Yes yes it is here now! The might of the Great Horned One shall spread throughout all the Realms, all shall bow grovel to the might of the Skaven!
Review of the Battletome
My first impression of the tome was “oh gods this paper is heavy” and yes the pages are thick with ink! Brilliant colour on every single page, from decorative edges to full page and double page artwork spreads as well as army photos. GW’s photography studio has excelled themselves yet again in making photos that are as dynamic and epic as the sweeping artwork GW still fills their books with (although sometimes it highlights that GW really needs a few more models of things here and there when you can spot the same 3 stormfiends every time they appear).
The lore and story is well setout and, like many current Battletomes, they focus on a quick telling of the history of Skaven from the early days in the Age of Myth through the Age of Chaos and into the current times of the Age of Sigmar. The Myth age setting lore is, as for many, quite light on detail; representing the various histories and pasts lost to the Skaven over the vast generations. The short details leave a lot of room for further writing and fleshing out and for fleshing out ones own backstory and clan to fit into the realms. There’s also tantalizing hooks placed here and there – the mysterious fate of Clan Shrykt who built a new gnawhole and collapsed it in on itself behind them, their destination unknown; or that Clan Tichritt (a fallen Clan now) once held Chronomatic weapons of great power. Just two of the potential hooks that might one day be developed and evolved upon.
There are also many neat stories telling of creative plagues; unique machines and even skyfleets of stolen airships. Ideas that might spark the imagination of eager converters within the hobby; or which might one day appear here and there as future weapons and models released by GW official (though I’m sure the dark minds of their master crafters have got even more nefarious ideas to sculpt up for us). Plus fans of the mighty and cunning Thanquol will be pleased to know he features with his own short story!
From the general background things get more specific, focusing on a page for each of the Great Clans (Skyre, Eshin, Moulder, Verminous, Pestilens and Master) which set the scene. Though Skyre and Pestilens are the clear poster-child factions of the current age (likely bolstered by Pestilens own Battletome to begin with and by Skyre having quite a few newer kits and variety in the current range). Others are certainly not left without, but I’d wager we’ll see more of clans like Moulder as and when GW can update some of the older sculpts such as Rat Ogres*.
From clans to units the next big segment goes into some lore and history on the various units and weapons of the Skaven; giving some flavour to the various units and weapons of the army that gamers can directly buy and field on the tabletop.
Following is glorious page after page of photos of models from the GW painters and army displays, joined by several good and quick painting tips for various specific Skaven elements such as teeth, fur and warpstone.
Finally there’s the rules for the army; rules that you build either a clan focused army around one of the great clans, or a motley united force of Skaven pulled together by a powerful leader. Whatever your choice you can find it here and the single Battletome shines for being able to combine sub-armies whilst also letting them viably compete with each other for their own unique flavour. I will not go into any detail in the balance or numbers, there’s going to be endless reviews and arguments and battles that will appear over the coming months that will hammer out the winners and losers from the balance pass. Suffice it to say Skaven will never be a full beginners army; with many abilities that can outright kill themselves as much as their foes Skaven will need a careful hand to guide them to victory. I will say that its fantastic to see that they’ve retained almost their entire line from the Old World days; though also they’ve lost a few parts here and there. One I’m honestly glad to see gone are Skaven Slaves, for whilst they fit the lore really well (and they are very much still part of it); they were always both overpriced (as they never went full plastic) and so highly numerous whilst being the epitome of a chaff unit. The kind you’d spend hours making only to remove most of them each game pretty fast. Even in the old days most just fielded Clanrats so to have slaves gone and Clanrats the lowest of the biped rats is a good thing in my view.
If we consider this the first tome then Skaven are off to a good start with a great foundation to build upon. I fully expect that in the coming years we’ll see more stories like Skaven Pestilens which add to the lore and history of the faction. We’ll certainly see Thanquol weaving his mad plots and schemes and see the rise and fall of many a Skaven plan. Whilst some of the detailed depth has been lost from the Old World, Skaven have honestly retained almost all of their original character, they are still maniacal, scheming, cowardly, crazed rats. They still stab each other in the back as much as they stab their opponents and other races; they still strike from the shadows and, if the Hammerheld Herald is to believed, they still don’t officially exist!
If you’re checking out Skaven right now then you surely can’t miss that Carrion Empire also launches this weekend. A duel battle kit featuring mad rats and madder cannibals with a new leader for both armies as well as a steep discount on the models within. A great selection for starting off your Clan Skyre or for bolstering your other clans with Skyres powerful war engines such as the famous Doomwheel!
If you don’t want to get the box I strongly recommend scouring your local store or ebay for the book that comes with the box. The Carrion Empire booklet isn’t huge, but gives a fantastic setting (and several themed battleplans for use against Flesh Eater Courts) and adds to the overall lore of the Skaven in the Mortal Realms.
* It should be noted that a selection of models including ogres, engineers, packmaster, warpfire throwers and globethrowers were updated with the Island of Blood boxed set in the last age of the Old World. However whilst those kits are still found on ebay (hunt around you can still find unbuilt ones); they’ve not made it into the current age (although teasingly the globethrowers do appear in the codex in a few photos).