The new CID for Trolls includes a substantial change to the Krielstone. It gained an ability called Awaken the Stone which is a really nice quality of life buff. It’s something that just nudges the faction as a whole up in power level. Let’s have a chat about not only what it does, but how and why we got here.
Dissatisfaction with the Krielstone has probably always existed for as long as the unit has existed. It wasn’t always a loud complaint of Troll players however, that is something that only happened in the last nine months or so to the point where any Troll balance discussion started with “Fix the Stone then we’ll talk about the rest of the faction”. To understand why this happened then you have to firstly understand the Mk2 stone.
The truth is that the vast majority of Troll players that were trying to win tournaments played Runes of War. This theme started you with one free fury per Runeshaper unit or solo in the list. That means you started every game with five fury if you were running the standard list; one for each unit of Runeshapers and one for Janissa. This essentially removed any pressure from going second with this list. Doomy would still have to throw a fury on the stone each turn, but he also had a free upkeep every turn so in reality he had seven fury to spend or camp every single turn.
The theme also provided free walls. When you got a lot of reps with the list you could easily work out where you wanted to stand before deployment and stick a wall there. It’s a lot easier to spend fury when you have the protection of not only the wall, but also potentially the Transmute animus, which gave you another two armour just for being by that wall. Def 17, Arm 19 against shooting and protective fit? It meant you could often camp zero or one and be completely safe.
The Stone wasn’t just working well in this theme though. Janissa meant you could protect your could put a wall down every turn. This was often used to protect your caster on turn one when they dumped all their fury on the stone. On top of this the caster could also get one key upkeep out on that turn thanks to the old way the Runebearer worked.
So when the edition changed the only difference any Troll player saw on the stone was the cost increase. If it had just been converted over we’d be expecting it to cost
– Min Stone 6 points
– Max Stone 8 points
– Min stone + Elder 8 points
– Max Stone + Elder 10 points
So it’s a little bit cheaper, but this isn’t exactly back breaking. The community as a whole felt the stone was one of the most powerful support pieces and that a price increase was probably warranted. The removal of Janissa’s wall was also considered a necessary change to balance the game.
Troll players initially lamented the change to the Runebearer as they immediately noticed the inability to cast an upkeep spell on turn one and drop all their fury to fill the stone. If you remember back to almost a year ago, the first big complaints were about the Runebearer. This model’s change seemed like a point of frustration for Troll players. There were various lists written showing how few non upkeep buffs where on the troll casters, we wanted to use the model in the exact same way as Mk2 and were underwhelmed when it did a job it was no longer suited for, poorly. In case you’re unaware he’s a free fury most turns who throws out nukes when you need one unless he’s with Grissel1 in which case he’s a free boundless charge each turn. Money!
The real turning point was the release of Horgle 2 though. On paper he looked like a great warlock, he had cool and interesting spells that Troll players had never had before and everyone that played him had one complaint. You can’t get all those upkeeps out and fuel the stone. Going second was such a negative that he was basically unplayable. Who does that remind you of? Jarl. Casters with 3+ upkeeps are a rarity in Trolls and both of them suffered the same problem. When Jarl came out PP didn’t change existing models unless they broke the game. Times had changed though and suddenly the thought was, why not change the stone?
It started out as a kind of musing, if we changed the way the stone worked we’d get two more playable casters. We wanted to play Horgle2 and Jarl after all, but once we started to think about it there where other reasons. How many times do you run a small Krielstone with infantry. How many times do you lament Troll infantry getting shot off the board, a larger stone helps against that. Suddenly you could consider running Madrak2, Ragnor or Grissel2 with infantry and a max stone. You’re not limiting the max stone to the three iterations of Doomy and Calandra. Trolls could maybe spread out a bit.
The pieces started to fall into place. PP wanted terrain to become more important, they had a stated goal that the decision on whether to go first or choose table edge should be meaningful. We always have to go first to fill the stone lamented the Troll players… FIX THE STONE!
A design goal at the start of Mk3 was to remove actions that felt repetitive or boring. Filling the stone instead of casting spells doesn’t feel interactive, exciting or cool… FIX THE STONE!
The truth was Trolls were hurting as a faction as well. It was an opinion that grew over the last six months. In design it’s often preferable to make small changes that will have the biggest impact. The stone felt like it fit that philosophy.
The New Stone
That brings us to today, the new CID stone.
I’ll be honest I probably would have been happy with it starting with 3 fury so I could fill it and maybe cast an upkeep on turn one, this is different though. This means that once it’s full you never need to spend fury on the stone ever again. Unless you’re running it to strip stealth on an assassination target.
Some people have commented that the buff isn’t what they wanted. They used to run the stone turn one, now it might require a bit of thought.
First suggestion is to put the stone on the front line, i.e. the 7 inch or 10 inch deployment line. That way when it walks 5 or 6 it will be close to where it was pre buff.
Secondly consider running it and using the star action turn 2. Remember you probably won’t need to pass fury to the stone turn two. So you can dedicate all your focus to spells or attacks.
As a change of style you may want to consider activating the stone on turn 1 before you activate your caster. Currently I almost always activate the caster, drop fury to the stone and then activate the stone to put the aura up. If you wanted the aura up first turn this was your only option. Now, unless you run it turn one, you should activate the stone and then find out how many fury you get for free and that way you won’t be overfilling or under filling it with your caster.
So the big change is that you can now consider max stone with many more casters. The idea here is that while you probably won’t have max stone on turn 1 it will fill up as the game continues. The area of the stone aura will get larger as the game goes longer and you need to spread out more. A caster that can use this well would be Madrak2 who often took a max stone he couldn’t fuel anyway, as it gave him more Grim Salvation targets. Now however that stone will keep filling itself and you can really spread out with longriders, warders, champions etc. Hell even the fast bears which are in the CID.
Another caster which this is true for is Ragnor. He likes melee beast bricks, but is only fury six. This often puts him at a disadvantage as you don’t really want your beasts outside of your stone aura, but some scenarios are quite wide and in the past you might need to, to contest a flag. The larger aura can protect something like an Earthborn that is a great contesting piece and often relies on terrain placement.
We hinted at it earlier, but the other casters that really benefit from this change are the upkeep dependent casters: Jarl and Horgle2. The help with fury load is useful here, but obviously be careful. If you go second there will still be situations where you want to get a stone aura up as you’re concerned about enemy shooting and you want upkeeps up. Potentially choosing a side with line of sight blocking terrain to hide behind might help. The other option is cautiously advancing up the board so you stay out of threat. Interestingly the Northkin theme currently gives you +1 to go first and free upkeeps throughout the game. If you’re looking to run Jarl or Horgle2, I would strongly recommend you look at this theme as the benefits seem tailor made for them.
So there we have the stone changes. It will affect every single Troll player in some way. Even if you had no trouble filling the stone like my Doomy3 list you will now have an extra fury every single turn. This means you can play a little safer or throw out another spell or animus, it might just make the difference between defeat and victory.