Guide to Skitarii
Soldiers of the Machine God
Skitarii Maniple: Not necessarily a special rule, per se. But, if you're paying attention, you'll notice that this Guide doesn't feature an HQ section. That's simply because Codex: Skitarii doesn't even have any HQs. This means that you will not be able to field CADs or ADs, and as such, you will always be missing out on Objective Secured. The Skitarii Maniple is strictly a Detachment Type, but, in the Codex it's first-thing, because it's important. Some players look at this Skitarii Detachment, in the way that if there's no benefit to taking Troops, then you don't need to take them - and that's absolutely correct. If you don't like Skitarii Troops, you only need to take the mandatory two units, and then field anything you want, because your opportunity cost is nothing, because you don't have Objective Secured, anyway. So, it's a weird Detachment, but its Command Benefits directly effect the entirety of the rest of the Codex;
1. Your Warlord gains Preferred Enemy, in addition to his Warlord Trait. Preferred Enemy is passed to squads.
2. All models from the Detachment gain Crusader and Scout. This. Is. Exceptional. All. Models. Have Scout. You lose Objective Secured, but you gain massive early-game advantage, in regards to board control. Drop Pods can't land where you are. If you win the roll-off, you Scout first, and in return, Scout-block. However, note that you don't really have defense against Infiltrators. In any case, every model you own in this Detachment, Scouts. Strong.
Doctrina Imperatives: 'Combat Doctrines' for Skitarii. Nowhere near as interesting as Ultramarines' abilities, but far more powerful - at least the shooting ones are. You have six Doctrines, and a game goes for roughly six turns. Solid. You can be using one every turn (though whether or not you should is up to you). Everything in the book is BS4. Which means, once per game, per turn, every unit in your army turns BS7, BS6 or BS5, with a corresponding decrease in WS. This is very, very strong in Skitarii, since you can Scout and get everything in ranges fairly quickly should you need to do so.
The other - less good - Doctrines are giving your models a similar bonus to WS, and decrease to BS. Since Assault is never going to be as good as Shooting, the latter options are far less good than the first. The big problem with the WS Imperatives is basically how WS is arguably the least relevant stat in the game. It really doesn't matter how high your WS is, because you can never hit better than 3+ (unless stated otherwise), and you can never be hit on worse than 5+. All the Conqueror Imperatives really do is decrease your Ballistic Skill, and you definitely don't want to be doing that unless you have a plan.
Because of how badly WS Imperatives will screw over your Ranged units, you typically don't want to use them too often. But, on the upside, given how amazingly BS Imperatives effect your Ranged units, you want to be using them all the time, which mildly inconveniences your Melee units. So, if you want to go Shooty, go all shooty, and ignore your Melee units. If you want to go Melee for some reason (a terrible idea), then take minimum Troops, and spam your Melee units.
Dunestrider: A special rule on a handful of your units that give an extra 3" to your Movement and Run speed. The former is very strong, the latter is reasonable, especially when you remember that in the Skitarii Maniple, every model has Crusader. Extra movement is never something to be ignored. In the later stages of a game, it can also be useful to Run to grab Objectives. Running, is one of those rules that you don't always need, but when you do, it suddenly becomes the most important thing that you can do. Dunestrider is a 'clutch' rule, you don't need it, until you do, then you win the game. A lot like Objective Secured.
Warlord Traits (remembering that your Warlord in the Maniple also has Preferred Enemy)
1. Eternal Warrior is always strong. Especially on Warlords.
2. Gain the Master-Crafted rule on one of your weapons. Weak. Don't you have Preferred Enemy?
3. Re-roll FNP. Decent. But not even close to EW.
4. Shrouded is strong. Half the reason people roll on Telepathy is to get it.
5. Turn into a Banner. Strong. Skitarii do not have ATSKNF.
6. Warlord and unit fire Overwatch on normal BS.
I count three good rules, one mediocre one, and two that don't really do anything. Since you have no Unique Characters with Fixed Traits, you can't just take the one you want, and that's kind of sucky. Some Unique Skitarii characters would be really cool.
Relics of Mars
Arkhan's Divinator; Do you even play with Mysterious Objectives? If you do, pay only 5 Points for this, and be better. It's fairly good.
Phase Taser; If something takes a Wound, take an Initiative Test or die. Unfortunately, is AP- and replaces your existing Melee weapon - crap.
Omniscient Mask; Zealot is good. Because Zealot is Fearless. Fearless Warlords are strong, because they can't be Swept.
Pater Radium; Enemy units in combat take a Toughness test, fail and take D6, AP2 Wounds. Very strong.
Phosphoenix; Poisoned (3+), AP2 is very strong. Unfortunately, doesn't work right against Gargantuans. S5 will wound T8 on a '6' anyway, and it'll still be AP2. It's 6" range is pretty terrible though.
Skull of Elder Nikola; Yes. It's exactly what it sounds like. Unfortunately, it's weak. Especially for it's points cost.
Pretty much all of the Relics are worth taking, except the Skull, and the Taser - but we'll come back to the Taser. The even better news is, because the Skitarii army doesn't feature HQs, every single Character in the book can take a Relic. So, it's perfectly possible to take all of them, if you really want to and take at least six Characters in your list, which you really should be doing anyway.
Skitarii Vanguard: They have Radiation weapons, which can Wound anything, regardless of Toughness - twice! These guys are solid for taking out Gargantuans. There's really not a lot to say here. Most Skitarii units are pretty self-explanatory because there's simply not enough options to go 'round. Always take an Omnispex. Always take Arc Rifles to deal with Vehicles. Since Arc Rifles are Haywire, they're not even too bad at Flier Defense, either. Of six shots, at least one should hit, then, using the Omnispex, you get to mitigate Jink - pretty solid.
Warlord: Barring few exceptions, your Warlord is a Vanguard Alpha. He then passes on Preferred Enemy to his unit, which is very useful for spamming Plasma Calivers, since now you should no longer be rolling 1s anymore. Preferred Enemy is also good for throwing a lot of shots at Fliers and doing sort-of-okay. Plasma weapons that hamstring Cover Saves (the Omnispex, and Jinking Bikers) are always going to be useful. Omniscient Mask always goes on your Warlord. Pick up an Invulnerable save of your choice. Arc Maul if you've got the points.
Relics: Pater Radium is brutal with Vanguard's Rad-saturation rule.
Skitarii Rangers: Galvanic Rifles are decent, 'cause they're AP4, and that's for winners. Same as the Vanguard, take an Omnispex to mitigate Cover, because Skitarii don't have Template weapons, so AP4, -1 Cover is pretty much the best you can get. I know, I know. They're called 'Rangers', so you may be sorely tempted to pick up some Transuranic Arquebuses. Unfortunately, S4 Armourbane sucks, rolling averages will only get you '11', and that's not 13+, so...Pass. Have you seen Arc Rifles? They will buzz Vehicles even when you roll poorly. Dealing with Gargantuans? Well, Sniper doesn't work right against Gargantuans, and if you're going to be rolling 6s To Wound anyway, you may as well be fielding more Radium Carbines on your Vanguard. Completely opposite to the standard 'Sniper' roles, Vanguard are better for dealing with high Toughenss models, whilst Rangers are better for dealing with large, horde-units, due to multi-shot AP4 weapons that have Precision Shots. If you manage to Precision Shot anything, make sure you remove any models that carry Heavy Flamers first. Noting that you can Look Out, Sir! against PSs, so, don't immediately go for Character models because it doesn't work right - sometimes there are just better options.
Relics: With Move Through Cover, Rangers are great for picking up Objectives, so Arkhan's Divinator isn't bad if you play with Mysterious Objectives. Which you kind of should push for, since Skitarii don't have a lot of Skyfire, and you kind of need it. Skyfiring Arc Rifles are so strong.
Remembering that a Skitarii Maniple can field 8 Troops units.
. Remembering that everything in a Skitarii Maniple has Scout
, and you can't Charge on the first turn. Melee units that Scout/Infiltrate are generally kind of pointless, all's it really does is set you
up to be
Charged by your opponent's Melee units. In any case, never
give up your Grenades for Transonic Blades - it's not worth it. Not only do the Grenades count as Assault Grenades, they're also
Haywire Grenades, and units of Haywire Grenades are fairly strong. But, that being the case, don't you already have 2<8 Troops units filled with Arc Rifles?
Trade your Princeps' Blade for the Phase Taser if you must - never
Trade your Chordclaw. Chordclaws can actually do a tiny bit of damage to Gargantuans, while Transonic Blades don't do anything that the Chordclaw doesn't.
Another Melee unit...With Scout
...And no Grenades. Just terrible. Normally, you'd want a minimum unit just to Scout-block, 'cause that's what Infiltrators do...But, even a minimum
unit of these guys is 185 Points, and that's kind of stupid, and everything you own Scouts anyway. You should pretty much always ignore these guys in favour of the Melee unit that actually thought to bring Haywire Grenades. But, Stealth
is nice if you Outflank them properly (use Infoslave Skull) into Terrain... That's their only role, to Outflank and grab opponents' Objectives. Other than that single use, ignore. It's worth mentioning that since you can
Outflank Infiltrator units, they're not going to be on the board in your opening turns when you use your Ranged Imperatives, which means they don't suffer like Ruststalkers do. So, that's...Something, I guess. Infiltrators are still a Melee unit that doesn't have Grenades, and I don't know how you can get around that.
Phase Taser would be nice, given Neurostatic Aura
, but, you lose a Power Sword to do so, and that's not really worth it. Still, if your opponent has 2+ Armour, the difference between a Power Sword and Phase Taser is vastly in the PT's favour...If your opponent has 2+ Armour. Which he actually might. Otherwise, Infiltrate + Scout, or Outflank, gets you in range pretty quickly for the Phosphoenix, since you wont be Charging from Infiltratate or Outflank, it's really nice to actually be able to do something instead of standing in front of your opponent's unit looking menacing, yet doing nothing.
Both of these units have 2 Wounds, and that looks nice. But, they're only T3. Given how limited Skitarii Skyfire is, a single Heldrake is going to kill all
of them in no time flat. No 4+ Save, no FNP, just dead. Both units.
Still, if you want to run a Melee Skitarii army (why!?), your best option is to fill all four of your Elite slots with units and go for it, taking two units of Vanguard with Arc Rifles to deal with Gargantuans. Also remembering that your Melee Imperatives completely screw your Ranged units and offer little-to-no benefit to your Melee units anyway. Just bad.
So, spam Troops, or
spam Elites. Don't half-arse one or the other, because then one or both units suffer. Instead of being amazing
at one thing, you're actually worse off doing two things. That's mostly the same for every army in the game, but Doctrina Imperatives can actually cripple the 'other half' of your army. Pretty much the only time that you should be using these two Elite units is part of a Killclade (see Formations), because, ultimately, everytime you take the standard Maniple, you have to take two Troops anyway (read; Ranged units), and if you've got two of those units, why not keep going?
Sydonian Dragoons: Another Melee unit that Scouts. But, Scouting is optional, and unlike your Elite choices, Dragoons have options to not be a Melee unit. Radium Jezzails are pointless, because you Skitarii Vanguard. But, Phosphor Serpentas actually matter, because AP4 'less Cover' is a thing that you kind of need. The 18" range on Serpentas doesn't really matter, because you're not-Infantry with Scout. At the end of the day, AV11 Walkers are awful in Assault, especially when they're Open-Topped. Thankfully, Dragoons have a good Ranged option, and always have a 5+ Cover Save to avoid being shot at.
Problem is, well, you have your Troops units; All your Vanguard are stacked with Radium Carbines already, and AP4 'Less Cover' is already taken care of by Rangers with Galvanic Rifles. So...Only use as part of a Cavaliers Formation (see Formations).
Ironstrider Ballistarii: Autocannons or Lascannons...At 75 Points per model, the Lascannons are a trap. Take units of 3, maybe. x2 Autocannons, x1 Lascannon? Either way, outclassed by...
Onager Dunecrawlers: Take them in units of at least 2, so their Invulnerable Saves actually matter. Their standard weapon is...Bad. Phosphor Blasters are great for killing Marines (if you're in a meta where that matters). The Neutron Laser, being S10, Blast, is great for killing T5 Multi-Wounds (Bikes, Wraiths, Thundercav, etc.), but, if you want to use Neutron Lasers to destroy Vehicles, you need at least two of them. Without Ordnance, you're paying points to fail. Icarus Arrays annihilate Fliers (especially in multiples), and are vital to Skitarii, since Skitters don't have Fliers and Flier Defense is found nowhere else in the army, at all.
As strong as Icarus Arrays are, they're still only attached to an AV12 platform, and that's not great, but, hopefully the offensive output outweighs the defensive weakness.
Battle Maniple: Basically a regular Maniple, except you're forced into what you can take. Hobby Formation and therefore crap on the table.
War Cohort: x3 Battle Maniples! Multiplying the badness is sure to fix it!
Sicarian Killclade: All Melee, all the time. Works best as an Allied Formation to another army, where your Melee Imperatives can only effect the Killclade, leaving the rest of the army untouched. It's important to remember that Formations are not unique, and that you can spam as many Formations of these as you've got points to spare.
Ironstrider Cavaliers: A fairly strong Formation, and pairs very well with a regular Maniple since none of it has to be Melee orientated, and you get to obliterate your opponent's Warlord unit. It's a shame it doesn't include Dunecrawlers (S10 shots), but, Dunecrawlers are plenty good already.
There's a lot of issues with Skitarii. First; No Objective Secured. It's not a huge deal, but it does matter. Second; Melee presence is fairly weak. 2-Wound models don't cut it, especially when they're T3 with a 4+ Save. The only thing going for Skitarii Melee units is the fact that Power Mauls aren't really in the meta to Instant Death all of them removing their FNP. But, the fact is, any S6 will rock your Melee units, and Eldar armies are built on S6, and, well, fact is, S6 is really easy to get - Assault Cannons, Autocannons and Plasma Guns are obvious and fairly cheap examples. Third; Flier Defense, or lack thereof. Last, despite how good Dunecrawlers may appear, they cap out at AV12, and that's not AV13+. Basically, by the time you've got four Vanguard/Ranger units up, and a handful of Dunecrawlers, you're out of effective options - and Dunecrawlers aren't even that strong, considering.
In small games (<1250), Skitarii are exceptionally strong, since everything in the army is BS7, 6, 5, and between Radium Carbines and Arc Rifles the Vanguard - on their own - have most bases covered, and Dunecrawlers and Rangers pick up the pieces. But, above 1250, Skitarii get really weak, really fast.
Cult Mechanicus: If you wanted to be cynical, you could say that they split the 'whole' Codex into two pieces. But, even then, Cult Mechanicus only gives you even more Ranged options, and doesn't actually help Skitarii as much as it probably should. So, if you're cynical, fine, be that way, but you don't even need the Cult Mechanicus units to be effective, so why do you even care? Don't buy it. Problem solved.
Blood Angels (read; Flesh Tearers): From Exterminatus, having up to six Drop Pods for your original Skitarii units (most Skitarii armies should have at least six Troops units, because what else are you spending points on? Dragoons? Please.), Drop Podding your units gets around opposing Scout-blockers, and it's actually really, really effective. Blood Angels also give you some Melee presence that doesn't get screwed when you pop your Ranged Imperatives.
Space Marines: Specifically, the Skyhammer Formation. Puts Multi-Meltas and Charging Assault Squads in your opponent's DZ very early on in the game, neither of which you can really do on your own. If you don't have the Skyhammer Formation, you can still use Marines (esp. Salamanders) to put Heavy Flamers and Multi-Meltas or Lascannons into your line of battle, which you can't really otherwise get. Not to mention that Marines give you Divination support - specifically, Ignores Cover - which is really, really good. If you want more than one unit of Plasma Calivers, loading up on free Prescience isn't bad. Speaking of auto-Prescience...
Inquisition: Psychic support. Doesn't even require a Troops tax. Get a pair of Inquisitors and Prescience away! Coteaz is always a strong choice, since he gives you not!Interceptor which is great for people trying to Deep Strike on you with their own Melta weapons. Because Coteaz gives unlimited Interceptor, he is exceptionally good at dealing with Space Marine Skyhammer Formations, letting his unit shoot at everything that comes down. If you're in the Maniple's Warlord unit, you also get Preferred Enemy, which will RAVAGE Marines with Plasma Calivers.
Rad Grenades + Rad-Saturation + Pater Radium = Really strong.
Imperial Knights: Yep.
Space Wolves: Thundercav or ObSec'd Flier spam/defense. Pick your favourite.
Skitarii as Allies
Vanguard and Rangers are fairly strong, and can cover a lot of bases between them. A Maniple also gives Scout, which is really good for armies that don't normally have it (i.e; Codex AM). Two or three Vanguard/Ranger units slot perfectly well into pretty much any Imperial army due to how well they deal with both Gargantuans and Super-Heavies at range, which is a very nice alternative to the Grey Knight 'Gargantuan Slayer' Detachment, that gets Stomped immediately after they finish their business.
Ironstrider Cavaliers make a nice addition to any army. Killclades are a great insertion for Melee-orientated armies, as Ruststalkers come stock with Haywire Grenades, and are quite effective at dealing with opposing Super-Heavies, provided that the Ruststalkers can get into Melee range, in an all-Melee army (read; Blood Angels) there are potentially enough distractions that your opponent will straight up ignore the T3 Killclade models - there are more important targets to fire at, after all.