Throughout this article series, I’ve put a lot of effort into Jarl. He’s been my dojo focus, and each week when we practice, he’s been the only list I’ve played. This weekend, however, was an entirely different test for him. On Saturday, Sam, John, Paul, Hance and I drove up to T-Shirt Explosion in Fayetteville for a 50pt Steamroller. With 20 players, it was the largest event I’ve been to in Arkansas.
At the end of the day, I went 2-2, but I felt pretty good about the results. Only one of my loses was a crushing defeat, and it was at the hands of another of MSG’s own, so it’s hard to feel too bad about that. It doesn’t hurt that I won the Golden Spoon for knowing that Horfar Grimmr was the original wielder of Rathrok either–even though, by that point I was so tired I could barely mumble Grimmr.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of what I took with Jarl and how it went, I want to make a confession. I am terrible at battle reports. I think one of my greatest weaknesses as a player is that, when I attempt to evaluate what went wrong in a game, I’m often fuzzy on the details. This seems to be particularly bad if the wheels have completely come off the Troll bus. As I continue to try and improve with Trolls, I’m going to make a real effort to write competent battle reports. In the mean time, it may be a little bit like watching Memento.
So, with Jarl, I ended up taking:
Jarl Skuld, Devil Of Thornwood (*6pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Kriel Warriors (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
* 3 Kriel Warrior Caber Thrower (3pts)
* Kriel Warrior Standard Bearer & Piper (2pts)
Sons of Bragg (6pts)
Croak Hunter (2pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)
I’m not convinced the list is ideal at this point, but I think it’s definitely solid. I’m more convinced than ever that the Gators are fantastic with him, and the Runebearer/Janissa/Impaler package for Jarl is perfect.
In the first round, I ended up playing John. He had a pVlad list with the Conquest and a bucket full of Berserkers, and a pButcher list that I think was:
The Butcher of Khardov (*6pts)
* Behemoth (13pts)
Greygore Boomhowler & Co. (Boomhowler and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
* Koldun Kapitan Valachev (2pts)
Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts) (4pts)
Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts) (4pts)
Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (4pts)
Koldun Lord (2pts)
Man-o-war Drakhun (without dismount) (4pts)
Yuri the Axe (3pts)
The scenario was Incursion, and I had the first turn. I deployed the Gators, Sons of Bragg, Thrullg and the Fellcaller toward the left side, the Kriel Warriors in between the middle flag and the right flag, and the Croak Hunter on the far right. I put Quicken on the Kriels and Tactical Supremacy on the Gators and everything launched forwarded. Jarl and friends sat behind their rock wall in the middle.
On John’s turn 1, he ran Fenris up to engage the Kriels near the right flag and the Croak Hunter. The Kriels passed their command check, but the Croak did not. He also sent a Man Hunter that way. Butcher put Iron Flesh on the Boomhowlers, and everything else shambled forward. The Behemoth trampled forward a bit and took a couple of shots into the Kriel Warriors, but thanks to DEF 14 from Quicken, he missed and the deviations didn’t do much.
The left flag disappeared and I wept, haha.
On my Turn 2, I let both upkeeps drop–I was about to get involved in a mosh pit of doom. I knew Fenris was going to be a nightmare, so I charged two Cabers and a grunt into him, sent as many Kriel grunts as I could into the Boomhowlers, and ran the rest–including the leader, so I could guarantee everything was in command. The first Caber wholloped Fenris, but because of poor positioning on my part, he was able to place Fenris’s dismount out of reach range of the other Caber. The other Kriels managed to kill a few Boomhowlers.
I then had the Gators pray re-rolls and charge into the other side of the Boomhowlers between the middle flag and where the left flag had been. With their two attacks and re-rolls–and my opponent’s misfortune with trying to roll 4+ toughs–I managed to clean out a good number of them.
So, here’s my first major mistake. I now have Thrullg charge into the Boomhowlers. He misses twice, then lands a hit, but the Boomhowler toughs it out. The obvious mistake is that I should have sent him in first to knock Iron Flesh off. The less obvious mistake is the fact that I forgot Iron Flesh was knocked off at all. I didn’t realize I had knocked it off until a few turns later when he stopped upkeeping it.
In the end, I’ve killed a bit, and we’re jammed up.
On John’s Turn 2, he starts by having Fenris try to clear the Kriels on him. I don’t roll a single tough, and Fenris goes until he’s killed the Kriels on him and a few nearby in reach range. The Man Hunter moves to the flag to score at the end of the turn. The Boomhowlers get into the Kriels, the Sons and the Gators. The Sons and Gators take some damage, but all live. The Kriels take a few casualties and make a few toughs. The Widowmakers try to get rid of the Banner, but he lives. The Greylords spray into everything and kill a few more Kriels.
On my Turn 3, I realized I can probably clear the right flag and score the middle one. The Kriels and Gators finish off Boomhowler himself and a few more of his grunts, but leave one clearly within 4″ of the center flag. Jarl is the only one left who can kill him, but there’s no way he can get a shot on him and be within stealth range of the Man Hunter on the right flag. I kill the Boomhowler to score. John goes up to 2, and I’m at 1.
The wheels are coming off the bus at this point, so here’s where we downgrade from details to a control point scoring montage. John moves Behemoth near the middle flag. All of the Greylords spray, the few remaining Boomhowlers charge, and the Kriels taking a beating. He contests the middle flag and scores the right flag again, making it 3 to 1.
I find a hole to send Mulg at the Behemoth while keeping the back of his base touching the middle flag. 6 POW 19s and 1 POW 17 later, the Behemoth is only about half dead and I’m trying to figure out if my dice include numbers greater than 3. Jarl moves behind an actual wall on the table because Janissa is Quickened and moving toward the right flag to Tectonic Shift the Man Hunter off the flag. I believe Jarl killed Fenris, but he toughed. The Gators and Sons kill more things, but with Big B still near the flag, there’s no scoring. The Fell Caller charges a fully camped Butcher and does 6 on the charge attack, and nothing on the second one.
The Butcher pops feat and obliterates the Fell Caller. Fenris stands up and chops Janissa’s head clean off. The Behemoth armor pierces Mulg to pieces, although even under the feat it takes all of his focus. He sends Yuri the Axe after the Impaler, who is the only thing near the middle flag at this point, but he falls just short of killing him.
At this point I’m screwed, but am far too far to even try to shoot the Butcher–who’s sitting at ARM 24 with Iron Flesh on himself. Jarl shoots at Fenris to try and get a Magic Bullet into the Man Hunter, but misses. I don’t remember what happened with the second Magic Bullet shot, but I know it didn’t kill the Man Hunter, haha. John wins on scenario.
One thing I’m trying hard to learn with Jarl is when to pop his feat. It does a lot for blocking line of sight, but the thing I always think about after I lose a lot of my troops is how useful it would be as a simple DEF booster in melee. Going forward, I think I’m going to try to pop it the turn that the DEF bonus from Quicken goes away because my opponent and I are duking it out.
I also think screaming across the board on Turn 1 isn’t always the right answer. In this scenario, the best I can do is immediately move my army into contest range of all of the flags. Unlike scenarios where there are a couple of zones–or better yet, one zone–it’s hard to really play super defensively in Incursion until you know which flags actually matter. In this case, I spread myself so thin he was able to apply his entire army to mine immediately. Anyway, John was a super nice guy and I had a lot of fun playing him.
In the second round, I played Madrak2 against Gonzo, the Press Ganger from Fort Smith. Since this series is about Jarl, I’ll keep it short. He was playing a Vyros2 Tier 4 list with more cavalry models than I’ve ever seen on the table at once before. In the end, Madrak applied Rathrok to the effected area, and the problem was solved.
In the third round, I played a Circle player named Brian. I played Jarl and he played a pKaya list that I believe was:
Kaya the Wildborne (*6pts)
* Gorax (4pts)
* Feral Warpwolf (9pts)
* Ghetorix (11pts)
* Warpwolf Stalker (10pts)
Druids of Orboros (Leader and 5 Grunts) (7pts)
* Druid of Orboros Overseer (2pts)
Shifting Stones (2pts)
* Stone keeper (1pts)
Shifting Stones (2pts)
Blackclad Wayfarer (2pts)
Druid Wilder (2pts)
Lord of the Feast (4pts)
The scenario was Supply and Demand. This time, I went second.
On his Turn 1, he moved everything up as close to the zone as possible. The Druids do their typical anti-magic, elemental protection and clouds business right on the edge of the zone. Everything else bricks up behind except for a couple of stones which he moves near my objective–that is, the one that’s an enemy model to me.
On my Turn 1, I put Quicken on the Kriels and Tactical Supremacy on the Gators. Jarl moves up toward the zone and he and Janissa get cozy behind their wall. The Kriels go screaming into the zone and pack the half that’s on my side of the board full. The Gators pray Pathfinder and run through a forest on the left side. After their Tactical Supremacy move, they’re just on the other side of it.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because I played on the same table with Jarl twice. Weird odds with 10 tables, but whatever, it happens.
The Sons and Thrullg went screaming around the left again, and the Croak Hunter and the Fell Caller went up on the right.
On Brian’s Turn 2, he teleports a Stalker into the zone, warps Berserk and gets into the front line of Kriels. I make a few tough rolls, but after buying attacks, he clears out everything the Stalker can get to. Kaya Spirit Doors the Stalker back. The Druids shoot into the Kriels, but Quicken keeps them alive.
On my Turn 2, the Fell Caller calls hit better on the Kriels and sprays the Lord of the Feast who’s in a forest on the right side of the zone. The Croak Hunter moves up, throws his spear, and finishes the Lord off. The Kriels pray Fervor and charge into the Druids, making sure to stay in the zone, and kill every one they get to. The Gators run into the back of the zone to continue the trend of packing it solid. Jarl and friends toe into the zone. Thanks to his 12″ control area, I’m able to dominate the zone.
On Brian’s Turn 3, he teleports the Fuel Cache farther away from me. There’s now a forest between it and anything I have on the board, so the chances of getting an easy point that way are slim. He sends the Stalker and Ghetorix into the zone. Together, they take the Kriel Warriors down to almost half strength. Kaya teleports Ghetorix back, but he forgets to Lightning Strike the Stalker, so it stays in the zone.
On my turn, Thrullg and the Sons of Bragg swing around from the left to get into his set of Shifting Stones over there. The Fell Caller kills one on the other side. The Croak Hunter kills a random druid. The Gators pray rerolls and take the Stalker out, and the Kriels continue killing the Druids. Jarl moves deeper into the zone so that he can start applying pressure himself once anti-magic is gone, and I dominate again.
On his Turn 4, he puts Ghetorix in the upper left corner of the zone near the Sons. They die in three hits, and then he starts in on the Gators and Kriels. He toes the Gorax into the zone too and he tries to kill a few Kriels. The Feral moves up to block the Fell Caller from getting to the Fuel Cache. pKaya charges Thrullg who is apparently super close to her–I honestly hadn’t even noticed–and spends her full stack to kill him with melee attacks. She then feats to refill her fury.
I send the few remaining Kriels and the Gators that can into the Gorax and a few more into Ghetorix. The Gorax goes down, but even with re-rolls I miss Ghetorix with a number of attacks. Jarl shoots him and Magic Bullets into Kaya twice, but Ghetorix still has 5 boxes left and Kaya has 2. I try to use Janissa to push Ghetorix out of the zone, but I don’t think it through and a Shifting Stone stops his movement before he’s out.
On Brian’s turn, he teleports Ghetorix behind Jarl. Here’s my big mistake on this one. I was in a winning position with little need for Jarl to move deeper into the zone. He never really had to get closer. With the Impaler, Jarl could have shot Ghetorix from a country mile down the board. If I had kept him back, I wouldn’t have been in a situation where I should have lost.
Fortunately for me, Brian was so focused in on his assassination run, he forgot to heal Ghetorix first. The only spiral left fully functional was Body. Ghetorix doesn’t need Mind to hit Jarl from behind with Kaya’s Pack Hunters bonus, but with Jarl sitting on two transfers and Ghetorix only being able to make two attacks, Spirit being out was a problem.
On my next turn I was able to kill Ghetorix and that was game. Also at some point Ghetorix killed Mulg. Yeah, I have no idea when. More proof I’m Crumping these battle reports up.
In the final round, I played Madrak against Goreshade1, and Hance managed to pull me apart again. Brutal.
So, on to my impressions of Jarl in a highly competitive environment. Jam is absolutely as strong as everyone thinks in Steamroller 2013, and his speed buffs are not only effective but intimidating. I think the Kriel Warriors are the right choice with him over Fennblades (for me) because of Steady and the 1 additional ARM. I also think the Gators are fantastic.
Here’s what I’m unsure about. Right now, Mulg is the only big hitter in the list, and I don’t think he’s a good fit. Mulg is always slow, but with Jarl, he’s painfully so. I want to use him as a late game piece, but if he ends up in the wrong position, I have to burn Powerful Glyphs to toss Quicken on him and run him to the other side of Jarl’s control area.
I think I may swap him out for Rok. While Mulg technically has a greater charging threat range (9″ versus 8.5″), that +1 SPD on Rok is going to make a big difference in the first few turns. I also think the army is generally so far ahead of Jarl that it makes Protective Fit significantly less effective than it is with a caster like Madrak2 who wants to be close to the action.
But, beyond that, I feel like the list needs something to handle hard targets. Slaughterhousers seem like they could be good since I can easily get a few damage on anything with Jarl. The Earthborn / Caber combo is tempting too, and his animus gives another way to both speed up models and protect Jarl. I’m not sure.
For the rest of you playing Jarl out there, how do you deal with hard targets? I’m currently hedging bets on people leaving their casters too near their colossals, but Magic Bullet is really only an effective assassination strategy against low ARM casters who don’t camp a ton of focus.