Klaw plays Trolls: The state of the faction

Hello there, dearest of readers.

What I try to put into words here is the state of the Trollbloods faction, the way I experience it today. Please don’t take all my words here as gospel – the idea is to share my thoughts, and maybe inspire you, dear reader, to explore the faction further.

Before we start though, let me say that I’m not a great player. I love to think of myself as a top half player, but nothing more. No top quarter, no X-and-1, and definitely not a tournament winner. If you’re looking for the insightfullest of insights, there are other voices in the community.

As an additional aside, this article was written before Lock and Load. Still, I haven’t heard anything that would invalidate the thoughts below, so … here goes!

The Trollblood archetype

Traditionally, Trolls have always been the faction to take it on the chin and hit back harder. Attrition is the name of the game, if you’re winning with Trolls, it is because you’ve eaten your opponent’s army. We could reminisce about the beautiful days of MK2, Runes of War, the Miserable Meat Mountain, and perhaps Elementary Evolutionism, but someone said on Twitter that nostalgia is a drug your brain produces to cope, and that’s probably true. For most of MK3, that archetype of play didn’t really work. In the early days, there were beast heavy lists with Ragnor and Doomy2, and infantry builds with Madrak2. Madrak2 got nerfed, themes came, and Trolls slipped down the curve.

The archetype returned for a year or so, after the Northkin CID in the fall of 2017. Madrak1 with all the champions did have that methodical approach, the emphasis on careful positioning to limit the effect of your opponent’s alpha, obliterating them in return. The sweeper play style of Madrak1 was very well complemented by the likes of Kolgrima or Borka2, who would hold their own into matchups Madrak1 didn’t like (guns, mainly), and for a while, Trolls were on everyone’s radar.

It does feel like I’m talking about events that happened years ago, but Trolls were still very much a thing at last year’s WTC, some 10 months ago. Still, that’s where I felt Trolls had had their peak. The meta shifted, medium bases, healing and clouds were everywhere. Tech became readily available, catching Trolls in the crossfire. Once more, our archetype became unable to provide suitable answers.

A new hope

I went to the Welsh Masters, the largest single player event in Europe at 190 players. I had no idea what to play. People told me I needed Kolgrima in Band of Heroes so I could deal with Tharn. Or so they said. I did bring a Kolgrima BoH list, it’s really a sad thing to behold (especially after playing her in SotN). I also brought two yolo lists – Madrak2 and Grim2, both in Storm of the North – since, well, I wasn’t going to win any trophies anyway.

I mainly want to talk about the Madrak2 list:

[Theme] Storm of the North
[Madrak 2] Madrak Ironhide, World Ender [+28]
*Dire Troll Bomber [19]
*Pyre Troll [8]
Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
Fell Caller Hero [0(5)]
Horthol, Long Rider Hero [8]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (max) [9]
*Northkin Elder [0(3)]
Northkin Bear Handlers & Battle Bears [10]
Northkin Bear Handlers & Battle Bears [10]
Northkin Fire Eaters [7]
Northkin Fire Eaters [7]
Trollkin Long Riders (min) [12]
Trollkin Long Riders (min) [12]

At face value, it doesn’t look spectacular. It probably isn’t, either. But, it does something that many Troll lists don’t do, or rather, it doesn’t do something that many other lists do: it doesn’t follow the Trollblood archetype. This list isn’t built to take it on the chin, not at all even. Sure, it has some sturdy pieces (Long Riders are relatively hard to shift), but if you allow your opponent an alpha, you’re going to get destroyed. On the flip side, this list has something relatively unique: threat ranges.

Bears have never been slow at an 11″ threat, but many things go that far. With a Northkin stone, Bears can threat 12″, which gives you an edge. Thanks to Madrak2’s Blood Fury, it’s no issue to forgo the +2 STR from the Stone. For Long Riders, it’s even better – 13″ is about the best threat range for heavy cav, and, well, not many among those hit at POW 14 weapon master. Plus, every Northkin list has Fire Eaters with a max threat of 16″. In case you don’t need the threat range, I can tell you, Bears at POW 17&18 and weapon master kill things deader than dead.

These threat ranges (and high damage output at the end of them) allow you to tango, rather than running into your opponent’s threat ranges and hoping for the best. This way, you (at least partially) dictate the pace of the game, you get to project power, and force your opponent to react to you. Coming from a year and a half of taking it on the chin like a champ, this dancing felt very refreshing.

Make no mistake, the list still doesn’t play well into guns, but at least Long Riders and Bears have good ARM and a few boxes. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need to run and engage your opponent’s small arms fire, putting your pieces in the threat of his slower stuff.

Over the weekend, I played no less than five games with this list – good games, fun games. Some things seem out of reach of the list (Baldur1 in Devourer’s Host comes to mind), but … If one knows how to tango, one always has a shot.

Take it away boys!

The nice thing about this list template is that it works with several casters. The main dimensions are threat range and damage output, I would say any caster that improves these is getting you somewhere. Grissel2 and Jarl (and technically Borka1) improve threat range, and bring their own specific tools to the table.

It might even be worthwhile to explore the threat range game in Band of Heroes with Grissel2 or Jarl, because they have an alternative for the speed portion of the Northkin stone. A “regular” Stone Scribe Elder brings a small damage buff as well, and Dash or Quicken get your dudes over that threshold. The issue I see is that Band of Heroes don’t have Bears for fast, high damage on a small footprint, or Fire Eaters to deal with pesky light infantry. One could try to emulate Fire Eaters with Fennblades and Bears with min units of Champions, but I can’t say how successful that would be.

Something wildly untested like this maybe:

[Theme] Band of Heroes
[Grissel 2] Grissel Bloodsong, Marshal of the Kriels [+27]
*Dire Troll Bomber [19]
*Troll Bouncer [9]
*Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
Fell Caller Hero [0(5)]
Stone Scribe Chronicler [4]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (max) [9]
*Stone Scribe Elder [3]
Trollkin Champions (min) [10]
*Skaldi Bonehammer [0(5)]
Trollkin Champions (min) [10]
Trollkin Fennblades (min) [9]
*Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer [5]
Trollkin Long Riders (min) [12]
Trollkin Long Riders (min) [12]

The Bouncer is there to run point, be generally annoying (possibly even with Wailing), and trigger Charge of the Trolls. Because more damage is more better.

Go forth my pretties, and keep on trolling!

(I’m switching to Protectorate)

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