In this edition of my Skaven 8th edition review, I will be going over core units, and how much I love 'em. I will even share some cheese with all the rats reading. Lets start at the beginning, the main stay of the Skaven army.
Clanrats use to always had to be in the army in 7th edition, now in 8th edition its more of a choice rather than a requirement. I still love putting clanrats in, they are very afforable at 4 pts a piece, and have access to some awesome weapons that some other units do not. In this portion I will cover both clan rats then the weapon teams to be complete.
With Clanrats I usally like to go 25 models for the 5x5 block with full command.
Now depending if they are pushing the bell or not, I like to equip them with just the shield and hand weapon for the 6+ ward save, but I do see merit for the spears to be an option if your pushing the bell. Since you aren't likely to break, those extra attacks can come in useful.
As for the weapon teams, there are two I usually will take and leave the others at home.
1) Warpfire thrower. I really like this solution especially against other big blocked opponents and against armies such as the Darkelves who have hydras with regeneration. Now that you can measure the distance away from a unit, its best to be around 8.5 inches away from intended target, and fire away. And as long as you do at least one wound, it causes panic which is nice.
2) Poison Wind Mortar. One of my most favorite weapon teams to take. Since long range guess work is no longer the issue, these guys are quite awesome. Having 2-3 of these guys makes a lot of cheese and wine from your opponents. For sportsmanship I would only take 1 maybe two, but not more. Oh and for further advice, never use the parents line of sight as this could very well mean disaster for you, as it has for me a couple times in the past till i learned :)
3)Doom-Flayer, the only non ranged weapons team the clan rats of to take. It is OK in combat, but I do not think it is worth 55 points to take.
The Storm vermin got a significant boost going into the 8th edition from 7th. Mainly because they have a pretty descent initiative sitting at 5. They are now a very viable choice to take, as they are the elite core unit that the Skaven have. I always take a full command and this unit is my choice when pushing the bell, and the capability to take a magical banner is a huge plus. Stormvermin are also another cheap way to get out some Poison Wind Mortars, if you want to be cheesy in that way. Ohh how much wine you will get with that cheese.
Probably the only 10 out of 10 core choice there is. They are a must have. They are probably the most underrated, yet broken unit (even more so than the hellpit) the Skaven have. This coming after the latest Skaven faq v1.3, where you can delete the last two lines of expendable. Which means you can shoot and kill opponents that have been "tarped" by Skaven slaves without having to need to randomize where shots go to. The Blessed Horned Rat has shown his mercifullness to the slaves, and made them that much better.
Sitting at 2pts a piece, I now like to take a couple 5x10 blocks of slaves with a musician. for a 102 points, that's a great deal. If you have a Grey Seer on a Bell, that means you can be 18 inches away, and usually be at a stubborn ld of 10. What??? That is awesome, throw in a BSB near by, and you got some awesome tar pits. Cast poison on them and frenzy, they are a unit to be scared of. I'm not convinced taking a shield or spears are worth the points, rarely will you see them in action. Slings on the other hand I have seen and can add that extra long range punch. 50 sling attacks coming at you is nothing to sniff at.
Some of my lists I will take 3 of these units of the 5x10 blocks if I have the grey seer on bell. If I'm not taking the Bell, I will probably only have two of these units. But they are very impressive, and have done me very well recently. And the exploding feature of the slaves adds just that much more fun, the Skaven way. Yes sir, here is some wine to go with my cheese.
Other tactics that are common among slave owners is using a block of 20 slaves, and marching then up and angling them next to your opponent, hoping that they will charge, and fail to catch up with the slaves. This strategy is there to expose the flanks of your enemy.
Coming from the 7th edition Skaven to 8th Skaven, they took a pretty good beating, taking away their skirmishing ability, and not having much combat to go along with what they can do. The main strategy that is used is to setup one unit of them with the Warp Grinder weapons team ,I say one, because that's all that can have with the Warp Grinder weapons team, tunnel behind the enemy and go for a rear charge. Usually winning by static res due to hitting in the back ranks, plus having ranks of their own, they usually can get an enemy unit fleeing towards your own units.
Giant Rats (7/10)
Giant rats excel at flanking units with their blazing speed as they are the "fast cav" of the Skaven army. They are best used along either a unit of Clanrats or Storm Vermin. Other uses I have seen them in are what is called speed bumps for your higher damage dealing units. Basically 2+ units are lined up the rats up 2 rats per rank and like the Skaven slaves, march the them in a single filed line one inch behind the other. Forcing the enemy to either charge them or go around them, slowing them down some. If the enemy decides to charge, all the merrier, as it doesn't matter if they break through or overrun, because you will have less than 5 rats left they wont cause panic, and the enemy will run into the next set, which will again slow him down, not doing too much damage (24 points per unit or so, depending if you want to add extra pack masters and rats or not). Also adding master moulder with great weapon to the front unit pays off as he can get a couple s6 attacks in. He also adds a descent leadership in case of fear charging units.
Rat Swarms (4/10)
Rat swarms have two basic strategies.
1) They are similarly used as Skaven slaves in that they are good as tar pits. Using 3+ bases which gives a descent 15 wounds slows down most units.
2) The other use which was a little better in the 7th edition rules is it shields of units from being charged like your Jezzails, or even stops some units like your plague monks from charging due to frenzy.
For the most part, I do not see the cost effectiveness and rarely will you make up the points spent here.