BE SWIFT AS THE WIND: TRAIT TACTICA

It seems like a good time to recreate the original White Scars thread from the old Portent. Given that Iím up first I will attempt to produce a comprehensive analysis of my favourite army style (the all-bike assault army); others with more experience can then add other army styles, comment on mine and generally discuss tactics for mad biker armies. Note that I donít claim to be the expert on this force and I havenít tried everything; this is simply my analysis of the army. Feel free to comment or disagree.

So then; the biker assault army. I will begin by going over units one by one; then continue by describing the ethos and tactics of the army and proposing a few sample army lists.

Let us begin with the HQ. Space Marines have a series of excellent HQ choices; and all are viable choices; but some are more useful than others for the biker army.

The Captain/Master:

He is capable of considerable carnage in close combat; especially when equipped with lightning claws, but a Chaplain is better for all-out assault damage. So the main reasons to use a Commander are the cheaper points cost (meaning more bikes in an army that is desperately short on numbers) or the leadership bonus for the whole army. Now you should be trying to concentrate force and minimise incoming fire, so your squads should rarely be taking morale checks. That said; it does occur. If you are of a conservative bent and want the confidence that Ld10 across the board provides; the choice is yours. Overall, the Commander is possibly the weakest HQ option, and I would only advise using him for background and modelling reasons; or if very short on points.

Outfit him with a bike (obviously), and then either power weapon/bolt pistol for the cheap option; or lightning claws, terminator honours and artificer armour (plus other gear to taste; a combat shield is good) for the more powerful option.

The Librarian:

This is a character will all of the hitting power of the Commander combined with excellent wargear and some considerable ranged capability. That said; he is extremely expensive and this army cannot afford to be frivolous with points. If you feel the need to eliminate enemy characters and suffer from enemy psykers (Eldar, anyone?) then by all means use the Librarian. Note however that you wonít get I6 since a Familiar canít keep up with the bike and you canít take a Command squad.

Psychic powers wise; Fear of the Darkness can lead to some interesting gambits and will devastate Tau armies if used correctly. However it is at best situational and best off as one of two powers on an Epistolary; leading to a major concentration of points. Storm of the Emperorís Wrath, the default power, is interesting in that it adds to exactly the situation where you most need the Librarian to do damage (that is when you strike) but otherwise does nothing much. It is a weapon against terminators at least, and if you are suffering from a lack of good-AP firepower it is worth consideration. Otherwise Fury of the Ancients is a better bet; as you can often line up many units with the mobility (flank shot?) and the pinning helps isolate units. Plus hitting hidden units is always good. Might of Heroes is also quite good; especially when targeting the powerfist-armed Veteran Sergeant in a squad. However whether this is worth it when a Chaplain would allow re-rolls is questionable. Donít even think about Vortex; it doesnít do anything much and costs the earth. Veil can be good but Iím sceptical about the cost. One to test, maybe.

So then; equip with a bike, psychic powers, bolt pistol and terminator honours. Add protective gear such as artificer armour and combat shield/iron halo to taste.

The Chaplain:

This is the single best HQ option available to the army. What he does is to significantly improve the forceís otherwise mediocre close-combat ability. A biker Chaplain is one of the hardest models in the Marine army to kill (especially with Artificer Armour, and for the extra-spend-happy an Adamantine Cloak) and relatively cheap to boot. This guy should be leading the assault, and you might want to think about taking two.

I would probably recommend against expensive chaplains due to the points cost in this expensive, elite army, but some may prefer to use a tooled-up character. Realistically all you need is a bike and a bolt pistol; with terminator honours and artificer armour as optional extras.

So in conclusion; take a Chaplain, and if you want to add one other character to taste, but donít go overboard.

Right, then. HQ done. Elites, anyone?

Elite Bike Squadrons:

Assault Variant

To my eyes these should be treated exactly as Troops bike squads but with Furious Charge; and as such follow my advice for them. Basically, if you can afford the 18 points for the veteran skill, go for it. The extra hitting power is very useful. Only difference here is that you might want to consider a power weapon on the sergeant instead of a fist.

Hunter-Killer Variant

This is a smaller bike squad (4 or 5 models usually) with Tank Hunters and usually two Meltaguns and a Multi-Melta on the Attack Bike. A Veteran Sergeant can be added but is usually forgone to save points. If he is included this is the one place in the army where a plasma pistol (or combi-melta) could be justified. The purpose of this squad is to follow the main assault and take out trouble spots; be they tanks, Dreadnoughts or monstrous creatures. One round of shooting will reduce most tanks to molten slag, and the squad is small enough to hide easily. Basically, just pick on hard targets while minimising incoming fire. A variant of the squad can be fielded with just 3 bikes with 2 meltas, but this is too vulnerable to see much play in my eyes, and does not have enough power to guarantee finishing the job. Note also that squads of this sort can use plasma instead of melta weapons if the main threat is viewed as monstrous creatures and not tanks. 4 S8 plasma and one S9 AP1 melta (equivalent) shot is still enough to damage most tanks; especially in the side or rear armour.

Elite Scout Bike Squadrons:

Note that according to Pete Hainesís online FAQ on the GW forums these CAN be used as Elites and Troops. Itís not in print yet; but in an ambiguous case go with what the guy in authority says. If you donít agree then ignore this section.

These can be treated much as the Troops and Fast Attack variants; and I will cover their roles under Fast Attack. However Furious Charge can provide a little extra punch to the squad and get rid of awkward spare points (in this army 15pts isnít enough for another model). Tank Hunters is perhaps best foregone.

Elite Attack Bike Squadrons:

The main reason to put Attack Bikes in Elite is to get Tank Hunter on them (or to free up Fast Attack choices for Land Speeders). This means that Elite Attack Bikes will usually be melta-armed variants playing the same role as the hunter-killer bike squads. The difference is that these squads are more vulnerable if exposed to heavy weapons fire; and usually cost more; but hit from a longer range and can be a devastating anti-tank unit. 2 or 3 of these can prove a real thorn in the side of an opponent, and they are small enough to be kept hidden easily and to be able to effectively strike while minimising return fire.

Heavy Bolter squads with Tank Hunters are something Iím wary of. As a quirk unit they could be good; and the extra power is excellent for light and medium vehicle hunting (especially if you go for side and rear shots) but usually the melta variants will be better. Field them to be a bit different or if you have 6-9 points spare and a heavy bolter squad anyway. Otherwise these seem to fill no particular niche, and this style of army cannot afford to waste points.

OK, Elites out the way. Troops nowÖ

Troops Bike Squadrons:

Assault Variant:

This is the mainstay of the army and you should include 2 squads minimum, 3 squads at least optimally in a 1500 point army (some may be Elites if you want). They form the main striking arm of an assault-orientated bike force and all other units exist to support these squads.

The purpose of the bike squads is to strike at and take out enemy units with devastating concentrated force. So, each squad needs as much short-range shooting power and assault strength as possible. Resilience is also absolutely necessary.

Therefore, a Veteran Sergeant with Power Fist and Bolt Pistol; 2 bikers with special weapons (preferably meltaguns, perhaps one unit with flamers and NEVER plasma guns as you canít assault after firing) and an Attack Bike (heavy bolter or multi-melta to taste) should be regarded as absolutely essential. The squad should have the maximum 6 members. This will allow it to deal with almost anything it might come across; and otherwise support units or another squad can be brought in to help.

Here I shall express a cardinal rule of the army: EVERYTHING should have Skilled Riders. I almost always end up assaulting into cover, or moving through terrain in order to make assault. The shooty elements are less needy, but the option is still cheap for the flexibility it provides, and cover saves are your friend.

Shooty Variant:

This is not best placed under troops but rather elites for Tank Hunters; but if you cannot fit it in there Troops will have to do. I donít tend to field these units anyway, so itís all down to preference. Just equip as with the Elite version (perhaps putting less faith in plasma weapons) and youíre ready to go. Note that the Troops squad needs to be larger due to the rules; so a Veteran might be a better idea.

Troops Scout Bikes:

These fulfil the same role as the fast attack equivalent; just note that there is no option for smaller units here.