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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Army Comparison: Bikers and Jumpers

VERSUS

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a Justin from Wisconsin in relation to Jumper and Bike armies (and because I’m me, we shall also throw in the Blood Rodeo for completeness). Now I haven’t actually posted a pure biker list on this blog (I’ll post some later) but a quick one would be 2x Command Squads w/3x LC, 4x SS, TH, 4x meltaguns, 3x max bikes w/MM AB, 2x meltagun, Pfist. Should be around 2000 points. And here are the Jumper and Blood Rodeo lists. So what our conversation was about is which one is better; Bikers or Jumpers? Now we all know I prefer a different style of lists from these pure ones (I.e. Blood Rodeo and Flast’N’Slow) though will eventually build up to the pure lists but let’s take a look shall we.

First off it’s hard to compare these lists in black and white. They differ in their purpose (which will be covered) and how they operate. Recalling my attempt at a BA Fast’N’Slow with Jumpers. It just didn’t work because of the different dynamics of Jumpers to Bikers (again to everyone who says the Vanilla codex is useless. I have proven ye wrong!). So let’s analysis both of the pure forms, strengths and weaknesses, how they operate, etc.

Bikers -

The pure form of this list was original conceived by Froggage over on YTTH. It involves massing scoring bikers and meltaguns backed up by combat super units (the command squads). This army is very fast, particularly combined with the 3+ turbo boost save. This allows this army to keep up with mech, can easily pop tanks with 15+ meltas, has a lot of anti-infantry firepower in 39 TL’d relentless bolters and has excellent combat ability in one of the best super units of the game (biker Command squad). It’s essentially in your face all the time and has the tools for the job. Combat tactics allow the combat squadded Bike squads to run away but the Command squads bring a huge, massive, star-sized rock that will crush you in combat. Bikes are also tougher than your normal marine. Whilst Command squads still miss out on FNP w/S8+ weapons, the army as a whole is more resistant to light arms fire.

However, this army hates protracted combats on its Troops (hence the Command squads) and thus fears things such as Dreads and MCs which can be a pain for the army to take out in combat. Biker armies also lack in psychic defense unless a super unit is dropped. Not worth it unfortunately. And obviously the crux. A lot of bikers = a big foot print and Bikers don’t like terrain as it kills them nor can they turbo-boost through it. Therefore, to force this list into a disadvantage you have to force them in and around terrain.

Jumpers -

Pure jumpers are BA only thanks to Descent of Angels. Without DoA, deep striking is far too unreliable, particularly for the Vanguard Vets. Pure Jumpers rely on meltaguns popping tanks on the initial drop and then tying up units with Vanguard. Without the Vanguard, the army is very open to reprisal as your opponent can take advantage of your deep strike landings and full available firepower. Mech really forces the player’s hand to use Vanguard as they need to pop tanks with their meltaguns first. This army relies on meltagun firepower and FNP/FC bubbles. After the initial drop and assault by VV, FNP/FC allows the army as a whole to survive and assault with some degree of efficiency. No one likes 11 5 man squads FCing into them. Librarians are also crucial to this list’s success. As will be covered below, castling works well against DS and is therefore an excellent defense. With Librarians and Blood Lance though, you force your opponent to sacrifice some infantry (which get eaten by VV on the drop) to push you away or not castle up (which gives the DS army an advantage). Add in their 5+ cover so you can drop into the open…done. This also gives the army psychic defenses.

Like Bikers, Jumpers don’t like terrain (in particular spells like Tempest). Free shots against your guys isn’t a good thing! Combine with the minor unreliability of DS and the opponent’s ability to force you to drop into terrain and your initial causalities for Jumpers can be high. Also, because this army is primarily based on DS such defenses work against it. Whether it’s conventional screening or only leaving terrain open compared to special abilities or units like Mystics, Jumpers will be at a disadvantage against such lists. Jumpers also rely on their FNP/FC bubbles. Whilst this is a strength whilst they have them, once those bubbles are stripped away, the army can become very vulnerable. 50+ T4/3+ models are a lot easier to down than 50+ T4/3+/FNP models. Also like Bikers, Jumpers don’t like assaults with Dreads or MCs. Whilst Jumpers have more combat ability across the army, they also have less meltaguns and less speed. It is therefore paramount for the Jumper general to neutralise these threats or rely on PFists in combat to bring them down.

Blood Rodeo -

This is essentially a combination of the two armies. I personally like it better at 2500 when you can fit in 2 VV squads but otherwise works well I think @ 2k. Whilst it has the advantages of both the biker’s mobility and toughness and Jumper’s accurate DS with the combination of FNP/FC bubbles, it also has the same disadvantages of both armies (exacerbated with no VV) but is also an army that can be split up (see post on synergy). This army prefers to go 1st (or 2nd in DoW) and if not relies on reserves and the bike Turbo-boost. Due to this discrepancy in movement styles, the bikes and jumpers can become separated if deployed poorly (and thus lose out on FNP/FC coverage).

So the obvious differences between Bikers and Jumpers is survivability (Jumper > Biker w/FNP/FC bubbles), mobility (Bikers > Jumpers) and combat (Bikers = super units; Jumpers = army wide). The Bikers also have more meltaguns but the Jumpers have more spread in their anti-tank. Again it’s hard to narrow down which army is better from this data because they are similar concepts executed in different ways. Ram melta down your opponent’s throat then torrent to death. Jumpers torrent in combat and Bikers torrent with bolters. Both are weak to Dreads/MCs and have high survivability. The Blood Rodeo is in a similar boat (though does have the synergy weakness to exploit) whilst trying to combine the two army strengths.

So when it boils down to it, there isn’t much separating the armies. However, in the end I think Bikers just edge out pure Jumpers who just edge out Blood Rodeo (because of its aforementioned synergy problem). Why? Jumpers (and Blood Rodeo) are relying on that FNP/FC bubble fun; pure Bikers aren’t. Whilst I prefer Fast’N’Slow over pure Bikers (I mean seriously, instead of 2x super units I can bring 3 Dreads/Speeders/Preds?) because I have less of a footprint issue and Blood Rodeo for FNP bikers, they are all really strong lists. If you can’t deny Jumpers their FNP/FC bubbles you are in for a hard, hard fight but if you don’t take out those Command squads in Bikers…well just pack up and go. Those units are ridiculously nasty to take down and dish it out.

Anyone else have some food for thought on this or would like any other army comparisons done?

3 pinkments:

Chumbalaya said...

Bikes have all their combat focused into 1 or 2 units, but it's incredibly effective. Biker Command units can kill anything. FC assault marines are effective, but they lack the raw killing power and survivability.

Bikes have range from multi-meltas and bolters, FWIW.

Bikes have T5 on all the time and command squads almost always have FNP, jumpers need to be in range of a SHP for FNP.

Jumpers have numbers.

Jumpers have accurate DS and reliable reserves.

Jumpers have HtH everywhere and when everything works together they are very potent.

They both have their place really. And they both hate infantry gunlines I've found.

Utsujin said...

Indeed. It really comes down to personal style I think. I really do think that a bike list.. would be more of an all rounder. I have yet to face a guard gunline or the like with my all jump list.

I've also been toying with a nice VV unit consisting of a sarge with fist, 2 guys with 1 claw, 2 guys with power weapons. It's essentially a couple points cheaper than 2 sanguine guard models, but more attacks. Also with a reclusiarch, the master crafted on the GE is pointless. I didn't get a chance to use it, as my opponent resigned and I won in KP 4-0.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to an all biker list. Your version of the biker command squad seems excessively costly - even for a biker command squad.

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