SKAVEN Battletome!

 

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!

 

Carrion Empire 

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).

Skaven Pestilens

A book review of SKAVEN PESTILENS by Josh Reynolds

This is a special book for me as it was not only my first foray into the blighted world of the Skaven, not just my  first look at the proper lore and world of Age of Sigmar, but my  first ever full Black Library book that I read. Having spent many years as a Tyranid fan and a fringe fan of many other armies (ergo not fully invested), I’d never really delved deep into the lore of 40K nor the Old World of Fantasy Warhammer.

So from the get go I should say that I really recommend this title!

Within you discover the filth infested, back stabbing world of the Skaven of two Pestliens Clans as they fight over their conquest of a city that crumbles as their rotting blighted powers and war engines tear it to bits. The very ground beneath this vast city being burrowed into by the skaven as they feast on the flesh of the vast living wyrm that forms the foundations. Yes this is a war on the move and the mental images and descriptions that Josh creates are as epic as Age of Sigmar can aspire to be. Vast cities built atop even greater wyrms that wander a vast open plain, the various cities warring with each other and the twisted blights of Chaos that have crept into the world during the Age of Chaos.

Into this we have the Skaven as they seek something a relic from the Old World that was, but they are not alone. For into this destroyed city march the shining beacons of the Stormcast, come to cleanse the great beast and free the peoples of the city and awaken the great Realm Gate nestled in a temple built atop its head. However even their might is not enough to overcome the thick smoke and plagues of the Skaven, allies have to be found not just from the released captives of the city, but also from other races. From an old and ancient race that comes not just to fight the blight of Skaven and Chaos, but with their own motivations and ideals as well.

This is a book filled with magic and battles and Josh expertly balances the forces involved and the heroes that arise within each army. We see and get a fantastic flavour for the races involved and see the personal aspirations of characters as they seek to achieve their various objectives.

The only real criticism I have after reading is that I wish it were longer. I would have loved to have read the beginning of the war when the city was first under siege and the Skaven arose to fight the peoples of the wyrm; and I would love to read more of the story after the events in the book. I really hope that Josh gets to return to the world of the Skaven as he’s got a good talent for writing about these dark, twisted, slightly (if not totally) mad rats.

As I said at the start this is one book that I’d strongly recommend reading, though as noted just below in the links, I’d also recommend that you grab a copy of the Legends of the Age of Sigmar since you can then also tip into the worlds of two other major races as they awaken and throw off the shackles of Chaos invasion; leaving behind the Age of Chaos and bathing in the blood and light of the Age of Sigmar.

I recommend getting this book as part of the Legends of the Age of Sigmar: Omnibus 1 as for the same price as the book on its own, you get a selection of other great novels focusing on the Fyreslayers and the Sylvaneth.

Also available on Amazon and other good book stores.