Madrak’s yearly constitutional – Disgruntled Wargamer

Madrak’s yearly constitutional

When Privateer Press released Mk3, they also gave us Madrak 3. I played him fairly consistently, with my second list bouncing between Horgle 2, Borka 2, Calandra, Skuld, both Grissels, and Grim 2. Madrak 3 gave me some wins into Cryx and Skorne, primarily. The question for today is how well he plays into my local meta. Does he still have the same weaknesses? Is he going to be fun?

Here’s the deal, this is going to be long. If you’d like, you can skip down to the tournament or even pot tournament analysis to see where all this concludes.

What I learned long ago

Beginnings in Band of Heroes

  • Trollblood – Madrak’s Band of Heroes  
  • Theme: Band of Heroes  
  • 2 / 2 Free Cards 75 / 75 Army
  • Effigy of Valor – Steamroller Objective  
  • Madrak, Great Chieftain – WB: +29  
    • Dire Troll Mauler: (15)
    • Troll Bouncer: (9)
    • Winter Troll: (8)
  • Fennblade Kithkar – PC (4)  
  • Trollkin Champion Hero (5)  
  • Fell Caller Hero: free (5)  
  • Trollkin Fennblades – max (15)  
    • Trollkin Fennblade Officer Drummer: free (5)  
  • Trollkin Champions: max (17)  
    • Skaldi Bonehammer: (5)  
  • Trollkin Warders: (max) 17  
  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes: (max) 6
    • Stone Scribe Elder: (3)

Even back then, I knew Madrak 3 was a warrior loving guy. Fennblades were great against cavalry impacts, but still died pretty hard into actual charges, electroleaps, and other single wound killing things. Vengeance worked well with Madrak’s feat, since they didn’t fall down and had a 50% chance of being able to walk up after getting shot. My strategy back then was to have Madrak push four fury to the krielstone, and spend one of his own on his aura, then run up. The stone spent a fury and ran, and two bubbles, 5″ and 7″ protected the army. The Warders protected the stone from guns, then moved out to contest a flag or screen an objective. My game was evolving from mainly assassination to scenario victories.

Trying the Mountain King

  • 2/2 free cards 75 / 75 Army
  • Effigy of Valor – Steamroller Objective
  • Madrak, Great Chieftain – WB: +29  
    • Mountain King – PC: 36
    • Troll Bouncer – PC: 9  
  • Fell Caller Hero – PC: 5  
  • Stone Scribe Chronicler – PC: 4
  • Troll Whelps – 5 Whelps: 0  
  • Trollkin Fennblades – Leader & 5 Grunts: 9  
    • Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer: 0  
  • Trollkin Champions – Leader & 4 Grunts: 17
    • Skaldi Bonehammer – PC: 5  
  • Trollkin Warders – Leader & 2 Grunts: 10  
  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes – Leader & 3 Grunts: 6  
    • Stone Scribe Elder – PC: 3

This list taught me the importance of spacing. The Fennblades screened for the Mountain King fairly well. The Bouncer kept Madrak from falling over. The rest of the list played out similarly to the original. The whelps were probably overkill, and I should have included something else back then. Filling the stone was helpful, actually, since Madrak’s bubble was still fairly small. I lost a few games because the enemy was able to score first, and kept their lead while attrition did its dirty work on both our armies. Madrak 3 really couldn’t do anything for the king other than boost his armor, but the stone does that well enough.

Dude Spam

Afterward, I messed with Kriel Warriors in a spammy list. It almost ruined me, due to clock issues. What I learned there was that not every model needed to make an attack. If I’m up on points, I could feat, and use the feat turn as a delay. Either my opponent continues to slog through warriors, or they pass turn to me doing very little, and I stretch my lead by a point or two during my turn.

This is where my play style really started to make the switch from kill everyone to score points. I mostly dropped Madrak into Ghost Fleet and other incorporeal lists. Ultimately, I settled on this:

  • Theme: Band of Heroes : 2 / 2 Free Cards 75 / 75 Army  
  • Effigy of Valor – Steamroller Objective 
  • Madrak, Great Chieftain – WB: +29 
    • Troll Impaler – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)  
    • Troll Bouncer – PC: 9 (Battlegroup Points Used: 9) 
    • Pyre Troll – PC: 9 (Battlegroup Points Used: 9)  
  • Fennblade Kithkar – PC: 4  
  • Fell Caller Hero – PC: 0  
  • Horthol, Long Rider Hero – PC: 8  
  • Fell Caller Hero – PC: 5  
  • Trollkin Fennblades – Leader & 5 Grunts: 9  
    • Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer: 0  
  • Trollkin Champions – Leader & 2 Grunts: 10  
    • Skaldi Bonehammer – PC: 5  
    • Trollkin Sorcerer – PC: 3  
  • Trollkin Long Riders – Leader & 2 Grunts: 12 
  • Trollkin Fennblades – Leader & 5 Grunts: 9 
  • Trollkin Warders – Leader & 2 Grunts: 10  

In this version, I dropped the Krielstone. I took this to a convention and did okay with it. It ran partnered with Borka 2, if I recall correctly.

After the convention

After the convention, things started to turn sour for my trollbloods. The amount of Grievous Wounds that started popping up overwhelmed me a little. It felt like everyone had an anti-tough bot in their lists. Grymkin brought their battle engine out, which stopped tough, and so it felt like I was playing an army without a warlock.

Afterwards, I started bringing Madrak 3 out every now and then, but not seriously. His meta prey just wasn’t there, and he was being victimized by things that weren’t intentionally anti-troll, but were anti-whatever the thing was at the time, and trolls were just caught in the crossfire.

Some time in 2020

In 2020, Privateer Press updated some of the trollblood rules. My list with Madrak tried to take advantage of these changes, and looked like this:

  • Storm of the North, 75/75, 3/3 free cards
  • Madrak 3 +29
    • Trollkin Runebearer (5) (free)
    • Pyre Troll (8)
    • Dire Troll Brawler (16)
    • Troll Basher (7)
  • Fell Caller Hero (5) (free)
  • Northkin Fire Eaters (7)
  • Northkin Fire Eaters (7)
  • Krielstone Bearer, Min (5)
    • Northkin Elder (3)
  • Northkin Bear Handler & Battle Bears (10)
  • Northkin Bear Handler & Battle Bears (10)
  • Northkin Raiders, max (15)
  • Trollkin Champions, max (16)
    • Skaldi (5) (free)

My thought was that the Raiders were a good nuisance early on with Defender’s Ward, as could the Fire Eaters. I generally used the Fire Eaters to kill off arc nodes. I would have preferred that Madrak 3 carry Blood Fury instead of Battle Lust, but thematically it makes sense to not give his warriors even a slight de-buff. The list evolved again, with two units of Kriel Warriors added. A Fire Eater unit came out, and the Champions departed. Another Fell Caller got picked up as a free model, and I think a whelp joined the fray.

The few games I got in with the 2020 list had me questioning the inclusion of the Champions. They really hit hard, but were they needed? With Madrak and the Runebearer handing out Battle Lust, I had two big units of weapon masters. With Fell Callers, they hit often enough. I pushed the envelope, and ran all my Kriel Warriors as minimum units, painting marks on their arcs to divide them up. It had six minimum units, with two units of fire eaters, a max krielstone and three sorcerers. The goal was to spread way out, and make my opponent have to kill dudes over and over again. I only messed with it a few times, because of the screeching halt to gaming due to COVID-19.

Madrak 3 in 2022

The end of 2021 brought another change to … well, everyone. I picked up Madrak 3 again, this time because the Kriel Warriors picked up some new anti-shooting tech.

  • Madrak 3 +29
    • Trollkin Runebearer (free)
    • Pyre Troll (8)
    • Dire Troll Brawler (14)
    • Ice Troll (8)
  • Troll Whelps (1)
  • Fell Caller Hero (free) (x2)
  • Northkin Fire Eaters (6) (x2)
  • Kriel Warriors, max (11) (x3)
    • Kriel Warrior Caber Thrower (2) (x3)
  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, max (7)
    • Northkin Elder (3)

I tested this once, against a Crucible Guard list, and it worked pretty well. However, I didn’t like the decision between which fire eater unit to protect under defender’s ward. So, with the Northkin Raiders only being 13 points, the two Fire Eaters came out along with their whelp buddy.

For the last tournament I played, I dropped three cabers (one per unit) and reduced the Krielstone to a minimum, in order to add Boomhowler the Destroyer. The battlegroup changed as well. A full grown bomber is added, in place of the Pyre Troll, and the Earthborn takes the place of the Brawler for a no knock-down approach on Madrak from turn to turn. As far as the bomber goes, blasts being a non-issue for the warriors, I wouldn’t worry about throwing a bomb at a warjack standing in front of a warrior.

Tournament with Madrak3

  • Madrak 3 +29
    • Trollkin Runebearer (free)
    • Earthborn Dire Troll (12)
    • Dire Troll Bomber (16)
  • Fell Caller Hero (free) (x2)
  • Boomhowler, the Destroyer (8)
  • Northkin Raiders, max (13)
  • Kriel Warriors, max (11) (x3)
    • Kriel Warrior Caber Thrower (2) (x2)
  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, min (5)
    • Northkin Elder (3)

Why not a Mauler instead of the Earthborn? One of my issues with Madrak is that he’s easy to kill if he falls down. Why make things easy? Also, two heavies allow him to kick over tons of transfers, or really big transfers. I tested Rok a few times, but he lingers behind the army, unable to do work due to the massive amount of infantry in front of him. I dropped down to a Bomber, because I thought I could shoot some things from the back.

Game 1: Madrak 3 vs Lukas 1

The first game had Madrak fighting Lukas in CG.

  • Aurum Legate Lukas di Morray +26
    • Aurum Ominus Alyce Marc (4)
    • Liberator (10)
    • Vindicator (10)
    • Retaliator (7)
  • Railless Interceptor (16)
  • Railless Interceptor (16)
  • Thamarite Archon (9)
  • Prospero (free)
    • Suppressor (13)
  • Rocketman Stinger (free)
  • Rocketman Ace (3) (x2)
  • Crucible Guard Mechanik (1)
  • Ascendant Mentalist (4)
  • Trancer (free) (x2)

The trolls were allowed to go first. They swarmed as much as they could, although I did error a little on unpacking. The Raiders did their job well enough, jamming for a couple turns. Crucible Guard is still very efficient at removing tons of models, even though the Interceptors couldn’t use their ice sprays (Northkin models were immune). The Stinger is really adept at killing large groups of single-wound infantry, due to his auto-damaging super blast. I think it’s really a 5-point model. Flight, parry, and a 1-inch reach. Blind, Shadow Bind, or Volitile Expansion. The POW 14s stemming from an RFP attack is pretty amazing. Into single-wound dudes, the chances of scoring two of these circles of death is pretty high. After clearing a front line, the reposition and side step means it pulls back 7 inches, which is probably out of range of the back line, or in cover or behind something.

I tried to kill off the Stinger, but couldn’t manage it. To be fair, the Crucible’s guns tried to kill off my warriors, but had as much trouble getting work done as I was. The clock ticked down for my opponent, who ended up running a successful assassination against Madrak. He was quite clever. I had two cabers protecting Madrak, but a telekenesis from Lukas moved Madrak just out of range of both, and out of range of his shield guard warbeasts. From there, he just kept blasting. The volume of fire was just too much. I believe neither of us really picked up control points, and he managed to scoop up a ton of destroyed model points.

Game 2: Madrak 3 vs Bennet 1

This game had me playing against my favorite person in the world (my wife, Dessa). She was iron-manning Bennet for the tournament.

Bennet got to go first, and her deployment was fairly central. Trolls swarmed in, and she did her best to shoot them, but each grenade could only take out one at a time, even under Raid and Death from Above. Trolls keep Crucible Guard from scoring, but eventually the Earthborn is able to trample over the rocketmen and kill the mentalist sitting on the flag. Afterward, a fell caller runs to the flag, scoring and setting the trolls up for a scenario lead. The next troll turn, the Earthborn storms off into the rectangle and picks off the objective. Trolls will win by scenario.

Game 3: Madrak 3 vs Malekus 1

  • Malekus, the Burning Truth +30
    • Hierophant (2)
    • Reckoner (14)
    • Vanquisher (13)
    • Revenger (8)
    • Devout (7)
    • Repenter (7)
  • Wrack (1)
  • Exemplar Warder (free)
  • Exemplar Bastion Seneschal (free)
  • Vassal of Menoth (2)
  • Exemplar Cinerators (13)
    • Exemplar Cinerator Officer (free)
  • Exemplar Bastions (14)
  • Exemplar Errants (15)
    • Exemplar Errant Officer (3)
  • Choir of Menoth (6)

It’s a lot of armored infantry. Two multi-box heavy infantry units and errants. The Bastions were base to base and walking for a reason I don’t understand. They would have been better off interspersed among the Errants. They could have warded off some charge attacks against the Errants, had I made any. I actually didn’t make but a few attacks in the Errants’ zone. I recognized that one of his win conditions would be my clock, so I avoided the zone because I knew I could take the Cinerators down fairly reliably, but was unsure of the work on the Bastions.

My zone to control would be the center, with Raiders running in under Defender’s Ward. It wouldn’t actually do anything for me, except against spells, since the spells aren’t blessed. The jacks wouldn’t have trouble, because they can boost. My army is mostly single-wound, so the blessed weapons on the warjacks are overkill.

The bomber troll takes out two Errants, but then just provides me with a transfer target. The Mennites do try to assassinate Madrak, but between transfer tokens and the bomber serving as a shield guard, neither the guns nor spells take Madrak down.

Madrak manages to score the rectangle every turn. The layers of warriors in the rectangle combined with the feat pushing a few forward during a tough check was too much. The Cinerators fell to warrior blades. I got the bastions and Cinerators confused as to which ones had sanguine bond, and worked a little too hard at trying to kill them. Their shield wall was a little helpful for them, but not with four dice on damage rolls on charges. With the zone cleared, my rectangle, their objective gone, trolls racked some sweet, sweet control points. Despite our best attempts at getting things done timely, the clock ended the game. I had a good 10 minutes, due to a few turns of minimal activity.

Post-Tournament Analysis

The Bomber is an issue for me. It doesn’t do much work. For it to function, it requires a full load of fury. One for reload, two for boosted attacks (or damage rolls), and one for Far Strike. Its blasts are only POW 8, which doesn’t help much in a world of good armor and blast resistance. As far as efficiency goes, this is one of the worst warbeasts in the inventory.

Madrak’s Northkin spam isn’t great into Crucible Guard. Battle Bears might have done work against the Railless Interceptors.

Between the dissatisfaction with the battle group, and desire for Battle Bears, I’m settling on one of these possibilities:

  • Madrak 3 +29
    • Trollkin Runebearer (free)
    • Earthborn Dire Troll (12)
    • Slag Troll (9)
    • Troll Impaler (9)
  • Fell Caller Hero (free) (x2)
  • Bumbles (6)
  • Northkin Raiders, max (13)
  • Kriel Warriors, max (11) (x3)
    • Kriel Warrior Caber Thrower (2) (x2)
  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, max (7)
    • Northkin Elder (3)
  • Madrak 3 +29
  • Trollkin Runebearer (free)
    • Earthborn Dire Troll (12)
    • Storm Troll (7)
    • Dire Troll Brawler (14)
  • Fell Caller Hero (free) (x2)
  • Bumbles (6)
  • Northkin Bear Handlers & Battle Bears (10)
  • Northkin Raiders, max (13)
  • Kriel Warriors, max (11) (x2)
    • Kriel Warrior Caber Thrower (2) (x3)
  • Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, min (5)
    • Northkin Elder (3)

The first is fairly defensive, although Bumbles adds the ability to attack from the side. The second is a little more aggressive, with the Battle Bears taking place of one unit of warriors. I still get six cabers. The Storm Troll is there for a specific problem in Cygnar, and to handle hard to hit guys. I will e-leap off my own dudes!

Thanks for reading

As always, good luck in your games, and thanks for reading. Comment below if you feel like it.