There is a little known rule on page 77 of the WAB 2.0 rulebook, which reads skirmishers with a leadership value of 7 or less automatically ‘fear’ formed units. And since the vast majority of skirmishing units are of leadership 7 or less, many WAB players simply assume that ALL skirmishers fear formed units. I only know of a few leadership 8 or better skirmish troops out there but they should be noted; Etruscan Cavalry*, Illyrian Warrior Cavalry*, Thracian Noble Cavalry*, Agrianians, some Agema/Hypaspists*, Cretans, Xiongnu Nobles*, MIR Light Cohort* and Bushi Cavalry*. As noted with an ‘*’ several of these units are Light Cavalry or Light Infantry, which means they have the option of deploying as skirmishers.
Your probably asking yourself why should I care? The answer is simple…dependability. These troops never have to check to see if they flee when charged by formed troops and can even charge a formed enemy (this is often suicide, which I will discuss later). I guess the best way to explain my point is via an analogy which happened in a game I played today. It was an odd game of Macedonians vs. Dacians (thanks Steve). Now, the game was part of a scenario, which placed large amounts of terrain on the board which caused my phalanx to be exposed to the highly mobile warbands. At one point, one of my flanks was exposed to a unit of Falxmen, and doom seemed imminent until I noticed I had a small unit of 9 Agrianians with slings within charge range. By charging these skirmishers at the Falxmen, who I figured would be easily beaten by the warband, it would pull the enemy away from my Pikes (which were closer than the skirmishers) and out of a wooded area where my Companions could charge the Falxmen over open ground. Well I charged and it went as planned, and the warband was forced to pursue, pulling them out of the woods and into the path of my Companions. It was a glorious day for the Sons of Macedonia. I can almost guarantee that if I would have been unable to charge my skirmishers into the warband, I would have lost the game based simply on that point. The game was won on the fact that I didn’t have to test vs. panic before declaring my charge.
The next piece of observed evidence earlier this year when I was watching a game between 2 friends of mine. The first was playing Normans and the other Japanese. After routing most of the Japanese with other Norman Knight units, the Norman player moved his character stacked unit of Norman Knights (which consisted of a frontage of eight models, with 2 complete ranks) towards the main Japanese Bushi Infantry. The characters in the unit included the General and Army Standard Bearer. At this point, the Death-Star Norman unit was poised to charge the Japanese General and the Bushi, and although stubborn, simple combat resolution made it look pretty bleak for the Sons if Nippon. As the Japanese player said, well this shit is over we might as well call it, I said, Dude you are in really good shape. Both of the players looked at me and the Norman player stated, What do you mean? There is nothing YOU can do either. I told him not only would I win the game but I would destroy his Death-Star to which he replied, if you can do that I will buy you dinner at Black Angus (and I love Black Angus). I then proceeded with my turn, I then declared my only charge…this unit of 7 Bushi Cavalry skirmishers will charge the rear of your Norman Knights. The other player didn’t look concerned and then I charged. The bow-charge fire yielded a casualty and then the charge struck home. The charge was likewise unremarkable and only one more Norman Casualty was caused to the rear rank of Norman Retainers. The Normans rear rank (without any character support) then stuck back killing a Bushi. Combat resolution was 4 for the Japanese (2 casualties caused and a rear charge) to the Normans 3 (1 casualty, a unit standard and an army standard). The Normans held, but on my next turn, the unsupported Normans received a charge to the front by the unit of Bushi containing the Japanese General. Without their First Charge, Shock Cavalry, or Lances and being denied the charge, the Norman General’s unit was broken and destroyed. As a result of the General’s death, about half of the remaining Norman’s panicked. All because of 7 Bushi Cavalry who didn’t fear the enemy and wouldn’t auto-break if they lost combat.