Trollblood Runeshapers

Trollkin Runeshapers in Mk3

A Little History

The changes to Runeshapers from mk2 to mk3 hurt their value immensely in the eyes of troll players.

Way back in the height of mk2, the Runeshapers could charge and unleash a knockdown, at a 10” threat. That changed in January 2016, to a 5.71” threat, as the knockdown turned into an automatic knockdown in a 3” AOE centered on the trollkin. In mk3, the AOE widened to 4”.

Force Lock also got dropped in mk3, replaced by battle wizard. They used to prevent movement, and now they get a free casting after a melee kill.

But that wasn’t the only change that rocked the Runeshaper world. The biggest loss was the erasure of mk2 themes, specifically the Runes of War theme.

From 2012 through 2015, the Runes of War dominated Trollblood tournament lists. The Runes gave the troll player extra fury at the beginning of turn 1. The warlock could fuel the Krielstone, cast upkeep spells and get moving, even if going second. The theory is that if you go second, you lose table presence because instead of running, you’re busy casting upkeeps, or you can’t cast upkeeps because you are filling the stone.

In mk3, there (at the time of this writing) is no way to mitigate the loss of board space when going second outside of using the free upkeeps with the Power of Dhunia theme.

Thus the Power of Dhunia attempts to replicate Runes of War in mitigating the fury problem with the stone. The Runeshapers are no longer needed to gain fury at the beginning of the game. In the power of Dhunia theme, free solos are offered for points spent on Warbeasts, so there is no reason to spend 36 points on 4 units of Runeshapers.

Who runs Runeshapers now?

Very few competitive players. According to Discount Games tournament listings, the Power of Dhunia list taking 2d in the Kingdomcon Iron Gauntlet in May ’17 ran no Runeshapers, except Janissa Stonetide.

Chris Dancocks did run Runeshapers in a PoD Ragnor list, and took 3rd. That was one of three PoD lists he prepared, and I do not know how often he played the list. I do remember hearing that the night troll assassinated Kaya, the Circle caster, so there is that to consider.

The Las Vegas open also saw a 3d placer, PoD with no Runeshapers.

Unfortunately I cannot find much in the way of model usage statistics. Tiebreaker and WMH Battle Reporter, as well as Best Coast Pairings do not list details on tournaments deeper than player ranking, faction played and warlock/caster stats.

Based on the chatter on the interwebs, I would say almost nobody plays Runeshapers.

Okay, Challenge Accepted.

The Chris Dancocks list.

Trollblood – Runeshapers Chris Dancocks

Theme: The Power of Dhunia

3 / 3 Free Cards 75 / 75 Army

Ragnor Skysplitter, the Runemaster – WB: +30

– Trollkin Runebearer – PC: 0

– Dire Troll Bomber – PC: 19 (Battlegroup Points Used: 19)

– Dire Troll Mauler – PC: 15 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)

– Earthborn Dire Troll – PC: 15

– Night Troll – PC: 7

– Troll Axer – PC: 10

– Troll Bouncer – PC: 9

Janissa Stonetide – PC: 0

Troll Whelps – 5 Whelps: 0

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes – Leader & 5 Grunts: 9

– Stone Scribe Elder – PC: 3

 

First thing I noticed here is that there is no Chronicler. That means the Runeshapers are not getting a Mat/Damage bump when brought near a warbeast. Although they’ll reach POW 11 near a stone running the strength buff, they really aren’t going to be heavy melee hitters. They aren’t going to follow up after a warbeast rampages on something. So what are they doing?

Looking at the frontline infantry of various factions, you can see what the Runeshapers could do for the army.

Khador often presents Winterguard Infantry. In melee, the Runeshapers has a 72% chance of hitting DEF 12 and 66% chance of killing. Bringing the Runeshapers to POW 11 raises a kill chance to 70%. If Janissa is nearby, the Runeshaper can cast one of its spells immediately after killing. The Winterguard’s ARM 13 is really what defeats the Runeshaper. On a charge, the Runeshaper scores a 72% chance to kill, whether or not he gets Stone Strength.

The walking axe threatens 6”, and the charging ace threatens 9”. The Rock Hammer threatens 13”, and is a POW 14 AOE.

Against the same Winterguard, the Runeshapers score an 83% chance at killing one, and 58% chance of killing another in the blast.

The answer of usefulness becomes clear. They are to clear infantry standing between the Warbeasts and their targets.

Dig In allows them to harass Widowmakers. A single Widowmaker only has a 15% chance of taking out a Runeshaper, and all four have a 73% chance to kill while aiming. That drops to 8% and 35% if they move.

Against Widowmakers, a running Runeshaper team closes 10” per turn, and the chance of dying from a single Widowmaker bullet is only 27% if they stand still. If the Widowmakers attack at 14” away, the Runeshapers run 10”, and next turn the Widowmakers either stand their ground or run, or walk back shooting. If they run, they aren’t working, and that is good for Trolls. If they stand their ground or walk and shoot, they easily fall prey to Runeshaper axes. Def 14 means one shaper should activate the Trembler.

For a job like Widowmaker or solo hunting, two units is preferable. You are sending 18 points (and 4 free points if you lend them Janissa) to kill an 8 point unit, but they’ll attract a lot of attention as your trolls march up the board, distracting your opponent from the bulk of your army.

Speaking of the bulk, take a look at those Warbeasts. No unit acts in a vacuum. They are always part of a defensive ring, or of a larger offensive. The Trollblood Dire Trolls in this army obviously excel at melee combat. Their MAT 6 leaves them on par with the Runeshapers, struggling to hit DEF 14 infantry or Circle Orboros Warbeasts.

A MAT 6 hits a DEF 14 only 41% of the time. With those odds, it is the role of the Runeshaper to make things easy to hit. Critical hits on Rock Hammer knock beasts over, and hit DEF 14 almost 58% of the time. Trembler automatically hits. After a Trembler, an enraged Earthborn can make 6 POW 18 hits or POW 20 with Ragnor’s Pulverizer.

The list presented here offers much in the way of knockdown, then big powerful attacks. It presents a large line of meat, supported by an armor buff. Magic spells eat through incorporeal, and the stone can create an 11” bubble of no stealth or incorporeal.

Another Option

So how do we play with four units of Runeshapers?

Horgle and the Four

Here is an option using Horgle. It hinges on using his feat to boost attack and damage rolls, preferably on an assassination run. It offers 5 methods of setting things aflame, and prevents blast damage. Runeshapers too close to the action could catch fire, so be careful of AOE size. If the Runeshapers knock down something on the edge of its 4” circle, the 3” Pyre troll AOE should be safe. Is this a competitive option? Maybe not, but it could be fun to play.

Theme: The Power of Dhunia

2 / 2 Free Cards 75 / 75 Army

Horgle, the Anvil – WB: +29

– Trollkin Runebearer – PC: 4

– Dire Troll Bomber – PC: 19 (Battlegroup Points Used: 19)

– Pyre Troll – PC: 9 (Battlegroup Points Used: 9)

– Pyre Troll – PC: 9 (Battlegroup Points Used: 1)

– Earthborn Dire Troll – PC: 15

Janissa Stonetide – PC: 0

Troll Whelps – 5 Whelps: 0

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes – Leader & 5 Grunts: 9

– Stone Scribe Elder – PC: 3

 

Grissel and the Runeshapers

With Grissel 1, you can throw a Mountain King 2” further downfield, charging 10” and blasting stuff for another 10”. Imagine Runeshapers bravely standing near the enemy, bracing themselves for the Mountain King’s mighty roar. Kill shot is a certainty if a Runeshaper pulled off a Trembler, and that roar can target anyone in the front arc. Runeshapers, ARM 17 under the stone, should be ready to screen the sides of the King, capitalizing on the 2” reach of the Axer and Chronicler tales to fight off cavalry and other retaliatory foes.

 

Theme: The Power of Dhunia

2 / 2 Free Cards 75 / 75 Army

Grissel Bloodsong, Fell Caller – WB: +29

– Trollkin Runebearer – PC: 0

– Mountain King – PC: 36 (Battlegroup Points Used: 29)

– Troll Bouncer – PC: 9

– Troll Axer – PC: 10

Janissa Stonetide – PC: 0

Stone Scribe Chronicler – PC: 4

Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes – Leader & 3 Grunts: 6

– Stone Scribe Elder – PC: 3

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 9

THEME: The Power of Dhunia

General Considerations

Remember that in Warmachine, positioning is key. Runeshapers have pathfinder, so terrain shouldn’t be problematic.

Into Cygnar, watch for electricity. Keep your shapers spread out. I find a 4.5” triangle is best. Move one Runeshaper into position, then set a place marker 4.5” to either side. Move the next shaper up, and then measure a point 4.5” behind both the first two shapers. Place a marker and move up.

They can’t see through clouds, so they can’t charge through, but they can see inside. If something is touching the cloud, the cloud isn’t blocking, so fire Rock Hammers all day. Also, Rock Hammers are AOE, so if you are too far away from a weakly armored stealthy foe, and you have time to spare, go ahead and make the deviation. You might get lucky, and clip something with the POW 7.

Final Thoughts

Four Runeshapers probably won’t be worth the points you can spend on Warbeasts. Two will most likely suffice. They are an underestimated unit who bring a key Trollblood tool, knockdown, to your army. In 2017 Steamroller, a couple units offer circle zone control. Janissa offers flag control.

Down the pipe, we have changes to the Krielstone Bearer, so running a large stone will be more attractive.

If Madrak goes through CID with Even Ground, then you can use Runeshapers with him and DEF 18 while dug in. Guided Hand will help them hit high DEF in melee. Tactician with them would be phenomenal. The feat in development also works in their favor. If they aren’t killed, but suffer some wounds, he’ll heal them.

But that is still mainly speculation.

As it is, you have Runeshapers. They give knockdown, can kill infantry, and can be taken above the FA:3 in Power of Dhunia. A good toolbox for a Trollblood warlock.