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.
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).
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.
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