Trollbloods in Theme

With my upcoming appearance on the Trollbloods Scrum, well, I’m thinking a lot about Hordes, and my Trollbloods army. Rather than stop myself and write something else, it seemed like time for one of my occasional Warmachine & Hordes articles. I’ve been thinking about doing these more frequently – “Warmachine Wednesday” has a nice ring to it, since alliteration is all the rage online…

If you’re new to the site because of my appearance on the Scrumcast, welcome! (I remembered to plug the site while I was on the ‘cast, right?). I tweet about the game occasionally @CompGeeksDavid (also my forums handle). And write about it occasionally. And I want to interview my former PG about his experience at Lock & Load, so when we catch some time for that it’ll be part of our podcast, Comparative Opinions (here’s the last time I interviewed him). And you should be able to find all my posts about the game under our Tabletop category (and there’s related tags as well).

For normal readers… yeah, this one may be more of a deep dive than usual. Whereas I often try to talk about the game at a high level, because I’m currently way more into specifics, that’s where I’m going to be writing. I’ve talked about how the game is mainly envisioned now for play in thematic groupings (like the Northkin), and with the Northkin Trolls will now have 4 themes to choose from. So I’m going to go through each of the Warlocks and talk about which theme I think fits them best, and which one is a good secondary, and a few thoughts on each. Like I said, deep dive! Editor’s Warning: Long Post!


A quick breakdown on the 4 themes:

Power of Dhunia: This is the theme based around the Warbeasts in the faction, as well as the various sorcerers and magic users. Troll beasts are quite good, as are troll beast-focused warlocks, and this theme is very popular and good.

Band of Heroes: This is a theme based around the elite, hearty Trollkin infantry. It also allows some of the other excellent melee infantry. It’s basically just a bunch of melee, so any guns you want need to come from beasts or your warlock. It has a distinct advantage in removing destroyed enemy models from play, stopping a whole host of abilities – basically, when they kill you, you’re just dead and gone. Not a bad rule for the elite trolls!

Kriel Company: This is a newer theme, based around the various shooting Trolls. These are not considered super great, but you can bring a bunch of them in the list and it tends to have the largest number of models and attacks you can fit into any one theme. There are several ranged support warlocks, and there’s promises of new models in the works (like the Pyg Lookouts) which will hopefully all focus on support. Because you generally play with two lists, I like this one as a counter-point to a melee force.

Storm of the North: The upcoming Northkin theme force. With the other three highly focused, this list feels like a generalist in comparison. I think it will often have a solid mix of melee and ranged, of warbeasts and infantry and often a battle engine. If the change sticks to make all of the infantry in the list Northkin models, there’s a lot of list building potential here. Several excellent support pieces tie the whole thing together with great buffs. It doesn’t seem overly strong, but it does seem well balanced for a lot of potential.


War Room order, because it’s easiest. But the librarian in me twitches as they end up out of alphabetical order…

Borka1

Main: Band of Heroes

Secondary: Storm of the North

Despite Storm of the North seeming like it should be the perfect theme list for the original Northkin warlock, there’s at least one thing going for him right now in Band of Heroes: he can’t take the Runebearer, so he doesn’t mind that it’s not allowed in the theme. I think a Band of Heroes list, if Wrong Eye & Snapjaw are allowed, with the Northkin Elder, a big old Champions Deathstar, and maybe Warders and Rok and such, could be a thing in Band of Heroes. To be fair, it could be in Storm of the North as well, but there are some inherent strengths to the benefits in Band of Heroes, and Borka1 can take advantage of them.

Borka2

Main: Storm of the North

Secondary: Power of Dhunia

I think that Storm of the North was built with Borka2 in mind. Whether or not all of the models in the theme end up gaining cold immunity in the live rules will have more to do with how that interacts with Borka2’s feat than anything else. The free upkeep, the models with Prowl and his concealment buff, the Veteran Leader from the Hooch Hauler, ambushing Bears to punish people who try to wait out his feat… and easily every model in the army immune to cold and Northkin typed. You can also basically get everything Northkin typed in Power of Dhunia as well, and this is where I plan to play him when I get him built and on the table with live rules next month… No Hooch Hauler, though, which feels best with him.

Calandra

Main: Power of Dhunia

Secondary: Kriel Company

I mean, here’s a caster where I could list a third and fourth really easily – she can play anything. She manipulates dice, that just works with every model in the game. However, if the changes for Mulg go through, then Calandra having access to an channeler is going to be really good. She’s going to become very strong on scenario at that point, and maybe finally show up at tournaments for as much as people say she’s strong. Honorable mention for Kriel Company, a theme where she can abuse the Befuddle and Backstab from Braylen combo – I used this the other day at low points, it was rude. And high defense models under Star Crossed!

Gunnbjorn

Main: Power of Dhunia

Secondary: Storm of the North

Here’s another hard one, again because he is very strong and thus people have been finding ways to make him work in various themes. Also, he supports a big battlegroup, so he can potentially take that plus one infantry option, and make that work in whichever theme – and he likes the battle engines, too. Still, Power of Dhunia gives him everything he probably needs. Storm of the North could get interesting, though, with free upkeeps letting him cycle his spells more easily with more Fury to play with. This tactic also benefits from the Krielstone change quite a bit (again, more Fury to play with), so that might end up being enough. Sadly, the theme that is “his” – Kriel Company – isn’t super exciting with him. King, Bomber, Dozer, Stone, and an infantry unit or War Wagon to put Snipe on… it kind of writes itself. That same list concept just feels better in Storm of the North…

Grim1

Main: Storm of the North?

Secondary: Kriel Company?

Okay, with the simple and elegant quality of life change for Grim1, he might just be great with everything. He feels like he should be a shooting caster, but he also support melee well, and he gets up close to the action. Band of Heroes even seems good, but the lack of a Runebearer is sad. He could also probably just run double Kings or something in Power of Dhunia and do well. However, because he wants to bring something of a combined arms or mixed list, I think Storm of the North is the way to do that. He brings a ton of accuracy buffing, and the theme can provide a lot of damage buffing – the Hooch Hauler, the Northkin Elder. It seems like it will combo well – and another one where, if they get stuck in by the feat, ambushing Bears are gonna get ’em. Meanwhile, Kriel Company has a theoretical accuracy problem, and Grim laughs at that problem. Shoot all the guns!

Grissel1

Main: Power of Dhunia

Secondary: Kriel Company/Storm of the North

So, the one playtest game I got in was with Grissel1 with the new Mulg in Power of Dhunia, with a Sea King and Earthborn combo as well. It was brutal.

She used to be an infantry support caster, and still kind of is, but I think she prefers single, high-value models to apply her single target buffs to – like Boundless Charge and her Fell Calls. Mulg lets her use Calamity from safety, and was a tremendous Hoof It target. So yeah, Power of Dhunia. Then since I’m making myself pick a second theme, well, either of the ones that allows her to take a battle engine – either one is a good Hoof It target. And Calamity in theory helps the infantry out – just hard to use.

Grissel2

Main: Power of Dhunia

Secondary: Storm of the North

Another caster where it’s hard to nail down a good theme list, because she’s just such a well-rounded support caster – who also happens to bring one of the single best guns (her voice) in the game. The core of the list is always just Grissel and a source of Far Strike, the rest is really just seasoning. Power of Dhunia has the best seasoning, with Janissa, access to Earth’s Blessing, and the Dhunian Knot. But she can support and speed up a Band of Heroes list, or provide knockdown accuracy to a Kriel Company list – probably a list completely centered on assassination. However, I think Storm of the North provides really interesting opportunities, with Dash plus the Northkin Elder for +2 Speed on all the infantry. Plus, she’s a caster who increases defensive stats and speed, and some accuracy, but would really like damage buffs in the list. Storm of the North provides her with that, and it could be really good. Double Long Riders and Champions!

Doomy3

Main: Power of Dhunia

Secondary: Storm of the North?

Doomy3 is just about as 100% beast warlock as you can get, with just that one little scroll that helps warrior models to make you think maybe you could bring some in the list. With the improvements to Mulg, I think Doomy3’s stock pretty much just goes up, in terms of what he can do with his spell list – and with a heavier beatstick in an Admonitioned Mulg. If I had to pick a secondary, I like Storm of the North, because if you’re going to bring infantry with Doomy3, bringing ambushing infantry is good – they can be off the table until after feat turn, can punish models that try to hold back from the feat, and they’re designed to work independently. Maybe you bring Rok and put Admonition on him?…

Doomy2

Main: Power of Dhunia

Secondary: Storm of the North

Another almost pure beast warlock. He unfortunately didn’t need Mulg the channeler as much, although heavier-hitting Mulg is still good. The increased points make his list tighter, though. With less of a gain from the changes, I think that Doomy3 is pulling ahead as the better version. Also, Storm of the North allows for more speed from other Troll lists, so relying purely on Doomy2 for speed is less of an issue. In which case, I think that Storm of the North for Doomy2 could be interesting – it lets him play with Rok in a theme, and Rok gets to Berserk and Overtake the world. Bears just add to the speed problem that Doomy2 presents – there’s nowhere on the table that’s safe.

Doomy1

Main: Kriel Company

Secondary: Power of Dhunia

In his current form, what Doomy1 always seems to want is a good Fortune target, and probably some sprays or a tarpit. Well, Kriel Company is probably his best bet for that – meaning it might be a better list than even Power of Dhunia for him. Which is sad, because Power of Dhunia most resembles his old theme, Runes of War. Storm of the North might end up okay too, since that can net him all his upkeeps free – and he needs every Fury point he can get his hands on, with his spell list being so very, very expensive.

Horgle2

Main: Power of Dhunia

Secondary: Kriel Company

Man I love Horgle2. And I thought for sure that Storm of the North was going to be his new home. But I just… I’m not seeing it yet. Maybe and hopefully there’s a great list for him there. The Bears certainly seem great under his feat! And the free upkeeps as well, although there’s not always a ton more that Horgle2 *needs* to be doing with his Fury instead, other than fueling the Stone – and CID has solved that need. As such, I think Power of Dhunia is still his best home. I think he loves being able to sneak someone like Lanyssa into the list, too, so hopefully those theme force changes come through… Meanwhile, Kriel Company for the Fire Eaters and Sluggers and other guns seems like it’s as good or better than what you could be doing in Storm of the North with Horgle2.

Grim2

Main: Kriel Company

Secondary: Power of Dhunia/Storm of the North

Grim2 is one of those casters who just seems to demand a lot of support. And it’s not all available to him in every theme, and indeed no one is a perfect fit. Elish might help with that, as being able to sneak even one Puppet Strings into the list will help. Kriel Company seems like the logical home for Grim2, and it probably plays his gameplan best. Skip bringing Rage, bring all the guns, shoot all the guns, rinse, repeat. If I had to pick a secondary type of list, I think that a cold damage based beast list with the Northkin Elder could be really good with Grim2. What I’m not sure of is whether that will be better in Power of Dhunia or Storm of the North! Maybe Storm of the North wins out, because of the ability to also play the Hooch Hauler/Raiders combo, and access to Fire Eaters and Pyg Lookouts. Like always, whenever you start thinking of Grim2, you want to put in far more things than the points allow… I want to love this guy, just hard to find a list. I’ve ironically played the most of him at low points, when you can focus down on bare essentials.

Jarl

Main: Storm of the North

Secondary: Power of Dhunia

Alright, I’ve sculpted a hat onto him, I’m ready. I think Jarl’s day has come. What he has always needed is Fury efficiency, and while free upkeeps in Power of Dhunia is great, the combination of the Stone changes (admittedly this is in any theme) and the free upkeeps in Storm of the North mean that Jarl is going to have almost all of his Fury every turn to work with – plus the effective 2 Fury from the Runebearer every turn from Magic Bullet. So Storm of the North. He’s another caster that wants a damage buff, so the Northkin Elder is a good start… then Quicken on Long Riders, Tactical Supremacy on Champions (for getting back base-to-base at the end of the turn), and Weald Secrets on… someone. It’s funny, very few models in the army gain the full benefit from this spell – but it’s great to have the versatility. Maybe Pathfinder for a Brawler. Maybe Hunter for a Glacier King. Maybe both for a Bomber, and you pay for the upkeep. Indeed, you’ll probably pay for one upkeep a turn (Tactical Supremacy or Weald Secrets on Jarl, for instance), but that’s still 2 more Fury than normal. Fury left to end the turn with an Earth’s Sanctuary to go along with Dodge!

Add to this the fact that Jarl’s guns and Magic Bullet seem perfect in Steamroller 2017, a combination of beasts and infantry and solos and speed, a delivery feat, and all these changes… I think Jarl goes from one of the saddest warlocks in the faction to one of our premier scenario lists in a single go.

Madrak1

Main: Band of Heroes

Secondary: Storm of the North

Oh man, the new Madrak1. Way to go from zero to hero! While Jarl had a good set of abilities but needed Fury efficiency… Madrak1 needed a rework. And he got it. He has become focused on the base, meat and potatoes of the faction. Elite, tough, melee troops. He is going to march them in, deliver them to the fight, and there’s just going to be a big scrum. And if someone tries to fight him on those terms, they’re probably going to lose. Band of Heroes definitely seems like his home, although he’s really hurting for the Runebearer… maybe that gets added, or maybe Storm of the North ends up the place to play Madrak1.

Madrak2

Main: Storm of the North

Secondary: Band of Heroes

The mighty have fallen, or at least taken a back seat. He’s been hit with multiple errata so far this edition, and he’s still strong. At this point, what he needs more than anything is a list. Band of Heroes is okay, but I think Storm of the North could be the second coming of Madrak2. The Bears could be amazing with Blood Fury, and as Grim Salvation targets. Improved Champions, improved Long Riders, the Northkin Elder, even the Hooch Hauler. It all seems great. Even the Northkin Raiders could be great with all the available buffs, combined with Blood Fury. And the Brawler is the best that Madrak2 wants, to make use of the feat. Oh, and he can even play a bit of a cloud wall…

Madrak3

Main: Band of Heroes/Storm of the North

Secondary: Kriel Company

So I’ve had fun with Madrak3 in Kriel Company, and the change to the Pyre Troll means that you can bring that and a Mountain King or Sea King, along with 60 points of infantry, for optimizing free points. Optimizing points is one of Madrak3’s advantages! Spellpiercer and guns, maximizing how many guns you bring, it’s pretty good. However, especially with the improvements to the Champions and Long Riders, I think that the “dual aura” lists with both a Krielstone and with Madrak3 himself supporting two flanks could be really strong. Especially in the new, wider scenario play of Steamroller 2017. As such, he could end up as a solid option just for that. I think either Band of Heroes or Storm of the North is fine for that.

Ragnor

Main: Power of Dhunia

Secondary: Storm of the North

The Runermaster! I should really play him more as I’ve done well with him. He’s also a beast warlock who doesn’t mind and actually can support some infantry too. The one that people know is to run him with Runeshapers in Power of Dhunia. That’s become even better, because he can now take Mulg and channel his spells as needed. However, Fire Eaters are also an option for the infantry unit – or even the Bears – so Storm of the North seems good as well. Heck, even Long Riders. Depending on how scenario play settles out, Ragnor may be a really good choice for your beast-centric list.

Kolgrima

Main: Power of Dhunia

Secondary: Kriel Company

Kolgrima! I was arguing throughout the playtesting that she was a good ranged support caster, with Cursed Fate being great for making guns accurate and lethal. However, in the last week of CID, they added channeling to Mulg, and I think that absolutely moves her over to Power of Dhunia, where she can take Mulg. Also, it lets her bring Northkin Shaman to help supplement her cloud wall. I still think I want to stubbornly try Kriel Company with her, but I think Power of Dhunia will be outright better.

I really want to get her on the table. The more I try to figure out what her turns look like, the more it hurts my brain. If she activates to actually get her spells out, then places a cloud wall, can your models make use of her debuffs? She feats and pushes models away, can anything else in her force target them or are they too far away? Inquiring minds need to know. I think she’s really good – but it’s pure theory right now.


Possible Best Choices:

Alright, rampant speculation time! Which casters are going to be best in which theme?

Power of Dhunia: Doomy3 (honorable mention Doomy2 and Ragnor)

Band of Heroes: Madrak1 (honorable mention Borka1)

Kriel Company: Grim2 (honorable mention Kolgrima and Madrak3)

Storm of the North: Jarl (honorable mention Borka2 and Madrak2)

Best overall casters (ones that can run whichever theme): Calandra, Gunnbjorn, Grim1, Grissel2, Horgle2

Thanks for reading! What do you think?

6 responses to “Trollbloods in Theme

  1. weird that you’re talking merc options in themes and not talking about nyss hunters in PoD (Calandra and Kolgrima feel great here)

    Like

    • I try to think about models I don’t own, but I tend to especially think in terms of models I do own. With no Nyss, they just don’t come to mind as much. That said, it’s not a bad idea! I do like Runeshapers, so the question might be whether 6 Runeshapers are better than 10 Nyss. As you say, with Calandra or Kolgrima, the Nyss probably win out.

      Actually, since Cursed Fate is a debuff and works on Minions… Kolgrima in Power of Dhunia with Nyss for volume of attacks and screen sounds great! I may need to ask my buddy whether he still wants his Nyss… he’s already said I could use his Boomhowlers if I want, since they’re otherwise just shelved…

      Like

    • Okay wow… this could be a heck of a lot of fun!

      https://conflictchamber.com/#c7201b_-0bj19DiRiRjp0hjqfJfJ750k0m

      Trollbloods Army – 75 / 75 points
      [Theme] The Power of Dhunia

      !!! Your army contains CID entries.

      (Kolgrima 1) Kolgrima Stonetruth, Winter Witch [+28]
      – Dire Troll Mauler [15]
      – Earthborn Dire Troll [14]
      – Earthborn Dire Troll [14]
      – Mulg the Ancient [22]
      – Troll Axer [10]
      – Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
      Northkin Shaman [0(4)]
      Northkin Shaman [0(4)]
      Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (max) [19]
      Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (min) [6]
      – Stone Scribe Elder [3]

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      • I had something cooked up similar to that.

        The idea here was to max out how much of Kolgrima’s card we could use. Hunter’s mark is kinda bonkers with Sea King in creating melee threat range, and his gun and animus are both fine. I have the feralgeist as a point filler but he’s not bad at capping flags against unprepared opponents or centering water features for Seaking.

        https://conflictchamber.com/#c7201b_-0bj19DjpiWjq2Q6R750k0m

        Trollbloods Army – 75 / 75 points
        [Theme] The Power of Dhunia

        !!! Your army contains CID entries.

        (Kolgrima 1) Kolgrima Stonetruth, Winter Witch [+28]
        – Dire Troll Mauler [15]
        – Mulg the Ancient [22]
        – Sea King [36]
        – Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
        Feralgeist [2]
        Troll Whelps [0(4)]
        Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (max) [19]
        Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (min) [6]
        – Stone Scribe Elder [3]

        Like

        • Pretty similar to the Grissel1 list I played, mostly just Earthborn in instead of Nyss. Which is a big change I suppose, but still…

          That one does hit back into the realm of “lots of models I don’t own” but it seems good. Whether to bring a Huge base or not with Kolgrima is one of those hard decisions that you just need to ask yourself in list building.

          Like

          • agree there for sure. The list I posted is very much a tiered threats list where you want to be sure to use your clouds judiciously, have the sea king as a 2nd to 3rd wave, and avoid letting your opponents charge all the way to the king. And also be aware of deviations (or 5″ aoes centered on the king).

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