Today we’re looking at Skittershank’s Clawpack, one of the mythical Nethermaze bladeborn warbands. The Skaven models have been languishing for quite some time waiting for an update. Rumour is we’ll see a range refresh in 2024 with a new edition of Age of Sigmar, but for the time being any new Skaven release is a welcome addition. This warband has five fighters in total, all from clan Eshin. In the early days of the Skaven, clan Eshin roamed far into the east of the old world where they trained in the arts of stealth and assassination.
If we look at the plot we can see these Skaven have decent if not amazing damage and seem to be below the average for wounds. We have one expensive leader around 200 with the other 4 somewhere between 70 and 105. So unfortunately nothing particularly exciting yet.
We have 3 abilities specific to the warband. A double, a triple, and a quad. As part of the Skaven warband they also have default abilities from that warband. So the first thing we should mention is the reaction the Musk of Fear. Essentially, one Skaven trades an action to trigger this reaction to give another nearby Skaven a free move or disengage. It’s tricky to use but can be used defensively to move a Skaven out of melee or offensively to move one into melee. I suspect a smart opponent will be able to play around it, but it is something they have to play around. Otherwise the Skaven player can trade up, using the reaction on a cheap Skaven and giving the move to something scarey. That isn’t the focus here, but it’s good to mention.
Next we have the Double Way of the Slinking Rat which is identical to Skurry away but requires the Skittershank runemark rather than the Agile runemark. I assume the idea here was to save room with the Runemarks but it just adds an entire extra ability which is a bit silly. Personally I think it’s a weird design choice, but lets move on. Skurry away is a double for a 2+ disengage which is solid. If you have spare double you can step away from an enemy you’ve just attacked effectively negating one of their attacks.
So we really only have two abilities for this warband. The first is the Triple Spitting Cobra Technique. It does require the Champion runemark, but as we will see three out of the five skaven in this warband do have that. The range is relatively short at 6 and the damage depends on the toughness of the target and the value of the ability. So this is kind of an attack with Strength 4 with damage and crit both at 3. That’s pretty good, 1.5 average damage per dice against T4. So you can do some big damage with a nice value tripe, a triple 6 will average around 9 damage.
The second ability is a Quad Way of the Hidden Paw which is for the Leader Slynk and we also have the generic Lead from the Back which is an ability all Skaven leaders have. So lets look a Slynk.
For 190 points you get an 18 wound fighter who can do 6.6 average damage. For those points, that’s relatively poor but this is a move 7 fighter so it will zoom across the board. There is actually a model that we can directly compare against which is the Deathmaster at 185 points. All the numbers are identical but the Deathmaster also has a ranged attack. This isn’t really a big deal as the ranged attack is relatively poor and Slynk has the Spitting Cobra Technique as a ranged option. Slynk does lose out on the Scout runemark though and the Triple Running Death which gives the Deathmaster a bonus move and boosts the crit damage a little. This lets the Deathmaster suddenly get on top of a target and dump 10 dice of melee attacks into it.
Instead, Slynk gets Way of the Hidden Paw which is a Quad. You still get the same bonus move but also get a bonus attack. On top of that, for that bonus attack Slynk gets a bonus dice for every other member of his warband already in melee with the target. Keep in mind that will always include himself, so it’s always going to be at least 1. Losing a triple and getting a Quad instead is not a good deal. The quad arguably is a very good one though, even without the bonus attack dice you still get the old version of rampage with the full 7 inches for Slynk rather than a move based on the ability.
At this point it’s also worth talking about Lead from the Back, which is an ability every Skaven hero has. This adds 1 attack dice to friendly fighters within 6 inches. This used to be bonus attack dice equal to half the value of the ability. It was changed in an FAQ and unfortunately the Skaven heroes didn’t get a discount after that.
Alright, moving on.
Snyp Padpaw is a cheaper version of Synk. Everything is a little worse but not that much. Speed is 6 rather than 7, wounds are 12 rather than 18, damage is 4 rather than 6.6. Those numbers are much better for the points though. Those wounds and damage are what you’d expect on a competitive hundred point fighter but you’re getting speed 6 on top of that.
For comparison, the Clawleader has the same speed, wounds, and damage for 20 points more. As a hero the Clawleader does get a bunch of extra abilities but Synp does have the Champion runemark for Spitting Cobra Technique which is probably the key point of this warband. Making Snyp an nice addition to the Skaven warbands.
Cheaper again we have Kreep Kinwhisper who does have that range attack Slynk was missing. It turns out this profile is an almost perfect copy of the generic Gutter Runner. For 5 points more, Kreep gets an extra die in his ranged attack and the champion runemark for Spitting Cobra. The boost for the ranged attack is actually significant as it makes two ranged attacks slightly better than a move and attack. I always struggle to assess ranged damage, but as I said 4 average melee damage was good for Snyp then Kreep’s 2 average ranged damage might be worth looking at.
It’s worth noting here that he does have a net, so we were hoping for a net ability but we didn’t get it. I do like what design are doing with Warcry broadly, but this does feel like a missed opportunity to match model and rules.
The 4th member of the team is Krowch’t who sits in a weird spot between a Plague Monk and a Clanrat. He’s basically a Clan rat without a shield so he loses a point of toughness and instead gets an extra attack for his second weapon. The Plague monks are slightly better with an extra point of damage in their crit but they do cost 5 more points. Nothing world changing, but certainly an option and he will be a boost for Slynk so he will have slightly more utility than that Plague Monk.
Last up we have Skulck who has the exact stats of a Night Runner. As with Krowch’t having the Skittershank runemark is a slight bonus, but while the Plague Monks do often see play it’s pretty rare for the Night Runners. It’s weak melee along with weak ranged rather than a good version of either of them. They are still better than the Hunters of Huanchi though, it’s important to always have someone to look down on.
Skaven are in a bit of a weird spot right now. As is often the way, Skaven players are often let down by their incompetent minions despite the evident genius and fantastic plans of those players. Typically, successful Skaven warbands focus on powerful leaders like the Deathmaster protected by Stormvermin who have a fantastic double that means nearby Skaven heroes cannot be targeted. The other direction is to go with Rat Ogors, either the cheaper versions for efficiency or one of the Stormfiends when you end up in an arms race with other big killer.
So where does the Clawpack fit into that?
Slynk is close to a Deathmaster and indeed, those lists do often run more so he could fit into that list. You would then save the triples for the Deathmaster and the Quads for Slynk. I do quite like the spitting Cobra technique which arguably could also compete for triples. Running death and two attacks with the Deathmaster is 15 damage on average. Slynk with one attack and a triple 6 Spitting Cobra is 15.6. That gives you Way of the Hidden Paw as a better Quad and a little more flexibility as Snyp and Kreep can support them. Then Skulck and Krowch’t can round out numbers. The full Clawpack comes to 535 a Deathmaster and 3 Stormvermin, 2 at 95 and 1 at 80 is an extra 455 giving us a warband of 990 points with 9 fighters.
At first blush, I think Skittershank’s Clawpack look a little lacklustre, but digging into it I think they do have some potential, more importantly, the models are fantastic and the we get the joy of playing with some Skaven.
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