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.
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.
- 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.
- Chapter Tactics
- Combat Squads
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 Chapter Tactics will obviously add to the durability of your Scout Bikers, giving them a 6+ Feel No Pain roll.
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.
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.
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?
You can also pick up some cheap models in our Second Hand Shop. Some of these gems are quite rare, sometimes they’re fully painted!