Thursday, 20 May 2010

Scout army HQ choices

In this article I hope to delve into the new 5th edition codex and come up with some inventive combinations of IC’s and scout units. Im going to discuss the individual character, the tactics they can utilise to benefit scout units, and the reasoning behind their inclusion in an all scout force (the fluff).
An important fact to remember when choosing your HQ is that we can use counts as rules, so instead of thinking why would Marneus Calgar be running around with scouts, think of your own character with his own history to try and make him fit in, your only using his rules not the character himself.Remember my credo, if you can write it and it sounds believeable, go with it.

Marneus Calgar
Although its hard to imagine a big brute like Calgar running around with scouts, you do get to write your own history with counts as characters.
I personally wouldnt include him, nor would i include any terminator armour in a scout force, i will however discuss all aspects of Calgar and how he can benefit a scout force. Fluffwise, he is a chapter master and could be run as the master of recruits, (after all he does wear the armour of Antilochus), he has access to the orbital bombardment ability which sits quite well with the scouts fluff of marking targets for destruction from orbit.

Tactics: Calgar has the god of war special rule, which allows any unit with chapter tactics to automatically pass or fail a morale test, perhaps its the optomist in me but i fail to see a good use of wanting to fail a morale test, bar falling back through cover to escape destruction.
Passing morale tests could come in very handy as it potentially allows you to 'tarpit' enemy units without taking extra wounds for ATSKNF when you lose combat, as long as you can get a 10 man squad into combat and at least a couple survive they can hold a troublesome unit for a turn or two until they can be dealt with.Of course im not one to advocate wasting troops, but scouts are both cheap and expendable if its necessary.Calgar is one of the few independant characters who is a powerhouse in his own rights, he does little to boost the unit he is in, but can destroy whole units single handedly. This works well for scouts who often lack the hard hitting 'uber' units.
A good use would be to accompany Calgar with a cheap ten man ccw squad, this has two main bonuses, the first allows for ablative wounds to your big bruiser from shooting attacks, the second is that a big unit of orks would be vulnerable to the massed attacks of the accompanying squad and wouldnt be able to weight Calgar down with numbers.The cheap ccw squad would more than outweigh the expensive Calgar, but for a scout army 250 points is a big amount, also the best delivery system for Marneus (most IC's infact) is a land raider, but this again will soak up valuable points.
If used in conjunction with a land speeder storm team, you can effectively have joint attacks where Calgar can take advantage of the -2 leadership of the cerberus launchers.If used this way chances are the LSS will be kept safer from incoming fire as the enemy would see Calgar as a bigger threat, also it allows Calgars unit to destroy a flank and can leave objective sitting to the Storm team.
Overall Calgar is an immense character second only to Abbaddon in killing power, but can become very expensive after transport and accompanying unit has been taken into account.

Cato Sicarius
I am not overly familiar with Captain Sicarius having never used him before, he is however a captain and can be used to represent a 10th company captain or even the master or recruits.
Im a little dubious about using him in with scouts as his special rules specifically states he comes to battle accompanied by 2nd company, if it was just his character fluff it could be re-written using counts as, but it is ingrained in the rules. Also the Battle forged Heroes rule could not be taken advantage of since you wont be fielding any tactical squads.
The good points to taking Sicarius is that all models on the table get to use his leadership, and at the beginning of the battle he can re-roll for seizing initiative, getting the first turn can be extremely beneficial to scouts, more so than most other armies.

Pedro Kantor
Pedro Kantor is of far better use to Sternguard than scouts, but he is not without his good points, firstly as chapter master he can be used to represent the master of recruits and has access to orbital bombardment, secondly he grants a +1 attack bonus to all units within 12”, attached to a unit of ccw scouts, they have the potential for 4 attacks each on the charge. This in turn allows you to use more shotgunners in your force to counter high intiative armies, as these extra attacks will more than cover the shortfall.

Darnath Lysander
Captain Lysander is another of those powerhouse characters that require little support from an attached unit, much like Calgar he is expensive and hard-hitting, meaning you can fill the ‘uber’ unit gap missing in most scout armies.
To make best use of his close combat abilities I would use him in much the same way as Calgar mentioned above, a cheap unit of ccw scouts will add ablative wounds as well as prevent him from being bogged down and surrounded by a more numerous opponent. Again the best delivery for him would be a land raider, but much like Calgar this can get very costly in points.
Another use for him would be to attach him to a unit of bolter scouts as his bolter drill rule allows for re-rolls to any type of bolter weapons, these re-rolls will compensate for the lower BS of the scouts and turn them into an effective firing unit, the problem with this is your not making use of the best ability which is his hard hitting CC power, the re-rolls can however be applied to bolt pistols bolstering pre-assault shooting.
Lysander grants stubborn to any unit with chapter tactics, which like Marneus’ god of war can come in very handy with lost combats, ignoring Ld modifiers means you can avoid taking extra wounds as a result of losing combat and can ‘tarpit’ or hold enemy units until help arrives.
By far ther best ability granted by Lysander is his bolster defences rule, which allows you to potentially get a 2+ cover save on cloak wearing snipers.

Kayvaan Shrike
Captain Shrike is an amazing character to add to a scout army, he has the infiltrate special ability and grants Fleet to any unit with chapter tactics.
I have seen lists in the past containing Shrike and 6 ten man squads of ccw scouts all getting first turn charges due to infiltrate, scout move and fleet all being used. Personally I find this kind of aggressive build a little too risky as you tend to lose both the element of surprise and overall control after the first turn or two, against a weak close combat army like Tau this tactic would be extremely effective, but in games terms would be one sided and not a good idea if you want to make friends.
Also this kind of build can often be dependant on getting the first turn which again highlights how risky it is.
For more regular use, he can be combined with a single ten man ccw squad, his ability to infiltrate means he can deploy 18” from the enemy, the scout squad can either deploy with him and try to fleet to the enemy or use its scout move separately and Shrike can catch up in the movement phase with his jump pack and join the unit in turn one ready for an early assault.
For those of you who are interested in adding some power armour to a scout force, then Shrike can be taken with a unit of assault troops or vanguard vets, and as he gives them Infiltrate it allows you to take them as a scout veteran option. As they can infiltrate it is relatively easy to create some viable fluff to explain thier inclusion, plus it allows you to run an 'uber' unit that can manage first turn charges. With the problems inherent with not getting first turn the vanguard vets could opt for heroic intervention or deepstriking as another option if you lose first turn, much like how scouts can choose to outflank.

Vulkan He'stan
As a counts as character I see no reason why you cant take Vulkan in a scout force, his knowledge with technology fits in well with the unique weapons and wargear used by the scouts, the same could be said of adding a master of the forge. His main ability is that he makes all flamer and melta weapons twin-linked, for a scout army who often suffer with lack of high strength anti tank weapons this is extremely useful, the combi-meltas wielded by scout sergeants now become more reliable at hitting enemy tanks and if used at close range can become deadly with re-rolling misses and rolling 2 dice for penetration.
With LSS also able to take multi-meltas it potentially allows scouts the ability to form a mech killing force.Vulkan is also a capable close combat monster and could be accompanied by a scout ‘assault’ squad to deliver him into the enemy.

Kor'sarro Khan
Khan is by far my favourite special character in the 5th edition space marine codex, he gives an attached unit both hit and run and furious charge, he is best used to accompany a unit of ccw scouts (scout assault squad) as the strength and initiative bonuses more than outweighs the need for shotguns.
Getting the charge means they will all hit first against space marines, if at the end of your opponents turn they are still locked in combat, then the hit and run can be used to ensure you can get a fresh charge off in your following turn, hit and run could be used at the end of your own assault phase but it then leaves you open to shooting attacks.
Taken with a bike, Khan can be used to bolster a unit of scout bikers whose toughness bonus makes them more durable in combat with troublesome units, combined with the furious charge bonuses it makes this unit very deadly.
Khan on bike also gains fleet USR, so can ‘catch up’ with infiltrating bike units in order to co-ordinate a hard hitting charge in the following turn.Once in comb
at Khans own intiative bonus means he can strike before most IC’s, his coup de grace ability granted by his sword ‘moonfang’ means he can quite easily kill enemy characters before they can strike back, his unit then fighting at I5 can then cause wounds on the enemy unit before they can strike back, effectively neutering a hard hitting close combat squad, and taking fewer wounds in return.

Varro Tigurius
Librarians fit into a scout force quite well, during their development scouts are closely monitored for signs of psychic potential.
Tigurius is by far the greatest psyker available to a space marine army, knowing all abilites and capable of using three a turn is immense, although he is very expensive in points and relatively delicate.His ability to re-roll reserve rolls is very handy, making it more likely your outflanking bikes and scouts and deepstriking Land speeders will turn up when they are most needed.
In terms of in game tactics, he is best put in a large unit of scouts for protection from shooting, and although with his might of ancients and master crafted force weapon he is capable of being a close combat monster, he is far better utilising force shield and gate of infinity abilities to bolster a shooting unit and preventing them from being assaulted, with bolters or shotgunners this means you will be able to get duel shots off and be able to escape if assaulted.
With vortex and machine curse he is also able to fill the role of anti-tank.
Generic librarians can be mounted on bikes to perform similar roles with the bike squads, using the higher toughness and force shield to get rapid fire grenade launchers shots and be more survivable when assaulted and gating away in the next turn.

Chaplain Cassius
Cassius fits in very well with a scout force, as with all chaplains he holds the place of mentor and spiritual teacher to all space marines, something that is much needed amongst new recruits, his weapon is armed with hellfire rounds which fits into a scout army very well (a nod to previous tyranid hunters)
His liturgies of battle ability is best combined with a large scout assault squad to make best use of the re-rolls, chaplains are hardly the assault monsters they use to be, but with his toughness of 6 and feel no pain a counts as Cassius would make a fine addition to a scout force.
The downside to the scout assault squads is unlike their marine counter-parts they don’t have access to jump packs or dedicated transports, again the only real choice of transport is a land raider, failing that equipping your generic chaplain with a jump pack or bike and have him play catch up to slower moving, infiltrating scout squads is quite an effective tactic.

Mounted tactics:
Anyone whos familiar with scout bikers knows they can pull off first turn charges with ease, the secret to getting IC’s bonuses in first turn charges is to leave 3 or 4 scout bikers as stragglers forming a life line to within 12” of your deployment zone, this will leave the remaining seven members able to charge but also means the IC’s who have to deploy normally can reach within 2” of a bike and join the squad before the end of the movement phase, when it comes to assault the IC wont get to attack but the unit will still get the bonuses.This tactic would work very well with Khan and or a chaplain, hitting on S5 I5 and with rerolls should hurt most opponents even if your IC’s don’t get to attack.
Scout armies can include a land raider, I have used one as a command vehicle in the past, it is the best delivery system for a powerful close combat character and although scouts don’t have specific ‘uber’ units, 10 assault scouts and a counts as Khan and or a chappy will still cause a lot of damage.

Generic HQ options
Ive covered the special characters, showing how they can of benefit to a scout force, but its important to note that not all players want to use special characters.Generic characters are superior in two ways to special characters, firstly they are usually cheaper and secondly they can be outfitted with a wider range of wargear which for a scout force can be extremely useful.

Chapter masters and Captains
The only real difference between the two choices is the orbital bombardment, this as described already is very fluffy in a scout force, but by choosing not to take it you can save yourself 25 points and take a captain instead, by choosing a captain instead of a chapter master, you can also include a command squad which will be discussed in more detail later on in this article.
The captain/master being a generic character allows for more freedom when writing the fluff or back story, the tenth company does have a master of recruits who is also a captain so either rules can be used.

Options and tactics: A captain has a wide range of wargear options available, but I am only going to discuss those options which can benefit a scout force.
On foot the captain/master can be run one of two ways, the first is as a shooting character to bolster a unit of bolter or sniper scouts, his higher BS will balance out the lower BS of standard scouts and armed with a combi-weapon can be used effectively against a variety of opponents, his save and multiple wounds means you could arm him with a combi-plasma for a one time rapid fire shot without fear of killing him, or with a combi-melta for anti-tank duties.The stormbolter is a great option at allowing you 2 shots per turn at 24” range, but a boltgun with hellfire shells is both effective and extremely fluffy in a scout force.
As he is an IC, if necessary you can separate him from the shooting unit oin a turn when you have more than one priority target, with a combi-melta he can perform anti-tank duties whilst his accompanying unit can take care of infantry.
If run as a shooting option its probably better to take him as a master and gain the benefit of the orbital bombardment, this makes use of the fact he is stationary which is a pre-requisite of the OB. His 3+ armour save and invulnerable iron halo save can be used to soak up some of the higher AP shots that come your way, allowing you to save the odd scout from shooting attacks, he also has the option to upgrade to artificer armour again increasing its usefulness against reasonably high strength AP3 or 4 weapons.
Although this is one way to use him it is not the most effective way, as a 100+ point character it is far better to utilise his close combat abilities as oppose to the one or two shooting attacks he can get.
If run as a close combat character he can be made extremely versatile to fit with the unit you want to run him with.
With options of a fist, hammer or relic blade he is able to instant kill many enemy IC’s and can also be armed with a combi-weapon to help with pre-assault shooting, an element which is very important in an all scout force, a combi-melta can be used to instakill with his higher BS or is good at tank busting, whilst a combi-flamer is a proven horde repellent. If taking a combi-weapon you will lose the extra attack bonus for not having 2 ccw’s, its probably best to couple this with a fist, hammer or relic blade as these items also remove the 2 ccw bonus.
He can also be given artificer armour and or a storm shield to increase his staying potential in close combat.
Like most IC’s he wont be able to deploy with the infiltrating scout units, if you wanted to load him in a LR with a scout assault squad it would be very effective, but another option is to take a jump pack or bike and play catch up, using the straggler method as previously mentioned with Khans tactics.
If taken on bike to accompany the scout bikers then all previous bike tactics apply including the straggler tactic if you require first turn charges, another option is to give him an auxiliary grenade launcher to fit in with the scout bikers both in game terms and in fluff. This way you can run the unit with very powerful pre-assault shooting, with 3 grenade launchers on the scout squad and his own launching a potential eight templates they should make extremely light work of poorly armoured low toughness horde armies like Imperial guard or to a degree Orks, plus the high strength single shots at rapid fire range can be effective vs monstrous creatures or high toughness opponents or even rear vehicle armour, the downside is they don’t have the AP to deny power armour.

Chaplains are the ultimate support character for a strong assault unit, fluffwise they are the mentors and spiritual teachers of the chapter, and the scouts need these more than regular space marines, to help nurture their development within the chapter.
Because they are best used with an strong assault squad, then nothing short of a 10 man ccw unit will suffice, again a chaplain cannot infiltrate and barring the use of LR’s he can be used with a jump pack or bike much in the same way as described above.
A chaplain could be used with a bike squad, but unlike the captain he doesn’t have the option of grenade launcher, also with their limited number of attacks his re-rolls wouldn’t be of as much use. The upside is due to the high toughness the bike squad, they will take less wounds back, so it’s a matter of weighing which option is the best for you as with re-rolls they may still cause more wounds and win combat.
Ultimately the best way to use a chaplain is to accompany another IC in with a strong assault unit, the Khan or generic captain and chappy combo with a 10 man ccw squad is extremely effective as an ‘uber’ unit, but would be best suited in a land raider transport.

Librarians were mostly covered in the Tigurius section above, the main difference is the cost, as generic libbys can be relatively cheap, the downside is you will only get the choice of two powers and only get to use a single one per turn, unless you pay the extra points for an epistolary.

Non-scout units to boost IC's
So far in this article I have discussed IC’s and how they can benefit scout units, and which scout units can best support those IC’s.
In reality most of the characters are far better suited with a non-scout unit in tow.
Most of the hard hitting combat monsters like Marneus or Lysander would cope far better with a unit of assault terminators than accompanied by a scout assault squad, but if your running a scout army you need to decide for yourself where you draw the line.
If you want to run ‘uber’ units then you must have good reasoning for their inclusion into the list, much like Shrike taking a unit of vanguard as infiltrators, it fits into the general theme of a scout force, if you can come up with something like this then by all means, experiment and let me know how you got on.
Another option is to be adventurous with conversion work, for example talking a captain allow you to take a command squad, an option is to convert these models to show scout heraldry or scout armour, and use counts as rules for the game dynamics.
This shows you have thought about the idea and theme to your army and is both fluffy and allows for an effective assault unit to be taken.
If you do go down this road it allows for all manner of 'uber' untis to be thrown in, with combinations of powerful charcters, chaplains and strong CC units, for more information see Captain Idahos article on uber combat units


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