Biker Marines – tactica

As I have mentioned earlier, I am going to repost all the articles, I have originally written in Polish, this time translated. While it was written in early January, it isn’t yet outdated although it’s worth mentioning that new Tyranids (due to spam of vector striking FMCs) and Astra Militarum (due to hordes of cheap infantry) are going to be thogh enemies for you.

bikers

One of most popular Space Marine builds are Biker Marines. I myself play this army list from some time and I have to praise their strengths, for they are very powerful (although not against all opponents). It’s an army based upon idea that key strength of your strike force are SM Bikers taken as troops. Although on paper it looks almost just like equally popular Ravenwing (in some places even more popular), it differs in terms of its damage-dealing potential as well as threats it has to deal with.

Basics

Key elements of this build are:

  • Chapter tactics: White Scars (some people prefer Iron Hands)
  • HQ: Chapter Master, Khan or an ordinary captain on Space Marine Bike (with exception of few low-point games, Chapter Master is preferred)
  • 4+ biker squads taken as troops (preferred special weapon is grav gun)
  • Any vehicles should be fast

Additions worth considering are:

  • Land speeder or attack bike squadroon
  • A flyer (e.g. Stormraven/Stormtalon)
  • Dark Angel detachment with biker librarian and possibly a Ravenwing coommand squadron
  • An inquisitor with servo skulls
  • Kor’sarro Khan riding Moondrakkan
  • Forge World/Imperial Armour?

Basic assumption is your superiority in terms of speed and firepower. This army can quickly cover large distances and concentrate its firepower on priority targets, while avoiding most of dangers.
For example it can use 12″ movement + 12″ turbo-boost so that in subsequent turn you can attack weakly defended flank of enemy. It is possible to divide your army so that you attack separate isolated targes (e.g. enemy units, which due to deep strike mishap cannot count on support of his main forces). It’s clear superiority over ravenwing (which has to move close to its dakka-banner not to lose its shooting potential).

Your default HQ is a Chapter Master. He has 4 atacks base and 4 wounds. He needs to be equipped with a bike, artficer armor and some good close combat weapon. My favuorite is Burning Blade, but in competitive environment i prefer Power Fist for it is considerably cheaper. Popular and very reasonable equipment for CM is a storm shield or even shield eternal, so that he can solo greater daemons and this fight isn’t hopeless for him.

Alternative is of course Kor’sarro Khan riding Moondrakkan. He has a generic captain statline, power sword causing ID and price tag just a little bit above captain. He gives whole army Scout USR. He can be taken alone or as a second HQ when Chapter Master is taken, but than whole thing becomes very expensive in points.

When it comes tot troops, obvious choice are bike squadron. Bike squadrons of 5 or more models are troops always when you have captain/chapter master/khan on a bike and they’re worth taking even if we aren’t building all-bikers army, but in biker army they are specifically important. They are not a fast attack choice supporting your army but key of its attack formation. For this reason, it is good to maximize their offensive potential. Knowing that you need to have 5 or more models, it is worth considering following variant.

  • Combiweapon+2 special weapons+2 bodies. Preferred is grav gun, for on biker (thanks to relentless USR) it can fire 3 shoots at 18″. This unit shines when it comes to killing elite infantry (marines, battlesuits) and MCs other than daemons (whose inv is better than armour save). Meltaguns are also good.
  • Combiweapon+2 special weapons+1 body+an attack bike. Ultimate min-max. It’s worth considering setup of multimelta, combimelta and two meltaguns for it is scary against elite infantry and vehicles. Unfortunately non-matching weapon ranges and high price tag makes this unit un-optimal outside very specific scenarios
  • Sarge+2 flamers+2 bodies. This unit is distinguished by its low price and anti-horde potential. It’s combat performance can be further boosted by buying veteran sarge and a cheap melee weapon like a power lanc─Ö. This unit is useful to get into CC as soon as possible, preferably led by chapter master (than it serves as extra wounds for your master)
  • When chosen special weapons are meltaguns or flamer, it’s worth considering melta-bombs. Such unit already wants to be close to enemy (due to short ranged weapons) and this upgrades increases its anti-vehicle and anti-MC potential (although against monstruous creatures it’s better to avid combat most of the times Hit&Run)

Additions

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Useful addition to this army is a Land Speeder armed with pair of Heavy Bolters (so equipped it costs 60ptts). With little investments it brings what this army otherwise lacks: volume of fire to counter massed infantry.

Similar role could be served by attack bikes equipped w/ heavy Bolters. They aren’t as cost effective (when calculating volume of fire divided by price), but they are much more durable due to armour save, chapter tactics and T5. Statistically Land Speeder is dead after 3 autocannon hits, while Attack Bike has just one wound lost. Equally good are attack bikes equipped w/ Multimeltas due to their longer-ranged anti-vehicular firepower. They open transport vehicles exposing their passengers to gravgun/boltgun fire or assault.

Additional useful addition is anti-air defense. It is generally known that biker armies fear two flyers: Nightscythe and Heldrake. Luckily new Marines have some useful AA defense tools.

Let us omit fortifications, for they stay in place while biker army should be always on the move. For same reason let us avoid tactical marines/devastators with Flakk missiles. New AA tanks, while cost effective, also aren’t very good. They have excellent firepower, but they won’t be well protected (becase slow) and will be vulnerable to assault.

What’s left? A flyer. Actually: any flyer will do. We have two of them in our codex, Stormraven and Stormtalon. Both are good.

When taking Stormraven, it’s good to buy some CC-oriented unit (vanguard veterans, terminators, honour guard) so that it would make full use of it’s versatility (it’s 200pts of an assault vehicle. flying it empty is wasting its potential). Taking such unit is also good for following reason: your bikers can be overwhelmed when assaulted by dedicated CC-unit of opponent.

Additional addition worth considering is DA deachmentt. Main reasn for taking them is a librarian with Divination Primaris power. Most usually you will be taking Magic Level One Wizrd, equipped with a bike. For mere 85pts he is useful support unit but he can fight as well due to his force weapon. What are best targets for prescience power?

  • Chapter master and his unit, before dropping orbital bombardment. It allows you reroll to hit, and therefore attack that hits once per three games suddenly becomes potent alpha-strike device
  • Multimelta-equipped attack bike squadron, when you absolutely positively must destroy enemy vehicle
  • Gravgun-equipped biker squadron, when you absolutely positively must destroy enemy Riptide
  • Landspeeder squadron – when you just want something to be gunned down with heavy bolters

Additionally DA give access to unique init – Ravenwing Command Squad. In DA this unit is rather soft for its price, but when led by chapter master it becomes extremely durable (2+save, 3+inv and 5+FNP from apothecary) and ravenwing grenade launcher boosts your CC and shooting potential equally. Whole unit is unfortunately extremely expensive and it’s usefulness outside of pure ravenwing army is rather doubtful due to price.

Additional useful ally is Inquisition. Typical configuration is single inquisitor and three servo skulls, so that enemy won’t do scout/infiltrate in your direction. Inquisitor can additionally have first magic level just like dark angels wizard (and he can take divination powers, see above). Unfortunately you can’t give him bike. Still a inquisitor-wizard makes a very combo potent combo with DA wizard. When you take DA ally, you must take a troops, which invariably will be infantry (scouts or tactical marines). So that you have infantry unit in which you can hide an inquisitor, so that he won’t die from single lucky autocannon hit.

Kor’sarro Khan riding Moondrakkanie, is also good addition. He gives Scout USR to your army. this allows you redeploying your models 12″ before first turn, so that after 12″ movement you are in range to begin firing at your targets (and be surely in assault in second turn). Popularity of inquisition (and hence, servoskulls) makes it less likely for this maneuver to be successful, so that you must think for yourself whenever this investment is worth points.

Forge World gives us additional options, but as in majority of tournaments FW rules are not in use, I won’t spend lot of space on them and will only flesh out most interesting ones.

  • Sicaran Battle Tank (IA vol. II) – vehicle equiped with Heracles Accelerator Autocannon (rending and high RoF) and a heavy bolter – lot of shots with high strength. Fixes problem of lack of volume of fire.
  • Fire Raptor Gunship (z IA vol. II) – If you need a flyer (and you need one) it is a good alternative for a Stormraven/Stormtalon. Lot of dakka at four direction. Other non-SH flyers from IA (Storm Eagle and Caestus Ram) aren’t useful weapons here. Eagle has not enough dakka (or is prohibitively expensive when you get lascannons), While Ram has only blast weapons so it won’t counter enemy flyers.
  • Chapter Tactics: Mantis Warriors (from FW web page) – For the same reason as DA: their librarians can do divination. And can take storm shield (DA can’t)

Example army lists


Example 1: SM (White Scars)+DA
HQ Chapter Master, bike, artficer armour, shield eternal,Fist 245
HQ Honour guard, #7, power sword, 4x power sword, 2x power ax 185
Troops Bike sqd, #5, 2 gravgun, combigrav 145
Troops Bike sqd, #5, 2 gravgun, combigrav 145
Troops Bike sqd, #5, 2 gravgun, combigrav 145
Troops Bike sqd, #5, 2 flamer 115
Fast Attack bike #3, multimelta 165
Heavy Stormraven, laski, mutltimelty 200
HQ DA Libra, bike 85
Troops DA Scouts, #5, 5 Sniper rifles, 5 camo cloaks 70
Points 1500
KP 9
Models 38

First example is an army list which brought me many wins, few draws and only one lose. It’s based upon assumptions detailed above. Honour guards are carried in Stormraven, and if I don’t have any good targets for Stormraven’s guns, i use it as one-use Land Raider, that is I deploy HG in the middle of the best shooty unit of enemy. Notice, that attack bikes (differently than in second example) are grouped as one squadron of three. This is made so that I can make best use of divination boosts from DA wizard.


Example 2: SM (White Scars)
HQ Chapter Master, bike, artficer armour, shield eternal,Fist 245
HQ Honour guard, #7, Dunderhammer, 4x power sword, 2x power ax 200
Troops Bike sqd, #5, 1 flamer 110
Troops Bike sqd, #5, 2 gravgun, combigrav 145
Troops Bike sqd, #5, 2 gravgun, combigrav 145
Troops Bike sqd, #5, 2 gravgun, combigrav 145
Troops Bike sqd, #5, 2 gravgun, combigrav 145
Fast Attack bike, multimelta 55
Fast Attack bike, multimelta 55
Fast Attack bike, multimelta 55
Heavy Stormraven, lascannony, mutltimelty 200
Points 1500
KP 10
Models 37

This is an army list used in team tournaments, and it was born out of need for removing Dark Angels (only one person in team could have them and there was another DA player in our team). Generally it’s very imbalanced army list, good against elite armies but only against them. As I was pitted against Tau and Space Marines, I’ve gained two crushing victories (I wouldn’t be successful if I had to play against Daemons or horde of Orks)

May the speed be with you

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