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Bike armies, fully mounted forces of space marines riding down those that oppose the will of the God-Emperor. Do you play a biker army? Do you have friends that do? How do they do on the table? What units work well in them? What enemies do you have to watch out for? What are some good bike army tactics? How are Ravenwing armies compaared to normal biker armies? What characters are useful to lead them? Discuss
This week is about all of the various topics of Space Marine bike armies.
The Emperor Protects
IG Best Gen 1st overall of 10 DE 4th overall of 6
Eldar 3rd Overall/Best General of 26--2nd Overall/Best General of 7--1st Overall/Best General of 11
After strong performance of my bike squads in my vanilla army, I have been thinking more and more about a bike army. Their increased toughness makes them harder to wound, though with relatively low numbers, you really do need to make use of their ability to travel long distances to bunny hop from cover to cover, before bursting out, guns blazing, making your opponent feel the pain! Their long range also enables you to contest objectives at the last second.
I always run attack bikes with multi meltas, and they seldom fail to kill a tank or two. Melta guns on your bikers also gives you another shot in case you get unlucky.
I'll let up now and hand it over to those who run full bike armies.
Very cool, Bike armies are. RW sucks currently, so I've been looking for a bikey army I can use. CodexM does it quite well. Haven't got many games with it, but I'm looking forward to it.
Froggage of YTTH has a sweet bike army and has a lot of experience with them. Check it out here.
Check out ==My== blog: www.bnhblog.blogspot.com
Based on my experience so far with Dark Angels, bikes are only viable on games of 1500 or more points. At lower levels, their numbers are few, and every bike you lose is a big price you pay.
But at 1500 pts, they excel. I normally turbo boost my scout move straight ahead to the enemy, then bring in my Deathwing terminators.
After that, bikes move again to reposition at a better target, leaving the terminators to shoot first round right in the face of the enemy and very far ahead into enemy territory. The bikes can then shoot and depending on the enemy (IG or Tau) even charge first turn.
The trick is to know which enemies to engage and which ones to avoid, since bikes are tought, but very expensive, and you'll be always outnumbered.
It is not an army for a novice, but in the hands of an experienced player, it is brutal.
Of all the armies I wish I had the money for, it's a SM Bike army. They can take tons of Troops that are rock hard, lots of special and heavy weapons, mounted of course and great CC characters with speed.
Bikes might be the best way to play Marines, or a close tie with Pods. It's just so pricey many people can't do it, which is an advantage for people who can because it's unknown.
Ravenwing seems inferior to me, the prices aren't competitive and they don't have the good characters available. Mixing in Speeders is cool but.....just doesn't seem as good.
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I love biker armies - against shooting forces they're beautifully quick and in your face, and against CC armies they're capable of staying away from combat while still dishing out one hell of a bulletfest.
Ah... What a nice topic to begin my day with!
After I "suffered" a draw in a game against an opponent whose army I practically tabled, but who still had three or so traitor guardsmen hidden from line of sight holding his objective, I gave up on the mech approach for a while. It was capture and control, our objectives were deployed in opposite corners of the battlefield, more than 72" apart. I moved towards him all game long from turn two, and still I hadn't reached him in the end...
How frustrating! An army that can't even cross the board throughout a game? What's that, please?
On the advantages of Space Marine bike armies
Bike armies have the advantage of being able to move about the battlefield at their will. They can concentrate firepower wherever you need it and then quickly redeploy to an entirely different location. With bikes you never make a commitment. With bikes your moves are far less predictable for the opponent.
On the question of how competitive all-bike armies are: it's the only army variant I play which I have never lost or drew a game with, neither in fourth nor in fifth edition. My mechanized army lists, my drop pods, my gunline armies - all have had their defeats and draws; not so the bikes.
On Space Marine bike army composition
Bikes. A lot of them. The first thing every bike squad should add is the attack bike. It is cheaper than two bikes but otherwise comparable. You lose a non-power weapon attack on the charge and you could possibly get instant-killed which can easily be avoided by proper wound allocation. In return you gain much higher firepower and the ability to lose a wound without reducing your squad's effectiveness in any way. The majority of bike squads should have melta guns and multi-meltas on their attack bikes, while I also recommend plasma and/or flamer bike squads with heavy bolter attack bikes. Some bikes (melta and flamer squads, mostly) may have power fists or power weapons on their sergeants because they often get close to the enemy and they can charge after having shot, so you may want to use this ability to finish off your target since with those upgrade weapons you'll be close to the target anyhow. But bike squads don't need these upgrades as much as tactical squads do because they can effectively stay away from combat. So you can go without them on bikes.
But bikes (with the exception of attack bikes) don't have heavy weapons. They definitely need heavy fire support. Tanks that can move and still put out high amounts of firepower (ordnance tanks mostly, the vindicator and possibly the whirlwind in some cases) are perfect, as are tons of speeders. The multi-melta speeder is a fine tank hunter to assist your army, while the 2xheavy bolter landspeeder storm is an awesome infantry killer and light transport stopper. The landspeeder typhoon is pricey but a very flexible long-range support unit that can stay out of trouble while engaging all kinds of targets.
Once you have spent 1,500 points on your biker captain HQ (who should be as cheap as possible: bike and relic blade suffice, if you have spare points artificer armor for wound soakage, hellfire ammo for his twin-linked bolter or maybe a storm shield are okay), your bike troops, and your support speeders and ordnance tanks, you may add a land raider with some assault terminators. One mechanized tactical squad also works well to assist the bikers and hold your home objective while still being mobile.
But any other foot-sloggers, or any alpha-strike drop pods, etc. - all of them slow your army down and strip you of your advantage! You must make a commitment with these slow units, and you have to commit your bikes to supporting those units or else the enemy can beat you in little haps. Don't handicap yourself with slow elements! You give away your greatest strength...
Command squads on bikes can be kitted out to be an awesome close combat unit. With base attacks of a veteran, additional attacks for two close combat weapons (since you don't need bolters - got twin-linked ones on your bikes), feel no pain from the apothecary, etc they can make for very fine hard-hitters. But since they turn out to become quite expensive you should only use them in games with more than 1,500 points. If you add Khan in this case he can give that unit furious charge and hit and run which makes them even more powerful. But apart from that I would refrain from using Khan, especially at lower points levels. A standard captain with relic blade will do just fine, and as for outflanking your army has to be real big with many, many bike squads in order for that to be effective.
On Space Marine bike tactics
A tactic that works well with biker armies is the objective contesting merry-go-round (Merry-Go-Round Objective Contesting (bikes, fast vehicles in seize ground)) which I have received very good feedback for, players telling me about its effectiveness and the looks on the opponents' faces.
Another thing that works very well for me is going second and reserving everything. Your opponent can only move about very cautiously, not knowing where you will show up. You strip him of his first-turn advantage of having first shots while you keep all of your advantages of going second (awaiting and reacting to the opponent's deployment and even infiltrators, scout moves and first and second turn movement) and effectively have one more turn to play the game against him. I have made the experience that it looks like you are losing until turn four, when most of my reserves have come onto the board and my opponents -and even I myself, I am still surprised very commonly- realize that I am actually winning. The opponent may deem his home objective safe, until you start turboboosting towards it on turn four and cross the board in two turns, reaching it on turn five.
Since bikes have long bases and are good tank hunters surrounding transports and popping them is a very fine tactic too. A friend just recently told me of a game where he had surrounded and popped and LRC with a tooled-up terminator command squad (Black Templars), killing both units with a simple melta shot...
I often start my army spread out to lure the opponent to one side of the board and then pull all my force together on the either side, engaging the spread out opponent at will.
On dangerous opponents
As for what opponents you have to look out for: Nidzilla definitely aren't my favorite opponent force with my bikes. There are others that aren't easy to beat either. But in the end there is no opponent you really have to watch out for with bikes. You just have to watch out for yourself and not make any mistakes, because as soon as your army is locked somewhere and forced to commit you are probably on the verge of losing the game...
Small boards, very dense terrain, hordes and hordes of enemy units in very large points games - all these things greatly interfere with free movement and pose a great threat to bike armies. So always be sure to have enough room to move about. Other than that be happy and have some fun!
On the Ravenwing
Ravenwing is awesome because you can have lots and lots of units (good for objective missions, extremely bad for killpoint missions) because the speeders and attack bikes count as ones of their own. Ravenwing is awesome because the bikes have the scout move. Ravenwing is awesome because you have homers for your terminators in every bike.
But Ravenwing units are very expensive, their speeders lack some important upgrade options, their squad sizes are small. The best way to play a Ravenwing army is probably the combination with Deathwing. Use the scout move to turboboost in the enemy's face, then drop half your terminators in his face on turn one. But since this is a mixed list it gives away some of the bike army's greatest strengths and is thus just not as effective. The bikes mostly get reduced to a terminator delivery system, and taking many of them seems like a waste of points compared to vanilla bikes.
Only recently have I talked a friend who played Dark Angels to play his bikes as vanilla, and he is very content with how things have turned out. Maybe a new Dark Angels codex will change that, but until then...
On a further note...
The Realm of Speed social group is a place for players of Space Marine bike (or other swift) armies and has found more inflow than I would have initially expected. There is an active discussion about unit composition, tactics and all aspects of fast armies and anyone playing such an army is invited to join.
After playing since 3rd edition I've finally decided to include bikers into my army. I try to play a fluff based Salamanders list so I've shied away from bikes in the past, but I've begun to see the value of MM attack bikes. After my first test game with them last week I've gotta say I like them a lot.
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Just wanted to officially thank kevin vanrooyen for his topics of the week. I think it's a great service to the Space Marine commanders' community and helps to keep it alive! Especially in dire times when rabid wolves roam the forums unleashed, devouring every thread and each post that is not akin to them...
I have a full 2k full biker army and love it. They are tough and fast. It is a handicap to take all bikes due to the fact that they must remain on the ground. An objective on the 3rd story is unattainable. My opponents have learned to exploit it. I have had to add an Assault squad just to get to enemies/objectives on elevated levels. Still great though, even in smaller point games.