“Night Lords Night Raptor Squads epitomise the brutality and efficacy of the Night Lords terror inducing method of warfare.

I witnessed a company of them descended upon a city of a non-compliant world. Though there cannot have been any more than 200 of them, the city was nothing but corpses bound to ruined buildings and hoisted atop poles by their own skin and internal organs within 4 hours.

Somehow, the people were alive; screaming for death – but none came. It took 18 hours for the city to fall silent, all whilst the Night Raptors crouched atop the ruined buildings – looking at the next hive city – like Buzzards of old earth assessing the next meal.

Then, with the last voices now silenced, they gathered body parts and tore faces from the corpses; bound them to their armour and left on plumes of fire and black smoke.

The planet Governance sent the signal of compliance to the VIII Legion Fleet less than twenty minutes later.

Their methods can be described as nothing short of an atrocity – but they are effective; this cannot be argued. An entire world in compliance for the cost of one city dying in the most horrific manner possible.”

Remembrancer Aleksenter Malaek, assigned to the VIII Legion.

Note: Night Raptors received a solid rework in Book 9.

The Night Raptors of the VIII Legion are renown for the extreme violence and brute force they apply during their attacks. In a Legion comprised of individuals who commit to compliance through atrocity, this is quite the mark.

Night Raptors find bleak joy soaring above the battlefield before raining unfettered violence of a nature rarely seen outside of the World Eaters upon their victims. They relish the fear they induce and positively thrive on the dawning realisation of a brutal and drawn out death in a victims eyes.

They are a cadre of monsters, elevated from their monstrous brethren by their berserk savagery and enjoyment of causing extreme fear and pain. They are decorated in the body parts of their previous victims; supported by assets such as the Legion Storm Eagle and Thunderhawk Gunships blaring direct audio and video links from their PA systems as the Night Raptors pull apart a target from the inside, out; quite literally in some cases.

This fearsome visage, this coterie of bewinged barbarian beasts are the precursors to the emergent Chaos Raptors at the Siege of Terror.

The are the viciousness of the Night Lords exemplified.

Base Stats – Night Raptors Squad – 150pts

Night Raptors base cost has not changed in Book 9, but the cost for additional Night Raptors has. This means that the unit is now rather good and certainly fulfilled the requests Night Lords players have had since their introduction and absence from the FAQ.

They are still a 2012, Book 2: Massacre Legion Unit in narrative and rules – having some nice buffs applied to them that aren’t overpowered, but certainly fit their lore background.

Night Raptors can be taken as compulsory troops with the Terror Assault Rite of War which expands their utility further. It’s worth looking into the Rite of War Tactica for Night Lords for further information on Terror Assault. Normally, they’re firmly a Fast Attack unit.

We will take a short, but truthful moment to engage salt mode however;

Night Raptors don’t have Fear baked in. It makes zero sense as to why this is the case. At least there is an option to give the Huntmaster Trophies of Judgement, albeit for 5 points – this makes looking after him an absolute priority.

If you gave Night Raptors Fear and retained the option for the Huntmaster to take Trophies of Judgement (5 points) you’d make that -1 Ld. Even if you added in Curze to the army you’d still only have -2 to Leadership. The enemy will normally be testing against a Leadership value of 9 so it certainly wouldn’t break the game balance – but it would most definitely make things interesting. It’s especially galling that the Dark Angels have a Rite of War that blankets -1 Ld across their army, yet the Night Lords can’t do this naturally.

This is a point in general for the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) traits. I believe Fear should come as a basic Legion trait, not just in most of the Legion Specific units or when Curze is on the table. Why would you have a terror Legion that doesn’t cause fear across the board in the game at the lowest level? Legion Tactical Squads of the Night Lords were more than capable of atrocities themselves, it wasn’t limited to certain units. When you snapshot across the game, there are a number of units that cause Fear from other Legions not renown for causing it – so it makes less sense that a Legion well versed in Terror Tactics causes the same level of Fear naturally as those other do.

Chaplains would require artificial limiting – as they’d be able to rival Curze. However if you removed Trophies of Judgement from their list of options that would help there; add it to the Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) list of detractions alongside running away further than normal.

Night Lords Raptor by Empyronaut (https://www.deviantart.com/empyronaut/art/ Night-Lords-Raptor-801824076) : ImaginaryWarhammer
Credit: Empyronaut, Deviant Art

As their lore suggests, Night Raptors are a melee orientated Legion Specific unit. Their basic stat line reflects this fairly succinctly heading it up with a Weapon Skill of 5.

WSBSSTWIALdSv
Huntmaster544414393+
Night Raptor544414283+

Night Raptors are outfitted in Power Armour, which provides them with a 3+ save characteristic. Remember though, Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) confers a 5+ cover save in the first turn of the game due to the From the Shadows rule. This is genuinely useful for when you start them on the table to try to get stuck in hard and fast, as their lore suggests they should.

The Huntmaster (Sergeant) is able to take Artificer Armour for 10 points – something I auto-take for resilience and Melta Bombs for 5 points – something that is situational for me. Trophies of Judgement is available to the Huntsmaster; this is an annoyance – because this comes built in as standard to the other cult units, and it genuinely doesn’t make sense to have to purchase it for Night Raptors. What compounds this issue is that you need to protect your Huntsmaster to ensure that you keep the bonus. It’s…. poor writing.

They aren’t the most resilient unit and their cost is noticable, meaning you feel the loss of a model – let alone an entire unit. Apothecaries can be equipped with Jump Packs to provide a 5+++ Feel No Pain for 65 points and I genuinely feel that they are needed to help keep Night Raptors alive.

Night Raptors are Jump Infantry and have a built in Jump Pack. This provides them with the Deep Strike rule in addition to enhancing their movement in either the movement or assault phase – but not both. This actually brings me to a new rule however; Raptor Strike.

Raptor Strike allows Night Raptors to use their Jump Pack in both the movement and the assault phase. This is big. It also provides flexibility to move over terrain that would otherwise slow them down, or delay a charge and greatly enhances their threat range. There’s nothing better than sneaking a Squad down the table behind some terrain and pouncing over it at the last second onto an enemy target – now you can do that far quicker. Jump Pack also counts as bulky (counts as two models) when determining the threshold for A Talent For Murder, so this is exceptionally useful.

There is a massive problem with this new rule however. Konrad Curze is a reprint and as such doesn’t have anything similar, as Fleet isn’t the same. This means if you want to use your Night Raptors with Curze as we all have done for donkeys now; you’re not going to be able to use that rule. Again, this highlights the huge disparity between the Dark Angels and Night Lords sections. When you look at the Lions rules in comparison, the question must be asked: Was it contempt or complacency that made Forgeworld not even just add Raptor Strike to Curze? Either way, it’s a fairly hefty and quiet debuff to the Night Lords.

Night Raptors also have the Hammer of Wrath and Bloody Murder special rules. Hammer of Wrath has its benefits and should never be written off by the controlling player, but remember its only AP~ and occurs at the Initiative 10 step. It should also be noted that this is 1 attack per model, not the D3 that models such as Konrad Curze have.

The Bloody Murder rule replaces the old Onslaught rule. Once all normal attacks have been resolved by the Night Raptors, the number of casualties caused are counted and the squad automatically inflicts that number of automatic wounds on the target at AP-. It’s a like Deflagrate on Volkite weapons to a degree and adds that little bit of pizzazz to the Night Raptors without making them overpowered or over efficient.

Personally, I love the rules Book 9 brought in for Night Raptors and think they are firmly rooted in the narrative domain where they should be.

Night Raptors can be customised with ranged and melee weapons, albeit for an additional cost, to fulfil a specific aim you have in mind. However, it’s really down to you as to how you outfit them.

Offensive – Ranged Capability

For every five Night Raptors in a squad, you can pay to exchange their Bolt Pistol for one of the following weapons:

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Flamer (+10pts each)Template45Assault 1
Meltagun (+15pts each)12″81Assault 1, Melta
Plasma Gun (+15pts each)24″72Rapid Fire, Gets Hot
Plasma Pistol (+10pts each)12″72Pistol, Gets Hot
Hand Flamer (+10pts each)Template36Pistol

Clearly, some of those weapons should raise red flags with their types. Jump Infantry and Jet Pack Infantry are different – the former cannot charge if they fire Rapid Fire weapons in the shooting phase due to the lack of Relentless; whereas Jet Pack Infantry can. This means that if you’re outfitting your Night Raptors with Plasma Guns; you’re not charging if you fire them. With potentially only that 3+ armour save you’re then sat taking incoming for a turn. Alternatively, if you are charging, you’re not firing a +15 point weapon that might not make it through the fight phase.

Even Assault weapons are of limited use – if you’re lacking dedicated anti-tank, three Meltaguns per squad isn’t going to help out in any meaningful way.

What is truly galling here is that the far cheaper Legion Assault Squads (175 points for 10 men) can take Melta Bombs for only +5 points each (100 points for a full size 20 man squad). Night Raptors can only take Melta Bombs on the Huntmaster. This means that realistically, if at all; you’ll be only swapping the Bolt Pistol for a Plasma Pistol or Flamer (if that’s your poison) and that’s it. The rest really isn’t worth the extra points outlay in my opinion.

The Huntmaster can exchange their Bolt Pistol for the following:

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Volkite Serpenta (+5 points)10″55Pistol, Deflagrate
Hand Flamer (+10 points)Template36Pistol
Plasma Pistol (+15 points)12″72Pistol, Gets Hot

Again, these aren’t really worth the upgrade in my humble opinion. Ok, I can potentially see the utility of a Plasma Pistol – but roll a 1 to hit and you’ve lost your Huntmaster with his base 3 attacks, Ld 9 and potentially Trophies of Judgement.

The Volkite Serpenta would be worth it with one rules modification. I’d love this to be an option for all models to take for 5 points each. Much like Terror Squads can take Volkite Chargers en masse, this would improve their anti-power armour ranged threat capability – something that frankly is severely missing from Night Raptors.

You can also opt to swap out a Bolt Pistol and Chainsword on any model for a pair of Lightning Claws for 20 points. However that’s a further 20 points per man atop a starting price of 150pts for five models. They look cool, but a squad of these or even a few scattered about will soon push your unit price up and should be considered carefully.

Credit: Book 9, Forgeworld

Offensive – Melee Capability

So, they’re melee focused in the lore and clearly melee focused in the game. So far, so narrative you might be thinking – and your right – this is another of the Night Lords 2012 rules releases after all, massaged nicely by Book 9. As such, there is a vast array of melee weapons available for the Night Raptors to take advantage of.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
ChainswordUser~Melee
Power Sword (+10 points)User3Melee
Power Maul (+10 points)+24Melee, Concussive
Power Axe (+10 points)+12Melee, Unwieldy
Power Lance (+10 points)+1/User3/4Melee
Single Lightning Claw (+15 points)User3Melee, Shred, Specialist Weapon
Nostraman Chainglaive (+5 points)+13Melee, Two-Handed, Rending

So the question is, how do you want to play your army? I’d recommend striking at Initiative; this narrows the list down – removing the Power Axe from the tactica. That’s not to say they’re a bad weapon per se; but there is a big reason to avoid Initiative penalties.

That reason is because Night Raptors are fragile; even with an Apothecary attached in for a 5+++ Feel No Pain. If you’re waiting around to fight, chances are you’ll lose quite a few men from the Squad before you get to step in and fight – at a whopping 20 points per model lost.

Chainswords offer a solid amount of attacks, but at only AP~ it will hurt when it comes to the enemy rolling their saves. Again on a unit that costs as much as this does – it’s not a nice feeling to have your efforts fade away in front of your eyes. Normally before the enemy steps in at Initiative 1 and wipes the Squad.

Power Swords at least have the AP 3 – but that’s it and you’re paying 5 points for any power weapon. In this option-group, it has stiff competition.

Power Mauls have Concussive, which is great for reducing the enemies Initiative to 1, however you need to remember it’s effects are for when a model suffers one or more unsaved wound to a weapon with this rule. If you’re bullying Power Armour, they’re most likely 1 wound – so potentially a waste of a rule. Against Mechanicum, the Maul is effective though – especially against Thallax, which are multi-wound with a 4+ armour save and Toughness 5; forcing the attack straight onto their 6+++ Feel No Pain. Concussive will then dampen their already average close-combat abilities.

Power Lances are fairly good on the charge, but poor when you get charged. It’s all about timing – so if you mess up, you haven’t got a weapon you can rely on to fight back with.

A Single Lightning Claw, whilst a good option with Shred allowing you to re-roll failed to wound rolls; is hellishly expensive at 15 points and has Specialist Weapon; removing the extra attack for the Bolt Pistol.

So, the Nostraman Chainglaive is left. For one, it had a points drop to just 5 points per Night Raptor. Having Strength +1 helps with the to wound rolls, whilst the AP3 with Rending (AP 2 for to wound rolls of 6+) definitely helps out with the denial of successfully saving wounds. It’s Two-Handed so you never get the benefit of having the Bolt Pistol however.

I run Nostraman Chainglaives on my Night Raptors. Despite Shred, the single Lightning Claw is just too expensive for my tastes. Sure you could mix them up and take multiple different melee weapons; but I’ve found that by taking Nostraman Chainglaives on all of them, you see a glimmer of how the Night Raptors could be with minor rules adjustments and a points drop.

A smattering of AP 2 due to the Rending rule is immensely helpful against Artificer Armour and the AP 3 will chew through Power Armour with ease.

Clearly, you can make this Squad quite the powerhouse by adding a Chaplain in. This would allow you to re-roll any failed to hit rolls; which is why you often see Curze, Night Raptors, an Apothecary and a Chaplain bouncing around the table in armies. It’s a classic “Deathstar” approach.

But wait there’s more. The Huntmaster can now take the Headsman’s Axe – and my god is it nice.

RangeStrAPType
Headsman’s Axe (5 points)X23Melee, Two-Handed, Rending

Upon initial glance you think “well it’s just a Nostraman Chainglaive with extra strength”. Well, you’re not wrong – but it’s what the extra strength does – namely, bring in Instant Death due to doubling out T4 models. I’ll be taking this – 100% – It has the Dawn of War 2 Elite Mod Night Lords Raptors spring to mind when you upgrade their Sgt; a massive spiked axe-mace in his hands. Marvelous.

The next part of the tactica will be based on how I run my Night Raptors. Your experience will clearly depend on your wargear choice.

Lets look at a typical round where you’ve charged in – as said, there’s no Fear baked in, so no characteristics test occurs – a huge failure in the rules writing in my opinion.

With 3 Attacks base on the Huntmaster and 2 for the Night Raptors, this gives you 31 Attacks on the charge in a ten man squad costing 290 points. Remember Two-handed means you don’t get the extra attack for the Bolt Pistol with either the Nostraman Chainglaive or the Headsman’s Axe.

Weapon Skill 5 means that against humble Tactical Squads you’re hitting on 3+, but with Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) granting Night Raptors A Talent For Murder you’ll be hitting on 2+ at Initiative 4. Don’t forget that if it’s Night Fighting with Terror Assault you also gain +1 Initiative; something that isn’t to be scoffed at.

So you’ve hit at Initiative 4 (or 5) and at Strength 5 you’re wounding Tactical Squads on 3+. This is when A Talent For Murder triggers again for the 1+ to Wound, bringing us to 2+ to wound. Now, this is where Rending also kicks in, whereby any rolls of 6+ cause the wound to be AP 2. You’re wounding on 2+ for the Headsman’s Axe regardless against T4.

31 attacks, hitting on 2+, wounding on 2+ as long as you outnumber with Rending granting AP 2 on 6+ to wound for 290 points (with Artificer Armour and Trophies of Judgement on the Huntmaster). Lets not forget, you’re also now getting Bloody Murder triggering after your attacks – potentially dishing out more casualties. This, is a unit with teeth to match their fearsome visage.

Curze and Night Raptors move as one through the open with a lovely 2+ cover save.

Summary

Night Raptors are genuinely a mobile and deadly threat that should not be scoffed at. With a maximum squad size of 15 costing a mere 300 points barebones, that’s a solid 50 point decrease in what it would have cost to run the same size squad, barebones, pre-Book 9. When it comes to melee weapons, you’re looking at 75 points, compared to 150 points previously. In short, Night Raptors are finally where they should be.

The Jump Pack dual use in both the movement and assault phases via Raptor Strike is great too. A nice narrative nod to the fact they descend on their targets incredibly fast to assure their dominance.

Their attacks, whilst no where near the maximum possible with the old Onslaught rule are genuinely worrying, especially with A Talent For Murder and the Nostraman Chainglaive working in concert very nicely.

I am looking to run my 40 Night Raptors in squads thus:

10 Night Raptors with Nostraman Chainglaives and Bolt Pistols, with the Huntmaster having the Headsman’s Axe, Artificer Armour and Trophies of Judgement. This will see a cost of 290 points. That’s a whopping 60 point decrease and adds the Headsman’s Axe and Fear. Marvelous!

I’ll push them up the table as far as I can in deployment; using the effects of Terror Assault and The Cover of Darkness to improve their survivability. Then it’s a case of manovuring them into position using their Jump Packs in both phases to assure the charge. Once they’re in, it’ll most likely be Goodnight Vienna for a large percentage of what they’ve charged.

If no targets initially present themselves; then I’ll do the same, of moving and running them into cover and up the table until I’m at a position to strike effectively; or run up against and stopped something I can’t deal with.

Night Raptors are the biggest winners of the 2012 entries for Book 9 and they’re now actually viable to use in the army as core troops without feeling like you’re already losing. Fear is now the only thing missing from the units core rules – and I could go blue in the face talking about that topic.

Forgeworld took their narrative, crafted some new rules from it and added a smattering of points decreases – which is exactly what the community had said needed to happen all along. Bravo – well played.

AVE DOMINUS NOX!