When thinking about the Vermen recently we had a bit of a discussion concerning the origins of
these wee beasties in terms of fantasy literature. Nick was teasing me saying that as there were not historical referents to Ratmen, Skaven or Vermen then really the list was out i.e. that all the expense of buying
all those figures was wasted because they weren't authentic.... By this of course he
was referring to pre-GW literature which for some reason does not qualify (not old enough! -Nick). The result was that I decided to hunt around for
historical precedents of ratmen in various literature. What did I find!!?
Well I diligently typed in 'skaven', 'vermen', 'ratmen' into my browser I unearthed a lot of links to GW
and from these I down loaded a lot of URLs for the links page below. A lot of the pages are defunct and a little out of
date so you guys try and get back at it asap - it would be nice to see a healthy
bunch of Vermen Gamers out there quietly frothing away over their web pages. Anyway
in terms of literature and the typical meaning ratmen have in popular culture we can begin by citing the 'ratrace' as a term.
The 'ratrace' as a term needs little or no introduction since it refers to everything we are trying to avoid whilst frothing
it is that Monday morning 'Oh there's another train strike I will have to get to work sharing
the fetid stench of some arsehole's armpit all the way to work on the tube! Oh the joy of industrial action!'
Apart from this there is the Poem 'The Rat Men.' by Larry Leonard which hints at the Rat Men as the
darker side of human society. They are the ones forgotten about as the great human system rolls onwards, condemned to die in the gutter.
It is this aspect that lends the idea of Vermen an altogether less linear feel than I have read elsewhere. It is something I like a lot, so that the Vermen
are very much the antithesis of civilisation - growing ever stronger as civilisation itself grows...
It is worth pointing out that some scientists would state that on average you are seldom ever more than two meters away from a rat
at anyone time and rats have always been associated with the development of human civilisation. The result is that they tend to
reflect the darker side of civilisation and indeed for some at GW the end of civilisation itself.
This apocalyptic vision of the Vermen means that they tend to be 'evilly' aligned - this is not entirely fair
and more recently we have had discussions on the relative nature of good and evil. Well my view is very much that
the Vermen are better seen as the result of civilisation gone wrong, they are not inherently evil
but rather are VICTIMS of the excesses of the other races. In fact some might argue that they are more human than Vermen...
Given that they are the victims and that they have emerged more recently from the sewers of various civilisations
they do not have fine historical traditions their technology is a bit poor - a bit like the old soviet stuff, you know a bit dodgy and clunky.
At times very likely to blow-up rather than be of any assistance.
The thing about this army then is that they have loads and loads of foot soldiers, and barely nothing else. At first I bemoaned this
lack of 'options' seeing this as a major disadvantage but recently I have discovered that it can also become a major strength.
Having loads and loads of very similar looking
troops is a good way to disguise your tactics and keep the opposition guessing....
For example if you refer to the 'Break through' battle report you will
see that I was able to hide all sorts of nasty troopers within masses of seething Vermen. In this report the devastation of the old crazies was very apparent
along with the havoc several assassins caused.
Therefore in this game whilst the Vermen look like a very uniform non-fun option think again. It is through subtle combinations of magic users and
that old soviet tech along with troop types like the crazies1. and assassins
that you can certainly give anyone enough to think about.