The verminous Skaven are a race of malevolent and self-serving ratmen. From deep under the earth, they fight tooth and claw against the other races – and each other – to further their personal standing within the Skaven hierarchy and to serve their diabolical god, the Horned Rat. In-game, the Skaven are a high-risk, high-reward faction who approach the campaign with their own unique strategies and a distinctive battle-style, consisting of a mix of expendable swarms of infantry and highly-skilled elite units such as the Warp Lightning Cannons and the much coveted Doomwheel.
The Eye of the Vortex campaign provides two routes to victory as the Skaven: either complete all 5 of the rituals and win the final battle, or destroy the factions displayed here and maintain control of 50 provinces. Due to the Skaven desire to remain hidden, it’s highly unlikely for a Skaven faction to forge diplomatic relations with non-Skaven. However, territorial expansion doesn’t necessarily suit the Skaven either: it’s best to create a spread-out empire that becomes almost impossible to eradicate. Skaven have the power to create new cities right under their enemies’ noses and can inhabit almost anywhere on the map, excluding Ulthuan. The snowy peaks to the North also pose moderate debuffs to settling there, but not as seriously as the home isle of the Elves, so try to avoid settling in this area unless you are confident your faction can handle the disadvantages.
Warpstone is the vital component to the Skaven rituals, collect this to fill the ritual bar and conduct rituals faster than your enemies to win the campaign.
Around the map you may notice settlements with odd glowing Warpstone icons next to their names: these are vital locations for rituals. When playing as Queek Headtaker, he begins his campaign nearby the Caverns of Sotek; occupying this settlement will grant you the option to build a Warpstone deposit, a mining facility that generates 10 Warpstone per turn. This is a quick, useful way of boosting your ritual currency income, allowing you to conduct rituals faster.
Settlements of the Skaven are not ordinarily visible to other races, instead appearing as uninhabited ruins: this is known as the Underworld. The other races will not discover the Skaven threat hidden below a settlement until they attempt to colonise or hunt for treasure there, but keep in mind that heroes can perform a scouting action on ruins to see if they truly are abandoned. Skaven factions can see the settlements of other Skaven factions without having to scout them, so only the Skaven know the true extent of their empire at any given time.
In the early campaign when playing as Skaven, raiding and war are a good source of income. Unlike other factions, the Skaven do not rely on buildings to generate money from cities: all Skaven buildings produce gold to some extent. When colonising a new settlement in an enemy province, try spending some of your food resources to raise the starting level of the settlement, allowing you quick access to more advanced buildings. Then, you can recruit elite units in a matter of turns, allowing you to easily plough through the rest of the province in a short space of time: a true Skaven uprising.
Skaven also have access to some powerful rites: in exchange for gold, these provide powerful buffs to your armies or faction, such as summoning a powerful DOOOOM! Engineer at your capital, which is a cheap, early-game option at the price of 800 gold. This Hero can cause a catastrophic earthquake in a foreign settlement, making it ripe for the taking.
Food is a necessity to Skaven factions; they rely on the availability of a stockpile, providing bonuses when food is plentiful and penalties when scarce. Hover your cursor over the food bar on the top of the UI to see your current level of food and the buffs/debuffs applied when the amount increases or depletes. Each Skaven army consumes an amount of food per turn, so make sure your food reserves can handle an additional army when raising one! The amount devoured per army can be seen on their overview panel.
Settlements with the pastures resource are extremely useful to the Skaven, as they provide the option to construct buildings that provide food per turn. When playing as Lord Skrolk, he starts next to Subatuun in the Lost Valley – try to capture this as soon as possible and construct the Putrid Rice Bog, which provides 2 food per turn. Food can also be gained from battles and sacking settlements.
Skaven gradually spread corruption as they settle, as they naturally befoul anywhere they linger. This results in settled provinces to become less hospitable over time, even for Skaven. If the corruption level becomes too high, a province may revolt, causing a Skaven uprising army to spawn. Be sure to deal with them swiftly before they become too powerful! They may just provide a useful amount of food, too...
However it’s not all bad news: a high level of Skaven corruption in a province will grant you additional uses of the Menace Below in any battles fought there, an army ability we will touch on later.
The Skaven tech-tree is a rat’s nest of short branching pathways; you’ll start with a choice between boosts to your Skavenslaves and Clanrats, your heroes and stealth units or your economy: but these initial choices don’t prevent you from branching into other areas later. The option to start researching will unlock when a specific building has been constructed in one of your settlements. If you are trying to expand rapidly, try researching “Harsh Production Quotas” which will provide you with a +10 boost to growth.
Back on the campaign map, Skaven armies have access to a unique stance known as Stalking, used to hunt and surprise their enemies. While in the stalking stance, Skaven armies have a chance to ambush their enemies when attacking normally, taking them by surprise and gaining a great positional advantage. Use this stance whenever you want to attack an enemy and attempt to ambush them, even when they are aware of your presence!
Each Skaven Lord has a measure of willingness to follow the leader of their faction, known as Loyalty. This can be seen on the character info panel on the bottom left by a measure of 0-10 – 10 being the most loyal and 0 the least. If a Lord’s loyalty drops to 0, they will rebel, taking their army with them to form a new faction. Keep an eye on the loyalty of your Lords and if it drops too low, be sure to appease them by recruiting more units to their army, or by gifting them items.