More Mailbag! A bike comparison from DocRailgun.

O Brother-Captain Jawaballs,

I've been thinking about 'ard Boyz, and about the armies I wish I had
the models to run with. To that end, I have a small comparison that
I'd like for you to take a look at... it might even be worthy of the
Way of Sanguinius.

"The Wisdom of the Khans; or Why Belial will keep his Ravenwing gig, thanks."

Space Marine players have generally accepted the new Codex, with its
generally reduced point costs. Many electrons have been used to tout
the virtues of one unit or another, but here I would like to compare
the bike-mounted Marine unit to the Rhino-mounted squad.

10 Tactical Marines with a multi-melta, flamer, power sword, and a
Rhino with an extra storm bolter and extra armor costs 245 points.
They can move 12" in one turn, then fire two weapons from the hatch;
or disembark and assault (after firing their bolt pistols).

6 bike Marines (with a melta, a flamer, and a power sword) and a
multi-melta attack bike come to 245 points. The bikes move 12", can
move and fire their heavy weapons, and assault the same turn or
turboboost 24" and be on top of the opponent in the second turn.

I won't go into the math (which I probably have wrong anyway), but
let's take a stab at comparing the units in battle. Both squads are
stationary, within 12" but their flamers are not able to come into

The (last turn) dismounted Tactical squad fires 14 bolter shots, 2
bolt pistol shots (sgt and flamer marine), a multimelta shot, and
their Rhino fires its storm bolters. This volley does 5 wounds to a
MEQ opponent after saves... or they can assault, also doing 5 wounds
(combined close combat and firing their bolt pistols).

The bike squad fires 6 (5 from the non-melta bikes and 1 from the
attack bike) twin-linked bolters (so, 12 shots at this range), a melta
and a multi-melta shot. That should average to also 5 wounds vs MEQ
infantry. They can then assault on the same turn with 4 power sword
attacks, 3 regular attacks from the attack bike. and 10 attacks from
the other bikers. That should come out to 3 wounds after saves. So,
the bikes have done 8 wounds on average.

The bikes do have weaknesses, of course... they are 'Lashable' by
Chaos armies, they are vulnerable to blast fire (though they are T5...
a lot of the popular blast templates these days are high-S and high-AP
anyway, so a Rhino isn't proof against these sorts of shots), and
terrain can be a problem.

For 1850 points a biker army could consist of:
a biker Captain with w/ power sword, combi-melta, melta bombs, digital
weapons, and a few other bits of wargear
18 bikes (in 3 squads) of which 3 have meltas and 3 have flamers
3 attack bikes with multi-meltas
2 Land Speeders with multi-meltas and heavy flamers
a Land Speeder with a Typhoon launcher and a multi-melta (or a heavy flamer)
6 Assault Terminators in a LRC with a multi-melta

I thought this looked pretty "Doublewing" to me, only with rerollable
melta and flamer shots.

So, what do you think... are bikes the way to go against the Guard
artillery, or will their infantry speed bumps get in the way? Is it
even worth having anything on your side of the board when the
Outflanking infantry platoons and veteran-carrying Valkyries fly in
from the sides of the board... or are good-old Rhinos still the best

I will ponder this question and give a real answer later... I have to finish my commission! But every one feel free to hash this one back and forth!



AutarchAndrew said...

yes they are

Jacob Bodmer said...

I'd like to throw out a few comments real quick:

1.) If the rhino moves 12", you cannot shoot out of the top hatch. Rhinos (in this context, BA disregard half the time)aren't fast. 12" is "Cruising Speed" and, as outlined on page 66 "(models) may not fire at all if the vehicle moved at cruising speed that turn."

2.) One of the big, non-math advantages of the Rhino-Tac squad is it's small "Footprint" a rhino is somewhere around 3x4.5" and a little shy of 2" tall, You cannot physically fit 6 bikers and an attack bike into that space. Rhinos hide easier.

3.) Rhinos have survivability from shooting. You get one turn of cover save (From Smoke, your bestest friend) Plus, even after they manage to hit you and "wound" (Penetrate AV) you still get a "armor save" (I.E. you don't care about shaken/stunned results, or about the first wepdestroyed result)
That means that, in a turn where you have cover, you have an effective 75% "Armor Save" against taking damage (they need to roll a 4+ to do something that matters, then you have a 4+ cover save) And this "save" only decreases vs AP1 stuff, or if they manage to roll a "3".

Even after they take off your storm bolter, you still have, effectively, a 3+ cover save on your rhino when it's smoked, and still have a "5+" save in general if they roll badly.

4.) Bikes "win" out in hand to hand combat. They deal fewer wounds (tac squad has 18 attacks, 4 PW/3PF attacks on the charge, Bikes have 15 attacks, 4 PW/3PF attacks on the charge) but, thanks to the magic of T5, they'll take fewer wounds A bike unit is really quite durable in h2h. I've underestimated them myself.

So, which do I prefer? Heck, I use both. In different armies.
I use the Rhinos/Razors in my "Shooty" Codex marine army, I like the extra Armor Value Saturation, plus, I wasn't planning on taking a bike Captn.
I also use Rhinos in my BA army (But that's a TOTALLY different story. BA Bikers are more expensive, and not troops, plus, BA rhinos are better)

I use bike squads in a "Lightning Strike" Codex SM force, as well as a supplemental unit in my Space Wolves force.

I'd advise against Bike units for any army that wants to be serious in h2h. (then again, I'd advise against codex marines if you want to be serious in h2h)

I see bikes as a "Big Boy's" Tactical squad.(and I'm not just stroking my ego on this one, I promise) They're NOT the same as tactical marines. You really can't use them the same way, they're far more challenging, tactically, to get the most out of, but can really allow you to play "Smart", apply subtle force to key points, and out-maneuver your foes.

They're not a unit for beginners, they're not a unit that shines and carries the day by themselves, they're a unit for players who know what they're doing and can wield force like a scalpel instead of a sledge.

Besides, who can keep up with 24" of movement a turn? That's just plain fun.

Khornatedemon said...

My ard boyz army is pretty much a double wing-ish list from the amrine codex.


Bike capt w/ relic blade and combi melta

5 bike squads with 2 melta's and a Mm attack bike

2 th/ss terminator squads in redeemers

2x2 MM/HF speeders.

You can drop 2 bike squads and 1 of the termie/LRR to get it down to 1750.

Its been pretty effective at the ard boyz level so far. I actually have yet to lose with it although I have had a few minor victories only. Once ard boyz is over I'm going to test the 1750 version out and see how it runs.

Some people might tell you to bring command squads but unless your playing to an all biker only theme I think the LRR and terminators are a better hammer unit and the LR gives you some mobile terrain to shield a bike squad or 2 with.

I wouldnt take anything but melta's on bike squads. I believe 3 BS4 meltas statistically will take out a tank every turn. The ability to drive up to a chimera, smoke it with meltas, and then charge the poor guardsmen is priceless.

If you are really worried about horde's spring for combi-flamers on the sarge although I think between the land raider's guns, the mass of twin linked bolters, the flamers on speeders, and terminators you should be pretty good.

Jacob Bodmer said...

Maybe. Where I play, people have a raging hard-on for units with the stealth USR. Kroot, Pathfinders, Vets in cloaks, yeah. A few flamers really helps to make their life miserable.

Docrailgun said...

Truth be told, I don't want to give up my Rhinos (and when I use the BA Codex I certainly won't)... but I feel like the new Guard setups require my army to deal with their big guns ASAP. Unfortunately, there will be lots of melta weapons in the Guard infantry... which means that non-Outflanking transports are likely to get popped before the guns inside can get a shot off.

I realize I am myopic on this issue, but for New Codex Marines, it seems like my choices are using Khan to Outflank my (Tac squads in) Rhinos and LRC Terminators or use something less vulnerable to melta weapons with Vulkan.

I know this is not really a Blood Angels' discussion, but JB and Fritz have some generally keen minds lurking about their pages, so I thought I'd get some wider opinions than my own.

Sabb said...

@ Kris err Khorne,

I've been doing the Vulkan bike list lately and it's been working real well. I don't quite run the same list, but the feel is there, and it's damn effective.

@ Everyone
Bikes are a finesse army plain and simple. The biggest thing I've learned recently is don't be afraid to put them in reserve. You can come on the board with a 3+ cover sv 24 inches in. It's totally different than reserving anything else.

Personally, I believe if your bikes are getting into H2H, you're doing something wrong. They're no better than Tact marines but at 25pts (T5 doesn't help you get out of combat). They excel at mobility and shooting regardless of what wargear you give the sarg.

Give your opponent target priorities. Does he shoot at the LRC? The two flanking Vindies? Or does he shoot the 3 squads with 2 melta guns and a MM AB?

jawaballs said...

Yah Doc, I figured guys like Sabb and Khornate could answer your question better then I could. Plenty of guys poppin in here to totally field this subject, and it is a good one!

Khornatedemon said...

I'm not sold on khan. Having your army come in piecemeal and potentially at different parts of the board can easily set you up for disaster. If he wasnt so expensive he would be a great choice as a captain in the vulkan list as the furious charge he grants a command squad is bad ass, especially when they have lightning claws. The best way I like khan is sadly sans bike and mixed with a squad of claw termies in a LR.

Against guard what I have found, and what most honest guard players will tell you, is that going after the troops is the way to go. Especially against mech guard. That is a task the bikers excel at. They are fast enough to get into cc quickly with foot sloggers and against mech have the ability to triple melta a chimera and then charge the guys who spill out, either putting them safely into cc of wiping out the linchpin of the army.

Blood angels cant do the biker army really anyways as they dont get them as troops. So for them rhinos is most assuredly the way to go. Rhino marines work in general against most armies. I think the reason your seeing people toss around bikers is they are a good counter to guard and, from what I'm finding, not bad against most other things. They can have issues against hordes but speeder flamers and sarge combi-flamers can help.

@ sabb

good to hear your having better success! I really want to try the list out at the lower points level but ard boyz craziness has taken over for now.

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