I was checking out Warseer this morning, and in the new ETC Comp Restriction thread there was a mini debate sidetrack over the ranking of powerful Skaven units. While writing my list for the final round of 'Ard Boyz this is definitely something I have been thinking about with every version of the list I write. So, lets have a look at what I believe the top 5 most powerful units and/or items are in the Skaven army.
5. Warlock Engineer with a Doomrocket. For 45 points you get easily one of the best point return units in the game. This little guy is one-use-only, but he about always makes his points back and sometimes makes upwards of ten times his points back! The Doomrocket is a weapon that is random range, you have to guess between 4d6 and 10d6 for range then roll randomly. It must fly in a straight line but you do not have to have line of sight. If you roll 3 or more 1's you will misfire, but you're never misfiring because you should always be holding on to your Doomrocket until your enemy is within a minimum of 5d6 range (preferably the average of 4d6), or even better use it to shoot down the flank of the entire army after you're Skitterleaped this cheap kamikaze. The payload is a large blast at strength 5, which is enough to remove entire units of Elves and do serious damage to anything else.
4. Warp Lightning Cannon. I honestly think this the best artillery piece in the Skaven army, and one of the best in all of Warhammer. It is basically a stone thrower and cannon combined (it effects a line and then also a template at the end of the line), and is much more accurate than previously. It automatically denies armor saves, even if you roll strength 2 on the bounce for the hit strength. Combined with the Doomrocket, I have taken out an entire unit of 40 Halberdiers with good shots, because this thing does massive damage. I prefer it against infantry and to rely on a Doomwheel for killing monsters, but remember that templates hit all parts of a monster. Even if I roll a 2 for strength when I hit your Stegadon, a 6 will wound, you will get no armor save, and I will do d6 wounds. Harsh.
3. Gutter Runners. Scouts are much, much better in the new edition. Gutter Runners are some of the best, but you need to upgrade them. Scouting is excellent with poison weapons, because any 6 to hit on war machines will wound. Combine that with a minimum size unit, upgrade to slings, and the new skirmish rules that allow you to march and fire, and you are throwing 10 dice per unit of Gutter Runners to possibly wipe a war machine turn 1. 2 sixes means a dead bolt thrower, 3 sixes usually a dead cannon. Not only can they scout and be 12 inches away, but if you are worried about getting killed first turn, Gutter Runners can infiltrate instead and come in on turn 2 or later from your opponents board edge and wipe out all of his war machines then.
2. Hell Pit Abomination. Yes, I rated the Hell Pit number 2 and not number 1. The Hell Pit is "weaker" in 8th edition, it's true. But, he will still win entire games by himself with some good dice rolling, and maybe even some good tactics. I like to run mine on the flank and to double charge with Skaven Slaves. Random Movement rule of 3d6 means you can only "Hold" vs his charges, and he also pursues and overruns 3d6. He does impact hits, random attacks, and thunderstomp. He tears through heavy knights, can wound other monsters with multiple wounds, and if you charge him into an infantry unit and roll Avalanche of Flesh, you're opponent is pulling off models by the entire rank after 4d6 s6 hits (d6 impact hits, 2d6 hits, and then d6 thunderstomp hits). He still is very vulnerable to any sort of flaming attack that will deny hit regeneration, and not many people will ever take warp spikes with the changes to magic resistance.
1. Grey Seer with the 13th Spell. The Grey Seer is my number one choice. He starts the game with d3 Warpstone Tokens for free power dice. Anything that generates extra power dice in 8th edition is worth its weight in gold. He also has access to one of the most powerful spells in Warhammer as a signature spell! He can always have the Dreaded 13th Spell, which is amazing vs any small units with characters in them or elite armies where every model counts. You can cast with up to 6 dice at any spell, and if you throw 6 dice at the 13th spell, you have a 50% chance of getting it off, not counting the chance of rolling double 6's (1,2,3,4,5,6 = 21 + magic level 4 = 25). Combined with that power, you have plenty of items to heal wounds, more warpstoen tokens that don't take arcane item slots, and access to both powerful Skaven Lores of magic. Throw in some level 1 or 2 casters and your Grey Seer will have exactly the spells you want for him.
Honorable mention goes to Skaven Slaves. They are the rock of the Skaven army. Possible leadership 10 huge and steadfast units are what the rest of this list do what they are meant to do to win you the game. Better yet the huge unit of 40 Slaves with a musician is only 82 points. Expendable, long lasting tar-pits, and to make it better you can shoot and cast spells into enemies in combat with them! But Slaves by themselves are not powerful though, which is why they are an honorable mention. The fit in perfectly with the overall synergy of the Skaven army, and are a must-have. If the list was a "Top 6" they would be number 6!
Yes the Skaven are strong in the new edition. I believe they are top 3 along with Lizardmen and Dark Elves. Maybe you can use this list to tailor your Skaven to be the best rats on the block, or maybe you can read up on exactly what you should be killing first when you see that ratty horde across the table from you!