The Raging Goblin Reviews #14: Thumper Crew & Trencher Cannon Crew

I realize only now that I’ve gotten severely behind in my reviews, so I thought I’d get back into it with a two-for-one review from both of my factions. First off, we’ll look at the second (for now) weapon crew that Cygnar has to offer: the Trencher Cannon Crew. (And yes, I’m looking forward to the Express Team with baited breath.)

31058_TrencherCannonCrew_WEB

You get a lot of parts in this box, so let’s do a quick rundown:

  • 1 Gunner Body
  • 1 Gunner Scope Arm
  • 1 Loader
  • 1 Spotter
  • 1 Cannon Body
  • 1 Cannon Shield
  • 1 Cannon Axle
  • 1 Cannon Bipod
  • 2 Wheels
  • 3 Backpacks

The men themselves are very easy to assemble, being only two pieces (three for the gunner) and all fit into your dedicated Gravedigger force, though like the Chain Gun Crew they have unique details to set them apart. The Loader just looks like an average grunt who’s been shanghaied into lugging shells for the cannoneer, the Spotter looks like some higher-up with all of his field charts and maps of enemy positions, and the Gunner…probably isn’t making a smart move to lay down his helmet to use his scope and operate the cannon. One stray shot from a Khadoran rifleman and his head will open up like a watermelon, though I suppose he could duck behind the gun shield for cover if need be. The gun itself is the centerpiece of the whole unit and, unfortunately, is a bit annoying to assemble. You need to first put on the axle and wheels, making sure they sit flush with the ground, then fit the shield between the wheels on the gun (this is a stylistic choice, you don’t have to), and then do a dry fit with the bipod to make sure that it also sits flush, and ONLY THEN can you glue the whole mess to the base. It’s heavy as all get out, but once the cannon is assembled and on its base, it looks great, and would look even better with a bit of Army Painter barbed wire strewn around the front. This is not a build for amateurs, and will require some time and patience to complete. Fortunately, it is not as finicky as the Chain Gun crew and is a bit more approachable for newbies.

So what exactly does the Cannon Crew do for you? It’s an average cost for an artillery piece and won’t set you back very far, but it does bring some nice firepower to the front. It recently gained Advance Deployment (which it had in MK2, was removed in MK3, and WAS BROUGHT BACK in the CID cycle, but I won’t nitpick), letting you set it up on the front lines with your footsloggers and draw a line of sight to your enemy’s lines, Dig In to keep you safe from misfires and enemy artillery, and the bog-standard Tough for keeping them alive when things heat up. Statwise it’s the same as your average Trencher grunt with lower SPD for the gunner, but you can get past this thanks to Mobile Artillery, giving all three a SPD of 6 when both grunts are in B2B with the gunner. The Cannon itself is a very brutal piece, and if you’re fighting a ‘jack or beast-heavy army like Legion or Protectorate, you want one of these for cracking armor or clearing packed infantry. The gun boasts a small AOE and a POW of 13, making it useful for getting rid of lightly-armored models, but it also boasts Critical Brutal Damage, granting you an extra die of damage on critical hits. It’s not a good idea to rely too much on crits, but like Gunnbjorn’s Critical Devastation, it’s nice when it does happen, and turns the gun into a nightmare against heavies and armored units. Of course, the grunts can use their Military Rifles as well, but they’re better off lugging the gun around. All three men have trench knives for backup, but if your artillery team has resorted to using their melee weapons, you are well and truly fragged. For purely cracking armor, the Express Team does a better job, but the Cannon Crew is a nice all-rounder unit that can fill an anti-armor or anti-infantry role in a pinch.

If you’re running the Gravediggers theme list, the Cannon Crew is a must alongside your other weapon crews, and getting it free for 20 points of infantry is nice as well. You’ll also want a Master Gunner as well, so you can reroll failed attacks, crank out extra shots, or arc your shells over shield walls to hit sneaky support models in the rear lines. Now that the Master Gunner has Foxhole Buddy, meaning he counts as Dug In when in B2B with a Dug In model, the cannon team can keep him safe while he doles out the boosts. From a hobby standpoint, it looks great in a steampunk or WWWI army, but can be a bit of a pain to build if you don’t know where everything goes. This is a good kit for hobby veterans and collectors of nice models, but I recommend newbies wait a bit before embarking on something like this.

Our second model review is actually two models in one, or rather a kit with two options. Presenting the all-new Thumper/Pummeler Crew for your Trollbloods!

71104 Thumper Crew Trollblood

71104 Pummeler Crew Trollblood

We’ve got a lot of bits to cover, so let’s not wait:

  • 1 Powder Grunt Body
  • 1 Powder Grunt Keg & Hands
  • 1 Powder Grunt Head
  • 1 Sponger Grunt
  • 1 Sponger Grunt Right Hand w. Solid Shot
  • 1 Sponger Grunt Right Hand w. Chain Shot
  • 1 Sponger Grunt Head
  • 1 Gunner Body
  • 1 Gunner Head w. Helmet
  • 1 Gunner Head w. Goggles
  • 1 Gunner Left Pointing Arm
  • 1 Gunner Right Arm w. Spyglass
  • 1 Gunner Right Arm w. Torch & Whelp
  • 1 Cannon Chassis Left
  • 1 Cannon Chassis Right
  • 1 Cannon Chassis Middle
  • 2 Wheels
  • 1 Gun Shield
  • 2 Gun Shield Rings
  • 1 Thumper Cannon
  • 1 Pummeler Cannon

Okay, assembly first. The Powder Grunt is the most straightforward, as you just glue his hands and barrel into the spot between his bracers, glue his head on, and glue him onto his base. Similarly, the Sponger is one piece where you glue on the head and the appropriate ammo-holding hand (solid shot for Thumper, chain shot for Pummeler), and put him onto his base. As for the Gunner, you attach the pointing arm, your choice of head, and your choice of left arm (the Whelp is a separate piece, by the way), and set him off to the side. You can put him onto the base at this point, but I’d recommend waiting until you know where the cannon is going to end up at.

Now, the cannon. First, choose the cannon you wish to build, and pick the appropriate gun from the parts: the single-barrel for the Thumper, the double-barrel for the Pummeler. Glue the left chassis onto the post on the left side while making sure the cannon stays straight (or tilted up for the Pummeler), attach the yoke onto the front of the chassis beneath the barrel of the gun, and then attach the right chassis to the right post and the other side of the yoke. Great, now we’ve got the main part done! The wheels are two-sided, letting you use the armored or bare spoked sides for the chassis, and have rivets all the way around EXCEPT on the bottom, so make sure the flat part is the part facing the base. As for the gun shield, it too is reversible, so you can use it curved outwards as a shovel-like blade for the Thumper, or curved inwards for the Pummeler. The two towing rings just sit on the corners of the shield, though for the Pummeler, they sit on the yoke of the gun carriage instead.

Unlike the Trencher Cannon Crew, the Thumper Crew isn’t as much of a hassle to get assembled (to me anyway), and is a lot friendlier to new hobbyists getting into the Trollbloods. Like most of the Trollbloods models, they are fun and full of detail, such as the bottle of hooch on the gunner’s belt, the Whelp covering its ears(?) on the gunner’s shoulder, and the axes on the team’s belts. These guys have a LOT more of the “trencher troll” aesthetic that PP is using for the modernized Trollbloods, and I must say I couldn’t be happier. This is one of those kits that is fun just to have and paint, even if you don’t use it. My ONLY complaint is that some of the old details from the original metal kit were not carried over, like the pile of cannonballs the Sponger was standing on or the trophy teeth on the gun shield. I really don’t mind, as both kits have their merits, and this way you can field two completely different Thumpers with a different aesthetic. As for Pummelers, you can mix it up with the Gunner pieces, but that’s about all the difference you will get.

For those of you who have played with the Thumper Crew before, you will know how much fun it is, but for the uninitiated, let me inform you. Statwise, these guys are nothing special for Trollbloods foot soldiers, with a high STR, low SPD (even lower for the gunner), decent defensive stats, and average offensive stats. They have all the same rules as most mobile artillery, with the Mobile Artillery, Take Up, and Officer rules for the Gunner, and Tough for all of them because they are trolls and trolls are always tough. For a backup weapon, they all have POW-10 axes, but just like the Cannon Crew’s trench knives, you should absolutely never use this in battle unless your enemy has gotten close enough to engage your artillery unit in melee. The selling point is the Thumper, which possesses one of the highest POWs of the available artillery units, that being 16 and a RNG of 12, giving it an impressive threat range. It has no AOE (more on that later), but it serves an important purpose: KILLING WARBEASTS. In exchange for an AOE, the Thumper has Momentum, meaning that anything hit by it gets slammed back D3″ away from the attacker. You can do serious damage with the gun itself, but it also serves an anti-infantry role by slamming warbeasts into packed infantry that have decided to mass up behind it. Nothing demoralizes a unit of Praetorians like seeing a TITAN come flying back at you! This is about all you can do with the Thumper outside of killing solos, but in that respect, it does its job spectacularly.

Now if you want an anti-infantry piece, the Pummeler is what you want, especially as it’s half the cost of a unit of Sluggers, though you suffer lower accuracy for the cost. Rather than the short-ranged solid shot the Thumper uses, the Pummeler fires a pair of chain shot with an impressive basic range of 16, a 3″ AOE, and a POW of 14, letting you splatter infantry with impunity and occasionally ding up a heavy that wandered into the blast zone. Now, despite having two barrels, the Pummeler has an ROF of 1, but it has a brand new ability called Bounce that lets you wreak some serious havoc on your opponent’s army…assuming it doesn’t backfire and come back at you. After your initial AOE hits, it scatters another AOE away from the middle of the first, laying down two blast zones for wiping out swathes of enemy forces and clearing a path for your footsloggers to charge in and finish the job. The downside of course is that, like all AOE weapons, it has a chance to completely miss the enemy and end up back in your own lines, and with the possibility of TWO AOEs landing in your lines, the Pummeler can be a little risky to use. Of course, when it does work it works spectacularly, but if you don’t want the risk, the Sluggers are the more expensive but more accurate option for clearing infantry. Maybe someday we’ll get a proper Trollbloods machine gun crew, or even artillerist (I run a Trencher Master Gunner with mine), but for now this will do.

If you’re planning on running either of these pieces in your Trollbloods army, they work best when run with Gunnbjorn, Jarl Skuld, or either iteration of Grim Angus, as both guns seriously benefit from the ranged buffs these particular warlocks can dole out. Snipe on the Pummeler is especially nasty, as it gives you one of the longest non-sniper-rifle threat ranges currently available. The newly-announced Pyg Lookouts work well with them too, as they can mark targets for the gunners and help them to hit more reliably. I like to run a mixed Cygnar and Trollbloods army myself as Gunny is a former Trencher, so I’ve got the Master Gunner to keep my AOEs on the enemy and away from my troops, but it’s possible we’ll be getting a proper Trollbloods artillerist at some point in the future.

If you’ve been building a Weird War, Victorian Sci-Fi, or steampunk army based on the models of Warmachine and Hordes, these three units are great options, fun to paint, and have lots of details for providing a characterful unit to your army and adding some serious firepower to any Britannian Planetary Expedition Force. They’re not recommended for newbies due to their rather complicated builds, but they are still fun to build, paint, and play. I highly recommend both of these kits for whatever your purpose is.

Next time is another Two-For-One, as we look at two brand new character solos for Warmachine and Hordes: Major Harrison Gibbs, the trencher cook-turned-resistance-fighter, and Shon Hutchuck, the Steelhead orc who specializes in alchemical grenades and whacking baddies in the head with his ludicrously huge war hammer. See you in the next review!

-The Raging Goblin

 

 

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