Snikch's Clan Eshin Skaven campaign can be fun and very quick experience if played right, perfect for those players who get bored with slogging through 150+ turn campaigns. This guide explains how to achieve victory quickly and easily.
How to Beat Snikch's Vortex Campaign
Why You Should Read This Guide
This guide is specific to the "Vortex" campaign as opposed to Mortal Empires, as the campaign objectives may change for Mortal Empires, I don't know I have not played it yet...
Key Point - Snikch is not involved in the race for the Vortex. One Reddit user did comment that after his campaign had gone on for something like 150 turns, he was notified of the Final Battle and the need to fight that battle to prevent another faction from winning the game. Users were not sure if this was a bug or not. However, if you follow this guide you should never have to worry about dealing with that, because...
You can win Snikch's campaign very, very quickly. I screwed around and made inefficient choices and still beat the campaign on Very Hard/Very Hard in 99 turns.
Key Objectives for Winning Quickly
To beat Snikch's Vortex Campaign, you must do a number of quests (Nightlord's Say-So rituals) until you finally unlock the Quest Battle "Rise of Darkness" to fight and kill Malus. Once you beat that Quest Battle, Snikch will finally have all 5 "Scheme" slots unlocked. Schemes are those little cards at the top middle of your screen used to complete contracts. Once you have unlocked the 5th Scheme slot, if you waiting for the schemes "reset" so that you can use them again, you only need to wait until "Stash Rations" becomes available to use. "Stash Rations" uses 20 Food in order to instantly reset all currently available schemes.
Once you have 5 schemes available to use, and you have Snikch available to use (not wounded), you can then use the contract "Plunge Into Anrchy". And what a contract it is. "Plunge into Anarchy" destroys a faction, even if that faction had 100 settlements and was Strength Rating 1. The Final Objective needed to win is to destroy the faction Hag Graef, Malus Darkblade's faction, which is located on the islands in the Southeast corner of the map. So, you could spend a large number of turns fighting your way down to those islands to annihilate Hag Graef through brute force, how very un-Eshin, or you could just click on "Plunge into Anarchy", click on Snikch, scroll down and click on one of the Hag Graef settlements such as Tor Elasor, click Confirm, and instantly win.
That's pretty much it, just some quick notes about the preceding ritual quests. You get quests you do to prepare for a Nightlord's Say-So contract. You also need to get Snikch to a certain level. Once ready, you do the Nightlord's Say-So contract, which removes Snikch from the map for a number of turns. Be prepared to replace Snikch in his army with another Lord.
Once Snikch completes the contract, an army will spawn on the map that will need to be destroyed. I think these armies spawn close to wherever Snikch's army/last location before doing contract is, and I think they don't really move, but not confirmed. The nice thing about these army spawns is they are not quest battles, so these armies can be destroyed by any of your armies, and can be double or triple teamed by multiple of your armies, even auto-resolved. Makes it really easy to move the campaign along at a quick pace if you are prepared to take advantage of that fact.
Key Strategies and Tactics for Winning Quickly
The Assassin's Hideout chain starts at Level 1 instead of Level 2 and caps at Level 3 instead of Level 4. This means you can build a Den of Secrets in a minor settlement instead of having to build it in your major settlement, freeing up a slot in your major settelement. Very nice.
Attack the nearby human army to the south, win, then you have a choice; to finish that army off, or take Elven Ruins. I killed off the army so I wouldn't have to chase them across the map, then next turn I took Elven Ruins. Build a Ratling Warrens in El-Kalabad in slot 2 (you start with Den of Dread Deeds). I screwed up here and built a taskmaster's platform in slot 2 when I should have built the warrens for money and growth. Looking at my saves, I used food to make Elven Ruins a Level 3 settlement, and I put an Assassin's Hideout and Ratling Warrens in Elven Ruins.
Always try to sack first for the money then occupy. Then go east and capture Sudenburg, doing so gives you control of the whole province and lets you choose an edict, choose the -10% construction and +growth edict. In Sudenburg I build a Rubbish Pit and Walls, I probably should have built warrens for faster growth early on. Building a money building (Rubbish Pit and Ratling Warrens) would have been more money, the walls may not have been needed, but then again, the walls may have deterred the AI from attacking Sudenburg; I had like 3 tomb king armies raiding around Sudenburg but they never attacked. You could put a clan rats building in Sudenburg if you want as well, however, since Clanrats and Stormvermin are stupid expensive unless you become buddy-buddy with Clan Mors via Contracts (and you want to focus on being buddies with Pestilens and Skryre over Moulder and Mors which will probably mean making Moulder and Mors hate you), it isn't needed or worth it.
Once slot 3 because available in El-Kalabad, build walls (Covert Chokepoints) for additional defending troops. Skaven defending troops are pretty bad, which is why you need as many of them as possible to deter the AI from attacking in the first place, and if they do attack, to hopefully give you time to run back with an army to defend El-Kalabad. I screwed up and built a Pox Cauldron, Weapons Dump and Construction Cavern before the walls, which caused me to sweat when the AI moved toward El-Kalabad while Snikch was off elsewhere. Once slot 4 and 5 open up, build a pox cauldron [you'll need a Plague Abbey in order to recruit the awesome Gutter Runners (poison)] and construction cavern [for Warlock Enginner]. You can put Arcane Generators and taskmaster's platform chain buildings in the final 2 slots at Tier 5. Then you can leave the warrens or demolish to build something else depending on your strategy.
Here is where you have the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and have a faster and easier campaign than I did. I went east, attacking the tomb king in that direction until I reached the dwarves in the east mountains and ended up taking those mountains. I did fine ultimately, but I was spread out and my campaign was stressful because I needed to build a second army to defend El-Kalabad (see my build order mistake of not building walls right away), and when I tried to attack north or west with that 2nd army, the battles for conquest were more stressful than if I had kept Snikch and the 2nd army together (probably could have auto-resolved everything), and I kept having to rush back to defend my starting province. If I could have afforded more armies then maybe my going east would not have been as problematic, but I could only really afford 2 armies for a long time.
I was able to easily kill off Arkhan the Black by taking Wizard's Caliph Palace pretty quickly, but I only had that major settlement for a long time and due to rebellions I constantly had to rush an army back to save that city, slowing down my advance. I should have capitalized on that by moving northwest and securing that whole province, then moving east taking out the Bretonnians, and slaughtering the Dwarves in their mountains right there in the middle, thereby having my entire north and west flank secure. If you get this whole area before Settra can move west, and try to be buddies with Settra and everyone else to the east while they fight each other, and only fight what you need to level Snikch up (which you could do just by sacking one settlement over and over again with him, or 2 if you can find 2 close together). Also, by doing this, you can run 2 armies together, thereby bringing overwhelming force against your targets.
All that above concerned my first mistake in how I approached fighting in The Southlands ("Africa"). My 2nd mistake was confederating first Clan Pestilens then Clan Skryre in Lustria ("South America"), and not immediately disbanding those lords to re-recruit them in "Africa", nor selling every building in their provinces so the AI could capture them and relieve me of my interests in Lustria. I would recommend either not bothering with any confederation at all, or do what I just suggested, bring those Legendary Lords to "Africa" to help Snikch in his fight and sell everything and abandon Lustria.
Key Note regarding Unit Choice: Gutter Runners (Poison) are the unit you really want to be running. Poison slows enemies, and armor-piercing just makes them brutal. However, I think they are like twice the cost of Night Runners. And Night Runners with armor-piercing are really good already, even more so if you buff them with Warlock Engineers and/or have Assassins to tarpit enemies so the Night Runners can shoot freely. Of course GR(P) are better in every way, but you pay for it. I think if you run 2 armies of Night Runners, that would better at the start, until you are making enough income to upgrade to GR(P), but then, you could probably have more armies of Night Runners.
I didn't really bother with Eshin Triads or any other units unless I needed them in a pinch.
I would say you could upgrade to Gutter Runners (Poison) on Snikch in preparation for the Rise of Darkness Quest Battle. I would wait until close to this point, because Snikch has a skill that reduces upkeep by 25%, which combined with the blue line -15% upkeep, makes for -40% upkeep. Awesome, except that during at least 3 points in the campaign, Snikch will go on contracts and you will have to replace him with a different lord, meaning that if you gave him GR(P) early, your upkeep will shoot up substantially, potentially at an inopportune moment.
Load up Snikch with your desired Hero contingent (or no heroes at all), run the rest of his army as Night Runners (not slingers). At the right time, add another army of Night Runners to support Snikch, and run around securing your western and northern flanks. Level Snikch up and proceed with the quests, kill Malus, then Thanos Snap Hag Graef and enjoy your speedy victory, so that you can move on to try another faction.
See the above list for what benefit each clan gives you for completing their contracts.
Clans give Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 contracts, depending on your favor with them (Level 1 will be given from negative favor until you get their favor to the green tier that says it unlocks Level 2 contracts)
If you get your favor with say Clan Pestilens up to Level 2 contract tier, but then do a contract targeting them that drops your favor back down to Level 1 contract tier, the next time they offer you a contract, it will be a Level 1 contract.
You want to avoid permanantly staying in Level 1 contract tier with your favored Clan(s). You want to reach Max Tier with your favored Clan(s). Now once there, if you do contracts against your favored clan, as long as you don't drop below Tier 3, you're good. Tier 3 gives -200% cost to recruitment for their favored units, Tier 4 gives -220%, so it is not a significant loss to drop down to Tier 3, and then when your favored clan gives you another contract, it will be a Level 3 contract, shooting you back up into Tier 4.
The trick to contracts is, the positive effect for completing a contract for a faction seems to be greater than the negative effect upon the victimized faction. The goal is to keep your favored clan at the threshold where the next contract will jump the threshold to the next tier. So you want to get Clan Pestilens to unlock Level 2 contract, such that let's say your favor is just below Tier 3, and then other clans target them and bring your favor with them down to just barely in Tier 2. Does not matter, as long as the next time Pestilens gives you a contract it is Level 2, that should jump you to Tier 3 with Pestilens. Etc.
You need to figure this out quickly, because I would try to not do contracts waiting for the game to give me contracts with clans I wanted, and they would not. I think you want to clear contracts in order to get more contracts, so figuring out the right order to do them is essential.
Key Info About Eshin Units
First thing you need to know about Clan Eshin: Their "Runner" units are awesome. Night Runners and their better version Gutter Runners and their better version Gutter Runners (Poison), as well as their respective "Slinger" versions, all have armor peircing attacks. "Runner" units for other clans do not get armor piercing, nor do similar units like Free Company Militia or Black Ark Corsairs (Handbows), which if you have played with those units you already know they can be awesome. "Runner" units and Free Company Militia and Handbow Corsairs can fire whilst moving, so you can put them in skirmish mode and they will run away from the enemy while shooting them. If your opponent does not have counters to these units (or enough of those counters, 1 or 2 counter units can still be easily beaten usually), you should easily win if you do not make any critical mistakes.
Note that "Runner Slingers" do not fire whilst moving. They have greater range to compensate, and I'm sure they can be used very effectively if used right (probably having Assassin Heroes or Eshin Triads tarpit the enemy while the slingers rains death on the blobbed enemy), but Runners require a lot less micro. You can basically just put Runners in skirmish stance and let them shoot the enemy to death while running away. The fact they Eshin Runners have armor piercing makes them effective against heavy armor foes like the Dwarves, which is fantastic.
Note: when you get the heroe dilemma, choose Warlock Enginner and put him in Snikch's army. Max out Triangulation, Increase Ammo, +Range and +Speed for Missile Units, which will make your Runners even nastier. 3+ Warlock Engineers make Runners disgusting.
If you want to understand how easy this can be: At start, Have Snikch + 1 or 2 Assassin Heroes with 3 points in "Replenish, with the rest of the army being Night Runners. Maybe a Plague Priest instead of 2nd Assassin or in addition to them, maybe 2-3 Plague Priests (if you like using magic casters). And the engineer. I would probably do Snikch + 2 Assassins with Max Replenish + Engineer and have the rest be Night Runners, which would give you 16 runner units. Try out the Warp-Grinders at the start to see if you find them useful, if you lose the Warp-Grinders you start with, no biggie. If you like them the problem is they are not Eshin units, they are considered Skryre units, so they are ridiculously expensive until you max Contract Favor with Skryre.
With Snikch and an Assassin or 2 slaughtering enemy lords and heroes like they be younglings, and maybe Plague Priests dropping Plague spells on blobs, with the Runners surrounding the enemy shooting them to death, you should be able to easily defeat your starting opponents. Your goal is to get a second army with more Night Runners asap to support Snikch (2nd army would be a good army to try out 3+ Plague Priests, especially if you choose a Plague Lord for that army). Warlock Master Lords are awesome once on a Doom-flayer or Doomwheel, would be a good lord choice. Or you could try out the new Master Assassin.
I don't know how the Master Assassin performs, he is a ranged lord, so I don't think he is a melee angel of death like Snikch is.
Assassin heroes are beasts once they max out their combat skills. They can slaughter enemy lords and heroes like Snikch while massacring enemy units. Honestly an army composed soley of Assassins could be a wrecking ball.
Second thing you need to know about Clan Eshin: All non-Eshin units are 200% more expensive until you gain contract favor with the clan that unit is most associated with. See the list below:
- Clan Mors: Clanrats and Stormvermin (+2 Public Order in all provinces, +15% Weapon Strength for Lords & Heroes).
- Clan Moulder: Rat Ogres and Hellpit Abominations (-2% construction cost all buildings, +10% Physical Resistance for Lords & Heroes).
- Clan Skryre: Weapon Teams, Doom-flayers and Doomwheels, and Warp Lightning Cannons (+5% Research Rate, +20 Armor for Lords & Heroes).
- Clan Pestilens: Plague Monks and Plague Catapults (gives +1 food per army, +5 Melee Defense for Lords & Heroes).
My order of priority for gaining favor is:
- Pestilens: +1 food makes armies stop costing you food, which is brilliant. Plague Catapults are awesome.
- Skryre (if you own the Skryre DLC): If you cannot play Skaven without running weapons team/artillery or doom units/artillery armies, this is the clan you want to gain favor with ASAP. I will discuss "shooty" armies in my Clan Skryre guide.
- Moulder: If you love the monstrous Skaven units, but for me, mainly for the +10% physical resistance on Lords & Heroes (especially if running lots of Assassin Heroes, although again, +20 Armor and +5 Melee Defense from Skryre and Pestilens is nothing to scoff at either)
- Mors: Armor-piercing and Skirmishing Gutter Runners with Poison are much better than Clan Rats or even Stormvermin. And +15% Weapon Strength is nice but Snikch and Assassin Heroes will already murder anything in their way as is.