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The Skaven are a race introduced in Total War: Warhammer II. They have six playable factions, each led by a different Legendary Lord.

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.

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.


Skaven factions are normal, non-horde factions who occupy settlements and control provinces.

Playable factions[]

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.


  • Grey Seer Vulscreek - an agent of the Council of Thirteen who gives missions.
  • Sneek Scratchett - a scribe of Vulscreek who is abused by him.

Minor factions[]

The following minor Skaven factions are found in campaign mode. Not all minor factions are found in all campaigns.

Total War: Warhammer II

Factions exclusive to the Eye of the Vortex campaign:

Factions from the Mortal Empires campaign:

When loyalty reaches zero for a Skaven army, the army defects and creates a new faction:

Another faction is in the game files but was never implemented as Clan Eshin doesn't have the loyalty mechanic:

Total War: Warhammer III

Factions introduced in The Realm of Chaos campaign:

In Battle[]

Artwork of Skaven units.

Unit Roster[]

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 (Though Doomflayers, Wolf rats and Rat ogres may be used for this role).
  • 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 have access to three unique lores of magic:

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[]

Vortex Rituals[]

In the Eye of the Vortex campaign, the Skaven compete to control the Great Vortex by using Rituals. Exceptions are Clan Eshin and Clan Moulder who have different goals.

Skaven Under-Empire[]

Bullet skv underworld.pngSkaven 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.

Skaven factions also have access to the Underway, a mechanic they share with Dwarfs and Greenskins.

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 resource.pngFood 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.

Skaven Corruption[]

Main article: Skaven corruption

Icon corruption skv.pngSkaven 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.


Icon loyalty.pngLoyalty 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

Skaven have access to 4 rites, which provide various bonuses. These are the only way they can recruit the DOOOOM! Engineer and Pestilent Scheme Priest who can spread Icon plague.pngplagues.


See Skaven buildings.


See Skaven tech tree.



Skaven have access to the following stances:

Post-battle options[]

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[]

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.

Climate preferences[]

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.

Skaven names[]

See Skaven names.

Chaos Invasion[]

Skaven factions do not gain shield of civilization during a Chaos Invasion.


Click here to add a strategy!


The rats, such as orcs or dwarves, are able to travel underground, this can be very useful to flee, or to opt for a central position strategy over the campaign map. Most of the early factions will not have several armies, instead they will have one main army and perhaps one other, light army. If you get between two cities with an aggressive underground move, and you are certain that your army is better than the enemies, you can force the fight or take one of the cities as they won't be able to follow you. Be careful not to jump straight in, if you face against stronger enemies.

Underground Empire

Never underestimate or forget to use some of your opponent's cities to extend your underground empire; the under cities can end up providing most of your food and money income. Moreover, it can help you during battle and let you have bonuses within your opponent's territory.


One of the main source of damage output in the campaign for Skaven is pest spreading. It can destroy everything (you included), over large portions of land, reducing armies, garrisons, growth , etc.

If you have to face a strong opponent, it would be wise to play defensive battles with your great city defenses, ambush 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 can be 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 in food is going to be terrible. Do not hesitate to extend your underground empire and kill armies for food early on, or to declare war on a farther opponent by sending your army far from home. The underground empire should be the foundation of your above-ground empire (settlements), with the food from the under empire used to sustain armies and growth.

The underground cities will remain hidden for a long time if you are not too greedy with them early on. Just extend first the influence and ambush weaker armies 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, if controlled, would be capable of crushing it. The drawbacks of this are that you have to do the fight, but do not worry about the strength equilibrium of the armies: you will probably win the battle even if you're predicted a loss. You can use this trick in order to attract enemies on you, especially if a great army is ambushed near the weakest one!

Siege champions

Skaven is the best faction for siege holding and taking. Most of their units are infantary which can climb over the walls; they have powerful gate breakers (and even wall breakers!), the catapults can produce absolute carnage on and over the walls all the while, the enemy army is being overwhelmed by a continual flow of rats. Warp lighting can hit units on the wall, Ratling and Jezzai can snipe any flying units as well as other characters.

Clan rats spawn can force the opponent to defend the center and dislocate his defenses,. All Skaven armies have this capability.

Just sit on a side of the map, put slaves at the front, do not move your army at the beginning, just let the canons and catapults destroy the defending tower. Afterwards, let your siege units destroy units on the wall, and magic will destroy everything that coulde try to contest it. Finally you will be able to overflow the walls and route the enemy units remaining on it, before taking out the cavalry or monsters waiting behind it.

Army dislocation

Many tools are given for the Skaven to dislocate the enemy armies, especially in campaign mode. This can be very effective against armies that rely on characters to hold their lines, such as Vampire Counts or The Empire. They will be forced to split and make choices about which group to support. This strategy can be also work well in multiplayer, as the opponent will be stressed with very aggressive deployment, multitasking, and your artillery damage output.

- Moving distance light troops: Many Skaven skirmish infantry are able to fire whilst moving, combining this with stealth, and vanguard deployment, these can all be used for a combined advantage. You can hide some units within the path of the enemy army, or during the early battle, the skirmisher can force the army to split into several groups, so that you can use your artillery to clean up the oncoming groups towards your main line, effectively killing them before they reach your infantry lines. The opposing cavalry and faster characters will probably get to some of your units, so just make them quit the close combat and keep a good distance between your units so you can always have one or two firing. If the cavalry loses its time on lesser skirmisher units, you gain time for your artillery to absolutely destroy the enemy line.

- Strong artillery : the Skaven artillery can easily weaken formations, moral and health, allowing for monsters or better infantry to make a breakthrough in the enemy line at the right moment.

-Magic of Skaven can destroy enemies formations ,and they even get a special cast for only this purpose, so that you can delay some of the enemy units or make a breakthrough to get skirmishers with rat ogre 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: Unfortunately the Skaven have poor leadership and tend to flee and split themselves. Despite being a drawback, in a split army strategy it can be used as an advantages. The fleeing units will often come back and force enemy units to charge them again. This is little tricky against the AI, because the AI will often stop fighting against disbanding units. It's possible to use this fact in order to split totall 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 already referenced in the first game nonetheless, in random events. In one quest battle for Grimgor Ironhide, he mentioned about "Ratmen" in his speech.
  • 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[]

Clan Mors.png Skaven units