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March 25, 2013

Gargantuans: Trollbloods First Thoughts

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It's time for more thoughts on Gargantuans. This time: Trollbloods.




Hunters Grim:  Trollbloods were one of the two factions to receive a Warlock unit in Gargantuans. While I like these guys a lot, they're really going to have to be awesome to measure up to Grim Angus the first. There's a reason the original Angus comes up in every conversation about "the best Trollkin Warlock."  He has a phenomenal feat, a free speed boost for beasts built into his rifle, some great debuffs, and Pathfinder to hand out. Really it's that feat that's hardest to let go of. Compare the new grim's feat (link) to the previous incarnation's -3 DEF/SPD and no special attacks to all enemy models in his control. His other abilities are going to have to be great to account for that loss.

Well the new Grim does have a lot of great tricks. First, his spell list is solid. Mage Sight is great for when you need to pick off stealthy pests like Tartarus or Mage Hunter Assassins. While that can be extremely helpful, it's his other spells that really speak to me. Mirage will have plenty of great uses in a Trollblood force. In it's simplest form it could give a unit or beast an extra 2" of threat.  But since it's a place effect rather than a SPD boost you can use it to say... place members of a unit of Scattergunners out of melee. Then during their activation when they let loose with those scatterguns, they'll still get an aiming bonus since they had their normal movement to forfeit. Mortality is a very solid debuff inflicting a -2 penalty to the DEF and ARM of a target model. It also prevents healing just to rub some salt in there. Get this spell on an enemy caster on feat turn and it could be game over. Also very useful against enemies with Tough. Unfortunately it's not an upkeep. This is really a mixed blessing since it means things like Purification won't get rid of it allowing affected enemy models to heal.  This also means you can put it on two different targets simultaneously. Hint: the Runebearer can be really useful with that.  His spell list ends with Pursuit. I've had a little experience with this spell with Thyra Flame of Sorrow. I've found it difficult to master, but when you get it right it can throw your opponents whole battle plan out of whack. The time they might lose on their own turn just trying to figure out which battlegroup model you'll move can be worth the casting of it. It can also be helpful keeping Grim safe since he is a member of his own battlegroup.

More has changed about Grim than his spell list. He's gained a point of RAT but lost True Sight.  In addition, Headhunter, the over-sized Sniper Rifle that helps lend Grim his iconic appearance, has traded Bait the Line for Blood Lure. While I do think I prefer the older version, Blood Lure is still very helpful. The free charge it grants means your warbeast will have an extra Fury to spend.  Whether you use it for an extra boost or attack, that free Fury might make the difference between a live target and a dead one.  

And what about Grim's two companions? If I were to try to come up with a point cost for the duo I think the number 4 sounds about right.  Muggs, the first of the pair, wields Grim's old Snare Gun. This means when fielding Grim 2 you get to shoot both of his cool weapons each turn. Of course the downside is that there's no way to boost a shot from Muggs since he has no Fury to boost with.  And with a mediocre RAT of 6 Muggs will probably be missing a lot.  Of course that's what On My Mark and Mortality are for. Additionally, as long as Muggs is alive, he gives the unit the reform ability. I can't stress enough just how helpful this post-activation 3" advance will be to keeping Grim alive. Mortality is a spell you'll want to be casting a lot, and you'll have to do it multiple times since you can't upkeep it.  Being able to move to safety after doing so is a huge help. And reform will help Grim keep up with his army on the first turn if he wants to cast Mirage. Krump, Grim's other Pyg helper, may only be armed with a blunderbuss, but his special action Trapper, more than makes up for it. This ability allows Krump to place a 5" AOE in base contact that will inflict a POW 10 hit on any living or undead model that enters it.  Damaged models are knocked down, making it helpful even against multi-wound infantry or light beasts that it won't kill outright. Useful for keeping Grim safe from charging infantry, or for keeping enemy troops off of objectives. Krump also grants Circular Vision. While it's nowhere near as useful as reform, it can help you out by preventing backstrike bonuses or by allowing Grim to shoot things behind him while still getting an aiming bonus.  Both Pygs also have Tough, Pathfinder, and Take Down.

Hunting Party, the tier list for the Hunters Grim is interesting but very restrictive. No Battle Engines may be taken. It does allow use of any non-character warbeasts, but there are only five units available.  One of these, the Trollkin Highwaymen, doesn't even exist yet (rumor is that they'll be the TB light cav unit). For units that do exist, your choices are Scouts, Bushwhackers, sluggers and... Thumper Crews.  While I love Scouts, the other 3 selections aren't exactly paragons of Trollkin tactical supremacy.  Although I guess Grim's Feat and spell list will help them carry their weight. 

The first Tier bonus is to reduce the cost of Thumper Crews.  At two points these weapon crews are suddenly an auto-include... well, with this warlock anyway.  And for every non Thumper unit you take, you get to increase the FA of Thumpers by 1. Tier 2 is the really interesting part for me.  If you include at least 1 unit of Scouts, all Scouts gain Ambush. Now you've got my attention! For Tier 3, if you include 3 light warbeasts then all light warbeasts gain Advance Deployment. This is probably the least exciting part. With this Tier's infantry choices lacking any real hitting power, you'll need a heavy beast or two to give you some extra punch. That means loading up on light beasts probably isn't the best idea.  Of course if you want to focus solely on a caster kill this might not be so bad. At Tier 4 the inclusion of a unit of Bushwhackers will increase your deployment zone by an extra 2".  2" can mean a lot in this game. And Grim 2 can actually get some use out of this rarely fielded unit. 

I guess I'm just confused at some of the units missing from this Tier. If Grim likes Pygmies enough to keep two around as a personal escort, shouldn't he have access to all pyg units, ie: Bushwhackers and Burrowers? Also if the flavor of this tier is guns, as evidenced by the Sluggers and Thumpers, where are the Scattergunners and Battlewagons? Finally there's only one solo type allowed in this list: Fell Caller solos. This first struck me as pointless, since the Scouts are the only units in the army that can benefit from Battle Cry (probably the most popular fell call).  And they'll be who knows where, entering the battlefield with the Ambush ability.  Then I remembered that Fell Callers do other stuff too. The Reveille Fell Call can help out any Faction model. Overcome could be great for Sluggers - assuming you field them. Then there's the Fell Caller's Sonic Blast: a nice SP 8 POW 12 ranged weapon that could do great things in a Grim 2 list.  Unfortunately all this discussion is largely for naught since this Tier has some big deal breakers for me.  Ultimately I think the Hunters Grim will really need a Runebearer and a unit of Bone Grinders. This is a warlock that's always going to be short on Fury and the Runebearer will really help with that.  And since he's always going to be putting himself in harm's way casting Mortality, the Bone Grinder's Craft Talisman ability will help keep him safe.  I also think Grim 2 will be able to do some really great things with the War Wagon, so I'm bummed that it get's left out.

I think people are going to be doing some great stuff with these guys when they come out. Right now I don't think they're quite as good as the original Grim Angus. But they're close enough that I think my opinion might change after I play with them a few times. I think what I'm most excited about is that they'll give me an excuse to play some Trollkin models I haven't really been using lately like Sluggers, Scattergunners, the War Wagon, and maybe even some Bushwhackers.  Whew... that was a long one... let's move on.

Night Troll: The more I think about this new 4 point light warbeast the more I like him. His stats are very similar to the Swamp Troll, but it's his abilities that make him interesting.  First up he has Stealth. Do you need me to tell you why Stealth is awesome? No... no you do not. He also has Eyeless Sight which will probably catch many opponents off guard in a Trollblood list. Useful against opponents that are big on Cloud Effects.  Or you can put Rush on him and watch him charge things on the other side of forests. The Paralysis ability will be great for helping bring down warbeasts like the Warpwolf or Angelius that rely heavily on their high DEF to survive.  And it will keep them from charging for a turn if you can't kill them. But it's his animus that's really interesting. Beguile essentially locks down all enemy models within 5", forcing them to end to end their movement closer to the model with Beguile. Since this animus has a range of Self, you can't just cast it on a super cheap model like a Whelp that you have no concerns about throwing away.  But at 4 points the Night Troll is cheap enough to sacrifice - if it means holding up something really nasty. Or if it scores you a point by keeping some enemy models from contesting an objective. Getting the hang of this guy will probably be tricky. But I think it might be worth losing a couple of games to really figure him out and unlock his true potential.

Trollkin Warders: These guys are very similar to Trollkin Champions. Similar enough that I think they'll be sharing legss and torsos with a plastic Champ unit we'll be seeing sometime in the near future. Instead of two weapons they wield a single reach weapon and a shield.  Instead of Defensive Line they have Battle Driven. They're also a point cheaper for a min unit and two points cheaper for a max. Perhaps in order to compensate for Battle Driven their SPD and P+S seem a bit meager at 4 and 10 respectively. So... if they were injured in the previous turn they'll be pretty nasty. If not they leave quite a bit to be desired. For me, the biggest mark against the Warders is that low P+S and single attack. That having been said I think there are certain warlocks with whom they'll shine. Both Madraks and Grissel 1 seem to hold a lot of potential for the Warders. But for now my heart belongs not to the Champs, but to the Sons of Bragg who have been my MVPs so often that I'll find a way to scrounge up that extra point to fit them in.

Trollkin Sorcerer: The fact that this guy only costs a point means he's always kinda worth considering. He's a weird little solo that you have to select a client unit for at the beginning of the game. Which unit you pick is important, because his most helpful ability, Arcane Antidote, can only be used on that unit.  Arcane Antidote will strip any unwanted enemy upkeep spells from the client making the Sorcerer incredibly useful in the right circumstances. Nothing is worse than seeing a really expensive unit like Long Riders or full Champs + Skaldi get tagged by Crippling Grasp and become mostly useless for the rest of the game. If this has ever happened to you before you'll probably be happy to pay a point for a model that can keep them in the fight. Just keep him safe. A client unit can only have one Sorcerer, so you can't send in another Sorcerer to protect them if the first one dies. This new solo also has Ice Bolt, a little POW 12 offensive spell that will cause Stationary for one round if it scores a critical hit. The downside is the Sorcerer is only Magic Ability 6 - just a little too low to feel confident in hitting incorporeal pests like Pistol Wraiths.  Finally he has Winter Storm.  This is a hard one to make the most of. Every once in awhile you might be able to use it to trap an enemy unit in a forest or some other difficult terrain when he strips them of Pathfinder. It might also keep your Warlock safe from a Legion or Circle assassination run by depriving key enemy models of Flight or Eyeless Sight. Sadly the little guy only has a single damage box, so if he puts himself in harms way to cast Winter Storm it will probably see a quick end to him. Still... not bad at all for a single point.

Fennblade Kithkar: This guy might be the coolest thing Trollbloods took home from Gargantuans. His offensive capabilities alone make him worth his 2 point price of admission. He has Fennblade stats with improved MAT and he wields two P+S 13 "Battle Weapons" with Reach. He also brings survivability with a nice hefty 8 damage boxes, the Unyielding Special Rule and of course, Tough. But it just keeps going people... With Righteous Vengeance this guy can also make a full advance during the maintenance phase if any friendly models were destroyed within 5" of him. That means he has a potential 17" threat or the opportunity to move to a better charge lane. To top it off he has Tactician (Fennblade) to allow friendly Fennblades to move through one another and ignore each other when drawing line of sight. Two points very well spent.

Well since I've already covered the Mountain King (in detail) that wraps up this look at the new Trollblood Gargantuan releases. Hope you enjoyed it, and if you have a differing opinion about one of the things I've covered I wanna know about it!







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