This week I’m going to talk in general about a way of playing Trollbloods that I’ve been really enjoying lately. The lists and play style aren’t particularly revelatory or mind blowing in their originality but for me they presented a change in how I viewed my list building which has helped me build better lists and list pairs. After some general comments on what I’m babbling about I’ll talk about a specific Madrak2 list that I think is a perfect example of the idea I’m talking about.
I’ve stolen Vagrant Poet’s words to describe this idea as playing Trollbloods as Cryx but what does that actually mean? Obviously it’s not about using arc nodes to debuff your opponents models and then tear them to pieces. It’s really more like playing inverse Cryx. You take Trollblood buffs and stack them so that your models hit like Cryx models do. Putting buffs on Trollblood models is so not new that its almost the whole point of the faction but what do we put the buffs on? I’ve mentioned before that I once had two long riders kill a Titan Gladiator with Grissel1 while under Heroic Ballad, Calamity and Flaming Fists. That’s the kind of idea I’m talking about. Buff your random models to extremes and watch as they kill stuff that your opponent didn’t think they would.
With that in mind lets try and get specific about what I mean. That means I need a list to talk about. This list is my current Madrak2 list and I think it exemplifies my point perfectly:
Madrak Ironhide, World Ender (*5pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Pyg Burrowers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Trollkin Scattergunners (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
* Trollkin Scattergunner Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)
Professor Victor Pendrake (2pts)
I’m not going to go into my usual detail with this list because it’s not particularly subtle. Madrak2 casts Blood Fury on one of the units of Fennblades or the Burrowers and then that unit gets a MAT buff either in the form of War Cry from the Fell Caller or from Pendrake’s Beast Lore and then kills whatever is in front of it. The highest melee POW in this list is only 14 and most models are only POW 12. That’s a little misleading though since anyone who has seen a list like this in action knows it cracks armour with almost trivial ease. It also has 32 models whose direct role is to get into melee as well as 7 Sprays and late game the KSB is 7 more MAT 7 (with War Cry) P+S 12 Weapon Masters. It’s a lot of models to get through.
So why is this list like Cryx? Well because it plays in a very similar style. Those 22 Fennblades might as well be 20 Bane Knights. They’re both reach units with Vengeance and Weapon Master (Blood Fury on the Fenns being almost the whole point of this list). Fennblades have a naturally higher P+S and threaten farther than Banes do without Tartarus. Tartarus bumps Banes up to a further threat, assuming no Fennblade UA, and the same MAT as Fenns with War Cry. Fennblades don’t have Ghostly but do have Tough and they need to the KSB to make them the same ARM as Bane Knights but most things that hit either of them kill them anyway. My point in all this is that the two units are remarkably similar, in this list at least, and that should tell you how to play them.
The rest of the list is a little different. Burrowers are probably the most Cryxian models in their list with their ridiculous ability to punch well above their weight. With Blood Fury Burrowers kill everything they hit but desperately need a MAT buff. They threaten super far thanks to their Burrow ability so you’re guaranteed the alpha strike with them. Scatter Gunners are there to clear off jam units to help you get the charge and to counter other infantry heavy armies. The rest of the list is basically support but that support can do a ton of work late game when you lose a lot of models.
So the idea with this list is a very Cryx type of play style. Run all your guys forward and watch a bunch of them die. Then the rest of your army does twice as much work as it is supposed to making up for all of your earlier casualties. Madrak2’s Feat goes a long way to helping with this it allows you to let your models get more than double their attacks in a round. With all the reach in the list the number of attacks his Feat can generate is really impressive even with only a handful of models still alive. Adding more attacks also gets more work out of your buffs and is an important part of this style of play.
This play style also informs what match ups you want to play with it and what you don’t. Ask yourself what is Cryx good against and what does it hate to see? This list has basically the same advantages and problems. Cygnar is a pain for this list as it will shoot it to pieces from a long way away and certain casters, Haley 1&2, will also shut it down with control. It can also struggle against really high defense like Iron Fleshed Kayazy. This list doesn’t have the Bile Thrall purge to clear them out so you might want to avoid that. Anything that can reliably deny charges can also be a problem since you generally want to get that extra charge damage die versus hard targets but it’s not an auto-lose situation either. It has a slightly hilarious Cryx mirror match since it’s pretty susceptible to Bile Thrall purges but can out-attrition lists built more like it, like Skarre1 with all the banes. These are probably the match ups you want to think about when building your second list.
It’s good match ups are the usual Cryx hating factions of Skorne and Trollbloods as well as anything relying on either really high armour or swarms of infantry with DEF less than 16. One thing you can do with this style of build, though, that will skew some okay match ups more in your favor is build a very different second list. Trollbloods have lists that ask a lot of interesting and hard questions and by bringing one list that basically asks ‘can you deal with 20 bane knights’ and another that asks ‘can you deal with 3 ARM 22+ heavies’ you can put your opponent in an awkward position. This is my favorite place to be in list building. Have two well rounded lists that can handle lots of match ups but ask two extremely different questions to make your opponent sweat a little bit as they try and pick their list. They have no idea what you’re taking but if they pick wrong things could go against them really fast. I think this style of Troll list really helps set up that situation which is why I love it so much.
Hopefully that all made a simple kind of sense to you gentle reader. So far I’ve only really found two lists that I think play like this, the Madrak2 list above and the Grissel1 list from my first article, but I’d be fascinated to know if you have any other suggestions. Currently this style of play is really reliant on generating extra attacks but there may be ways to build around that. If anyone has any ideas please send them my way!
Stay Strong my Brothers!