Crushing Crescendo: A Grissel Guide
When I first picked up my friend’s copy of Primal to see about this “Hordes” jive he was spewing, I was having a hard time deciding what faction to play. I hate elves, so Legion was out immediately, and Circle was never going to fit my aggressive, melee-oriented playstyle. So it came down to Skorne and Trollbloods, and I was on the verge of picking up a Skorne army when I leafed through the Trollblood section again and decided to take a look at Grissel Bloodsong a little bit closer.
There was no turning back.
“Why” you might ask, is Grissel that great? The answer is that Grissel can do everything. With melee ability only out-stripped by Borka and Madrak, support abilities equivalent to anything Calandra, Grim, or Doomshaper can bring to the table, a killer feat, a spell list to die for and denial usually reserved for Cryxian warcasters, there’s no list she can face that she doesn’t have an answer for. If some warcasters/warlocks can be thought of as Swiss Army Knives, she’s a fully loaded Leatherman. She has so much potential, I didn’t really feel up to the task of writing this guide, but I’m going for it anyway and hoping I can give you a glimpse at how I use her. This guide will by no means be exhaustive--it’s a starting point and you’ll have to take it from there.
Her statline is like a Fell Caller’s, but she takes a hit to MAT/RAT in exchange for the second-highest base DEF in the faction and ARM like Madrak Ironhide, Thornwood Chieftain (pMadrak). Unlike most warlocks, you actually care about her relatively high CMD because it’s used to determine the distance on her Fell Calls, which we’ll cover in depth later. Her FURY is mid-range, so you can take a balanced mix of warbeasts and infantry without problems, but the extremes on either end will hurt. The take-away on her statline is that it’s remarkably balanced compared to most of our warlocks, so that while she does not necessarily excel in any particular area except CMD, she also lacks any glaring weaknesses.
All Trollkin warrior models have this, and Grissel is no exception. It won’t save you from an assassination attempt 99% of the time, so don’t plan on it. Ever.
These are what set Grissel apart from all of the rest, and one of her best tools. An important thing to keep in mind is that these DO NOT stack with the calls by the Fell Caller Hero (FC). So if you decide to use Reveille to stand up knocked down models, Grissel can’t give them the benefit of Hoof It or Heroic Ballad. The other thing to note is that while Grissel’s beneficial Fell Calls affect warbeasts and units alike, they don’t work on warlocks. Like the Krielstone Bearer and Stone Scribes (KSB) and FC, these are just actions during your activation, so the only time you can’t use them is after Running (before is OK) or during movement. So if you use them, you can never give them to Grissel with the exception of her feat Fell Chorus, which changes the rules a little bit. Now that we’ve got the caveats in, let’s talk specifics.
This is one of her less useful Fell Calls. Since she only has a 9” CMD range, you have to get her pretty close to the enemy in order to make it stick. It’s an aura, so if the model(s) exit her CMD range, they can go right back to business as usual. Using it to negate spellcasting is about as effective as Mulg’s animus, so if you’re not up against Arc Nodes and facing a threat to Grissel directly, it’s not a bad idea. Even better is the fact that it prevents orders, and with Grissel’s SPD you can advance toward a unit up to 15” away and prevent it from Charging or entering Shield Wall. It affects "model/unit", so as long as you're just touching one of the models in the unit, the whole group is denied orders AND spellcasting. Great for denying Greylords and Warwitch Sirens. This can also be especially useful when you run up against those Iron Fang Pikemen and Temple Flame Guard that depend on both the Shield Wall and Charge orders to be effective.
Its first effect is that it grants Fearless, which can be useful against units that can end up facing models with Terror or Abomination, and is really just icing on the cake. The real benefit of this call is that it grants a model/unit an additional melee attack, which can be devastating. I like using to improve Mulg’s ability to take down heavies with his Rune Club or have a unit of Kriel Warriors dismantle a Shield Wall unit or get multiple CMAs on a heavy. One of the best uses is to throw it on Long Riders and then have them charge, so that you get a round of Impact Attacks and then can follow up with two attacks from their Axes. Using that combination, you can wreck an infantry unit with just a minimum unit of Long Riders with little difficulty.
This is probably my favorite of her Fell Calls. After all models in the army have finished activating, a model/unit affected can move up to their SPD in inches and can’t be targeted by Free Strikes when they do it. For scenario games, this is an invaluable way to get parity with armies that depend on quickly locking down objectives. If they run, you can get a unit of Fennblades 18” up the board in the first turn. With Long Riders, it’s more like 21”. You can get a slow warbeast like Mulg keeping in step with the rest of the army, or give a model/unit the ability to attack and then fill in the holes they’ve opened and lock them in place. Having trouble keeping that Runebearer with the main line? Hoof It will allow him to use one of his abilities and still move 10” up the field.
This is essentially a Scattergunner spray attack, but with the option to boost the attacks. Like all sprays it has its uses, and can be very accurate when boosting or with the support of Grissel’s spell Calamity, but even 8” away is a little close for comfort much of the time. I mainly use it to clear out infantry that are blocking charge lanes or just as a way to kill off pesky solos, especially those that depend on Stealth and Cover/Concealment to protect them.
This is a remarkably nice weapon for a support warlock, and part of what rounds Grissel out. With one less P+S than Rathrok, Magical Weapon and Critical Smite it allows Grissel to get the damage output necessary to put down enemy warlocks/warcasters. The Critical Smite can be key to a successful assassination by Grissel, because you can boost the attack and try to slam a high-DEF warcaster/warlock in order to knock them down and bring in support to finish the job, or cast Calamity to improve her attack and damage output against the target and layer it with other buffs. For base damage output, Grissel falls just behind either version of Madrak and Borka, so you don’t have to worry about getting what you need when you need it. With her low STR though, unless you have a Mauler the Critical Smite won’t do much on Collateral Damage rolls against most models.