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!



  1. Good write up! I shall be at Smog Con too (I'm the guy with the pink chinned trolls). I've seen trolls do exceptionally well at some events and poorly at others. I wonder if circular thinking is to blame, in that the perception is that they are weak, so none of the 'super players' take them (save for Flanzer) and so they don't do well, etc etc.

    EGrim is the nuts, by the way. He makes everything better ;)

  2. I have never actually taken trolls in a tournament, I started with Khador and that was pretty much my gold standard trounament faction. But with MKII I find myself doing incredibly poorly with khador in general, and I have always loved Trolls, so I believe it is time that I begin really playing them in tournaments. I have never played Runes of War, and though I wouldn't mind trying it, I'll be honest and say it's definitely not my style of play. the next tournament I play in I'll be looking to play Prime Hoaluk with kriel and scattergunners, as well as Epic Madrak with Fenns and Warders