08 August 2010

How to Roll with Stones, A Pocket Guide to Kriel Stone Bearers ~ by Beckman

Kriel Stone Bearers.
People range from loving the unit to never touching them. The most common reason that I hear for them not being taken is: They don't fit my playstyle. In this guide, I'm going to try to make a case for the following two points.

1. Kriel Stone Bearers can be a worthy addition to many lists.
2. They shouldn't be cramping your style as you play with them.

I think the Kriel Stone Bearer and Stone Scribes have gotten an unfair stigma from MK1 brick lists as well as the first games that people play against casters such as pMadrak. The stacking of buffs creates extremely hard to kill Champions. Because the pMadrak style of play results in a very clumped army, the Kriel Stone Bearer is blamed as the culprit for this. I'm going to try to set the record straight here.

In MK1, the KSB was a crutch unit. Most lists ran it. It was an auto-include. MK2 rolled around, and now we have more options - Good options. In under 50 points, it's sort of questionable as to whether you would need the KSB at all. I'm going to try to describe the reasons that you would take a KSB in your list. It's a viable option to run without, but I roll with the KSB in most of my lists.

It's pretty much unavoidable to talk about the Stone Scribe Elder, with your Kriel Stone Bearers. Even if you take a minimum unit of Kriel Stone Bearers, you're better off taking a Stone Scribe Elder and a min unit than a max unit. You net lose 1 model, but gain a whole bunch of awesome abilities, and your Stone Scribe Bearer has boxes. It's pretty much a no-brainer unless you're going to take a min unit of Kriel Stone Bearer and Stone Scribes, simply because you don't want to spend the points on anything else.

Average Troll across the board. Arm is "a Baker's ______ + 1", but is buffed by their own aura. Really nothing to see


No Fleeing
"A Bank for Fury"
_____ as nails

Protective Aura - 4" + 1" for each Fury on the Kriel Stone Bearer, you can't have more Fury on the KSB than the number of models in this unit.

Self-Sacrifice: Guys can't stop jumping in front of he KSB...

Stone Scribe Elder:
Statline: Nothing impressive, +1 MAT over Stone Scribes,
Basically, you get to choose one of 3 abilities when you use protective aura, in addition to your +armor.
1. Incorporeal and Stealth goes away while within the aura
2. No Continuous Effects
3. +1 Str to friendly trollblood models within the aura.

Let's talk about Roles. I'm going to go from the least useful roles to the most useful.

4. Melee Unit
Yeah, that's right. I went there. About once every 5-6 games, my KSBs actually kill something before dying. It makes me happy inside. They do have MAT5. Fear it. Actually, though... if you're playing an eMadrak list, you actually might make them fear it. Buff it with a Fell Caller and put Blood Fury on it, and it's actually not bad. Of course, this is assuming that you don't have anything else better to do. Practically any other melee unit would do better...

3. Remover of Incorporeal
This is kindof a good thing. The unit can RUN and activate it's aura, so as long as you have the KSB stocked on fury, you can get that incorporeal thing dead. You may end up losing your KSB if you just sort of dump it out there. I've definately done this. Sometimes, it's the only way. We're not a magic rich faction. Incorporeal can be a problem. Sadly, this does not help against Vilmon.

2. Tarpit Unit
This is MONEY. This is the secondary reason I play them... almost every game. The unit is fearless on a medium base as 7 models for 5 points. Nowhere near as good as Kriel Warriors statwise, but they can be REALLY BLOBBY when you just run them and activate their aura for (probably) one last time. Obviously, this is only a really good secondary use for the KSB... But almost every game, I get to a certain point and liquidate the KSB for a tempo gain. Oh yeah, and like most things, they are quite annoying with Iron Flesh.

The trick to liquidating your KSBs for tempo is to find a model or unit that will make your life difficult if it gets into melee, then charge or run your KSBs into it. You'll get your +4 to DEF from being in melee, and it's really rather difficult to remove ~7 KSBs from in front of a unit without activating the unit, which will buy you time. You've already gotten your money out of the KSBs Auras.

1. Protective Buffing and You:

This is at least 50% of why you take this unit. +2 Arm is useful for a variety of reasons. Getting more ARM helps you:

Be more resistant to assassination:
For front line casters, such as the Madraks and Borka, the KSB gives a little more breathing room in the face of the dangers of the front line. For frail casters, such as Hoarluk and Calandra it offers protection against arc'd spells and massed low-pow ranged attacks.

vs Arcnodes
It's hard a lot of the time to prevent an arcnode from getting an angle on your caster. On a caster such as pAsphyxious, or the Coven, you might very well be dead right then. Hoarluk is ARM 15 base, which is Dice-3 on a POW12, ~4pts on an unboosted roll, when you compare that to ~2.2 points when under the effect of the KSB, it can be quite significant.

In the example of a pAsphyxious arcnode getting in for Breath of Corruption, you're looking at pAsphyxious casting two boosted to damage POW 12s, and two unboosted POW12s.If Hoarluk is under the KSB and you're using shotgun numbers, you've got 2x2.2 dmg, 2x5.5 = ~15.4 dmg. Since you probably have a transfer this puts you solidly into the "survival" camp. If you don't have the KSB, you're looking at ~23 dmg, which becomes a little hazardous, even with a transfer.

vs Shooting
With a caster like Hoarluk, a unit getting a couple of Pow 12 ranged potshots in can pile the damage on pretty quick. The Bouncer can be used as a defense against long-range large CRAs, but what about massed two-man CRAs? A bouncer could eat the first one, but the following ones could pile on the damage, The KSB will probably stop this from being lethal, unless your caster already has damage.

vs Melee
I'm not gonna lie, the KSB is not going to help your caster weather melee unless he was already designed to be there. That's just how it is. Charging weaponmasters, beasts of any kind, Jacks... all of these will end you, depending on your buffs and caster. The KSB helps against assassination runs that you could reasonably survive and gives you an extra margin. It's not a get out of jail free card.

vs Continuous Effects
It's pretty obvious, but if you play against an army with heavy Fire or Corrosion continuous effects... well, they will hate the KSB and SSE with a passion. It matters with low ARM casters such as Calandra. If she gets fire on her, you'll either be shunting damage or taking it. Neither is good. SSE stops this.

Help your troops resist AOEs better, and survive the occational flubbed low-pow to-damage roll
A reasonable example would be helping ARM14 models survive POW8 blast damage. Pow 8 needs a 7 (58% chance) to kill before KSB, but a 9 to kill afterwards (28% chance). Edit: If you brought the SSE, you will not be worrying about Fire and Corrosion continuous effects. I'm looking at you, pFeora.

Honestly, this helps as a side benefit... because the more troops that you have with low ARM, the less I feel like taking a KSB. Why? Because you have that much more STUFF inbetween the enemy and your caster. If you're taking Fennblades and Burrowers and Fellcallers, you've got a lot of tarpit inbetween the enemy caster and you. The Fennblades are filling a tarpit role, which makes the KSB a little less useful, and since you already have Burrowers & Fenns, you can try to keep stuff from ever reaching your caster.

Helps you by stacking ARM on multi-wound models that already have high ARM.
This is a kicker, and it's the real reason I take the KSB. Let's explore this. We've got pretty good ARM on our multi-wound models. Our Champs go from ARM18 to ARM20, our light beasts generally go from ARM 16 to ARM 18, and our heavies hit ARM 20. We've pretty much got DEF 12 across the board,

What does this mean? It means a charging POW 12 does ~2.8 dmg per hit to ARM 20, and ~4.6 dmg a hit on ARM 18. That's the difference between two or three hits to kill a champion. More importantly, that's the difference between 10 POW 12 charging hits to kill a 28 wound heavy warbeast and 6 hits. Or if it were charging POW15s, ~5 hits instead of ~4. Remember, we're talking hits, not attacks.. as the enemy will probably need 5s or so to hit. Hopefully you're not letting whole units charge your beasts..

Conceptually, the KSB will help the most in saving your multi-wound trolls from being "plinked" to death by low-medium power shots or charges. Saving nearly 2 damage on each shot is a big deal if you're going to be taking a high volume of crappy attacks. If you're going to take a low volume of high powered attacks, it matters.. just not as much.

How to Play the KSB
The KSB aura is 11" from the KSB, which really makes it ~23 inches in diameter. Add in a run, and you should be able to be almost anywhere with it. It really has NOTHING to do with a brick formation other than working well with it.

1st turn, dump your Warlock's fury in the KSB, activate the KSB second and use the aura. Second turn activate KSB first, then activate your caster and dump fury into it. The stone's aura is a BUBBLE, not a Pulse, and is based on the amount of FURY currently on the KSB, so if you charge out of the bubble, or if the enemy kills models in the KSB unit such that it's fury exceeds its maximun fury, the unit will shed the excess FURY and the bubble will shrink - which can make things out of the Aura that were in before. Be aware of this.

There are really three key concepts to understand about how to play the KSB.
1. RUN and do your aura. It can position itself wherever you need it.
Position your aura according to what you want to be in it during your turn.

2. Don't feel constrained to be in the aura.
Charging out of the aura in order to favorably trade with something that you need dead is OK. A good player will need to do this less often, because they will be better at #1.

3. At a certain point in the game, the KSB will start to be less valuable.
You've lost models. Now you have less total models to be affected by its buffs. Liquidate it. Exchange for tempo. Clog the middle. They need to turn from a support piece to a tempo model. They do it very well.

 Bonus Strategies
I'm going to call these "bonus strategies" because they rely on high stacked armor. If you don't have the KSB, these tactics will suffer for it.

Depriving the Enemy of Targets
If you have no low ARM targets, and the KSBs stay out of range of enemy AOEs, then the enemy's low POW attacks are pretty pointless. This is obviously a significant list building decision, and should not be made lightly. If you go this route, mass weaponmasters can be a problem. AOEs? Not a problem. Low-Pow ranged attacks? Not a big deal, even with CRA.

Depriving the Charge
If you can deprive a unit of the charge, (by killing unit members, then goading further into the unit, for instance) then they will be really feeling the effects of ARM 20 vs ARM 18, especially if they are not weaponmaster. With beasts, the strategy is to sufficiently lower the opponent's counterattacking potential. In general, units have lower "threat density" than beasts or Jacks. Models like the Bomber can do this quite easily. Guess what's not countercharging you? The models that you just blew up. Take "bites" out of the edges of units and leave the rest of the unit out of countercharge range. If they spread out, this is easier. If they clumped up, you can AOE them better, and reach models can kill more stuff in one go.

List Building
I'll be honest. At low point games, the KSB doesn't make much sense.. primarily because Burrowers make such a good first wave that your beasts have a good shot at striking first. But when you start stacking some ARM, or hit 50 points, I usually think about it. Here are some lists for discussion.

A Sample Infantry List
Grissel Bloodsong (*5pts)
* Pyre Troll (5pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Pyg Burrowers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 4 Grunts) (10pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Trollkin Runeshapers (Leader and 2 Crew) (4pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)

The Burrowers provide a nice first wave, followed by a second wave of Fennblades and (likely) a third wave of champions. The KSB is fine in this list, but a competing school of thought would be to take out the Runeshapers, Stone Scribe Chronicler and KSB+UA and put in a Bomber and Swamp Gobbers. The Bomber could be affected by Hoof-It, and would probably be a viable alternative. So this is a list where the KSB is probably going to make its points, but may not excel.

Grissel Bloodsong (*5pts)
* Troll Bouncer (5pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Pyg Burrowers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (Leader and 1 Grunt) (1pts)
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 4 Grunts) (10pts)
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 4 Grunts) (10pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)
Trollkin Champion Hero (3pts)

The core of this list dates back to MK1 champ spam. A KSB in this list essential. The difference between 10 Champs with ARM18 and 10 Champs with ARM20 is huge. If you don't play the KSB in this list, you're probably doing it wrong. Whether this is a list you care to play is a different matter entirely.

Sample Beast Heavy Lists
Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood (*5pts)
* Pyre Troll (5pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Pyg Burrowers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (Leader and 1 Grunt) (1pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)
Troll Whelps (2pts)

This is also a type of list that the KSB would shine in. It's a type of list that I would play frequently. It's got Bombers+Snipe to take out the models that the Burrowers can't deal with. It's got a STR buff and a movement buff. Make sure to put Bullet Dodger on Calandra, or you're in for ranged hurt.

Hoarluk Doomshaper, Rage of Dhunia (*6pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Troll Bouncer (5pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Pyg Burrowers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)

This list has a better threat range than the Calandra list, and has a much better matchup verses stealth armies. It sacrifices the Bomber's AOEs for pure melee threat. It is a blast to play. The KSB does well here.


  1. Dude, these articles have been super helpful as I dig deeper into an understanding of my Trolls! Keep them coming, please ;)

  2. Could a warlock put his Fury into the stone, and then run? There is no "anytime" in the text, right? Does putting Fury into the stone prevent a warlock from running?

  3. In the case of discarding fury you have to do it before you run as your activation ends immediately after running. id wager putting fury on the stone works the same way