Skitarii and Imperial Knights: Will it blend?
The Adeptus Mechanicus has finally come to 40k, and as they are an Imperial Faction, I can ally them with my Imperial Knights. Today I ask the question, will it blend? First, a quick recap of what I feel like the Imperial Knights need out of allies. First of all, they need scoring bodies, something Imperial Knights really suffer with is Maelstrom missions where you need units all over the board to claim objectives. Second, Imperial Knights need help busting open transports, a smart opponent will camp inside Rhinos while the Imperial Knights struggle to get at the squishy bits inside before closing in to combat. Third, Imperial Knights need anti-air, or at least something threatening enough to make Flyrants and their ilk jink.
While the current Skitarii formations do not have any objective secured units, they still have relatively inexpensive bodies. Their infantry are quite resilient for their cost, a squad of 10 should last about as long as their equivalent points in Space Marines. In addition to just being alive and present, the two different infantry have some interesting weaponry. The special weapons in the unit vary from a nasty armor bane sniper rifle, a rapid fire haywire gun, and a 3-shot plasma gun. The sniper rifle and haywire gun are quite effective for helping out with anti-tank as I'll talk about in the next section, and unfortunately, while the plasma gun is nice, I find it redundant in a knight army, and it's terribly expensive. The Vanguard help out quite nicely for whittling down hordes with their 3-shot gun that causes additional wounds to the unit for every 6, though they have a limited 18" range. The Ranger's basic weapons are a 30" S4 Ap4 precision shots, rapid fire gun, which is nice for picking out power klaws and meltaguns hiding in squads that can be troublesome for a knight to deal with.
The Infiltrators and Ruststalkers are both fast melee units specialized in wiping out enemy infantry. I wouldn't rely on them to camp on objectives, as they are both fairly miserable at range, but on the other hand, they are incredibly effective at killing your enemy infantry, so having some Infiltrators assassinate your opponents scoring units can be potentially as good as scoring an objective of your own. They're not my first choice, though if I had some spare points, the models are cool enough to consider. If anything, they're killing units that you don't want to waste your Knights on anyhow.
Aside from a bunch of bodies on the ground, you can use units like Ballistarii and Syndonian Dragoons to get around the field quickly to score objectives, as they both move 9" and can run another D6+3", making them faster than an Imperial Knight as they are not slowed by terrain. If that wasn't enough, the Onager walker is very inexpensive, coming in at only 90 points base for an AV12 HP3 vehicle with an invulnerable save that can camp back-field objectives with ease. The Syndonian Dragoons are quite effective at clearing an objective of scoring infantry, and being AV11 with I6 on the charge, even enemies with Krak Grenades may struggle to take down more than 1 in a round of combat.
The basic detachment of Skitarii allows all the models to scout, so you get a bit of extra movement before the game to ensure your timely arrival to the objectives around the board. The downside of the Skitarii however is their total lack of transports, meaning their infantry will not likely be traveling between objectives through the course of a game.
Overall for scoring I give them a B-, their lack of a transport and objective secured is kind of a big deal, but they are inexpensive and resilient, plus you can use their walkers for back-field objective holding, or the Rangers with their long-range precision weapons which can help keep your Knights alive.
Starting again with the Infantry, they can get up to 3 Arc Rifles in a squad, which is a plasma gun priced rifle with a 24" range, S6 Ap5, rapid fire and haywire. With the doctrina imperatives a fusillade from 3 of these can easily take out a transport in the open, and definitely be a threat to any tank within range. Since they're rapid fire, if an enemy Imperial Knight or other walker gets too close, you can possibly obliterate it before it gets a chance to make it to combat. The Transuranic Arquebus is another decent anti-tank weapon carried by the basic infantry with an impressive 60" range and Armorbane. Since it's a sniper weapon, it is S4 against vehicles, +2D6 for armorbane
, and an additional D3 for each 6 rolled to penetrate, since sniper also grants rending. While not pumping out the number of shots that the Arc Rifle does, for a back-field unit, these weapons are amazing.
Syndonian Dragoons are another effective anti-tank weapon, each model generating 4 S8 attacks on the charge, and any 6's to hit cause additional hits, so even a small unit of these can shred most tanks in combat (remember striking rear armour). Unfortunately though, they need to be in melee to get this job done, so I wouldn't rely on only them to provide you with adequate anti-transport capability. The Dragoon's cousin, the Ballistarii comes with a twin-linked autocannon that snap fires at BS2, a unit of 3-4 of these can be fairly effective at blasting away transports, and while they do have an option to upgrade to a twin-linked lascannon, I think that the point cost is just too high.
The Onager Dunewalker is the Skitarii's version of a battle tank, it's poor in combat, but quite effective at ranged. For anti-tank duty (heh, doodie), the only option to look at is the Neutron Laser, which packs a whopping S10 Ap1 concussive blast at 48", giving it a fairly respectable chance of annihilating a light tank in a single shot, and it keeps the vehicle still relatively inexpensive, despite being a 25 point upgrade. The stock Eradication Beamer can be used at anti-tank, though to really do well at this role, the enemy tank needs to be within 9", above that, it's not really more effective than a krak missile, and over 18" it's not worth shooting at a tank most of the time.
For anti-transport, I'm going to give the book an A. Their basic infantry can obliterate vehicles at moderate to long range with ease and at a fairly low point cost. The Dragoons offer utility as both anti-infantry and anti-tank in melee, and the Onager Dunewalker can bring a really devastating anti-tank weapon in a cheap package.
Since this is a small book, there are really only two options worth looking at for anti-air, the Ballistarii and the Onager Dunewalker. The Ballistarii snap-fire at BS2, meaning they have about a 55% chance to hit with any of their weapons, so if you're facing light air targets, like Dakkajets, these can be adequate, though against heavier flyers, or flying monsters with a 3+ save, you'll either be spending points on lascannons, which makes them quite expensive, or you'll have to get lucky to do much damage worth speaking of with the autocannons. As a utility unit, the Ballistarii can help out with anti-transport as well, so you shouldn't cross them off, I just wouldn't rely on solely them if there is some tough air in the meta.
The Onager Dunewalker packs a hell of a punch for taking down flyers. The most expensive weapon option for the Onager is a group of 3 weapons, linked together to provide a broadside against anything in the air. The Icarus Array is made up of a twin-linked autocannon (with skyfire and interceptor), a gatling rocket launcher (48" S6 AP4, heavy 5, ignores cover, skyfire), and a Daedalus missile launcher (48" S7 Ap2, heavy 1, skyfire)... Holy cow, if you're a flying monster, the missile is going to make you jink, but even if you jink, the gatling rockets don't care, and the autocannon is just for laughs. Against any flyer in the game, save maybe the Caestus Assault Ram, your opponent is going to sweat bullets whenever this opens fire. If running these with knights, I'd definitely consider 1-2 of these as my air support.
Anti-air, while limited in variety, is one of the stronger points of the book, one unit can provide utility hunting down enemy transports, as well as assisting with anti-air, and the other is just an anti-air machine at a very respectable price tag. Anti-Air is an A-, it's very good, but having a flyer of their own, or allowing the Icarus Array to not-skyfire against ground targets would have pushed this up to an A+
The Skitarii are the new kids on the block, for a while people aren't going to know what does what, and that can definitely be taken advantage of in a competitive setting. People may hear "rapid fire haywire" but not really realize the implications until they're taking 6 shots to the face and their precious Rhino, Land Raider, or even Imperial Knight is just vaporized. Additionally, their units are very good at having multiple roles. The infantry can assist effectively both in anti-tank and anti-infantry, the Ballistarii help with light vehicles and flyers, the Onager can be taken for every occasion, and if you have the points, the Sicarian Infiltrators or Sicarian Dunewalkers can bring some fun units to the board that can hunt down enemy scoring units.
I'm still not sure exactly what I'd run with my 3 knights, but this is my first shot:
Imperial Knight Errant: 370 Imperial Knight Paladin: 375 Cerastus Knight Castigator: 380
10 Skitarii Vanguard: 3 Arc Rifles: 145 10 Skitarii Rangers: 2 Transuranic Arquebus: 170 3 Ironstrider Ballistarii: 165 Onager Dunewalker: Icarus Array, cognis heavy stubber: 130 Onager Dunewalker: Neutron Laser: 115
That gives me a ton of anti-transport between the Castigator, Arc Rifles, Transuranic Arquebus and Neutron Laser, pluse a solid amount of AA between the Ballistarii and the Icarus Array... I could drop the Neutron Laser for a 3rd Arquebus, but I think I'd rather keep the S10 AP1 concussive blast for making enemy monsters I1 for my Knights to charge into. It might be worth getting a Heavy Phosphor Blaster in place of the Neutron Laser to re-roll charges with your Knights, but I'm not sold on it's necessity over the S10 Ap1 blast.