If you’re looking for a crash primer on Gaelic mythology packaged into a near-reprint of an existing unit, have we got the deal for you! (If you are looking for a good and functional model to your army… well, maybe you should be looking at the rest of the Craftworlds codex instead.) Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
The Skathach Wraithknight is literally a variant of the normal version, in this case one that is used by a rare few varieties of Eldar. First introduced in Doom of Mymeara, they are equipped with specialized generators that allow them to “breach” portals in and out of the Webway virtually at will- and this potential for such a tremendous unit to arrive from virtually any quarter makes them a terrifying weapon indeed. It also makes them the largest of units that access to Webway in most cases, as they can move in and out of areas that would normally be intraversible due to no sufficiently-sized gates being in the area; in this respect, they are often the ultimate guardians of the Webway and can be found in numbers protecting its most vulnerable sectors, including the Black Library and similar forbidden areas. (Incidentally, the unit’s name comes from Scathach- misspelled as you please, as tends to happen when you translate Irish names into English characters- a figure from Gaelic mythology. She was ruler of the Land of Shadows and was a warrior queen without equal; she trained Cu Chullain, the great hero of Ulster, in the ways of war and the spear and even took him as her lover at for a time, though he eventually was unfaithful to her and set off the usual chain of tragedies that feature in such myths.)
On the table, the Skathach Wraithknight is very similar to the standard Wraithknight, as one might expect and comes with an identical profile in all respects. Strength and toughness of eight give it a powerful baseline to work with, while weapon and ballistic skill 3+ (degrading as it gets damaged, of course) mean it can put out a fair bit of damage. Twenty-four wounds and a 3+ armor save give it a pretty decent defensive profile, while four attacks make it dangerous to most things in combat. The 12″ move is surprisingly low for Eldar (who are usually faster than their human counterparts), but is hardly bad for all that. The big downside to the chassis is the price, however; at 540pts with the base loadout, it is very expensive even compared to the stock version.
Special Abilities and Wargear
The Skathach Wraithknight comes with a large selection of useful special abilities, many of them unique to the chassis. Like all other Craftworld models it comes with Ancient Doom, allowing it to reroll misses against Slaanesh units in combat- it won’t come up a ton, but when it does it’s pretty handy. It also has Unstoppable Revenant, which is the usual superheavy rule allowing it to move over enemy infantry from combat, fall back and shoot/charge, etc. It also has Catastrophic Collapse, which means that it explodes in the same fashion as a Knight or other giant model.
Outside of that, the Skathach has Webway Rupture, which allows it to deploy into reserves in the usual fashion- a fairly rare feature on a titanic unit and very useful for times when you are facing a lot of firepower and want to ensure it doesn’t get erased in the early turns of the game. In addition, it also has Webway Shunt Generator, which allows it to move back into reserves from the table, so long as no enemy models start your turn within 1″ of it; this is also a fantastic tool for redeploying, although it cannot use both abilities in the same turn.
Like a standard Wraithknight, the Skathach version comes standard with two melee weapons- Wraithbone Fists (S8 AP-3 DmgD6) and Titanic Feet (S8 AP-2 DmgD3 three rolls per attack), and there is virtually no reason to ever use the former. The stomps give a very effective way to deal with massed infantry or light-to-medium vehicles in close combat and can present a danger to virtually anything out there. The Skathach can also take up to two heavy weapons just like its standard cousin, choosing from either Scatter Laser (36″ S6 AP0 Heavy 4), Shuriken Cannon (24″ S6 AP0 Assault 3 rends on 6s), or Starcannon (36″ S6 AP-3 DmgD3 Heavy 2). Being the cheapest and with the most shots, I think the Scatter Laser is the natural choice; however, if you have a few points extra there’s a good argument to be made for the Starcannon as well, since it has a very flexible profile that is dangerous to nearly everything; I think, in the end, it’s mostly about preference.
The primary weapons are where the Skathach Wraithknight really diverges, however; it comes stock with a pair of Inferno Lances (24″ S8 AP-4 DmgD6 Heavy D6 melta rule), which are broadly equivalent to the Heavy Wraithcannons on the standard version; however, the shorter range, high number of random shots, and potential for extremely high damage at close ranges make them an interesting option, albeit an expensive one. It can also trade either or both of its Inferno Lances for Deathshroud Cannons (at a discount of 15pts per gun.) The Deathshroud has two firing modes- “flamer” version (10″ S7 AP0 Dmg1 Heavy 2d6 hits automatically, 5+s to wound are AP-4) or the “blast” version (48″ S8 AP-2 DmgD3 Heavy D6 5+s to wound are AP-4), both of which have some pretty solid potential. You can also replace one of either weapon with a Scattershield, which grants a 5+ invulnerable save; this also brings your cost down by 15pts (if you trade a Deathshroud) or 30pts (if you trade an Inferno.)
So, if we’re looking at the Skathach Wraithknight, we need to line it up against the regular version and ask what it does better (or differently) and whether that is worth our time; because make no mistake, with a 150-200pt tax on top of the standard variant, we are going to need a very good reason to be using this thing, especially given that its statline is identical in all other respects. And, sadly, I don’t think it really meets this standard, although that’s not to say it’s completely unusable; however, with the regular Wraithknight getting a significant price drop in the last Chapter Approved and the Skathach version not, there is only a limited amount to recommend it.
The Inferno Lance version we can toss out the window immediately; not only is it the most expensive possible version, but it is only marginally more effective than the Wraithcannon variant at killing vehicles; with lower Strength but more shots, it only barely wins out against T7/8 targets and is noticably worse against T6 and T9 ones. This is especially true because of the limited range of the Inferno Lance; even with a 12″ movement, it is entirely possible that the enemy will deny you any targets on the first turn if you don’t put it in reserve.
I think the Scattershield option should likewise be discarded- giving up a full 50% of your firepower for an invuln save is simply not a good deal, even in high-danger environments. If you are that desperate to get an invuln save you can bring along a Spiritseer and use the Wraith Host detachment to do so without losing such a critical weapon from the model, but even that is a bit of a niche decision. In a lot of circumstances that 5++ won’t even make enough of a difference to save you, so I don’t see much reason to bother.
That leaves us with the Deathshroud Cannons. Now, the Deathshroud itself is a very good gun; its two fire modes give you a devastating overwatch trick as well as a close-range infantry killer as well as a longer-ranged bombardment weapon to use as needed; although the profile on the long-range version leaves a lot to be desired overall, it should be conceptualized as a secondary option to use when you can’t close within reach of the flamer mode. (Incidentally, if you have a choice between the two you should pretty much always use the flamer version- it has superior numbers even against most vehicles.) As a side effect, the Deathshroud makes you almost immune to being charged, since you’ll do ~10 wounds to almost anything that comes at you and half of those will be AP-4, which should be more than sufficient as a deterrent.
However, this isn’t really enough firepower to justify the Skathach in any kind of overall sense; for a unit that tips over five hundred points, we expect more than 6-7 dead Space Marines in a given turn at ideal engagement range- and while its melee can potentially add some more to that tally, that won’t be consistent enough for it to really be pulling its weight. Like many of the other titanic models from Forge World, the Skathach Wraithknight is simply too expensive for what it does; it needs to be closer to the old Wraithknight price (~400) to be considered anything like viable.
Most any of the tricks that work on the regular Wraithknight will work here as well, but we’ll go over them a bit just in case. S9+ weapons, especially those with good AP, are very important to downing a Wraithknight; if you can wound it consistently, it will go down relatively quickly. However, do remember that they benefit from the Craftworld bonuses, and so will likely have -1 to hit on them (or perhaps one of the other, less effective bonuses if your opponent is being “fluffy” with it) that makes the job a fair bit more difficult. However, that certainly won’t be enough to stop something like a Tau or Ultramarines gunline from obliterating it in short order. If you have a heavy combat unit you can also drag the Skathach down in pretty short order, although you do need to make it in for that to work- which means either charging without overwatch (via a relic, obscuring terrain, etc) or having a good enough combination of armor and invuln that it can’t do too much damage when you go in.
The Skathach Wraithknight, although very cool in concept, has struggled to find a balanced points cost over the course of its existence and sadly it is in no better a position now; like many of the Forge World units out there, it could really use a rewrite of the Imperial Armor indices (or at least a thorough looking-over of points costs), but unfortunately that doesn’t seem like it is going to be in the cards anytime in the near future, so we may have to resign ourselves to leaving it, and many other units, on the shelf for the time being. C’est la vie.
As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to expand an existing army or start a new one.