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Sunday, 22 September 2013

My Tail Grows

So where were we?

Oh yes, it was October 1992 and this happened:

Erny and I had uncovered a copy of a White Dwarf in our local New Agents, it had the above picture on it and detailed the new version of Warhammer, I think it was the September issue previewing the release. We instantly knew this was something huge that was happening. Over the next few years I played more Warhammer than I ever have done (and probably will do) in my life. Mostly against Erny to begin with but later with like minded friends I met at School.

We saved our money and bought Warhammer 4th edition within a month or two of its release. We split the contents of the box, Erny got the Goblins and I got the High Elves. We started playing the new version instantly. We used the army lists published in the white Armies supplement included in the box and dabbled with the spells in the same book (We also wrote our own spell lists that we used prior to the release and purchase of Battle Magic). I borrowed an Elven Knight from Erny’s Wood Elf Army for a general, I used the Heroquest Elf as a Mage and made use of the cardboard template of a bolt thrower. A drop into the local GW at the end of a shopping trip to Luton (the subject of GW Luton may be the basis of a later post) with my Mother yielded the purchase of a Teclis model by her for me. I remember the experience because my Mother told off the chap who served us for just taking the money for the miniature and not putting it through the till. The chap acknowledged his error and sheepishly put the thing through the till. My birthday followed soon after and I invested my birthday money in Tyrion, more Spearmen, more Archers, the Marauder Unicorn riding Mage, a unit of Silverhelms and the High Elf book. I was converted into a Pointy Ear, Skaven were no longer my first Army of choice.

Over the next few years I played and collected High Elves and also collected a fair chunk of Undead. I cast longing looks at the Skaven army but the cost of the army was prohibitive. The Undead were a horde army but the plastics made them a more viable force to collect on a budget. The Skaven plastics, when released with the Skaven Army book, were as big as the Advanced Heroquest ones and didn’t really appeal. I bought the Skaven book and 3 boxes of the giant Clanrats but they never really grabbed my attention fully and they became a periphery army.

Then, in September of 1995 my Mother passed away.

I found comfort in escapism. I needed a distraction. The Skaven became a project. I immersed myself in the Army book, reading and re-reading, I started buying blisters of Jes Goodwins beautiful metal Clanrats on my weekly trips to GW Luton that I made with my friends. Within a few months I had two units of 20 metal Clanrats with spears including full command of Champions, Musicians and Standard Bearers. I moved onto Stormvermin. I started to collect the large metal ones of 4th edition, each blister had 3 of these and one 3rd edition halberd wielding Skaven in it (it is now this model that is used enmasse to make my present unit of Black Skaven/Stormvermin). and along with my original Skaven army I had a usable force. Eshin came next and by the summer of 1996 I had the makings of the Skaven Army I had longed for many years before. Adversity can breed productiveness in some cases and in me it had bred the passion, desire and dedication to finally own what I had dreamed of. Any collector of a horde army will tell you that the sheer quantity of mini’s needed is a massive dedication in money and patience. It would have been in time also had I been a painter, but I still hadn’t found my painting style for these (Skaven)blighters just yet, or anything else really. I’ve only just really found the pleasure in painting, for a while lack of self-belief in my abilities as a painter held me back. I’ve gotten to the point now with my painting that I don’t care, I like it and that’s all that counts. I won’t win a Golden Daemon or a Golden Gobbo but I don’t aspire to that. I want something that looks effective on the table top and that’s what I’ve achieved.

It was this army that bred in Ernie’s hatred of 4th Edition Skaven Assassins and if you ever bring the topic up with him he’ll still rant and rave about them. The incident that prompted such an adverse reaction was a game I played against a Dwarf army Erny was commanding (it was one of the many joint armies we had growing up, Chaos, Undead and, to a lesser extent, Orcs and Goblins also fell into this category). Erny had a central unit of Dwarfs that he’d tooled up and that weren’t going anywhere due to the Army Battle Standard he had planted in their midst. I charged him with a unit of Clanrats and two Assassins jumped out and stabbed him to death before he could swing an axe in anger, an incident that swung the game in my favour. Forever after is there an entry inscribed in the Great Book of Grudges at how unfair it was that Skaven got characters like these in the their rank and file when Dark Elf equivalents (a force Erny coveted for a long time before finally collecting them some years later) were in the Characters section. Honestly it can be amusing to set this particular rant off but be warned that the author makes no apology for the feeling of regret you have afterwards of empty wasted hours……………………

It was also around this time that I organised, and won, a mini tournament between my friends and I. This tournament took place in the summer of 1996. The battles were not particularly memorable but one hugely significant outcome of my insistence that the Characters be named (Chris Wardell’s Vampire general “Drop Dead Fred” will live long in the memory) was that a legend being born in my living room. My Skaven Warlord was named “Varl Snickit” for the very first time. He has remained my Warlord ever since. Sometimes he defers leadership to Greyseer “Vasqueel” (edition permitting) but he is very rarely left out of the army altogether. Both nearly always go into my main block of Clanrats (as per the advice of Andy “The Horned Rat” Chambers in his seminal Article in WD 137) and are accompanied my Battle Standard Bearer “Neek”. I finally had my Skaven Army.

A few months later 5th edition appeared and I got distracted by Bretonnians and Chaos. It was not until the release of 5th editions Siege rules that my interest in Skaven would peek again……………………………………………


  1. Great stuff Snickit. Sad to hear that you guys lost your Mother so young. Caught up in the tale/tail now though and looking forward to the next chapter.

  2. Thank you, I was going leave it out but to be honest it was core to my return to Skaven. Whilst we were visiting her in hospital my head drifted to memories of stories, special characters and the background from the Armies book that I had read a good few months before. Then during the week or two I had off school afterwards I spent a large amount of time losing myself in planning how I was going to have the army I dreamed of. It was a goal to achieve, a target that kept me going. It probably also gives away another reason why they're so close to my heart. They were a comfort blanket and a distraction from my troubles. Escapism is, after all, why a lot of us play our game.

  3. Those skaven assassins, only one reason they were not characters, Andy chambers wrote the book. It wasn't the loss of a tooled up character it was the lack of defense against it. One assassin meant on e dead character no matter what. Broken,broken I tell you.

  4. I was lucky to kill him, Skaven Characters tend to come off worst in a fight, is it not in keeping with the Character of the Skaven that a lack of defense against the sneaky knife is essential? The whole point is that it isn't a straight fight when one is involved.

  5. Good read as always. I'm very sorry to hear of your loss, it's hard at any time but especially when so young.
    I'm happy that you could channel your energy into something positive; something that has remained with you until now and into the future.
    Your comment on escapism was spot on. Couldn't have said it better.