14 October 2011

On Learning Trollboods from Cygnar: Blue to Blue ~ by Sardonic Artery

Repost from Sardonic Artery over at the PP forums

Figured I’d start a thread since making the leap to Trollbloods in the last couple of months. Originally a Cygnar (and therefore Mercs) player, I came in to Hordes via the Blindwater Congregation, with “no shooty” Barnabas being the opposite of the True Blues. Thing is, I’m the type of Warmahordes player who, as fun as they are, keeps Merc and Minions minon. I still love Cygnar—the combined arms approach, board control and how, even if you’ve got stealth and you’re hiding on a forested hill behind a rock wall, I’ll probably still shoot you—but I wanted an army that can take axe to face, play attrition, and run a decent level of synergy. In the end, Trollbloods seemed to fit best, though not without some swift competition from Skorne.

I was interested in every Hordes faction save Legion (as much as I dug “Aliens,” I couldn’t roll with a look bent more towards “Little Shop of Horrors”). I liked Circle—beast boy Kromac and the (much-lamented) soul-sucking tree—but didn’t want another faction that struggled with high armor. I liked Skorne—they have Vega from “Street Fighter II” (Morghoul) and Jabba the Hutt (Rasheth)—but a friend already plays them. Plus, I didn’t want to explain the fluff to my wife: “What’s that? Oh, that’s a tortured animal. What’s that model doing? Oh, he’s torturing the beast during the game. Hey, wait, where are you going?” Finally, Trolls do have some shooting, so that helped my transition from blue Warmachine to blue Hordes.

The whole “fight for survival” Trollblood fluff may be cliché, but I still like that story, especially the evil Rathrok part. Plus, with Troll fluff, it’s not like your best models are off the table. Madrak is the leader of the Trolls and you get to play him. Mulg is the ultimate dire troll (or at least the oldest) and you get to play him. Doomshaper being given the ultimate honor of being called “not food” by Mulg cracked me up. The concept of whelps and stumbling drunk is amusing both on the page and on the table, too.
 In General

Coming from Cygnar, I’m used to
  1. Hitting models, but not necessarily damaging them
  2. Often getting missed by enemy attacks, but often shattering when getting tagged
  3. Picking unfair fights (Cygnar can’t go one-on-one with many factions)
  4. Not needing to kill models to take them out of the game (huge board control)
  5. Casters who snag assassination victories out of nowhere in turn two or three, but often struggle with a longer, attrition game
  6. A top-down power model of powerful casters, decent jacks and weak troops; and
  7. Little synergy.
Trolls seem to be the opposite of this. With five fury on key heavies, it’s rare another heavy is standing at the end of an onslaught. My models usually get hit, but not every hit triggers tough (as per usual: very few warrior models can withstand a charge). Tough rolls are not evenly spread out over 33% of models. It’s more like one or two key models roll tough far too many times, and if you ever want a model to not make his tough roll, he will. Having models with standard tough makes them automatically tarpit worthy. I’ve been having a lot of fun with Fennblades as vengeance moves make for a good slugfest.

Opponents will focus on my heavies and it’s not uncommon that they either, A) can’t kill my heavy that turn; or b) overextend their army finishing the job. I’m still having trouble grasping when to activate my warlock first to heal my beasts or forcing them to regenerate, but that’s still a better option than most Hordes armies have. Looks like upkeep removal is still hard, but maybe Trolls will get an upkeep punisher like Harlan Versh one day.

The higher the point game, the better Trolls seem to do. The one time I’ve tried pMadrak at 15 points, it didn’t work out so hot, but it was against eAsphyxious and spread out 10 banes. When I couldn’t feat-carve my way through enough of them, pMadrak’s scroll and transfers weren’t enough to withstand the retribution. 35 still feels a little tight, but 50 points feels like Troll territory, even I don’t get all my synergies in. Though trolls are expensive both cash-wise and point-wise, the decent base stats of Cygnar models have always come with a fairly high point cost, so it's not new. Beasts are usually more expensive than jacks anyway. Regardless, I look forward to the day where Trolls get an 8-point heavy or a 7-point killer character light.


The two main casters I’ve been learning with are Borka and Grim and I’ve had more success with the latter. Having a great shooty caster (with permanent true sight) in a powerful melee army can be monstrous. I wanted to read enough of the forums to get some tips, but not so much that I didn’t learn for myself or got trapped in forumthink. (Much of the Cygnar forums would have you believe that no one ever runs trenchers, long gunners or pStryker to great effect, but I still see those models on the table all the time at my meta [even if, yeah, I have to admit I’ve gone away from them myself].)

I played my first games with Borka, given that he has high armor, can hide himself from non-magical attacks(and his beasts if they’re close enough), and gets some fury ease from his keg-carrying partner. At 35, I originally went with Mulg and a pyre for beasts, max Fennblades + UA, full Kriels, Fell Caller and min. stone plus elder. I won by hiding the battlegroup—or whatever the Hordes equivalent is—as the Fennblades and Kriels tied everything up before Mulg came and smashed face. Since I heard about the joys of Earthborn + Pyre, I dropped Mulg for natural pathfinder, put in a stone scribe chronicler and found that a Fennblade smacking a model downed from hero's tragedy is mean and key to unexpected charge lanes. I haven't yet had the guts to use just an earthborn while going super troop heavy. Regardless, I still don't feel like I'm using Borka's feat for anything other than an unexpected alpha strike.

My first loss with Borka came against an eCaine gunline (25 points -- dropped stone and Kriels), though personally I've found that I'm usually overextending myself to get to him (any tips appreciated). If I had activated my Fell Caller first and given my Fennblades an attack roll booster, they both would've hit eCaine early with the 9s I rolled, likely killing him on the charge damage (with Borka's feat, vengeance moves and their mini feat, my opponent wasn't expecting an 18" threat range). Lesson learned in that game, though it was amusing to watch Borka almost get to eCaine with stumbling drunk before keeling over.

Switching to Grim, I beat that eCaine gunline. I had an early Fennblade rush again, but missed the attacks, even when boosted by the Fell Caller. Next turn, eCaine and crew took out all my Fennblades and feated to kill the earthborn. Thing is, he didn't teleport so that he could finish the job on the beast. Next turn, I nailed eCaine with a critical smite from the Impaler. I thought twice about taking the smite and knockdown, as there was a slight chance that if I rolled a 6, eCaine would be out of Grim's range, even with far strike. Guess what I rolled for distance? A 6. I made a full advance, cast far strike and eCaine was in by less than an inch. A couple of boosted rolls on Grim's shot and it was game over.

Upon facing a pDenny player with Grim, I realized how versatile Grim can be. Some games, all I'm not using his spell list at all. Other games, he's fury-strapped on that list alone. Regardless, he's my go-to caster against Cryx and Retribution (though maybe I should trust the high armor a little more against the latter).

I've used min longriders + horthol at both 35 and 50 with Grim. First time I ran them, I seriously misjudged their threat ranges. Second time, they nearly all got wiped out on the way in, but trashed some jacks once they got there. About the only thing I think I'm doing right is having the riders on one side and Horthol on the other. Past that, I feel like I'm just losing points.

With Janissa's wall and the earthborn animus, it's easy to buff any warlock. The Mauler is cool, but the Earthborn has won me over pretty quick. I'm not sure what to think of the Blitzer. Up to five initial attacks sounds cool, but he seems more fit to take out infantry, so I don't feel like I'm getting the points back.

The Future

From here, I definitely plan on buying Janissa, the stone chronicler and the runebearer (they've been in proxy land thus far). I also haven't tried cabers (don't own any), the bomber or champions (have a max unit, but no hero or Skaldi). Maybe I'll get to run a real pMadrak brick above 15 points soon, too.

As for casters, eMadrak and Calandra seem to make sense given the forum love. I'll have to try pDoomy against Menoth, since they struggle against the high armor and I want to see why he's so maligned. I'm not sold on Gunnbjorn, but then again, I still play Cygnar.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool to see this get pulled over. Thanks for picking it up, mate.