I've been revisiting the first army list I made for Nova back in February which focused on two of my favorite units from the space marine codex: bikes and dreadnoughts. I played a couple practice games with a variation of this list, but in all fairness, those were my first games getting back into 40k after a couple years off. The original list needed work for sure, but I probably lost these first games due to being rusty with rules and tactics. By the time I had found my bearings again, I had already moved away from the Master of the Forge and all those dreadnoughts.
The MotF on bike is still one of my favorite conversions and I'm determined to make him work. I've been working on incorporating a few other new units into my lists as well (Thunderfire Cannon, Assault Terminators, Land Raider Crusader) and thought I would try putting it all together into one list. Here's what I came up with:
Captain - Bike, Lightning Claw
Master of the Forge - Bike, Conversion Beamer
8x Bikes + Attack Bike - 2x meltaguns, Multi-melta, Powerfist
8x Bikes + Attack Bike - 2x meltaguns, Multi-melta, Powerfist
The biggest weakness off the bat is the low # of Troops choices. Of course I have the option of combat squadding the bikes and making 4 troop squads, but only if the mission calls for it as the full sized squads are much more durable. I can definitely see myself splitting one of the squads with the meltas and power first sgt. going off to do what they do best with the other half of standard bikes riding around with the MotF way in the back so he doesn't get insta-sniped and can get maximum range with his beamer.
The rifleman dreads open up some transports while the thunderfire, plasma cannon, and conversion beamer drop blast templates on anything that pours out and is bunched up. The LRC carrying the terminators and the IC dread deploy aggressively in hopes to draw fire away from the bikes and also keep people honest who want to charge in all up on my grill. I'm really liking this list. Not only do I think it will be fun to command, it's got a lot of decent ranged shooting, some scary counter charge / close combat units, really tough basic troops, and a spattering of heavily armored targets that will hopefully create priority issues for my opponents. Aside from the thunderfire, the rest of the army can be quite mobile.
I still have some assembly and painting left to be done before I can field this particular list, but this is something I'd like to try when I get back to playing games after the baby comes.
In the final round at Blob's I was matched up against a really friendly and laid back player named Kevin who was playing Chaos Space Marines. His army had some scary stuff in it, such as Abbadon, Kharn, 3 squads of Plague Marines, a squad of Berserkers, Lesser Daemons, 4 Obliterators and a Land Raider Crusader. I used to play against Plague Marine heavy lists a lot back in 4th and early 5th edition, and it was from those matches that my desire for a bike heavy list was born. Toughness 5 Feel No Pain was and still is a force to be reckoned with on the tabletop. I was finally able to tap into those 2 elements when I built my bike army; T5 from the bike platform and FnP from the Apothecary in the command squad. With an abundance of plasma and melta strewn throughout my squads, I thought I would be in good shape against this list. For the most part I was, but my squads had a hard time holding out until the end of the game.
I unfortunately only snapped 2 pictures during this game as it was getting dark and we were all pretty tired at this point. But here's the big stuff I remember happening during this match. For the first time ever, I actually rolled a 6 to seize the initiative. I was then able to blow up a couple rhinos early on which seriously hampered my opponents' mobility. The primary objective this round was table quarters, and at this point in the game I had him confined to one quarter. On turn 2, all of my reserves came in and I proceeded to surround the chaos and close in for the kill.
I think that was where I went wrong, getting too close and charging in without enough numbers or power fists to bail my smaller bike squads out. I should have stayed a healthy distance away and continued to whittle him down with shooting, but whatever, it was the last game and we were both just trying to have fun. Abbadon, Kharn, and the Oblits squared up against Khan, the Chaplain and my Command squad. When the smoke cleared a couple rounds later, I had moonfanged Kharn and dealt 3 wounds to Abbadon (my rifleman took his remaining wound) but my command was wiped out in the process. As were most of my small bike squads. I didn't have enough to claim more than 1 table quarter by the end of the game. Nonetheless, it was a very enjoyable game and I learned from it.
The whole tournament was a really great experience, despite getting my ass kicked lol, but hey it was another 4 games against 4 top notch opponents. Between Nova, Blob's, and all the practice games in between I think I'm finally starting to grasp the big do's and don'ts of a biker list. It's a type of list that clearly takes practice to make it work and is definitely not a point & click army. It offers a lot of flexibility and certainly mobility, but with that comes added complexity that requires more sound tactics and is less forgiving when you make mistakes (any low model count army is like that). But one thing's for sure, it's a hell of a fun army to play and it makes for interesting games. I've enjoyed all my games played with the bikes, and while I intend to try some more hybrid lists in the future, I'll have a hard time not choosing the bikes to be my basic troops.
Congrats to Dameon and Eric (both from the White Scars blog) for representing the white scars/biker list concept so well! Dameon finished on top at Blob's and Eric finished #3 at the recent Battle for Salvation tournament. Clearly, I need to be taking more advice from them when it comes to bikes ;)
Round 3 was against my friend Alex and his awesome looking Crimson Fists army. Check out some of these close ups from his army:
I think the primary mission was objectives and deployment was dawn of war. I had played against Alex's list before and lost pretty badly, haha. He's got 3 Drop pod's, 2 of which are filled with full-sized Sternguard (one led by Pedro and the other a Librarian) with the 3rd carrying a Dreadnought w/ Multi-melta and Heavy Flamer. It's a great combo since 2 of the 3 are guaranteed to come in on his first turn and he can select the best 2 of the 3 units that are most effective for that particular mission/opponent. Against a drop list, there really aren't any "safe" places on the board, and I remember last game my expensive command squad that was hiding behind ruins got shot to pieces when all those Sternguard dropped right next to them turn 1. My list was a little different this time, and using Khan's Outflank I made sure to keep a good portion of my army off the board until these units dropped.
Of course there are risks involved with both of these approaches, namely reserve rolls and scatter dice. My army could come in too late or on the wrong side of the board and drop pods (deep strikes) are at the mercy of the almighty scatter dice. This game saw fit to be a reminder of these lessons. In perhaps the most unlucky roll I've seen in a long time, Alex's most expensive unit (10 Sternguard led by Pedro Cantor) scattered off the board...
Ouch! Alex is a great guy and took the whole thing in stride; he laughed it off and didn't let it get him down! Unfortunate rolls can happen, that's the nature of any game that uses dice. Alex didn't lose focus, pushed on with his remaining units and still managed to pull out the victory ;)
The majority of my squads came on the already crowded side of the board.
I think the name of the game with bikes, especially the smaller min-sized squads, is avoidance and trying to keep them alive till the end to grab objectives on the last turn. At least that's what I was hoping would happen. But they came in on the side where they couldn't avoid Alex's guns, and turbo boost was out of the question as it would have left them vulnerable to assault from Alex's midfield units.
5-man bike squads have their uses but lasting in the open isn't one of them. They would have had a better chance if they were full-sized and also if the sergeant were packing a power fist. I haven't really tried PF's on my bike squads because ideally they shouldn't be in close combat (and also I don't have the bits to equip all my sgts. with one). But there are certainly times in a game where having these in my squads would make my entire army more flexible and actually give my bikes a chance in assualt. It's something I want to try out in future games. I've learned that bike squads aren't units to be short-changed; it's either go big or go home.
I'm also not sold on Outflanking. I intended on using this tactic to protect my smaller bike squads against gun line armies, but it's just too random to build a strategy around. I still really like Khan, but mostly for his furious charge and hit & run abilities (man, the Dark Eldar are going to be fun!).
By the end of this game, my 3 remaining troop bikes claimed the last available objective on the other side of the board. Then the only thing left to do was contest the other objectives with my command squad and last vindicator. We were drawn on the primary objective, each with 1 and 2 others that were contested, but Alex had me beat by a couple hundred victory points. Good game, Alex!
I'll leave you with some shots of Alex's death watch squad. Enjoy!
There's a couple different meanings for the title of this post. One is that my first child is now only a couple weeks away from his due date, and I have a feeling he may be arriving before then :)
The second is that I've got some more Dark Eldar on the way, enough to bring that army up to 1500 pts or so once I get it all built. I've also got a Land Raider Crusader in the mail; thanks for all the comments on that by the way. I definitely feel the Crusader is the right variant for my particular army and I'm looking forward to trying it out.
I still have the last 2 rounds from Blob's to write up, but things have been pretty busy around here getting everything ready for the baby. It's been really good though. Finally have the place organized and part of that was going through all my 40k/hobby stuff. I've consolidated everything onto 2 shelves and 2 big storage containers which should make it easier to find the bits I'm looking for. It feels good to de-clutter!
I should be back to hobby stuff soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share these last few photos I took from Blob's the other weekend (that were not from my last 2 games). This is a spectacularly painted Imperial Fists army that caught my attention during the second round, and I was very happy to get some close ups of it! Check it out:
Round 2 was against Orks. Some really awesome looking Orks at that; check out that scratch built Battle wagon!
Full Disclosure: as the day went on I drank more (obviously) and therefore the details from each game start to get a little fuzzy :) Unless I can piece things back together from the pictures, my plan is to mention the big stuff and less of a turn by turn. You probably only want to see the pretty pictures anyway, so here we go.
I definitely could have done a lot of things differently in this round. The objective was kill points and spearhead deployment. I won the roll off but decided to go second -- probably should have taken first to try and push back the Ork deployment from the rest of my army. I don't have much experience playing against Orks, especially 3 battlewagons. But the first big surprise in this match came from two Deffkopta's and their buzzsaws. These guys scouted up 12" away, then first turn charged my Vindicators, exploding one and knocking the gun off the other. Ouch. I either should have screened my vehicles better or set up as far back on my edge as possible.
I've been holding off on making a Land Raider purchase because I wasn't sure which variant to get. Initially, the Redeemer seemed like a pretty good deal since it was 10 pts cheaper than the others and had those sweet AP3 flame cannons. But I guess it ultimately comes down to how you intend on using it.
I see myself fielding one primarily to transport assault terminators, and if I'm already going to splurge on a unit like this, I might as well go all out and take as big a squad as I can fit. The redeemer and original LR models can only transport 12 (or 6 terminators), while the crusader can carry 16 (or 8 terminators). This alone doesn't seem like a huge difference, but the extra capacity of the crusader is nice.
I can see myself including the extra multi-melta since it's only 10 pts. Which brings us to the next big difference amongst the 3 types; Power of the Machine Spirit. All 3 get PotMS, but when you think about it, only 1 version is getting to use that to its full potential when moving at combat speed. The crusader variant is the only one that can move 6" and fire all it's main guns then use PotMS to fire that extra MM, which could be used on a completely different target if need be. The hurricane bolters are a low enough strength to count as defensive weapons, so they can fire normally up to combat speeds without needing to use the special power on the sponson guns. That plus the extra transport capacity seals the deal for me. I think this will be my next (and potentially last) model for my marines, at least for a while. I've located the parts for the 8 assault terminators that will be riding inside, and will try to knock those out next. After that, it's back to Dark Eldar (which I'm still working on paint schemes for).