The Scout Squad has been one of the mainstays of the Space Marine army for most of the time the army has existed. They are the new initiates of the army, trained in stealth and subterfuge as they progress their way to becoming full Space Marines. Even though their role is to support the rest of the Chapter, for several editions of the game, Scouts have been the go-to troops choice for many competitive Space Marine armies.
8th Edition has done little to change this, and the Scout Squad is a very strong choice to fill out your Troops requirements in many Detachments in a Space Marine army. They are the cheapest Troops choice available in the codex and have a number of special rules that make them an invaluable unit to have in your army.
The squad consists of a Scout Sergeant and four Space Marine Scouts. The squad can be increased up to 10 strong, with the base cost of each Scout being 11 points each (including wargear). For only 55 pts for the basic squad, the Scout Squad is a bargain for what they can do and you will probably want several squads in your list.
The Scout Squad gets a Competitive rating. They are pretty much an essential component of many competitive Space Marine lists.
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag and Krak Grenades
- The Scout Sergeant may replace his Bolt Pistol and Boltgun with items from the Sergeant Equipment list.
- Any model may replace his Boltgun with a Sniper Rifle, Astartes Shotgun or Combat Knife.
- One Scout may replace his Boltgun with a Heavy Bolter or Missile Launcher
- Any model may take a Camo cloak for +3 pts.
- Sniper Rifle (+4 pts)- 36″, Heavy 1, S4, AP 0, 1 damage. A roll of a 6+ to wound inflicts a mortal wound in addition to any other damage. May target Characters, even if they are not the closest model.
- Astartes Shotgun- 12″, Assault 2, S4, AP 0, 1 damage. If the target is within half range, add 1 to the strength of the Shotgun.
- And They Shall Know No Fear
- Combat Squads- Before deployment at the start of the game, a squad of 10 Scouts may be split into two squads of 5 Scouts.
- Concealed Positions- When you set up this unit during deployment, it can be set up anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 9″ from the enemy deployment zone and any enemy models.
- Camo Cloaks- If every model in the unit has a camo cloak, you can add 2 to saving throws made for models in the unit when they receive the benefits of cover, instead of 1.
- Defenders of Humanity- In a battle-forged army, the Scouts gain the Defenders of Humanity special rule. When in range of an objective marker, this unit will control it even if there are more enemy models within range of that objective. If the enemy unit has a similar rule, the objective marker is controlled by the player who has the most models within range of it as normal.
- Keywords: Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, <Chapter>, Infantry, Scout, Scout Squad.
The Scout squad has the standard Space Marine profile, with a 4+ armour save. They have one of the best profiles for a standard troops choice in the game, with the Space Marine profile generally being seen as the standard for comparing other units in the game.
As such, you will have a some strong combat capabilities. They have WS and BS 3+, so will be hitting around two thirds of the time without any re-rolls or modifiers. S4 and T4 are standard on a strong infantry unit, generally meaning you will be wounding on a 4+ and getting wounded on a 4+. With Ld 7 (8 on the Sergeant) and ATSKNF, morale is generally not much of an issue for a 5-man squad. Bigger squads may suffer losses from morale, but you probably won’t want to field a squad with any more than 5 models anyway. A 4+ armour save gives you a decent level of protection, shrugging off half the wounds coming in (as long as they have no AP value), but there are ways to improve their durability with their wargear options as we shall see below.
The first reason why you take the Scouts is that they are cheap. The basic 5-man squad costs only 55 pts, 10 points cheaper than a 5-man Tactical Squad. You can fill the minimum troops requirements in a Battalion Detachment for only 165 pts, or fill the requirements of a Brigade Detachment for only 330 pts. In a standard 2000 pts army, that gives you a lot of points left over for some of the better toys in the Space Marine codex. We will discuss the wargear options below, but my preference is just to field each Scout unit bare bones, keeping them as cheap as possible. Fortunately, several of the wargear options are free, allowing you to have some variety in your Scout squads while still keeping them as cheap as possible.
The Scout Squad comes armed with the Boltgun as standard. As a basic infantry weapon, the Bolter is a solid option. You are not going to be wiping entire units off the board with a single volley in most cases, but ten S4 shots at rapid fire range can cause some damage to weaker enemy infantry units such as Guardians, Guardsment, Termagants, Grots, etc. I tend to keep the Bolter option on the Scouts where possible. It gives them the ability to do some damage at range, great for when they are holding far away objectives, while also being able to put out a volume of shots at close range
The squad can also be armed with Bolt Pistols and Combat Knives. Similar to Chainswords, the Combat Knife gives +1A when used in melee. This gives a unit of 5 Scouts eleven attacks in combat. This can help them to do several wounds on comparable infantry squads and gives them a bit more punch in melee. This can be a useful option if you are planning to be much more aggressive with your Scout Squads. In this case, you can choose to arm your Sergeant with a more powerful melee weapon, such as a Power Weapon or Thunder Hammer. You lose the additional attack, but gain a better way to take on tougher threats or heavily armoured foes. I would probably stick to the Combat Knives if you want to go this route. The Scout Squad is not the greatest of units in combat, but they could turn the tide in a combat with other units or being able to take down weaker enemy units holding an objective. Just a few wounds in melee can be enough to force a failed morale test or whittle down the enemy unit to steal the objective thanks to Defenders of Humanity.
Thanks to Concealed Positions, it can actually be quite easy to get the Scouts into combat if you get the first turn. Concealed Positions does not stop the unit from moving in the first turn, so you will be looking at a 3″ charge if your opponent has deployed close to the edge of his deployment zone. Even if they deploy further back, you can still threaten an enemy gunline, forcing them to target your cheaper Scouts for fear of being assaulted and shutting down a units firepower in the following turn.
You can also choose to arm the unit with the Astartes Shotgun. Although it is short ranged, it is Assault 2, meaning you can Advance and still fire (at -1 to hit), so you can get a reasonable threat range with them (especially with the additional Advance move from being White Scars). In addition, at 6″ range, they go up to S5, giving you a boost to their damage output. I think that on the Scout Bikers, the Shotgun is a solid choice. The Biker unit has the mobility to get into range and uses its boosted strength for the damage increase. On the foot Scout unit, I prefer the range of the Bolter, but again, the Shotgun is a useful option if you are planning on using the Scouts in a really aggressive manner.
The Sniper Rifle is a tricky one. It has a long range and the ability to target Characters and potentially put mortal wounds on them (or other units). The ability to take target and possibly kill weaker enemy buffing characters is a potent skill to have in an army. In practice, I find that you really have to commit to the Sniper Rifle Squad if that is your intention. I’ve found that a single unit of 5 Scouts with Sniper Rifles rarely makes a big impact on the game. If you are lucky, they might put out a couple of mortal wounds over the course of a game, but it’s not something you can really rely on most of the time, just a nice bonus. Going to S4, rather than a flat 4+ to wound means they actually have a tougher time taking on some of the bigger threats you might want to target. The lack of an AP value also means that a 2+ or 3+ save can easily shut the unit down unless you manage to get the mortal wounds off.
If you want to go with Sniper Rifles on the Scouts, I would recommend at least 3 squads of 5 Scouts with them. This should give you a way to reliably get one or two mortal wounds per turn. However, at 75 pts for each squad, this greatly increases the cost of each Scout Squad (more so if you arm them with Camo Cloaks). A unit of Scout Snipers does make a nice backfield objective holder, and they can be hard to shift if in cover.
Camo Cloaks are a nice addition for drastically improving the durability of your units in cover. Going up to a 2+ armour save in cover really makes the squad hard to shift with anything but high AP shooting weapons. At only 3 points per model, it is not too expensive an upgrade to take. If you are planning on using some Scouts to hold your deployment zone objectives in cover, then Camo Cloaks are a useful option to help keep them alive for longer.
Taking a Heavy Bolter or Missile Launcher helps boost the firepower of the Scout Squad, as well as giving you access to the useful Hellfire Shells and Flakk Missile Stratagems. It can limit the mobility of your unit if you want to maximise their firepower, but these weapons have a decent rate of fire (if you use the Frag Missile), so shooting on the move is not a terrible option.
As you can see, the Scout Squad has a range of options to suit your particular playstyle. However, for the use of your Scout Squads for board control, I would recommend keeping them as cheap as possible. As stated above, I prefer to keep the squad basic, arming them with Bolters only.
Concealed Positions takes the Scout unit from a decent addition to the army to a seriously competitive, almost essential unit in a Space Marine army.
This special rule gives the Space Marine army the ability to control the board in a way that few other armies in the game can match. Because this occurs during deployment, it gives you the edge over infiltrating units that can deploy at the start of the first battle round from reserves, such as Eldar Rangers, Alpha Legion or Astra Militarum Ratlings. You can force such units back to their own deployment zone.
Concealed Positions can be used in any number of useful ways to benefit your army. One of the best uses is to use the Scouts to create a buffer zone that enemy deep striking units cannot deploy in. This helps to keep your force safe from units arriving from deep strike on turn 1 that could make a mess of the rest of your army (Electropriests, Cultist Bombs, Trygons, Webway units, etc). A unit of Scouts used in conjunction with another unit in your deployment zone has the potential to force enemy deep striking units to deploy at least 27″ from your deployment zone, rendering their ability effectively useless on the first turn. I’ve found that 3 units of 5-man Scout Squads properly spread out can cover just about every deployment zone type with ease, forcing your opponent on the back foot from the very start of the game. Paired with careful deployment of the other units in your army, you can block off a huge portion of the battlefield and stop your opponent from bringing in deep strikers anywhere close to your main army. This renders powerful units, such as Plasma Scions less effective, as they would only have your cheap Scout screening units to fire at in rapid fire range, leaving the rest of your army safer to take them out in the following turn.
At the very least, it can force your opponent to have to devote resources to taking out the Scout units before he brings in the deep striking units, delaying their arrival for longer. It’s the dirty secret we all know, but with most tournament games only going to turn 3 or 4, delaying the enemy reserves to turn 2 or 3 can have a big impact on the game, especially if your opponent has a reserves-heavy force.
You have to be careful with how far forward you deploy your Scouts. If you are facing a mostly static gunline army, such as Astra Militarum or Mechanicus, you can afford to push the Scout units further forward (ensuring that you don’t leave any gaps for your opponent to exploit). If your opponent has a fast, assault army, then deploying the Scouts too far forward in charge range can just give up easy kill points or first blood if you don’t get the first turn, as well as allowing them extra movement from a successful charge and consolidation.
However, using the Scouts as a forward, sacrificial blocking unit can also be a valid tactic. In several recent games, I have used the Scouts as a roadblock for the enemy army, limiting their movement in their own turn. A useful tactic is to move a unit of 5 Scouts right in front of a powerful melee unit, such as Ork Boyz, Berzerkers, Genestealers, etc. Don’t charge, just sit in front of them. The Scouts will most likely be annihilated in combat the following turn, but you have now stopped a powerful unit from moving their full distance in their turn, moving only a few inches and possibly given the rest of your army an additional turn to deal with them. I used this tactic to great effect in a recent tournament, seriously stalling an opponent’s advance during several games.
The Scouts can also be used to grab far away objectives that the rest of your army may not be able to get to quickly, or to block your opponent’s deep strikers from landing on an out of the way objective.
Used as a blocking unit in this fashion, it is rare for my Scout squads to last past the opening turns. That is why I choose to keep them as cheap as possible. I know they are going to die, so don’t want to waste points on them, as they will die quickly anyway.
If you are facing an army with a similar ability, such as more Scouts or Nurglings, a lot depends on who gets to place units first. Your opponent will likely be trying a similar tactic, so you will want to deploy your units first. A unit of Scouts spread out over the central line of the battlefield will restrict a large space for your opponent’s infiltrators. If you can place them in or behind line of sight blocking terrain, then even better.
If your opponent has no such units, you can afford to hold the Scouts back and deploy them where they will gain you the maximum benefit after seeing your opponent’s deployment.
Obviously, a Scout unit can benefit from a number of the Space Marine characters providing powerful re-roll auras such as a Captain, Lieutenant, etc.
However, one of the benefits of the Scout squad is that they don’t need this support to fulfil their role of board control on the battlefield. As a result, you don’t need to devote more points to make them useful.
Ultramarines Chapter Tactics can be useful if you want to use the firepower of your Scout unit. As a forward unit, they are likely to be charged quickly, so the ability to fall back and still shoot can be useful on the unit, especially with the powerful Astartes Shotgun. The bonus to their Leadership value is also useful to stop morale from being much of an issue.
White Scars can also be useful for Scouts. Being so far forward, they can potentially charge a screening unit in the first turn, then fall back in the next turn towards a more prime enemy target for an assault in turn 2. The +2″ to Advance rolls can also be a great boost for getting them into position to grab objectives and moving to block the movement of other enemy units.
Raven Guard Chapter Tactics are great on a backfield unit of Scouts the Camo Cloaks. Having a 2+ save and -1 to hit for enemy shooting will give them a great durability boost, forcing your opponent to use a considerable amount of firepower to get rid of them.
The humble Scout Squad is a key unit in the Space Marine army. Three units of Scouts will not break the bank in a competitive army and will give you the ability to control a huge amount of the board on deployment.
I think they are an essential component of a Space Marine army. It can take a little time to learn how to deploy them properly against a number of armies, but they should prove to be very effective once you learn their deployment tricks.
Are there any tips or tactics for effective use of the Scouts that I have missed? Comment below to share your wisdom.
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