Hey everyone, Reecius here with a guide to your friendly neighborhood Skitarii walker: the Dunecrawler! For more reviews, check out the Tactics Corner.
The Skitarii Dunecrawler is an absolutely great unit. Well, the Skitarii book is general terms is really solid, but this article is focused on just the Dunecrawler.
I have had a chance to play a few games with the Dunecrawlers and I must say, they are an excellent unit. They’ve been the all star of each game. They’re surprisingly good at a variety of tasks. Here’s the basics:
- The chassis is solid, with AV 12/12/11, BS4, WS3, and 3HP. The low I2 and A1 are not such a big deal, but could certainly be better.
- The Field Harmonics are a really nice bonus, giving them +1 to their 6++ for each Dunecrawler in their squadron within 4″. This helps a ton to keep them alive and kicking and keeps them less dependent on cover.
- They also ignore difficult and dangerous terrain, which is awesome as they are on a huge dinner plate of a base. If they didn’t have this rule it would be incredibly difficult to move the unit anywhere. In exchange though, they do not get to run.
- Broad Spectrum Data-Tether: As you will find yourself using your Doctrina Imperatives almost every turn, the 6″ +1 ld Bubble will occasionally come in handy.
- Doctrina Imperatives: This is the secret sauce of the Skitarii. Being able to boost BS or WS on critical turns is fantastic.
- Searchlight: Ignoring Night Fight. Yeah, awesome.
Icarus Array Build
First and foremost, they are outstanding in the Anti-Air department. Many armies can struggle a bit in this regard and the Dunecrawler gives you an easy way to resolve that. With the Icarus Array on the Dunecrawler chassis, you get a premiere anti-air unit that can and will make a mockery of most airborne units. With sheer volume of fire they put into the sky, not much can stand up to it. The real all star is the Gatling Rocket Launcher though, due to high volume, high strength, ignores cover shooting. I have absolutely smoked FMCs with these babies, it is brutal! Be’Lakor, Fateweaver or Flyrants got you down? Well, here’s your answer!
The Interceptor weapons are not outstanding, but they are useful and against light armored targets, they will force a jink which is solid. I initially took them in units of 3 but found it was not only pricey, but massive overkill. However, if you found yourself facing enemy flyers, they had to completely alter their game plan around this unit. I think 2 is probably the ideal number for this unit.
I have been giving these chaps the Cognis Manipulator, which has proven to be solid gold. It looks like a really over-priced upgrade, but is actually very useful on this unit. Why? It gives them something to use if they have no viable targets for their AA weapons. I send them up-field with their grabby claws to do some work! They hit really hard, even with only 1 attack. The IWND helps a ton too, as if you do find yourself facing armies with a lot of air power, the Dunecrawlers will inevitably be the target of enemy firepower. The claw also gives them defense against units that are coming into the backfield to try and take them out. Lastly, I run the AA versions of the Dunecrawlers with the Cognis Stubber as it is yet more flak firepower, and helps a bit vs. ground units, too.
In all, a unit of 2 of these Dunecrawlers will give you all the AA you need vs. almost any opponent, and still be versatile enough to be useful vs. armies with no air power. Remember, AA works vs skimmers! If only it worked vs. Jetbikes, too….
Neutron Laser Build
This is the build I think most people will gravitate to right away due to its obvious power. The Neutron Laser is a beat stick, 48″, Str10, AP1, Blast, Concussive. Only the D is deadlier! You get long range on a durable platform, and real stopping power with the benefit of a Cognis Stubber…just in case? Well, if you only have FMCs to shoot at or something, it gives you a little flexibility.
This build is very straightforward: put them in a position with a good field of fire and let them do their thing. I would go for 3 in this case, pump up their BS to greatly increase the odds of hitting your target, and let ’em rip. You will be a beat down on most any target you find yourself up against. At 115pts per model, this is a great value for the mobile firepower you get. Also, don’t forget concussive. This can be really useful for making an assault into a powerful melee unit more reliable. Lowering something like a Knight or GC to I1 helps a ton to ensure your melee units get to swing with things like fists or klaws, or to allow you to swing first vs. high In targets.
Phosphor Blaster Build
This is actually the build I am starting to gravitate towards! Why? Phosphor guns are incredible support tools. For the bargain basement price of 105pts, you get the trusty Dunecrawler chassis with a twin linked, 36″, Str6, AP3, Heavy 3 weapon withe Luminagen rule. The weapon itself is decent in the firepower department, but that isn’t why you take it. Luminagen lowers the target units cover save by 1 so long as they suffer a wound or glancing/penetrating hit. That is really, really good for setting up a unit to be hit by another unit, particularly another Skitarii unit with an Omnispex! You potentially get -2 to an enemy unit’s cover save which can be devastating. This combos really well with allies, too. You can find units you normally take in a list all of a sudden performing so much better due to a reduced cover save on the enemy.
Plus, Luminagen also allows any unit assaulting the target unit (assuming they’ve been hurt by the attack) to reroll failed charges. That is also huge! How many times have you lost a game due to a failed charge? Happens to me frequently. If you have an assault that you REALLY need to make, fire this weapon at the target unit first, and dramatically increase your odds. Both of these abilities work for allies, too, not just Skitarii units which is important to note.
For the points, this is such a well rounded support unit. I would recommend running two either with no upgrades or, again, that Cognis Manipulator as while expensive, you assault with two and you’ve got 4 strength 10, ap1 attacks to smack your opponent with. That is no joke.
Eradication Beamer Build
This is the least appealing build, IMO. While very cheap, you are dependent on your distance to the enemy to do what you want to do with a unit that is not very fast. The weapon has decent stats, with a variable punch dependent on distance to the target: 0-9″ you get a Str10, Ap1 shot, 9-18″ you get a Str8, Ap3, blast, and 19-36″ you get a Str 6, Ap5, large blast. Meh. Can be good, but you will find a savvy opponent keeps you out of optimal ranges in many cases. This is the type of unit that will occasionally kick butt, but will often frustrate you. And, as you want to get close in many instances, you will find yourself wanting to take that Cognis Manipulator in many cases, which offsets the low price point. Personally, I’d pass on this one.
Adding a Dunecrawler unit to your list.
At present, there’s only one way to add a Dunecrawler unit to your list, and that’s in a Skitarii Maniple. Luckily, the buy-in isn’t too high. If you’re looking for some effective AA (as most of you reading this probably are), then I would recommend taking two units of Vanguard as your obligatory troops. Don’t worry though, these guys are no tax, trust me! They are really effective units, even if you give them nothing more than their Radium Carbines. Ideally, you want to stick them in a transport, Drop Pods particularly, if you have access to it. Rhinos, Taurox, and similar are also highly effective, though. baring them, running them on foot is not terrible as with Scouts and Relentless, they can get around the table fairly well.
If you do go the Drop Pod route, give them maximum special weapons and an Omnispex and watch the little guys go! They really pack a wallop, particularly when combined with their Doctrinas. My Plasma Caliver unit in a Pod will put absolutely devastating damage out the turn they hop out of their pod. You won’t be dissapointed.
With these two tax, or buy-in units taken care of, you can then slip in your unit of 2-3 AA Icarus into your list and you now have a very versatile addition to your army with mobility, air-defense, and hard hitting infantry units to compliment your core army.
I hope you found this guide helpful! I have been thoroughly enjoying playing my Skitarii and find them to be so much better on the table than they first appeared on paper. For more Skitarii unit reviews, read this article!