Dark Angels Razorback

5th Edition

The Razorback is a strange beast — not quite a proper transport, not quite a proper tank. So how to get the best out of them? Is it really worthwhile putting a 30 point gun on a 50 vehicle?

This has been extensively revised and rewritten for 5th Edition 40K and updated again since the January 2011 DA faq update.

The DA are actually in a fairly happy position with regards using this vehicle. As we are allowed a special weapon option in a bought standalone 6-man tactical squad (unlike our Codex Space Marine brethren) a Combat squad led by a sergeant (with powerfist or power sword), meltagun (plasma gun or flamer) and three bolters is something of a tactical edge. The impact of such unit(s) combined with a mix of other fast moving Dark Angel options gives an opponent a real headache.

You can field highly mobile mounted Tactical, Veteran and Devastator squads supported by Predators and hurtle forwards to control objectives or to support deep striking Deathwing squads or Scouting Ravenwing units. In essence an Ironwing force.

Some people don't rate Razorbacks. Their vulnerability and the fact that in order to ride in them you are forced into combat-squadding — not always desirable — being the key disadvantages to them. This Tactica maybe isn't going to change the minds of those, but it might give a little insight into the extended capabilities of these vehicles to others who do use them.

So let's start from the basics…

1. Why take them?

It's the combination of cover, firepwer and mobility that's key. At 15 points for a tl-heavy bolter (over the cost of the Rhino) and the ability to carry a combat squad across the field is great value and great fun. You can move up to 12" per turn and you are safe from small arms fire and the likes of Lash. Given that many game scenarios are now objective or territory-controlling based, getting your scoring troops into advantageous positions early in a game offers great benefit, as it's much easiier to control an area of terrain when you are already there.

The Razor though primarily a transport first also offers a mobile fire-platform in its own right. Don't forget the integral storm bolter and optional pintle-mounted storm bolters role here too, giving you four additional shots per turn for very little outlay that combined with the heavy bolter can move 6" and fire everything. A good anti-infantry softener if nothing else.

Infantry models have the option to run. However the Razorback offers a more guaranteed way of getting from A to B plus it provides valuable cover. If you want to run, do it after you've debunked from the transport.

5th Edition has thrown up a couple of interesting transport developments. For instance your unit can sit safely inside it on an objective and still count as scoring or contesting (depending on the unit embarked of course). The ability to pick up any other unit that can legally fit within it once the dedicated unit has disembarked — possible but not actually that feasible for the Razor due to its limited passenger capacity and its need to sometimes remain stationary to fire.

2. What you get

The Razorback is essentially a Rhino that comes with a heavy bolter as standard. It has a reduced transport capacity of just 6 power-armoured marines. It is relatively inexpensive but watch those weapons/options choices as costs can mount up; yes you can crank its effectiveness up, but it's still only a Rhino with a big gun.

Whatever you opt for while the additional firepower is great you are limited to either creeping around at 6" per turn or going at hell for leather and not firing until the unit inside has disembarked. That's the nature of the Razorback I'm afraid.

Good advice is usually not to buy a gun that costs as much as the vehicle and spending almost 80+ points on an AV11 vehicle just doesn't make much sense, unless you have other jucier targets that will draw fire instead. But If you need an extra twin linked heavy bolter or lascannon it is the cheapest option Dark angels have.

Other built in items

As most other marine vehicles the Razor also comes with some other nice free equipment, but note, no free storm bolter as on the Rhino:

  • Smoke launchers
  • Searchlight.

Of these the first is pretty much a known quantity.

Smoke
This now works as per Codex Space Marines and it allows the vehicle a 4+ cover save while smoke is in use.

You also get relatively thin armour as standard and this is the vehicles real downside, as it is really only proof against small arms fire. Autocannons and missile launchers are more than capable for bringing a Razor to a halt, and these weapons (and equivalents) are pretty common in quantity in many armies. Rear armour value is a handicap if the transport is assaulted as it drags down all faces to its AV10. On the bright side, with the changes to the armour damage table in 5th Edition even if your transport is hit your troops inside are relatively safe — needing a 5 to force them out and 6 to start them making saves, plus the dreaded Entangled rule is no more. The only real hazard for embarked troops is being forced to disembark and then being assaulted by the enemy unit that fired upon the Razor in the first place.

3. What options are there?

Now we get to the interesting bit:

Weapon options

Twin-linked heavy bolter
If you know that you are going to combat squad your transported tactical squad(s) and you want the extra tl-HB it's not a bad deal. What I like about the HB plus the optional pintle storm bolter option is that you can get off 5 shots a turn up to 24" — and you can do this moving at combat speed — giving it an effective reach of 42".

Twin-linked lascannon
An expensive upgrade as you'll often be driving around at cruising speed which means you won't get to fire it much anyway. Considering the cheap access you have to anti-tank firepower through Dreads, Predators, Attack Bikes and Land Speeders, I really wouldn't go too lascannon crazy when it comes to your fragile Razorbacks. Plus, many of these options can move further and still fire.

The tl-lascannon Razor has a much bigger "hit me" sign on it and as it's only an AV11 platform it won't last long. To be perfectly honest you are better putting the tl-lascannon on a Dreadnought.

Other options

The DA Codex allows a few options for useful upgrades:

  • Extra armour
  • A dozer blade
  • A hunter-killer missile
  • A pintle-mounted storm bolter.

But to be honest none of these are worth taking on the Whirlwind and here's why:

Extra armour
In my view it's well worth taking if you are using the Razor as a transport, because at least you can keep the thing moving even when stunned. However it is by no means a must-have option. The more Razorbacks/vehicles you have so the more targets your opponent has to shoot at needing to split his fire, this in turn makes each vehicle slightly safer. I suppose it depends on the point size of the game being played and how much importance you place on the Razors' continuing forwards momentum, if you have the points extra armour is good insurance, if you don't then don't worry to much.

Dozer blade
This does give you the freedom to deploy your tanks inside cover/ruins/whatever on turn one, and drive them out of it… Problem is the Razorback (when in transport mode) usually wants to move 12" a turn anyway so the blade is then useless. However it does give you the freedom to deploy your tanks inside cover (ruins) on turn one, and drive them out of it.

Hunter-killer missile
Keep well clear of this. Just not worth the points on a Rhino, well just not worth the points full stop.

Pintle-mounted storm bolter
Now this is worth taking. The Razor doesn't gets one as stock which is a shame astwo Str4 shots is no bad thing.

4. Who should take them?

Razorbacks are made primarily for Veteran and Command squads — ideally with an attached IC, and Tactical squads of course.

For Command squad plus IC

Although you can't assault straight from it you can disembark behind the Razor and it can add firepower before you can charge/countercharge. And of course being 6 marines no transport capacity is being wasted here either. An excellent choice for a Command squad.

For Veteran squads

Much as for Command squads plus you have the benefit of greater unit weapon choices. If you don't have an IC attached the Vet squad can be made 6-men strong don't forget. Weapon wise it's an open book. Go storm bolters, a meltagun or flamer, with a couple of power weapons and a fist, sprinkle in a few combat or storm shields for good measure and roll foorwards.

For Tactical squads

A combat squad with a powerfist sergeant and meltagun +3 bodies, leaving a ML, PC, or LC with 4 bodies to hold an objective on foot, or act as a "mini devastator" squad sniping vehicles from tall cover such as a ruin. The only problem is that in this guise you are being forced into using combat squads which isn't always a ideal. You can take a full 10-man tac squad with a Razor of course — but they won't be able to ride in it until they are at 60% casualties or below. Still, they can use it as cover.

Kit out your transported combat tac squads as you see fit. But with any transported unit, it's better set up with close combat in mind.

For Devastator squads:

Razors bought for Devastator squads are there for cover and additional firepower support. A 5-man squad with maybe 1-3 cheap and effective ML or HBs heavy weapons, move into position with the razor and then get to work with its added firepower. Or, forego a round of shooting and get them into a good position early on.

5. A few points on moving and firing

Moving, firing and disembarking combinations can be a bit confusing so shown here are a few basics to get things rolling.

Firing works like this

  • If the Razorback is stationary it can fire all its defensive and main weapons.
  • You can move a Razorback at combat speed and still fire its additional pintle-mounted storm bolter (if taken) as they're defensive weapons. You can also fire the heavy weapon on top.
  • If you move at cruising speed it may not fire any weapons.

Embarking

During the movement phase:

  • All models in the unit must be within 2", if you moved you can still embark but then the transport cannot move. If you haven't moved and you embark, then the transport can move its full movement.

Disembarking

During the movement phase:

  • If the transport has moved you can get out but not move either transport or disembarked unit. Unit can shoot but counts as having moved so no heavy weapons. The unit may not assault.
  • If the transport has not moved the turn you disembark you can get out and then make moves normally. Unit can shoot but counts as having moved so no heavy weapons, and they may assault in assault phase. Vehicle may move off too.
  • If you want to assault, you have to disembark in the movement phase prior to the assault phase and not during it. You cannot embark during the assault phase either. You can fire when disembarking but if you moved within the transport then you count as moving.

I know it may also still seem a little hazy but I think that should clear quite a few things up.

Now that we know how to properly use transports, how do we deploy them?

6. Razorback deployment

Due to its relative fragility, initially deploying in some kind of cover or at least out of LOS of any high strength weapon seems very sensible. Unfortunately this isn't always feasible, and considering the Razorback's twin role as transport and fire-support, open ground is actually what you are after for a clear run and / or good field of fire. So my advice is to place them well forwards in your deployment in cover (this can be behind another vehicle for instance) or partially hidden if possible, but give yourself the benefit of clear ground in front or to one side to advance into on your own turn. Flanks are ideal. The further forwards you are the closer you are to your objective, and the fewer number of turns you will be carrying troops.

If you are deploying in open ground angle the Razorback so it at least presents as much of its frontal armour (remember its AV11) to the greatest number of enemy units that threaten it.

Then trust you get first turn. If you do you are laughing. If you go second just hope that some of your other armour/Dreads/other exposed units present better target opportunities for the first turns shooting. Transports are more likely to be hit on T2 or T3 than any other and that is when your smoke comes into play. Unlike Rhinos though, once the embarked unit is out and away, the Razorback is then still seen as a high priority target, especially the twin-linked lascannon option.

Dawn of War

While on deployment a quick word about Dawn of War. A Razorback counts as a single Troops choice when deploying. That means you may only deploy the Razor and its associated unit and an HQ. Not so bad considering the built in firepower that this vehicle has making it more viable in this scenario.

7. Razorback tactics

As has been said before the Razorback is a transport first and a firebase second. If you try to turn it into a gunship, you'll likely just end up throwing points away as your opponent now has an even better reason to push your Razorback up on his target priority list.

As with all Space Marine armour Razorbacks are best bought in bulk. With three or more Razorbacks, your opponent has tough choices. He can fire at transports and try to eliminate the units inside (or slow their advance) or he can fire on your real tanks and attempt to destroy their greater firepower. The veteran players will probably make the right choice and fire at the real tanks as that twin-linked heavy bolter is looking a lot less threatening than that str10 AP2 Vindi is, but newer players will often fire on the Razorbacks, essentially wasting those anti-tank guns.

Go straight forwards. Present as much frontal armour as you can at all times. Keep clear of any hindering terrain unless you have a dozer blade attached. Once you are in disembarking range pop smoke. With three exit points you have the option unloading in the enemies face and rapid firing, or round the other (far) side where LOS is blocked to your disembarking unit. The Razor then lends its firepower weight to the attack. Simple and uncomplicated.

Always be aware of your exit points and what's around them. As you can't disembark within 1" of any enemy units or into impassible terrain you don't want to have an emergency disembarkation on your hands and then get shot up. Worst-case scenario you're trapped inside — though this is a rarity on a model with three exit points.

The battlefield tortoise
Move it slowly with a unit embarked and keep it firing. It's a great way to soften up units you intend to assault later.

The battlefield hare
Race it along at crusing speed until you get the embarked unit where you want it and then worry about shooting that big gun.

The twin-linked sniper
As previously mentioned the twin-linked weapon can be engaged passively at range on its own or in conjunction with a Devastator squad. Works better with the tl-las as range is greater.

Other tactical stuff

The empty Razorback can still fulfill a number of roles and we'll discus those further on. But one thing it can do is become available to pick up any friendly unit that can legally fit in it — useful for collecting a stranded squad or IC stuck out from the main action.

The armoured column
With how vehicle obscured cover works in 5th Edition it is tempting to line your transports up in such a way that each one, apart from the first, benefits from the 4+ cover save for being 50% or more covered. Works better if the front vehicle is a Land Raider. This is a narrow tactical advantage though as by default all your transported units will be in one place — that's OK if that's what you want.

The 'Wall of Steel'
Once it has unloaded its squad, if feasible try keeping the Razorbacks between any of your unit(s) and any enemy unit(s) to block them from taking shooting casualties.

The Razorback occupies a fairly large footprint and can easily hide a combat squad or maybe even a full squad advancing in its wake. And if the Razor is hit and destroyed, provided it isn't annihilated, it remains on the table as 4+ cover.

Now if as is very likely you are in the unfortunate position of having the big gun blown off don't despair. The Razorback can earn its points for the remainder of the game using a variety of 'annoyance' tactics:

Active terrain
You can jam it into narrow parts of the battlefield — perhaps between two bits of terrain or the terrain and table edge — and force you opponent to either destroy it or detour around it. Either way its time and firepower wasted on a tank that can no longer do its primary job.

Additionally plugging holes in terrain is also a good use for these walls on wheels but once in position they are largely static. This can be very useful for creating fire lanes; forcing enemy units to take different routes across the battlefield; or in Cities of Death for creating additional obstacles for enemy troops and armour to negotiate.

The LOS blocker
The trick here is to roll it right up to an enemy heavy weapons unit and park it right in front, ideally blocking LOS beyond. In order to regain LOS the heavy weapons unit will either have to move (losing a turn of heavy weapon shooting) or attempt to destroy the Razor for good. It's a turn wasted for your opponent and less firepower coming your way.

And more…

Tank shocking in turns 5 and 6
In objective based games, the front of your Razor can be one of your greatest weapons. You can use the empty transport to Tank Shock and push an enemy unit out of scoring range of an objective. Remember that they don't have to fail their morale test (but that is a bonus) to be pushed back — but they do have to move out of the way and remain in unit cohesion. Just make sure you are lined up correctly the turn before, you wouldn't want to force one or two of his models closer to the objective by accident. If they fail their morale test so much the better as they have to fall back, however against Fearless or high Leadership units pushing back is as much as you can hope for.

Remember that although the enemy unit might be pushed back, you must have a scoring unit nearby to make the whole exercise worthwhile.

Ramming
The Razorback being a tank can ram, but with a frontal armour of 11 and a maximum Ram Strength of 6 it's not going to work too well except under the best conditions or against similarly light(ish) vehicles and skimmers. As you'll be taking at least a Str5 hit in return, it seems like a risky thing to do so use with caution.

8. Options instead of the Razorback

You have three other vehicles for transporting your troops. I shall look at each quickly with Pro and Cons, but each will be the subject of their own Tactica in time.

The Land Raider/Crusader

Pros
  • Great armour protection
  • You can assault directly from it
  • Good transport capacity
  • Excellent firepower.
Cons
  • High Cost
  • For the Unforgiven it is only a Heavy Support choice, not a dedicated transport.

The Drop Pod

Pros
  • Gets to the enemy with no risk of being shot at or assaulted
  • Good transport capacity
  • Pod provides good cover for emerging squad
  • On a parr points wise with the basic HB Razor
  • It's a dedicated transport.
Cons
  • Unpredictable Reserve entry timing
  • Potentially an easy Kill Point for your opponent
  • Can't move once deployed
  • Points cost is now greater than for a Razorback
  • Subject to scattering and being forced to use the mishap table.

The Rhino

Pros
  • Cheap base cost
  • Good transport capacity
  • Free storm bolter.
Cons
  • AV values no better than a Razorback so still vulnerable
  • No twin-linked big gun to shoot with.

9. Conclusion

In terms of function they can be summarised into three broad areas in order of best use:

  • Rush forwards transports that shoot later
  • Move (slowly) and shoot transports
  • Static cheapish firebases that can snipe from range.

As with all Space Marines vehicles — take more than one. Nothing advertises the position of your IC and Vet/Command squad more than a single Razorback transport does. So it makes sense to take two or three, and ensure other armoured targets are available too. They are far from bomb-proof, and you will lose squads for sure, but properly supported by mobile gun platforms such as Predators or Dreads there is no cheaper way with equal firepower of getting your Space Marines forwards quickly in a controlled manner into scenario-winning positions.

Once that has been accomplished, then they become gunships. Don't be tempted to buy them solely as cheap gun platforms alone because there are better options around for fulfilling that role, including Dreadnoughts, Land Speeders and Attack Bikes.

The trick to their effective use is putting the right unit within them in the first place. So from a DA perspective that unit is a Veteran squad, a Command squad (both ideally with an Independent Character) or a tactical squad geared for close combat / close range fire support.

At AV11 front/sides AV10 rear these aren't bullet proof. Use smoke as protection after disembarkation or stalk through cover — dozer blade required here. So treat the Razor exactly as you would a Rhino — though with the big gun on top they are less disposable. If/when the big gun has been blown off then use the vehicle as an LOS blocker or as a piece of mobile terrain to hamper enemy movement.

Unfathomably DA Razors cost more then their Codex SM namesakes plus they don't get the same weapon options either. Granted a tl-assault cannon version would be very cool to use, but my argument is it's too expensive a weapon on too weak a chassis. The tl-heavy bolter although not outstanding against MEQs, does the job well enough at range against everyone.

The twin-linked lascannon option is great and is hard to pass up but is expensive. One so armed might be worth it out of say a total of three Razors fielded. Points are probably best spent elsewhere.

Hope you enjoyed the tactica.

Isiah


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