Secutarii Peltast: “Hidden Gem” Tactica

With all the focus Codex: Deathwatch, the Traitor’s Hate supplement for CSM, and the Angel’s Blade supplement for Blood Angels lately (plus the incoming Genestealer Cult codex) recently, I think one very interesting and competitive new unit has been lost in the shuffle: Forgeworld recently released models and rules for Secutarii Hoplites and Peltasts, both of which can be taken as Elite choices in a Skitarii Maniple:

https://www.forgeworld.co.uk/resources/PDF/Downloads//Secutarii_Titan_Guard_Download.pdf

Of these, I am most intrigued by the possibilities that Secutarii Peltasts bring to the game, especially in conjunction with other Imperium allies. Looking at their profile, they have “standard” Skitarii stats/rules:

WS3 BS4 S3 T3 W1 I3 A1 Ld9 Sv4+ (Peltast Alpha is +1A /Ld, but not +1W like other Skitarii “sergeant” characters)

-Doctrina Imperatives — Buffs to either BS/WS; very good for helping Peltast shooting 3 times a game

-FNP(6+) – Small boost to survivability, but with T3 a lot of weapons will ignore this

-Relentless – Combines well with their Galvanic-Casters, allowing them move and shoot to full capacity

In addition to these rules, Peltasts get the “Blind Barrage” rule, which enables them to forgo their shooting once per game and instead give Shrouding to a friendly unit within 18” until the start of the next player turn (this has several potent tactical uses, which I will discuss later).

In terms of Wargear, Peltasts have Secutarii War Plate (basically Carapace Armor for a 4+ save), plus the following:

I — Kyropatris Field Generator – If a squad has at least 5 models with this War Gear, then ALL models in the unit can re-roll failed Armor Saves of 1; additionally, if the squad has 10 models with this piece of equipment, then all shooting attacks against the unit have their strength reduced by -1. While the Kyropatris Field Generator makes the Peltasts themselves bit more survivable, they are pretty fragile already with T3 and a 4+ save, so I think the real value of this piece of Wargear is its ability to help protect attached Independent Characters. For example, if you attach an allied Space Marine Biker Chapter Master with AA and a Storm Shield to this unit, then not only does the Chapter Master basically have EW against shooting as long as there is at least 10 Peltasts alive (i.e. S10 shooting against the unit is reduced to S9, meaning that his T5 cannot be “doubled out” and he is therefore immune to Instant Death except against Force Weapons or weapons with the ID rule specifically), but he also gets to re-roll 1s for any failed Artificer Armor saves against non AP2/1 shooting, giving him a 97% chance to successfully save against those attacks for the unit. This makes both the Chapter Master himself more survivable and also improves the durability of the squad’s as long as he is positioned correctly to “tank” the shooting for them.

II — Galvanic-Caster – This is basically turns Peltasts into the Skitarii version of Sternguard, with three different shooting/ammo profiles to choose from each turn:

[1] Flachette Burster — 24″ S3 AP– Salvo 2/4, Shred

*This is the “go to” ammo type against almost any non-vehicle unit, since it allows 4 x S3 Shred shots per Peltast at an effective 30” range (24” + 6” move, thanks to Relentless). Given that you can take up to 20 Peltasts in a single squad and you can improve their shooting up to BS5 (or better) with Doctrina Imperatives, this makes for up to 80 x BS5(+) shots a turn with a threat range of 30” and Shred for re-rolls to wound. Doing the Mathhammer, that can easily take down pretty much any MEQ unit or worse in the game and can even torrent down Terminators with sheer volume of highly accurate shots. If you can combine this with the Misfortune power from the Divination Discipline, then a squad of 20 Peltasts can bring down Wraithknights, Stormsurges, and even the mighty KX139 Ta’unar Lord of War with pure volume of Rending shots.

[2] Ignis Blaze — 18″ S3 AP5 Heavy 1, Blind, Parabolic Shot, Ignores Cover, Small Blast

*This is your ideal weapon for taking out cover-camping GEQs like AM Guardsmen, Gretchin, Gaunts/Termagaunts, CSM Cultists, Necron Scarabs, Tau Pathfinders, Eldar Guardians, DE Warriors/ Wyches, etc. (“Parabolic Shot” allows the Peltasts to even hit units out of LOS, as long as they are not in a completely enclosed space, like inside a building). Having between 10-20 x S3 AP5 Small Blasts that Ignore Cover can absolutely tear up any light infantry in cover and can even force enough massed wounds against large, tightly packed mobs (say Ork Boyz or Necron Phalanxes) to deal significant damage to these “heavier” infantry types. Finally, the ability to force Blind checks is exceptionally handy against low Initiative enemy forces that rely heavily on shooting/gun lines, such as Tau, Astra Militarum, and Necron armies.

[3] Kinetic Hammershot — 30″ S4 AP3 Heavy 1, Rending

*Probably the least useful ammo type (in almost every case, it is better to use the “Flachette Burster” ammo instead of this, even against MEQs, because of their high rate of fire), the Kinetic Hammershot still has a role for long-range shooting (threat radius of 36”), for use against light/medium vehicles (Rending allows Peltasts to threaten up to AV13 targets), and for dealing with T7 and above opponents that the other two types of ammo cannot hurt (unless you have Misfortune cast, of course 😉 ).

So, based on all this, I think the Peltasts are not only a very competitive addition to a Skitarii army, with their versatility in shooting and “force-multiplication” for survivability they offer, but I also think they make a great unit to add to an allied list for other Imperium forces. Here are some example battle group combinations using Peltasts that I think would be competitive on the table-top:

[1] 20 Peltasts with attached White Scars Librarian (TDA, SS, PML(2), and Hunter’s Eye Relic) – The White Scar Librarian provides Ld 10/ATSKNF, Hit and Run, Psychic Defense, re-rolls to hit via Prescience (combines with Doctrina Imperatives for hyper-accurate shooting), Ignore Cover via the Hunter’s Eye relic, and strong “tanking” power with his 2+/3++ saves (with re-rolls of 1s for the Armor Saves, as long as at least 10 Peltasts are still alive).

If the Librarian rolls up Misfortune, then he can make the Peltasts’ shooting even more deadly and, in a pinch, he also provides some close combat punch of the unit gets charged (80 shots of overwatch, backed up with re-rolls from Prescience, makes it pretty darn dangerous to charge this unit). Finally, the Peltasts themselves provide the powerful, flexible shooting and also numbers for staying power to complement the Librarian, making for an overall very versatile, dangerous battle group.

[2] Minimum sized squad of Peltasts, Deathwatch Aquila Kill Team with 5 Heavy Thunder Hammer Veterans, 3 Power Maul/SS Vanguard, 1 Librarian, a Corvus Blackstar with Infernum Halo-Launcher, and Skyshield Landing Pad – The tactic here is to get the Heavy TH Deathwatch Veterans into combat “at any costs,” so to speak. Have the Aquila Kill Team start the game in the Corvus Blackstar, which itself is on the Skyshield (Peltasts can also be positioned on the Skyshield to benefit from improved LOS and 4++ save). Turn 1, move the Blackstar up 12”, then cast Blind Barrage on it during the shooting phase with the Peltasts, then move it Flat Out another 18” (thanks to being a Fast Skimmer while in Hover mode).

This results in Blackstar having a 2+ cover save when it Jinks (Jink + Shrouded), which can be re-rolled thanks to the Infernum Halo-Launcher… in other words, unless your opponent has Ignore Cover weapons, the Blackstar will basically be invulnerable to any shooting for the next turn. On turn 2, move the Blackstar another 6”, disembark the Kill Team 6”, then have them charge their designated target 2D6” (with re-rolls thanks to Heroic Intervention). With the Librarian casting Prescience, that is 15 x S10 AP2 Heavy Thunder Hammer attacks, all with re-rolls to Hit, re-rolls of 1s to Wound/to Penetrate (thanks to Aquila Doctrine), and Instant Death on any rolls of 6+ to Wound… basically, there is almost no unit in the game that will survive this charge… as long as the Vanguard Vets can absorb enemy attacks with their Storm shields, then the Heavy Thunder Hammer Vets will survive long enough to bring down their target 😉

[3] Three squads of Peltasts and allied Lias Issodon (as WL) – Issodon uses his WL Trait to Infiltrate the three Peltast squads within 18” of key enemy shooting units, ideally things like Tau Stormsurges, Necron Destroyers, AM Blob Squads, etc. which have low Initiative and lots of shooting potential. Turn 1, engage multiple enemy targets with the “Ignis Blaze” ammo, forcing Blind tests and hopefully shutting down several key elements of enemy firepower (or at least forcing it to fire as BS1 only).

An alternate way to employ Issodon/Peltasts is to use his WL trait to infiltrate a squad of 20 Peltasts and two attached Wolf Lords (Runic Armor, SS, TH, TWC mounts on each) right up toward enemy lines. The two TWC Lords tank any enemy shooting on turn 1, relying on their 2+/3++, 4W, and T5 in conjunction with re-rolls of 1s for their Armor saves and enemy shooting reduced by -1S (thanks to the Kyropatris Field Generators) while the whole unit advances 6” and the Peltasts engage their enemy with their Galvanic-Casters. Turn 2, the Wolf Lord can split off and charge up to two different enemy units, while the Peltasts continue advancing, grabbing objectives, and/or providing fire support.

[4] Max size squad of Peltasts, Draigo, PML(3) GK Librarian, and two Dreadknights with PTs and Heavy Incinerators/Psycannons — In this battle group, Draigo and the GK Librarian attach to the Peltasts and force multiply their shooting, durability, and mobility with Divination powers (the Librarian can give squad Overwatch at full BS, a 4++ save, Ignore Cover shooting, Rending for all its attacks on a specific target, and/or re-rolls to Hit, based on what powers he rolls up) and Gates of Infinity/Hammerhand (from Draigo). At the same time, the Dreadknights “shunt” forward with the Peltasts, providing a “screening” element against enemy close combat threats, additional firepower via Heavy Incinerators and Heavy Psycannons. The Peltasts make Draigo and the Librarian more survivable with their Kyropatris Field Generators and provide powerful shooting support as well. Taken all together, this battle group provides mobility, the ability to absorb lots of damage, dangerous close combat capability, and lots of shooting, making it very capable on the table top, I think.

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Overall, as you can see, I think Secutarii Peltasts are a very strong unit, especially for their points costs and combat power (they are only 12 points a model), and can make a great addition to any Skitarii army or allied Imperium force.

Codex Deathwatch: Skitarii Allies

As I continue to look out how Deathwatch can be played in a competitive manner on the tabletop, another group of allies that I think work quite well to support them is the Skitarii faction. Here is how I see an allied force of Skitarii units (either from formations or in the Skitarii Maniple detachment) integrating with a primary detachment Deathwatch army:

 

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[1] Skitarii Vanguard – Costing less than 2 MBs per model and coming stock with a 4+ save, FNP(6+), Relentless, and a 3 shot Radium Carbine, Vanguard are exceptionally good value infantry who can provide the “economy” complement to the expensive Deathwatch forces. While they are somewhat fragile, with their T3 and lack of any organic Transport options, Vanguard can put out plenty of solid firepower for their points, with the Radium Carbine generating lots of wounds, even on T8 Wraithknights, due to its high rate of fire and Rad Poisoning rule (each To Wound roll of a 6+ causes two automatic wounds, regardless of enemy toughness). Radium Carbines obviously combine brilliantly with the Misfortune power, if any of your DW Librarians roll that up on the Divination discipline. On top of this, they can take 2 Special Weapons (bumped up to 3 if they take a full squad of 10 Vanguard) and have access to 3 shot Plasma Calivers, long range Transuranic Arquebuses, and rapid firing Arc Rifles.

Of these, I think Arc Rifles have the most value for Vanguard allied to a Deathwatch army, since it provides solid S6 AP5 shooting against non-vehicle units and exceptional (and rare) Haywire shooting against vehicles. A couple of Vanguard squads using the “Protector Imperatives” from their Doctrina Imperatives rule along with max Arc Rifles (and an Arc Pistol on the Vanguard Alpha) can efficiently deal with enemy vehicles, even massed transports like in a SM Gladius detachment, leaving the Deathwatch units free to use their potent (but limited) firepower on more important targets like elite infantry, MCs, and HQs. Finally, Skitarii Vanguard have the special “Rad-saturation” rule, which causes any enemy units locked in close combat with them to have -1T. This combined beautifully with Deathwatch close combat units, since it reduces T6 enemies, like Riptides and Hive Tyrants, to T5 (making them vulnerable to ID from Heavy Thunder Hammers), T5 enemies, like Thunderwolf Cavalry, Necron Wraiths, and SM Centurions, to T4 (making them vulnerable to ID from THs/PFs), and T3 enemies, like almost all Tau/Eldar/DE/Astra Militarum/SoB infantry, to T2 (making them vulnerable to ID from Power Swords, Guardian Spears, Xenophase Blades, and the “Thief of Secrets” Relic).

Finally, when part of the “Skitarii Maniple” detachment, Vanguard gain both Scout (except the Outflank portion of that rule) and Crusader, making them surprisingly mobile and thus able to synergize well with DW units on Bikes, in Drop Pods, or riding in a Transport vehicle like a Rhino or Corvus Blackstar. Additionally, even though they cannot start the game inside a Deathwatch vehicle, Skitarii Vanguard can jump into an allied Deathwatch transport turn 1 and use it to enhance their durability and mobility (i.e. a squad of 5 Vanguard with two Arc Rifles combines beautifully with a DW Rhino, since it protects them from small arms fire, moves them up the board quickly, and has two firing points for their Haywire shooting to fire from).

 

[2] Sicarian Infilitrators – A somewhat unique and unusual unit, Infilitrators cost about the same as Terminators, but are significantly more fragile, with T3 and a 4+/6++ save. This is somewhat offset by their 2W, FNP, and Stealth USR, but in general they are quite fragile for their points. Where Infiltrators really gain their value, and where they become an invaluable ally to a Deathwatch army, is in their mobility, damage potential, and “debuffing” capability on the enemy.

With the innate ability to Infiltrate (plus Scout and Crusader if part of a Skitarii Maniple detachment), plus the amazing Dunestrider rule (+3” to their Movement, Run moves, and Charge ranges!), the Sicarian Infiltrators can easily get where you want them to be by turn 1 (or turn 2 at the latest) without depending on transports or deep striking (they also have a very robust charge range, thanks to extra 3” from Dunestrider). This combines well with Deathwatch forces by allowing Sicarian Infilitrators to be in position near enemy lines starting turn 1, when DW Veteran squads and Kill Teams will likely be arriving by Drop Pod. This mobility (i.e. 9” move + 3+D6” run = 14-18” displacement each turn, if they do not shoot or charge) also makes the Infiltrators solid units for claiming objectives, moving up enemy flanks, and/or escaping enemy forces when required. Overall, the Sicarian Infilitrators’ high mobility is an excellent complement to Deathwatch forces and, in a pinch, you can always load the Infilitrators into a friendly DW Land Raider or Blackstar after turn 1 for even more mobility.

In terms of damage potential, in many ways Infilitrators “mirror” Deathwatch units, with high damage potential residing in a relatively fragile unit. If equipped with Taser Goads and Flechette Blasters, Infiltrators can put out 5 x S2 AP- Shred shots at 12” (per model) followed by 4 x S6 AP- Taser attacks on the charge (again, per model), which makes them exceptionally at dealing with large hordes that would otherwise potentially “swarm” a Deathwatch army down (Note: Like with Radium Carbines, the Taser Goad/Flechette Blaster loadout combines marvelously with the Misfortune power, since you generate so many chances at getting Rending attacks). Finally, Infilitrators have the “Neurostatic Aura” special rule. More than anything else, this is probably the reason you would take them to ally to a Deathwatch army. Basically, it any enemy models within 6” of a Sicarian Infiltrator suffers -1 to its WS, BS, I, and Ld. In conjunction with the Infilitrators ability to Infiltrate and Scout, this means you get them right into the enemy’s DZ turn 1 and “debuff” selected units, which synergizes amazingly with a Deathwatch Drop Pod spearhead (and the ability to “teleport” in more DW units with the Beacon Angelus). In particular, the ability to reduce enemy BS by -1 means that, after the DW Drop Pods have arrived and unloaded the firepower of their squads, in the next turn your opponent will be shooting at (and charging) those units at significantly reduced capacity, which in turns enhances the survivability of your costly Ordos Xenos Marines.

 

[3] Ironstrider Ballistarii – As mentioned in previous articles, one of the weaknesses of the Deathwatch army overall is strong medium-long ranged shooting. The Ironstrider Ballistarii is an excellent ally to help compensate for this, with the options of either a TLed Cognis Autocannon (11 MB per model) or a TLed Cognis Lascannon (15 MBs per model) and the ability to take between 1 and 6 Ironstriders per squadron. Besides being able to be hyper accurate using Doctrina Imperatives (i.e. re-rollable 2+s to Hit on up to three turns a game), the Ironstriders can also provide significant shooting during Overwatch, against Flyers, and against units that have Invisibility cast on them (i.e. with TLed and Cognis rules, the Ironstriders hit all these targets with 50% accuracy, vice the normal 16% accuracy for “regular” Snapshots). Combine all this with the superior mobility of Scout, Crusader, and the Dunestrider rule (mentioned above) and you have an affordable, potent “skirmisher” unit that can supplement many of the weakness (especially in terms of long range firepower) of a Deathwatch army.

 

[4] Onager Dunecrawlers – Finally, whereas Ironstriders provide significant firepower support, albeit on a fragile platform, to a Deathwatch detachment, Dunecrawlers provide more expensive but much more durable shooting capacity as allies to the black and silver Astartes of the Ordos Xenos. With AV 12/12/11 and the ability to have a 6++, 5++, or 4++ save (based on how many of them are in each squadron) on a walker chassis that only costs 18 MBs “base,” Onagers provide a very affordable, at least compared to Land Raiders and Blackstars, vehicle fire support supplement to a Deathwatch primary force. Additionally, Onager Dunecrawlers can be equipped with multiple weapon options to support the needs of a Deathwatch army, including an Eradication Beam (close range, flexible shooting against both vehicles and infantry), TLed Heavy Phosphor Blaster (anti-MEQ at range plus the ability to “mark” a target and reduce its cover saves against other friendly shooting), Neutron Laser (long-range S10 AP1 Concussive Small Blast for anti-vehicle/MC work), and the Icarus Array (high volume/power shooting against any enemy flyers, FMCs, and/or skimmers, which makes it great against Eldar, DE, Tau, Necrons, and Tyranids). No matter what option you go with, have one or more Onager squadrons as an ally to your Deathwatch army is a significant boost which can make the rest of your units more effective with their shooting and ability to absorb damage away from the expensive/fragile DW squads.

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As you can see, there are solid uses for each of these Skitarii units in an allied force to a primary Deathwatch detachments. I did not even discuss Skitarii Rangers, Ruststalkers, or Sydonian Dragoons (and these all have the potential to enhance a Deathwatch army as well), but even if you just stick to the Skitarii forces discussed above, I think you can make solidly competitive combination with the squads vehicles, and Kill Teams of a Deathwatch main army.

Sicarian Infilitrators and Rending (Librarious Conclave + Misfortune)

Looking back through the Skitarii Codex, something that caught my eye is the sheer amount of shooting and close combat attacks Sicarian Infiltrators can generate when equipped with the Taser Goad/Flechette Blaster option. A squad of 10 Infiltrators can put out 50 x S2 AP- Shred shots and then follow it up with 41 x S6 AP- Taser attacks on the charge (so a net total of 91 shots/attacks against their selected target).

Since these attacks have no AP and, in the case of the Flechette Blaster, are extremely low Strength, the natural assumption is that they are only good for dealing with light infantry hordes or, at best, overwhelming MSU Power Armor squads through sheer volume. While that may be normally true, if you can support them with an Allied Psyker using the Misfortune power (from Divination dicispline), all that changes.

Imagine the following:

-10 Infiltrators with Flechette Blasters/Taser Goads

-Allied Space Marine Librarius Conclave (5 x PML(2) Librarians in TDA, all using Divination)

-2 x Space Marine Fast Attack Drop Pods

Infiltrators and TDA Librarians each ride in a separate Drop Pod. Turn 1, they both arrive, disembark, and Librarians cast Misfortune on the target (say an enemy Wraithknight) and Prescience on the Infiltrators. Infiltrators use their Doctrina Imperatives to boost themselves to BS5. They then shoot with 50 Flechette Blaster shots at the Wraith Knight… with re-rollable BS5 shots, they average 48-49 hits…. these hits wound and ignore armor on 6+s (due to Rending) and the Flechette Blasters allow re-rolls to Wound due to Shred, so that averages about 15-16 AP2 wounds on the Wraith Knight. If the Wraithknight has a 5++ shield save, then that makes for about 10 wounds inflicted, with FNP further reducing that to about 6-7 total Unsaved Wounds. Result, one dead Wraithknight.

Now, you can simply “rinse and repeat” against other targets the following turns, with the added advantage that the Infiltrators can move 9″, shoot another 50 shots, and then charge 2D6 +3″ (average 10″ charge range) with 41 x S6 AP- Taser attacks… with the additionally generated hits due to the “Taser” rule, Prescience for Re-rolls, and the Neurostatic Aura reducing enemy WS by -1, against most units (and vehicles) the Infiltrators will get an average of about 50 S6 hits… with 6+ to rend, they generate about 8  Rending hits on average rolling, meaning that they can handily kill a MC, wipe out a Terminator squad, or even glance an enemy Land Raider to death. Alternately, if they need to take out enemy hordes, then their mass shooting and close combat attacks can easily decimate even the biggest Ork Mob or AM Blob squad.

As you can see, the tactical applications of Misfortune combined with Sicarian Infiltrators and their exceptional volume of shots/attacks are numerous. The biggest weaknesses of this tactic are 1) Needing to roll up Misfortune reliably before the game begins and 2) the Infiltrator’s fragility, since they are T3, 2W, and only have a 4+ save/6++ Invul/FNP. They do, however, have Stealth (i.e. cover is their friend, especially when they first come out of the Drop Pod) and the allied Librarians can potentially give them a 4++ or Invisibility or Shrouded, any of which can make them much better able to survive enemy return fire. Finally, you are not restricted to deploying them with allied Drop Pods, since they have Infiltration organically and they also can move 9″ and run D6+3″ a turn, letting them get upfield very quickly (i.e. basically the same net mobility as Assault Marines) and work hand-in-hand with the Librarians/Misfortune to wreak all kinds of havoc on the enemy force.

Finally, this unit can be utilized as a “deathstar antidote”… imagine a maxed out squad of 6 TWC, all with PFs and Stormshields and led by a Wolf Lord with PF/SS and Runic Armor. That is 16 wounds, all protected by 3++ saves and (in the case of the Wolf Lord) 2+ armor as well, not to mention some VERY dangerous CC capacity!

Doing the math, if you successfully cast Misfortune on the TWC deathstar and Prescience on a squad of 10 Infiltrators, the Infiltrators can shoot 50 times and then charge with 41 attacks. Shooting at BS5 with Prescience causes about 5-6 unsaved wounds, which means abut 3 dead TWC (assuming the Wolf Lords LoS! the wounds onto the TWC)… the subsequent charge at WS4 (With re-rolls to Hit) versus WS3 (TWC have -1WS due to Neurostatic Aura) generates 41 attacks and, after Taser bonuses, about 50 total hits. Of these, about 8 are Rending, which causes another 2-3 unsaved wounds after SS saves (so a fourth TWC killed)… finally, the non-Rending hits generate about 25 wounds, which means 4 unsaved wounds after the 2+ saves from the WL Runic Armor is used, on average (so the WL is dead, but still gets to strike back, due to I4 vs I4). The remaining TWC attacks back with 8 PF swings, they killing an average of 2-3 Infiltrators… the result, Infiltrators win combat by six wounds, with 7 Infiltrators and 2 TWC left…. next round, the Skitarii melee experts should be able to kill the remaining two TWC before they even get to strike back. As you can surmise, this is a VERY favorable return on your investment against an otherwise quite deadly enemy threat.

Grey Knights and Skitarii…

Skitarii are the newest Imperium codex on the block, which opens up significant allying opportunities across the board.

Looking through the different Imperium armies, the one that jump outs to me as the best “synergistic” ally for Skitarii is, somewhat surprisingly, the Grey Knights. Looking at Grey Knights holistically, they are characterized by the following:

GK STRENGTHS – Anti-horde firepower (mass access to SBs, Incinerators, Cleaning Flame), solid close combat abilities (i.e. Hammerhand, Halberds, mass force weapons), Psychic phase dominance, first-turn deep-striking (Nemesis Strike Force detachment), cost-effective Terminators in the Troops slot, and highly potent Monstrous Creatures in the Heavy Support slot.

GK WEAKNESSES – Low model count/difficulty in objective games, lack of anti-air (outside of Stormravens), expensive Power Armor units, lack of anti-armor options (outside of Psycannons/close combat), lack of long-range support, and lack of fast-moving close combat units.

Now, if you take a look at what the new Skitarii force brings to the fight, it is almost a mirror image of the Grey Knight strengths and weaknesses:

SKITARII STRENGTHS – Relatively cheap, cost-effective infantry (i.e. Rangers and Vanguard), close combat troops that force-multiply units around them (i.e. Infilitrators with their -1 WS/BS/I/Ld aura), excellent long-range fire-support options (i.e. Onager in all its derivations, Ironstriders), great anti-air (Onager with Icarus Array), and fast moving “skirmisher” units (i.e. Sydonian Dragoons, plus troops gets Scout with the Maniple Detachment).

SKITARII WEAKNESSES – Lack of tough close-combat units, no psychic support, no ICs to lead squads/provide force-multipliers, lack of transports, no flyers of any kind, and only moderate ability to deal with horde opponents.

As you can see, these two armies are, in many ways, perfect battle brothers, with each providing exactly what the other lacks. This leads to numerous opportunities for synergy in a Grey Knights/Skitarii joint task force. The following are some examples:

1 – Skitarii Infiltrators, GK Librarian, and Grey Knight Terminators – Infilitrators Infiltrate in and GKTs/Librarian deep strike on the first turn. Infilitrators reduce enemy BS with their unique aura, making both them and GKs more survivable against enemy shooting. Turn 2, Librarian joins Infilitrators, buffing them with Psychic powers (i.e. Hammerhand, Prescience, etc.) and both Infilitrators/GKTs charge in, all of them benefiting from the -1 WS/I/Ld inflicted by the Infiltrator’s aura. This means that 5 GK Terminators with Hammerhand on are striking before other MEQs, hitting on 3+s, wounding on 2+s, and ignoring armor saves of 3+ or worse with a total of 15 attacks, resulting in about 8-9 dead enemy MEQs on the charge.

2 – Grey Knight Rhinos and Skitarii Infantry – Vanguard and rangers are excellent, especially when equipped with Arc Rifles for Rapid Fire Haywire shooting (something that is a tremendous benefit to GKs, who lack melta weapons of their own), but they don’t have organic transports to get them to the fight. Enter the Fast Attack Rhinos from the GK codex. Skitarii Vanguard can hitch a ride on these cheap transport and, with Flat Out moves, be 18” across the table turn 1, ready to light up enemy targets turn 2+. Alternately, with Gates of Infinity and Levitation powers available to GK Psyker ICs, they can “bounce” Skitarii infantry rapidly across the board in the Psychic Phase, removing the need for any transports to begin with.

3 – Dreadknights and Skitarii Vanguard — If you can get both of these units to charge an enemy MC in the same phase, then the Vanguard’s special rule makes any unit in base contact with them have -1T. For almost all MCs, this reduces them to T5, which means that Dreadknights, with their S10 AP2 attacks at initiative, are causing instant death without even having to activate their Nemesis Force Weapons. Riptides, Hive Tyrants, enemy Dreadknights, Chaos Daemons, Tomb Spyders, and Talos/Chronus all hate this combo.

4 – Sydonian Dragoons with Divination Support (GK Librarians) – Since they can easily get to PML(3), GK Libbys are ideal to use with Divination and, depending on the powers they roll up, support a squadron of Sydonian Dragoons. A squadron of 6 x Dragoons already get 24 S8 I6 attacks (with the Taser rule, for potentially generating even more hits) on the charge. Throw in Prescience to increase their To Hit chances by 50% and Forewarning to give the Squadron a 4++ save (both in and out of combat) and they go from dangerous to outright devastating. Alternately, if you roll up Shrouding or Invisibility on the Telepathy discipline, these abilities can greatly increase the Dragoons’ survivability, enabling them to get across the table and successfully charge their target.

5 – Ruststalkers with attached Castellan Crowe – Ruststalkers are already solid combatants (especially when they get to round 2 of combat and make all their weapons AP2), but they become significantly better when they have Crowe attached. First, he can use Cleansing Flame before charging to greatly reduce enemy hordes. Second, he can challenge enemy characters (he excels in Challenges) to free the Ruststalkers to focus on the enemy. Finally, he can cast Hammerhand, increasing the whole unit’s strength by +2, in turn making Ruststalkers MUCH more deadly across the board.

6 – Onagers and Purifiers – Purifiers are excellent infantry, some of the best in the game for their points, but they are still MEQs and are expensive point’s wise. Also, they lack long-range anti-tank and are vulnerable until they get relatively close. Enter the Onager with their S10 AP2 48” Small Blasts. These pair perfectly with Purifiers as they advance (or ride Stormravens in from reserve), bombarding the enemy with highly potent long range shooting and drawing firepower away from the Purifiers. In turn, once they get close, the Purifiers can deal with enemy infantry and draw attention away from the Onagers, allowing them to continue to maneuver and engage unimpeded.

As you can see, this is just the tip of the iceberg with GK/Skitarii synergy. I am excited to try these two armies together and test all the different possibilities they bring to a competitive army list!

Sons of the Lion and Adepts of the Machine God… Dark Angels and Onagers

It appears more and more that the new Skitarii will be excellent allies, especially to any Imperial armies as they are “battle brothers” status with them.

In particular, I think the Onager Dunecrawler will be a tremendous force multiplier for any army that allies with them, especially given the variety of competitive weapons load-outs available to it and the ability to take Onagers in squadrons of 1-3 Walkers. One Imperium faction that will benefit tremendously from taking an allied Onager squadron (or two) is the Dark Angels. Specifically, I think they synergize well with having allied Onager squadrons as follows:

1 – Anti-Flyer/FMC – One of the weakest parts of the DA codex is its lack of good anti-flyer capability. Outside of the option for Flak Missiles and Quad Guns on Aegis Defense Lines, Dark Angels have their Dark Talon and Nephilim flyers, but it is almost universally agreed that these flyers are underpowered and over-costed, making them a poor choice for competitive list building. With the option to take an Icarus Array for its main weapon load-out, the Onager gets the following:

-Daedalus Missile Launcher

48″ S7 AP2 Heavy 1 Skyfire

-Gatling Rocket Launcher

48″ S6 AP4 Heavy 5, ignores cover, Skyfire

-Twin Icarus Autocannon

48″ S7 AP4 Heavy 2, interceptor, Skyfire, twin-linked

Combine this with a squadron of 3 x Onagers and Dark Angels suddenly have an exceptionally potent, reasonably point-costed, anti-flyer/FMC option. Add in a Dark Angel Librarian with Prescience to Twin-Link the shooting of the entire squadron and you should be able to kill multiple flying units (vehicles and MCs) over the course of the game. To give an example, with Prescience, a squadron of 3 Icarus Array Onagers targeting an AV12/12/12 Stormraven should get 8 x S7 hits and 13 x S6 hits, in turn netting about 2 normal hull points and another 2 hull points with the Ignore Cover rule… after Jinking is accounted for, that means an average of 3 Stripped HPs, which translates into one dead Storm Raven (or Storm Wolf, or Heldrake, or Vendetta, etc. etc.).

2 – Neutron Laser/Rad Grenade Synergy — Another option for combining DA capabilities with support from Skitarii Onagers is equipping a squadron of 3 Onagers with the Neutron Laser (48” range, S10 AP1, Heavy 1, Small Blast, Concussive) and using in conjunction with a RW Black Knight squadron. First, move in range with the Black Knight and hit an enemy Monstrous Creature (i.e. Dreadknight, Riptide, Nurgle Daemon Prince, Necron C’tan, etc.) with at least one Rad Grenade from the RW GLs, thus reducing the target T by -1 to T5 or below…. Next, engage the same MC with the Onager squadron’s 3 x Neutron Lasers… you should be able to get at least 1-2 hits and 1-2 wounds… provided the target fails at least one cover/Invul save, it suffers ID and is removed from play entirely, since it is now (T5 from the Rad Grenades and the Neutron Laser is S10). Even if you engage something like a Wraithknight, which has T8 naturally and so can’t be IDed by this tactic, if a single wound gets through then the Concussive rule means that it is reduced to I1, allowing you to charge in and bring it down in close combat before it can swing back.

3 – TLed Heavy Phosphor Blaster and Banner of Devastation – If you choose to equip an allied Onager with the TLed Heavy Phosphor Blaster (36” range, S6 AP3, Heavy 3, Lumingen) , then you can target an enemy unit in cover… if you inflict at least on unsaved wound, the Lumingen rule means that target enemy suffers -1 to its cover save (with 3 shots and S6 AP3, even a single Onager is likely to achieve this)… once this is achieved, you can combine this with shooting from Dark Angel Bolters supported by the Banner of Devastation to “torrent” down enemy hordes very efficiently. For example, say you were engaging a 30 man, Fearless (thanks to attached Priest) AM “blob squad,” in cover behind an ADL, with a pair of DA Tactical squads supported by the Banner of Devastation… at BS4, that is 80 shots, about 52-54 hits, 34-36 wounds, and 17-18 dead Guardsmen after their 4++ cover saves were accounted for… add in the Lumingen rule from the Heavy Phosphor Blaster and now you get 80 shots, about 52-54 hits, 34-36 wounds, and 23-24 dead Guardsman, almost wiping the squad out entirely. As you can see, just by reducing enemy cover by -1 with Lumingen hits, you can greatly improve the efficiency of DA shooting, especially with high volume of fire units like Tactical Marines supported by the Banner of Devastation.

In summary, there are numerous ways to leverage the strengths/options of the Onager Dunewalker squadron as an ally to Dark Angel armies, and in turn the DAs can provide significant enhancements to the Onager’s capabilities as well.

First Look, Ironstrider Ballistarii…. the “uber Sentinels”

he Ironstrider Ballistarii is the second Skitarii walker…

…in this case the “shooty” one, being released with the upcoming Skitarii codex.

 

Based on the confirmed rules we have seen so far, it the Ironstrider can be taken in squadrons of 1-6, has the same AV11/11/11 and 2HPs as its Sydonian Dragoon cousin. It also is open-topped, has the Crusader USR (so better chances of good Run rolls if it forgoes shooting) and the outstanding Dunestrider rule (i.e. +3” to any Move, Run, or Charge distances). Like most of the other Skitarii units, it has the “Doctrina Imperatives” rule, the exact details of which are still unreleased, and has a respectable BS 4.

So, what makes the Ironstrider stand out? Well, first of all, it comes with a TLed Autocannon, which can be upgraded to a TLed Lascannon. Importantly, these are “Cognis” weapons, which allows them to fire all Snapshots at BS2, vice BS1. This means that Ironstriders can effectively shoot at Flyers, FMCs, and units with the Invisibility power cast on them at BS3 (BS2 with re-rolls from TLed weapons). Also, they can fire Overwatch at effectively BS3 as well. If you armed a squadron of 6 Ironstriders with TLed Cognis Lascannons, then when shooting at a flyer, they would hit about 50% of the time, meaning you get 3 Lascannon hits… against AV10 flyers, that is 3 automatic glances (unless the Flyer Jinks), against AV11 Flyers, that’s between 2-3 glances almost guaranteed, and against AV12 flyers, you average about 2 glances (again, not counting for any Jinking the by the flyer). As you can see, in addition to their role against ground targets, Ironstriders make a very effective “improvised air defense” to supplement your force.

Speaking of their role against ground targets, Ironstriders can be used effectively in a number of ways. First, with their highly accurate TLed Lascannons (89% chance to hit) and their excellent 9” move each turn, they make a great flanking tank destroyer unit… move up the sides of the board 9” a turn to get good angles for shooting enemy vehicle side armor, then unload with up to 6 Lascannon shots to cripple our outright destroy all but the toughest vehicles in a single shooting phase. Likewise, using the TLed Autocannon option, they can be excellent light vehicle hunters, picking off a transport every turn (even a small Squadron of 2-3 Ironstriders can statistically kill a Rhino/Razorback/Chimera etc each turn.

Against non-vehicle targets, Ironstriders can use their Precision Shots rule to act like highly mobile, vehicle-based snipers. 6 x TLed BS4 Lascannon shots can be an excellent way to cut down a small elite squad like Tau Broadside Battlesuits or Chaos Obliterators or SM Centurions or Necron Praetorians or Ork Meganobz. Use any Precision Shots to surgically remove key models in the target unit, such as Tigurius supporting a Centurion squad (S9 Lascannons vs his T4 means that any wound that gets through results in ID for Tiggy). Similarly, snipe out BA Sanguinary Priests, AM Commissars/Priests, Eldar Exarchs, Ork Nobz, Necron Crypteks, Tau Ethereals, etc. etc.

In terms of “force-multiplying” the Ironstriders, one solid option is to ally them with a Dark Angel Techmarine on a Bike with a Power Field Generator. The TM moves behind the Ironstrider squadron, staying within 3” to give as many of them a 4++ save as possible, and he also moves up to repair HPs of any Ironstriders that receive battle damage but are not destroyed.

Another way to maximize the Ironstriders’ capabilities is to put them on a Skyshield Landing Pad, giving them improved height (so better LOS for their weapons) and conferring an automatic 4++ to all walkers, which basically doubles their survivability against any enemy shooting.

Summing up, if you look at Ironstriders holistically, a good way to think of them is like Scout Sentinels from the AM codex, except better in every category: Mobility, they get Crusader and +3” to all their movement/run/assault rolls; Protection, they have AV11 all around, versus AV10 all around; shooting, they have BS4, TLed weapons, and Precision Shots.

Sydonian Dragoons and the Shrouding….

Codex: Skitarii is not even out yet, but just looking at the confirmed rumors (i.e. ones where we actually have pictures of data sheets with no-kidding rules), we have the following on the Sydonian Dragoons:

 

Looking through the unit profile, this light walker can be taken in units of 1-6, has 4 x S8 AP- I6 per walker on the charge (so 24 attacks from a full squadron of 6 Dragoons).

More importantly are the following:

-Close Combat –Taser Lance grants an additional +2 hits for every roll of 6+ to Hit (kind of like Necron Tesla weapons). This means that, on average against a WS4 opponent, a 6 walker squadron of Dragoons would have 24 attacks, 12 hits, 4 of which would be 6+s and so generate another 8 hits, for a total of 20 hits on the charge. At S8 and I6, these would wound pretty much anything but Wraithlords/Wraithknights on a 2+ and strike before all but the best close combat units in the game. Of course, the target would get armor saves, but with 20 hits and probably between 16-17 wounds, most targets are going to fail enough saves to take some serious damage. Better yet, at S8, this is causing ID to anything T4 or below, so only a single wound has to get through to take out multi-wound models.

Against vehicles, this gets even better. 24 attacks, hitting on 3+s, means an average of 24 hits (after extra Taser Hits are added in)…. S8 vs the AV10 of most vehicles rear armor (that includes you, Wave Serpents!!) means you are glancing on a 2+, so about 20 glances on the charge. Even if you multi-charge (and so get less attacks, due to Disordered Charge), that should still be enough to kill multiple vehicles at once (again, what a great counter to Wave Serpent spam!). Even AV14 Land Raiders can be glanced to death, with on average 24 attacks, 24 hits, and 4 glancing hits after the smoke settles (so 4 HPs gone, one Land Raider dead). As you can see, a squadron of 6 Dragoons is quite versatile and potent in its damage output against the spectrum of targets (and an entire squadron of 6 Dragoons only costs just under 300 points, so VERY affordable).

-Mobility — Sydonian Dragoons have the mobility that really all walkers in the game should have (I mean, should a giant Dreadnought be able to move quicker than an infantryman 1/4 its size?). With the Dune Strider special rule, they can move 9″ every turn, then either run D6+3″ or charge 2D6 +3″… combine this with Crusader (which not only helps in winning Sweeping Advances, but allows improved Run rolls), and you should easily be able to move an entire squadron between 15-18″ across the board Turn 1, setting them up for a very reliable Turn 2 charge (which itself has a better threat range, due to the +3″ added on the charge range). Overall, this mobility makes them very good at their job and strong value for their points (it also helps them seize objectives as well).

-Survivability — While only having AV11/11/11 and 2HPs each, the Dragoon’s Incense Cloud rule gives them a permanent 5++ cover save against shooting. This is decent, but still means they are pretty fragile, until you add in another factor… allied Psykers casting Shrouding (from the Telepathy discipline)… this area of effect Blessing means you can buff multiple Dragoon squadrons around the Psyker at once with Shrouding USR, brining their cover save up from a 5++ to a 3++… now, all of a sudden, they are MUCH more survivable and can reliably soak up a lot of fire power while using their high mobility to cross the battlefield, then get off that critical charge on turn 2+. Of course, this is dependent on getting the Shrouding power and then having enough Warp Charges to get it off reliably, but done properly it can make multiple squadrons of Sydonian Dragoons truly a force to be feared.