PDA

View Full Version : Skaven army book - a tactical review



Mad Makz
15-11-2009, 00:23
The following is going to be an entry by entry 'theoretical' tactical review of the 7th edition Skaven army book... I've posted a lot about Skaven in the past (both Warseer and Portent) but haven't been playing a lot of warhammer of late - life has got in the way - so please feel free to comment or correct or criticize anything, as I have not played THAT many games in 7th edition (compared to the countless 4th/5th/6th edition games I played with Skaven).

In general I am going to look at what I perceive are the strengths and weaknesses of each unit in context of the army - as a guide to helping players put together their armies on the basis that they LOVE Skaven. I am not going to comment on relative power levels with other armies - because the one thing I know is that if you are nuts enough to collect and paint up the hundreds of rats you will need to make a Skaven army, then it is the love of the innate way the list works that will keep you happy, not whether it's top tier or wins more games than it loses.

What this post should do is help you make an army that functions well unto itself - things synergize and units will feel like they are fulfilling their role, even when they misfire spectacularly and lose you the game - because that's the POINT of playing Skaven.

I'm going to break sections up into individual posts, then hopefully get comments, and then edit everything back into the main post once I have had some feedback from both people and having played some games with the new list. So on with the show!

Mad Makz
15-11-2009, 01:17
LORDS of the Under Empire

The new Skaven book is a bit of throwback for those who played 4th and 5th Edition, with many familiar character choices making a reappearance - let's start with a look at your choice for a Lord. (2000 - 2250 point games will be my major reference points, but as I have a very large number of models I might surmise about the utility of certain characters in larger games as well.)

In order of apperance in the Army List:

Lord Skrolk - An expensive lord choice, a fighter and a caster, a terror on furry feet, Skrolk is the choice for a themed plague list due to his ability to make Plague Monks core. As a lord of his points I don't think he justifies his role in anything other than a themed list, because he is not a frightening enough wizard nor a game changing enough fighter to sway entire battles. The Liber Bubonicus at bound power 6 does increase his threat level as a mage, but it's random effects, chance of failure, and low strength at either effect rolled mean that it is limited in utility except against certain foes (Large units of T3 knights will find it a likely dispel, but a well constructed army well may have enough defense for it to be a bit of a fizzler). His terror causing ability is worth noting because it can mess with people's plans - but isn't strong enough on it's own given an environment with immune to psychology foes and a magic list which includes the Pipes of Piebald (which is almost as good for 25 points if you compare the tactical in game effect of terror versus failing to charge.). The rod of corruption is potentially devestating, but getting skrolk where he needs to be to use it to good effect will be difficult and his lack of protection means that versus remotely equally costed foes he will be relying on a charge, and even then bad luck could ruin his day.

Thanquol and Boneripper: Thanquol has historically always been a bit of a 'Grey Seer but better' option, with the added cost of fielding bone ripper plus the pointsdifference. 7th edition doesn't change this at all, Thanquol remains undisputable the best off the shelf Grey Seer, with 5 Spells the ability to pick between Ruin and Plague becomes MUCH more appealing than a regular Grey Seer with 4, because you can tailor your roles to your enemy that much more. His ability to regain wounds combined with his innate ward save make him likely to last the game, his toned down re-roll for the use of warpstone and toned down extra warpstone make him an interesting well rounded choice. Boneripper is much improved from last edition by being an uncomplicated rule set with the benefit of reliability as long as he is near Thanquol and unbreakable.
The only ointment in the fly, other than not being able to take a Screaming Bell as a mount (something which I wouldn't condone anyway, as I'll describe in the screaming bell section) is that the rules in general aren't very clear for how Boneripper operates - can he join units or must he act independently. As his points aren't listed seperately presumably he offers no victory points unless thanquol dies, which is a definite bonus. All in all if you were considering a Grey Seer, and not thinking about a screaming bell, then I think there are good reasons to consider Thanquol, even with his very high cost (if you think boneripper is potentially worth about 100 points, and I certainly think he might be due to his duel function as warpfire thrower and unbreakable ratogre, then Thanquol doesn't really seem to cost that much compared to a regularly kitted out Grey Seer who will be more difficult to keep alive)

Ikit Claw - Oh, how the might have fallen. Once one of the most powerful wizards in all of Warhammer, Ikit Claw is now simply a more powerful Warlock Engineer... Of course, this is actually a great thing as it makes a heck of a lot more sense in terms of background and makes him a good choice for themed lists... However, his stats and abilities are very hard to reconcile with his point cost, much like Skrolk, and I really wish they had given him a few more of the Skryre toys to play with or some effect on army list (moved Warplightning Canons to special or maybe Poison wind globadiers to core.). As it stands he is not as good as combat as a lord, not an amazing wizard (although the Storm Daemon is a fairly good bound) but is resilient with a 5+ ward and a reasonable save. For the points you could get two Warlocks and a chieftain, but perhaps getting all rolled up into one is more effective. The fact that he carries a one shot warpfire thrower (like bone ripper) is not much of a relief because a misfire will see your lord and main spell caster toasted - so it becomes a sort of a last ditch item. Like Skrolk good for theme, not great for much else, but perhaps good in a larger game where you wanted to go magic heavy and had two Lord slots to play around with.

Throt the Unclean - With a significant drawback in terms of Ravening Hunger, a high cost compared to an equivalent combat equipped lord, and relatively little to help things out aside the only real reason to consider Throt is for the theme of an entirely moulder army or if you happen to own a ridiculous amount of Ratogres, and want other choices in the special slots. Good for theme, not good for much else.

Queek Headtaker - A Skaven lord who can really fight and isn't ridiculously over costed, Queek becomes an interesting choice. His fighting prowess are let down by a lack of defense, but if you can keep him away from enemy heavy hitters his sheer reliability (especially against Dwarfs and Greenskins) make him worth considering. A 3+ armour save bouncing back saves as S5 hits, ignoring saves and bonuses to hit and wound in a challenge make him a real threat versus 2 or less wound opposing characters and a nightmare for enemy champions, against whom he should get a good overkill bonus against, including cavalry champions due to his reasonable save who get the charge. In a 2000-2250 point list this is probably his strength, but you need an army list that can find a way to tie up really dangerous fighters and keep them away from Queek to ensure that his fury and conceit don't lead to his downfall. His ability to upgrade a unit of Stormvermin is good for those who are nostalgic and miss them being strength 4, but the cost of the upgrade is a little too steep to be considered a major bonus.

Mad Makz
15-11-2009, 03:19
LORDS of the Under Empire continued

Vermin Lord- The mighty Verminlord was always a bit out of place in the Skaven book, disappearing in 6th edition in a way that made quite a bit of sense with the new direction of the list and game, so it's reappearance is a bit of a surprise, but the model is very nice and I already own one so in that regard I'm happy to see it back.

In terms of it's role within a Skaven army, it's brilliant for scaling the list if you want to play larger games, take a special character lord and a Verminlord and suddenly your 2000-2250 point list can up to 3000 points without a huge investment in more models, and you haven't done your army a major disservice because you have boosted both your spell casting, combat, and terror causing abilities significantly. Taking a Vermin lord in a smaller game would probably be a bunch of fun - it's nice to get a bit of a romper stomper lord choice, and if you go relatively points light on the rest of your characters and can make your army work being led by a leadership 6 character then you might be in good stead.

Your opponent may simply not know how to deal with a horde army led by a spell casting combat monster, they may over or underestimate the Vermin Lord and thus not play well against your army as a whole - as such I'd say he's certainly worth a try. But the sacrifices in both points and leadership you make to take him in lower cost games impact heavily on reliability, and while reliabity obviously isn't the hall mark of a skaven army, MITIGATING unreliability is often the hall mark of a competitive Skaven army. But if you are interested more in dealing death and destruction than necessarily winning more games than you lose, then taking a Verminlord sure sounds like a lot of fun, and may well scare the pants off the odd opponent who doesn't deal with him appropriately.

Warlord - A Skaven warlord is the staple of a Skaven led army in my opinion, Grey Seers are all well and good, but a Warlord is cheap, cheerful, can hold some tricks up his sleeve with the right equipment and allows you to pack more rats on the table while keeping up the potential for Leadership 10 - which is ALWAYS a good thing. In this edition, he clocks in a little cheaper at a base level by virtue of coming with Heavy Armour. He also can be upgraded fairly inexpensively by use of items from the Scavenger Pile, and you have some awesome conversion opportunities in the way of access to mounts, so I think he will continue to be my preferred choice of leader. Equipping him is a bit more problematic than in previous editions, as the magic item list is a little sparse in comparison, with no obvious choices (like bands of power) to majorly up his combat potential, and very little in the way of magical armour. A cheap kit out such as poision weapons and a great weapon might be a fairly common choice, helping against foes with both armour and toughness to deal with, perhaps with Skalm to keep him fighting and more importantly leading your army that much longer. Alternatively, the Weeping Blade, Shield of Distraction, Rival Hide Talisman and Skalm might become a popular kit out, if a little expensive. It gives him a pretty good survivability for a couple of rounds against even quite tough opponents, and the D3 wounds of the Weeping blades gives even vampires and other tough lords something to consider. You can even throw in a tail weapon to get in an additional attack, just for a laugh. Put all that on top of a Bone Breaker Rat Ogre and you have a lord who while not necessarily incredibly scary, is a bit of a great fury hope with a little bit of survivability thrown in there and can possibly punch well above his weight (especially if say the unit he is in got Death Frenzied).

Finally no analysis of the Skaven Warlord can be complete without mention of Skavens Great Equalizer - the Fell Blade. Sure, it'll probably kill your lord, sure, he can't take any other magic items or any form of protection, but with the increased power of the fell blade this edition (opponents having to re-roll successful ward saves versus it), the potential for a death frenzied warlord with it, and the complete pain bomb that Warlord on a bonebreaker Ratogre with the Fell Blade could be (especially if your opponent forgets that Bonebreakers have a move of 6 and stray too close to your warlords unit with an expensive multiwound target - and you procede to charge out of the unit with your Lord in a completely insane move of glory or death). Also, access to the Banner of Verminous Scurrying in your army makes the Fell Blade that little bit more viable, as you have an increased chance of making it to combat before the Lord succumbs to the Fell Blades deadly effects.

Grey Seer - Grey Seer's in the new book become an instantly more attractive choice because of the increased, no long a sacrifice compared to a Warlord they make both good leaders and spell casters, but obviously let you down in the fighting stakes. However, a Skaven that never see's combat never gets stabbed (except in the back) keeping your troops leadership up while blasting away with spells doesn't at all sound like a bad idea... In deciding whether a Grey Seer is for you obviously a magic heavy style of play is one consideration, so it seems like an opportune time to take a look at the spells of Skaven and how they'd influence your choice for taking the Grey Seer.

Spells of Ruin
Skitterleap - primarily a defensive spell, it's there to help keep your Seer alive late game. potential to be used offensively as well in combination with other spells, although at significant risk, but again, this option can be great late game (especially if you have the last magic phase). Also with the Grey Seer's increased leadership it can help being able to jump around to where the action is if you need to sure up a combat etc. Good utility, but not strong and if everything is going to plan you are unlikely to want to use it, can be combined with some other characters for nasty tricks but again not a game plan you would rely on.

Warp lightning - remains a highly viable choice for Grey Seers, but not a reason to take one alone as Warlocks get access to it automatically. Not as game changing as last edition but adds ranged firepower to Skaven which is often sorely needed.

Howling Warpgale - Generally defensive spells like this seemed a little mis matched with Skaven as without the cost of a grey seer you should be able to invest in enough rats to soak up all but the most extreme shooting easily. However, shutting down flyers is a more difficult proposition and getting access to that in spell form is nothing to be sneezed at... except that even if you pick all 4 spells from ruin you simply might not roll it. Situational spell whose tactical uses can be achieved alternatively by the Warpstorm Scroll or Storm Banner, would probably prove of little use most games, but may win you the odd one.

Death Frenzy - Access to death frenzy looks like a good option to take a Grey Seer for, but it's actual utility goes down hill when you consider the units you want to cast it on due to the D6 wound draw back. On a unit of plague monks the extra casualties don't really make up for one extra attack. On a unit of Plague Censers that have just charged, the extra attack may be worth it due to hatred, especially on a unit you REALLY need to break/wipe out. Similiarly it might help on a unit of Ratogres, but without hatred the extra 4 or so attacks you get aren't worth the trade of. Clanrats and stormvermin you often DON'T WANT frenzied, they are your main blocks, they are their for static combat resolution more than kills.

So in terms of viable units that leaves slaves, night runners, and giant rats. Giant rats and Night Runners both get the most benefit from the spell, potentially turning from units that weren't going to do a lot in combat to ones who sheer number of attacks may sway a combat, and both are faster moving units so may be piling on the flanks or dealing with units away from the main battle line that they can't normally break on their own.

Greatest utility is when used on units with strong fighting characters, but you've already given up a warlord by taking a Grey Seer, so in 2000-2250 point game that's a bit of a moot point. Useful, not a great spell though.

Scorch - Finally, we get some Ruination out of the lore of Ruin. Scorch is potentially terrifying to 20mm based ranked units especially, because if they are of enough size it's a guaranteed 21 strength 4 hits, followed by auto panic for unsaved wounds. Elves, Daemons (especially Plaguebearers), Empire, and even armies with lots of skirmishers (depending on how they have arranged them, only needing to touch the base can still make this spell plenty devastating, especially with no line of sight requirements). With a high casting value this is a spell that helps makes the case for Grey Seers due to their increased casting ability and warpstone.

Cracks Call - Harking back to 4th and 5th Edition Cracks Call is a spell that I remember sometimes working amazingly, and sometimes being a complete fizzler, but most of the time being just not quite worth it. Little has changed here and while some may sight the potential devestation that could be caused by Cracks Call mixed with Skitterleap the risk is way too great for that to be a viable option unless you have the last magic phase or you are already in a jam you just can't get out of. Not worth taking a Grey Seer for, not a great spell.

Spells of Plague:

Pestilent Breath - Good Spell, quite useful, but consideration would first go to maximizing Plague Monks who will simply make better use of the spell, as using it will generally mean that your Grey seer is too close to the action for comfort's sake.

Bless with Filth - Decent buff spell, slightly too short a range to be great on a Grey Seer, but considering the depth of Skaven units due to their large unit size not a bad one at all. Again slightly better designated to Plague Monks but a viable choice for a Grey Seer and spell that helps make them a more viable choice.

Wither - The addition of Wither makes the case for rolling more on Plague than Ruin seem like a common direction for Grey Seers, especially armies utilising other Plague Monks to go magic heavy. Stacking decreases to toughness leading to potentially complete unit death on a relatively achievable casting value not only synergizes with other spells but also helps out other shooting and combat considerable. A+ spell that makes magic heavy Skaven look like more of an option and thus Grey Seers as your leader more of an option.

Vermintide - Vermintide is a robust spell, deals a reasonable amount of damage, can hit multiple units, synergizes with Wither, and can potentially take care of many fast moving, lightly armoured flanking units that skaven may otherwise have trouble dealing with. A worthy spell for a Grey Seer to have, doesn't make the choice a no brainer, but doesn't do his prospects any harm either.

Cloud of Corruption - A spell with serious damage potential that again makes the choice of a Grey Seer look like a reasonable one. Helping to pile on the damage once already engaged in combat is something that Skaven need, and this certainly provides it. Too high a casting value to be an auto consideration for a Plague Priest, cloud of corruption has to fall into the tick column for reasons to consider a Grey Seer.

Plague: Definitely a reason to consider a grey seer. Too powerful to ignore, and that added bit of range you need (especially if it bounces).

The Dreaded Thirteenth Spell: Okay, now here's the REAL reason people with consider a Grey Seer, a spell so ridiculous in it's construction that it comes near to saying "If you can cast me, you win the game." Especially against opponents with high cost key units of elite infantry, or anything you might call a DeathStar etc. A spell that says, on an average successful casting, remove 14 infantry models from the board, irrespective of their value, wounds, saves etc. It's got range, it's devastating, it's thermonuclear missile of a spell...

If you can cast it, but let's look at those odds shall we. Casting value 25+, meaning that you need to throw more than 7 dice at it to have a greater than average chance of succeeding (outside of irresistible force of course). Then when you look at the odds of miscasting when you roll 7 dice, not including the fact that you've had to chow down either Warpstone tokens or Powerstones to get there, you have to wonder if it's ever going to come off.

But of course, so does your opponent - and much like a thermonuclear missile, that becomes the point. Cursed of the Horned One is a deterrent, a deterrent to infantry death star units, a deterrent to anything that has spent a lot of points mitigating any chance of it being wounded.

So a Grey Seer on a tactical level can be a bit of an insurance policy. You bring the pain, and I'll do my damnedest to bust out Curse of the Horned One. You might require dumb luck to win the game if you go for it, but for all the reasons for taking a Grey Seer that insurance policy is probably by far the most compelling over a warlord. (Similarly, against knights and other units with less models Plague and some of the other 'no save' spells can offer some insurance, so that's worth considering as a benefit of a Grey Seer.)

In a reasonable environment, with reasonable armies, a Grey Seer probably doesn't quite make it over the mark compared to other options in my estimation. But as answer to armies of unreasonable force a Grey Seer gives you a response that is just as unreasonable, he becomes a meta choice who is viable and provides the bit of back up that can't be ignored - Curse of the Horned One may ruin their day.

Finally a Grey Seer gives you access to the Screaming Bell. I won't go into the fall analysis of the Screaming Bell as that can be done elsewhere, but aside from being a beautiful centrepiece I simply don't think it is a worthwhile choice for a Grey Seer, because it is not synergistic enough. Putting the Grey Seer on top, makes him a target. The benefit of 360 degree line of sight only really aids when it comes to Warp Lightning, which, so there is no real good to come from that. The added benefit of the ward save is negated by the fact that you have made your grey seer a target. Having an unbreakable unit of clanrats/stormvermin sounds fantastic until you realise you could alternatively have an unbreakable unit of Plaguemonks without putting your wizard lord in harms way. The effects of the bell itself do not help the grey seer much, especially the first ring which is likely to propel him towards combat earlier.

Worst of all is that the bell literally puts the grey seer in harms way during combat. While he can avoid challenges, if your opponent simply doesn't offer a challenge then a large number of opposing models can direct attacks against your Grey Seer, and all he will have is a 4+ ward to hide behind. With the proliferation of multi attack cavalry that are likely to get the charge, this does not seem like a situation I would want my wizard lord to be in.

Ultimately, if you want to take the Bell (which I can totally understand - it's a gorgeous model, the theme is great, it looks like a lot of fun) then you will have to take a Grey Seer anyway. But if you are considering a Grey Seer on it's own merits I think you are better suited to go without the Bell in terms of raw effectiveness (and possibly better still going with Thanquol.)

Mad Makz
15-11-2009, 03:20
His Iron Frame gives him an armour save and a 5+ ward save.

Thanks, overlooked that will, will revise.

Also for any readers will continue later - this much analysis is taking a bit of time to write up.

Mullitron
15-11-2009, 10:24
Nice read, one thing i will say tho is the The Dreaded Thirteenth Spell only works on infantry units so not a deterent to dragon lords and knights sadly. Still scary enough to have the same impact just only on infantry units. Several people have suggested taking the spell on the small chance your opponent miscasts and gives you a free spell to cast. Personaly iam still not sure about the bell either, think it may have alot of potential just may need a bit of play testing to find its best use.

Purge the Heretic
16-11-2009, 06:08
Throt plus ALOT of giant rats looks quite good to me.

You mentioned Vermin lords leadership 6 as a bad thing... most of your army will be leadership 8 from strength in numbers. (confused on this one, it says a limit of ten, but it uses rank bonus which is limited to +3 correct? I'm new to fantasy)

Avian
16-11-2009, 06:47
Very good so far. :)

Nicha11
16-11-2009, 08:17
I disagree with your analysis of the Vermin Lord, he reminds me of the Daemon Prince from WOC (C*ap).

Mad Makz
16-11-2009, 20:44
Nice read, one thing i will say tho is the The Dreaded Thirteenth Spell only works on infantry units so not a deterent to dragon lords and knights sadly. Still scary enough to have the same impact just only on infantry units. Several people have suggested taking the spell on the small chance your opponent miscasts and gives you a free spell to cast. Personaly iam still not sure about the bell either, think it may have alot of potential just may need a bit of play testing to find its best use.

Thanks for mentioning, that certainly does tone the spell down a lot (and makes me really question it's 25+ casting value even more). I've updated my post to reflect this (though the overall view of Grey Seers as an 'insurance policy' or deterrent remains.


I disagree with your analysis of the Vermin Lord, he reminds me of the Daemon Prince from WOC (C*ap).

But is that in the context of statlines versus cost, or in the context of the Skaven army? Give me some explanation here, or some in game examples so I can revise my thesis (until at least I play some games with him).

When you consider that a Vermin Lord is a fast moving, spell casting, flanker that causes terror and can potentially take out pretty much any opposing model in the game (due to inflicting D3 wounds), and that it's an option that Skaven didn't have in the previous army book, I will stand by my statement. You'll not I never endorse him as a strong choice, or even a good choice, but a FUN choice that an opponent may well underestimate or overestimate - which can give you a psychological/tactical edge.

If you think he's crap, I think you may well underestimate him, because it's not like a 500 point lord choice is going to make a Skaven army short on models, especially if they go character light for the rest of the army, and I don't think there is a unit in the game that wouldn't be concerned at least a little by a Vermin Lord in their flank (backed up with a very decent spell list)


Throt plus ALOT of giant rats looks quite good to me.

You mentioned Vermin lords leadership 6 as a bad thing... most of your army will be leadership 8 from strength in numbers. (confused on this one, it says a limit of ten, but it uses rank bonus which is limited to +3 correct? I'm new to fantasy)

Vermin Lords leadership is actually 8. The Chieftain who will be leading your army is leadership 6, meaning a max leadership of 9 for your army.

Surprisingly Skaven actually really RELY on having a high leadership, 10 is required at the start of most combat situations for you rnf troops. This sounds counter intuitive for a 'cowardly' race, but the fact is that Skaven infantry blocks very rarely win the first round of combat, even on the turn they charge, let along break the opponent. What they rely on is to stick around a round or two so that their magic, shooting into combat (less available these days, which I'll get to later) or devastating flanking units (plague censer bearers, Rat Ogres) can smash the enemy to bits, while their high numbers and leadership keep them around.

Leadership 7 lords means you stay at leadership 10 and 9 for longer, Leadership 6 lords mean you start only at 9 (increasing chance of break test failure from at least a 17% chance to a 36% chance - for the number crunches I am including the fact that you will always be losing by at least 1, so are going from testing on 9's to testing on 8's)

The longer you stay in combat, the worse this gets, and the more you get shot at, the worse this gets. High leadership is fairly vital to this game plan.

Dageo
17-11-2009, 00:30
Thanks for mentioning, that certainly does tone the spell down a lot (and makes me really question it's 25+ casting value even more). I've updated my post to reflect this (though the overall view of Grey Seers as an 'insurance policy' or deterrent remains.

Only affecting infantry means it can still be used to great effect and in a number of ways.

- Wittle down enemy units which contain powerful/multiple characters, then cast this on them. If theres few enough in the unit, you can take out those characters with 1 shot. This can be used to great effect vs deathstars, units of temple guard with a slann, etc.

- Take chunks out of pricey infantry units (warriors/chosen of chaos, black guard, etc), and hard to kill infantry (drakenhoff banner grave guard, plague bearers).

- Cast on a small enemy unit (around 10 models), best against ranged troops (they generally come in small units anyway), in order to summon the clanrats and mess with the enemies back-field. Better than a tunneling team :cool:.

SlaaneshSlave
17-11-2009, 03:37
Mad Makz... nice to see you back. Looking forward to the rest of your analysis.

Cannonballninja
17-11-2009, 18:37
Surprisingly Skaven actually really RELY on having a high leadership, 10 is required at the start of most combat situations for you rnf troops. This sounds counter intuitive for a 'cowardly' race...snip

When you think about it, everything makes perfect sense. You've got to convince the swarm it can win(!), you've got to convince the swarm that they're awesome(!), you've got to convince the whole, stinking lot that - when the guy in front dies - that they should be glad it wasn't, and isn't going to be, them(!).

Because the minute that screaming horde of cowardly rats that you command realise they're going to get hacked to death, they're going to turn and run back to their holes in the ground. Sounds like an aweful lot of self-delusion to me :p

Malorian
17-11-2009, 21:02
Mad Maks... MORE!!!! :)

Mad Makz
19-11-2009, 06:37
Continuing the analysis, on with the show:

HEROES of the Under Empire:

Deathmaster Snikch - Again the return of an old favourite, the Deathmaster fills the slightly more logical role of a Hero Slot this time around, and has the decreased wounds to go along with it. So at toughness 4 with two wounds, what does 270 points buy you? Well, I think it continues to buy you the 'Great Fury Hope'. Snikch "Always strikes first", and with initiative 10 he actually pretty much always "Always strikes first". This is particularly useful given the lack of wounds, as it means whatever damage he is going to meat out is likely to hit home. His ward makes up a bit for the wounds as well. The Cloak of Shadows provides a modicum of protection in terms of maneuvering to pick his targets, but a 50/50 shot isn't something to be relied upon. His large number of attacks combined with his Whirl of Weeping Blades do make him an undeniable threat, although the decreased power of weeping blades (armour piercing instead of +1 strength, or +1 to wound depending on edition) mean that while he remains a threat to many opponents, he is no longer "The Great Furry Hope" - no bands of power means that opponents with a ward and good armour save pose a real problem, with the stats baring out a less than 50/50 shot of wounding a 1+ armour save 5+ ward opponent. Sure that will be multiplied into D3 wounds - and maybe it makes sense that he is not suited to fighting well armoured opponents (he is an assassin after all), but as there are Knight champions who can get access to such protection, it is vital that the Deathmaster picks his targets very carefully to be able to regain his points.

Finally, I think it's crazy that Snikch isn't given smoke bombs in his profile. The single item that would make him worth a gamble (as if he managed to survive a failed attempt, at least he would be likely to survive the almost invariable failed break test and pursuit). It would be entirely themed, bad sadly is not included.

Compared to a regular Assasin, and considering he only takes a hero slot, I could see him come into play (as he is still significantly better than a regular assassin, even without the smoke bombs). Unfortunately his greatest strength is probably against ogres, as he could do a LOT of damage to a regular unit of ogres and easily regain his points.

Tretch Craventail - The only new Special Character for Skaven to come out of this army book, so as such I will mention his background briefly. I quite enjoyed that a representative of Clan Rictus gets an inclusion, as it brings a bit more of a feel for the Warlord Clans place to the army book (with Clan Mors also being present with Queek) which is nice to see.

As for his rules - With the stats of a normal chieftain it's pretty easy to make a direct comparison, as he really fulfills much of the same roll. Equipment wise probably comes with about 70 points worth, assuming a 4+ ward on a hero is still worth 40 points, and a re-roll is worth about 20 (his standard equipment is worth 10). That leaves 35 points for his two special rules, which I think is a pretty fair price.

In my eyes, in games under 2000 points he is an ideal lord, because of the re-roll, something that there is no other way to get access to. Combined with his ability to jump ship when things are getting tough (potentially denying the opponent the 100 points for killing the enemy general) it would be hard to pass him up. He also provides mobile leadership if you move him at the beginning of the movement phase, quite a useful ability.

The rules for Tretch's Raiders are a nice bonus, although it can be hard to maneuver your big blocks for a flank charge initially, it often comes into play late game and anything that helps you mop up is welcome (as Skaven are often adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.)

Even in 2000+ point games he is a definite consideration to replace the role of a chieftain, especially if you were considering the Vermin Lord for your list.

Assassin – A regular Skaven Assassin is a pricy proposition for your average Skaven army. Taking up a valuable hero slot, his presence decreases magic offense and defense compared to a mage, and decreases leadership bonuses compared to a Chieftain. A 4+ ward makes him more survivable than in previous editions, but what you are normally looking for in an assassin is killing power – and with the reduce magic item list, including the toned down weeping blades, he suffers a lot of the same issues that Snikch does. There are some upsides though Always Strikes first combined with the ward gives more rounds to kill his opponent – he can be kitted out with a tail blade to sneak in an extra poisoned attack, so if taken without a magic item that’s 5 poisoned attacks. With this in mind you can also afford to equip either smoke bombs which give him a good chance of striking and getting away, or the Infernal Bomb – an item which I think has a lot of tactical use, especially in scenario play where capturing an objective might be important.

Not a great choice, but more flexible than Snikch and with the Infernal Bomb or (maybe a magic weapon and smoke bombs) in my opinion more likely to get his points back (or at least prove tactically frustrating for an opponent.) All in all an improvement from the Hero assassins of the past, but potentially hard to justify in a 2000 point game.

Warlock Engineer – The new army book takes a very interesting route with Warlock engineers. Firstly they provide what I believe is the games cheapest hero at 15 pts unequipped. This does mean that players with very little faith in Skaven characters, or those playing in low point games, can bring a truly staggering amount of miniatures to the table if they so wish. I can also envision naked warlocks being equipped with the Brass Orb or Doom rocket so that they can truly disposable heroes (an interesting tactic would be to use such a cheap warlock to protect larger units of Jezzails, groups of warmachines or your armies flanks from approaching scouts or Fast Cav – armed with the Doom Rocket and faced with a target that he can probably move to within 13 inches (they will need to be within 18” to charge, he moves 5”) then fairly average rolling on 4 dice will result in likely hits on either under or overshoots considering the large template). Not a bad use of 45 points, especially as you can see what happens with this shot before bringing the rest of your weapons to bare on the threat.

As spell casters their potential for damage has been greatly toned down since last edition, although equipped with a warp energy condenser Warp lightning still packs a punch for an automatically picked spell. Having full access to the Spells of Ruin also makes a level two Warlock quite a flexible choice, as he’s got two shots of getting Scorch and in some situations either Cracks Call or Howling Warpgale might prove very handy. Even rolling Skitterleap or Death Frenzy as a secondary spell could prove handy against some foes, so while they are not as likely to deal out the disproportionate amount of damage that they used to they remain solid choices, both fully upgraded or left at level 1.

Clearly Warlocks remain solid choices for a Hero slot that provide lots of options for not too many points.

Chieftains – There’s not a lot to be said about Skaven Chieftains – very little has changed in their role or abilities. Access to a decreased and mostly toned down pool of magic items is off set somewhat by the Scavenge Pile. Battle Standard Bearers in particular are advantaged by this, as they can increase their combat ability while still taking a magic banner, and because banners no longer prevent shields or double handed weapons Battle Standards in general become a much more viable proposition. Battle Standards also become quite viable choice because there are some very interesting magical banners available. The Sacred Standard of the Horned Rat is an interesting choice, potentially ruining the day for normally reliable units (especially those who are stubborn), although it’s hard to calculate it’s actual worth without seeing how it performs on the table – it does suffer the fate of not being great shakes versus undead, which for the requirement of a Battle Standard and it’s cost may make it not a great choice. The Storm Banner is a definite consideration for a battle standard – FAQ needed to determine if it’s meant to be one use only, although at 50 points can be equipped on other banner carrying units. Grand Banner of Clan Superiority is probably a little over, but less so when you consider it a unit of Stormvermin or Plaguemonks already equipped with the warbanner (a static combat resolution of between 7 and 9 is nothing to be sneezed at.). Shroud of Dripping Death provides both defense and offense, especially against Cavalry. Banner of the Under Empire is similarly definitely worth a look, as automatic hits in the combat phase (thus adding to combat resolution, and striking before even strike first models to help against those pesky elves). Dwarf Hide banner is a themey joke (Dwarf’s gaining hatred against you isn’t worth you gaining hatred against them!) and there are perhaps some tricks to be had by putting the Banner of Verminous Scurrying on a unit that normally can’t get Banners (such as catapulting a large unit of Night Runners 30” in the first two turns).

All in all Chieftains remain as they were, Army Standard Bearers, cheap leaders and carriers of the odd dirty trick.

Plague Priest – Plague Priest have had the most changes since previous editions, and now given access to both spells and the Plague Furnace it can be truly said that this edition is the time of Clan Pestilens. An impressive combat statline backed up magic offense and defense, the option of an auto pick spell that helps deal with the foes plague monks have the most trouble with (heavily armoured foes will not like pestilent breath) and the choice of a death dealing mount that makes their combat kitted unit unbreakable and their nearby death dealing nutters stubborn frankly raises these guys heads and shoulders above other units. It’s clear that the designers must have considered Frenzy a terrible burden, or that Plague Monks not having access to weapon teams was a terrible price to pay – because the inherent synergy between Plague Priests, the Furnace, Plague Monks and Censer Bearers is difficult to fathom.

The Furnace doesn’t offer the Plague Priest any protection, and even makes him a bit of a target for shooting, but with toughness 5 and access to two separate wards shootings not of much concern (both the Scrying Stone and the Foul Pendant, and potentially both at once as one is arcane while the other is a talisman. In fact the Scrying Stone on a Plague Priest is a particularly good choice as Stupidity is cancelled in close combat, and in early turns Plague Priest is likely to be leadership 9 or 10 if near the general.)

In fact, the only downside of the Furnace to me seems to be its need for a few FAQ’s.
It’s listed as a ‘mount’ and never listed as a chariot, so one presumes it is not instantly destroyed by Strength 7 hits, if this is the case it’s lack of a ward save for itself does not seem like much of a problem. As a mount, that is not a monstrous mount, nor a chariot, there doesn’t appear to be any rules as to what happens when the Furnace is destroyed, or when the Plague Priest on top is killed. The only clear indication is that the Plague Furnace and the Plague Crew constitute a single model.

It is my belief that the Plague Furnace SHOULD be treated as a chariot in terms of rules for Strength 7 hits causing destruction and in terms of what happens when the Plague Furnace/Plague Priest dies, or else we are left with no rules at all to govern this situation and a machine that I believe is worth far more than it’s points dictate, because with 6 wounds even multiple Great Cannons will require a lot of luck to finish it off.

Well that’s it for Heroes – sorry it took a while, hopefully I will be able to get into the troops quickly.

decker_cky
19-11-2009, 21:19
I have to argue with your assessment of battle standard bearers. In the old book, you could lead from the back with them for combat resolution and protection, then jump out when things looked bad. Now they have to be in a fighting rank, making them much more vulnerable in spite of being able to take a 3+ save. In general, I consider Sacred Standard of the Horned Rat to be the only banner to give a BSB. Clan superiority is just bad since it's more expensive and much dependable than the old banner of the swarm. It doesn't do anything 1/3 of the time and more ranks is much harder to get than outnumber. Most other banners belong in units. All told, unless the sacred standard is a key part of your battle plan, no reason to take a BSB.

Regarding magic, the short range of most pestilence spells makes me consider at least one engineer (with condenser) essential to draw out scrolls for any decent magic phase. Pestilence is great, but most spells don't do anything early game so you face a full magic defense after that.

Mad Makz
19-11-2009, 22:26
I have to argue with your assessment of battle standard bearers. In the old book, you could lead from the back with them for combat resolution and protection, then jump out when things looked bad. Now they have to be in a fighting rank, making them much more vulnerable in spite of being able to take a 3+ save. In general, I consider Sacred Standard of the Horned Rat to be the only banner to give a BSB. Clan superiority is just bad since it's more expensive and much dependable than the old banner of the swarm. It doesn't do anything 1/3 of the time and more ranks is much harder to get than outnumber. Most other banners belong in units. All told, unless the sacred standard is a key part of your battle plan, no reason to take a BSB.

The basic advantage of re-rolling break tests is a great advantage, and means Skaven often used to take Battle Standards (not always, but often) losing lead from the back is a blow, but you can now have a BSB with a 3+ save (heavy Armour, Shield+hw) and 4 poisoned attacks (tail weapon, Poison) and a magic banner. Also, I often kept my battle standards in the front - leading from the back was a waste of points and a slot on a fighting hero many times. Sure, they can't evacuate a unit if things are going badly - but I believe that was not a generally used tactic, more a theoretical possibility.



Regarding magic, the short range of most pestilence spells makes me consider at least one engineer (with condenser) essential to draw out scrolls for any decent magic phase. Pestilence is great, but most spells don't do anything early game so you face a full magic defense after that.

I probably agree with you on this the more I consider the shortfalls of range in pestilence...

Nocculum
20-11-2009, 13:58
-1 to LD and re-rolling Daemonic Instability regardless is also a very very good tool against resilient Daemonic units.

Grandhigh Poobah
22-11-2009, 20:05
Great article, thanks for the insight so far, can't wait to see what you make of the Units and warmachines.

ZigZagMan
23-11-2009, 00:31
Use the enchanted shield on that BSB for a 2+ save

Orangecoke
23-11-2009, 00:40
Doesn't the bell confer some protection to the Grey Seer though?

I don't think I can see myself running a list without the bell (which is 80% painted on my table right now). It's just so amazing looking and a skaven army without some sort of cool centerpiece just seems really blah looking to me. A doomwheel and a bell really elevate the presentation overall :)

Mad Makz
23-11-2009, 03:08
Doesn't the bell confer some protection to the Grey Seer though?

I don't think I can see myself running a list without the bell (which is 80% painted on my table right now). It's just so amazing looking and a skaven army without some sort of cool centerpiece just seems really blah looking to me. A doomwheel and a bell really elevate the presentation overall :)

It offers him a 4+ ward, and I believe +1 armour save for a total of 6+ (books not with me)

That's not a lot of protection against the many multi attack units out there. an when the opponent doesn't issue a challenge anyone in contact with the bell can direct against your Seer.

On the other hand, the Bell is an AWESOME model - you should totally take armies with it. I'm sorely tempted to buy one (if I didn't own two bells from previous editions it would be an auto buy just for the model. As it stands I'll probably buy a box for a plague furnace and convert up a bell with parts from my old bells and the new)

EldarRaven
23-11-2009, 05:30
It is my belief that the Plague Furnace SHOULD be treated as a chariot in terms of rules for Strength 7 hits causing destruction

um...no.


Other then that great read. I like how Warlocks are now the "jack of all" Heros. They can be made to do just about anything, but mostly suited for casting IMO.

KayazyAssassin
23-11-2009, 06:03
there is more protection for the grey seer and plague priest on the furnace and bell against shooting anyways because both have the rule that you hit the furnace/bell on a 1-5 and the rider on a 6
also we didnt lose lead from the back they changed it to verminous valor we can still lead from the back and use ld and battle standard
also due to the pushed into battle rule the idea that something that cant move with out the unit is moved by itself just because the rider died doesn't work it and the grey seer have to stay with the unit it started with

Lord Solar Plexus
23-11-2009, 07:35
Use the enchanted shield on that BSB for a 2+ save

Can he then still take a magical standard?

Peregijn
23-11-2009, 09:04
Can he then still take a magical standard?

no it can't take a magic standard if he has an other magic item.
but then again, i didn't know that the handwapon shield combo worked with magic shields...

Blueskies
23-11-2009, 09:25
Doesn't the bell confer some protection to the Grey Seer though?

I don't think I can see myself running a list without the bell (which is 80% painted on my table right now). It's just so amazing looking and a skaven army without some sort of cool centerpiece just seems really blah looking to me. A doomwheel and a bell really elevate the presentation overall :)

Yes you get a 4+ ward, 6+ armour save and if they challenge you can run to the top of the bell... however people will just not challenge and strike your seer in which case he is hit on 3s toughness 4 with 3 wounds and has a 4+ ward and well when has 6+ armour been useful?

Honestly for the points it cost to get a seer alone you can get a plague priest on a furnace with a 5+ ward. The bell pays for the 20 monks around it, full command and a magic standard.

Sure the seer has magic, but I would say the furnace unit is a lot more scarier in combat.

Orangecoke
23-11-2009, 15:03
I'm going to use a furnace too. In 2000 points Im finding I have plenty of room for that.

skavenSte
23-11-2009, 18:50
A very insightful read, full of learnig and useful sneaky tricks i had'nt thought of..
Can't wait for my next game now.

Eigilb
23-11-2009, 23:02
Thumbs up for your work here Mad makz,.

It's great to get some insight when you havn't faced an army yet.

Subscribed

byryl
25-11-2009, 00:19
Great in-depth review Mad Makz. Can't wait to see the review of the special choices (always where I have trouble deciding).

Seth the Dark
25-11-2009, 06:33
Some interesting stuff. I plan on using it to thwart my flea bitten foes!

Rirekon
25-11-2009, 20:20
Plague Priest Ė Plague Priest have had the most changes since previous editions, and now given access to both spells and the Plague Furnace it can be truly said that this edition is the time of Clan Pestilens. An impressive combat statline backed up magic offense and defense, the option of an auto pick spell that helps deal with the foes plague monks have the most trouble with (heavily armoured foes will not like pestilent breath) and the choice of a death dealing mount that makes their combat kitted unit unbreakable and their nearby death dealing nutters stubborn frankly raises these guys heads and shoulders above other units. Itís clear that the designers must have considered Frenzy a terrible burden, or that Plague Monks not having access to weapon teams was a terrible price to pay Ė because the inherent synergy between Plague Priests, the Furnace, Plague Monks and Censer Bearers is difficult to fathom.

The Furnace doesnít offer the Plague Priest any protection, and even makes him a bit of a target for shooting, but with toughness 5 and access to two separate wards shootings not of much concern (both the Scrying Stone and the Foul Pendant, and potentially both at once as one is arcane while the other is a talisman. In fact the Scrying Stone on a Plague Priest is a particularly good choice as Stupidity is cancelled in close combat, and in early turns Plague Priest is likely to be leadership 9 or 10 if near the general.)

In fact, the only downside of the Furnace to me seems to be its need for a few FAQís.
Itís listed as a Ďmountí and never listed as a chariot, so one presumes it is not instantly destroyed by Strength 7 hits, if this is the case itís lack of a ward save for itself does not seem like much of a problem. As a mount, that is not a monstrous mount, nor a chariot, there doesnít appear to be any rules as to what happens when the Furnace is destroyed, or when the Plague Priest on top is killed. The only clear indication is that the Plague Furnace and the Plague Crew constitute a single model.

It is my belief that the Plague Furnace SHOULD be treated as a chariot in terms of rules for Strength 7 hits causing destruction and in terms of what happens when the Plague Furnace/Plague Priest dies, or else we are left with no rules at all to govern this situation and a machine that I believe is worth far more than itís points dictate, because with 6 wounds even multiple Great Cannons will require a lot of luck to finish it off.

I'm a bit confused about your comments about the Plague Furnace needing an FAQ - it says that it "can be attacked in the same way as the Screaming Bell" and lists the only exception being that the Plague Priest can't climb to escape challenges.
In the Screaming Bell rules it states that if it's destroyed "remove the model and place the Grey Seer where it was" which to me seems pretty clear that you do the same for the Plague Priest given the Plague Furnace uses the same rules.

Or am I the only person that read it like that :confused:

decker_cky
26-11-2009, 06:20
Why wouldn't the bell and furnace be monstrous mounts except where noted? First, they're mounts with more than 1 wounds. It explains what happens when the mount dies and it explains the unit strength.

EldarRaven
26-11-2009, 06:46
Why wouldn't the bell and furnace be monstrous mounts except where noted? First, they're mounts with more than 1 wounds. It explains what happens when the mount dies and it explains the unit strength.

So when the rider dies you roll of the monster reaction chart for the bell!?!?

Don't forget to cast that Beast Cowers spell on it cause that will make the player mad.

Logic > RAW

Nicha11
26-11-2009, 06:49
So when the rider dies you roll of the monster reaction chart for the bell!?!?

Don't forget to cast that Beast Cowers spell on it cause that will make the player mad.

Logic > RAW

Beast Cowers would effect the crew, as would the death of their leader.

Good logic> Bitching about RAW

EldarRaven
26-11-2009, 07:13
Beast Cowers would effect the crew, as would the death of their leader.

Good logic> Bitching about RAW

yet the movement is based on the unit pushing it not the mount. and I don't see how you will be able to carry out some of those reactions when the model is forced out of the unit, which I can't see how because it has been stated that this is a special kind of mount so the rules for a normal mount wouldn't apply.

Barone
27-11-2009, 02:19
Nice read. Well done.

decker_cky
27-11-2009, 02:27
It's a special mount in exactly what it says it's a special mount, but it's also a monstrous mount for other things not covered in those rules.

Marcus Mummius
22-12-2009, 22:16
Nice review!

I hope it will be continued soon!

Sygerrik
24-12-2009, 02:25
We need some serious FAQ for this book. The Plague Censer says it causes wounds in every Close Combat phase, not just ones where the bearer is engaged, so you can kill half your unit while you cross the board. This is not RAI.

KayazyAssassin
24-12-2009, 06:02
you cant kill your own unit since it says in base to base and they are a skirmishing unit

SlaaneshSlave
24-12-2009, 23:03
We need some serious FAQ for this book. The Plague Censer says it causes wounds in every Close Combat phase, not just ones where the bearer is engaged, so you can kill half your unit while you cross the board. This is not RAI.
No, every close combat they are in.

Growoin
25-12-2009, 03:24
Good work. i'm looking forward to try out skaven soon.

Sygerrik
28-12-2009, 18:32
No, every close combat they are in.

That's my point. That's how it should work. That's NOT how it's written in the book. Read the entry again.


you cant kill your own unit since it says in base to base and they are a skirmishing unit

I'm talking about a Priest with the Censer on top of a Furnace. BtB with 13 members of his own unit.

Poseidal
28-12-2009, 22:43
I'm talking about a Priest with the Censer on top of a Furnace. BtB with 13 members of his own unit.

It could be an intended weakness (considering what the OP said about it and chariots)

Anyway, what's the fluff on it? wouldn't it make sense that they would start dying from hanging out so near the thing anyway, regardless of whether they're fighting or not?

kyussinchains
28-12-2009, 22:59
It could be an intended weakness (considering what the OP said about it and chariots)

Anyway, what's the fluff on it? wouldn't it make sense that they would start dying from hanging out so near the thing anyway, regardless of whether they're fighting or not?

not necessarily, the censer only gets swung about, releasing the majority of its vapours when you're actually in combat.....

BajsArne
29-12-2009, 10:18
Taking wounds all the time would make them a lot less OP.

punkoteloco
29-12-2009, 23:37
The censers bearer makes everyone in contact ( ally or enemy ) and themselves ( if they are in btb ) to take the test in every close combat phase. That means that when your censers pursue a unit, the next turn, if they dont move, they take another test even if they are not in CC, because when you pursue you do it in close formation. I know in sixth and fiths editions was different, but as we dont have a faq it should be played that way.

Tunnel Rat
30-12-2009, 01:39
It could be an intended weakness (considering what the OP said about it and chariots)

Anyway, what's the fluff on it? wouldn't it make sense that they would start dying from hanging out so near the thing anyway, regardless of whether they're fighting or not?

Intended or not, if your priest on the furnace is equipped with a censer you'll be taking T tests twice: one for the big furnace ball and the censer your priest is equipped with. Not fun stuff.

BTW, great read so far Mad Makz. Can't wait for the rest.

SimonL
04-01-2010, 18:31
Beast Cowers would effect the crew, as would the death of their leader.

Good logic> Bitching about RAW

Did you actually just use that as "good logic"? The spell affects the Plague Monk/Rat Ogre crew as if they were beasts, but doesn't affect PM/ROs normally? Explain, given that the unit pushing the Furnace/Bell is what moves it, how it could act on its own if its "rider" dies? The one RO or three PMs push it away? Which is impossible given you need more than five models to move it...

Also, the one Monstrous Mount in the the book specifically states it as such, like it states the Bell/Furnace is a "special" mount...as to what that means, we need an FAQ, but assuming it follows the rules of the MM because it is the "next best thing" leads to some ridiculous conclusions...

TrojanWolf
12-01-2010, 11:09
Nice read so far, I'm looking forward to seeing your analysis of the Clan Moulder units.

EldarRaven
12-01-2010, 16:09
Did you actually just use that as "good logic"? The spell affects the Plague Monk/Rat Ogre crew as if they were beasts, but doesn't affect PM/ROs normally? Explain, given that the unit pushing the Furnace/Bell is what moves it, how it could act on its own if its "rider" dies? The one RO or three PMs push it away? Which is impossible given you need more than five models to move it...

Also, the one Monstrous Mount in the the book specifically states it as such, like it states the Bell/Furnace is a "special" mount...as to what that means, we need an FAQ, but assuming it follows the rules of the MM because it is the "next best thing" leads to some ridiculous conclusions...

I glad I'm not the only one that looked at the book on that part about "special" mounts.

Anyway....I'm wondering why Mad Makz isn't doing more on this? I like to hear others input on what they tried with there games.