6th edition bikes vs Terminators

More from guest poster Doc Railgun! JB

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My Astropath this time sends forth yet another message about the Warhammer 40,000 6th edtion rule changes. As we all know, the new rules have breathed some life into quite a number of units and armies abandoned by many players.

This time the matter for discussion is the humble Space Marine biker. What makes a Marine bike interesting again? We should go over the basics:  Bikers add +1 to the model's Toughness statistic. Unlike in the last edition, that unmodified T is now ignored, so Marine bikers are not instantly killed by S8 or S9 attacks anymore (if they have more then one Wound, of course).

They move 12" in the movement phase, are not slowed by difficult terrain, but treat difficult terrain as dangerous.They may shoot a weapon for each rider - so a Marine Attack Bike has two shooting attacks per turn and may fire Heavy weapons on the move (they are Relentless). This special rule also allows them to charge after firing rapid-fire weapons.  Alternately, they can Turbo -boost instead of shooting, moving up to another 12" if they choose.  The Jink special rule gives bikes that move any distance in the Movement phase a 5+ cover save until their next Movement phase (in the earlier edition, bikes only had special movement-bases cover saves if turbo-boosting).. If they turbo-boost in this edition, bikes have a 4+ cover save.

In the Assault phase, bikes do not have to roll for difficult terrain but still must make a dangerous terrain test - barricades and such also cause a dangerous terrain test if a bike charges through it to get to an enemy model. Bikes also have the Hammer of Wrath special rule, so a bke that charges is allowed an attack at Initiative 10 in addition to its normal attacks at its normal Initative score.

So, a Space Marine bike has a 3+ save and a 5+ invulnerable save so long as it has moved. Of course, that cover save will unfortunately  not protect the bike in close combat, but the free attack at I10 may make up for that. Most bike units will have the ability to add a special weapon (a plasma gun, a melta gun, et cetera) or two and likely a special close-combat weapon as well.

So, does this match up to the new darlings of the game: the Marine Terminator? Basic Terminators have a storm bolter (Assault 2, S4 shots at 24") and a power fist, have 2 Attacks (so, S8 attacks at I1), a 2+ armor save and a 5+ invulnerable save. A basic Space Marine bike has a twin-linked bolter (2 S4 shots at 12" or 1 at 24"), and a bolt pistol. So, they have a S4 close-combat attack at I10 and a S4 attack at I4, a 3+ armor save and a 5+ cover save outside of close combat (but against Overwatch shooting). The Terminator's advantage is that the 2+ armor save protects the Terminator from the now AP3 power weapons (which used to ignore armor saves), where the bike is still vulnerable to them. However, the T5 bike is wounded by a S4 weapon on a 5+, where a Terminator is wounded on 4+.

What shenanigans can we do with bikes?
Codex: Space Marines bikes can be taken as Troops choices if a Captain on a bike is chosen as an HQ choice. A command squad on bikes can also take four special weapons - plasma guns, melta guns, et cetera. Four plasma guns can rapid-fire eight S7 AP2 shots at 12" and still charge in the assault phase.
Space Wolf bikers are only WS3, BS3 but get +2A on the charge. Send a biker Wolf Priest along and they get Preferred Enemy (so, they can reroll failed to-hit rolls in both the Shooting and Assault phases).
Blood Angels and Codex: Space Marine lists can include seperate attack bike squadrons without standard bikers.
Black Templar bikers cost seven more points per bikers than their later-Codex counterparts, but can take three special weapons (a BT  biker with a plasma gun is two points less espensive than a SM/BA plasma biker). Unfortunately, a  BT attack bike is fifteen more points than one from the SM or BA codexes.

So, in closing - is the high mobility and I10 attack of the bike better than the immunity to the new power weapons, the always-on 5+ invulnerable save and S8 I1 close-combat attacks of the Terminator at 2/3 of the price? Perhaps not for the Blood Angels, but for players using the Space Marine codex - why not take both?

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7 comments:

TheRhino said...

Nice little rundown.
One minor correction: Swiftclaw Bikers with attached Wolf Priest will reroll only their ones to hit and wound due to the changes to Preferred Enemy.

I have run a Codex Marine bike list for a couple years now, and 6th was definitely a boost to my army.
The Hammer of Wrath hits at I10 and base S are great, though they by no means make the Bike Squad into a melee threat (they sure weren't in 5th).
The change to hitting vehicles in melee is huge for bikes, as you can now move 12" and assault a vehicle with krak grenades (and the sergeant's meltabomb, if you bought one) with a reasonable chance of actually harming it. 3+ to hit a vehicle that moved is golden for bikers (less golden for the victim vehicles).
The hard modifier to Toughness is also a huge boost to ICs on bikes. The new hotness for Captain loadouts is now powerfist, artificer armor, and a storm shield. Challenge Beatstick. You'll start seeing non-biker armies led by this guy.
The mass of twinned bolters on bikes will also threaten flying monsters. All you need for that Grounded test is a single hit, so why not fire at that FMC with your twin-linked peashooters if you don't have any more pressing targets.
Bikes also have the mobility to stymie flyers, due to the flyers' poor turn radius and mandatory movement ranges.

Sapo said...

I've being tooling around a Bike/Terminator List.

At 1750 something like this

Captain, Bike, LC, AA
2x8 Bikes, 2xMelta, Sarge with PW&MB (or Combi-Melta&MB) + AB MM
4 Bikes, 2xPlasma + AB MM
5 Sniper Scouts
5x TH/SS Terminators
LR Crusader, MM
2x Rifle Dread.

Rifle Dreads are kind "ou of the theme"...but you'll need the Firepower for Hull Points"Pop Corn" removing style :)

Cooper Z said...

You forgot to mention Ravenwing Bikes.

Sam Evans said...

Indeed raven-wing are the king of bikes, you could take them as allies or just use the cool models. Also a sang priest on a bike would kick ass

DK said...

Yeah. I think you are overlooking the importance of FnP for bikes. Getting a %= AFTER all you saves against everything but S10, is HUGE! Also, Terminators with FnP are Amazing.

Logan Rodriguez said...

Don't forget the Chaos Bikes with IoN T6 goodness.

Chad said...

I also like to run a Sanguinary Priest on bike with my Bike squads, only 10 more points for someone that can only be instant deathed by Strength 10. They help make the bikes more survivable now that feel no pain works against everything but instant death and it's hard to cause instant death to a BA Biker. Also if you run jump packs they can work with your Bikers and get the Priest buff.

Something I'd like to see an article on is using two or more units intermingled to get cover, have two units to overwatch with, and deny any bonus attacks when charged thanks to the Disordered Charge rule on page 27. I've been running through some combos and with character units, Look out Sir!, and other rules it can make some weaker units far far better.

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