Let me preface this by saying this is not an all-inclusive tactica on using Shrike. I have used him for a while and this is about my experiences with him, the good and the bad, and some advice. I’m not going to justify using him, his point efficiency, etc.
One thing I learned early with Shrike is just because you can infiltrate something forward doesn’t mean you should. There’s a few reasons for this. One, you need to evaluate the situation. Does putting a unit of Assault Marines in someone’s face on turn #1 gain you an advantage or is it just throwing the unit away? Are they capable of tackling the target unit? Do you have support for your infiltrating unit? There’s no sense throwing some Assault Marines with Shrike at a mob of 30 Boyz if they’re going to be counter-charged and destroyed and you can’t effectively support it.
The other reason I find to not infiltrate offensively is predictability. People expect Shrike to hammer their line on turn #1 and will generally deploy with this mind. Look at their deployment, remember you infiltrate once both sides are set up, and see if in deploying to defend against a turn #1 assault they exposed themselves to another part of your army. If you can force a deployment mistake with the threat of infiltration then even if you don’t infiltrate forward you’ve gained an advantage.
In general, don’t be afraid to infiltrate defensively. Don’t become predictable and pigeon-hole yourself into something just because you have the ability to do something.
Which leads into the composition of your army. Your army has fleet when you take Shrike but don’t feel that your entire army needs to use fleet to be effective. You don’t need to field a ton of infantry so you can use fleet. You don’t have to build a list that’s all about alpha-striking either. Fleet, like infiltrating, is a tool, a tactical option, not a requirement.
That being said, do take into consideration the fact you have fleet. For example, I give Sergeants of Tactical Squads power weapons, which is generally frowned upon. I do this because there have been times where it made sense to fleet and charge with a unit with Tactical Marines. The same can be said of Tactical Marines in general regardless of fleet but fleeting Tactical Marines is generally unexpected and can gain you an advantage if used appropriately. People expect fleeting Termies, Assault Marines and the like, not a Tact Squad. It’s turn #5, your Tacts lost their Rhino and you need to reach an enemy unit 13″ away sitting on an objective, well you can.
As for Shrike himself, he does reasonable well in combat but he’s not a close combat beast. His effectiveness in close combat is a force multiplier for the unit he’s with but it doesn’t make them invincible. Assault Marines are better with Shrike but that doesn’t meant I’m going to throw them against a Death Company or Assault Terminators. As you can tell, I put Shrike with Assault Marines and the reason is simple, guaranteed first turn charge when I need it and the ability to infiltrate defensively and still have mobility. Every time I put him with Assault Terminators I’d fall short of a charge because of a bad run roll. As such, I use him as more of a scalpel and less of a hammer.
Let’s talk support. If you’re going to use Shrike and crew offensively then you need to support them and ideally support them in more than one way. I like running Scouts in a Storm so I know if I get first turn and am going to charge in that I can support the assault offensive with another unit. Shrike will steer towards the big juicy target while Scouts tie up what could threaten Shrike’s assault, be it nasty shooting units if I think Shrike will plow through the unit on the charge and will face retaliation fire, or an assault unit likely to counter-charge in. Granted, Scouts aren’t going to tackle real nasty assault units to keep them away from Shrike on their own, and this is where supporting fire comes in. Ensure you have some fire support to aid you assaults and to present assault options. If you’re facing a mech list then you need to be able to pop transports so Shrike can deal with the occupants. Infiltrating Shrike and buddies forward to charge into a Chimera is a waste.
My preferred method of playing offensively with Shrike is a two wave assault instead of a full on alpha-strike. I’ve done the alpha-strike thing and when it works it’s beautiful but if it flops then you’re screwed and can find yourself now playing defense. Having fleet opens up many ways to getting a second wave assault. A Land Raider with Assault Terminators gives you a 21-26″ charge range. Assault Marines with fleet have a 19-24″ charge range. If you moved a Rhino 12″ on the first turn, and it lives, then the guys can get out and have a charge range of 15-20″ for a total move 27-32″ in two turns. The second wave doesn’t even have to be an assault force. It can be strong mid/short ranged shooting like Speeders, Bikers, something that generates threat and draws heat off your first wave.
So, there’s some advice I’ve learned with using Shrike. I think he’s a great special character that opens up a lot of options. The trick is not getting stuck into a single mindset when using him and you’ll find him far more effective.