Special Issue Wargear
Conversion Field - Of the two defensive upgrades available to Skitarii characters, this is the more powerful of the two but comes with a potentially severe drawback. The Conversion Field provides the wearer with a 4+ invulnerable save, a pretty hefty improvement over the Refractor Field that comparatively offers a 5+ invulnerable save; the few extra points you pay for the former would obviously appear to be justified given the much higher chance of saving a potentially Warlord-slaying wound. However, each time a saving throw is made for the Conversion Field in any given phase, at the end of that phase each unit within D6" of the bearer is forced to take a single Blind test. While friendly units do get to re-roll this test, Skitarii units are mostly Initiative 4 or Initiative 3 and as such even that re-roll still may not be enough to prevent your squads from suffering a significant penalty to their Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill characteristics. With that in mind, try to avoid using the Conversion Field as often as possible; if your armor save is available, use that instead (you choose which save to use if your best saves are equivalent to one another) to reduce the total possible Blind tests forced on your units. The Conversion Field is available to Vanguard Alphas, Ranger Alphas, Ruststalker Princeps' and Infiltrator Princeps'.
Digital Weapons - One of the more widely available upgrades to Imperial forces, a set of Digital Weapons is a relatively cheap addition to a characters repertoire. Providing a single re-roll on a failed to-wound roll in each Assault phase is nice enough but it is mostly pointless for the basic Skitarii infantry given their ranged focus, though either of the Sicarian units would be much more inclined to use these. The Digital Weapons are available to Vanguard Alphas, Ranger Alphas, Ruststalker Princeps' and Infiltrator Princeps'.
Enhanced Data-Tether - The first actual piece of wargear to directly play off one of the Skitarii army special rules, the Enhanced Data-Tether increases the Leadership value of the bearer and his unit by one whenever they are under the effects of a Doctrina Imperative. Seeing as the average game lasts for six turns and there is an equivalent number of Doctrina Imperatives, this bonus should almost always be in play and is a very useful benefit given that Skitarii lack base Leadership 10 or any similar ability to the Fearless special rule. Be aware of going second against an army that can feasibly force Morale or Pinning tests on your units during the first game turn as the Enhanced Data-Tethers will not be in play at that time. The Enhanced Data-Tether is available to Vanguard Alphas and Ranger Alphas.
Infoslave Skull - Where the Skitarii Vanguard and Rangers have access to the Enhanced Data-Tether, the Sicarian Infiltrators can specifically make use of the Infoslave Skull which is functionally a very similar item. It provides a permanent Leadership bonus that is not dependent on activating Doctrina Imperatives, but it also provides the additional benefit of conferring Acute Senses to a unit that is capable of Outflanking. Re-rolling the die to see which table side a Sicarian unit arrives from can be seen as a nice bonus for a wargear choice that ultimately softens the blow of Skitarii being rather susceptible to Leadership-based attacks. The Infoslave Skull is available to Infiltrator Princeps'.
Mindscrambler Grenades - As the exclusive property of Sicarian Ruststalkers, Mindscrambler Grenades serve multiple highly important purposes; the most obvious of these is that they are Haywire Grenades and thus give the parent unit some incredible close ranged anti-tank damage capabilities. They also function as Assault Grenades to allow Ruststalkers to ignore any penalties to their Initiative characteristic when charging through terrain, while they can even be thrown following the usual grenade rules. A single AP4 Blast with an 8" range that always wounds on a 4+ and even packs in that aforementioned Haywire rule adds significantly to the otherwise mostly minimal ranged capabilities of the unit; the choice of weapons to use for Ruststalkers is often decided by just how much value you place on these exclusive tools. The Mindscrambler Grenades are available to Sicarian Ruststalkers.
Omnispex - Here's a rhetorical question for you all; what happens when you give deadly ranged units a fairly inexpensive upgrade that greatly reduces the defensive value of cover against their attacks? The source of such nonsense is the Omnispex, a previously classic wargear option from decades ago that was revitalized with the 6th Edition Dark Angel codex and fully given justice here with the Adeptus Mechanicus. The theme of the Skitarii codex is combos, whether it be the mixing of potent weaponry and allied transports or special equipment and the Doctrina Imperatives; the Omnispex is one of those key pieces to unlocking the true devastating power that the standard infantry choices are capable of. Omnispexes are available to Vanguard Alphas and Ranger Alphas.
Refractor Field - This particular item serves as the simpler, cheaper and weaker alternative to the Conversion Field and is shamelessly stolen (or gifted depending on whether you judge it by rules or narrative) from other human elements. The Refractor Field provides the bearer with a 5+ invulnerable save that is so darned cheap on two wound models that it almost begs the question why other codices pay so much for theirs on similarly durable models, but I digress; this is a great upgrade and has the important distinction of offering no potential grievances. The Refractor Field is available to Vanguard Alphas, Ranger Alphas, Ruststalker Princeps' and Infiltrator Princeps'.
Skitarii War Plate - Granted to the fighting legions of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Skitarii War Plate provides the bearer with a 4+ armor save. While it is not ignored by the most common weapon in the game - boltguns - and most other light anti-infantry weapons besides, having a 50% chance to successfully save a wound is by no means good or even great; it is truly the definition of middling. Many weapons that Ignore Cover - such as Heavy Flamers - are also AP4, while arguably the most common heavy weapon in the game taking the form of the Autocannon does a further disservice to this armor. In any case, there's nothing inherently bad about this; keep in mind that your infantry would be best served hugging cover wherever possible to make the most of their Feel No Pain roll and the fact that they are fundamentally dedicated ranged units. Skitarii War Plate is worn by Skitarii Vanguard and Skitarii Rangers.
Sicarian Battle Armor - Though functionally seemingly identical to the generic Skitarii War Plate, the Sicarian Battle Armor does have one admittedly minor advantage. It provides the user with a 4+ armor save, true, but it also gives them some additional protection against armor-ignoring weaponry in the form of a 6+ invulnerable save. While this might seem utterly arbitrary given the widespread availability of cover, consider that Sicarian units are typically suited to close combat where a cover save is unavailable. Additionally you must also look at the points raised above regarding AP4 Ignores Cover weaponry; a 6+ save might not be much, but it can save a few lives when combined with the innate Feel No Pain abilities all non-vehicle Skitarii possess. Sicarian Battle Armor is worn by Sicarian Ruststalkers and Sicarian Infiltrators.
Skitarii Vehicle Equipment
Broad Spectrum Data-Tether - Yet another morale-boosting item that is dependent on Doctrina Imperatives being active to provide a particular stat increase, the Broad Spectrum Data-Tether is a vehicle mounted signal booster that increases the Leadership value of friendly Skitarii units within 6" by one provided the above restriction is met. While it will be useless for the actual models possessing them, the nature of it being an aura rather than squad-specific means that relying on one of these (all Skitarii vehicles are automatically equipped with one) could be more worthwhile than purchasing it for each individual infantry unit in your army. However, it does encourage your units to stick together which could be bad for objective-based play or minimizing the damage dealt by blast and template weapons and so it at least offers a purpose to purchasing the lesser forms across your force if they need to operate independently. The Broad Spectrum Data-Tether is employed by Sydonian Dragoons, Ironstrider Ballistarii and Onager Dunecrawlers.
Emanatus Force Field - On its own merits, the Emanatus Force Field seems like a rather weak defensive item for a vehicle to have; while it is part of the basic wargear of the sole unit it is available to, an all purpose 6+ invulnerable save is not terribly impressive. What makes it deceptively good is a particular special rule used by its parent unit that increases the invulnerable save provided by the field to a maximum of 4+, instantly turning it into one of the premier durability-boosters on any vehicle in Warhammer 40,000. The Emanatus Force Field is employed by Onager Dunecrawlers.
Mindscanner Probe - The theme of Skitarii seems to very much be the infantry covering the vehicles while the latter provides fire support to the former, or at least that is what is implied by the existence of this upgrade and the Broad Spectrum Data-Tether. On its own, the Mindscanner Probe is a fine upgrade that removes charging units' bonus attacks if they complete such a move against friendly units (not just Skitarii) within 6" of the user, acting as toned down defensive grenades that affect a wide area. Also like defensive grenades, they cease to function if the charged unit was already locked in combat prior to the fresh assault or had Gone to Ground. What is really striking about these is that they are but one of many charge-deterring wargear choices or special rules available to the Skitarii, helping to soften the blow of what is an otherwise mostly poor Assault phase for the army outside of select units. The Mindscanner Probe is available to Onager Dunecrawlers.
Relics of Mars
The following wargear choices are unique; only one of each can be selected per army, and a model can only ever possess one Relic of Mars at a time. With the sole exception of the Phosphoenix and a Ruststalker Princeps, all Relics of Mars are available to Vanguard Alphas, Ranger Alphas, Ruststalker Princeps and Infiltrator Princeps. They are listed in ascending order of points cost (from lowest to highest) and feature one or more highly recommended partnerships at the end of each analysis.
Arkhan's Divinator - The benefits of this Relic are understandably minor given its incredibly low points cost, but to undersell the value of Arkhan's Divinator would be a total mistake. Re-rolling the die to see what type of Mysterious Objective or Mysterious Terrain the bearer and his or her unit controls or moves into can actually be surprisingly critical in a standard match. Consider this; if you roll up the Sabotaged result when taking an objective, it can be a source of necessary victory points but also slowly bleed the parent unit to the point that it could be destroyed solely by the explosions or forced to retreat. A re-roll dramatically reduces the chances of being forced to work with the sole bad result on the Mysterious Objectives chart; alternatively, you can elect to re-roll a result that you don't necessarily want to instead go for, as an example, the Skyfire-providing result against a flyer-heavy army. For how little this Relic costs it is well worth using on any squad leader you expect to either hold or take objectives, while the Mysterious Terrain identification re-roll is much less practical but ultimately still handy to have. Any of your Skitarii infantry squads can find some use for this given how ridiculously inexpensive it is.
Phase Taser - A seemingly innocent weapon with an unbelievably powerful special advantage, the Phase Taser is much like the standard Taser Goad available to your characters and Sicarian Infiltrators, save that this is restricted to the former set of models and a bit more expensive. A +2 Strength melee weapon that causes additional hits for each to-hit roll of a six is nice enough and has a decent chance of causing an unsaved wound against most targets provided you get some luck with the Taser rule, but by army Relic standards it isn't anything special. This is where the Interdimensional Electrocution enters the fray; if a model suffers one or more unsaved wounds from the Phase Taser, it is forced to take an immediate Initiative test with the penalty for failure being that it is straight up removed from play. This means that it can bypass the Eternal Warrior special rule and thus instantly slay a model as powerful as Abaddon the Despoiler or Lord Kaldor Draigo, though obviously it still merely inflicts a mere D3 bonus wounds on a Gargantuan Creature. Regardless, this is quite the terror weapon to use as something like a Tyrannofex or even the legendary Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka are highly susceptible to its effects provided any single unsaved wound is inflicted. While the model using it will often die before striking against a lot of the big hitters you would hope to reserve it for and it is useless against vehicles (Walkers are the only ones with an Initiative value and the rule specifies unsaved wounds, not glancing or penetrating hits) it still adds an extra character-killing dimension (ha) to what would otherwise be an unassuming lowly squad leader. Where the Phase Taser is at its best is on the Sicarian Infiltrators that inflict a -1 Initiative penalty on enemy units, greatly increasing the chances of the Interdimensional Electrocution taking effect.
Pater Radium - Seemingly purpose built for a Skitarii Vanguard Alpha for one specific reason, the Pater Radium enforces Toughness tests rather than Initiative tests in a dissimilar fashion to the Phase Taser. Rather than acting as a weapon and requiring unsaved wounds to be inflicted, the Pater Radium instead activates at the end of the Initiative 1 step in the Fight sub-phase and affects every enemy unit the wielder is engaged with. The guaranteed effect of the Pater Radium is balanced out in comparison to the Phase Taser with the simple fact that Toughness values are almost always a minimum of three and average out at four as opposed to Initiative scores that tend to be all over the place and feature numerous Xenos factions with an average of two or less. Additionally, being forced to wait until the end of the Initiative 1 step means that even Unwieldy weapons will strike before the Pater Radium activates; don't rush into a mob of Terminators with your fragile Skitarii infantry and immediately expect results. Regardless of those factors, if any enemy unit does fail the Toughness test then the results are most assuredly amusing - the unlucky failures suffer D6 armor-ignoring wounds that are randomly allocated across their unit. While you would most likely want this on one of your melee-oriented Sicarian units as they are the ones most likely to reach combat and to survive in it, the Skitarii Vanguard offer a suitable alternative; their Rad-saturation special rule imposes a -1 Toughness penalty on any enemy unit engaged in combat with them, while the Pater Radium tests off of Toughness values.
Phosphoenix - The only actual ranged weapon on this list to complement the opposite side of the coin in the form of the Phase Taser, the Phosphoenix is an incredibly potent albeit limited gun that is highly expensive when compared to Relic pistols found in other codices. With a paltry 6" range and the lack of codex-specific transports available to the Skitarii coupled with its own bar-setting price point, the Phosphoenix could be perceived as a mostly unworthy addition to any characters' assortment of equipment, though I tend to look more at the sheer potential of such a weapon. That range may be pitiful and most Skitarii units tend not to want to operate too closely to enemies, but the major benefit of being a part of the Armies of the Imperium slot on the Allies Matrix is that Skitarii forces have unprecedented access to friendly transports. The most notable of these are Drop Pods, safely delivering a squad right into the heart of an enemy battle-line where the Phosphoenix and other powerful short-ranged weaponry employed by the Skitarii can really make their mark on a game. In that sense, we can instead focus on the actual damage output of the Phosphoenix to determine if it is worthy of your attention; the Luminagen rule is an immediate stand-out as you can fire the gun first and allow the rest of the wielders' squad and other units to take full advantage of a cover penalty. If the shot actually registers a hit, it inflicts three separate hits on the target to spread the destructive love of Phosphex. Each hit is Strength 5 and AP2, cutting through even mighty Terminators with deadly efficiency while having the Strength required to glance light vehicles; additionally, each hit has the Poisoned (3+) special rule and thus is highly capable of harming even high Toughness Monstrous Creatures and ensuring that little is safe from its touch. It is arguably the most potent Relic pistol in any standard codex but it demands quite a bit of investment into it to make it really worthwhile given that awful range, but its availability to three out of four of your squad leaders means it can be easily delivered via forward scouting Infiltrators that can deploy right up in an opponents' face and put the pressure on early.
Skull of Elder Nikola - Tied with the Phosphoenix as the most expensive Relic of Mars, the Skull of Elder Nikola - overtly implied to be the genius Nikola Tesla - is the most unique and potentially game-changing item to be found in the Skitarii codex. Manifesting as a one-use-only item that grows exponentially stronger in reach the longer a game draws on, the Skull of Elder Nikola can be unleashed in the Shooting phase by the wielder instead of firing their standard ranged armament. Generating a massive electrical discharge, the result of using the Skull of Elder Nikola is that all enemy vehicles within a variable range suffer a single Haywire hit and thus earning its name as the "EMP bomb" of Warhammer 40,000. The range expands based on the turn number as it is resolved by working out the amount of D6 rolled to determine the range which is equivalent to the current turn number, meaning that it would be 1D6" if used on turn one or 4D6" if employed on turn four. Seeing as armies tend to spread out rather than congest the later a game goes to grab objectives and deal with stragglers or supporting elements whether the game is going well or not, the best chance to strike at a bunched up vehicle-heavy army tends to be on the early turns. This would lend itself well to a Drop Pod for a first turn activation if the range wasn't so potentially minimal with a possible 1" range, but at the very least a heavily congested force of vehicles could still suffer badly from this. Still, the fact that it is only a single Haywire hit per vehicle means that you will always require backup damage from other sources to either set-up or finish the job of destroying them, so I would say that this is a fairly all-purpose Relic that could be best served on the forward-roving Sicarian units but not necessarily amazing. In any case, just think of what this could do against massed vehicle squadrons in conjunction with all the Arc Rifles your Vanguards and Rangers can employ and you will quickly understand that armor is no deterrent against the Skitarii legions.
Thank you all for reading this article, I hope you enjoyed it! Following on from their diverse selection of weaponry, the Skitarii can bring a truly intimidating amount of divergent wargear choices into play that can each have a lasting effect on a match. Feel free to share your experiences with them in the comments section below and I will do my best to reply as necessary. Thank you again!