Sunday 12 April 2015

Codex Adeptus Mechanicus: Skitarii. Review part 1 of 2.

Never quite thought this day would come, but this year seems to be the year of surprise wish-list fulfilment. Indeed, following on from trends started with Forgeworld (HH Mechanicum) and GW last year (Knights), the armies of the Imperium are finally getting expanded into the realms of the Adeptus Mechanicus. The first (hopefully more to follow) of these releases focuses on everyone's favourite tech-guard, the Skitarii. In this article I'll talk about the release in it's entirity and also touch upon the implications it has for the future.

The release:

This release has been spread over 3 weeks in a pattern that we are pretty familiar with now. In addition to the models and books (talked about shortly), there are a few other items worth mentioning. The standard accompaniments have also been released, such as the datacards, digital versions of the codex, web bundles and an additional deal sheet similar to the one we got with the Knight release. The technical paint, martian ironearth, is a much welcomed paint that pretty much works the same as agrellan earth in that it leaves a cracked earth appearance. This is a much welcomed addition to the range. We also have a couple of scenery pieces that fit perfectly with Admech. The first is the fantastic and flexible promethium pipes kit, with the second being the rather odd-looking, overpriced and tactically questionable plasma obliterator turret.

The Codex:

A more slender book than we're used to, Codex admech: Skitarii is 80 pages and, wait for it, yes only £20. For this reason and others I'll mention later I think this is a better release than the Harlequin book and is more reasonable in size and cost for a mini-codex. The book is replete with beautiful, new artwork and contains a galactic map of forgeworlds as well as background and colour schemes for half a dozen. There is a nice hierarchy table for the admech which seems to cover the areas FW are doing (Ordo reductor etc) and also leaves the Cult Mechanicus still to be covered - interestingly this is the other rumoured book for this year. I can't help but feel this release is very tactical and designed to get a new faction out there without endangering IP. Think about it. Knights last year. A Skitarii book and mini-release now and then cult-mechanicus to come later this year. I wouldn't be at all surprised if all 3 and some more models were rolled into a single Admech book at some later stage once most of the models are already out there. Back to the book, after the gallery (including a stunning white colour scheme from Metalica) we are introduced to the datasheets and armoury. More on them later. Overall a lovely book and great value.

The Models:

If the book was a good release then the models are a great one. 3 dual kits and a single-build walker giving a total of 7 new units to use with the book. The standard infantry are broken down into rangers and vanguard, who fulfil slightly different roles (more on that later) and look similar for the most part just with different heads and guns. The look of the models is superb and fits perfectly with the aesthetic with cybernetic limbs, flowing robes and archeotech weapons. The way the robes are sculpted gives me great hope for plastic sisters sometime soon! The second kit is the Sydonian Dragoon/Ironstrider Ballistarii, a melee or fire-platform biped walker. Both look great and remind me somewhat of the older Epic Knight designs. There's even a small servitor slaved to the front controlling the leg movements. The 3rd dual kit is the Sicarian Ruststalkers/Infiltrators kit. These chaps are super-augmented Skitarii with long limbs and a variety of weapons. Again, I'll talk about the roles they fulfil later. Lastly the only single build kit is the Onager dunecrawler, a quadruped walker (looks like the spawn of a defiler and sentinel) that mounts some frightening heavy weaponry. Overall, a fantastic release that really does the army justice.

The Rules:

Now for the meat of the article, the rules contained within the pages.

Army special rules:

Allies - armies of the Imperium for allies matrix
Dunestrider - this model may add 3" to movement, running and charging, making the Sicarians and Dragoons/Balistarii pretty darn fast.
Doctina Imperatives:
  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
Effectively the Skitarii answer to orders, you can issue one of these at the start of your movement phase but cannot duplicate throughout the game. Also, looks like you don't have to use them if you don't want to. I can see 1-3 being useful early in the game when you need to do as much ranged damage as possible with 4-6 becoming more important later in the game.

Warlord traits:
  1. Reinforced Exoskeleton -  the Warlord gets Eternal Warrior
  2. Artificer Armament - 0ne of the Warlords (non-relic) 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 
Similarly to Harlequins, if you choose a Vanguard/Ranger Alpha as your Warlord you can roll on this table or the ones in the rulebook. However, if you choose another model (a Sicarian) as your Warlord then you can only roll D3 on this table or D6 on the rulebook ones. This limits your options a bit more but seeing as the Sicarians are arguably more durable and combat orientated it may be worth considering one as a warlord.

Relics of Mars:

Arkhan's divinator - can choose to reroll mysterious terrain rolls. Meh.

The omniscient mask - bearer has zealot. Might help melee units on the first turn of a charge and seeing as they're pretty fast they should get to use it.

Pater radium -  If locked with enemy in initiative 1 step, enemy units must take a toughness test or suffer D6 wounds with no armour saves.  Pretty good for your melee units.

Phase taser - +2S melee weapon which is a taser (to hit rolls of 6 score 2 additional hits) but also the nasty added bonus of an enemy who suffers a wound having to take an initiative test or be removed from play! Nice.

Phosphoenix - 6" S5 AP2 pistol which is both poisoned 3+, scores 3 hits rather than 1 and also has the luminogen rule, meaning if they take a wound then -1 to an enemy cover save and units charging that enemy can reroll charge ranges that turn. Potentially nasty if you are about to charge an enemy unit with several of your own units as this weapon is pretty much guaranteed to kill something then aids you in getting into combat.

Skull of elder Nikola - once per game you can use this instead of firing. Roll a number of D6 equivalent to the turn number and that is the amount of inches the attack works in. All enemy vehicles in range suffer a S1 haywire hit. Very situational and will only work against certain armies. Plus you need to be in the thick of things in a later turn with several damaged enemy vehicles around you. Not convinced it's much good for those reasons TBH.

Tactical Objectives:

1. A victory for logic - 1 VP if you denied the witch
2. Survival is nothing, data is all - 1 VP if a Skitarii unit completely destroyed an enemy unit or was itself destroyed.
3. The quest for Knowledge - 1 VP if you identified a mysterious objective.
4. In glorium Mechanicus - 1 VP if an enemy vehicle destroyed (D3 if super heavy).
5. Rumours of revelation - Roll D6 - 1VP if you control that numbered objective (D3 if you Warlord).
6. Affronts to the machine God - 1 VP if an enemy vehicle destroyed (D3 if if 3-4, D3+3 if 5+)

Skitarii Maniple - this is the FOC for Skitarii and, compared with say the Harlequin one, it's actually pretty generous. You only need 2 troops units to field it and that's it which, to be fair, you can get from a single box of Skitarii. The optional elements are 4 elites, 6 troops, 2 fast attack, 4 heavy support and one fortification. Obviously, as with the Harlie dex, the lack of an HQ means you can't run an allied or combined arms detachment but with the above FOC you should have no need to as it's not dis-similar bar the HQ choice. Comannd benefits (Crux Mechanicus) gives you the usual reroll to warlord trait and also makes your warlord have preferred enemy. Tireless advance is the other perk granting all models both scout and crusader - great for getting into position and sweeping the enemy underfoot. One caveat is that scout here does not grant outflank, though if the model or mission can outflank for another reason then you get it as normal.

Wargear - so many new toys! I'll discuss them in the unit entries that seem most appropriate.

That's pretty much it for part 1. In part 2 I'll be looking at the individual units and formations found in the book. Cheers.

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