I recently got an email asking me for some advice regarding the effective use of skirmishers in WAB. Here is the question, I got some Greeks and what to know what skirmishers to take and how to use them as I am a newer Warhammer Ancient Battles player. Since I don’t know what supplement you are taking your Greeks out of (I will assume either AoA or Alexander the Great), but I will give you some general things to remember. These are my suggestion and I am sure some people will disagree.
1. I prefer quality over quantity. Low-leadership skirmishers tend to be much less useful than higher leadership ones. One of the key strengths of skirmishers is to be able to fire and flee from the enemy in order to bait an enemy and screen your troops. Low-leadership troops will be unlikely to pass there required psychology check (fear) they will likely only flee (not fire and flee). I look for leadership 7 skirmishers whenever possible.
2. WS 3 models (such as peltasts and Agrianians) are premium skirmishers. These troops will normally dominate melee combat against WS 2 troops (other skirmishers) . Some light infantry (by definition) can be used as open order troops or skirmishers…it is worth checking out every available option.
3. Don’t be afraid to engage formed units in terrain. Close Order (not open order) units loose rank and close order bonuses while in terrain. This is one of few times that your skirmishers can reek some havoc. You probably won’t win too many combats, but it is the best chance you have to delay some normally unstoppable units.
4. When in doubt, take javelins over all other missile weapons. Skirmishers should be moving (double moving) and screening troops. And although you won’t be shooting as much, when it is time to fire or fire and flee, you will hit on at 4+/5+ and might do some damage. If you want to take a dedicated archer or slinger unit, use them as support, not skirmishers.
5. Don’t place skirmishers near other skirmishers, especially if they have poor leadership. Fleeing skirmishers induce panic in other skirmishers, so keep them away from each other.
6. Remember skirmishers can never use a character or generals leadership. Nor may they use the effects of a Army Standard, unit standard or musician.
7. Most importantly, remember that skirmishers die…they die often and don’t get too attached to them.