Warmachine: Best of the Best – Trollbloods Warlocks

Ranking the top three Trollbloods Warlocks in Warmachine and Hordes.

Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, continuing my series of articles on Warmachine and Hordes that examines the “Best of the Best” attributes across all models and factions. We’ll examine the top Feats, Spells, Abilities, Weapons, Stat Lines, Damage Grids, and anything else that appears on model entries in the game. All to give you a sense for which models are among the best on those categories.

This Week, we’re looking at Trollbloods Warlocks. Trollbloods have some really intriguing choices for which may be the best of the faction. It may be that because there’s no truly clear dominant Warlock the field seems more crowded for Trollbloods than some others. In my provisional list, I came up with six that I would be comfortable with all being among the Best of the Best. That means some serious sorting needs to happen. And likewise, I’m sure that some personal favorites of readers may seem neglected in the list. Don’t feel too put out–my two personal favorites didn’t make my own list either (Doomy2 and Grissel2)!

So let’s get right to it! The following are my list of the top three Trollbloods Warlocks in Warmachine and Hordes. At the end is a bonus “Dishonorable Mention” for the troll who needs to go back underneath the bridge.

Number Three: Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood

So there was the initial thoughts of some of the other defensive Warlocks when making this: Madrak2 whose personal survivability is off the charts, Rganor and Doomy3 who do it for their force, etc. But Calandra combines strong defense of her force with an extremely effective (and subtle to notice happening) offense.

Star Crossed is of course, her claim to fame. With ways to get troops and beasts to the annoyance level of defense (14+), Star Crossed puts them into a whole new category. Innate Troll toughness, regeneration, and high armor values become all the more punishing when they’re hard to hit.

And that’s when Calandra goes into action. Between her Feat considerably fixing hit and damage rolls and her spells she can really turn the tables on a foe faster than they expect. Not only does she have the knockdown spell in Misfortune, she also has Befuddle–which is about as close to Telekinesis as Trollbloods get. Opponents that don’t recognize how hard her force can out-attrition are in for a sore surprise.

Number Two: Horgle, the Anvil

At first, reactions to Horgle2 seemed a bit bland. Then he seemed to be everywhere. And now, he seems to have disappeared again in many list pairings. It may be a bit of worry about the presence of those bad fire matchups (a few Protectorate warcasters, Kallus2, etc.). But I think it’s important to note just how much work his force can get done.

In a world where more than a few people are running heavy battlegroups–lots of boxes with ample armor–Horgle2 really does shine. As long as he has reliable ways to light targets on fire, his force can absolutely get the job done. Trollblood Warbeasts go absolutely ape if they’re getting free boosted hit and damage rolls. To reliably blow up the heavies of an opposing force, for my money nothing in the faction does it better than Horgle2.

That said, he also has some really solid support for his force. Inviolable Resolve and Solid Ground are great defensive tools that can bring selected force builds some serious resilience. And Firestarter really gives him some good options for getting the fire out for Feat turn. With lots of warbeasts with ranged attacks and multiple shots (Blitzers, Bombers, and Glacier King) he can really get some use with it. He’s not particularly tricky as a Warlock. He simply brings a huge amount of destruction straight into a foe.

Number One: Captain Gunnbjorn

Mark II I was teased a lot, because my two favorite Warlocks were Gunnbjorn and Morghoul2. And honestly, they both absolutely STUNK in those days. Yet now, in Mark III, the tables have turned. Gunnbjorn in particular is in a great place. He has almost everything that he needs to be an effective Warlock, and there are only a few match-ups that cause him problems.

Primarily, Gunnbjorn can run a gunline that can out-gunline most gunlines. And that’s not a small thing to overlook. That means that he can be a great drop in two-list pairings where an opponent has a gunline list. If they go for their other list, Gunnbjorn sets up the killing field and mows opponents down. If they drop the gunline list, he still has a lot of play. His Feat, the Rock Wall spell, and the great defensive animi that Trollbloods warbeasts pack go a long way. He can stymie any skirmishers or outriders as his force can usually hit harder back than folks expect. This is no Cygnar list where simply getting to melee means stopping much of the threat. Gunnbjorn’s shooters can usually tear it up in melee if needed. And then with his Field Marshal [Kill Shot] ability they often get to shoot as well.

On the offensive side, he really makes Trollbloods shooting sing. Whether increasing range with Snipe or boosting all to-hit rolls of shooting with Guided Fire, his force frequently hits. He also has a ranged Remove from Play buff with Explosivo, which is huge into certain matchups. And don’t forget his own gun. Criticals are frequent with Guided Fire (pack a Dhunian Knot to really fish for them), and throwing the cluster of models hit is too funny. He’s a great two-way Warlock, and right now I think he’s the strongest in the faction.

Dishonorable Mention: Madrak Ironhide, Thornwood Chieftan

I bet you were expecting Borka2 to be here. He’s the frequent whipping boy of the faction. I’d say reconsider your thoughts on him. He’s not as bad as people think, even if he’s not top-of-the-faction good.

Instead, Madrak1 is my call for the bottom of the heap in Trollbloods. Why? He suffers the “anything I can do, you can do better” problem. Want infantry survivability thru Sure Foot? Why not Madrak3 for super-tough? Want a bouncing damage attack to carve out key support? Why not Jarl’s Magic Bullet (can often get 3 out there with the Runebearer)? Want more melee swings on a Feat turn? Why not Grissel1 for them all the time, or Madrak2 for some serious foe-clearing action? Want hit-fixing with Guided Hand? Calandra just does it better?

He’s not bad, he just simply is outshone by so many other choices. I think players can field him and do just fine. But whatever list you build with him, I bet we can find another Warlock in-faction that simply makes it better.

~ Does this ranking fit your thoughts? Did we miss a critical attribute? Was a great model overlooked, or a powerful interaction missed? Is Number One really that good? Do you think the “Dishonorable Mention” is not so dishonorable after all? Let us know in the comments below!

To watch the worst of the worst hit the tabletop, check out Chalkboard’s Warmachine and Hordes blog at:


  • Richard Mitchell

    Calandra has always been an uphill battle for me to play against.

    • Drew

      She is truly wonderful. An old tactics article about her put it best: other warcasters and warlocks buff/debuff units to manipulate the game. Calandra manipulates the DICE- and in a game where the dice determine outcomes, that can make anything in the faction better.