|How much ??|
It's not surprising being a Dark Eldar player that I like fast armies. The ability to outmaneovre your opponent, and slaughter what appears to be a tougher force by taking it apart bit by bit is very rewarding.
However the problem comes when you want to play marines. They have a wonderful stat line, and the new codexs dropping the basic points to 14 is one of their great strengths imho. But the problem with tactical squads is that they are slow, and even with a rhino it doesn't take away the fact that they are slow.
You could try having a fast attack focussed army, and to be fair I've got a Space Wolves army with Thunderwolves, Fenrusian Wolves and a pair of Landspeeders. However I really wanted fast marines. Unfortunately assault marines don't really cut it in this edition, and Bloodclaws are not good bikers.
Now with the new marine codex I am (like loads of people) going gaga over the lower cost of bikes, the ability for them to be troops, and Khan giving them scout. Not to mention that imho they are the best platform for grav weapons. Lets compare 3 devastator centurions against bikers:
3 Centurions with Grav Cannons, Grav Amps and Missile Launchers = 270 pts
2 x 5 Bikes with 2 Grav guns each, and a combi grav on the serg - 2 x 145 = 290 pts
The centurions throw out 15 grav shots (rerolling to hit) and 3 missile launcher shots. Their best chapter tactic would probably be Imperial Fists to give them tank hunters.
The bikes throw out 12 grav shots and 6/12 bolters shots (or for one turn 18 grav shots and 4/8 bolter shots. Best chapter tactic would be White Scars, and a bike mounted captain or chapter master makes them troops.
Now for raw firepower I think the centurions have it, particularly with the grav amps allowing the grav cannons to reroll to wound. However what I think brings it back in for the bikes are the resiliance (they have more wounds, have a jink save, and can lose some wounds without losing grav weapons) and their speed (although both centurions and bikers with grav weapons have a 30" threat range, the option to turbo-boost with the bikes is great to redeploy mid game). When you add Khan can make bikes scout, and that they can be scoring I believe Bikes win out.
If like me you have choosen bikes as your grav platform (that's if you want grav weapons at all, which is a perfectly valid option) then you have to source the grav weapons. GW gives one in a tactical squad, and a combi in the sternguard squad. Therefore not surprisingly ebay prices are insane (like £6+ per gun), and Bitz sites are no better (if you can find one in stock).
However if you like me you go to independent tournaments and aren't likely to ever go to a Throne of Skulls tournament than a blog has come to the rescue. Not this one, but Against the Grain, which recently posted a great post on options among the many 3rd party manufacteurs with pictures and links to the various manufacteurs. Although I was tempted with a couple of the examples shown, surfing the websites linked I came across the following:
for Grav guns and Combi-Gravs from Anvil Miniatures, here's a link to their Specialist/Energy weapons. Although the nozzle does look a bit like a melta gun, the cabling from the nozzle should make it stand out as a different weapon, plus painting the ridges down the sides of the gun a distinctive colour will make it look very different to a melta gun.
If you don't like this gun I recommend you check out the blog listed above, as there are many more options including one which had a nozzle very similar to a Grav gun.
The 3rd party manufactuers are definitely worth a look, whether it's for a special gun, shoulder pad, or something different you want to add to your force.
My marines/wolves will have to wait as I'm busy painting up my Tau, as I've been given the go ahead for my alternative Riptide model by the tournament organiser, so its lots of painting required to get the other elements of my army ready in time.
I'm torn on my marines whether to have Khan and 2 full bike squads with either Imperial Fists Tactical squads and Devastators, or to ally them with my Space Wolves taking a Rune Priest on a bike, Grey Hunters, Thunderwolves, Fenrusian wolves & Long Fangs (in this case the Bikes will bring along a Stalker and a Storm Talon for anti-air). I'm sure I'll have fun trying out both ideas.
Until next time...