Space Marine Review: Fast Attack: Scout Bikers

scout bikers

Hey everyone, Corrm here to take a look at what I think to be another underutilised unit in Codex Space Marines, the Scout Bike Squad. For more battle reports, reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

Scout Bike squads have been around for a long time. In all honesty, I never gave them much thought before the release of Warzone Damocles Kauyon. After checking out the Hunting Force formation, I had to pick up a unit of Scout Bikers in order to use the formation and put them down as a tax for the formation and not something I would generally use. After many games using them, my opinion of the Scout Bikers has completely changed.

Overview:

A Scout Bike Squad consists of two Scout bikers and a Scout biker Sergeant. The unit comes with Space Marine Scout stats mounted on a Space Marine Bike. You have the option to purchase up to 7 additional scout bikers and to upgrade to a Veteran Sergeant.

I see the Scout Bikers as fulfilling the same battlefield role as they do in the fluff. Infiltrating or Scouting ahead to support your army and target vulnerable enemy units that are used as deployment zone objective holders. They have access to some unique wargear that can really help the unit become a useful choice in your army.

ScoutBike04

Wargear:

  • Bolt Pistol
  • Space Marine Shotgun
  • Frag Grenades
  • Krak Grenades
  • Space Marine Bike
  • The unit be upgraded to take Cluster Mines and/or replace their twin-linked Boltguns with an Astartes Grenade Launcher.
  • The Scout Sergeant can take Meltabombs, in addition to Melee or Ranged Weapons. He can also be equipped with a Locator Beacon.

Special Rules:

  • ATSKNF
  • Chapter Tactics
  • Combat Squads
  • Infiltrate
  • Scout

Tactics:

Scout Bike Squads are a great annoyance unit that can take out isolated threats in the enemy army or support your main force with their additional  wargear options.

ScoutBike01

My favourite tactic is to pair my Grav Cannon Devastator Centurions in a Drop Pod with a Scout Bike Squad armed with a Locator Beacon. By using Infiltrate and Scout, I can generally get 12” away from a prime enemy target with the Scout bikers and utilise their Locator Beacon to bring down the drop pod on target and have my Centurions within 12” to use their Hurricane Bolters to full effect. The Locator Beacon is great for ensuring that your drop pods arrive where you want them to without the scatter risk, especially if you have the first turn as the Scout Bikers cannot be destroyed before then.

As well as a very useful support unit for Drop Pods or other deep striking units, the Scout Bikers can be great for taking on isolated enemy units. Infiltrate and Scout are great for ensuring that you are positioned where you need to be at the start of the game and can get up close to the enemy units to use their Bolters or Grenade Launchers.

Ultramarine_Scout_Bike_Squad

I always upgrade at least one Scout Biker to carry a Grenade Launcher, preferring to have two in the squad. A 24”, strength 6 Rapid Fire weapon can cause a lot of damage if positioned correctly to target the weaker side or rear armour of enemy vehicles. Outflanking (thanks to Scout) is also a useful tool for keeping the Scout Bikers in reserve to target your opponent’s backfield units. I always upgrade my sergeant to carry Meltabombs to help with the tank hunting role of the Scout Bikers.

I find that the Grenade Launchers are great for taking on some of the more annoying backfield objective holders such as Necron Scarabs or Chaos Daemon Nurglings. The S6 shots allow you to instant kill a base without having to waste the other high strength weaponry in your army. Alternatively, you can fire two Rapid Fire blasts at light infantry to try and clear them off an objective.

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I have never bothered to take the Cluster Mines. The fear of Dangerous Terrain is not as great as it once was, now that armour saves are allowed against it. It may be useful if you are playing against Orks or Tyranids, but I would generally use the points elsewhere.

On a side note, I have no idea why this unit is armed with Shotguns. I cannot think of any situation where you would fire them over your Twin-Linked Bolters or Grenade Launcher.

The unit is slightly less durable than Space Marine Bike Squads thanks to being equipped with Scout armour, but they can still Jink and benefit from the increased manoeuvrability of being mounted on bikes.

Chapter Tactics

Ultramarines_Livery

The Ultramarines Chapter Tactics will add some utility to your Scout Bikers. The Tactical Doctrine and Devastator Doctrine will not have much use in the shooting phase if firing your Boltguns, but will be useful for your Grenade Launchers in some instances. Bonuses in combat are also useful for the squad.

white-scars

Obviously, White Scars Chapter Tactics are great for any bike-mounted squad, providing them with Skilled Rider and S5 Hammer of Wrath hits. This will help stop your Scout Bikers from killing themselves with difficult terrain and provide them with a better Jink save.

imperial-fists

Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics will have less use for Scout Bikers as their Boltguns are already twin-linked, making the Bolter Drill bonus redundant. The Siege Masters special rule will help Grenade Launchers against any armour 12 buildings the unit comes across (if such buildings exist).

Black_Templars_Badge

Black Templars Chapter Tactics will be useful if you take casualties, giving you bonus attacks if you suffer Overwatch wounds while charging. They also offer some additional protection against psychic powers and will help units to wipe out their opponents in Sweeping Advances.

iron-hands

Iron Hands Chapter Tactics will obviously add to the durability of your Scout Bikers, giving them a 6+ Feel No Pain roll.

salamanders

Salamanders Chapter Tactics actually help with the bane of Scout and Scout Bikers Squads- the Heavy Flamer. Generally, this weapon would wreak havoc with your Scout Bike squads, but the Flamecraft rule gives them protection against the Heavy Flamer that would normally ignore their Armour Save and Jink Save, as well as providing an additional save against other Flamer weapons.

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Raven Guard Chapter Tactics are another that I think really boosts the effectiveness of Scout Bikers in the first turn of the game. The Chapter Tactics give you Shrouded on the first turn, effectively giving your Scout Bikers a 2+ Jink save. This greatly improves their durability and provides a very tough unit for your opponent to kill with no Ignores Cover firepower.

Formations of Note

Scout Bikers can be taken in many Space Marine Formations.

The 10th Company Task Force can include units of Scout Bikers, giving them the Stealth special rule in the first turn as long as they remain stationary and do not fire in the shooting phase. Any units in the formation must take Cluster Mines, making them more expensive than taking a regular Scout Squad in this role.

The White Scars Hunting Force gives Scout Bikers re-rolls to hit and to wound against selected enemy targets, as well as providing double hammer of wrath hits as long as the unit is 5 or more models. This actually makes the Scout Bikers a potent combat unit, as 10 or more S5 Hammer of Wrath hits can cause a lot of damage.

Scout Bikers as part of the Pinion Battle Demi-Company can use their high mobility to get in range to support your other units and provide them with Ignores Cover as part of the Scout Support special rule. The Wayfinders special rule allows you to use Scout Bikers to “lead” another unit in from reserves, even allowing units to Outflank that would normally be unable to do so. This can provide a nasty shock for your opponent as your Scout Bikers lead a unit to target the more vulnerable side or rear armour of enemy vehicles.

EDIT: Scout Bike Sergeant and Veteran Bike Sergeants do not benefit from the Scout Support rule as it is written. Thanks to the readers below for pointing this out in the comments.

raven guard scout

Overall, I think the Scout Bike squad is a nice annoyance unit for your opponent and can help your force in a number of battlefield roles. A unit of 3 bikers with a locator beacon and 3 grenade launchers comes in at under 80 points and can put out six strength 6 shots at short range, great for targeting the rear armour of most vehicles. So why not give the Scout Bikers a go in your next game, they may just surprise you.

Over to you reader, are Scout Bikers a regular feature of your Space Marine army? Any other tactics or tips for using Scout Bikers?

And as always, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day!

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secondhandstore

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About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.

23 Responses to “Space Marine Review: Fast Attack: Scout Bikers”

  1. Lord Krungharr August 7, 2016 7:21 am
    #

    Thanks for reviewing this unit, I’ve not seen anyone use them but have wondered if they might be useful somehow. I like the sound of those grenade launchers and the use of an infiltrating scouting locator beacon. Having my dreadnoughts drop where needed would be super good. Not as good as centurions but I don’t have any of those yet.

    • Alex r August 7, 2016 11:47 am
      #

      It creates a force multiple that dreadnought and scouts now in the flank will cause havok

      • Michael Corr
        Michael Corr August 7, 2016 11:51 am
        #

        Nice to see people still giving the Dreadnought some love.

        • Alex r August 7, 2016 12:00 pm
          #

          145 pts of come deal with me in a drop pod. 4 attacks multi melta thing is no joke and a heavy flamer just in case

  2. Dominik August 7, 2016 9:57 am
    #

    As I understand the Scout Support rule it refers to Scouts, but not to Scout Bikers. Am I wrong?

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr August 8, 2016 9:43 am
      #

      No, I was incorrect. RAW it is only the Scout units on foot. Not sure why the biker sergeants are excluded from this.

      • Scott August 9, 2016 6:02 pm
        #

        I’m thinking that this is an oversight in the rules (at least I hope it is). I’ve noticed a few things that seem to be oversights in the Kauyon books in regards to the Talon Strike Force.

  3. Alex r August 7, 2016 12:06 pm
    #

    Should do a tactica of the humble dreadnought

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr August 7, 2016 12:09 pm
      #

      I’m sure there’ll be one at some points (I may even write it myself!).

  4. AngryPanda August 7, 2016 12:42 pm
    #

    How does anyone have issues dropping anything precise in a Drop Pod? I don’t play Marines but anytime I borrow some I just wedge the things between terrain and enemy units and they just can’t go anywhere unless you roll a 11 or 12 in a bad direction.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr August 7, 2016 12:55 pm
      #

      It depends what you put in them. If you have a squad of meltaguns in them, it can be quite easy to scatter out of melta range on a bad roll.

      Putting them between enemy units is great, but unless the terrain is impassible, it is not going to stop them scattering away from your target.

      It’s also great if your opponent has a jamming beacon, meaning you will scatter 4D6. The homing beacon helps prevent this.

      • Loofanator August 7, 2016 6:15 pm
        #

        It’s hard to scatter out of melta range. The max scatter is 12″, and the unit disembarks 6″ and has a 6″ melta range.

        I’ve been using scout bikers with a skyhammer detachment to make sure the assault squads can land where they need to to charge turn 1!

    • bogalubov August 7, 2016 2:36 pm
      #

      A lot of people mis play drop pods. You scatter the full distance and then place it in the closest space to land after that. You don’t just stop going as soon as the scatter hits a unit or impassable terrain.

      • AngryPanda August 7, 2016 5:42 pm
        #

        I haven’t made anyone who played that wrong. But sorry seeing that as a problem is just being spoiled. I’m used to placing Veiled untis of Necrons. Setting down drop pods is already incredibly easy compared to any other Deep Strike.
        Not that I doubt that having perfect placement is even better. I just don’t see the need to work for it.

        • Michael Corr
          Michael Corr August 7, 2016 11:09 pm
          #

          I would see it as being more important if you are using the drop pod to secure an objective. In that case, you want the pod to land on target.

  5. Geekz August 7, 2016 1:57 pm
    #

    Sadly scout bikers in a Pinion Battle Demi-company do not confer the Scout Support special rule due to RAW wording. I was hoping it would be addressed in the FAQs but it wasn’t.

    • westrider August 8, 2016 8:11 pm
      #

      When you compare to the wording on Wayfinders and take into account how careful they are to specify that both Scout Sergeants and Veteran Scout Sergeants can do it, it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t intended for Biker Sergeants to be able to.

  6. westrider August 7, 2016 6:49 pm
    #

    I really need to finish painting up my Scout Bikers and get some Games in with them. A couple of Rules corrections, tho:
    1: In the Pinion Demi-Company, Scout Biker Sgts can’t spot for Units to give them Ignores Cover. It’s easy to overlook, but if you compare with the Wayfinders Rule, they do actually make it clear.
    2: In a similar vein of easily overlooked semantics that actually do matter, only Scout Bikers can take Grenade Launchers, not the Sgt, so you need at least 4 Models total in the Squad to get that third Grenade Launcher in there.

    The Locator Beacon and Meltabombs on the Sarge are the key upgrades in my opinion, with Grenade Launchers being really nice extras, but not critical.

  7. Woathepaladin August 8, 2016 12:10 pm
    #

    I believe you can only take two grenade launchers in a three man squad. There is no option for the sergeant to take it on his bike.

  8. Indy August 9, 2016 5:53 am
    #

    Since creating a WS Scarblade formation, my Scout Biker “tax” has turned into one of my favorite units. I give them only a Melta bomb on the Sgt, otherwise I keep them as cheap as possible and Infiltrate as far into the enemy’s backfield as possible. They don’t do much….but that includes dying! They take WAY more effort to kill then it should and they do an incredible job of distracting 1-2 units a Turn.That is what I expect them to do, and anything on top of that is gravy. Add in the bonuses to movement, and they can cross from one side of the board to the next (12″ move + 12″ + D6″ Turbo Boost) to grab an objective or dart out of LoS/range of said distracted units. Plus…getting a Melta bomb on a rear vehicle? Priceless!

    TL;DR: they are a wonderful low-expectations unit that will surprise you in the best ways possible

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr August 9, 2016 1:26 pm
      #

      I completely agree. As I said above, I only bought them so I could run the Hunting Force and now they are a key unit in my army.

      • gonewild40k November 14, 2016 12:49 pm
        #

        Do you run a unit of 3 or 5?

        • Michael Corr
          Michael Corr November 14, 2016 2:32 pm
          #

          If I am running them as part of the Hunting Force, then I will run a single unit of 6. The squad has to be above 5 members to benefit from the double hammer of wrath hits, so I want maximum effect from them.

          If they are part of a CAD, I will generally run a unit of 5 or 6, simply because I generally don’t have enough Fast Attack slots left to run two units.

          I have also had some success running two units of 3 in the 10th Company task force. Giving both squads Homing Beacons gives me some tactical flexibility for bringing down any drop pods that I have.

          I can see the benefits of a unit of 3. They are a cheap unit and can generally be ignored by your opponent if you have regular Troops bikers running around the table. A unit of three with a grenade launcher and meltabombs on the sergeant make a useful tank hunting unit, especially as they can outflank and could get a rear armour shot on enemy vehicles.