Friday, July 4, 2014

Space Marine Codex Review: Scouts, Land Speeder Storm, and Telion

Scouts are generally considered as a secondary Troops choice, useful for specialist roles while Tactical squads provide the backbone of your force. While I don’t want to take anything away from Tactical squads, I think Scouts should really be considered as a prominent Troops choice. They are cheap relative to Tactical Marines, but they lack a point of WS and BS, and they only have 4+ armor. More importantly, they lack the option for a special weapon and can only take a heavy bolter (with or without hellfire shells) or a missile launcher as their heavy weapon. This means they lack the specialized firepower available to Tactical squads, but offer budget anti-infantry firepower.

There are two rules that really open up a lot of options for Scouts; Scout and Infiltrate. Between the two of them, you should never have to start more than 12” away from the enemy, and you can often pick vulnerable or important units to target. While you won’t be able to launch an immediate assault in your first turn, you can certainly hit the enemy with a lot of firepower relatively cheaply. I’ve even read that Reece over atFrontline Gaming has been using them to alpha strike Jetseer Councils. Though I haven’t managed that myself, it’s pretty impressive for such a cheap unit.

Scouts can be armed with bolters, bolt pistols and close-combat weapons, shotguns, or sniper rifles. This will greatly affect their battlefield role.

The most popular style of Scouts is probably snipers. They provide a static but long range unit that makes for an excellent objective sitter. Give them camo cloaks, stick them next to an objective in cover, and they’ll reliably do a couple wounds to the enemy while soaking up a lot of firepower themselves. These squads tend to be small, as their job isn’t to pump out a lot of shots. They want to look non-threatening so they can survive the battle and hold an objective. Either heavy weapon makes a nice addition to the squad if you have the points, but don’t think taking a missile launcher makes them an anti-armor squad. Keep shooting at squads that are good targets for sniper rifles and you’ll be happy with your sniper Scouts.

The second most popular option I’ve seen are assault Scouts. These are armed either with pistols and close-combat weapons or shotguns, often a mix of the two. These squads are pretty straightforward: close with the enemy as quickly as possible, assault, and drown them with a bunch of attacks. These Scouts actually do very well against a variety of targets, and can kill or at least tie up most units that aren’t combat specialists. They even are really good at killing most tanks with their krak grenades. As far as arming them, the pistol and sword combo will be better in protracted combats while the shotgun is marginally superior on the turn when they charge into assault. Importantly, the shotgun will give them more hitting power in your first turn when you can’t assault. In the end, this comes down to personal preference, as both options do the job well. A Veteran Sergeant with a power weapon of some sort is also worthwhile on this style of squad. Regardless, these squads should be full size as they’ll need the extra bodies and, most importantly, attacks.

Finally, we get to the seldom seen bolter Scout. These guys are basically Tactical Marines light, but they don’t need a transport to reach rapid fire range. Their lower BS is their biggest weakness, but it isn’t insurmountable. As long as you can get into 12” in the first turn, you can really unload onto important enemy units. This unit should also be large as it will need the extra shots. A combi-weapon on the sergeant is completely worthwhile. In this case, I particularly like the combi-grav, as you can get into a good position before the game and then remain stationary on Turn 1 to fire the grav at full effect. This gives the squad the ability to harm even heavy infantry if they need to. Finally, a heavy bolter goes well in this squad if you have the points.

There is one very important thing to note about Scouts. If the enemy has any fast units with heavy flamers or better template weapons, don’t deploy your Scouts. This includes Deep Striking Dreadnoughts, Hellhounds, Dreadknights, and Land Speeders. These have the capacity to kill an entire Scout squad immediately and take First Blood, so if you see these units, keep your Scouts in reserve. Try to eliminate the offending units before the Scouts show up. In these cases, the Scouts can Outflank to reach the enemy quickly after they arrive.

All of the above configurations assume the squad will be deployed on foot, but they have the option to take the:

Land Speeder Storm

The Storm is a dedicated transport available to Scout squads, and can carry up to 5 Scouts. As it can both Scout and Infiltrate, it’s just as flexible in deployment as the Scouts it carries. While it is a good assault transport, Scouts on foot should always be able to assault the enemy by turn2. I think you take a Storm for two reasons.

First, the Storm can add some useful weapons to a Scout squad. It comes with a heavy bolter and cerberus launcher, which is a S2 large blast with Blind. With BS3, only one of the weapon upgrades really makes sense: the free heavy flamer. The Storm can easily get into position to use it, it hits automatically, pairs well with the cerberus launcher, and it matches the Scouts talents in killing enemy infantry.   

The second reason is that the Storm is a cheap, fast vehicle with Objective Secured. It’s the closest thing that Space Marines have to the ubiquitous Eldar Jetbike squad, and it’s invaluable in that role.

A Scout squad in a Storm can’t be used as directly as the large, unmounted squad. They don’t have the numbers or durability to attack hard targets, but they’re more than capable to wiping out the small scoring units that seem so common. Between the weapons on the Storm and the Scouts (I suggest a combi-flamer on the Sergeant), you should be able to pounce on and wipe out deck chair units. I think the Storm is best deployed in Outflank, allowing it to circumvent the enemy line and reach their backfield units quickly.

Chapter Tactics

Scouts benefit from Chapter Tactics much the same as Tactical squads, but a few stand out. White Scar Scouts benefit tremendously from Hit and Run and work well in an assault role, while Imperial Fist Scouts are better with their bolters and heavy bolters, making this option quite attractive. Iron Hands Scouts are a bit more survivable, which is always nice. Unfortunately, Raven Guard Scouts don’t benefit much as they already have Scout.

Sergeant Telion

Telion will always be an honorary Executioner to me.
 If you play Ultramarines, Telion is worth considering as an addition to a sniper squad. He provides two BS6 sniper shots that are always Precision Shots, so he’s quite good at picking off important models. If he chooses not to fire, he can pass his BS6 to one member of his squad, usually the heavy weapon. This actually makes a Scout’s missile launcher reliable. Finally, Telion grants his squad Stealth. Combine this with camo cloaks and you get a very durable Scout squad. Just remember that you still have to watch out for heavy flamers. 

I was a big fan of Telion in the last codex, when any Chapter could use him. I'd be happy to use him again. 

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