-By: Elliott (PG_E2lio2tr)
A few weeks ago we talked about what a Beast caster is and how they work on table. Some are not as clear as others. Doomshaper2, also known as Doomshaper Rage of Dhunia, is very much and in every way a clear Warbeast caster. The old man of the Trollbloods, Doomshaper became a bit more cranky in his second versions. Today, we are looking at what he brings to the Trollblood army and how he plays. Doomshaper2 takes the normal style of the army and shifts it slightly to the more primal and beastual side of the game. This is evident on every section of his cards.
He will never be a front line caster. If you want that, go look at Madrak2 or Borka1. If Doomshaper is in combat, either something went wrong or you need to finish something off. His stats clearly want him to be in the back of his army and surrounded by beasts. Let’s take a look at them.
With a Def of 13,a Arm of 15, and 16 damage boxes, he will get hit alot if you are not careful. Placement and blocking line of sight with larger models will be a key part of using him. Leaving a gap where the other player can get some shots through or a charge from an unexpected angle could spell the end for the old man…. Um…. old troll. You may want some form of shield guard around him to protect from ranged attacks as well. More on this later in the army building section.
The big part of his stats is Doomshaper’s Fury stat. With a Fury of 7, he can cast his spells, upkeep what is needed and support running the large battle group he likes with less fear of leaving Fury on the table and Frenzying. The trick will be to know when to cast what spell and what order to do things in. He is not a melee centric caster, so he will be slinging spells and supporting yous beasts.
Like other Beast/Jack casters, it is hard to look at parts of Doomshaper2 in a vacuum. Between his abilities, his personal spells and the animus available to him, there is a lot of different interactions that affect how he works. We are will be looking at everything all at once to try & help show the layering of benefits they offer one another.
There are two key abilities that Doomshaper2 brings that are key to his play style. The first one is Attuned Spirit (Dire Troll). This ability allows Doomshaper to cast an animus from one of the DIre Trolls in his battle group for free every turn. While off first sight this may not seem like a big deal, it is when you start looking at the options this brings you that makes it have a large impact on the game. With animus like Rage, Arcane Suppression and Earth’s Blessings as options, Doomshaper can tailor what he does each turn to best effect the board. During the first turn he can cast Earth’s Blessing and keep him self a bit safer. The next turn if the other caster is going to end up with in 10 inches of him, he can cast Arcane Suppression and really mess with the spells that they can cast. When it is time for the alpha strike, casting Rage for free onto one of your beasts can save Fury on the Maulers and put the animus on more beasts in the group. That can add up to a lot of +3 STR effects on the board.
The next ability that really helps his style of play is Field Marshal (Overtake). In a Pre-errata world, we all remember the fun that Madrak2 could do with Overtaking berserk attacks. While most beasts do not have access to Berserk (more on that in a bit), they can buy more attacks. Giving all of your beasts Overtake means that they can move up the board a bit more and help clear charge lanes for other beasts or clear out more models with in their melee range. With an aggressive army, the beasts will do a lot of work.
A few of his spells are situational. They will have their place in some games but not always. There are three spells that will see use in most games or at least be on the scope of use. These are Hex Blast, Psycho Surgery and Wild Aggression.
Hex Blast will be used to help clear upkeeps and animi from the enemy models before sending your beasts in to do the hard work. Clearing defensive spells like Defenders Ward, or Iron Flesh will help your beasts kill their targets easier and accomplish what you want with less risk of filling your beasts too much with Fury just to kill off one model. These extra points can be used to generate more attacks or just keep them open for transfers.
With so many beasts on the table, they will be the main targets of your opponent’s attacks. They will get damage on the way in. Psycho Surgery helps this some. By being able to spend just 2 Fury to heal all of your beasts between 2 to 4 points from ALL of your beasts in one quick swoop will make a big impact. Keeping your beasts alive to get to the battle is a big deal and this spell will help.
Here is a question for you. Who doesn’t like free charges? I really can not think of anyone. Well Wild Aggression does this AND more. This spell allows the target warbeast to charge, run, slam or trample for free. Also all of its attack rolls are boosted for free. Between this and Overtake, there will be one beast in his group that will get in and do as much damage as they can. Besides for turns where you will need the feat for all of your beasts to get in, this spell can be juggled between two beasts a turn to get the most of the spell.
Now the Feat, Scroll of Grimmr. This feat speeds up your battlegroup with a +3 bonus to their speed and allows them to charge/slam/trample with out spending Fury to do so. WIth most of our heavies being Speed5 naturally with a 1 inch melee range, your opponent will know that 9 inches is the normal threat range of your Dire Trolls.This feat brings that threat range up to 12 inches. If they keep their stuff a foot away from your army, they will have issues getting into the fight. If they come close then you will be able to get the Alpha strike off with ease.
Let us take the feat and put it into a practical example. We will use a Dire Troll Mauler and a Juggernaut as its target. Doomshaper will use his feat, Attuned Spirit to cast Rage and the spell Wild Aggression on this Mauler. This Mauler will be able to charge his target from 12 inches away for free. His first attack will be fully boosted for free thanks to the free charge and Wild Aggression. With Rage it is a P+S 19, bringing it to -1 to what is rolled per attack damage roll. With 3d6 from the charge attack and on average die rolls (3d6=10 and 2d6=7) the first attack will cause 9 damage. This will be followed by a the second initial attack (again on average die rolls) causing 6 damage. Because the first two attacks hit, the DIre troll will activate its Chain attack, Grab & Smash to perform a Headbutt for free. This will knock down the target ( making future attacks hit automatically in melee) as well as casing a damage roll with the base STR of the troll, 15 thanks to rage, -5 to the damage roll, for an average of 2 damage. WIth out spending Fury, the troll has done 17 points of damage. That is half of the Jacks damage grid. Now, with the 5 Fury that the beast has to use, he can do 5 more hits at an average of 6 damage each. That is another 30 points of damage. That is 47 damage points on average. That should crash a Juggernaut normally. Of course, dice spikes and lulls happen. The point of this was to show that the distance the Beast can cover thanks to the feat and the amount of damage it can hand out BEFORE spending any Fury. On a lighter armored target, there will be more damage on average being dealt. Now, with the exception of Wild Aggression, imagine if this from three to five other Dire trolls all at the same time. That would be rather scary to be on the other side of it.
Now the next question is what to bring with this guy. First I will look at the warbeast options because this will make up the core of the army really.
Dire Troll Mauler: This guy will be a staple for Doomshaper2. With his access to the animus Rage and 5 Fury, it will be a workhorse for the army. Rage will bring its two claw attacks to P+S19 which (as shown above) will do a heavy amount of work on whatever it is sent into.
Earthborn Dire Troll: While not as heavy a hitter as the Mauler, the Earthborn comes stock with immunities to all of the elemental damage types and pathfinder. Not much will slow this guy down. Hell, being in woods or around any rough terrain will speed him up two inches thanks to Elemental Communion. Its animus, Earth’s Blessing, will help it stay where you want it and hold a zone/flag/objective. It can also help Doomshaper from being tossed about or knocked down.
Slag Troll: This guy is really just there for Erosion. Throwing Rage up on it brings its two claw attacks to P+S16 with 3d6 vs Jacks and other constructs. Basically, a cruise missile to take out light jacks and lightly armed heavies.
Bouncer: This guy would be in for two reasons really. The first is his animus, which is the same as the Earthborn’s. The other reason is shield guard. Doomshaper will get shot at, so having something else take the shot without needing to transfer the damage or deal with any type of side effects can be a handy thing to have around.
Axer: Thresher and Rush. The two reasons to bring this guy to the table. Adding a way to extend your beasts threat range is always handy. And there is not many ways for You to take care of swarms of models with most of our heavies, so thresher can be helpful in some ways.
Mulg: Now this guy will see table time with all the Doomshapers. He brings a P+S 18 range2 club, a range 1 fist with P+S16 and Retaliatory Strike ( thanks to the bond with Doomshaper). Add Rage to that and he is packing a P+S21 and a P+S19 pair of attacks. He is slower than other Dire Trolls, but has Relentless Charge, so what he will not get slowed down any more on the charge getting to his target. Also with the Range 2 club he can hit things from just as far away as other targets but will only get one attack.
Another reason to bring this guy besides the amount of damage he can pump out, is his animus. When the animus is used, any enemy spell caster must increase the cost of a spell by one to cast and double the cost to upkeep spells. When casted by bothe Mulg & Doomshaper, that will put two different 20 inch diameter bubbles of screwing with spell casting on the table. It will make the other side have to think about placement a bit more and what spells REALLY need to stay on the table and what spells they want to cast.
Rok: Earlier I was talking about how a beast heavy list would have issues with swarms of models. This guy is one solution to this issue. Rok comes with Berserk as a basic rule and when combined with Overtake from Doomshaper’s Field Marshal ability, he can move around a unit and keep killing as much as he can before ending the chain of attacks by activating his Snacking ability. Think of what Madrak2 use to do before the errata hit, a surfing beast that can chew its way through almost anything. He comes with two base melee attacks with as P+S16 & a P+S18. Again, Rage will bring these up to 19 & 21 respectfully. He also comes with the animus Primal so he could add just 2 STR as well as 2 MAT but would frenzy the next turn. With a base MAT of 7, it is a question of how the high is the DEF of the target model(s). Personally I would rather put Rage and Wild Aggression on him. This way he can cause more damage and get a free charge as well as boosted attack rolls on all of the attacks he will do that activation (which could be a lot thanks to the Beserk/Overtake combo). This way all of the Fury that he generates will be for boosting damage rolls (on the bigger targets) or buying more attacks when me misses for some reason.
Troops are a bit trickier. Doomshaper2 does not bring anything to directly improve them. They will either need to be there to support the beasts or be independent enough to support themselves.
Krillstone: This one will see a lot of play with Doomshaper. With his 7 Fury, he can easily fully fuel the stone. The +2 Armor to the small number of models on the table will help keep things alive. Most of the Dire Trolls have a base Armor of 18. This would bring them up to Khador Jack armor levels. We all know how hard it is to remove them, and Troll beasts have the ability to be healed. Add the CA to it then you can protect everything effected from Continuous effects or give them +1 strength. A lot of options that will help the army as a whole.
Whelps: With so many beasts on the table, you will need a way to deal with all the Fury that will be generated that you can not pull off. Enter the Whelps. Being used as Comfort Food, you can push the beasts hard on the Alpha Strike turn and then deal with all of the Fury that will be generated. A cheap investment of points for a lot of use.
Dhunian Knot: Between being able to heal models and Puppet Master giving your beasts a re roll on those attacks that matter would almost guarantee they are put in a list. They also come with the ability Wild COmmunion. This allows you to re roll Threshold checks that are with in 3 inches of them. WIth so many beasts, you will have turns where you need to roll them. Giving them a re roll gives them a better chance of going the way you want.
Runebearer: Now this guy. Oh the Runebearer. He will be in you Doomshaper lists. Harmonious Exaltation reduces the cost of one spell each turn that Doomshaper casts. This counts any animus’ that Doomshaper casts directly himself. On a Turn that he needs to, Doomshaper will be able to cast Rage 5 times with his 7 Fury. Here’s how: One for free with Attuned Spirit, Once for 1 with Harmonious Exaltation, and three more times with the remaining 6 Fury. Now In reality, he will be putting it out four times normally, upkeep Wild Aggression, and either sitting on the last one or refill the stone from the one used the turn before to activate its ability. But the option is there. Fury efficiency is an important thing to remember and abuse where you can.
Runeshapers: These guys will be there to try & knock stuff down. WIth Rock hammer or Tumbler, they will try to knock down things to allow your beasts to do the main work of destroying the enemy. A knocked down model is easier to hit after all.
Warriors: Cheap and plentiful. Their job will be to get into a zone or around an objective & hold it or just tar pit & make it so there is one less thing trying to attack your beasts before you are ready to.
Theme or no theme? This is the tricky part of running a Doomshaper2 list. Do you use the theme Power of Dhunia or just a normal army list? Keeping the list open to any model and not in the theme force allows you to add flexibility like Warriors, Rok or Lanyssa. By applying the theme force, you can get free models, apply Wild Aggression before the game starts and increase the Threshold of all of your beasts. The option is really up to you and how you want to play the army. Below are two version of Doomshaper2 lists. One is in theme and one is out.
- Runebearer (Free)
- Whelps (Free)
- Northkin Shaman (Free)
- Dhunian Knot
- Elder CA
- Dhunian Knot
- Krielstone (Max)
- Elder CA
- Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew
There we have it. Doomshaper2. He offers us a solid way to play an aggressive Beast heavy/focused army. He will be tricky to play but once you get the hang of it, he should be fun to field. So, go out there, get some games in with him, or whoever your favorite caster is, and have fun.