I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints from Troll players recently about how difficult it is to play a brick into current scenario pack. Essentially the stone, which for so long defined us is now a weight around our neck that makes us struggle in the evolving game. On a completely unrelated note, I am frustrated by the thematic inconsistencies of Kriel Company. What if the solution to both problems was the same thing?
Lets start by talking about the fluff of the Kriel theme. Some players see the word Kriel in the title and immediately assume they should be allowed to take Kriel Warriors, because they have Kriel in the name. Kriel is one of the ways that the Troll people refer to themselves, they talk of Kith and Kriel, which is obviously similar to the Scottish phrase Kith and Kin. We see these words re-used around the Troll faction, we have Kithkars, Kriel Stones and Kriel Warriors. I think it’s clear from the usage that Kriel is a general term that Trolls use to refer to themselves in small communities. You could imagine a sacred stone at the middle of a Troll village that is carried into battle to inspire and buff the warriors. You can see the Kriel Warriors as a sort of Troll militia, they have the worst fighting stats and could be seen as the every day Troll fighting to save his home. He and the other boys and girls from his village went to war. They aren’t skilled warriors, they are just Kriel Warriors defending their homes.
So what is a Kriel Company? I see a few thematic links tied in together here, but a lot of it makes sense. When Captain Gunnbjorn came back from fighting in the Cygnar army, he brought back, modern weapons and modern tactics. We see units of Trolls and Pygs with guns: Look at Sluggers, Scattergunners, Bushwackers and Burrowers. He brings artillery and the war wagon. We also see Blitzers who are clearly inspired by this desire to modernise the Troll army. Gunnbjorn pushes us in a Cygnar-influenced direction. We can see strong links with the modernization of the Japanese army in the early 20th century. Any history buffs or people who have watched the film The Last Samuari will see clear parallels. I’d argue from a fluff perspective he wouldn’t want a Kriel Stone in his fighting forces. He is all about automation and the idea of a strong man carrying a large spiritual rock on his back doesn’t seem like something the “New Modern Troll Army” would actually care about. At the very least I’d expect him to mount it on a vehicle.
But the New Modern Troll Army isn’t the only theme in Kriel Company. We also see highwaymen and Jarl. We see another evolution of Troll tactics. We see the skirmishing force that hits you, robs you and makes an escape through the trees. Such tactics are excellent in a war setting and while we haven’t seen a huge amount of models released that reflect on this it seems pretty obvious Jarl wouldn’t be lugging a stone with him. He’s all about speed and manoeuvrability, a big slow plodding stone would be the opposite of what he would want.
Thirdly we have the Scout force trolls. We have the master hunter Grim Angus. A troll who’s wartime role is in advance of the main army, a Troll that lives off the land and is a survival specialist. You could imagine his forces travelling across inhospitable terrain. It’s hard to imagine he would want someone lugging a stone with his force as they cross a twenty miles of swamp land. To further this point, in MK2 Grim1 had a theme full of mercenaries. He is a gun for hire and it makes sense he would use other guns for hire who wouldn’t benefit from the stone
So let’s be honest here, the Kriel Stone doesn’t really make sense with any of these casters. From a game play perspective many of these units rely on defence more than armour to survive anyway. That’s certainly true for the Pygs, Highwaymen, Northkin Raiders and fire Eaters are also Def 13. So why not get rid of the stone from Kriel Company and balance the models and the theme assuming it won’t be there. This would also give trolls the added advantage of a different playstyle and a theme that plays differently and is more suited to more spread out scenarios and a less bricky playstyle.
PP have probably thought of everything I just said already, but I worry if they gave us a theme without a stone the backlash would be insane. I want you to realise, that such a change could allow us to play a real Kriel Company army, which is not only tactically different to play, but thematically tighter.