Deck Build: The Troll Unleashed

Look at the shiny new image. Steel City are starting to up our game…

Intro

Phew.

It’s been a while.

Apologies for the shocking lack of content over the past few months, there is really no one but myself to blame (and Tom, I can always blame Tom). I’d like to trot out the tired excuse that this lock down is vastly reducing the amount of content that I can talk about and while that is true I could have done a bit better then 0 articles in two months. The good news is that this article is going in depth on a deck that I piloted to top 2 in a recent online, 62-player, tournament. So I give my salivating readers something juicy to bite down on, before desperately preparing another article in the hopes you don’t all turn on me.

In the unlikely event that you have been living under a Stalagsquig, it’s worth pointing out that me and Tom have been continuing to make new episodes of the Chatting Crit podcast. You can pop here if you want to listen on pc but it’s also available on Itunes and Spotify.

The Big Deck

If you want to play around with this yourself then pop over here

The general plan with this deck is to have Mollog attack as many times in a round as possible, using all the positional tricks at my disposal, with as much power as possible. The objective deck is simply built to score incidentally as you play the aggressive game that you want to play. We don’t want to be jumping through too many hoops here, if an objective requires us to deviate from the plan of bashing in skulls then it is not worth our time. Of course this does mean that there are only two end phase single glory objectives you can score if Mollog dies, you really do live or die by the Troll here.

I’m going to talk about all the tools (cards) at our disposal next, seperated by type and ordered in descending order from worst to best. This way you can see what cards I value the least if you want to tweak the deck yourself and get a good idea of what starting hands you might have to do-over.

Objectives

Heroic Effort

I hate this card.

It is easily the worst card in the entire deck, let alone the worst objective. The only reason it is here is due to a lack of decent end phase glory in Beastgrave, I am really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Still, there are rounds where you score this through normal play and it feels like it fits perfectly. It’s best into horde warbands as you have plenty of easy targets to keep attacking with Mollog, against anything else you usually want to draw cards for a couple of actions which kills this objective dead.

Victorious Duel

An aggressive Mollog deck should be the absolutely perfect place for this objective to slot, unfortunately it’s a bit rubbish even then. The problem with Victorious Duel isn’t in having your leader kill their leader, it’s in having to not kill their leader before this card is in your hand. In most warbands the leader is the biggest threat and leaving them alone is about as sensible as taking a drive to test your eyesight. In a lot of games you will have to kill their leader and then next round you draw this and wish it was any other surge in the game.

Still you do get some big glory swings when this goes off and it feels pretty damn good to see the look of surprise on your opponents face when you show them this beauty.

Fired Up

We have two triggers for this card, in the form of Blazing Soul and Regal Vision. If you draw Fired Up in rounds 2 or 3 then its a free 1 glory in the end phase that you never have to worry about. Unfortunately in round 1 it can often brick your hand and with such a low glory deck it can hurt to make a do over.

Singled Out

Pretty much exactly the same as Fired Up, it’s slightly more reliable in round 2 because it dosn’t matter what upgrades you draw while Fired Up’s specific triggers can sometimes hide on the bottom of your deck. One nice thing about both of these objectives is that you can score them with Mollog dead, this little fact actually won me a game on tournament day where my opponent had killed Mollog and tied the game on glory while sitting on an objective token. I dug through my objectives till I found Singled Out and then equipped 3 upgrades in the end phase of round 3 to the Bat Squig, I may have shouted ‘Not even close baby!’.

Steady Assault

An incredible objective into horde warbands that can really fall flat on its face into more elite offerings. If the warband across the (virtual) table from you only has 3 fighters and you kill one in round 1, then the only way you are scoring this is if your attacks don’t one shot their targets, which is really not an ideal place to be in. Remember that your scything attack can help you trigger this.

Solid Gains

A single point of glory isn’t ideal for an objective that you don’t have much control over. With all the glory multipliers in our deck and the fact that you should be getting a minimum of one kill per round this is pretty damn reliable though.

Opening Gambit

Another single glory yet brickable objective. Lets be honest though, if you don’t have a surge in your hand you are doing it over anyway. The times this goes wrong is almost always with Victorious Duel, hopefully in the future we get a better surge that we can swap in its place.

Great Gains

With Victorious Duel in the deck Combination Strike is absolutely too risky to take, in it’s place we have Great Gains. Honestly this objective actually scores pretty damn often, again due to all the glory multipliers we have (I’ll get to them in the upgrades section) and the reward of actually getting 2 glory over 1 is a noticeable boost that really helps you win a game.

Strong Start

A fantastic aggro objective for Mollog, the only way you aren’t scoring this is:

  • Your opponent goes all in to kill one of your critters on the backline before you make a kill
  • You somehow miss all of your attacks in a round
  • Mollog is dead

The last two conditions can’t really be helped and the first forces your opponent into a bad position where Mollog can usually get a bunch of free attacks off. Normally this is your bread and butter surge and you will score it with ease.

Bold Conquest

With 3 distraction effects, coupled with Mischievous Spirits and Restless Prize, you will find this objective absolutely trivial to score. An amazing surge, the legitimate downside is that when you are uninspired you can only score it later in a round, unlike the absolutely best and broken surges in our deck:

Burst of Speed/Longstrider

There is a reason that both of these cards are restricted, and it isn’t just because people hate Mollog (the salty fools). Mollog scores objectives like these for breakfast and they should be in any troll based deck, no matter the type. I did experiment with removing one of these so I could include Spirt Bond in the deck, after all this Mollog build needs to make sure those attacks connect. After only two practice games I went back to these broken surges as I needed that reliable glory.

If you draw one of these in your opening hand then you are in for a good time, you can really pick the exact way that you want to play the first round and not have to adapt your game plan around your objectives at all. Just do whatever causes your opponent to have the worst time possible.

Gambits

Desperate Flight

The worst gambit in the deck is a special from my Rippa’s days and honestly its actually pretty good. The scatter mechanic is bad if you want to end up in a specific hex but if you are just trying to go in a general direction, which with a range 2 fighter is fine, then this is actually pretty reliable. On average you move approx. 1.5 hexes (this is based on play experience not any actual maths) towards where you want to go, setting you up for either a charge or attack that you couldn’t make before. Very very rarely does this card completely brick on me, you might be starting to realise that this deck is quite dice dependent. We stack the odds as much as we can in our favour but if you are going to tilt off a bad roll then you might want to steer clear.

Mischievous Spirits

Utterly utterly amazing against any opponent foolish enough to try and score end phase objective token based objectives (god that was a mouthful) against you. This is also a solid way of countering a Distraction style effect thrown your way to stop you scoring Cryptic Companion/Tome of Glories. Its third use is to set up charges where you end up on an objective token, for scoring Bold Conquest, using Frantic Exchange or finally Regal Vision.

The biggest weakness of this card is when your opponent doesn’t really care about objective tokens then it’s fairly subpar. You need to identify those matches and be willing to proactively cycle this ploy from your hand, digging for more useful ones in subsequent rounds. In my final against Benny (the beast) I held onto a Misc Spirts going into round 3, if I had cycled it then I would have drawn into Great Strength and vastly increased my odds of winning one of the games.

Don’t do that.

Restless Prize

This is pretty much the same as Misc Spirits but its cock blocking potential is just that bit higher. Both of these cards combined with the triple Distractions this deck packs means we have a solid back up plan to deny any deck that scores its end phase glory from being on objective tokens. So if you have an awful round where the big troll is about as accurate as an English striker you still have really solid game into a lot of decks. Remember, with upgrades like Cryptic Companion around almost everyone has a reason to be on those tokens.

Except for Hrthogorn.

I’m not salty.

Commanding Stride

A very reliable version of Desperate Flight. Between the two of these you can ping pong Mollog around the boards, coupled with his double move he easily becomes the most mobile fighter in the game.

There is no running.

There is no hiding.

The Troll will find you.

Haymaker

Easily the best neutral accuracy ploy in the game. The downside can be worked around by using it in the last activation of a round or by using it to take out the biggest threat, just make sure not to forget as losing that single defence dice really does make you a lot easier to hit.

Frenzied Search

Honestly the fact that this ploy has made its way into an almost purely aggro deck is a sign that it should probably be restricted. You need to have a very good reason to not be taking this in every deck you are building right now. Three fresh cards where the only cost is to discard the least useful one from your hand? Sign me up. You do have to be brutal when deciding what to discard and its actually one of the higher skill expressions that comes with playing the deck. Do you just ditch what is worst now, or what is worst for the rest of the game? Practice will help you here but sometimes there is no right answer, make sure not to be one of those slow players frozen in indecision when that happens. Make a choice, own it, play on.

Distraction/Predatory Growls/Nightmare in the Shadows

  • Push someone off an objective token to deny certain objective cards
  • Push a fighter into a lethal hex for a point of damage
  • Push a fighter into charge range
  • Push a fighter into attack range
  • Push a fighter out of its ability to charge you
  • Push a fighter out of attack range of you
  • Make a fighter trapped so your attack is far more accurate
  • Cures Corona
  • Can make Tom win a trophy with Godsworn (Prick – T)

Everyone is packing at least one Distraction card these days, something I have noticed is that the player who has the most of these push style effects seems to massively benefit as they almost always win the ‘push wars’ while the loser has essentially wasted some deck slots yet still loses these battles. So where everyone else is bringing a gun to the fight, you are taking a tactical nuke.

Regal Vision

Inspired Mollog gets an extra damage on his main attack alongside an extra fury dice for his scything attack. The bonus that stands out the most is that he gets to ignore one charge token. This is literally the reason you play Mollog, being able to charge and keep attacking is silly. Being able to charge twice is stupid. Take all the crazy advantages you can get. We have enough downsides (like the fact we only have one useful fighter).

Our actually inspire condition is shockingly bad, you usually only see it just before the big guy dies. So you absolutely need ways to cheat it out. Regal Vision alongside Blazing Soul are exactly that for us.

Upgrades

Tome of Glories

Your rarely used back up plan. For some match ups, e.g. Thundricks, you want to generate as much passive glory as possible, only engaging in a fight if an enemy fighter is overextended. In those cases being able to grab two glory a round from this upgrade is utterly brilliant. Unlike the much more powerful Cryptic Companion this does require you to be put charge tokens onto the big guy without actually making charges, so you never want to be doing this when you are playing to your main game plan. It’s also very susceptible to disruption from any Distraction style cards your opponent will be using, with only Restless Prize and Misc Spirits helping you get back on, generally cards that are better used for disruption.

Prized Vendetta

266

The anti synergy this provides with Foul Temper can be a bit frustrating, you never want an upgrade that you have spent glory equipping to go to waste and as you can never re roll a re roll that will happen in some games. On the other hand this is a damn good one shot accuracy upgrade on its own that really helps you land that one big attack. It’s particularly good into Hrthogorn as it will work on every attack that you make at him until he dies.

He will die right?

Surely some attacks will hit…

Great Strength

The main reason this is here is as a get out of jail free card for when you are finding it hard to inspire Mollog. Four damage is the magic point where you can actually start killing Stormcast/Rippa’s/Nurgle or the leaders from the horde warbands and it is super important that we hit it as soon as possible. Mollog’s biggest strength is that every attack that connects usually means a dead fighter, lean into that.

Great Fortitude

You lose the game if Mollog dies. An extra wound is often the difference between living and dying. Some games it won’t make a difference, others it will literally be the thin wedge that carries you through. On balance it is absolutely worth it.

Cryptic Companion

Lets face it, this upgrade is only in the deck because its far too powerful for an unrestricted card. We only have one fighter who can use this and you should always focus on positioning him to make as many attacks as possible. If you happen to end up on an objective token, take the free glory this gives you, it even helps score Solid/Great Gains.

Fading Form

I thought this was a secret piece of tech going into the online tournament. Then when I faced another Mollog in a mirror match I found out that he had the card as well. Felt a bit less confident after that.

This was a late addition to the deck, at the recommendation of friend of the blog Aman of Hexes and Warbands fame. On the surface it seems pretty niche but when you actually play games with the deck you will often notice that you actually take 1-2 wounds every game from lethal hexes. Everybody and their mum is packing Distraction style effects these days so their are a multitude of ways to hurt our beloved troll. This really shuts a lot of that down and makes you noticeably more survivable. It is also the only card that when drawn early gives you a chance into a Molten Shardpit offset, the absolute worst configuration for our deck to face.

Potion of Rage

My favourite one shot accuracy card. It’s Haymaker without the downsides. Bonus points for synergising incredibly well with Prized Vendetta, if you want to make an attack so odds on that only a miracle would have it miss.

If you do miss with that combination then I advise heavy drinking after the game.

Foul Temper

The second warband card that I take is the only reusable accuracy upgrade in the deck. Once you get this on your attacks honestly go up in accuracy quite a bit, its almost the same as going to 3 smash on your attacks. When you make a lot of attacks in a game, which is absolutely the plan with our deck, then this becomes a big force multiplier. If Mollog hits every single attack then you should win your games hands down.

Blazing Soul

Everything I wrote about Regal Vision applies here.. The only difference is that it requires a glory to get on instead of being on an objective token. On balance that makes this very slightly worse but I am really splitting hairs at this point.

Tome of Offerings

Double glory from every kill you make. This is similar to Cryptic Companion but this actually works perfectly with our deck, as opposed to being a strange playstyle we are trying to adopt. We have one fighter in our warband that is going to be making all of our kills, so this upgrade is better for us then any other warband. If you get this early into a horde warband you will start seeing silly glory numbers. Honestly there isn’t a match up where this is a bad card. Absolutely one the the biggest strengths for playing aggro Mollog is how well we synergise with this upgrade, it’s only a shame that it sometimes hides on the bottom of your deck.

Game-play and Set Up

Vs Objective hordes

Against a warband that cares about 3 objective tokens? Take those tokens, deploy the tokens on your board and force them to come to you. What might sound counter intuitive is to place those tokens close together and not far from from the the other board. Why would you give easier access to those tokens? Well the idea is to have them all as close to Mollog as possible, you want to sit in the middle of 3 objective tokens and play whack a mole on each enemy fighter that dares try to grab one. This also reduces the chance that your opponent can split the board, if a Faneway or Sudden Appearence gets a fighter into a back token you won’t want to waste activation’s on Mollog chasing after that single fighter and it will become a very safe token holder for your opponent. You can either deploy Stalagsquig on the one objective token you have that is a bit out of the way, making splitting the board harder, or you can play it on the most forward facing token, if it looks like a single Varclav push or Gitz scurry would grab them a fast Temporary Victory.

For lethal hex placement I always pop one next to their safest objective token, those three distractions can then be used to double up on their usefulness and you will be surprised just how often an opponent uses that lethal hex to score Calculated Risk with a 2 wound fighter, you can even score Strong Start off the Distraction kill that you get there. At this point its just free real estate.

If you lose the roll off and are forced to take boards, go wide. You generally want as wide a setup as possible but its ok to offset by one hex if it means you can threaten a free attack with your deployment. On that note it can sometimes be worth using the free crit for first activation roll off to go first and try for a fast kill. The times you want to do this are:

  • If you have a high priority re-usable upgrade in hand, e.g. Tome of Offerings or Foul Temper
  • Your opponent has for some reason put one of their threats that you can still one shot up front, e.g. the Everhanged or Gristlewell
  • The way the boards and fighters are positioned allow you to deploy the Stalagsquig against the target in range so that they are trapped against Mollog’s attack (making it stupidly odds on)

In the first two cases you have to be aware that you are going deep on a risky play, you are still going to deploy the Stalagsquig next to your target of choice just to use the support symbols, you really want this attack to hit.

Outside of these rare cases you want to let your opponent go first and carefully bide your time. It is ok for your first two activation’s to be drawing cards. If you have no inspiration cards in hand then you only get one charge, keep that threat around so you can make your big play in the last activation of the round. You also want to prioritise scoring the objectives in your hand early in the game, yes we win by killing our opponents fighters but early on your absolutely just need some glory to access your upgrades.

Use Commanding Stride and Desperate Flight to reposition Mollog for an attack where you don’t have to charge but hold on to your Distractions. We save our three Distractions/Restless Prize/Misc Spirits to brick any end phase objectives like Supremacy or Path to Glory they might be trying to score, even better if you can knock a Cryptic Companion fighter off. The only exceptions to this are if you need to push an enemy fighter off a token to score Bold Conquest, give you a Frenzied Search or Regal Vision target.

If you do have Regal Vision/Blazing Soul in hand you can use your charge in activation 3, inspire in the power step and threaten yet another charge on your hapless opponent. Bonus points if its Blazing Soul you have in hand and you hold off equipping it until after your opponents last activation.

These style of warbands/decks are going to outscore you early, don’t even try to stop Temporary Victory/Swift Capture style cards with your power cards, all that will happen is you delay your opponents round but they still get the glory and you blow your hand, they then also get their end phase glory. Save your cards to jam up that end phase glory. In a best of three you might have to adapt this a bit as some people have started only running the objective surges and are cutting Supremacy, in those cases keep track of what end phase objectives you can deny, Keep Chopping = deploy everyone at the back and only move/charge Mollog in the last two activation’s, do everything possible to brick their hand. If you are denying their end phase objectives while scoring your own then you will not only catch up in glory but you will overtake them by the end of the game, keep your head if they get a blowout hand early and stick to your game plan.

Oh yes, I should have mentioned this earlier, but it goes without saying that the Bat Squig and Spiteshroom deploy as far back as possible. The only exception to this is vs ping damage decks that rely on edge hexes for Encroaching Shadow/Collapse, in those cases keep them as far back as you can without actually being on edge hexes.

As your game progresses you should focus on taking out threats first and moping up second. The one shot accuracy cards like Haymaker/Potion of Rage/Prized Vendetta should be saved for killing targets like the Duke or the Queen, the only ever times you would use it on chaf is if you desperately need glory to start your game. Once the threats are gone you can just completely focus on maximising the amount of attacks you make per round and really getting that glory total high.

Things will not always go your way though. Mollog has 7 wounds and if your opponent flexes a bit into aggro there is a real chance that he gets killed. Try to never end an activation with Mollog next to an objective token, that lets your opponent charge Mollog while still getting closer to one of their objectives. Force them to choose between scoring their deck or a risky attempt at killing Mollog. If you do take a lot of damage early then I seriously recommend running away. Get on to the token the furthest away and use Tome of Glories/ Cryptic Companion alongside your disruption cards to try and glory race your opponent. Always make them work for victory, you will be surprised at how often this works.

Vs Aggro

Mollog is the best fighter in the game, don’t let that get you carried away. If you line Mollog up next to a warband like Magores Fiends or Thundricks Profiteers you are going to have a bad day. You will kill 1-2 of their fighters early but either be dead or so close to it that it’s the same thing in exchange. Your game plan here is to play a more surgical style of aggro. Remember that if you move and then charge that you can move up to 6 hexes and threaten up to 8. Deploy Mollog at the back of your board, let your opponent waste their first round moving fighters up and then in the final activation pounce. It goes almost without saying, but place Stalgquig far away from your opponents fighters here. They will have the accuracy tools to kill him and it’s just becomes a free glory.

This changes with objectives like Longstrider or Bold Conquest in hand, if you can get a guaranteed glory off surges like that then it is sometimes better to fulfil those objective conditions in activation 3, apply a useful upgrade, and then dart out of the way of reprisal with Commanding Stride/Desperate Flight, or even use a card like Regal Vision/Blazing Soul to inspire and be ready to rumble in activation 4. You can see that your first round is going to vary a lot by the cards in your hand. For these match-ups Misc Spirits and Restless Prize go down a lot in priority, use them whenever it gives you a small advantage and consider doing over starting hands with them in. You also want to dig hard for a useful surge in your opening hand, yes Victorious Duel is fun but if its your only starting surge then throw that thing in the trash. Tome of Glories is especially bad in this matchup, you never want to put charge tokens on your only threat that doesn’t help you actually kill the enemies warband, the only time it can be good is if you get Longstrider/Burst of Speed in your opening hand and think you can use it to out passive a very mobility challenged warband like Thundricks.

One of the big challenges here can be in trying to kill warbands, like the Fiends or Cursebreakers, before you inspire or have Great Strength on. This is where you get to use the most overlooked part of Mollog’s kit. His main attack has Knockback. When setting up boards place a lethal hex either just behind your opponents fighters or alongside their foremost hexes. You want to be careful to not have it used against you if possible. But with knockback and three Distraction cards it is very easy for you to get their fighter into that lethal hex, dealing the last point of damage you need to finish them off.

As the game progresses you don’t have to stick around fighting all the time, basically if it still looks like their warband has a legitimate chance of killing Mollog then try to rope-a-dope them, use your movement tricks to stay out of range and dash in towards the end of a round for kills that you make as odds on as possible. If you have enough damage to kill their fighters then the Distraction effects should be used to either give you free attacks, charges you couldn’t make before or to trap an enemy fighter. Don’t forget about trapping when you can, it is a massive accuracy boost.

The final factor in this match-up is a fairly obvious one but it can be easy to forget it when juggling everything else. Kill their biggest damage dealers first. If you see an opportunity to make an odds on attack against Ammis and you are worried it will go away, you take it. Stormdaddy and Rastus will find it incredibly hard to kill you even if you sit next to them for an entire round without her three damage attack.

Vs Control

There are two very different ways you play into this, depending on how the control player generates their glory. Right now the two methods are Tomes/Lost Pages or a Perfect Match deck. For both of these options your absolutely top priority is to deny that big third end phase glory swing. Our deck does not have enough glory to win against that if we just kill other targets and try to score it out. So focus hard on killing the Tome/Lost Page bearer, against Perfect Match you want to deny the objectives that you can with your deck, bricking their entire plan. With Perfect Match you will often lose game 1 because you don’t know what those objectives are, don’t panic, the recipe for destroying them is in the objectives scored pile, look through it and see how the deck works, make sure that in games 2 and 3 it doesn’t.

You are likely to be Molten Shardpited in at least one game, this is where your opponent uses the Molten Shardpit board, fully offsets it with yours, orientating the trio of lethal hexes towards you and placing a lethal hex in way that creates a bottleneck. When this happens you are honestly fucked. Your only real out is to see Faded Form in your opening hand and to have a surge alongside it that lets you apply it early, that way the lethal hexes become irrelevant. Normally the control player can use pushes combined with charges to kill Mollog very easily with those lethal hexes, you effectively have 5 wounds in this setup. Don’t panic when this happens (I feel like I am saying that a lot). Even if you lose the roll off again they can’t use the same board twice in a best of 3 and although the full offset makes your life hard, missing all of those lethal hexes improves your chances tremendously.

If you get boards, you go wide, the only trick here is to make sure an objective token is placed three hexes in front of where you plan to deploy Mollog. This lets you use Frenzied Search/Regal Vision while moving as close as possible to the turtles at the back. For the rest of your tokens you should aim to place them in your opponents board, you don’t want Bold Conquest to brick and your opponent won’t be getting much use out of them.

Stalagsquig stays at the back in these match-ups, control decks often pack some aggro tools to fight back and he can just be a free glory for them, just like in the aggro match-ups. If there is a single objective token far away in your back-line pop him on there, they might use Faneway Crystal to escape the Tome/Lost pages bearer and this really limits the distance they can make.

Closing Thoughts

I honestly think Mollog is somewhere at the top of B tier right now (note my tier lists include S tier so he is two down). This might sound arrogant but I think I did well at the online tournament because I have so much experience with him, coupled with my opponents lack of experience at playing into him. So he is a challenge to play but he absolutely can contend at the top of the field if you have a good day. If you are looking for a different play-style to what most of Beastgrave has offered so far then I highly recommend giving the big troll a go. Steer clear if bad dice rolls tilt you, you will miss Haymaker attacks, you will miss Potion of Rage + Prized Vendetta attacks, Desperate Flight will sometimes make you go a hex back, you have to be able to cope with these situations and make the best you can out of them.

I also want to congratulate Benny Monahan for beating me in the final to win the tournament. His Hrthogorn deck was very tight and he piloted it superbly. He also beat our very own Tom in the semi-final, so he properly ran the Steel City gauntlet to get that win. For those of you who might be interested in how a player like Tom could do so well in such a big tournament, he will have an article up tomorrow, going into detail on his deck.

At Steel City we would love to have your feedback. If you have something to say about a specific article then feel free to comment below, if you want to get in touch about the blog in general, or just prefer to communicate privately then you can get in touch by emailing us at team@steelcityshadespire.com

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