Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums - View Single Post - An Introduction to the Armies of Warhammer (updates wanted)
View Single Post
post #15 of (permalink) Old 02-21-09, 04:39 PM
Must keep painting....
squeek's Avatar
squeek's Flag is: United Kingdom
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 2,977
Reputation: 1

Written by MaidenManiac


Skaven dwell in their “underempire” below the surface of the Old World, waiting for the right time to swarm out of their tunnels like an unstoppable horde and overwhelm the surface lands. Skaven are split amongst a number of clans, and these found the base of their society. These Clans more or less constantly battle each other for dominance both on battlefields but assassinations and poisoning is also widely common. As a direct result of this all Skaven are deeply paranoid and utterly selfish, caring only for personal gain. When a Clan loses too much of its influence the other Clans will fall upon it like wolves on a wounded prey, and the survivors of the crushed Clan will spend their remaining lives as slaves under one of the attacking Clans. The real members of a Clan are called Clanrats, strong and cunning individuals who follow the Clan's Warlord, the head honcho rat of the Clan. The Warlord is a ruthless individual whom has gained his position trough murders, strategically broken pacts and other kinds of backstabbing, and is almost always looking after his own tail to keep safe from sneaky underlings trying to steal his position.

The philosophy of killing yourself upwards is the Skaven way, and is both deeply rooted and respected amongst the race. More or less all members of a Clan plot for personal gain, whilst they also watch their backs from aspiring members under them in the society.

Clan Skryre, Clan Eshin, Clan Pestilence and Clan Moulder are the 4 greatest Clans in the Skaven underempire with Skryre as the top one, and they have more then once united against an upcoming Clan to make sure things stay that way. The current upcoming Clan is Clan Mors, ruled by Warlord Gnawdwell, and they might very well be the next Clan to feel the wrath of the 4 major Clans.

The Skaven Empire is ruled by “The Council of Thirteen” which consists of 11 Warlords from the most important Clans, the Seerlord whom is the most powerful Grey Seer, and the thirteenth place is filled symbolically by the Horned Rat Himself, the Skaven-god. The purpose of this council is to unite the Skaven race and guide them towards a common goal. This however is most likely never happening. All members of the Council are extremely paranoid and spend more time watching their backs and plotting then guiding their race. It is rumoured that if the Skaven managed to unite for a common cause they would overwhelm the world with their vast numbers.


Skaven are based around Clanrats as their main army units, and these are plastic models which come 20 in each box. These models can also be used to make Slaves, another important unit for the Skaven gameplay. Plague Monks are also plastic regiments, and so are Rat Ogres the Skaven equivalent of Ogres/Trolls/etc. Their last plastic regiment is the Night Runners box which will produce skirmishing ninja-rats for the army.

The Elite Stormvermins are metal models however, and so are all the warpstone based weaponry the army has access to: Ratling guns, Warpfire Throwers, Poison Wind Globadiers, Jezzail Teams, Warp-lightning Cannons, Plague Censer Bearers. Characters are also metal models. It is rumoured that at least Stormvermin will become plastic regiments when the new book hits the shelves, but this is as said a rumour so far. All entries in the list have models, and all are from 6th edition when the book was written, so they are up to date and functional.

Skaven preform different from many other armies on the field of battle. The most profound difference is the “life is cheap” rule which allows the Skaven player to shoot into Close Combat. You basically pick a target unit and shoot away and randomize hits amongst the target and all other things in that Close Combat. As all Skavens are cowardly beings they flee better then normal units, Skaven units adds +1 to their Flee rolls.

Skaven leaders have an even bigger spin of from this called “Lead from the Back”. Skaven Characters will continue to give LD bonuses when standing in the rearmost rank, as will a BSB do, the rearmost rank is considered a place of honour amongst the Skaven! A character in the last rank of an ongoing combat can, at the start of his movement phase chose to either stay there, move to the fighting rank or leave the unit just like it was not engaged in CC. Furthermore the Skaven player can choose which of his models refuse Challenges, unlike the normal rules.

Strength in numbers is a general Skaven philosophy, and is in game represented by the fact that Skaven units add their ranks to their LD values, up to a maximum of +3. All Skaven weapons either shooting warpstone shots, or weapons coated with warpstone poisons counts as magical attacks and can thereby damage units immune to non magical attacks.

Skaven magic doesn't cause Irresistible Force like normal magic, but instead on the roll of 13 before modifiers, they do however miscast just like regular wizards. Each Skaven Wizard also carries a number of Warpstone Tokens which are used as free PD but causes an unpreventable wound on the wizard on a roll of 1

Lords and Heroes
Warlords are the leaders of a Clan, a strong and selfish individual whom is the best general a Skaven army can field. Their fighting prowess equal human Lords but with higher Initiative but lower Leadership. These individuals have LD7 which is the single highest number in the army.
Grey Seers are the servants of the Horned Rat, level 4 Wizards who cast spells granted by their patron god. Skaven spells are destructive, but takes little care about the health of the caster.

Grey Seers can chose to ride a Doombell into battle, pulled by a unit of Clanrats or Stormvermin. The Bell works as a Chariot and bestows a bunch of boons to the unit pulling it and the Grey Seer riding it. It does also come with a “Striker” whom can chose to “ring the bell” in the Skaven shooting phase with a vast amount of beneficial results, at lower results it generally only boosts the unit pushing the Bell, but higher numbers can affect the whole army!

Chieftains are hero level fighters, and if the Skaven player wants to include a BSB it will be a Chieftain carrying it into battle. Chieftains equal human heroes in fighting terms.

Plague Priests are heroes from Clan Pestilence. Tougher then Chieftains but slower these Frenzied heroes have access to Plague Censers and “Clan Pestilence Only” magic items.

Master Moulders are heroes from Clan Moulder. These heroes have the “Beastmaster” special rule which allows all Clan Moulder units within 6 of him to reroll failed psychology tests. He also has access to Clan Moulder restricted items.

Warplock Engineers are Clan Scryre wannabe wizards who can cast the spell “Warplightning” trough warpstone powered equipment. Warplock Engineers are unique in the way that they can only have one spell which you buy for him. Fully upgraded they roughly equival a level 2 wizard with 1 spell.

Assassins are the Clan Eshin heroes and the last available hero option in Skaven armies. They have poisoned weapons, and always start the game hidden within a unit. Assassins have superior Leadership compared to all other Skaven, but just like their Dark Elf equivalents their leadership cant be used by others.

Core units
Clanrats are the “Mainstay unit” in the Skaven army. For each unit of Clanrats you include in the army you can include one unit of most other sorts in the army. In order to field 2 units of one kind you must first include 2 units of Clanrats. Clanrats are about even fighters with Empire troops but faster. They can also have a weapon team attached to them which can either be a “Warpfire Thrower” or a “Ratling gun”.

Stormvermin are the Elite units in the Skaven army. Equipped with the best armour and armed with Halberds they are the best fighting units the Skaven army can field.

Rat Swarms are swarms that can be upgraded to have poisoned attacks.
Giant Rats are packs of huge rats goaded into combat by Clan Moulder packmasters. These are bought in clumps of 6 rats and 1 packmaster and are even faster then Elves. Should all the packmasters in the unit die the Rats revert to compulsory movement.

Night runners are skirmishing units of Clan Eshin rats that can be equipped with 3 different weapon options. These guys have better Leadership then most Skavens but lack the Strength in numbers due to their skirmishing.
Slaves are the bottom level in the Skaven society. They are poor fighters and dirt cheap and don't cause panic to non slave units if they flee, in fact other Skavens expect the Slaves to run away!

Poison Wind Globadiers are Clan Scryre units that throw glass orbs with poisonous gas inside them at the enemy, against which normal armours don't help.

Special units
Gutter Runners are veteran Night runners Better on everything then their Clansmen they have access to warpstone based poison for their weapons, and can also be upgraded to tunnelling teams which will dig themselves onto the battlefields with mixed results. A character will never join a team entering battle from tunnels, far to many things can go wrong on those suicide missions!

Warplock Jezzails are big rifles shooting Warpstonebased bullets with awesome stopping power, they are also amongst the most reliable weapons that Clan Scryre produce. This however only means that its a smaller chance that they explode, not that they are completely safe!

Plague Monks are the footsoldiers of Clan Pestilence. Frenzied monks with great resilience that give the Skaven army some punch in Close Combat against fear-causing armies like undeads.

Rat Ogres are the crown jewel of Clan Moulders warpstone mutations and equal Trolls statwise. Each Rat Ogre comes with a packmaster behind him, pointing him into battle from behind. Should all packmasters be slain the Rat Ogres will suffer from stupidity just like Trolls.

Rare units
Plague Censer Bearers can be bought one unit for each unit of Plague Monks in the army, and must always start the game within 3” of them and remain so until their first charge. Plague Censer Bearers hates all enemies and have huge flails that emit poisonous gas in combat. The Bearers themselves have masks to protect them from the gas, but not even themselves are completely immune to the gas's effects.

Warp-lightning Cannons are the last entry in the Skaven armylist. A weird warpstone based contraption, similar to a cannon in many ways but with a much more random effect. The weapon and crew follows the rules for chariots and will always flee if charged. Each time the Warp-lightning Cannon is fired you randomize its strength and how far it shoots.

Money Saving

Stormvermin can be made from Clanrats with some imagination and green stuff. Slave regiments can include non-Skaven models to represent captured members of other races from some raid on a settlement or surrendering survivors from a battle lost against the Skavens.

Warp-lightning Cannons can be made from other artillery weapons, all Clan Scryre weapons are at least a bit experimental which opens for conversions.

The brunt of the army however is its regiments. Lots and lots and lots of big blocks of infantry is the true strength of the Skaven army, and this will naturally not be cheap.


The Skaven army is a very colourful army of selfish and cowardly individuals with lots of highly dangerous weapons. These weapons are commonly also fatal to its users, which can generate lots of surprise incidents. The Skaven gameplay contains lots of sacrificing and fun elements like shooting your own Slaves to bits to maybe kill one of the Kroxigors they are fighting. The bane of the Skaven army is massed psychology tests. The units around your general can have up to LD10 with a Warlord, sadly its very hard to fit the whole army within his LD bubble.
squeek is offline  
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome