Warjacks are impressive. They are 10-ton engines of destruction, representing the pinnacle of human engineering, marching to war alongside phalanxes of regimented troopers outfitted in the finest wargear their nations can craft. What could possibly stand before such an artifice of doom?
The mother-goddess, Dhunia, that is. Her blood runs in the veins of the Troll race, empowering them to defend her against the ravages of those who seek to defile her. Trollbloods have been a people in decline, scattered and divided, relegated to ever-shrinking territories on the fringes of the "civilized" nations. Enough is enough though, and the Trollbloods have had it up to here. Powerful warlocks have joined forces behind a commitment to unify the Kriels and take the fight to their enemies. It is time for the Trolls to take back what is theirs, by any means necessary.
Momma said knock you out.
Trollbloods are sometimes called the Orks of Hordes. There is some merit to this comparison; aesthetically, Trollblood models share some similarities with 40k Orks. Thematically, Trollbloods do possess a certain level of goofiness, reminiscent of a 3rd edition Waaaaagh!. Gameplay-wise, Trollbloods are not as "swarmy" as Orks, but certain builds do promote a fast, mounted attack, so in that way they are somewhat akin to a Kult of Speed army. These analogies are only superficial though; Trollbloods have an identity all their own.
Trollbloods are nominally the "good guys" of Hordes. They are a dispossessed people, struggling to reclaim land stolen from them by human nations. In years past, the Trollbloods were allied with the Circle Orboros, but as the Trollbloods' strength grew, certain of the Circle's leadership labeled them a threat to be exterminated. Thus, the Trollblood cheiftain, Madrak Ironhide, was betrayed by Omnipotent Ergonus of the Circle. Madrak prevailed in this confrontation, with the help of Trollkin Shaman Hoarluk Doomshaper. In the aftermath of this battle, Ironhide and Doomshaper set aside their differences and vowed to fight for the survival of their people as a united force. Now, the Trollbloods march to war, no longer content with diplomatic solutions.
The Trollblood army is composed mainly of Trollkin - larger than humans, but just as intelligent and twice as hardy, these warriors hail from many disparate tribal territories, called Kriels.
Supporting the war effort are the Pygmy Trolls, smaller cousins of the Trollkin. While not as physically powerful as their larger kin, Pygs are enthusiastic combatants nonetheless and have proven surprisingly adaptable to modern warfare.
Finally, the heart of the Trollblood army is the full-blood Trolls. Monstrous beasts of legend, these insatiable creatures are veritable mountains of muscle and teeth. Woe betide any who stand in their way. Full-blooded Trolls are dim-witted and speak only a few words, but almost all of the words they do know mean "food."
Trollbloods are a faction of big, tough models with a startling amount of synergies and combos at their disposal. Let's explore each of these facets a bit further...
- Big: with the exception of Pygmies and Whelps, every Trollblood model is on a medium (40mm) base or larger. This gives the Trollblood army a much larger physical presence on the battlefield as compared to other forces. There are distinct advantages to such size, including immunity to Trample power attacks.
- Tough: perhaps THE defining feature of the Trollblood army, every warrior model, save for whelps, has the Tough advantage. This means that after a Trollblood suffers sufficient damage to kill it, on a D6 roll of 5+, it doesn't actually die and is simply knocked down instead. The ubiquity of this advantage among Trollblood forces means that opponents can have a difficult time killing the models they want to, and must have multiple redundancy plans.
- Beyond the aptly named game-play mechanic, Trollbloods are also tough in the sense that they tend to have more life-boxes than other models. Whereas most factions' solos have 5 life, most Trollblood solos have 8. Same goes for cavalry models. Trollblood beasts can all be Forced to regenerate, and many can supplement this healing by "snacking," which allows them to consume fallen enemies for life points.
- Synergy: between abilities, spells and animi, Trollbloods are able to stack buffs with the best of them. To list a single example, consider the Trollkin Champion Hero. With MAT 8 and a P+S 12 Reach weapon and the Thresher special attack, he's no slouch on his own. Now consider buffing him with the Strength enhancing aura of the Krielstone, the inspiring War Cry of the Fell-Caller and the bone-shattering Rage of the Mauler's animus. Now he's effectively a MAT 10, P+S 16. Combos like this abound within Trollblood forces.
Trollblood units fall broadly into two categories; the medium-based Trollkin and the small-based Pygmies. Trollkin units by and large excel in close-combat and are hardy enough to weather some hits before plunging into the fray. Pygmies rely on maneuverability and ranged weapons to get the job done.
In general, Trollblood units are solid, but not stand-out. They have solid line troopers in the form of Kriel Warriors and Fenn Blades, decent magic support from Rune Shapers and passable firepower from the Thumper, Pygmy Bushwhackers and Sluggers. Most Trollblood units have low-to-average offensive stats, but the aforementioned synergy can make even the lowliest Kriel Warrior a powerhouse to contend with.
Unit of Note: Trollkin Champions
Champions are an exception to the average Trollblood unit. They have high melee attack scores, high armor and significant damage output, even unbuffed. Enhanced with abilities, spells and/or animi they are nigh unstoppable. Champions can form the core of just about any Trollblood force and while they are costly, they are never a waste of points.
Unit to Avoid (at First) : Pygmy Burrowers
Don't get me wrong - this is a GOOD unit. The reason I say to avoid them at first is because they function dramatically differently than everything else in the Trollblood force and have some fairly complex special rules that can be tricky to use effectively. Pygmy Burrowers are a good unit to pick up after you have a few games under your belt and want to try something different.
Trollbloods have a strong selection of solos to choose from. Support solos such as the Stonescribe Chronicler and Troll Whelps can help shore up weaknesses and provide some substantial situational benefits. Offense-oriented solos like the Champion Hero pack a mean punch.
Solo of Note: Fell Caller Hero
Why choose between support and offense when you can have both? The Fell Caller Hero offers unparalleled buffing and support abilities, can fight nearly as well as a Champion, and even packs a strong ranged Spray attack.
Solo to Avoid (at First): Trollkin Skinner
He's just not that good. In fact, it can be argued that he's downright bad. Even at only 2 points he doesn't bring enough to the table for it to be worth making room for him in your list. The Skinner does feature in several tier lists and is a pretty fly looking model, so he does have that going for him, I suppose.
Trollblood warbeasts are geared for offense. The heavy warbeasts are high Fury monsters. Though they don't tend to carry melee weapons, they all have at least one Open Fist, giving them access to numerous power-attacks. Versatility like this is sometimes overlooked, given the sheer, brute force of Troll heavies, but a double-handed throw in the right place can be a game-changer.
Troll light warbeasts offer special attacks and interesting tech, as well as some potent animi. Trollbloods are spoiled for choice when it comes to useful and fun light warbeasts. A nice benefit of many light warbeasts is that they can fill the role of a heavy in a pinch. Don't have enough points for a Mauler, but need two open fists and a damage buff? The Pyre Troll and Slag Troll both fit the bill. Need a high-armor sweeper with a defensive buff but can't fit in an Earthborn? The Bouncer is there to pick up the slack.
Warbeast of Note: Earthborn Dire Troll
A paragon of self-sustaining versatility, the Earthborn Dire Troll is a rock-solid beast that can benefit nearly any list. On its own, the Earthborn is a potent beat-stick, but where it really shines is in its advantages allowing it to capitalize on what are usually detrimental conditions. I speak of course of Elemental Communion, which confers benefits based on proximity to various types of terrain. That the Earthborn's animus can impart this ability on other models via its animus is icing on the cake.
Warbeast to Avoid (at First): Pyre Troll
The Pyre Troll occupies a somewhat redundant place in the Troll beast hierarchy. While a point cheaper than the Slag Troll, the Pyre Troll is appreciably weaker in melee, and with the relative prevalence of fire-immunity vs. corrosion-immunity, his ranged attack is less viable than the Slag as well (especially considering that the Slag can shoot twice).
Tough! Trollblood warlocks all possess the Tough advantage, which can be enormously frustrating for your opponent! It's not so much that Tough will save you from axe-to-face, but more that your opponent will have to make deeper contingency plans in case an assassination run fails.
Beyond that inherent advantage, Trollblood warlocks are pleasantly diverse while not requiring dramatically different force composition to play effectively. Both incarnations of Hoarluk are suitable for running beast-heavy forces, Grissel and Madrak can run large infantry forces, and Borka, Grim and Calandra can effectively run combined arms. Gunnbjorn is a bit of an outlier, but still a fun 'lock in his own right (see below).
Warlock of Note: Hoarluk Doomshaper, Shaman of the Gnarls
My love for Hoarluk may simply be residual gratitude for the upgrade he got from Mark I, but the cranky old troll has a special place in my heart. First of all, he has 7 bonus warbeast points to spend, a godsend for a faction that often struggles to fit in everything it needs. At his core, Hoarluk offers a strong selection of spells, a deceptively brutal Feat and some handy abilities. Hoarluk's spells range the gamut from buffing, to anti-magic, to direct damage. His Fury stat of 7 coupled with a free upkeep of a spell each turn from Great Power means he can comfortably cast a spell or two each turn and still have Fury to spare for transfers. He's still a bit of a fragile old man though, so you've got to be careful about sticking his neck out.
Warlock to Avoid (at First): Gunnbjorn
As with the Burrowers, I am by no means trying to paint Gunnbjorn with the brush of suck. Rather, I recommend against starting with him as his playstyle is significantly different than the rest of the Trollblood warlocks, and his army composition tends to be substantially different than a "standard" Trollblood force. Where you can reasonably interchange a Grissel army and a Madrak army in terms of force composition, Gunnbjorn favors units and combinations other Trollblood warlocks avoid. Again, as with the Burrowers, pick up Gunnbjorn when you're ready to change things up.
Hoarluk Doomshaper, Shaman of the Gnarls
- Swamp Troll
- Troll Bouncer
- Earthborn Dire Troll
- Krielstone Bearer & 3 Stone Scribes
- Stone Scribe Elder
- 5 Trollkin Champions
- Thumper Crew
- Fell Caller Hero
- Troll Whelps
- Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew
This is a melee-oriented 35 point list designed to provide maximum protection as the army advanced upfield. Victory from assassination will come at the hands of the Champions or the Earthborn, but in a pinch the Bouncer, Fell Caller and even Hoarluk himself can combine forces to seal the deal.
Essentially, the idea for this list is to move up-field with the Champions shrouded in the Swamp Gobber's fog cloud with Hoarluk and Krielstone trailing just behind them. The Bouncer can advance along with the champions, eating bullets with Shield Guard as necessary, spawning a whelp and regenerating. Meanwhile, the Earthborn and Swamp Troll shore up the flanks, doling out animi as necessary. When the battle is joined, Hoarluk's (upkept) spell Fortune and the Fell Caller's Warcry will make sure you score hits, and the strength buff from the Stone Scribe Elder will make sure the blows are punishing. To cap off the carnage, Hoarluk can Feat and cast Banishing Ward, limiting reprisal during the opponent's turn.
Trolls are a fun, tough-as-nails faction with a lot of depth, combos and synergies. If you enjoy stacking up buffs to make an unstoppable killing machine, Trolls will not disappoint. If, on the other hand, you have an aversion to... shall we say, absurd models, Trolls may not keep your interest. There are some fantastic sculpts in the Trollblood line, but the goofiness of certain models like Whelps, the Dire Troll Bomber and Borka Kegslayer may be off-putting to some. Don't even get me started on the Scout carrying a pig (or the stealth banjo! -Dis). Overall, if a rowdy band of burly warriors wreaking havoc alongside ravening primordial beasts appeals to you (and you don't mind a bit of humor thrown in) give Trollbloods a try!
Yo Momma would be proud.