This has been a pretty decent book for Circle and Trolls both. I'm pretty sure Trolls won though. This is the second book in a row I think they've won. HWM and Fire Eaters have radically changed what Trolls can do (mainly Fire Eaters) and this book has possibly broke the EE/RoW pairing that's been so prevalent for awhile. On top of that, we got Dhunia's Knot. While Doomy3 is amazing, I don't know that he plays a different game than RoW does. It's still a timewalk feat turn, but he does a lot more for his battlegroup. We'll talk about him in a minute. Dhunia's Knot is what changes a lot of what Trolls can do. If that's not your cup of tea, feel free to skip to the batrep. The next three paragraphs are Dhunia's Knot.
If you haven't read the rules yet, the Knot does three things. They allow rerolls on threshold checks. They can heal models that they are b2b with, and they have puppet master. Puppet Master is a RNG10 magic action/attack that gives one reroll for attack rolls, damage rolls or cmd checks. If you miss the charge, need a seven and roll a 5 + 1, reroll the 1. If you hit, and roll snakes eyes, reroll. It's great. It can affect solos, beasts, units. You only get to reroll one, and only one model in the unit gets to do it. So, Grim2 can't get puppet master on Krump's gun, AND the mortality attack, you just use it for whichever one you need the most. If you use it as an attack, you can land it on an enemy model and force them to reroll any of the same things. They're Magic 5, so that's less reliable. They're mainly support. But 3 models for 3 pts... and the ability is friendly. You really need Victor's KD shot? Reroll.
So what Dhunia's Knot does is change how much we take so many corner case models out there. Paralysis isn't bad on the Night Troll. Mat5 sucks. Rerolls. A better instance is the War Wagon. The War Wagon has an AOE5 quake, which is fantastic, except it's RAT5. With Puppet Master, it's a lot less of a Lynchpin move. It's not as much of a 9pt gamble. Grim2's biggest downfall is the same lynchpin issue that Mortality is. If you miss Mortality, it can be the game. Rerolls make that attack far far more dependable. I'm still working through the models with somewhat corner case abilities that Puppet Master brings back to consideration. The War Wagon is the first. Night Troll gets another shot. The Thumper, anything with any kind of crits, Rok's critical Freeze is much better, etc. They're great for solos. Pendrake goes up quite a bit. The new guy, Hutchuck becomes incredible, especially with Lynus and Edrea (All 3 become a Grim2 staple for me, btw).
Before this Batrep, I did a quick 35pt game into Borka2 with Grim2. Borka2 brought 2x axer, Mulg, Janissa, max Fenns w/ UA and a Fell Caller. Grim2 had Rok, Pyre, Fire Eaters, Fell Caller, Max Fenns w/UA and a Runebearer. And of course, Dhunia's Knot. It was amazing. It turned the reliability of Grim2 way up. I landed Mortalities, charge attacks. I rolled 8s and 9s when I needed them. I rolled an 11 when the Pyre fired at the Fire Eaters, and rerolled that with the Dhunia's Knot. Instead of killing the Fire Eater, I did 2 pts instead. As the game dwindled, I lost my Fenns, Fire Eaters, lost Rok, and hadn't killed any of his beasts. Left with the model count I did, I was rerolling low damage, missed attacks. Medium value attacks became high value attacks simply because of dice. Knotted Fell Caller finished a damaged Mulg, and Grim2 killed Borka2. Dhunia's Knot is amazing. They won't go in every list, but they're still very good. In fact, it was joked about that Madrak2 could drop to one beast, cut for fury every turn, and DK could just heal him and help fish for crits. They're good, amazing, and a reason that Doomy3 has to consider not playing in Tier. That brings us to:
DOOMSHAPER3, PROPHET OF DHUNIA
Is he S-Tier? Don't know. He's got the same old man stats, he still has Goad, and he picked up Field Marshal: Hyper Regeneration. Battlegroup wide, automatic D3. His spell list is Admonition, Stranglehold, Repudiation (Haley3's idea of Purification), and 2 new ones. Unminding. Offensive Upkeep that I can land on the other warbeast. They lose 2 fury, 2 thr, and I can cast their animus. The other new spell is Implacability. Not an upkeep, cost 2. Battlegroup cannot be knocked down, slammed, pushed, pulled. The kicker here is that Admonition is normally circumvented by being Knocked Down, but it with Implacability, that's not going to happen. This means that Mulg is much more difficult to kill. It also means that no more ATGM just pushing me around and knocking down my beat stick.
It gets better. The Feat is additional dice battlegroup attack rolls, so you could still boost to 4 dice. But wait, there's more. There's also a dice less damage on your battlegroup for both melee damage and ranged damage. After every attack, my beast heals D3. It's essentially a +5 ARM feat between the -3.5 damage and +1.5 healing. So Mulg charges in with 3d6 MAT7, kills a beast, then sits at ARM23 with EBDT animi and stone, with a dice less damage and healing Essentially ARM28.
We're not done yet. Doomy3 is a unit, so he gets the little scroll bearer guys too. They have 3 effects that can be activated one at a time, once per game. The first is essentially Signs and Potents for infantry. The Second is essentially Lamentation for one round. The third is essentially battlegroup wide Awakened Spirit (Free animi). Ever wanted to rush Mulg, and then do runebreaker when he gets there? How about rush Rok, then primal? Your Winter troll can go in with primal, then cast freezer on himself at the end of it. It's pretty stupid good.
One more deal. He's already very good. He has a tier too. It's not a stupid tier. Mulg, Non character Warbeasts, whelps, Pyg units and KSB. Tier I grants +2 ARM on turn 1. Tier II gives +2 SPD on turn 2. Tier III is +1 for the starting roll. Tier IV is 2 gargs or more and they go down 2 pts each. I'm not in for Tier IV, but I'm still debating losing Janissa, Rok, and the new Dhunia's Knot for Tier III. The extra 2 ARM from EBDT and Janissa's wall is super nice, but +2 SPD and +1 to the roll is ballbusting for scenario. Right now, I'm leaning towards Tier, but mainly because Rok is crucial to my Grim2 list. Don't laugh. Or laugh. This is a blog post, not a cop.
THE ACTUAL BATTLEREPORT
Of all the matchups Doomshaper3 seems to be less decent into, Kromac2 is what comes up for debate. Pagini doesn't think a correctly piloted list under Kromac2 can be beaten by a living model list. That was pre-Doomy3. It's still rough, but Kromac2 is still someone I don't want to particularly face with D3. That being said, it's what Circle should absolutely drop into him. I went to the LGS to play D3, or a Dhunia Knot Grim2 list, but mainly D3. The Scenario was whatever the two horizontal zones are, except we forgot the objectives... Which would have changed a few things too, but by the time we realized it, we were too late.
Fairly standard Kromac2 list. I beat a similar one with Runes, but only barely. The cumulative -4 MAT is a major issue for MAT5 gargantuans. Speaking of which.
Max KSB w/UA
Max Burrowers (Pyg unit gives Tier III)
The Mountain King gets everything he wants in this list. He gets boosted attack rolls, survivability, even more healing, and blocks LOS to Doomshaper really well. I think D3 is really good for the King, and the Mountain King brings a good ranged game to the table with the 10'' spray.
I lost the rolloff, and picked the side with the forest. I immediately decided to go into the right zone, and would fail to score it as soon as I planned to. Because it's my zone. Without the objectives, I treated the game like Outflank. It's not outflank. Everything deploys centrally, and I put 3 whelps in play.
Kromac2 stuff runs forward. Awakened Spirit goes on the Stalker, and Aggravator goes up. Druids move up and puts clouds down and countermagic.
Burrowers burrow. Mt. King runs 12'' up. He's capable of 14, but I didn't want to feat turn 1 defensively when I could just hang back a few inches and stay out of melee range from the Stalker. Mulg runs up to the same line, Axer in behind him. D3 moves up, puts Admonition on Mulg and puts Implacability out. No feat, no scroll things. The rest of his Fury goes onto the KSB, which pops aura and runs.
Kromac2 upkeeps Awakened Spirit and drops Aggravator. Druids move up. Normally this is the drag phase of the game where they bring Mulg in close enough to kill, but Implacability prevents that. So they counter magic, cloud up. His spacing isn't perfect, so there are gaps, but it's still enough to stop most of my charges. He's back far enough that I don't think I can get Mulg into anything worthwhile. The other stuff files in behind. Stones push hard, the grove gets in behind the wall. Kromac2 camps everything.
Pull in fury, upkeep Admonition... and implacability. Which isn't an upkeep. It needs to be cast every turn. I had fury every turn, so it would have been cast every turn, but it would have mattered if he'd had purification. Burrowers come up though.
I was told a few games ago that I need to focus a lot more in gameplay. Not so much on the game and ignoring other situations, but in killing specific things, accomplishing specific goals. Not just killing everything. The problem models here are the stones, groves. The Stalker and Ghetorix are capable of killing things without involving the caster, but the stones bypass Admonition, and the tree will kill my healing. So, the burrowers pop up in good positioning. I have LOS to a few stones, and 2 of them I can hit with aiming. I put 3 each to a stone from each unit.
D3 pushes in behind the King, feats. The scroll does the Signs and Portents for the burrowers. Stone pops aura and runs to keep everything in feat, and does +1 STR. Mt. King assaults the Winter Argus. This unfortunately puts me into the clouds for -2 MAT, but I do get the assault. Misses the druid, the argus, but I boost on the tree, and kill it. I miss the charge attack on the dog (Need a 12 I think). I then swing and use the rest of my fury on killing the Stalker. I miss twice, hit the last two times and at Dice +3, I leave it on two, three boxes.
Mulg walks and Runebreakers on the Pureblood and Druids nearby. Axer walks up, trying to keep interference between Kromac2's army and Doomshaper3. Whelps follow around. Burrowers put 3 models in the enemy zone to contest, and the other ones shoot 2 stones, one from each unit and it takes all three each, but they kill them both. No porting, no healing removal.
My mind was still on outflank, and I thought I scored a point here, but because it's not outflank, and this is my own zone, I score nothing. I also have 7 fury on the table and 2 on D3. Something has to roll frenzy next turn, and I can't afford to lose either heavy.
Kromac upkeeps awakened spirit on the Stalker. The druids aren't able to countermagic. A few do clouds, a couple shoot the burrowers and kill a few. One wanders into the zone. Blackclad runs to the corner of my zone. The stones port around, trying to block charge lanes. The Pureblood sprays on the burrowers and kills two more, can't damage Mulg. Which is a shame, I wanted a whelp. Kromac2 walks towards his zone, but is just short. Stalker forces for regen, casts his animus for free, kills a Burrower and sprints behind the wall. Ghetorix charges a burrower, it toughs. He kills it, toughs, kills it. They fail CMD to terror on Ghetorix.
Mt. King is THR6 and Mulg is THR10. I take all of the King's fury, and Mulg rolls a 3 for threshold, passing. I upkeep Admonition. Mt. King tiptoes up, twists to catch the druid in front of him, the druid to his right, and the Argus (which did nothing last turn) in a sweep, while staying out of the clouds.. Spend 1, spend another for Amuck. He kills both druids. He does 18 damage to the Argus, boosts the killshot on the Stalker. I need a 5 to kill the Stalker. I roll a 4. He lives. Another turn. I should have boosted.
Mulg walks up, kills a stone, kills the Druid UA. Both the King and Mulg are at 5 fury each now. The Axer walks in, boosts the hit on the dog and connects, and kills it. Doomshaper creeps into the zone, strangleholds the Blackclad and kills it. KSB moves up, pops aura. Whelps run to be relevant. I score 1 CP.
Kromac upkeeps Awakened Spirit. Stones in the left zone move over, and toss a rockhammer at my Burrower in the zone (who failed CMD again). He toughs. Kromac walks up, casts Carnage and then kills him. Tough. Kills him again. Feats.
Druids move around, kill more burrowers. Pureblood charges Mulg. I expected that. It's PS14 base, but he warps for Str and has feat, so he's PS18. I don't want to weather that, so I walk back. I'll still take a stalker charge though.
Except, I move back to the left a bit to be closer to the left zone, and that leaves me in walking range of Ghetorix. Ghetorix comes in, hitting at dice +1 w/ feat against Mulg. He hits every time, needing not snakes I think. Yeah. Mat9 w/ Carnage into DEF11. He rolls almost perfectly average rolls. Sixes and Sevens over five attacks since he's out of range of the bite attack. I have 9 unused whelps, so I pop a whelp with every attack. Three are near, one with annoyance range but not melee. This doesn't make him miss any. Then, with the Stalker in the distance, I pop two whelps at the edge of 2''. He has only 2 activations left. The stone on the right, and the Stalker, so there's no way to kill the whelps. That's good, because Ghetorix leaves Mulg on 2 boxes.
The Stalker charges Mulg, but fails charge. Stone ports to the left to stop Mulg from charging at Kromac. He does not contest the zone. I go to 2CP.
I pull all the fury off of Mulg and the Axer, and the King eats a whelp to manage his. Upkeep Admonition. Mulg heals 2 pts with Hyper Regneration. Mulg eats 5 whelps and heals 9pts. He walks to the side of Ghetorix and headbutts him, boosting the hit. That leaves me 3 fury, 4 attacks with Doomshaper's affinity. I leave Ghetorix KD and with three or four boxes. KSB blocks charge lanes to Doomshaper and the zone, pops Aura. Mt. King walks up, takes a free strike from the lone druid (who never roll CMD even though the King is terror causing. I forgot. I remembered that Ghetorix has terror, and it caused my Burrowers to flee, but I forgot my model had it.). The druid does no damage. The Mt. King moves up, animus and sweeps. I kill my second to last burrower, who passes his CMD check, and I kill both the Stalker and Ghetorix, leaving Kromac and the Pureblood. I boost the Killshot and kill another druid. Doomshaper walks up, puts out the Lamentation spell, and boosts a Stranglehold into the druid near my zone at DEF18. I need an 11 and miss. Axer runs into his zone to contest. I go to 3CP.
Not killing the Druid means that the game will not end next turn since he has an easy way to contest. However, the pureblood doesn't have range to charge. Kromac can't do it, and he's not sure he can survive the next turn anyways. He won't kill Mulg, because Mulg will admonition away, and while he may or may not kill the Mt. King, (he will with Kromac and the Pureblood), Mulg will probably kill Kromac. At the very least, the Axer can probably clear the opposite zone since nothing would have killed him, and the King will killshot what's left, and I'll go to 5 CP. We go ahead and call the game since there doesn't seem to be a favorable outcome for him in any way whatsoever, and the store closes in 30 minutes and I have 2 boards worth of models (My grim2 list was the next table over) to clean up.
Thoughts on the game:
1. Doomshaper3 is stupid legit. Admonition on Mulg with Implacability is really the crux of the match. So many Doomshaper1/2/3 games are decided by how early Mulg dies and what got traded for it. Admonition/Implacability really hurts what is able to manage and/or kill Mulg. On top of that, the list is incredibly accurate for a turn, and virtually unkillable. Doomshaper3 has a ton of adaptability on top of that. Repudiate, Unminding, and the scrolls are all problem solvers that won't come up every game, but when they do, they are amazing.
2. The Mountain King. I don't think he was MVP this game, but he was really close. He should have killed the Stalker twice. It would have been nice, and I would have been a lot less worried about where I admonitioned him, and it would have been farther from Ghetorix. However, having Killshot every turn, and/or assault gives me a lot of answers for solos/support that have to die. The Wilder was never safe, and the Tree died turn one. It was a way to kill a stone too if I needed to. Killshot was great. The boosted attack rolls give him what he needs for a turn. He and Mulg tag team very well in this list. Mulg kill single hard targets, and Mt. King kills lots of things with boosted sweeps. It's good.
3. Mistakes. I didn't force any CMD checks on druids. They should have had to make at least two. Terror and Casualties. Second, I admonitioned into walking range of Ghetorix. Dumb. I also went after the wrong zone. I'd of won easy by doing the same thing in the other zone, and done better either way if I had remembered the objectives.
4. Mistakes for him. Admonition was unavoidable. Not sure where to go with that one. He didn't contest a few times when he could have. Kromac never did much. He certainly could have primal howled a bit more. Druids/Primal Howl is rough on Mt. King, and Mulg doesn't like it either. Kromac2 never threatened my stuff though, and Ghetorix wasn't facing me on the turn I went all in on the right side so he didn't have a good charge lane. Being 2 boxes from killing Mulg was the game breaker. Without Mulg, I don't know if I could have won that game. It's very possible that Mt. King can't kill Ghetorix. Against Primal Howl, he almost definitely cannot kill Kromac2. This is where the GK would be nice, but Killshot/Assault is a ranged attack or two that doesn't take from my melee attacks. So there's that.
5. Overall, good game. Much closer than it looks looking at the board. I lost all of the Burrowers, but that's it. 6pts trade for winning the game. The burrowers killed 2 stones and tarpitted. That's it, but killing the 2 stones is what stops Admonition being worked around. So pretty important. After that, they were fleeing til the last turn of the game.
So, hope you enjoyed the article. It's a lengthy read, but we're excited to see Doomy3 and what he can do. Kromac2 vs. D3 is a matchup that bears more practice, I think he can be hard on D3, and I'm glad it was my first game. I enjoyed it. Hopefully you enjoyed this. Any comments, crits or insults are welcome.