This article started out as a reply to the following topic on the PP forums. I know, it’s the forums, they’re a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, but every once in a while, some of the great voices leave a bit of their wisdom. Or so I tell myself.
The main discussion point is whether Madrak2 is to be seen as the top 5% in Trolls. Going into the WTC, the general population of Troll players seemed to think so. Now, a measly 39% win rate later, I think we can conclude that the hype isn’t to be believed1.
My guess is that Madrak2 was omnipresent at the WTC, because he was the easiest entry point (someone in the thread mentioned this). As a WTC player, you only had three months to come up with two good lists that covered the meta.
This is difficult for the following reasons:
- You have no idea what the meta looks like. Even more so because a developing meta changes every two weeks. Lists that were problematic in July, could have completely disappeared by August.
- You need to learn how the new game plays and what your new faction does. In Mk2 I played Grissel1, Grissel1 and then some more Grissel1, with some other warlocks on the side. None of these warlocks play the same now.
- All your friends are in the same position, so don’t expect much help there.
These three factors meant that Madrak2 was such an attractive choice. One simply doesn’t have the time to grind 50 games against a variety of opponents2, and … the first tests were very promising. I mean, I only played against opponents who never met him. Surf up, kill stuff. Easy.
What I did learn about Madrak2 in the three months before list deadline, is that he doesn’t handle heavy ARM well. I tried to alleviate this by adding Mulg and Hutchuck to the mix, which did help a lot, but that still wasn’t enough (against Vyros2 for example, but more on that later). The reason why I never tried the troop spam option is that in my preliminary tests, my infantry just got shot off the table. Let’s just say I never connected those dots.
Going through the WTC lists, I realized I had made a big mistake in my list building. I didn’t have a list that could handle Vyros2, Amon or Karchev, despite the rest of these factions being relatively good matchups for Madrak2, on average. I also didn’t have a list for Wurmwood, but … whatever. It was an acceptable hole in my pairing3.
Anyway. I’m not sure the Madrak2 troop spam list would have been the better option. It does counter ARM spam, but … as soon as your opponent brings, say, 20 semi-accurate shots, I think your list crumbles fast. Going back to the three problem matchups listed above, you would get pushed into a list chicken situation. Ret typically brings a more shooting focused second list (like Ossyan), Menoth has the High Reclaimer, and Khador has … whatever they damn well please (Vlad1, Vlad2, Sorscha1, Irusk2) to make it a rough game.
Sure, a list chicken is a step up from an autoloss, but still not something I’d be happy about.
All that being said, Madrak2 being top 5% in Trolls or not, I assume he will get hit by a nerf. There is something to be said about the negative play experience an angry troll berserking through your army brings, whether that experience is only felt for beginning players or not.
Going diagonally through the topic on the forums, two sensible possible nerfs for Madrak2 were mentioned:
- Cap the fury gaining to some level (probably his FUR stat)
- Don’t let him get berserk on his feat turn (but let his army still get it)
Still assuming he will get nerfed, I think it’ll be the first option. The latter seems a tad awkward to word, and generally clunky4.
Whether that will change anything to the negative play experience remains to be seen. He probably won’t arrive on your caster with 15 fury, but … he can probably get the job done with 5 as well. Usually a MAT 10 P+S 15 weapon master manages to kill stuff dead.
An interesting question here is whether I find it a pity that he will get nerfed. The thing is – he seems great on paper, but much less so in practise. Whether he gets nerfed or not, at a decent tournament level, Madrak2 is on his way out anyway. I really like Warpath on him, I wish he could get more play out of it. His FUR stat really puts a cap on the utility of that spell, which I find a major pity. Against a semi able player, Madrak2 will still depend on his infantry to really get things done. With the current state of Troll infantry, that’s a rather sad situation to be in.
What I have learned from the journey to the WTC, is that I was probably too slow to react to the shifting position of Trolls in the meta. I like to think that many Troll players suffered from the same inertia, which resulted in the poor performance of Trolls across the board. Trolls used to be a faction that asks questions (can you deal with my meat, in various forms and shapes5), but this is no longer the case. Trollbloods have some answers, but can’t just cancel out a lot of matchups anymore by just asking more pressing questions, like we did in Mk2.
That being said, not all is doom and gloom with Trolls. Luckily, some people seem to be able to win with the faction too. My new Troll heroes are from England. Especially Andy Garrard, who successfully rocked a Grim2/Grissel2 pairing at the WTC (read all about it here) brings inspiration. Grim2 is definitely a caster worth exploring, once you get past the sweet summer child notion that you can actually outshoot anyone.
I might keep you up to date about my adventures with Grim2. I also might just play Cryx instead.
(1) Assuming Madrak2 isn’t top 5% in Trolls, then I wonder who is. Lets agree to not tell anyone, once we have found the answer to that question. 10th place in win rate isn’t quite the most interesting place to be in, so I’m reluctant to fish for more nerfs.
(2) Those of us not called Dr. Kellerman, that is.
(3) Also, who really had a list for Wurmwood, amirite? For a while, I did consider Grim2, but only managed to come up with very bland lists that didn’t seem to bring much else to the table, nor could they really bully a Circle player to use his other list.
(4) Though you could probably do with something along the lines of “all models gain overtake. All other models gain berserk”.
(5) Innuendo Cup forever. It’ll be the last Belgian Masters XXX on November 4,5 and 6 in a while. We have a few spots left. Guaranteed 100% more legendary than Warmachine Weekend.