Let’s talk about a surprising discovery, the old-school Space Marine Attack Bikes might just be really good!
For a long while now Attack Bikes have been a bit of a joke unit. While they might once have been a solid unit, back in the misty times of the Long Ago, they are widely seen as relics of an older age. While fast, that has generally been the only good thing you could say about them. They’ve combined low firepower, with a single main weapon, with poor performance in combat and have rarely been worth their points. One of the key issues facing them has been being a fast non-vehicle unit armed with a heavy weapon, which in many editions has punished them. However looking at the recent Marine Codex they’ve got some buffs, and it got me wondering if they might just be good now. Let’s take a look.
The “All New” Space Marine Attack Bike
Two key things have changed to bump the Space Marine Attack Bikes up in value this edition. The first is bikes no longer suffer a -1 when moving and shooting with heavy weapons. This lets Attack Bikes take full advantage of their mobility and heavy weapon. At movement 14″ they are one of the faster Marine units. The second buff of course is the buffs both its heavy weapon options gained. In particular the Multi-melta, both doubled its shots and gained increased damage. And it’s the multi-melta armed version we will be looking at here today, as there are much better options for taking Heavy Bolters.
With the Multi-melta now a much better gun, the Attack Bike can really shine using one of them. A 14″ move means the Bike can move from outside of the gun’s range, to within the greatly desired half range in a single turn, and can fairly easily get in half range on turn one. In addition, the bike’s low profile makes them easier to hide. This makes Space Marine Attack Bikes a pretty solid anti-tank/heavy infantry choice. As a core unit they can also be buffed with ease. What’s more, they will only run 55 pts with a Multi-melta, the same amount they cost before the buffs. Next let’s look at how they compare to other Marine units that fill a similar role.
Attack Bike Vs Eradicator
Eradicators are a hot new Marine unit, one that many have said is broken. However, when matched up against Attack Bikes, Eradicators might not look as good. Thanks to a new points bump a multi-melta armed Attack Bike is only 10 pts more than a basic Eradicator. For those extra ten points, the bike gains a wound, 4 bolter shots, and most importantly a whopping 9″ of movement, having nearly 3 times the movement of Eradicators. At the same time, their primary damage output remains the same, though the Bikes get the option of splitting fire. For only ten points that’s a lot of bonuses.
Now Eradicators do have some advantages here. They can be taken in larger units, and have weapon upgrade options that boost their damage output. They also can ride in more transports, though their options are limited, and they have access to different stratagems. Due to the larger unit size, a full unit of Eradicators will do more damage than one of Attack Bikes. Yet point for point I think the Attack Bikes come out ahead here. In particular, the hardest part of using Eradicators is getting units within half range, or even ranges, as they are a slow unit. Attack Bikes don’t have this issue and won’t cost you a ton of CP to get them where they are needed. In this matchup I think the Attack Bike if not flat out better, is at least a viable alternative.
Attack Bike Vs Invader ATV
The Invader ATV is the Primaris Version of the Attack Bike. Armed with a Multi-melta, for the best apples-to-apple comparison, the Invader clocks in at 85 pts, 30 more than the Attack Bike. For that cost, you gain a pretty important 4 extra wounds, as well as 2 attacks and 2 more attacks with its auto bolt rifle, which otherwise shares a stat line with a bolter. Its primary weapon remains that same and it loses core.
While the Invader is is a much more durable unit than an Attack Bike, offensively it’s a much less efficient use of points. You are effectively paying 30 pts for an extra two bolter shots, and if you are trying to cram as much firepower into a list as possible, the Attack Bike is straight up better. What’s more, the Attack Bike is core and can get easy access to buffs, and you can bring them back to life with an Apothecary, something you can no longer do with an Invader. Taking two Attack Bikes, would give you the same durability as an Invader, with double the firepower for only 25 more pts. Thus, at least in that multi-melta armed anti-tank role, the Attack Bike seems a pretty clear winner to me.
Attack Bike Vs Land Speeder
Finally, we have another classic Marine unit in the Land Speeder. A multi-melta armed Land Speeder will run you 70 pts, 15 more than an Attack Bike. The Land Speeder have 4″ of movement over the Attack Bike, an extra point of toughness, and 2 wounds. It also can buff Whirlwinds and has fly. On the downside is loses core and the twin-bolter. Its larger profile means it is easier to target and it has the vehicle keyword.
If we are looking at pure damage output the Land Speeder is a loser here. You are paying 15 more points for less firepower. Loss of core also hurts it. It is tougher, but not to a degree where it becomes particularly hard to kill, and given that it’s harder to hide, it’s not all that much more durable. While it is faster, the move from 14-18″ is not as significant, both are normally fast enough to get where they need to go. While the Land Speeder has some things going for it, in this it’s simply a lot less efficient when it comes to damage output, making the Attack Bike, again my choice here.
Let me know if I am crazy, down in the comments.