Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of one of my favourite Space Marine units, the Bike Squad. Not that much of a surprise really, given my White Scars army! For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.
For me, Bike Squads were the ultimate troops choice in 7th edition. They were fast, incredibly durable with their Jink save and had some great firepower with their twin-linked Boltguns. The change to 8th edition has seen some big changes to the Bike Squad, both positive and negative, but I still think that they are an effective unit to add to your Space Marine army.
The basic unit contains one Biker Sergeant and two Space Marine Bikers. You can add up to 5 additional Bikers and can add an Attack Bike to the unit. The basic Biker costs 27 points, including wargear (47 pts for the Attack Bike). Each Biker comes with the standard Space Marine profile, but with T5 and 2 wounds. The Sergeant also gets an additional attack.
- Twin Boltgun
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag and Krak Grenades
- The Sergeant can replace his Bolt Pistol with an item from the Sergeant Equipment list
- Any Biker may replace his Bolt Pistol with a Chainsword
- Up to two Bikers may replace their Bolt Pistol with an item from the Special Weapons list
- The Attack Bike comes with a Heavy Bolter, which may be replaced with a Multi-melta
- And They Shall Know No Fear
- Combat Squads- Before deployment, a Bike Squad containing 6 models may be split into two units of 3, a squad containing 9 models may be split into two units; one with 5 models, the other with 4 models (including the Attack Bike).
- Turbo-boost- When this unit advances, add 6″ to their move rather than rolling for it.
- Keywords: Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, <Chapter>, Biker, Bike Squad
Space Marine Bike squads are fast. With a basic move of 14″, they are amongst the fastest units in the Space Marine codex. Add in a guaranteed 6″ turbo-boost move, this unit can get across the board very quickly for grabbing objectives, rapid redeployment or engaging the enemy army.
They are also pretty durable. With T5, two wounds and a 3+ armour save, it will take some decent firepower to take down a unit of Bikers. While the loss of Jink has hurt their durability a little, they still get to make use of cover for a bonus to their save and no longer need to worry about killing themselves with dangerous terrain tests. I have found that my Space Marine Bikers actually soak up a lot of enemy firepower, given the twin threats of their speed and firepower.
Space Marine Bike Squads are definitely a unit that have benefited from the change to twin-linked weapons. A unit of 5 Bikers will now put out 20 Bolters shots at rapid fire range, a great increase in their firepower and damage output. This makes the unit great at taking on hordes of enemy infantry or for putting a few wounds on tougher units. The change to the wounding rules also means you are wounding most vehicles on a 5+, meaning you can even put a few wounds on them at a pinch when you need to. Given the hefty firepower they have, they really do benefit from a nearby Captain or Chapter Master for the re-rolls to increase their damage output. Given the increased speed of the Bike Squad, you can now get into rapid fire range in the first turn if your opponent does not deploy too deep in their deployment zone.
Not only that, you now get to fire any Special Weapons in addition to their Twin Boltguns. One of the great changes to 8th edition is that Grav Guns are no longer your default choice, in fact, they may now be the worst choice of special weapon to take on a Bike Squad. Meltaguns are still great, allowing you to take on enemy vehicles. Again, the increased mobility allows you to get into range in turn 1 in many cases. You can even turbo-boost to go 20″ and still fire the Meltagun (albeit at -1 to hit), potentially allowing you to get into Melta range on the first turn. Flamers are also a great choice and a cheaper option. Automatically hitting means you can turbo-boost and still fire them at full effect, allowing you to quickly close with enemy units and hit them with a few flamer shots. Plasma Guns are also a fantastic option against a range of opponents, giving you more shots than Meltaguns and the potential to do more damage. Just be careful about overcharging them if you don’t have a source of re-rolls nearby, as losing a Biker to an overheat is a big price to pay. Grav Guns are still a decent choice, but no longer the auto-include that they once were.
With the change to the shooting rules, giving your squad Sergeant a combi-weapon is a great deal in 8th edition, allowing you to shoot with it every turn and even giving you additional Bolter shots if you fire both weapons at the same time. Three lots of special weapon in a squad is a big boost to be firing every turn, especially as you can fire at separate targets from the Bolters. Three Flamers will make a mess of a lot of light armoured infantry, while three overcharging Plasma Guns at rapid fire range will make most units in the game sweat. If you are looking for a cheaper option, you can always arm your Sergeant with a Bolter or Storm Bolter for the additional shots.
Arming your Sergeant for melee can also help the unit out, especially combined with some of the Chapter Tactics available. I would also recommend arming your Bikers that don’t have combat weapons with Chainswords for the bonus attacks in combat. Bike Squads are not great in combat (the loss of Hammer of Wrath has hurt a little), so getting extra attacks can be useful. The Bike Squad is much more effective on the move and using its increased firepower, so you don’t really want them stuck in combat that often.
Adding an Attack Bike to the squad is no longer a poor option, given that you can fire at different targets now. The standard Heavy Bolter is great for adding even more anti-infantry firepower to the unit, or you can go for a vehicle busting Multi-melta. This allows you to add an Attack Bike to your army without taking another deployment drop.
I tend to run my Bike Squads in 5-man units with two special weapons and a Power Weapon on the Sergeant and Chainswords on the Bikers. This gives them a lot of potent firepower and a bit of combat ability if they do get tied up in assaults.
Bike Squads 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 Bike Squads. The extra 2″ to advance moves may not seem like much, but the ability to move 22″ in a single turn is a fantastic ability in 8th edition.
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 Bikers an incredible threat range, able to move 22″ and still fire and assault. This gives you a lot of Bolter shots to put into the enemy army, or allows you to get up to four Melta shots at very close range on a potent enemy unit or vehicle.
Another very strong Chapter Tactic for the 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 Bike squad from being tied up in combat and losing out on their great firepower for a turn.
The 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. It is great for the Meltaguns and Plasma Guns in the squad, helping to ensure that most units don’t get a save or are only saving on a 6+. It is also great for massed Flamers in the squad, helping you to clear infantry units out of cover easier.
Black Templars Bikers also have an extended threat range thanks to the re-roll to failed charges. With a basic move of 14″, this allows the Bikers to make charges more reliably if you need them to.
Salamanders Bike Squads will also benefit from their Chapter Tactics, allowing you to get a bit more damage with each shooting phase. Getting a re-roll to hit and to wound on one of your Special Weapons each turn can be a big boost, helping to ensure you get that crucial Meltagun hit and wound with your Bike Squad. As these units are the most likely to get into Melta range, this greatly increases their chance of having a big impact on the game.
Iron Hands 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 one of the less useful ones for 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.
I still think the Bike Squad is a great choice for a Space Marine army. They add a lot of mobility and firepower to your army, all in a quite durable unit on the battlefield. The addition of certain Stratagems also benefit the greatly and they can cause a lot of damage in certain situations. I know my White Scars army will definitely be fielding them on a regular basis.
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