Tuesday, April 3, 2012

List Evolution: Space Marine Bikes

I've wanted to play a bike list for ages - since I first saw White Scars in a white dwarf many years ago. I love elite (read - cheap) armies and I'm sure that such a mobile army would be a new and welcome challenge to figure out. Problem is that bikes may be elite but they sure aren't cheap - $18 each here in Australia (or something ridiculous like that).

Until recently I had only managed to scrape together 5 bikes for my crimson fists. At the ARC Bring and Buy I picked up 5 chaos bikers for $5. I had to then scalpel and file off all the spiky bits and Chaos glyphs. Then I picked up 4 Black Templar bikers for $25 on WargamerAU. So suddenly I am getting close! But how to play them?

SM Bike MSU Death Star Army (1500 points)

Captain - bike, relic blade, artificer armour 180
Command Squad - bikes, 2 storm shields, 2 thunder hammers 295
3 x 5 Bikes (1 attack bike) - 2 melta, multi-melta 555
5 Scouts - 4 sniper rifles, missile launcher, camo cloaks 100
3 x Land Speeder - heavy bolter, typhoon 270
Thunderfire Cannon 100

We can run either a Captain On Bike or Kossaro Khan. I have no idea which will work better, though without power fists I suspect that the Captain's ability to auto-flee from 25% casualties will be more useful in this list.

I the start by MSUing bike squads for troops. Three units of 5 bikes, each including a multi-melta attack bike and 2 meltaguns. Small enough to hide, and working very effectively just under 24" range. To complement these I tool a single Scout squad with cloaks and rifles - my "deck chair" unit as they say on 40k UK.

Next I added a cheap command squad with storm shields and power swords. This accompanies the captain and complements his fighting power. I am a little afraid to invest too many points in such a fragile unit, and imagine it would usually be moving fast for the 3+ cover save. Still this unit should be able to smash its way through enemy troops if used right.

Next I have added a Thunderfire Cannon for 100 points. This is great for the scout unit giving them a 2+ cover save in a ruin somewhere. You might also be able to share this cover with that command squad in Turn 1. Also it is a great counter against a lot of different unit types as it comes with a bunch of useful things, like Strength 6, AP 5 ignore cover, and making difficult terrain. Scarabs HATE them!

Plus I have the model! (I really must take finished photos of my scratch build and share them :)

SM Bikes with Scout Tricks (1500 points)

Captain - bike, relic blade, adamantium armour 180
2 x 10 Bikes (1 attack bike) - 2 melta, multi-melta, sergeant with power fist 335
10 Scouts - 4 sniper rifle / camo cloaks, missile launcher / camo cloak, 4 close combat weapons, serg with power fist, combi-melta 195
2 Land Speeders - heavy bolter, typhoon 180
Land Speeder - heavy bolter, typhoon 90
Land Speeder Storm - multi-melta 60
Thunderfire Cannon 100

Strangely this list started out as a Kill Point Denial list (see the 11th Company podcast for more info) but then I ended up chucking lots of cheap kill points into it!

I've combined the bike squads together. This saves me some points on sergeants, which makes it easier to add another 5 bikes to the list - as did dropping the command squad. I can of course combat squad these bike units,probably the power fist and melta guns in one unit.

With the points saved from the command squad I can now afford to add five Scouts in a Land Speeder Storm. These are great fun and a cheap, effective distraction. With a 24" scout move they can threaten a shooty players backfield from turn 1, forcing them to deploy sub-optimally and hopefully stopping your opponent from maximizing their firepower.

SM Bike Kill Point Denial (1750 points)

Captain - bike, relic blade, adamantium armour 180
10 Bikes (1 attack bike) - 2 melta, multi-melta, sergeant with power fist 335
10 Bikes (1 attack bike) - 2 melta, multi-melta 310
2 x 5 TH/SS Terminators 400
Land Raider - multi-melta 260
Land Raider Redeemer - multi-melta, extra armour 265

Now this is what happened when I took the Kill Point Denial philosophy to the max. The whole army can be deployed as 4 units - half being super-fast, 10 model T5 units with 3+ cover saves; the other half is AV 14 all round with 3++ saves on the inside. The great thing is that because of combat squadding, I can still field 4 scoring units if I need to. I had to step up to 1750 points for this one - at lower points, when you can't afford the second land raider, it's hard to make this list concept competitive.

Sure land raiders have their weaknesses, but at least there are no other vehicles to get in your way. And if you can deliver that deathstar to the enemy lines, all manner of destruction should ensue.

Meanwhile the bikes can support the attack, especially if you put the two land raiders adjacent so that a bike unit with the Captain can hide behind invulnerable. Alternatively, the bikes can come in from reserves to threaten objectives. Or Turbo Boost around the table.

Well there you go folks. Three different ideas for Space Marine bike lists, from a man who has never played with a bike army. For those of you who have run bikes before, how do you like to do so?


  1. I played a "fast n slow" bike list. It combines bike squads with melta as fast scoring with gunline elements (I had a few typhoons, 3 autolas preds and 3 rifleman). I also took a few scout squads for cheaper static scoring units (and I have a soft spot for sniper scouts).

  2. I like the last one. I understand you use a LR with lascannons and one redeemer?

    In the second list I'd drop te powerfists, when you have combat tactics, you'll want to lose combat so you can disengage and shoot. If you use scouts a landspeeder storm i good to outflank or alpha strike with. I know the internets say storm is bad but in a bike list they complement the mobility.

  3. Thanks for the comments guys, Unknown, yes I took two different Land Raiders. Seems to me that having one Redeemer is probably plenty, and those two lascannons might be vital against some armies. In reality all the Raiders are equally effective IMHO.

    I had to go back and tweak the last list as it was slightly over in points, so I did drop one of the fists. Still I think they are useful if the unit gets tied up with something hard to kill - however rare that is.

    I did take a Storm in my second list! Storms are awesome.


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