On deck for review: the guy everyone’s talking about, Kor’Sarro Khan of the White Scars. As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more tactics articles and battle reports!
Khan is back and better than ever in this edition of the Space Marines book. The White Scars, aka the “Mongolians in Space” have always been one of my favorite chapters, and this time around they really live up to their heritage as fast moving, hard hitting fighters and Khan, Master of the Hunt, will be seen at the forefront of many a biker army.
Khan is himself a decent combatant but primarily you take him to give your army an incredible amount of flexibility during deployment and secondarily to buff a unit he is with with his moderate combat ability. Weighing in at only 35pts over a normal Captain and with the same stats, Khan is a bargain HQ. On his bike (only 5pts more than a normal bike), he unlocks bikers as troops and still only weighs in at 1.5 Thunderfire Cannons. He is a great value.
- Bolt Pistol
- Moonfang: Power Sword that causes Instant Death on a to wound roll of a 6.
- Moondrakkan: Khan’s bike upgrade is only 25pts, and it adds a lot. It gives him the normal boost to stats and speed and wargear (twin linked Bolter) but it also allows you take Biker units at least 5 strong as troops. It also gives him D3 Hammer of Wrath attacks instead of the usual 1, and as White Scars hit a Strength 5, that is a nice little bonus.
- White Scars
- Furious Charge (although it only counts for him now, not a unit he joins).
- Master of the Hunt: Friendly White Scars models that are Bikes or that have a dedicated transport gain the Scouts special rule. Wow! That is incredible!
- Warlord: Champion of Humanity: D3 extra VPs if you kill an enemy Warlord in a challenge. Meh, it is game winning when you get it but Khan is pretty squishy and a Power Sword typically isn’t going to get it done in a showdown with a kitted up Warlord. This only really comes into play against weak HQs such as those commonly found with IG, Other Marines, sometimes Tau and Eldar, etc. And again, a smart player is just going to deny the challenge in that case if they can.
Khan is absolutely fantastic for his points. White Scars Chapter Tactics were already some of the best and Khan adds an extra layer of tactical depth to them. With an army of essentially skilled rider/hit and run bikers, the White Scars are going to be exceedingly popular to play due to their dynamic nature. Add in the ability to make most or all of your army Scout with Khan and….wow. That is an army that will be incredibly fluid and fun to play.
The benefit of this is that if you are going first, you can set traps for your opponent with deployment. If they take the bait, you counter deploy to now take the advantageous positioning. If they do not, you can then take advantage in ultra-aggressive deployment that you would otherwise not attempt could you not reposition your army. You can use this ability to set up the best kind of traps: damned if you do and damned if you don’t traps. The goal is to provide only two options to your opponent with your deployment and whichever choice he makes you gain the advantage. For example, putting a biker unit with maxed Grav weapons out on a flank, away from the rest of your forces, out in the open. If your opponent thinks you goofed in deployment and then counter deploys a powerful unit across from them to capitalize on your “mistake” you then redeploy them to safety and leave your opponent’s unit now out of position. If they do not take the bait and counter-deploy your unit, you press the flank and move your unit up-field where you will be in position to hit him turn two in a potentially vulnerable spot. Either way, you win. Also, less subtly, you can use your Scout move to just advance on your opponent and get that much closer to them.
Conversely, if you are going second against a shooty army and don’t have a lot of cover you can again, simply get closer and reduce the amount of time your opponent has to shoot you off the table or, you can outflank. That is where the real strength of Khan’s abilities lie: flexibility. Having these options is incredibly useful as 40K can boil down to who goes first if the table does not have adequate terrain and you are playing against an ultra efficient shooting army. Having the ability to reposition after deployment to spring a trap or just recover form a deployment mistake, or to outflank really, really mitigates that. It’s one of those abilities that “net-listers” don’t talk about as much because unlike pure points efficiency, it is much harder to quantify. Make no mistake though, these are game winning abilities and especially in a tournament setting where the odds of drawing a bat match-up with bad terrain increases with each round of play, the ability to get around that dramatically improves your odds of winning consistently.
On a side note, that is also why, unfortunately, the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics pale in comparison to everyone else. White Scars essentially get their own incredible Chapter Tactics and most of the Raven Guard CTs, too.
As a fighter, Khan is slightly above average for a Captain. He has Furious Charge which helps out a lot with the incredible mediocrity that is a Power Sword, and he does cause ID on a 6 to wound. Pretty nice, for sure, and awesome when you get that money shot, but the nature of the game now is that a combat oriented, I5, T4, non EW character is simply second rate, particularly when they are only coming at you with a Power Sword. With the preponderance of MCs, FMCs, and such that can swing before you and Smash you into a white smear on the ground, or just your basic 2+ save and power fist combo (although on his bike, his toughness is 5, raising his ID threshold-thanks to Clover 362 for the reminder), characters like Khan just fall into the lower tiers of combat ability. He will do fine against light infantry and vehicles, and with his speed should be able to choose his battles, but going against the true assault units of the game will on average result in him dying a horrible death before doing anything. However as stated, you don’t take him to win a fist fight, you take him to boost your entire army and in that roll, he excels.
The only real downside to taking Khan is that he competes with the super punchy Chapter Master with Eternal Shield. Now that is a Space Marine that can hang with the big boys. Since the Chapter Master is pricey and he and Khan fill the same slot and overlap in rolls to an extent, you will often find yourself having to choose between a real fighter (the Chapter Master) and an army buffer (Khan). It is a tough call as Kahn’s abilities may not always be useful (but typically will be) and are as much an insurance policy as anything else, the sledge hammer that is the Chapter Master will pretty much ALWAYS be good. You can take both, but that is only really viable at higher points limit games. However, keep in mind that when your army’s biggest drawback is deciding which super awesome character you are going to take….you have very little to complain about!
Khan on a bike in a command squad is great. Bikes are made for Grav weapons where they shine due to the increased mobility of the bike and relentless allowing you to fire them at full capacity on the move. Whereas Grav weapons on infantry I typically avoid, on a bike they rock. Plus, bikes have the added benefit of retaining their twin Bolters in the cases where you find yourself up against low save opponents. As a primarily shooty unit, Khan then adds a nice little combat advantage when you do choose to engage in a fight, just remember the limitations of the unit and don’t expect them to do anything but die horribly if you assault a powerful unit.
Lastly, Dark Angels allies bear special consideration for Khan and the Scars. As Dark Angels also frequently ride on bikes, and have awesome buffing powers, they will mesh exceedingly well with White Scars and Khan. Units such as Ravenwing Command Squads are also great as the hit so hard in shooting and assault and the DA Libby opens up Divination powers which are incredibly powerful (powers like Perfect Timing, Forewarning and Prescience take shooty units to the next level) and some cool wargear options such as the Power Field Generator. They go together very well and you can find ways to squeeze even more power out of your units by experimenting with these combos.
Also, thanks to jmanj123 for the reminder, Space Wolves combo extremely well with White Scars. A Rune Priest particularly, on a bike (and you can take 2 for a single allied HQ slot with Wolves) provides you with the best psyker defense in the game (Runic Staff), Divination, and Jaws of the World Wolf. Jaws is stupid broken but until it surely gets taken out of the game with the next Wolf codex, it provides you with an incredible tool for erasing multi-wound models, particularly those with low In. A trick is to use Grav Weapons to lower your target’s In with Concussive and then hit them with Jaws, removing them from the game. Grav weapons also combo well in this manner with Blind weapons. Plus, Grey Hunters are still top 3 best troops in the game, taking 10 in a Rhino or Drop Pod is never, ever bad. Long Fangs too, are still one of the best point for point shooting units in the game and add something to pretty much any list.
In summation, Khan is a bad ass. Definitely a top notch character and only his lack of serious HtH punch holds me back from giving him the highest rating for SCs.