Sunday, May 21, 2023

Drowned Rats

Skaven Clans Skryre and Pestilens go to war on the high seas! A battle report using the classic Warhammer boat rules from the 2003 General's Compendium.



After unpacking my Skaven fleet and working on some of my Skaven backlog, I really wanted to put some models on the ships and play with my toys. While the General's Compendium was written for 6th Edition Warhammer, the boat rules and campaign systems will work with pretty much any edition. I used the 8th Edition core rules since they are freshest in my mind, and split my Skaven army into its two main clans– Skryre and Pestilens.

I didn't want to over-complicate things or spend too much time on the preparation, so when mustering the armies I didn't bother with points and simply used whatever models would fit aboard the vessels. I made sure to give each army a warlord and three wizards. To limit the number of things I'd need to keep track of, I skipped out on magic items (other than the Doomrocket for one of my Warlock Engineers). This setup worked out pretty well, as you'll see– It was an evenly-matched battle right to the end!

Clan Skryre set sail aboard the large steamship and the three small rowboats, and Clan Pestilens used the two medium-sized rowing barges:



I used my Dreadfleet seascape mat for the battlefield. Since the mat a little smaller than 4' x 6' each fleet started at opposite ends and fought lengthwise. They deployed at the edges and moved onto the mat. The battle scenario was straightforward: Each fleet has two barrels of warpstone. The objective is to leave the opposite edge of the board with more warpstone than their opponent. They need to either sink the opposing ships, or board and capture their warpstone.

Anchors Aweigh!




Pestilens Turn–

With the Skryre fleet spotted on the horizon, Lord-Admiral Skabsis orders his full speed ahead! The rules for medium-sized rowing vessels allows them to gain D3+1 inches of extra movement if they have twice the minimum number of rowers, and they can get a burst of speed for an additional D6+1 inches. Combined with their initial 5-inch movement, the two plague barges move 10 and 11 inches. Their rowers exhausted, they would not be able to have another burst of speed until three full turns have passed. 



Both of the plagueclaw catapults release their foul ammunition, aiming for the steamship and the small rowboat on its port side. Only the rowboat is hit, splashing three clanrats overboard to a watery grave.



Skryre Turn–

The steamship Tempest generates 3 steam points per turn, each of which can be spent for 2-inches of movement or a stationary turn of up to 45-degrees. Lord-Admiral Skreekits orders the engines pushed full throttle, which can generate up to 3 more steam points (and the potential to catastrophically damage the ship!). The helmsman opts for 2 extra steam points, propelling the ship 10 inches toward their adversaries. The clanrats in the small skiffs pull their oars as hard as they can in an effort to keep up.

The Tempest's two cannons are positioned to port and starboard, so neither has a clear shot, and the jezzail teams are as yet out of range.




Pestilens Turn–

The plague barges continue to push forward. All the extra rowers do their best, but Lord- Admiral Skabsis' barge Pustulant begins to pull ahead of the Virulent. Both ships fire their catapults again. The payload from the Pustulant again aims for the small rowboat off the port side of the Tempest, but it deviates off target, landing instead in the center of the great steamship.



The other catapult scores a direct hit on the fore deck of the Tempest! In total, two clanrat crewmen, four stormvermin, a jezzail team, and one of the cannon crew are killed. The Doom Rocketeer attempts to take cover but an unsuccessful "Look Out Sir!" roll means he has to suffer the effects of the noxious bile. Even still, he escapes uninjured as the other unlucky rats are splattered.



Skryre Turn–

Once again, the steamship's boiler is pushed full throttle, generating an extra two points of steam with no unfortunate consequences. The vessel steers slightly to port, straightening out and aiming headlong toward the oncoming Virulent. Lord-Admiral Skreekits orders the deck cannons rearranged, and in a flurry of squeaking and scurrying, the rats begin to wheel their gun toward the starboard rail.



As the small skiffs come into range, and their jezzail teams take aim at the plagueclaw catapult on the deck of the Virulent. Only one manages to score a hit, but the machine weathers it with no damage.




Pestilens Turn–

The plague barges both move forward 8 inches, turning slightly in an effort to flank either side of the large steamship. Both of their catapults target the fore deck of the Tempest, the caustic sludge wiping away a significant portion of the crew. The slippery layer of bile and ooze begins to take its till on the deck, causing a point of damage to the ship's hull.


Casualties from a particularly successful round of plagueclaw catapult shooting.

Skryre Turn–

Lord-Admiral Skreekits orders his helmsman full throttle, and hard to port! This time, the two extra steam points are too much for the engines to handle. An unfortunate roll on the "Full Throttle" chart results in blown valves, crippling the engines. For the remainder of the game, the ship can only generate 2 steam points, and can no longer be pushed past this limit. With green smoke billowing from its stern, the Tempest turns to port, bringing both cannons into view of the approaching plague barges.

From up in the crow's nest, Grey Seer Skrayspite casts Warp Lightning at the Virulent, frying two plague monks. The Doom Rockeeteer also attempts to target the barge with his own Warp Lightning spell, but it is dispelled by Plague Priest Scrabis Tocsinous.



The cannons are loaded and readied to fire, each targeting a different barge. The first suffers a misfire, resulting in no shot, and the other overshoots its target, merely splintering two of the Virulent's oars.


The Doom Rocketeer, however has much better luck– His deadly missile streaks toward the Virulent, landing squarely over its bow. 12 of the clanrats surrounding the catapult are blown to smithereens and the machine itself suffers one point of damage. As the rickety machine shudders and rat bodies are flung everywhere, the deck of the boat itself remains unscathed (although badly charred).



The remaining jezzail teams concentrate fire on the machine, damaging it two more times. The pair of warlock engineer snipers in the crow's nest train their warpmuskets on the catapult, hoping to finish it off, but both miss their mark.


Pestilens Turn–

With the Virulent down two oars, Lord-Admiral Skabsis can no longer gain extra speed simply from having extra rowers. The plague barges continue to push forward through the water, closing the distance to the enemy.



Plague Priest Vomitous attempts to cast Plague at the stormvermin on the deck of the Tempest, but the spell is thwarted by the Clan Skryre Grey Seer. 



Between the other priests, Snagglecyst and Scrabis Tocsinous, they manage to successfully cast Bless with Filth on their ship's unit of plague monks.



The plagueclaw catapults both aim at the large rat ogre on the steamship– One misses the ship completely, but the other deviates amidship, killing another of the cannon's crew.



Skryre Turn–

With its speed now greatly reduced, the Tempest is only able to move 4 inches forward, but it is just enough to bring both cannons into view of the plague barge Virulent, as it barrels toward them. 




As the two rowing skiffs on its starboard side move to intercept the second plague barge, the skiff on its port side pulls alongside.


Some poisoned wind globadiers and clanrats climb aboard, along with the jezzail team to replenish the crew numbers for the impending boarding action. 



At Grey Seer Skrayspite's command, Warp Lightning crackles from the crow's nest, frying three plague monks. The engineer snipers miss yet again (making me wonder why I designated them "snipers"), but the remaining jezzail team on the fore deck is right on target, destroying the Virulent's catapult. The cannons don't fare much better this time either– One cannonball goes straight in the drink, and the other sails right over the heads of every plague monk ranked up on the deck. It still hits the ship, at least, landing in the rowing trench to kill four oarsmen and inflict three points of damage to the hull.



Pestilens Turn–

The rowers have rested enough, so this turn they are able to benefit from another burst of speed. Lord-Admiral Skabsis aims his barge directly at the Tempest and rams it! Because the barge is fitted with a battering ram on its prow, it is able to re-roll the damage, and scores 3 points of damage on the larger vessel.



Likewise, the rowers of plague barge Pustulant pull for all they're worth and ram into the center skiff! The little boat suffers 6 points of damage, which is enough to destroy it. The result of a roll on the "Sinking" shows that the vessel will take 3 rounds to sink.



The Grey Seer once again stops Plague Priest Vomitous from casting Plague on the stormvermin. But his efforts to protect his own crew prevents him from being able to dispel Vermintide, cast by Scrabis Ticsinous. He summons a surge of rats (out of the ship's hold, most likely) to swim out 17 inches. 



The rats attack everything the spell's template touches (friend or foe), so five of his own rowers are killed, along with nearly the entire crew of the Clan Skryre skiff– Only five clanrats survive!


The entire skiff is nearly swamped by the deadly Vermintide!

Meanwhile, a battle is being fought across the gunwales of the Tempest and Virulent. Because of the small contact point between the two ships, not many models are in range to fight. The Pestilens crew manages to inflict a single wound on the rat ogre, and a single plague monk is killed.

On the high seas, only the number of wounds inflicted counts for combat resolution, with a +1 bonus added for having a larger crew size, or +2 if the crew size is more than double. In this case, since each side caused 1 wound, the Skryre crew wins combat because of its larger numbers. The Pestilens crew fails its break test and becomes "Shaken." (If they win a combat or disengage, they lose their Shaken status, but if they fail another break test while Shaken, they will abandon ship!)

After winning the combat, the Skryre crew decides to shove off and disengage the two vessels, backing the steamship a few inches away.



Skryre Turn–

In order to remain on the sinking skiff, the crew needs to take a Leadership test. In true Skaven fashion, the rats fail and jump overboard. Only the poisoned wind globadiers are brave enough to stay aboard. Two of the clanrats drown as they attempt to swim toward the other vessels.



With the Tempest disengaged, it is free to maneuver into a better position but it only has 2 steam points to work with and not a lot of room between the barge and the skiff. The helmsman deftly moves the ship forward 2 inches and pivots in place. As his ship is being piloting into position, Lord-Admiral Skreekits barks out orders and the remaining crew moves to the starboard side. Off the port side, the little skiff pulls forward, only moving 5 inches with its minimum crew requirement.



Having survived the Vermintide, the five remaining clanrats row their boat alongside the plague barge Pustulant and grapple with it.



The globadiers in the sinking skiff throw their poisoned wind globes at the Pustulant, but only manage to kill one clanrat.



Every ranged weapon aboard the Tempest opens fire at the Virulent, sitting just a breath away. The cannons unleash a volley of grapeshot... to little avail– One gun misfires resulting in no shot, and the other only scores a single casualty. The jezzails and muskets all miss. Lord-Admiral Skreekets, disgusted with the performance of his crew, kills a plague monk with his warplock pistol.



Fortunately, Grey Seer Skrayspite and Warlock Engineer Skrylock have better luck with their magic, and use Warp Lightning to fry seven plague monks between them.


Over on the Pustulant, the Skryre Clanrats face a wall of plague monks The brave little clanrats are able to kill two monks, but the monks send three of them to the briney deep.



Having won the combat, the Pustulant crew shoves off, backing away 4 inches. Since the skiff has a minimum crew requirement of five, the remaining two clanrats are not enough to crew it, so the boat is adrift and unable to move. (They better hope their buddies are able to swim over and help!)




Pestilens Turn–

With the small skiffs dealt with, The Pustulant can now turn its attention to the main objective: The warpstone aboard the Tempest. With most of his crew depleted, Lord-Admiral Skabsis backs up the Virulent 5 inches to make room for the other barge. The Pustulant moves 5 inches foeward, running over swimming jezzail team in the process!

All attempts at casting spells by the plague priests are dispelled by the grey seer. The remaining plagueclaw takes aim at the crew on the deck of the Tempest, but overshoots.



Skryre Turn–

Two more clanrats drown as the bunch attempts to swim to safety. The Tempest pivots and pulls forward alongside the Virulent, grappling the ships together, while the remaining skiff continues to sneak along behind it.

Grey Seer Skrayspite and Engineer Skrylock again train their Warp Lightning spells on the plagueclaw catapult; the first attempt is dispelled by the plague priests, but the second attempt is successful, electrifying the machine and inflicting three wounds.

The cannons take aim at the Pustulant– The first cannonball drops right above the catapult, but fails to cause any damage, it bounces a bit further smashing one clanrat and causing only a point of damage to the hull. The second cannon misfires and explodes!

The pair of warlock engineer snipers finally hit something, killing two plague monks.



Over on the sinking rowboat, the poisoned wind globadiers throw their globes at the catapult, finally destroying it in a toxic plume of smoke.



Fighting from a greater height gives the Skryre crew a slight advantage, and the rat ogre and stormvermin fighters are able to clear the decks of the remaining plague monks, leaving only Lord-Admiral Skabsis, Plague Priest Vomitous, and the rowing crew aboard. Skabsis passes the break test, though, and stands ready to fight anyone who sets foot aboard his ship!




Pestilens Turn–

Plague Priest Scrabis Tocsinous orders some of the plague monks onto the oars. With double the number of rowers, his ship is again able to gain D3+1 inches of extra movement, which is enough to bring it into contact with the Tempest. The barge doesn't hit the steamship at a steep enough angle to ram it, but it does run over all the swimming Skaven in between.

The priests cast Bless With Filth both of their units, but only the attempt on the clanrats is successful and not dispelled.



During the "Jabbing 'Cross Decks" phase of the boarding action, the Lord-Admirals Skreekits and Skabsis are the only combatants able to do any significant damage, killing three fighters each. But in the "Leaping Aboard" and "Deck Fighting" phases, four stormvermin successfully leap to the other ship and engage the Pestilens warlord, wounding him once and resulting in a tied combat. 



Skryre Turn–

The five Skaven on the skiff continue rowing around the steamship, but as they can only move 5 inches each turn, it's slow going.



The globadiers finally abandon their sinking craft and swim for the other skiff while the two clanrats who went in the water ahead of them have already it to safety!



Five plague monks fall to Warp Lightning before the combat recommences. In the flurry of the melee, more Skryre clanrats and stormvermin are able to leap aboard the barge. Some of the plague monks move over to the deck of the Virulent to assist their Lord-Admiral who suffers another wound.



One of the clanrats is able to attack Plague Priest Vomitous to no avail. The priest slaughters the brash little rat, but in the end the Clan Skryre crew wins the combat. The Pestilens crew fails their break test and become Shaken.


"Get off my boat!"



Pestilens Turn–

This round, the small rowboat finally sinks into the murky depths. with both plague barges grappled to the steamship, the only movement is from the plague priests backing out of range of the combat, and the plague monks, abandoning the oars to move forward toward the fight. Plague Priest Vomitous tries yet again to cast Plague, only to have it dispelled by Grey Seer Skrayspite. Fortunately, his compatriot Snagglecyst is able to cast Bless With Filth on the monks.

In the combat round, Clan Pestilens is able to hold its own and win the fight thanks to Lord-Admiral killing three of the stormvermin. This time the Skryre crew becomes Shaken.



Skryre Turn–

As the boarding action continues, Lord-Admiral Skreekits kills the two Pestilence clanrats on the bow of the Pustulant, making room for the rat ogre to leap aboard and engage the plague monks in the deadly deck fighting.



On the deck of the Virulent, the remaining stormvermin bring down Lord-Admiral Skabsis! The Pestilens crew becomes shaken and a handful of plague monks are all that stand between the plague priests and a watery grave.




Pestilens Turn–

Grey Seer Skrayspite manages to thwart every spell attempt by the plague priests. As the combat progresses, Lord-Admiral Skreekits and a few clanrats leap to the deck of the Pustulant to fight alongside the rat ogre. Against the odds, the plague monks put up a good fight and draw the combat.



Skryre Turn–

Only a push is needed to finish off the Pestilens crews and claim victory. The small skiff finally makes it around the Tempest to grapple with the Virulent, much to Plague Priest Vomitous' chagrin.



Meanwhile, far from the fighting, two poisoned wind globadiers pull themselves from the water, having lost their brother during the long swim. The small rowboat now has enough crew to get underway.



In an effort to thin out some of the crew, the cannon fires on the Pustulant, but only scores a hit on the hull, causing six points of hull damage. (Don't worry– The boat had 9 hull points remaining, so the cannon was not in danger of inadvertently sinking the vessel with its own admiral aboard!)



As the skiff crew attempts to board the barge, two of them fall to their death. The remaining three rush Plague Priest Vomitous and run him through! 



The plague monks fail to injure the rat ogre, who kills two of them in return. This time the odds are too much for the rats of Clan Pestilens, and the remaining crew members abandon ship.



Lord-Admiral Skreekits and his hardy crew collect the hard-won booty, and they have secured two new barges to add to the fleet, even if they are a little worse for wear!



This game was so much fun to play! The boat rules hold up pretty well, my only issue I ran into was with boarding actions, which are divided into nine steps. It was a little confusing at first, keeping track of models fighting 'cross decks, leaping aboard, blocking those leaping aboard, deck fighting... Fortunately the combat resolution is simple. I also skipped out on most of the psychology rules like panic tests (since instead of fleeing, units on boats just cower aboard the ship), and I didn't need to keep track of wind since none of the boats had sails. Speaking of wind, the good old 8th Edition Winds of Magic rules were fickle as ever, resulting in surprisingly few spells considering there were six wizards on the board. As I said at the start, the battle was pretty evenly matched, and I had no idea how the fight was going to go. It nearly came down to the last rat!



Thanks for reading the battle report, I hope you enjoyed it!

'Til next time!


  1. This is why the hobby is awesome - amazing models, corking custom rules and a great battle! Brilliant work, thanks!

    1. I really appreciate that! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

  2. What an awesome battle report! It was awesome to see all the boats in action.

    1. Thanks! It was fun breaking out the boats again and bringing it all together.

  3. This belongs in a white dwarf- it perfectly evokes the "feel" of the classic battle reports. Well done, Rob!

    1. Thank you! I used to love reading those old battle reports. The "spectacle" of the hobby is what got me involved, so I always strive for a nice-looking, thematic battle and story.

  4. This is awesome ! Very immersive battle report with some nice twists and turns as the battle goes on to the bitter end. The details in the pictures are a nice touch too. I love that rat in the life buoy and the sinking ship effects. Now I have to try these rules. Thanks, this made my day.


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