7th Edition Review: Adeptus Mechanicus: Skitarii Vanguard
Alright, so since we have need of some Ad Mech tactics articles, I thought I would start writing some as I play. Feel free to add thoughts of your own, fellow Ad Mech players!
So, I thought I would start with the Vanguard. As a basic troop choice, I have used them more than any other unit thus far, so I have more thoughts on them than any other. They also form a necessary part of any Skitarii army, so it's worth covering.
First, they are awesome! For the cheapest troop option an army has, they are very nice to work with. Their radium carbines are definitely my favorite stock rifle of any basic troop I've used, since the Rad Poisoning rule makes them so dangerous. They can take out really big MCs, massive hordes, sometimes even TEQs just with the sheer number of wounds they stack on things. Nothing has too high of a Toughness, and even better armor saves are more likely to let wounds through. It's not ideal for something like terminators, but it can do in a pinch. Their Rad Saturation rule also means that if they aren't killed before their turn, they can usually get some lucky wounds in on enemies in close combat. Of course, they will not likely have many survivors to attack back if an enemy has higher Initiative.
Because of the large number of wounds these guys will be throwing around, expect them to get hit back pretty hard. Games I have played (or watched) have almost all had a trend of Vanguard mowing down usually hard-to-kill models and then getting a huge chunk of the opponent's army pointed at them. On top of that, they are not very durable themselves, so I would not expect to have many survive the game.
Their upgrades make for some valuable alterations, though. If they were stuck with their Radium Carbines, I would be okay with that. But, they aren't, which opens them up as a unit to a much wider variety of uses.
First up is their Plasma Calivers. These can put out a lot of high Strength, low AP shots in a turn, and can really cut through TEQs, lightly armored vehicles, MCs, and generally hard-to-kill units. Unfortunately, they still get hot, which is somewhat easy to avoid with Doctrina Imperatives boosting BS above 6. It's not ideal, but if your plasma guns are still alive by the time you can't use DI to reroll ones anymore, you are lucky anyway.
Unfortunately, the Gets Hot rule is a minor downside to the Plasma Calivers compared with the cost. They are damned expensive. They cost more than triple the guy holding the gun does! This is a major problem in my eyes. I have also thus far only played small games, so grabbing Plasma Calivers has always been a bad idea for me. In a bigger game, it would be more reasonable, but would still be a hefty price tag.
Of course, both of these problems are solved if you run a War Convocation. Because of that, the Plasma Calivers will probably see a lot more use than they otherwise would.
That brings us to the Arc Rifles. I love these. Haywire is an awesome rule, and the guns are half the cost of the Plasma Calivers, which is very nice. They can bring down anything from a Land Speeder to a Titan. That makes Vanguard very dangerous to opponents. I have yet to play against Space Marines or an army like them, with high AV and high HP, but against Eldar, Dark Eldar, Harlequins and other races with low AV and low HP, I have done very well with fielding two units of five, each with two Arc Rifles. That way they can cover a lot more of the board, they are less likely to overkill one small vehicle, and they can shut down enemy traffic more easily. This has been very effective for me, though it does mean there are fewer bodies to tank wounds for your upgraded models.
Vanguard also have an upgrade called an Omnispex. It reduces cover by one, and it is very useful much of the time. Against Space Marines, it might not be as useful since their Armor Save will almost always be better anyway, but it has always been worth the points for me on ten-model squads, and I don't regret it even on smaller units.
They also can pick up an Enhanced Data Tether, which has yet to be useful for me. The times my Vanguard have had to roll for Leadership, they've either been fine without it or there was nothing that could help them. I might change my mind as I play more, though.
A Vanguard Alpha does have access to Relics of Mars. In games the size I have been playing (and will continue to play until I can afford more models), these have not been worth it. If your Warlord is a Vanguard Alpha, picking up a conversion field to try to stay alive a bit longer could be a good idea, but a lot of the strengths of the Vanguard as a unit are unaffected by the relics.
Overall, it seems like fielding more Vanguard over better Vanguard is the way to go. Running two naked squads of ten is almost always going to be better than running one unit that's decked out. Even devoid of upgrades, they are a fantastic unit that is reliable and dangerous.
Anyone else have additional or conflicting thoughts on these guys?