Isle of Games Steamroller 2022-09 – Disgruntled Wargamer

Isle of Games Steamroller 2022-09

Ah, the monthly Steamroller. The only day of the month where I am guaranteed to pay two games back to back. If I’m lucky, and don’t get a bye, I will play three games.

The local meta

The Tucson, Arizona meta is complex. It has some regulars, some of whom play consistently the same armies, others flitting from one faction to another. Tournaments sometimes bring folks from Sierra Vista, a couple hours southeast. Sometimes we get people from the Phoenix area, a couple hours northwest. That means we have a random element, where people typically bring what they want to play, motivated by whatever makes a tournament day fun for them.

What’s fun for me?

Primarily, Trollbloods. I like a commander with a large presence. They need to really have an impact on the table, and shape how their army fights. Troll warlocks, for the most part, affect the game in a huge way. They either support their troops or beasts, making them into their personal weapons, or rely on their beasts and support to amplify themselves as weapons in their own right.

It’s why I love warlocks like Ragnor, Borka, Kolgrima, Gunnbjorn, Madrak, Horgle, and Grissel. Calandra used to be in that list, but her personal impact was lessened by her changes, and I’m afraid her impact will drop further as we transition into Mk4. I’m not anticipating that she makes it into Prime anyway, so there’s no point in worrying about how to make Calandra interesting again. Jarl Skuld is another that should be in that grouping, but one small thing bugs me about him … the cloud feat should allow passage through terrain and enemy models as well as friendly models. If he transitions into Mk4, I think that change is needed, since a unit can already pass through itself. But I doubt he makes it either.

Ragnor, Borka, Kolgrima, Gunnbjorn, Madrak, Horgle, and Grissel all have some defensive and offensive tech. If they aren’t helping their army, they’re delivering decisive blows on their own. I guess that’s why trolls didn’t get a broken two-turn feat. You know it if you’ve seen it. It’s the kind of feat that buffs an army when they’re on the offensive, then turns around and makes it so they’re impossible to kill on the defensive. I think the closest trolls have is the Doomshaper 3 feat, where trolls in the battlegroup get a bonus to hit and heal a little when damaged. It unfortunately has a lot of counterplay in today’s meta. I don’t know if Doomshaper makes it into Mk4, but his limited functionality doesn’t interest me.

My tournament lists

Madrak 3 in Band of Heroes

The first list is Madrak 3 with Fennblades. The idea is to look at whether Fennblades or Northkin are better with Madrak 3. I’ve had lots of success with Northkin Raiders and Kriel Warriors. In my old Band of Heroes lists, I ran Champions and Fennblades, or Fennblades and Long Riders, but not usually Fennblades and Kriel Warriors.

This list plays like the Northkin list, but with some differences. Fennblades threat 13 inches on their charge, when activating their mini-feat, and get out almost as far as Raiders if the enemy army triggers Vengeance.

I’m going to spoil it now – Vengeance ate away my clock. I made too many decisions moving the models, making attacks, or positioning for a charge. It really wasn’t worth it. I liked the play with the Bouncer and the Chronicler, pumping the Fenns up by 2. Overall, however, I feel like the Northkin army is stronger.

I also ran this list with no heavy warbeasts. That was actually awesome. I didn’t need a Mauler or Earthborn, or even a Bomber. Madrak wasn’t in any danger from anything knocking him over. The Bouncer had that covered anyway. Carapace on shield guarding lights was pretty sweet, especially when playing into Cygnar and being immune to lightning. More on that in a bit.

Ragnor in Vengeance of Dhunia with Constructs

The second list is something I’ve been toying with – a list with constructs, to counter the anti-living things that I keep running up against. I originally tested with Horgle, but ran into issues against Crucible Guard, so I’m trying it with Ragnor.

Another spoiler – I didn’t play this one. The opponent lists or tables didn’t feel right for it.

  • Madrak, Great Chieftan +29
    • Trollkin Runebearer (free)
    • Pyre Troll (8)
    • Troll Bouncer (8)
    • Storm Troll (7)
    • Storm Troll (7)
  • Fell Caller Hero (4)
  • Fennblade Kithkar (3)
  • Fennblade Kithkar (3)
  • Stone Scribe Chronicler (2)
  • Stone Scribe Chronicler (2)
  • Trollkin Fennblades (13)
    • Officer & Drummer (free)
  • Trollkin Fennblades (13)
    • Officer & Drummer (free)
  • Kriel Warriors (11)
    • Caber Thrower (2)
    • Caber Thrower (2)
    • Caber Thrower (2)
  • Kriel Warriors (11)
    • Caber Thrower (2)
    • Caber Thrower (2)
    • Caber Thrower (2)
  • Ragnor Skysplitter, the Runemaster +30
    • Storm Troll (7)
    • Pyre Troll (8)
    • War Hog (14)
    • Earthborn Dire Troll (12)
  • Malvin & Mayhem (17)
  • War Wagon (16)
  • Leadfoot & Tredz (7)
  • Pyg Tank (free)
  • Pyg Tank (free)
  • Raluk Moorclaw, the Ironmonger (2)
    • Rover (14)
    • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (5)
    • Stone Scribe Elder (3)

THE GAMES!

Wow, what a long preamble.

Game 1 – Trolls vs Protectorate

Game 1 was against Protectorate. I got shown two lists, one with the horse guy and one with an element of recursion. I dropped Band of Heroes thinking Ragnor didn’t want to see recursion and that my weapon masters could handle some jack spam.

Turn 1

Trolls got a little mired in some quicksand (center, looks like a 2D hill), but ignored the lake on the left. The Idrians, a small unit, ran up to engage, and the rest of Protectorate clambered up behind.

Turn 2

The Fenns rip through the Idrians, and pour into each zone. Two get some good shots on a warjack, but this is mostly staging for the next turn. Madrak feats, hoping to push in and set up for some charges.

At the end of the round, I’ve got a solo on my flag, and too many Fennblades around their flag for them to score. The round ends with a few Fennblades dead, but most of the army is intact.

Trolls 1 / Protectorate 0

Turn 3

Vengeance doesn’t allow much movement, but the trolls charge where they can, laying into warjacks and scoring huge hits with lots of ones and twos… whoops. I expected to take down more off the table than I did. However, I’m able to remove a junior warcaster, and really do some damage on at least one jack. It’s clear nobody’s scoring the zones. I’m able to score the flag again, but can’t get a line in on the objective. There’s just too much in the way. The major disruptor here is the terrain. That mountain is huge, and it is blocking my path to the objective. Trolls end their turn with a 2/0 lead.

Protectorate retaliates, but is way up on time, having only a few things to activate each turn. They end scoring zero again, and Trolls are up 3/0.

Trolls 3 / Protectorate 0.

Turn 4

I’m running into difficulty. I’ve got my eyes set on the objective, and waste a ton of time trying to get into it. This was my mistake. I should have just jammed, running dudes into contesting range of the flag. At the end of my turn, I’m up to four points.

Protectorate pushes me off the flag, and manages to score 1, matching my advance.

Trolls 4 / Protectorate 1.

Turn 5

It’s at this point I clock out. I couldn’t figure out how to push back, as the warjacks that I should have destroyed were still in the game. I only had a few minutes, and it wasn’t enough to secure the win. I needed to not only contest, but also take out the objective, and I just couldn’t get there. Unfortunately, pictures became scarce because of the time.

Trolls 4 / Protectorate 1. Protectorate victory – Clock.

Game 2, Trolls vs Cygnar

This game played much better than the last, although I was sweating at the end. Cygnar brought Haley 2, iron-manning it, with three colossal warjacks. Two Hurricanes and a Stormwall. Assuming my dice don’t fail me, the game should be in my favor. I would have to be careful of the guns, because the slam effect on the Hurricane could seriously wreck my army. The two Storm Trolls would fix this, however, enabling me to prevent at least two attacks.

Turn 1

Trolls run in, and the Colossals stomp forward, limiting themselves to a casual walk. Oddly, the Stormwall does not use its machine guns to create that wall of fire to limit my troop movements.

Turn 2

Trolls push up as far as they can, threatening most of the board, and setting up to prevent storm pods from dropping.

Cygnar stomps forward, and tries to take out some Fenns. One of the blue fenns gets slammed, but it took two shots from a Hurricane to do it, and only two Fenns died. Nobody scored, as the battlefield is just too congested.

Turn 3

Fennblades take out the Stormwall, and almost smash the objective as well. The two Hurricanes are also damaged, but I’m unable to take any zone with the mighty warjacks toeing the line.

Cygnar tries to push forward again, but ultimately can’t remove enough warriors. Nobody scores.

Turn 4

The two Hurricanes fall to the Kriel Warriors, who are using the Chronicler’s story and the nearby Storm Troll’s presence to amplify their attacks. The cabers hit at P&S 16 with weapon master, and it just wrecks the giant robots.

Unfortunately, I have no picture, as my clock is once again running low. It is also this turn where I pick off the objective. The central zone is mine, as is the objective point. A storm caller and unit of mechaniks prevents me from scoring the circle zones.

Trolls 2 / Cygnar 0.

Cygnar doesn’t have much they can do, but they admirably hang in the game. Again, my clock is low. They prevent me from scoring on their turn, so we stagnate at 2/0.

Trolls 2 / Cygnar 0.

Turn 5

I’m forced to make a decision. There’s like 6 minutes on my clock, and I can’t clear out the mechaniks hiding behind the ruined wall quickly enough. Neither can I get in on the mechaniks in the woods. The Storm Trolls can’t use their guns against the Cygnar models, because they’re immune to lightning somehow. I guess they’re wearing insulated quilts?

Instead, Madrak walks forward, into the burning woods, and tosses two spears at Haley. He’s on fire, but she’s dead.

Trolls 3 / Cygnar 0. Troll Victory, Assassination.

Game 3 – Almost a Bye, but then… Cygnar!

I think I was slotted for a bye… which is weird, because there were players with 0 wins. But maybe our TO was taking into account how far some of these players drove. I wouldn’t want a bye if I drove 2 hours to get to a game! LOL!

However, someone dropped, throwing the whole thing into a spin, and I ended up taking his spot, I think. This was another Cygnar match, against a player from out of town. He drove like 2 hours to get here, so I was determined to show him a good game. There was a Kara Sloan list and another (I forget the caster). One had Kara with Gun Mages, and the other had some lightning guys. Madrak was the optimal choice, given the circular zone and not wanting to have too few targets into Kara Sloan. She doesn’t like target saturation, so here we go.

Turn 1

Trolls go first again, and because of that, we get the same side of the table we did before, with the burning ground and burning forest. Yay. Not to be intimidated, the trolls run forward.

Kara has her jacks run up. I think she takes a pot shot at one of the Fenns, triggering Vengeance. The list has some Boomhowler 1 in it, and they storm the circle. In this game, the Stormwall remembers its guns, and lays down a wall of bullets.

Turn 2

Trolls try to get some work done, charging deep, and jamming up the warjack guns. It’s really the best defense against these jacks. They don’t do well in melee, especially against DEF 14, and they can’t fire in melee. I can’t take down the boomhowler unit yet, because of the covering fire templates. Madrak feats. I’m set to score my flag.

Cygnar tries to push back, walking the Stormwall up to toe the zone, and taking out a few Fennblades after some bad tough checks. However, they aren’t able to push away my Fennblades near the flag, and I contest. The Stormwall should be dropping lightning pods, but I think its master forgot about that ability. Its walls of bullets continue to mess with positioning.

Trolls 1 / Cygnar 0.

Turn 3

I’m doing better on clock, seeing as how I can’t do anything about the circle, but not good enough for consistent photos. I clear out the Boomhowler unit, and consider trying to score the flag in the middle, but have to maneuver some warriors into the woods to manage it. I don’t risk setting the Kithkar on fire, but have him walk so he can maybe score on turn 4. I pile a bunch of guys around the flag. Madrak moves close enough to hit a bunch of guys with his aura.

Trolls 2 / Cygnar 0.

Cygnar tries valiantly to get guys off the flag. The Cabers are doing really well, keeping the POW 10s from doing any harm. Even when they move close for Pistoleer, they can’t seem to break the troll armor. The Stormwall continues to run its machine guns, but still hasn’t dropped any pods. Sloan isn’t feating, either.

Trolls 3 / Cygnar 0.

Turn 4

The stormwall is still relevant. It contests the zone, and is close enough to the flag to prevent me from scoring. Fenns can’t make it to the stormwall to take it down, due to the bullets creating a wall of death. Instead, I realize that if I just close out my turns quickly, I can win by scenario. Trolls continue to stand near the flag, and a lone Fenn tries to take down the objective.

Trolls 4 / Cygnar 0.

Cygnar almost throws in the towel. I suggest we keep going, because it’s possible for me to clock out. Once again, I’m low. Cygnar just needs to figure out how to keep me from scoring. Sloan sends in some gun mages to do some work, and they kill my Kithkar. He probably should have thunderbolted the first shot, to push me off, then try for the kill, but it is what it is.

Trolls 4 / Cygnar 0.

Turn 5

With just a few minutes remaining, I’m able to assess the board and make a decision. The gun mages aren’t close enough to contest my flag, so the chronicler makes his move, standing on the thing and securing a win.

Trolls 5 / Cygnar 0.

Final Assessment

Fennblades eat more clock than my Northkin variant of the Madrak 3 Dudespam.

In a local meta where there are at least two regular Protectorate players, you would think I would see more games against them, but alas… I don’t play against them often. Had my dice been more effective in the first game, I may have done better. My opponent played a really good game, so even without dice and clock issues, it would have been really close at the end. He was just able to attrition better than me (in the sense that I was unable to remove key pieces whereas he was able to delay me long enough for the clock condition).

The second game could have gone differently had my opponent remembered to lay down some templates to prevent my fennblades from moving in on the Stormwall. Taking out the Storm Trolls could have been really effective as well, with the big guns and boosted rolls. However, his dice were also failing him in the same way mine were earlier. An interesting note, this list is the primary reason I now bring Storm Trolls. Four slams from two hurricanes ruins a man’s day.

The third game was played well, with my opponent using the terrain very effectively, setting up a huge wall of doom and death. However, he needed to feat early to take out models at a distance, probably targeting the Cabers first. I did say they could be seen even though they were behind my own models. Also, dropping storm pods could have helped take out a line of dudes. The storm pod attack isn’t a ranged attack, and so my Cabers couldn’t do anything. My dudes would have been ARM 16 at the most, so roll a 7 and they’re dead (unless they tough).

I didn’t win, or even place third, but who cares? It was a good day overall, with three games that made me think a lot about what I play and why. And this will probably influence what I play in October’s tournament. It definitely won’t be Madrak 3 with Fennblades! Will I play him in Storm of the North? Maybe. It’s hard to say. There’s so much I want to abuse while we’re still in Mk3. Long Riders, for example!

Thanks for reading. May your dice roll box cars.