
Heavy Support: 3x Eliminators
Heavy Support: 3x Eliminators
Heavy Support: 3x Eliminators

This is a take on the popular White Scars list that bodied Goonhammer’s Liam “Corrode” Royle at the LGT a few weeks ago, albeit with a heavy Land Speeder spin on it. Normal Marines can only take squadrons of three Land Speeders so I’ve broken them up into three squads and now we have the bones of a brigade. The three units of Aggressors Encircle while everything else starts on the table and hides. If you can do some early pressure, you go for it, using your Land Speeders to charge out and kill screens and/or tie up shooting waiting for the Aggressors to come in. If you wind up second you have a scary unoverwatchable pair of smash captains ready to ruin anything that gets close. Otherwise, this is the same idea: control the board, lock-up shooting, wait for the Aggressors to come in and smash things with 7″ charges from the Chaplain or Librarian. And if the Speeders are alive on turn three, now they are 3 swings, -1 D2 in combat which is pretty wild.++++++

The Field Test

It’s game time. I felt there were a lot of different ways I could go about this, between picking my matchup against a local player or just going ham on a competitive ITC list. Since I’m supposed to be at least half-decent at this game, I decided to call up my fellow Warhog Nick Harlow who is currently playing pretty Meta Eldar. Multi damage weapons with high AP should be fine, right?

Harlos Space Elvesz,

Alaitoc Air Wing Detachment
Flyer: 2x Crimson Hunter Exarch
Flyer: 1x Hemlock Wraihfighter

Alaitoc Spearhead Detachment
1x Farseer on Bike
2x Warphunters
6x Dark Reapers

Alaitoc Outrider Detachment
1x Autarch on Bike – Laser Lance
2×6 Windrider Jetbikes
6x Shining Spears

The Pre-Game Show


Okay Cyle, looking at that list how well do you think I did?

++++++I think the air game is going to be problematic. Without full rerolls those missile Speeders are going to struggle unless you high roll. The Reapers will be rough until you can go and touch them, but the Warp Hunter linebackers are gonna give you a hard time since they also fly. IDK man, it doesn’t look good for the hero.++++++

Exactly. Really well.

++++++That’s not what I said.++++++

Not well at all.


The Mission

Looking at his list and mine, I started to think about what my best options were. Big Game Hunter, otherwise I was dead. I had the option to cover a lot of ground with this so I picked Recon. Finally, I thought that by downing at least two big things a turn I’d have the lead I needed to take this game. So, hesitantly, I picked Butcher’s Bill.

Eldar getting ready.

He automatically picked Gang Busters, King Slayer and Old School. Something I’ve come to realize is that taking the Phobos Captain has been a bit of a detriment. He has 6 wounds, so by making him my warlord I make him a very juicy King Slayer target.

I rolled lower for deployment, so I had the first turn. I placed my objective around an L blocker in the southeast and my other one on his deployment edge in the middle point. He placed him behind an L blocker in the NE and his other directly across in my SW corner. I deployed my rocket squad in the middle, hidden a little from his firebase, but enough that I don’t cost myself any real line of sight for when he places his planes. I put a flamer Speeder squad on the left and right flank, Scouts in the middle to threaten the bonus point and my Infiltrators back on the rear L blocker on my bonus objective.

He deployed everything he had in his top NW corner, just his planes visible to my Speeders, as planned. He started his Shining Spears and Autarch off the table and rolled to seize. He didn’t. The first turn and victory were sure to be mine.

Cowardly space elves keeping together for warmth.

As the first turn progressed, I felt good, putting my Scouts right on the objective, advancing a squad of Speeders up the middle of the table, unable to flame anything but I used Speed of the Raven to make sure they had their 4++ protection. My left squad backed up a small amount, I measured out his Warp Hunter’s range and stayed outside of it as I knew I didn’t have the anti-tank to tear to much down right away.

My first round of shooting was putting a wound on a Crimson Hunter by my Talon Master, giving my Ravenwing +1 to hit, then lining up shots with my rockets. So, being Alaitoc I only had very few options, -2 to hit on planes is rough for any Space Marines. The plan was to put two of my missile Speeders into the hurt plane, and the other 3 into his Hemlock. By doing this I was reducing his modifier to only -1 and baiting him into trying to save either plane with Lightning Fast Reflexes. This almost worked, I ended up putting 11 wounds on the Hemlock and a big 0 on the Exarch.

My dead pile on the bottom of two. You’ll notice, its everything but 3 speeders.

That was it. That was my shooting phase. My heavy bolters flailed uselessly across the table at -2/-3 to hit due to all the weapons on my Speeders being heavy or short range. It was….. rough.

His turn was killing the SW unit of Speeders and killing two of my rocket Speeders. T5 was not anything against his array of S7 or higher shooting, the multi-damage tearing down my 6 wound models without an issue.

Honestly, this was a hard game. I lost, I lost really bad. I couldn’t shut down his shooting, and once I lost my rocket squad I had nothing left that could deal with his Warp Hunters.

In this war of list building, I was tabled on four, dead in the water on two, and lost to Cyle before the game even began.

~The Winner~


When it came right down to it, as cool as a pure Ravenwing list is, it just didn’t have the staying power to make it happen. It felt like I was playing three incredibly squishy Knights and I just didn’t have the output to kill, well anything. Due to Speeders all having heavy weapons, when I was looking to move -anywhere- and rely on them to kill an Eldar unit? It was impossible.

If I tried this again, I would definitely cut the flamer Speeders right away they were -so- many points to do literally nothing. I did like the rocket firebase, being able to give them +2 to hit to delete something is pretty awesome, to be honest, and it is 10 krak missile shots so that was nothing to sneeze at. I honestly like Cyle’s version of this list with Space Marines, and his Dark Angel list leaning into a very power forward presence might have some clout.

++++++Glorious Vindication. To be clear I think there is a better version of the White Scars list, but I think the concept of Speeders as fast bullies has something to it.++++++

Sometimes getting excited about the profile of a unit just isn’t enough to build an entire list around, especially at such a high cost per model. I already have my next unit picked out, next list built and cooking. I’ll be bringing that to our next local RTT where I’ll hopefully be able to tear down the man himself.

++++++Many have tried.++++++

Good Game.