Klaw Plays (a bit more) Trolls: The Belgian Masters XXX

All right, boys and girls, the most intimate gaming weekend on the calendar came and went, and as usual, it was fantasic, even if I say so myself.

Bestest tournament in the world.

I’ve tried to combine organizing and playing (not a great idea, but now I’ve got that out of my system), and, given the models I had at my disposal, I came up with the following pair:

 

[Theme] The Power of Dhunia

(Kolgrima 1) Kolgrima Stonetruth, Winter Witch [+28]
– Dire Troll Bomber [19]
– Dire Troll Mauler [15]
– Earthborn Dire Troll [14]
– Mulg the Ancient [22]
– Troll Axer [10]
– Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
Feralgeist [2]
Northkin Shaman [0(4)]
Northkin Shaman [0(4)]
Troll Whelps [4]
Dhunian Knot [6]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (min) [6]
– Northkin Elder [3]
Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew [2]

[Theme] Band of Heroes

(Madrak 1) Madrak Ironhide, Thornwood Chieftain [+29]
– Dire Troll Bomber [19]
– Troll Bouncer [9]
– Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
Fell Caller Hero [0(5)]
Stone Scribe Chronicler [4]
Trollkin Champion Hero [0(5)]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (min) [6]
– Stone Scribe Elder [3]
Long Riders (max) [20]
Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew [2]
Trollkin Champions (max) [16]
– Skaldi Bonehammer [5]
Trollkin Champions (max) [16]
– Trollkin Sorcerer (1) [3]

 

Basically: Kolgrima with the Mulgnode and some other stuff, and the trusted Madrak1 list I stole. Haven’t changed anything in it yet.

 

First round: Axel d’Haeyere with Khador (Breakdown)

First round, I got drafted against Axel of team Belgium Griffons persuasion, who was rocking a Butcher3/Old Witch2 pair. Going into the match, I felt I had the tools with Madrak1, but that Butcher3’s personal threat would be a problem. I didn’t feel confident about Kolgrima, if only because I had played exactly one practice game with the list.

The scenario is Breakdown, which anyone will tell you is a Trolls scenario. Two round zones, one rectangular one in between. Well, I’ll let you in on a secret: it might be a Troll scenario, but it definitely isn’t a Klaw scenario. I still think like a Cryx player, this scenario just doesn’t go fast enough for me. You’ll see why this is relevant soon.

This guy. Don’t like him.

[Theme] Winter Guard Kommand

(Butcher 3) Kommander Zoktavir, The Butcher Unleashed [+22]
– Devastator [14]
– Marauder [10]
– Marauder [10]
– Ruin [17]
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich [4]
Winter Guard Infantry (min) [6]
Winter Guard Mortar Crew [0(5)]
Winter Guard Mortar Crew [0(5)]
Winter Guard Rifle Corps (max) [13]
– Winter Guard Rocketeer (3) [6]
Winter Guard Gun Carriage [17]

 

I deploy my Long Riders to the right, and Champions in the middle and to the left. Axel has a Marauder on each side, the small winter guard unit to my right, Ruin, Butcher and the Devastator in the middle, the Carriage and the bigger unit Winter Guard to my left.

I win the dice off and go first. We both run op aggressively. I start scoring on the right hand side, slamming his Marauder out of the zone with my Long Riders, and killing the random contesting Winter Guard. I’m playing quickly, I’m ahead on clock, all is well.

However, I need to respect Butcher’s personal threat, and need him to commit, so terrain will keep the rest of my army safe on the side of the board where he isn’t. Axel knows this, and sends in the Carriage, the Marauder and the Devastator first, to keep me occupied.

And keeping me occupied he does. It must have been turn 4 when somehow the lights go out. I do a big turn, kill lots of things, with mucho shenanigans (like knocking Butcher down so he doesn’t get a Vengeance move from me killing his dogs), but … I look up, the score is 2-0 or something, and I have 10 minutes left on my clock. Axel has 30.

And that’s when it comes. My champs are bunched up from killing the Marauder and the Gun Carriage. Butcher charges in, feats, and kills them all. He’s in the left hand zone, he has the Marauder contesting on the other side, and all his remaining Winter Guard are in my face. I slam the Marauder out of the right hand zone again and score, but it eats up my clock, and things aren’t looking so peachy on the left. Butcher does what he does best (which is standing in one zone looking all threatening) Axel limits himself to contesting on the other side, and I just don’t have enough time to stop the game running away from me.

Lessons learned: on a slow scenario like Breakdown, make sure you really, really win one side.

 

Second round: Casper Jellema with Circle (Recon 2)

Somehow, Casper has lost his first game as well, and now we meet on the table for the first time in ages, if not for the first time ever1. He has Krueger2 and something he isn’t going to play, I drop Kolgrima because Madrak doesn’t like TK, I think.

That stupid spear is for shooting, not for stabbing. Who knew.

[Theme] The Bones of Orboros

(Krueger 2) Krueger the Stormlord [+27]
– Megalith [20]
– Wold Guardian [16]
– Wold Guardian [16]
– Woldwyrd [9]
– Woldwyrd [9]
Blackclad Stoneshaper [0(3)]
Blackclad Stoneshaper [3]
Blackclad Wayfarer [0(4)]
Blackclad Wayfarer [0(4)]
Gallows Grove [2]
Sentry Stone & Mannikins [5]
Shifting Stones [3]
Celestial Fulcrum [19]

 

So. I win the dice off and go first. There is a house in the middle of the table, but other than that, the terrain is rather uneventful. The Fulcrum is on my right, the heavies are on my left, there is a sprinkling of solos. I have the Mauler, the Axer and Mulg offset to the right, and the Earthborn and the Bomber offset to the left. The rest goes in the middle.

I run up, Casper runs up, I run again, and put up clouds so he can’t see me. All fair and balanced yo. Casper decides to feat anyway, comes forward into the clouds with the Fulcrum, and shoots some things. He also tramples two heavies up to the Earthborn who is sat halfway the zone in cover. Some punchings later, my Earthborn is almost dead, but not quite. I counter like a pro – I clear off my flag, I heal up my Earthborn and put Rage on it, I cast Hunter’s Mark on one of the heavies, and Rush on Mulg. Mulg charges over and puts one heavy into the ground, while my Earthborn kills the other one. I score 1, I’m on a roll.

So … Casper does what he has to do – try and kill Kolgrima. Shenanigans are pulled, yank comes out of the tank, and at the end of it all, the Doom Shrimp spells her doom. Had I made the tough check, the game would have been mine.

Lessons learned: I couldn’t have gotten the results I did without putting Kolgrima where she was, or without spending the fury I did. I couldn’t even have feated to protect myself from shooting, because that way, I’d have pushed Casper’s heavies out of my reach. I must say I underestimated Krueger’s gun, maybe I could have played for that better. Still – a Power of Dhunia list is probably just not enough dudes on the table for me.

 

Third round: Xavier Adriaens with Trolls (Outlast)

Right. I’m 0-2, so great results won’t be happening any more. Therefore, I’m kinda happy to draw another Troll player. I have generally great difficulties with the Troll mirror, and need to train that. I reach for my Madrak, he drops the following:

[Theme] Storm of the North

(Kolgrima 1) Kolgrima Stonetruth, Winter Witch [+28]
– Pyre Troll [8]
– Rok [19]
– Winter Troll [8]
– Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
Fell Caller Hero [0(5)]
Northkin Shaman [4]
Valka Curseborn, Chieftain of the North [0(6)]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (min) [6]
– Northkin Elder [3]
Northkin Bear Handle & Battle Bears [10]
Northkin Bear Handle & Battle Bears [10]
Northkin Fire Eaters [7]
Northkin Fire Eaters [7]
Trollkin Champions (max) [16]
– Skaldi Bonehammer [5]

 

Bambush bears <3 <3

That is a sexy list right there. It has all the new hotness2 – almost everything in there got changed in the CID – and, most importantly, it has dudes on the table, speed, flexibility, and quite a formidable caster to run it all. Where have we heard that before3.

Xavier wins the roll off and goes second. I blink. Second? Whut?

I look at the table again, and understand that I am shafted. There is a house in the middle and a second house blocking off most of the access to the leftmost zone. There is a small street between houses (which is easy to cover with a cloud or two), and to top that off, the flag on Xavier’s side positioned in such a way that I have to run all the way around the middle house to contest it.

He has Bambush Bears (I don’t), so it’s also quite difficult to sqeeze my way to the leftmost zone via the flank, since the Bambushers will just pop out there. I’ll have no way to defend my flanking force, who will be slowed down if not just killed outright by the Bambushers. So, I choose the only sensible way – stack the rightmost zone heavily, and hope to power through there.

As for the rest, we can be rather brief about the game. Xavier dictates the game from start to finish – clouding up where he doesn’t want to fight, spraying down my dudes, and keeping the rightmost zone full of bears, champions, and that thrice-cursed Valka. I have a big turn where I have a chance to pull the game back to me, but the hot dice needed don’t come up. I do get the moral victory of triggering Charge of the Trolls on my stone unit, but that’s really all.

Lessons learned: if you’re not playing Cryx, then terrain is very, very important.

 

Fourth round: Brett Pandolfi with Madrak1 (Spread the Net)

So. Day two starts, I had just slightly more sleep (as stated, organizing and playing is not a great combo), and I’m at a grandiose 0-3 score. Not exactly what I had in mind going into the tournament, but … what can you do.

To start my day fresh, I draw another Troll mirror. Brett had Madrak1 and Doomy3. We all know what’s going to happen: a Madrak off! Such rejoicing.

My boi!

[Theme] Band of Heroes

(Madrak 1) Madrak Ironhide, Thornwood Chieftain [+29]
– Dire Troll Bomber [19]
– Troll Bouncer [9]
– Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
Fell Caller Hero [0(5)]
Stone Scribe Chronicler [4]
Trollkin Champion Hero [0(5)]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (min) [6]
– Stone Scribe Elder [3]
Long Riders (max) [20]
Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew [2]
Trollkin Champions (max) [16]
– Skaldi Bonehammer [5]
Trollkin Champions (max) [16]
– Trollkin Sorcerer (1) [3]

Astute readers will notice that this list is exactly the same as the one I posted up as my Madrak1 list. Brett actually did have exactly the same list I had, point for point. I could claim something along the lines of “he stole my list”, but let’s be fair, he was at Clogcon, so probably just stole it from Stian, like me.

Ok. Time to get serious – I decided I could do this, if only I was focused enough about it. First: scenario check. Spread the Net is not a Troll scenarion, but it definitely is a Klaw scenario. I just needed to make sure I had enough solos in the right spot to score flags, something beasty to score the rectangular zone, and obviously something quick enough to project to the rectangular zone on Brett’s side.

Second: terrain check. There was a big forest in the middle of the table, but other than that, the terrain wasn’t very eventful4. Some clouds, some bits and bobs, but also a stray trench with a flag in it. That could be interesting.

Finally: game plan. I knew the clock would be a very important factor. Secondly, this scenario was fast enough to maybe just get it done – at least, I could score a few points, and maybe just carry it home on turn 7 tiebreakers.

I lost the starting roll and went second, which meant I could counterdeploy, and which also meant I could start the scoring first, if Brett didn’t come into my grill enough. Where Brett deployed fairly evenly, I stacked both Champions units towards my rectangular zone on the right hand side, making sure I would win the fight there, and build up from that. My Long Riders went to the left on contest duty, along with two solos, who could maybe sneak a few points on my flag early on.

The game itself … My Long Riders played a great stalling game on the left, making sure I kept Brett’s Champions on that side busy. They jammed everything away from my flag, so my Stone Scribe Chronicler (and after he caught a Bomber bomb to the face, my Fell Caller) could score a few points there. Meanwhile my two units of Champions dominated the right hand side, and slowly chewed through everything Brett threw at them.

Madrak was running interference, shooting solos off flags, and generally being awesome. Because of the large forest, Brett had much more trouble developing his Madrak, which meant that his contribution was much lower. After a few turns, what was left of my Champions broke through Brett’s defences, I managed to reach his flag for scoring and took a decisive scenario and attrition lead, which I rode out to victory.

Whew, first win in the bag, and what a win. I played a very quick, disciplined game, did most of my thinking on the opponent’s turn, had a plan, and stuck to it. I was very happy with that performance, and kinda felt I took a step up in gaming skill.

 

Fifth round: Alex Vanden Wayenbergh with Baldur2 (The Pit 2)

Last round, time to confirm the good game I had the previous round. Axel had Baldur2 and something else he wasn’t going to play, I reached for Madrak.

Meh.

[Theme] The Bones of Orboros

(Baldur 2) Baldur the Stonesoul [+30]
– Megalith [20]
– Woldwrath [37]
– Woldwyrd [9]
– Woldwyrd [9]
Blackclad Stoneshaper [0(3)]
Blackclad Stoneshaper [3]
Blackclad Wayfarer [0(4)]
Blackclad Wayfarer [0(4)]
Gallows Grove [2]
Shifting Stones [3]
Shifting Stones [3]
Celestial Fulcrum [19]

 

Baldur2 is a tough nut to crack, even if you have a bunch of weapon masters on the table, but I saw options. That list doesn’t like to spread out (just like my list, really), and is actually very low on models. There were options. I win the roll off, and look at the terrain. Houses galore, one side where a big house would hinder my movements greatly and limit access to the leftmost zone, and one side relatively clear. I decide to do something I’ve never done before: go second and choose sides.

Right from the get go, it’s clear that I made the right choice. My opponent has trouble unpacking and navigating his army around the house, where I can just run up the table unhindered. After the first turn, the setup is as follows: Woldwrath and one Woldwyrd off to my right, solos and Megalith in the middle, Fulcrum and second Woldwyrd to the left. Shifting stones are sprinkled in between. I have a unit of Champions toeing the right hand zone, my Bomber in support, Krielstone and Madrak in the middle, and the second unit of Champions and Long Riders threatening the left zone and objective5.

Turn two, the big monkey comes in and puts my whole unit of Champions on the right on a single box each. On the other side, the Fulcrum does some Fulcrum things, Megalith comes out to play and then gets covered by Baldur’s Rock Wall, but … my opponent can’t really keep me from flooding the leftmost zone and destroying the objective and the Woldwyrd sitting there, outside of control area and thus outside of feat. I just shove my dudes in his face and kick myself for not having my Bouncer in run range of the leftmost zone. A few of my Champions on the other side go harrass the Woldwrath, while I have my Bomber focus on killing the stuff I can kill on that side.

I sit down and also kick myself for not feating (the unit of champions opposite the Woldwrath are still all on a single box), but I console myself with the thought that at the POW he’s swinging, I would take tough checks anyway instead of using Sanguine Bond. On my opponent’s turn, some champions die, but the Woldwrath is generally not making a lot of progress, nor is my opponent really getting into the leftmost zone.

On my turn then, what’s left of my Champions on the right continue the stalling game with the Woldwrath, my Bomber keeps killing off all the small things my opponent has there, and my Swamp Gobbers get into position to contest later on. On the left side of the table, the Fulcrum dies, Megalith is looking bleak, and my Bouncer makes it into the zone to start scoring.

From there, it’s riding out my advantage to victory – the Woldwrath keeps killing the dudes I feed it but doesn’t manage to actually make progress and score real points, while the points I’m scoring on the left hand side keep adding up.

Lessons learned: if you can manage to play 7 turns in an hour, it’s really a strategy to play for with a faction like Trolls, and even more so with a list like Madrak1. The rule seems to be made for Champions – they have the damage output to carve out a small scenario lead, and once they got that, they can defend like nobody’s business.

Maybe that’s why I like the faster scenarios more. On these scenarios, scoring will happen in the first three-four turns of the game, which gives you the opportunity to set up for defense in the second half of the game. The turn 7 thing gives me a lot of peace of mind – I don’t need to get a “full” win in one hour, a good lead is enough.

 

Happy hunting!

 

Klaw

 

 


1) Some of my memories from early days of Warmachine are cloudy, sue me.
2) Apart from the Hooch Hauler, but then again, I also prefer to keep both my kidneys.
3) If you can’t handle the references to the revered Dragonfather, I suggest you go read … I dunno. Batman comics, maybe?
4) In the table’s defense, compared to the table I got in round three, very few tables are eventful.
5) The middle circular zone plays no real part in the game, since there is a second house blocking most of it. It’s easy enough to contest from both sides, and incredibly hard to clear.

Author: Klaw

I have a Twitter account @Klawspeaks. I mainly use it for trash talk. That is for the lack of serious discussion about, for example, this article.

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