The Rat Pack: Playable Skaven In WO 1.4.0

Love rats? Patch 1.4.0 hits the now free-to-play-for-the-first-10-levels Warhammer Online this Thursday, and will bring all kinds of tasty additions. You can read about them here, but to summarise: revamped Realm vs. Realm combat, 4 new playable Skaven classes, a new Skaven dungeon for levels 65+, and two new pay-for Realm vs. Realm packs, one for endgame players that also accelerates character progression and another containing pets, dyes, mounts and haircuts. Details on those new classes follows. Squeak!

I had a pet rat as a kid, but he went wrong and we had to release him in a forest. There’s a lesson in that. If something in your life goes wrong, take it to a forest and leave it there. Never fails.

So, above we have the Warlock Engineer. Here’s how he shakes down:

The Warlock Engineer is a support unit best suited to a stationary battle area. They have an array of support equipment they can deploy to the field, while at the same time using their stores of Warp-Energy to hurl lightning, globes of burning death, and even modified doomrockets.

* Stored Warp-Energy – The Warlock Engineer carries massive amounts of Warp-Energy with him wherever he goes. This can pose a problem to those on the battlefield. Should the Warlock Engineer die, all that Warp-Energy becomes unstable and explodes, damaging those around him.
* Ignited Warp-Energy – Should you be so unlucky as to be near a Warlock Engineer when he dies, the resulting explosion will leave you covered with a film of burning, corrosive Warp-Energy. It causes mild damage to you as it burns away at your flesh, and can only be removed through the help of special healing; it does not dissipate on its own.
* Warp-Lightning – A beam of crackling energy, fired from the Warlock Engineer, and leaving his victim suffering from a mild shock which causes damage over time.
* Residual Charge – As the Warlock Engineer fires off Warp-Lightning, a small charge is left behind. This will slowly fade, but can be built up over multiple uses of Warp-Lightning. This built up residual charge can be harnessed and hurled out as a Death Globe.
* Death Globe – Condensing his Residual Charges, the Warlock Engineer forms a Death Globe and hurls it at a ground targeted location. The area around the impact becomes covered in bubbling warpfluid, causing ongoing damage to anyone in the area of effect.
* Warpfire Thrower – a constant stream of warpfire jets from the Warlock Engineer for as long as he concentrates and can maintain AP.
* Repair – Able to heal and re-enable siege engines, and remove any sabotage.
* Doomrocket – Fires off a projectile at a target’s location. On impact it explodes, causing damage and knocking down anyone near the impact location. The kickback on these rockets also causes the Warlock Engineer to fall down momentarily.
* Warp-Energy Condenser – A deployable device. Allies within the area of effect have their Magic Power and Healing Power augmented.
* Warp-Energy Accumulator – A deployable device. Allies within the area of effect have their AP regen rate increased.

Then there’s the Packmaster. He’s really interesting, because it’s a class solely designed to take care of another class:

The Packmaster supports a Rat Ogre as best he can. By just being nearby, the Packmaster’s influence increases the effectiveness of his Rat Ogre. The Packmaster’s attacks can be used on both enemy and ally, having different effects on both. Being skilled and powerful leaders and organizers, the Packmaster is able to exert his influence to nearby allies for a short time, helping to increase their effectiveness as well. It’s that same power of pack manipulation that also allows the Packmaster to summon forth rat minions for short bursts of combat.

* Verminous Valour – The very presence of a Packmaster is enough to bring a measure of control to the warped mind of a Rat Ogre. While in close proximity, the Packmaster grants an Armor, Damage, Block, Perry, and Dodge buff to the Rat Ogre.
* Thwap! – A basic attack that damages an enemy, and enrages an ally. When Thwap! is used on an ally, the next attack they make (not including auto-attack) receives a major buff.
* Overconfidence – As the Packmaster Thwap’s! enemies and allies, he becomes increasingly overconfidant in his own abilities. This can be channeled, and used to execute a Thwap!Thwap!!Thwap!!! attack.
* Thwap! Thwap!! Thwap!!! – This ability gathers all the built up overconfidence into one massive attack. This attack applies a DoT to enemies, and a HoT on allies. This HoT is the only way Rat Ogres are able to be healed.
* Scurry Away! – When the going gets rough, the Packmaster gets to scurrying. When activated, this dispels any snares or roots on the Packmaster, grants a quick speed buff, and then leaps him to the nearest friendly Rat Ogre for protection.
* Strength in Numbers – Gathering his allies close to him, the Packmaster is able to, for a short time at least, exert his packleader influence over them. This applies an Armor, Damage, Block, Perry, and Dodge buff to those allies nearby.
* Rats of War – Tapping into the minds of nearby vermin, the Packmaster orders a few to attack his chosen enemy. Obedient to the call of a Packmaster, the rats erupt from the ground, and begin to gnaw at the enemy. Each hit, while insignificant in damage, creates a Festering Wound.
* Festering Wound – Each of these wounds cause you to do less damage, and reduces the effectiveness of your healing. Thses are fast healing wounds, but their effects are also cumulative, which could potentially leave you worthless on the battlefield for a short time.
* Mantrap – A nasty trap, slowing the target to a near crawl.

Next, we’ve got the Packmaster’s Rat Ogre:

The Rat Ogre is a creature of singular purpose: Create as much confusion and disruption in the enemy as possible. Whether he is charging through enemy lines to create passage for his allies, or he is using his powerful fists to assist in destroying a Keep’s Door, his impact is sure to be felt. He can usually be seen in close proximity to a Packmaster, as the Rat Ogre is unable to heal his own wounds and requires the Packmater’s aid to heal.

* Frenzy – The Rat Ogre is incapable of regenerating his hit points, and is unable to be cared for by anyone other than a Packmaster.
* Claw – A basic attack, renting his target with his brutal claws.
* Warped Rage – As the Rat Ogre attacks with his Claws, his warp-twisted rage begins to build. This rage can be used to fuel a Savage Assault.
* Savage Assault – Using his build up Warped Rage, the Rat Ogre executes a Savage Assault. This attack hits only once, but does scaling damage depending on how much rage was available to power it.
* Roar – A powerful roar let loose by a Rat Ogre leaves those around him In Shock, a brief stagger, applied to those in close proximity to a Rat Ogre when he Roars.
* Charge – For 10 seconds, a Rat Ogre focuses his resolve, and rushes at the enemy, knocking back anyone standing in his way.
* Hurl – Able to pick up group or Warband members, and hurl them up and over walls. When not near a keep, the height of this hurl is not as high.
* Bash – With his rock-like fists, the Rat Ogre is able to assist rams in taking down a keep door. When pounding on a door, shockwaves travel up, and cause any still functioning oil to become Unstable.. When Oil becomes Unstable, the next time it is used it will spill out a little of its oil around it causing damage to those close by. It still functions normally.

And finally, the Gutter Runner:

The Gutter Runner is an espionage unit who is at home alone in the shadows. He has some direct damage abilities, but most of his skills are suited to getting away from a fight and taking out defenses. The major asset to the armies controlling this unit is his ability to relay enemy troop movements back to his allies, and the skill with which he disables engines of war.

* Spy – When under the effects of Gutter Run, detectible enemy troop locations will be broadcasted to nearby allies.
* Sweeping Blade – A basic attack, slicing your enemy with your dagger.
* Lingering Spite – As you attack your enemy, you build spite against them. This can be channeled into a flurry of Spin Slash attacks.
* Spin Slash – With your daggers at the ready, you spin around in a flurry of attacks fueled by the spite you’ve built up against your enemy. This results in a number of attacks equal to how much spite you’ve accumulated.
* Leap – You can use this to jump great heights and distances. When near a keep, this is even higher, to allow the scaling of defensive walls.
* Snare Net – A bundle of barbed netting hurled at a targeted location. When it hits, the netting expands to catch anyone in the area. The resulting tangled mess disables those caught in it. Attempting to wiggle out of the netting causes damage.
* Gutter Run – Toggled stealth, with a speed boost. While this is active, the Gutter Runner’s Spy ability is activated automatically.
* Sabotage – The Gutter Runner can sabotage an enemy war engine. The next time the engine is used, it will detonate the trap, causing damage to those near it as well as disabling the engine. The Gutter Runner is able to remotely detonate a placed trap, as long as he is in range of it, and may only have one such trap active at a time.

Anyone out there still playing Warhammer Online? How is it these days?


  1. Kryopsis says:

    Is Warhammer Online really free-to-play now? I don’t seem to find any information on that on the main site, which still advertises time-cards.
    There is a free trial but it caps at level 10, from what I recall.

  2. sneetch says:

    It’s not free-to-play! Lies! Charlatans! Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it infamy!

    Edit: I am a slow typist.

  3. pakoito says:

    WAR is shortened that way everywhere, not WO….I had to open the article to see which game was it referring to.

  4. DarkFenix says:

    I enjoyed WAR for a while, but then the problem I anticipated from the start reared its ugly head. The PvP sucks beyond repair. Why? Two factions. No game with two faction PvP has ever been good, because it always becomes heavily imbalanced one way or the other. When will developers learn, the only way to create balanced PvP is to have at least 3 factions.

    • Eeels says:

      Balanced PvP with 3 factions? No game with 2 faction PvP has been good? You’ve been playing the wrong games, son.

    • clownst0pper says:

      I don’t know of an MMO with 2 factions that has been good, no. DAoC lead the way by implementing 3 and it was incredible- Guild Wars 2 is following the same method.

      2 just doesn’t work based on one side always being underpopulated.

    • OldRat says:

      Not that I find it the best game ever or anything, but WoW seems to be doing fine with two sides.

    • clownst0pper says:

      Indeed WoW does manage, but it’s primary focus is not on realm versus realm combat, which is entirely what Warhammer Online relies on. WoW suffers population inbalances based on Horde/Alliance, but these numbers don’t have catastrophic effects on realm performance like they do in WAR. Some servers are so ill balanced due to only 2 sides RvR is a nightmare.

      This was seldom experienced in DAoC as 3 realms guaranteed one could never dominate.

    • sneetch says:

      Heh, I don’t know, while I was playing DaoC Midgard did a damn good job of dominating. ;)

      Hibernia (my faction) was hugely outnumbered so we spent our time nibbling at the edges but you’re right the good thing is that at the very worst you would end up with three zergs, one per faction, and two of those three would be engaged with one another at any one time but that leaves the third uncontested unless the dominant faction splits up to try to engage it too. It meant that things were much more fluid.

      Such a shame they didn’t have three to start with in WAR, it could have been brilliant. Humans and Dwarves, Chaos and Beastmen and Orcs and Skaven would have been my choices (feck off elves!)

    • ScubaMonster says:

      WoW seems to be doing fine? Lol… depending on the realm, Alliance crushes Horde, or Horde crushes Alliance. On my server, we slaughtered Alliance so bad on a regular basis in Wintergrasp. We almost never lost and basically graveyard camped them the entire time. But I’ve never played on a single WoW server where it was even.

  5. Choca says:

    I was told that they weren’t full fledged new playable races actually but rather temporary buffs thrown over an existant character, was I misled ?

    • malkav11 says:

      I’m not sure of the exact mechanics, but they are definitely not regularly playable classes. They are strictly for PvP, I think only for open RvR, and are unlocked temporarily by your faction being first to defeat a Skaven Incursion event, which will pop up periodically in contested zones.

  6. Rei Onryou says:

    Can you paint your Skaven?

  7. Star_Drowned says:

    I might install it and try it again. I haven’t played since they first released free trials or so, and I did have some fun with the pvp. I’m actually waiting for the beginnings of my real little plastic ratman army to arrive in the mail, so I’m doubly tempted…

    Yup… installing now.

    No plague priest/monk is kind of disappointing, though the pack master/rat ogre combo is pretty neat. I also want to see some crazy skaven weapons and war machines!

  8. clownst0pper says:

    Its a shame none of the additions fix the tragic engine, over reliance on gear and the terrible skill system.

    • Hallgrim says:

      I think the terribad engine is the single biggest reason for WAR’s failure. (Close second is the “let’s make a game that is like WoW but hasn’t had 4 years of success!” concept) I played WAR in the semi-closed beta, the first month of release, and for 6 weeks this summer. It was really amazing to realize two years later that the engine wasn’t overly demanding, it was just criminally bad. I enjoyed the world pvp through tier 3, but got frustrated watching the game run at 20 fps on a brand new gaming computer with a $300 video card.

      I hope Mark Jacobs isn’t finished forever… it would be really nice to see him come back and make Pax Imperator.

  9. Nallen says:

    It ‘went wrong’?

    Sounds ominous.

  10. Kid A says:

    Somewhere, Kieron Gillen just came so hard he blew himself through the wall of whatever building he was in.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      All I can see is semen and rubble.


    • Wulf says:

      Hey, me too! Though less with the rubble.

      Skaven in WAR, I’m liking where this is going, and this might just tide me over until GW2. That’s if Fallout: New Vegas stops tiding me over until GW2. I mean, I’ve put well over a hundred hours into New Vegas already and I’m still playing. But when New Vegas stops tiding me over until GW2, I’m going to have a nose at WAR to bag me a Skaven.

  11. OldRat says:

    So yes, this is more or less the one thing I always felt missing from WAR. Skaven. I like rats, if the fact I have five on my lap at the moment is anything to go by. And the fact they’re just the latest of the many I’ve had. Or that the only portraits I have are of my previous rats (Namely, the old, venerable power trio of Oxu, Lowbelly and Half-a-Tail, known as Uffel before his accident). I’m quite certain that if I didn’t have those scaly tails, leathery ears and twitching whiskers in my life, it would be a quite a lot emptier than the space they might occupy in any physical sense.
    Thus, I was very much dissapointed when those tails, ears and whiskers were nowhere to be seen in WAR. Who knows, this might actually make me come back and give it another whirl. Especially now that they figured this silly Warhammer Europe business (I live very much in the EU, so I naturally tried the EU servers) is apparently concluded and it’s all Mythic.

  12. Lengle says:

    If I understand it correctly, the Skaven are available in ORvR, once you have conquered “the Skaven dungeon Thanquol’s incursion”

    From the Warhammer Online site:

    “The other major part of The Verminous Horde is Game Update 1.4.0 which contains content for all subscribers of the game, whether you choose to purchase the RvR packs or not. It is our hope that doing it this way will maximize the population in all RVR areas and ensure the best possible play experience. The full patch notes can be seen here. Highlights include an entirely revamped ORVR zone capture mechanic, the Skaven dungeon Thanquol’s incursion, and controllable Skaven classes that players can use in ORVR once the dungeon has been conquered. And with that, we will see you on the battlefield!”

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      There’s also this bit on the page linked to which says: “Players participating in the dungeon will get great new gear and early access to Skaven troops.” Which implies that they get it before everyone else or something.


  13. We Fly Spitfires says:

    My guess is that the Rat Ogre and Gut Runner will be hugely popular and the other two not so much. The dynamic between the Pack Master and Rat Ogre sure is going to be interesting.

  14. Thelonious says:

    Wot no Grey Seers? :(

  15. Starky says:

    Paid for this game and didn’t get beyond the 30 days inital play – massive waste of money and even if it has improved greatly, I’m soured to it.

    The only way I’d ever bother with it is if they went F2P.

  16. the wiseass says:

    Oh Quinns, I like you, I really do, but you need to proof check your articles a little more. I mean, there’s at least one factual error in every second article you post. It’s a real shame, because otherwise you’re a fine dood.

  17. DrGonzo says:

    I really enjoyed WAR. I’ve only managed to get into two MMO’s one was WAR and the other Guild Wars.

    But WAR’s engine is completely screwed to the point where it’s almost impossible to get a decent framerate. As someone else said 2 factions means one side is always outnumbered. It’s Warhammer for christs sake their should be loads of factions. But even with all the problems I found it to have far better PvP than any other MMO I’ve tried.

    The game was full of potential but never really lived up to any of it. I would love it to go FTP and get a reboot.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Is the frame-rate thing still true? I heard from others that around when they went the endless trial they changes stuff which basically doubled the frame-rate. I keep on meaning to take a shot at it to see. When was the last time you played?


    • Nuage says:

      I currently have an active account, and I have not a single framerate issue – even with a 50v50 battle going on.
      There is some lag, sometimes, but it’s quite rare – at least on Borderlands, which is the most populated server.

      I’m speaking of the capital & T1-3 here, I did not go to T4 yet, as I only reactivated my account recently.

    • Hallgrim says:

      I played WAR for 6 weeks this summer on a brand new, medium – high end gaming computer and the low framerates were what ultimately drove me away.

      Here I am playing on a new install, with an I7 860, 8GB RAM, ATI 5850, and I’m getting less than 15 fps in world pvp. Did all the troubleshooting I know how (been building computers for >10 years), and every other game I play runs fine, but WAR was just unplayably choppy.

      I also found it a little funny that there were no official guides to improving your game performance, or even any useful technical support information on the official forums.

      edit: some details, corrections

    • Nuage says:

      Oh, that’s just sad.
      I’m just out of 3 hours of non stop rvr action on borderlands / T2… without a single lag or framerate drop. It was at least 3 full warband on each side (so around 50v50).
      I’ve got a worse computer (i5, 5850, 4Go ddr3).

    • Hallgrim says:

      @nuage: Yeah it really is. WAR isn’t the best game, but I found the PvP to be fresh and fairly well balanced up through T3. Too bad it ran so poorly.

  18. Archonsod says:

    I lost interest in WAR as soon as they moved away from WFRP.

  19. Nuage says:

    The game improved greatly.
    I was on the closed beta, the public beta, the early days…. and I did quit soon after. I came back some time ago… And man, that game is now everything we wanted – well, at least if you’re like me, and what you want is permanent and fun RvR action (as in, on my server, Borderlands, there’s RvR going on all around the clock, at every level, and with at the very minimum a couple dozen people on each side, and usually a more than that).

    This patch not only bring in the Skaven, but change a lot of things in the way the RvR work. It should be (at least, I hope) even better.

    For those who have an existing account, there is a “come back please” scheme available, giving you 10 days of free reactivation of your account. I encourage everybody to come and try it, really, it’s so much better than what it was it’s barely the same game.

  20. ScubaMonster says:

    If you do pay for this game, whatever you do, don’t use your credit card, just buy game time cards if you can find them. So far, at least twice they’ve screwed up the billing process and people got billed multiple times in one shot. One guy said is credit card was charged 20 times. It even happened to people with inactive accounts who still had their payment info.

  21. Nick says:

    I went back to it when they gave me a free week a while ago, sadly I could find literally no action at all at my rank on my server, so I gave up again.

  22. BooleanBob says:

    This is weird, never seen this ‘Warhammer Online’ before. Someone seems to have taken the teams and players of Blood Bowl and made a DAoC clone out of them.

  23. Josh W says:

    I thought you were going to say “If something in your life goes wrong, take it to a forest and leave it there. Never let it back into the house.”

  24. chiablo says:

    I loved WAR when I still played it, there was something magical about playing an engineer and tossing people over cliff edges. I want to revisit it, but with Cattleclism out in 3 weeks…

  25. Wulf says:

    Innuendo in a Skaven post.

    Entertainingly classy. I approve.