Rediscovering Angels #6: An Argument for Attack Bikes

Hey there boys and girls!  Xaereth here again from Delusions of Grandeur, hoping to help give you ideas for your Blood Angels army.  Today I want to talk about Attack Bikes, with the hope that you won't immediately dismiss them in favor of the other fan favorites (Baal Predators and Vanguard Veterans).  I think there's a lot they can offer to a lot of different armies out there, including all kinds of Blood Angels.  Read on to find out why :)

First, I should say that the only attack bikes I'm going to be talking about today are of the Multi-Melta persuasion.  Whereas the Heavy Bolter bikes (kind of) have their place in the game, Multi-Meltas are the ones I'll be talking about this article.

Lots of people may see Attack Bikes spammed in my various lists, and I want to provide an explanation for this.  I think lots of people don't take Attack Bikes simply because they see other more 'flashy' choices in their Fast Attack, and simply write Attack Bikes off as 'another space marine bike squad', which they aren't at all.  Hopefully I can suggest some good uses for them!  Let's dive in, then.

First, let's go over the 'in general' reasons Attack Bikes are good, then talk about specific uses for them in-game.

General Reason #1:  They're hard to kill

 Attack bikes, when played correctly, can be hell for an opposing player to kill.  Their T5 ensure that bolter fire isn't a dependable way to kill them (especially for Blood Angels players, who will likely have FNP on the bikes as well).  If they're turbo-boosting, stray las-cannon shots are nowhere near a 'sure thing' to kill a bike either, and though mass missile launchers may sometimes be a problem, at least they aren't shooting your transports (and they're still tough to take out- 15 missile launchers will on average barely kill three turbo-boosting Attack Bikes).  A squad of 3 Attack Bikes is actually pretty difficult to get rid of, and if they're left alone for a turn, they'll dependably bring down a tank every turn the squad remains alive.  It's also important to note that because they're a Toughness model, they can't be 'shaken' out of shooting next turn, like speeders can.  They also get cover saves from actually being in cover ;-)

General Reason #2:  They're fast

Attack bikes are super fast, and actually benefit from being fast.  When they go over 18", they get a 3+ cover save.  Their speed means they have a 24" threat radius if you want to be INSIDE the 'melta' range for their gun, 36" if you don't need it.  They also have an 18" charge range, and don't slow down when going over difficult terrain (though admittedly they need to take dangerous when passing through any terrain).

General Reason #3:  They're multi-purpose

Melta attack bikes can be used for a lot of different things.  If your enemy doesn't have a single tank in his army, you can still use them to take down monstrous creatures.  If not that, they can be used to help with anti-infantry (to a lesser extent).  With Blood Angels their FNP and FC make them reasonable in combat, and since all bikes have the USR Relentless, they can double-tap their TL Bolters before charging.  Their ability to instant-death 'Nid Warriors and Nobs shouldn't be overlooked either :)

Specific Use #1:  Land Raiders

Now, it might seem obvious to you:  multi-meltas are one of the best weapons in the game to threaten Land Raiders.  Duh.  That's probably the only use many people think they have, really- drive up and shoot tanks.

So instead of telling you about that, here's a specific use for the bikes:  if you turbo-boost your bikes in front of a land-raider (if say, he's popped smoke in his turn, and you're not sure about your chances of actually popping it), it makes your opponent react in a few different ways.  He can't SHOOT your bikes in the movement phase, but if he tank-shocks them, you get a FREE shot on him (which auto-hits) that can (and many times will) kill his tank that turn.  This forces him to either move around them, back up, disembark, and assault with termies, or just stand still.  Either way, that's exposing the termies (or whatever he has in there) to your fire/counter-charge, or keeping the land raider out of your grill for another turn, which is never a bad thing.  Remember that if you take a speeder instead, it just dodges a tank-shock.  No free shot with the speeders, and also a somewhat good chance that you won't actually make the dodge roll.

Specific Use #2:  Tying squads up

As we've already discussed, bikes are hard to kill.  Here's a great way to use that apect:  charge a shooty squad with them.  They're fast enough to get into combat easily, and the shooty squad won't be able to kill your bikes easily.  I mean, even a 15-boy loota squad will take a LONG time to kill your T5 bike (they'll average less than one full wound caused per round of combat).  In fact, you might end up winning the combat.  Charging a Broadside squad of Tau will also reap great rewards- not that you're likely to kill any of them that way, but at least that you won't have railguns in your face for at least a turn or two.  The list goes on:  Imperial Guard heavy weapons teams, any other IG squad for that matter (maybe not blobs), ANY marine squad lacking a fist, another attack bike squad, Tau (anything, really), Sisters of Battle squads (if they want to kill you, it forces them to use faith), just about any eldar infantry squad (shooty or no), Ork Lootas, etc.  Lots of good stuff.

As a general rule of thumb, remember that if you destroy a vehicle and the squad inside has good shooting, you should nearly always assault them.  If they're berzerkers or some nasty CC squad... leave off.  Try to force them to take a turn to kill your bikes instead.

Also remember that when you kill a vehicle, bikes can always charge 6" without rolling difficult- they just need to take Dangerous rolls.  You'll never see speeders killing a tank then charging in and killing the squad as well :)

Specific Use #3:  Contesting Objectives

Heh, this one seems somewhat obvious to me.  A 24" turbo-boost to contest the enemy objective has really saved my skin multiple times.  A lot of times, a 12" move and a 6" charge is even better, since it keeps the squad holding it tied up, so they can't shoot/charge you next turn if the game continues.

Specific Use #4: Infantry Blocking

This use is one of my favorites.  If you're playing against an ork horde (or any other type of horde really), and you can really only take on one flank with your forces at a time, consider using Attack Bikes for this role.  Here's what you do: turbo your squad up to 1" away from the front of the squad, and spread your bikes out to their maximum coherency.  This forces the orks to assault you, and though they WILL kill you that turn and get a d6" consolidation afterwards, you've just stalled the whole line from their guaranteed 6" of movement, AND d6" run.  That'll easily buy you another turn.  Also, if one side was going to NEED to call the waaaaagh! that turn in order to get into combat, you'll make them think twice about it, since the guys on the other flank wouldn't be able to make use of it.   The largest amount of movement that entire flank gets that turn is 7", as opposed to a guaranteed 7", with a potential 12" if left to their own devices.  Plus, you probably killed like 12 points of orks with your attacks before they got to strike as well :-p  Also note that if your bikes DO survive, that could honestly win you the game right there, since you'll have more than a single turn to deal with the other flank.

Note that you can use this for any foot-slogging unit that you don't want to move in on you- forcing people to deal with T5 models is a great way to buy some time.

Specific Use #5:  Sacrificial Bait

I've used this trick a lot of times.  Attack bikes will almost always die by the end of the game, if you use them to their full potential.  I sometimes (often) sacrifice them for various objectives in my game, such as the removal of a far superior squad that I don't want to attack me.  Here's how it works:  send your bikes in to be closer to an enemy transport than any of your other squads.  Also note that you want to get your bikes in between the enemy and their (more ideal) target, making it impossible for them to charge that squad (since they have to move around your somewhat large bikes). 

This forces them to either stay in their transport and move closer to their 'target' squad (giving you another turn to react) or go for the kill on your bikes.  I've found that usually they go for the bikes, since next turn the bikes will simply kill the transport next turn if they do nothing.  They kill your bikes pretty easy, and then... they're in range for your counter-attack.  Keep in mind that if you don't have a dependable way to either shoot or assault this squad off the board in one turn, this isn't generally a good move, as you'll have sacrificed two squads, and not even removed one of their own.  This maneuver helps you to get the 'favorable' counter-charge, which in my opinion is how the game is won or lost.  Here's a link to the article explaining this viewpoint, if you're interested.

Specific Use #6:  Rhino Screeners

This isn't the absolutely best way to use them, since your bikes should generally be out killing enemy tanks or trying to assault enemy shooty squads, but it does work for turn 1 if you don't have any good cover for your rhinos and NEED the rhinos to be on the board turn 1.  The attack bikes are tall enough to provide the rhino with cover, though if someone is wise, they'll shoot your bikes with a couple S8 shots, and insta-kill them with no save (unless they're in cover) since they didn't turbo-boost the turn before.  Still, if they do kill your bikes, at least it isn't dangerous terrain your rhinos can immobilize themselves on next turn, as would happen using this maneuver with a speeder.

Specific Use #7:  They're fun

Attack bikes are great tactically, but I love just playing them for the sake of playing them.  Some games they do great and are the MVPs, other games they don't do much, but a unit that hard to kill that moves that fast is almost invariably fun to play.

A note on squad size:

There is obviously three sizes you can use for your squad: 1, 2, or 3.  I personally prefer 3 (heh, who doesn't).  Lots of the ideas I've shared in this article have hinged on three attack bikes.  Using a single bike is great if you only have points for one, but a squad of three makes the squad much more reliable, and have a much larger footprint.  They're much more effective in combat... I guess I could go on, but the benefits of having three in a single squad seem obvious as opposed the benefits of having three separate squads of one.

One disadvantage for bikes that must be mentioned is their leadership- only Ld8, and when they lose a guy, they need to take a leadership check on a relatively low Ld.  Their speed should help make up for this, and in general, 8 will pass most of the time.  Still, I feel it must be mentioned.

For 50 points, a MM Attack Bike can do a great deal of damage, and really throw your opponent's force into disarray.  I hope it helps you when searching for more non-traditional options to kill tanks :)

Let me know what you think!  As ever, I'm interested in what you have to say!


hkardicali said...

I really like this article! AB's have been my favorite FA choice since the pdf era. They are fast and trustworthy tank killers with an edge in close combat if you choose whom you charge wisely. They have a very low survivability but usually get the job done before they leave the scene.

As a general comment, I find your BA articles to be very thourough and insightful, please keep it up! :)

YsambartCourtin said...

I think you just convinced my to upsize from one to three :)

Hazax said...

At 1200 points and above I always run 3 MM attack bikes. They have always proved their points worth in my razorback lists, taking out armour, putting hurt on their hight toughness critters that I am a little skeptically about assaulting.

Right now I am considering grabbing 3 more and running 3 packs of 2 for my fast attack slots.

Xaereth said...

hkardicali: Thanks, glad I can be of use :)

YsambarCourtin: haha, on one hand, that's awesome, I hope it helps! On the other hand, I'm tired of rewarding GW for raising prices. Ah well, good luck with three!

Hazax: Sounds cool, you should play around with the 3x2 AND the 2x3 configurations, and see which one treats you better. Three squads sounds better, but 2 squads will be harder to kill and have a bigger 'footprint', so it's somewhat of a tossup.

Morten said...

cool story, bro!

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