When Age of Sigmar 3.0 was released, I made the decision to pick Skaven as the first force for the new edition (and stupidly agreed on release day to take part in a tournament a few weeks later with a force that at that point didn’t exist). Four Clanrats boxes and a Start Collecting box later, I knew that I was in trouble. I wasn’t going to have enough to field at a battle-ready standard, so I grabbed a few Verminlords and a Clawlord to chew up some points, so I didn’t have to paint 80 Clanrats.
Somehow I managed to get a force painted for my first ever tournament (and I think at that point, it was probably my 3rd ever game of AoS). This was my introduction to how restrictive list building was for Skaven, and I am glad to see that those restrictions have been removed in this new battletome.
The main building restriction we now have is that to make certain units battleline, we need to have the same number of heroes from that clan as the number of units that you want to be battleline. This unlocks the ability to really mix and match all clans, which will hopefully create some insane lists down the track. The downside is that hero models eat up your points quickly, especially if you’re trying to trigger some of the Great Clans battle traits, such as Always Three Clawsteps Ahead, which, in my opinion, is the best one because it allows you to pile-in all other friendly Skaven units that are within 3″ of an enemy model after your first pile-in.
To unlock this, you will need 3 models from the following, Thanquol, Lord Skreech Verminking, Verminlord Warpseer, Grey Seer on Screaming Bell, or a Grey Seer on foot. So, to unlock this train, you’ll need at least Thanquol, Lord Skreech Verminking, and a Verminlord Warpseer (1210 points), or at most three Grey Seers on foot (375 points). I might stick with my 3 Screaming Bell build as that sits at 975 points, but you get the ability to call 3 Verminlords by cracking the bell. Oh, did I mention that?
Another big welcome change was the ability to somewhat control the triggering of a Verminlord from a Screaming Bell by using A Stirring Beyond the Veil. In my limited use of Screaming Bell spam, you’d expect that I’d have triggered a few Verminlords, but unfortunately it was much less than I would have liked, and when I did, it was always at the worst possible time. So, as I mentioned before, for a reduced price you can potentially call a Verminlord while still retaining the Grey Seer after the bell has been cracked. So, for the low low price of 325, you can potentially have 495 worth of units.
The amusing thing about that is that your opponent will have brought this upon themselves by not destroying the Screaming Bell fast enough, and if they were smart enough to keep you just out of range of summoning the Verminlord, you can go park yourself next to some deadly terrain if you are close enough. Now if only they allowed you to lift the Screaming Bell model and replace it with a Grey Seer on foot and a Rat Ogre after you cracked the bell.
One of the main issues I had with my force was that due to the new unit coherency rules (1.3.3), my Clanrats had to really spread out just to wrap around efficiently on pile-in to be in range unless I started using Rusty Spears for the 2″ range (but we won’t speak of that). With the Strength in numbers battle trait, you can now increase the range by 1″ for every 10 models in a unit, up to a maximum of 3″. I can now keep my clanrat footprint small, further helping to limit the possible attack surface and allowing more units around a single target.
Because base sizes are less than an inch when setup in the formation shown to the left, a MSU of 20 Clanrats can now travel around 4 ranks deep with a 3″ range, allowing the entire unit to attack. The Core Rules state in Combat Attacks (13.1.2) that “the target of a combat attack must be within a number of inches equal to the Range characteristic of the weapon”, so in the formation shown, even the 4th rank can still technically reach the opponent, be it by a few millimetres, but still within the rules.
The Grand Strategies do leave much to be desired and are probably the weakest part of the battletome. They could have had so much fun with the theme of “foiling the opponents’ plans”. Something like stopping all of your opponents’ battle tactics (hard, but that would deny them a nice chunk of points while you still get yours and your Grand Strategy), or something as simple as stopping your opponents’ Grand Strategy. It fits the lore better than keeping 3 or more friendly heros of a certain clan alive. The Battle Tactics are a little better, but again very specific being based on clans used. Let’s face it, even with the flexability that you now have when building your army, you may not even use any of them, so you are left to the current battlepack’s Battle Tactics.
I’m still going through all the rest of the traits, artefacts, and unit theory crafting lists, so I’ll probably have more to say after a week or so, but for the moment, this battletome has not been a disappointment. I’m looking forward to building some lists and finally getting around to painting some more non-Verminus models, which I’d been holding off just in case they were negatively changed.