40K Meta: Return of the Biker Captain
Reecius here with another Space Marines tactica, this time on a snazzy new Captain load-out that has worked well for me.
If you read this blog then you know that I am a huge fan of the Space Marine Captain, and feel he is one of the better units available to Marines. I have written at length on how to use him.
So what is significantly different about using the Captain on a Bike? Compared to a Jump Pack there are a lot of downsides. He can’t start off the table, deep-strike, move over other units and terrain, assault Flyers, can’t even pass through the walls of ruins, and can be harder to hide due to being a larger model. Those are some significant set-backs. So what do you gain in exchange for that?
For one, he’s faster. With a 14″ move and an automatic 6″ advance, that allows you to cover a lot of ground, quickly. This is offset to a degree by not being able to move over things which is a legitimate concern, but in a straight line he dusts the Jump Pack Captain. He’s also got +1 toughness which in this edition isn’t always a huge deal but in this instance, jumping from 4 to 5 is a big deal. For one, many small arms weapons are strength 4, meaning they now wound you on 5’s. High strength weapons like Missile Launchers, Melta Guns, most Power Fists, etc. now would you on a 3 as opposed to a 2. That is significant. You also get a Twin-linked Bolter in the deal which is solid firepower. Not a huge deal but certainly an advantage over the Jump Pack version. Lastly though, and the most important part of this is the +1 wound the Biker Captain gains.
Why this is cool is because when combined with the excellent Shield Eternal and the Iron Resolve Warlord Trait, your Captain becomes much more durable. Here’s why: with the jump up to 7 wounds and a 6+ FnP, he can now go toe-to-toe with pretty much anything that isn’t spitting out mortal wounds. With the shield halving the damage he takes and that jump up to 7 wounds, even combatants like Magnus or Mortarion, even an Imperial Knight, will struggle to kill him. Anything that does 3 damage drops down to 2, meaning they have to land 4 successful damage results at a minimum to take him out. With a little luck with your FnP, that could easily rise up to 5. With average saves, a model with a 3 or 4 damage attack would have to wound you 12 times to kill him. Even 6 damage weapons get blunted significantly. Dropping down to 3 damage, they have to land 3 wounds to take the Biker Captain out due to the magical 7th wound. Using a CP to re-roll the first failed save of each round of combat you can easily stretch that out, requiring significantly more damage done to you to neutralize him.
Models like Celestine or a Daemon Prince with Malefic Talons are even worse off, as they’re now doing a single point of damage. They stand almost no chance of actually winning this fight and if the other player is smart, they’ll simply flee combat ASAP. His durability is incredible and he excels at wadding in to big nasties, taking them on and winning. A trick I have found works very well is to have an Apothecary on a Bike tail him and heal him up as needed. This is possible thanks to GW’s clarification on how index units work as you can read, here. This also soaks up an Elites slot in a Birgade, which is my favorite way to play Space Marines.
It is important to note though, that I always use the Relics of the Chapter stratagem on the Captain. While the Shield Eternal is the shinning star in the Space Marines combat oriented relic selection, you won’t always take it. I often go for the Armour Indomitus for the 2+ save on him if facing off against hordes or armies with lots of small arms fire as it will be more useful than the shield. Sometimes I give him nothing at all as there’s no need to burn the CP on him, or the resources are better spent elsewhere as with putting the Teeth of Terra on the Lieutenant for example. I typically always take the Standard of the Emperor Ascendant as my free relic and then customize the Captain from there based on who I am fighting.
It’s not all about defense though. The Captain hits hard as well. Now, to be fair, if you really want pure offense you want to go with a Blood Angels Captain for maximum punch, but that said, the Space Marine version is no slouch. Packing a Thunder Hammer and utilizing the fantastic stratagems available to you in Honour the Chapter and Only in Death Does Duty End, your Captain can be counted on to put out at least 8 attacks if needs be, possibly 10 if buffed with Might of Heroes. At 3 damage even and AP-3, that’s no joke and I have had my Captain take out enemies in combat that on paper, you’d never have thought possible.
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, though. You have a weakness to Mortal Wounds. The 6+ FnP helps obviously but the real defense here is the Apothecary. As most Mortal Wound attacks are D3 damage, you can keep your guy in there swinging a lot longer if he gets some heals. You also have to deploy on the table in most instances which can leave you vulnerable to being alpha struck but I have found decent terrain and Character protection help to mitigate this a great deal. He also can’t simply leap over screening units which is a bit of a bummer and something you will have to plan for with units that can plow through chaff units. Thankfully, Space Marines have a lot of options in that department. His inability to charge Flyers is a bummer too, as Fire Raptors and Stormravens still plow the skies in numbers. However, on the flip side, he is also a lot less vulnerable to them.
As for Chapter Tactics, they all have something cool to offer. Salamanders’ re-rolls are obviously nice, Iron Hands make you even more durable, White Scars (who are massively underrated) let you leave combat and still charge which is awesome but also their stratagem allowing you to advance and still charge is a gem on this character. White Scars are best for him, IMO. Black Templars are solid too, for the re-roll charge. Ultramarines don’t offer as much as leaving melee and still shooting for him isn’t that hot, Ravenguard likewise is OK for early game defense but this gent wants to get in close and smash. Likewise, Imperial Fists are not a great choice for him although Crimson Fists are due to have their incredible relic which is a Thunder Hammer without the -1 to hit for all intents and purposes. Regardless of Chapter though, this is a unit you cna put in pretty much any Space Marines army and get very solid results out of.
You can always take one of each, giving whichever the Shield using a CP pre-game that you think will benefit most from it. Space Marines have some fantastic characters and having multiple Captains will certainly not be a hindrance to you, particularly at their low price point.
~Ultimately both flavors of the Captain are very good in their own way.
As always, check the Tactics Corner for more great articles.
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