08 November 2011

Deployment Basics, Part I ~ by TheHappyAnarchist

So your guys are getting jammed up, all in each other's way for deployment.  Don't worry, it happens to everyone when you start playing trolls.  We have a lot of models that can get in each others way.

I am going to do a series of articles here on the scrum to give some advice and tricks to help you get over that hump and moving smoothly.  They will cover infantry heavy lists, the "beast brick" and even radial scenarios.  That is what is planned for now, but if anyone has any questions or suggestions I may expand them.

With no further ado, I will start with the most tricky, most models and most trouble - the infantry horde.

To introduce our cast, we have the following list.
Madrak Ironhide, World Ender
Fell Caller
Champ Hero
Full unit of Kriel Warriors with all trimmings.
Full unit of Fenns with UA
Full unit of BUrrowers
Full unit of Scouts.

Something like this is how I like to start a game.
As you can see, there is a fair bit of infantry out there, but you are able to get a room by having the AD units.  They are bunched up at the moment, but of course everything will change the first turn.  

Some key things.  Madrak, the Runebearer and Janissa are right on the front line.  This is to ensure they can activate first, get spells out and get plenty far up the field without getting jammed up.  The Runebearer does not always have to be on the front line, but if you want the Harmonious Exhaltation first turn, you will want him there so he doesn't get left behind.  You will also notice the beasts are in the back.  This is for two reasons.  One, to make sure they don't get killed early, and also because that encourages you to activate Madrak first and you will see how much fury you have left.  The Pyre goes on the side with the Cabers, because who doesn't love flaming cabers being tossed into the enemy?

The Fell Caller is also up front to ensure it can activate first to give pathfinder when needed, the chronicler however is not as vital to activate first, he hangs back a bit.

Lets say your table doesn't allow this though.  It has some nasty terrain, a big obstruction or the scenario requires more models in the middle.  Or maybe you have swapped out the Burrowers and Scouts for some Long Riders.  Never fear, you can tighten this deployment up without losing much, if any effectiveness.

As you can see, deploying back in a long columns can free up a great deal of space.  The great part is, first turn you are going to be running all that infantry and you would rather not run it all up in a big line to be shot/charged to death right?  So this doesn't hurt you much at all.  Having 3 models out front for the Fenns is about ideal in any case, with the others farther behind for Vengeance.  This also encourages you to have the standard/piper/leader back a bit which makes it very easy to apply model/unit buffs.

So, how does the first turn tend to go?  I will show you.  

.Here, we are just casting Blood Fury with Madrak, and have two beasts to run, so Madrak goes first and gives Blood Fury to the Scouts.  You can also give it to Long Riders, Kriels, Fenns, whatever as needs.  I like to avoid putting it on the Fenns last on the turn I am bouncing it around so that they get it for Vengeance on occasion, but it is not a priority.  Janissa moves up and drops the wall, providing cover for her and Madrak.  The Runebearer advances, but keep in mind for a caster that will be casting spells from turn one the Runebearer could always go first and give the minus one cost to the spellcasting.  Also, Burrowers burrow.  Nothing to shocking.

Then we move the infantry up.  Take care with spacing while moving up the infantry since clumping will make you more vulnerable, especially against good AOE's like Hellmouth.
Kriel Warriors run up in a bunch.  We'll assume the Scouts move over into a forest or some such.  I generally hang them back a little bit as they have a much lower threat range than the Fenns, but basically beeline for a forest or hang back a bit.  Here is where a neat trick can go.  Generally the last couple of models in a unit can't charge anyway - so say you have a big blocking bit of terrain, or a unit of scouts that needs to be in a forest, or just any old thing blocking your Fenns.  They have a 12" command circle, run them up each flank of the unit/obstruction/what have you.  The forward ones will still easily be able to charge if necessary, the ones in the back can Vengeance up and the leader can easily keep them all in command range too boot!

The Impaler stays relatively close to Madrak - though keep in mind for the late game as attrition happens you can always run him up for Charge of Trolls.  The Pyre runs wide on the flank to be near the Cabers, because Flaming Cabers is great.  The chronicler moves up and gives Tale of Mists to either the Fenns or the Kriels as needed.

One thing to keep in mind specific to Madrak.  There is only one Grim Salvation target there.  He has 3 transfers after all, and no reason to get your infantry killed from some lucky blasts or sniper shots.  Might as well get those tough rolls.  Be extra careful however to keep Janissa, the Fell Caller and other important models at least an inch away from him!  Other warlocks don't have to worry about it as much, and I often have Janissa right up there with them.

And there you go.  From there on you charge, maneuver and act as only game experience can teach you or show.

There are some key things to keep in mind for any list.  The first is not to block off your warlocks.  You will notice in the last diagram that eMadrak is free to move forward almost his entire 6" there, free to toss an Axe, pop his feat, move Blood Fury around, cast Flaming Fists or even Killing Ground or whatever needs to be done.  We have the wonderful Janissa that can help our warlocks play forward like they are designed to.  You still have to watch out for some of the really dangerous killers that Def 16+ and Grim Salvation/transfers can't save you from, but most incidental or front line models should be pretty safe, especially as your infantry is crashing into their lines and getting into the way.

Another is to make sure your infantry attacks in waves.  Don't just run it all forward to be killed.  

The last I have is to think vertically, rather than horizontally.  Think of having columns of models to kind of avoid getting in each other's way as much.

So that covers the first article here.  Next up we will cover radial scenarios, which will feature an even more extreme lists - pMadrak tier with 3 full units of Kriel Warriors, all the trimmings and a full Krielstone Bearer + Elder unit!  Infantry alone that is over 50 models, not even including solos and beasts!  None of which ADs! It seems tricky but I'll show you how to use the basics from this article to get out of your own way and on to the field!

Until then, keep it crazy Trollbloods!


  1. I am just starting up trolls and articles like this are hugely helpful, especially with the vassal pics! Thanks!

  2. Heads up guys, articles are getting delayed. My wife just had our third baby! Also, one thing I forgot to mention - feel free to spread out a bit farther - especially if you are facing a caster with spells like Hellmouth or the like. I bunched up a bit so I could show the whole screen.

  3. Very good advice. And congrats on the new baby!