Monday 1 November 2010

Order and Skaven

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.


  1. I hate to be fussy, but...

    "Gamesworkshop have been involved in developing the new Skaven for WAR and they have given this the green light."

    Can you give cited notations of this being true? I personally am very much against lore breaking...even when a game does not care about it's "story" and anything to do with PvE like encounters.
    The fact you noted Games Workshop has given the go ahead, I would like to see that written from someone NOT at Mythic.


  2. I don't have any comment from Gamesworkshop to hand no, only what Mythic told me when I met them at Gamesworkshop's UK Gamesday event. Now whilst I don't take everything a developer says as gospel, I think in this case with them doing the presentation at a Gamesworkshop event and knowing how aggresively Gamesworkshop protect their IP, IMHO doubting Mythic's word on this makes no sense.

    As with all their licenced products Gamesworkshop maintain a veto on anything they don't like. GW have always worked like that, from Relic to Mythic to Cyanide, beyond and before. Nothing gets into anything using their name (money making at least) if they don't like it.

    However if you really think Mythic have done something GW didn't approve, certainly GW would be very interested to hear so you could try contacting:

    Intellectual Property Department,
    Games Workshop Limited,
    Willow Road,
    NG7 2WS
    Tel: 0115 916 8000
    Fax: 0115 916 8008

  3. GW sue blizzard most years for IP infringment. They dont let nothing past if pos. Still shoulda gone with lizzies fo sure!

  4. I play order and would have no problem playing lizardmen. They could still do it. Just need the artwork done and rename the same abilities.

  5. The Gotrek and Felix book, Skavenslayer, that keeps getting referenced involves a man of the Empire working with the Skaven.

    What people seem to be missing is that this person is specifically working to bring DOWN the empire and that the Skaven ultimately are being used to kill the Baroness and throw the whole city into Chaos.

    So...saying there is a lore precedent for humans working with skaven is definitely correct, but saying that the empire has worked with them is flat out wrong.

    Dwarves working with Skaven is 1000x more wrong.

    Lizardmen would have been awesome. Real missed opportunity there.

  6. I had mentioned something similar ...

    Rat Ogre = Ogre
    Packmaster = Gnoblar
    Warlock Engineer = Dwarf Thunderer
    Gutter Runner = Wood Elf Scout

    Oh well. Everyone "gets" Skaven. Yea.

  7. 1 - Games Workshop never OFFICIALLY said that they agree having Skaven in Order side.
    So will be true? Or it's just mythic pretending to have the "green light" from GW?

    2 - I still don't understand why simply don't give Ogre Kingdom, as a "mirror" Monster play to Order players.
    So distro can have Skaven as "Monster play" and Order Ogres.
    No lore breaking.. small programming problems (they have already all the models of Ogre and Gnoblar).. and are funny enough to give Order some nice moment

  8. Mythic pretending lol :) what world do u live in?

    Beware the evil devs! Get my tinfoil hat pls!

  9. Well, while I wouldn't be quite so rude, I do find it hard to believe people seriously think that Mythic can put whatever they like into a Gamesworkshop licensed game. I thought it was common knowledge about how protective GW is of their IP.

    But people can of course believe what they want and I've no interest in defending my statement any further as it seems common sense to me.

    Plus I can't be arsed to trawl the net or phone gamesworkshop to get confirmation, since people will still not believe it until Rick Priestly turned up with a confession signed in his own blood :D

  10. Mythic said they had GWs permission for skaven on the side of in one of their promo videos.

    On the other side I think this will be quite a small release by mythic. I think they just want to put something out but CBA to release anything major and watch it get squashed by WoW.


  11. I've dabbled in a number of different WH novels, plus followed the minis for years, but the latter has admittedly been at a distance--never had the scratch to even make a play at running a warband, and never lived in a place where anyone else was playing them either. So perhaps this is a question that a better informed version of myself would more easily understand, but:

    Why do people keep advancing ogres and the lizardmen as order counterpoints to the Skaven? I never had the impression that either of those civilizations was especially cuddly with any of the order races. The Wood Elf argument has seemed more sensible, but even that feels like it works best if the Skaven were being given to Destro as a full-on additional race.

    While most of the focus in this discussion has been on "why would Order hire these things, they hate them!" I feel that Mythic is actually trying to highlight the other end of that equation. After all, Skaven hate all the other races too. They hate damn near everything, really. But they're being presented as so warp-crazed that they'll do anything for that sweet, sweet glowing rock. They'll savagely battle the minions of chaos, or an entrenched trio of dwarven engineers, or anything else up to and including long as they're getting paid.

    Maybe I'm the only one who finds it helpful to view the flavor focus as being on that...that the rats are so materialistic they'll let their own racial prejudices fall by the wayside...and consider that more important than the question of why each particular side would employ them.

  12. Because Ogre are very well known as mercenaries.
    They fight with the Empire often.
    It's not a secret that also on Warhammer online you can find a LOTS of Ogre in Altdorf, used as bodyguard, etc.etc.

    So Ogre fit the lore perfectly


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