40K: Scouts or Tac Squads?


Sure, you can take both.  The question at hand is…if you had to choose, which would you go with?


At the same time I am selling off my Nids, I am building a new army consisting of Marines/Admech/Skitarii.  I have decided to make a thematic/narrative force.  I am calling it the Iron Revenants Strike Force (Iron Hands/Clan Raukaan).  Based on the backstory, I have decided to go with only Scouts for troop choices.  This is based on the disaster of the Gaudinian Heresy, in which Iron Father Kristos charged into a chaos infested world without the benefit of proper intelligence regarding the threat he was facing.  Only the actions of then Epistolary Lydriik saved the Iron Hands from total corruption. With this in mind, on to the choice at hand…Scouts or Tac Marines?


Lets start with Tac Squads.  In terms of cost, Tac Marines are a few points more out the gate.  For those points, you get a 3+ armour save.  You also get more choices in terms of dedicated transports, including Drop Pods. A ten-man squad also allows up to two Heavy weapons, including Grav-Cannons.  Also included is the option to carry up to two Special weapons.  This means a total of 3 (2 of one and 1 of the other depending on how you mix and match) Special/Heavy weapons in a 10-man squad.  This does not include the Vet. Sergeants Combi Weapons if he choose to take one.  That is potentially a lot of fire power for a 10 model unit. Finally, Tac Marines grant access to the Battle Demi-Company.  Remember though, we are comparing units, not formations.  Perhaps another time.


Scouts bring addition special rules; both Infiltrate and Scout.  This gives Scouts a great deal of tactical flexibility, arguably more than a non-Drop Pod Tac Squad.  This flexibility can be applied both during the deployment phase as well as during game play.  In terms of dedicated transports, they are limited to Land Speed Storms.  However, this option gives the Scouts even more ability to move quickly around the board and grab objectives; let’s not forget they can Jink and mitigate that marginal armour 10.  All Scouts can take Camo cloaks which improve cover saves.  This, and appropriate use of terrain, can mitigate their 4+ armour.  Which is better against AP3; a 3+ armour save or a 4+ cover save?  Weapon upgrade options?  For a 5-man squad, you can add Sniper Rifles, Missile Launchers or Heavy Bolters.  10-man squads add no more weapon options, so that is definitely one for the Tac Squads.


Vet Sarge upgrades are the same either way.  Both Scout and Tac sergeants can take melee/ranged weapons.  They can also take Melta Bombs and Teleport Homers.  So with the exception of points, the Vet Sarge upgrade is a wash. Also, both Scouts and Tac Marines have the same basic wargear, as well as No Fear, Chapter Tactics and Combat Squads.


My vote here is for Scouts.  They have the advantage in terms of deployment, objective grabbing and survivability.  If we compare 5-man squads, Scouts can be comparable in terms of fire power.  Their ability to Outflank is also a significant differentiation.  Sure, Tac Squads can arrive by Pod, but all that shiny firepower can’t be brought to bear the turn they arrive.  The upgrade to Camo cloaks basically cancels the point difference between Scouts and Tac Squads; the improvement in cover save is well worth it, though.  Finally, let’s not forget that Scouts now have a comparable Ballistic Skill.


I will still have Tac Marine models in my Command Squads, but otherwise will be playing for the first time with an all Scout (Troop choice) list.  In the ObjSec meta of 7th, however, it may just work.

The question stands…Tac Squads or Scouts?

  • Matthew

    70% of the time I believe scouts would be a better choice, for the same reasons you listed.

    Now if you are fighting someone with a crap ton of “ignores cover” weapons you have a different story.

    • So, scouts are like sex panther. 60% of the time, they work every time.

      • Matthew

        They are worse than that time the raccoon got caught in the copier.

  • Viratin

    Tactical squads don’t get 2 specialist weapons or 2 heavy weapons. They get one of each at 10-man size.

    • foulestfeesh13 .

      This is exactly what I was thinking when I read this article.

      • SonoftheMountain

        I am just guessing here but is it because of the Clan Raukaan rules he gets the additional heavy and assault weapon?

        • Viratin

          No, Ruakaan doesn’t have anything like that.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      how can someone get a detail like that wrong? Didn’t he bother to read the unit entry before writing the article?

      Anyway my vote is for a few of both, though scouts in storms have won me several Maelstrom games. I give the storm a multi melta and the scouts a combi melta and missile launcher. Now at BS4 they can deep strike behind something and have a good chance of blowing it up before running for objectives.

      • WineShark

        I think the wording is just vague. a SGT can take a combi weapon of any special weapon flavor. That = 2 special in a tactical squad (sorta) and 1 heavy.

        Still, of you count the number of shots your regular special weapons get, the 1-shot option is far from a bad investment, if shooting is what you want your SGT to do.

        • Ben_S

          “Also included is the option to carry up to two Special weapons. This means a total of 3 (2 of one and 1 of the other depending on how you mix and match) Special/Heavy weapons in a 10-man squad. This does not include the Vet. Sergeants Combi Weapons if he choose to take one.”

          If that’s what he meant, then the wording wasn’t simply vague, but wrong.

          • WineShark

            Yup. After re-re-reading, I blazed right through the next sentence. That’s not right at all.

    • Vomkrieg

      Ironically, being able to take 2 weapons in the squad, either special or heavy would make them more “tactical”.

  • Drpx

    Scouts are what Tactical squads are supposed to be, imo, and there’s so much AP 2/3/Inquisition everywhere right now that drop pod power armor isn’t as good as it used to be. Still, I guess it comes down to your list because you still need Tac squads for the broken-as-hell Battle Company—although anyone who’s run 10th Company Task Force can attest that the Scouts have a nasty formation of their own.

  • Mordrot

    Maybe give tacs 2 attacks standard

    • Mordrot

      They should outfight necrons troops in CC any way.

  • euansmith

    Close Combat Scouts often give opponents a nasty surprise; plus Scouts are just cooler than Tactical Marines.

  • Parthis

    Scout squads all the way. They’re so incredibly versatile – Dedicated ‘jinkable’, Deep-strikable open-topped (and therefore Assault Vehicle) Land Speeder Storms. BS4, WS4. Scout, Infil, outflank. They can fulfil multiple roles. Snipe, push and rapid fire or Close combat load outs. Better yet, you can mix these in squads. They can deal assault damage at the same rate as Assault Marines with three attacks on the charge. The sergeant can have a special. A Powerfist is an unexpected surprise. etc etc etc.

    They’re ironically much more tactical than Tac marines.

  • Djbz

    They shouldn’t have made scouts Ws/Bs 4 again.
    They shouldn’t be practically better in almost every way.

    • jasonsation

      I play IG and don’t like the idea of Vets having better BS than Scouts. I see what you are saying though. They shouldn’t be as good as Marines in Ws and Bs, they are supposed to still be learning.

      • Djbz

        The way I see it, Veteran guardsmen are veterans, so definitely should be more skilled than trainee marines.
        Their formation could have been like the Eldar aspect host formation instead (+1Ws or Bs chosen before the game starts) to represent what their training has been focused on so far.

    • Haighus

      Maybe they should have ATSKNF removed from the scouts? The Sergeant would still have it, but if you can kill the Sergeant, well, the Scouts just haven’t got the experience of full Marines and haven’t been indoctrinated for as long either. Wouldn’t be a huge difference most of the time, but it would make the Sergeant much more valuable.

      • Djbz

        Maybe would make the scouts more risky to use, but I still have hope that GW will finally give that (way too good) rule a beating with the nerf bat.

        • Haighus

          Yeah. if it was just auto regroup OR the cannot be swept rule, it would be better, but it is too good with both.

          I guess the Sergeant only having ATSKNF would favour some Chapter tactics over others, but then Black Templars shouldn’t be using scout squads anyway from a fluff perspective 😀

          Also favours armies that have access to lots of precision shots or Vindicares.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        just Stubborn would be fluffy.

    • Dennis J. Pechavar

      Mixed emotions on this. I built up a scout army years ago and had fun playing it, then the nerf came and my army stopped being fun. Snipers became a real hit or miss unit, being stomped by basic IG troops in CC was also a kick in the pants. That being said with the return of BS/WS 4 we now have a tougher choice for troops. At least my DA scouts are no longer elite choices…

  • pokemastercube .

    for my BA it is tatical marines (and the special death company units from sheld of baal deathstorm) as BA use the WS+BS3 scouts rather then the 4

    • Meekaeel Khan

      I feel your pain…. But my friends have no issue with me using WS4 BS4 since Vanila and Blood Angels scouts are the same points cost (i think).

      • Djbz

        Now you just need to talk them into letting your dreads have two more attacks…..

        • pokemastercube .

          well i diddnt have tac squads at all as old codex i has assault marines and DC as my troops for a rapid flying force

  • LordKrungharr

    Scouts are great, when they infiltrate they get closer to my units so I can often assault and eat them turn one and consolidate that much closer for another assault turn two! Always my favorite first blood kill

  • Max Knickerbocker

    Scouts, hands down. 4+ armor save but they are the same BS as a tac marine, have the scout and infiltrate special rules and sniper rifles! What’s not to love?

  • Learn2Eel

    For the most part, Scouts are way better and especially so now that they are WS4/BS4 in the Space Marine and Dark Angel codices; however, I prefer my Tactical Marines because I like my “classic” stuff. Of course, this is a moot point if you use a Gladius.

  • Desc440

    Tacticals all day, every day. 10 dudes, plasma, gravcannon, pod with deathwind. Done.

    Every time I’ve played with or against Scouts, they have totally failed to impress. The only really good thing about them is the LSS.

    The disparity just becomes even greater when you start taking the GSF into account.

    • Spacefrisian

      Gravcannon is kind of broken anyway, wounds on armour save with a re-roll and with alot of shots to boot. Its not even funny and hardly anything the scouts can take can compete with that.

      And yes i used them myself as have them been used against me.

  • Ronin

    Scouts and bikes are better, but those who like a challenge use Tactical marines. 😉

  • Jordan Cafolla

    Hmmmm, looks like my comment on the quality of the articles on this site was removed. That’s interesting….

  • petrow84

    Scout marines. Rule of cool – they look way more bad-ass.

  • Bill Anderson

    Scouts are more fun, but so are blondes. You just don’t marry them. If your goal is to hide on objectives scouts work. If you are trying to participate in the battle go with tactical and their heavy weapons.

  • David Rowland

    Stopped reading after the “you can take 2 heavy weapons” crap. Never played marines before?

  • Andrew Thomas

    Troop level access to Assault Cannon and the ability to go anywhere on the Battlefield quickly make the Scouts a good deal, especially if you treat them like Air Cavalry. Just keep them Stock or add a Heavy bolter and a Combi and have them harass big, soft units, while the AC plugs away at the tougher stuff.

  • Dennis J. Pechavar

    Now if we could only get a flamer into the scouts weapon choices…and not just a combi flamer.

  • drpigweiner

    Scouts. Points are still a thing so only makes sense plus getting 2 heavy / special weapons come on. Tac squads are garbage and unfortunately have been so for as long as I can remember even through they’re supposed to be the most common space marine unit. Until they break the mold and make tac squads what they should be “the back bone of the space marines” they’ll just be farty all day.

  • WineShark

    Tacticals. 3+ armor means you are less confined to cover, which gives you placement options scouts won’t have. You can move in the open to get the places you need to be to get OBJ, position for shots, etc. If you are facing the sub-AP3 range of weapons, cover is still available, if not at the +1 level scouts get on the cheap. Tactical marines have access to weapons that can threaten vehicles and infantry, both at range and up close. 3+ armor also makes them dig in a bit deeper in CC, even if they aren’t especially good at it.

    I also feel drop pods are MUCH stronger of a placement option than infiltrate or scout. Drop pods are more reactive, don’t suffer a 12-18″ forced bubble, and are better than outflanking when it comes to unit reach.

    Going back to BS/WS 4 certainly improved the utility of scouts. Move through cover is nice, but most players I’ve watched don’t move scouts much out of cover in the first place, due to the 4+ armor issue. Scouts lack anti-vehicle punch (One ML is not the answer to a tank problem).

    So, the in-game purpose of the unit is just…different. It’s not a “one or the other” affair. I use both (and my army is identical in fluff and design) in my lists. Tacticals are bread and butter, and scouts are used to infiltrate teleport homers to guide terminators to do nasty things.

  • Shiwan8

    Why is this a discussion? Scouts are the cheaper tax that one has to pay to get to the actual units that do things. This edition it is scouts for marines.