View Full Version : Would you recommend Skaven for a newcomer?

18-02-2012, 17:21
I've dabbled in minis for years now but never anything too serious. This will be my first foray into Fantasy. My wife likes High Elves. I usually go for the lawful, good, pure races in anything but I see that Skaven are part of Island of Blood and would probably be the perfect introduction to the game. Is their play style good for somebody who has never played? Will they offer fun battles against High Elves? I also am considering Dwarves, Wood Elves, and Ogres.

18-02-2012, 17:34
Skaven are a horde army, so you will need lots of minis. There's a guy at my games club who has used Skaven to get into fantasy, and he's doing alright with them.

They're a decent enough army with some very useful units, although their shooting isn't great. You have access to one of the most broken units in the game, Skaven Slaves. They're ridiculously cheap, durable, and when deployed correctly, going nowhere. Ever.

They have lots of toys, and some really nice models, so give it a go and see.

THE \/ince

18-02-2012, 17:36
Skaven are the ultimate beginner army because o the sheer fact they have soo much in their book and the fact that they are very forgiving in any play mistakes you may make. High Elves are a bit harder to learn to play effectively and Ogres are a little harder than skaven but are easier to play considering that you ont need alot of them and they're cheaper to collect.

Wood Elves were an easy army to use in the last edition but in the new edition the skill cap on them is through the roof, be prepared to lose alot before you get a great feel for them and even get to win with them. Dwarves are the polar opposite and are fairly easy to learn but be prepared to lose before you win due to the point cost of Dwarves.

i hope you get in and enjoy the hobby as much as everyone here and Island of blood isa great starting point for both you and your wife, just be sure to have fun!

18-02-2012, 22:20
Skaven are a powerful army with lots of options and great miniatures. If you like the fluff of the army go for it, just don't buy two HPA :-)

18-02-2012, 23:30
I agree that they're a very solid beginner's army. The only two knocks against them in that regard are,

a) their units are cheap, and you end up with a lot of them in an army, and many of them depend on proximity to (or in rarer cases, distance from) other units in the army in order to work properly. That means that the deployment phase can be a headache at times.

b) they have a LOT of special rules that you'll need to remember. Almost every unit has at least one unit-specific special rule, and some of them have a pagefull. I still forget stuff game-in and game-out.

18-02-2012, 23:42
Skaven are either the strongest or second strongest army in the entire game right now. Their rules are relatively new and so they are unlikely to have any rules changes of significance in the near future. They have good fluff and are not that hard to play (past deployment, see balerion's post)

That being said, they have an insanely high model count, their army book is extremely poorly written and has a longer errata and faq document than the main rulebook of the game (and it still has unclear stuff), and they have a million special rules to keep track of. They also have pretty meh internal balance with some units clearly better than others in the vast majority of circumstances (when was the last time anyone has seen a plagueclaw catapult or a rat swarm?).

19-02-2012, 00:21
I love the Plagueclaw Catapult. Probably has something to do with the 100x Night Goblin horde I'm used to seeing, though. :D

But the internal balance is definitely screwed. I wish I could use Jezzails, Globadiers and Censer Bearers more often, but they usually suck. Same goes for some of the less useful weapon teams, and Night Runners (although that last one doesn't bother me too much, since their models are really ugly).

19-02-2012, 01:50
They have a lot of random and unreliable units which maybe doesn't make them the best beginners army ever (I'd give that award to a solid, reliable and resilient army like chaos warriors or lizardmen), although they aren't a bad choice provided you can cope with a bit of randomness (some people get upset by random setbacks). But collecting and painting an army takes a lot of time and money. I wouldn't pick an army based on how suitable it is for beginners - you'll learn and not be a beginner and you'll still have the same army. Pick the army you really want. Likewise I wouldn't pick skaven purely because it is in island of blood - skaven are an expensive army to collect with lots of models, you aren't likely to save any money compared with just starting one of the less hordy armies from scratch. You can sell them on ebay or swap them for more high elves for your wife.

Basically, pick what you want to play, its going to cost you a bomb and you'll be stuck with it for years so you might as well enjoy it :)

19-02-2012, 08:56
I think the choice of Skaven isn't so much a "beginner/veteran" discussion as it is a "Skaven mindset / non-Skaven mindset" discussion.

I personally hate, detest and despise playing against Skaven because I feel like neither anything I do nor anything my opponent does decides the battle. If the dice come up with lots of 6s, he'll win because at it's best, Skaven stuff is incredibly destructive, more so than just about anything else. If the dice come up with lots of 1s and misfires, he'll lose because almost everything in the Skaven army worth taking is capable of destroying itself without any assistance from me. IME these considerations vastly outweigh the importance of tactics in games involving Skaven (much more so than normal games; obviously the dice always have some input). That's not something I find fun - certainly not playing against them, and I can't for one second imagine I'd enjoy playing with them either.

Now - that is, of course, a heavily biased and one-sided description. A Skaven player in a Skaven mindset would presumably say that he really enjoys the randomness and unpredictability of his army, and that he has to be prepared to accept any of his units blowing up at a moment's notice and carrying on regardless with a cheerful smile, enjoying the game for the spectacle that it is. Ultimately, that's why I think Skaven are an army suited to a particular mindset. If you have it, you'll probably really enjoy Skaven. If you don't... you never, ever will.

19-02-2012, 09:07
Start the army with the coolest models. If that happen to be skaven, then they are good for you.

19-02-2012, 21:16
The island of blood is one of the easiest ways to get started with the hobby, especially since your wife wants to play high elves. So since you'll probably want to buy a couple sets of island of blood anyways, you might has well give the skaven that come with the set a try. You or your wife might really enjoy the skaven army and it will get you used to playing the game which will help you decide which army to go with if you don't like skaven. Also their aren't any bad armies to go with so long as you're enjoying yourself.

19-02-2012, 22:17
Aesthetically, I think the Skaven are pretty nice. I played my first and only game so far as Skaven vs High Elves - 400 pt ish game I think.

Overall Skaven are comical in that things go wrong for their own phases - which add to their character and I think can suit the person controlling them. I would pick them if I didn't already have my heart on Lizardmen

The only negative I will give to Skaven is that their apparent 'given' paint style is a dirty look or (painted wash), something that makes them look worse and not so nice to look at then they are already are. How you over come that I'm sure is possible but I didn't want an army that were essentially dressing themselves in rags (or so the staff member said!)

Hope that is helpful to you.

Warrior of Chaos
20-02-2012, 16:40
... I see that Skaven are part of Island of Blood and would probably be the perfect introduction to the game. Is their play style good for somebody who has never played? Will they offer fun battles against High Elves? I also am considering Dwarves, Wood Elves, and Ogres.


1) Skaven: You'll probably lose a lot before you really get the hang of them. Lots of unit choices and variety compared to your other options. Very powerful when played correctly. On a scale of 1-5 for beginners (1 = OMG all these rules..i'm so confused and 5 = User friendly and simple to use) I'd give Skaven a 2.

2) Dwarfs: Rock solid infantry with awesome warmachines. Very vanilla flavored....they have infantry and warmachines....ummm...oh yeah, no magic for you. Can be difficult to get the hang of them because of their limitations, but they can be devastating if played right. I'd give them a 4 for beginners. Pretty easy learning curve.

3) Wood Elves: Poor, poor woodies...they get no love. You can win with them, but they have a steep learning curve to be competitive in 8th edition. You'll probably lose a lot more than with your other options listed. This army is desperate for an update...I'd recommend steering clear for now. I'd give them a 1~2 for beginners....mostly because their Army Book is so antiquated and skirmishing is not so good in 8th.

4) Ogres: Nice. Recently updated AB with decent options. Won't break your bank account to start building an ogre army. Solid in close combat. They have shooting options and respectable magic. I'd say this would be the best of the four choices you've mentioned to learn with. I'd give them a 5 for beginners.

20-02-2012, 17:22
I would highly recommend the Skaven.
First off, you get a good amount of them in the IoB starter. If you purchase 2 of them so you and the wife both have your own rulebook and templates, you will have a really good jumping off point to start playing. (80 clanrats/slaves, 4 ogres, 2 poisonwind mortars, 2 warpfire throwers, 2 warlords, 2 Master Moulders and 2 warlock engineers)
If you both have some extra cash left to bulk out your armies after the starters, I'd grab a Warp-lightning Cannon, Doomwheel and Grey Seer to add to your list. (about $75 bucks for the 3) The WLC and DW are 2 of the most awesome looking models in the game, and are loads of fun to play with.

Second, they have STUFF. All kinds of it. Mostly really cheap, fun things like the Doomrocket, Brass Orb, Warp Energy Condenser, etc. Many of the core units can attach various weapon teams that can be either ridiculously powerful against your enemy or a small scale disaster for your own forces. They have so many options that you will probably spend a vast amount of time just tailoring your final army.

Third, they are STRONG!!! The Skaven players in my group regularly destroy most of the other players, including a Warrior of Chaos, Empire, Tomb King/Vampire Counts and a Dwarf player. Only my own Dwarfs and a friends High Elves (oddly enough) win with any consistency against them. Skaven magic is probably overall the cheesiest (no pun intended) in the whole game. Their most powerful units are some of the most hated in Warhammer. (Hellpit Abomination for instance) Lastly, they can be insanely hard to break given the high number of troops in a unit combined with 8th Edition Steadfast rules.

I find the models to be quite attractive, even the core rats are pretty well detailed, benefitting from relatively new plastic kits. The whole army is a snap to paint and while you may well work yourself broke trying to collect a big army, you won't have to spend too much on various colors of paint to throw on them since brown, black, white, green, red, flesh, brass and gunmetal is pretty much all you'll ever need. You might get bored painting them, but all you really need to do to get decent-looking models for skaven is just prime them a medium color, basecoat, wash, drybrush, seal and enjoy. Using this technique you can have most of your army table ready in short order. (As compared to the wife's High Elves.)

Actually, imo, with the inclusion of the Skaven from IoB, they're not really that expensive to form a good force with. $400 total will get you all the stuff I mentioned above, along with a battalion (40 more clanrats/slaves, 20 plague monks, 3 more handlers, 2 more ogres and 6 giant rats) and some money left over. If you order online or get a decent discount at your local store, you can probably squeeze a Screaming Bell in there as well, which is a phenomenal model. And remember, that $400 also includes a good deal of your wife's Elves too.

So I'd give them a shot. They're a quirky army to be sure, but they can be fun to play, and as long as you don't go full on cheese, they can be really fun to play against.
Plus you're gonna be getting a bunch of them in the starter anyway.

20-02-2012, 20:44
I definitely would! They were my first army and I've never looked back!