The idea of this article is to provide players with a rough idea of how to use tactics in an all scout force. Some will consider a scout force to mean different things, the only units i am going to discuss are scouts, scout bikes, land speeder storms and Special characters
Why do you take a scout army?
Scout forces are an entirely different prospect to play with/against than normal space marine forces. I can imagine most scout army players do so for the novelty and conversion prospects. On the battlefield you cannot expect them to have the staying power of fully fledged battle brothers and are forced to play smarter and sneakier, taking advantage of special rules and abilities to win games instead of brute force and lots of high powered weapons. Scout forces are by no means an easy army to play or win with, you are required to work hard, but the challenge itself is a worthwhile endeavour.
The 5th edition space marine codex only lists one troop choice, the basic scout squad, but unlike their tactical opposites for a space marine force, the scouts can be made more flexible by the range of basic weaponry available to them:
Snipers: Unfortunately these bad boys took a big hit in the change from 4th to 5th edition, in that they now need to roll for BS to hit, which for scouts is now 3. This aside snipers have some interesting uses, first and foremost is their ability to wound on 4+ regardless of toughness, which makes them a must take against monstrous creatures and high toughness units like death guard.
There seems to be some debate on whether each unsaved wound causes a pinning test, or if it is one test per unit as a whole. Its always worth discussing this with your oponnent before or during the game to clarify this point.
Whilst the rending is a good bonus, its not something that should factor into your game plan too much, dont fire at a unit of terminators and then expect to roll a 6 with 3 dice, it may not happen and basic mathhammer tells us as much. Lastly is pinning, used cleverly it can be a determining factor in turning the tide of battle, used against certain units can cause them to go to ground, essentially rendering them useless for a turn whilst the rest of your units can 'gang up' on other elements of your enemies forces.One of the important things to remember is, if your using the snipers in conjunction with other units to destroy an enemy force, always fire the snipers last, the last thing you need is for your opponents to be pinned and go to ground, gaining a better cover save and causes all your remaining firepower to be wasted.
Shotguns: I expect to see more shotguns in scout armies now than in previous editions, although they have a shorter range compared to a bolter, they are Assault 2, which means they can be very useful in the hands of a CC unit, its quite possible to have a mix of shotguns in with a unit armed with combat blades and pistols in order to bolster pre-assault shooting, it has been suggested that a 50/50 mix is preferable to maximise both shoooting and CC attacks.
Combat blades: These essentially turn a unit of scouts into the equivalent of an assault squad, overwhelming enemy units with mass attacks, a unit of 10 scouts armed this way can put out an immense 31 attacks on the charge, and whilst they may not be veterans, they are still marines and are capable of going toe to toe with a variety of different opponents.
The humble boltgun: Scout armies are capable of putting down more bolters than standard marine forces in an equal points battle, against close combat or horde armies, this could be quite an advantage. With the heavy weapon and sergeant upgrades available its possible to run scout 'tactical squads' to form the backbone of your armies, the downside is scouts dont have dedicated transports, so maneuverability of core units during the game could pose a problem.
When choosing the core units of your army its important to know what kind of army you could be facing so you can tailor a list to suit, of course this is not always possible, so to help i have come up with some generic pointers that should help regardless of your opponents.
a: Dont spend too many points on upgrading your units, camo cloaks may be beneficial but when theres only a few pieces of terrain they will benefit only a small number of your units, save the cloaks for long range sniper units, or for the units you specifically want to hold objectives, if you go to grouynd in cover its a 2+ save!
b: Always take as many heavy weapons as you are permitted, scouts dont have devestator squads and seriously lack in anti-tank heavy support, the heavy bolters also come with hellfire shells, which is a template hit that wounds on 2+.
c: Go for the cheaper options, why spend 10 points on a combi-melta when meltabombs only cost 5 points and are multi-use, Do you need a power fist in every squad, when a power sword will do.
A 10 man space marine tactical squad is 170 points with flamer and ML, a 10 man scout squad with ML is 150 points, if you spend too much on upgrades you run the risk of being out-numbered by a superior foe.
Fast attack units
Scout forces can have two fast attack choices:
Scout Bikes: Used properly this unit can be devestating to your opponents game plan, they come standard with locator beacon, and can be upgraded to have up to 3 grenade launchers per unit aswell as cluster mines.
Space marine captains on bike can allow 5+ man bike squads to be counted as troops choices, it is still unclear however whether or not this covers scout bikes, and is still a matter of hot debate. At the moment for the purpose of this article i am assuming they do not have this bonus, but feel free to ask permission from your opponent to use this rule in a friendly game.
Cluster mines: These can make your opponent very paranoid about moving into terrain. This is especially true of horde armies who would try to make as much use of terrain as possible to shield the troops as they closed in for assault. They can also be used to cover objectives from being taken by the enemy.
Grenade Launchers: These weapons are very versatile in that they can potentially fire two shots each at S3 AP6 blast to decimate large units of enemy troops, or they can fire two S6 AP4 shots each to counter high toughness and armoured enemies, also the greater mobility of the bikes enables them to move around and target side or rear armour of enemy vehicles giving them a fair chance of destroying enemy vehicles.
Locator Beacon: This will help bring down your Land speeder storms (and embarked scout squads) right where you want them, very helpful if you take a command squad in a drop pod too!
Sergeant: You can outfit the sergeant to fit most roles, but he probably best works to bolster the anti armour capabilities of the unit with Melta-bombs, and either a power fist and/or a combi-melta.
A good point to remember is that scout bikes are T5, a large unit with a power fist is very capable in CC, but should only be used in situations where you have favourable odds, they are far more valuable when mobile and not locked in CC. A mobile scout unit can appear more dangerous than it is, with the constant worry of the grenade launchers and locator beacon, the more you can harass the weaker parts of your enemies lines with your greater movement the more you should be able to upset his game plans whilst he tries to deal with them.
Land Speeder Storm: Aside from being a land speeder with the tactics that opens up, the storm has many advantages over its standard equivalent, its ability to transport scouts can be used in many ways:
Objectives: A LSS has the potential to move great distances and can potentially deliver its compliment of scouts anywhere on the board in two turns, if towards the end of the game you need to take, bolster or contest an objective, the LSS is what you need to do it.
Mobile firebase: Models transported within an open topped vehicle can all fire, albeit they count as having moved. Load a unit of five scouts inside armed with rapid fire weapons and harass the enemy, if used against low strength units like gaunts or imperial guard and orks, this tactic can have devestating effects. Being inside the vehicle keeps the scouts immune to low strength weaponry and they are equally safe against CC, a Storm being used in this manner would be best upgraded to a heavy flamer.
Jamming beacon: Any unit deep striking within six inches of the Storm scatters 4D6 inches, irrespective of teleporter homers, locator beacons, or similar toys. No-one short of Drop Pods are going to risk that, as the risk of forcing a deep strike mishap is just too great. Used correctly it could seriously hamper the opponents plans for his deep striking terminator squad, two or three storms used in conjunction could render half the battlefield off limits to deepstriking units.
Assault vehicles: If used as such and carrying a 5 man CC scout squad the Storm can help turn a CC against a superior foe, aswell as bringing its guns to bear against the enemy unit, its Cerberus lauchers confer a -2 Ld to the enemy unit, which means if you win combat the enemy is more likely to turn and flee. If used in conjunction with other Storms, this leadership modifier stacks, giving you a potential -6 to the enemies leadership. Against tougher opponents its probably wise to combine an assault with a large unit of T5 bikers to ensure you win the combat and can run down the surviving enemy.
Of course These speeders can be used in the conventional sense, armed with Multi-meltas they can be used as tank hunters, but be wary of the lower BS3 and the fact that one storm takes up a whole force-org place on its own, each loss will be keenly felt.Land speeder storms can also be used in conjunction with snipers, a storm with a heavy flamer can be used to target 'pinned' units, and as flamers ignore cover saves, the enemy quite literally becomes a sitting duck...a roasted duck!
Also note that if you intend to use the Storms with a 5 man scout squad, then its best to arm the scout sergeant with a combi-weapon to act as a redundancy to the hull mounted weapon of the Storm. A good example would be a combi-melta in a multi-melta Storm, the lower BS of the LSS only gives a 50/50 chance of hitting, so the back-up is useful. this tactic also works for Heavy flamer/combi-flamer pairing to tackle hordes.
As the combi-weapon is single use, your best to have a game plan or specific job in mind, in the case of flamers this is less important, as the weapon would be used on the charge. But for melta combos, your best to have a specific target in mind for the 'double shot' tactic to gain a better chance of success. Even with a game plan in mind, you are still able to use the LSS as a mobile firebase without compromising your ability to complete its given task. Just be sure to keep it in one piece as any level headed opponent will know the potential danger of the scout speeder and would probably take steps to ensure its demise. Its probably wise to combine this 'double shot' tactic with the locator beacon on bikes, so you can deepstrike and shoot on the same turn (Though it should be noted that passengers cannot fire after deepstrike as vehicle counts as moving cruising speed, but can disembark and fire). You should be able to complete your mission without taking any fire first. I imagine this tactic to work well against high armour vehicles like land raiders.
When building lists that utilise scout speeders, an important factor is how are you going to use the unit inside, there are lots of options available and many have already been discussed, to keep the unit as flexible as possible then shotgunners are always going to be top of the list, but if used as a stationary 'pillbox' then they can be filled with snipers to keep them safe from low strength weapons, although as i have said flexibility is the key so i wouldnt normally recommend this.also as strange as it sounds by taking camo cloaks on LSS teams it allows to to take oibjectives in cover and have very good cover saves from incoming fire ensuring you keep the objective, also as destroyed vehicles do act as cover, if the LSS is brought down the scouts can use the LSS itself to gain advantage from the cloaks.
Telion is one of the best additions to 5th edition in my opinion, aswell as a unique and powerful boltgun he has two special rules that you need to consider.
Eye of Vengeance: This rule allows Telion's controller to allocate the wounds to the enemies units, this can be very useful, especially against certain armies or retinue units whos IC's normally cannot be singled out. A large unit of orks for example wouldnt be unable to bring down a Storm acting as a mobile firebase in CC if the power claw toting nob was taken out by Telion, this would allow the storm to get in close with its heavy flamer and the scouts onboard would be within rapid fire range. This rule would also help to reduce leadership of certain units like Tau vespid (Ld6 IIRC) who rely on the strain leader (Ld9) for Ld tests.
Voice of experience: This enables Telion to sacrifice his shooting to 'loan' his BS of 6 to another squad member, its always best to put him in a unit with a heavy bolter, as the high BS means the hellfire template will land roughly where you want it to and wounds on 2+.
The ML is also good company for Telion as a BS6 missile hit may be just what you need to bring down that troublesome dreadnought.
Telion and Orks: A popular strategy amongst marine players is to use Telion to kill nobs armed with klaws so that dreads can hold them in CC, using a scout army a similar tactic can be used by first killing the nob and using bike to charge the orks. In this case the higher mobility of the bikes almost guarantees they will get the charge negating the Furious charge USR of the orks, they will be hitting with lower initiave at S3 against T5 scouts and at base attacks.The two options would be to:
a: Use a large 10 man bike squad with captain to destroy the orks, or
b: Use a small disposable 80 point 3 man squad with combi-flamer to whittle their numbers a little and hold them for a turn or two until your are in a better position to deal with them.
Ive already listed alot of ways in which individual units can use thier abilities to help win games, but the big task is using multiple units to compliment each other, as an example i mentioned above about using bikes and Land speeder storms to beat a superior opponent in CC. Like with most armies, a scout force has to fight the battles you know it can win and try to deny the ones it cant, use maneuverability to deny your opponent clear chances of charging with his uber units.
Scout movement: After the infiltration and before the first turn, all scouts with the scout USR get a free movement, for infantry this is 6", bikes and LSS use basic movement, so 12" for bikes and up to 24" for LSS, note that you must remain 12" from the enemy. Used correctly this can be used to counter enemy armour or dangerous shooting before they get to move, these tactics are explained below.
Movement: All scouts have the 'move through cover' special rule, this can be used to draw the enemy into assaults against your units near cover, and then when they get too close move into the cover and escape, leaving the enemy 'stranded' in the area terrain. This tactic is great against CC units, allowing you to move away and shoot at this unit until they are clear of the terrain, the will of course get a cover save, but at least your unit is safe from being caught by the charge.
Shooting: As simple as it sounds try and concentrate fire on one threat at a time, use your snipers to pin trouble units until your in a better position to deal with them. Anti armour is a problem for scout forces, so use combi-weapons or meltabombs on the sergeants, sacrificing a 100 point 5 man unit to destroy a LR with meltabombs is more than worth it.Use your Storms and bikes to attack the flanks and rear of the enemy, most rear armour is AV10 and is vulnerable to grenade launchers, if you provide enough of an annoyance with the Firebase storms and bikes, your opponent may change his game plan to try and deal with them directly, but never be afraid to run away from a fight, especially if you have the greater movement. It may take you a turn to get back into the game but his units will have the same problem, leaving you more time to whittle down the forces already coming against you.
Assault: Play the bully, scouts may be marines but there are plenty of units that can hurt them, so pick on weaker targets until shooting can reduce the numbers of the bigger boys. Then when its safer, gang up on them, swarm them with scout laden Storms and scout bikes, make them flee and run them down.
Casulties: Expect to take casulties, especially in the open with only 4+ scout armour. Most of the units in scout armies will have plenty of ablative wounds, the bikers for example, as long as the three grenade launchers can keep firing the unit is still combat effective. Stick to the game plan and play smart and you should do well.
Advanced Tactics: Anti-tank:
Anit-tank suicide squads: Seeing as Scouts have little specialised anti-tank options and have no real dedicated units to this end, defeating mech armies or destroying key vehicles may prove difficult. ML's are pretty much anti-tank weapons, they can be used against troops, but the hellfire heavy bolter does this better so there is little point. That being said there wont be many in the army and they are only strength 8 wielded by BS3 scouts, also if used against armour it renders the rest of the squad unable to fire with thier bolters/shotguns etc (the decision that annoys most tactical squads the world over). Still there are options:
A five man unit with a combi-weapon (melta) and meltabombs comes in at 90 points, again their usage depends on who wins the first turn:
You: Infiltrate as close as possible, if you can set-up out of LOS using cover or setting up to the side of the vehicle then you can be in CC on the first turn and automatically hit with meltabombs as it is stationary (plus you get a melta shot on the way in). If not then taking a counts as shrike for Fleet USR is the only way you can achieve this. Alternatively a 3 man bike squad with meltabombs and combi-weapon is 85 points and can move further thus removing the need for fleet.Of course this would take up a valuable fast attack slot, so it depends on your army list if this is going to be viable.
Opponent: As your not going to get first turn, you have to consider your opponents possible game plan, we set up last so we can 'guestimate' their approximate travel path with the vehicle and lay in cover waiting for the chance to strike. The beauty of a 5 man suicide squad is the sergeant is the only important model, so you have potentially 4 ablative wounds. The potential problem is that as the vehicle has moved you wont get an auto hit, but combine the melta shot with the CC meltabombs (both used by BS4 seargent) and you should be able to do some damage even to a high armoured vehicle like a LR.
The good thing about scouts is that different models of the same unit can be armed differently, so by taking a full ten man squad we can split it into a suicide squad with shotguns/ccw's and a long range unit of snipers and a heavy.
Bike squads: Other methods for anti-tank, include bikers with grenade launchers, targetting rear or side armour of vehicles, it gives the potential for 6 S6 shots, even at a scouts lower BS you should get a penetrating hit. Given the 24" range of the grenade launchers and the bikes movement potential, its possible to take down shorter range tanks like vindicators without reply. Again it should be mentioned that a small number of bikes with meltabombs and combi-melta would make an effective fast moving anti-tank suicide unit, and with the higher toughness would last longer against small arms fire.
Land speeder storms: as the LSS gets a 24" scout move they can effectively assault/fire at enemy armour on the first turn, a 5 man squad with a combi-melta and meltabombs combined with a multi-melta on the LSS (double-shot tactic), will have a good chance of penetrating an enemy vehicle in the shooting phase. Due to the scout move and its mobility an LSS should be able to target rear and side armour of vehicles on the first turn, if the vehicle is not destroyed by shooting the 5 man squad can assault the vehicle and get auto hits with melta-bombs and krak grenades if the vehicle didnt move. This tactic is great against high armour vehicles like land raiders, and although it is potentially a suicide run, a destroyed LR on turn one can completely destroy your opponents game plan, automatically putting them on the back foot.
Advanced tactics: Problematic units:
Shooting units: Much in the same way as you would deal with Armour, the suicide tactics can be used to destroy troublesome shooty units like tau battlesuits or Eldar dark reapers.
LSS: Against these units it would be best to load and LSS with a squad armed with a combi-flamer and power weapon/fist (a 5 man squad armed this way is about 100 points), assaulting in the first turn to do as much damage as possible and causing your opponent to deal with the nuisance. against high leadership/toughness opponents, your best option is to combine 2 or more LSS as thier cerberus launchers can confer their leadership modifiers and you can run the unit down.
Close combat units: The best way to deal with 'uber' units is to deny them the use of transports early in the game, causing them to footslog and thus being vulnerable to your shooting. If there is no other choice but to engage these units i.e shooting has been unsucsessful and pinning has proved ineffective, then a combined assault from 2 or more LSS units with flamers and power weapons combined with a hard hitting bike unit should be enough to make most units fall back. The Cerberus launchers will increase the chances of them failing Ld test if they lose combat and you should be able to run them down.
As a scout commander, you shouldnt rely on static marine tactics to win battles, with the infiltration and scout moves, you should determine where and when firefights and CC happens. For the first couple of turns you will have the upper hand in maneuverability and battlefield position, its important not to give away your advantage too soon, keep your mobile elements mobile when possible and 'gang' up on certain units whilst denying other units chance to engage until you are ready. Whilst this may sound difficult all you have to do is stay clear of uber units at least until you have reduced thier numbers a little. Deny them use of transports and try to pin them if possible, a scout army cannot deal with a whole army in one go, so divide and conquer and overwhelm the enemy when you do strike.
A scout force should always control area terrain and use it to their adavantage for cover saves LOS etc, cluster mines on bikes can be used to cover enemy objectives in terrain, or used in terrain that you think the enemy may use as cover for thier shooting units.If you are confronted by a superior enemy dont think twice about falling back, try to use cover to mask your escape as you have the greater movement. There is little point in holding an objective and lose troops when you can fall back and deal with them in greater numbers. Another option is to deny the battle all together and launch an assault on the enemies objectives with an LSS team.