Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why I love Attack Bikes

Well, after getting an overwhelmingly huge response from my readers on the various battle reports I wrote, I figured I'd write a tactica (of sorts) on Attack Bikes and why they rock.

Attack bikes have been a staple of mine in every marine force I've ever played (namely, Blood Angels and Salamanders).  The only 'real' variant of them that actually does anything is the Multi-Melta attack bike, so I'll be focusing on them today, and not the 'lesser' Heavy Bolter bike that doesn't do anything but cost a lot for what it does.

I'll first give a few general reasons they're good, then go over a few specific uses I've discovered over the years of using them.

Reason #1:  They're hard to kill

Attack bikes, if played correctly, can be hell for an opposing player to kill.  The T5 ensure that bolter fire isn't a 'sure thing' to kill them, and if they've turbo-boosted, a stray las-cannon isn't going to dependably kill one either.  In fact, if someone is shooting random las-cannons at them, it's awesome, since your other transports AREN'T getting shot.  A turbo-boosting squad of 3 is REALLY tough to bring down, and if someone leaves them alive, they'll dependably kill a tank every turn.  Also note that because they're a Toughness model, they can't be 'stunned' out of shooting next turn.  If they're still alive, they can shoot.

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.

Reason #3:  They're multi-purpose

Melta attack bikes can be used for a TON of different things.  If your enemy doesn't have a single tank in his army, you can still use them to take down monsterous creatures.  If not that, they can be used to help with anti-infantry (to a lesser extent).  Lots of good things they can do, which I'll go into soon.

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.  Here's a specific use for the bikes though:  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 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 (that auto-hits) that will more than likely immobilize or wreck him.  That forces him to either move around them, back up, disembark, and assault with termies, or just stand still and pop smoke.  Either way, that's exposing the termies (or whatever he has in there) to your fire, 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.

Specific Use #2:  Tying Squads Up

As we've already discussed, bikes are hard to kill.  Here's a great way to use that though:  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 combat squad of marines will take a LONG time to kill your T5 bike.  In fact, you might end up winning the combat.  Vs. Necrons, who depend on their destroyers/heavy destroyers, keeping a squad tied for a couple turns up can really win you the game (and there's no mistaking- a necron player today is either going to be very new, or very skilled, usually the second).  Charging a broadside battlesuit team of Tau will also reap rewards- not that you'll kill ANY of them, but that you won't have railguns in your face everywhere.  The list goes on:  Imperial Guard heavy weapons teams, any other imperial guard squad for that matter, ANY marine squad lacking a powerfist, 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, and the list goes on.

As a general rule of thumb, remember that if you destroy a vehicle and the squad inside has good shooting, you should almost 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.

Specific Use #3:  Contesting Objectives

Well, this 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 (almost always a shooty squad) tied up, and potentially prevents a more CC-oriented squad from getting into combat with you the next turn if the game continues.

Specific Use #4:  Infantry blockers

This use is also 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.  What you do is turbo your squad up to 1" away from the ork flank, 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 use it AT ALL.  The BEST amount of movement that entire flank gets that turn is 7", as opposed to a GUARANTEED 7", with a potential 12".  Plus, you probably killed like 12 points of orks with your attacks :P  Also note that if your bikes DO survive, that keeps their whole flank busy for a WAY longer 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 goes:  you 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 inbetween the enemy and their (more ideal) target, making it impossible for them to charge that squad (since they have to move around your lumbering 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.  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 that squad off the board in one turn, this isn't a good manouver, as you'll have sacrificed two squads, and not even removed one of their own.  This manouver helps you to get the 'favorable' counter-charge, which in my opinion is how the game is won if you have a combat army.  Initial charges are alright, but counter-charge is where the money is.  More on that in a later article.

Actual Use #6:  Screening your rhinos

This isn't the absolutely best way to use them, since your bikes should 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 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.

Actual Use #7:  They're SO 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:

I like melta bikes in all sizes of squad, but I think that the larger (3 man squads) are a little better.  They're harder to kill overall, can have a larger threat radius, can block off more things successfully, and hit harder in combat.  A single bike is pretty awesome, but it's also an EASY kill point for your opponent.  3 bikes will make them think twice before they shoot it, but one bike is easily(ish) removed.  Just something to keep in mind.  Still, a single attack bike will never have to take a morale check for suffering casualties...

What do you people think?  What are some uses for attack bikes I haven't thought of?  What are your overall thoughts on them?  I'm happy to hear whatever you have to say :-)


shirowfan said...

Really the only thing missing in this review is a comparison of attack bikes to land speeders.

Both units can fill very similar roles in the army list.

Land Speeder Advantages:
- They deep strike. This allows them to ignore their questionable durability to deliver multi melta shots on high priority targets.

- The land speeder also ignores terrain in movement which allows them to use cover that blocks LOS with more flexibility.

- Volume of melta fire over bike squads with melta upgrades. Two land speeders with multi meltas and heavy flamers equals a bike squad with attack bike and multi melta upgrade.

Attack Bike Advantages:
- Volume of melta fire if you take only single attack bike. This volume of fire will be harder to deliver in comparison to deep striking speeders.

- As you mentioned the ability to tie up units in cc and possibly even beat weak objective holders in cc.

- Death or glory movement blocking all though I think this is difficult to execute in practice.

Xaereth said...

Hey, good points, well said :)... speeders are also pretty cool and I sport 4 of them in my 1850 Salamanders army (and 6 in my 2000). I actually intended to talk about the versatility of speeders in one of my next posts, and their viable (yet different) role in an army list. It's just sad you can't have a list with predominately speeders AND attack bikes :P

As a sidenote, thanks for posting, how did you come to find this blog, if I might ask? I haven't really 'heavily advertised' for it as of yet. Not that I'm sad you're reading, just slightly surprising someone found it, heh!

Jason said...

I've actually debated changing my list that you know all so well adam to add some of them. My new list will be as follows


5 terminators with th/ss

ironclad with melta, heavy flamer,
2 hunter killer in pod

Dreadnought with multi-melta and heavy flamer in pod

2x tactical squad, rhino w extra armor, multi-melta, melta, power fist, combi-melta

2x 3 attack bikes with meltas

land raider with multi melta extra armor

Its similar to what you have seen in the past, cept drop the librarian, whirlwind, speeder and devs, for the ironclad and the 6 attack bikes.

The ironclad will hit with more precision that the speeder drop poding in, and has a higher chance of survival with the 13 armor.

The bikes will end up killing more high end point models/armor than the whirlwind and devs could ever do.

and the librarian is such a point suck it seems. Tired of him failing me! although he still has your tigerious to his name! =)

Just an idea, but a possible outcome for my army. =)

The_King_Elessar said...

Great article. :)

Michael said...

Very good article. Lots of ideas that people tend to leave out when talking about bikes.

I love to use them too, for all the reasons you say, especially the fun to play part. That's the point of it in the end right?