Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Fear the Reaver!!!

Gday Guys, Keepy here.

In recent times some of our other authors have written about legion specific Rites of War or units, and a few of you have requested something on Sons of Horus. As the resident player of the mighty XVI, I am more than happy to give you some thoughts of mine.

I am still play testing and getting my head around a competitive army for the Sons of Horus Rite of War, The Black Reaving, so I will leave this for now. What I have been playing with much success are the Reaver Attack Squads. I have never really used them much until recently, and I think I have found a few guidelines (albeit expensive ones) on how to use them.

Reaver Attack Squad Basics

To start with, lets have a look at the unit itself. A Reaver Attack Squad costs 135pts base for a unit of 5 models, including a Chieftain (Sergeant) with the option of taking up to ten more models for 15pts each, taking up a Fast Attack slot. The stat lines are nothing to write home about, fours across the board with the exception of attacks, two base for a Reaver and three base for a Chieftain. These stats are pretty much on par with a Legion Veteran Tactical Squad, again with exception to the Chieftain. They come equiped with Power Armour, Bolt Pistols, Chainswords / Combat Blades, Frag and Krak Grenades.

The Reavers also come with some pretty handy special rules, Assassin's Eye and Outflank, on top of the usual Legion Astartes (Sons of Horus). Assassin's Eye gives the entire unit Precision Shot and Precision Strike despite not being characters, very handy for getting rid of that Sergeant or Apothecary before laying into your target unit. As long as the Reaver unit is not equipped with Jump Packs, it may also take a Rhino or an Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw as a dedicated transport.

So we have some handy rules and a couple of transport options for an otherwise mediocre stat-lined unit. What makes these guys any good?

Well, the answer lies in their wargear selections. One in five models may take a special weapon (the usual Flamer, Meltagun or Plasmagun) or a Plasma Pistol. ANY model can take a Bolter with Banestrike Shells (AP3 on a to wound roll of 6) for 5pts each or Volkite Chargers for 7pts each. Alternatively you can bolster their firepower and equip ANY model with a Combi-Bolter for 10pts each, which also come with Banestrike Shells. ANY model can exchange their CC weapon for a Chainaxe (1pt each), Power Weapon (10pts each) or a Power fist (15pts each) on top of their ranged weapon upgrade. The entire unit can also take Jump Packs for the cost of 50pts for the whole squad. The Chieftain also has the usual Sergeant upgrades of Artificer Armour (10pts), Meltabombs (5pts) as well as a Hand Flamer (5pts).

These guys can take an absolute crap-load of gear, and can be tooled up to the hilt for any situation - for a price. Going down the "take as much kit as I can carry" road will result in a Reaver Attack Squad that will cost upwards of 700pts. A tad extreme for Vets in Power Armour, not to mention a single large blast can ruin your day. So the question goes from "how much kit can they take?" to "what is the best and most efficient combination of kit?. Two fold answer - It really depends on how you want to use them, as to how you equip them. Due to the large volume of kit available to the Reavers, they can be geared towards certain rolls.

Why Jump Packs? 


Why not take the Dreadclaw? Not only do Jump Packs give Reavers mobility and Hammer of Wraith, but they also help with one very important Sons of Horus rule: Merciless fighters. If a Sons of Horus unit outnumbers an enemy at inititive step one, then all models that have previously attacked at higher initiatives may make another single attack against the enemy. This is particularly brutal with power weapons. What the Jump Packs do is make the Reavers "Bulky" and count as two models, so a 15 man unit now counts as 30. Outnumbered? Get prepared for a kick in the balls.

A quick comparison: A Legion Assault Squad (ten man) is 250pts base. Let's bring that up the the same manning as a full Reaver Attack Squad, and add five more men. The total cost comes to 325pts, with no upgrades. Only three members of this unit can take specialist kit, in addition to the Sergeant. A 15 man Reaver Squad costs 285pts, and with and additional 50pts for Jump Packs comes in at 335pts, just 10pts more than the Legion Assault Squad. For that 10 additional points, you are getting Assassin's Eye / Outflank rules and access to an insane amount of equipment. Point for point, these guys are better bang for buck then your standard Assault Squad, with the limitation of only being able to go up to fifteen men. As a Sons of Horus unit, they also get the Merciless Fighters rule, so the Reavers will also be stabbing enemy units in the balls at initiative one. The Reavers are not scoring, but I will cover that later.

The Close Combat Reaver Squad


As I was explaining earlier, Reaver Attack Squads get very expensive if you throw buckets of gear at them. Sure, they can be a jack of all trades and take on nearly any threat, but you start putting all your eggs in one basket of points. To start with, lets look at my personal favourite - the close combat geared Reaver Squad.

Power Weapons. By default, these guys will be getting up to four attacks on the charge each (Base 2 + CC 1 + Charge 1 = 4) which gives them a heap of strikes in close combat. Add a power weapon on to that and results are devastating, particularly if run upwards of five Power Swords / Axes. Power weapons really are a force multiplier for Reaver Attack Squads, cutting swathes of enemies down with AP2 / AP3 goodness. Special weapons are also a must, particularly Meltaguns for slagging enemy transports to get to the gooey center inside. Chainaxes are also excellent for Mechanicum / Militia / Solar as one measly point gets you AP4 attacks, slicing through 4+ armour. I will usually try to save points by not giving everyone a Power Weapon and have a few Chainaxe guys in front to take wounds. Here is what I run for a close combat based Reaver Attack Squad:

  • Reaver Attack Squad (x15)
  • Jump Packs
  • 7x Power Weapons (5x Powersword, 2x Poweraxe)
  • 4x Chainaxes
  • 3x Meltaguns
  • Chieftain w/ Artificer Armour, Powerfist
  • 479pts
A tad pricey, and you WILL take casualties, but with this squad alone I have siezed and taken entire flanks and with correct target selection you can make an opponent scramble his forces and alter his plans just to deal with them. Having this squad in your list will force your opponent to factor them into their plan, taking valuable resources away from targeting your scoring units. They will also kick balls at initiative one.

The Fire Support Reaver Squad

There are one or two units that can fill this roll, but do not have the close combat prowess that Reavers possess if they do (and probably will) get stuck in combat. There are a couple of variants of this build, but I will stick to the two main ones: Combi Weapons and Volkite Chargers.

  • Reaver Attack Squad (x10)
  • Jump Packs
  • 8x Combi Weapons
  • 2x Meltaguns
  • Chieftain w/ Combi Weapon (included above), Artificer Armour, Powerfist
  • 365pts
This time there are only ten men, mainly to save points. If you have spare points you can always add a couple of bare bodies as extra wounds for the squad so they can die before your expensive Combi Weapons do. Jump Packs again, this time mainly for mobility and enhanced threat range. You can run Combi Plasma and threaten anything on the table and still have two dedicated Meltaguns for wrecking armour, or run a mix of Combi Melta and Plasma. And... What? You gave the Chieftain a Powerfist? Yes. As mentioned before, if these guys get up in the enemy's face then you can expect a counter charge of sorts. Artificer Armour to survive AP3 Lightning Claws / Powerswords etc and a fist to either wreck tanks or smack a T4 Character with three Instant Death hits. No Feel No Pain for you. The alternate version is this:

  • Reaver Attack Squad (x15)
  • Jump Packs
  • 12x Volkite Chargers
  • 3x Meltaguns
  • Cheiftain w/ Volkite Charger (included above), Artificer Armour, Powerfist
  • 489pts
Pure gun bunnies. Fast, lots of shots and can still hurt armour / charge after firing. 24 Strength 5 Volikite shots hurt, then cop Hammer of Wraith hits, 56 close combat hits, and while the Powerfist goes to work you get hit in the balls.

Force Multipliers

There are a few more tricks you can pull out of the bag to get the most out of your Reavers. Attaching a Consul that has buffs can often make a good unit great, and I have found a couple that excel above others. Whilst FNP is great from a Medicae Primus, the points sunk haven't really done much in the games I have ran one. I usually run a VERY choppy Praetor, equipped with a Powerfist / Pargon Blade (for that extra attack and options in CC), Digital Lasers and an Iron Halo. He is off his chops and puts a massive amount of chop into an already choppy CC Reaver Squad. Chop.

The standout Consul in my opinion is the Chaplain. He grants the Reaver Squad Fearless and Hatred, so no running away, fight to the last man and you get to re-roll your first round of attacks in combat. The Chaplain himself can be tooled right up if you want to compliment your style of Reaver Squad, but is best suited to the close combat roll. A fifteen man Reaver squad will have 61 attacks on the charge, all of which can now can be re-rolled to hit. A massive buff from an otherwise under utilised character.

Scoring Reavers

Want to take Reaver Attack Squads as Troops? There are currently two ways to do this, the Sons of Horus specific Rite of War, The Black Reaving, and a Sons of Horus Special Character, Maloghurst the Twisted. I am still playing with the Rite of War and I dont want this article to get much bigger, so I will cover that in another post. So this leaves Mal.

Maloghurst the Twisted is the right hand man, the Equerry to Horus Lupercal Himself. Broken from battle, Mal is no longer the combat machine he used to be, but brings some useful buffs to the table. His stat line is similar to that of a Consul, however he still has the Master of the Legion special rule so can take Rites of War. He also carries with him the Legion Standard, giving a 12" radius Fearless bubble. Unfortunately due to his injuries he cannot Run or make Sweeping Advances. If they had given him Slow and Purposeful I could of attached him to Heavy Weapons squads for move and shoot shenanigans, but this is not the case. The big rule we are looking for is called "Bearer of the Eye", which allows Veteran Tactical Squads and Reaver Attack Squads to be taken as Troops choices. Probably not a good idea to attach Mal to a Reaver Squad as you wont get anywhere fast, but would be ideally suited in a big Tactical Squad or Heavy Weapons Squad. In a way you sort of have to build your list around Mal and Reavers if you intend on taking anymore than one or two squads worth.


So, are Reavers worth all those points? Or are you better off leaving them on the Vengeful Spirit? In my experience of running the choppy squad, they are now one of the mainstays in my army, with regular opponents cursing their presence. The key to getting the most out of them not only lies in how you build them, but what you try to match them up against. Reavers will not survive against Death Stars, dont even bother with them. Take out weaker targets, go for those pesky Sicarans on the flanks or that big Tactical Squad holding that objective. It you hit hard choppy things, you will be cut up in the process and the combat effectiveness of the squad will diminish greatly. Use those Jump Packs to their maximum, go up and down terrain, hide behind and pop out from things, if you don't need to use them for movement then use them for a re-roll on a charge and Hammer of Wraith.  By all means, try and have a go, and see what you can get away with. Once you have that psychological advantage, you have already have the tactical edge - You are shaping the enemy's battle space with the sheer presence of your Reaver Attack Squad.

Fear the Reaver. Protect your balls.

Feel free to leave a comment, and post up any quesitons you have. Till next time!



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Colin! Glad you enjoyed it mate. Thank you for commenting

  2. Great article mate.

    Like I said on FB though, people underrated Dreadclaws. 10 man squads in those things definitely have a place, particularly in combination with other bulky units that can help you outnumber without needing the jump packs. Trickier to pull off than simply outnumbering with bulky jump packs, but definitely viable!

    1. Thanks for the comment mate! Completely agree, and it is great to see how someone else runs them! I will have to try out a list with a couple 10 manners and Dreadclaws.

  3. Replies
    1. Cheers Macca! Thought I had better write something once in a blue moon ;)

  4. I adore your emphasis on the kick in the balls.

    1. Haha cheers anon. They really are a ball-tearing unit when they get stuck in.

  5. I've also run Reavers kitted for for low cost as a really nasty cleanup crew. 10 man squads with jump packs, chainaxes, and bolters that followed small units of terminators have done well.

    After reading this I'll probably switch the guns to Volkites, to keep a charge option open better. Thanks for the article!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and checking out the article Zack! Glad you enjoyed the article.

      Cleanup Crew is something that these guys would excel at! Just remember if you switch to Volkite, you lose a bit of range - but the benefits outweigh the negatives IMO.

  6. I always love your work keeps, your a true gentleman

  7. Great article and great blog, I am writing about the heresy in a spanish blog and this is inspirational. :)