Trollbloods in MK3, Theory vs Practice

Hello Warmachine and Hordes enthusiasts, I’m Nick and I am here to talk about my favorite army- the hungry Trollbloods. Before I jump right in, a little about me. I’ve been playing WM/H since 2006, right after Primal came out. Over the years I have played Cygnar, Legion, Mercs, Cryx, and Trolls.

My adventure with Trollbloods started in early 2014, a few months after the Calandra Evolutionary Elementalism tier list was released in No Quarter. The flavor- and raw power of the list- is what drew me into trolls. EE did not place in major events until mid 2015. I played over 60 games with variations of the list, usually bringing Warders, because they were the best unit in MK2. Although I advocated strongly for the EE/Runes of War list pairing, I dabbled in many other lists including Grim2 gunline, Grissel1 Meat Mountain, and Doomy3 beast-brick.

With MK3 now in full swing with an established meta formed, I want to talk about the Trolls and highlight the lists that have been successful for me. Back in November we had an 18-player state-qualifier event at Critical Hit Games, our LGS in St Petersburg FL. I was the only Trollblood player, and at the time Circle was the ultimate meta bogeyman with pre-Nerf Una forcefully dominating the unsettled metagame. My list pairing was Horgle2 (pre-release) and Gunnbjorn. Both lists featured Mountain King, Highwaymen, and Dozer & Smigg. I won a decisive round one victory with Horgle2 vs Baldur2, followed by scenario losses against Harbinger, Haley2, and Una2. At the time, I was largely out of practice with Trolls. After this event I decided that I needed Madrak2 in my pairing to improve my matchups.


In February 2017, I attended another 17-player qualifier in Palm Bay, FL. This time I ran Madrak2 BoH and Gunnbjorn PoD. The Madrak2 list had 2 full units of Fennblades along with x2 units of Kriel Warriors, designed to crack armor and flood the scenario zone with angry Trolls. By this time the Trollblood Command book was out and I was completely sold on the Band of Heroes / Power of Dhunia tier pairing. In round 1 I played Gunnbjorn against Cygnar (Stryker2). The dice gods were in my favor as I was able to roll out a turn-2 assassination with my aiming, sniped Glacier King, assisted by 2 Bombers. Next I played a truly epic match against my friend Greg S, who is also a Flomachine contributor and all-around great player. The matchup was Madrak2 vs Coven, quickly devolving into the grindiest game I had played in recent history. It eventually came down to scenario and Cryx won 5 to 4. In round 3, I played vs Haley3 and Gunnbjorn was tragically knocked down and killed following a Force Hammer. I learned a very important lesson here, Gunnbjorn should ALWAYS bring the Earthborn, the synergy with Rock Wall in addition to the Earth’s Blessing animus is just mandatory.

After 2 losses, Madrak2 finally found his comfort zone in round 4 vs Reznik2. Although my opponent played a tight game, the volume of warriors I had on the table was too overwhelming.  I had played a lot of practice games over the holidays, and by this point the tier benefits of BoH/PoD were really highlighted. Band of Heroes can turn an early advantage into an unstoppable landslide of warriors. Power of Dhunia is more nuanced, but I have learned that both Kings, Mauler skew, Earthborn skew, and Bomber skew are all viable list options with the right caster. PoD is typically a safer pick into bad matchups or skews that don’t involve a lot of weapon masters. The free whelps/Janissa, free upkeeps turn 1 to help fuel the stone, and +2 threshold are all instrumental in making sure your Heavies are able to strike when the opportunity is there. Truthfully, both of the theme armies are critical to Trollbloods current faction identity.

Naturally, my list development is shaped by larger metagame as Trolls have not been getting any “presents” since the Command book came out. Sorry Mr. Sea King. My favorite list pairing is still Madrak2 and Gunnbjorn with the following lists:

“Band of Heroes” 75/75

Madrak2 +28

Earthborn 15

Mauler 15

X2 Fennblades with UAs (One free UA) 35

min Champs 10

min Warders 10

min Krielstone + Elder 9

Fell Caller 5

Chronicler 4

“Power of Dhunia” 75/75

Gunnbjorn +28

Mountain King 36

Bomber 19

Earthborn 15

Dozer & Smigg 18

min Krielstone + Elder 9

Dhunian Knot 6

Janissa (free)

Whelps (free)

Northkin Shaman (free)


Regarding the Madrak2 list, it always surprises me how versatile and hard hitting the list can be. Nearly every ability in the list is useful on a per-game basis. Madrak2 is the strongest in melee, the hardest to kill, and possibly the best spell list in Trolls. Why not play Madrak2? His major weakness is offensive-magic-oriented opponents such as pDenny or Adeptis Rahn. Outside of pDenny Ghost Fleet, there are not many bad matchups. The army is actually durable enough to scare Fyanna2. Typical heavy warjack builds that are seen in Cygnar and Khador are almost always disadvantaged into the Fennblade alpha strike. If your opponent is bringing a lot of quality infantry, or a lot of heavy armor, Madrak2 answers both.

The Gunnbjorn list has similarities in that it also cracks armor, but beast brick is an obviously different style. Basically you are playing the game of “King Maker” with the Mountain King. The three heavies and the Rock Wall are just makeshift armor for your MK. The MK can trigger 2 POW 16 sprays per turn with the benefit from Guided Fire and Explosivo (magical, ranged RFP) making it a little absurd at times. The MK threats 18″ with the assault spray which will keep any opponent honest. Dozer gets big credit for being good in this list because he can begin the game with Snipe meaning his effective range is 26″. With Dual Attack, Kill Shot, Bulldoze, and base ARM 19 he can get a huge amount of work done. Even the Lucky Shot animus has good use on Gunnbjorn bringing his Bazooka shot to a potential RAT 8 or 10 with aiming.  The list has some of the most reliable spot removal in the faction and my opponents hate my feat turn where they are forced to engage me in melee, or eat another turn of shooting.

Gunnbjorn + MK has been the most fun and rewarding Trolls list I have played in MK3. Because of the extensive toolbox, the Gunnbjorn PoD is usually the ideal drop into Cygnar, Ret, Legion, Khador and Mercs. Something to watch out for is Parasite, unfortunately Trolls don’t have a good answer for it outside of Borka’s Arcane Ward. In theory, Trolls could run the Sacral Vault to Arcane Vortex the Parasite but I think I would much rather bring a War Wagon. The War Wagon was buffed immensely by the CID and I’m excited to try it out with a slew of theme lists.

Thanks for reading, and may you roll lots of 5s and 6s!

 The Oracle has spoken.

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