With the release of Incubi, I shelved my Raptors for a bit while I concentrated on the small-based Nyss troops. My Raptors sat mostly unplayed until the recent Veto tournament where I dug them out to use as substitutes when needed. It’s hard to imagine but I had almost forgotten how good they are. Almost.
The Raptors are one of the most versatile and dangerous weapons in the Legion of Everblight’s arsenal. They are a quintessential flanking force capable of striking and escaping long before an enemy force can pin them down.
Where to begin? For starters Raptors, along with Tharn Wolf Riders, boast the highest SPD scores in the game. At a walk they will outpace a running Khadoran warjack by an inch. In addition they are Pathfinders and Light Cavalry – which allows them to avoid free strikes and make a second move after their combat action. This all adds up to a maneuverability that is virtually unmatched on the tabletop.
The Dual Shot ability may give the impression that Raptors are a ranged unit, but don’t be fooled. Beyond the fact that as Light Cavalry they may make a Mount attack during their activation, Raptors are Swordmasters and Weapon Specialists with their Nyss Claymores – that’s 3 melee attacks per activation. With their maneuverability almost guaranteeing the charge (and thus a +2 to hit on one of their attacks), a unit of Raptors can decimate an opponent’s lines before fading back to a more defensible position.
On top of everything else Raptors are dirt cheap. They actually cost 1 point less than Warmongers – only 105 points for a full unit of 5 Raptors. That is a tremendous bargain for the Legion player.
Although they’re an offensive powerhouse, the Raptors don’t have a lot of staying power on the table. Small- and medium-sized bases can’t screen their large bases for starters, and on top of that they only have 5 wounds each (8 for the leader). Their armor is decent but it only takes a damage roll of 20 to kill an unwounded trooper – that’s not difficult to do in this game. Boosted blast damage and spells that damage additional targets without requiring attack rolls are also a danger.
There’s also the issue of their average MAT and RAT. Without the ability to boost their Warmonger-level MAT scores, they’re not going to connect with every hit. But their advantage over the ogrun is they get multiple tries instead of needing to trigger Berserk to get more than one attack.
Raptors are not Fearless, and with their high SPD and Pathfinder even one turn of running may put them out of the game. The Legion player has to be careful around their Abomination-causing models or else risk their ulk hoofing it right off the table.
For starters the Raptors have the speed to quickly shift focus from scoring area to scoring area. This can be a great boon in Steamroller-type scenario play where victory is reliant on your ability to take control of various scoring areas.
Even though they’re relatively self sufficient, almost every Legion warlock as of Metamorphosis has at least one way to take advantage of their strengths or increase their survivability. Spells like Chiller and Breath Stealer raise their effective MAT to 8 while Critical Decapitation grants additional attack dice. Even Thagrosh helps out defensively with Death Shroud and offensively with Draconic Blessing.
Feat-wise, Field of Slaughter makes sure the Raptors hit what they want, while Cat & Mouse abuses their immunity to free strikes to let them reposition freely. Raptors under Foreboding can block entire enemy lines from advancing or use their 5″ cavalry formation rules to take advantage of Tide of Blood. Finally, Decimation lets them either act as artillery platforms for a turn or to chop through bigger targets in melee with the extra attack.
Speaking of ranged capabilities, even though Raptors excel at melee combat, a unit that sacrifices its normal movement can make two Nyss Longbow attacks with a RAT of 8 before taking its light cavalry-granted post-action movement. That’s enough to chew through an entire medium or lightly armored unit.
The lack of Fearless does mean that you have to be careful when running them with Forsaken, Warmongers, or Epic Thagrosh. However, because they’re so fast you can usually deploy your Raptors safely, then move them out on the flank and not have to worry about scaring them with your own troops the rest of the game.
The flexibility of the Raptors allows them to pull their weight in any type of list, so there’s no reason they can’t be thrown in any list for a thematic reason. If you want a unit in your Epic Thagrosh all large base army, they can serve that role. If you want some more melee punch in a ranged-theme list, they can do that too.
Raptors are a fantastic unit overall. They have their weaknesses and suffer from the same glass cannon syndrome as the rest of the Legion but they more than make up for it with their offensive flexibility. Some might even go so far as to call them borken.