To Tier or not to Tier, Runes of War

Scott here with my next installment on tiers.   This time I am going to take a look at the ever so popular Runes of War tier.  Now, this tier has a special place in my heart.  I never intended to get so deep into trolls but I was doing pretty good with E Madrak and I needed a solid 2nd list, which promptly became my first list.  I had dabbled with E Hoarluk prior to picking up Runes since you didn’t need all those Runeshapers.  A friend had started Runes way back when we first started playing, and he crushed us on a pretty consistent basis as we learned the game. As our playgroup got better he started jumping around and left the list behind.  Until that point the list hadn’t been all that popular it took Jason Flanzer winning a masters event for it to really take off.

So what makes Runes of War so good?  I’ve put up a crazy record with it over 2014,  40-7 I think.  With those lovely 7 losses coming normally in the final round of an event. I, obviously, can’t play it to its max effectiveness.  Lets take a closer look.

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Tier 1- Take only what you’re allowed and your Runeshaper units become FA U, AND they become a point cheaper.  That means your 4 point 3 man unit of POW 14 8″ range magic attacks with crit knockdown just became 3 points!  Typically you’re going to take 4 units of these bad boys.  4 free points in RoW is good, but it’s not the 11 for EE.

Pow 14 magic attack!

Pow 14 magic attack!

Tier 2- If you include Janissa Stonetidethe Krielstone starts the game with 1 Fury point for ever Runshaper unit/solo in the list.  Now I played this for almost a year and I never caught the word “solo”. DOH!  You get FIVE Fury to start on your stone.  Happy days.  This lets Hoarluk get his upkeeps out and have some transfers.

Force Lock has won me games!

Force Lock has won me games!

Tier 3- For ever 2  Runeshaper units you get one wall template that can be placed up to 20″ from your back edge.  They cannot be placed within 3″ of another terrain feature including another wall template.  Doesn’t sound like much but most Runes lists include an Earthborn that just LOVES walls because it gets +2 ARM when it is within 2″ of a Linear Obstacle.  Add in the Krielstone’s +2 as well and that’s that’s an ARM 22 beast with quite a few boxes!  But the really great thing about the walls are that they ignore the normal terrain placement rules for being placed in zones and near flags and objectives.  This can really frustrate your opponent when you have some walls in your zone providing Cover, and a decent armour swing.

Tier 4- If you include 2 or more Dire Trolls you get +2″ of deployment.  If you go 2nd you’re starting on the 12″ line.  That gives you a 5″ advantage over your non-tier’d opponent.  Since the emergence of Body and Soul the added inches on deployment is an extra bonus is especially critical. If you win the roll against you want to go second against Body and Soul that way you can get a beast and some Runeshapers into the zone. If you go first you’re likely to end up struggling to pressure the scenario.

This is “the list”.  It’s the one that’s been played the most and has done the best.  Some people try to tweak it, but they almost always come back to this list.  Not sure if he was the one that built it first or not but it is the “Flanzer”.



Hoarluk Doomshaper, Shaman of the Gnarls – WB: +7
– Dire Troll Mauler – PC: 9
– Earthborn Dire Troll – PC: 10
– Mulg the Ancient – PC: 12
– Troll Axer – PC: 6

Janissa Stonetide – PC: 3

Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 3
Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 3
Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 3
Trollkin Runeshapers – Leader & 2 Grunts: 3
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes – Leader & 5 Grunts: 4
– Stone Scribe Elder – Elder 1

7 Warbeast points is great for a Warlock, which lets him take a lot of beasts in his list, and the beasts usually do a lot of work in this list.  The Axer is there to give your beasts the extra 2″ of threat with the Rush animus, and when I played it I kept the Mauler back as my transfer target and to put out the Rage animus if I needed some extra punch.  Janissa is a tier requirement but is so much more.  She has an ability called Tectonic Shift which pushes enemy models within 3″ of her 3″ towards any table edge you pick.  This can be a great way to clear a zone or disengage from your opponent.  She also has an Armour Piercing POW 9 attack….which I always miss.  However, the ability she’s most commonly played for is Wall of Stone.  This lets you place a 4″ wall anywhere completely within 5″ of her.  If your side of the table doesn’t have enough stuff to give your Earthborn Dire Troll the +2 ARM bonus then she can just by putting a wall out for the Earthborn to stand beside.  It can NOT be Purified away, and even if she’s killed it sticks around until your next turn.  Lastly, she has one little bonus she gives the Runeshapes Force Lock.  OMG it’s so good, and I have broken some opponents with how crippling it can be.

Leadership Runeshapers- While in this models command range, friendly Runeshaper models gain Force Lock.
Force Lock- enemy models in this model’s Melee Range cannot advance except to change facing.

Why is that good?  Well with so much cavalry out there…this means they can’t be impacted on.  Also Incorporeal models can’t charge or run past them, they do still have Magical Weapons and so could make Free Strikes, but some opponents might be so desperate that they may try it.  I had a tournament game against a Ret player, and  I ran a Runeshaper to engage his Colossal.  At this point he was low on models to contest, and since the colossal was Force Locked he couldn’t even position it to get into the zone.  He had to kill the Runeshaper first but if he did that it would have left him out of the zone anyway!  For the record Issyria used Ancillary Attack to try and kill the Runeshaper… but I toughed.  Win by CP for me!

…Sorry got distracted.


Another key to the list is the Krielstone Bearer and Stone Scribes with UA, you almost always see the UA, or Stone Scribe Elder.  With Goreshade 3 out there freezing casters and killing them no problem the Stone with UA is great.  You can use the Spirit Chaser ability, which prevents Stealth and Incorporeal within the Stone’s aura.  So those blasted Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders can’t run through your lines to freeze your toys!  I have even seen some people use the Spirit Chaser then run the stone deep into enemy lines to deny Stealth, helpful for those pesky Runeshaper shots.  If they don’t have Stealth or Incorporeal units you can do no Continuous Effects and prevent your models, especially Doomshaper, from taking those pesky Fire Damage rolls. And if that isn’t good enough for you then you’ll just have to settle for a +1 strength bonus for every model in the aura! Oh and you always get the +2 ARM no matter what!

G Unit.  I mean Stone Unit.

G Unit. I mean Stone Unit.

Now we have come to the beasts.  Three and a half sounds like a lot but they get work done.  Mulg with the Rage Animus and +1 STR from the Stone’s aura gets up to POW 23.  I’ve had Mulg kill a Primeaxiom under Lucants feat!  Dice happened, but it still died. If that doesn’t impress you how about the Earthborn who has Adaptation.

Transmute is a great "brick" animus.

Transmute is a great “brick” animus.

Adaptation: When this model hits with a normal melee attack with this weapon it can replace the base pow of this weapon with the base POW of a melee weapon on a model in its melee range.

Whats that mean?  Well if your Earthborn is standing next to Mulg he will be base strength 12 + 1 for the Stone’ss aura + 6 from Mulg’s Rune Club and + 3 from Rage.  Pow 22.  Not bad since when you look at his card it says POW 15!  I lived the dream vs a Cygnar player and walked 7″, thanks to some difficult terrain and the Earthborn’s Transmute ability, into melee with a Stormclad.  In the end it was POW 24!  Dice +2 even with Arcane Shield.  I have never lived the Kovas dream which has a pow 14 weapon, which after all the buffs would be POW 30, but hey I can dream righ? (No Scott, you can’t. Not that dream! -editor)

Mulg Smash!  Or EAT!

Mulg Smash! Or EAT!

Then we have the mighty MULG!  MULG SMASH!  He is by far the best beast in trolls.  He has a POW 19 Magical Weapon with Reach, and a POW 17 fist to boot (or fist in this case… – editor)!  He has an Affinity with Hoarluk so that when he is done smashing something at the end of his activation if what he was smashing is still standing he can smash it one more time! FREE!  He also has Relentless.  So if your opponent thinks it’s a good idea to shoot him as he is coming in he will get +2 SPD the next turn.  Since he is SPD 4 this really helps him get to where he wants to go.  If you find yourself playing against Mulg you’re going to want to know about Protective Fit, which is when you attack Mulg’s caster and damage it (even if that damage is transferred) Mulg can make a Full Advance toward the enemy model that damaged the caster, AND Mulg can then make a Melee attack against that model.  Now you should also note that it can trigger as many times as you damage the caster.  I once had Mulg walk 12″ to end up between the Carni and Hoarluk, which prevented Hoarluk from dying.  The Carni was under eAbby’s feat, which gave it Reach, but Mulg was able to get in the way and save Doomy. It was terrifying!   His Rune club also has crit Smite, so when you roll the inevitable critical on a Protective Fit attack (or any other attack mind you -editor) you can slam the model D6″ away.  And it’s at Mulg’s full POW.

Sigh I am in the list too! Don't forget about me!

Sigh I am in the list too! Don’t forget about me!


The list is great and can be your all comers drop.  It plays pretty good into almost anything.  The pow 14 Rock Hammers from the Runeshapers can be great at killing high def models.  High def models generally have low armour.  So if you miss the blast damage will be pow 7, which will generally be enough to kill them.  Hoarluk is a great caster.  Having Purification makes him a a solid choice vs Bradigus and even Body and Soul ( just make sure you go 2nd!).  Hoarluk also has a special ability called Goad.  He can force his beasts to move 2″ after it kills a model.  This is a great way to pac-man through a unit.  Mulg makes it even better when he gets lucky and crit hits.  That can add a fair amount to the body count.  A lot of times you use it to bring your beasts back a little closer and then put Janissa’s rock wall up to protect them.   If you are a troll player and want to be competitive you should take a serious look at putting this list into your arsenal.


  1. Eugene Falco October 15, 2015 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    I recently sold out and bought into RoW. I have no regrets! This is a fun and solid list!

    • Scott Talarico October 15, 2015 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      Its fantastic! RoW is a blast to play. Maybe not for your opponents.

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