“Mulg the Ancient should be one of the first beast you attempt to piece trade most of the time.”
I know ridiculous right? Back in the good old days of RoW we used to piece trade with the sole goal of having Mulg left at the end. The general thinking was that they probably wouldn’t have anything that could kill him and with while alive he provided safety for your caster in the form of Protective fit. He was the beast that could kill pretty much anything in the game so you saved him for the end.
Times have changed though and Trolls should adapt. Firstly protective fit is gone. We all miss it, but with it’s absence one of the main reasons to keep Mulg around till the end has gone with it. Mulg is also much cheaper. He’s now the same cost as a Bomber and losing him in a cost effective manner is suddenly much easier.
Secondly his kit is all about causing problems, his animus means spells and animus are much more expensive, which is definitely now what you want bottom of 2 or top of 3 when you’re trying to remove an arm 21 warbeast with 30+ boxes. Your opponent is suddenly having to throw out a 4 cost Parasite or a 3 cost Primal. It’s also doubling the cost of those upkeeps they have up at the start of the game. This is essentially maximum value you can get from the animus. Your opponent will usually have their most upkeeps out early on anything that makes them consider dropping some/all of them is an advantage to you.
Thirdly he has Retaliatory Strike. That’s not technically true, he only has this with the 3 Doomshapers, but let’s be honest. You’re a smart sophisticated Troll player in 2017 and you know that the best way to play is in theme, so I’m assuming you have one of the 3 excellent Doomshapers as your caster of choice. If you’re running Mulg out of theme, I understand, but a lot of what this article talks about isn’t really applicable to you. Retaliatory Strike on a model with Crit slam is amazing. People suddenly need to try and play around your Mulg for fear of sending in a heavy in only to be slammed away or just losing an aspect arm or cortex. Your opponent might try and counter this with a slam, but they are losing a bunch of initials on a heavy to avoid an attack, yes his defence will drop, but he’s already defence 10, who cares? This is all stuff your opponent needs to think about and plan around when they should be thinking about contesting or controlling areas of the board.
Mulg also solves one of the big faction problems that we encounter. Opponents sit a heavy just outside of 9 inches of your lead beast. You either have to give it rush and try and kill their heavy with a Mat 6, Pow 17 beast or you can’t get there. The same is true if they sit inside 9 inches over a wall or your charge path would slightly clip a piece of rough terrain. The difference is that Mulg has relentless charge we makes him uniquely suited to be the vanguard. He can threaten them 11 inches with Rush and still be Pow 19 which gets the job done. Admittedly he won’t have the spare fury for his animus unless you roll exceedingly well or you’re using him with Doomy3 under the free animus mini feat, but you’ll still get the defensive strike and the difficult to remove Beast. If you don’t need the extra threat range, but needed to clear some terrain then stick Rage on Mulg, watch him kill a beast and then use his animus for maximum effect.
Finally we have Doomy3, while playing in theme you can start the game with Admonition on Mulg. You can send him in to kill a heavy, then use his animus for free with the mini feat and suddenly you have a beast with Admonition and Retaliatory Strike that can’t be knocked down. That is the definition of value, especially if they can’t get him killed. At that point he’s getting great value and causing problems your opponent has to play around.
As a side note it’s worth noting that Earthborn Dire Trolls fill a very similar role in many lists. They have the pathfinder and with their extra threat gained from rough terrain they are excellent at threatening even further. You will need Rage to kill that first heavy, but if you end up within 2 inches of some water or a wall then the results can be absolutely as tricky or annoying. The point I’m making is not that Mulg is better at starting piece trades than an EBDT, but that these are both options and that you should be trying to send Mulg in sooner rather than later. The Mauler is your beast to keep back in Mk3. Mulg should be at the front with the EBDT getting maximum value and causing problems for your opponent when it starts the piece trade.