26 January, 2016

Skitarii Tactics: Building a 750 Point Army

A friend of mine is preparing for an escalation-type tournament and took the opportunity to get himself started with Skitarii. As he had asked for my opinion on how to build the list, I thought I'd share my thoughts with you here. So first of all, what does he have? Well, he chose to go with the new Games Workshop starter set, which means that he's got:
  • A Techpriest Dominus
  • A unit of Skitarii Vanguard or a unit of Skitarii Rangers
  • An Onager Dunecrawler   

When it comes to list-building, I had to consider that on one hand he wants as good a shot at winning as anyone else, but on the other hand he also simply wants to field, paint and collect a cool variety of models that work together in a dynamic and interesting way. With that in mind we sat down for a coffee and sketched out some of the units he'd like to have, and here's what we came up with:

  • A Techpriest Dominus (because it comes with the box set)
  • Two units of Skitarii Vanguard
  • A group of Skitarii Rangers
  • A group of Sicarian Infiltrators 
  • A Sydonian Dragoon
  • Two Dunecrawlers (I kept suggesting three but he'd prefer two)

Building an Army List

When it comes to list-building I tend to do it in stages:
- First you have a bunch of stuff in front of you which includes everything you really want, but also a lot of it will have to get trimmed away.

- Next you'll have to go about selecting what first gets cut out. This isn't always done with the most thorough thought process, but it does serve as a starting point; you can always add things back into your list at a later time. The main idea here is to get a basic idea of what you really want to keep. Again if it turns out that your list isn't up to your personal standards, you can always go back and edit it as many times as you like.

He's making a list and checking it twice.
- Third, you count your points and make sure it at least fits within your allotted points budget. In this case we're talking 750 points.

- Next, you'll want to take a look at whether or not the list adheres to the way you like to play the game. For some of us that might be to just have fun and throw some cool models together, but for me it's all about being balanced or TAC (Take All Comers). You can check out my video on how to make a TAC list here:

- Finally you can start by going over your list with a fine-comb. For example if you need some anti-tank support, but have a lot of anti-troop firepower, you can remove some of the anti-troop units and replace them with guns or units geared towards taking out vehicles. Beware -- or rejoice in the fact -- that this can lead to min-maxing.

Techpriest Dominus

Let's get back to talking about building the Skitarii list itself. In the end the list I came up with doesn't have everything he wanted to include. The first thing to go was the Techpriest Dominus.

Don't get me wrong -- it's a great model with some awesome rules, but he'd either have to go Unbound or build a Cult Mechanicus contingent. Going Unbound isn't so bad in itself but if he chose to go that route, he'd be missing out on the bonuses afforded to him by a Skitarii Maniple detachment, or from any of the formations in the book.

Skitarii Vanguard & Rangers

Next were the troops. The question was how many units of Vanguard and Rangers to include. Initially I did as he suggested and included two units of Vanguard and one of Rangers, but in the end this was too points heavy, as it wouldn't allow him to field any of the other fun stuff we wanted for his army.

Ultimately it came down to the simple fact that he needs boots on the ground to win his missions, and that's something that I'd be looking to maximise. For that reason I went with two units of Vanguard and cut out the more expensive Rangers.

Sicarian Infiltrators 

After considering the troops, I took a look at the elites. He wanted to include something close-combat oriented so that left us with either the Infiltrators or the Ruststalkers. Given that I knew that they had some potential to combo well with the Vanguard, and that they could pump out more attacks on the charge, I simply set the necessary points aside to include ten Infiltrators in the army, and moved on from there.

My logic was that if needed, I could replace them with something else which means that it'd come down to an analysis and comparison between Infiltrators and Ruststalkers.

Sydonian Dragoons

Next up was the fast attack. I know he really wants the Dragoon because the model is cool, it'd provide for something really fun to paint and plus it adds an interesting dynamic to his army, but unfortunately I cut it out because it just doesn't pack enough of a punch on its' own. As a single AV11, 2HP model with a 5+ cover save I can see it giving up First Blood every time. It doesn't matter what army I'd be using against him -- I'd focus-fire the living hell out of that thing, just for the kill point, and all the better for me if I can ignore his cover save.

Now don't get me wrong: I play AV10 models all the time. In fact I love my AV10 Dark Eldar venoms, but there's a difference between having a 48" threat range (I've got threat range tactica right here for you), and an AV11 walker that's charging the opponent's lines at full-tilt. In my opinion if you're going to field these guys, you should have multiples in order to stack up their attacks, hit hard and fast and so that the unit can survive long enough to do its' job. When it comes to Sydonian Dragoons, my attitude is:

One's a kill point, two's a crowd and three's a party.

Onager Dunecrawler

Next up was my favourite: the Onager Dunecrawler. It didn't take long for me to decide that this guy should be toting the neutron lazer. Two reasons:
  1. S10, AP1 blast with a 48" range. Combine that with a 6" movement and you've got a 54" threat range. My Dark Eldar are jealous.
  2. It's called a neutron lazer! These guys are all about the steampunk and you're given the chance to field a neutron lazer! Who could say no!??!?
Let's be clear here. The coolest names in 40k are:
  • Death Ray (Necrons)
  • Neutron lazer (Skitarii)
  • Dark Artisan (Dark Eldar)
I want a neutron lazer.

Futuristic grimdark spider tank with a giant gun. What's not to love!?
Army Balance

Finally we arrive at my favourite part of list-building: counting the points and checking for army balance. The points added up just fine (i.e. less than 750), so I focused on making sure the army was well-rounded. To do this, I use a quick checklist and ideally I'm looking to have at least three different units that can fulfill each role on the list. Given the current army list (two units of Rangers, ten Infiltrators and a Dunecrawler with a neutron lazer), I got the following results on my checklist.

How many units in the army can (help) take care of...:
  • TEQ (T4 2+, 5++) or even Canoptek Wraiths: 2x
  • AV14: 1x
  • Hordes of T3 models: 4x
  • Flyers: 0x
  • (Flying) Monstrous Creatures: 0(3)x
  • MEQ (T4, 3+): 4x
  • First Blood: 1x
  • 1-6 Objectives: 4x
  • Getting to objectives that are across the table: 3x
  • Dealing with super heavies: 1x
  • Linebreaker: 3x

With this checklist we can see that the army is weakest when it comes to dealing with T.E.Q., AV14, flyers, it'll struggle to take First Blood, capture objectives and deal with super heavies. With that in mind we can start to think about ways of improving it.

Given that the current list is at approximately 650 points, we know that we can pack on about a hundred points of gear and models. Another thing is that if we look at the weaknesses inherent in the army, we can start to see solutions arise when we look into the special weapons available to our units. For example if we're lacking anti-AV firepower, we can give the Vangard some arc rifles. To cut things short, this is the final list I came up with:
Skitarii Maniple (745/750)

- 5x Vanguard + 1x Arc rifles
- 5x Vanguard + 1x Arc rifles
- 5x Vanguard + 1x Transonic arquebus
- 5x Vanguard + 1x Transonic arquebus

- 10x Sicarian infiltrators (or 2 units of 5x Sicarian Infiltrators)

Heavy Support
- Onager Dunecrawler + Neutron laser and cognis heavy stubber

And now for the checklist:
  • TEQ (T4 2+, 5++) or even Canoptek Wraiths: 2x
  • AV14: 3x
  • Hordes of T3 models: 4x
  • Flyers: 0x
  • (Flying) Monstrous Creatures: 0(3)x
  • MEQ (T4, 3+): 4x
  • First Blood: 3x
  • 1-6 Objectives: 6x
  • Getting to objectives that are across the table: 3x
  • Dealing with super heavies: 3x
  • Linebreaker: 3x
Would you look at that! Just splitting the units up, adding some arc rifles and transonic arquebuses has helped to balance things out. Of course the list isn't perfect -- it's still somewhat vulnerable to TEQ and especially vulnerable to flyers, but overall it's pretty good. Furthermore if we're realistic about things, most lists aren't likely to have any flyers at 750 points and having 2 units that can deal with TEQ in smaller point games isn't too bad in itself. Again the list isn't perfect, but it's not horrible either.

Radium Carbines & You

Something worth mentioning before we move onto talking about some of the synergy between the Vanguard and the Sicarian Infiltrators, is that the radium carbines used by the Vanguard have the "rad poisoning" special rule, which causes 2 wounds on a roll to wound of a 6, regardless of the target's toughness.

This is worth mentioning because it's partly where the army gets some of its' anti-monstrous creature capabilities. This fact -- combined with their lower points cost -- is one of the reasons I've chosen to stick with the Vanguard rather than switching over to the Rangers. Note that the transonic arquebuses also have anti-monstrous creature potential, as they wound on a 4+ and have a good AP value.

The other source of anti-monstrous creature weaponry in this list comes from the Onager Dunecrawler.

Army Combos: Sicarians and Vanguards

Now that we've got a list that can deal with almost anything that comes its' way we can start to think about our general pre-game strategy. When I talk about a "pre-game strategy", what I mean is your over-all plan before you even know who (or what) you're going to face on the tabletop. When it comes to this list in particular the general strategy lies in the potential unit combos.

For example if we look at the Sicarians, we can start with the fact that they can infiltrate, which means that (in 7th edition anyways) they can also outflank, which is all good stuff considering that they're close combat-oriented.

Combine that with the fact that the Vanguard's transonic arquebuses are sniper weapons, and you soon realise that if you were to kill a model with an arquebus before charging the unit with the Sicarian Infiltrators, there's a chance you'll cause a failed pinning check which -- in turn -- would nullify overwatch. Beautiful! Also keep in mind that the Skitarii Vanguard have the relentless special rule, so you can move and shoot that arquebus without worrying about the accuracy of their firepower.

As if that wasn't enough, the Infiltrator's neurostatic special rule reduces the WS, BS, I and Ld. of enemy units with a model within 6". If you were to split the unit of Vanguard with the arquebuses into two smaller groups as I have, not only would you have more units with which to score objectives, but you'd also double your chances of causing a pinning check.

So all in all the army is fairly versatile and can adapt to most other armies, unless it's got some flyers -- but at 750 points, you might not encounter too many of those -- or perhaps that's just what Tzee...er.... your opponent wants you to think.


  1. Hi!

    Seen this list wander the internet the last couple of days and i just must comment on that the list isn't 745points. It really is 775 points. If you want to play it in a 750 game remove the neutron laser for the eradication beamer. that is 25 points.

  2. You also titled this Skitarii Maniple which it couldn't be further from.

  3. You also titled this Skitarii Maniple which it couldn't be further from.