Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pit Master Frang's Skavenslave Levy (and a little thinking out loud about my Skaven army)

The very deepest, darkest vaults beneath the Flea Fell are known as the Slave Pits.  Most of those who enter them never see the light of day again.  The few that do are just as doomed.  Each of the great Pits is presided over by a boss, a particularly shrewd, tough and vicious Skaven who goes by the title of Pit Master.
Most slaves, be they Skaven or captured Humans, Dwarves or Goblins, will toil in the inky blackness beneath the Flea Fell until they die, but occasionally a Pit will become overpopulated or a Pit Master will be called upon to bring a levy of slaves to support the Tribe's Warlord clans in battle.
In most cases, the wretched slaves will be used as spear fodder, throw-away troops meant to die clearing a path for the advance of the Clan-Rats, Black Skaven and Storm Vermin. Very occasionally, however, some slaves fight well.  Indeed the sole slim hope any Skaven Slave has of escaping his lot lies in the remote possibility of his being elevated to Clan-Rat status, should certain of the clans be decimated in battle and require recruits to fill gaps in the ranks.  At these times a Skaven Slave who has shown outstanding savagery in combat may find himself 'freed' to serve in the ranks of a Clan Rat regiment...
I've decided I really like painting Skaven.  I've also finally managed to make a few decisions about the look I want my army to have.  I didn't exactly hate the Skaven models I'd gotten painted up 'til now, but I really wasn't super happy with them.  I thought about it a lot and did a lot of poring over photos of Andy Chambers' classic Skaven horde under high magnification.  I was searching for inspiration, and what better place to find some?
Andy Chambers' Skaven Army....Everybody's favorite Skaven army!

One thing.  I decided that the green base edges I used for my other Skaven models don't look really right.  Too bright and cheerful.  Mr. Chambers' bases have a lot of gray on them too and now I can see why he did 'em that way.   I tried using Reaper Stormy Grey on this unit, and I think it is a better with the sort of autumnal grays, browns and yellow/oranges I like to paint my Skaven troops in.
This will mean going back and re-edging all the Skaven bases I've done this far to match, but that won't take long.  My regiment of Black Skaven is another matter, alas.
Skrawchutt Blackmaw's Black Skaven Guard
It doesn't look absolutely terrible, I think.  It just looks really boring.  Much too boring for an elite regiment like the Black Skaven are supposed to be.  The regimental standard is also kind of uninteresting.  Not horrible..it's just a cut-out arcane armorial, but an elite regiment should have something bigger and more threatening.  So I've decided that I'll give this standard to my second and soon-to be painted Skaven Slave unit, and put together another one for the Black Skaven.  Another thing about this unit... Looking carefully at Andy's army I noticed he'd done a lot of work with little details on clothing and weapons to individualize many of the models and add many micro-expressions of a primitive and savage culture.

Clothing can be seen to have little designs and markings around the hems, hoods are often emblazoned with menacing runes.  Fur is sometimes dyed or marked with dramatic slashes and stripes.  Swords and spear-blades are sometimes given hash-marks which we can assume are 'kill' markings, and spears and halberds sometimes have small pennons attached.  I'd like to add little bits of flavor like this to my elite and Clan Rat regiments.  
The slaves, maybe not so much - I think a drab and dreary look is appropriate for them...which is good, because that's exactly how these fellows came out.
But Pit Master Frang...I've painted him very plain, and he looks okay, but he's a champion and kind of a big deal...he should have something that makes him stand out from his unit.  Again, I find myself thinking that I should have spiced him up somehow....a rune on his loin cloth? Stripes on his fur? Hash marks on the halberd?
 Lots to brood upon...but there's also lots of time...the army's still just getting started.

Til next time, cheers!


  1. Nice looking army so far mr mouse
    I agree with your sentiment about finding a way to make your characters stand out; I made elevated bases, some give them their own schemes or their own personal standards. Your rank and file slaves look great, if you're unhappy with the black skaven I say you just pick a colour and go with it, although I see nothing wrong with their appearance as is. Glad to see another skaven army, even if it does make U.S. auto-rivals in the meta-game

    1. Friendly rivals, I'd think. Two Oldhammer Skaven armies clashing would be a pretty fantastic sight, though. And thanks!

  2. Great looking rats, Mr. Mouse!
    I agree with you that the colour of the base is a really tricky matter. Like you, I now generally find green (though a traditional Oldhammer choice) a little too bright. For a long time, I always painted my bases black, but in a way, that's no better... black also draws the eye away from the miniature, and can be especially clunky on a nice terrain board (especially for non-evil races). Right now, I've settled on Charred Brown, and am pretty happy with its neutrality.

    Anyway, your slaves are grand. I've always thought that Skaven Slaves are one of the most interesting parts of the Skaven army: a tide of unwilling rats... who fight only because they're more scared of the slave master than their opponents. Good luck on the field!

    1. Thanks very much, Matthew! I do like the effect of the stone grey base on the overall look of the regiment. I'm actually considering re-edging each of my armies a different shade just to mark them out from each other on the table. That's probably going too far, though.

  3. I too have spent many an hour pondering how to get that Chambers look into my rats. I think I've achieved my own version of it with the colour palette but like you I need to individualise them a wee bit more. I've tried crude pack markings and kill scratches in weapons without much success.

    Whilst Chambers' Skaven army is the absolute idolisation of every Skaven player in the known world it just annoys me that it has to be soooooooo darn good! God Damn the man. The look of my horde must improve..............

    The Black Skaven look great, maybe put a brown ink wash over the green in order to drab it up a bit. For my bases I used to use Grave Yard Earth but now use either Army Painter Monster Brown or lately Army Painter Leather Brown as I can spray movement trays to match (Army Painter do a Leather Brown spray but not a Monster Brown spray).

    1. Agree about the Chambers army. I wonder if it still exists? I saw Pete Taylor's army for sale in regiments on ebay about 5 years ago. Would be great to be able to get an up-close look at Andy's army now.
      I think I like the gray for my bases and will stick to it in future. Like you say I need to come up with a way of personalizing it a bit more, especially the heroes and wizards. Funny, some armies, like the Kev Adams' Orcs, don't seem to need any extra decoration but Skaven figures seem to need some help. Andy Chambers set the bar too damn high for the rest of us, I guess. Anyway, Thanks!