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View Full Version : Skaven Noob - Need help understanding wha's great and what's not so great *Apologies*



BLAZING_SADDLES
10-10-2013, 08:19
Hi all, I've just started with Skaven and after sharing 2 Isle of Blood sets I have a great little horde (plus a warp LC) which I'm having fun watching them blow up randomly and annihilating my foe when things go VERY well indeed. So I understand he 50/50 nature of things working or not working, and I LOVE that! What I do love just as much though is being tactical and rather cunning with my moves so that win or lose it's a very close game at least...Trouble being that I have been a massive 40K player for 15 years and have only just sniffed Fantasy a bit ago. So I would appreciate some friendly advice on how best to use Skaven against general units and an odd specialist one...as follows (There will be some nooby questions also!): 1. How does Skaven best cope against Cavalry? 2. I notice there's no cavalry/archers in Skaven, what toys/units compensate for this (I imagine a lot!) 3. Sword Masters of Hoeth are awful!! How best to slay them? 4. Rat Ogres run away very easily against bigger nasties...what am I doing wrong? (Terror vs. Fear) 5. Keep in mind my points limit at the moment hovers around 1200, and I use large units of rats (40)...regardless; how best to manoeuvre rats? Are they very flexible, army dependent of course? 6. How bes to keep things like Warlock Engineers from running off without attatching them to a unit, how does Strength in Numbers work in this case?

Typo
10-10-2013, 09:41
1. How does Skaven best cope against Cavalry?
Depends on the cavalry, Monstrous Cav will happily tear apart a unit of rats (albeit being bogged down by a steadfast horde for several turns).
Normal lance-toting cavalry, I've never been too concerned about - run a block of slaves in and forget about them, you may even kill them over the course of many turns.
Either way, we have plenty that ignores armour saves - WLC, Doomwheel, Poison wind mortar, Plageclaw catapult, etc.


2. I notice there's no cavalry/archers in Skaven, what toys/units compensate for this (I imagine a lot!)
We are fast enough and numerous enough to fill most of a table, so we don't need to worry overly much about being outmanouvered - minimum size giant rat units do good duty as redirectors.
Our shooting can be vicious (to both sides), Warp lightning cannon, PWM, single shot doom rocket, etc. All can do massive damage used well.


3. Sword Masters of Hoeth are awful!! How best to slay them?
How big a unit is your opponent fielding (assuming 20 if it's two IOB sets?). Swordmasters are something of a glass cannon, IIRC they are only 5+ save, and T3. Make sure you're running HW/Shield and not spears on clanrats for the parry save, or just biiig blocks of slaves. You still hit and wound on 4+ with Clanrats, plan to work on attrition - if it's a big unit, it's a VERY good target for a Doomrocket Warlock (plonk him 14" away from the centre of the unit, roll 4 dice for range, laugh evilly 4/5 times)


4. Rat Ogres run away very easily against bigger nasties...what am I doing wrong? (Terror vs. Fear)
Terror only causes fear in models that cause fear themselves, so they shouldn't be running away in this edition.
However, Rat ogres are a big points sink against High Elves (and now DE too), no save, T4, they die fast without doing much :(


5. Keep in mind my points limit at the moment hovers around 1200, and I use large units of rats (40)...regardless; how best to manoeuvre rats? Are they very flexible, army dependent of course?
Semi-so, you need to use small giant rat units to angle the opposing units which charge them, so that you can get flanks. Are you forming up in ranks or as a horde? Either can work, but ranks to preserve leadership and rank bonus are probably better vs elf elites.


6. How bes to keep things like Warlock Engineers from running off without attatching them to a unit, how does Strength in Numbers work in this case?
What is the warlock doing outside of a unit? And what's causing them to run? Ideally you need them bunkered away somewhere until/unless you're skitterleaping them to a flank for a Doomrocket, Brass Orb or Deathglobe shot. Elf archery or magic will make short work of them otherwise.

BLAZING_SADDLES
10-10-2013, 10:17
Really sound advice, thank you! 3. Yes, he's fielding 20, and I have yet to understand the rules fully so that parry save would work well! Great advice on the doom rocket too! *Laughs Evilly* 4. I was hoping for a lot more from my Rat Ogres, I'm guessing they're great at messing up lighter units? Or catching things on flanks/rear? 6. The warlocks (I have 2) are either drawing single characters away to reduce impact on the Rat Ranks so they can keep effective in their numbers. That or they are hiding and leaping out to deal deadly damage to units building up momentum, usually sneaky shooting on their flanks or rear with warp lightning! I use them in a way of attrition to reduce the impact of things like cavalry and to get a cheeky wound or several off an enemy character/warlord. I was hoping that my warpfire throwers would do more damage but my mishap roles are awful of recent! Am I right in reading that flaming attacks panics even high elf cavalry? I love those things, I just hope I'm using them effectively enough! My next purchase will be a doomwheel I think, they're just all kinds of awesome! *Laughs evilly* I'm thinking of using my Rat Ogres but perhaps as hidden protection for the WLC, and then placing the cannon as an ambush type weapon to make an opponent think twice about sending that precious cavalry charging forwards with ranks getting carved to pieces?! It doesn't help that the HE player I battle regularly has beefed up his cavalry to a 2+ armour save, but I could do some damage that way at least and make anyone think twice before assaulting?

underscore
10-10-2013, 11:02
Rat Ogres have Frenzy, remember, so are Immune to Psy until they lose a combat - so no running, no fear, no retreat! :) They're better fillers than units though - too expensive with no save, fundamentally.

Warpfire throwers are odd - I spent a year never hitting a single thing with them. Then one game I managed to hit a block of Elves and it was glorious! I still prefer the Mortar though - move and shoot and keeping hidden behind the unit makes up for it's lesser impact, imo. Also remember that Dragon Princes get a 2+ save from the flaming attacks of the thrower. :(

Generally I just feed Swordmasters Slaves - I've actually managed to grind them down completely once or twice!

Bugg13
10-10-2013, 11:16
I've never actually played as skaven but I've played against them plenty, and I can assure you that the dreaded thirteenth spell is horrendous against any elite unit such as swordmasters. The number of times I've had to remove the entire unit of them at the end of my opponents first turn is still painful to think about...

BLAZING_SADDLES
10-10-2013, 12:38
I forgot about the dreaded thirteenth spell...it's almost worth taking a vermin lord just to guarantee being able to use it! And I can't believe I skimmed over frenzy, that would've totally stacked up more in my favour last night to make it a closer game at least! I LOVE fire, so warpfire throwers are always worth a gamble I reckon, again perhaps getting to a point where hitting a flank will improve the odds...especially seeing as my regular opponent lacks tactical finesse and just lines everything up...*cackles evilly once again*...He respects strength and strength alone which Is always interesting because I find players like that know how to get the most out of their really powerful units without even realising how clever they're actually being :P Sadly, on this occasion, it means he's confident enough to line everything up and allow me the metaphorical clay to mould things how I like...some of the time :D I'm no worried about dragon princes as such because the warpfire is in there for the chance that it may well devastate an opponents troops and wear them down before they even have to face my greater numbers. I's a gamble but I like it! I just like a game to be able to get to a close and bloody finish win or lose, it's no fun being mown over easily and by turn 3 going for the death and glory moves. hanks for he help guys, this will even the odds in future battles!

underscore
10-10-2013, 12:49
Don't worry about the Vermin Lord, you can choose the 13th on Seers as well. :)

BLAZING_SADDLES
10-10-2013, 13:03
Awesome! I'll model one anyway because the temptation to convert some spare demon prince parts is way too tempting! :D What does everyone think to using rat swarms placed in front of units so that cavalry and other units HAVE to manoeuvre to be able to lance/get to the main ranks of rats? Granted they'd die easily enough anyway, but I thought that would be an easy way of robbing that initial lance charge. Even with strength in numbers and the warlord nearby, he amount of wounds I suffer from two ranks of lances and he bloody horses themselves just makes for a very close round of combat and an easy win for the cavalry most of the time. I reckon I do just have bad luck which makes it a good job that I'm not a 'serious' competitor! What do people think of swarms then?

dementian
10-10-2013, 16:04
Well if they hit the Rat Darts (that is 5 giant rats with a packmaster) and overrun into your main block they will still have the lance bonus. Are you using clan rats or slaves? Big slave busses (40+) are very effective tar pits. The best part about them is that you can shoot into combat (make sure to read over the skaven FAQ btw there are tons of corrections in it) So you can block the cav bus with 40+ slaves and just melt it with warplightning cannon. Be careful of the Banner of the World Dragon since a lot of Skaven shooting is magical.

Doomrocket is a magnificent tool a naked engineer with the doomrocket is invaluable. Pop him out of his unit and place 14" away from center of target unit and fire. Then he can be used as a redirector afterwards! 1200 points is very small and Skaven can make some DIRTY lists at those levels.

Let's examine a potential army list. Grey seer (lvl 4 caster ld 7 so you have ld 10 with 3 ranks of SIN), . 2 x 50 man slave units, 2 x 20 man clanrat units with warpfire throwers, 2 WLC, engineer with a doomrocket, 2 units of rat darts, and 6 gutter runners with poison slings...Under 1200 points =D

Here is the link to Skaven FAQ btw: http://www.games-workshop.com/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m3180070a_Skaven_v1.7_APRIL13.pdf

BLAZING_SADDLES
10-10-2013, 16:58
Awesome, thank you! Er how can they overrun the rat darts? :P

BLAZING_SADDLES
10-10-2013, 17:08
O.k, just read the rules, I see what you mean now...although even if they make an overrun move 2D6" straight towards said obstacle, they would have to stop 1" away from them anyway and then it'll be my next turn and my turn to assault, and no lances! There's nothing I can see that says they can overrun and engage another unit in combat straight away. Also with Rat Swarms, they're 5 wounds a piece, minimum 2 bases so that's 10 wounds from creatures that are unbreakable. Even if they're wiped out the cavalry can't engage until the following turn. For 50pts it seems quite an annoying option to take for an opponent! I'm using 40 strong clanrat units each with a warpfire thrower just to clarify further :)

BLAZING_SADDLES
10-10-2013, 17:14
O.k, I can't believe I just completely missed the left hand column :P Oops! So they can pursue into a new enemy straight away, so I guess I'd need at least 3 bases to make the swarms idea work, providing they haven't been shot up a bit first of course which would mean 4 bases might be more effective...then it's 100pts per block :S So, how do you re-direct then?! lol.

outbreak
10-10-2013, 20:47
My advice to a new skaven player is to make sure you have enough models in your army (which you seem to have ok at the moment), only time I horde anything is with a bell or furnace as I find the ranks are MUCH more important, I don't use spears because they aren't killing anything anyway I just want them to survive, learn to use rat darts (5 rats 1 handler) as they are great cheap re directors and chaff units - simple uses are running them at war machines to force them to shoot them down or fight them, other uses are drawing chargers into bad position and being a nuisance, great against frenzied units that have to over run them, swordmasters you can take out with magic and weapons teams - I find mortars to be the most useful, warp lightening canon is a must and a hellpit and doomwheel are too. Most of your army is there to die and harass things while being too large to get points out of from shooting while your magic, furnace unit, hellpit, weapons teams, canon and doomwheel do the killing. Don't under estimate how much damage a lvl 1 engineer with warp lightening and a condenser can do to monsters and chariots and the like, plague can destroy units all the spells are pretty useful, also skitterleaping a naked engineer with a doomrocket onto an enemies flank can be fun. Poison and sling gutter runners are a must too. Rat ogres are fine until you get more models but once you have an army they can be shelfed as they give up points way to easily and don't do much of anything I've found unless you want a fluffy list

dementian
10-10-2013, 22:34
O.k, I can't believe I just completely missed the left hand column :P Oops! So they can pursue into a new enemy straight away, so I guess I'd need at least 3 bases to make the swarms idea work, providing they haven't been shot up a bit first of course which would mean 4 bases might be more effective...then it's 100pts per block :S So, how do you re-direct then?! lol.

You misunderstood me. I said rat darts not rat swarms. Rat darts are minimum sized giant rat units (5 giant rats + 1 handler).

BLAZING_SADDLES
11-10-2013, 18:58
I understand you, I'm just wondering why you would go for a rat dart over a few rat swarms if the masses of wounds would prevent being overrun more likely?

BLAZING_SADDLES
11-10-2013, 19:10
I understand you, I'm just wondering why you would go for a rat dart over a few rat swarms if the masses of wounds would prevent being overrun more likely?

Waxdollninja
11-10-2013, 21:50
I understand you, I'm just wondering why you would go for a rat dart over a few rat swarms if the masses of wounds would prevent being overrun more likely?

the point is you want them to over run. the aim is put your rat darts in front of on coming units which your rats cant handle and angle them in such a manner that they overrun away from the bulk of your army and then have to waste another turn reforming. Consider the diagrams in the main rule book about how charging units stack up then angle your dart so they will overrun in the direction you want. Something like dwarfslayers will find this very frustrating as with their stumpy little legs after being redirected in the wrong direction they might never get back to the rest of the battle before your plague monks have chewed through their less killy cousins.

thats a lot of points you've prevented from having an impact on the game by sacrificing on 23 points~!

I'd say that the rats contain a fair degree of luck gimmick units which can backfire, i have friends who swear by doom wheels. Mine is the best painted model in my army but has consistently killed itself on impassable terrain or zapped the wrong side.

Personally my star players have always been my big block of monks with plague banner godly with or without a furnace, my plague claw catapults and my little groups of gutterrunners with slings and poison weapons.

But I think their are plenty of great combos in our book and not much that is just bad.

BLAZING_SADDLES
12-10-2013, 12:28
I see, more studying and practicing of this is required! Thanks I was a little confused for a while there! 40K is easy when you can't assault more than one unit in a single assault phase! I'm getting there slowly though, thanks guys! And yes, I too love the doomwheel, but I'm in it for laughs as much as smouldering victory...I just don't enjoy being walked all over!

BLAZING_SADDLES
12-10-2013, 12:28
Saying that though, C'est la vie right? :D

SkawtheFalconer
09-11-2013, 09:56
With overrun, remember that its only ever 2D6, so you could always put a rat dart with a unit stood 13" (or closer if feeling like gambling) behind the rat darts frontage.

Kayosiv
10-11-2013, 07:40
It seems Blazing_Saddles that you don't really need skaven advice, you just need to learn the game a bit better, and that will come with games and time.

As skaven, you have numbers. you can afford to have 2-3 rats per elf and that means more and bigger units.

It sounds like you fight a high elf player a lot who uses silver helms and sword masters. Each of those units has good and bad matchups. Your regular strength 3 clanrat core is going to be nigh useless against the silver helms because of their impressive 2+ armor save. It's going to take you 6 wounds to statistically kill 1 silver helm, and those are bad odds. Sword masters are going to kill things like crazy, so that makes expensive things like rat ogres a terrible match up for them.

However, what if you mixed it up. Clanrats against swordmasters is actually a pretty solid matchup, because for every 4 wounds done you will kill 3 swordmasters because their armor save is only mediocre. If he kills 12 clanrats and you kill 4 swordmasters, you come out on top. However if you kill 8 swordmasters and he kills 3 rage ogres, you just lost out, even though he did the same number of wounds and you did twice as many. You don't need the strong offensive punch of the rat ogres to kill swordmasters, because they're not defensibly strong.

Putting rat ogres against the silver helms however suddenly becomes a lot more lucrative. Being charged is still the same offensive potency as sword masters, and it takes 10 silver helms to equal the damage output of 5 swordmasters. However, where your clanrats aren't effective because of the armor, the rat ogres kill a silver helm for every 2 wounds they do, and since they're strength 5, virtually every attack that hits is going to wound. Silver helms aren't as strong as swordmasters, even on the charge, and killing them yields far more points, and if you stick around for a second round of combat they are going to be hurting.

A lot of this is also taking appropriately sized units. A unit of 3 rat ogres isn't very threatening to units that have fighting capability. 6 is fairly dangerous, and a unit of 9 is terrifying because even a full round of attacks from most things isn't going to decrease the attacks back and rat ogres hit very hard. However, 9 is a lot of points stuck in one place and that itself turns into a weakness that your opponent can take advantage of.

Don't try to match up silver helms against clanrats, you need higher strength units or shooting to deal with them. Don't waste expensive elites against swordmasters when cheaper fodder can whittle them down almost as effectively.

That's just a very small set of examples. Every army is different and has different nuances to matchups and that is part of what makes Fantasy so rich and fun. Learn what is effective against the enemy and then exploit it. In a great game, they will be trying to do the same to you and you'll have a great tactical battle.

FatTrucker
11-11-2013, 12:29
If you're running Doomwheels its worth fielding a small unit of slaves behind each one. Because the doomwheel fires its lightning at the nearest unit its a good idea to make sure a small unit of slaves is there to shepherd it until its closer to the enemy than your own troops. A unit of 15 is enough to soak up a couple of turns of warp lightning without having to take a panic test.

underscore
11-11-2013, 18:26
Slaves come in minimums of 20, however. Not that that's breaking the points bank, of course...