The new Space Marine codex is the best platform to build a biker army since the ancient Chapter Approved Adeptus Astartes article for White Scars that was released in White Dwarf over a decade ago. White Scars are the best designed Chapter along with Ultramarines and have the perfect combination of combat tactics for a bike army:
- Hit and Run
- +1S Hammer of Wrath
- Skilled Rider
- +1 Jink
These are a lot of universal special rules (USRs) and they all perfectly mesh together.
NOTE - Any unit that scout moves cannot charge the first game turn.
Khan and BikexanderKhan is the perfect choice as the Warlord since he allows you to scout your entire detachment of bikes. At first I was not very impressed with Khan other than this special rule but having played the army a lot I can now say if properly utilized he can be quite deadly... For example Khan can insta gib a Riptide or Wraithknight on the charge since he had Furious Charge and any roll of 6 to wound inflicts Instant Death in melee—casting Prescience on his unit really helps a lot in this regard.
Bikexander (i.e., Chapter Master - bike - artificer armor - thunderhammer) works best with this army. Bikexander is one of the ultimate tanks with T5, four wounds and 2+/3++. Many games I don't even use his Orbital Strike as I feel if you over commit to this shooting attack it can take you out of your game plan—it's best used during the first turn to snipe a hard to reach enemy unit—again casting Prescience or Perfect Timing helps a lot to maximize its effectiveness. If you place the pie plate over multiple enemy units then only the primary target can jink which is fantastic for sniping two Wave Serpents with one shot.
The Command SquadThe command squad is the heart of BikeStar. It can soak an insane amount of damage and dish it right back out. I run mine as follows:
Bikes - 4x Stormshield - 4x Grav Gun - 3x Meltabombs - Thunderhsmmer
Attach all your characters to this unit. This makes the unit that much more survivable. Late game you can split off characters to grab multiple objectives aka Voltron as need be.
Grav WeaponsBikes are the perfect platform since they are relentless. I much prefer the mobility of the bike versus Devastator Centurions. If you're up against a horde with their tee shirt saves then switch over to the twin linked bolters—you'll have as much fire power as the Centurions' hurricane bolters plus better overall range. Bikes are T5 as well plus White Scars have the 3+ jink save.
MeltabombsEvery squad that has access should take them as the meltabomb is your ace in the hole versus vehicles and super heavies such as the Imperial Knight. All my sergeants have them as well as any character that has access.
Combined Arms DetachmentThere are two schools of thought:
- Many Small Units (MSU)
- Concentrated Units (CU)
MSUField a large number of five man biker squads with two grav guns and a combi-grav per unit. You can also go extreme and field three man biker squads all with with two grav guns and a combi-grav to totally max out your grav weapons. I never delved much into this style of play as I prefer concentrated units. Based upon my experience I have found your army doesn't need the maximum number of grav weapons to be the most effective.
CUI have played many games to flesh out what I consider to be an optimized parent list and I prefer a smaller number of large squads with attack bikes. The attack bike provides the multi-melta which is better suited than gravitron weapons to destroy enemy armor. This is important since armor is making a big comeback now. What I've found is that a couple of large bike squads with attack bikes can soak more damage and will last longer.
I don't mean to say CU is superior to MSU - this is what works the best for me based upon my experience.