Shadow Captain Shrike
Capabilities - I feel the key to understanding where and when to apply a unit in any given situation is informed by knowing their full capabilities off by heart; here is a look at what this unit is capable of.
Poised as a dedicated assault character that uses the shadows to engage his foes, Shrike is built around making the most of a few special rules and dicing infantry - perhaps unsurprisingly this is in keeping with his progenitor, Corvus Corax. In an assault, Shrike is Weapon Skill 6 and Initiative 5 as befits his role as a Shadow Captain of the Raven Guard, meaning he is an above average fighter compared to most Xenos equivalents. His base Strength 4 and three attacks are supplemented by his unique pair of lightning claws, granting him a bonus attack for a total of five attacks on the charge. Each of his Raven's Talons is a Master-Crafted weapon and as such provides Shrike with two re-rolls on failed to-hit rolls when he attacks, while by virtue of being lightning claws any hits he lands will benefit from re-rolls to wound owing to the Shred special rule. While this does mostly signal to players that Shrike is a slayer of 3+ armored or weaker infantry specifically due to lacking the Strength value or AP2 to engage larger or more heavily armored foes - including vehicles - his Raven's Talons' are also Rending, meaning any roll of a six on a to-wound roll will ignore any armor save and add +D3 to a given armor penetration roll. This alleviates some of Shrike's weaknesses against 2+ armored foes and targets such as lightly armored walkers, especially as the re-rolls on failed to-wound rolls greatly increase the chances of Rending actually activating, but it should not be seen as a guaranteed counter and should thus be used more as a last ditch effort against those foes. Shrike's melee damage capabilities are further supplemented by his status as a member of the Raven Guard Chapter, allowing him to re-roll failed to-wound rolls with his Hammer of Wrath attacks, while he is equipped with assault grenades to strike at Initiative when charging through cover as well as krak grenades for a light anti-vehicle attack. Shrike wields a bolt pistol to round out his array of active wargear selections, providing him with a single Strength 4 AP5 shot with a 12" range which will normally hit on a 2+ due to his Ballistic Skill 5.
Shrike is always equipped with a Jump Pack and thus does not require a transport of any kind to make his way around the battlefield, while his Chapter Tactics allow him to use his Jump Pack in both the movement and assault phases. In practice this means he can move 12" in the movement phase and ignore intervening terrain or models while he does so, and then he re-roll any failed charge roll he makes in the subsequent assault phase of that turn while also benefiting from the Hammer of Wrath special rule. He also gains the Shrouded special rule on the first turn of the game while also uniquely possessing a permanent version of the Stealth special rule, granting Shrike and any unit he joins a bonus of +3 to any cover save they can claim or a 4+ cover save out in the open during that initial game turn. Be sure to keep in mind that the +1 cover save bonus provided by Stealth will last throughout the rest of the match whereas the +2 cover save bonuses conferred from Shrouded will not; the former acts as a helpful defensive bonus both for Shrike and his attendant unit. As far as his overall durability is concerned without regard to the Stealth special rule, Shrike is fairly generic as far as Captains are concerned; he is protected by a 3+ armor save and a 4+ invulnerable save owing to his power armor and iron halo, respectively, while he has three Wounds and Toughness 4 on the stats side. This means you absolutely should not use him as a wound tank for anything beyond a few token AP3 or AP2 shooting attacks that lack a high Strength value as he simply lacks the rule-set required to fulfill that role, while any dedicated melee character or ranged unit worth their marbles will put Shrike down for the count with little difficulty.
What is especially important to note is that Shrike is capable of Infiltrating which offers some additional deployment options for you as a player, but it comes with a few major caveats; the first of these is that Space Marines inherently lack Infiltrators outside of Scouts, and the second is that Shrike is restricted to joining squads with the Jump Infantry unit type during deployment. Given that the rules for Infiltrate bar a character from joining a unit that lacks the special rule and the same is true of the reverse scenario. this effectively means that unless another character is the Warlord of the army and rolls up a Warlord Trait conferring Infiltrate on your units, Shrike is forced to deploy by himself at the start of the game. This also cannot be avoided by trying not to use the special Infiltration deployment; the rules state that any model or unit that is capable of Infiltrating must be set up following those guidelines as opposed to what they would otherwise normally use. This also unfortunately cannot be circumvented by merely setting Shrike up in unit coherency with a squad as the Independent Character rules specify that they can only join squads either in deployment or at the end of their Movement Phase, meaning that if your opponent gets the first turn they will be free to target Shrike separately. Of course, once it is your turn then Shrike will be free to join any unit he is in unit coherency with, so enduring that first turn where he does thankfully have both Stealth and Shrouded is key. Lastly, Shrike possesses the Angel of Death Warlord Trait to impose Fear tests rolled for on 3D6 as opposed to 2D6 against any enemy unit engaged in a melee with him, while his status as a Space Marine in turns means he has the And They Shall Know No Fear special rule and thus he can never be caught up in a Sweeping Advance and will always rally automatically.
Where to Place Them - Positioning is a crucial element of any match, something that is especially true in the adaptive gameplay of 7th Edition; this is my recommendation on placement for this unit.
Seeing as Shrike will be forced to either deploy by himself or join a unit in Reserves - either Outflanking or Deep Striking - you will be forced to make some tough choices in the pre-game buildup to a match. Being a Jump Pack equipped character with the Infiltrate special rule that must join a Jump Infantry unit in deployment that is also capable of Infiltrating leaves Shrike with no buddies to join in the clearest example of non-functioning rules we have seen in 7th Edition so far. Seeing as Raven Guard Jump units tend to want to run up the field with their first turn Shrouding cover bonus and the ability to use their Jump Packs in both the Movement and Assault phases, this does present you with a dilemma when using Shrike. Do you sit him near a unit and pray your opponent doesn't get the first turn, do you hide him somewhere on the board wherever he can avoid enemy attention, or do you have him Deep Strike with a bodyguard? Ultimately this will depend on the deployment phase and whoever is deploying first, meaning you will have to use quick thinking to make an important choice. If you have the first turn and your opponent lacks any means of manipulating the chances of performing a successful Seize the Initiative roll, deploying him next to a Jump Infantry squad - preferably with the unit between Shrike and the enemy battle lines - should be fine. If you don't have the first turn and are facing an army with shooting capable of killing him fairly easily - the most notable examples of this being Eldar and Tau who can do it from across the board - then hiding him or placing him in reserve is virtually mandatory, though the former option can also prove far too risky against a fast assault army or one capable of ignoring line of sight restrictions such as the aforementioned Tau. Having him Deep Strike or Outflank via either his Jump Pack or the Infiltration deployment parameters should be your last resort as it will prevent you from getting what would otherwise be a guaranteed turn two charge with the incredible mobility of Raven Guard Jump Infantry, but it will often be necessary if you aren't using the special Raven Guard detachment that provides bonuses for going first or Seizing the Initiative. Provided you weather the first turn - and be sure to place Shrike in cover as he will have a 2+ cover save due to possessing both Stealth and Shrouded regardless of whether Night Fighting is in play - then joining up to a unit towards the middle or back for protection from incoming fire while advancing into the enemy battle lines should be your go to tactic.
Best Uses - It is true that each unit in the game ultimately has one or a handful of tasks they are best suited for in a general sense; these are the most efficient uses of this unit based on their capabilities.
Shrike is ideally suited to carving through other Space Marine equivalents or enemies of a weaker variety such as most Xenos or regular humans, using his many re-rolls and good number of attacks to scythe through such opponents reliably and with little difficulty. He does not belong in challenges against any kind of dedicated melee character as 2+ armor saves, Strength 8 attacks and so on will stop Shrike dead in his tracks. Given that he does not buff your army in any way save for providing a small defensive bonus to any unit he is joined to, as well as lacking any real ranged capabilities, he wants to be in an assault and truthfully is capable of getting there quickly due to his Jump Pack and the Raven Guard rules. However, you need to be mindful of the available targets and pick your close combats carefully as is fitting of the precise style of warfare his Chapter is renowned for; avoid most targets bearing 2+ armor saves, monstrous creatures, walkers, vehicles with rear AV12 or better and so on. Don't view Shrike as a hero flying off to challenge the enemy Warlord as that just isn't what he is designed for, but instead see him as the absolute infantry murder machine that he is. Also, keep in mind that his Stealth bonus is permanent unlike the same temporary effect provided by Night Fighting, meaning at worst Shrike and any unit he joins after deployment will have a 6+ cover save in the open and a +1 bonus to their cover saves if they could claim one. This will often offer another tough choice for you to carefully consider; making full use of it by jumping through terrain will give a likely 3+ armored unit a strong defence against the inevitable hail-storm of fire to go their way, but it also bears the risks of Dangerous Terrain claiming a few of the squad-members. Generally the rewards outweigh the risks in this regard seeing as the chances of losing a Space Marine to Dangerous Terrain is incredibly slim, but it is nonetheless something to consider if you aren't fond of your dice rolls with regards to Gets Hot and other such finicky rules.
Thank you all for reading this article, I hope you enjoyed it! I did my best not to sound too negative while reviewing Shrike and focus more on presenting the facts and potential uses of the character, but truthfully it was quite difficult given how - for lack of a better term - warped Shrike's rule-set is. If you agree or disagree with my assertions, feel free to leave a comment below and I will do my best to reply to it as soon as possible. Thanks again and have a lovely day!
In the darkness all men are equal, save those that embrace it.
- Kayvaan Shrike, Captain of the Raven Guard