Warhammer 40k Skitarii Codex Review
Greetings fellow gamers, this is Ben Murphy, back with a Skitarii codex review for Warhammer 40k. This might be my first review since 7th edition 40k dropped many months back! We've seen new Orks, Blood Angels, and more xenos than an Inquisitor can shake a stick at. I've taken a break from writing to do what we hobbyists love to do best: paint and play!
Now, with so many great releases coming out, I've put down my brush and dice and fired up the old typewriter. The gates of Mars are open, and pouring forth are the marital arm of the Adeptus Mechanicus: the Skitarii.
Skitarii Codex Review - The Book
The Skitarii are a brand new army for the Warhammer 40k universe. This release is akin to the Imperial Knights army released last year, but really, I liken it more to the Necron release of 3rd edition many, many years ago.
The Skitarii codex includes new backstory, new weapons, new art, and a host of new units. The codex is smaller than most of the other codexes, coming in at 80 pages, but the smaller price tag ($33 retail) makes it an easy purchase. You will not be displeased by the contents of the codex, at all. Many readers will remember that hubbub about the new 7th edition codexes dropping a lot of art and unit entries in favor of photographs of unit models. I'm pleased to report that the Skitarii codex has a unit-by-unit breakdown in the "fluff" section, which includes not only background on each unit, but also unique artwork for each entry.
Roughly the first half of the codex is given over to background, artwork, maps, timelines, unit entries and even information about different forge worlds and their color schemes. Most of this data is brand new, or at least buried so deep in existing fluff that it is not common knowledge. Did you know that the ochre robed Skitarii of forge world Ryza are currently suffering the brunt of TWO ork Waagghs!? Their machines of industry have turned inwards, fueling the demands of planetary defenders rather than the needs of distant fleets.
Skitarii Army Rules
The Skitarii soldiers are an interesting bunch. They are not genetically modified super soldiers like that of the Adeptus Astartes; nor are they desperate men and women relying on tanks and sheer numbers to win battles, ala the Astra Militarum. The soldiers of the Skitarii come from all walks of life, from the technical servants of a forge world, to captured criminals, to the the piously devoted supplicants of the Omnissiah and the Machine God itself. These men and women are torn limb from limb and surgically enhanced with bionic legs, breathing tubes, and neural implants. Their eyelids are removed so that they can remain ever vigilant and record all that they see, ever adding to the the data archives of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
Their freaking eyelids are surgically removed! And you wondered why they all wear goggles.
Part man and part machine, the foot soldiers of the Skitarii serve at the beck and call of their Tech Priest overseers. In fact, they have no dedicated HQ unit on the ground (or in the codex!). One of your unit sergeants must serve as your Warlord, and it does get Warlord Traits like usual. An interesting note: every sergeant upgrade in the codex has two Wounds and has access to wargear and relics!
While these Skitarii Alphas may be the leaders on the ground, the true might of the Skitarii army is commanded by a Tech Priest safely in orbit above the fray. Connected to each Skitarii warrior by the data tether on their backs, the Tech Priest organizes battles much like we play games of Warhammer! Each Skitarii warrior is an autonomous being, in that it still has a brain and can think and act independently, however, at strategic moments the Tech Priest overseer can override that autonomy with Doctrina Imperatives that are downloaded directly into the neural circuitry of each warrior.
These Doctrina act a lot like Astra Militarum orders, but are better in my opinion. First, they affect every unit in the army at the same time. Secondly, there is no Leadership role to make! Simply choose the Doctrina and apply its effects across your army for the remainder of the Turn. Once a Doctrina is used, it cannot be used again for the rest of the battle (barring the special rule from a Formation included in the codex). These Doctrina are essentially trade-offs to Weapon Skill and Ballistic skill in varying degrees. They allow you to focus your efforts to whatever Phase you find most critical that Turn. At the start of your Movement Phase, choose one of the following.
- All models gain +1 BS
- All models gain +2 BS, but -1 WS
- All Models gain +3 BS, but -2 WS
- All models gain +1 WS
- All models gain +2 WS, but -1 BS
- All models gain +3 WS, but -2 BS
Is your neural cogitator whirring? Since every one one of your shooty units in the codex have a base BS of 4, and every stabby unit has a base WS of 4, then simply using the basic Imperative will give you an army of WS or BS 5 killers.
Why not use the +3 BS Imperative on turn one as an Alpha Strike? You're unlikely to be charged in your opponent's first turn, so the -2 WS is inconsequential. Now all your advanced (and ancient) Martian weapons are hitting on 2+ and any misses can still hit on a re-roll of 5+. This makes weapons like the new Plasma Caviler very safe to use (18" range Str 7 AP2, Assault 3, Get's Hot!), as all those plasma dice are bound to roll some 1's, but with a BS of 7, they will be re-rolled.
The Imperatives that increase your Weapon Skill are a little more situational. Gaining a +1 WS will help your melee units hit on 3+ most of the time (turning WS 4 into WS 5) but it will also turn your basic troops into better melee units (turning them from WS 3 to WS 4). Not bad. However, pushing that WS higher comes at a tremendous cost of reducing your BS further and further, and in my opinion, for less gain. The difference between WS 5 and WS 6 is very minor, unless fighting specific assault units. Still, making an opposing Chapter Master with a thunder hammer hit your units on 4's instead of 3's could be useful.
The Skitarii Maniple Detachment
Every 7th edition codex comes with its own, unique detachment. Every army can use the Combined Arms Detachment from the core rule book and gain Objective Secured for its Troops, and this is always a fine option to go. However, choosing an army's unique detachment can add extra flavor and some interesting rules. Are they better than Objective Secured? You must be the judge.
Looking to the graphic above, the Skitarii Maniple requires two troops. That's it. Remember that one of your sergeants is chosen as your Warlord (if this is your Primary Detachment) so there is no HQ tax to field this detachment. Looking at the rest of the options, we have a lot of Troop slots, 4 Elites, 2 Fast, and 4 Heavy.
Beyond the obligatory "Re-roll the Warlord Trait" that every detachment gets, your Warlord also gets the Preferred Enemy special rule (re-roll To Hit rolls of 1 . . . hello Plasma weapons!). That's not all, though. Every model in this detachment gains the Crusader and Scout special rules! It's important to note that Scout, in this case, does NOT allow a unit to Outflank, unless they gain that rule elsewhere (the Sicarian Infiltrators have the Infiltrate USR, so they could Outflank as usual).
Let's look at what Crusader and Scout give the Skitarri army.
Crusader - gain an extra die when making Run moves, and use the highest, and roll +D3 for Sweeping Advances. While most of your Troops will want to be shooting rather than running, this rule might help them capture an objective that is just a bit too far. However, this rule really augments your assault units like the Sicarian Ruststalkers and Infiltrators and the Sydonian Dragoons. These three units are very assault oriented and, what's more, they all have the Dunestrider special rule, which gives them +3 inches in normal movement, while Running, and while making Charge moves. This gives these units a potential Move + Run of 18" per turn, and with rolling an extra die for Running, it ups the odds. This is especially great when combined with the next Detachment special rule . . .
Scout - If a unit is Infantry or a Walker then it may redeploy up to 6" before the game starts (and after all other deployment, including Infiltrators from both sides). All units in the Skitarii codex are either infantry or walkers, so this means your entire army gets a free 6" move before the game starts. Combined with the Crusader rule above, your assault units should have zero problems getting in range for a Turn 2 charge. Note that units with Infiltrate
& Scout (Sicarian Infiltrators) get to set up using Infiltrate and THEN can make a Scout move. Just remember that they cannot charge on their first turn if either rule is used.
Army-wide Scout is a vital rule for any Skitarii army. Not only does it give you options to deceive your opponent during deployment or allow you to get a jump on close objectives or cover, it also moves your entire army closer to where they need to be. This is important because the Skitarii have ZERO transport vehicles. That's right, everybody is hoofing it across the battlefield. This fits with their fluff just fine, as their mechanical legs never tire. With Scout, it's as if your entire army gets a Turn 1 rhino rush for free.
While the Skitarii have no AV 11 transports to hide in, the strategic use of Crusader and Scout gives them a lot of mobility. Use it to aggressively position your troops, grab objectives, and to put enemy units in range of your devastating weaponry and assaults.
Troops of the Skitarii
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Skitarii Units and Wargear
Next up, we have a detailed look at the various units and wargear of the Skitarii. I am in love with two things, the models and the rules. First, these are entirely new sculpts, but they are created directly from Jes Goodwin's Mechanicus sketches from the early 90's. It's like we are seeing ideas from 2nd edition 40k created with all the splendor of modern plastics.
Secondly, the Skitarii wargear is Imperium-based, but totally new. Yes, we can all guess what a Plasma Caliver is (a carbine plasma rifle!), but what about weapons like Arc rifles and the Transuranic arquebus? Brand new. If you ever wanted .50 caliber sniper rifles with depleted uranium rounds (transuranium, mind you!), then this is the army for you!
We will get to all the new units and wargear in my next article: Warhammer 40k Skitarii Codex Review - Part 2
In the meantime, why not check out some of my other 40k articles listed below or leave a comment. I always get back to my readers! I also want to make a shout-out to The 13th Legion gaming club. This has long been my home for gaming in Central Florida, but this summer we are expanding and offering membership to gamers outside our local area. Benefits include an active and growing gaming community, tournaments for many game systems, and an incredible break on retail prices. Our members pay only the store's cost + 13% on all products! For most Games Workshop products, this works out to better than 30% off retail prices.
Membership has been restricted in the past to local members of Central Florida, but this summer we are opening up membership worldwide! If you want to be part of a growing international gaming community and pay only cost + 13% on all your gaming purchases, then please contact me below for more information:
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for Part 2 of my Skitarii Codex Review coming very soon!