21 July 2010

Earthborn Dire Troll: AKA – Cannonball - by Goris

This was one of the first models I purchased. I was was in awe of how dynamic his model was and have been captivated and impressed with it’s performance every game he’s been in. Here’s some tips, strats and a break down of our most versatile beast.

Rules Breakdown
SPD - Average Troll Spd
Mat - Same as Grissel
DEF - Average troll Def
ARM - Same as a Mauler

The Earthborn has rather normal stats all things considered and you may be asking yourself how does that justify his cost? A 10tp model should surely have more on his card then that you say! Well, it’s true from a simple stat comparison the does look rather plain but his special rules and abilities are what truly set him apart from our other trolls and make him our most versatile beast.

Claw x 2 – POW 15
Open Fists

Adaption - When this model hits with a normal melee attack with this weapon, it can replace the base POW of this weapon with the base POW of a melee weapon ICON on a model in its melee range. Adaption expires after the attack is resolved.

Holly bajesus… Yes you read that right. The POW on his claws may only be 3, but think about all the juicy weapons that exist on warjacks, warcasters and warlocks. This is one of the Earthborn’s greatest strengths. This assures that on high armor or hard to kill targets you will almost assuredly have the power to bring it down. This, however can backfire especially when attacking beast and many simple have POW 3 claws. Keep you target priority in mind when using the Earthborn against a warbeast.


(You know it, you love it, it’s crucial for a toolbox warbeast like the Earthborn.)

Elemental Communion - While within 2˝ of deep or shallow water, this model gains +2 DEF. While within 2˝ of an obstacle or obstruction, this model gains +2 ARM. If this model begins its activation within 2˝ of rough terrain, it gains +2 SPD this activation.

This is where the Earthhborn’s versatility comes in. No matter what the terrain is on a table the Earthborn can utilize it to his advantage. The most common use is setting him inside or near a Forrest for the movement boost, especially in an eDoomy list. However, don’t discount the ability to be armor 20 naturally if there is an obstacle on the table



These two abilities are signature among trolls. An aside about snacking while Trampling. As I have been corrected I will reflect those notes from other in this section. Trampling in fact does not stop from the use of snacking, however if you are full health you may not snack as healing is required. In addition the snacking happens after your movement.


Target friendly Faction model gains Elemental Communion for one round.

This animus not being range self is perhaps the best thing since sliced bread. Giving any model you chose the same abilities as the Earthborn sans the Pathfinder is golden. The synergy with any beast, solo or caster is hard to deny. This is particularly useful if you couldn’t squeeze an Axer in your list as it gives you the option of having a speed boost. In an pinch this can also protect your caster or other key models if need be. The possibilities are endless!


I always feel like with such a huge obstacles as Mulg on the table especially with our power casters, the Earthborn can be ignored. He however, can be a sleeper if you opponent underestimates him. Here are a few tips and tricks.

Cruise Missile
The Earthborn has some amazing speed when paired with the right terrain and casters. Aforementioned charge ranges can exceed 16” under the right circumstances however this in many cases places the beast far outside of most control areas.

So, use this tool with caution. Key pieces for this move include: The Axer, Some kind of Forrest, Lanyssa Ryssl, Grim Angus, or eDoomshaper. With some simple buff stacking and tools like Bait the Line or Edoomy’s feat you can sling shot your Earthborn to nearly anywhere on the map. The key to all this however is clearing a path if you simply can’t trample your way to where you need to be. In many cases I simply use Mulg as bait to sneak the Earthborn in as many times you opponent will devote many resources to pulling Mulg off the board, but not realizing that the Earthborn is nearly as great a threat when properly supported. Your mileage may very, but I’ve found this rather effective in my eDoomy lists.

Hide n Seek
This is as simple as it sounds. The Earthborn is a pathfinder. He has a command of the board that none of our other beasts do. So by utilizing forests and other rough terrain you already have an advantage over nearly every opponent baring Legion because they don’t care about the rules of this game. This tactic can be used very effectively with a few of our warlocks and I will detail the use of Spells like Refuge or Hoof It from Grissel.

These allow you to charge our of terrain and simply move right back to relative safety. This is also an effective baiting tool if you opponent perceives the Earthborn to be a significant threat. Most armies don’t have the ability to ignore forests for LOS or for movement purposes. However if they do commit a force with pathfinder into a forest to try and deal with the Earthborn

The Cornerstone
With certain casters and buffs you have a way of making our models nigh unbreakable without considerable force. This tactic uses buffs to use your Earthborn as a moving wall of flesh that must be dealt with or it will put a serious amount of hurt on you.

The Borka Stone Wall: Apply liberal amounts of Iron Flesh, Wind Wall, Protective Aura, and maybe even a gobber cloud or obstruction and watch your opponents break upon your lines like waves on the beach. If you are playing a low point game or are simply having a tough attrition game, this tactic can be very hard to break without serious concentrated force.

The Surefoot Shuffle: Similar tactic as the above however now any models within range are also buffed and cannot be knocked down. This is fantastic versus Drop n Pop lists like pKreoss. In addition the amount of damage needing to be done to break this brick is astonishing.

Caster Tactica

pMadrak – I detailed above the Cornerstone tactic for the Earthborn with pMadrak. This is very effective at driving your forces across the board. But, what about when you get there? The combination of Carnage and Crusher make the Earthborn a killing machine. Bumping him to MAT 8 POW 15 base while in Madrak’s control area. This is nothing to scoff at and consdering you are not forcing the beast to keep moving it’s a match made in heaven. The only thing you could ask fro in this instance could be reach, but when you can’t afford a Mulg there always the Earthborn and he will perform his face smashing duty as we as you can hope and once the Carnage has ended, (Pun Intended) you can simply reform and brick up again if needed.

eMadrak – eMadrak does very little in the way of beast buffing outside of Bloodfury which I think is better utilised on units in most cases, more specifically on Burrowers. However, there is a wonderful synergy between Warpath and the Earthborn’s mobility. This alone would help get a charge lane or perhaps reposition him for optimum use. For example, if you had the Earthborn playing body guard on Madrak and something dies in the control area and all of the sudden a near by forest has given your Earthborn an opportunity for a charge that wasn’t previously there. These instances may seem corner case, but really any opportunity you can create in this game is good.

pDoomshaper - Outside of Goad, I don’t have a lot on this particular caster. pDoomy is the old man out as he doesn’t excel at any one thing, least of which is making beasts perform well. Fortune could be used to some effect but generally I find the Earthborn doesn’t have a hard time hitting things unless they are they craftiest of casters. In short there are better choices for beasts with pDoomy simply because he needs to be guarded a bit more then other casters.

eDoomy – A match made in heaven. Yes, my heart gets all fluttery when I think about these two. Mulg and eDoomy may be brothers but I’ll be damned if the Earthborn and Doomy aren’t close as well. As detailed before the Hide n Seak tactic is greatly utilized with Refuge in this combo. It almost feels more like hit and run with this simply because of how effective a charge from the Earthborn can be. Wild Agression is a given, though in most games it find it’s way to Mulg there is no law tat says you can’t buff swpa based on situation. Have a high defense target or perhaps a line of Nyss that need to be trampled. Give the Earthborn Wild Agression, problem solved. He will hit what he fights and he will kill it. Notably the Earthborn isn’t a bad candidate for Primal Shock. Power 12 is nothing to scoff at. eDoomy has a lot of Fury t throw arround after upkeeps so why not arc some spells.

Borka – Borka! My main man. Possessing a feat only slightly less effective then Doomy’s he is tough as nails and supports his army well. However because he doesn’t have a damage buff spell, he needs something that can crack heavy armor. The Earthborn fits this very well. I detailed a Cornerstone strategy earlier which as worked well for me and is a viable option in low or high point games. Other notable synergies include multiple attacks under Mosh Pit. One hit will and and whatever you are beating on will be knocked down. Also, the Earthborn’s animus is wonderful on Borka. He’s already tough as all hell and this animus applied correctly can make it even worse. Use the tool box properly and the Earthborn will never fail you in a Borka list.

Grim – This notorious combo is where the nickname came from. Many of our Trollblood players use the Cruise Missile strategy to great effectiveness. However to supplement this think simply about Grim’ toolbox for a moment. Amazing board control feat that lowers DEF. Knockdown! On his GUN! From 12” away! The ability to grant the Earthborn Hunter! Even return fire has its applications. Most notably though having hunter is HUGE for the Earthborn. Since he’s trolling around in the Forrest most of the time, being able to ignore it is amazing for setting up charges without hitting targets with Grim first. In short, Grim helps you hit, charge, and kill targets with a minimum effort.

Grissel - Grissel is a warlock like no other in our flock of colorful characters. She can truly defy the stereotype of slow plodding trolls. With the Earthborn specifically she can be a harassment monster. Much like eDoomy, Hoof it operates exactly like refuge. With the application of Calamity, you can take out many models or one hard target and move away to safety. This tactic is used on many other models but the the Earthborn’s superior hitting powers and speed make him a prime target for this. This is also used to perhaps engage more models with the Earthborn after killing something. He demands attention so throwing a huge threat say, right next to the enemy caster can be a useful strategy. On feat turn if you haven’t used to to take an objective or two or if you have the opportunity, go wild with little worry of reprisal. More attacks, speed and a free move make this a very potent combo.

Calandra – Our best all around caster simply makes this model better. She makes sure he hits. She makes sure he does damage. She makes sure that he stays alive as long as possible. Calandra opperates very independent of the army despite her support ability. She has a knockdown spell. She has befuddle. Soothing song is effective if you are running hot, which I find is no the case unless I am going for the assassination. Bullet dodger can be used effectively early game if Calandra is far back and the Earthborn is being used front line. Two extra defense may seem small, but the ability to move after a miss is golden. She doesn’t play the same roll as many of our casters for the Earthborn specifically, but she can still make him shine.

List Building

Building a list around and Earthborn is a precarious thing. Leveraging your forces around a single model will make your list very vulnerable once that model has been removed. However with certain Warlocks only having a single beast is viable and in lists like those perhaps an Earthborn isn't the best option for your single beast list. I will detail simple examples of when and why an Earthborn would beneficial over say Mulg or a Mauler.

Beatstick Armies
In heavy melee lists our beasts really excel and the Earthborn in particular has no problem with damaging targets without buffs much like Mulg, but for fewer points. The Mauler however with his animus can just as easily cause as much damage if he doesn't have to spend his fury on it. In these armies it's really about the comp and point cost. In games of 25 or 35 points I tend to lean towards the Earthborn simply because going beast light in those lists isn't always as hard as larger games and when you run say Borka or the Madraks the more points you can put in troops the better. The simple versatility of the Earthborn can make sure those uncommon hard targets you run up against at small points values won't be as big of an issue. At small point values the Earthborn's animus can also be a defensive boon to our squishier casters as well.

Why not take an Earthborn? At 50 and larger point values in infantry heavy lists you may need a damage buff to throw around to crack hard targets especially if your caster can't really handle 2 heavy beasts easily. This is also an issue of play style. I personally almost never take a Mauler now, not matter what strengths he brings. However, your varying meta will definitely dictate whether or not you chose to switch it up in larger games.

Beast Heavy Army
I believe most of you are very aware of how effective the eDoomy beast trifecta can be and how much of a cornerstone the Earthborn is in that list. However with our other casters like Calandra who can run them almost equally as well. Calandra though buffs her army so equally across the board bringing the Earthborn over say a Mauler or Mulg would simply be preference on speed. If you just need a Fury battery, bring a Mauler. If you need a primary assassination model the Earthborn is your guy. Really in beast heavy lists, spread the love around. Use the Earthborn and all our other beasts liberally.

Speedy Armies
Grim, Grissel, eDoomy are our mobile warlocks and the Earthborn is tailor made for these lists. You cannot deny the synergy the Axer however as he makes your assassination machine even faster. With these lists though you really need to make sure that you have fast models that can keep up. Kriels, Fenns, Long Riders and Burrowers are among the many. With these lists having models that lag behind does not benefit you but in fact leaves your fast models without support so keep that in mind.

The Earthborn is very versatile because of Elemental Communion, however there are certain instances where even that along with his other fantastic abilities won't carry you through without help. I'll outline those instances and attempt to give constructive ways to work around them.

Reliance on Terrain
Without a Forrest, Obstacle/Obstruction, or even a water feature on your terrain, you are going to find yourself in a situation where the Earthborn feels like a very mediocre beast. Unfortunately there is little that can be done about this in most cases because either the board is set up in a way where you have little access to a terrain feature that will benefit you or, your opponent knows the strength of the Earthborn and moves his army accordingly to try and minimize his threat. This however can be remedied by a number of our casters as they have spells and abilities that can support the Earthborn well. Unfortunately at that point our self reliant beast isn't quite as independent as once thought. In tourney play where you have a good idea what the maps will look like and how the scenario should play out you have a good idea of whether or not the Earthborn is the right fit for your specific list. I still advocate his use as an everyday GREAT beast, but keep in mind, the terrain can make or break using this model effectively.

Reliance on Hi POW Weapons
We all know that the Earthborn is phenomenal as taking down Warjacks. He can also excel at taking down beast as well, unfortunately, most beasts either don't carry weapons, or are strength reliant for their damage. This truly highlights one of his key weaknesses as if you are charging something with only the same pow as his fists, you are only going to be pow 15, that's one less then an un-buffed Mauler. Not that stellar. This fortunately isn't much of a problem while targeting infantry, Warcasters, or Warlocks as most boast at least a Pow 5 Weapon or better. So, target priority is very important when using the Earthborn as it can mean the difference between him being devastating or mediocre.

1 comment:

  1. Is adaptation a one shot attack deal, or can it be used with every normal melee attack?