One of the things that is often mentioned in discussions about the way Skaven are being implemented in WAR is how it’s perceived as being wrong for Order to ally with them. Many people are quite annoyed by this and while I’m not hugely bothered, I do agree that it is very dubious and I don’t think it’s right.
There is a reference in the lore to it happening, but as far as I’m aware only once, in a Gotrek novel. However there are masses of moments in the lore where Skaven and the Order factions have had major conflicts and seriously, these were not little lover's tiffs. We’re talking LOTS of major wars and pretty much attempted genocide. So when you consider that, to then see Skaven suddenly changing to being all buddy buddy just doesn’t really wash. And the mercenaries for hire thing? For Destruction it’s plausible, but for Order races? No, no way. Empire siding with them is in absolute desperation is just about passable, but Elves and (particularly) Dwarves is really stretching it. Skaven have filled a lot of pages in the Dammaz Kron…
But, and it’s one of those big BUT moments… Gamesworkshop have been involved in developing the new Skaven for WAR and they have given this the green light. Knowing how fussy Gamesworkshop are about protecting their lore, it’s a bit odd, especially when you consider that the new warhammer rulebook not only makes it very clear that Skaven are in the Destruction grouping, but also the new boxed set is all about a bitter conflict between High Elves and Skaven. Friends, allies, mercenaries, nah sorry folks it’s just not right.
So why have they done something in WAR that is seriously wonky when compared with the tabletop? I’d guess that there was probably a load of different reasons; including a worry that Skaven would be so popular that they would have unbalanced the 2 factions if they were limited to Destruction only AND with resources tight perhaps it may not have been possible to introduce a proper Order alternative (Lizardmen, Wood Elves, etc). No doubt loads of other reasons beyond my reasoning too.
Also I suspect that Gamesworkshop recognise that the tabletop does not cleanly translate into an MMO and as such may see Warhammer Online as an alternate reality to the tabletop world, which for the sake of better gameplay perhaps they’re happy to be a bit more flexible about. Personally I do think that no matter the reasoning behind it, it is a crying shame that Lizardmen weren’t introduced as exact mirrors of the playable Skaven. It would have made this all a non-issue. So with me now blatantly ignoring any issues of time and money to make it so, I think it could have worked quite like this:
Rat Ogre = Kroxigor
Gutter Runner = Chamelon Skink
Warlock Engineer = Skink Priest
Pack Master = OK this one I’m not sure on as a direct mirror is tricky. It would need to be a Saurus somehow for character appeal… Surely something though?
Easy for me to say of course...
Anyway, regardless of any of our doubts about the lore thing, Gamesworkshop agreed it and that’s what we’re getting. GW own the lore, they can do whatever they like with it. Sure, Mythic have misjudged a bit what people really wanted and expected from Skaven, but then you know how it is. No matter what Mythic had chosen to do with Skaven, it was never going to please everyone.
So in summary, for me it is a bastardisation of the lore and I think it’s both a missed opportunity and a misunderstanding. But I’ll get over it, in fact I already did, about 5 minutes after hearing about it at Gamesday. I just felt I should post my thoughts about it. I will continue paying, playing and enjoying WAR. The single most important thing to consider about the introduction of Skaven is: will it make the game even more fun to play?
I reckon so.