My Tactics pledge: I am not the greatest player, nor a seal pup. I will endeavor to speak from my experience and always be honest about what is theory and what is play tested. Never will I assume to know better than anyone else... unless I must call out ego or pretension.

Raptors have been improved like most of the older units found in the Chaos Space Marine Codex.

The question is have Raptors improved enough?

With the now very crowded Fast Attack section, do Raptors have a space at the army list dinner table?

The answer to those questions are difficult. Raptors are a borderline unit, it is isn't a clear hammer unit, nor a support unit. When you have a unit like this it always comes down to application.

I can see Raptors being a powerful unit in an eccentric generals arsenal accustomed to odd ball units.

For the laymen like most of us, that doesn't help much, but maybe understanding the bad place Raptors have come from is a good start.

By looking at the differences between the 5th edition and 6th edition codex. Here is a side by side comparison.

(Click to Enlarge)

Raptor Rules 2007




Raptor Rules 2012




Wrap your sense around this one...

  • Cheaper 17 from 20 points a model
  • Gained Fear
  • Reduction in unit limit 20 down to 15
  • Loss of Leadership 10 to 9
  • Marks and Icon Changes

-- Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep--

Phil Kelly with the easy strokes of his keyboard instantly made the cheapest Jump Infantry in power armor. Best thing, Phil Kelly left Raptors mostly unchanged making this reduction all the more beneficial. Without Fearless though you can make the case that the three-point drop isn't enough.

--Fear the Reaper--

Even a white elephant gift is still a gift. Fear has a very limited effect in most games. If you plan on running Raptors for interference against more psychologically prone prey this is an added bonus.

--Less is more?--

Not like people were running Raptor squads in units of 20 makes this change barely register. Still having the ability to go above 10 models does add a dynamic that other Fast Attack units don't have. This is where not having Fearless also hurts, because you risk losing more with a larger unit.

--Loss of Leadership--

The the drop in leadership is even more confusing when you consider that Raptors have to pay two points per Raptor to get it back with Veterans of the Long War, where a unit like Chaos Bikers has to only pay one point per.

--Marks and Icons--

Mark of Khorne & Icon of Wrath

Luckily for Raptors, Mark of Khorne is one of the cheaper Marks. When ever a Chaos Space Marine unit has an extra close combat weapon Mark Khorne is always under consideration. More so when you have a fast unit that will almost always be doing the charging.

Icon of Wrath is also a good bargain, but since Raptors are a secondary assault unit keeping the cost down is paramount. Consider carefully before taking any Icon because you don't want Raptors doing too much.


Mark of Tzeentch & Icon of Flame

If it doesn't already have a Invulnerable save just look away. Even if Raptors did have an Invulnerable save, no point in ever taking Icon of Flame, especially with an Assault unit.

Mark of Nurgle & Icon of Fear

Raptors can get Mark of Nurgle fairly cheap when compared to other units. With a unit that will often have to deal with small arms fire Mark of Nurgle isn't a terrible option. Still, you want to keep Raptors cheap so make sure the idea of Nurgle Raptors fits with your army concept, otherwise you are wasting points.

Not that you would consider it anyway, but since Raptors already come with Fear don't take Icon of Fear

Mark of Slaanesh & Icon of Excess

Like Mark of Nurgle taking Mark of Slaanesh is a good option, but where Mark of Nurgle works against shooting, Mark of Slaanesh is works best in Assault. Taking Mark of Slaanesh puts Raptors in the same price range as other Jump Infantry.

As for Icon of Excess, once again consider what is the cost benefit ratio. Remember cheap Raptors and  Icon of Excess will add 2 points to a 15-man squad. Sure a second save is cool, but how many turns do you expect your Raptors to last in the first place?

Icon of Vengeance

The Icon of Vengeance isn't a must buy, but has to be closely looked at when taking Raptors. Since Raptors will most likely be a secondary threat you often cannot afford joining Chaos Lords with them. So taking the Icon of Vengeance is a way to have Raptors take on targets that free up your other units.


With the now very crowded Fast Attack section, do Raptors have a space at the army list dinner table?

Putting it all together.

Raptors have some problems, namely the whole competing with the better Fast Attack choices.

When you compare them to those other units Raptors just don't stand up. Jump Infantry are still unreliable and this isn't made any better with Raptors, which could have really used a Force Org changing HQ. Without Fearless Raptors will always be a very risky proposition without having a Chaos Lord to tag along.

So what can you do?

Well the great thing about Raptors is they get two special weapons with just five guys. This comes at minimal cost and provides a suicide squad at worse and a major annoyance at best. Running around shooting targets and avoiding Assault isn't a bad job for this fast unit.

Once you decide that you are just not satisfied floating around the board you have to consider the next step: Assault Raptors. The problem with this is two-fold: you can recover easily from falling back when shot at, but losing an Assault can mean being swept off the board, and second if you use a joined Chaos Lord another (scoring) unit isn't getting Fearless.

Even deciding to take the Raptor Risk, you have a harsh reality when you compare costs to Chaos Bikers. A bare bones 10-man Chaos Biker unit is only 30 points more than an equivalent Raptor unit. With all the flexibility you get with Chaos Bikers that 30 point difference looks very small. Taking more Raptors, the cheaper Marks, Master of Deception Lord are the only ways to separate them from Chaos Bikers

If 30 points does matter then Raptors are a cheap alternative to other hammer units your Chaos Lord could go with.

That leaves you with the dangerous choice of taking the Icon of Vengeance and being one Precision Strike away from falling to pieces. You won't be getting much help either with the cost inefficiency of Veterans of the Long War. Go large and invest lots of points or don't go at all, either way it is a crapshoot. Raptors built-in Wargear works well with most Marks without paying for the corresponding Icon.

Going without any upgrades makes the most sense because it utilizes the cheap cost of Raptors and doesn't leave you pulling your hair when they die.


Memory Lane: Raptors

In 1999 we were first introduced to Chaos Raptors with those mechanical bat wings. As for the rules the biggest problem was you could only take one unit of them. At 35 points Raptors had a few tricks. Besides having the 3rd edition of Fear equivalent, Raptors also got Hit & Run a power could have made them amazing in this current edition.

By 2003 Raptors had changed with a new model, but as for rules they didn't change much. You still could only get one unit and they still had Hit & Run. They did have Daemonic Flight and Daemonic Visage and as well you could Mark the heck out of them to fit with your Night Lord dreams.

By 2007 Raptors changed once again. Now you could take three units of them and they were a "cheap" 20 points. Still you never really saw them on the battlefield because they didn't have Fearless nor were they cheaper than any other equivalent jumper from other codexes.

At least you could take 2 special weapons for a budget cost...


--Ways to play Raptors--

Death Star Configuration: 297 pts 13-man Raptor unit, with Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Powerfist. Take with a Chaos Lord on Bike to avoid being doubled out. This unit delivers a good 12 more attacks than a max unit size Chaos Biker squad. 

Balanced Configuration: 250 pts 10-man Raptor unit, with Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Vengeance, Power Weapon, 2 Flamers. This fairly inexpensive unit can do a lot. It can clear horde units with Flamers, go toe-toe with any MEQ troop unit, and provide support for other units. Besides Icon of Vengeance for Fearless, Mark of Slaanesh is a good for going first in most Assaults.

MSU Configuration: 135 pts 5-man Raptor unit, with 2 Plasma Guns, Combi-Plasma. In 5th edition most players used Meltaguns, but with the return of Plasma this is a great alternative. This unit is only 5 points more than an equivalent Chosen unit and 25 less than an equivalent Plague Marine unit with the bonus of a Jump Pack.

Horde Configuration: 390 pts 15-man Raptor unit, with Mark of Nurgle, 2 Meltaguns, Combi-Melta, Powerfist, Icon of Vengeance. Toughness 5, Fearless, and quick delivery Melta played right is pretty nasty. This is more of a fun unit than anything else, and can leave most opponents flat footed when you take such a large unit.

A Word about Allies

Raptors are a natural fit for either Daemons or Tau.

With Tau, Raptors bring a reliable Assault unit can protect weaker elements of your Tau force, like Broadsides or Fire Warriors. Raptors are great at clean up, finishing off stray units that survive the shooting phase, but still pose a threat to the Assault adverse Tau Empire.

With Daemons using Raptors to tie up units as you wait for the second wave is an excellent usage. As a quick unit Raptors can protect Flamers of Tzeentch or Screamers from shooty units that will most likely target them. Raptors also work well with any fast Daemon unit.

Remember unlike other Battle Brothers Daemons ICs cannot join with Chaos Space Marine units under any situation.

Final Thoughts...

Raptors much like Khorne Berserkers are a still a lesser tier choice, not because they are truly horrible, but because there are so many better things to take. Finding a niche for Raptors is tough and with such fantastic looking new models you are almost compelled to find a way to make it work. There is very little middle ground with Raptors either go MSU, secondary assault, or poor-mans Deathstar. As a cheap Chaos Lord delivery system you can do a lot worse...


It's Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.