Space Marine Review: HQ- White Scars Biker Captain

Hi everyone, Mike here with a review of a great character unit for the White Scars, the Space Marine Biker Captain. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

The Space Marine Captain on Bike is a key unit for my White Scars army. With the proper selection of wargear and special rules, he provides a powerful combat unit for the army, as well as the ability to seriously disrupt your opponent’s plans. I would rate him as a Competitive choice in the army, as he has been a key component in many victories in my games.

Wargear:

  • Bolt Pistol.
  • Twin Boltgun
  • Chiansword
  • Frag and Krak Grenades
  • May take a weapon from the melee weapons list rather than a Chainsword.
  • May have a Storm Shield instead of a Chainsword.
  • May replace his Bolt Pistol with a Master-crafted Boltgun, one weapon from either the Combi-weapons, pistols or melee weapons list.

Abilities:

  • Angel of Death
  • Rites of Battle- Re-roll hit rolls of 1 for attacks made by friendly <Chapter> units within 6″.
  • Iron Halo- 4+ invulnerable save.
  • Turbo-boost- When this model advances, add 6″ to the move characteristic instead of rolling.

Tactics:

The Captain on Bike is not only a thematic character choice for a White Scars army, but with the right select of upgrades, he provides a very powerful tool for the army as well.

My White Scars Captain on Bike will take a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield, pretty standard so far. I also tend to take the Wrath of Heavens Relic and a couple of warlord traits; Master of Snares and Chogorian Storm (using the Tempered by Wisdom stratagem to give him an extra warlord trait).

With the White Scars Chapter Tactics and a Bike, the Captain can advance 20″ and still charge, giving him a great threat range and good odds of making a first turn charge on most deployment types.

The Wrath of Heavens is a great Relic to take on this Captain. This increases his move to 16″ and effectively gives you a jetbike, allowing you to ignore intervening terrain and enemy units in the Movement phase (but importantly, not the Charge phase). This allows the Captain to advance up to 22″ over units and terrain and still charge. With an average charge roll, this gives him a 29″ charge bubble (potentially up to 34″!).

The ability to ignore enemy units and terrain is great for getting him into position for an optimal charge. Having this ability allows you to hide the Captain in a magic box or out of line of sight behind some ruins without hampering his movement in your first turn. This is useful in case your opponent seizes the initiative, keeping your Captain out of line of sight. You can also get over forward deploying units, such as Scouts or Nurglings, bypassing such road blocks to get to the heart of the enemy army. The Relic also makes it very difficult to wrap your Captain in combat, as you can fall back up to 16″, then still charge in your turn thanks to the White Scars Chapter Tactics. For me, this is the only Relic to take on the Bike Captain.

The Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield are a classic combination for the Captain, providing him with a strong offensive and defensive profile in melee. I think this is still worth the increased cost of the Thunder Hammer. With the Assault Doctrine active for White Scars, your Captain will be doing S8, AP-4 and four damage attacks on the charge with the Thunder Hammer.

However, if you want a cheaper option, a Power Weapon will still do well, especially when the Devastating Charge ability is in effect for the bonus damage. Equally, the Teeth of Terra is a great choice to give you a character that is great at dealing with enemy infantry if you want to go with a different relic.

The Space Marine stratagem (Adaptive Strategy) allows you to give the Captain a warlord trait if he is not your warlord, or the White Scars stratagem (Tempered by Wisdom) can give your warlord an extra warlord trait, both for only 1CP. There are some great choices from either the Space Marine or White Scars tables.

Without a doubt, Master of Snares is one of the best choices for the Biker Captain. Every time a unit within 1″ wants to fall back, they cannot do so on a 4+. This is an incredible ability that gives you the potential to tie up several enemy units in combat to stop them from falling back and shooting. Not only does this keep your Captain safe from most enemy firepower, it also allows you to protect any other units that are engaged in the same combat. With an almost guaranteed first turn charge with your Captain, this allows you to be a huge thorn in the side of the enemy forces, charging into combat and tying up several enemy units, giving you better odds of keeping one or more locked up in combat in your turn. I have used this tactic to great effect in countless games, making the Captain an invaluable addition to my army.

With a second warlord trait, there are a number of strong options. I like Chogorian Storm, giving you D3 extra attacks on the charge (or heroic intervention). This gives the Captain between 6-8 attacks on the charge, turning him into a combat monster, able to deal with most enemy units he will be going up against. Imperium’s Sword is also a good choice, giving you a re-roll to your charge, as well as +1 attack and strength on the charge. This takes him up to 6 attacks and S10, great for dealing with any T8 vehicles you may come up against in your games.

Support Units

The White Scars Librarian is an essential support element for getting the most out of the Captain. I use a Jump Pack Librarian with Ride the Winds and Storm-wreathed psychic powers.

Storm-wreathed is a key power. It prevents your opponent from firing overwatch at one of your units. I always cast this on the Biker Captain. This allows him to declare a charge on any enemy unit that is in range and not suffer the effects of overwatch fire. Getting into combat with more enemy units gives you a better chance of keeping more units locked in combat with Master of Snares. I have used this power to great effect against a large unit of Aggressors. Preventing them from firing overwatch cuts down a strong defensive ability, and the Captain was able to go in and take out the unit before they are able to fire a single shot.

Ride the Winds gives you +2 to charge and advance rolls. This gives you better odds of making a long charge with the Biker Captain, especially when combined with a re-roll to charge or with other bonuses such as Plume of the Plainsrunner (+1 to charge relic) or Fierce Rivalries (1CP, roll 3D6 for charge and pick the two highest).

I will often give the Librarian the Mantle of the Stormseer power to give him +1 to manifesting these powers. Each power has a casting value of 6, so getting them off on a 5+ gives you better odds of using these key powers.

A Chaplain with Jump Pack is also a great support unit for the Captain. The Litany of Hate gives you +2 to your charge when within 6″ of the Chaplain. This can either give you a huge +4 to your charge in combination with Ride the Winds, or give you a back up if you fail to manifest the power or it is denied. You can still only declare a charge on units within 12″ on your charge phase, but if you get both Ride the Winds and Storm-wreathed cast, then you can declare multiple targets for your Captain, without suffering the overwatch fire, meaning you can potentially roll a high charge and be able to move to engage better targets. The White Scars also have some great tricks for consolidating, as I will expand upon below, that means you can potentially do a lot of damage in a single turn of combat.

Scout Bikers are also a great support unit for the Captain on Bike. If you are taking the Wrath of Heavens, then the Scout Bikers are able to keep up with the Captain, as they have move 16″ as well. This provides a nice screen for your Captain from enemy firepower, just in case you don’t get to make the charge. Another great use for the Scout Bikers is to clear out enemy screens to get to more prime targets with your Captain. Each Biker has a Twin Bolter and Shotgun, able to put out 6 shots each at close range.

With the Born in the Saddle stratagem, you can advance 22″ with the Scout Bikers and still fire in the shooting phase. A decent sized unit of Scout Bikers will be useful for clearing any weak screening units in the shooting phase, allowing your Captain to target more choice targets behind them with his boosted charge. You can also follow the Captain in to combat with the Scout Bikers. While not amazing in combat in the initial turns, the Master of Snares can help keep the unit safe from enemy firepower and locked in combat, if they are engaged with your Bike Captain.

I also find Scout and Infiltrator squads to be useful support for the Captain. As you can deploy these forces close to the enemy army, you can generally support the Captain in a first turn charge if you deploy them aggressively. With the White Scars Chapter Tactics you can afford to deploy a little further back, and still advance and charge in your turn. This may allow you to deploy them out of line of sight if you get seized on, or do not get the first turn.

Any other support units that boost your Captain will also be helpful, such as a Lieutenant with Jump Pack, or Chapter Master for full re-rolls.

Battlefield Roles

I tend to use the Captain very aggressively. If you are facing a gunline, he can get right in their face on turn 1, potentially shutting down a lot of firepower, either by killing it outright or keeping it locked in combat in the enemy turn.

Supported by a Librarian, the Captain can charge multiple enemy units without suffering overwatch, and can get a bonus to his charge and advance rolls (though only the advance rolls in the following turn). I will tend to throw the Captain at the enemy army and get a first turn charge off in most games. It’s only really Hammer and Anvil where he struggles to get a charge off, if your opponent deploys really far back.

If you are able to wipe out a unit in combat, don’t forget you can use the Strike for the Heart stratagem on the Captain. For 2CP, this allows you to consolidate D6+6″ in combat. If you are able to wipe out a screening unit, you can consolidate into a bigger threat in the enemy army. This works well for tanks that are screened by infantry, allowing you to wipe out the infantry squad and consolidate into the vehicles they were screening, if they are only set up to stop normal consolidation moves. This allows you to shut down the firepower of enemy vehicles in the following turn, or keep them locked in combat with the Master of Snares.

You can also use a Chaplain’s ability to consolidate up to 6″ from the Litany of Hate to get into prime position for tying up enemy units in combat.

One of the issues with using the Captain so aggressively is that he tends to die very quickly. This is an issue in ITC missions if he is your warlord, as the Biker Captain will give up the full 4 points for Kingslayer. This means it is risky to use him so aggressively, as he will be a prime target for secondary points.

Using the Captain aggressively doesn’t always mean going for the first turn charge. In many games it can be useful to hold him back until the Assault Doctrine is active, boosting his combat potential even further and going for late game charges and damage to the enemy army. This obviously depends on the mission and what forces you are facing.

Overall

I find the Bike Captain to be an essential part of my White Scars army. He provides a fast and mobile threat to the enemy army. If used aggressively from turn 1, he is a threat that must be dealt with, as with the right combination of wargear and relics, he can strike almost anywhere and is very hard to tie up in combat.

In this role, he does tend to die quite easily, so is not always the best choice for your warlord, especially if he is going to be giving up a lot of points by dying. Most recently, I’ve started only giving him the Master of Snares relic and counting on his base attacks to do the damage. This way, if he dies, he will not give up maximum points for Kingslayer (though will still give up 3 pts unfortunately).

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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.

2 Responses to “Space Marine Review: HQ- White Scars Biker Captain”

  1. Ben February 14, 2020 11:06 am #

    Bikes can’t go in magic boxes I thought. They don’t have the infantry keyword.

    Can you confirm?

    I play ravenwing, so share a lot of strategies, only a bit more shooting than melee.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr February 17, 2020 6:45 am #

      Yeah, I missed that one. Magic boxes don’t really see much play over here, so I’m not that certain on all the rules on them.

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