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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Case for Attack Bikes over Land Speeders

Does it really matter? No. It doesn’t. More or less, it comes down to play style. However, that choice is definable.

Since our podcast clearly supports using Attack Bikes where possible in the fast choice over Land Speeders, since most people I think don’t agree with that, and since we’ve never really covered it in depth, here it goes. Do I really care that much? Not really. They are both basically the same and basically fill the same role. However, I think what is lost on most people is exactly why Attack Bikes can be more effective than Land Speeders in many cases.

To keep the article small, I’m going to simply list all the places where Attack Bikes are better than Land Speeders. There is an equally long list of reasons why Land Speeders are better than Attack Bikes. So, let’s keep that in mind even though I am clearly writing an article that is meant to provide a case for Attack Bikes.

  • Attack Bikes are cheaper for a similar weapon load out. 40 Points for a Heavy Bolter versus 50 on the Land Speeder. 50 Points for a Multi-Melta versus 60 on a Land Speeder. I also say a “similar” weapon load out because……
  • Attack Bikes have a Twin-Linked Bolter which people always forget about. A rapid firing Attack Bike with a Heavy Bolter puts out 3 S 5 shots and 2 Twin-Linked S 4 shots. A good bit more pew pew for also being 10 points cheaper.
  • I concede that an Attack Bike does not have nearly the amount of options that a Land Speeder does (Typhoons, Heavy Flamers, Assault Cannons). However, you spend points for those options. They aren’t free, making the point disparity even greater between the two. Also, I concede that an Attack Bike cannot assume a “duality” role of Anti-Tank and Anti-Infantry…… or can it?
  • But wait, an Attack Bike can do something a Land Speeder can’t do. Assault! Say what???? Yes, that’s right, it can assault. Let me pose this question to you. How many turns does it take for a Land Speeder squadron to disable a 5 man long fang squad? Depends on guns, loadout, dice roll, zzzZZZzzz. How many turns does it take a 3 man Attack Bike squad to disable a 5 man squad of Long Fangs? 2. One to turbo-boost over there and another to assault them. Good luck to them fighting their way out of 6 T5 wounds that have just as many attacks per round as they do.
  • An Attack Bike can multi-melta a transport and assault what’s inside. What’s scarier to a Veteran laden Chimera, a Land Speeder blowing it up or an Attack Bike blowing it up and assaulting the Veterans inside? How’s that for a little duality?
  • Attack Bikes get a 3+ cover save when Turbo-boosting. A Land Speeder gets a 4+.
  • Land Speeders have a very visible profile being so high up. Attack Bikes have a low profile being low to the ground. What does that mean? It’s easier for Attack Bikes to find LoS blocking terrain to hide behind as they advance or even hide behind their own Rhinos. A Land Speeder? Not so much! It’s visible almost all the time and just begging for anti-tank fire.
  • Attack Bikes can choose to fall back if they get shot at. Interesting, but it’s useful to be able to get out of dodge after melta-whipping a tank. What’s a Land Speeder do?
  • Attack Bikes are much more resilient versus small arms fire. What you ask? How is that possible when the Land Speeder is a vehicle???.......
  • Because Attack Bikes can’t be shaken/stunned, immobilized, or have their guns taken away. Here’s a simpler way to think about it. What are the odds that a bolter round can stop a Land Speeder? (0.66 * 0.167) = 11%. This is because any glancing hit stops it. What are the odds that an Attack Bike gets stopped? 0% because it has two wounds. J Okay, not fair I know! How about a rapid firing bolter? 21% chance to disable the Land Speeder. 14% chance versus Attack Bike to kill it.
  • Attack Bikes are more vulnerable versus Missiles and Lascannons. Why? Because they get doubled out and it’s AP 3 or better. However, consider this…. Attack Bikes can find cover almost anywhere. Land Speeders float in the air with a huge target on them. Since most people want their Land Speeders within Flamer or Multi-Melta range, they aren’t usually hiding behind something. Attack Bikes can hide behind a blade of grass. When you think about it this way, an Attack Bike has a 27.7% chance to die with cover of 4+. A Land Speeder has a 29.5% chance to be penetrated without cover and have its gun removed, immobilized, or destroyed by a Missle (Lascannon is worse!). To die, granted it’s about a 14.5% chance. However, a Land Speeder with no gun is dead and an immobilized one generally is to. Not always! But usually. Land Speeders in a Squadron die much easier. (22% to die versus missile, 27% versus LasCannon). So, although they are “more survivable”, it’s useful to know just “how much more”.
  • Also, in terms of survivability, remember that a flat out moving Land Speeder also dies on an immobilized result. Ouch!
  • And last but not least, guess who is more survivable versus all these weapons, Bolters, Heavy Bolters, Autocannons, Assault Cannons, Storm Bolters, Grenade Launchers, Psybolt ammo, Multi-Lasers, Heavy Flamers, almost every gun in the Nid codex… basically everything except Missile Launchers, Lascannons, and Meltas (or their xeno equivalents?).
  • Attack Bikes don’t get immobilized if they end in Area Terrain, they just take a wound on a 1.
  • Attack Bikes get cover from Area Terrain. Woot!
  • An Attack Bike can fire both of its guns and move 12.
  • And then assault afterwards!
  • An Attack Bike has a pimpin’ side car. A side car, people! When’s the last time you saw a Land Speeder in an Indiana Jones movie? That’s what I thought!

There’s probably more, but that’s a good start! Enjoy the food for thought and don’t take it too seriously.


  1. I always enjoy articles like this being an avid bike army enthusiast.

    One thing that I can not stress enough with an article like this is the fact that speeders and attack bikes are not equal so making fair comparisons between the two of them is difficult and they need to be taken within in the context of the army in which they are in. For example, attack bikes do not suit all armies, and land speeders do not suit all armies either. Army composition and the usefulness of these units should be analyzed.

    For example, If I have an army all mounted on bikes, taking attack bikes is a really bad idea. Ideally I all ready have a load of fast moving melta weapons, assault capability, and bolter action. So taking more of these units and not covering weaknesses is the ultimate demise of biker armies.

    However, if I am taking a rhino mech based army where fast moving melta weapons are lacking, attack bikes become ideal. Being able to sit behind rhinos and other tanks using them as cover (blocking line of sight while taking pop shots) to move up the table before they pounce and take out a ideal target is viable and recommended.

  2. Other then that argument, the points you posted are completely valid when analyzing attack bikes.

  3. The attack bike/Landspeeder question comes down to two factors in my opinion. Target Priority and battlefield role.

    Lets talk Target Priority First. In armies that have a low number of high priority targets I would say to take Attack Bikes because as mentioned above they can gain cover easier and are generally more survivable to the type of weapons that would normally be targeted at a Speeder. However in armies with a rich number of other high priority targets Landspeeders shine for their versatility and their ability to get behind the enemy more easily and when moving more then 6" a much lower percentage of being able to be destroyed or even hit in close combat.

    Now lets talk Battlefield role... or what do you want them to do on the battlefield. Personally I see attack bikes and Landspeeder has having distinctly different battlefield roles. Attack bikes do one of 2 things well, either tank hunting or killing hordes of mid to low level infantry. With 3 attack bikes with Multimeltas you have a highly mobile, easy to protect unit that can hide behind vehicles, infantry, and terrain to zip out and take shots at key targets with ease. Or you have a solid anti infantry killing choice that puts out 12 shots at 24 inches or 15 at 12 inches that can act as a harassing until for large infantry blocks while staying in relative safety. Landspeeders can do neither of these tactics as well as attack bikes.

    However I do not see Landspeeder in either of these two categories. For starters, I would never take a Landspeeder with just 1 weapon. The flexibility of Tornadoes and Typhoons make them the perfect fast tool box support unit that can do a variety of things. My favorite combo is a Typhoon with Cyclone Missile Launchers and Heavy Flamer. This version allows the Landspeeder to stay outside the effective range of most lesser weapons that would be primarily used to shoot down a Landspeeder while firing 2 Krak Missiles per turn into the enemy army per Speeder. This forces the enemy either to allocate shots from heavier, longer range weapons that could be firing at other choice targets or simply to ignore the Landspeeders till they get closer.

    Once closer, this Typhoon can jump forward 12", releasing a devastating Heavy flamer template and 2 Frag Missile templates (Frags are str 4 and there for defensive weapons). I have gotten as many as 30+ hits at times using this method on a single unit.

    To Sum up, yes I think both have their place, however for my money 9 out of 10 times I will be using Landspeeders do to there increased versatility.

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