05 July 2010


The Burrownomicon

Beware trollblood players. The knowledge contained herein is powerful, but should only be absorbed by those with the fortitude to resist its dark lure. Even strong souls have been corrupted by its power, forever warping their view of the faction and the army lists they build. The author of this tome struggles daily with his inability to build a list without this knowledge. He has become a pariah. People refuse to play him lest he leave his dark magics in the carrying case.

If you are weak willed, I suggest you stop right here. If not, continue on, and see the face of evil.

....Pygmie Burrowers
///////////// Alias: Dygmies, Supermidgets, **** that unit

Burrowers, the root of all that is corrupt and evil about the trollblood faction. When you can truly master burrowers, your gameplay will be kicked up a notch as your opponents struggle to make even the simplest decisions for fear of the repercussions. Some lists will simply be obliterated, some will struggle valiantly to stop you, but all will eventually fall before you. Let us delve into the insidious nature of burrowers.

Burrowers, like all temptations, appear harmless at first glance. They possess the same unassuming stats as their bushwhacker brethren. Their SPD is nice and high. MAT and RAT 4 are some of the worst in the game. Their defensive stats are good for trolls but merely passable for outside factions. Their command is abysmal and will fail them as often as not when the going gets tough. To make up for this lack of any real strong point, they cost a measily 4/6.

What could be so wrong with that?

There hand weapon is weak, terribly so. P+S 8 is enough to kill light infantry, but shieldwalls and even straight up decent ARM values will defeat them. So Dygmies turn to darker weapons. Weapons designed to fire shells larger than a mans head. Slug guns are some of the most powerful ranged weapons carried by infantry, POW 14 being heavy enough to damage even khador jacks, and killing even some heavy infantry. However, the weapon is derided, its short range less than the SPD of most units. Combined with a RAT 4, the gun will never hit its target on the move, and even an aimed shot will often miss the target.

Dygmies, however, turn the weapon to darker uses. Frenzied berserkers, they apply the great heavy barrels of these weapons directly to the skulls of their enemies. Point blank its called, but the results are terrifying. Using their MAT, the pygs can attack with both slug guns and hand weapons, doubling their offensive power. However, even doubled, the power of MAT 4 is weak, and most opponents need not fear it.

What could be so dangerous about that?

Tough is an ability inherent to all trolls. Dygmies benefit it as much as anyone else from it, though their slightly higher def makes it slightly more obnoxious. The main benefit is that when your opponent finally realizes the danger of the Dygmies, they are relying on luck to actually kill. Each 5 or 6 will be as a dagger in their heart.

Advance deployment is a nice ability on the field of battle. Trolls have slow units, and many like to clump together. In scenario play, it is useful to have a unit that can hold objectives quickly without having to run directly to them first turn. The burrowers however, care not for objectives. They deploy ahead of the pack so that they can reach their enemies that much sooner. They can also make sure to deploy across from the heart of the enemy army, or out of the range of the enemy AD, making sure that as many as possible survive the first turn barrage.

Tunneling is a misnomer. Creatures as dark as burrowers need not dig into the soil, they merely melt into the ground. An order, this removes burrowers from the table and places a token within 5” of the leader. The token is a mystical stain on reality, but it has no physical presence. Models can be placed on top of it, and no attacks can target the token, nor any damage be done to it. The next turn, upon the completion of dark rituals, the burrowers appear out of thin air to charge into their foes. The burrowers may be placed within 5” of the token, which given their base size is about 6” total from the token. With their 9” charge, AD, and the token placement, the burrowers can reach enemies that have moved a mere 1.5” out of their deployment zone, though most burrowers must be content to attack models that have stray about 4” out of the deployment zone. This threat range is obscene, compounded by the fact that the burrowers cannot be attacked the turn before. The only mitigating factor is the lowish power of the handweapon and the still unmitigated MAT 4.

Sounds interesting, but not truly evil.
....It takes a village
Much like any truly evil act, others must be complicit in the action. The primary villain here is the Fell Caller Hero. His war cry stirs the Dygmies into a blood lust, upping their MAT to 6. This places them firmly into acceptable hitting rates. Jacks are easy prey, DEF 13 infantry aren’t too hard to hit, and DEF 15 infantry will eventually fall to dygmies that get two attacks apiece. Burrowers gain their deadly edge from the fellcaller.

The fellcaller will be assumed to be assisting in all further writings. There is literally no reason to not take him with Burrowers.

Others can help the burrowers in their evil rites. The chronicler, reading stories of ancient doom, can benefit the burrowers in two ways. The first is unlikely but potent, granting +2 to attack and damage rolls against targets in melee with friendly warbeasts. This in essence means that anything in combat with one of your beasts is guaranteed to die. Molik Karn, the leader of the Skorne faction, dies to an average of 4.5 burrowers affect by this. Khadoran jacks fair little better. Infantry stands no chance of survival.

The other rite is much more sinister in nature. Burrowers cannot be attacked before they strike, so the retaliation after their attack must be deadly and painless. Preventing or punishing this retaliation is a dastardly act that will make sure that your opponent cannot recover from the initial strike. Any enemy warrior model that kills a burrower with Hero's Tragedy in melee will be Knocked Down. This is extremely potent. Burrowres are only 4/6, but you opponent will be willing to use elite infantry to remove them from the table. Once that is done, you can strike at them on the ground, easily removing them and compounding the damage done.

Finally, so may try to fight evil with evil. Terrifying entities and abominations can prevent the burrowers from attacking if they fail a CMD check. The Champion hero can lend his CMD to the burrowers, keeping them in fighting form a huge percentage of the time.

Are you beginning to see it?
....Dark Masters
We now have MAT 6 POW 8 and 14 models that strike nearly into the opponents deployment zone, and cannot be attacked. If the enemy dares to strike them in melee, they will be knocked down and rendered helpless. This, crazy as it is, should be the limit of the dygmies dark magic. However, greater forces than dygmies abound, and they can lend a small portion of their power to the dygmies, turning them into true horrors on the field. We shall start with the least powerful, and work our way to the most terrifying.

Epic Hoarluk
The Rage of Dhunia cares not for infantry, and has nothing to offer burrowers. His love of beasts does mean that a unit of guaranteed first striking infantry have their place, however. The Dygmies can clear out a path for the larger beasts, and those beasts can trample over the dygmies in their lust to rend and tear enemy flesh. It’s a basic strategy, and it requires some support pieces that eDoomshaper doesn’t normall require, so it may not fit into a small points list. More the shame for that.

If pHoarluk was an actual caster, he would provide decent support for burrowers. Antimagic pulse can remove DEF buffs, the one true way to negate the killing power of burrowers. To top it off, fortune lets them hit DEF 13 with ease, and gives them a sizeable chance of wrecking even DEF 15. If the runebearer is present, he can place Banishing ward on them to keep enemy debuff spells from hitting them, if necessary. Finally, the feat helps keep jacks and beasts, a true threat to heroic called burrowers, from boosting vs the tiny nuisances. If pHoarluk was an actual caster.

Grissel doesn’t buff burrowers as well as pHoarluk, but she is a real warlock. The main benefit is Calamity which, like Charge of the trolls, guarantees that their target dies is a rain of POW 16 slug gun barrels. Her feat is negative synergy, as War Cry is a strict necessity. That’s it. She’s not all that sinister.

Beware, this is the final warning. From here on out there is no hope. True evil lays past these words.

Madrak has a few buffs for burrowers. Sure Foot would be nice, but its unlikely (and a bad idea) that Madrak is that close to the action. Better yet is a combination of the feat and Carnage. The burrowers will be a substantial MAT 8, and for every kill they will get an additional POW 8. Its not terribly good at threshing though infantry, but the burrowers targietting the heavy stuff will hit, and fewer burrowers need be left behind to mop up infantry. Plus, Madrak himself can use his feat to help clear the pop up zone, and will retain a bit of safety while doing so.

Borka provides essential support to negate the burrowers weaknesses. Though he must choose between the two, he can either buff their charge range to a stunning .5” inside the enemy deployment zone, or he can buff their DEF to an unreasonable 16. He is a caster who can nearly ensure the reburrow, a heretofore unbdiscussed possibility that is the goal of all burrowmancers. The reburrow is when some few burrowers survive the pop up turn and tunnel once more under the ground. This is a finishing move. The following turn, the burrowers can pop up behind the back of the enemy army, charging casters with backstrike bonuses, or ripping the soft support structure away from your opponents army. DEF 16 virtually guarantees this tactic will be possible. Finally, Mosh Pit turns the hand weapon into a deadly set up tool, causing KD, which means autohitting slug barrels. True beauty. True evil.

Grim is a more subtle tool than Borka, but more precise. His feat is the main draw, increasing the burrowers to an effective MAT 9, death on wheels, as it were. He can also hit a difficult group of models with Marked for Death, which increases the score to MAT 11, or 8 on the repop. The feat also limits melee retaliation by lowering enemy threat ranges, allowing greater chancees of reburrow. Better yet, he has targeted KD, which will allow caster kills if the opportunity arises. When Grim is on the table, there is no escaping the burrowers blades and barrels. They will hit you, and it will hurt, Grim is the ultimate accuracy buffer for Burrowers.

Epic Madrak
eMadrak takes the opposite approach from his friend Grim. Where Grim turns burrowers into accurate demons, Madrak turns them into Godslayers. Blood Fury is of course the main reason, because it boosts both the handweapon and the Point Blank attacks. Boosted POW 14’s will quickly destroy jacks, and if you can manage it, two jacks a turn could go down. There will be no reburrowing for you, because Blood Fury lowers their DEF to 11, so the Chronicler is necessary to punish the opponent the following turn. However, taking the Runebearer allows you to recast Blood Frenzy, letting another unit join in on the fun and allowing your burrowers to remain a pointful DEF 13. Compounding the massive damage, his feat allows for clearing of the pop up zone. Should the enemy have been foolish enough to crowd the zone with models, simply pop the burrowers into combat with them, War Cry them, Blood Fury them and pop feat. You will likely clear much of the zone, then charge out into the army they thought was protected. Finally, Killing Ground overcomes the issue burrowers have with terrain, on the rare occasion that it comes up. Madrak is the ultimate damage buffer for Burrowers.

Calandra, Dark Mother
Some theorize that the dark rituals that created the burrowers were performed by Calandra herself. She seems nearly designed to run these brutes, buffing every aspect of their deadly potential. Starcrossed is the main culprit here, capitalizing on the DEF 13 burrowers to make even MAT 7 models whiff in agony at the burrowers. The enemy must drastically overcommit to killing them, and will often leave themselves open to deadly retaliation. The reburrow potential is nearly as scary as Borka, while the spell still effects the rest of your army, unlike Iron Flesh. Furthermore, her feat is the perfect tool on pop up turn. With it, they will hit up to DEF 14 with ease and have a decent shot at DEFs all the way up to 16 in need be. Their damage also increases to the point where they can crack heavies only sightly worse than under eMadrak, with the bonus of retaining their high DEF. If need be, Befuddle can clear a target out of the pop up zone or act as a DEF debuff. Force Blow KDs the target for easy slaughter. If need be the Dark Mother can use Fate Bound to reroll any flubbed attack or damage rolls.

Calandra is by far the best caster to run burrowers with. She combines accuracy, hitting power, reliability and high DEF, a package no other caster can provide.

....The Strategy of the Pop
The most important and difficult to master ritual in the use of Burrowers is the pop up. Popping up in the right places is key to removing the heart and soul from the enemy's army, and from your opponent himself. First, you must assess the situation. Burrowers totally unbuffed (aside from War Cry) are best at cracking all types of infantry and light jacks/beasts DEF 13 and lower, and all light infantry DEF 15 and lower (since two attacks gives you decent chances). Depending on the caster you have, you will likely be able to strike higher DEF values, and quite possibly higher ARM values as well. Do not be afraid to attack ARM as high as 18 with unbuffed burrowers, they do significant damage with the guns, and any lucky charging 8’s you get will add to that. You could very well remove a significant portion of an Ironclad if you get just a little lucky.

With eMadrak or Calandra, go nuts. Attack Khador jacks, attack ARM 20 Carniveans, attack the behemoth. EMadrak will ensure that it dies, and Calandra will surprise you with how effective it is. Really, if you have Calandra, you can kill almost anything.

So, you’ve picked your targets. Now, be careful. Is the zone crowded? Is it impossible to get off a charge? Fine, that’s fine. Congratulations, you just removed a significant portion of their army for free. They gave you free kills, isn’t that nice. Place as many back arcs as possible, and as many models in melee as possible. Place redundant models such that they could aim at other targets if they get out of melee. Cause general havoc, put up Hero’s Tregedy, and wait for them to try and kill off your (hopefully protected in some way) burrowers.

That’s really the secret. People have to throw models away to truly stop you, so let them, then make them try to claw the points and initiative back from you. They will, often as not, fail, and you will just reburrow and attrition the hell out of them.

Is the zone completely blocked? Have they really put a true, high DEF, unkillable wall in your way? Congratulations! They may have popped a feat to do it. They may have popped a minifeat, or clumped up, or otherwise gave up key positioning. What do you do? Well, the pop up zone is huge. Pop up near your army, worst case scenario. Let their evil feat turn pass, and play defensive. You can always reburrow. Better yet, pop up at the extreme ends of the zone, and attack their flanks. Its almost impossible to really secure the zone. So kill 4 or 5 infantry with your burrowers, force them to deal with them, and reburrow.

This is relatively rare though. Most often, you have free reign when you pop, or you have your opponents permission to eat their sacrifices.

Human sacrifices.

I told you burrowers were evil.

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