Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Space Marines: Landspeeder vs. Attack Bike

Next up in the comparison series: Space Marine Attack Bikes versus Land Speeders. This applies for the vanilla and Angel codices (and maybe wolf ones? I don't have intel on them at the moment). Unlike the Dread Vs. Speeder, these guys are a bit closer to each other in their roles and capabilities.

I'll start by outlining their capabilities, and then move to contrasting their differences. They compete pretty well for the same role, truth be told.

-Both are fast attack choices
-both are highly mobile weapons platforms
-both have similar costs
-Both come 1-3 per Fast Attack slot
-Neither are the most durable choices in the codex

The Land Speeder
Base Chassis
The Landspeeder is a fast skimmer. As such, it can move 6" and fire everything, move 12" and fire one main/all defensive, or move flat out up to 24" and get a 4+ cover save. The Marine codex's model may also Deep Strike.

Melee against the land speeder depends on its speed, as it's a vehicle. If you catch one stationary, it's an auto-hit; if it unloads everything it's 4+, and any other time it's a 6+.

The Land Speeder has a variety of armaments. The vanilla codex has more options, but they all have the potential to mount two weapons. Selections include:
-Heavy Flamer
-Heavy Bolter
-Typhoon Missile Launcher
-Assault Cannon

The Angel codices are a bit more restricted in their options, whereas the Marine Codex can pretty much mix 'n' match, but it's limited to singles for the assault cannon and Typhoon missile launcher. As you can see, there are plenty of potential combinations. Sadly, you tend to be stuck with two guns S5 or higher, which means you have two primary weapons.

Loadouts and Duality
The strength of the weapons means that the Land Speeder is either moving 6" and firing both, or more likely to move 12" and fire one. As such, you can mix complimentary weapons that don't really need long range, or you can go for versatility.

Multi-melta/Heavy Flamer (70 points)
This model is, of course, made to move 12" and engage any target. It's a short-range loadout, but carries high-end, specialized weapons. It's also one of the few loadouts to readily be able to use the speeder's ability to Deep Strike, since it can gamble on a good scatter, get a shot in, and hopefully not die. That's mostly for the multi-melta, though.

Heavy Bolter/Typhoon Launcher (90 points)
I'd suggest this one only for the 'vanilla' codex. It is capable of staying back at 36-48" and contributing. Against infantry it fires the heavy bolter and two frag missiles (which are defensive weapons as they are S4). Killing armor? Fire two Krak missiles. This is one of the few speeders that actually mounts a defensive weapon. Note, though, that it competes with the Autocannon/Heavy Bolter predator, which is cheaper, and has comparable fire power.

Heavy Bolter/Assault Cannon (90 points)
This one's a bit hamstrung. You're stuck moving 6" to get the most out of your guns, but you crank out a solid quantity of anti-infantry shots. In a pinch, the assault cannon can attempt to engage armor, but it's not so reliable since you want sixes to damage AV11+.

Double MM (70), Double HB (60), Double Heavy Flamer (60)
While you get a backup copy of the weapon, I'm not really a fan of the doubles. Double Heavy Bolter is really the best of the lot, as it has the range to make use of the heavy bolters. It's cheap, but limited in capabilities. Double flamers is nasty, as is double-melta, but...but. They want speed to bring those short-ranged weapons to bear, but getting that 12" move means you only get one weapon.

Loadouts in Summation
I have to say it boils down to two real configs for the Land Speeder: Multi-melta/heavy flamer, and the heavy bolter/typhoon launcher (Unless your codex has 'angel' in the title). In a pinch, I'd endorse the double-heavy-bolter model, but it's a bit 'eh' in overall terms.

The Attack Bike
Basic Chassis
The Attack Bike is technically infantry. It is a bike with T4(5), a 3+ armor save, and basic marine statline outside of two wounds. All marine bikes pack a twin-linked bolter, a heavy weapon, and may fire both. Bikes can move up to 12" and fire both weapons. They may also turbo-boost 18-24" and get a 3+ cover save.

The bike is a WS4 infantry model with 2 attacks at I4. As such, it is vulnerable to melee. Technically they have access to Combat Tactics, but they have to get into assault and lose it to use it. Since they have 2 wounds, well, I'll let you guess how that works out. (Hint: not very well).

Attack bikes have a whopping 2 loadouts:

Heavy Bolter (40pts)
Multi-melta (50pts)

Didn't take long to list those, did it? The heavy bolter bike shouldn't have a problem staying far away. The multi-melta bike should be able to close at will. However, 80 points in bikes gets you two heavy bolters; whereas 85 gets you two heavy bolters, an autocannon, and that on an AV13/11/10 chassis: the Predator. Albeit, it's a heavy support choice, but 40pts for a single heavy bolter isn't that efficient.

The Comparison
This is pretty simple. Bikes carry a single, dedicated weapon system and a piddly anti-personnel gun. Landspeeders can be made to carry two distinct weapon systems.

I have to go with Speeders, here. They have duality, which is something marines simply need. You can get speeders to kill vehicles or infantry; not so much on bikes.

This is a bit of a 'depends' thing. Bikes can get into melee, but really shouldn't. I suppose in a pinch, a biker can try to tie something up in assault. However, it needs to be something relatively weak in melee; T4(5) doesn't stop a lot, and two WS4, S4 attacks just don't do that much.

I feel like this is one of the bigger comparison points. Which is more durable? AV10 on a vehicle, or two wounds to a model at T4(5) with a 3+? You guess it, it's MATH TIME! (Seriously, if you hate math, why are you playing this game?)

Vs S4 shots
Speeder can be glanced. Assuming two weapon systems, you'd need four glances at 5-6 to do enough damage to kill the vehicle. That's more than the 8 S4 hits it takes to torrent down a biker.

Vs S5 Shots
Takes about 12 such hits to kill off a biker. Two of these twelve will penetrate speeder's armor, which means that they'll score 0.66 speeder kills. Speeder wins.

Vs S6
Nine of these kill off the biker. Nine such shots score two penetrating hits, which is again 0.66 speeder kills on average.

Vs S7
Seven shots see the biker dead here. Seven such shots should also just about see the speeder dead too, on penetrating hits.

Vs S8+
Oh, now? Now you're pretty much talking about AP3 weapons that insta-kill the biker. If the biker has no cover? One hit should do it. A speeder gets penned by it 2/3 of the time, so it takes about 3 S8 hits to make sure the speeder goes away. Here's where the AV really starts winning out. The bike should be able to get some cover, but that just means two S8 hits max instead of one.

Going Real Fast
Against smaller arms, the biker doesn't really care about getting a 3+ cover save, because it already has a power armor save. Obviously against S8+ stuff that breaks the armor, this is huge because it gives you durability back. The speeder can get a 4+ save, and benefits much more against the small arms fire, effectively doubling what it needs to get to kill it (aside from that pesky 'immobilization = death' when going flat out...crash and burn INDEED).

Durability Overall
I haveto side a bit with the Speeder here. It worries much less about small arms, and once you get to the heavier stuff the biker starts courting instant death.

Terrain Effects
Speeders get to go over terrain. Bikes can go through it, but take Dangerous Terrain tests for wounds. When going over it, speeders win. However, speeders take dangerous terrain tests for landing in the terrain, so it's a little bit evened up there.

I have to hand the advantage to the speeder, simply because it can often take the most direct route with the least penalty.

Bike wins in terms of sheer points. 50 points will always be equal to or lower than whatever you pay for a speeder. Speeders are 60-90 points, for the most part. However, it's up for debate about the cost-effectiveness: bikes are cheaper, but speeders can be multi-roled. The kits are also similarly priced; I believe it's about $30 for the speeder and $25 for the bike. Feels like more of a rip on the bike, though.

Model Size
The skimmer base and a bike's 60mm round base are about the same. However, the speeder's on a flying stand and the bike...does not fly. As such, it's easier to completely hide the bike behind Rhinos and shorter terrain.

On the other hand, the speeder's a bit different. One weapon is mounted in the passenger's hands in a pintle mount, and the other's on the chin. A Rhino will generally block the chin mount (IE: second heavy bolter, assault cannon, heavy flamer). However, the long-range landspeeder's Typhoon missile launchers are mounted above and behind the cockpit, so there's no gun blockage.

At the end of the day, I have to go for the Speeder. It costs a bit more, but it's a bit more durable. More importantly, the speeder has duality. You can get the same speeder to engage infantry formations or armored vehicles. Sure, you could get a bike squadron to do both, but at 90 points you're always wasting half of it. You might do some tricks, but...I dunno. I'd rather drop 70 on the MM/HF speeder.

I think you can get some stuff out of the bikes with their melee potential, but it's highly situational. I feel like the speeder is going to be more durable and more versatile for the points. Get more bang for your buck; get a speeder.

And if all else fails, the speeder might blow up in melee and kill the people who beat it down. Let's see your bike do that. Sure, 1/6 odds, but it's funny as hell when it happens.


Dverning said...

Ah, a good write-up... though you did let your Speeder prejudice prevail. :-p (In most armies I think you're right though.)

One other item I think worth mentioning either on it's own or in relation to cover: Model size.
The x-y foot print of the models is fairly similar, with the bike being only slightly smaller. But the z-axis has that flying stem to contend with. This makes the Speeder 2-3 times taller.
Pro for the bike: They can grab cover easier and will be fully concealed when behind a Rhino.
Pro for the Speeder: They're up higher, of a size that they can be hull down behind a Rhino and still fire over it.
That last item is another reason the Typhoon is superior to the Tornado. The Assault Cannon or second Heavy Bolter on a Tornado is mounted off the chin and thus blocked by an intervening Rhino. But a Typhoon system sticks up and out to allow a clear line of fire over then Rhino.

oni said...

Agreed. The landspeeder is the far better choice.

Raptor1313 said...

...I had indeed forgotten the model footprint. I shall have to add that.

Overall, though, it's the speeder's duality and relative durability that do it for me.

Anonymous said...

i think people really underestimate the double heavy bolter, there's a guy at the GW who uses a squad of 3 of them, 180pts for 18 str 5 shots, that is enough to make marines quake in their 3+ armour save (i lost all but 2 once) they are extremly effective at taking out infantry and if you also include some heavy tanks the priority of killing them goes way down, giving them more turns to make troop choices disapear

suneokun said...

Can't attack bikes be taken as a bike horde? If so that's their niche, as the 5 other bikes will guarantee the delivery of the attack bike.

Have to say, bikes do lose on terrain though. I faced down 7 bikes (including a beast captain), with an attack bike. After dropping lots of lasgun/grenade launcher shots on them and a battle cannon shot - Sly Marbo drops a S8 AP2 large template on their butts and the command squad chimera provided heavy flamer/plasma/meltagun death.

The guy playing had lost three guys to 1's over craters on the way in though - now that's costly.

The problem with bike squads is that rolling a 1 is unlikely for one tank, rolling a 1 for 8 bikes, different story.

Raptor1313 said...

It's not that heavy bolters are ineffective, it's that there are other, more obviously nasty choices out there. Plus, anyone in a vehicle is laughing at 'em. 6 heavy bolters leads to 18 shots, 12 hits, 8 marine wounds, or about 10 on others. I mean, it's a heap of gunfire. On the other hand, if you really want all that gunfire, you can get about the same from two Heavy Bolter/Autocannon Preds, and you ARE eating the disadvantage of a squad. Scatter lasers and the like are not your friends.

Attack bikes can be nestled into a biker squad. At that point, they're much more likely to get to their destination, and even can help the squad with durability in that you can pawn off a wound on them 'til they botch save.

And the 1's for bikes are hella costly. I had an eldar Guardian Jet Bike squad (7 guys and a warlock) roll three 1's into terrain, force a morale check, and then fail its Emboldened ld8 check to run off the board. Granted, the odds of that are slim, but it's there.

DebonaireToast said...

BoLS totally stole your idea, although their author is arguing for the attack bike.

check it out.

I guess that means that you've made it into the big time now, sir.

Raptor1313 said...

Oh yeah. I stopped by, poked some holes in it.

He missed some stuff in it, even if it's meant to be a basic roundup.

Ultimately, I gotta go speeders for the versatility.

micah said...

I seriously think that the HB/Assault cannon loadout is underplayed. I use mine to take out elites/ hight priority troops, as the assault cannon has a range of 30 inches when you include 6" movement, which is usually enough to hit anything. It costs the same as a Typhoon loadout, and I just put mine on higher flying bases and the assault cannon is never blocked. Its my lucky unit, it has never died (mostly because I present more appealing targets *cough*PREDATOR*cough*, so my LS can go on its merry way slaughtering elites.

Anonymous said...

In the end it boils down to personal choice. I have seen Land Speeder use to utmost deadly from my friend and i myself use attack bikes heavily.

My friend always have 2 squads.. 1 is typoon and double heavy bolter speeder and the other have double multimelta and double heavy bolter speeder..

My friend always allocate penetration rolls to the heavy bolter land speeder leaving the important one intact.

I myself just get attack bikes with Multi Melta as a form of kamikaze AV14 cracker. Also it serve as screening for my Land Raider with Termies.

As the Attack Bikes turbo boost up front. Forcing the enemy to attempt to take out the bikes and allow the LR move freely or ignore the bikes and let the Multi Melta melt him.

U can even use them as roadblock for incoming vehicles.. As you dont want to tank shock them.. Else you be greeted with a Multimelta Death or Glory.