Building for Borka 1 in 2022 – Disgruntled Wargamer

Building for Borka 1 in 2022

Borka 1

There’s been a change

It’s been a while since I’ve done any real list theory. Thankfully, Privateer Press injected a whole lot of new into their Warmachine & Hordes game, and that has me excited to revisit old favorites. Borka 1’s little keg buddy underwent a minor change with a huge impact.

From the change document:

Borka Kegslayer & Keg Carrier Top Off text becomes: RNG 1. Target Borka Kegslayer. If Borka Kegslayer is in range, he gains 2 FURY, 2 fury points, and Stumbling Drunk. Top Off lasts until the end of your next control phase. (A model with Stumbling Drunk cannot become knocked down. If it is hit by an enemy attack at any time except while it is advancing, after the attack is resolved it is pushed d3˝ in a direction determined by the deviation template, then you can choose its facing.) 

Warmachine and Hordes Update – Google Docs

What impact does this have?

Borka will have 7 FURY every turn, unless his Keg Carrier dies, or if he somehow ends up out of range for a top off. Potentially, Borka could have 9 fury points during his activation. Yes, 9 points. How? Well, the Privateer Press Rules forum can explain, but just in case the link to Borka1 Top Off clarification, can Borka 1 begin activation with 7 fury points? (privateerpressforums.com) goes dead, here’s the rundown.

Borka could have 9 points during his activation.

Turn 1, Borka’s army advances. His beasts rile, or run. The Keg Carrier tops him off, and his FURY goes to 7, and he gains 2 fury points. He casts his Arcane Ward, and Wind Wall, using 5 fury, then drops his last 2 fury on the Krielstone.

Turn 2, Borka leeches 7 fury from his warbeasts during step 1 of the control phase. Then, he upkeeps Arcane Ward for free, because you’re smart, and built his list in Storm of the North, where he gets to upkeep his spell on a Northkin Model for free! His FURY drops to 5, at the end of the control phase. He keeps the 2 extra fury points because nothing says to drop those points. The Keg Carrier walks up to Borka, and tops him off. Borka is Stumbling Drunk, and his FURY is 7, and he gains 2 fury points. He has 9 fury points when he activates. He can cast both his spells, at 3 apiece, and still have 3 fury points. He can move Arcane Ward to another model or unit. He could drop one fury onto the Krielstone. Or, he could be uncomfortably close to the front line. Leading, as he does in all the artwork, from the front.

Is 9 points at FURY 7 really that awesome?

In short, yes. For comparison, Calandra is FURY 8, and a Runebearer gives her either an extra point off a spell with Harmonious Exaltation, or a whole 3 points from casting one of her spells using Spell Slave. Effectively, she has 8 to 11 fury to play with. On the other hand, his second version, Borka 2, has a solid 5 FURY, and the Runebearer offers 1 or 2 fury, giving him 6 to 8 points per turn.

The change to the Keg Carrier solves every issue with not taking a Runebearer, except for having a way to cast an offensive spell from an alternative angle. Borka doesn’t have any offensive spells, so that isn’t really an issue either. Both the Runebearer and the Keg Carrier offer extended control range, and the Keg Carrier offers a way to manage two additional fury from a warbeast by raising Borka’s FURY stat.

I love everything about the Keg Carrier change.

Borka 1
Borka 1

Theme selection

Disclaimer

My own ideas might not work the first time out. These are just ideas. Think of it as my workflow as I explore and refine a list before a tournament. I’m dedicated to making Borka work, whether or not he is good. There is a lot of good information on Warmachine University, but it doesn’t always agree with what I see in my local, or with my own abilities, or with the models I own. That’s an important and often overlooked part of the list building process. What you own is what you can play, unless you’re playing online. I’m pretty exclusive to in-person play, so what I own is super important.

Here’s a link to the Warmachine University page, if you need another point of reference: Borka Kegslayer & Keg Carrier – LOS Warmachine University

Band of Heroes (BOH)

Mosh Pit can still play a role in BOH, as a high defense solution, provided you have a way of leading in with something that can boost. It’s answer to Tough is redundant, since BOH offers an optional take down ability. Long Riders and Fennblades can give you a very fast list, starting at speed 7 and 6, respectively. Fennblades have an additional 2 inches when they charge due to No Quarter. Borka could get these guys threatening 15 inches on his feat turn. The Long Riders would threaten 14 inches. Many of the models in this theme are present in other themes, however. In Storm of the North, the Kriel Warriors, Long Riders, and Champions all move faster, and hit harder.

Note, Fennblades gained Brutal Charge! So they hit at POW 14 on the charge.

Each list is blocked out into a Battlegroup, Common Core, List Defining, and Optional group.

Tuffalo/Fenn Build

  • Borka Kegslayer +28
    • Keg Carrier
    • Rok (17)
    • Troll Axer (8)
    • Dire Troll Blitzer (13)

Common Core Group

  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, Max (7)
    • Stone Scribe Elder (3)
  • Fell Caller Hero (4) (free)
  • Fell Caller Hero (4) (free)

List Defining

  • Fennblade Kithkar (3)
  • Fennblade Kithkar (3)
  • Horthol, Long Rider Hero (7)
  • Trollkin Fennblades, Max (13)
    • Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer (4)
  • Trollkin Long Riders, Max (17)

Optional

  • Troll Whelps x5 (5) (free)
  • Sons of Bragg (8)

Champion Build

  • Borka Kegslayer +28
    • Keg Carrier
    • Rok (17)
    • Dire Troll Blitzer (13)

Common Core Group

  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, Max (7)
    • Stone Scribe Elder (3)
  • Fell Caller Hero (4) (free)
  • Fell Caller Hero (4)

List Defining

  • Madrak 0 (5) (free)
    • Troll Axer (8)
    • Troll Impaler (9)
  • Champion Hero (4)
  • Boomhowler, the Destroyer (8)
  • Trollkin Champions, max (16)
    • Skaldi (3)

Optional

  • Troll Whelps x5 (5) (free)
  • Kriel Warriors, min (7)
    • Caber Thrower (2)
    • Caber Thrower (2)

In the Tuffalo/Fenn build, the battlegroup consists of Rok, the Axer and Blitzer, all at new point values. Rok’s Primal change means the Axer and Blitzer can be throwing around boosted MAT 7s if they don’t use their own animi. The Champion build is similar, but moves the Axer to the List Defining group.

The Common Core consists of the Krielstone and two Fell Callers. It’s possible to pull out one of the Fell Callers in the Champion build, because Boomhowler 3 hands out either +2 to attack rolls, or Dinner Time, which can have the same basic effect as the Fell Caller’s March or War Cry. That would open up the Optional group for more fidgeting.

In the list defining group, the Tuffalo/Fenn build pulls in the Kithkar and Horthol to help the Long Rider and Fennblade max units. The drop in the Kithkar price, plus increased survivability (moved from 5 boxes to 8 boxes) makes the 6 point package for two MAT 7, boosted P+S 15 hits and two unboosted P+S 13 hit attractive. Combine that with the leadership for the Fennblade unit, and it looks like a good combination of output plus support. I think I mentioned already that the Fenns will threat out to 15 inches on Borka’s feat turn. The Long Riders threat out to 14 inches on the charge, or 12.5 inches for the Bull Rush.

The Champion list brings Madrak 0 and his two warbeasts. Primal can go on either of his beasts, bringing them to a marvelous MAT 8 on the Axer, or MAT 7 on the Impaler. With Dinner Time from Boomhowler 3, the Axer probably won’t need Rush, but it’s available if required. The list wouldn’t be a Champion List without Champions, and they are joined by a more affordable Skaldi.

The Optional sections both contain Troll Whelps. Whelps are great for hungry or wounded warbeasts. Either list could run Sons of Bragg, or a small unit of Kriel Warriors. I like the Sons in the Fenn list, because it’s nice to have some quality weapon masters to beat down armored baddies. The Tuffalo/Fenn build is so quick, I don’t see much need for anti-shooting tech, but the Warders could slip in if needed. Same with the Champion list. However, instead of Warders, this version includes the the minimum Kriel Warrior package with two Caber Throwers to hand out Carapace to nearby Champions. There is enough room in the build to swap out the Kriel Warriors for a Scout package as well, complete with Skinner. The Scouts take Arcane Ward well in the beginning of the game, stretch out far ahead of the rest of the army, and can actually kill soft targets early in the game.

Storm of the North (SOTN)

SOTN offers models compatible with Borka’s spells and feat, and is the most fury effective theme for the warlock. The Arcane Ward spell stacks nicely on DEF 13 Raiders, or DEF 12/14 Champions. Pair with Madrak 0 and an Axer for a rush on two of Borka’s warbeasts for an additional threat range. Try the reduced point cost Hooch Hauler for some more immunity to knock down or just the +1 to attack rolls. As mentioned above, the Champions, Long Riders, and Kriel Warriors all perform well in this theme, hitting with +2 POW or moving an extra inch when near the Krielstone.

Tuffalo Build

  • Borka Kegslayer +28
    • Keg Carrier
    • Rok (17)
    • Dire Troll Brawler (14)

Common Core Group

  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, Max (7)
    • Northkin Elder (3)
  • Fell Caller Hero (4) (free)
  • Valka Curseborn, Chieftain of the North (5) (free)
  • Troll Whelps x5 (5) (free)

List Defining

  • Horthol, Long Rider Hero (7)
  • Northkin Raiders, Max (13)
  • Trollkin Long Riders, Max (17)

Optional

  • Northkin Bear Handler & Battle Bears (10)
  • Boomhowler, the Destroyer (8)
  • Bumbles (6)
  • Troll Whelp (1)

Champion Build

  • Borka Kegslayer +28
    • Keg Carrier
    • Rok (17)
    • Dire Troll Brawler (14)

Common Core Group

  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, Max (7)
    • Northkin Elder (3)
  • Fell Caller Hero (4) (free)
  • Valka Curseborn, Chieftain of the North (5) (free)
  • Troll Whelps x5 (5) (free)

List Defining

  • Boomhowler, the Destroyer (8)
  • Bumbles (6)
  • Champion Hero (4)
  • Northkin Bear Handler & Battle Bears (10)
  • Northkin Bear Handler & Battle Bears (10)
  • Trollkin Champions, max (16)
    • Skaldi (3)

Optional

  • Northkin Shaman (2)
  • Northkin Shaman (2)
  • Troll Whelp (1)

In both lists, the Krielstone brings the Northkin Elder, Valka, a Fell Caller, and Whelps join for free. The Battlegroups are the same (Rok and Brawler).

In the Tuffalo build, Rok and a Brawler fill out the battlegroup. The Fennblades are replaced with Raiders, who have no support to drag along. The list has very few requirements for support. That means two units of bears or even a Hooch Hauler could find its way into the list. In this case, Boomhowler 3 offers a great way to extend the army’s threat, Bumbles and the Battle Bears are just fun. Boomhowler can also knock something down before Borka activates, so Mosh Pit might not be needed every turn.

In the Champion list, the battlegroup change requires adjustments. Dropping the Madrak package makes room for two units of bears and Bumbles. The double Bear/Bumbles package pushes people into combat with the Champions, so this might be a better package. An extra 5 points can be used for practically anything. I even toyed with a Dannon Blythe and Bull, but the extra whelp is useful, and the shamans can disrupt the battlefield with their clouds.

Kriel Company (KC)

Borka doesn’t offer much to a ranged army. He has no buffs to range, attack, or damage rolls when making ranged attacks. There are enough knock down guns and other things in Kriel Company that the army doesn’t need mosh pit. I’m not even entertaining a build in this theme.

Vengeance of Dhunia (VOD)

You could take Champions here, but they play better in SOTN. Most of the farrow models offer little improvement over Trolls. This is a mixed arms theme, so a warlock who can support the ranged and melee game is warranted. Borka is strictly a melee warlock. There is potential with Malvin and Mayhem, and trash on the pyg tanks. You can’t take Madrak 0 for free, I think, but tanks are a better buy anyway. There’s some jank potential with the Stone Scribes, Farrow Valkyrie, and a warbeast with 2 inch melee.

Machine Build

  • Borka Kegslayer +28
    • Keg Carrier
    • Rok (17)
    • Dire Troll Blitzer (13)
    • War Hog (12)

Common Core Group

  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, Max (7)
    • Stone Scribe Elder (3)

List Defining

  • Raluk (2)
    • Rover (14)
  • Gobber Tinker (2)
    • Malvin & Mayhem (17)
  • Leadfoot & Tredz (7)
  • Pyg Tank (5) (free)
  • Pyg Tank (5) (free)

Optional

  • Hutchuck (5) (free)
  • Dhunian Archon (6)
  • Farrow Sapper (3)

Champion Build

  • Borka Kegslayer +28
    • Keg Carrier
    • Rok (17)
    • War Hog (12)

Common Core Group

  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, Max (7)
    • Stone Scribe Elder (3)

List Defining

  • Madrak 0 (5) (free)
    • Troll Axer (8)
    • Troll Impaler (9)
  • Champion Hero (4)
  • Boomhowler, the Destroyer (8)
  • Trollkin Champions, max (16)
    • Skaldi (3)

Optional

  • Gudrun the Wasted (5) (free)
  • Hutchuck (5) (free)
  • Dhunian Archon (6)
  • Dhunian Archon (6)
  • Gubbin (4)

The Machine Build could drop a beast for a war wagon, but I think Borka wants warbeasts. Raluk takes a Rover, Malvin’s in the list, along with all three tanks, Hutchuck, an archon and sapper. The Champion build looks similar to other builds, with two archons to help keep Madrak and others alive. Neither of these really excite me. Other warlocks do speed and defense skew better than Borka.

Power of Dhunia (POD)

Similar to Kriel Company, Borka doesn’t offer much to the theme, nor does the theme offer much to Borka… or does it? On the surface, the units are magic casting units, but remember that POD is a warbeast heavy theme. It is possible that the POD could throw Borka a ton of warbeasts to capitalize on his feat. Mosh Pit works for all friendly faction models, and if you really want a unit to be like the Kriel Warriors, you could sub in Boomhowler 1. A list in POD would presumably carry the two junior warlocks (Horgle 1 and Madrak 0), and two archons to keep them safe. Most of the warbeast action should be in Borka’s battlegroup, but you could have some potentially strong beasts hitting things all over the table. This is a theme that should be watched.

Juniors Build

  • Borka Kegslayer +28
    • Keg Carrier
    • Rok (17)
    • Dire Troll Blitzer (13)
    • Troll Impaler (9)

Common Core Group

  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, Max (7)
    • Stone Scribe Elder (3)
  • Troll Whelps x5 (5) (free)
  • Dhunian Knot (6) (free)
  • Dhunian Knot (6) (free)
  • Dhunian Archon (6)
  • Dhunian Archon (6)

List Defining

  • Madrak 0 (5)
    • Troll Axer (8)
    • Troll Impaler (9)
  • Horgle 1 (4)
    • Dire Troll Bomber (16)

Optional

  • ???

Runeshaper Build

  • Borka Kegslayer +28
    • Keg Carrier
    • Rok (17)
    • Dire Troll Blitzer (13)
    • Troll Basher (7)
    • Troll Impaler (9)

Common Core Group

  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, Max (7)
    • Stone Scribe Elder (3)
  • Troll Whelps x5 (5) (free)
  • Dhunian Knot (6) (free)
  • Dhunian Knot (6) (free)
  • Dhunian Archon (6)
  • Dhunian Archon (6)

List Defining

  • Janissa Stonetide 8 boxes (3)
  • Trollkin Runeshapers (8)
  • Trollkin Runeshapers (8)
  • Trollkin Runeshapers (8)
  • Trollkin Runeshapers (8)

Optional

  • ???

Fewer trolls hang with Borka in the Juniors build, because the trolls get slung under the junior warlocks. Both lists boast the full stone, and the stone elder. Free whelps, and two knots take care of the rest of the support. The knots help both lists with puppet master and their triangle of doom. The Juniors list has Madrak, taking full advantage of his Axer and Impaler improvements. Horgle runs with a Bomber. Because affinity isn’t a thing anymore. Hot Shot on the Bomber’s blast damage should waste some lightly armored troops. The other side runs Runeshapers, and includes the Basher and Impaler instead of just the Impaler. There is room for something to disappear for Boomhowler 1, as a large unit is something Borka wants.

Room for improvement

Final Borka tweak.

The changes were neat, but there is still room for improvement. Borka’s feat should grant the additional die on power attack and collateral damage rolls to all friendly faction models in his control range. That minor tweak will push him from average to a Kolgrima contender.

Final Skinner tweak.

Scouts being included in BOH is neat. Skinner might get taken if Scouts do. His problem is that he is super specific. He should gain Beacon on his Skinning Knife. Yes, on the melee weapon. I want him leading the scouts, and the rest of the army to the fight.

Stumbling Drunk

This ability needs to be fixed so badly. The effect is a trade off. The good is that the models affected can’t be knocked down. The bad is that they are pushed. The ugly is that the push is both a random direction, and random distance. It would be much cleaner if the direction was fixed (directly away), and the distance is either a fixed distance (1, 2, or 3 inches), or even a random d3. This change would allow a good and bad effect. The d3 would still inject some randomness (this is a dice game, right?), and that’s still easy to play with. However, two random die rolls, adds a lot of overhead with multiple models being affected. It was fine when it was just Borka, but now the Hooch Hauler can hand it out in swaths.

Closing

All in all, the changes are welcome. Privateer Press developers performed admirably in this huge update, of which Borka is only a part. I’m excited to play the game, and hope I get a chance to participate in tournaments in the following year.