This image is from the front of 'Redwall' and can be located at Redwall armies in HotT

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 A lot of the pages are defunct and a little out of date so you guys try and get back at it asap - it would be nice to see a healthy bunch of Vermen Gamers out there quietly frothing away over their web pages.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.


Vermen Army List The full up to date army list!!
Vermen aka Skaven links page Vermen or in other circles known as Skaven links

1. For an explanation of 'crazies' please refer to the rules section.
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