Here we are, at last, at the final part (for now) of my Warhammer Fantasy Skaven series. It’s been a pretty intense three months – having already painted a whopping 250+ miniatures since Christmas – but all good things must come to an end, eventually. We’ve seen expansion to the clans Verminus, Eshin, Skryre, Moulder and Pestilens so far, but where better to end on than, well, The End Times?
Truth be told, I wasn’t especially excited to embark on this leg of the journey. I’d somewhat written it off as ‘unnecessary’, having already painted an older style Thanquol and not being especially keen on Stormfiends as a concept (I find them a little bit redundant). Still, by the time I’d finished up Part Six, I felt my subconscious nagging me that I’ve come this far and, well, my subconscious kind of had a point.
So there I was, happy to call it a day, and before I know it, I’ve got another two chunky boxes of plastic on their way to me from Element Games. While I was waiting for my boxes to arrive, I decided to have a gander at the rules and the build guides and maybe figure out how I was going to arm them. This is where things got a little iffy.
First of all, there was Thanquol. What a weird miniature this is – Thanquol is a high level Wizard, with special rules that make him a better caster, mounted on a big scary Rat Ogre that’s around 4 times the size of his last iteration. Weapon wise, you get a choice between four Warpfire Throwers or four Warpfire Braziers. It’s kind of of damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Without the Braziers, Boneripper doesn’t hit very hard in combat, but you probably don’t want your Wizard in combat anyway, right? Likewise, the Warpfire Throwers seem an attractive option, until you read that they’re Move or Fire, which is a bizarre and awkward choice for a flame template weapon. No option to mix and match two of each like there is in Age of Sigmar, either – at least in the 8th Edition rules. I went back and forth over this one – the Braziers to me seemed like the better option. Surely a Wizard would be moving around a lot, and the Braziers gave him some decent defence in case he ended up in combat. On the other hand, that’s a lot of sculpted fire/smoke/what have you effect and I kinda thought it just looked a bit over the top – I did like those big ham hands though. After much deliberation, I thought to hell with it, and just assembled him with two big Warpfire Throwers and a pair of Braziers for his lower arms. These had smaller, less in-your-face smoke effects, and the model looked more balanced to me with one of each. It’s technically an illegal loadout for WHFB 8th Edition, but I mean, who’s going to care? It’s not as if I’ll be using this guy in tournament games, after all.
The Stormfiends were even worse, and an utterly bizarre unit. Big, bulky brutes that are even bigger than a regular Rat Ogre, armed with one of six equally costed pairs of weapons – the majority of which re-roll wounds in their respective phases. You’ve got Ratling Guns that fire a high number of shots, Warpfire Throwers that melt units up close, Poisoned Wind Globe Launchers which deal poisoned blast template attacks that ignore armour saves, Shock Gauntlets which ignore armour saves in combat and do powerful Stomps, Doom Flayers which deal impact hits and Drills which don’t do a lot of damage but allow a unit to pop up anywhere on the battlefield. That’s.. a lot of options. Better yet, the melee armed models – the Shock Gauntlets and Doom Flayers – come with a 4+ armour save that helps protect them a little against small arms fire, while the shooting weapons are downright reliable compared to their weapon team equivalents.
So , what’s the problem? Well, it all boils down to the kit, really. The Stormfiends kit comes with three, monopose miniatures – each of which constructs one of two weapon options. There’s an armoured one with the choice of Shock Gauntlets or Doom Flayers, and two unarmored ones with the option of Ratling Gun/Drill and Globe Launcher/Warpfire Thrower. That’s.. ehhh.. interesting. There’s no way to just build a unit of heavily armoured melee bruisers, or a set of three gunners. Worse yet, the two most useful weapons in the kit – the Grinderfists (drill) and the Ratling Gun – share the same miniature. This probably isn’t the worst issue in the world for anyone looking to build and paint six of these, but I found it utterly painful to pare down what I’d want to do with just the three. The Drill seemed like a very useful ability to have on a group of heavy weapon toting skirmishers, but that would leave me with just one gun in the squad, which didn’t feel like a lot. But without the Drill, they’d have to deploy on the line and their utility would be severely impacted. I thought about doubling down on the Stormfiends and just building one of everything, but this would entail way more hobby than I wanted to commit myself to. In the end, I decided to compromise – and bought a single Ratling Gun Stormfiend sprue off of eBay for around half the price of a box of three. I figure that this would give me a nice two of two guns, a drill for utility and an optional armoured melee model for the ‘party tank’. This gave me some good utility as a shooting squad for now. and if I decide to expand on my Stormfiends in the future, then another box of three down the line could get me two melee guys, two Ratling Guns and two globe launchers. Perfect.
A couple days after figuring out how I was going to build and equip them, my models arrived and I set about building them. Just about nothing of relevance to say here – both kits went together remarkably well and required pretty much nothing in the way of gap filling. Compared to the hellish ball sockets of the 7th Edition plastic Rat Ogres, these models were a dream to assemble – the worst complaints I had were that some of the cabling was a little bit fiddly, and that a couple of Thanquol’s forearm covers had to be left off in subassemblies to paint the little mechanical bits underneath. Painting, on the other hand…
Well, Thanquol wasn’t so bad. He was a big miniature, for sure, with a good bit of detail, but nothing too strenuous. The vast majority of this stuff I’d already done on other models – his skin I painted in Heavy Fleshtone, highlighted by adding more and more Pale Flesh into it and finally washing it down with a couple layers of watered down Seraphim Sepia. His ‘stitching’ I picked out in Elfic Flesh, washed with Seraphim Sepia, then I tinted the surrounding area with a little Bloodletter Glaze – just like I did on the Hell Pit Abomination. The warpfire flame/smoke was just like on my Screaming Bell in Part Six. The fur was painted in Leather Brown, highlighted with Elfic Flesh then washed with Agrax Earthshade. The metals, reds, white plate armour, green warpstone and black leather were all just as I’ve done quite literally hundreds of times prior.
I didn’t fancy trying to paint his somewhat annoying cabling, so instead I opted to paint the whole thing Shining Silver, followed by a coat of Yellow Ink then finishing with a single layer of Waystone Green. This gave the piping a nice, inconsistent green colour with varying hues from dark emerald up to more yellowy, limeish green tones. Like with the red wires (Spiritstone Red over Shining Silver), this results in a slightly translucent, rubbery looking cable looks like it’s filled with fluids – particularly after it’s hit by a little matt varnish. It’s 100% a hack, but it works.
As for the Stormfiends.. Well, I mean, on paper, absolutely everything about them was the same as on Boneripper. Red cloth, ivory armour, brownish skin, dark brown fur, silver, brass, green and red cables. It’s all the same processes, only at about half the size and with four times as much to paint. It all just kind of worked together to create a unit that felt like a landmark in tedium. The cables got in the way of my brush, the weird little Master Moulder creature having off the back just feels completely unnecessary, the skin was sectioned off a lot more and there were straps, buckles and rivets everywhere. I wish I had something less negative to say about these models, but I just hated every second of the experience. They’re the distilled concentration of everything I dislike about painting modern Games Workshop miniatures. About the only good thing I could say for painting these massively busy brutes was that the armour was mercifully absent low on filigree, save for a couple etchings and panel lines here and there.
I suppose they do look pretty cool when they’re finished though.
Now, you’re probably getting pretty sick of me saying this, but I actually have one more thing before I finish up with this series – and that’s another three Rat Ogres!
These aren’t just any normal Rat Ogres however, these are classic, white metal miniatures from the heady days of 6th Edition. These were the last Rat Ogre sculpts before the kinda ugly but kinda okay plastic models were released in 7th and – in my opinion – the best damn Rat Ogres that Games Workshop ever made.
I’ve been sitting with email notifications for eBay listings with ‘Rat Ogre’ and ‘Rat Ogor’ in the description for well over a year now, hoping against hope to one day come across a listing for the one with the bandages to show up. In that time, I’ve seen hundreds of 3D printed sculpts, Island of Blood Rat Ogres, plastic 7th Edition Rat Ogres and all manners of metal Rat Ogres from the super old school monopose furry looking ones up to the “kinda ugly but still in the stylistic ballpark” 5th edition metal ones – but never these 6th Edition sculpts. I don’t know if it’s because they were around for a comparatively short time, whether too many of the models have vanished into attics and landfills or a few covetous collectors refuse to part with their stash, but I’ve had a real hard time so much as finding a listing for this miniature. And then out of the blue, one eBay users lists not one, not two, but all three of the sculpts from this era – Mummy Rat, Frankenrat and Freddy Kruger Rat – all in their original pewter without so much as a mark or the remnants of a stripped paint job.
I genuinely don’t believe I’ve ever been so excited to own or paint any model or unit quite like I was for these guys. They were just as beautiful in the flesh, the previous owner having assembled them already without so much as a single gap to be filled. After a quick coat of Stynylrez Grey Primer, it was time to go.
Once again, the paint process was just about identical to Thanquol and the Stormfiends, minus the cabling. The experience, however, was night and day. No awkward angles to reach, no delicate little details to pick out, no twenty something metal spikes, straps or tiny little belt clips. Frankenrat was probably the worst of the three for his relatively delicate stitching detail, but that aside these were quick, simple and absolutely joyous to paint. The only real part of this paint job that I found myself struggling with was getting the right level of contrast between the folds of Kruger’s back muscles – which, in fairness, do look a little bit weird.
Still, what a way to round out this force. It feels great to go out on such a high note with this army, given what a labour of love it’s become, and even better to see it ending how it began – with some lovely, understated miniatures from 6th Edition.
With that being said, now that we’re finally finished updating this army, I think we’re long overdue for an updated Family Photo, wouldn’t you agree?
Now that it’s finished, I’ve gotta say – I’m really proud of this one. Having never really been a horde army kinda guy, it’s certainly been a challenge getting this many miniatures painted, but I’m really happy with the overall quality of everything. While the Clanrats and Slaves individually are far from my best work, they look just awesome en masse and I’m really happy with the ratio of big blocks of infantry, the skirmishing Gutter Runners, Poisoned Wind Globadiers and Plague Censer Bearers, artillery and war machines of all shapes and sizes and of course the wide variety of mutants and monsters from the humble Giant Rat all the way up to the Hell Pit Abomination. I never planned to grow this army to this size – at least not in this kind of time frame – but I couldn’t be happier that I did.
With a line drawn underneath the Skaven, it’s time to move onto greener pastures. I’ve got a record number of projects on my backlog now. There’s my long suffering Rohan project, a few Inquisitor 54mm miniatures to join Witch Hunter Tyrus, some more resin reinforcements to my Daemons of the Ruinstorm and maybe even another Warhammer Fantasy project in the works.
Or maybe I could just sack all that and paint a Thunderhawk for my Space Wolves Legion? Hmmm… yeah. Yeah, that sounds like a pretty good plan to me.
Until then, thanks for reading and happy wargaming!