Isle of Games Steamroller with Trollbloods

I took a hiatus from Warmachine, not by choice, but because of a cross-country move.  Last week, I played my first Steamroller tourney since June.  And it feels like I was completely new to the game.  Partially due to the meta change, partially due to the length between games, partially due to the skill level of the people I played.

I fell back on some old favorites, Borka2 in Power of Dhunia and Calandra in Storm of the North.

Calandra’s list

I finally painted my fire eaters, so eagerly added the DEF 13 dudes to the pile of Raiders and Bears for Calandra’s army.  I figured that they could DEF skew a little bit due to star crossed.  Most MAT 6 stuff has a 30% chance to hit under star crossed.  MAT 8 has a 64% chance, and that means most things will be missing their attacks half the time.  Most stuff I’ve faced in the past gets frustrated pretty quick.  The army’s speed, with lots of advanced deploy, pathfinder and the stone should help me jam zones.

Trollbloods Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Storm of the North

[Calandra 1] Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood [+27]
– Dire Troll Brawler [16]
– Earthborn Dire Troll [14]
– Winter Troll [8]
– Winter Troll [8]
– Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
Fell Caller Hero [5]
Valka Curseborn, Chieftain of the North [0(6)]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (max) [9]
– Northkin Elder [3]
Northkin Bear Handlers & Battle Bears [10]
Northkin Fire Eaters [7]
Northkin Fire Eaters [7]
Northkin Raiders (max) [15]

Now Calandra’s Star Crossed dependency does have a drawback, and that is simply that dice skew is her only real defensive tech.  Bullet Dodger only works on a single model, so Valka would be hard to kill at the least.  The system also falls apart if the opposing army has layered debuffs, or an ability to get behind and flank, or to boost attack rolls.

For example, Cryx could incorporeally slip behind for back arc attacks, and drop a sweet defense debuff on my trolls. MAT 5 hits 64% of the time in the back and with a -2 debuff, that turns into 90%.  I am not taking spirit chaser from the elder, so this is a thing I need to be concerned about. Boosted attacks also work against me, as a boosted MAT 6 hits Def 13 almost 77% of the time.

So I worry about lots of boosted sixes, debuffs, or incorp.


Borka2 ‘s List

I like Borka2 with lots of beasts. Countercharge messes with people, and I wanted to mess with the Brawler again as well as try out the Basher.  Mulg tagged along to keep debuffs off Borka.

Trollbloods Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] The Power of Dhunia

[Borka 2] Borka, Vengeance of the Rimeshaws [+27]
– Dire Troll Brawler [16]
– Earthborn Dire Troll [14]
– Mulg the Ancient [22]
– Rok [19]
– Storm Troll [9]
– Troll Basher [7]
– Trollkin Runebearer [0(5)]
Gremlin Swarm [3]
Troll Whelps [0(4)]
Troll Whelps [0(4)]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (max) [9]
– Stone Scribe Elder [3]

I felt like it should run similar to a few Bearka lists I was sporting last year, but with a little less range since I wasn’t taking an Axer.  That’s the cost of Mulg, I suppose.

Game 1: Cygnar

I saw lightning and don’t really remember what the other list was.  I chose Borka so I could rock the Storm Troll animus, and between Borka, the Earthborn, and Storm Troll, we would keep the krielstone from getting  e-leaped.

He dropped Stryker2, with Stormlances.

Turn one happened fast, trolls running up, countercharge already in play. Storm blades pushed up aggressively and lances flanked.

Turn2, I put the gremlins on a flag. Borka feated, and tried to push deep and threaten with countercharges.  My opponent held off, killing gremlins with magic through an lancer’s arc node and used the burning terrain to hide his dudes. He smartly contested with a lance.

I tried to kill Rowdy with my Brawler. The plan was to push really deep, get Rowdy off Stryker so I could try for a kill.  MAT 6 to Def 12 should hit 70% of the time.  When you boost, it should hit 95% of the time. I missed.

Troll moses claimed a flag, krielstone claimed the circle after the Basher took out a lance. Rok chatged and actually killed some cav with his spray (?) Which is something he’s literally never done.  He was primalled up, which was a bad call on my part  I probably could have held him back a touch. Also, Borka drove in, which was probably another mistake. Lastly, I meant to use Mulg to attack the junior with a spray from Borka, but forgot and shot the storm blades instead.  I actually think it was the 2d terrain and the unfinished models that got me there.  In my head, when I was choosing a target, I saw him as a stormblade for some reason, and didn’t see the flag as a flag.  But I swear, I had it planned out before I started moving pieces! Don’t rush, right?

Well, my blundering opens up a run on Borka.  Thing is, my opponent is after CP, because that will determine who wins this tourney.  He methodically kills moses, Rok, and tries but fails to take my trolls out of the circle.  He goes in for my objective for a game ending point.  And for some reason, his dice fail. So now he wants to move Rowdy around Borka. He placed his proxies around Borka’s base, after asking melee ranges. I ask him if that’s the final path he is taking, and then I say I’m taking the free strike.  Whoops.  He meant to skirt around,  but placed base to base, and the mount has knockdown… so Rowdy parks next to Borka. He then poises stuff so I have a hard time getting to Stryker, and on top of it… I took a blurry picture.


I get one opportunity to fix things. I try hard to clear the zone and free up a charge lane for my Earthborn. Then when that fails, the Earthborn is going to pick up a horse and throw it at the junior, hopefully killing it.

Boosted attacks sometimes miss.

Borka charges squire, who he could see, kills it and attacks Stryker. Now a MAT 8 with 3 dice should hit (80%?), but dice happen.

I am not saying this lost me the game… it was lost much earlier, and last turn really should have been the game ender.  On this turn, I improperly tried an assassination.  Borka spent one to upkeep countercharge.  He had 4 left. He charged squire. Good. Killed squire. Bonus. But I didn’t impact attack? Why not? Actually, I am not sure.  Maybe it was positioning. Then I swung on Stryker, boosting the attack so Borka is down to 3.  He buys, down to 2. The bought attack should have been boosted. It was, down to 1. But the damage wasn’t enough to kill.  Borka tried again, down to 0, and Stryker survived. I didn’t contest the flags properly, and the junior warcaster scores enough to warrant a win for Cygnar on my turn. It was like 6 to 1 on turn 3.

Afterward (post game, epilogue)

I still think the list itself is good. My weakness in that game was failing to contest the far flag and not spreading my beasts far enough out to handle incoming models.  I think the point trade (lances for heavy warbeasts) favors cygnar slightly, and their storm blades are no laughing matter. Still, the feat did what it was supposed to.  Stormblades are problematic, however, since they ignore the feat with their own mini-feat, Iron Zeal.

Game2: Circle

First off… Circle? I thought that was a dead faction!  Well, I haven’t had a real circle game in a few years. There were stones in one list, wolves and birds in the other.

From my perspective, I didn’t want birds flying  behind Calandra, especially with a mat fixer from the warlock. Stones are something Borka can handle. So… Borka again.

I chose to go first.  I move in, he moves in, I have concealment running, battle charged running for countercharge, protective aura and stone strength.

Turn 2, I push forward a little less far than I could have.  Borka feats.  I think the feat was good, but there is a question about how far I advanced here.  I held back thinking that I didn’t want birds in my back.  I also was trying to avoid a trample, but that is because I confused these guys with the Razorwing.  They were dodging kind, not trampling. Regardless,  this was a perhaps a pivotal error.  Borka and his crew could have just ran up to the birds.

He holds back the birds. He does slam my brawler back out of the circle! Wtf? How does that happen? MAT 6, down 2 to MAT 4, vs Def 12. Roll d6, move half. He boosted, rolled well.  I think that is the first time a light warbeast ever slammed one of my heavies.  So it was something new to me, and I was quite surprised.  It was an excellent play.  I have been pushed around  by rhulic jacks, but I thought it was special rules.

He feats and takes out my gremlins from tanith casting a spell. Wolves run into the circle and he takes 2, contesting mine with another bird.  I think he kills my objective for a 3rd. So 3 to 0.

Mulg eats two birds. Brawler eats some dudes. Basher gets in on some Tanith, but it was a run, so no play here. Earthborn chases a bird and kills a stone. Storm troll zaps a couple guys off a bounce from the bird.

Borka cant get in, but does kill a bird. He retreats to the zone to stay in the krielstone aura. The fog cloud is messing with my ability to countercharge. I think the brawler is ok, but don’t understand the threat from the dogs and crossbows.  He doesn’t have ornery up because of the one fury it took to stand. I do take one point, so 3-1.

So the reeves shoot brawler, dogs charge out of activation and do a lot of damage, then reeves shoot like two more times, dividing up their CRA. They don’t care about in combat def buff because they’re rocking RAT 9 and only need 7s to hit… which seems easy for him. Oh, wait! They aimed, so RAT 11! He only needed 5s! Brawler dies.

On the other side, rok gets slammed. Storm dies. Basher dies. Earthborn dies. He goes up 3.

So it is 6-1. Good game.


We talked a little about the game. He thinks my mistake was not pushing hard in turn 2. Had I just run beasts as far as they would go, I could have been more of a threat.  I still think he would have had the zones pretty well locked in. He did a much better job than I measuring  and responding to threat distances.  It was pretty neat, and made me question all the circle salt.

Game 3

Cygnar again!

I wish I had asked my opponent’s rationale for choosing  trenchers over lightning.  I did have the EBDT in both lists, so maybe that helped?

For me, the answer was Borka again.  Trenchers CRA, and have good stats to begin with, and have buffs from Max. Lightning just kills Raiders easily.

When he dropped Siege, I laughed Siege is one of my favorite casters in Cygnar, and I think he synergizes a little better with his troops than Borka, although the play style is similar.  I told the guy that I would love to just have the troops pull aside and have our two warnouns go mano-a-trollo.

I went first again, and ran up. Snow Shroud for concealment.

He played aggressively, giving me a countercharge with the basher. Then he opened  fire with those traitorous no-kriel of mine, grievous wound inflicting, express team trolls.  Three grievous wounds on three heavies and rok bouncing around all over the place.  Needless to say, my front line was a wreck.  Models pushed around, knocked down, and unable to heal.

I push in and feat.

The dog barks, lighting up my guys, and grievous gets handed out again.  Trenchers press forward

I have like 4 boxes left on the EBDT. Brawler is dead. Basher has no spirit. Rok is messed up but still ok. I need to take out the express teams. Max Finn will be trouble too.  Or, an attack on Siege would be wonderful.

The EBDT has no mind or body. It has such a clear path out through that stupid puppy though! Out of spite, I want that darn dog dead.

So I force a trample anyway, and it hits the stationary guys, but completely misses the only boosted attack roll I make (for 2 dice), rolling snakes  on the patrol dog.  It flies over, and takes a shot from the cannon and dies. The one guy that should have died toughs.

Rok is able to spray, and kills an express team. Borka thinks the path is clear, so tries to charge siege. I screw up my measurements, and have to kill a standing, albeit frozen trencher, and the knocked down guy behind him…which is impossible because my impact attack range is 0.5″, and you can only make one impact attack during the activation because Borka is not a war wagon.  Doh!

So I abort. Borka camps 4.

His turn, everyone shoots at borka. The express team, trenchers, buster, charger, and finally, siege comes in for something like 3 hits. It is too much, and I don’t get to tough.

Good game, Cygnar.  Zero CP for either of us.


This was the most fun and exciting game I had all day. It was a fight to not come in last.  I pushed a bit harder this match. It made me consider how my normal BoH list would have worked.  I prefer to rely on a ton of single wound, or dudes that probably wont have time to heal. Placement  issues probably led to this game loss more than anything else.

Next Steps

I probably will adjust my pair.  I really feel BoH has a place, and am feeling like I should heed the advice of one minion player in Dallas who said to me “Mortality is a great spell! Why wouldn’t you run it?”

With things like Tough, lots of infantry, and a basic need tor MAT/RAT fixers, I think Hunters Grim has play.  The problem I have is crafting a list that interacts with his spells in a meaningful way while capitalizing on theme force benefits.  I have trouble not running Mulg in a list with Grim2, since Grim seems to need an arcnode.  But once I’m in PoD… where do I go?  How do I project a threat and control those huge 2018 style steamroller zones? Thing is, I also want to play Champion style games, and feel like Calandra and Borka2 are pretty good together, but maybe in the opposite themes.  I’d like to se what Calandra can do with some high def minions in her army.  I’d also like to see my Fire Eaters come into play.  And I know bears are legit, but I have trouble keeping the handler alive, so they’re slightly less legit for me.

More on that in a Sunday piece.  I may playtest something after getting a few more models painted.