This week whilst we are still waiting for the dynamic update following the troll CID ive been looking at other lists I can play when the updates do drop. I’m pretty sure that most people will dive straight into variations of the new Madrak 1, assuming that he stays mostly the same. As long as Even Ground remains unchanged and he keeps Tactician I think there’s lots to explore, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.
What I had been thinking about is the other changes coming to our Warlocks. We have changes to Grim 1, making him an interesting meta choice due to his control feat and the gradual reappearance of infantry in the meta. Borka 1, who got a quality of life change to Mosh Pit and remains a strong (if a little boring) caster and last but by no means least, Borka 2.
Borka 2 received a considerable overhaul and not without good reason. I would argue that prior to the CID, Borka 2 and Madrak 1 were easily our least competitive and weak casters. Neither really had a niche that was filled better by another warlock. This is what has had me thinking about the changes to Borka 2 and if they’ll open him up enough, distinguish him enough and ultimately either enable a list build that asks a new and different question to be asked, or answer one in the meta that we currently can’t answer.
So what does he do? Well it’s quite interesting to look at him broken down into his individual parts. In terms of raw stats he’s is easily one of the most survivalable, mobile, and threatening in terms of damage output and number of attacks. He is certainly top of the other beast casters in the faction ie Ragnor, Doomshaper 2 & 3 in this area, and on a par with the likes of Madrak 2.
Looking at his survivability, he is 14/18 (20 under the stone) but has the Defiant Rage which grants a +2/+2 to Str and Arm after an attack, so after the first attack he’ll be Arm 22 a lot of the time which makes him pretty hard although not impossible to kill. You’re going to need Boosted attacks at PS 14+ so really only Heavies are going to be able to down him without debuffs or the like. In terms of his Def 14, which isn’t great, however he has innate Pathfinder, Reposition (3), an army wide Concealment spell if the table is really sparse on defensive terrain and access to a number of Defensive Animi so he should be Def 16 if not higher most of the time. On top of the numbers he’ll also have transfers so is able to play forward and threaten the table.
His mobility is also pretty impressive, SPD 7, Pathfinder and Reposition makes him our most mobile caster and only the fourth troll caster with Pathfinder. I think it’s important if you want to the build a list that maximises his personal threat you have the option to give him the +2 Mat buff from a Fell Caller regardless of terrain.
In regards to personal output he’s a cavalry model so has Impact attacks which at Mat 8 and Pow 14+, Knock down on hit with Trash is going to easily remove infantry. He also has Assault which is pretty situational, a Pow 15+ rng 2 Melee weapon and a good rule on his weapon in Crit Smite which probably isn’t worth playing for but will be useful as another tool box. So on first glance it looks like he only has the two initials but if he’s charging something, he’ll Impact attack it which unless its immune Knock down then means everything else hits, so a Pow 12, then Pow 15+. I think the combination of these abilities and his free Animus each turn means that he can kill Heavies himself, still camp a bit and Reposition back.
Next up, his spell list and what I think makes him stand out in comparison to the likes of your Ragnors and Doomshapers and that is Battle Charged. This grants his battlegroup Counter Charge, Counter Charge is a strong ability, one that is unique in Trolls to Borka 2 and serves many different roles in the game. It can be a deterrent to infantry, or damaged beasts or jacks as the single attack can kill them or take out a system or aspect ending the activation or blunting it. It can be used to block a charge lane or as a threat extension, suddenly a beast or Borka 2 is 6” close to the Enemy caster that the player had planned for. There are also other Trollblood specific plays; the animus Winter Coat for example makes a model Stationary at the end of its activation if it ends within 2” of the affect model. This may not sound that great until you catch a heavy of high Def model with a Counter Charge and then auto Freeze it at the end of it activation, it’s also a great counter to one of the ways to play around Counter Charge and that’s to run and engage the Counter Charge model before using other models, now although the engaging model with no longer be engaging as its stationary it’ll still be blocking space with its base, this does however significantly blunt the play. His other spells, Frost Hammer which isn’t really going to get cast much and Snow Shroud which I think is a pretty strong Control Area wide Concealment buff, pushing models into the “needing to boost,” range of Def 14 +. It could also possibly allow for the Borka 2 player to hold the feat and utilise it in a more aggressive and effective way if you can deliver the army for an Alpha and then Feat.
Finally the Feat, its either Stealth on everything on the approach, or a pseudo defensive buff in that the model hit becomes Stationary after the attack. In practice that means that unless they have either a horde of weapon masters, single attack models or huge bases any melee threat is significantly reduced and shooting taken off the table if used in conjunction with Battle Charged, as if they move inside 5” to shoot they trigger Counter Charge. It’s an interesting Feat with some holes in it, I think there are definitely better Feats in the faction but it works well with Battle Charged and allows him some better plays due to the Stealth granting aspect.
So having looked at his parts how does this come together? Well I find him quite interesting as outside of the Battle Charged he doesn’t really offer much to Beasts and apart from Snow Shroud (which affects Beasts) he doesn’t really offer much to Infantry. I think this maybe puts him in a pretty rare case in Trolls in that he seems a mixed arms caster with a very potent personal threat.
In my lists that I’ve built and played a couple of times I find that I’m tending to play him with a large battle group
Trollbloods Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Storm of the North
(Borka 2) Borka, Vengeance of the Rimeshaws [+27]
– Dire Troll Mauler 
– Earthborn Dire Troll 
– Earthborn Dire Troll 
– Pyre Troll 
Northkin Shaman [0(4)]
Horthol, Long Rider Hero 
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (min) 
– Stone Scribe Elder 
Long Riders (max) 
Northkin Fire Eaters 
Northkin Fire Eaters 
The thinking around this list is you have two very hardy and mobile heavies, supported by a aggressive and mobile infantry package. I played after a Heylenna, 5 Heavy build and he found it very difficult to play around the aggressiveness of the list and the Feat. I’ve already decided that I think the list needs more Beasts to offer Counter Charge threats, so im going to swap out the Earthborn for two Bashers. I also found the Shaman pretty useless as you’re playing so far forward so his cloud isn’t that useful and the rest of the army has outpaced him so you can really use the Spray or Chiller. I think a Runebearer is probably much better as he passively extends his the Control Area and Feat and with Harmonious Exaltation and Borkas Attuned Spirit facilitate two Rages a turn for 1 Fury and in a pinch still has access to the magic spray. The final tweak I think will improve the list is I’m going to reduce the Long Riders to min and add a Winter Troll. The Winter Troll gives me another Beast but more importantly a strong animus to prevent the jamming of models around the Winter Troll and Borka who can cast it for free. A boostable spray is also a great tool.
In summary and think hes interesting and unique due the Counter Charge, I think he’s vulnerable to Enemy Upkeeps as he is very focused on asking questions, he has almost no ability to answer any, but what I think he does is offer a very tanky caster that can get a lot of work done and really move around. I think the key to getting the most out of him is unlocking a list; both in terms of composition but also positioning to maximise the Battle Charged.
So what lists have you been playing? what are you excited to play? what are you thinking of pairing with him?