Gunnbjorn: Revisiting One Year Later

I largely took this year off from Warmachine due to a new addition to the family.  Now that things have steadied again though, I am back to playing a couple games a week.

A year ago I wrote an article about Gunnbjorn and his place as a Troll Warlock and as an overall War(noun) in the game.  I offered a list, at the time, which I thought to be an okay way to break him in, letting his beasts do the heavy lifting.

Since that time, there have been some really nice new Ranged elements entering Trolls, namely Dozer & Smigg, Braylen, Highwaymen, and Northkin Fire Eaters.  I am always looking for a new pairing to handle troop lists primarily (I typically run eMadrak Weapon Master Spam or Runes of War as my primarily list) and to bring something to the table that players don’t expect from Trolls.  I originally wrote a list for Grim2 using a lot of the models previously mentioned, but then I took a list at the oft forlorn Gunnbjorn again, and I noticed that these releases make his theme force pretty legit in my opinion.

Here is the Theme Force Tier 4 list I have designed for him:

Captain Gunnbjorn
* Dozer & Smigg
* Dire Troll Bomber
* Dire Troll Bomber
Northkin Fire Eaters
Northkin Fire Eaters
Thumper Crew
Thumper Crew
Trollkin Highwaymen
Braylen Wanderheart, Trollkin Outlaw
Fell Caller

I think this list has some merit, particularly against troop swarm.  Snipe on the Highwaymen gives them two Rng 12 Pow 10 shots for clearing basic infantry, and if they can get behind heavier infantry their shots gain an additional die of damage.

Fire Eaters are great all around, a good number of (likely) boosted attack/boosted damage auto fire sprays.

Braylen brings two more Pow 12 shots that get rerolls if they miss.

Thumper Crews, Dozer & Smigg, and Gunnbjorn put out four Rng 14 Pow 14 shots a turn, with Knockdown/Slam, auto boosted Blast Damage, and Crit Devastation respectively.

Fell Caller is mostly there for Pathfinder/Tough Knockdown recovery, but as with most Trolls, he is a solo who does work.

Finally, the Bombers do what the Bombers do, dropping multiple Pow 16s a turn.

Now on top of all that, the Theme Force lowers the point cost of those Bombers to 9, gives me two Trenches for Deployment, gives the Thumper Crews Advance Deployment, and my Warbeasts get +2 SPD on the first turn.

While Gunnbjorns feat isn’t really a force multiplier here, I feel like Snipe on the Highwaymen and Guided Fire really make good models great here.

I think the primary strength of the list is the high volume of average to above average damage attacks.  It should shred most Troop spam lists.  The Thumper Crews can also help get even heavy armor targets out of zones/off flags.

The weaknesses are pretty straight forward, it isn’t going to handle Heavy Armor skew (MMM, Fist, etc.) well, and it loses some value against high defense models that can ignore blast damage, such as Satyxis Raiders, Nyss with Gorten, Baldur1, etc.

All together, I think it could pair well with Runes of War, as Runes typically suffers against real swarm armies.  Once your Runeshapers are engaged, your sustainable volume of attacks drops dramatically.

Looking at this list it looks fun, and I think it has game in a lot of matchups.  I am going to give it some play and report back!

Gunnbjorn: The Internet says he is bad!


So I have been playing a lot of Khador recently, but my true love is with Trolls and, despite the fun I have with the Motherland, is unlikely to change.

PPForum user  Tyranius has been running some user polls to see who people think are the best and worst Warcasters/Warlocks in their faction and, recently, the entire game.  It was no surprise that Gunnbjorn showed up as the worst caster for the Troll faction, I don’t even think there is a reasonable argument that he is not the bottom of our barrel.  Every other Warlock in Trolls brings more to the table than he does, and he arguably has the worst feat in the game (essentially turns his control area into one big trench for FF models and prevents Knockdown).  So no gripe with him being called the worst in Trolls, here are the results for the “gamewide” poll though:

Bottom 5

Captain Gunnbjorn 150 8%
Lord Assassin Morghoul 131 7%
Koldun Kommander Aleksandra Zerkova 123 7%
Dr. Arkadius 118 7%
High Allegiant Amon Ad’Raza 109 6%

So that is the worst Warlocks, how many respondents chose them as the worst (respondents voted for 5 “worst”) and the percentage of total votes they received.  150 people who took this poll marked Gunnbjorn as the worst war(noun)s in the game.  One other interesting point is the gap between Gunnbjorn and eMorghoul is the largest gap in the top 5.

So my question is what is wrong with Gunnbjorn?  Is he really terrible, or is he just trying to play a game Trolls don’t want to play?  I am inclined to think it is is the latter.  I often here Cygnar players saying they would trade unmentionable body parts to have Gunnbjorn in their faction, but Cygnar isn’t Trolls clearly.

Let’s see what we can do with him at 50 points!

Captain Gunnbjorn
* Troll Impaler
* Dire Troll Bomber
* Dire Troll Bomber
* Rok
* Trollkin Runebearer
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder
Trollkin Scouts (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Trollkin Scouts (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Troll Whelps

I think this is what I would want to run with him, not the most creative list maybe, but I think it has some benefits.  Guided Fire affects 5 models and with the Runebearer only costs 2 Fury and leads to a roughly 40% chance for Rok to land his Critical Effect, the Bombers are also no slouch in melee with Primal, they become Mat 7 with two Pow 18 (with Stone) Open Fists and have 4 Fury to make use of each.  Whelps are there because One thing I think Gunnbjorn does struggle with is balancing what he wants to bring to the table (devastating Battlegroup ranged attacks) with only FURY 6.

I went with double Scouts here for a few reasons.  The first is that his feat, even on Turn 1, greatly extends their options for moving up the board.  Def 17 with no Blast Damage is a great thing for Scouts, Snipe also brings them to Range 10 on their Power 11 throwing axes (Pow 12 with Stone Strength from the Kriel Stone).  Range 10/Pow 12 is not something to be ignored.  They are only Rat 5, but it doesn’t get any better for Trolls outside of Warlocks.  With Gang they are also Mat 8/Pow 14 in Melee; can’t complain about that!

One special thing here is the role of the Stone in this list.  The stone is there to help primarily with damage and less with Armor; of specific note though, it is the only in faction option that can do something about Stealth which without the Stone would be a very hard counter to Gunnbjorn and everything he wants to bring.  This is especially important as the other three “ranged heavy Warlocks”, the Grims and Jarl, have tricks for getting around Stealth; Gunny only has lucky deviations on his side.

Is this a great list?  I don’t think so, I do think it makes decent use of Gunnbjorn though and can be a dark horse to folks not used to dealing with Gunny and/or Scouts.  Possible substitution would be Nyss Hunters for both units of Scouts.  I don’t know that I like that as much as you get less bodies and you need a 2 man CMA to equal a gang attack from the Scouts.  CRA is handy, especially at range 16.  Assault on the Scouts is great though! Nyss don’t get the protection of the feat, but they can afford to stay further back; a bit of a toss-up I think.  I won’t lie, I am a Trollblood purist and sometimes hamstring myself to bring Trolls over a comparable or better unit from Mercs/Minions.

In conclusion, I think Gunnbjorn is in a weird place right now with Trolls, but I look forward to what the Trollkin Highwaymen are going to bring us in Exigence, perhaps it will be a new outlook on life for Gunny.  I do not believe him to be the worst War(noun) in the game though!  Bottom 25%?  Sure!  Bottom 10%?  Probably.  Bottom 5%?  Not in my opinion.

Trolljo #1 eGrim 50pts

So occasionally I, like most people in the hobby I think, look at a Warcaster/Warlock and just try to throw a list together for them.  Hunters Grim (eGrim/Grim2) is, in my opinion one of the best looking models in the game, and certainly in the faction as far as I am concerned.  The problem that I often equate with the Hunters Grim is that they bring Ranged Support to a faction where our Melee options vastly outweigh (and outnumber) our Ranged options.

So what do the Hunters Grim do well?  In my opinion they extend threat range, particularly for Ranged units.  This is primarily accomplished through Mirage, Reform (allowing them to play farther forward than they might normally), and their Feat.  In addition to this they also bring Trolls their only anti-Tough tech in faction, and through the same vessel (Mortality) can fix some matchups against mid-high Defense and Armor.  Now, to be fair, pGrissel brings similar fixing via Calamity, pGrim is better at countering Defense skews, and eMadrak handles high armor better.  That said, pGrim has to rely on other other pieces for Armor breaking (which, let’s be honest, in Trolls is not that hard to find), eMadrak needs help against high Defense, and pGrissel has a harder time sticking Calamity than eGrim does with Mortality and Calamity of course doesn’t carry the “no healing” clause.

So how do we make best use of eGrim?  I decided to follow two basic ideas:

1) His feat is a trap to be wary of.  While it seems great to hand out a bunch of Snipe and Mark Target, if you skew too heavily into Ranged options you will likely see issues on non-feat turns.

2) Because there are better lists to counter armor or defense, skewing one way is an effort in futility.  Simply put, I felt eGrim could work well as a general list, bringing a bit of anti-Defense and anti-Armor  while having a good game against medium+ Troop swarm.  I feel like these are the most common non-one trick pony (Butcher3 bullet, etc.) armies you will see.

So without further ado, the list:

Hunters Grim
* Pyre Troll
* Storm Troll
* Troll Impaler
Krielstone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts)
* Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer
Trollkin Scattergunners (Leader and 5 Grunts)
* Trollkin Scattergunner Officer & Drummer
Trollkin Warders (Leader and 4 Grunts)
Fell Caller Hero
Fennblade Kithkar
Janissa Stonetide
Stone Scribe Chronicler


Battlegroup – Now to the uninitiated it may look like we are lacking in punch here due to no Heavy Warbeasts.  I don’t feel that to be the case (and it has not been so in my test games).  Storm Troll helps with Infantry clearing and situational brilliance against Circle/Cygnar.  Pyre Troll is our first damage buff in the list, brings an AoE with auto-fire and of course helps in some matchups like Legion/Menoth.  Impaler may seem like an odd inclusion here given eGrim’s feat,  but having Far Strike every turn for eGrim’s unit and the Battlegroup is important enough to warrant its inclusion, it also becomes very handy as explained later.

Units – Min Stone + UA, no crazy tech here, mostly for the +1 Str / No Continuous Effects, but No Stealth/Incorporeal comes in handy.  +2 Armor is of course never bad either.  Fennblades not only act as our tarpit, but with the UA and the Kithkar they make exceptional Mark Target models on the Feat turn, they are of course no slouch in the combat department either, though they are nothing special.

The minimum Scattergunners are there to abuse the feat.  Because their sprays ignore the target in Melee penalty, with Mirage they can start off their turn, place with 2″, sacrifice movement to Aim and become potential Rat 11 Pow 14 sprays using the Fennblades not only for Mark Target, but to line up their sprays however they want.

Warders hang by the stone to get the benefit there, Armor 21 is great of course.  They are the heavy damage of the list though, and that is their true purpose here.  Assuming best scenario:
Pow 10 + 2 (Battle Driven) + 2 (Flaming Fists) + 2 (Charge of the Trolls) + 2 (Mortality) + 1 ( Stone Strength) = Potential 5 Pow 19 Charging Weaponmasters, averaging 33 damage per model, oh and they have Critical Fire on their weapon; seems okay!

Solos – Janissa is Janissa!  Fun fact, it is not out of the question to have Grim Angus himself at Defense 24 versus Ranged/Magic (Tale of Mists + Rock Wall + Elevation).  The Chronicler brings Tale of Mists which is great in general, Charge of the Trolls which is part of our Defense/Armor fixes, and Hero’s Tragedy which makes Mortality that much easier to land.  This is where that Impaler becomes even more useful as Reach greatly helps with Charge of the Trolls.  Finally the Fell Caller brings two Weapon Master attacks (possibly at Pow 15), another 8″ Spray (this one going to Rat 12/Pow  14) and all the Fell Calling goodness to get people up and moving, overcoming Defense, or aiding those poor Warders if my opponent neglects to hurt them and they need to get through Rough Terrain.

One trick I am looking to use to some effect (hopefully) is having Muggs aim and shoot Grim himself with the Snare Gun to knock him down and then using Tale of Mists to give Grim essentially super stealth.  I think on the right turns versus casters like eVayl and Ravyn there could be some use there.


Anyhow, currently the list sits undefeated, and I intend to get some more practice with it.  Look forward to updates!