View Full Version : School me on Skaven

11-01-2007, 17:51
I'm always getting bored with my armies, I currently have around 11000 points of chaos, a mixture of mainly mortals, with daemons and beasts, around 6000 points of dark elves, and around 3000 points of ogres. After the hammering I recieved at my recent tournament, I decided I would like to collect skaven.

The mix of beast and machine really appeals to me, as well as plague monks, thing is, I know nothing about the skaven, we have no skaven players in our group, and I've never faced any skaven at all, I've not even seen the book!

so, what are they like? much the same as 4th edition? are plague monks any good? what about rat ogres, are they good? warlocks?

as the title says, I need to be schooled on skaven, I'm used to having high quality, elite troops, and generals (chaos lords, ogre tyrants) who can chop up entire units. What's it like having an army who get butchered en masse? how do you deal with this?

thanks in advance!

edit: also, what's the minimum outlay for a sensible, playable army, a couple of battallion boxes plus characters, or way way more?

Blagrot Squigbreff
11-01-2007, 20:23
I don't remember much about the 4th ed Skaven as I'd only just started playing but the army is fairly quick with alot of numbers and evil-evil tricks.
Plague monks are an excellent shock unit, with frenzy and 2HW they kick out plenty of attack and T4 helps them live, they can also take a magic standard on one unit and have a good selection.
Rat Ogres are less impressive as they go stupid too often but giving them Skavenbrew and hoping for Frenzy is a fun idea.
Warlocks are unusual but useful mages and the spell they get (Warp Lightning) is extremely nasty.

I don't worry about losing units, there's always plenty more and while your killing my worthless Slaves and Clanrats I'm dropping poison gas globes on you and lining up charges from the hard-hitters.

I don't know how many boxes you'll need as I got my army from someone who'd bought it all but never even opened most of it. I ran a 2500 army a while back which had about 270 models in it but that was a complete horde list, you will always have alot of models to paint tho.

11-01-2007, 20:25
Censor bearers are some of the hardest hitting troops in the entire game. With their cloud (armour-ignoring toughness test b4 combat) they are extremely dangerous, particularly to elves and armoured foes. As a constant opponent of skaven, I probably fear these guys more than anything else in the army (in reality the fear is probably similar to that caused by jezzails).

Plague monks are solid but most importantly with frenzy they are reliable psychologically.

Jezzails are absolutely devastating to big monsters.

So is the warp lightning cannon. In fact, this thing is great all around. When it flees the cannon flees with the crew, and the whole thing manuevers like a chariot.

Warlock Engineers are fantastic. Warp lightning against elves is hilariously brutal.

My skaven opponent doesn't like rat ogres and it's rare that I face them. They look alright on paper.

Night runners and gutter runners with a 6 move are excellent. Tunnellers are better than they look. If 2 out of 3 units fail to emerge, that one unit that made it often lands in a juicy spot and causes extreme carnage.

Swarms got nerfed in 7th ed, but the rat swarm is still good and fills an important role in the skaven army.

Ikit is a really, really powerful character with abilities that go on and on. He's extra good for the skaven army.

The Vermin Lord also definitely has his place (all friendly units within 6" are immune to psychology - huge for a skaven army).

My opponent uses this tactic against an elite infantry army: allow him to win every fight, who cares if another unit of slaves gets destroyed? But most importantly, arrange the units so that after the enemy destroys the slaves, they overrun in a silly way, off to the side. Then, destroy them with ratling guns and warp lightning. Again, positioning your troops is absolutely critical for this sort of thing to work.

Against a big unit of chosen chaos warriors for example, few skaven generals wants to fight them really. Even if you could have a unit of clanrats on all sides (cancelling ranks etc), you still probably wouldn't because you are offering more targets for the chaos warriors to cause wounds on. Compare that to the almost instant death of a ratling gun, jezzails, or warp lightning cannon, the best bet really is to maneuver the enemy into a killing field.

As an opponent to skaven, a primary solution to that tactic was to use skirmishers to break through his slaves. They can charge 360 the next turn, so they only have to suffer 1 turn of devastation afterwards. As a chaos player, beast herds are perfect for this role.

I also often choose not to fight him, and instead blast with spells and try to outmanuever him. Powerful magic resistance was also helpful (staff of change was in almost every single battle).

I learned after the first battle how stupid it was to field any large target except for the Tzeentch dragonlord with golden eye. Jezzails are just too dangerous.

11-01-2007, 22:28
The key is to start with the Clanrats. 75 is enough. 100 gives you options. I prefer blocks of 25 to maintain full ranks for a while, but there are many schools of thought on this.

Slaves are the same way. 40 is enough. 60 is good. I take un-upgraded units of 20. People will swear by the musician to rally them, but I really could care less when they run. They've usually done what I paid for by that point anyway.

Other stuff is really based on army flavor, and everything said above is true. Just be careful about weapon teams and engineers. They **** people off (and rightfully so) in bulk.

11-01-2007, 23:12
As stated before, numbers win in a Skaven army. The more rats you have, the better. Clanrats have a lame Ld5, but get extra Ld for each rank you get and the outnumbering always helps. I prefer blocks of 25 so you can get more regiments out there. Slaves are fodder, nothing more. They will die, make no mistake, use them to bait the enemy and mess up his placement, so you can hit him with clanrats/giant rats/anything from a flank or just completely overwhelm him.

Plague Monks are sick with Banner of Burning Hatred and 2HWs. They make mush of most enemies through sheer weight of numbers. Censer bearers destroy heavily armored enemies, as do Globadiers. Night Runners and Gutter Runners are handy skirmishers, the latter being able to load up on poisoned attacks and pop up anywhere. Giant Rats are cheap and fast (M6!), making excellent flankers. Rat Ogres are cheap and killy, but very easily killed (T4 no armor). Weapons Teams do lots of killing and even more misfiring, but can be easily picked out nowadays so be careful with them. Jezzails destroy high T, heavy armor monsters and such. The Warp Lightning Cannon either devastates whole armies or sends out a little S2 spark 12".

Heroes are cheap and great for their cost. They can't destroy whole units (except maybe for magic, mmm...warp lightning) but they do well enough. BSB and your General will be integral to keep your army from running away at the first sign of a dead-thing. Magic is unpredictable but awesome. Warp Lightning, as stated before, can tear apart big infantry blocks or fry your Warlock Engineer. Grey Seers and Skaven magic is just nasty. Skitterleap an assassin right in a War Machine's crew and they disappear, and the nutty stuff like Plague and Vermintide can cause serious damage.

That being said, Skaven are extremely unreliable and unpredictable. Anything that looks good on paper either a) blows up spectacularly (killing the crew or a nearby unit in the process) b) turns tail at the first sight of anything somewhat disturbing c) or both. Low Ld across the board and very prone to running and never turning back. Extremely weak units, hardly able to fight back against gobbos.

I love Skaven for these reasons. They can either completely annihilate the enemy, all the while snickering and chittering or end up blowing themselves up and the rest fleeing. Everything is inexpensive and expendable, it's ok to lose 3 units by virtue of the fact that you have 17 more encircling the enemy.

Yay-yay for-for rats-rats

12-01-2007, 17:02
so, would 2 batallion boxes be a good start, along with some jezzails and a ratling gun or two?

that would give me 80 clanrats, 40 plague monks, anything else essential that I need?

what about stormvermin, are they worth it?

can you bolt guns onto rat ogres?

12-01-2007, 17:09
2 ways to start a Skaven army:
1) Skryre - fewer models to buy and lots of shooting. unpredictable as Me== pointed out but feared by many.

2) Combat/Horde armies - lots of models

Clanrats/Slaves and Night Runners are virtually interchangeable - just a matter of shields so a few boxes of Clanrats is a good start

Stormvermin is not advisable for a first timer

12-01-2007, 17:34
how come stormvermin arent a good idea?

12-01-2007, 17:59
I like to think of myself as a pretty good Skaven player, but that is my opinion of me.

From what I have seen, there are 2 approaches to Skaven. A) The SAD list, B) The Wall of Brown list.

The SAD list has tons of shooting, weapon teams, etc. Odds are it's lord will be a Grey Seer. You will have jezzells, and other things that can hurt from afar.

The other is the Wall of Brown list. This is what I play. It 2k, I put 273 models on the board. People who play against Skaven havn't seen this type of list because it takes a lot more paining at time to build.

Here are a few thoughts on the list an the units from the Wall of Brown perspective.

Clanrats - You have to have them, they are your mainstay. I field 3 units of 30 with full command. They work wonders. They will not kill your opponent, but you win with static combat resolution. I like 30 man units, 25 is just to small, and it's not hard to get the extra 5 guys that will ALWAYS give you the outnumber bonus.

Slaves - Slaves are another core part of the Skaven army. I field 3 units of 25 with a musician. At 54 points these units are a steal. They can't kill anything in combat, but they don't have to. They will usually have a +4 combat res, +3 for ranks, +1 for outnumber. They can take alot of smaller units and light cav on thier own. They are amazing. Other thing is to ALWAYS give them a musician. It's cheap. It triples the change the unit will rally after having been broken, and it helps them in thos drawn combats.

Giant Rat packs - I take 3 of these, they are cheap, and fast. They let you stall your deployment. I always put one on my extream right flank, and one on my extream left flank. They march up, and take or conetest table quarters, and let me wait to see where my opponents troops are going to go before I put down my main blocks of infanty.

Night Runners - THese guys are great in units of 5. Give them the equipment you want. They are great for messing up your opponents charges, march blocking, etc. They also can be used to stall deployment. A unit of 5, naked, only runs you 25 points. They are a steal.

Stormvernm - I don't use 'em. They are to expensive for my taste. Skaven arn't going to kill anything, I win with Static combat res.

Swarms- Lots of points, they die quickly, and they cost the same as a unit of 25 slaves for one. Not my cup of tea.

Gutter Runners - I field 2 units of tunneling gutter runners with poisoned hand weapons. They work wonders. They make your opponent have to leave behind a few units to protect his war machines. Great.

Plague monks - I field 2 units of 25. They are good at killing some things, elves, and skellies mainly. Most stuff, all the attacks they get, don't do that much good. I make sure I have enough bodies to still get my rank bonus.

Census Bearesr - Great troops. I have seen them charge a unit of chosen khorn chaos knights and wipe them out in the first round of combat. They flails hit hard, as do the thoughnes tests. I field units of 5. If you have to many bodies you will kill to many of your own men for them to be useful, and with 5 you usually get your opponents entire front rank in combat, making them take thier thoughnes tests.

My thoughts on as to take a general are pretty simple. Warlord all the way. I don't like magic, it's unpredictable and gets you killed. The warlord is ok in combat, cheap, and has ld 7, which with 3 ranks, goes to 10.

The Warplighning cannon is to unpredictable for my taste, so I have never taken it. Weapon teams can be very good, but they are easily killed now and once again unpredicable.

If you like not knowing how your army will perform take the weapon teams, they can be great, they can also ruin your day. I like know how my army will do in a given battle and to be able to count on them doing that, and as such shy away from the gizmos.

12-01-2007, 18:15
is there any way to mix these two popular approaches? a horde with some shooting (I wouldnt enjoy playing a shooty army, I hate facing them and can hardly play one myself when I complain if my mates do it!) or a bit of everything?

I'm not looking to win tournaments, just an army that wont be a complete walkover to beat.

on a sidenote, when is the new skaven book likely to be released? I wouldnt want to shell out on an army, and then have to re-jig it in 6 months time!

12-01-2007, 18:35
Yes, it's called a mixed/balanced army.

I field a hordish army, but I include one of every unit other than rat swarms.

Basic composition:

3 25 clan rats +com
3 25 slaves +music
20 stormvermin (maybe with the warbanner)
5 night runners (maybe *2)
3 giant rat pack units (small to redirect or claim quarters)
3 units of globe throwers (small units so as not to cause panic, and to just get in the way)
1 unit of Gutter runner tunnelling teams with 2 hand weapons
a small unit of jezzails to hurt high toughness/high armour enemies
a pair of rat ogres
a small unit of plague monks (2 ranks of 6 with double hand weapons can dish out a large number of attacks and take out skirmishers and such without much difficulty)
5 censer bearers
a warp lightning cannon

I usually run less than full heroes (a warlord, an engineer and a chieftan seems about right for me)

The list is a strong number of troops (usually over 200), several large blocks, several redirectors and can hit pretty hard with combined charges and bait and flee attacks.

14-01-2007, 08:47
NOTE: Unless otherwise specified, this is assuming 6th edition rules, as I haven't been able to get enough money for the 7th edition rulebook yet.

Quick Overview
Skaven are THE horde. Their units are cheap and effective. While they have low Leadership scores, they add their rank bonus to their Leadership, which means that the lowly Clanrat will often have Ld 8. Like Elves, they have Movement 5, which is very important, as someone with as much Warhammer experience as you will know (assuming around 20,000pts worth of models means you play a fair bit). Initiative 4 as baseline is also great.
The 4 Greater Clans are Skryre, Pestilens, Moulder and Eshin. Clan Skryre has all the shooty units of death. They are, however, prone to blowing themselves up, but when they don't kill themselves, they are lethal. However, they also give Skaven a terrible name due to the people who field SAD armies that consist almost entirely of the best shooting units they can field, and sit there obliterating your army.
Pestilens is a personal favourite of mine. Their tough, frenzied troops can rip apart most enemies, and survive the few counter-attacks. However, they need slave screens to stop the enemy from baiting them.
Moulder make giant rats and rat ogres, which are fast-moving flankers and, well, ogres, respectively. I don't have any experience with either, so I can't say much here.
Clan Eshin have night runners and gutter runners, which are M6 skirmishers. They're fantastic at picking off war machines and wizards, and gutter runners can tunnel, letting them appear anywhere.

Detailed Description
Special Rules
Skaven have 5 special rules. He who runs away, lives to fight another day (He who runs away... for short) is the first. All skaven units flee an extra inch. This is both a blessing and a curse, in that you are less vulnerable to being caught if you break, but you also run off the table more quickly. Personally, I see it as more of a good thing, because, most of the time, you won't run off the table by a single inch, whereas getting an extra inch away from someone is more of an mipact because of the limited amount of results when running and persuing.
Lead from the back allows skaven characters to, you guessed it, lead from the back rank, which means the enemy can't attack them in close combat. If your character is in the back rank in a close combat, he can walk away from the combat, too, so he doesn't have to fight a losing battle.
Strength in numbers allows skaven ranked units to add their rank bonus to their leadership score. Because of this, flank and rear attacks are deadly to skaven, because your leadership goes down to a crappy 5. However, with a warlord's base Ld of 7, this means that, with a rank bonus of +3, you have a good Ld 10 on most troops, which is just as good as elf-things.
Life is cheap lets Skaven shoot into close combat. The hits are randomized, so around half of them will hit your own troops. However, if you're tying up the enemy with slaves and shooting into the combat, it's well worth it.
Warpstone poisoning makes a nice chunk of Skaven weapons magical attacks. Good against ethereals and Malekith, but fairly insignificant.
Warlord Clan
Clanrats are your friend. They are fairly good in combat, providing you don't give them spears and stay with hand weapons and shields to get a 4+ armour save in conjunction with your light armour. However, they don't win by casualties, and don't fool yourselves into thinking that they can beat anything other than the occaisonal light cavalry unit by killing it. Their power lies in the fact that you will nearly always have 5 static CR from ranks, standard and outnumber. Seeing as you should always outnumber enemy units, all you have to do against other big infantry blocks is keep the kill count equal and you win. Clanrats. Need. Numbers. Never leave home with a unit numbering less than 25 models, including any characters joining them. Personally, I have units of 30 with a standard bearer and musician. Also, the number of other units you can have is limited by the number of clanrat units you have. For each clanrat unit in your army, you can have one of every other units (characters are not counted as units for this purpose). As such, any self-respecting Skaven army will have at least 2 blocks.
Slaves. They cost the same amount of points as a gnoblar's Strength, which is wonderful. Always, always field as many slave units as you are allowed. I prefer units of 20 with no musician. Slace units are speedbumps and bait. If your battle plan involves them surviving past turn 4, you're doing something wrong. Musicians aren't going to help you in combat, because the only thing you're going to be tying CR-wise with is gnoblars, and due to their lower Strength score, it will be a rare occurence when you don't beat them up. A word of advice: Don't support clanrats with slaves unless the slaves are getting a flank or rear charge, because the enemy will get a LOT of CR from killing your unarmoured slaves, and break your clanrats.
Stormvermin aren't really worth it. They're meant to be elite combat units that can get some kills, but they still can't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. Not worth it. If you do field them, however, they have halberds and heavy armour, and an optional shield upgrade for a single point. I shouldn't have to explain that you get the shield. Halberds are worthless.
Chieftains and warlords, the hero and lord combat unit, respectively, are used for the Leadership boost they give you. They can't do much to any other character, but that extra point or two of Leadership is vital. Just give them armour and lead from the back of a central unit.
Rat swarms suck now due to swarms crumbling. That is all. However, in 6th edition, they're great at tying things up. Just a pair of bases charging in with their skirmishing M6 can hold up those nasty Chosen for a good few turns and let you flank them with clanrats.
Grey seers are lord choice wizards. They have extremely powerful magic. See the section on Skaven magic, below.
Clan Skryre
Ratling guns and warpfire throwers are weapon teams. That means that they are an upgrade for a clanrat and stormvermin units, and are deployed at the same time as their parent units, but are otherwise the same. Ratling guns are underpriced machine guns that churn out a whole bucketful of S4 armour piercing shots, shredding infantry units. Warpfire throwers shoot out a S5 flame template that panics a unit that takes casulties. However, the warpfire thrower is very prone to exploding when it misfires.
Warplock jezzails are long ranged snipers. They're great at killing of knights and monsters from afar, However, let them get charged and they're history. They have a fair save against shooting, but only 1 wound and a 6+ save up close.
Poisoned wind globadiers toss short-ranged globes that wound on a 4+ with no armour save allowed, so they're prefect against knights and dwarves. However, they are skirmishers with Ld 5, and as such are extremely vulnerable to panic.
The warp-lightning cannon is like a normal cannon, except nothing is fixed. Its range is 8d6", and its strength is an artillery dice. It hits everything in a straight line a number of inches long equal to its current range, however, so it can cut straigth through an enemy army. It also deals d6 wounds and ignores armour saves. Its misfires are spectacular. It can blow it self up, which is boring, but you have a chance of firing a 48" range, S10 shot in a random direction, which can cut a swathe through the enemy army... or yours.
Warlock engineers are wizards with a twist. Instead of rolling for spells, they always have the powerful warp-lightning, which is a magic missile that deals very high damage. However, you can fry yourself with it, so watch out!
Clan Pestilens
Plague monks are T4 frenzied troops that have the option to get additional hand weapons very cheaply. Also, one unit can have a magic standard. I field a unit of 20 with the banner of burning hatred, which makes them hate everything. 15 re-rollable attacks on the charge combined with 3 ranks and possible outnumbering cuts through the enemy like a hot knife through butter, especially elves. I recommend at least one unit in 1,000pts and over. Five stars.
Plague priests are very killy heroes with T5 and frenzy. With a flail and the robes on their back, they cost around 75pts for a nasty punch in a plague monks unit that can shred enemies with 4 S6 attacks in the charge, especially with the hatred banner. Full marks to the plague priest.
Plague censer bearers force all models in base-to-base contact with them at the start of the combat to make a T test or take a wound with no armour saves allowed, as well as having flails and being frenzied. Naturally, this makes them the ultimate answer to knights and the like, especially elven cavalry. 100% awesomeness.
Clan Moulder
I have no experience with Moulder, so I have nothing to say here.
Clan Eshin
Night runners are M6 skirmishers for 5pts. What more could you want? They're perfect for taking out war machines, and can get a pretty cheap additional hand weapon upgrade that lets them go well supporting a charge from your clanrats with a flank charge. They can also take throwing stars.
Gutter runners are, I find, sadly rendered obsolete by the much cheaper night runners who don't take up a special slot that you could be using for plague monks or jezzails. They can tunnel, but it's risky. Still, it pays off well if it succeeds and you suddenly appear next to the enemy war machines you haev had no chance to shoot you and charge.
Assassins are, like their dark elf equivalents, horribly overpriced. That is all I have to say about them, because I have never used them for that reason.
Skaven Magic
Skaven have their own lore of magic, skaven magic. It is very destructive, but often has a chance to misfire. Note that warlock engineers always have warp-lightning and nothing else, so grey seers are the only way to get access to other Skaven spells.
Skitterleap is a cheap 4+ and teleports the user anywhere on the battlefield. It is extremely useful for setting up pestilent breaths and vermintides, as well as for running away.
Vermintide plonks a large blast marker down next to the Seer and moves it 3d6" in any direction. Any unit touched by the marker takes 3d6 S2 hits. Great against elves and other lightly armoured but expensive troops. Useless against knights and other tough units.
Pestilent breath is like a breath weapon, but it forces any model touched to make a T test or be wounded with no armour save allowed. Great against elf-things and knights. Best combined with skitterleap to set up a perfect firing position.
Warp-lightning is a fairly low casting cost magic missile with 24" range that deals 1d6 S5 hits (5+) or 2d6 S5 hits (9+). However, if you roll a 1 to see how many hits, that hit is against the caster rather than the target. Massively destructive, but make sure you have a ward save so you don't get fried.
Death frenzy puts a friendly unit into a frenzy. If it targets an already frenzied unit, that unit becomes death frenzied, and gains another additional attack. However, at the start of each of your turns, the unit takes d3 wounds with no saves allowed due to exhaustion. Great for turning slaves into killers.
Plague forces an entire unit to make T tests. Any model that fails is wounded with no armour save allowed. It can then jump to other nearby units. However, if you roll poorly, it can be your opponent who chooses who it jumps too, so watch out. Utterly brilliant at destroying armies of brettonians, elves, etc.

14-01-2007, 10:14
okay, I love plague monks and I see they havent been nerfed since 4th edition, I think I'll be going monk heavy with my army!

thanks for the detailed description!, all I need to do now is get my beastmen finished, then I can start skaven!

I'm thinking clanrats+slaves as a mainstay unit, plaguemonks with a priest or two for offensive power, a jezzail and a ratling gun as well as a warlock engineer for some ranged power.

15-01-2007, 10:28
There is a tip for Jezzails - They'll help you win a game of scrabble but either get lots of them or none at all. Too few and they'll get chewed up.
You should get all the extras for the Warlock Engineer, you'll get something like 2d6 S5 hits with warp lightning (IMHO).
How many points is this skaven army?

15-01-2007, 10:39
so pretty much Clan Skryre is, how do you say, as hairy as a monkey... with a big fat hairy beard.

they were the first fantasy army i ever played against. even though i said i was new... and pretty much my empire infantry man were shot down about 4" past there deployment zone..

if you want to win, take Clan Skryre, if you want to make friends, dont. thats what i generally say of the clan anyway.

15-01-2007, 17:43
There is a tip for Jezzails - They'll help you win a game of scrabble but either get lots of them or none at all. Too few and they'll get chewed up.
You should get all the extras for the Warlock Engineer, you'll get something like 2d6 S5 hits with warp lightning (IMHO).
How many points is this skaven army?

I have no idea, I dont have the army book, so I havent even picked my army yet!

I want a few jezzails, but not a dominating amount, I want a mixed/balanced army, I want a bit of everything, although clan pestilens will probably be my main focus.

Von Wibble
15-01-2007, 18:32

The Vermin Lord also definitely has his place (all friendly units within 6" are immune to psychology - huge for a skaven army).

What Vermin lord? There hasn't been a Vermin Lord in the list since 5th edition - greater daemons being troops of chaos not skaven...

15-01-2007, 20:20
There are rules for it on the official GW website.
Link (http://uk.games-workshop.com/download/download.htm?/skaven/special-characters/assets/doomwheel-verminlord.pdf)

Still, I disagree. It has no place in a Skaven army, because of its immense cost. Maybe in a 10,000pts or so, but it's just ridiculously expensive.