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Warhammer 40k Skitarii Codex Review - Part 2
Ben Murphy of the The 13th Legion gaming club, back with part 2 of my Skitarii Codex Review for Warhammer 40k. This time we'll be looking at the individual units, in depth, and the radically new wargear, such as rad carbines, that the scions of Mars bring to the field.
If you missed part 1 of my Skitarii Codex review, then you'll want to go back and read about their army rules, including their unique formation and their Doctrines. You wont understand the effectiveness of the Skitarii army without this knowledge. Remember, my adepts, knowledge is power: Warhammer 40k Skitarii Codex Review Part 1.
Now that I'm back at the keyboard, I'm proud to announce that I am also representing The 13th Legion, a gaming club out of Central Florida, but now open to worldwide memberships. With the purchasing power of The 13th Legion, you get extreme discounts on all GW products! Our members only pay the store cost + 13% on all gaming products. This is roughly a 32% discount from regular retail prices. Central Florida gamers have been part of the Legion for years, and now you can be too. Message me directly or follow us on Twitter @13thLegionClub to get in on the action.
With that said, the Skitarii Vanguard are up first for review. What do they bring to the table?
The Skitarii have two option for their Troops selection and the internet has debated back and forth over which is the superior option. The consensus seems to be that both are useful and both fill different roles in the army. A combined arms approach is likely best. Skitarii Vanguard and Skitarii Rangers share a common stat profile, but differ in their special rules and wargear.
Stats: WS3 BS4 S3 T3 W1 I3 A1 Ld8 Sv4+
Both units come standard with an Alpha, which gains an extra Wound, Attack, and point of Leadership. Any of these Alphas can be your Warlord, as the Skitarii Codex has no HQ section and no independent characters.
Rules: Both the Skitarii Vanguard and Rangers share some special rules. They both have Doctrina Imperatives (see my review Part 1), Feel No Pain (6+), and Relentless. The Relentless is interesting because it allows both units to move and shoot with a heavy weapon (transuranic arquebus is the only option), but it also allows the Skitarii Rangers to shoot their Rapid Fire weapons and then assault their enemies.
The Skitarii Vanguard are the front line troops of the Adeptus Mechanicus, marching ever forward on their bionic legs. They are armed with radium carbines, which fire highly radioactive material into their enemies. The vanguard are surrounded with radioactive decay, which makes them deadly opponents at range and in close melee.
The vanguard special rule Rad Poisoning subtracts 1 from the Toughness score of any unit locked in combat with a unit of Skitarii Vanguard. As the vanguard only have a strength of 3, this can help put them on more even ground with other units, as they are now wounding Toughness 4 enemies on a 4+ rather than that dreaded 5+. This rule really shines, though, when you can get another unit into combat to join the vanguard.
For instance, a unit of Sicarian Ruststalkers (with a Strength of 4 and Furious Charge) can engage in the same melee, then they will often be wounding opponents on a 2+ . . . Strength 5 versus a reduced Toughness of 3 (for space marine equivalents).
To be clear, the Skitarii Vanguard are NOT a good melee unit. They simply have a special rule that helps them a little bit, but also helps other units who join in the fight.
The real role of the Skitarii Vanguard is that of close fire support. Their standard wargear makes this very clear. Each vanguard is equipped with a radium carbine.
Radium Carbine: 18" Str 3 AP5 Assault 3, Rad Poisoning.
The Rad Poisoning rule states that any To Wound rolls of 6 cause 2 Wounds (instead of 1) on the target unit regardless of Toughness value. Each wound is allocated and saved against separately. There are really three separate components to this rule, so let's break it down.
- Yes, the basic strength 3 of the weapon is weak, but every 6 caused another round. Versus space marines, rolls of 5 and 6 will wound, but 6's cause two wounds . . . meaning that half the wounds you cause will cause another. Notice that these are Assault 3 weapons with a BS 4 unit . . . that can use Doctrines to increase that BS from +1 to +3. This will combine for a lot of hits and a lot of 6's, causing a lot of wounds.
- The line about causing wounds, regardless of Toughness value is amazing. The vanguard are equally as effective verses monstrous creatures and gigantic creatures as they are versus smaller troops. Notice, this isn't Poison, so gargantuan creatures like the updated Wraithknight receive no protection against it! If 10 vanguard fire at a Wraithknight with their radium carbines, while using the +1 BS doctrine, they should hit about 25 times, and roll 6's To Wound about 4 times. That's suddenly 8 wounds on that Wraithknight. Yes, it still gets its armor saves, but this is a better model to wound ratio that any other troop is going to get right now versus a gargantuan creature.
- Wounds are allocated and saved against separately. This is mostly important because it means that extra wounds aren't wasted on single wound models.
The Vanguard Alpha can be equipped with special pistols and melee weapons, which I will cover later. Also, the unit can take 2 special weapons at the base unit size of 5 models, and it can take a 3rd special weapon if you max out the unit at 10 models. The different special weapons can change the role of the vanguard, or augment it, so I will cover those options all at once further in the article.
I love everything about these guys, from their glowing goggles, scarlet hoods, and ancient looking rifles. They strike me as the ideal image for what an Adeptus Mechanicus soldier would look like. That said, their role is very different from that of the Skitarii Vanguard. Their goal is to stalk their enemy across entire worlds, harrying them into exhaustion. Their special rules and wargear are perfect for this task.
The Skitarii Rangers share the same profile as their vanguard cousins, and they even include an Alpha that can be upgraded with further pistols, melee weapons, and relics. The Ranger Alpha can even be your Warlord if you desire. Where the Ranger differ is in their special rule and wargear.
The Skitarii Rangers do not have the Rad Poisoning special rule, but instead receive the Move Through Cover special rule. For anyone who's played on a proper table crowded with terrain, they will know how priceless this rule is for claiming objectives and setting up perfect shots. Combined with their Relentless rule (and the Transuranic Arquebus special weapon that better suits them!) your rangers will be in the right place, at the right time, when you need them.
Let's look now at their main armament, the Galvanic Rifle. Firing servitor bullets that hold a powerful electric charge, these rifles help the rangers perform their deadly duty from afar.
Galvanic Rifle: 30" Str 4 AP4 Rapid Fire, Precision Shots
Breaking that down, the Skitarii Rangers have some of the best range in the game for basic troops. If they brave enough to close with their enemy, they will be double-tapping at 15 inches, which keeps them a little farther out of guaranteed assault range on your opponent's next turn (15" - 6" move = 9" charge ... in cover they'd subtract another 2" meaning they'll need to roll 11" to charge your rangers in cover!).
Strength 4 means that these rifles are as powerful as bolters, but with a better AP! Now they are punching through Ork 'Ard Boyz, Carapace Armor, Necron Warriors, and a host of other baddies that often laugh off bolter fire. This is great, especially at a safe distance of 30" or a deadly rapid fire range of 15".
That last special rule is icing on the galvanic cake: Precision Shots. Any To Hit roll of 6 can be placed on any model of your choosing. Now you are sniping out special weapons, heavy weapons, or sergeants (who would still get that 4+ look out sir!).
Looking back at both troop options, I see the argument for fielding both types. The Skitarii vanguard are great for closing the distance and loading up enemy units with a lot of wounds to save, including monstrous creatures! They are slightly cheaper than the Skitarri rangers and can dish out an incredible 30 shots with a full squad at 18". The Skitarii rangers, on the other hand, can scurry from cover to cover, peppering units from an extreme distance of 30" and sniping out problem models with special weapons or heavies. Strength 4 AP 4 weapons will tear through a lot of heavier troops, so bringing the rangers in close for that 15" rapid fire range is also option. For me, the vanguard are there to spray the battlefield with radiation, while the rangers are there to make precision cuts into the enemy battle line.
The video below shows how to easily paint Skitarii Rangers and gives a great look at the models up close. Skip below that to read about the sole Skitarii Fast Attack choice, the Sydonian Dragoons.
Painting Skitarii Rangers
The Sydonian Dragoons are instantly one of the most recognizable models in the Warhammer universe. The models have a unique physical profile that will make for a great centerpiece unit to any Skitarii army. Are they any good on the battlefield, though? With two main weapon options, there are two ways to use the Sydonian Dragoons, depending on your need.
First, despite the "rider and mount" feel of the model, the Sydonian Dragoons are not cavalry; they are (vehicle) walkers. This gives them an Armor Value and a couple special rules to make them interesting, while giving them the inherit weaknesses that all vehicles suffer from, mainly being susceptible to being destroyed in a single shot by an anti-armor weapon (however statistically improbable it is in most cases).
Dragoons are meant to be run in squadrons, though, so the likelihood that all of them will be outright destroyed is a very small one. Most likely, your unit will survive intact to do what you want it to, and that depends on how you equip them.
WS4 BS4 S5 AV 11/11/11 I3 A3 and 2 Hull Points
While the armor value is a little low compared to most walkers, it comes with 3 base attacks, which is higher than standard dreadnoughts. All of this for less than 50 points at base cost. You can take dragoons in squadrons of up to 6 models, which will give you 12 hull points for less than 300 points.
Special Rules - All dragoons have the Crusader special rule, which gives them advantages to Run moves and to catching units in Sweeping Advances. They also benefit from the Doctrina Imperatives like all Skitarii units (to boost their BS or WS). Most importantly they have a brand new rule called Dunestrider, which gives the unit +3" to every Move, Run, or Charge range. This makes the dragoons extremely fast! In open terrain, this gives them an assault threat range of about 19" (9" move + 10" charge avg.).
Their last special rule is Incense Cloud, which makes the entire unit count as obscured, giving them a constant 5+ cover save.
So what do you do with all these stats and movement? It really depends on the wargear you equip them with. For the same price, you can give the Sydonian Dragoons either the standard taser lance or the radium jezzail. You can mix and match these weapons within the unit as you desire. Go all assault, all shooting, or a mix.
Taser lance - Range - +3/+2 Strength and has the Joust and Taser special rules. The split Strength profile shows the strength bonus for the round the dragoon make a charge, and then for subsequent rounds. This makes the dragoons Str 8 on the charge and Str 7 every other round. That's not bad! The Joust rule doubles their Initiative on a successful charge, bringing their Initiative to 6! Finally, the Taser rule states that any To Hit roll of 6 causes two additional hits.
In all the taser lance is a great option. Each Sydonian Dragoon is going to get 4 attacks on the charge, at Initiative 6 and Strength 8. Any 6's you roll only increase the carnage. Prime targets for this assault would be enemy vehicles (which will be hit on rear armor), monstrous creatures, or units of high toughness infantry that need to be taken down.
Radium Jezzail - 30" Str X AP5, Heavy 2, Rad Poisoning (see Vanguard above), and Sniper.
Looking at the stats alone, it's not immediately obvious how the radium jezzail competes with the pure strength of the taser lance. However, if we look at the special rules combined then the radium jezzail proves interesting. The Rad Poisoning rule states that any To Wound roll of 6 causes 2 wounds on the target unit, which are allocated and saved against separately. With the Sniper rule, To Wound rolls of 6 are also resolved at AP2. Of course, with Sniper, any To Hit rolls of 6 are also Precision Shots.
Keep in mind that the radium jezzail is also a Heavy 2 weapon (but walkers ignore the Heavy restrictions of movement), so the squadron can push out a decent amount of shots that, with 6's can dish out a lot of AP 2 shots, possibly allocated to characters, special, or heavy weapon models.
There is one more wargear option that Sydonian Dragoons can take, independent of the choice of taser lances or radium jeszzails. Any model can take a phosphor serpenta, which is a range 18" Str5 AP4 weapon with the luminagen special rule. This is a great rule that adds value to other units in your army! The luminagen rules states that any unit suffering an unsaved wound (or a glance or pen) treats its cover save as 1 worse for the rest of the phase. On top of that, any unit charging the affected unit can re-roll its charge distance for that turn.
Equipping a few models with taser lances and phosphor serpentas will help your dragoon unit perhaps kill some enemy models in the Shooting Phase and then grants them the ability to re-roll their Charge distance (already at +3" for the Dunestrider rule!).
I don't have a strong opinion about which version of the dragoons is better (taser lance or radium jezzails), as both work very differently. I think the taser lance is the obvious way to go, as it's point-and-click; run forward and assault an enemy unit with a bunch of Str 8 attacks. The jezzail unit, to me is more interesting, as it turns the dragoons into a unit of battlefield prowlers, picking off targets with AP2 sniper shots that duplicate themselves thanks to the Rad Poisoning rule! The jezzail option is obviously more dice-dependent (you need 6's for the full effect), but -hey- this is a dice game we're playing so it's okay to take risks and have some fun!
Skitarii Codex Review
Which Skitarii Troop unit stands out?
Next time . . .
That wraps up Part 2 of my Skitarii Codex Review. These units are so unique and are so interesting, I'm spending a lot of words talking about them. That means that the two Elite and two Heavy Support options will have to wait for the next article! Honesty, the Heavy Support section is where it's at for the Skitarii, so I can't wait to cover my favorite unit of the codex, the Onager Dunecrawlers!
If you missed Part 1, check it out here: Skitarii Codex Review
In the mean time, check out my other 40k articles below this article and leave a comment on this one. The Skitarii is a new army so I'm sure there are a lot of opinions and views from readers. Leave a comment and I'll get back to you!
Again, this has been Ben Murphy with the 13th Legion gaming club! Servicing Central Florida with two club location and servicing the entire world with our amazing club benefits, including the lowest prices on Games Workshop products anywhere. Check us out on Twitter @13thLegionClub and email me at the address below for more information.
Until next time; Murphy Out!