Friday, April 12, 2013

Space Marines in 6th Edition: Fast Attack Part 3

Space Marine Bike Squad

Bike squads are a tough, flexible choice. They’ve got better firepower than a Tactical squad with twin-linked bolters and two special weapons, though they are limited to a multi-melta or heavy bolter on a single Attack Bike (which they should always take). Bikes are a medium range firepower unit, and should use their speed to target vulnerable or high value targets. Make sure to keep them out of assault; while they are tough to kill, they won’t do any damage either. Their value is in shooting, so don’t let them get tied up unless you really need to tie up the enemy unit.

Bikers can also be taken as Troops if you take a Captain on a bike as an HQ. This gives you essentially fast Tactical squads as your Troops, which make for a fun and useful (though small) army.

Attack Bike Squad

 If Bike squads are a faster Tactical squad, then Attack Bike squads are more mobile Devastator squads. They can take either heavy bolters or multi-meltas, making them great at gunning down infantry or hunting tanks. They’re fairly durable and can apply their firepower pretty much anywhere they want to, making them great choices for the points.

I particularly like them armed with multi-meltas, as fast and reliable tank killing is hard to find in a Space Marine army (we’ve already covered why I don’t like Speeders for this role). They’re perfectly serviceable with heavy bolters, but I can think of lots of cheaper ways to get anti-infantry firepower. With the range of heavy bolters, you’ll rarely need the mobility of the Attack Bikes.

Scout Bike Squad

Scout Bikers are one of the more mobile units in the game, combining the speed of bikes with Scouts and Infiltrate. However, with only a 4+ save, Scout Bikers are much less durable than Marine Bikers. That leaves us with a squad that specializes in positioning and mobility but must be very careful in its placement if it wants to stay alive.

If all Scout Bikers could do was get into position, they wouldn’t be much use because they’re not scoring. However, they do have the capacity to do some serious damage. While they can’t take special weapons except for a combi-weapon on the sergeant, they can take up to 3 astartes grenade launcher. These give them rapid fire S3 blasts or S6 shots. At close range, these can do a lot of damage to both infantry and to the rear armor of tanks.

One of the reasons outflanking units have fallen out of favor is that they can no longer assault when they arrive. This hurts most outflanking units, as they’re assault units. Scout Bikers, on the other hand, can arrive and put out an impressive amount of firepower, enough to neuter most enemy backfield units. I would generally keep a squad small, probably 4 models with 3 astartes grenade launchers and a combi-flamer or melta.

Finally, Scout Bikers can take cluster mines, which allow them to booby-trap one piece of terrain. The first time a unit (either friend or foe) moves into the piece of terrain, it triggers the cluster mines and take 2D6 S4 hits. These are unlikely to do much damage, but they’re cheap and amusing. I say take them if you’ve got the spare points, but don’t sweat it if you don’t.


  1. Nice assessment of the usefulness of bikes, I also like the simple way they've allowed for white scars fans to collect an army without needing a separate codex.

    I would point out one more thing about scout bikers though - the Locator Beacon. You can infiltrate them onto the table, then use their scout move to get exactly where you want them, then your drop pod assault can arrive to make an unholy mess of your opponent's best laid plans (I'm thinking combi-weapon sternguard in particular here). Added to that, if you drop in enough threats your opponent will likely stop worrying about a handful of scout bikers and you can then use their locator beacon again to ensure vanguard veterans can use their HI to deal immediate damage.

  2. I certainly agree that the locator beacon could help launch an assault, but I'm not sure I would use it for Drop Pods. That would be very reliant getting the first turn, as otherwise the opponent wouldn't have much trouble killing the Scout Bikers before your Drop Pods arrive. In addition, Drop Pods land quite reliably on their own, so I'm not sure the locator beacon is necessary.

    However, I think careful application could make HI Vanguard Veterans almost reliable. It would also be a good pairing with deep striking Assault Terminators.

    Thanks for your input!


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