““Pick clean the corpse”
The Corvus Cabal is a Chaos warband for Age of Sigmar: Warcry. They are very fast, have great ability synergies and can make better use of the battlefield scenery than any other warband. So, if you like striking from the rooftops like a murder of crows with sharp talons clawing and scratching, the Corvus Cabal might be the perfect warband for you.
Background and Lore of the Corvus Cabal Warband
The Corvus Cabal warband come from the Shadow Realm of Ulgu, where they populate an area called the Carrion Reach. They worship Chaos in the shape of the Great Gatherer, a carrion bird/magpie bird god deity to which they offer trophies from their victims.
Like the Untamed Beasts and the Splintered Fang, they are shamanistic Chaos worshippers who mimic a divine animal form in both their outfits and behaviour: they adorn themselves with feathers, wear giant bird skulls as helmets, and shape their weapons like beaks and talons. They even use tamed carrion birds as hunting companions.
In battle, the Corvus Cabal strike from above, whether it is from the cliffs of their homeland or the ruined rooftops of the Eightpoints, and their champion Shrike Talon even experiments with gliding like a bird, wings outstretched. Their Leader, the Shadow Piercer, inspires his flock of fighters to attack in swarms and claim trophies as impressive as the severed head she feeds to her bird familiar.
In the Warcry short story anthology, the roof-running Cabalists of the Corvus Cabal are a recurring theme, but one story, Proving Ground, is told mainly from the perspective of a Spire Stalker named Lock. He fights on the rooftops, uses terrain and movement to his advantage against the Splintered Fang, and, above all, lives to gain glory and loot for the Great Gatherer.
The Cabalites (as the narrator calls them) in Proving Ground actually feel like they could end up worshipping Khorne rather than any of the other main Chaos deities: It’s all about glory in combat and skulls for the skull throne/trophies for the Great Gatherer.
Then again, Lock meets someone called the Great Whisperer who teaches him how to spread misinformation to the Splintered Fang warband to lure them into a trap, which sounds like something another bird-fancying Chaos God would plan to do.
If you look in the one of the campaign quest for the bird boys, you also have some Slaanesh stuff going on.
Either way, the Corvus Cabal in the Warcry stories are swift, martial glory-seekers who talk in squawks and chirps like a flock of birds, and who live in large communities held together by a common quest for loot and glory. But what are they like on the tabletop?
Let’s take a look at their fighters and abilities.
Overview and Points for the Fighters in the Corvus Cabal Warband
Note: if you haven’t read the basic rules for Warcry before reading this article, it might be helpful to know that the game’s abilities are activated by using 6 dice that you roll at the start of your turn. If two of the dice show the same value, they can be used to activate a Double ability. If three show the same value, they can be used for a Triple ability, and so on. So, when this article refers to an ability being a Double, a Triple or a Quad, it refers to this system. It might sound a bit confusing, but takes no time to get used to when you start playing
Shadow Piercer: 185 points
The Shadow Piercer is the Leader of the Corvus Cabal warband. She is fast, with the Move characteristic of 5 that she shares with most of the warband, and she has four attacks that do two damage or five critical damage.
What makes her stand out among the Chaos leaders of Warcry, though, is her access to some very good abilities.
Like everyone else in the warband, she can use the Double Raven Dart, which is a ranged attack, and the Quad Death From Above, which gives her a bonus move and attack action that gets better if she moves 3 or more inches downwards during the move.
You probably won’t be using Raven Dart a lot with your Shadow Piercer, since she is stronger in melee than at range, but Death From Above can upgrade her attacks to become more deadly against armored foes.
The Shadow Piercer can also use the Double Harrying Raven, which let’s you pin an opponent within 20 inches in melee so he can’t disengage. Several warbands in Warcry have access to abilities that can prevent disengage actions, but Harrying Raven’s excellent range let’s the Shadow Piercer support a group of your fighters pretty far away at the same time as she is engaged in a different combat situation on her own location.
This can make for some nice fighting on multiple fronts, especially if you can use Harrying Raven on an activation where you use Wait as your first action. This allows you to use an ability and then save your last action, as well as the opportunity to use another ability, for an extra activation later in the turn. This is an advanced tactic that’s great for many warbands, but it can be outstanding for the Shadow Piercer in later turns where you’re already stuck in melee, because of the great importance of her fourth and last ability, the Triple Grisly Trophy.
Grisly Trophy adds 1 to the Attacks characteristic of melee weapons used for attack action by friendly fighters within 6 inches of the Shadow Piercer. This ability is, in my opinion, absolutely essential to any Corvus Cabal strategy: It lets you run the Shadow Piercer in a battle group with a flock of as many cheap Cabalists as you can muster, so that you get as many extra attacks from the ability as possible. If you can position yourself right, so the Shadow Piercer and some of the Cabalists survive more than one round of melee combat, you can take out even the strongest enemies by way of the sheer number of chances you get to do damage and score critical hits. It looks, plays and feels like being a swarm of carrion birds from whose claws and beaks nothing can escape.
Grisly Trophy also affects your stronger warriors like the Shrike Talon or Spire Stalker, and with the generally high Move characteristics of the Corvus Cabal, you’ll often have the opportunity for those fighters to swoop over and join the frenzy around the Shadow Piercer to take full advantage of those extra attacks for an activation or two
Shrike Talon: 185 points
The Shrike Talon is a champion-type fighter for the Corvus Cabal warband. The first and most important thing to note about him is that he looks insane. He has a feathered cloak that doubles as a semi-functional set of gliding wings, and his weapons are metallic finger-mounted knives and clawed stilts.
He has a terrifying Move characteristic of 8 inches, and 5 attacks that do 2 damage each and 4 critical damage. That’s a lot of potential damage that you can swiftly apply to anything on the battlefield with such high Move Characteristic.
This is especially true if you can plan out your Move actions with the Shrike Talon in a way that let’s you drop down on the enemy from a piece of scenery. The Shrike Talon’s unique ability, the Triple Swooping Attack, lets you make a bonus Move action, and if that move finishes 3 or more inches lower than it started, you can make a bonus attack action. So, you could potentially use a double Move (one move and one free move) action to move 16 inches, either from the ground up to a vantage point on some scenery, or for a very long distance from one piece of scenery to another, and then swoop down to attack an enemy far behind enemy lines with a double attack. Or, if he is already on some terrain and within 8″, attack 3 times.
Alternatively, if you have the dice for it, you can use the Quad Death From Above from the same vantage point to do the same attack, but with a Strength of 5 on your 5 attacks, turning the Shrike Talon into a real Leader killer. The best thing about this tactic is that the Shrike Talon has a Toughness of 4 and 20 wounds, so he might even survive the counterattack to do a double attack or to flutter back up to his perch to target another enemy fighter.
Spire Stalker: 140 points
The Spire Stalker is a mid-tier fighter in the Corvus Cabal warband. One box of the warband lets you build 2 Spire Stalkers, and they are fairly straight-forward.
A Spire Stalker has almost the same weapons profile as the Shrike Talon (it has one less Attack), but it has 15 wounds instead of 20 and a Move of 5 rather than 8.
Those stats are still good, and while the potential damage output of a Spire Stalker is much the same as fighters in similar roles in other warbands, it is definitely an advantage to be able to do that kind of damage with a far-moving fighter.
The Spire Stalker’s unique ability, the Double Swift Climb, gives the fighter even more movement range, as it allows your Spire Stalker to ignore vertical distances when you climb as part of a Move for one activation. This means that a double move action that would normally take you, say, 5 inches to reach a wall, then 3 inches to climb over the wall, and then only 2 inches further on the other side, would allow you to move 5 inches on both sides of the wall. It could also take you from the bottom to the top of the clock tower in the starter set in one Move action. In short, it makes it really easy for you to take advantage of scenery to get to higher ground, walled off areas or to climb up and get ready to use Death from Above in the next round. This can seriously take your opponent by surprise, as the model looks quite similar to your average fighter in the warband.
The Spire Stalker is a good all-rounder to have in your warband, and it is strong enough to hold it’s own alone or in pairs, which is great since many of your Cabalists will be somewhere else with the Shadow Piercer a lot of the time.
Cabalist: 65 points
The Cabalist is the most basic fighter you can build from a Corvus Cabal warband box, and one box builds up to four of their standard version.
It has 4 attacks and the warband signature Move characteristic of 5, but one its own, it is a rather weak fighter: with only 8 wounds and a meagre Toughness of 3, a Cabalist goes down easily.
Even though they are very vulnerable, the Cabalists are an essential part of any strategy involving the Shadow Piercer’s Grisly Trophy. The more fighters get an extra attack dice, the better, and the basic Cabalist is your cheapest option for a fighter with 4 attacks to add to the Shadow Piercer’s battle group. The large number of Cabalists you can field also works well for swarming an objective and holding it for just enough time to get points for it.
Cabalist with Spear: 75 points
The Cabalist with Spear is an upgraded version of the standard Cabalist. For a 10 points higher cost, it adds 1 to critical damage and a crucial +1 to the range of its attacks.
The added range adds to the survivability of the Cabalist, since it can attack stronger melee-focused foes without fearing a double action counterattack. As is the case with any other spear-wielding standard fighter among the Chaos warbands, this is very useful, but those extra 10 points per model adds up, so you need to balance survivability against the advantages of outnumbering your opponent when choosing how to build your Cabalists. It is tricky to make the 1000 points work out perfect.
Also, you are a bit limited in how many spear bois you can build out of the box.
Cabalist with Familiar: 60 points
The Cabalist with Familiar is the cheapest fighter in the Corvus Cabal warband, and one box builds just one of them. They have one fewer attack than the standard cabalist, so they don’t have much to offer as fighters.
If you have a Cabalist with Familiar in your warband, it is for one specific reason only: It has access to the Double ability Harrying Raven, which is otherwise only available to the Shadow Piercer.
If your Cabalist with Familiar can take care of pinning down your enemy fighters, the Shadow Piercer is free to use his activations for attacking and buffing everyone else with Grisly Trophy, and since Harrying Raven has a range of 20 inches, it can often sit on an objective or up high on some scenery in relative safety while its raven familiar gets the job done.
If you’re building from one box only, note that building the Cabalist with Familiar takes away one of your 3 options for building the useful Cabalist with Spear, so unless you’re up for a bit of converting, you will be a spearman short.
Abilities for the Corvus Cabal Warband
- Raven Dart (Double, Everyone): Pick an enemy within 8 inches and roll a dice. A roll of 3-5 does 1 damage to the enemy fighter, and a roll of 6 does damage equal to the value of the roll used for the Double.
- Swift Climb (Double, Spire Stalker): Do not count vertical distance when climbing for a friendly fighter for one activation.
- Harrying Raven (Double, Shadow Piercer and Cabalist with Familiar): An enemy fighter within 20 inches of the fighter using this ability is unable to make disengage actions until the end of the battle round.
- Swooping Attack (Triple, Shrike Talon): The Shrike Talon makes a bonus move action, and if he finishes that move 3 inches or more lower than at the beginning of the move, he can make a bonus attack action.
- Grisly Trophy (Triple, Shadow Piercer): Add 1 to the Attacks characteristic of attack actions with a Range of 3 or less from friendly fighters for the rest of the battle round while they are within 6 inches of the Shadow Piercer.
- Death from Above (Quad, Everyone): Make a bonus move action with a fighter. Then, that fighter can make a bonus attack action. If the move action ended 3 inches lower than it started, the bonus attack action has +1 Strength.
Strategy and Tactics for the Corvus Cabal
An effective strategy for the Corvus Cabal warband should always take two factors into consideration: How you can use your excellent movement and movement abilities to dominate the battlefield, and how you can deal damage to your opponent before he/she can take out your vulnerable fighters.
Because your fighters have between 5 and 8 in Movement and a number of abilities that let you either traverse scenery easily or do more damage when you drop down from scenery, you should take advantage of the layout of the battlefield during deployment in any way you can: If there are objectives to claim, can you place them in a place that you can get to faster than your opponent? Can you defend objectives from an elevated position? Are there any great places for ambushes from above? Your Shrike Talon and Spire Stalkers are especially important to put in the right battle groups for these tactics.
At times your opponent's fighters from different the hammer or dagger can get stranded outside the key areas of the battle. If you can make sure to use your high movement to make sure your all your fighters get into action, you will have a clear advantage.
One tactic could be to consider where you could strike with a battle group of as many Cabalists as you can muster, and a Shadow Piercer to lead them. Remember to keep track of distances, as the Shadow Piercer can only buff attacks of friendly fighters within 6 inches of her (at the time where your other fighter attacks). It might be tempting to use your fast movement to swarm across the board with your Grisly Trophy-powered flock right away but be careful that your opponent doesn’t get to attack you first, as you’ll lose Cabalists to almost any fighter’s attacks. The damage output of your warband is mostly due to the large number of attacks rather than their damage values, but if you plan it right, you can take out even the strongest enemy fighters with a bunch of buffed Cabalists simply because you have more activations and attack dice to use in them than they have.
If you plan for your flock to stay alive and defend objectives, consider taking more Cabalists with spears (for their better range) or using Harrying Raven to get an enemy stuck in out of range of where you don’t want him to be.
Pros and Cons of the Corvus Cabal
+ one of the fastest Chaos warbands
+ can take advantage of scenery to great effect
+ versatile Leader figure with many useful abilities that improve your warband
+ Sneaky good damage (loads of attacks) compared to price pr. model
– Many Corvus Cabal fighters are very vulnerable
– Not the highest critical damage profiles (bit average critical on whole warband is fair)
Tips on painting the Corvus Cabal
The Corvus Cabal models have a variety of textures on them, but there are two materials that are featured on every model in the warband: Feathers and bird skulls with beaks.
The blue-black feathers of the box art look amazing and are easy to achieve if you are comfortable with drybrushing: you can just basecoat the feathers black and then carefully build up progressively brighter drybrush layers of a blue color you like across the tips of the feathers. But the feathers can be painted in any colors you like, so look at picture galleries of birds and find something that looks cool to you.
How about a parrot warband with a jungle theme? Or a desert warband with vulture feathers? Or eagles? Or something fiery, or green, or ice-blue? You can make anything work, and models like the Shrike Talon have large enough areas of feathers for stripes or shifting colors.
The skulls can be tricky to paint, as painting them in just a regular bone color will make it hard for them to stand out, which they should since the face of the model is a focal point. So make sure to highlight (or drybrush!) them fairly bright, and consider adding a wash or glaze to the beak to make that stand out as well.
On my test model for the warband, I decided to go in the opposite direction of the box art and make a “white raven” look for the feathers. This was bone by painting them Grey Seer (a new GW base paint that covers way better than any of the old whites), wash them with Agrax Earthshade and then build up layers of Grey Seer with more and more White Scar mixed in. This gave the feathers a dirty white look that made me imagine my birdmen living in a desert, raiding trade routes from the cliffs.
The skull is Wraithbone with another wash of Agrax Eartshade and a highlight of Wraithbone. The beak was giving 3 or 4 washes of Nuln Oil before I highlighted it. I painted the hair of all my Corvus Cabal fighters in varying nuances of red and yellow, the tunic and pants in Doombull Brown and the straps in Russ Grey highlighted with Fenrisian Grey.
Since I decided to paint my warband as desert raiders, I wanted their weapons to look worn, dry and rusty. I basecoated them with Iron Hands Steel, washed them with a thinned down mix of the Contrast paint Wyldwood, gave the blades a wash of Skrag Brown thinned down with Lahmian Medium (for the rust) and a strong highlight of Stormhost Silver. Since there probably aren’t that many trees in the desert for weapon handles, I painted the handles in the bone recipe from the skulls.
If you are looking for something more along the lines of the box art or if you want to go the contrast route, look at some of the embedded videos below from some of the awesome youtube channels.
Different build options and how to buy the Corvus Cabal Warband
One box of the Corvus Cabal warband builds:
- 1 Shadow Piercer
- 1 Shrike Talon
- 2 Spire Stalkers
- 2 normal Cabalist
- 1 Cabalist with Spear
- 1 Cabalist that can be either normal or with a spear
- 1 Cabalist that can be assembled as either a Cabalist with Spear or a Cabalist with Familiar
The Corvus Cabal are not as fragile as the Unmade, and they are also pretty easy to assemble. One thing to be careful with is the Familiar of the Shadow Piercer, whose legs are really thin and break off easily (speaking from experience here). If you want more or less Cabalists with Spears than what the assembly instructions suggest, swapping weapons around with a few cuts here and there is easy to do.
Having one cabalist with familiar is pretty decent, but it is quite a shame that it will cut into the number of bird guys you can have with spear. If you are up for it, move the familiar to one of the Cabalist that cannot get a spear. In that way you can build 1 familiar, 1 normal cabalist and 3 spear cabalist (making it an even 1k).
What you see above is a very simple swap. I just glued together one of the cabalist that can only be made into a normal cabalist. After he was glued, I cut off his left arm and glued the raven arm on him. The angle is a bit weird (who would run around with a raven like that?!) but then again, these are some crazy bird bois.
After he is primed and painted, the joint should become non-visible.
The image above depicts one of the cabalists that can only be made into a normal cabalist. If you want to go all out on spears, you could convert him quite simple like this. I glued the model together as normal, and afterwards, I cut off the weapon and glued an old orc spear on top. It required some slight finesse to get the width of the spear to align with the old weapon. I also had to attach some bits on the bottom of his weapon.
The result was a bit messier, but because the wood of the spear is already slightly curved and bent, it should look fine after priming and painting.
If you are looking to buy more than one box to field “teh best bird bois warband ever”, a good resource would be the video below from the Orchammer channel (excellent Warcry content if you are into the math stuff).
Be warned: it will make you want to have more Shrike Talons.
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