31 January 2014

Cancon: Iron Gauntlet

So the past weekend was Cancon a large gaming convention held in Canberra, Australia every year during the Australia Day long weekend. It is probably the biggest convention we have down under and this was my second year going. This year Warmachine was quite a large event spanning 3 day and multiple tournaments, including Australia's only Iron Gauntlet competition. It had two qualifiers one on the Saturday the other on Sunday, the top 8's of each were allowed to participate in the final event on Monday. I played on the Sunday, which went for 4 rounds and played two factions, Trolls and Retribution.

My lists were as follows:

Storm Troll
Pyre Troll
Krielstone + UA
Champions + Skaldi

Champion Hero

Houseguard Thane
Houseguard Riflemen + UA
Magehunter Strike  force + UA
Magehunter Infiltrators + Eiryss 3
Aiyanna & Holt



The reason I chose this combo and not just going double trolls is that if you have the chance and the models, why not go double faction? The are logistical problems in carrying two factions over long distances, but I managed to fit my Ravyn list and 3 troll lists for Masters into one large roller Battlefoam bag and a custom box to carry the huge bases.

I went with Retribution over other factions because I owned some Ret and it doesn't get to see much play. I originally planned to take Kaelyssa, but after some play testing she felt like the kind of caster that would take a lot of time to master and get down properly for competitive play. I believe she can be really good, but I feel that there is a lot of nuance to her that I didn't have time to practice, so I looked to Ravyn who could provide me with similar match up fixers. The list is mostly designed to drop against a Cryx match up, of course it never came up. The infiltrators were meant to be used to meet a jam unit and counter jam as well as provide two P&S 11 attacks with gang to help put attrition in my favour. This would let my two ranged units target solos and other priority targets. The Hyperion had two jobs, one help clear infantry in late game with its starburst cannon, and two deal with any heavy armour. I felt that there was enough infantry in the list to keep the Hyperion from getting swarmed. Out of the four games I played I only used this list once.

Game 1

This game was against David "Pottsy" Potts whom brought Skorne to the table. He played his Xerxes list and I dropped my pGrissel list. The scenario was Balance of Power, a 6' by 12' zone and two flags.  My first big mistake was not ever placing the Burrowers on the board. That's right, I put myself at a 6 point disadvantage from the get go, because I'm a good player and forget to deploy entire units. We stopped to ask a judge, he declared that since I had already started my first turn that it was too late. Fair enough. This game was simply put a grind, I believe his list was the theme force, so there was a lot of weapon masters and high armour on the table. When our lines collided he got the alpha, but this game my tough dice were on fire and I don't think he actually killed a single model during that first strike. Over the course of the game attrition seemed to favour him and less and less of the table was taken up by my army. However looking at the clock he was using a lot of time to invest in surpassing my armour and putting more attacks into toughed models. With thirty seconds left on his clock he managed to force me out of the zone long enough to score his fifth control point. I should have had Grissel on the flag dominating to stop him from scoring as much, but I left it too late and when I made an attempt the attrition had already gone to far in his favour and he put men near the play to stop me from dominating. The Krielstone was very handy in countering his Incindiarii, which made them almost useless. The game was very close, but had I not forgotten to deploy the burrowers I don't think he would have survived on death clock.

Game 2

Round two I played against David Bray and his Cygnar, it was going to be either pHaley or eStryker. In hind sight I should have dropped Ravyn, but I felt Grissel would still be a good match up either way and I am more comfortable with her. He dropped eStryker who lead an army of Strangeways, Rowdy, two Storm Clads Jack Marshalled to a unit of Sword Knights, and a unit of storm knights. There may have been more to the list, but my memory fails me. Going in I thought I knew what I was getting into, but truly I didn't. I've seen Stryker on the table before, but the rest of the list was mostly a mystery and I really didn't expect the two Jack Marshalled Storm Clads to eat my Storm Troll Champions and Burrowers over the course of two turns, leaving me open to Rowdy strutting forward and nailing Grissel with his Hammer over and over until she lay face down in the dirt twitching intermittently. I did not respect eStryker going into that match up, and thought I got lucky dodging Haley. My Grissel list really doesn't like armour crackers, and those Stormclads were more then up to it, and I didn't see it coming. I could say that I didn't think a Jack Marshalled Jack could be such a threat, but that doesn't make it any less of a mistake.

Game 3

My third game was against a the very gracious Terry Mason of South Australia, who brought his Butcher3 and Carver lists. The scenario was destruction and was eventually won by Terry using his Carver list. It contained 2 War Hogs, Brigands, Rorche and Brine, and 3 or 4 units of Slaughterhousers.  I took pGrissel with her double Warders, it wasn't a bad choice, but the Slaughterhousers were very effective against the Warders. Again the game was very back and forth and we both had very little at the end of the game, however he was able to grasp scenario early and eventually clear everything, but Grissel from the zone. I feel Ravyn would have been an equally good drop, as she would have had little trouble clearing all the light infantry he brought along. Either way I felt confidant, and overall was happy with how I played.

Game 4

Russell Harmon was my opponent for round 4 and he brought Trolls to the field. I finally dropped Ravyn, because I thought I had another round and needed to get her played. Turned out that this would be my last round as the tournament was able to finish earlier then anticipated. If I had known that I probably would have dropped pGrissel again. However circumstances weren't as such, so I dropped Ravyn. I remember his list quite well, probably because I am more familiar with his faction of choice, there is a point floating around somewhere, but I can't remember what it is exactly:

Max Krielstone + UA
Max Fenns + UA
Max Burrowers
Max Long Riders

The matchup wasn't too bad for me, but there were a few things that I did wrong and a lucky deviation that really screwed me. He took turn one and ran forward. I was then able to hide my Strike Force behind a forest and shoot at his army with a good degree of safety. I was able to pick off 4 or 5 Fennblades, had I feated this turn though it could have been a lot more. I jammed my infiltrators into his Long Riders to stop them from getting a good charge on Hyperion. His turn came and his Burrowers and Fenns jammed into my Riflemen. Madrak feated and cleared away my jamming Infiltrators and was able to get into combat with the Hyperion, but do very little damage. One Fennblade in the forest engaging my Strike Force became a target for his Bomber, but on his second failed to hit it deviated to the one and completely eradicated my unit of Strike Force. Unfortunately to benefit from the forest the Strike Force were very clumped up. It had been a bit of a gamble, and lady luck was against them. His next turn some of his stuff killed some of mine, and his Long Riders with Blood Fury failed to do much to Hyperion again, without the charge they weren't very effective. Hyperion was eventually able to clear them away, but I failed to stop an assassination on Ravyn on the following turns from a charging Fellcaller. It wasn't a bad game, but there were things I could have done to mitigate losses and help prevent the downward spiral that became the attrition game.

Overall I'm not completely satisfied with my own performance. I made some really dumb mistakes could have been avoided, for example, I will never forget to deploy Burrowers again, or any unit for that matter. I did however have heaps of fun and look forward to Cancon 2015, and this 2014's version of Iron Gauntlet. I hope those reading this will learn something from my mistakes and maybe a laugh at my expense, and I wish those aiming for the Iron Gauntlet throne the best of luck.

If you guys have any questions, comments, or suggestions throw me an email here, drop a comment below or pm on the forums, otherwise have a good week and may all your dice roll tough.

28 January 2014

Mabrothrax vs. The Internet!

Say good night, troll

So I was writing a bit about my Calandra theme force and was actually going to praise the Winter Troll. And the Mountain King.

Then I looked at the most recent troll purchase on my desk... the Night Troll. A plan came to mind, to take on the internet and win!

Well, something like that. What I'm proposing is a report on the use of the various trollblood options considered 'less than good'.

I'm trolling trolls with trolls. Time to ignore the forums and put shit on the table (not literally of course)

I'll start by throwing in the Night Troll and Winter Troll to whatever I play at my local club.  Moving on I might add the MK, Bushwhackers, Skinner, Gunnbjorn, Thumper crews etc. You get the idea.

In all seriousness, I'm actually quite excited to put the Night Troll on the table - he's cheap, has free charges (okay, only against living stuff) and a bunch of stuff that we just don't see on trolls. I like things that are different and break from the norm. How I'd love to get a  warlock with Admonition to use with this guy!

I'm thinking about his animus on a hard-ass warlock (eGrissel or pMadrak?) and Mulg's protective fit, or inhospitable ground? What about a  throwing a trap down courtesy of the Hunters Grim? Sounds fun, even if not OMG it's broken! tech.

Expect fun times ahead. The Night Troll is in town and looking for a good, er, night out? I'll be back soon with the aforementioned Calandra Theme force update and the continuation of my Play it Painted pledge.

I'm Mabrothrax, and I Troll like I've got a pair.


22 January 2014

Mabrothrax on Trollblood Warlocks 2013

Some sort of popularity contest?

This post is more a bit of fun than an in depth statistical analysis, because to be frank, I find those dull. After seeing the (ongoing) post about trolls needing to be fixed based on some tournament result stats I noticed the ‘Trollblood Tournaments 2014’ post, and went and looked back at the 2013 edition.

Over the course of a year people have posted their wins and losses with our faction’s Warlocks, some go into detail about their games, but not in any quantifiable way. What we end up with though, is an interesting snapshot of how the people who frequented the Trollblood forums in 2013 were doing, who they were playing with and winning with…

Here’s the final results with win/loss for each Warlock as reported:

Games Won
Games Lost
pGrissel  -

Representation: Which were the most played Trollblood Warlocks?
1.       pDoomshaper
2.       eMadrak
3.       Jarl
4.       eDoomshaper
5.       pMadrak
6.       eGrim
7.       pGrim
8.       pGrissel
9.       Borka
10.   Calandra
11.   eGrissel
12.   Gunnbjorn

No surprise that the most represented Warlock was pDoomshaper, and I’ll bet you a significant amount of those games were played with Runes of War. What is surprising, to me at least, is how high up Jarl is and how low on the list Borka is. Are people tiring of Family Reunion? Early last year you couldn’t move for all the Family Reunion lists!

I don’t see Jarl talked about that much that often, probably about the same as Calandra, however eGrissel, the marmite queen, comes up in conversation a lot. I guess it goes to show that what goes on on the boards isn’t a true reflection of what goes on on the tables (with one obvious exception).

At the bottom looking sad and lonely is the much maligned Gunnbjorn.

% Own Wins: Which Warlocks won most of their games played?
      Borka                  85%
pDoomshaper      74%
pGrissel  -            71%
Calandra              70%
eMadrak              68%
eGrissel                66.6%
eDoomshaper       65%
pMadrak              58%
Gunnbjorn            57%
Jarl                       53%
pGrim                   51%
eGrim                   48%

S    Strangely enough we see Jarl and Borka in opposite places, with Borka being the most successful warlock and Jarl just breaking even. eGrim’s less than stellar performance can be put down to him being new and the experimentation going on with him during 2013. Everyone else has a decent show of success, even Gunnbjorn!

The bottom three look like people struggling with ‘finesse’ or ‘control’ Warlocks, although that doesn’t account for Calandra’s strong position. I guess dice manipulation is a thing, who knew?

None of these stats really translate to anything other than some sort of popularity contest, and to a lesser extent giving us some glimpse into which casters (for whatever reason) are harder to win with. Personal experience will always contradict the general consensus. I’ve no doubt some of you play Gunnbjornn frequently, and sometimes win with him, or maybe eGrissel is your go-to girl who stomps your opponents, or maybe, just maybe, you’ve got it together to purchase a Runes of War list but just can’t get the success you read about.

The big switcheroo

If you are doing badly with a Warlock, what do you change? Is it the battlegroup or list as a whole that’s actually the problem and not your Warlock choice? Thinking back to the Hunters Grim challenge, it was clear that there was a lot of building to the feat and going for all the ranged pieces we have, but slowly a more combined arms approach was seen to be being adopted… with greater success.

Regarding the lists I’ve been playing and am continuing to play for the foreseeable future I’ve tried it both ways. With the Calandra theme force I found that I needed more angles, range and versatility and that the Warders were actually hampering me because I was convinced that they hold their own all the time (which to be fair they do, but that’s not always what you need).

Kind of the opposite happened with the pMadrak ARM 21 pseudo brick, where the list worked like a charm but was soooo sloooow. Not that pMadrak was a ‘problem’ but swapping for eGrissel has answered a problem I had whilst maintaining the lists functionality and offering a better ranged threat.

Try something new.

Most players will have their favourite Warlocks, and probably have their tournament lists more or less locked in for the next 6 months, but there’s always casual games – which are R&D for competitive play really, so how about you take one of those less popular/less successful (either by the stats above or better yet your local meta) Trollblood warlocks and give them a shot?
I got to be honest and say I’m comfortable with my current warlock selection, but if I get 10+ comments I’ll try someone different and document my experiences with whoever semi-regularly.

You decide out of these who I should go for:
·         Jarl
·         Hunters Grim
·         Gunnbjorn
·         pDoomshaper (NOT in RoW)

I’m done, enough rambling.

Keep rolling Tough, #PlayitPainted2014, and for the good of the interwebz #SpreadtheHatred


20 January 2014

Like A Boss: Solo Spotlight - Raluk Moorclaw, The Ironmonger

Good Monday morning to all of you in Scrum land! Kro here with a brand new Like A Boss column for the week!

Last week we took a look at the Fell Caller Hero, which you can view here. Now over the last few months, I've gotten requests to do some of our Mercenary Solo's. So I figured that I would start with one of our newest addition to the Trollblood family.

The easiest place to start is always at the beginning. So, the reason behind this choice is two fold. 1.) New Solo, New Strategy and 2.) He's still new enough that most players in our faction have NO idea what to do with him.

Moorclaw is the first accessible Trollblood Mercenary Solo with the Jack Marshall ability which is new territory for us as a faction. With this new territory comes a good amount of questions, none of which are easy to answer. For players, the big one is: "Why should I field this model?" secondary to that question is: "What questions will he make my opponent answer?"

Bearing these two questions in mind, I'm going to go into extra depth with this article, and provide additional insight on what to run with Moorclaw. (More on that later)

Follow along after the jump to see how deep this rabbit hole goes!

15 January 2014

Like A Boss: Solo Spotlight - Fell Caller Hero

Happy New Year Scrummers, Kro here with a new episode of everyones favorite column!(Okay maybe just mine)

It's been over a month since my last blog post, hopefully most of you can forgive the absence. The month of December is pretty crazy for me game wise but I hope each and every one of you had a happy holiday and an even better start to the new year! It's my hope to keep this column going by getting back into the swing of weekly posts.

Keep your fingers crossed and hopefully I'll be back to the Monday swing of things to start the week off right!

The goal with this ongoing series will be to give an insight on how I rate our varying faction units/solos/warlocks, and hopefully provide some fun and informative topics for discussion and debate.

Follow along after the jump for all the Fell Calling Insanity!

12 January 2014

Mabrothrax Muses - State of the faction in competitive play

Are Trolls failing at SR?

An interesting post appeared on the PP forums recently, titled “Faction Balance in 2013 – AKA PP fix Trolls for competitive play already”

Based on some data gathered by an published on endgame gaming and subsequently Muse on Minis the post begins…

Here it is, y'all, statistical proof that Trolls are lagging behind: http://museonminis.com/numbers-2013-wmh-balance/
To quote the article: "The performance of Trolls as a faction in SR is shockingly bad, though it is heartening to see their performance in Hardcore." 
Sure, Trolls do well in hardcore, but the majority of tournaments were SR 2013. More tournies, more numbers, better data... and Trolls performing well below the curve. I don't expect PP to own that Trolls are behind -- big whup, they're better than the awfulness that they were in MK I -- but it's time to start rolling out the power releases for the blue brutes. Recent releases like warders have helped, but there's a long way to go to fixing things there overall. 
Now, I find it hard to really get on with posts that complain about power levels but this one obviously piqued my interest. Are Trolls honestly in bad shape compared to other factions?
Since (and before) Gargantuans I think it’s fair to say that there’s been some stagnation in the faction – at least as far as the forums represent it – with the same combinations, lists, ideas and so on thrown up over and over again. The releases from the past year haven’t really done much to change things.

  • For those who’ve adopted them, Warders have become the must have epitome of Trolls resilient play style.
  • Hunters Grim don’t seem to have had any major tournament success, despite the initial enthusiasm.
  • The Mountain King… (it’s all been said before)
  • And so on.

Personally, I like the Gargantuans releases I’ve used to date and found them effective. Continuing through the post I found this on the second page…

The problem is Runes of War. In my opinion it is being overplayed.
If you look at the Trollbloods forum, every time someone posts a problem or wants some advice on how to deal against a certain list, one of the answers seems to always be Runes of War... It's a great list, but if you have someone in your meta who plays this list, they will know how to deal with it. 
There are options in the faction that I think are really being overlooked and because players focus on Runes of War as their main list they become blind to the faction as a whole. 
I have to admit, that the obsession with the Runes of War bugs me. Clearly the combination of a skilled player using a previously overlooked list with the hysteria inducing viral nature of the internet has taken its toll on the Trollblood online community.

I have seen Runes of War (paired with Family Reunion, all models unpainted incidentally) do badly at a 32 person tournament I ran last year – funnily enough placed only slightly above someone playing Gunnbjorn. Come to think of it, I’ve not seen Trolls do well at all in any event I’ve attended. Myself, I’ve yet to break the ‘bottom of the top 50%’ bracket.

But before we blame the ‘theme force of win’, here’s a rather succinct reply to the above…

I disagree, I think Runes of War isn't actually played enough. It gets mentioned a lot on the Forums but that doesn't mean people are actually playing it all that often. It's a very expensive list to buy the models for and lots of people aren't willing to make that step (which is fair, money is money after all). Runes of War is not the sort of list that you can just 'learn' to beat by playing against it a bunch. It's probably the best list available to Trolls and if it's played well it's absolutely ball busting. Skill is still the number one factor that determines success in this game and a well played Runes of War list is an amazing thing. Just look at Flanzer from WMW. 
How does one player misrepresent the faction though? Flanzer is using the same models available to every Trollblood player. He doesn't have some kind of supernatural advantage that allows him to win where other Trollblood players fail. He's just a better player. If you want to win with Trollbloods why not aspire to be a better player like Flanzer? It sounds like a jerkish thing to say but it applies to literally every faction: play better and you'll win more.
This is a game primarily based on skill and the best way to win is to practice and get better at the game. The fact that Flanzer can compete successfully at the highest level of play with Trolls shows that it is possible to do so. 
It's also worth bearing in mind that Trollbloods worst match up (Cryx) is the most popular faction in the game. That is a rough position to start from and I don't think many players have explored Trolls' anti-Cryx tech as much as they should have. Not to say it hasn't been explored at all, just not as much as it should have. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this game is deep and if you think you've tried every option then you're wrong. 
Trolls are actually a surprisingly difficult faction to play and write lists for. They're a much higher skill cap faction than they tend to get credit for and coming up with a good Troll list is surprisingly hard. Trolls have gotten some awesome releases lately. Warders are the obvious one but people are now coming around to older releases like the Storm Troll and Sons of Bragg that had previously been mostly ignored. It's a good time to be a Troll player and I think if the community puts its mind to it we can build some good lists, get some good practice and make 2014 a much more successful year. 

This is the best advice there is. Play more and be open minded. Whilst we can argue round and round about the inherent power level of any given faction and it’s options, there is no substitute for experience. 

No amount of posting on forums or reading other peoples lists will make you a better player (and by extension, Trollbloods perceived as a more successful faction).

I have a lot to learn. I consider myself a competent player, but I have yet to face every faction in competitive play, in each scenario, with each possible list. 
I have yet to use every combination of Trollblood units/beast/warlocks etc. I still don’t get eGrim, I do like the Mountain King and Calandra’s NQ theme list, I don’t own eMadrak or Runes of War.

In a few weeks I’ll be attending Smogcon where I’m entering the Iron Gauntlet and Hardcore tournaments, I don’t expect to do exceptionally well, but I’m going to learn a lot by throwing myself into the ring with players who can and want to compete at the higher level.

The question still remains whether or not Trolls are a weak faction in need of fixing. 
Whilst the internet is raging over the answer I’ll be asking my own questions: how can I fix my own game to be a stronger player (with Trolls)?

Keep rolling Tough!


04 January 2014

Mabrothrax Plays it Painted 2014

Happy new year!

Survive the hangovers and excessive spending? Good. Now stop what you're doing and go paint some models.

Last year I very much got into the spirit of 'play it painted' and quite honestly say, that with one exception, every game I played last year I played with painted models. I am therefore made of win (even if my win/loss ratio isn't).

So, this year I shall continue to play it painted and keep a mini blog here of what I'm working on - for Trollbloods anyway, I dabble in other factions, but not to any great extent.

I will not play a game with unpainted Trolls this year.

This month I have on my desk...

Calandra (painted but being re-based)
Epic Grissel
Unit of Runeshapers #2
Unit of Warders #2

I have no firm plans to purchase any troll stuff in the next few weeks, but I might pick up Raluk Moorclaw when my local store gets him. I'm waiting eagerly for the eventual release of the Sorcerer.

Lists for 2014

Continuing from my previous posts and ramblings, I intend to spend a chunk of time playing the Calandra theme force Evolutionary Elementalism, as well as developing the eGrissel Warders brick/ARM 21 spam list.
I might on occasion go back to pMadrak or eDoomshaper for the odd friendly game, maybe even eGrim (who I still don't get).

It's hard to speculate on any new releases for Trollbloods or Hordes in general, and I think we'll have lots to talk/rant/cry about once Vengeance hits. Maybe spoilers and teasers will start to filter through in the next few months. Will we get a '3' Warlock? Will there be a Hordes book in 2014? What are Troll Highwaymen? 

My gut says we'll have to wait a while for any of this, possibly even until 2015. Only time will tell.

Well, I'm getting back to painting. So should you.

Keep rolling Tough,