Monday, November 23, 2015

How does one start Trollbloods? Not with the Battlebox.


  It's entirely possible that you already know that, given the dates, but even if this popped up on your google search while you looked for Trollbloods, again, be well aware that this is an edition change away.  Trolls have become a different animal, and were I planning to play MK3 Warmachine, it wouldn't be Trolls anyways.  The only thing I can summarize about Trolls in MK3 in relation to this article is that PP still wants Trolls to have a crappy battlebox, and literally the only thing you want it for is Ragnor, unless you need the lights too.  I certainly wouldn't participate in a Journeyman with the box if you already know how to play the game.

  Do I plan to update this article?  Not whatsoever.  As far as I'm concerned, PrivateerPress has thrown their game out the window and has no interest in a competitively tight ruleset, and has repeatedly demonstrated that attitude.  There will be no more PP related batreps or strategy articles on this blog until that changes.

  I'll be playing something else.  

The actual article:

 I said enjoy your thanksgiving two articles ago.  This will be the third article I've released in 48hrs.  Apparently I had several just ready to go.  So, without further ado, how to get into Trollbloods according to this guy.

  The rumor is that trolls are the new cryx.  This is preposterous.  Our 3pt solos don't do what Cryx 2pt solos do or anything near it.  Our casters haven't been nerfed three times and our infantry doesn't just move through objects and models and kill two colossals a turn.

  However, of the last seven or eight players I've had buy into Warmachine my meta (I'm a PG, so generally get the early games with most of them), half of them have bought Trolls, and a couple of our regulars have picked them up too.  They're everywhere.  I thought about writing this article a few months ago when the first guy got into it, and I had to answer all these questions and I thought "Nah, the next guy will want Circle or something."  Hasn't happened yet.  So by the 4th guy, I'm going to go ahead and write this thing, and if you or a buddy is looking at trolls, hopefully this will answer some questions.

  Let me break this up for you.

1. Intro.  Cover letter.  Whatever.  The skippable part.
2. Getting started.  What you should probably buy to begin with.
3. TL:DR Start here and get these things
4. The lists you're hearing about.


  Trolls are currently fighting for first place in Hordes factions.  For a long time they took backseat to Legion and Circle, but with some recent tiers and Doomshaper3, they're really pushing into the lead and in fact, D3 is just the cherry on top.  Trolls plays as a beefy infantry faction that can do anything, be it hit hard and fast, slow and furious or shoot accurately at midrange.  Their beasts can do all of the same things too.  If you go toe-to-toe with any faction that does that one thing better, you will probably lose in most cases. Grim2 is our best shooter, but if I drop him into a Haley1 shooting list, he can't compete.  Madrak2 dudespam can struggle into Cryx dudespam and etc.

  However, Trolls are resilient faction wide, and can pretty nearly adapt to anything.  A Fennblade is a MAT6 ARM14 model w/ Reach.  Under any caster, it can be DEF14, ARM16, immune to any single elemental damage, MAT10, PS18.  That's because we have the support that can layer multiple buffs to anything.  In this case, the Fennblade is affected by Stone Scribe (Tale of Mist), the Krielstone (+2 ARM, +1 STR), the Fell Caller (+2 MAT), the Rage animus from the Mauler (+3 STR), KSB aura again (+1 STR), and the Stone Scribe again (Charge of the Trolls, +2 attack and damage to models within melee range of a warbeast).

  Most of those things can be applied to solos and casters.  A Champion Hero, Fell Caller and Kithkar all become game enders.  The support exists in trolls to do nearly anything.  It's one reason they're so good in ADR.  It doesn't take much to swap out a few modules and drastically change how a list plays, yet the support will still work for it.  

  Secondly, Trolls can play beast heavy in some cases.  We're not as proficient at it like a lot of Circle lists or Legion in general, and really, we only have one series of casters that really run beasts well, and that's Doomshaper1, 2 and 3.  Some others can do ok with it, but none of them really spin them like the Doomies can.  We don't have the fury management other factions do, and none of our casters ever get to Fury 8.  Really, most of our beast lists are just how best to deliver Mulg, Doomshaper's best friend.  How best to do that is up to you, but that's what it boils down to.  The exception to that is Elemental Evolution.


  This is the meat of the article.  If you're looking at trolls because you saw Jay Larsen pilot EE and Runes, look below if you want to start those lists.  For people that want to play the faction of Trolls, this is for you.  

  Battlebox.  Don't.  It's two Impalers and an Axer on a caster that has 5 fury, and 0 spells for beasts.  Surefoot is nice, great, but his feat does literally nothing for you at 11pts.  Madrak1 is possibly the worst caster they could have chosen for battlebox.  I'm sure there's a reason, but it's not any fun to play.  If you want to do a journeyman, do the Doomshaper1 Mauler, Pyre, Storm box.  That one is killer.  The first battlebox has all things you'll use except the second impaler, but that's the only reason I'd get it.  The Alternate with Doomshaper1 has beasts you'll use all through your troll armys, especially if you magnetize the mauler kit.

  Casters.  Troll casters are harder to kill on average than most faction's casters, simply because of Tough, Transfers, possibly Mulg being involved, and KSB.  The top 2 hardest to kill are both Trolls, Borka1 and Madrak2.  There's a lot of fun casters in trolls, but the ones that I feel have the greatest toolboxes, resiliency and forgiveness are:

  Madrak2.  Borka1 is harder to kill, but I feel like Madrak2 answers more questions.  A typical Madrak2 list answers infantry skews, arm skews, delivers a personal threat in the form of Madrak himself, and he's easy to play forward because he's so difficult to kill.  I came from Cygnar, and a stiff breeze kills most casters.  It was really difficult to figure out how to play a caster forward and Madrak2 was the guy that did it.  My Madrak2 lists have lots of Fenns, Burrowers, some Scats to clear off lines, and Fire eaters but you can have nearly anything, as long as it's faction.  He's not a big fan of facing shooting lists, but a Warder build can deal with that.  Blood Fury makes everything weapon masters, and that's about all you'll use.  When the chips are down, Madrak can end the game, and surf to the enemy caster with Tide of Death.

  Grim2.  Or Grim1.  I get Grim1 killed, and he doesn't have a good damage buff for units.  Grim2 can provide damage buffs, accuracy buffs, movement buffs, and remove a caster from the table easy.  Trolls struggle against Cryx in general, and Grim2 deals with it pretty well.  The only lynchpin in the whole thing is Mortality, but with the new unit Dhunia's Knot coming out, he gets dialed up very well.  Grim2 drops well into warmachine in general, Cryx, Menoth specifically.  Menoth players want to drop Harbinger into Trolls, and Grim2 makes sure they can't.

  The nice thing about both of the above casters is they use a lot of the same units too, so there's that budget saver as well.  If you want monsters, play:

  Doomshaper2.  This is the guy to run your beasts if you want to play that way.  He outthreats nearly everything with he feat, runs Mulg probably the best and is generally just fun to play.  He doesn't like Cryx, or anything that can trivially remove him from the board like Caine2 and Taryn.  This creates some great threat ranges and makes it very difficult to prevent assassinations in a lot of cases.  Doomshapers all also have an affinity with Mulg where he gets to attack the last thing he attacked at the end of his activation.  Assuming that you're going for the caster kill or a colossal removal, this means Mulg will charge for 1 fury, use both initials, then buy 4 more attacks and get a free one at the end.  That's 6 PS19 +buffs attacks and 1 PS17 +buffs.  Realistically, probably 6 PS22 and 1 PS20.  If you're going to play a Doomshaper, I don't think you can do it right without Mulg.

  Beasts.  Buy a Mauler kit and magnetize it.  You'll probably use the Bomber the most, but magnetizing it like this article says it makes the decision easier.  I play the heck out of Rok too but I'm the only guy.  The lights in Trollbloods are probably more important than the heavies because of the buffs they bring.  Farstrike, Rush, and the damage buff from either the Pyre or the Slag are the biggest things.  Right now, I would say a Pyre is the biggest thing, Axer right behind him, Impaler 3rd.  If you picked Grim1 or Jarl for a caster, Impaler becomes more important.  However, the Bomber is easily one of the best shooting packages in the game.  The Pyre trivially removes the option for your caster to burn to death and provides a +2 melee damage bonus to anyone who needs it.  Also, he lights the Fire Eaters on fire.  We'll get there.  The Axer is a speed buff for beasts.  If you want to play Mulg, I'd get an axer.  Storms and Slag trolls are both really good, but I think a Pyre is the best in the meta right now.  Storm is good for shooting lists and Slag's are great Anti Cryx so both are fantastic options for ADR and I have definitely done that, but if ALL THE ABOVE isn't an option, go Pyre. All four of the elemental beasts's animi provide immunity to that type of damage as well, so Winter can give cold immunity, pyre can give fire immunity, etc.  

  The caveat to all of this is if you want to play beasts, just beasts, and beast bricks.  Then you need the Earthborn Dire Troll and Mulg.  The EBDT animus is the +2 ARM when near obstructions or walls(which you will be, thanks Janissa), and combined with the KSB aura, is +4 ARM all the time.  Mulg... is Mulg.  Mulg is a PS19 Reach beast with a mini-purification animus, loves working for Doomshaper, and any time any caster he is attached to is damaged, he walks towards what did the damage and swings at them every time they damage your caster, even if he transfers.  Three transfers on your caster?  That means Mulg is probably going to walk 12-16'', and can you take a MAT7 PS19?

  Units.  Fennblades.  Fire Eaters.  Burrowers.  Kriel Stone.  Grim2/Madrak2 both love Fennblades.  They're fast, have reach, are generally self supporting (Buy the UA), can give Pathfinder to themselves, and at PS12, do plenty of work.  Kriel Warriors are cheap now because of the plastic resculpt, but they're less forgiving than Fenns are, slower, and don't have reach unless you bring the weapon attachment.  

  Fire Eaters are the new hotness.  They're 4pts, fearless, and everything is boosted when they're on fire, courtesy of the Pyre troll.  I love these guys.  They remove their points worth from the table every game, if not double to triple that.  They kill everything they touch, and its rare my opponent is able to kill all three in a turn.  These guys can lead off the game to kill the tarpit, or come in on turn three to catch up on attrition.

  Burrowers.  Grim2, Madrak2 both love these guys.  Madrak2 can give them Blood Fury (Extra dice on damage), so now they're essentially POW8 weapon masters (4d6 on the charge), and POW14 3d6 attacks.  That's bonkers.  Grim2 likes them because they pop up on feat turn for a great Mark Target benefit (models targeting enemy models within 5'' of a friendly model get +2 to ranged attack rolls), and can take their terrible RAT4 to RAT10 (Aim + Snipe, Feat and Mortality).  They also tarpit crazy well, and it's rare that you lose any of them on the way in because of the burrow.The other great thing about them is that they have Point Blank, allowing them to use their ranged attack as a melee attack, meaning that they can get 2 attacks in melee, and Blood Fury affects both.  Again, that's a 4d6 POW8 charge followed by a 3D6 POW14.  They kill lots of things.  Warjacks, beasts, colossals, etc.

  Krielstone.  The nuts and bolts of many Troll lists.  These guys can store fury for your caster, and drop a point every turn to provide a +2 ARM aura.  You probably know that, getting into trolls, but still.  You will want them, and if you get them, get the UA too.  He gives +1 STR to everything in the aura, or he can ban continuous effects.  No fire or corrosion rolls next turn.

  Warders.  These guys came out a few books ago and went crazy.  They start at ARM17, and when one is wounded, the whole unit goes to ARM19 and gains +2STR.  Under the KSB, they are ARM21.  They are difficult to remove, are weaponmasters and base MAT7.  They do work, and are the beginning of any infantry brick list.

  The last unit to consider growing into is a good shooting unit.  Either the Highwaymen or the Scattergunners.  Scats are better in melee lists, Highwaymen are better for shooting.  Scats work well with both Madrak2 and Grim2, while Highwaymen are amazing under Grim2.  Neither is an immediate purchase, but once you get going in trolls, you'll have to decide on which one you want.  Scats are base RAT5, Highwaymen have CRA and 2 shots.  It's a tough call.  Highwaymen can be sniped though, so that's why I take them with Grim2 over Scattergunners.

Support.  Fell Caller, ASAP.  He can give +2 to any unit or model.  Mat6 Fennblades become MAT8.  MAT7 Warders become MAT9.  MAT8 Madrak2 becomes MAT10.  Or he can give pathfinder.  Or he can stand up a bunch of knocked down models.  He can also spray 8 inches at RAT6.  If you're going to play trolls, get the Fell Caller. 

  Stone Scribe.  He's better if you're getting the Highwaymen, but he can give concealment to a unit, or hero's tragedy (Enemy warrior model hits your guy, enemy gets knocked down at end of activation).  He's good, but not quite auto include like the Fell Caller.

  Janissa.  Janissa can drop a wall anywhere completely within 5". This is what hands out the ARM bonus from the Earthborn Animus.  She can also shift enemy models away from her 3''.  Situational but game winning in those situations.  She's also great for keeping casters alive.  DEF18 Madrak2, DEF20 Grim2.  Pretty difficult to remove those casters.

  Runebearer.  Auto include in a lot of lists.  Specifically Grim2 and Madrak2.  He makes your caster cast the first spell at 1 fury cheaper, and can minifeat to let himself cast one of your caster's spells.  He's absolutely required to get that Blood Fury bounced around on feat turn for Madrak2, and Mortality on Grim2 is cost 3, so cost 2 is even better.

  There's a lot of other support in trolls.  Champion Hero, Braylen, Dhunia Knot releases soon (Get that one too), etc, but the above 4 are the first I would think about.

  Minions.  Trolls don't mind minion/mercs, but we don't play them nearly as well as Skorne does, and in some cases Circle.  I owned a lot of mercs coming out of Cygnar, so I already had Nyss, Boomhowlers but I rarely play them.  Part of that is because Grim1 is our best minion caster and I don't play him very often.  The minions I do use are the Witch Doc Croc, and now Croak Raiders.

 The Witch Doc Croc (Gatorman Witch Doctor) provides tough and undead to a unit/model.  Tough is pointless unless he's putting it on minions like Nyss or Croaks.  However, Undead makes a unit fearless and this is pretty key on Burrowers and some other things.  Undead also ignores anything that triggers off of living models, so Harbinger's Awe, Kromac2's Primal Howl, and Cryx's Excarnate bomb all get ignored or mitigated by undead.  The Croaks are a good shooting unit that just released, and have gotten very popular, but I wouldn't consider them an immediate purchase.  When it comes to that point, and you really like playing the Grims or Jarl, it'll come down to them or the Nyss.

  I do own two units of Gator Posse, but I got a really good deal on them.  We already have fantastic multiwound faction infantry, but if you become a Jarl player, the Gator Posse is pretty good with him.

  Calandra is also very good with minions, but I doubt you'll see her outside of Elemental Evolution anymore.


  If I were starting trolls all over, and I started with a Battlebox, I would get:


  At 25pts, you have 13 to play with.  Get a Runebearer, KSB w/UA, Janissa, and either consider upgrading the Mauler to Mulg, or upgrading one of the light beasts to an Axer and getting another 2pt solo.  Whelps, IMO, would be best for the list, and I run them a lot but any troll 2pt solo isn't bad.  To get to 35 pts, I think Mulg is probably necessary if you want to stay with a Doomshaper.

Min Krielstone w/UA

  These three or four are the base of most beast bricks.  The Earthborn animus goes on the important pieces near the front, E.G., Mulg, Axer, and then all three of them go behind Janissa's wall.  Between the EBDT animus and the KSB aura, they're +4 ARM all the time, and on the turn that the opponent wants to alpha hard with a beast, you feat and the Legion or Circle heavy takes d6 damage for every fury spent.  I've killed a lot of Legion heavies this way.  You could also drop Doomshaper2 into this list pretty easily, and either cut the Runebearer and max the KSB unit (D1 is +7 pts, D2 is +6) or change out beasts a little.  This is also the bulk of Runes of War.  All you need for the standard list is the Mauler and 4 units of Runeshapers.

  I also like Doomshaper2, and he's an easy 15$ swap with Doomshaper1.  I would personally change out the EBDT and Pyre for 2 units of Whelps and Rok.  Doomshaper2 can cycle Refuge and between the Axer and feat, yoyo Rok and Mulg quite a bit and play a Circle Orberos hit and run kind of game, saving Wild Aggression for the endgame.  Between Goad and Beserk, Rok is incredibly efficient and will kill lots of things.  He's excellent on Doomshapers period.

  After the Journeyman, I would shoot for Madrak2 and Grim2.  Probably Grim2 first since he covers what my beast oriented list above doesn't.  My 35pt Grim2 list is

*Rok (Magnetized Mauler kit)
*Pyre Troll
Fire Eaters
Fire Eaters

  If you want, don't go all the way to Rok, drop 2 pts and go to the Mauler and sub in the Chronicler instead.  This list just assassinates.  Burrowers pop up, hopefully within 5'' of what you want to shoot and Grim2 feats.  Everything you own kills everything they own.  Especially if he lands Mortality.  Rok is good for end game anchor.  He's MAT7 PS19 base.  Primal takes him to MAT9 PS21, and if Grim2 lands Mortality on the target, he's MAT11 PS23, and hopefully Grim2 lands the shot on the target and gives Rok a free charge.  Also, you can Mirage Rok for an extra 2'' threat range.

  Then I'd go for Madrak2.

Fire Eaters
Fire Eaters
Fennblades w/UA
Fell Caller
Fell Caller (Or Runebearer.  Then you have a point left over, so you might trade one light for a Slag or Axer)

  This list can handle High ARM, attrition very well, etc.  It just doesn't want to be shot at.  If you have to get shot at, lose fenns to the shooting, not the Fire Eaters.

  After you've grown to this point, Warders, possibly double Warders should be on the list.  At that point, you're pretty set, you should know your trolls decently by now.  You should know what you want to play and how.  The three lists here will have nearly everything for the basis of most of your lists.  There's only a few solos and units after this that are fairly important, and Warders are probably at the top, and an Axer and Impaler light right in there with them.


  There's three right now.  First up is Runes of War.  Runes of War is a Tier IV list for Doomshaper 1 that gives 2'' of deployment zone extra, 1 point cheaper on runeshapers and a wall for every two units of runeshapers.  The list usually is:

Max KSB w/UA

  This list has lots of scenario pressure, is very hard on Hordes games in general because of Doomshaper.  It can handle decent amount of infantry because of blast damage from the Runeshapers and the ability to have no less than 3 walls on your side of the table.  The end game is usually Doomshaper winning on scenario, or a rushed Mulg landing in the opposing caster's face.  My variant of the list drops the Mauler for a Pyre troll, and 2 units of whelps.  I personally prefer throwing whelps out in charge lanes and handling fury more efficiently with them, but that's me.

  Miserable Meat Mountain is the next one.  This is just an ARM skew, plain and simple.  It has a lot of variants, and the new version has Fire Eaters in it.  The good old fashion one is:

Krielstone max+UA

  Everything is ARM23 on her feat turn while engaged and very difficult to kill.  On top of that, Grissel2 has Inhospitable ground, so a lot of factions like Menoth and Skorne that don't have a lot of pathfinder really struggle to even engage the list.  The list was originally designed for Jarl, but the player that really popularized the list (Chad from MuseonMinis, Chadwick on the forums) settled on Grissel2.  At this point, MMM generally refers to any Double Warder +KSB build.  Some have Long Riders, some have Champs, mine has Highwaymen and Fire Eaters.  Grissel1/Grissel2 are the usual casters, but both Madraks have been seen helming it as well.  All of them have something to contribute, but I've seen more people argue over which Grissel.  Grissel2 can do a better ARM skew and speed the whole list up, and Inhospitable Ground is great.  Grissel1 can prevent enemy charges and can speed one unit up, or give a unit an extra attack.  It's a matter of playstyle, but definitely explore both options.

 The new craziness is Elemental Evolution.  Tier 4 runs a Mountain King, but nobody does that, so at Tier 3, you get a point off of light beasts (You can only take the elemental ones) and they all get AD.   Jay Larsen runs it w/:

*Slag Troll
*Slag Troll
*Slag Troll
*Slag Troll
*Storm Troll
*Storm Troll
*Storm Troll
*Pyre Troll
*Pyre Troll
*Pyre Troll
*Winter Troll
Krielstone max w/ UA

  Cryx hates this list and most infantry lists do too just because of the amount of shooting that goes on.  Slags routinely remove Colossals with weapon master shots so don't worry about those either.  The list is very difficult to engage because of Starcrossed from Calandra, and it's normally 11 pts higher than a regular 56pt list because of the tier benefits.  The tier allows Warders and Runeshapers, but everyone spams beasts.  My particular list removes a beast for 2 units of whelps which with annoyance, can pop my DEF to 13 which is ridiculous with Starcrossed.


  That's Trolls.  It's a fun faction.  Lots of adaptability, plenty of skews, and a pretty enjoyable faction overall with lots of character.  The Fire Eaters are a particular favorite, running around drinking beer and spewing it out in flames is awesome to me.  I have been playing trolls for two years and while I will dabble in a few other factions down the road, and have steadily updated my Cygnar, I don't think I'll ever be not playing trolls.

  I hope this intro has given you some guidance to buying into Trolls and if you have any questions, you can catch me on twitter @diceotfirstdegree, or comment on the blog.  Enjoy your holidays!

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