Space Marine Review: Fast Attack: Scout Bike Squad

Hi everyone, Michael here with an 8th edition review of one of my favourite units in the Space Marine codex, the Scout Bike Squad. For more reviews, tactics and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

Overview:

Scout Bike squads were one of my favourite units to use with my White Scars in 7th edition. They had the great ability to infiltrate with their teleport homer and bring in my reserves accurately, while using the increased durability of White Scars Bikes to harass the enemy army. The unit has seen some big changes in 8th edition, mostly due to the way the game has changed, but remain a valuable unit to have in your Space Marine army.

First up, lets look at the basics; a Scout Bike has a move of 16″. They hit in combat and shooting on a 3+, come with S4, T5, 2W and one attack base. They have a Ld of 7 and a 3+ save. The basic squad consists of two Scout Bikers and one Scout Bike Sergeant (who gains an extra attack and point of Leadership), with the option to expand the squad up to 9 strong! Each Scout Bike costs 25 pts (including wargear).

Wargear:

  • Bolt Pistol
  • Astartes Shotgun- 12″, assault 2, S4, damage 1. If the target is within 6″, the Shotgun goes up to S5.
  • Combat Knife- gets to make one additional attack.
  • Frag and Krak Grenades
  • Twin Boltgun
  • The Sergeant may replace his Bolt Pistol with an item from the Sergeant Equipment List.
  • Up to three Scout Bikers may replace their Twin Boltgun with an Astartes Grenade Launcher.
  • Astartes Grenade Launcher- Frag: 24″, Assault D6, S3, 1 damage. Krak: 24″, assault 1, S6, AP-1, D3 damage.

Special Rules/Abilities:

  • And They Shall Know No Fear- You can re-roll failed Morale tests.
  • Combat Squads- Before deployment, a unit of 6 models may be split into two units of three models. A unit of 9 models may be split into three units of three models.
  • Turbo-boost- When this unit advances, they automatically add 6″ to their movement.
  • Keywords- Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, <Chapter>, Biker, Scout, Scout Bike Squad

Tactics:

The Scout Bike squad is a fantastic unit to add to your army in 8th edition, providing a great deal of mobility and firepower to your army.

The basic move of the Scout Bike squad is 16″. This makes it one of the fastest units in the codex (only flyers are faster). Add in the guaranteed 6″ advance move and this unit can move up to 22″ per turn. This makes them a great unit for getting to objectives quickly, re-deploying to changing battle circumstances or for getting right in the face of the enemy army right away. The change to the advance rules means that they can still gain the extra movement and fire their Shotguns at the enemy army (though at -1 to hit). Though the Scout Bike Squad has lost its ability to infiltrate or outflank, the high mobility of the unit means that it can still get to where you need them on the battlefield quickly.

The changes to the 8th edition shooting rules means that the Scout Bike squad has also seen an increase in its firepower. At ranges below 12″, the shooting from this squad can be brutal. Each Bike comes with a Twin Boltgun, meaning they fire four shots each at 12″. In addition, they can fire their Shotgun as well, meaning that at ranges less than 12″, each Biker gets six S4 shots (S5 on the Shotgun shots if they are within 6″). This allows the Scout Bike squad to put out a tremendous amount of firepower at close range, all for quite a reasonable points cost per model. This firepower should worry most infantry units in the game; horde armies will fear the volume of fire, as will smaller, elite units who will be forced to take more armour saves. Though three models can replace their Bolters with Astartes Grenade Launchers (at 11 pts per model), I would not recommend this option most of the time. Potentially losing four Bolter shots for a single S6 shot or D3 S3 shots is not worth it in my opinion, especially at 11 points each. Yes, the Grenade Launcher can still be fired after advancing, but you are still only getting one to three shots and hitting on a 4+. If you want a high strength shot on the unit, take a combi-weapon on the Sergeant, as you are likely to get more of a benefit from a Meltagun or Plasma Gun shot than the Grenade Launcher.

The Scout Bike squad is reasonable in combat. Each Biker gets 2 attacks thanks to the Combat Knife. They hit on a 3+ and have a strength of 4, meaning that they should do well against weak infantry with poor armour saves, but will generally struggle against tough combat units or even against a standard Marine squad. I don’t think the squad will excel in combat, you probably want to keep them out of combat for the most part as this will be a waste of their firepower (though as you will see below, some of the Chapter Tactics will mitigate this). If you are concerned about the combat abilities of the unit, you could always add a Power Weapon to the Sergeant to help them out a little.

Scout Bikers have a reasonable amount of durability. The loss of the Jink save to Bike units in general has really hurt their durability in 8th edition, but gaining an extra wound has helped their survivability to small arms fire somewhat, meaning that that one failed save from a Bolter or Lasgun round is not as devastating as it used to be. The Scout Bikes do sacrifice the 3+ armour save of Space Marine Bike Squads for the additional firepower of the Shotgun and added mobility. The Scout Bike Squad is helped by being toughness 5, but any serious volley of fire from an enemy army will quickly reduce the size of the squad. I have been running the Scout Bikers in squads of 5 or 6 in 8th edition so far. This gives them an impressive level of firepower and enough wounds that they are a threat that need to be dealt with.

Another benefit of the Scout Bike Squad is the use of the Cluster Mines Stratagem. This Stratagem costs 1 Command Point and allows you to damage enemy units. When a Scout Bike squad falls back, this Stratagem causes D3 mortal wounds to one enemy unit within 1″ (before they fell back) on a 2+. This has the potential to cause some additional damage to an enemy unit, perhaps finishing off a weakened unit or vehicle. The use of the right Chapter Tactics also means that the Scout Bike squad can still be used effectively after falling back. This Stratagem obviously works best if you can surround the enemy unit and prevent them from falling back in their own turn, or if you find yourself in an unfavourable combat and want to add a bit of damage to the enemy unit as you fall back.

Scout Bikers would also benefit from having a supporting Captain or Chapter Master on a Bike, as they can keep up with the highly mobile unit and give them re-rolls to hit to help with their damage output further.

Being a White Scars player, I am a big fan of the White Scars Chapter Tactics for my Scout Bikers. The extra 2″ to advance moves may not seem like much, but the ability to move 24″ in a single turn is a fantastic ability in 8th edition. Given that Chapter Approved is no longer going to allow Flyers to hold objectives, this makes the Scout Bike Squad one of the fastest units in the codex (if not the game) for objective grabbing. In addition, you get to Fall Back and still assault with the Scout Bike Squad. This makes the squad very useful when using the Cluster Mine Stratagem, allowing them to fall back and potentially cause Mortal Wounds, then charge back in once more or go after another enemy unit. Thanks to being able to assault, it might be advisable to arm the squad Sergeant with a Power Weapon or Power Fist to help the squad cause even more damage.

Another fantastic benefit of being White Scars is getting to use the Born in the Saddle Stratagem. For only one Command Point, this allows a White Scars Biker unit to shoot and charge, even if they advanced in the turn. This gives the Scout Bikers an incredible threat range, able to move 24″ and still fire and assault. I am assuming that the Shotguns do not suffer the -1 to hit penalty for shooting and advancing (as the Twin Bolters are unaffected), but this is not clear. This great ability means that you can almost certainly get into rapid fire range to unleash their fantastic firepower, and almost guarantees a first turn charge (unless you opponent has deployed VERY deep in their own deployment zone). For these reasons, I think the White Scars Chapter Tactics are one of the best options for Scout Bikers, just as they should be.

Another very strong Chapter Tactic for the Scout Bike squad is the Ultramarines. The boost to Leadership 8 on the standard Biker (9 on the Sergeant) means that you have less to fear from Moral Test (especially with ATSKNF factored in). The other big benefit is getting to Fall Back and still shoot (though at -1 to hit). This stops the Scout Bike squad from being tied up in combat and losing out on their great firepower for a turn. It also means that the unit can unleash a volley of fire after falling back and using the Cluster Mines Stratagem.

The Scout Bike squad can also benefit from the Scions of Guilliman Stratagem. Given the volume of fire they can put out, re-rolling 1’s to hit can boost their offensive output for a single turn.

Imperial Fists are also a good Chapter Tactic. Getting to ignore cover can be a powerful benefit for a Space Marine unit. Ironically, this makes Scout Bikers great for hunting down enemy Scout units, as you can ignore the great benefits of the Camo Cloaks they are likely to be armed with, and your high volume of S4 firepower should cause some damage to the enemy Scout unit.

Black Templars Scout Bikers also have an extended threat range thanks to the re-roll to failed charges. With a basic move of 16″, this allows the Bikers to make charges more reliably if you need them to.

Salamanders Scout Bike units will also benefit from their Chapter Tactics, allowing you to get a bit more damage with each shooting phase, or ensuring that the Grenade Launcher hits if you take one in the squad. It can also be very useful if you arm the Sergeant with a Combi-weapon or Power Weapon.

Iron Hands Scout Bike squads obviously get a durability boost in the form of an additional 6+ save. Given that each Biker has 2 wounds now, this can help save a few wounds during the course of the game if you have a large enough squad.

Interestingly, I think the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics will be of less use to Scout Bike Squads. I think the squad really want to be in Rapid Fire range to get the maximum out of their firepower, so will not get the benefit of the Chapter Tactics a lot of the time. However, if you are not as aggressive with the Bikers or want to simply use them for jumping from objective to objective, the -1 to hit will be great for keeping them alive for longer.

Overall:

The Scout Bike Squad is a great unit to include in a Space Marine army. They are highly mobile and can put out a high volume of fire. They are a brilliant squad for zooming around the board and grabbing objectives, or for getting to grips with the enemy army very quickly and providing a distraction while the rest of your army advances.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

secondhandhsop

Tags:

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.

17 Responses to “Space Marine Review: Fast Attack: Scout Bike Squad”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius August 26, 2017 6:06 am
    #

    Great review! I have found Scout Bikers to be absolutely awesome, too. Just added two more squads of them to my army.

    • Gallenphillips August 26, 2017 7:34 pm
      #

      Nice article. About to add a few scout bikes to my army also.

      While the Cluster Mines Stratagem is really good, the Hellfire Stratagems on a scout with a heavy bolter is really good also. 1cp and if you hit, do D3 mortal wounds. 10 points for the HB and most are surprised when the Stratagems is used. With scout deployment options, they are great units.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr August 27, 2017 5:17 am
      #

      Cheers Reece! Fortunately, I already had a squad for my White Scars.

      • Reecius
        Reecius August 27, 2017 8:41 am
        #

        Yeah, I had some in my army, too but they’re so dang good I added two more. Really love the unit, I run mine with a Storm Bolter on the sarge as he then adds 2-4 more shots, lol! It’s awesome.

  2. Don Tomaso August 26, 2017 10:10 pm
    #

    Cant wait for a lascannon-missile centurion review and how “awesome” that unit is 😛

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr August 27, 2017 5:17 am
      #

      Are Lascannons really that good in this edition though? 😉

  3. Don Tomaso August 27, 2017 10:51 pm
    #

    Pretty much. With blasts being nerfed into utter shit there is no use ever taking a missile launcher over a lascannon. The lascannon handles tough multi w models, infantry and vehicles as well as fliers. The rest is usually covered more then adequate with stormbolters, bolters, hurricanes and well..that´s it really.

    • Reecius
      Reecius August 28, 2017 11:36 am
      #

      Blasts are not bad at all. I have no idea why people keep saying this. They’re great and feature in many of the best lists in the meta. Brandon Grand used them as the primary damage dealing tool in his BAo winning list, for example.

      I think Missile Launchers are one of the best heavy weapon choices in the game, actually. If you only take 1 long ranged heavy weapon, that is the one I would take.

      • Michael Corr
        Michael Corr August 28, 2017 1:42 pm
        #

        My only problem with the Missile Launcher is that the Krak missile on only AP-2. Doesn’t sound too bad, but my opponents seem to make their 5+ save around 90% of the time! 🙂

        • Reecius
          Reecius August 28, 2017 2:35 pm
          #

          Haha, true. That extra AP on the las cannon makes a big difference (and why I love the Multi-Melta) but the versatility of the missile launcher is awesome.

      • Don Tomaso August 28, 2017 1:49 pm
        #

        Oh well, I am of a different opinion and here are my arguments:

        The blast version of the ML is simply put to ineffective to make it worth over the lascannon when the ML offers vehicles better armour saves and with all the bolter spam everywhere stopping transports early is more important then killing one extra lousy guardsman with a ML at range.

        The needs-to-hit for blasts is what is killing them.

        Then you have those irritating disparities between equally priced blast weapons, cyclone vs typhoon ML comes to mind and the whole equal wargear price for widely varied platforms is killing variety in the game.

        Again, show me a positive review of ML/TL centurions that is not pure propaganda..a 3w model with about th same offensive output and costing about the same as a las pred but with four times lower wound count or the deathwatch pinnacle of game design, a 100+ point single model that shoots, not hits, 2 whole ML shots.

        Dont take me wrong Reece, you guys did a fantastic job with 8th and I havent had so much fun on the tabletop for a very long time but there are still bugs to dig out. I would very much like to be able to use all my models with all their wargear options without gimping myself into auto-loosing.

        • Threllen August 28, 2017 2:11 pm
          #

          If you know exactly what you’re going to be playing against – I agree that missile launchers are usually not the optimal choice. But often you don’t know what you’re going up against. Especially in tournaments.

          Missile launchers barely lose much efficiency when targetting light/medium vehicles compared to a lascannon (25% difference vs T7 / 3+). It’s only if you get into 2+ saves or T8 (both of which are relatively rare) that the lascannon really starts to outpace it. But if you set up across from your opponent and figure out he’s spamming brims, conscripts, insert cheap screen here then the missile launcher is upwards of 2 to 3 times as effective against those targets. Same thing on the other end if you bring a dedicated anti-infantry weapon and your opponent turns up with a full mechanized list. A missile launcher would have served you much better.

          Because missile launchers can do both (and can even use flakk missiles with CP) they’re never going to be as good as specialized weapons at each individual task. But if you don’t know what task you need to do ahead of time (or if your opponent has a pretty mixed army) then it’s not a bad choice.

          • Don Tomaso August 28, 2017 2:18 pm
            #

            Yes and no. No because in order to safeguard yourself against the possibility of armour you really need to mass spam ML to be sure to get those berzerker rhinos or what have you and god help you if you face a landraider or two.

            Again, the eldar aspect of specialization is more effective. It´s not like you gimp yourself vs brims/conscripts if you take a tac lascannon instead of ML, the AT power far outshines the poor anti horde performance of the equally expensive ML when the rest for your squad all already come with excellent anti infantry bolters.

            If we were talking about units toting masses heavy weapons LAC vs ML then yes, the ML would win out every time due to sheer averages but in a minmax or full unit base the LC shines even if you face wheenies on occasion.

            And I wouldnt call a 5+ “barely” worse when you face a transport rush or cover gunlines, especially if CP rerolls enter the equation.

            Blasts should be made better, removing the idiotic must-hit aspect or lower their point costs in a game that sees vastly stronger transports that previously were rolling tin cans not even lasting a turn vs 7ed missiles.

        • Reecius
          Reecius August 28, 2017 2:36 pm
          #

          But what about the simple fact that blast weapon heavy lists are winning tournaments, haha? How do you counter the reality of the competitive meta?

          • Don Tomaso August 28, 2017 4:56 pm
            #

            I know little about the latest tourney meta. Show me the lists. Do blasts carry the games or are they aura dependent for example?

            To be honest this whole blasts thing is something I would veeery much like to be wrong about because I like blasts and those moments where my thunderfires deleted 15 boys a turn or bikecouncils were always the most fun on the tabletop.
            The same goes for the moments where my own gun lines were trashed by blast missiles hitting causing bucketloads of wounds.

            I simply cannot see that ever happening again “on paper” as blasts deal so few shots that on top of it also need to roll hits for. As with the whirlwind killing points back, its stupidly hard to unless you have lots of luck and just the right type of opponent.

            Outside my own or rather, “our” own few armies I have little experience of other armies HQ aura abilities and I dont slavically follow tournaments.

            Why dont you write a quick rundown of the successful blast meta for me and WHY it works (is it the blueberry man that carries the day as usual with army wide multirerolls?) so that I can do what those fenrys savages do and be sure to correct my mistakes!

            See over here every time someone (including me) forfeits a ML krak shot for a blast or fires a whirlwind its a moment of embarrassment for the poor user.

    • Ty September 2, 2017 3:56 pm
      #

      I think blasts are considerably better. 3″ templates were always pretty weak.

  4. Don Tomaso August 29, 2017 7:27 am
    #

    Sorry, dont see any winning SM blast themed lists. Ig on the other hand use them since they have some working arty/mortars.

    Cant find any SM blast themed lists that spam TFC, whirlwinds, plasma cannons and missile launchers, especially not babysat by guilliman.

    Even the super SM Issadon list uses anything but blast theme. 4 missiles in 2000 points doesnt make SM blasts anything other then the nerfed crap they are in 8th.

    Do direct me to something that clearly shows otherwise.