I wanted to get a brief overview of the Fast Attack slot for Space Marine armies - so this is just my personal tentative
I'm not going to give a numerical rating since efficacy depends on the mission, and I'll do the list according to their current Battlescribe order which is mostly alphabetical (Salamander v27 Unbound). In addition, since it's unreasonable to expect every player to have EVERY index - I will be lacking Chapter Specific strategies, stratagems, relics and so on.
So, that being said: Let's a go!
Opinion: Jump Packs mandatory, if you are going to not jump then tacticals would be a legitimate better option as I feel the humble Power Fist will likely outperform the Eviscerator in most cases.
For the most part I would say this unit is 99% useless since they aren't enough of a discount cheaper than Vanguard Veterans, but there are a few things. First of all, being a non-elite is kinda a big deal for marines... I'm not sure if it's enough of a boon in this case, and is a moot point if you just run extra detachments for more elites.
The Sarge can take a combat shield, which means it can be upgraded into shield relics - but I feel this is a failing since VVs can take the shield in any slot - not just the Sarge, so if you are using the Combat Shield to take hits for the team you are in a position where you'll likely lose the sarge first.
I like Attack Bikes, but I'm going to call the Squad a loss... come back for regular bike squad in the next entry
Community Feedback: Attack Bike Squads seem to be a popular source of HBs and MMs even without the attache Bike Squad. They are also the cheapest way to complete a Brigade Detachment if you don't need your FA slot. In terms of high mobility melta they out damage equal weight of Land Speeder so a triple of attack bikes can do a lot of damage.
Furthermore, being W4 means they can eat any D3 that is meant as a dedicated anti-gravis (IE: Eradicator) and keep on ticking
While Outriders and ATVs are taking over, I still feel the Bike Squad has a serious place. Being able to take a pair of special weapons, a Combi-Sarge and an Attack Bike tack-on makes for a VERY powerful unit. Salamader pride here, but I think the Multi-Melta plus 3 flamer setup is the best load out. The Heavy Bolter+3 regular melta is also fun.
This unit is why I don't think Attack Bike Squads are viable any more, since you can get all their benefit by attache, and Attack Bikes didn't gain an extra wound the way regular bikes did... but they are still a great addition to a Bike Squad if you really need a high-speed multi-melta. That's 5 high speed meltas
In terms of competition against Eradicators it's tough, you do get an extra melta via the bikes, but no Total Obliteration... but that's ok, because this is a Fast Attack selection!
Hey! They're more viable than ever now! Still a tad too pricey unless you can plop them exactly where you need them, but since their cannon minimum range has been buffed as well as missile max damage, plus the rulings on how Drop Pod DOORS are counted in terms of space...... there's a fair chance you can shoot every single enemy on the table when you drop this (probably not, just sayin')
I never could get them to work in 8e, but 9e looks very promising for them. Any ChapteDoctrine benefit to increase their accuracy helps since they land at BS4... which is another buff since you don't land at BS5 and need Iron Hands to get them to even shoot properly.
They're even allowed to shoot at characters as long as you respect the standard Look Out, Sir rules - whereas they couldn't shoot them before.
I mean, to put it another way... you can drop one of these on an AM tank pit and on a chain of lucky rolls instant kill every Leman Russ and Basilisk they have. This requires a miracle though... like 3 miracles at least. It's VERY inconsistent and people tend to prefer consistency over swing. I love swing though, so this is a unit I love now.
I think these guys are falling a little behind due to how early they are. Like the OG Intercessor their compatriots have power crept faster... namely the change to the Heavy Bolter, defacto cutting the power of an Inceptor in half if using the bolter profile... of course, this doesn't apply if shooting at W1s.
But that's just the gun, they have more - their movespeed matches that of Land Speeders and are debatablely more useful. I just wish they gained an extra attack or got a +1 on Hammer of Wrath or a Power Scythe for the sarge or something. Plus, if you were planning on using Intercessors for SMGs... an Inceptor is basically a twin-SMG only better; absolutely destructive on turn 2/3
I don't touch the plasma... that stuff is scary for a Gravis (:<) but if there's a niche for non-charged plasma, these guys might be the best source.
EDIT: I'm told that plasma inceptors are rather good due to their high speed (and flight) - i have something of an anti-plasma bias due to their high individual model cost, so in fairness - they are one of the strongest sources of on-demand plasma due to being able to put out an average of 4 shots PER model, a lot more than Hellblasters. May be the most on-demand plasma available period, aside from perhaps massive Scion assistance.
Community Feedback: I overlooked something really that I shouldn't have.. the blast rule. Due to being 2x plasma you can use the guaranteed 6 shots against applicable targets with a superior profile even without overcharging. Secondly, while being the cheapest source of on-demand plasma there is value in having a Kamikaze Nuke when it will win the mission. Such tactical details in the comments below are VERY worth reading.
Ehhhh, muh medic - that aside, they're at an excellent place right now. Defensively they're 10ppw which is among best-in-faction for Marines while also having a choice between 2 very good weapons. 10/10, would medic again.
I can't even really ADD anything to that, they're REALLY good. They even beat many other non-melee units in melee due to having A4 (crappy profile, but still - you can add 1 or 2 extra guardsmen with those)
In terms of a single-shot multimelta I would prefer the Attack Bike attached to a Biker Squad due to the extra protection so for a singular invader I would prefer the Onslaught... but they SQUADRON, that means 6~9 cap on a great platform.
They're now basically just the regular Land Speeder (Typhoon) with an Assault Cannon instead of HB/MM. While I personally would permit someone to use the Assault Cannon/Missile Land Speeder as proxy, this is an official FW model so ... like... buy FW.
They lost all their special rules, but in exchange they are functionally the same grouping as the other Land Speeders and can safely be called "The 4th variant"... they're a Typhoon with an Assault Cannon, no more/no less
Frankly too expensive or too flimsy. They also squadron, but the added Heavy Flamer (assault cannon) just doesn't really sell them for me... but they are the only high-speed heavy flamer left (if you exclude the Invictor Battlesuit Incendium Cannon)
Landspeeder with twin-missile launcher and heavy bolter... I just can't swing it over taking... literally a devastator squad with 2 missile launchers and heavy bolter. Of course, the devastator costs 20 points more, so.... ehh. If you want missiles, it's weird for me to say this, but the Deathstorm Drop Pod is the superior option as long at it shoots at at least 3 units
On the flip side, on large tables those 48" missiles combined with high move speed lets you kite infinitely against everything except AIRCRAFT... but since the bulk of the missions don't favor that, I don't see any utility here. (Example, it would be a STAPLE on Death or Glory since they can just dash off to the side and you'll NEVER catch them)
I do like that they are cheaper, but for a HB platform the attack bike is better most of the time (I mean, it's not like you need to put a land speeder on the roof of a building, right?)
Of all the Landspeeder variants this one is weirdly the most viable due to not having any fat on it - it may only be an HB, but it doesn't waste any points doing that.
Their ability to buff Whirlwinds is..... a thing. If you are already using Whirlwinds then these guys can increase your output by a minimum of 25%, which helps now that Whirlwinds can't be buffed by auras.
Anecdote time: I bought a Malcador tank for 30k because they were the only non-titanic with the ability to titanic Tank Shock because I had this gimmick in mind to RUN OVER the enemy... then that ability got nerfed, then the Malcador got nerfed, then Tank Shock got nerfed, and then 8e came out removing Tank Shock entirely.
So.. I never got to run anyone over.
Outriders.... ... kinda let me do that! Sure, it's not a Baneblade using Crush Them or a Malcador doing it for free; but they have a best-of-all-worlds shooting profile with that twintercessor rifle, they also have that chainsword and "possibly" 6 attacks on the charge (7 for the Sarge)
I think the Outrider Sarge might be a fair target for the Master Artisans stratagem since that chainsword with 7 attacks can be upped to D2
Their only downside is their unit size... 3 is rather small for a unit that BEGS to be running full 9s, plus they don't have any heavier weapons.
But at least you get to roadkill W1s with extreme gimmickness.
Unless you can cheat and put 5 of these in a Land Speeder Storm I'd say these guys are completely dead. Same cost as regular bikes for one less wound, one less armour. Their grenade launchers seem to be free though, so, like, I suppose the fact that they have Outflank means you can bring them in late on turn 3 to grab 4-quadrants (can enter enemy deployment zone)... I really don't understand the game balance behind Frag/Krak grenades so I'm willing to hear any arguments for a 9pack of scoots with Krak Launchers deployed in the enemy base
Sorry, no. For slightly less than the cost of 2 Invader ATVs you get... 1 ATV plus an ironhail stubber. In some ways this could put them equal to the ATV, if you really don't need S5 specifically - but 2 ATVs seem like they'd always be better. And you can't use slot limitations as an excuse since ATVs can squadron
Similar to above, only for Meltas... I still think I'd prefer 2 melta invaders (or a MM/M bike squad) for the same points, but this guy does have T6 which is a very nice number to be at. And unlike the Failstrike this thing has a secondary weapon that works. This thing is rather pricey though, for the sme price you can take a 4 lascannon Predator which gains more range, more T, more W.
Use only where a flying melta is required
This one is interesting, but too expensive. It's BS2 which is extremely rare on vehicles these days, but the rest of its loadout is basically just 3 mid-range lascannons. BS2 triple lascannons is slightly worse than BS4 quad lascannons, but it's close, and the added twin-autocannon is nice, especially with added blast .
Of course, it's really weird to me that so many anti-air weapons have blast when there's no squadronable Aircraft that I know of.
Frankly I would prefer a Landspeeder+Whirlwind than this. It's the same price and you're exchanging 3 lascannons for just a heavy bolter, but you gain line-of-sight bashing.
I'd only use it where you need flying lascannons and don't want to use a Stormtalon/Stormhawk.
On the flip side, the Thunderstrike has probably the safest Sweep and Clear since they can yeet any small scale deep strike team
I prefer the Firestrike for wrote damage, but these guys ARE good. Split fire to paralyze an entire front line before a charge, or camp them on top of a building for unparalleled non-character sniping (you guys are using 12" buildings as terrain, right?)
Their biggest downside is not being allowed to go up to 6 men.
Also, their autocannon is a niche target for the Master Artisan stratagem since you get a D3 autocannon, 3 shots, with S/T advantage over T5 gravis... could see niche play.
If you don't care about overwatch... frankly these guys are still pretty decent since they have high speed and long range, making them among the best units on missions like Death or Glory
I would 8/10 these guys, but they aren't FA any more... they are now fortifications. This really sucks (for me), but if you were planning on bringing a fortification anyway, then these guys are great filler since you get like 5x fort slots and probably only wanted to use 1 anyway
... ... Post Script
Fast Attack is a great slot and massively improved over 8e. I still feel Assault Squads haven't found their niche when there's VVs - and the same goes for Scout Bikes Vs. Regular bikes. The splitting of landspeeders into essentially 7 different units (if you count the primaris ones) just feels silly when they don't have too many differences between them.
Inceptors are the unit I most changed my mind on spending the last 2 hours writing this - I went in being disgruntled that they aren't D2... but then bounced back by thinking of them more like Mastercrafted SMGs.
Invader has that glorious Medic-combo of course. I also lament that Outriders and Suppressors can't go up to 6. Mission Plan
This is a short breakdown of SOME missions and how the FA slot might perform depending on terrain. I left out any missions that don't really give any FA advantage
- Incisive Attack - Landspeeders can really clean up Sweep and Clear objectives while also providing end game power if they don't degrade (primaris). You can take Surgical Assault early and then bring your speeders back to your own base
- Encircle - the Encircle progressive objective is easy to hold with landspeeders, but particularly with Scout Bikers due to outflank letting you drop in on turn 2... if a player is committing resources to holding the 4 centre objectives they might not be able to contest a Scout Bike unit in their own base harassing them with 30" grenades
- Crossfire - Suppressors are the only non-vehicle unit that can shoot diagonally from point A to A or point B to B if there's 3~5" terrain in the centre of the map due to gaining added height. Of course, if the middle is a crater instead of a building (during map set up) then any 48" and most 36" should be able to do it just fine.
- Forward Push - Outflanking scout bikes can score easy 8s in theory, but since the action has to be started before the reinforcements step this is more difficult than at face value... but if your opponent overestimates that fact then you can exploit that to have more valuable units elsewhere. Secondly, if you want to be extra offensive then the high-speed options in the FA slot can help counter enemies attempting to take your 8-pointer as well
- Shifting Front - Outflank for Test Their Line
- Retrieval Mission - Minimize Losses can be done with FA options due to superior kiting ability, but I don't recommend it since there's 4 objective markers that are more important.
- No Man's Land - GREP
- Scorched Earth - Deathstorm Drop pod can hit 4 objective markers at the same time and is tall enough to reach over many terrain pieces... however I think marines should favour defence instead of offence on this one
- Vital Intelligence - Deep strike critical to scoring data-intercept and land speeders can do sweep and clear tactics to grab more data terminals. The map is also huge and diagonal so having extra speed is very important. There's zero points for holding only 1 objective marker, so you need to be FAST
- Sweep and Clear Crusade - Sweep and Clear has Secure and Sweep. Since the markers can be virtually anywhere it helps to have a combination of high speed, outflank and deep strike units so that you can concentrate on esoteric parts of the map. This is true for almost all Crusade missions
- Supply Drop - everything comes down to a strong turn 5 and having either high defence or high speed can help you secure that final marker.
- Assassinate - This is a VERY fun mission BTW, I highly recommend it. While snipers will probably help more than Fast Attack, being able to get behind the enemy warlord with flying units to help potentially bypass Look Out Sir. This is a case where I might take 2 VVs and 2 Assault Squad just to make sure that Warlord is body checked into oblivion
- The Relic - grab with a suppressor or inceptor and just... fly away to victory. a 10x of Assault squad can grab the relic with their front man and 'claim' it with their rear man for extra distance.,, if you daisy chain your models you can lose your entire unit and still deposit the relic like 20" away towards your own zone
- The Ritual - Assassination on Steroids, another great mission - since the Warlord gets 4++ for free on this mission having a lot of small arms can help wear them down and Fast Attack can excel at that
- Raze and Ruin - unlike the earlier mission, the Raze(action) takes place at the end of your movement phase, not the start; and is completed at the end of your turn. This means your Fast Attack (Deep Strike) units can ninja this action at pretty much any time, anywhere, unless dedicated defenders are left on every single objective marker.
- Firestorm - Invader ATVs can pretty much win this mission just by existing
- Hold at All Costs - high speed flying units can try to squeeze into the center, but a strong vehicle rush would probably be better. A deathstorm drop pod would be a huge investment given how small this match is, but the defender using it would be unassailable for the most part.
- Death or Glory - Defender can kite to win, attackers will benefit from having high-speed and/or deepstrike/outflank to kill any stragglers that are attempting to do the same.