Apologies for the lateness of this update! I haven’t been playing as many games as I would have liked recently and these articles are pretty heavily based on what I’m playing at the moment. Also it turns out writing two article series is a lot of work even if one is only bi-weekly…Anyway, enough excuses and on to the article!
By this stage I expect every Trollblood player in the world is familiar with the Runes of War Theme Force. If you’ve been living in a cave somewhere for the last year then I recommend you look it up in the Trollbloods book because it’s amazing. Now I’m not here to talk about Runes of War because Beckman has already done a much more in depth write up on it in the Trollblood Forum than I could ever do. If you’re looking for Runes of War tech go read that. What I’m here to talk about is one of the major features of Runes of War: Runeshapers. Everyone should know that Runeshapers are amazing in Runes of War because you take four units of them and they only cost three points each. I’m going to argue here that Runeshapers have a place in other lists as well. First, though, I’m going to talk about what Runeshapers do and why you should be taking them and then I’ll go into what lists ought to include Runeshapers.
They’re hard to kill
ARM 15 with 5 health is surprisingly durable. It’s sort of like being ARM 19 except you’re also much more resilient to Sniper and other similar abilities that do an auto-point of damage. This, as with all things Trolls, gets even better when you add the Krielstone to the picture and put Runeshapers up to a respectable ARM 17 and make them immune to continuous effects. Lastly, of course, is the occasionally brilliant Tough rule which is even better on Runeshapers since they’re immune to knockdown.
Rockhammer is amazing!
Rockhammer is brilliant for all the obvious reasons: it’s POW 14, it’s an AOE, it’s magic and Runeshapers are Magic Ability 7. That’s all really good but perhaps the best thing about it is that it’s a spell and you can cast spells in Melee. This means that Runeshapers cannot be effectively jammed. If opponents run their models into your Runeshapers not only can you Rockhammer that jam unit, Runeshapers are handily practically immune to their own blast damage, you can also Rockhammer out of the combat you’re in to hit your opponents juicy targets. Being effectively RAT 7 and POW 14 you can mess up some pretty key models of your opponents.
Tremor is also amazing!
Tremor is some super useful utility. Being able to knockdown enemy models has so many uses especially given the wide area you can effect. Runeshapers can Tremor after a charge so you can get it where you want and it affects all models within 2” of your Runeshaper which is pretty wide. My favorite use for it is knocking down Warpwolves so something else can kill them without worrying about their DEF 14 but it can also be used to knock down models that are blocking your LOS or to just neutralize Vengeance units without killing any of them. Bane Knights do not appreciate being flat on their backs. This can be even more entertaining if you have Kriel Warriors since both Runeshapers and Kriels with their UA are immune to knockdown.
Force Lock is super frustrating
Granted you have to have Janissa in your list for this to be in effect but Janissa is amazing so that’s hardly a problem. Force Lock stops all enemy modesl from advancing out of your melee range. That means no Sprint, no Acrobatics, no ghostly models moving through your lines. None of those things will work. A lot of opponents won’t expect you to shut down their movement shenanigans and Tough with no Knockdown makes these guys super frustrating. Pulling this off effectively requires some skilled positioning of Janissa since she has to be within 8” of the Runeshapers but it’s worth it. One thing to note is that Force Lock triggers at .5” out from your Runeshaper so stop any models advancing within 5” immediately. This can really mess with opponents charge positioning if they want to charge in between two of your models but have to pass near the Runeshaper first.
They have some randomly useful rules!
Pathfinder is the big guy here but having Magic Weapons and Steady are both useful. Not having to give these guys Pathfinder really opens up your options and is hard to appreciate until you’ve actually played a few games with them. Magic Weapons rarely comes up due to Rockhammer but against a list that shuts down spells or when making free-strikes vs. Incorporeal stuff it’s a nice thing to have. Steady and its interaction with Tough has already been covered a bit above but being immune to things like Kreoss1’s Feat or enemy knockdown guns is pretty all around useful. Definitely nothing to scoff at.
They’re cheap (points wise)!
4 points for three of these guys is a good deal 3 points for 3 is a steal. One thing to keep in mind when using Runeshapers is that keeping them safe is not generally your priority and if they can remove a key enemy model you should have them do that. I once spent 4 Runeshaper activations shooting at Blackbane, of ghost pirate fame, and it was worth it to have him dead. Don’t worry about losing Runeshapres or making sure that every single one does a lot of work. Them just being in the way can accomplish quite a lot if you manage to kill some key enemy models as well that’s all gravy.
So I’ve gone over why I think Runeshapers are great but what lists should you consider taking Runeshapers in? I have two categories of lists, with example warlocks, that I think you should consider them in but I want to make one big point first. Any list that you are taking Janissa in I would also consider Runeshapers. They won’t always be the perfect fit but having 7 models with Force Lock in a list is pretty good. I would very seriously consider it if the list also has the KSB since that makes Runeshapers so much more durable. Again, not every list with both Janissa and a KSB will want Runeshapers but it’s worth putting some thought into it.
Additionally, I like running Runeshapers in pairs. I think of them more as an 8 point 6 man unit that activates in two halves than a single 3 man 4 point unit. There are some lists where I’ve considered running a single unit, generally if points are tight, but having 6 Runeshapers instead of 3 is so much better. They get so much more work done and are a pain to kill. If you only have 3 it can be worth your opponents time to try and scalpel them out early but removing 6 of them can be so frustrating that lots of players won’t even bother killing one of the units until after they’ve started doing some serious work.
Armour Skew Lists. Example Warlocks: Grissel2, Madrak1, Doomy2
Ridiculously high armour is something that Trolls do better than anyone else so it’s not surprising that quite a lot of Troll lists are designed to take advantage of this. Really any list with the KSB, Janissa and an Earthborn can be built to skew for high armour but I’ve highlighted a couple of Warlocks who tend to build that way reliably. I have, of course, left off Doomy1 since we already know he’s great with Runeshapers. Runeshapers have a lot of synergy in these lists due to the presence of Janissa and the Stone but they also offer quite a bit. Armour skew lists often rely on having really high armour beasts all near each other and near Janissa’s wall. This means that they’re quite bad at splitting up for Scenario. Runeshapers are brilliant at holding Scenario and so can help with this problem. Additional Runeshapers are great at clearing jamming units out of the way by stopping them in place in front of the beast brick, due to force lock, and then Rockhammering them to death.
Lists with Army Wide buffs/debuffs. Example Warlocks: Grissel1, Grim2, Grim1
Making Runeshapers better is pretty amazing. Calamity and Mortality make Rockhammers POW 16 which is pretty serious business especially when you can buy 6 of those shots for 8 points. That’s 2 points less than a Bomber for 4 more POW 16s. Granted the Bomber does many other things but it’s a comparison to keep in mind. Alternatively, Tremor really helps with the accuracy of these debuffs. Knocking down one model in a unit can make landing that essential Mortality or Calamity a lot more reliable. With 2 units you can even have one knock down a model for the accuracy boost and have the the second unit shoot the newly debuffed enemy model. Fury 6 warlocks with debuff spells appreciate not having to boost. Also knocking down stuff under Grim1’s feat turn can be pretty funny. It really adds insult to injury. Having to sacrifice your action to only move a couple of inches is a bit rough.
Enough of my ramblings on one of my new favorite units. Hopefully you’re now convinced that Runeshapers are good and you’re either thinking of buying a pair of units or planning on unpacking your Runes of War models for use in other lists. Either way everybody wins!
Until next time, stay strong my brothers!