Experimental 'Ramwing' Lists

9 April 2011 | 5th Edtion

Caestus Assault Ram in action
Be very afraid…

Forge World's glorious but expensive Space Marine skimmer transport — the Caestus Assault Ram — got my juices flowing at the thought of creating a 'flying' Deathwing at last. So with that in mind I've put these lists together for formation flying fun.

If you've been adept at using mechanised Deathwing, patiently moving up the table, then you are going to appreciate the raw speed and terrain-ignoring movement that the Ram can give you…

1. Why use the Caestus Assault Ram anyway?

Good question — is it because we can't use Stormravens? Actually the clue is in the name. It's because these skimmer tanks have great movement and firepower. It is a nigh-indestructible ultra-fast skimmer tank, one of the fastest in the game in fact it has an assault ramp up front; it can transport 10 infantry models, yes even 10 terminators; it can obliterate infantry and vehicles alike with its mega melta weapon; it can kill vehicles by ramming; it can turn up virtually anywhere you want on the table. All this for less cost than a Land Raider? Yes please.

The Ram's the best weapon, the magna-melta, is relatively short-ranged at 18" but boy does it pack a massive punch: S8 AP1 heavy 1 blast using the 5" template, it's going to knock holes in large units and encourage a good deal of cover-seeking on the part of an opponent. The standard melta rules apply so any close-packed vehicles or infantry of any kind within 9" are not going to be feeling too good. Even scattering, with the 5" pie plate you might still get partials over more than one vehicle and get multiple side armours. And you could have three of these flying around. The second weapon, the Firefly Missile Battery, is an upgrade option: a use-once twin-linked missile system S6 AP4, 4 shots, using the smaller 3" blast template with 36" range. Both weapons are totally geared to clearing a landing area to allow the embarked unit inside to charge out.

And if ramming's your game (and it will be) the Caestus Ram rule allows you bonuses when you ram into something. You roll 2D6 and pick the highest plus add a +1 to any result on the damage chart. Keep in mind though even if you move flat out your maximum strength hit for ramming can only ever be a 10 as per the Main Rulebook Official Update v1.1 faq. Otherwise, moving 36" (+12) plus Av13 front (+3) plus being a tank (+1) would yield a S16 hit!! Oh well, a S10 plus the highest from 2D6 is still going to be good ramming. Get used to ramming and tank shocking as it will give this skimmer something to do once its one and only base weapon is destroyed. For good measure the Caestus Ram rule gives you a 5+ invulnerable save on hits to the front armour, including ramming hits.

But for me the meat is the Ceramite Plating. This disallows the melta bonus dice when this weapon type is used against it at less then half range. This is very handy given the Ram only has AV11 on the rear.

Rather like Land Raiders and Crusaders, these Caestuses (or Caestusii for plural maybe) are not dedicated transports so are restricted to just three slots. But unlike their land-bound brethren they occupy the Fast Attack slots. This is useful as unless you are making use of Ravenwing elements, then in a Deathwing-heavy army these slots are going to be vacant.

Two minor disappointments. The first is the teleport homer. It is only available as an option to purchase and isn't built in. The additional cost for it pushes the Caestus to into Land Raider territory — still a bargain given its other capabilities I think.

The second is that interestingly unlike the Land Raider Crusader, the Ram only has access to frag assault launchers as a purchased upgrade. This seems slightly odd given its proposed role as an assault base.

Note that the 10-terminator carrying capacity is slightly wasted on the Deathwing. But at least it does allow the inclusion of both HQ ICs being attached to a single squad and transported. But spaces will be empty. If you purchase all the available upgrades for this vehicle, it will cost in total 285 points.

From a practical point of view their is cost issue. At current April 2011 prices, Rams are a cool 95.00 each!! But given its slab-sided design and lack of fiddly wheels and tracks it shouldn't be too hard to put together from plastic card.

Now it might be justifiably argued that the Ram's experimental Forge World Rules are currently overpowered, or the points value is currently too low. Either way, it's not the concern here. What is is Deathwing's chance to get it's own flying Land Raider :).

2. The lists

More explanation after each list, which incidentally run to 2000 and 1500 points. I've gone for a pure Deathwing approach in both reasoning that there seems little need for Ravenwing when you have such a monstrous ride.

List 1: 2000 points

Unit Points
Belial
w/ pair of lightning claws
130
Interrogator-Chaplain
Terminator armour
145
Dreadnought
w/ tl-autocannon
125
Dreadnought
w/ assault cannon
125
Deathwing Terminator Squad 1
1 x cyclone/th/ss, 1 x th/ss [apoth], 1 x th/ss [banner], 2 x claws
290
Deathwing Terminator Squad 2
1 x cyclone/th/ss, 1 x sb/pf, 1 x sb/cf, 2 x th/ss
240
Deathwing Terminator Squad 3
1 x cyclone/th/ss, 1 x sb/pf, 1 x sb/cf, 2 x th/ss
240
Caestus Assault Ram 1
Magna-melta
235
Caestus Assault Ram 2
Magna-melta
235
Caestus Assault Ram 3
Magna-melta
235
  2000

Fear factor, that's what we're aiming for.

As can be seen in the above each terminator squad has its own Ram to use as a transport. Squad 1 can have both Belial and the Interrogator—Chaplain attached, or you could spread the love. Two ICs with one squad might definitely count as overkill. But that's your choice as the whole list is overkill. Notice on the Rams I haven't gone for the teleport homer upgrade, nor the Firefly missile options.

For deployment you get options. You can deep strike the Rams, or hold them in Reserve to move on via a table edge (36" flat out remember), or just deploy them from the off. They don't get Outflank unfortunately — that would make them too mega. You get the usual options deploying your DW squads too of course but we're going for broke so they start embarked.

Tactics, there's no subtlety here. Get forwards full distance, you can't shoot that turn as you moved flat out, neither can you disembark. But turn two and all hell can break loose. Get your DW squads into good firing positions or preferably into assault. This is an alpha-strike force par excellence. Move the Rams, shoot, rinse and repeat. Any opponent will have a job dealing with 3 Rams.

The shocker is just three scoring units although I've no doubt Rams will survive to contest an objectives, and games of this size can be won with just three starting scoring units. But even still… this is Deathwing and we enjoy a challenge right? Outgunned and outnumbered is the norm.

Although this list hits 2000 points dead on, the dreads aren't particularly optimised. They are set up purely as anti-infantry units and you can arm them with assault cannons, autocannons or plasma cannons as you wish — assault cannons being favourite and as such they will do a job. They will be useful to tarpit any weakish unit unwise enough to get too close, and useful for defending a 'home' objective. Deployed on the flanks in a conga or castled up in a block, they might deter Outflankers from entering on one flank at least.

The option is to turn the two Dreadnoughts in for another 240 point Deathwing squad. but I like dreads, even the base model form.

List 2: 1500 points

Unit Points
Belial
w/ pair of lightning claws
130
Chaplain
w/ power armour, bolt pistol, crozius arcanum, rosarius
100
Deathwing Terminator Squad 1
1 x cyclone/th/ss, 1 x th/ss [apoth], 1 x th/ss [banner], 2 x claws
290
Deathwing Terminator Squad 2
1 x cyclone/th/ss, 1 x sb/pf, 1 x sb/cf, 2 x th/ss
240
Deathwing Terminator Squad 3
1 x cyclone/th/ss, 1 x sb/pf, 1 x sb/cf, 2 x th/ss
240
Caestus Assault Ram 1
Magna-melta, teleport homer
250
Caestus Assault Ram 2
Magna-melta, teleport homer
250
  1500

With only two Rams available it means one squad has to initially deploy by non-transport means. No matter really as it can deep strike in using the teleport homer on both of the Rams as one possible option. The Chaplain in power armour is bit of a cheat (not being in termy armour he isn't actually a member of the 1st Company), maybe he's on trial before becoming Deathwing proper, but his Litanies will be useful nonetheless. Remember he can't deep strike so will need to attach to a squad and embark in a transport. He could footslog of course, but why?

Overall there is little wriggle-room here to building significantly different viable Ramwing lists at 1500. You end up with similar problems to building a half-decent Mechwing setup: not enough points spent on too few expensive units. But three termy squads is OK at this points level and those two Rams will create a real handful for someone to deal with.

List 3: 1500 points

With thunder hammer and storm shields for all… madness surely?

Unit Points
Belial
w/ th/ss
130
Chaplain
w/ power armour, storm bolter, meltabombs, crozius arcanum, rosarius
110
Deathwing Terminator Squad 1
1 x cyclone/th/ss, 1 x th/ss [apoth], 1 x th/ss [banner], 2 x th/ss
290
Deathwing Terminator Squad 2
1 x cyclone/th/ss, 4 x th/ss
235
Deathwing Terminator Squad 3
1 x cyclone/th/ss, 4 x th/ss
235
Caestus Assault Ram 1
Magna-melta, teleport homer
250
Caestus Assault Ram 2
Magna-melta, teleport homer
250
  1500

In the above the Chaplain has been given a storm bolter and meltabombs. This is as a result of removing all the Deathwing squads' chainfists — not needed now they are all armed with thunder hammers and storm shields. I'm not a fan of this kind of spam, but in conjunction with fast deployment and the Ram's own shooting ability, could be viable to loose all the storm bolters. The cyclones remain ever-present though. And even Belial has caught the thunder hammer and storm shield bug. Of course feel free to add a twin claws model or two to each squad for useful initiative attacks.

Second string HQ option

Usually I'd eschew the Chaplain / Interrogator-Chaplain in favour of the more rounded Librarian, with or without termy armour as points dictate. Sit him in a squad without the Apothecary and his Force Barrier will come in very handy. But, that kinda misses the point of these particular lists: Shock and Awe. Litanies is going to cause the more initial damage and that is the only reasoning for his preference here.

3. Fun and games

Probably not in reach of the average gamers' pockets anyway, the 'Ramwing' remains an untried bit of fun. The idea of the Deathwing deploying out of these screaming flying tanks appeals greatly, their deep striking ability absurdly overpowered maybe, but fits the ethos of Deathwing's modus operandi well I think.

Of course you can't use FW models and rules at most tournaments, and, you might not win many friends by fielding more than one in standard games as they'd be viewed as broken by some terms of game balance.

It will be interesting to see what Games Workshop do with the Caestus Assault Ram, whether as they have before with Forge World items, they take it into the wider fold of 40K and make it available as a choice in Codex Space Marines at some point. I say that in the light of the fact that as its experimental rules currently stand, the Ram can't be used in either Grey Knight or Blood Angel lists as they have the Stormraven. See where this might go?

4. Further reference

Caestus Assault Ram (Product Code : IA-ISM-F-047)
Caestus Assault Ram experimental rules


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