On todays roster we have bikes, bikes and maybe some jetbikes...oh, who am i kidding?
Currently there are only 3 imperial codexes that allow bikes to be used as troops, these would be the Dark Angels, Space Wolves and Space Marines. As this article is about the HQ's we wont go into the actual bike squads and what they may take and how to use them nor will we discuss Logan as he is an HQ that may make bike riding units into troops, but he himself does not ride one, we will instead compare good ol'e Sammy boy and the Mongol.
At first we must understand that the theme of the White Scare and the Dark Angels is completely different. Where the White Scares represent untamed wilderness and manuverability in battle, the Dark Angels represent a knightly band of brothers that ride out in reconnaissance to locate threats and harass the opponent.
Is this ideology represented in the codex? Lets take a look.
The Stat Line
The great Kor'Sarro khan who comes at 160 points is youre average chapter master stat liner. He has WS 6 which ensures that most of his enemies will be hit on a 3+ , so far were not seeing something unusual.
BS5 means that he will hit on 2+ with his twin linked bolter, but it is most likely that those babies will be unused int he shooting phase.
Moving on to his strength we have the usual space marine punch in the face with S4, once again as expected.
The wounds on this model sum up to 3, meaning that it will take a few hits to bring him down, as his save is 3+ and 4++.
Initiative 5 means hel be hitting before any other classical marine, but most likely after any pointy eared alien or 4 armed tyranid.
Normaly he has T4, however as we want a mounted leader we will take Moondrakkan which will increase his toughness to 5, oh and it makes squads of bikes of at least 5 models into troops!
The majesty of this Khan comes mainly in his special rules that he bestows upon himself and others.
The unit he joins has the Furious Charge special rule as well as hit and run. This alone improves his Strength and Initiative to 5 , put him in a command squad, give em all power weapons and youre looking at 16 power weapon, 4 normal attacks at initiative 5 with strength 5. Not to mention 5 attacks from the khan himself at I6. It is hioghly unlikely that any but the toughest opponents will survive.
The Khan has the fleet special rule given to him from his bike, which means that should you be just out of reach for those pesky pathfinders, you can detach the khan in the movement phase and run a D6 in any direction during the shooting phase.
If this dosent satisfy youre appetite, all to wound rolls of a 6 cause instant death regardless of toughness.
Finnaly the cherry of the pie comes in the shape of h
is chapter tactics, all units including dedicated transports (im looking at the redeemer with termies in it) have the ability to outflank. Tell me which army will be bold or foolish enough to place anything near a table edge when they know that at any moment a land raider with S6 and AP3 can ride out from the side, spit out some termies and flame you to death!
At the total cost of 205 points the Khan is a great buffer as well as fighter that represents the savegery of the wild east (or Chogoris as is known in the fluff).
Moving on to our Dark Knight of the Rock.
At the exactly the same cost of 205 points we have a WS of 5, clearly the Dark Angels have lower standards when they designate "Grand Masters" then the white scars.
A BS of 5 which comes in handy as Sammael posseses a rather large plasma cannon incorporated into his jetbike...yes i said jetbike, apparently the only functional jetbike in the entire imperium according to fluff.
Every other stat is identical to the Khans, including the 3+/4++ save.
The Special Rules
This is where Sammy truly falls behind. The only usefull rule he has is "Master of the Ravenwing" this means that bikes count as troops.
He also gives you the ability to purchase a standard bearer (1+ attack) and an apothecary (FNP) for 1 unit in the army at the cost of 40 pts combined. This means that we could even say that the cost of Sammael is increased to 245. Now this is debatable as it is a bike and not Sammael that buys the upgrade, however it is only available through Sammael.
Next in line we have Fearless, which for most part is useless for Sammael as he is NOT an independant character, he cannot join other units and should he fall victim to a roll of 1 in a dangerous terrain test he does not get to reroll thanks to the skilled rider which is incorporated into the independant character special rule.
The fact that he has Rites of Battle, is rather redundant as if you are played a bike or terminator army, all youre units are fearless anyway.
However we should accredit Sammael with having immunity to instand death thanks to the adamantium mantle and having the raven sword (master crafted power weapon). Clearly that one reroll at S4 and I5 will make a difference when he is single handedly fighting a unit of pretty much anything.
Now looking back at these points we see that yes the ideas and themes are indeed represented in the unit, how ever where this whole thing falls apart is on the table. It all well and nice having a lone night fly around with his fancy sword, how ever he simply wont love very long on the table. Where as the Khan can join a unit, while buffing it.
The Khan is a more viable option game wise, where as Sammael is more appealing to the players who prefer to play games with story line concepts rather then viability of an easy victory.
Dont get me wrong here, Sammael can kick ass, i have seen him do it. All im saying is that it is more likely for Khan to kick as easier and faster then Sammael.