The army list is pretty straightforward to most wargamers, a strong well balanced list is more advantageous than one cobbled together out of units that ‘I had lying around’.
With scout armies you are potentially shooting yourself in the foot as your denying yourself the use of the majority of the codex and its special units in order to accommodate the theme. This doesn’t mean however that scout armies are inherently weak, certain armies are tailor made for scouts to play, tau, khorne daemons and necrons are three examples that have shown in my own games to fall before scout armies pretty well, however the real aim is to find an all rounder force that can take on marine armies aswell as hordes with equal success.
I don’t want to cover old ground, but there are several important notes to remember whilst putting together your army.
1: HQ choice: as noted in my article on the subject, finding a suitable HQ choice is one of the hardest things to accomplish with an all scout army. Ive always defined space marine HQs as belonging to one of two groups:
Standalone heroes: which includes SCs such as Lysander and Calgar, or standard HQ choices that offer little benefit to the unit they accompany. Usually like the SC examples above, standalone heroes are close combat monsters capable of weathering a lot of attention and giving a lot back also.
Force multipliers: These are HQ choices that compliment their attached unit and add bonuses, the cheapest and best example is a standard space marine chaplain who adds fearless to his unit and lets them re-roll missed hits on the turn they charge. Generally all HQ choices are handy in a fight too, but a force multiplier is worth far more for the benefits they grant than their own abilities. More examples would be librarians and many of the SC choices such as Vulkan for his melta/flamer re-rolls and Kantor for his extra attacks and scoring sternguard.
With scout forces I have always looked to the special characters for a suitable HQ choice, and this is simply due to the lack of special rules with standard choices.
A good example would be Sicarius who can grant ‘scout USR’ onto a tactical squad for the duration of the game, or Tigarius who can re-roll reserves rolls. Despite both these choices being effective, neither ive found really works well with a scout themed army. Sicarius requires you take tactical marines, whilst Tigarius is overly priced and offers no real bonuses other than a few re-rolls.
In my own games and playtesting, ive found only two SCs that make for good HQ choices for scouts in terms of the metagame.
Shrike: Grants infiltrate to himself and any attached unit, aswell as gives fleet to all units with combat tactics. This essentially means all scout units can now pull off alpha strikes (first turn charges). His infiltrate skill means players can choose to add a non-scout unit to their army whilst keeping the theme relatively intact, of course without the scout rule jump packs are needed to retain the ability for alpha strikes. His main weakness comes when you don’t win first turn but fleet on all scout units is a big bonus to pass up.
Khan: By far my favourite character ever created for space marine armies, he offers a lot of different bonuses and can even be upgraded with a bike which makes him more flexible in his usage than many of the other choices. His ability to grant outflank is lost on a scout army as the whole army already has that ability, however he can outflank himself and any attached unit and/or ICs which is a tactic that has worked very well for me in recent games.
On bike his reach is greater, but his force multiplier abilities are lessened as scout bikers are less effective than ccw scouts in close combat. Sure their T5 keeps them in the game longer, but their lack of attacks and expense is a huge negative. Ccw scouts despite having a 4+sv with T4 are an amazing unit to accompany Khan on foot, his furious charge means they hit at S5 and I5, which against most armies means they hit first and hit much harder than their opponents. In my own games I add in a chaplain which in essence multiplies a force multiplier, something which every metagamer should aspire to do.
Khan also offers hit and run which is unique considering it is listed as being lost by a unit joining an IC with this ability, basically it allows you to move out of combat in your opponents turn and charge back in on your own in order to get your charge bonuses, which in the case of the unit described above is +1 S/I/A and re-rolled failed hit rolls. It also means that you can afford to take a charge aslong as casualties can be minimised. On top of all this Khan has an insta-kill ability which has taken the heads of many of my worthy opponents HQ choices.
In terms of the metagame, there is no finer choice for a scout HQ than Khan on foot and hes only 160 points to boot.
2: Fast attack: I have long advocated filling out fast attack choices before going onto troops choices, this hasn’t changed in all the time ive played these lists.
The two choices are land speeder storms and scout bikes. All scout bike lists are viable and allows you to run Khan out on his bike but the actual fiscal cost of scout bikes is prohibitive (a unit of ten can buy you 3 land speeder storms). I have always preferred to run with a single unit of scout bikes and two LSS.
Since the FA choices require the best use of tactics, we have to make certain tactical decisions at this point before deciding wargear etc, wealso have to factor in the 5 man squads attached to the LSS. In my own list for example I run one LSS to tackle armour and one to tackle infantry and/or take objectives.
Since Scouts lack serious anti-tank abilities we have to get the most from what we have (metagaming), take the following for example which comes from my own list:
LSS with multi-melta
5 scouts with shotguns, sergeant with combi-melta and meltabombs
Usually I target land raiders or similar high AV targets such as preds/vindies/ork war wagons etc. the single MM shot from the LSS is a 50/50 shot at BS3, however the sergeants combi-melta is a great redundancy and as a back up the meltabombs can be used in close combat. Redundancy means your increasing the units effectiveness and my own 190 point ish unit has rarely failed to complete its task in my games.
Everything has to be considered in order to get the absolute best from your squads, in this case im using shotguns on the scouts, which means they can shoot and charge. The massed shotgun shots are S4 and therefore capable of stunning AV10 rear armour, if you can immobilise a moving vehicle with stunned results then you get auto-hits when you charge in with meltabombs and grenades.
Ill come back to this unit a little later on.
3: Troops: if your not filling out your troops choices your denying yourself your greatest strength, which is numbers. More boots on the ground generally equates to more dice being rolled which in turn means more saves your enemy has to make. Its really quite simple when you consider it that way.
The one thing I do advise considering, concerns the units for the LSS. If you combat squad a larger ten man squad in order to maximise numbers you remove the Storms ability to outflank with the squad inside.
Most of the information regarding wargear and usage for scout squads can be found in my article the ‘tenth company tactica’ however one important point id like to add concerns bolter scouts.
Most people, and I include myself in this have been quick to dismiss this unit as compared to tac marines they just aren’t as good value. Lower BS/WS, armour save and lack of transports and special weapons are usually the arguments of choice. However it needs to be made clear that you don’t use scouts as you would other marine armies, and this is where many people fall down with scouts.
You are taking them for their ability to infiltrate, outflank and deploy last regardless of who gets first turn, what you lack in certain areas is made up by being more tactically savvy. Which leads on quite nicely to the next section.
Aswell as 40k I also play many other wargames from WAB, to great war and beyond. Many of my fellow wargamers often remark how difficult it is to use ‘normal’ tactics at 28mm scale on such a small board. And to a degree they are correct, from turn 2 onwards most units are in range with their most basic weapons, in the case of scouts and space marines its 24” range. Its also very difficult to outmaneuver your opponent in the early stages of the game, due to bikes/cavalry/jump troops and vehicles/transports all having a great reach and all commonly being used.
However that being said 40k is very unique and has many other tactics that can be employed. Usually experience is the key for winning games, not only must you know what your own units are capable of but knowing the enemy is just as important. All wargaming is in effect a complex game of rock/scissors and paper. Everything has a strength and a weakness the idea is to make best use of this.
There are some great tactical articles out there from silent requiems way of the water warrior and Brother tuals reaction and control tactica to captain Idaho and his great work on using uber units. All are fantastic articles and deserving of a read, however scout armies are unique in the tactical department.
With most 'balanced' scout forces (ignoring all bike lists) the army can generally be divided into two distinct groups, the hammer and the anvil.
Hammer: These are the fast moving elements of your army, whos playstyle is very agressive. Usually these units operate as outflankers or for alpha strikes. units such as:
close combat scouts.
LSS teams and
Anvil: are the complete opposite of the hammer units, these are slow moving units that play more defensively:
Alpha Strikes: Scout armies are very deadly with the first turn, apart from land speeder storms the whole army sets up after your opponent which means you can react to thier deployment to maximise the damage you can inflict with first turn charges.
Generally all AV14 and dangerous vehicles are a priority for your dedicated squads as with the first turn they are considered stationary and all close combat hits with grenades and meltabombs are automatic. Predators and vindicators have rear armour 10 so close combat is a far more effective way of bringing them down.
to get the most from your alpha strikes requires alot of knowledge and experience with the 'rock/scissors and paper' aspect of the game, you want to hit hard on the first turn and then draw attention so that your anvil units can continue to fire for most of the game unmolested.
Units such as devestators and non-assault marines such as tactical squads and enemy scout squads that have very few return attacks also make good targets.
Reaction playstyles: Scouts dont perform as well when they react, its always best to take the fight to the enemy than to let them come to you, however if you lose the first turn dice off then you have little choice but to outflank those units that would otherwise be involved with alpha strikes.
Your anvil units can be placed in cover and the use of cloaks and/or bolstered ruins can keep them safe from enemy shooting, on turns two or three some of your units will be coming on and you can effectively trap the enemy between the hammer and anvil.
this style is not without risks as it requires a little luck with the reserves rolls and it can leave you a little stuck with target priority as you have less units on the board.
Refused flanks: best used with the reaction playstyle, you can potentially ignore a portion of the enemy army as you will always deploy last, this can also bring risks as outflankers hava 1 in 3 chance of coming in on the wrong flank. something which has happened to me on previous occasions.
Offensive: Some armies such as Tau or certain IG and even space marine builds can set up as gunline armies, which means they will have the ability to outshoot your units. In these cirumstances it can often be beneficial to support your alpha strike units with the elements of your anvil. Basically by realising that close combat is the best way to pull a victory you infiltrate ALL units to within rapid fire range on first turn, this combined with pinpoint alpha strikes should make a dent, but it also only leaves your opponent a single turn of shooting before he has to face a charge from every unit in your army.
Defensive: Against hordes you want to keep a big gap between your units and your opponents. Scouts ability to set up last is one of thier best strengths and never moreso when facing hordes, refusing a flank means some enemy units will take an extra turn or two to reach you which may be just the help you need, its also not a great idea to alpha strike or outflank as your units can quite easily be outnumbered and overwhelmed by your opponent. Instead treat you Hammer units as firebases or reactionary units in your 'gunline'. Scout bikes and LSS have the range and movement to work as part of a gunline and can also get the charge if necessary.
Of course scouts have another strength which most space marine players dont think of, and thats thier expendability, by placing speed bump units you can ensure more turns of shooting for little loss (5 scouts is 75 points)
I have discussed a few of the main scout tactics, but to really do well you need a firm grasp on basic wargames tactics.
Tips that work for all armies and knowing how to prioritise targets are important, often players will forget thier own rules or miss shooting or assaulting with a unit in the excitement. Keeping a level head is of great importance, i myself often forget to force pinning checks, to the point where i now have a checklist of things to remember. Of course considering the number of special rules scouts can have its probably a good idea to note them down before the game starts, it doesnt hurt to stop and have a good look around the table before going onto the next part of your turn or before handing over to your opponent for his.
There are specific examples of basic tactics i could cover, things like redundancy and giving yourself extra options incase you get a little luck.
If i had two units of snipers and an assault unit all facing down a tactical squad, i would move the assault squad into charge range, but also within charge range of another unit, that way if the snipers got lucky and killed or pinned the squad the assault scouts could charge thier secondary targets.
This also works for shooting, the LSS team i mentioned earlier carries a triple redundancy of MM on the LSS, combi-melta on the sergeant and meltabombs. If you were to fire the sergeants weapon first and get a little lucky the LSS could fire its longer range multi-melta at another vehicle which could potentially double that units effectiveness that turn.
Target priority: There is no easy way i can think of to describe this in detail, its something that comes with experience of the game, it can also rely on a little luck if you dont have a redundancy plan. Units that provide greater threats become a higher priority for shooting, it can often be necessary to leave reduced enemy squads on the board in order to target more prominent threats.
As an example I once allowed my opponent to charge a unit of my snipers with a lone TH/SS terminator so that i could kill some more dangerous thunderwolf cavalry with my shooting. It was a calculated risk as i was hoping my ten attacks at I4 would kill him before he struck, i did kill him in the second round of combat which meant i did lose a couple of scouts, but they were available to fire again in my next turn so the gamble paid off.
Most people see luck as an uncontrollable factor, often I see guys trying to mathhammer possibilities and whatnot but ultimately once you start rolling those dice you just have to cross your fingers and hope the bad luck troll isn’t standing to close. Those of you who have been playing for some time will know that there are occasions when terminators will roll a 1 for every save they are forced to make, there will be occasions where two grots will kill a space marine captain in close combat and a lucky multi-melta shot will bring down a monolith. Despite these things being very unlikely and mathhammer telling us as much, they do happen and only a fool ignores this fact.
In order to balance my terrible dice rolling ive tried to concentrate on removing luck as a factor in 40k, and you do this by removing dice rolls all together, or to a lesser extent making the ‘odds’ more favourable.
Auto hits: Ive discussed in depth the ease at which alpha strike scouts can take out vehicles, and thats becuase stationary vehicles offer automatic hits in close combat, no dice rolling required. Infact by equipping my dedicated anti tank scouts with meltabombs taking down AV10 rear armour vehicles like predators, vindicators, whirwinds and rhinos is almost gauranteed since you get auto hits and the meltabombs get S8 + 2D6 pen which means unless you roll snake eyes its a pen hit (even snake eyes is a glance).
You just hope you get a little luck with the damage table roll.
Template weapons: Dont need to roll to hit, flamer templates go one step further and remove any deviation caused by bad dice rolls.
By picking your targets carefully you can almost remove the need for rolling dice at all and just skip to removing enemy models. for example shooting tau firewarriors with a heavy flamer:
Automatic hits on all covered or partiually covered by template, wounds on a 2+ (very good odds) and no save due to the AP value of the heavy flamer.
So a process that normally needs three dice rolls, is dealt with by one dice roll needing a 2+
AP values: Right weapon for the right job, on occasion at close range id choose to shoot bolt pistols from my scouts instead of thier sniper rifles, against orks or IG the better AP of the pistol means they wont get a save. It also has the advantage of allowing the unit to assault, but more importantly the AP removes a dice roll and doesnt allow for your opponent to get lucky.
Ive covered in depth the three main aspects of winning games:
Both tactics and reducing the need for luck must be factored into your army list in order to improve your odds of winning.
Talioring lists: I have written many articles about how to take on particular armies, simple things like using more anti-tank for marine armies and more bolters and template weapons against hordes. Whilst this is a form of metagaming its generally only helpful in friendly environments when you know in advance who your opponent will be. I suppose if your carry case was large enough you could have a list for each opponent when you visit gaming stores but realistically we need to find that ever elusive 'all rounder list' in order to take on every opponent with some degree of success.
Close combat and anti-tank: Many of those involved in discussions about scout themed armies will know there exists two main issues preventing them from being a truelly competative force.
First is lack of serious close combat ability, whilst ccw scouts are excellent value they are no better than a basic space marine assault squad, neither of which really falls into the category of dedicated assault squads such as assault terminators, vanguard or a command squad
Since HQ choices are usually better set up for close combat, its always the best place to look to beef up this area of the scout force. If you take my advice from above a Khan or possibly shrike can really make a difference in assault and they both work really well with the scout tactics.
It is almost tempting to run them both in one army, of course it would work best with khan on bike, but if you got first turn you could attach the two Ics and use Shrikes combat tactics, if not you could outflank them using Khans abilities.
Generally though as mentioned above i use Khan and a chappy, but at 1750 points or more i also take a command squad. This fits known fluff as every captain has a command squad (10th has no banner though) and it enables you to take another squad that doesnt affect the FOC.
With some amount of close combat prowess available its time to look at the second flaw to scout armies, which is the lack of anti tank.
Despite having a touch of truth this is probably the biggest misconception about scouts.
Despite not wanting to make comparisons to tactical marines its good to know scouts are the only troops choice that can take heavy weapons with only 5 strong squads, yes scouts are only BS3 but Telion can use VOE to grant his BS6 to a heavy weapon scout. Its my opinion that he should always be run with a ML to ensure hits on those troublesome tanks and dreadnoughts.
There are vast options available to scout armies to use to tackle transports, things like grenade launchers on scout bikes, combi-weapons and even snipers can bring down rhinos and thier ilk especially if you consider the advantages we have in manuverability and deployment can be used to get rear armour shots.
The only real problem we have is dealing with AV14, things like land raiders. To this end we need to employ melta weapons for the increased penetraton rolls. As youve heard already my favourite unit for this job is the LSS with MM and melta scout squad. With a triple redundancy they increase the odds of destroying the vehicle dramatically, id even put the odds higher than shooting with 3 MM attack bikes at close range
Flexibility: Is a very important factor, especially with scouts. although i run a LSS as anit-infantry/objective grabber i put a power fist on the unit, which means they can also take out vehicles should it be required. The ability of a unit to perform several roles makes creating all rounder armies alot easier. However units shouldnt be made flexible to the detriment of thier main usage which is why i dont add a combi-melta to the above unit, its main job is to take out infantry and/or contest objectives so the sergeant gets a combi-flamer instead.
The big picture: An army should never be built one unit at a time, you need to consider the whole which should always be greater than the sum of its parts. When i build a scout list im considering everything from where my anti-tank is coming from, to my 'hammer' and 'anvil' units.. how my HQ fits into the whole army and so on.
You often find yourself having to shave points somewhere and if you understand what the 'job' of each unit is it can often be easy to see where savings can be made. If your ccw squad is meant for infantry then you can switch the power fist and combi-weapon to a power weapon and pistol, as a back up meltabombs are only 5 points and can bridge that gap of needing anti-armour in your squads.
Do you need cloaks on your snipers if you have a techmarine to bolster ruins, sure 2+ saves is good, but 3+ isnt bad either and thirty points can go a long way.
Edited by greatcrusade08, 21 May 2010 - 04:27 AM.