05 December 2011

Baka's Tournament List Building - Part 2

Welcome back for the second part of my Tournament List Building blog series, in the first part I discussed the weaknesses that Trollbloods had in the past, the reasons why I didn't take them to the UK Masters last year and what I think has changed with the release of Domination in regards to those weaknesses.  I also outlined what I felt were the key aspects that have to be taken into consideration with any competitive tournament list building strategy, especially as the competitive meta evolves and seems to increasingly lean towards Character Restrictions and a tri-list format.

This second part will look at the first of the three lists that (barring some minor tweaking based on playtest games) I intend to run for the competitive tournament scene throughout 2012.  Not only will I be outlining my first list, but also how it matches up to the three key aspects outlined last time out; namely Scenario Superiority, Denial and List Busting.

The List
The first of my three warlocks that I intend to take will be Doomshaper2, I have long avoided the "power casters" in our faction as they have been referred to in the form of Madrak2 and Doomshaper2 in the belief that working with our lower tiered casters will help give me a deeper insight into the strategic depths of our faction and hopefully help take my play level up a notch or two when the time comes to take my best and dirtiest lists.  Without further ado lets get down to the actual list:

Hoarluk Doomshaper, Rage of Dhunia (*6pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
* Rok (11pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Kriel Warriors (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
* 3 Kriel Warrior Caber Thrower (3pts)
* Kriel Warrior Standard Bearer & Piper (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)
Troll Whelps (2pts)

Dire Troll Mauler (9pts) 
Feralgeist (1pts)

Those of you who have read my Domination Reaction Corner series might well recognise this list, it is the sample list included in the Rok review plus the 10pts of reinforcements permitted for a 50pt list, and it is one that I look at and struggle to find a way to improve upon.  So how does it match up to the competitive play criteria?

Scenario Superiority
One area that could be looked at in this list with concern is the relatively small footprint that it occupies on the table, just two units, two solos, a warlock and three heavy warbeasts is not a particularly large force.  Admittedly one of those units is purely support however the other unit is a particularly meaty 15man unit that also packs Steady.  Overall this list I will be the first to admit is not designed to grind out scenario victories, it's strengths lie in the other two strategic areas, but does that mean that it is weak in scenarios?

No, because to score scenario points you still need to be able to take zones uncontested, and what eDoomshaper does is give you a lot of high ARM, high health killing machines that he can use as pseudo arcnodes and who are all capable of limited movement after destroying enemy models.  This is one thing that is absolutely massive in scenario play, if you are able to move after destroying enemies then this so often makes the difference between just killing an enemy that is contesting a flag and both killing the enemy and then moving to contest it yourself (or even better score).

While not as good as Doomshaper1, Doomshaper2 does possess some very powerful denial tools himself.  First of all you have the ever useful Agitation, so many times I have rolled badly and seen my warbeasts frenzy even when they had just the single fury point on them, especially at key points in the game which have sometimes cost me victories.  This spell just being on his card forces the opposing warlock into a catch 22 situation, if they are forcing just enough fury to be able to leech it all then they are potentially opening up multiple beasts to frenzy checks, if they force enough to leave themselves short on fury leeching then you can opt not to use Agitation forcing the opposition warlock to cut himself if he wants to have his full fury allowance.

Refuge is similarly great for denial, combined with Goad this could see some warbeasts (especially on feat turn) pull back far enough to avoid being countercharged next turn.  Alternatively refuge can also be used to ram one of your heavy warbeasts down the opposing caster's throat, the amount of casters out there capable of taking down a full health heavy (especially once a whelp pops out to push DEF to an effective 13) without any degree of risk are very small, potentially either diverting his own heavies to deal with the threat or forcing the caster to face the choice of a free strike or take the risk of being able to kill the warbeast.

Similarly to Agitation, Doomshaper2's feat also serves as a deterrent to enemy casters about getting too close to him simply by being on the card.  Many of the more experienced players out there will have seen the 15" trample and double goad Wild Aggression trick on his feat turn and will always do their best to make sure that they keep their casters well away from Doomshaper2's beasts until you have blown your feat.  The great thing about this feat is that against jack/beast heavy lists you can go to town and pop it for the alpha strike, or against infantry heavy forces you can save it as a counter punching tool after the opponent has had to commit the bulk of his infantry trying to kill the beasts.

As for assassination denial, this is predominantly taken care of courtesy of Janissa's wall, the KSB aura and the Earthborn's animus (that he always casts on himself for free except when going for the kill and fury is needed elsewhere) which all combine to push him to an extremely impressive DEF17 ARM19 against ranged and magic and typically DEF15 ARM19 versus melee.  On top of that the job of the Kriel Warriors is predominantly to tie up opposing infantry and maintain a Steady infantry screen in front of Doomshaper which cannot be trampled through, Cabers are certainly capable of inflincting heavy damage but are again there to force the opponent to make the decision to commit his heavies knowing they will likely die to the counter punch.

List Busting
Finally we come to the final aspect, how well does this list deal with massive ARM and DEF?  While admittedly the Mauler never really gets to come into play in half of the games, the lack of Rage is partially offset by Primal.  The main purpose of Primal is of course for the MAT buff, in most cases ensuring that Wild Aggression is only necessary when aiming for caster levels of DEF (Doomshaper2 himself not withstanding) and beyond, even then with the combination of Primal and Wild Aggression Mulg and Rok are capable of hitting a staggering DEF19 on averages and packing a POW of 20 or beyond leaving them more than capable of turning any heavy into scrap in record time.

Admittedly the list itself doesn't really synergise so much as every aspect compliments each other and covers for their own relative weaknesses.  There are no buffs for the Kriel Warriors outside of the Krielstone aura and in half the games the Mauler's Rage animus.  The use of Primal needs to be weighed carefully each turn, as you effectively take one of your own beasts out of the game for a turn by taking the chance on using it when the dice might mean you would have scrapped whatever you were attacking anyway.

As far as assassination potential goes however, Doomshaper2 is probably as good as it gets for Trollbloods, he is capable of slingshotting warbeasts an unfathomable distance, and if the assassination is on, the combination of Wild Aggression and Primal pretty much means the end of just about any caster in the game, especially when used on Mulg or Rok.

Overall Review
When you stop and look at every factor and all the conditions that I laid out in part 1, this Doomshaper2 list ranks as so-so on Scenario Superiority, very highly on Denial and very highly on List Busting.  On top of that, it has the advantage of having three heavies, meaning that you could easily afford to throw away one taking out a key piece, maybe even afford to throw away two and in half the scenarios you will even have the Mauler coming in as reinforcement as well as a Feralgeist to try to help keeping your warbeasts around for that precious final attack.

On top of that you have Kriel Warriors and their self sufficient awesomeness, simultaneously serving both a defensive role in the protection of Doomshaper2 and an offensive role in jamming up the midfield and helping to create openings for the warbeasts to punch through.


  1. what do you mean by having reinforcements

  2. It's something intended to come up in the Steamroller 2012 ruleset, basically you get X points (depending on game size) that can come on the table in control phase of turn 2 or later in certain scenarios.

    Warjacks come on with 3 focus points, warbeasts can be forced even if outside of warlocks control area for that turn only.