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The forces of Mars have finally received their very own entry in Warhammer 40k that isn't just Techmarines or Techpriests. Codex: Skitarii was a great bit of news for me being a huge fan of the Ad Mech since I first read about them in the 40k Rulebook.

So how do they fair as a force in their own right? I crack open the cellaphane and peak inside Codex: Skitarii to give you a quick insight my first thoughts on the rules inside.

Rules

Force Organisation

The basis of the Skitarii Force is the Maniple Detachment. This force requires no HQ units whatsoever, as their are none in this Codex, with only 2 Troop choices being compulsory. By fulfilling this Detachment you are also treated to a free re-roll on the Warlord Traits table as well as granting your Warlord the Preferred Enemy Special Rule. Additionally, all units in this Detachment feature the Crusader and Scout special rules but are unable to Outflank unless there is a mission specific rule. This special rule sets up the overall theme of the Skitarii as being a fast moving foot based force.


Warlord Traits

As the Skitarii have no characters then your Walord must be chosen from one of your units. However, the normal restriction of non character models not receiving Warlord Traits is lifted. So long as you Warlord is a Ranger Alpha or Vanguard Alpha then you can roll a D6 on the Skiarii Warlord table or the generic one. Any other unit can roll a D3 instead.
  1. Reinforced Exoskeleton: Warlord gets Eternal Warrior
  2. Artificer Armament: One of the Warlords weapons becomes Master Crafted
  3. Masterwork Bionics: Warlord re-rolls Feel No Pain rolls.
  4. Incense Generatorum: Warlord has Shrouded
  5. Disciple of the Omnissiah: Warlord and friendly units within 12" re-roll morale, pinning and fear checks.
  6. Emotionless Clarity: Warlord and his unit have BS4 when firing Overwatch 
Going by the traits available it would be wise to select a Vanguard Alpha as your warlord. They not only receive a D6 on the Trait table but their front line position makes them benefit much more from the boons available. Granting your a Ranger Alpha Warlord status will reduce the effectiveness of these traits as they will most likely be situated towards the rear of your force. Being able to re-roll on the table also improves you chances of receiving  the better traits as well. A Vanguard unit with Shrouded or a BS4 Overwatch would make a strong keystone for your advancing front line. 

Special Rules

Dunestrider

Units with this rule adds 3" to its maximum move distance for normal movement, running and charging. 

Doctrina Imperatives

Doctrina Imperatives can be issued at the start of each Movement phase and can be used to augment your units combat or ranged capabilities. Each Doctrina Imperative can only be used once per game so they should be reserved for when you really need to bring some accurate shooting or CC to the turn. All of the following rules apply to any unit with the Doctrina Imperative rule and last until the start of your next turn:
  1. Hazard Optimization (Gamma): +1 BS
  2. Gundrill Symbiosis (Beta): +2 BS -1 WS
  3. Binharic Omniscience (Alpha): +3 BS -2 WS
  4. Mindstate Secutor (Gamma): +1 WS
  5. TechnoMartyr Concords (Beta): +2 WS - 1 BS
  6. Hyperaction Protocols (Alpha): +3 WS - 2 BS
The Gamma level protocols are fairly innocuous giving you a small yet handy boost with no negative effects, perfect for when those extra hits are not imperative. The Beta and Alpha levels brings a -1/-2 modifier respectively at the same time giving you a big boost and are better suited to when things are getting a little more desperate. Such as that final round of CC or shooting which will tip the tide of battle. Alternatively, Gundrill Symbiosis & Binharic Omniscience could be deployed in the early turns once most of your weapons are in range yet CC has still not been initiated. This tactic is perfect for softening up your foe early on in the game.

Allies

The Skitarii are classed as the Imperium when determining allies

Units

Troops

Skitarii Vanguard

  • Doctrina Imperatives
  • Feel No Pain (6+)
  • Relentless
  • Rad Saturation: Units locked in combat with this unit suffer -1 to Toughness
These guys are the backbone of your force and will be advancing at the forefront. Equipped with 18" S3 AP 5 Assault 3 Carbines you will need to get them a little closer to the enemy to be effective. Their Radium Carbines also benefit from Rad Poisoning as any hits from these weapons score an additional wound on a to wound roll of a 6. With a BS4 and Rad Poisoning a full 10 man unit will bring you plenty of wounds, especially against low toughness horde units.

While they do not necessarily excel in CC they can hold their own with their 4+ Sv and a 6+ FnP making up for their meager Toughness of 3. Their Rad Saturation is also a great way to bring hardier foes down to their level. The Vanguard Alpha can also be furnished with a number of wargear options to further their CC staying power.

Skitarii Rangers

  • Doctrina Imperatives
  • Feel No Pain (6+)
  • Move Through Cover
  • Relentless
Equipped with 30" S4 AP4 Rapid Fire Galvanic Rifles with Precision Shot, the Rangers can make short work of a squads special weapons and leaders with a few lucky rolls. Having an effective range of 30" allows them to cover a good area of the board but keeping them close to your Vanguard allows you to make use of their double Rapid Fire shots. Augmenting the Squad with a Transuranic Arqubus (or 3) will provide a 60" AP3 Armourbane Sniper rifle. Not only does this give the unit some effectiveness against light to medium vehicles it also helps to keep power armored opponents heads down.

The Rangers sacrifice their Rad Saturation in exchange for Move Through Cover giving you a clue as to where this guys should be placed. Combined with Relentless, you should be able to keep your Rangers mobile and in cover whilst still taking shots with your arquebus.

Elites

Sicarian Ruststalkers

  • Bulky
  • Doctrina Imperatives
  • Dunestrider
  • Feel No Pain
  • Furious Charge
If the Vanguard are the shield then the Ruststalkers are the sword. Ruststalkers are built for close combat and as such excel at it. On the charge, a basic unit of 5 can bring 20 WS 4 S5 attacks. Coupled with their Transonic Blades (Auto Wound on a to wound of 6. Rolls to wound of 6 are AP2 in the first round of CC, subsequent rounds all wounds are AP2) and Chordclaws (1 attack has the Fleshbane special rule) the Ruststalkers can take down even the toughest and well armored of foes. 

The downside of the Ruststalkers is that they are still only Toughness 3 Sv 4+. Their 2 Wounds, Feel No Pain and 6+ Invulnerable save does go someway to making up for this but even so they are still quite fragile. It is best to get in combat quickly (Dunestrider and Crusader should help here) and avoid long drawn out combats if you want your squad to last more than few turns.

Sicarian Infiltrators 

  • Bulky
  • Doctrina Imperatives
  • Dunestrider
  • Feel No Pain
  • Infiltrate
  • Stealth
The Infiltrators are the Skitariis commanders only option when it comes to getting behind your opponents lines. While they are not quite as deadly in CC as their Ruststalker cousins, the Infiltrators can prove to be a good disruption to your opponents. Their Neurostratic Aura has -1 to WS, BS, I & L of any enemy with 6" of the unit giving the Infiltrators an edge in close quarters. Swapping out their Stubcarbines and Power Swords for Flachette Blasters and Taser Goads will grant them a +2 S CC weapon that does an additional wound on a to hit roll of a 6. 

While the Inflitrators do have some ranged capability is it pretty poor. Their Stubcarbines 18" S4 AP - Assault 3 pistols can put out a lot of shots but will struggle against armored opponents. Equally the Flachette Blasters feeble S2 5 shot pistol with Shred is no match for even the simplest of armor. As with the Ruststalkers the Infiltrators should be kept out the firing line and used instead to target isolated and vulnerable units. 

Fast Attack

Sydonian Dragoon

  • Crusader
  • Doctrina Imperatives
  • Dunestrider
The Dragoon has two main roles depending on what you equip it with. A Taser Lance will give the Dragoon +3 S on the charge taking it up to 4 S8 Attacks with a Initiative of 6. As with the Taser Goads any to hit rolls of a 6 cause two wounds. This makes the Dragoon effective against Light to Medium vehicles as well as some higher tougness units or monsters. Alternatively by taking the Radium Jezzail the Dragoon becomes a highly mobile sniper who is able to quickly move around the battlefield to get in range of the most viable target.

The Dragoon does suffer from a all round armor of 11 and being Open Topped with only 2 HP it wont take much to knock this walker out of action. While the Dragoon does come with a permanent 5+ cover save it would be wise to keep the Dragoon out of harms way using its speed until you are ready to go in for the kill.

Heavy Support

Ironstrider Ballistraii

  • Crusader
  • Doctrina Imperatives
  • Dunestrider
  • Precision Shots
The Ironstrider is the Skitariis mobile heavy weapons platform. This walker brings some powerful ranged weaponry along with the speed to get where it will be most effective. The Ironstrider can be equipped with a Twin Linked Lascannon or Autocannon which has the added bonus of having a Snap Shots/Overwatch BS of 2. The added bonus of Precision Shots means that your opponent will have to be aware of how exposed their commanders are. 

As with the Dragoon the Ironstrider is pretty fragile and doesn't even have the helpfulness of a permanent cover save. Keep the Ironstrider out of range of your opponents heavy weapons or ensure that their is some firm cover between you.

Onager Dunecrawlers


  • Doctrina Imperatives
Bringing the Skitariis heaviest weaponry to the table is the Onager. Equipped as standard is the Eradication Beamer, a weapon that changes its effects based on its targets range giving it plenty of options just by adjusting how far away from its target it is.
  • 0-9" is S10 AP 1 Heavy 1
  • 9-18" is S8 AP3 Heavy 1, Blast
  • 18-36" is S6 AP5 Heavy 1, Large Blast
For some more consistent Anti-Tank weaponry the Beamer can be swapped out for a Nuetron Laser providing S10 AP1 Heavy 1, Blast hits at a range of 48" with the added bonus of being concussive. If your in need of some Anti-Air the Icarus Array will ensure that your opponents air support will have their wings melting in no time. Being able to fire 3 weapon system in the same turn all of which have sky fire will make your opponent think twice about getting into range on the Onager.

Whilst being tougher than its two legged cousins the Onager is still relatively lightly armored with Front and Side armor of 12 and only 3 HP. However, the Onager does come with a 6+ invulnerable save which improves for Onager in the same squad that is within 4". 

Summary

Put simply the Skitarii are a fast moving glass hammer. Considering that their are no options for transport in the list you will be reliant upon their innate speed to close in on your opponents. Your choices for Infiltration is also limited and with no options to Deepstrike, without taking Allies, your battle will most likely be fought on a single front. 

Once you are within Assault or Weapon range then you can unleash your full strength. However you will need to make sure you finish off the opponent quickly or at least cripple them enough to prevent a serious counter attack. Otherwise you may find yourself on the loosing end of war of attrition. Considering the highest Toughness of your force is 3 you will need to focus on taking out those high strength weapons early on with your Precision Shooting Rangers and Ironstriders.

The Skitarii also have no access to a Psychic phase and as a result will constantly be on the receiving end of the such attacks. Without any Psykers of your own you will also struggle to Deny the Witch meaning that the wielders of the warp should also be a priority target. 

So if you are looking for a different dynamic to an Imperial Force then the Skitarii are certainly an interesting choice. As a huge fan of the Adeptus Mechanicus I find it easy to overlook the lack of unit choices and HQ options. While they may overall be tricky to play with I expect that in the right hands they will be able to do an awful lot of damage. 

If you picked up Codex: Skitarii let us know what you thought of the it in the comments below.






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