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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Guest Article:Space Marine Biker Tactica

"For the Khan and the Emperor!"

Check it people. Another guest article.

Good Afternoon everyone, my name is Jeremy  but you can call me by my Chogoris' name Mikhail, I am here to talk to you about a lesser known yet quite effective Vanilla Marine army based around the doctrines of war laid by Jaghatai Khan, an all SM Biker army. I have fantasized about this army since their first real Biker rules in WD256 Index Astartes -Lightning Attack but only played a White Scar army since 4th edition using Ravenwing rules and now back to Vanilla Marines. I had a large success with them and really love the dynamism of the army but they also have some strong short comings versus specific match ups. Key reasons why to play a White Scars theme army:

  • The army will play fast, very fast, it will hit where you need it and it will redeploy where it needs to be.
  • You can present turn 1 threats to your opponent and keeping a strong survivability.
  • You are playing a Biker theme army which are Space Mongolians, how cool is that!
  • The White Scars were the reason why the Emperor and Sanguinus got to face off against Horus

Whats a typical Vanilla Marine List built? Well this is what I run and it has been proven to be the best bang for my bucks at 2,000 points: I'd rather see more combat material on the Command squad (no Standard) and a Libby instead of the smaller Bike squad but this is a list not focused on combat at all but really on just shooting the enemy and manoeuvring around them.

Captain “Temujin” - Relic Blade, Stormshield, Artificer Armor, Meltabomb, SM Bike – 200 Pts
Command Squad – 5x – SM Bikes, Company Standard, Champion, Apothecary, 2 Flamers – 250 Pts
SM Bike Squad – 8x + Atk Bike – 2 Meltaguns, Multimelta – 285 Pts
SM Bike Squad – 8x + Atk Bike – 2 Meltaguns, Multimelta – 285 Pts
SM Bike Squad – 8x + Atk Bike – 2 Meltaguns, Multimelta – 285 Pts
SM Bike Squad – 4x + Atk Bike – Heavy Bolter – 155 Pts
Land Speeder Squad – 2x – 2 Heavy Bolters, 2 Typhoon Missile Launchers – 180 Pts
Land Speeder Squad – 2x – 2 Heavy Bolters, 2 Typhoon Missile Launchers – 180 Pts
Land Speeder Squad – 2x – 2 Heavy Bolters, 2 Typhoon Missile Launchers – 180 Pts

All the SM Bike Squad qualify as Troops so you have 32 T5(4) Scoring Models. Lets analyze the benefit of a SM Bike: For 9 extra points (16 for a Base Tactical Marine, 25 for a Base Biker Marine) you receive Toughness 5 (for matters of everything but instant death), a speed band of up to 12” if you want to fire and up to 24” if you want to achieve a specific tactic. The beauty of SM bikes is a piece of wargear that gets overlooked a lot, Twin Linked Bolters on a Relentless model, this means you can always shoot up to your max range or even fire within rapid fire magic 12” and still get to charge, did I forget to mention your heavy weapons also get to fire!. A Biker Squad has a decent anti infantry firepower as well as anti tank if equipped with Melta weaponry, since buying melta weapons does not hinder those models' anti infantry at all. Overall, Space Marine Bikes are a great buy and even better when they are scoring.

Lets talk tactics!

Some of you may have noticed that I do not run Korsarro Khan, and the reason is simple: Combat Tactics! Probably the best ability to have been given to a White Scars theme list. The reason is simple, this army is about speed and choosing your battles and the ability to run away makes this army that much more mobile. Now lets be aware of a few key factor here, firstly SM Bikes run away 3D6”, not 2D6” meaning do not try to hug your board edge, a good distance from it is 13-15”. Secondly if you choose to run away make sure no enemy unit can zoom by within 6” of your broken unit.

A few advantages of Combat Tactics that do not appear but get learned in games. If your opponent plays an aggressive assault army, he might forgo shooting specific units he wants to charge fearing you will choose to fail the morale test and disengage out of his charge range. I do not run Power Weapons or Powerfist in the Biker units because I do not want to tie combat or win (I leave that job to the Command Squad and Temujin which is why I'd like to see more combat power there :P and then there's always the 2nd command squad...but different list). I want to disengage from combat as fast as possible assuming I am not that near a table edge and out rolling their initiative. It is still a risky manoeuvre if you roll low on the 3D6” and your opponent can consolidate within 6” of you. If you do get caught and suffer No Retreat, I have learned from experience that I never really lose combat by a huge factor as Toughness 5 proves to be difficult for a lot of armies to wound through.

Captain Temujin! I call this Captain set-up Temujin (First name of Genghis Khan) because he is meant to do two things and he does them well. Either back the Command Squad into assaulting what they need to assault or tar pit (by himself or with the Command Squad) a unit. His 2+/3++(FNPStr 8). He is not the most impressive killy monster but he can take the blows and that’s what counts for an army that is about disengage and re-engaging the enemy force at a desired location. I do recommend running Digital Weapon on him if you can afford it without sacrificing shooting prowess, since most often you will wound on 2's with Str 6. Do not forget that all independent Characters receive the Skilled Rider rule and thus he will get to re-roll his dangerous terrain tests.

Combat Squadding is a crucial thing to increase the resiliency of the army, instead of 4 scoring units you can increase it to 7 and have a decent quantity of MSU (And still only 12 KP on the table, 9 without Combat Squadding). I usually put the Sergeant, 1 Meltagun and the Attack Bike in the same unit and the other one gets 1 meltagun. Giving the army 6 possible Meltagun targets and forcing your opponent to spread his fire base over multiple units.

Turboboosting is the best tool in your arsenal, not only does it provide you with a 3+ cover save but it makes you immune to pinning. Lets not forget the amount ground you can cover with the speed. This allows your units to re-engage somewhere else, give your melta weapons a large birth of threat, and most importantly the ability to zip on the last turns and contest / grab objectives. A great trick with turboboost is during Dawn of War scenarios, to turboboost from the edge on your first movement phase and gaining a 3+ cover save as well as being already back into the action of the game. (be careful of infiltrating troop units trying to block your entry by deploying in a conga line over your table edge, deploy the captain and 1 unit at the minimum)

Command Squad provides the army another tar pit unit as well as a unit who is not afraid to get into melee since the Veteran have 2 attacks base and retain their Close Combat Weapon and Bolt Pistol when they buy their bikes. The Apothecary grants them FNP, the Company Standard allows for your combat squadded units who are now LD8 to have some form of Morale / Pinning re-rolls. The Champion is just a cheap PW with WS5. The Flamers on that unit just mean I will actually have a unit who should get that close to your opponent units to fire flamers at. Bike do not roll difficult terrain tests but treat all difficult terrain tests as dangerous, thus they always have a 6” charge but must take dangerous tests.

Typhoon Land Speeders offer the list a mobile fire base that can both achieve great anti infantry (HB + Frag Missiles) as well as great anti Monstrous Creatures, Walkers and Vehicles (HB + Krak Missiles). They can also serve as objective contesting units with their speed.

Some of the disadvantages!

The army has a huge crucial problem with multiple level ruins as Bikes can not go up levels and thus objectives or unit hiding in multiple level ruins cannot be charges on moved on top of. Be cautious that you deploy objectives in places you can reach.

The army depends on speed and the table allowing it to use it, so heavy terrain tables can be a real hassle for the army. You cannot engage in a turboboost manoeuvre if you move through terrain and must at least end with all your models in the unit 18” away from where they started.

The army while having a relatively decent model count for a vanilla list is open to wounds on the models right off the bat unlike mechanized armies which have a transport shield. This is why Turboboost is a necessity.

Timing is crucial for the army, the player must play the game turns as well as the opponents army. I find that going second for this army usually works in its favor so you can maximize on your speed on the last movement phase of the game.

This is not an army that needs to kill everything, it needs to kill what matters (and does great at it) while playing a guerrilla warfare on the units it needs to avoid.


This army plays exactly like the White Scars Doctrine stipulates. I have never been a huge fan of fully mechanized armies, I have tried playing them but it never stuck. I love infantry heavy armies and this army plays exactly what you would think a biker heavy army should play like. There is no glory in a headlong charge into your enemy center unless you have been whittling down that center into a weak position. I do think that Plasmaguns have a place in the list but I feel AP1 is too important to miss on.

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