Tuesday, November 10, 2009

White Scars: Building a Successful Army List

Master of the Forge in full servo-harness riding a bike

Un-Phasable here,

White Scars are an entertaining army for many reasons the most important being they are challenging. Given the relatively low model count in your army, you must be cunning when you command them. Since they will almost always be outnumbered, any mistakes made will be amplified and occasionally may cost you the game. That being said, they are certainly a competitive army and success is very rewarding and never out of reach.

One of the most important concepts to remember with the White Scars is your model count. If you build a 1500 point list and only have 15 models you have a problem. You would only be making victory easier for your opponent. You want to have models to wage war with. Don't get me wrong, it is certainly possible to pull off a victory with very few expensive models rather than more numerous not as expensive models. Just keep in mind your army will not be as balanced or as effective the fewer models you include. Now when I talk about model count I'm referring to models that can move and shoot. This includes bikes of course, but also includes transports (not Drop Pods), Dreadnoughts, and the models inside transports, non-transport vehicles, or any other models on foot (even though I don't take models on foot). Typically I will hold a higher priority for models that are also capable of assault since that makes them more versatile.

I include transports for two main reasons; they act almost as moving terrain that I control, and can block line of sight and provide cover to my precious bikes while simultaneously providing protection for the troops inside. Transports are important for the White Scars since you want everything to be capable of moving at the same speed; i.e. at least 12 inches a turn. White Scars are meant to be fast, Dreadnoughts are the only exception to this rule. That is why whenever I include them in a list they receive a Drop Pod, this way they are where you need them early in the game, in fact often before the bikes even arrive. Since I play White Scars with the traditional approach I never take models on foot unless they are given a transport (even Devastator Squads), everything must be mounted. When playing this way, you will always be more mobile than your foe. This will make it easier to pick your favorable battles, and seize objectives when the time is right.

Why is the model count so Important: Well, the short answer is the more you have to work with, the more possibilities you have on the battlefield. You do not want to make victory easier for your opponent by making yourself severely outnumbered. I will always count the number of models in a list before I consider trying it. If it meets my expectations I add it to the large folder of army list possibilities I have for my White Scars. I try not to play the same list twice in a row, because as you all know the Space Marines have tons of options. This helps to keep my opponent guessing, and also makes each game exciting. It's fun to have 50+ "take all comers" lists ready at any given time, although it may be a little bit excessive.

A good rule of thumb I have come up with: When I make an army list for White Scars I will typically expect approximately 30 models for 1500 points give or take a few. For 1750 points I would expect about 35-40 models. It is certainly satisfactory to have more than my guidelines suggest would be appropriate, however a red flag should go up if you have significantly less then expected with this guideline. For every high cost single model unit you include, such as a Dreadnought or Predator, you will likely need to balance it out with a less expensive per model unit such as a Tactical Squad. This will help to provide balance in your force and also help to ensure you will not be too outnumbered that you cannot overcome it. Don't get me wrong, this is not an exact science, it is merely a guideline. But remember even when I play nothing but bikes with my Scars I still have 32 models at 1500 points. The fewer high points cost models you include, the more bikes you can fit into the army.

As always feel free to comment or ask questions.


  1. I have been toying with the idea of a Khan-based outflanking army myself, though with no bikes. I really like the idea of the randomness that could happen in a game played with this in mind. The list I wrote below is my idea of what an outflanking army could be.

    Khan - 160 pts

    Assault Terminators - 200 pts
    5 with Lightning Claws
    Dedicated Transport
    Land Raider Redeemer - 250 pts

    Sternguard Squad 1 & 2(both same loadout) - 235 pts ea
    6 Sternguard
    2 Combi-Meltas
    Twin-linked Lascannons

    Tactical Squad 1 & 2(both same loadout) - 210 pts ea
    10 Space Marines
    Missile Launcher

    2 Scoring Units
    7 KillPoints
    1500 pts

    In this list you have great assault with furious charge LC termies. Outflanking gets some use out of those redeemer flamestorm cannons. The razorbacks pop tanks from rear as soon as they come on board. Tactical marines are just to add the numbers.

    Would you use a Khan list like this, or do you think bikes are essential?

  2. My only concern would be; What would you begin with on the board? When outflanking, it is crucial to still begin with something on the board unless you have Drop Pods coming in since outflanking can be unpredictable. You do not want it to come to your turn and have nothing on the board therefor forcing a loss.
    It is an interesting list considering you have everything mounted, and terminators with furious charge and LC seem pretty solid. Bikes are not always essential, if your army is designed to be fast without them. The thing that bikes would add is the ability to move up, fire, then assault if needed to finish them off. In addition they never have to worry about getting in and out of transports so can more easily transition from moving and shooting to assault.
    A side note: I occasionally will play with no bikes, giving me an interesting contrast to a mostly or all bike army. However, given that bikes can turbo-boost, outflanking will tend to be more consistent in the 33% of the time that the unit arrives on an unfavorable board edge.