Don’t Fear the Reiver: Unit Tactica

Most players are afraid of the Primaris Reiver, well afraid of including them in their lists. I would like to make a case for Reivers and why you should give them a try in your lists. They have been transformed in the new Space Marine codex, and there is more to them than meets the eye.

#1 They Are Not Shock Assault Units

Reivers are not designed to drop down and delete your opponent’s army, they never were meant to be used that way. They are a disruption force, a wrench you throw into your opponent’s gears to hinder their game plan.

So why should I put points into a disruption unit? The biggest impact to Reivers is how scoring works in 9th Edition. Holding or stealing objectives and scoring and denying secondaries are the name of the game. I want to call back an idea of VP/100 that was discussed in our very first article here.

The basic idea is that the game is won by scoring more victory points (VP) than your opponent. If you look at a standard 2000 pt army, with a total point value of 100 (or 90 if you don’t include painting your units) its reasonable to estimate that if you score 5 VP per every 100 pts of your army you will have an excellent chance to win the mission (can’t do much better than a perfect score). We can functionalize this idea by extending VP/100 to include denying VP as well. If your total sum of points gained and points denied is 100, then you are in a great spot to win the game (since at best all your opponent can do is a tie. This means for every 100 pts you should aim to score/deny 5 VP. This is where Reivers shine and can “earn more than their points back”.

A 5 man squad of Reivers is conveniently 100 pts with grav chutes. Dropping down to ensure you maintain an objective, move blocking your opponent to stop them from reaching an objective, and dropping in the backfield to finish Deploy Scramblers are ways Reivers can instantly make up their value. When you start looking for opportunities like these, Reivers really start to carry their weight.

Reivers excel at scoring this secondary. You can even drop in turn 2 into a safe zone in no-mans land to deploy, and then use Guerilla Tactics to move into your opponents zone Turn 3.
This stratagem is amazingly powerful for getting around the board. One of my favorite uses is to pull Reivers back into our deployment zone once they have finsihed their scrambler mission. Remember when arriving from strategic reserves you can enter within engagement range and count as charging if you are in your own deployment zone within an inch of your board edge!

#2 Focus on Disruption

Reivers are terror troops and behave even more like it on the table top. The movement restrictions a small 5 man unit can put on your opponent to try and zone out deploy scramblers is value in of itself.

With the options for additional ways to achieve objective secured in the new Space Marine and Necron codices, this is a mechanic I expect to see more of in the future. Being able to remove obsec can be incredibly powerful and ensure you are able to deny your opponent VP. It is very important to note that the primary in the GT and Eternal War missions is scored at the end of the command phase, so you can always turn on Terror Troops right before you score if it will net you more points. The aura also lasts an entire battle round so you can use it to help defend an objective you expect your opponent to assault on their upcoming turn as well.

The ability to stop actions is very useful, if a little bit more niche. Being able to activate it each time you move and charge near them will give you several chances to beat their leadership to make the action fail, especially if you also utilize the Phobos specific movement psychic powers or warlord traits.

The leadership debuff also saw a buff in the codex, going to -2. The change to And they Shall Know No Fear and Necrons no longer having fearless is a trend I also expect to see continued. Going from a -1 to a -2 LD debuff seems minor, but since the new codex, my Reivers have been making more models flee than ever. They are great force multipliers that can help turn a few extra small arms shots into removing a few more models.

Reivers also saw a significant change to how their shock grenade works.

Now a stratagem, Shock and Awe can now be used on any enemy unit to impose a -1 to hit that last for an entire Battle Round and even works on their shooting attacks. This is incredibly useful for lowering the variance on big important models. Reivers can move up to a knight to move block it and give it a -1 debuff to hit. Throw in an opportune Transhuman Physiology and those Reivers become much more difficult for that knight to remove on its own. Use this on the Nightbringer and he will be very unlikely to be able to cut through the squad, buying the rest of your army more time.

#3 Keep them Small

Reivers are force multipliers and utility pieces. A few of them go a long way, but you don’t want to or even need to go overboard on them (but as a SW player you know I will do a 60 Reiver army at least once…more on that later).

Reivers really excel in 5 man squads. They are durable enough to be annoying to remove, and their footprint is small enough to fit in all the right places. They are strong enough to bully troops isolated on objectives but also cheap enough to make sacrificial plays.

In regards to carbines vs knives, the carbines always give me more reliable output. The option to skirmish at 24″ is very handy. Having an assault weapon makes you eligible to be selected to shoot in the shooting phase, meaning your carbine Reivers can use Shock and Awe even after advancing.

I do think either grav-chutes or grapnel launchers are mandatory for them to be effective at doing what you need them to do. I find grav-chutes more often let you get to where you need to be, but depending on your terrain you can also get a lot of utility with the grapnel launchers. There is something to being able to hide behind a big obscuring obstacle and then springing over it with grapnel launchers to utilize Terror Troops or Shock and Awe.

I also have to give a shoutout to the Lieutenant in Reiver Armor, as there are some more fun casual load-outs that work great on him too. Fear Made Manifest can be a fun thematic aura that actually can get pretty mean as units get below half strength, getting -3 Ld and then failing attrition tests on 1-3s. Purgatoris is also a decent relic now that is more like an assault rifle than a pistol. The Vox Esperitum is also incredibly powerful given the lieutenant can have up to 4 auras going at once. Remember he can access Terror Troops, Shock and Awe, Smokescreen, and Guerilla Tactics stratagems. You can also try the Rites of War warlord trait to grant objective secured while you remove it from your opponent.

Release the Hounds

If you have been around me for more than 5 minutes, chances are you have seen my tin-foil hat as I told an elaborate tale of how SW should get special Reivers. I’ve been on about this idea since Reiver’s made an appearance in the Stalker Pack specialist detachment from Vigilus Defiant.

Say something long enough and eventually, you will be proven right! Games Workshop unveiled the new Hounds of Morkai and I could not be more excited!

While all of us SW players would have loved to see plastic versions of Deathsworn, it is still great that GW has incorporated a unique Primaris unit for our great chapter. I think how GW seeded the lore in White Dwarf 452 and worked them into an in-game unit is absolutely awesome. Truly unique models down the line would be nice, but please remember all the other factions GW needs to put their resources into (plastic aspect warriors please!). Anyway, here is the blurb from the White Dwarf:

“So embedded is this way of war in the Sons of Morkai Great Company that some packs have fought as Reivers for decades. They darken their armor to the hue of a midwinter hurricane and embrace the grim nature of Morkai- the Fenrisian mythic being who guards the underworld- even more closely. This growing sect’s renown has spread through the Chapter, and the practice is now found in every Great Company.”

I do like that the Hounds are a specialization of Reivers and not necessarily a strict upgrade. It makes for an interesting choice, and remember forcing good choices is the hallmark of a great strategy game.

So why would you ever want to take the hounds? They do keep some of the Reiver utility. They have the Phobos keyword so they can utilize from the appropriate strats, warlord traits, and psychic powers. Importantly they also have the Reiver keyword so you can deny obsec and stop actions. They mostly trade in their leadership debuff and shock grenades for some very potent anti-psychic abilities.

Taking Down Psykers

An anti-psychic unit may seem fairly niche but remember the Hounds can still accomplish many of the same secondaries Reivers could, making them great for VP/100. As a cautionary note, psykers are downplayed at the moment due to the secondary Abhor the Witch, all of which can quickly change in a new mission pack in Chapter Approved 2021. That being said, there are still armies that still rely on crucial spells. Harlequins are very powerful at the moment and you will not find a list that is missing a Shadowseer. Craftworld Aeldari possesses doom and jinx which are even more potent to our high number of storm shields which are not at a 4+ invulnerable save. Chaos Daemon lists are also very psyker heavy and starting to show up at more tournaments as well.

Hunters Beyond Death makes them incredibly scary to infantry casters. Five hounds disembarking out of an Impulsor after movement and ignoring terrain can threaten a caster just about anywhere. You can also take out larger casters utilizing things like Gene-Wrought Might. Their other abilities also make them annoying for casters to remove as Runic Totems can let them act as smite battery to shield the rest of your army and Morkai’s Howl disrupts your opponents game plan.

Reiver or Not Here I come

Reivers will not be the main ingredient in your list, but a subtle spice that provides your army with great utility and enhancing your ability to play the primary and secondary missions. When you stop focusing on trying to kill with them and start focusing on scoring and denying Victory Points with them you will find many opportunities to do so.

Have you had any success with Reivers in your games? Have any further questions for me? I am always happy to chat more about one of my favorite units so don’t be afraid to reach out!