Banshees are the quick and lethal close combat aspect. They Have many benefits and advantages over their more heavily armed and armored siblings the Striking Scorpions. The first, to me anyways, is that they are actually fleet. This means a lot when you foot slog across the field only to run and then not be able to assault. The second advantage is that they are all armed with power weapons. This is one factor that has always frustrated me. I am partial to Scorpions, but despite having better armor, better strength and more attacks only one guy in the squad can have a power weapon and he goes last.
This takes me to advantage three. The banshee mask. This little piece of war gear makes it so on the first round of combat the imitative value is 10. So that means you are pretty much going first. Combine this with the power weapons and its a bad day for the enemy.
There are some disadvantages though. Well one big one actually. Some say their armor save, but a 4+ is decent and is shared with several other aspects. The big disadvantage is the fact they strike with a strength of 3. This is rough considering on the charge you must wound anything toughness 4 or above on a 5 or 6. Since they have only 3 attacks on the charge, compared to the striking scorpions 4, it can be rough.
Banshees also are great for assaulting into cover. The Banshee mask negates all bonuses to initiative given from cover and grenades. This ensures you are always going to strike first. So Banshees make the perfect shock troops fro taking those objectives or annoying long range support units that are n cover.
The one factor to keep in mind is that you want to keep a Farseer within range to doom any enemy units that have the possibility to assault of be assaulted by the banshee squad. Fortune is also a good aide as always since it increases survivability especially if you don't have the squad in a transport, which you should, or the transport has been destroyed.
The Banshee Exarch has several good weapon options. The best is the Executioner. This baby adds +2 to the strength, which means she hits at strength 5. So hitting and wounding on 3's is a nice thing especially at initiative 10. An often over looked option is the triskele. It can be used as a ranged and close combat weapon which is a power weapon. It is only strength 3 but it is AP 2 when thrown. Did I mention it is assault 3 and only 5 points. The third option is the mirror swords. I have one Exarch equipped with this when I run 2 squads. This gives her 2 attacks instead of one for having 2 close combat weapons. I prefer the executioner as it is higher strength and honestly more attacks is not always better. I give this to an Exarch in a smaller squad to offset the fact I am not running 10 banshees in a squad. I almost always run them in full squads of 10 unless I must use a smaller squad because of points of I am using a Falcon to transport them. In this case I am using them as more of a distraction. The mirror blades are nice in smaller squads attacking soft units, Imp Guard and Tau. Squads of 10 is the preferred unit size though. This means more attacks and more survive combat. It is essential you give them a wave serpent. I always equip it with spirit stones vectored engine and star engines. Expensive yes but this ensures they make it to the enemy safely. Nothing sucks more than loosing a squad because you turbo boosted the serpent gets shot down and explodes on impact killing all inside.
So use your Banshee's wisely. Pick your targets carefully. Use them against softer targets.
Well that's my two cents about Howling Banshee's. The next Aspect in our series will be the bane of tanks everywhere. Fire Dragons.
Blood Runs, Anger Rises, Death Wakes, War Calls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!