Space Marine Scouts are up for review! The often underestimated “other” troop in the Space Marine codex are on deck to get the once over. As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews, tactics and battle reports!
Scouts are those recruits to a Space Marine Chapter that have survived the initial stages of becoming a Space Marine and are being groomed for full Battle Brother status. While lacking a true Space Marine’s skill, they are just as physically powerful and form the eyes and ears as well as vanguard of a Space Marine Chapter.
Space Marines Scouts are an excellent, flexible troop unit. At a very low price point–weighing in at 3pts under a Tactical Marine–they come with a host of fantastic special rules that make them an incredibly efficient, versatile scoring unit able to fill a variety of roles on the tabletop.
- Bolt Pistol
- Lots of options! The unit can be given Sniper Rifles at 1pt per model, or exchange their Boltguns for either a Shotgun or Close Combat Weapon at no additional cost. They can also take Camo Cloaks (granting Stealth) for 2pts per model.
- 1 Model may be given a Heavy Bolter with the option for Hellfire shell or a Missile Launcher with the option for Flakk Missiles
- The Sergeant may be upgraded to a Veteran Sarge for 10pts, and either the Vet or normal Sarge may take options from the Melee or Ranged weapons lists.
- Sarges may also take Melta Bombs (5pts) or a Teleport Homer (10pts)
- Can upgrade one Scout Sarge to Telion
- Can take a Land Speeder Storm as a dedicated transport.
- Chapter Tactics
- Combat Squads
- Outflank (via Infiltrate and/or Scouts)
- Move Through Cover
Let me preface this by saying that I love Scouts and always have. I feel that they have been one of the most underrated units in the Space Marines codex for editions. The reason why I feel this way is that they are such an incredibly flexible scoring unit for an extremely reasonable price point. The combination of USRs they get makes them–easily–one of the most versatile units on the table.
Scouts scout. Duh! But in addition to this they also have Infiltrate, which means they essentially always deploy second. This in and of itself is incredibly beneficial to the skilled player. You can debate lists and points efficiency till the cows come home but when the dust settles, the better player wins the game through movement and a unit that Infiltrates, Scouts and therefore Outflanks which also has MTC gives you a lot of advantages in that regard which means tactical flexibility. By seeing where your opponent deploys, you can counter deploy or outflank to gain an advantage before a die has been tossed.
The addition of Scouts to this cocktail of rules means you can get these little bad-asses into a great position by being able to move even close than Infiltration alone typically allows to apply pressure based on a deployment mistake your opponent made or help to mitigate a deployment mistake you made. It also means you can stop enemy Scout moves due to infiltrate (great in the current meta of Khorne Dog rush and White Scars biker scout moves) and possibly infiltration moves, too if you win the role off. They also rock in everyone’s favorite mission: the Relic. It’s always fun to start the game on the objective!
As stated, Scouts are also a scoring unit and as such, they win games. In an edition when 5 of 6 missions are all about taking objectives, you can’t have too many scoring units. Combat Squad also means that they can split up to go for multiple objectives when that is advantageous. Being able to double the amount of objectives you can grab and the amount of targets your opponent must deal with is extremely useful.
The thing people get hung up on with Scouts, in my experience, is the fact that they have lower armor, BS and WS than Marines. While yes, this is a disadvantage, it isn’t crippling. Remember, they are 23% cheaper than Marines but come with Scouts and Infiltrate and still retain Frag and Krak Grenades which make them a threat to almost any target on the table. Also, with the huge increase in weapons that will obliterate an MEQ model whether it be in cover or not and the domination of Monstrous Creatures currently, having a 4+ really isn’t that much of a detriment anymore. But, most importantly, they retain And They Shall Know No Fear; arguably the best rule in the game. This means that often, Scouts are a game winning force to the last model. That is so incredibly useful as points invested into them are often a very safe investment.
Let’s take a look at a few ways to run Scouts.
This is probably the most popular use for Scouts you see in the game. Typically this comprises 5 Scouts with Sniper Rifles, sometimes Camo Cloaks and either a Missile Launcher or Heavy Bolter. Sometimes a Vet Sarge for the Ld boost.
Why you take this unit is because it is cheap, it puts wounds on Monstrous Creatures fairly reliably regardless of the target’s toughness, and they hold an objective. All that for a very low points investment. Not bad at all.
Some folks feel the temptation to take the Flakk Missile upgrade but unless you’re extremely lucky, this weapon is pretty terrible for the cost and only if taken en masse will it reliably do much of anything against enemy air assets. If you take a Heavy Weapon at all, the Heavy Bolter with Hellfire shells (Poison 2+) is much better as it complements the Sniper Rifles quite well and the blast weapon isn’t impacted as harshly by the Scouts’ middling BS3.
Either way, this unit really isn’t going to contribute much in the way of offensive output, but they will win you the game by camping an objective. Again, being able to Infiltrate, Scout and thus, Outflank, makes them very versatile in finding a great hiding place from which to strike at an objective at game’s end. That’s what they do!
The downside is that they are a bit of a liability in Purge the Alien (Kill Points) and are easily killed if the enemy focuses on them, even with potentially having stealth. The sheer volume of things in the game that ignore cover now and can blow a 5 man Scout unit to bits is a bit depressing, but is what it is.
Ultimately though, this is a unit that will be very useful more often than not at a criminally cheap price.
In my opinion, this is the best way to run this unit. Why do I say this? In assault, WS 3 and a 4+ aren’t so bad. You still hit most things on a 4+ and less units have AP4 assault weapons than shooting weapons meaning you will more frequently get your save. You also hit dang near as hard as more expensive Assault Marines. Yes, you are more frequently hit on a 3+ by your opponent but Scouts should be attacking soft targets and vehicles when possible.
For a really modest price point of 115pts, you can take 10 Scouts with Melta Bombs on Sarge. That’s incredibly cheap for a mobile scoring unit that can take down any vehicle in the game, toss grenades on MCs, and kill backfield units reliably. With some support, they can even be used to tie up dangerous units for a few turns, freeing up the rest of your army to focus on other targets. Psychic powers like Endurance, Forewarning, etc. all help a ton to keep a Daemon Prince/Wraithknight/dedicated Assault Unit/etc. from sinking their teeth into your more valuable units for a few turns.
Running these units en masse is also not a bad idea. For 690 points you can take 60 Scouts equipped as above. That is not a lot of points for such a volume of scoring units that are decent in a fist fight and while some may scoff at that, think about how many points that leaves for pure offensive units to occupy your opponent! They simply won’t have the turns in the game needed to kill the Scouts and deal with your high pressure units meaning you will almost always have a huge advantage in an objective based mission. Plus, again, Scouts do just fine at killing soft targets and vehicles. Dog Pile enough of them on even a tough target and they will drag it down through weight of numbers.
These type of Scouts also do well with a Teleport Homer if you plan on bringing down Terminators frequently (Dark Angels Deathwing allies are awesome for this)as Assault Scouts will often be in a forward position to make best use of the homer.
A Combi-weapon is also a solid choice for the same reason: you often start the game close enough to your opponent to make best use of it immediately. You can also toss a Power Weapon or Fist on Sarge (I run these little guys with a P.Fist Sarge all the time and routinely he is an all star for me) as again, when facing things like Monstrous Creaturesl who cares if they only have a 4+? They won’t be getting their save, anyway. I find myself facing a lot of Riptides/Broadsides/Firewarriors and these units go down like punks to Scouts! Wave Serpents too, who are most easily destroyed in assault, have reason to fear Scouts that almost always counter deploy after seeing where they will start and in better position to get their hands on them.
You can also take the Land Speeder Storm to transport this unit (well, 5 of them) and we will cover all of the uses for this vehicle when we come to the Dedicated Transports of the book.
Suffice it to say, Assault Scouts are a very useful unit that gives you a versatile scoring asset at a very reasonable price point.
Shotgun and Bolter Scouts
While I really want to like these models as particularly Shotgun equipped Scouts look boss, they have never performed for me. BS3 on a dedicated shooting unit that you are paying higher points for largely combat oriented attributes (higher strength and toughness) just isn’t a recipe for success. You can’t charge after double tapping a Bolter which is the kiss of death in my eyes for this configuration (with one notable exception, which we will touch on in the Chapter Tactics section). The Shotgun Scouts are actually slightly better than Assault Scouts on the charge (an extra Str4 attack at essentially imitative 11 due to the Shotgun’s higher RoF) is notable but not worth the loss of AP5 on the Bolt Pistol and the extra attack for every round of combat thereafter.
Check out this tactica using Bolter Scouts for a more in-depth review!
Some folks love him. I am not one of those folks. He’s very expensive–more points than the basic unit–and adds meager punch to the unit. He grants Stealth, Acute Senses and BS6 shooting which is nice but not amazing. For what you pay for him, I’d rather just take another 5 scouts. He does have the potential to be amazing with precision strikes and a high BS for a character kill, or his ability to buff a Scout’s BS for a key shot, but again, for me he flat out isn’t worth the points. YMMV.
Like Tactical Marines, Scouts are strongly impacted by Chapter Tactics and as such, bear special mentioning.
Ultramarines: Scouts benefit greatly from UM Combat Doctrines. All of them are useful and especially the Assault Doctrine can be absolutely fantastic on the right turn. Rerolling 1’s to hit or Snap Fire can also, obviously, be extremely useful on the right turn. Ultramarines Scouts become better at everything you already want them doing.
White Scars: Arguably the best CTs for Scouts. Hit and Run is just so incredibly good and if you are taking a large number of Scouts you can have an army that puts a lot of pressure on the enemy right away that is also slippery as hell (able to get out of bad combats or tie up units and then Hit and Run out, allowing you to blast them in your turn only to charge them again!) and reliable with ATSKNF. Plus, Scout Bikers enjoy Str5 Hammer of Wrath and H&R also, if you’re running a Scout themed force.
Imperial Fists: Also a great set of CTs for scouts and one that makes a good argument for Bolter Scouts, particularly in the Sentinels of Terra expansion that allows you to twin link your Bolter weapons at close range. As Scouts start out in close proximity, Twin Linked Bolter Scouts with Heavy Bolters could bring a devastating amount of small arms fire to the enemy turn 1 for an extremely reasonable points investment. This is a list with a lot of hidden power, IMO, and when backed up by pure power offensive units you can put together a cool and unique list that will catch a lot of people off guard.
Black Templars: Black Templars make for great Scouts, also. And yes, they can take them. BT Scouts get Adamantium Will which is always good, and Crusader. As Scouts are usually on foot, they will make very good use of these rules. Also, if you are running Assault Scouts, re-rolls to hit plus Rending in a challenge is just gravy! It makes these already cheap units even more points efficient. Swarming Scouts with these CTs makes for a surprisingly good core to your army.
Iron Hands: Unsurprisingly, a 6+ FnP for free is good. Haha, not much to add here that isn’t quite obvious: they’re more resilient than other Scouts.
Salamanders: As with other infantry units that benefit from Sallies CTs, Scouts enjoy that free Master-crafted weapon a great deal. As with Tacticals, the Plasma or Grav Pistol is a solid choice here as is any assault weapon you may be considering for the increased efficiency. They unfortunately benefit from the increased defense against Flame weapons less than MEQs as many of them will outright ignore their armor, but it is still better than nothing.
Raven Guard: Ironically, the Chapter famed for the skill of their Scouts benefits them the least. They already Scout and Stealth is good, but a one turn benefit that many armies ignore isn’t bad, but not really that awesome particularly if you are running Camo Cloaks on your Scouts. Raven Guard Scouts bring the least to the table when compared to the other chapters.
So there you go! Scouts are a fun, flexible and effective unit that I am finding great utility in using this edition.