Friday, 12 November 2010

Skaven. Part One.

Hey folks, the first part of the Skaven review. Just a brief look at Skaven as an army. With a special surprise...

IT'S AN AUDIO REVIEW! Yeah man! Check that shit out. Sorry it's a bit quiet, just turn up your sound, I didn't realise I had mine turned up when I was playing it back to myself, so I'm sorry.

Here's the script if you're having difficulty following it (I like to think I'm pretty well spoken though, I spend all day on the phone. Brief note at the bottom of the article too, just skip the italicised stuff if you don't want to read along with me.


Skaven, eh?

Well, let's start off with my thoughts on the lovely furry little ratmen. I personally am absolutely in love with the theme of this army, and their fluff and all that good stuff. Definitely the WHFB army for me at the moment. However, it is true that I've been having some difficulty making them work as of late. Mostly I've just been drifing from point to point, playstyle to playstyle and list to list, not finding one that sits just right. See I wanted a shooty army, and while skaven can do that, and woah can they do that, but they can't do it well enough to win games pretty much on it entirely. Disagree with it if you want, but some armies can just shrug off your shooting and you'll be left high and dry. Then what, eh?


See, I believe 8th edition fantasy is won or lost in combat. I know, shooting got really good, and it did. But there's some things shooting can't deal with, in addition there's some things that even if you shoot them, they'll hurt you when they reach your lines. I have a few more shooty ideas that Iwant to try, but I'll save that for another time, at the moment I'm gagging to try close combat. Now I'm aware close combat isn't really regarded a strong suit of the skaven, but they can do something that no other army (to my knowledge) can do in this edition. Field a fully unbreakable army. That's pretty big. I like the 2000 point list I'm toting about at the moment, with the seer, 60 clanrats, warpfire thrower, 10 stormvermin with stormbanner, plague furnace, 37 monks with flaming banner and 2 hellpits. I think that'll kick some serious arse.


However, I'm veering off topic. This isn't what I'm here to talk to you about, I'm here to talk to you about the army as a whole. So... skaven. Well, as an army you can expect good mobility for infantry, but you can be outpaced by most armies because Skaven have no cavalry, barring character mounts, or flyers. They do have a Verminlord who is pretty speedy, but everything tends to move around 10 inches a turn. Skaven, as an army however, can compete in all four phases of warhammer. While their movement may not be fast, they do have good movement denial, with lots of redirectors, the storm banner, as well as 2 unit choices that break conventional movement. Those being the Doomwheel and the Hellpit.

Skaven shooting used to be something close to legend. I'm sure you've all heard of the S.A.D. The Skaven army of death, or Shooty army of death. That list with 2 Warp Lightning Cannons, a bunch of jezzails, a seer, 3 warlocks and a bazillion ratling guns. Ah, those were the glory days of the skaven empire. Gone now, but what can you do, eh? Nowadays we have some pretty boss infantry clearers, coming in the form of a lot of templates. The main ones of course being the Warpfire Thrower, the Poisoned Wind Mortar and the Warp Lightning Cannon. Infantry and ogre sized models can expect to just die to skaven shooting. No questions asked, just die. Something that we can struggle against though is Biggies. Big gribbly monsters like stegadons and hydras and bloodthirsters and all that good stuff. Now, unless you bring a good battery of jezzails (probably about 40) you can't really expect to drop these things quickly. Sure, we have doomwheels and warp lightning cannons but they're about as reliable as a mechanic getting paid by the hour to get the job done on time. No offense to any mechanics that might be out there, I'm sure you're people of unquestionable virtue. Now, I get a lot of shtick for constantly dumping on doomwheels, but realistically, while their shooting against monsters may be pretty reliable, anyone with an ickle bickle of tactical acumen can make it so you're not going to get to shoot their precious monsters. Putting skirmishers in the way tends to do this.

"But Will, I'll just charge the skirmishers and break through to the monster!"
"But moron, i'm going to hold with the bloody skirmishers"

Or just not let the thing with an average movement of 10" that has to move in a straight line near my things with an average movement of 12" that can pivot an unlimited amount of times while moving.

What I'm saying is, Skaven shooting does a wonderful job at clearing out infantry and ogre sized stuff, but expect to have trouble with anything big with a high toughness.


Skaven combat is a weird one. We're pretty fragile, but very hitty. See, Plague Furnaces are very hitty. Very very hitty. But they can't take a punch. T6 is nice. 6W is nice. No save is not nice. A good CC unit will hack one of these up for breakfast. That is, a unit with high strength attacks, or maybe a multiple wound causer. Means you really really want to break them on the first round of combat and run them down. Screaming Bells aren't a combat unit, in my opinion. They're a tarpit maker and army buffer. Sure, the tarpit they're in can kill units but it's a totally random thing (rolling a 13 with death frenzy helps. 279 attacks you say?) that can't be relied on, unless you're fighting a flimsy unit or the seer up top lends some magic assistance (such as 13thing that unit of chaos warriors you just charged).But it does make a good tarpit. Plague Censer Bearers are good, they're also very very very hitty. But they're not so good now due to Init 3. That's all there is to it, about half the armies out there will just hack em down before they can swing. It sucks, but that's the way it is. Then there's the hellpit. Fragile, yes (shut up they are), but hoah nelly are they killy. Most skaven combat units shouldn't expect to survive 2 combats. No really, after a hellpit has walked through 2 infantry units it'll be pretty worse for wear. People seem to forget it's only toughness 5 with a 4+ save. It's a lot less resilient than the hydra, the complains for which seem to have been replaced with complaints for the hellpit, which I disagree with entirely.

Anyway, skaven combat is devastating usually, and skaven combat blocks don't move, because they're unbreakable or stubborn. Another honourable mention should probably go to hordes (not literally, just big units) of slaves, as with LD10 and a reroll (you did bring a BSB if you're using these?) they won't be going anywhere soon, and they can even wear down those small elite units with attrition. Things like black guard and white lions. That kind of thing. Two casualties a round adds up when that combat goes on for 8 rounds.


Skaven magic. I already did an article on this! Check that out! I'll put a link in the thread for god's sake. Just don't expect me to re-review it. Basically it's good. Damn good. It supports the army well and gets rid of things you would otherwise struggle to deal with. Also dreaded 13th.


A final note on psychology. Skaven generals are very much a lynchpin. Hence my recent attitude of "Protect them! PROTECT THEEEEMMM!" This is because when your general dies your army's leadership tends to jump down from 8 to 5 if you're playing MSU. It's not such a big deal if you're doing the unbreakable list, but if you're playing slave hordes it's a very big deal, as you go from LD 10 to LD5. Not good. Not good at all. It can result in an effect similar to killing a vampire general. The entire army just folds after it happens, which is why I'm trying to make my army less reliant on leadership. Minimising panic can be very hard to do with MSU skaven, as you have so many units, spreading out becomes increasingly difficult, especially if your opponent can hem you in.

Anyway, that's a brief overview of the skaven army. What it boils down to is we can compete in all 4 phases, have trouble with big gribblies, have either amazing leadership or terrible leadership, and can come across kind of glass cannon-alpha strike esque.

So, there we go. First ever audio post on the blog. Check it out! If this goes down well, it may become a regular thing!

The pictures while you're reading it are a lie. The link to my magic article however is not a lie. Here we are:

Hope you guys enjoyed the article.


P.s. Been sitting watching this upload for 30 minutes... This may not be so regular if this is how long it takes for the vid to upload. Jesus...


  1. After 40 minutes the audio failed to fucking upload. If it's not up tonight it will be up tomorrow.

    Fan fucking tastic.

    *has fury*

  2. *Warp Lightning Crackles through the air, there is an eldritch bite to the taste of the wind*

    *Lightning cracks*


  3. I read it last night before the audio was working. I believe it is free to upload audio files into a podcast format on iTunes, that might be worth looking into.

    I did enjoy it and look forward to seeing where this goes.

  4. It has audio now. :3

    Basically the internet just hates .wav files, so I had to convert them to mp3.

  5. Love your voice. LOVE your voice... LOOOOOOOOOVE your voice.

    I nominate you for the Brit/Scot podcast, btw.

  6. Top notch old bean? Is that not best said in an English accent?

    I don't think I sound English >:. Do I?

  7. Thanks loq! :D

    Is there some official nomination thing going on? xD

  8. Haha...that doesn't actually sound like Archy at all. Well, it does, but its all cleaned up and clarified. I think it sounds a little more scottish than normal.
    Nice review man, listened to it on the saturday. Also, yeah, got hugely wasted last night after my "I prolly won't stay out that late."
    MAY have given my number to a stalker. Not 100% sure. :/

  9. Nice article, Have only read it sadly as im on my work computer and having Archy's voice belting out over the hostel reseption would probably raise some eyebrows. But yeah as I said good article man a nice overveiw. Sadly I know full well how hitty a skaven army can be in combat as my lizardmen tend to find out. Striking last agaist them is not fun, not fun at all. Thats why me gettin bord of "Life Magic" and changing to "Light Magic" has payed off slightly, only slightly.

  10. Archy: I dunno- I guess I'm starting it. You're nominated!

    Only comment would be to be a little "looser" in your reading- I could tell you had a script, but didn't mind too much as well... your voice. Um... right. The article was great!

  11. Well I go off on tangents a lot. I felt a script was probably a good idea to keep me on track. And it's already fifteen minutes long, I didn't want it to become too lengthy. (:

  12. Yeah, I think the script is a good idea. Also, talking like you do normally would be damn near impenetrable to anyone NOT from Ayrshire, so its fair play sticking to a script. And trying to speak slower and more correct than normal.
    I like the tangents.
    Also, we should do one of these as a group. Make it a weekly "Hydras are dicks" podcast. :P
    Yeah, I loved that wee rant in the middle there.
    Loquacious, you seem to like Archy's voice a little too much. :P

  13. Lt. I'm going to try and fit in a bitch about hydras, teclis or the new VP mechanic in every post. ^^

    As to Loq's opinion, "I'm ok with it".