Skirmishers are light infantry troops sent ahead of the main battleline in a dispersed formation. Such troops are normally no match for a ranked-up unit, but can be used to harry and harass the foe.
Skirmishers are deployed in a 'loose' formation, where the models are not placed in base contact, but are positioned roughly 1/2" apart. The models in the unit must still face the same direction and the unit will still have a front, two flanks and a rear – essentially the only difference is that the models are slightly spaced out.
This dispersed formation allows Skirmishers to move and shoot with greater freedom than other troop types.
Skirmishers & Charging
If skirmishers declare a charge (or a charge reaction that does not involve fleeing) they immediately tighten their loose formation into a 'normal' formation before the charge distance is rolled. This happens 'for free' at the moment the unit declares the charge or is called upon to make a charge reaction. The unit immediately forms up in base contact around the centremost model in the front rank – if the front rank has an even number of models, and therefore two centremost models, the Skirmishers' controlling player can choose which of the two models the unit will form up around.
The number of ranks, files and the formation's facing do not alter as the Skirmishers tighten up – all that happens is that models that were previously spaced out are now in base contact with one another. This has the effect of rendering the Skirmishers' loose formation into a regular shape so that other units can fight them in the normal way.
If the Skirmishers are not in base contact with an enemy in the Remaining Moves sub-phase, the controlling player must move them apart so that they readopt their loose formation.
A unit of Skirmishers moves, wheels, marches and charges just like other troops. However, due to the incredible flexibility of its formation, unless it charges, a skirmishing unit is allowed to reform as many times as it wishes during its move, even if it marches, provided that no model ends up moving a number of inches higher than double its Movement value.
Fire on the March
As with Fast Cavalry, Skirmishers are normally trained to aim and shoot more swiftly than other warriors. They can even shoot if they marched or reformed earlier in the turn (providing their weapon doesn't have the Move or Fire special rule). However, the normal -1 To Hit penalty for moving and shooting still applies.
Skirmishers' natural inclination to a sparse formation makes them much less likely to suffer hits from missile fire – all shots aimed at a unit of Skirmishers suffer an additional -1 To Hit penalty. Skirmishers simply lack the necessary mass to push forward onto the enemy and are easily overwhelmed by troops used to fighting in grinding melee. Skirmishers always count as having zero ranks in combat, and therefore cannot claim a rank bonus, be steadfast, or disorder an enemy with a flank or rear attack – they make supporting attacks as normal, however.
A character model that joins a unit of Skirmishers gains the Skirmisher special rule as long as he stays with the unit. A character on a mount cannot join a unit of Skirmishers.