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Space Marine Unit Spotlight: A Reivers Review

Last Monday I looked at the Intercessors, and gave my opinion on how best they are used. This week we'll be focusing on the sneaky, scary Reivers. These are my favourite part of the new codex, so much so that I'm tempted to throw all my pennies into making a Ninja Space Marine chapter just to buy more of them! Let's see why...

As a caveat here, this is simply advice. The first and most important rule is "Have Fun", and the second is "Play Your Dudes(TM)". This is just to give you a heads up on any challenges you may face, or tricks you can pull with the units you want. The third most important rule is "Most People on The Internet Are Wrong, Especially Bloggers". If you think something is wrong, let me know in comments down below.

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Brother Fett of the Space Marine Field Police Bounty Hunters

Overview (TL;DR)

These are the best new harassing unit in the Codex. Terminators can be tougher and hit harder, Assault Marines can bring more flamers, and anything in a drop pod can do a similar job and do more damage. But for turning up on a flank and being something that cannot be ignored, none do it more cheaply than the Reivers.

Their strength lies in their second wound, just like the Intercessors, giving you a reasonably strong tank on top of their reasonable punch. They won't be popping enemy tanks on their arrival, but that's not what they're for. They're there to distract, and disrupt. Only Terminators match their staying power in that regard.

Not only that, but they support your other assault units better than any other, and when it comes to putting in the killing blow they are more than capable of pitching in to make that happen! Shock grenades prevent over watch, and can keep your other assault units alive for longer. Terror Troops can help speed up combats.

If you can't decide what weapon set you like, take the bolter carbines. They'll give you far more utility over the course of the game.

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Taken from 8th Edition Codex Space Marines for education and review


You have three options with them:
  • Invasion objective campers
  • Guard duty for other Deep Strike units
  • Assault support
Notice "Close combat specialist" is not one of their roles. Put simply, they don't put out enough attacks of high enough strength to fulfil that role. They do well in close combat, but actually not much better than Intercessors. If you want someone to perform that role, Vanguard Veterans and Assault Terminators are what you want.

What they excel in doing is putting themselves on top of enemy objectives, or contesting any other back line objectives. There's very little separating them from Intercessors, particularly if you're equipped with bolter carbines, and Grav-chutes and Grappling hooks put them right where they need to be. As they are reasonably tough for their points, you essentially have a Deep Striking troops choice that can outlast glass canon back line units.

I find the idea of using them as first turn assaulters a bit of a thorny issue. Whilst they can certainly do it, once you get into combat you've lost the use of their shock grenade... and using either Grappling Hooks or Grav-chutes only gets you 9-inches close to the enemy. That's out of range of the preventing overwatch, and you'll be tanking a full retaliatory strike.

They're much better at second turn charges, or supporting dedicated assault troops. How you use them exactly will be dictated by their unique Chapter Tactic, but as a rule of thumb you'll be dropping them in to harass in the first turn, then support the second turn assault. A good combo would be dropping them with Assault Terminators... they take the hits and charges if needed, allowing your Thunder hammerers to strike first in the next combat.


The combat squads Stratagem has a kind of odd use for the Reivers. You can start off deployed as a 10-man unit, and then split into two 5-men squads if you have two objectives that need securing. This only works if the enemy has ignored the power armoured giants appearing at his back, and you somehow still have 10 men though.

  • Grappling Hooks vs. Grav-chutes: Technically grav-chutes give you better options and mid-field objective grabbing, whereas Grappling Hooks can help you park in a building on the enemy flank. They essentially are the same, and you should go with what you thikn is best.

Chapter Tactics

Nearly all the Chapter Tactics and stratagems work well for the Reivers, and which tactic you take will

  • Ultramarines: These are one of the few chapters that can do the first turn charge well. You can charge the Reivers to keep an enemy unit pinned down (in the first turn if you get a good charge roll!). When the bigger assault units come, you can then do a Roman style maniple swap, the Reivers dropping back to three inches from the enemy, firing a dropping the shock grenade as they go. The harder hitting assault unit goes in, and clobbers the enemy minus over watch and getting hit back for less. With d3 hits from the Shock grenade, even at BS 4+ the odds are in your favour that you'll get the hit you need,
  • Imperial Fists: Premier objective cover camper invaders. That one unit of Guardsmen hiding out in a tree will find themselves gunned down to oblivion by bolter carbine and heavy pistol fire... and certainly won't be able to do much if charged for their troubles. Nothing gets cover against the Imperial Fists, making them a very solid harasser for glass canons that really needed it. You can even pop their unique Stratagem to get that extra few shots off... and with 15 shots coming out of them, you're probably going to trigger it at least twice!
  • Raven Guard: Oddly enough, whilst good on paper, the Raven Guard don't use the Reivers very well. Whilst they perform the harassing job admirably, the -1 To Hit Chapter tactic only works at 12-inches and beyond... at which point you've kind of lost the benefit of Reivers. They make better mid-field objective grabbers thanks to it, but they don't bring anything new to the Raven Guard tool kit. Their unique Stratagem is also somewhat redundant with Grav-chutes, unless you were desperate to spare 10-20 points somewhere in your list.
  • Iron Hands: A dull but useful chapter tactic, this lets you ignore 1-in-6 of incoming damage. For the Reivers, this makes them hang on for that much longer, absorbing that much more fire. The Iron Hands stratagem doesn't work on them though. (Yes, I copy/pasted this from the Intercessors... there's not much more to add than that)
  • Salamanders: A single re-roll on To-Hit and To-Wound is nifty for getting the most use out of that auxiliary grenade launcher shock grenade. Again, the stratagem doesn't work well for them. Okay as a tactic, but better suited to tactical squads and their special weapons. (Another copy/paste job, but can you imagine Salamanders agreeing to scaring the enemy to death?)
  • Black Templars: First turn chargers, if all you're wanting to do is pin the enemy down until the rest of your army gets there. But what makes them really great as a trolling choice is parking them next to the enemy psyker. This gives you a nice big Deny the Witch bubble with their unique stratagem, either forcing the psyker to move away or deal with you. Either way, disruption achieved. Model the combat knives as flaming brands, and get your Witch Hunter on!
  • White Scars: I had to think about this a lot, but when I did a great revelation occurred on how to use the White Scars! Whilst you may be tempted to melee with them, these are actually best used as a fast(er) moving shooting unit. With the extra 2-inches of Advance move, they become minimum movement 9-inches which gets them into position faster. They also have use in a display of synergy which the Dark Angels are jealous of. Bikers use their Stratagem to pin the enemy down in combat in the first turn. with Reivers dropping in to add to the bullet storm the bikers give. In the next turn, the bikers move slightly away from combat, and the Reivers fire guns and shock grenades along with any other heavy support fire from the White Scar gun line. Then the bikers, with their Toughness 5 and extra wound, can go back to charging the enemy and keeping them pinned in combat. Rinse and repeat for the games most effective tar pit!

The Ultramrines pulling off the maniple swap and the way the White Scars can use their tactics are the two bright gems of this analysis. Those and the psyker-trolling Black Templars are the discoveries that makes writing these things worthwhile!

Stop. It's Math Hammer Time.

There's not much to MathHammer out at this point, except for weapon choices. Since we're comparing choices within a unit, it's actually fairly easy to do (since we can leave out extra bits like Chapter Tactics, grenade access and other special rules).

In almost every single case, take the Bolter carbine. I'll be the first to admit that pistol and knife look far better, but in terms of usability, you'll always want those two extra shots at 24-inches over an extra attack in combat.


Starting with shooting, I've made up some tables to show the average points efficiency for each weapon option. If you play Power Levels... well just pick what you like, that's what that system is for!

Here are the weapons:
  • Heavy Bolt Pistol: 12" Pistol, Str4 AP-1
  • Bolter Carbine: 24" Assault 2, Str4 AP0
  • Combat Knife: Extra attack
  • Carbine and Pistol
  • Pistol and Knife

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We really need to look at the "Points per wound given row" to see how efficient these weapons are. We want to see low numbers here, meaning each average wound per turn costs us less.

Obviously the carbine does better in shooting, so lets see how the blade does in combat.

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8th edition space marine primaris reivers review guide spot light

The carbine still comes out on top. The carbine allows you to effectively double your attacks from each Reiver, whereas the blade only gives you the one extra. If you're planning on sticking around in combat for a while without getting shooting attacks, then the blade does become better. But I always think assault should be a finisher, not a place to spend the battle.

The Carbine just gives you more effective range and mobility, even thought the blade does win out in straight up damage. Here's a graph to show you why:

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At anything but point blank the carbine is better. With that said, if you want this as primarily a shock grenade unit to support assaulters with Terror Troops and no over watch, the knife really does better with the loss of fire from pistols (remember the grenade means you can't fire other weapons):

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There really is a slim margin here (in most cases it's 0.3 wounds a turn in favour of the knife even though it's less efficient overall). I would suggest the carbine as a standard, but don't feel like the cool looking knife is hamstringing the unit.

I just want to point out that the carbine is more efficient thanks to it's efficiency in shooting. The knife does more damage overall, but it's that much less efficient for it's points at shooting than the carbine. We've essentially proved that knives are better alpha strikers, but that carbines are more flexible.


Just for completeness really, as there is no point difference to be had.

Your Reivers can generally expect to survive two rounds of attacks. Remember that's on average though... big guns wipe them out in one, whereas little ones will have them holding out for 5 or more (basically the whole game).

Unless supported these little harassers will be gone before the game is out... don't expect them to pin down an entire table edge on their own just because they can deep strike!


8th edition space marine primaris reivers review guide spot light

With everything said, the Bolter Carbine is a more efficient weapon. However, the greatest strength of the Reiver lies in it's support options rather than it's damage potential. Maximise these abilities, and this band of Space Marine ninjas will do you well!

I'll repeat it here, because it's important. No one plays 40K as a cold mathematical exercise, so if you like some of the "weaker" options, go ahead and use them. I like the idea of 8-foot tall ninjas in massive armour, just as much as I like the same giants charging forward spraying mini-grenade bullets everywhere! This is just to give people a clearer idea of how these things can run on the table, so you don't spend loads of time on models only to be disappointed.

Right, that's all from me for now. Tomorrow I review the Fallen and Renegades reveal!

Until next time!

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  1. I disagree with your assessment of how reivers work with the Raven guard strategem. Strike from the shadows allows them to move and act normally where as grav chutes make them come in after movement. I could first turn charge with reivers and actually get to use the shock grenades if I deploy them using the Raven guard strategem. Even if they could be shot at if I go second I put them 12 " away in cover giving them sv bonus and keeping them at -1 to hit range. I could even give them grapnels and put them out of line of sight behind a large building to prevent any shooting of them if I go second. Best part of the sTrategem is i place them after determining who goes first. typically use them to harass shooty units so my ooponent would not try to charge them.

    1. Thanks for commenting, it clear up some extra questions I've had about the Ravenguard stratagem!

      I still think the Stratagem is best used for an offensive unit rather than a skirmishing one. Even a strong firepower unit like Hellblasters or a strong melee unit like Vanguard Vets would make better use of it. Aggressors for both!

      The best use of the Reivers would be some free overwatch free tackle of an important enemy unit, and whilst I can certainly see value in that, I would prefer to take something out with an alpha strike rather than keep it tied up in melee.

      Certainly one for the toolbox though, and I'm glad you mentioned it. Thanks!

  2. It seems like this post is treating Pistols as if you can shoot them at the same time as Assault Weapons? Each model can only shoot either its Pistols or its other ranged weapons.

    1. Thanks for commenting!

      No, bolter carbines have two shots compared to the heavy bolt pistols 1. That's all.

      That said, I've checked through my maths to see if I have made the mistake. Can you point to where you think I've included the pistol shots alongside the carbine shots?


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