The Skaven are a race of vicious mutant rat-men who lurk in a vast Under-Empire below the world. They seek to bring pestilence and ruin to the surface-dwellers, and kill or enslave all who would oppose them. Skaven forces attack with overwhelming numbers of weak troops, backed up by arcane artillery and horrifying mutant monsters.
- 1 How they play
- 2 Background
- 3 In Battle
- 4 In the Campaign
- 4.1 Playable subfactions
- 4.2 Vortex Rituals
- 4.3 Skaven Under-Empire
- 4.4 Food
- 4.5 Skaven Corruption
- 4.6 Loyalty
- 4.7 Plagues
- 4.8 Rites
- 4.9 Buildings
- 4.10 Technology
- 4.11 Inventory
- 4.12 Stances
- 4.13 Post-battle options
- 4.14 Settlement options
- 4.15 Commandments
- 4.16 Climate preferences
- 4.17 Followers
- 4.18 Events
- 4.19 Skaven names
- 5 Minor factions
- 6 Strategy
- 7 Trivia
- 8 Screenshots
- 9 Videos
How they play
A summary of Skaven gameplay:
- Units: Masses of cheap expendable units, backed up by horrifying monsters, and devastating war machines. No cavalry or flying units, though some monsters might fill this role.
- Skaven Under-Empire: Skaven settlements appear as ruins to other factions, until discovered. Additionally, Skaven can establish secret Under-Cities beneath enemy settlements.
- Food: Food is a special resource that Skaven must manage alongside money. It can increase usage of army abilities or help upgrade settlements.
- The Menace Below: In campaign battles, Skaven have a unique army ability called The Menace Below which summons Clanrats. Spending food or increasing corruption increases the number of uses.
- Skaven Corruption: Skaven must manage Corruption which can both benefit and harm them.
- Loyalty: Lords have different loyalty levels, which can cause them to take their army and rebel against you.
- Stances: Stalking replaces default stance and gives a chance to ambush while moving. Skaven also have access to the Underway, like Dwarfs and Greenskins.
- Rites: Skaven have access to various rites which grant bonuses in campaign.
|“||All decent folk find the common rat repulsive. Harbinger of disease, it scavenges on our waste-heaps and frightens our children. How immeasurably worse then is the foul Skaven - standing on its hindlegs in foul parody of a human. Rats as tall as man, and blessed with the most vile intellect and cunning. They are the dark side of our souls, come to destroy us for our sins.||„|
|~ Albrecht of Nuln. Burned at the stake, IC 1301 for pernicious declamation|
The Skaven are vile, malevolent ratmen that swarm beneath the surface of the world. Hidden in their sprawling underground lairs, they gnaw at the roots of civilization, plotting and scheming for the day they will burst from their dark tunnels and drown the world above in a tide of mangy fur, rusty blades and plague-ridden filth. They desire world domination with every fibre of their twisted beings - from their quivering whiskers to the tips of their segmented tails.
The Skaven present a massive danger to civilization. Huge numbers of them dwell in the Under-Empire which stretches beneath most of the world (except the island-continent of Ulthuan), and the center of this empire is the terrible city of Skavenblight. Hell Pit, Seep-Gore and Crookback Mountain are also well-known, but Skaven are best known for making secret Under-Cities beneath the settlements of other races. Despite the threat, most of The Empire denies that Skaven even exist! Dwarfs are not so foolish, as they have fought bitter wars against the ratmen for control of the underground realms. The Lizardmen also have a special hatred for the Skaven.
Most skaven are male. The few females, termed "Breeders" are bloated, drugged, barely conscious creatures which are jealously guarded by clans and forced to birth hordes of young. As a result the ratmen are perhaps the most numerous intelligent race in the world, even outstripping the Greenskins. Because of this, food is a constant concern for them. Apart from food, the Skaven also crave warpstone – they are one the few races reckless enough to work with this dangerous Chaos-tainted substance. The lowest rung of Skaven society are slaves, who also double as food when times are tough. These are mostly Skaven, though there are also slaves of other races.
Skaven society is divided into many Clans which rule over slaves and compete for power and influence. Clan Eshin are highly secretive masters of stealth and their Assassins are feared in the Under-Empire and beyond. Clan Skryre are engineers, combining magic and technology to create devastating weapons and war-machines. Clan Pestilens are a cult of religious fanatics who worship the Horned Rat in his aspect as the bringer of plague and disease. Clan Moulder hail from Hell Pit, and create horrifying mutated monsters. Clan Rictus and Clan Mors are "warlord clans" producing the elite Stormvermin.
The Skaven worship the Great Horned Rat, a malevolent deity who embodies all the treachery, destruction, disease and malintent of the Skaven. The Horned Rat is served by the Grey Seers, a priesthood of white-furred, horned rats with great spellcasting powers. This caste of sorcerer-priests stands apart from the clans. Above the slaves, clans and seers are the Council of Thirteen, the shadowy governing body of Skaven society. This council contains representatives from all the major clans, as well as the leader of the Grey Seers. The thirteenth seat on the council is traditionally reserved for the Horned Rat himself.
- Main article: Skaven unit roster
The Skaven rely on vast numbers of cheap, expendable troops with low-leadership. Skavenslaves have the highest troop number in the game – 180 on ultra unit sizes. In campaign mode, the Menace Below ability can be used to summon extra Clanrats into the battle. Most Skaven units have low leadership, so they will quickly rout only to rally shortly after. However these meat-shield units must be backed up with stronger damage-dealing units. Stormvermin and their variants are solid infantry (though will still lose to elite troops). Monsters such as Rat Ogres and artillery/ such as the Plagueclaw Catapult are devastating. They also have weapon teams such as Warplock Jezzails (snipers), Ratling Guns (machine guns), Warpfire Throwers and Globadiers (poison gas lobbers).
- No cavalry units
- No flying units
- Poor leadership
Strength in Numbers and Scurry Away!
Most units within the Skaven roster have access to the Strength in Numbers and Scurry Away! abilities. Strength in Numbers provides Skaven units with benefits to melee defence and leadership but reduce movement speed (-12%) while the unit is at 50% base health or higher. Scurry Away! gives a buff to movement speed (+12%) while the units leadership is low. This causes Skaven units to essentially trade melee combat effectiveness for movement speed as a battle progresses. As a result units that have routed and regrouped are able to quickly rejoin the fray, offsetting the low leadership most Skaven units tend to have.
Skaven spellcasters have access to three unique lores of magic: Skaven Spells of Ruin, Skaven Spells of Plague and Skaven Spells of Stealth. Grey Seers have access to a unique spell called the Dreaded Thirteenth Spell.
The Menace Below
The Menace Below is an important army ability available to Skaven armies in battles during the campaign. It summons a free unit of degrading Clanrats into the battle, but has a cooldown timer. It has a maximum number of times it can be used per battle – this limit can be increased by spending food before the battle or having more Skaven Corruption in the province.
In the Campaign
In campaign there are six playable Skaven factions, each with its own starting position, and led by separate Legendary Lords. See individual pages for faction-specific info.
|Clan Mors, led by Queek Headtaker|
|Clan Pestilens, led by Lord Skrolk|
|Clan Rictus, led by Tretch Craventail - Added as free content on January 24, 2018.|
|Clan Skryre, led by Ikit Claw - Requires The Prophet and The Warlock paid DLC.|
|Clan Eshin, led by Deathmaster Snikch - Requires The Shadow and The Blade paid DLC.|
|Clan Moulder, led by Throt the Unclean - Requires The Twisted and The Twilight paid DLC.|
Skaven Underworld refers to how Skaven settlements appear as ruins to other factions (including other Skaven factions), until discovered. This represents the secretive Under-Empire of the Skaven, where Skaven burrows can lurk beneath the surface unnoticed. Ruins can be scouted with a hero or entered with a lord/army to see whether Skaven are there. If your lord enters the ruins, you will be asked whether or not you wish to attack the settlement/declare war.
Additionally, Skaven factions can establish secret settlements called Under-Cities beneath the settlements of other races. These settlements have a chance to be discovered and destroyed, though.
Food is a unique resource for the Skaven in campaign that they must manage, alongside money. Food is consumed by each army and settlement and produced each turn faction-wide. Low levels cause major problems, while high levels provide significant bonuses. Food can be spent on increasing the limit for the Menace Below, or it can be spent to Colonize new settlements at a higher level than usual. Minor and major settlements can be colonized up to maximum, if food allows.
- Main article: Corruption
Skaven Corruption is a type of corruption unique to Skaven factions. High levels of corruption allow extra uses of The Menace Below during battles, can cause Public Order issues in owned and adjacent provinces (owned or enemy, cap of -5 at 100% corruption), and generate a crippling negative trait in non-Skaven lords (Skaven Denial, +1 public order in local province, -15 leadership for self when fighting Skaven). However , high levels of skaven corruption do not cause attrition like other types of corruption. Skaven are unique in that they must manage corruption on higher difficulties (where a difficulty based penalty to public order is significant as well), rather than just blindly spreading it everywhere. Many Skaven buildings either increase or reduce corruption in the local area or adjacent provinces. Lord Skrolk can spread significant corruption, and public order penalties without the need for buildings in enemy provinces via skills, legendary items, traits, and raiding. It is not enough to cause issue to the AI on higher difficulties however, due to their bonuses to public order.
Loyalty affects whether Skaven lords are likely to rebel against you in campaign mode. Many things can affect loyalty, for instance Queek Headtaker has an increased likelihood of having Grey Seers rebel against him. This mechanic is shared with the Dark Elves. Loyalty can be increased through victories, completed quests, recruiting more units and loyalty dilemmas. Loyalty can decrease from defeats, failed quests, disbanding units, loyalty dilemmas and randomly on its own.
The Pestilent Scheme Priest can spread plague to an enemy city, reducing growth (-30) and income generation (-50%) for 6 turns. It costs the enemy significantly more income than it costs itself, if applied to a suitable money making city (gold mine, etc.). The cooldown on the rite is short enough to continually apply the effect to an enemies economic center. On higher difficulties it is not very effective, because the AI gains significant bonuses.
- Main article: Skaven rites
See Skaven buildings.
See Skaven tech tree.
Skaven have access to the following stances:
- Stalking – replaces default stance and gives chance to ambush the enemy.
- Ambush stance
- Use Underway – allows them to access the underway and bypass enemies/terrain.
The post-battle options for Skaven are as follows:
- Sell-Off: +Treasury, -army replenishment, diplomatic effects
- Enslave: +Food, +army leadership
- Eat captives: +army replenishment
Settlement options for Skaven factions are as follows:
- Ruins: Treasure hunt / Colonize
- Captured Settlement: Do nothing / Loot and occupy / Sack / Raze
See Skaven commandments for a detailed list.
Skaven climate preferences change depending on the faction (eg: Clan Rictus has different preferences from Clan Pestilens). However in general, Skaven have a wide range of climates suitable to them, reflecting their ability to swarm and infest any place.
See Skaven followers.
See Skaven events.
See Skaven names.
The following minor Skaven factions are found in campaign mode. Not all minor factions are found in all campaigns.
- Clan Gnaw
- Clan Mordkin
- Clan Septik
- Clan Spittel
- Grey Seer Clan
- Unknown Skaven Clan
- Clan Volkn
- Rictus Clan-Nest
- Clan Ferrik
- Clan Fester
The rats, such as orcs or dwarves, are able to travel underground. very useful to flee , or to opte for a central position strategy over the map campain : most of early faction will not have several army , they will have one main army and perhaps one light army. If you get between two cities with an aggressive underground move , if you certain your army is better than the ennemies , you can force the fight or take one of the cities as they won't be able to follow you. Be careful not jump in if you face against stronger ennemies.
Never underestimate or forget to use some of your opponent cities to extends your underground empire, as it could provide most of your food and money income. Moreover, it can help you for battle and let you more liberty on your opponent territory.
One of the main source of damage output in the campain for skaven is pest spreading. It can destroy everything (you included) , over large portions of lands, reduce armies, garrisons, growth ...
If you have to face a strong opponent, just play defensive battles with your greats citie defenses, embush them , and let pest slowly destroy his forces, then you will give the final hit on capitols and its armies using your fresh troops. Pest is a game changer when used in zone where war is very active, as every army will spread it.
Food food food !
As Skaven you won't be very annoyed with gold matters such as others factions , but lacking food gonna be terrible. Do not hesitate to extends your underground empire and kill armies for food in a first time , and to declare war to farther opponent and send your army far from home. The undergroud empire gonna be the fondation of your on, ground empire , with the food to sustain armies and growth.
The underground cities will remain a long time if you are not too greedy with it. Just extends fist the influence and embush weaker army before sending the skaven steamroller !
Low Power trick army
The AI tends to underestimate the power of a Skaven army, so it would take fights despite the fact that your armies would be capable of crushing it. The drawbacks will be that you have to do the fight , but do not care about the strenght equilibrium of the armies : you will probably win the battle even if you're given loser.
You can use this trick in order to attract enemies on you , especially if a great army is embushed near the weakest one !
Skaven is the best faction in siege holding and taking. Most of their units are infantery which can climb over the walls. , they have powerful gate breakers (and even wall breakers !! ) , the catapults can produce an absolute carnage on and over the wall , while they are overhelmed by a contined flow of rats. warp lighting can hit units on the wall. Ratling and Jezzai can snipe any flying units , or characters.
Clan rats spawn can force the opponent to defend the center and dislocate his defenses . Any army have all of this capabilities.
Just site on a side of the map , put slaves on the front, do not move your army at the beggining, just let canons and catapults destroy the defending tower. Then, let yout siege units destroy units on the wall, and magics destroy everything that could contest it. Finally you will be able to overflow the walls and route every ennemi units remaining on it, before taking out the cavalery or monsters waiting behind it.
Many tools are given for the skaven to dislocate the ennemy army group , especially in campain. This can be really effective against army relying on its characters to hold their line , such as Vampire or Empire, as they will be forced to split and make choices in which group they will support. This strategy can be also a clever choice in multiplayers, as the opponent will be stressed with very aggressive deployment , multitask and choice for him , and artillery damage output.
- Moving distance ligts troops : Many skaven skirmish infantery are able to fire while moving, combined for some with stealth, and vanguard deployment, and even both of this three advantage. You can totally hide some unit in the path of the ennemy army , or on the very early battle, the skirmisher will force the army to split into several group its army, so you can use your artillery to clean up each group coming to your main line to kill them before it reach your poor line infantery. The opponent cavalery and fast characters will probably get some of your unit so just makes them quit the close combat and keep a good distance between your units so always have one or two firing . If the cavalery lost its time on lesser skirmisher units, you gain time for your artillery to absolutely destroy enemy line.
- Strong artillery : the Skaven artillery can easily weaken formation, moral and health , allowing for monsters or better infantery to make a breakthrough in the enemy line at the right moment.
-Magic of Skaven can destroy enemies formations , and they even got a special cast in this only purpose, so you can delay some of the enemy unit or make a breakthrough to get skirmishers with rat oger or other fast units.
- invoke some clan rats on the back of the army , to force some units to stay back in order to protect skirmishers.
- Poor leadership : A things is that skaven have poor leadership and tends to flee and split itselves. Despite beeing a drawback, in a splitted army strategy it become an advantages, as the fleeing units will often come back and force enemy units to charges them again. This is little tricky agzainst AI because the AI will often stop fight against disbanding units , so you can abuse of this fact in order to split totally your army so the enemy line must dislocate.
- Expendable army
- Skavenslaves are extremely expendable and very fast to recruit and cheap. They can be recruited from any Skaven settlement, as they only require the main settlement chain building. A common tactic is to create a second army of just Skavenslaves and have it follow around your main army and initiate battles so that the Skavenslaves take all the damage and wear out the enemy, ready for your main army to get all the kills. If Skavenslaves die - no worries, there is plenty more where they came from. However, this must be balanced against the cost of faction-wide increase on upkeep when recruiting a whole new army.
- Before Total War: Warhammer released, Russian leakers found information saying that Skaven would come as DLC. This information was outdated.
- Skaven were not initially announced for Total War: Warhammer II. Rather, the game was announced as having four races but only three (High Elves, Dark Elves, Lizardmen) were revealed. Skaven were teased in the initial cinematic trailer, with appearance of a red-eyed rat at the end. Eventually they were revealed to be the fourth race.
How to play the Skaven in Campaign
How to play the Skaven in Battle
How to play the Skaven Lords & Heroes