Skaven Were Here …

With the Third Realm chatter shutdown, let’s focus on what might actually happen should an expansion come our way. Mythic deserves some vindication … they’ve taken a lot of heat for the two factions in WAR over the three that made DAOC successful. How much of that decision was Games Workshop’s knowing what they had in store for Fantasy Battle? At this point, keeping the game to two opposing forces is the easiest and least expensive route (even if not the best). Adding new races is far simpler than an overhaul of the Realm War mechanic.

I begin my new race overviews with the hands-down, most popular possible addition: Skaven. I’ve written about them before (as part of a new Third Realm and as their own faction). The thing with rats is once an infestation of vermin arrives … it’s tough to get rid of … so there’s more to discuss … they won’t go away. Even though they are not at the top of my list, I can see some coolness that would entice me to give at least one rat toon a try. My two previous posts went through their ranks outlining potential classes … let’s take another look at them overall.

B A C K G R O U N D   &   L O R E
Little is known of the true origins of this foul race. It is believed they were born as a result of mutation from large amounts of Warpstone which showered down from the sky in a torrent of meteors. Whatever made these rats the size of men, there’s no doubt they are abundant in number and equally evil in their pursuits of power.

Unlike other realms, their leadership structure is not as defined. They are ruled by the Council of Thirteen, a body of 12 leaders and a vacant 13th seat representing the Great Horned Rat (their deity). It’s safe to say the Council’s rule is tumultuous as there is much infighting, secret alliances, betrayals, and assassinations that breed mistrust amongst their various clans. Skaven are found all across the old and new world but Skavenblight is considered their political center.

R A T I O N A L E   F O R   J O I N I N G   T H E   W A R
The Skaven have been hired as mercenaries to hit the Forces of Order when they least expect. While Order fights the combined armies of Chaos, Dark Elves, and Greenskins … the Skaven strike like a thief in the night by unleashing the Red Plague in the lands of the Empire, on the shores of Ulthuan, and throughout the Worlds Edge Mountains. They may be mercenaries but behind the scenes they plot their own little coup for power should the opportunity arise.

We’re going into unknown territory … current classes each have a mirror. Adding new races poses a challenge: link new race classes to existing mirrors or create new variants to set them apart? I hope Mythic goes with the latter. Does the thought of simply playing a ratman outweigh playing the same class mechanic that already exists on two other toons? Or would players want a totally new mechanic — different from what is already available? I vote different. That’s an open item, so I won’t get into what mirrors the Skaven would, should, or could match up with, rather I’ll focus on what class will fit each archetype.

What might be interesting is a race-specific mechanic. It’s assumed that all Skaven would wield some sort of Warpstone weapon. It’s repeated use could have interesting effects both positive and negative and be utilized in different ways depending upon the archetype.

I really liked my “Moulder Rat Ogre Packmaster” idea but it’s probably too different and non-traditional to be considered. Most people seem to mention Stormvermin as the best candidate for the Skaven tank. I’ll acquiesce. They fit the mold pretty well … big, armored, tough.

I’m sure those who enjoy the pet mechanic drool over the thought of controlling a pack of rabid giant rats, or better yet, some lumbering rat ogre. Then again, the Eshin Assassin is simply too obvious a choice to overlook. I give the nod to the Assassin as the Skaven wouldn’t seem right without a stealth class.

Warplock Engineer or Poison Wind Globadier? I can see potential with both. The only downside to the Engineer is its potential similarities to the Dwarf equivalent. Personally, if the Globadier gets the nod, this Skaven is the one I would want to play. Who wouldn’t want to be a rat in a gasmask lobbing glistening glass globes of green doom at people?

I wrote previously of three possible candidates for this slot. The Grey Seer seems more a caster than healer and there is the Plague Priest. But the Plague Censor Bearer sounds like it could be a pretty mean DPS-Healer. We can never have enough OPed DPS-Healer classes so let’s add to the fun.

Each race in WAR has their own zones so it’s assumed that when Skaven are added, they will be given their own lands. So for the 9 zones in each pairing, 4 are Order, 4 are Destro, and 1 is a neutral zone. For example, in Empire/Chaos … the Order-centric zones are: Nordland, Ostland, Talabecland, and Reikland. The Destro-centric zones are: Norsca, Troll Country, High Pass, and Chaos Wastes. Praag is the center zone of Tier 4 and starts off as neutral.

To truly flesh out the pairing, we’d need to partner the Skaven with an adversary. I’m of the mind that this race should be the Lizardmen. This could be the first pairing that spans two continents — the Old World and Lustria. The map below shows you the vastness of the Skaven’s underworld empire (click to enlarge). There’s a lot to work with but like other pairings, I feel the focus of these zones should be nearby to the Skaven’s capital.

I’m left wondering how much effort will be put into PvE. At times it’s a necessary evil to supplement PvP. PvE offers quest storylines, XP, items, gold, dungeons, and mobs to grind for loot, crafting, and currency. I don’t envision any new zones being given the old treatment but I also don’t see them as wide open RvR zones.

The New Player Journey starts everyone in Nordland (Order) or Norsca (Destro). This is good for funneling players to near non-stop RvR in New Emskrank. The other Tier 1 zones … crickets … crickets … crickets. The layouts on the Blighted Isle and Chrace are terrible. You spend more time running to the BOs than capping them and I’ve never experienced a massive battle there. The same can be said of Ekrund and Mount Bloodhorn. Keep it simple with an interesting layout that encourages more fighting and less running.

For this post, I will only focus on the Skaven-centric zones.

Tier 1
The Skaven’s “starter” zone would be in the Sussirio Wood at the end of the Apuccini Mountains in southern Tilea. It is here that new ratlings are platooned to hold back an advance by the invading Lizardmen who’ve arrived via a mystical gate near Cape Cinno in the south. The Skaven have dug long and hard under the mountains to gain access to the Tomb of Amenemhetum and the Organza Ruins. Knowing the unimaginable power residing there, the Lizardmen launch an invasion to impede the rats’ plans and to join the fight against Destruction.

Tier 2
The Skaven find their stronghold of Fester Spike under assault. Lizardmen attack from the west having brashly taken ground along the River of Echoes, an underground river that splits through the mountains. A vast mystical portal acts as an instant gateway from the jungles of Lustria to the gloomy underground caverns of the mountains known as the Vaults. The Spike is the launching point for the Skaven’s plans in southern Tilea.

Tier 3
Taking the assualt to the lands of Lustria itself, long-sealed cross-ocean tunnels have been opened allowing the Skaven entry through the Gwakamol Crater in the heart of the Lizardmen’s realm. The rats meet resistance as they seek to push deeper into Lustria and destroy the mystical portals allowing the Lizardmen access to the Old World.

Tier 4
Standing before the Skaven capital of Skavenblight are the Blighted Marshes. Also known as the Zombie Swamp, these dank, putrid bogs stretch for near endless miles along the Golfo di Fordore. They provide the ideal buffer of protection between the capital of the Skaven and potential foes.

The Isles of the Sirens is a neutral ground for this pairing’s Tier 4. The Skaven seek to hold back more advancing Lizardmen forces across the numerous small islands of this region. A massive portal stands open with the war being fought halfway in the Old World and halfway in Lustria. A massive push towards Skavenblight is underway as the Lizardmen seek to destroy the rats once and for all.

I S   T H A T   I T ?
Of course not. Adding a whole new race with a new pairing should mean more loot, more armor sets, more weapons, some new scenarios, and perhaps even a new dungeon. For those on the Skaven bandwagon, much of this would be enough. But for those who could care less and just want more fun for their existing toons, there needs to be more than the simple newness of some new maps to explore.

Next post … Lizardmen.

6 Responses to “Skaven Were Here …”

  1. Hehe, been thinking about this alot later, what I’d personally like to see pairing wise between Skaven and Lizardmen is Gutterunners/Chameleon skinks taking a short to mid range DPS stealth role to set them apart from WH/WE, I think stealth and a little bit of range would make then more interesting, set them apart and be good support for close range stealthers. Of course you’d have to make them even squisher to balance it out but still….

  2. Prarydoginit Says:

    Fuck new PvE hahaha.

    Just give them burrows or whatever that only they can see which offer them access to skaven specific things, like their city etc., throughout the empire-chaos pairing. Destroy the elf and dwarf lands as playable for RvR. Let the skaven be neutral with chaos but allow skaven-only guilds a switch that lets them make order and destro court them for their favor, through a new UI message service to guild leadership.

    Maybe that’s too niche, but hell if it wouldn’t be fun. Mercenary skaven guilds selling their tipping point powers to whatever side. Even though the GW rules make this untenable.

    • I think a third faction running around has been pretty much squelched with the new Fantasy Battle Rulebook. Shame, as three factions would’ve been better for balance.

      There was talk way back that the Dogs of War would meet this need but nothing ever came from it.

  3. I think you’re being too ambitious. If we do end up with the new races/classes, I think that we’ll not see a whole set of zones for them. One of the smartest things that Mythic has done in the past year was to consolidate Tier 1 into Empire/Chaos. I dearly love the Dwarf/Greenskin starter areas, but the game world is too spread out for them to be practical without a large influx of population.

    Further expanding the game world with more non-Tier 4 areas would probably not be a good idea.

    • Of course I’m too ambitious … that’s what I am. 😉

      I agree with you but the announcement Carrie mentioned for GamesCom and Games Day needs to be big. If it’s just a new race, blah, blah then it’s not really a big announcement IMO. Without all the trimmings, they could’ve added new races prior and plugged them into the game.

      The consolidation to Empire/Chaos in Tier 1 is a success but even a diehard like me gets bored running around New Emskrank. And should we be blessed with Skaven for Destro and someone new for Order (Lizardmen), is that really enough cool to excite players? I probably wouldn’t roll any of them. So I’d like to see some new geography, place to explore, etc. Some additional emphasis should be made to make Dwarf/Greenskin and High Elf/Dark Elf zones more appealing.

      And you’re right about population … if there’s too much real estate out there things will be quite spread out. Then again, people say they hate the zerg so perhaps there could be more small scale stuff.

  4. As much as I’d like to get excited about the potential new races/zones/etc., but I can’t get rid of the feeling that after the intial month or two, we’ll be back in the old RvR zones/dungeons, scratching our asses and wondering what to do.

    I really hope I am wrong. Maybe the actual announcement will hype me up a bit. 😦

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