Welcome to the Raging Goblin Reviews, the segment where I look at some of my favorite hobby tools and products and review them for all you budding hobbyists and wargamers out there. We’re going to take a break from Trolls for a second here and take a look at the forces of Cygnar, the famous Boys in Blue of the Iron Kingdoms, and my second army in the works. To begin this review, when you hear “Cygnar” what immediately comes to mind? Is it the lightning-wielding Stormblades? The spell-slinging Arcane Tempest Gun Mages? The noble and faithful Precursor Knights? Well, when I hear Cygnar, I have visions of battle-hardened troops stuck in the foxholes of the Iron Kingdoms, armed with nothing but a rifle and pure guts. Presenting one of the universally (and unfairly) panned Cygnaran units, it’s the Trencher Infantry!
These battle-hardened grunts have been fighting alongside Cygnar since their creation all the way back in MK1, and ever since then have been shunted off to the side for units like the Sword Knights or the Long Gunners. As a fan of the Trenchers myself and an advocate of “there are no bad units, only bad players,” I’d like to set the record straight, and hopefully get these great and characterful troops back onto the battlefield again.
If you’ve been following Warmachine, you’ll know that this is the third incarnation of the Trencher infantry, this time in plastic. Unlike previous releases, which only came with the grunts and leader, this new box includes three Rifle Grenadiers, which originally were sold separately from the unit. This box is also much cheaper than the original, running $49.99 and including three bonus models, as opposed to the ten man box for $54.99. Their UA is still sold separately, but we’ll get to them later. The models themselves are fairly easy to assemble, coming in three pieces each (rifle, body, backpack), which means that the entire unit can be built and ready to go in about ten minutes after getting them out of the box. You get a couple unique sculpts as well to mix up your variety, including the pointing and shouting leader, two “smoke bomb throwing” grunts, three “firing” grunts, two “running” grunts, two “tensed” grunts, and three Rifle Grenadiers, which are retools of the “smoke bomb throwing” grunts, giving you quite a bit of character for a rather uniform unit of troops. Detail-wise, each troop still has a fair bit of detail despite being a very uniform unit, including bandoliers, entrenching tools, extra smoke bombs, and mechanisms on their rifles. Their WAs even have pouches of extra rifle grenades to help set them off from the rest of their comrades. They don’t have as much detail as some of the troops I’ve reviewed so far, but they’re still a very nice looking unit, and fit in nearly seamlessly with a steampunk or Great War-themed army as foot soldiers.
And now for the real meat of the issue: their rules. Trenchers have been poo-pooed since their creation for being overly complicated and not specializing in any particular battlefield role, as well as being expensive in terms of points. As their name should imply, Trenchers are based on WW1-era trench fighters, and their rules reflect this. They all have an average-POW rifle with enough punch to blast single-wound troops, and have the Combined Ranged Attack rule that lets them combine all of their rifle shots into a single super-powered attack. This doesn’t sound like much on paper, but a full CRA with both their UA and WAs involved brings their total POW over 20, which will give even a Khadoran warjack pause. They also possess Smoke Bombs, which let them lay down a 3″ diameter cloud per troop that provides cover to anyone inside and blocks kine of sight, making them more resistant to enemy shooting, or they can Dig In and become immune to blast damage and allow friendly troops to shoot over their heads while in their foxholes. The Trenchers’ signature ability is Assault, which lets them fire off their rifles and then go over the top to charge their enemies with their bayonets. When the Rifle Grenadiers are in the unit, they also gain the ability to throw between one and three small AOEs into their enemies and disperse lightly-armored infantry. All of these rules combine to create a unit that’s sort of a jack-of-all-trades when properly used. I’ll be the first to admit that Trenchers don’t work very well on their own and require support, but this is true of any unit in an army list. But still on their own, Trenchers do a job as both armor crackers and infantry killers, depending on which you need. True, they’re not Arcane Tempest, but a 15-man CRA is still useful to stop heavily-armored units and warcasters from charging you. Not to mention they can lay down cover for your army, can enable your ranged units to draw line of sight through them when dug in, or can become decent skirmishers when assaulting, despite their bayonets being rather lackluster in terms of POW. The biggest issue remains their cost. A full unit costs 10 points, a unit with WAs can cost from 11 to 13 points, and a complete unit with all the attachments will run you 16 points, which is enough to buy you two units of Long Gunners or nearly three units of Sword Knights.
Of course, we still need to add in their UA to make this package complete. This is the Officer and Sniper:
Sold for $12.99, these two troops make the lackluster Trencher infantry even better. For starters, their RAT value is higher than that of your average Trencher, making them better at taking down enemy units with their rifles. As the name should imply, the Sniper possesses the Snipe special rule, which means that instead of rolling damage, he can opt to inflict one point of damage automatically. This makes him great at scalpeling out crucial solos or crucial parts of a warjack’s or warbeast’s life grid, or just good at killing single-wound infantry and breaking defensive lines. The Officer has two special rules that really set him apart. He has an order called “Cautious Advance,” that lets the whole unit make a full advance, dig in, and then either fire or throw a smoke bomb, making the unit able to reposition and shoot while remaining immune to incoming fire. When the Trenchers are paired up with heavier skirmishing units, such as the Sword Knights or Boomhowler and Co., this is a nifty trick for pulling your enemy into a deadly trap. The Officer also has the Jack Marshal ability, which allows him to bring a warjack with the rest of the unit, so you could bring a Sentinel for its chain gun and Shield Guard ability, a Charger for cracking enemy armor, or the specialized Grenadier (more on him later) for laying down some good covering fire. Points wise, they cost a point and a half each, which brings them up to 3 points for the entire UA. They’re a little pricey, but their special abilities make them worth it, making the whole unit better at skirmishing and providing some nasty tricks with the ability to haul a warjack along.
Unlike their comrades, the Officer and Sniper are still metal, and have more of a complicated build. The Officer comes in two parts, torso and rifle, which slot together easily, but the Sniper comes in three (body, rifle, and sandbags), and the rather small base means it’s hard to get him completely on his base. Once assembled as they are in the picture, they look just as characterful as the other Trenchers, and help round out their unit with a sharpshooter and shouting officer leading the charge. The look is a bit different from that of the other Trenchers as they are older sculpts, but it’s easy to see where they came from, and once painted up, they’re indistinguishable from the others in the newer unit, with the exception of the scoped rifle and sergeant’s stripes on the officer’s helmet.
Now that we’ve taken an in-depth look at this unit and all of the accoutrements, what is the final verdict on the Trencher infantry? I’m going to give the whole unit a solid 7/10. True, Trenchers aren’t specialists in any sense, but with the right tactics and support they are a very good unit. They can team up with ranged units to provide them cover and give them something to shoot over when dug in, they can disperse light infantry and break through shield walls and defensive lines, and they can clear the way for heavier units to move in and make the kill. For units that work well with these guys, anything else with “Trencher” in its name synergizes very well, ranged units like Long Gunners or Arcane Tempest serve well as a second line behind them, and the warcasters Major Prime Victoria Haley and Siege Brisbane provide them with some useful buffs that make them more survivable and help disengage them from tough spots on the battlefield. The Grenadier light warjack also works well as it can dig in alongside its Trencher commanders, and any unit that counts as a Trencher can crank extra shots out of its gun, up to three, which lets it lay down some serious covering fire on the enemy lines. Outside of the tabletop, the Trenchers are a great unit that captures both the spirit of fantasy and the Great War in one gritty, tough-as-nails infantry company that looks great in any steampunk, fantasy, or WW1-themed band of soldiers. This is further reinforced with the wide variety of solos and units that support them, but we’ll cover them at a later time. Now, some people still aren’t sold on the Trenchers, and if you don’t like their look, rules, or play style, then you can skip them, but I still strongly suggest giving the Trenchers a try. They may not be the best, cheapest, or most well-rounded unit in the Cygnaran arsenal, but they still offer some great rules and abilities for supporting any Cygnaran force. I’m sure that there are still people that are going to crap on the Trenchers for not being the best unit, but I’ll stand by my motto that any unit is good as long as you know how to properly use it. So for all you budding hobbyists and veteran Cygnar players out there, please give Trenchers a chance.
Anyway, this has been the Raging Goblin’s review of the Cygnar Trencher Infantry, Officer, and Sniper. God’s blessings on your week, keep up with your hobbies, and stay green my friends!