Optimal Configurations - Part-Two - Scout Squads.

So after the article I did on Tactical Squads I thought I'd move onto the other troops choice, Scouts.

So our Scout options are somewhat limited and our transport options for them are even more so. As I covered transports first in the Marine entry I suppose I should do the same for the Scout Squads.

Well there's one, lol.

The Landspeeder Storm - 50 points.

So what we have is an Armour 10 (all round), Open-topped Fast Skimmer with a transport capacity of 5 Scouts. It comes with a Heavy Bolter as standard which can be upgraded to either a Heavy Flamer, Multi-Melta and Assault Cannon. Unfortunately it's apparently piloted by Scouts as well as it's only BS 3.
It comes with a couple of interesting pieces of equipment as standard. One increases the scatter distance of units that Deep Strike near it and the other reduces the Leadership of units charged by Scouts that have disembarked from it.
It comes with the 'Scouts' rule as well as the normal Landspeeders ability to arrive via Deep Strike which gives us some extra deployment options but unfortunately isn't a dedicated transport so therefore costs us a fast attack slot for each one we wish to take.

All of the following Landspeeder Storm related assessments are going to be presuming that the Storm has some Scouts in it as otherwise your better off with a normal Landspeeder.....

Lets look at the relative benefits of those upgrades we have to pay for before we look at what we get for free.

Its a short list, though.

So we can upgrade our Heavy Bolter to.....

Heavy Flamer (10 Points) - Well it counteracts the issue of being BS 3 and compliments the Landspeeder Storm if the vehicle is being used to outflank and then steal objectives. Definately worth considering if this is your preffered use of the vehicle.
Multi-Melta (15 Points) - Multi-Meltas are pretty damn useful but unfortunately BS 3 Multi-Meltas are only going to hit 50% of the time.
Assault Cannon (35 Points) - So on average your going to hit with 2 S6 shots and a 33% chance of getting a Rending wound. Not worth the points.

So it could outflank and be a nuisance but other than that I see little use for one. If you must use one then I'd do this,

Option 1.
Fast Attack: Land Speeder Storm (1#, 60 pts)
   1 Land Speeder Storm @ 60 pts (Heavy Flamer)

Troops: Scout Squad (5#, 90 pts)
   4 Scout Squad @ 90 pts (Combat Blade x4)
      1 Sergeant (Bolt Pistol; Power Weapon x1)

So the vehicle and unit inside use their respective 'Scout' rules to outflank. They then Heavy Flamer a squishy objective holding unit and assault what's left.

You could give the vehicle a Multi-Melta and the Sergeant a Combi-Melta and use it as an outflanking anti-tank unit. However the chance of this working are not particularly good and your then likely to have gifted your opponent 2 Kill Points.....If you have any points spare you can further upgrade the Sergeant but it's probably not worth it.

Okay that's the options involving the Landspeeder Storm done. Now onto the actual Scouts.....

Well they have the standard Marine equipment of Boltgun, Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak grenades with the difference being they have Scout Armour (4+) rather than the usual Marine Power Armour (3+). So they're more vulnerable to things like Heavy Flamers, Heavy Bolters and other similar AP4 weapons if they're stupid enough to be somewhere where they're not getting a cover save. Apparently Marines stick all the genetic upgrades into Scouts (S 4, T 4, I 4) before they bother to train them (WS 3, BS 3) which makes them less handy in a fight* and a lot less useful when shooting*. They do come with the full compliment of sneaky abilities though as they have Infiltrate, Scout and Move through Cover.

* The difference between WS 3 and 4 is less of an issue than the difference between BS 3 and 4.

So now lets have a look at weapon and equipment options, starting with weapons.

Boltgun - Default :

So our Scouts start off the Boltgun which is probably the least useful weapon for them as you want your scouts either killing things from a good safe distance or charging them with lots of attacks so this option needs swapping for something more useful to their role.

Combat Blade - Free Upgrade :

Swapping out our Boltgun for a Combat Blade gives us two close combat weapons and therefore an extra attack. This should be the standard 'upgrade' for any unit of Scouts that want's to get up close and personal.

Shotgun - Free Upgrade :

Exchanging our Boltgun for this upgrade can seem like a good idea until you think about it a bit more. Effectively were getting double the amount of shots than our Bolt Pistol at the same range  and due to the shotgun being an 'Assault' weapon we can still charge which at first glance seems like a good deal. However the Shotgun has no AP which makes it worse should we be shooting vehicles in the rear armour and it costs us the extra attack in combat that a Combat Blade would give us. A unit of 10 scouts with Shotgun and Bolt Pistol is getting 20 shotgun shots followed by 20 attacks on the charge. A unit with Combat Blade and Bolt Pistol is getting 10 Bolt Pistol shots followed by 30 attacks on the charge which is identical in both number of and Strength of attacks overall. In the likely event of the Scouts opponents lasting till another round of combat the Shotgun Scouts are down to 10 attacks whereas the Blade/Pistol Scouts are still getting 20.**

** I've ignored the Sergeant in order to keep the maths simple, but the end result is much the same.

Sniper Rifle - Free Upgrade :

Should be the standard armament for an objective holding unit as it has long range and the chance of 'pinning' an enemy unit should never be underestimated. Don't make Sniper Scouts the basis of a shooty army though as you'll be severely disappointed.

Missile Launcher - 10 Points :

One model in the unit can swap his Boltgun for one of these. I'm a fan of Missile Launchers normally but single Missile shots that miss half the time aren't great. For 10 points though, they're an adequate supplement to a 'Sniper' units fire-power. In a unit with Telion they become much better, obviously.

Heavy Bolter - 10 Points : 

As with the Missile Launcher, one model in the unit can have one of these. The standard firing mode is unimpressive with a Scouts BS but the addition of the Hellfire shell gives you a 'wounds on 2's' small blast that's nice to have.

Now onto equipment,

Camo Cloaks - 3 points per model : A sniper unit with Telion doesn't need these, a sniper unit without Telion does.

That was easy, now to the Sergeant.

The Sergeant can have any of the upgrades that his unit does with the addition of the usual Sergeant options of Combi Weapons, Power Sword/Fist, Meltabombs etc.
As a rule of thumb I'd give him the same upgrades as his unit with the exception that I'd give him a Power Weapon or Fist if he's in an assault unit, but that's all the extra I'd ever spend on him with one exception....

Teleport Homer - 15 Points : Any Terminator unit that deep strikes within 6" of the Homer doesn't scatter. If your infiltrating your Scouts forward and you have Terminators deep striking in then it's worth thinking about. However as you can't really predict when the Terminators are going to arrive this isn't particularly reliable as a tactic. It's quite funny when it works though ;-)

Got all that?

Good now onto how that lot translates into actual unit configurations after a brief interlude.....

A brief word on Telion.

I was always a fan of Telion but now the recent FAQ has made the 'stealth' rule pass on to a unit from an attached character he has become much more of a bargain due to the 3 points per Scout he saves you thanks to the fact that his unit doesn't now need Camo Cloaks.
His 'Voice of Experience' rule enables you to give a single model in his unit his BS instead of him firing himself which makes the Heavy Bolter or Missile Launcher your Scouts may take a lot more accurate.
Also his 'Eye of Vengeance' rule which enables him to select which model in the target unit takes the saves from any wounds he generates is useful for upping the chances that hidden Power Fists or single wound support characters can be sniped out of units. The fact that his weapon has the 'Rending' rule makes the occasional 6 you roll to wound like a bloody Xmas present ;-)

"Oh look, I rolled a six to wound. Please remove that Sanguinary Priest from that unit of yours"

Option 2.
Troops: Scout Squad (5#, 135 pts)
   4 Scout Squad @ 135 pts (Sniper Rifle x3; Missile Launcher; Sergeant Telion)
      1 Sergeant Telion

So for a relatively cheap 135 points investment we get a Scoring unit to sit on our objective that has a 3+ Cover Save and a BS6 Missile Launcher due to Telions 'Voice of Experience' rule.

Heavy Bolter with Hellfire Rounds is a fair swap for the Missile Launcher as it gives you a nice 'wounds on 2's ' small blast option and of course you can add extra ablative wounds Scouts if you like.

Option 3.
HQ: Master of the Forge (1#, 120 pts)
   1 Master of the Forge @ 120 pts (Converison Beamer)

Troops: Scout Squad (5#, 135 pts)
   4 Scout Squad @ 135 pts (Sniper Rifle x3; Heavy Bolter w/Hellfire Shells; Sergeant Telion)
      1 Sergeant Telion

Originally 'invented' by Stelek back at the dawn of time from his 'Best-Of' Space Marine list I believe, though his version had Camo Cloaks as it was done wayyyyy before the recent FAQ. This unit is designed to be deployed in a building that has been reinforced using the Master of the Forge's 'Bolster Defenses' rule which ups the cover save granted by it by one. Add to this the benefits from Telions Stealth rule and you have a unit with a 2+ Cover Save. The Scout has a Heavy Bolter instead of a Missile Launcher in this list as it better compliments the Master of the Forge's Conversion Beamer once your shooting at things at mid to close range.

235 points isn't that expensive and if your taking the Master of the Forge anyway then it's a useful unit combo.

None really, It is what it is.

Scouts in Combat.
They're not that good. I know people will talk about the number of attacks they get and that they're still Marines and any number of other justifications but there are fundamental issues with them. Firstly WS3 means there isn't much that they'll be hitting on 3's mostly they'll be requiring 4's which isn't bad when they are hitting things. Unfortunately what they'll be hitting for the most part is going to be actual Marines which will be hitting them back on 3's. The fact that they only get a 4+ save is an issue in combat but is more of an issue when it comes to getting into combat in the first place.....

Scouts have a number of methods of getting closer to the enemy at the start of the game either via infiltrating or 'Scout' moves or some combination of the two. However this is going to place them in a situation where they will face the full brunt of the enemies fire-power on their own. I can only see this working if they're in an army that gets the benefit of Shrikes 'Fleet' Chapter Tactic and can get a first turn charge or if you have a shit-load of them. Relying on Scouts to do the brunt of your fighting is very risky imo and shouldn't be the basis for  an army.

Of course if you want to get them close to the enemy without all those tedious 'getting shot to pieces' issues then outflanking is the way to go.....

Option 4.
Troops: Scout Squad (10#, 170 pts)
   9 Scout Squad @ 170 pts (Combat Blade x9)
      1 Sergeant (Melta Bombs; Bolt Pistol; Power Fist x1)

Whatever method your using to get close to the enemy your going to need a lot of bodies to soak up damage so full squads are I'm afraid a necessity. Several of my friends (most notably Adam who I'm sure will be annoyingly vocal in the comments section) have used Scouts to good effect but most of them have come to the conclusion that the Power Fist is a required inclusion in the unit as a safety measure against certain obvious units. I never use Scouts in this way myself so they'll have to defend this particular unit configuration themselves.

So that's Scouts pretty much covered. At some point in the next week or so I'll move onto the Elite's section of the Force Organisation Chart.
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