One Christmas Day, I think it must of been 1987 (please feel free to correct me Erny) I happily unwrapped my presents, the pick of which was a mixture of Transformers and Gobots (my dear Mother had mistakenly thought it was Autobots Vs Gobots). My Brother unwrapped two rather heavy and rather dull looking hardback books. Glancing over from my Transformered up delight I thought this very boring. Little did I know that my Brother’s two rather heavy and rather dull looling books were going to change both of our lives forever..................
When I'd had enough playing with my toys I started to investigate my Brother's present haul. The orange book was heavier than the brownish/blackish one, both had images of battles on the front but the latter was more interesting because it had better pictures and as my Brother poured over the rule book I slowly fell in love with the pictures in Warhammer Armies. The images of each troop type had me captivated and the ones that intrigued me the most were those of the Skaven.
I was seven years old so the descriptions meant little. It was the illustrations that were amazing and instantly told me that this army of rat men were dirty, gritty and armed with crude scavenged weapons and armour. I was also captivated by the Poisoned Wind Globadier's gas mask, he looked totally different to all of the rest. At my young age I imagined a cartoon with these characters in it.
I loved them straight away and I knew that if I ever played my Brother's new game then I wanted to be these rats and no other army would do. It would, however, be a good few years before I was ready to play the game itself, my Brother's need for a regular opponent being the driving force. He would play with his Wood Elves and I would be his Orcs. We used a mixture of cardboard counters cut from Forenronds Last Stand, Ruglud's Armoured Orcs, Skarloc's Wood Elf Archers, Heroquest Orcs on cardboard bases and the Orcs, Goblins and Wood Elves from Erny's Warhammer Regiments boxed set.
It was this boxed set that gave me the first Skaven warriors to command. Sadly 10 Clanrats are hardly a formidable army so they were instead deployed as an ally contingent for the Orcs. They had no Standard Bearer nor Musician and their Champion was denoted by being the only model with a hood, the rest had bare heads. When we bought Advanced Heroquest they were bolstered by a whole 20 more Clanrats. They were massive miniatures but a unit 20 strong was too big an opportunity to miss as back then we regarded 20 warriors as a massive unit. A dodgy paint job marked out the champion this time.
Later a trip to our local hobby shop, the Guardroom, had a chance stumbling over someone’s fledgling Skaven army for sale, I couldn't afford the whole thing but a between us Erny and I afforded a Seer, a Jezzailachis, a Warpfire Thrower Team, a Beastmaster with two Rat Ogres, an Eshin with a net, 10 more plastic Fantasy Regiment Clantrats and a single Skavenslave. This allowed me to play with a small Skaven Army for the first time. We used the principle of dividing maximums/minimums by a third/two thirds for 2000/1000 point armies respectively. I used 9 of the Fantasy Regiment Clantrats as Slaves and put the single actual slave model in their front rank. I don't remember any of the few sporadic games I played with this force, I can only say I didn't win any of them because back then I never did. My only opponent was my Brother and he always won (he's 4 years my senior and back then that age difference was a major factor).
It was around this time that Erny returned from the local Games Workshop with a copy of White Dwarf that contained an article I still cherish to this very day. He handed me the article with the enticement "You're going to want to read this". It was, of course, White Dwarf 137 and the article in question was penned by Andy Chambers and featured his own Skaven Army. This to this very day is my "Liber Bubonicus". My holy text. The painting of the miniatures, the overall feel and the tactical advice were simply awesome.
Sadly it also showed me what a real Skaven army should look like and at the age of 11 I knew that I couldn't afford to build an army of that size. I turned my attentions to Dwarfs for a little while, without actually buying any. I remember the first army list I ever worked out with my Brother, it was a Dwarf army not a Skaven army. I planned to collect the Army of Dwarf-things right up until the release of 4th edition and Jes Goodwins new High Elves. My Skaven, whilst still loved were boxed up in a "Mitre"trainer box. This was the end of the 3rd Age of Warhammer........