The Skaven Army Units



He can be a quite good fighter regarding his low point value. Equipment of choice is the "wrapped crown of the horned rat" which let's him soak up some of the nasty wounds that could foul up your combat bonus. Wheeping blade is also quite usefull.

Gray seer

In games of at least 2000 pts the rats can, and probably should take a grey seer. He is one mean tough wizard. He comes with some flaws. He is at 235 pts very expensive for something you /usr/lib/ not put on a horse/pig/wolf to move quicker or get +2 added to your armour save. This guy has none. Of his 235 pts I believe 40 points are built in to pay for his four warpstone tokens. These each generate another power die and can be munched. Roll a 1 and you take an automatic wound. No other army has that benefit. Oh the Night Gobbos can each shaman mushrooms but even there the result is to roll for a miscast and have an option of 1 in 6 chance of blowing up. With the rats it is automatic.


The only benefit I see with chieftains is in carrying magic items and eventually an army standard. Otherwise you could just swap them for a bunch of normal rats or for a specialist e.g. an engineer.
Actually I can only think of three uses of a Chieftain.

The blocker
The idea is to have one model that can absorb as much hits as possible when being charged. For this you can give him as much protection items as you can squeeze in.

The item carrier
Now that is something that other armies rarely can do. Take a hero just for carrying a Skaven Brew.

Army standart bearer
What do I need to say about that.

Plague priest

For an average warlord Skaven army the Skaven can buy a clan Pestilens Plague Priest.
Guess what, he knows no spells and is blessed/cursed by frenzy. Frenzy works both ways.
Of course if the enemy unit is in charge reach at the beginning of the Skaven turn the Plaque Priest must charge. I don't think your gyrocopter has to charge if the enemy is in reach. Frenzy is not always good. This loonie would have to charge a dragon or a night Gobbo fanatic or anything for that matter.

Now for 40 points the Plague Priest can buy the Liber Bubonicus which allows precisely one member of clan Pestilens in the entire army to cast Pestilent breath which is a breath weapon and use the same template as you gyrocopter.
Having spent 40 points to make this guy a wizard you can not spend any more points to make him second level. You now have a 110 point loonie wizard with one spell only which he has trouble using because he wants to charge. These benefits are not visited on any other army, I believe.

Warlock engineer

The grey seer is a true wizard, the engineer is not. Skaven have no other true wizard in the sense of other armies. The Warlock engineer does not know any spells. None. You have to buy equipment for him to learn to cast the warp lightning. It is what I call my partial kit where you buy warp-blades, (knowledge of spell), Accumulator, (to generate an additional power die), and condenser, to allow you to cast the spell with one additional die more than his level.
The warlock engineer's signature spell warp lightning is very dangerous. Your opponent must seriously consider dispelling 2D6 S5 hits coming in. Even if they come in though, guess what? If the warlock rolls a 1 on the die to determine the number of hits he takes an automatic S5 hit himself which means he wounds himself 84% of the time he rolls a 1. No other army in the game has that benefit either.
He is first level so normally he can use two power die and with the condenser he can use three. This improves the chance of casting the spell and seriously raises the chance of miscasts. I believe since now you have more chances to throw ones.
The warlock can buy equipment to increase his die usage and die generation but can not ever learn a second spell. There is no such thing as a second level Skaven wizard. I have known this for a long time and you don't hear me complaining about it do You???
This guy also starts with a warpstone token and guess what. If he eats it and rolls a 1 he also takes a hit. An automatic hit.

So Mister one shot wonder costs basically 85 points to make him a self (and other) destructive first level wizard.

Other themed army characters

There are other wizards from the various specialized greater warlord armies. The clan Eshin guy knows Skitter leap so can teleport into nearby trouble or out of trouble. He can not learn any other spells.

The clan Skryre can have a master Warlock. He still only knows the single warplightning spell but can now cast it to use 3D6 S5 hits and use 5 die when casting. That really helps getting miscasts remember. He knows no other spells.

A clan Pestilens army can have another plague wizard and they all can learn the pestilent breath spell, just like the plague priest but they do not need the book, and there is only one book. These guys are also frenzied and can not learn any other spell nor upgrade to second level.

In my opinion the most useful lesser wizard is the clan Moulder harbinger of Mutation. He can only learn one spell and can also not be upgraded. His spell is the Vermintide spell which has very weak S2 hits. However, it is cast by pushing the large blast template 4D6 inches from the caster and every unit it touches a stand of takes 3D6 S2 hits. It is the perfect Skink, fanatic, and Gobbo screwer. Makes a mess of lone figures, especially wizards.


This guy is a little bit on the expensive side. However you get two hand weapons, shuriken and poison for it, so in general he doesn't need a magic weapon. I have made good experience using him with the cloak of shadows moving alone and trying to assassinate single characters. For hunting Banshees he might need a cheap magic weapon.



Ok. You need those units to get the good stuff, but what use have they beside this.

  • Blocking line of sight onto the weapon-teams
  • Giving ranks for the weapon-teams
  • A weak combat unit
There are some people who say that the clanrats are very good. Others say that they have no use at all. Both are right. They are just playing against different opponents. A clanrat unit will win most of the time against skinks, goblins, weak empire units and other weak stuff. It will win half of the time against Orks and Saurus provided that you have more ranks and more numbers. It will lose agains all others including all dwarf and chaos units.
So if you are playing against dwarf or chaos, don't expect to win with your regiments. They can be used at most to lead the enemy around.
Another point: if you don't buy a champion or musican they get much cheaper.


The Stromvermin seem to be a little pricy. After all cost are nearly twice as much as a normal clanrat and four times the price of a slaverat. However I think they are worth considering because of two facts:

  • They get strength four with their halberds and thus could negate the stupid 2+ save that seems to be so common lately. This means that twice as much wounds make a casulty.
  • They have a minimum regiment size of 10, which means that you could get another ratling cannon without having to field another huge regiment block


I have not upgraded rat swarms to poisonous rat swarms very often. So far I have not ever had enough points to field more than 4 bases (4 X 45 ) = 180 points. I look at each wound as being a 9 point I1 rat with no particular melee skill or strength value. The only real value of the swarm is they do not run away. To make them a poisonous rat swarm means each base costs 20 points more so each unbreakable wound is now a 13 point model in the Skaven army. That is quite pricey. It works against dragons, Ogres, and other high toughness models to wound. Is it worth it? So far I am not sure it is expecially since the new rules make them much less usefull for blocking.

Giant rats

You have them on the flank to use their 6 Inch movement. However the Gian rat regiments don't have a standart, they have a bad leadership and they aren't very good in hand to hand.

Night runners

Nightrunner: These guys are extremly hard to use. The aren't very good in h2h, they wont't use the generals leadership in most cases and they don't have ranks. One missfortune and they are running and chances are that they force leadership tests to other units.
You can give them a missile weapon to take care of fanatics and to perhaps send out to be charged to evade to draw the enemy out of position. I also used them successfully as a bodyguard for weapon-teams and I will use them more often in the future.


Your slaves are potentially your best troops considering what they can do for the cost. The are also not very good in hand to hand. If they are not in range of the general they still have a quite bad leadership. Any missfortune in the shooting phase (e.g. mortar) and they are running. Chances are that they won't stop.
In h2h they are even more difficult. When getting charged they will lose against most enemies. If you use them to bolster your ranks and/or unit strength they can missfire badly. Any enemy unit can get an additional two or three kills from them. So you have to be very carefull where you use them...

The Skaven in having Slaves have the ultimate undead killer. It is the best troop for this in the game.

To understand this easiest one should do a quick analysis on the game math. At WS2 or 3 troops fighting skeletons hit on a 4+ which is 50% or 5. To wound S3 vs T3 is again .5. So in any turn your troops will do damage of Kills = (to hit) X (to wound) X ( 1 - armour save). For a Skeleton with light armour, shield and hand weapon that is a save of 4+ and with a spear it is a 5+ or .5 or .66 in the above equation.

Each rat slave in combat does .5 X .5 X .5 = .125 or 12.5% kills on average each turn. Against a Slave the skeletons would do .5 X .5 = 25 or 25% kills each turn and seemingly destroy the slaves.This is not so if one goes a bit further. I will try to explain.
30 skeletons in a really large unit cost (30 X 10) = 300 + 25 = 325 points with full command figures. This is an expensive strong unit because it is unbreakable. Now take 50 Skaven slaves and give them no upgrades. They cost (50 X 2) = 100 +12 =112 for musician and champion included. Less than a third of the cost. From above if they are within 12 inches, 30 cm of the general they take their fear test at a LD10 if Warlord or LD9 if the grey seer is present. This is not bad at all. If you general is the grey Seer though it gets much better. The Grey Seer can cast Death Frenzy on the Slaves with three dice to roll a power level of 9 at perhaps 35- 40 points in game terms of power dice.

So now the frenzied unit cost you perhaps 150 points to buy and put frenzy on. Once frenzied the Slaves don't take panic checks, terror tests, nor fear tests. They must charge an enemy in reach also.

Since slaves have movement of 5 vs undead 4 the slaves should charge almost every time. They will strike first. You are commiting half the points for troops as your oponent to the melee in general terms and that includes the cost of your power die.

The 30 undead could be 6 models across five ranks deep. The slaves could attack 7 models across 7 full ranks deep +1 model. Your Frenzied slaves attack 7 X 2 X .5 X.5 X .5 = 1.75 or 2 kills the turn they charge. His six skeletons fight back ( 6-2) = 4 X .5 X .5 = 1 kill. You win the melee. I ignored the two unit champions but basically you kill one more than him, ranks, standards, are equal and you outnumber him so he looses two casualties from melee and 2 more for loosing the melee by 2 for 4 dead skeletons total on average. Next combat phase your I3 is higher than his I2 so you go first and the results are the same. You loose 1 2 point model and he looses 4 11 point models. Even if you loose the melee any one round you loose only your frenzy and do not automatically flee because you outnumber the undead.

If you choose to upgrade the Slaves to spear and take only 42 of them it would cost you 126 + 12 = 138 and with the cost of the magic power die it would be about 175 points. The turn you charge the results are the same. The next turn since you are spear armed you fight 2 ranks deep and will kill 4 skeletons in melee rather than the 2 when you charged. His reply would be (6-4 ) = 2 X .5 X .5 = .5 or maybe one model per round of melee. He would now loose the melee by 4 and loose an additional 4 models after combat.

Your sword armed rats loose 1 to his 4 dead models. If you cast Death frenzy again on your unit it does much better by getting an additional attack with slaves dropping dead at the end of the turn. So it would do (7 X 3 X .5 X .5 X .5) = 2.65 the first turn. You will win by 2 or 3. SO he looses perhaps 5 skeletons a turn to your maybe 1 or 2 or at most 5 worst case.

Your spear armed rats loose the same 1 to his 4 in the first turn and then in each turn thereafter he looses 7 or 8 skeletons to your 1 slave. If you hit the same unit with two death frenzies you will be killing 5 skeletons in melee ( 7 X 2 X 3 X.5 X .5 X .5) = 5.25 and his one surviving front rank skeleton might kill you half the time. He looses the melee by 5 or six and looses an additional 5 or 6 skeletons after combat. You are now killing 10 - 12 skeletons a turn and suffering more casualties by rolling D3 for dead Slaves because of your own spell than he is killing. Your 138 point unit plus 75 points for power die destroy his 355 point unit in three or four turns unless he does some serious casting of the Invocation of Nehek to raise more undead.

All of the above presumes the skeleton has sword, light armour and shield. If he has spear he dies faster but can hit you back a bit harder since he fights two ranks deep. Just increase his cost by 30 points and his dead by 1/3 rd each turn. What other unit in the entire game can do so much damage as these two slave units for such little cost. You are loosing less than 10 points a turn and destroying from 30 to 110 points of his army each turn.

So what if your slaves even get beat and flee for some reason. Maybe he creates a new unit and charges you in the flank and costs you your rank bonus. You still should win the melee but he will not loose by so much. Even if he beats you and you flee you only loose 100 to 128 points of real point cost, the rest is equivalent cost for power die at 12.5 points per die. You have tied up 355 points of his slow moving troops for at least two turns and to save his own unit he has to cast invocation spells to destroy your slaves. The rest of your army is destroying him in the meantime also.

It works almost the same against the Empire, Brets, and other not higher initiative armies. Chaos and Elfs can counter this normally. They have I4 or I5. Sigh!

Warpfire thrower and ratling cannon

Let's look at the mini machines. The warpfire thrower is awesome. The Ratling is cool. When they blow up, guess what, you can also screw up a lot of Skaven. When your flame cannon goes Kablooey you just remove it. The Skaven take out a blast template area sometimes when theirs goes up. The ratling is almost as bad. For you machines shooting is randomized against the machine or W3 crew. The Skaven machines are not targets if within 5" of a unit of 5 Skaven and can use the parent unit LD if whithin range. That's pretty good. Of course give it a single wound and there goes a 60 or 75 point minimachine. Yep one wound only.

The Warpfire thrower blows up at a missfire and may cover an 8" swath out from 2" to 10" so if it doesn't blow up anything at 10" gets hit, barely. Practically speaking yours is a robust machine and maybe will not blow up spectacularly. That of course presumes logic. But this is fantasy and you have to accept the fact that it can happen. One just has to love the folk at GWS who bounce back and forth between logic and fantasy.

At 15 inches maximum range the ratling is not going to dominate the playing area. Nor will the warpfire which is the more expensive and probably less useful weapon. It is fun if it works and definetily in character.

Another point to remember. I will never throw another dice if I have already roled a five or six except when I don't care about the result. However you can always role again on a one or two. Worst case is that the cannon doesn't shoot.

Now remember if you drop a cannon, stone, mortar, hochland rifle, head butt spell, vermintide, or any other area spell on the little cute war machines they go bye bye.

Poison-wind globadiers

I love them. The models are so cool. However they tend to run away a lot. Two kills from shooting and they are on their way. Quite bad for a unit that has to run to the front to allow throwing their globes. On the other hand you could kill a lot of those expensive knights with them. If you are lucky...


Gutter runner

The gutter runner tunneling teams are too expensive to be truly effective in a dependable way. They can be fun.


The jezzail teams may be the best troops in the army if you are lucky but are restricted both by points, and by being both special troops and the relevant mainstay unit rule which is rough but not overly restrictive to the rats, MAYBE! Jezzails are mean nasty things. At Ld5 they run quickly if you can kill a few. No rank bonus for these skirmishers. Of course -1 to shoot at them since they skirmish. 4+ armour save vs missiles/magic but only 6+ in melee. Now guess what the jezzail is dependable. That means if the guy rolls a 1 to hit he can hit himself if he rolls a further 1 on a D6. No other single figure in the game has this benefit.
They do cost 20 points for a single wound team that shoots once. They do get 2 melee attacks, but frankly melee is the last place you want these S3 guys. Flyers will run them right over unless they are big units.

Plague monks

Of the special and rare troops the Plague Monks and Censer Bearers of Clan Pestilens are a mixed blessing. Frenzy can work for you or against you and if the rat player faces a real cleaver player he can have it used against him with no trouble.

Rat ogres

In summary Rat ogres are not worth the points. At 50 points per team of Ogre/master they dish out 4 hits but because they don't have special weapons the hits are done with (only) strength 5. On top of them they go into combat naked and you can not rank them up. At anything more than four ogre bases you can not really manuever them since they are just too too wide and a wheel consumes the 12" march move. If the masters are killed they go stupid, like trolls and have no regeneration. They are also quickly targeted by your opponent's missiles. So let's see you can field 10 clanrats with armour, leadership, numbers, and rank bonus or one rat ogre and one master. The big benefit of the Rat Ogres is you need very few models to use up a lot of points and they are awfully easy to paint, so to flesh out you army with a lot of points buy the ogres otherwise you are better off with the clanrats or something else I think.


Plague censer bearer

Warplightning cannon

The warplightning cannon has indifferent range and indifferent strength, average range of 29" per shot which is not so long. The tactic that is described in the army book does not work very well. How can you shoot over the enemy front lines if you only have 29" shooting range in average. This machine is clearly an item to decimate the hard targets like greater Demons.

Please remember that the cannon can shoot and see through woods and other soft terrain.

Last updated August 22 2012