06 December 2009

Madrak Ironhide: The Thornwood Chieftain and You

By Josh Gardner (PG_General Nemo)
Madrak Ironhide has been an iconic character for Trollbloods since the start of HORDES, having solidified the infamous “Brick” as our primary mode of victory (Supposedly) early on in HORDES MK I. The power of our chief “Brick” warlock, however, has increased thanks to the release of Metamorphosis and HORDES MK II Field Test. I am writing today to muse over the newer incarnation of Ironhide, and put forth some ideas for making him a tournament winning warlock.
First, we’ll have to look at his raw stats:
Ironhide is a fast little trollkin with his 6” of movement, and this helps him keep up with his advancing troops. The importance of this is obvious, of course, since he prefers to stay close to the front of the fight. Eight strength makes him fairly high powered in the realm of warlocks, and he wields it well with his moderate MAT and RAT scores. His DEF is hittable at 14, and his ARM is far from unsurpassable by moderate POW attacks, but looking at any Trollblood stat in a vacuum is fruitless, since our faction relies on stat improvement to get the job done much of the time
Ironhide’s Fury is a low 5, but thanks to the newly updated Field Test rules for Frenzying (Found HERE), this is less of a problem. He still can’t run more than three warbeasts safely, and certainly no more than a single heavy, without a pack of Whelps to give them some Comfort Food. Overall, I don’t find his low Fury stat to be inhibiting, and I do not find myself needing (Though we all want) more Fury when I carefully plan my turn.
The Chief has access to a few choice abilities that help define his play style and keep him alive long enough for a devastating feat turn. His Talisman of Subdual stops full tilt beast assassinations on Madrak, preventing the winged monstrosities of Legion from spearing him from across the table (With a charge, anyway). While situational, players will definitely be thankful for this ability in Claw and Fang scenarios or any time Madrak is on the ropes against enemy warbeasts. A far more commonly used ability can be found in his Scroll of Grindar’s Perseverance, which will also help in thwarting assassination attempts on Ironhide. Lastly, Critical Grievous Wounds is Madrak’s ace in the hole. Combined with his thrown Rathrok attack, Madrak can assassinate warlocks from a distance, getting a P+S of up to 19 that can’t be transferred.
Madrak’s stats and abilities are not what make him great. What gives this warlock his edge is his spell list:
Carnage is perfect for Ironhide’s force composition, which usually consists of melee troops with moderate MAT scores. This spell bumps them up to levels of accuracy comparable to warcasters like the Butcher of Kardov, or legendary swordsmen like High Paladin Dartan Vilmon. This spell is great for Madrak’s feat turn, letting his troops become hyper-accurate killing machines! Its high cost, however, means that using it will limit Ironhide’s ability to transfer damage, which is somewhat mitigated by his Scroll of Grindar’s Perseverance.
Madrak’s signature spell, Sure Foot, has gotten a bump in efficiency in the MK II Field Test. Now that Sure Foot is an upkeep spell, Madrak has more Fury to spend on attacks, animii, and his newfound best friend, Carnage. The increase in defense helps a lot of our low defense troops avoid the attacks of common troops and forces warbeasts and warjacks to use much needed resources to kill them. The universal presence of Tough in our troops, coupled with the knockdown prevention of Sure Foot, makes our troops survivable, particularly Kriel Warriors with Stone-Forged 4+ Tough.
Last is also a signature spell of Ironhide’s: Stone Fall. Many have touted this spell as useless, and I disagree. While situational, I hardly think a spell that knocks enemy models down in an AoE useless. I would gladly invest 4 Fury on a boosted Stone Fall to try and knock down a group of models that stand between me and my mark. This spell has the major drawback of being fairly inaccurate thanks to Ironhide’s Fury stat of 5, but the spell is not without its uses.
Madrak Ironhide’s most important asset, in my opinion, is his feat, Crusher. With the long list of accuracy and damage increasing abilities that Trollbloods have access to, and the large number of warbeasts with reach, this feat can be absolutely devastating to enemy troopers. The limiting factor here, though, is his small control range. This requires that Madrak be close to the action, but this does not necessarily make him more vulnerable.
Army Composition
Madrak has weaknesses, most of them involving his low Fury stat, but he relies on his army and his feat to make his already impressive forward momentum into a devastating push. Next, I will detail some of the specific models that I like with my Ironhide lists.
The MK II Field Test Axer is the one model, if I had to pick, that I truly wish to stay the same in the final rules. At 6 pts., the Axer is a steal: MAT 6, Reach, Thresher, and arguably one of the most useful animii available to Trollbloods. Combined with Carnage, this warbeast can hack through troops like a hot knife through butter. Rush is the main draw here, letting the Axer or our other heavy hitters get the jump on the enemy. The Axer is in absolutely every Ironhide army I play, and that is because he is Madrak’s best friend.
Mulg the Ancient, while disliked by many in the Trollblood community, is a marvelous addition to Ironhide’s armies. Mulg performs two roles in an Ironhide list, unlike similar heavies like the Earthborn and Blitzer. First, he is a tank that can cause huge amounts of havoc in one on one fights against warbeasts and warjacks. Secondly, he is an infantry lawnmower with the help of “Are You Gonna Eat That,” Carnage and Crusher. This gives him plenty of extra movement to charge, engage and eliminate enemy troops, as well as destroying hard targets. With Carnage bumping him up to MAT 9, he only needs to buy attacks and sometimes boost damage against key targets.
Everyone loves the Impaler, and his benefit is obvious in any army: He slams things. In an Ironhide army, though, he helps the Chief with his favorite trick, the thrown Rathrok assassination (Or, “Chop and Drop,” as I like to call it). Another great use for the Impaler, though, is as a melee troop-killer under the effects of Crusher. With Carnage boosting the Impaler’s MAT to 7, he rarely needs to boost against troopers to kill them.
Alternate choices for his battlegroup are rarely poor, with elemental immunities, Shield Guard and damage bonuses always being helpful, but I cannot stress enough that Ironhide needs a heavy hitter to counter enemy warjacks and heavy warbeasts. Without it, he has to rely on his troops to take down hard targets, which is a dubious task against many factions that can prevent the big push that the Trollbloods need to accomplish this.
Another must for an Ironhide list is a Trollkin Hero. Why, you ask? MAT 8, Reach, Cleave, Weapon Master, Relentless Charge; These are all great abilities individually, but no model combines them quite like the Hero. This model is practically built for Crusher, even having a backup attack in case of a poor attack or damage roll! Weapon Master means he can bring down units like Man-O-War and Cataphracts as well as squishy high defense troopers (Thanks to that MAT 8 and Carnage). At least one goes in every Madrak list I bring, and a second one at higher point levels is a fantastic choice.
For troops, Fennblades are my first choice, thanks to reach and moderate P+S weapons. Their low pt. cost allows them to be a core screen of troops for Ironhide without taking away from the tools of the army. Kriel Warriors also come to mind, since they benefit from greater speed, but lack speed when they pray for accuracy and power, and vice versa. The point investment for Kriel Warriors is also greater, but the survivability is greater compared to Fennblades. The choice is one of personal preference, since both can really shine with Ironhide.
Champions are another obvious choice, and are a great backup from breaking hard targets, not to mention they are harder to kill as a general rule. I recommend these for the traditional “Brick” army build that is centered (Literally and strategically) on the Krielstone Bearer and Sure Foot, but not for a forward Crusher build.
Support models are plentiful to Trollbloods. Any of them are viable, but some are limiting factors. I dislike the Krielstone Bearer in my MK II Ironhide lists, since the change to Sure Foot allows him to fire and forget the spell and not stick right where he is. It is helpful, but restrictive to your movement. The Stone Scribe Chronicler is a great addition with the inclusion of reach warbeasts, and allows your troopers to have some serious damage output. Charge of the Trolls also potentially makes Scattergunners a nice utility unit for the otherwise single-minded warlock. The Fell Caller is a nice solo for Madrak as well, having high speed, two base attacks and weapon master. On top of that, he has his trademark Fell Calls, but that is icing on the cake for this beatstick.
In summation, I think that with practice and correct army composition, Madrak Ironhide’s non-epic incarnation is a potentially potent warlock with the ability to dominate the field in close combat. His major weakness lies in his low fury stat and vulnerability to ranged attacks (Or rather, a lack of support for the models that would counter them). It’s important to look at Madrak for what he is: A troop killer. It is also important to make sure that an army is composed to cover his weaknesses. I see nothing on this warlock that I would like changed in the Field Test, save for a higher Fury stat, but that is just a dream I doubt will be realized. Play the game, Trollkin, and have fun!

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