"You mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you?" - A Ratmen Army
I painted this army for my Legions rules by accident. I had the Ratmen printed but they were low on my list of unpainted miniatures behind both Romans and finishing the Samurai. However I then decided to buy into 'contrast' paints to see if it could speed up production and went for Vallejo Express paints. Looking for an army to try for which top painting wasn't a priority the Ratmen jumped the queue.
This was not a good decision. The 3d files I have printed were either from Archvillain Games or the free ones by Emang on cults. They are all great files but as it turned out the largest part of every model except the slaves was the armour which made the 'contrast' paints decision a bit useless. Still having committed to the wrong decision I am not a man who changes horses midstream and went hard on reinforcing failure!
The Legions rules and lists are here....
They are currently free should you want to try a set of rules before The Old World reappears which require no basing and no new minis. The Legions rules have been worked on since late 2019 with the first version being Legions Ancients with 14 historical lists. Currently testing Legions Fantasy lists of which the Ratmen are one. Armies can be played within or across the two sets of lists.
The Ratmen army - starting at the bottom....
First up were the Slaves. These are Emang models and look suitably weedy compared to the better Ratman. Slaves are dirt cheap to buy in Legions at 6 points a unit and I usually field 5 or 6 in 'massed' formation which allows them all to activate on one card. In this blob they can be plonked on an objective and it is a struggle for the enemy to move them. On a 5 point objective even if they all die they are a win in VP terms if they hold it for 2 turns as their death only loses 7 points if they all die while they get 10 VP from holding the objective as well as denying it to the enemy.
As a bonus any magician in the ratmen army has a good chance to summon slaves every turn who can be fed back in.
Next up the points scale are the standard Ratmen, who are slightly more expensive but also slightly more capable on both defence and attack. Again these are mainly emang files. Like the Slaves they can be 'massed' and parked on objectives. Unlike the Slaves they can not be summoned but do return from the dead on your baseline under the Horde special rule.
The 'elite' of the Ratmen army these boys have both Brace 1 to reroll failed defence rolls of 1 and Skilled 1 to allow them to reroll any 1s in an attack.. On top of this they have 6 hp to reflect the degree of armour. They do not have 'Massed' however which means only 3 can activate on one card unlike Slaves or Standard Ratmen. These models are from Archvillain Games (AV) and really look significantly beefier than the rest of the Ratmen infantry. In some more Elite ratmen lists they can gain the Forwards army rule which allows them to deploy 5 spaces from the baseline instead than the normal 3. This can see them launched at weaker enemy infantry in turn 1.
These represent the best missile troops in an army with few range options. The crossbows have good range (5 hexes) and hit hard with 5 dice. If hit the enemy are auto staggered which removes one hex of movement per unsaved hit. This can really hurt cavalry and flyers whilst completely halting infantry. They are the closest thing to an auto take in the army.
These are also a vital element in the army and one is almost always taken. It can deploy 'Hidden' in 'Ambush' and with 'Critical heroes' represents a clear and present danger to enemy leaders, magicians and heroes. Critical in Legions means that both 5s and 6s do double hits. However once out of cover it is a glass cannon. If you stay in cover it is super hard to kill as has 'Evade' which means he is only being hit on 6s but once in the open is usually shot to pieces! Use him well. In my most recent game he charged a Pegasus knight which promptly evaded leaving the Assassin with doing 2 damage and now in full view of a longbow unit who promptly deleted him.
These form a middle ground between Storm Rats and standard rats. They have 5 hit points and Brace 1 which makes them survivable but they are no great shakes in combat. If they do get damage through they inflict 2 poison which will wear away enemy infantry but not really affect heroes. They can use 'Massed' for dumping a group of up to 6 units on an objective or swamping enemy missile troops to negate them.
A poor mans assassin. these are cheap but have no real offensive potential. Why take them then? 'Ambush' they are cheap and cheerful 'Ambush' units for grabbing key terrain in the deployment phase. Dont expect them to hold it or do any damage but they can deny the enemy access to important terrain. They will always choose to 'Evade' combat once this job is done!
An attachment which can be added to any units with 'Advance' and activated with those units. If separated for any reason it becomes its own unit requiring its own activation card. These are useful when attached to infantry as they are critical against both Troops and Massive units. With 6 attack dice out to 2 hexes they are capable of destroying a troop unit a turn and causing serious damage to beasts such as trolls/treemen etc.
These are the same statline as trolls and treemen and all the other 'big but not a giant' creatures in Legions. All have 10 hit points, 5 attacks and 'unstoppable' which means they will follow up a retreated enemy and get a second attack (which only hits on 5-6 rather than 4-6). They usually end up dead as they are best launched at something you want dead or badly damaged. It is best not to leave them anywhere in the open as they are actual missile magnets. These models are by AV games and at least show some benefit of 'comtrast style' painting.
Big rats in armour atop bigger rats in armour! These AV games Rataphracts are basically Cataphracts in Legions and their role is to charge down lesser cavalry and heroes. They are 'skilled 2' so reroll 1s and 2s on the attack, gain an extra attack die when they charge and have 'brace 2' for resilience. All pretty good but at the cost of 30 points or 5 units of slaves. You will want to take 3 so as to benefit from 'advance' (activating all 3 on one card) so a big investment at 90 points out of 400 max.
Not the most impressive of combat monsters but has 'command 3' which allows him to use one of his two actions to make three nearby units take a move. This can be very useful to get units into combat or more likely for me to get units out of trouble. This model which I use by AV does not look like it has 'stealthy' but the Warlord does have this attribute which makes missile attacks against him disadvantaged giving him some protection to make up for the lack of 'Brace'. Also what a cool model.
Heroes - 3 flavours of Hero
The Fighter Hero
Rat Fighter Heroes have a fairly standard Hero profile and whilst expensive are combat beasts. Only one is allowed per army but they are as good as any hero in any army.
Rat Leader Hero
The Leader Hero is a little less killy but has the 'Banner 2' attribute which allows units within 3 hexes to reroll 1s and 2s. This is obviously really useful as is his 'Advance' attribute which lets him move for example 6 Ratmen with 'Massed' on one activation card. Again only 1 per army sadly. Again this is an AV model on a 60mm base.
The Poisoner is no slouch in combat either but his attacks come with poison 2 and he can produce a 3 hex fog bank as an action which is useful against any army with scary missiles. He also has one hitpoint more and brace 2 which is unusual in Ratmen. Once again this is an AV model on a 60mm base. Usual 1 per army limit...
The Great Shaman
At last a model showing the benefits of contrast style painting! This is the top Magician in the Ratmen army and as such has the same profile as all the premier league Shamans/Magicians/Wizards across all the lists. 5 spells chosen at the start and 5 casting dice. If you also choose to take the Great Bell Altar then as long as the Great Shaman is adjacent when casting he can reroll any failures. The Great Bell can also cast 2 spells per turn if it doesnt move to Inspire friends or Doom enemies so usually I take it alongside the Great Rat Shaman. Mine is another freebie by emang.
The Great Bell
Lesser cheaper 3 spell/dice shamans are available but I havent tried using two cheapies as opposed to the big boy yet. Two cheap Shamans would be 50 points in total and have 6 spells but less chance of success per spell unless only used for uncontested spells such as Heal. In a WP duel against most enemies or trying to summon anything three dice is very risky.
The Plague catapult gives more access to the Fog spell as per the Poisoner hero (above) but can also hurl lumps of poison out to 5 hexes using 5 attack dice and has the 'Blast' attribute so that a unit adjacent to the target takes half the original damage (FRD) inflicted on the target. Both then take Poison 2 so quite nasty. It is however another 'one per army' and actually only one of three units in the army with a range of 5 hexes. This is also an AV model on a 60mm base.
Very much a niche piece. The Brood mother can summon 2 units per turn instead of one with some success. These will usually be Slaves or rat swarms but if you can get her parked on an objective then by the end of turn 2 there can be her and 4 slaves on that objective with more to come! Having said that I am yet to use her successfully. I think she requires a Packmaster to get her onto the objective in the first place. This is another AV models stl.
A great unit. No combat or spells but Command 3 which allows him to move three non heroes in one action if they are within 3 hexes and line of sight. Can move 3 Storm Rats up, or two Rat Ogres and a Brood Mother. Likely to be an arrow Magnet though so needs to stay back/in cover!
A hefty 60 points but with two potential attacks per turn, one melee and one fireball spell. Also one of only two units in the Ratmen army with Flight. With a Packmaster and its own movement it can be in the enemy deployment turn 1 if you want. Brace 2 will help keep it alive but mine recently went down in one turn after being charged by a Baron General and his Household Knights...A traditional but annoying demise.
The Cannon is one of only 4 across all the lists of historicals and fantasy lists, the other two being in the Japanese Samurai, Slavonian and Empire lists and all are the same stats as this one. If you know about traditional Ratmen lists they can be a bit gizmo weird science which is fine if you like that, but I dont. So in the Legions system there are very few gunpowder weapons and very few armies that have them. Artillery exists mainly as medieval trebuchet, catapults and balistas. The Japanese Samurai and Empire armies have a cannon and some arquebus because they are basically 16th century armies crammed into the system. The Ratmen have a cannon as a nod to those who like the Rat Science idea but thats it!
The cannon hits quite hard being 6 attack dice out to 6 hexes and with 'Critical massive' so good against anything big. It also has 'Deadly which puts any defence rolls at disadvantage so will make the enemy very wary of approaching. Of course you will need something to guard it as a favourite tactic against all artillery is to put a flyer in base contact or something cheap from ambush and the cannon cannot then range fire and is useless in melee! It can also be very disappointing...just saying.