View Full Version : Skirmishers - the basis of the army?

18-03-2005, 12:54
This is a thought thats been rattling around in my otherwise vacant brain for a while now - the concept of basing an army on skirmishers.

I plan to make a DoW army themed on pirates and it seems to me that the most 'piratey' troop to form the core is the humble duellist with the not-so-humble pistol. Now, coming from the disciplined imperial ranks, the shambling hordes of the undead and the iron blocks of chaos warriors this caused me some concern.

'Skirmishers?' thought I. They'll break and run as soon as anything flappy comes near them. They won't be able to receive a charge for toffee and they won't really be all that effective on the charge either. They are unarmoured, T3, have no rank bonuses and aren't especially fast in open ground.

But then I began to consider the positives. The majority of my army can move through rough terrain without concern. They can move in between the enemy lines and fire pistols at close range. They can move out of charge arcs. They will not be slowed by the proximity of the enemy. Their lack of armour can be compensated by the -1 to hit them with shooting. They have 360 LOS. They look like pirates.

I therefore thought this could become a valuable discussion. Do the pros outweigh the cons - or vice versa? Is there anyone here with experience of using a largely skirmishing army? How does one set about overcoming the weaknesses of skirmishers and how would one go about destroying an army full of them?

So... skirmishers...core of the army.... discuss. :p

18-03-2005, 14:08
Well being an experienced Southlands and Eshin player i can tell you that Skirmishing armies are difficult to get used to but once you have your tactics right they are very hard to beat. I'll try to makethis as general as possible whilst also relating to Hwyels own idea.
To use skirmishers as the core of your army you are also going to need something that can do heavy amounts of combat/shooting damage, whilst absorbing alot of firepower. In southlands this role is filled by a Slann, Stegadon, Kroxigor and to a lesser extent Salamanders. In eshin its filled by Assasins and Triads, Eshin is a harder army to play than Southlands and you can see why when you look at the choices.
Whilst an army such as this works well using lizardmen and eshin i dont know how it would with Dogs of War. You have no large monsters other than Dragons, which you probably dont want as its not really pirate like and a dragon in a skirmishing army will become a big target very fast. You also dont have any fast moving character capable of massive amouts of combat damage, which can replace the need for shooting. What you do have is alot of shooting power in the shape of cannons, mortars etc and whilst this can be effective, a skirmishing army will want to be mobile and several artillery pieces will hamper this.
Your army would also lack anything in the way of warmachine destroying, in a skirmish army you need many small units and where a couple of casualties can send one unit and then several fleeing any guess range/auto hit weapon needs to be neutralised fast. In southlands you have terradons, flying skink chiefs and chameleon skinks, in eshin you have tunnelling gutter runners, all these units also double up as the ever needed march blockers that a skirmishing army really needs to be effective. What is there in the DoW army that can fill this position?
To put it basically, everything in a Skirmishing army has a set role that it must perform, whilst being supported by the army as a whole. They are tactically very difficult to play with and against but once learned they are deadly.

After looking at my advise i guess you could say i am against the idea of a DoW skirmishing army as it wont win much, but then this game isn't about winning. I would say write out an army list based on what i have said and what you would like in the army and leave it up for comments. As i dont have the DoW rules to hand i dont really know what you can use in each key postition so a list with descriptions of what each unit is for would really help.

18-03-2005, 15:51
Searching for someone with a mostly skirmishing army?


Would my Beastmen army fulfil these guidelines? I guess they kinda would, the herd is not completely made of skirmishing units but the main combat units are skirmishing.

Whatever you do, you *need* to set up multiple charges as you'll need to rely on killing instead of full ranks and stuff. Mobility (small units vs. protection of fully ranked up, but slow moving units).

Maybe you could customize the Beastmen army rules into something Pirate like? I can tell you that the Beastmen army definately works if you use lots of skirmishing stuff supported by some heavy hitters...

18-03-2005, 17:09
Here are some ideas for a Pirate army:
Cannons! Ships have them, and they will certainly add backbone to your army.
Possibly Ogres (use the piratical Maneater model for some of them).
Long Drong's Slayer Pirates (obviously)
Daddallo's Birdmen of Catrazza, to fill the role of Terradons.

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18-03-2005, 17:11
It sounds like it would be a fun army to build and play with, but I dont think it would be too much fun to play aganst, having oyur opponent run circles around you and hope to shoot you to death is not my idea of a fun game.

Were you planing on using any other units besides just skirmishers? cannons would fit easly into a pirate army so would some dwarfs they could be te merchants or use slayer pirates.

Using duelists like a mainstay unit for skaven might be a better way of building the army, it will still have lots of pirates, but leaves options open for more resiliant troops.

I think without the support of any other troops it is not rely a fesable or fun army to play with or aganst.

18-03-2005, 17:35
With a skirmishing army your main plan will have to be points denial. That is spreading the points around and avoiding combat at all costs. You will rely on shooting and magic to get your points along with table quaters, objectives, etc. You will have to keep moving around the ememy not letting them charge you and not charging them untill the last turn and mabey not even then. You have to kill the fast stuff quick so they can't get at your cannon and over load on wizards and concentrate your fire trying to panic as many unit as possible.

Its an annoying way to play and boring for both players.

Cool theme though!

18-03-2005, 23:17
skirmihsing armies are great fun, I use Southlands, and have bene using large amounts of skinks long before 6th edition.

Skirmishers, even with T3 or even T2 are near unstoppable, they can always evade combat, they move very fast, can deny march moves and can constantly harass with missile fire.

They just take a whole lot of getting used to. My recommendation is to have a couple of small hard hitting units to back them up. Chariots, ogres, kroxigors, all good.

Nothing quite like peppering your opponent with missile fire, evading their charge, then slamming home with a few hard hitting models and a couple of flank or rear charges.

Use your army wisely and your oponent will never know what hit him. Even more fun if his models are frenzied. :D

19-03-2005, 01:13
Good responses - things to think about. I readily concede the point that war machine hunting will be problematic, but then this army also has no mages...no heavy cavalry... not much really - its entirely for a laugh and is quite flawed.

However... thats not to say its a complete joke, I do aim to be competative.
I am therefore planning on more than just skirmishers, I merely intend on these guys being the 'core', the body count if you will.

Other stuff I have planned then:

Long Drong (including doomseekers who will have the axes on the end of their chains replaced with anchors)
Norse Marauders (all the biggest, meanest pirates clubbing together with various ludicrous weapons ;))

Also contemplating using both rare slots on galloper guns. Have this idea to convert them as small boats on wheels with a gun in the front. It's whacky, comedic and will allow me to have a mad dwarf engineer in the crew.

So essentially the army should have a lot of black powder, and thats about it. Now, applying this to the model you guys have suggested, I can see already I have problems. There are no particularly fast units to silence war machines, there are no monstrous or chariot type units - they were sacrificed for theme.

Therefore... what to do? My main idea currently is an elusive foe that closes quickly, but doesn't engage quickly. Short range, mobile firepower with a few units that have the portential to break a line. It will definitely be a challenge.

Any more advice now there is a more complete knowledge of the intended force? I was very interested to see these generic comments on skirmishing armies before revealing my other plans - keep the wisdom coming guys.

edit: on the boring to play against... I see the risk, but this is mainly meant for the enxt Portent tourney where I'll most likely be drunk and dressed as a pirate - so it shouldn't be too bad. :p

19-03-2005, 22:52
I'd suggest just avoiding combat with expensive units where possible, unless it's with a throw-away unit. You won't win combats, so why bother? Go for exposed units, and weaker units. just shoot anything big and scary. It shouldn't be too hard as for those units to make their points back, they have to advance, and you can easily move out of the way.

Warmachines shouldn't be a huge problem really. They may be hard to kill, but skirmishing armies are relatively resilient to them. Unless it's a mortar, or hell blaster, chances are you can just ignore it. Just keep your bigger stuff out of LoS and you'll be fine.

I don't see why you shouldn't have a scroll-caddy though; just have some mysterious Arabic pirate (along the lines of a Aladdin during a mid-life crisis, so fat and balding). The treasurer (not sure on the "official" name) would also make a great centre-piece and fit in perfectly with the theme.

Iím not sure how to do it, but a crowís nest should be included somewhere. The Bretonnian questing knights would be a great source of conversion stuff (esp. the little kid with the spyglass on the Standard bearerís shoulder!)

I donít know the DoW list very well, but I think if you were desperate for a flying unit, parrots would be an idea (I think there might be some birdmen or something suitable silly).


19-03-2005, 23:01
I don't think maneaters are a good buy. They cost loads more points than a regular bull or irongut and are still as easy to kill if not eaiser. Take regular bulls with extra handweapons or ironguts.

20-03-2005, 00:25
I used to run quite effectively a mostly skink based lizardman army a few times (not southlands mind).

The key thing i found was finding a way to cause some serious damage on the charge, this both allows you to break heavily armoured units, and effect your opponents deployment by having a powerful unit. I achieved this with Kroxigors, now I guess Norse Marauders can possibly do a similar job (frenzied with great weapons IIRC), but it will still be a problem. Characters will help a little in this aspect.

The other big killer will be psychology, as its going to be a skirmished based army, Fear and Terror will be a bit of a bitch for you, as your general cant be everywhere. Especially as you haven't got the lizardman benefit of 3d6 ld i would suggest you minimise on combats and maximise on shooting and manouvere, thus devaluing your opponents fear causing ability.

To me those are the 2 main problems of a skirmished based army. Other minor problems like warmachines and cavalry can be avoided/dealt with.

The other point that needs to be touched on is what is your strategy with this army? Aggressive? Defensive? I personally found with my skink based army an aggressive approach was needed, particularly overloading on one flank. I can see that you said about a cautious shooting approach which i can see working. However like i said i do believe concentrating hard on breaking through on one flank is a good strategy if you can pull it off.

I think conservation of your units will be another good idea, you will have the manouverability to do this, thus denying your opponent the points needed to get a win.

As always just my rambles. Hope its helped.

21-03-2005, 08:29
To address a few comments...

Scroll Caddy - yes, it makes perfect strategic sense. I realise I will be shafted on magic. However, that could be kind of fun. In a strange, piratey way.

Maneaters - my main reason for their selection is for modelling purposes. There will only be a couple (the pirate one and a converted chef with halfling chef as a gnoblar) and I was thinking their stubborn ability may be handy - they would be a bit easier on the conscience to throw away than the slayer pirates would be. However, I guess I can use the models as normal bulls...

As for units with charge impact... yes, this has me stubbed. The marauders aren't really fast enough to do the trick. However, if I whittle the enemy down with elusive gunfire, my slower combat units should reach the enemy line when they are weak - hopefully.

Aggressive or defensive? This depends largely upon the opponent. Against an army with little missile power I think a waiting approach would be best. Gradually pepper the enemy and break up their line. Against a defensive army I have the ability to use terrain to my advantage and the dwarves and skirmishers can move even if the enemy try to slow me down...

However, without playtesting I have no concrete solutions. I as yet have only embryonic ideas of how to use this army. I'm looking for advice on how best to use this basic structure. The dodging and shooting is appealing, but probably won't be for the opponent. Such tactics will need to accompany pirate madness.

Psychology... another achilles heel in the army. With luck, a big beasty can be shot down. Against undead I can avoid combat with the skirmishers and rely on the dwarves and ogres immunity to fear. Big problem will be wraiths and banshees, but you can't tailor whole lists to ward off specific units, particularly not in a tourney.

Suggestions on overcoming these weaknesses are very welcome - though ideally tactical ones as opposed to adding/removing units.

21-03-2005, 16:52
Psychology... another achilles heel in the army. With luck, a big beasty can be shot down.

You can flee, and then shoot at point blank range... in theory (in practice I expect it's gonna be more like flee-> panic-> flee-> panic). The +1 to hit is really going to hurt, seeing as pistols are great against the rider (assuming heís not some ridiculous 0+ re-rollable save guy.). If your army's mainly got cheap units, the monster's unlikely to do its points worth, even if it does maul a few units. Terror will be a problem though, although fortunately the most expensive units are either immune to it or cause fear, so it shouldn't be too bad. That said, in the last two tournaments there's been no dragons at all.:) I think there were a few hydras, a shaggoth, big daemony things and a giant, but they can all be taken down in combat with units you've got.

Dragons seem to something everyone fears, but no-one really faces. I wouldn't worry about them too much. They're over-rated imo.

Big problem will be wraiths and banshees, but you can't tailor whole lists to ward off specific units, particularly not in a tourney.
Banshees can't join units and with a 360 line of sight are pretty easy to charge (seeing as they have to get close to be useful). Once in combat they're pretty crap, even if you can't really hurt them. Combat resolution will kill them in a turn or two.

Wraiths are a little harder, but they're also quite rare as they tend to be god-awful against so many armies (T3, 2W combat/ terror unit is going to die very quickly against anything magical. You're more likely to find a thrall or necromancer).

I'm sure you can 'proxy' the army against someone and see how it works. It's relatively unique, so just about all advice you'll get is just "in theory" rather than from experience.


21-03-2005, 17:15
Good point on the banshee, I'd forgotten the simple fact that if its in range of a skirmishing unit it can be charged. Thats one less problem. Also, wraiths are indeed rather rare, you're quite right. Dabbling with the undead myself, I should have spotted this fact. It's a bit like worrying about a black coach.

Second thought on the scroll caddy idea: if I get fed up of converting and painting pirates, there might well be one. ;)

22-03-2005, 20:19
You could use a Mordheim Arabian guy or 2. Also, for pirates, all you need is the Free Company box. Unless you're wanting them more personalised.

25-03-2005, 00:14
I?m not sure how to do it, but a crow?s nest should be included somewhere. The Bretonnian questing knights would be a great source of conversion stuff (esp. the little kid with the spyglass on the Standard bearer?s shoulder!)

Or you could try something with the actual crow's nest banner from the Ogre Kingdoms.

25-03-2005, 01:38
I see mostly 1 huge problem with all skirmish like Eshin (which I tried twice)
With their 1+/2+ save, there's like no way to kill them except with assassins (and even then...). Also, you cannot really run from them with their huge charge range.
Also, you must get a lot of kills in order to win a fight with skirmishers. The Eshin ones have no save at all and S3. This will make it hard to overcome the 5+ CR of infantry and 2+/3+ CR from cavalry.

From experience, I have to say however that special characters (Sniktch) are really powerful. Also, it solves the problem for VP denial as you have less models to hide (he's about 570 points).

04-04-2005, 09:32
Heavy cavalry wouldnt be a major problemfor this army, he has a LOT of pistols you know :D :p :cool:

04-04-2005, 12:58
The only problem is when enemy has long battle line and there is nowhere to hide. I'm not evet talking about naked tables but even with normal tourney terrain it's hard to runn all the time and skirmishers usualy have low LD so when thay run they usualy keep running :)

05-04-2005, 16:41
Skirnish army?? Afraid of big beast?? Go Menghil Manhide... They rock against beasties... Why?? one word: Poison... :D :D And Menghils Repeater Xbow-Pistol is kinda cool... :D I don't think there is another skirmish unit with Heavy Armour and Great Weapons.... :cool:

05-04-2005, 17:09
But thay are DOW and not all tournays run dow units thats one + thare are expensive and valnurable to magic.

05-04-2005, 17:41
Banshees can't join units and with a 360 line of sight are pretty easy to charge (seeing as they have to get close to be useful). Once in combat they're pretty crap, even if you can't really hurt them. Combat resolution will kill them in a turn or two.-Wez

I also do not think you should worry overmuch about Banshees. However, I don't think this analysis gives a Banshee her due against a skirmisher unit.

Turn 2 Undead: Banshee moves into scream range (8"). Scream kills 2 (average result against LD7). Panic check? - probably not required yet.

Turn 2 Pirates: Pirates charge Banshee. Pirates can't hit Banshee. Banshee scores 1 wound (out of two attacks, she will average 1 wound every other round against normal troops). Result: Pirates CR1 (outnumber) - Undead CR1 (wound), a draw.

Turn 3 Undead: Banshee screams into combat - killing 2 more pirates. Panic check? She fails to wound with her close combat attacks. Pirates win combat by 1 (outnumber). Banshee takes a wound from crumbling.

Turn 3 Pirates: Banshee inflicts a wound. Combat is a draw.

Turn 4 Undead: Banshee screams - kills 2. Panic check? Banshee fails to wound - banshee loses combat and crumbles. Pirates win ... assuming they had more than 8 models and passed two panic checks.

As a VC player, I would not want my banshee tied up against most cheap skirmisher units ... but in fairness to her, she has a reasonable chance of defeating a normal skirmishing unit with her screaming into combat and by causing the odd wound in close combat. Although, we all know what averages mean in this game - she has the raw potential to kill five LD7 rank-n-file per scream and she will do it when its least convenient.