One of Blood Bowl’s perennial contenders, the incredibly fast and incredibly vicious Skaven bring insane mobility and violence (for and against!) to the pitch in equal measure. The Skaven have a whole clan dedicated to organisation of their Blood Bowl teams, Clan Rigens, and have spawned some of the most famous (and infamous) teams and players in Blood Bowl history. In this guide we’re going to give you the lowdown on how to make your rats run.
- Fastest Roster in the game
- Lots of useful core skills on strong positionals
- Many different build and development options
- Very squishy
- Gameplan revolves heavily around the Gutter Runners
- Can struggle with attrition in League play
Skaven lineman have average ST and AG, and low armour, but make up for it with their 7 MA. As punching bags go, that puts them in a lower tier, but their mobility and potential utility are very high. They will die by the droves over a team’s life, but that’s ok, as like most linemen they are there to let your other players shine.
Skaven Linos make great users of either Block or Wrestle. Dirty Player is strong with their large movement range. Kick is not a universally loved skill, but if you are a fan, this is where it goes.
With a combination of high MA, great PA, and Sure Hands, Skaven Throwers are one of the best pick-up and delivery mechanisms in the game. Throwers are quite pricey by Skaven standards and very important to the team, so take care with them especially if you have to field them on defense.
Throwers can make great use of Block, Leader, Accurate, and Safe Pass. Dodge is a great Secondary.
Skaven Blitzers have great MA, the best AV on the team, Block, and loads of great upgrade options. They will be your primary hitters and are your only non-big guy with ST access on primary.
Mighty Blow, Tackle, and then later Frenzy are good choices for a hitter. Claw is also an option as a Secondary. Guard is a primary option for utility, as they are one of your only players who can easily obtain it. They can make use of many other skills to complement the above.
Gutters are the undisputed stars of the Skaven Roster, and one of the best and most infamous positionals in the game. Their enormous MA9 means they can score in the blink of an eye, but also have huge disruption potential as ball-hawks and cover tacklers.
There are a multitude of ways you can build them, but starting with Wrestle or Block and then going a ball-stripper or ball-carrier/scorer route is a good way to begin. Some other skills that can be combined to great effect include Strip Ball, Dauntless, Tackle, Sprint, Sidestep, Diving Tackle, Leap, Catch and as Secondaries, Two Heads, Extra Arms, Big Hand, Guard.
The Rogre is a polarising piece amongst Skaven coaches. As many swear by it as refuse to touch it. In Tournament play it tends to be a standard because its utility is huge in a fixed-TV and skill-limited environment. In League play, it’s unlikely you start with one, and might never get round to buying one.
The ROgre’s upside is obvious: high ST, Frenzy, and Mighty Blow. It is one of the very few natural bashing pieces available to the roster. It also has great MA for a Big Guy, and Prehensile Tail has plenty of utility in controlling pesky dodgers. But it’s downsides are just as clear: Animal Savagery, Frenzy, Low AV, and high cost. If you do run the ROgre you must respect its weaknesses and limitations, and be prepared to blitz with it a lot to see its value.
For levelling, Juggernaut is an easy normal skill that provides a safety net and some utility while Blitzing, which will be their bread and butter use. Block is better if you are prepared to wait and save for it. Claw is another good secondary. I don’t personally like Guard on Frenzy pieces, but the ROgre is one of your few who can easily get it. Stand Firm and Arm Bar also have value as easily accessible normal skills.
Skaven have access to the Underworld Challenge Stars, which includes some of the most notorious players in the game. Hakflem is actually less important for Skaven than many other teams, because Gutter Runners can already do much of what he does. But there are a host of others at every price point who are worthy of consideration when the opportunity arises, including Bomber Dribblesnot, Fungus The Loon, Kreek Rustgouger, Ripper Bolgrot, and Glart Smashrip.
What most of these have in common is they add strength and damage options to Skaven, and like any mobile team, Skaven love player removal, because it makes their defensive pressure game even more potent, and makes their offense even harder to stop. Glart is probably the best combination of price, effectiveness, and synergy with the Skven style.
Tactics And Playstyle
Skaven are one of the few teams in the game who can confidently be aggressive about scoring. They pose such danger on both sides of the ball that every turn and drive is a chance for more Touchdowns; and frankly, as squishy as they are, and with so many players who cannot simply dodge away from trouble, they are not really built to make keep-away stalls like the pure Agility teams.
Skaven can quickly take advantage of any mishaps on opponent drives, from failed ball-pickups, to failed hand-offs, throws and catches. It is always worth keeping a Gutter in scoring range. That said, simply hanging your Gutters out in the open unguarded is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. They are the heartbeat of the team and canny opponents will absolutely target them as a priority. Keeping them around the play, but screened from attack, is one of the primary skills to learn as a Skaven player.
Your other main tactical challenge will be dealing with in-game attrition and defending or scoring short-handed. You will lose the bash battle in most games, even while you win. Positioning to restrict the damage you take, or deciding to sacrifice linemen by basing key opponents to gain a positional advantage, will be decisions you have to make on a turn-by-turn basis.
One-turn scores are well within the reach of Skaven and can be the difference between winning and losing. You should at least try and learn and practice the simplest variations so you know if you have the right players and numbers to try. FUMBBL has a nice resource showing how it can be done, and several other variations. If you have the Rat Ogre, Frenzy can get you even further than conventional setups.
Starting Team Builds
As with all teams with Big Guy options, you need to decide if the Rat Ogre is something you want to start with, and if so, accept some sacrifices will need to be made. I would strongly encourage you not to, as Skaven are so good out of the box with the rest of their team, who are themselves actually not that cheap. In fact even in a non-big guy roster, starting with all 4 Gutter Runners is probably not the best option, as Skaven really like to have some extra bodies or Apothecary on board. With all that in mind:
Starting league Roster w/o Rat Ogre
- 1 x Thrower
- 2 x Blitzer
- 3 x Gutter Runner
- 6 x Linemen
- 3 x Reroll
This leaves 30k spare to spend on Dedicated Fans or put toward the next purchase. You also have an option with this build to swap a lino for the Apothecary. If you are nervous about your positionals’ health, this can provide a little security.
Starting league Roster w/ Rat Ogre
- 1 x Rat Ogre
- 1 x Thrower
- 2 x Blitzer
- 2 x Gutter Runner
- 5 x Linemen
- 3 x Reroll
With the Rat Ogre on board, we need to drop another Gutter and another Lino. This gives us a bare bones 11 players, though you could also sacrifice a Reroll to get a twelfth (or again, Apo). This build has 15k spare.
More bodies and the Apothecary will be your main goals with Skaven. 13 or 14 players is a good goal, but you will find that attrition can make that challenging. 4 Rerolls is nice to have, and definitely synergises with the Skaven playstyle, but should be considered lower priority than bodies.
If you didn’t start with the Rat Ogre, and find yourself with a healthy team and cash-rich, then it is definitely worth consideration. Just be aware it’s a large investment and will change your playstyle somewhat.
Tournament builds are mostly able to get all the Skaven toys at their full amounts, with one wrinkle; the pesky odd-5k costs can make some builds just over 1100 or 1150TV, which causes compromises to be made. By way of example, at 1.1m GC:
- 1 x Rat Ogre
- 1 x Thrower
- 2 x Blitzer
- 4 x Gutter Runner
- 3 x Linemen
- 2 x Reroll
This comes in at 1055TV, which gives an annoying 45k to spend when we really want 50k for another Lineman, Apothecary, or Reroll. One option is to ditch the Thrower, or a Gutter, though either feels very unsatisfying.
At 1.15m GC you are basically in the same boat, though you can now have the extra Reroll, Lineman or Apo in the starting build. As always, if you do end up with spare cash, then Assistant Coaches are the best use of it, with Cheerleaders a secondary option.
Your hardest decision with tournament Skaven will be how you chose to skill your Gutter Runners. With so many options, so few skills to dish out, and skill-stacking being rare in tournaments, it can be hard to know exactly which route to go. Starting with one Block and one Wrestle Gutter will stand you in good stead for all-purposes. Strip Ball is also a good option.
One Mighty Blow Blitzer and one Guard Blitzer is another strong combo. You can also consider Tackle here. For Rat Ogres, any tournament that lets you pick secondaries should see you take Block. Otherwise, Juggernaut will go a long way to reducing their risk factor.
For the Thrower, Leader is the best choice as the extra Reroll it brings is huge for Skaven. While they can benefit from Block or Dodge, it is better to put such skills on other players in Tournaments.
If you have any other remaining skills, a Dirty Player lineman can be a nice additional damage option. Wrestle can also be extremely useful and take the pressure off your other positionals for Blitzing.
Skaven are almost always found in Tier 1 in Tournament Rules packs, and so you should expect fairly limited skill choices. This is definitely where they belong, and though they sometimes feel like they are at the lower end of the Tier, they would probably be overpowered in Tier 2. Skaven remain one of the strongest choices for coaches looking to win tournaments.
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