Saturday, 14 November 2015

New White Scars Rules Review: Part 2- Formations

Welcome to part 2 of my review of the new White Scars rules in War Zone Damocles: Kauyon. Part 1 covered the new Warlord Traits, Relics and tactical objectives cards in the supplement, part 2 will look at the new formations available to the White Scars (and other marine chapters).
Several new formations have been included in the new expansion book for the White Scars to utilise. These focus on the fast-paced, highly mobile style of war that the Scars are famous for and includes a new multi-formation detachment known as the "Scarblade Strike Force".
Stormlance Battle Demi-Company
This formation consists of:
1 Captain/Chaplain (can be replaced by Khan)
0-1 Command Squad
3 Tactical Squads
1 Devastator Squad
One unit of Assault Marines, Bikes, Attack Bikes or Landspeeders
All infantry units must be mounted in a Rhino or Razorback at the start of the game.
The formation gets two special rules:
Clear and Sweep- provides re-rolls to Hit when shooting at enemy units controlling an objective
Mobile Firebase- allows bikes and jump unit to move 2D6" after shooting and infantry units to move D6" after shooting (unit cannot assault). Also allows units to re-embark in a transport if they can all get within 2" of an access point.
A highly mobile battle demi-company that fits well with the White Scars, but can also be used by other Space Marine Chapters too.
Clear and Sweep gives a great bonus in what is frequently an objective-based game. There is a lot of firepower in the formation, so potentially, a lot of damage could be caused with this special rule.
Mobile Firebase is also very useful, no longer will the Eldar and Tau be having all the fun. This is a nice rule allowing you to spill out of your Rhino to unload all your rapid fire bolters at the enemy and then climbing back in to the safety of the Rhino for the enemy's shooting phase, providing some added protection to your army. It will also be useful for moving your bikes into rapid fire range to shoot their bolters then moving out of range in the assault phase.
In a game where speed and objective grabbing are key, I can also see its value in using the extra movement to grab or contest objectives.
The only thing I don't like is being forced to start your units in their transports. Particularly for the Devastators, this will mean wasting a turn disembarking to fire all your weapons or firing two from the top hatch of the Rhino each turn. It also lacks Objective Secured which could be problematic in some games.
I like this formation, it gives you some nice buffs to the units. I'm not sure how often I will field one, but that is only because I don't currently have enough transports to actually field it.
Hunting Force
This bike formation consists of:
1 Captain (can be Khan) on a Bike
0-1 Chaplain on Bike
0-1 Command Squad on Bikes
2-5 Bike Squads
1-3 Attack Bike Squads
1-3 Scout Bike Squads
An all-bike mounted formation, very fitting for the White Scars. The formation gains two special rules:
Hunter's Prey- Choose one enemy HQ and a secondary and tertiary unit. The HQ is the target prey at the start of the game, once dead, the secondary unit becomes prey, etc. All units in the formation get re-rolls to hit and wound against the target prey and furious charge if they assault it.

Thunderous Assault- Bikes get two hammer of wrath attacks each if more than 5 in the unit.

I really like this formation and will probably be fielding it a lot. Hunter's prey provides a nice bonus to your units. Given the number of grav weapons this formation can field, this should provide a fair amount of damage. It would also be good to pick an enemy tank as a target, allowing your multimelta attack bikes to get re-rolls to hit and to wound (I know mine always miss).
I'm not sure if the bonus confers to any unit the enemy HQ joins, I would assume that it does. This will be useful for taking on any tough enemy units or Deathstars.

Thunderous assault is also great for getting additional hammer of wrath attacks, which at S5, can be quite potent in combat. I don't tend to run many large bike squads, so may struggle to get this rule off many times.

The only "tax" that may be seen is the Scout Bike Squad. I have never run one of these and don't think I have ever seen one on the table. Looking at the unit entry, they are not bad, I just think normal scouts in a Landspeeder storm are better (and they get objective secured, though that doesn't matter in this formation). Saying that, I have just purchase a Scout Bike unit to build and add to this formation.

Stormbringer Squadron
Consists of:
1-3 Units of Landspeeders
1-3 Units of Scouts (must have Landspeeder storm transport)

With this formation, there are three special rules:
Locate and Secure- Scouts get Objective secured (but the Landspeeder Storm does not)
Outrider Support- Storm gets +1 Jink save if within 6" of a Landspeeder
Rapid Deployment- Scouts can disembark from the Landspeeder Storm if it moves up to 12"

A nice, potentially small formation that brings some nice bonuses. Gaining objective secured on the Scouts is nice (though they get this anyway in a normal CAD), but annoyingly, the Landspeeder Storm does not get it (specifies this in the rules). I like taking a Landspeeder Storm for fast moving objective grabbing, so adding to its survivability with increased Jink save is a bonus.

The Rapid Deployment rule is nice too, giving the Scouts a potential assault threat range of 30" (the rule does not say they cannot assault after disembarking) or simply an objective grabbing range of 18".

I like this formation. At bare minimum it is quite cheap and a nice way to get Objective Secured in the Scarblade Strike Force (I may have to invest in more Speeders and Scouts).

Speartip Strike
Consists of:
1-3 Units of Landspeeders
2 Units from the following: Bike Squad, Scout Bike Squad, Attack Bikes

The formation gains the Strategic Spearhead rule, allowing it to enact one of the following:
Focussed Supression- If two units from the formation fire at an enemy unit, the unit must take a pinning test. It suffer -2 Ld for each additional unit from the formation that fires at it.
Harrassing Fire- Enemy units suffering wounds from units in this formation must take a Ld test. If they fail, they can choose to go to ground. Otherwise, they must move as fast as possible to wards the closest unit in this formation in their next movement phase.

Some interesting rules there. I see Focussed Supression as being more useful, but it will require most units in the formation to fire at the enemy unit, but the chances of failing the test increase, the more firepower you throw at the unit. Three single speeders and two attack bikes in the formation firing at the same unit would force a pinning check on -6 Ld. Quite useful for neutralising your opponent's firepower.
Harrassing fire could be useful for forcing your opponent's heavy weapons to move and/or snap fire in the next turn, assuming they fail the test. Also useful for moving enemy units out of position so that you can assault them, stop them scoring objectives or grab the objectives for yourself.

Scarblade Strike Force
This is the White Scars version of the Gladius Strike Force. The force consists of 1-2 core units, 1+ Auxiliary units and 0-3 Command units

Core Units:
Battle demi-company
Stormlance battle demi-company
Hunting force

Auxiliary units:
Stormbringer Squadron
Speartip strike force,
Other Auxiliary units from Codex Space Marines

Command Units:
Strike Force command
Reclusiam Command Squad
Librarius Conclave

By taking the Scarblade, you gain the following bonuses:
Lightning Assault- Can re-roll failed Hit and Run tests
Ride the Wind- Vehicles and bikes move an extra D6" when moving flat out (or 2D6" if they are fast or a flyer)
Maximum Impact- Charging a unit at least 8" away gives you Hammer of Wrath (or re-rolls to wound if you have it already).

A nice, themed formation for the White Scars, focussing on fast moving and crushing the enemy beneath your wheels.

Lightning assault is a great bonus to get from the formation. I have lost count of the amount of times I have failed a critical Hit and Run roll (always on Khan, always on a 6!), so getting to re-roll is a big bonus for me. This will allow my characters to practically always succeed in their Hit and Run rolls (I5 will pass ~97% of the time) and give my Centurions a good shot of escaping from combat.

Ride the wind will be useful in some circumstances when you want that little bit of extra distance from your turboboost.

Maxiumum Impact will be very useful when combined with the Hunting Force rules, giving you two Hammer of Wrath attacks per biker with re-rolls to wound, you will be able to put a dent in most enemy units before they can strike at you. Combined with the Banner of the Eagle, longer charges should be relatively easy to get with your bike units.

Most of the formations lack Objective Secured (with the exception of the Battle demi-company and Stormbringer Squadron), which may be a problem in some games. However, this formation allows you to build a fast moving, all biker army with some nice bonuses in combat (something space marine bikes can struggle in).

Final Thoughts
Overall, I like the new formations. The Hunting force gives some very nice boost to bike units, allowing you to target three key enemy units and improve your damage output against them. It also gives a nice little buff to bike units in combat, something I think they need if they don't have a character or sergeant wielding a power weapon/power fist.

Being able to re-roll Hit and Run rolls for the Scarblade is great in my opinion. My battle reports are frequently filled with lamenting a failed Hit and Run roll that could have changed the course of the game (maybe an exaggeration). I can see myself trying out this formation at some point in the near future (just need to get some Scout bikers and Landspeeders painted up).


  1. The StormLance Demi-Company is my favorite of these. I see two ways to roll with the Devs. First, you could just take a minimum Squad with just two Heavy Weapons (I'd probably go Missile Launchers or Lascannon for the Range), and keep them bunkered in their Rhino in your backfield. Alternately, you could go with four Grav Cannon, treat them as effectively being 12" Assault 3 Weapons, and have them jump out, shoot, and hop back in with Mobile Firebase until your Opponent finally gets tired of their shenanigans and pops the Tank, at which point they just stay put and start blasting.

    The StormBringer Squadron is pretty cool, too. That's one I kind of wish I could take with Blood Angels, to get that great Charge radius with Furious Charge Scouts.

    1. I will maybe need to get some more Rhinos for my army. I also like the idea of getting out of the Rhino, unloading 10 rapid fire bolters and getting back in to the safety of the Rhino.

    2. Aren't all these formations available to all space marine chapters? If that's the case WestRider, you can run the Stormbringer Squadron with them. I want to try using the Scarblade with my Iron Hands (Clan Raukaan)

    3. I think only the Stormlance can be used by other Space Marine Chapters, which is stated specifically under the formation rules. I think the rest require you to have White Scars chapter tactics to use.

  2. As far as I can see, the scarblade has to be white scars units, but the other formation datasheets don't require white scars chapter tactics (it would be in their restrictions section)

    I'm definitely going to be trying this one out, I'm radically revamping my marine army and going full-bike (plus speeders etc) with my iron fists - I'll be using white scars tactics with them, then adding in a raptor wing to bring some storm talons to the table on turn 2!