17 April 2013

A Mountain King Tactica Guide

A Mountain King Tactica Guide

Our Gargantuan is the Mountain King. The model is awesome and he has a silly nickname which some people hate utterly, but it seems to have stuck. It's because he dies hard and he spawns lots of sequels. Credit to Professor Lust for the notion.

One of the purposes of this thread is to help stop the millions of threads about the Mountain King which are doing some damage to the community. My aim is to approach the topic in a "work-with-what-we've-got" mindset, going on the presumption that the reader has already decided to use this fella - totally ignoring any consideration of his actual quality, whether in isolation or in comparison. There's lots of other threads to have those discussions.

Feel free to correct things if you spot any rules errors. Until they're fleshed out, the segments below will include headings. Please add to these as you may have thought of something I haven't. Also, I'm not going to do a model-by-model/lock-by-lock breakdown for everything in our collections; just presume that if something isn't mentioned, it doesn't have any special synergies with the Mountain King worth pointing out. Take the Champion Hero, for example. He's not going to be mentioned again because how does he effect the Mountain King? Not at all, and vice versa.
Stats & Abilities

SPD: as his Fury
STR: three times his Fury
MAT: as his Fury
RAT: as his Fury
DEF: two lower than Mulg's
ARM: one less than his cost
CMD: one more than his Fury
FURY: as Mulg
Threshold: one more than his Fury
Cost: the same as every Gargantuan
Boxes: 14 more than Mulg

Weapons: Bruce has a Big Meaty Fist in each arc with a P+S equal to his ARM. These have Open Fist so he does have access to the full range of Power Attacks. He also has Deathly Roar, a max-range spray with a POW the same as the Bomber's barrels o' doom.

Animus: Amuck, which gives target friendly (not Friendly Faction) warbeast boosted power attacks.

Gargantuan: The Mountain King is a huge-based model and has all the benefits and limitations that includes:
·                     He must be predeployed
·                     He has split base arcs
·                     He gets Gargantuan power attacks including Sweep and Push
·                     He can't be moved outside his normal move action; so no Overtake, Goad, Hallowed Avenger, etc
·                     He can choose to shoot while in combat (note that as he doesn't have Weapon Platform or Virtuoso, he can't make both his melee and ranged attacks as his initial attack in the same turn)
·                     He doesn't get defensive bonuses for being in combat, concealment or cover
·                     He has built-in pathfinder

Terror: He's pretty scary.

Kill Shot: Once per turn, when he kills a living model in melee, he gets a free shot from his spray. This is the only way he can make melee and ranged attacks in the same turn. There's nothing in his rules which allows him to do it any other way.

Whelp Shedding: He drops his own whelps in base-to-base. These don't need to be paid for, but you need to have the space and the models. You can spawn both free whelps and regular whelps off the same hit as well, because the abilities have different names.

Snacking: As always. OM NOM NOM NOM!

Notice something missing? He doesn't have Regeneration.
Stats & Abilities Analysis

Speed-wise, he's on par with the rest of our beasts and innate Pathfinder means he pretty much ignores terrain. On the other hand, his huge base really hurts his maneuverability. Even with the opportunity to trample, there must be enough space for his base at the other end and a savvy opponent will easily position their troops in a way that prevents you from trampling. Unless you're facing something compact and slow like a Karchev brick, you're unlikely to be deciding where the Mountain King goes for much of the game - so deploy him carefully. Ensure that you deploy him carefully, with enough space to move around.

The huge base is both a blessing and a curse; it means he has several more inches of allowance to operate beyond his Warlock's Control Range; it means he's immune to place effects like Telekinesis; it means he can't be knocked down or made Stationary (although he can be Paralysed, so keep an eye out for basilisks); it means he has a huge effective range for things like Surefoot (more on that later!). On the other hand, he can't be moved outside his activation; he needs a LOT of room to Trample; he's easy to engage en masse. Keep these things in mind when considering strategies for the Mountain King.

He's pretty tough, but not as tough as you might think. He compares unfavourably to the Colossals in terms of outright survivability because his defense isn't far from auto-hitting and he has far, far less boxes. His Huge base allows lots of models to get themselves in, so if your opponent surrounds him with weaponmaster infantry, gets a lot of charges in, or sends a fully-loaded warbeast or warjack his way, he's very likely to go down.

There are a few ways to mitigate this, such as buffing his armour and screening him. You can also use strategic whelp-shedding to block charge lanes. The important thing is to prevent him from getting killed in one round, because with his ability to put down heaps of Whelps with complete abandon and Snacking (provided you're looking at living models) you can do quite a lot of healing-up even without Regeneration.

An oft-noted disappointment is his comparatively low MAT. It's on par with the Blitzer and Bomber, which means that he has difficulty hitting DEF higher than 12. Amuck can help with this when he sweeps, but remember that he can't charge & sweep on the same turn. If he gets tied up with high-DEF infantry, you will have difficulty clearing them out; it's likely that he'll spend the rest of the game surrounded by them. If you see the weaponmasters coming for him (BANE THRALLS!), try to manage your tempo so that you can prevent him from getting charged, and steal an opportunity to use a regular move action rather than charge, then pop Amuck + Sweep to chompy-chomp as many of them as you can. This won't happen much. More likely he'll be charged and you'll have to hope you can tank it out to retaliate.

While his MAT is low, his POW is amazing, equal to the POW on Mulg's club. His high FURY means that he can put out stacks of attacks per turn, pummelling heavies and low-DEF infantry into oblivion without too much trouble. It's important to remember that he only gets one initial attack per base arc, so if you're attacking a single target, make sure that you've got them overlapped by both arcs so you can get both fists into them. This being said, he will never have as much single-target damage potential as a pair of buffed Heavy warbeasts. You will need to be creative, and be using him as something more than a direct beatstick, to get your points' worth.

His RAT isn't amazing, but it's on par with our other ranged options. Because Deathly Roar is a spray, it ignores Stealth; it has a good range, and boostable POW 16s are not to be sneezed at. Because he's a Gargantuan, he can use it even if he's locked-down by screening models. Without Virtuoso or Weapon Platform, though, he cannot make both his initial ranged and melee attacks in the same turn, so unless you can take advantage of Kill Shot, you'll be sacrificing your melee attacks to shoot. Consider it though, as it's one of the best ranged attacks we have access to - certainly on par with the Bomber and War Wagon.

Ways to take advantage of Kill Shot aren't limited to just punching things and growling at your enemy though; Power Attacks are your friend and with double Open Fists the Mountain King can make them all. If there's constructs or undead in your way, you can Throw, Two-Tanded Throw, Slam or Power Strike (that's the Gargantuans' special standing-still Slam) one of them into a nearby living model. Then, when it dies (because most living models near the Mountain King will not like POW 15+ collateral damage) you can spray whatever you want. Outside of Sweeping or Trampling, the Two-Handed Throw here is the other time you'd think about casting Amuck on the Mountain King himself; the roll to hit the thrown model, and the roll to hit the model you're throwing it at, are boosted (I looked it up!).

Earning his points back is something worth looking at in a more nuanced way when you're thinking about Bruce. The likelihood of him actually killing his points value worth of models during a game is low. This is simply because his cost is crazy-high and he just doesn't have time to destroy half your opponent's army on his own. But he doesn't need to kill his worth in models to earn his points back; he needs to earn his proportion of your win. The Mountain King is a rock in a storm and putting him on the table allows you to really dictate the tone of the game; bank on your opponent exploiting his weaknesses, then use the rest of your army to capitalise on the knowledge that gives you. I'll visit this more in the Tactics section.
There are many ways you can use other models in your army to support the Mountain King directly. Here are some ideas. No, I'm not going to list off every model and give it a thumbs up or down for liking the Mountain King. Yes, I expect you to actually read it all :P
Damage Animi:
Supplied by Mauler, Pyre Troll, Slag Troll, Rok.
Rage, Flaming Fists and Acidic Touch all buff the Mountain King's damage output. You know how they work, I shouldn't have to explain them. Primal rates a more specific mention on two counts: one, because it buffs MAT, which is great. There's an enormous jump in effectiveness between Bruce's base MAT and MAT 7. Two, because the auto-Frenzy is an even more important consideration that usual. Before you use it, you need to decide "Am I okay with 20 points of my army only getting one boosted attack next turn?" That's a really important question to answer before you even put your list on the table - if it's not worth it, you should think twice about bringing Rok.
Survival Buffs:
Supplied by Krielstone, Earthborn Dire Troll, Epic Grissel, Bouncer, Elemental Trolls.
The Krielstone Aura, Elemental Communion (with or without resource to Janissa Stonetide's wall) and Epic Grissel's feat, each represent a potential +2 ARM for the Mountain King. The Krielstone is of course the most reliable and most versatile, also giving a small STR buff when needed. Don't overlook taking the KSB on its own, as the difference between Bruce's base ARM and ARM 21 is a big jump which puts him into the "really hard to kill" category against most things. The same goes for Elemental Communion, although it is dependent on terrain and it is a very expensive package to take the EBDT and Janissa. Epic Grissel's feat grants Unyielding, giving +2 ARM if the Mountain King is engaged. It also grants Hyper-Aggressive, which the Mountain King cannot take advantage of (because it's outside his normal movement action). So you can only gain the benefit of the feat if you're engaged by the end of the round or in melee.

By combining two or more of these buffs, you can get the Mountain King up to some pretty cool levels of tough: ARM 23 is great, and a single turn of ARM 25 is even better. You can use that turn to gain some serious tempo, which I'll go over under Lists & Tactics.

Worth a mention is the Bouncer's abilities (they don't fit anywhere else, really); if you're playing against an opponent who isn't ready for it, or if they have only one threat which can hurt him, you can stick Bump on the Mountain King to ensure that he only gets hit once. The disadvantage of Bump is that it is a must use, not a may use ability, so a savvy opponent can make you waste it. Shield Guard is perhaps more valuable for taking Epic Eiryss' Arcane Interference shot, or soaking a Pistol Wraiths' first shot to prevent them from getting Death Chill off.

Take note that Gunnbjorn's feat has almost zero effect on the Mountain King; he's already immune to knockdown, his high ARM means that blast damage is wasted on him, and he cannot gain Cover because of his huge base.

There aren't many ways to buff the Mountain King's Defense, since any way to grant Concealment or Cover is wasted. Even the few ways we have of directly buffing his Defense aren't going to be useful most of the time: his miserably-low base DEF means that Bullet Dodger and Quicken are not worth it for their defense boost (Quicken might be worth it for the movement boost though).

A quick word about the elemental Animi (Flaming Fists, Acidic Touch, Lightning Fists, Freezer); if you put one on the Mountain King, you just made half to a quarter of your army immune to a type of damage for a Round. Let's all chuckle together at Menoth: ha ha ha!
Improved Mobility:
Supplied by Axer, Epic Doomshaper, Prime Grim Angus, Borka Kegslayer, Jarl Skuld.
Rush is great on the Mountain King. He's got native Pathfinder, but the movement buff is a real boon to his poor mobility because you can cast it early in the game to improve your positioning for late game. As outlined above, the Mountain King's huge base means it's not hard for your opponent to box him in as soon as your forces clash; it's a good way to have more options later on. Rush can also be used to extend your Trample range: the extra 2" gives a better chance of being able to fit Bruce's fat butt on the other side of the models engaging him. Epic Doomshaper's Feat can also be relied on to improve maneuverability; the same turn you're charging with everything else is probably the same turn the Mountain King is completely boxed in, after all. Grim Angus has some great mobility buffs in his Cross-Country spell and Bait the Line on his gun, although bear in mind that you'll not get Pathfinder from Cross-Country and you'll not be charging often. Borka's Feat is similar to Epic Doomshaper's in that it can give you a nifty movement boost on a crucial turn, although that's gravy on all the other things it does. Quicken probably isn't worth it for the defense improvement against ranged & magic attacks, but the upkeepable SPD bonus is definitely worth taking a look at: combining it with Rush means you have a really, really fast Mountain King.

Keep in mind when thinking about Mobility that several of our movement shenanigans simply do not work on Bruce, because he can only move during his normal movement action. For example, Goad, Crusher, Hoof It, Hallowed Avenger, Hyper-Aggressive, Bullet-Dodger, Mirage, Pursuit, Tactical Supremacy, Warpath, and Refuge are all pretty much pointless wastes of time if you use them on him.
Debuffing Enemy DEF:
Supplied by Knockdown, Prime Grim Angus, Epic Hunters Grim and Prime Grissel Bloodsong
Dropping your opponent's DEF is great. You should do it even more when using the Mountain King, because they let you get your points' worth and his low offensive stats mean each debuff is worth more to him. Prime Grim Angus' Feat, Marked for Death, Mortality and Calamity are your big standouts here.

One of the things we have in abundance is Knockdown. I'm not going to go through the list of Trollbloods which can K-O enemy models because it's enormous. Suffice it to say that the Mountain King does not like to fight fair; your MAT doesn't matter if you're auto-hitting models, so throw it everywhere and exploit it like the bully you are.
Aura Effects:
Supplied by Prime Madrak Ironhide, Winter Troll
Because of his huge base, any "models within X inches of this model" effects are better on the Mountain King. Surefoot is always amazing, so putting it on the Mountain King instead of directly on pMadrak is an option to consider. Freezer is an animus of limited utility, but the sheer number of models which the Mountain King can engage means that he's possibly the best target for it we have. I can't in good conscience recommend it, but it's certainly an option.
Fury Management:
Supplied by Warlocks, Whelps
I realise it's probably counter-intuitive, but it's worth thinking of Wild Aggression and Guided Fire less as attack buffs than as fury management, because any Warlock can let you boost. It may sound weird, but the Mountain King needs to get as much effectiveness out of his Fury as possible, since each Force has to be spread out over 20 points, rather than over 9-12 points for our Heavies.

Lots of our warlocks have ways to give our beasts free stuff: several of our Feats and Spells give free charges or power attacks. If you're taking the Mountain King, you should be making sure that your Warlock lets him do something for free; whether it's charging, power attacking, or boosting, he really wants one of these in tow to help ensure he's not completely fury-starved. Borka's Feat gets a special mention for giving additional dice on collateral damage as well; nothing else does that.

Whelps are worth a quick mention just to remind you that the Mountain King can spawn two per damaging hit; one in base-to-base for free (there are very few situations where you shouldn't spawn this one) and one within 2" from the pack you paid points for. The bought whelps shouldn't go on the table every time, but it's cool to have them available as an option (say, if your opponent is going to kill lots of your b2b whelps before you can eat them). Otherwise, they work as normal.
Supplied by lots of stuff
Screening is something we should all know how to do; it's where you put a unit in front of a model in order to help keep them alive. This is a good plan. There's a few extra things to consider when screening the Mountain King though; one of them is that you can also use screens to get him where you want him to go.

Screens of the safety type are there to soak those charges, die, then be out of the way when it's your turn. Fennblades and Kriel Warriors serve this purpose for Bruce like for everyone else, but remember that there is a good chance that one or two of them will be in the way when you want to get Bruce's kill on; fortunately his in-built Reach mitigates this, but he needs to be far forward early or he's not going to be far forward. In surprise consideration for the job are Whelps, because they are craaaazy-cheap and you can eat them afterwards, too. You can also use cleverly-placed Rock Walls from Janissa Stonetide or Gunnbjorn to keep things away from the Mountain King as well (Janissa's wall is more likely to be of the "no room for bases" blocking though).

Screens of the snowplow type are used to help him move up the board; these are genuine throw-away choices whose sole job is to take up space to make sure that the Mountain King can fit in your chosen spot on the board. Fennblades' super-speed, board footprint and propensity to die to a stiff breeze make them well-suited to this task, and Burrowers have a role to play (burrowing to make room!) but my tip-of-the-hat goes to Nyss Hunters. With SPD and DEF that we just don't have in-faction, they can hurtle up the board to engage or take the charge, and then get out of the way without much difficulty. Depending on exactly what kind of board situation you're looking at you have several options: if there's a couple of Nyss who are standing where you want Bruce to stand, move them and they'll either not get hit because high DEF or they'll get killed because they have low ARM and no Tough! Either way, they make room; less wastefully, if there is a space in front of the Nyss, you can Trample over them! They're really, really not likely to get hit but if you're uncomfortable with the idea of trampling through our best ranged unit, do it with Borka and put Iron Flesh on them, for a DEF that Bruce can only hit on double-sixes.
Lists & Tactics

These are notes for me to turn into actual words later.

Here are some ways for you to use the Mountain King to support your army and make it better as a whole. This section is likely to expand, contract, and wobble side to side for a while. I hope for it to be the biggest, filled with whole-of-list strategies and corner-case tactical plays. I'll be taking suggestions on board of course - there's definitely people out there who've played more Mountain King than me.

High-ARM Skew
Knockdown spam
Big games
Bruce as Support- Whelp shedding, Animus, Garg Power Attacks
The Battle For Mount Bruce:
The Mountain King is an absolute magnet for your opponent's big hitters. Not only is it important for them to ensure that he's not moving (so he can't trample everything) but even if he's locked-down he can still reach out and touch a wide area with Deathly Roar. You should expect enemy weaponmasters, warjacks and warbeasts to dive straight down his throat to hold him still and try to punch him until he stops moving. On the plus side, this means you can use him as a one-man tarpit. Normally, you'd use a screening unit to physically block your opponent's advance and shooting lanes. When using the Mountain King as a substitute, you instead use his threat to draw your opponent's attention away from the rest of your force. Then, you pack the rest of the list with threats and enjoy your wide-open charge lanes!


50 points:
Chief Madrak Ironhide
* Troll Axer
* Dire Troll Mauler
* Earthborn Dire Troll
* Mountain King
* Trollkin Runebearer
Krielstone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder
Janissa Stonetide
Troll Whelps

This here is actually a crack-list that I haven't tried. If anyone's got anything better, please let me know.

Bumping anything up to ARM 23 is fun, so this list does that. Set up your Madrak brick like normal, but lead with your face by putting the Mountain King right up front. Try to exploit terrain or use whelps to screen and prevent him from being charged, but you can put a little money on him surviving pretty well with his ARM bumped right up. While Bruce is taking all the heat, Madrak and his buddies Mauler and Earthborn advance up the table in a more stately fashion, then rejoice in the glory that is Crusher on about Round 3 (how convenient that there's a ring of models in the Mountain King's melee range...). When you come to piece trades, prioritise keeping the Mauler over the Earthborn, as once the KSB or Janissa is gone (and a savvy opponent will remove them) you're down to ARM 21, the drop again down to the King's natural ARM isn't as catastrophic as the potential drop in offensive power that comes from losing Rage. Throws love Rage, and with Madrak's Thrown Rathrok attack, you have four things in this list which throw things.
Rock Node:

A caster-specific use of the One-Man Tarpit idea is using the Mountian King with Epic Doomshaper to cast a huge-POW Primal Shock. This is a great way to kill things but its potential as a game-winner is severely hampered by the Mountain King's lack of maneuverability. If your opponent is smart enough to lock down the Mountain King (which isn't very hard), they'll be smart enough to keep their caster more than 8' away from him as well. What it does do is make the area around the Mountain King a no-go zone for your opponent's valuable pieces; you can use the potential of the Rock Node to keep your opponent out of a large part of the field, while bringing a fast flanking threat like Mulg or Rok with Refuge and Rush (goading and trampling their way through enemy screens) up the other side of the fight. This way, you can catch your target between a rock and a hard place. This tactic focuses on keeping the Mountain King alive with a defensive buff or two, then making sure that he is too scary for your opponent to ignore while you line up your assassination run.


50 points:
Hoarluk Doomshaper, Rage of Dhunia
*Pyre Troll
*Troll Axer
*Mountain King
*Mulg the Ancient
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes
Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder
Janissa Stonetide
Totem Hunter
This list exemplifies the concept: the Mountain King sits off-centre in the middle of the fighting, hopefully contesting an objective. He gets Wild Aggression because he's going to need it with all the models he'll be engaging. The Krielstone is positioned to cover the King, while Doomshaper hides nearby out of sight behind his wall, a little further up than he might be otherwise confortable - remember, you're extending your control range up the board so that Mulg can reach any casters in the backfield. In the mean time, Mulg is doing his best to reach any casters in the backfield, trampling through screening units and using Goad and Refuge to move up faster. The Axer casts Rush on Mulg directly (since you're waaaay further than 6' from Doomshaper), and is also available to Thresher anything which would stop Mulg from moving. Use the Runeshaper to minifeat on the crucial turn when you need to move Wild Aggression from Bruce to Mulg. The Totem Hunter is there to illustrate that this is an assassination tactic, not an attrition tactic.

35 points:
Hoarluk Doomshaper, Rage of Dhunia
*Pyre Troll
*Mountain King
*Mulg the Ancient
*Krielstone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes
*Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder

This is the only 35 point list I'm putting in, since it's a list I've actually run (3-1, not proud). It doesn't play much different from the 50 point version except there's no real way to protect your Warlock built-in; you need to use terrain and your huge control range to your advantage, and leave as much Fury for transfers on Doomshaper as possible. The idea was to pose the question "can you deal with the Mountain King at this low a points-level?" Turns out, it's about 50-50; Bruce died twice (both times leaving a hilarious ring of whelps).

Other Interesting Things

I really want to make him work: Gargantuans are cool. The Mountain King in particular is cool - the model is amazing and the ability to put that much meat on the table is a seriously tempting proposition. You want to make it work, I want to make it work. Sadly, there are several elements of him which make him a sub-par choice for seriously competitive games. You should be able to pick them out above. That does not, however, mean that he is unplayable. It does not mean you aren't allowed to play him. It does not mean you can't make him work for you. It does mean that there are many people who have played him to death, tears and despair who believe that the points can be better spent on two heavies. This is not the thread for that discussion. This is the thread for people who have decided that they're running him anyway, and want to find ways to get the most bang for their buck.

Yes, someone has thought of it already: One of the most notable things about the Mountain King is his propensity to spawn threads, about as well as he spawns whelps. Since his release, he has sparked more fervent discussion than just about anything I've seen until now. Sadly, most of these threads propose ideas which have been thought of before, and talked to death. As a result, they often devolve somewhat due to what I shall call BRUCE FATIGUE. This is one of the reasons I have created this thread.

Beckman lays it out, here.
He's Really Pretty: Yes. Bruce is a classy lady. Check out the Show off your Mountain King thread for a few examples!

1 comment:

  1. Found this while looking for ways to run my mountain king. looking forward to trying a few of these ideas out.