Calandra has many names. She goes by Cali, The Dark Mother, Sexy Trollkin, Dice ****er and more. If you are weak willed, I suggest you stop right here. If not, continue on, and see the face of true power.
Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood
Beware trollblood players. The Dark Mother brooks no disrespect, and her powers are insidious. She controls the dice, and through them, the game. Play her with regularity and you will expect the dice to respond to your beck and call. Addicted to the power, games with other casters seem hollow, as fickle dice refuse to bow to your whim. She is powerful, but once played she refuses to play second fiddle to anyone else.
Calandra doesn’t play the same game as everyone else. She manipulates models, but more importantly she manipulates the dice. Other casters have various powers, but they cannot turn a roll of a 3 into a roll of a 9. Calandra can, with ease, in two separate ways. She is fragile, but her spells and dice manipulation makes her one of the most survivable casters we have. She lacks some power to kill things herself, but even then she will stalk and kill the wounded with her vicious dagger.
Calandra knows that to be truly powerful, your opponents must think you are weak. She disguises her power behind pitiful stats. Her DEF and ARM are strictly bellow average, and her MAT isn’t going to win any contests. Even her SPD is merely average. She seems weak, a spellcaster warlock like Hoarluk or Vayl.
The Dark Mother holds a weapon on great power, and it shares some similarities with her playstyle. Weak, it spikes in power when attacking a wounded model. Calandra has a dangerous kill run, where she charges a caster, KDs it via fully boosted Force Blow, and then hits the model with 10+4d6 followed by two separate 10+3d6. Casters who thought they were safe will be surprised to see her tiny dagger ending their lives.
Tough – Tough is an ability inherent to all trolls, but on a caster it’s worthless. If you are making tough rolls, you have lost the game, plain and simple. So try not to do that.
Fate Blessed – Fate Blessed is where we start getting a taste of the true power of the dark mother. Any and every faction model in her control can get a little boost akin to fortune, all for the cost of a measly fury. As we will go into later, it is rare that Calandra does not have at least 1 or 2 spare fury in a turn. With this ability, she can turn any one botched to hit or damage roll into a successful one. Did your Dire Troll bomber just roll a 4 to hit the Khador jack? No, for one fury, he didn’t. Did your champion just flub his 4d6 damage roll. No, for one fury, he didn’t. This extends to herself as well. Did you just miss a boosted Force Blow at Ashlynne? Instead of casting the spell again, why not effectively recast it for a single fury. She is actually a spectacularly accurate spellcaster due to this, and her army will flub rolls much less often.
In addition, don’t forget that you can reroll successful rolls too. Did you really want your impaler to crit, and he didn’t? Well, hit or miss, reroll the dice, and try again.
Befuddle – This is a beast/jack killing spell, particularly high DEF heavies. Trolls do not have great threat ranges, and their beasts do not have great accuracy. Hitting a beast/jack with this spell solves both problems, as you can move the target 3” towards you, then turn it to face away from your model. It is rare that your target will live through the next activation. Or, if you simply can’t kill it, you can walk it 3” away from you, and turn it away from your army. If it is a melee heavy, it won’t be doing much of anything but running next turn. If it is a ranged model, it probably wasn’t worth it, but thems the breaks.
It also serves as a lane opening spell, like telekinesis, with the benefit of more movement and the detriment that you can’t move your own models. It is not widely used in this manner due to our army playstyle, but in a pinch it will end games.
Force Blow – Calandra possesses the pinnacle of offensive magic, a Knockdown spell. With her reroll ability, it is also surprisingly easy to KD a caster by boosting both rolls and getting the equivalent of two chances to hit and two chances to damage. Very few casters in range of this spell will come out of it on their feet.
Soothing Song – Though I personally can’t get any use out of this ability, it is worth noting that Calandra has virtually no reason to activate before her beasts, leaving this spell as a stunning fury reducer if you like to spread the load out over a few beasts. Its nice to have, but it isn’t critical to her game play.
Star Crossed – This spell is the game changer, the big killer, the spell that will cause your opponents to hate their dice, hate Calandra, and hate you. The spell is a reverse signs and portents, which, boiled down to its essence, means that your opponents will roll a 5 50% of the time. This nominally translates to –2 to their attack roll, but people will tell you that its not mathematically accurate. Its not accurate because your chances or rolling a 9 or 10 are virtually nonexistent, unlike a flat –2 to attack rolls. This means that the chances of rolling a 2 or 3 are disproportionately high, and they can no longer count on ‘sure thing’ rolls. The opponent will be forced to boost if they absolutely need a 6, 7’s are bad news. An opponent starts needing elite troops to hit your DEF 12 trolls, and DEF 14 models like Calandra require special effort.
Bullet Dodger – This spell is the key to keeping Calandra alive. While you could put it on most models in your army, Calandra herself loves the +2 DEF vs. ranged attacks, as those will often be a major threat to her. More importantly, any missed attack will allow you to move her 2”, ignoring free strikes. This cannot be fully grasped without some playtime, but what it means is this: Most assassination runs allow for a few misses. Sure, you might miss one or two attacks, but if 4 doomreavers are charging, the caster is still going to die. Bullet Dodger negates this completely. After the first miss, Calandra has zoomed away. She’s gone. No more attacks. Whole assassination runs can be crushed by a single low roll that allowed the Dark Mother her reprieve. Combined with Star Crossed, keeping Calandra alive is trivial, allowing you to focus your mental resources on dismantling the opposition.
Good Omens – This feat benefits you in the same way that Starcrossed hurts your opponents. Your low rolls become extremely unlikely, almost nothing will roll below a 6, and models can be expected to roll around 8 or 9 in a pinch. Since it affects accuracy as well as damage, this translates to a turn of incredible performance for your army. Everything just…. works. That fennblade will hit the Skarlock, and will kill it. You don’t need to worry about it much. Your charging dire troll is almost guaranteed to hit that khador jack with every attack, no 3’s or 4’s to mess anything up. That Nyss hunter is going to kill that Stormblade, rolling a 5 is almost out of the question.
This ability is compounded by Fate Blessed, which means if you do somehow roll a 3 followed by a 4, and you need a 6, you can reroll it one more time. That extra layer of insurance is the final nail in the coffin of random chance. Now, the abilities don’t stack quite right. If you reroll 1’s and 2’s, then reroll the roll, you can’t reroll 1’s and 2’s again. But even then, if you go into a roll needing a 6, you are nearly 100% guaranteed to get that 6 if you feat and spend a fury on it.
Calandra is a lovely gal, and she welcomes everyone in with open arms. The only abilities she has that is limited to friendly faction models are Soothing Song (for obvious reasons) and Fate Blessed. Minion models will benefit from both her feat and Starcrossed. This means that models like Nyss Hunters become unholy terrors for much of the game, nearly unhittable to direct fire and merciless snipers on feat turn. Totem Hunters gain a whole new level of badass when a MAT 7 model needs to boost to reliably hit them. The thrullg has a 12% chance of rolling boxcars under her feat (take that Iron Fleshed Kayazy). Skarrath avoids enemy blows and deals devastating damage with his SP10 template. The list goes on and on. You will never be more happy that the trollkin have access to every minion model.
Helping Hand: Her passive buffing also means that you can put practically any model into her list, and it will perform. Tired on scattergunners sitting on the shelf? Well, with Calandra more of them will make it into combat, and they will be devastating when they arrive. Bushwhackers become nearly as good as unbuffed Nyss Hunters (). Runeshapers become a hellish tarpit with devastating blast damage. Even the lowly Skinner has a chance to… no, never mind.
Sanctioned Cheating: Take a step back, and assess a few things. Calandra screws your opponents dice, and makes yours better. The only assumption you can draw is that playing Calandra is the closest you can come to playing with fixed dice. You picked up a set that rolls 8’s and 10’s, and you switched out your opponents dice for ones that roll 3’s and 5’s. And privateer says its okay. If you, like me, derive a sick satisfaction from watching your opponents plans fall apart in an orgy of dice failure, Calandra is the caster for you. If you like to engage in assassination runs that have a critical moment or two (handed throws) then Calandra is for you. If you like to see your opponents well played game collapse to a near guaranteed RNG 10 KD spell, Calandra is for you. Frankly, its addictive.
Trollkin Troopers: Calandra excels with infantry. The more models on the table, the more chances that you opponent will fail to kill them by rolling low on those fixed dice you gave him. In addition, her feat allows even P+S 12 models to wreck heavies on the charge by boosting their damage up a few points each. She, unlike most troll casters, doesn’t need a damage buff and doesn’t need a melee heavy to kill opposing heavies. Fell free to rely on Fennblades and champs to put on their best Doom Reaver impression and start opening opposing armor like tin cans.
Mauler – The Mauler’s animus is always nice, and his high MAT means he is effective outside the feat turn. His low threat range is nicely alleviated by Befuddle. His animus is a little unnecessary, since if you can save your feat for the charge turn, the increased damage from the feat nicely alleviates the need for a damage buff.
Blitzer – The MAT and RAT 5 of this beast are largely alleviated by the feat and, in a pinch, befuddle. On feat turn you can scrap jacks and beasts far out of the realm of an unbuffed blitzer. That said, Calandra is so good with troops that she needs to be picky with her beasts, and the blitzer, while nice, doesn’t bring as much to the table as the others.
Earthborn Dire Troll – An expensive Mauler, he’s a little less useful, since his threat range and pathfinder are largely unnecessary in a list where troops do the damage. I’d personally leave him in the case.
Mulg – Mulg is a nice model at 50 points, as he adds a layer of resiliency to a troop heavy list. His low threat is again alleviated by Befuddle, his low DEF minorly mitigated, and his attacks just a little more likely to hit. His biggest draw is that he shoots Calandra’s survivability up a bit by ensuring that those few models that can reliably hit her in melee have to deal with his giant club. He is a nice insurance piece. Just make sure to only consider him at 50 points or above.
Bomber – The absolute perfect beast for Calandra. His attacks are hugely damaging and he can loft bombs over the heads of troops. On feat turn boosted damage rolls of 14 or 15 are commonplace, and two of those can end the life of an enemy heavy really quick. His blast damage also helps remove the super high DEF models that even feated infantry will have trouble with. I take one in every list.
Axer – Rush isn’t a big deal, they will come to you. A feated thresher is a fine idea, but the Champion Hero does it so much better, and in a troop swarm army you are going to want his CMD 10.
Impaler – The bomber really likes his little friend. Aside from that, Calandra can reroll his attacks to get a second shot at that game-ending slam. She can also Soothing Song to let him Far Strike himself, boost a throw, and still be a viable transfer target. A perfect companion for Calandra.
Pyre Troll – If you simply can’t leave home without a damage buff, he’s okay. His blast damage is acceptable on feat turn, though even with help he is still abysmal at actually hitting anything. If you can manage it, leave him at home.
Winter Troll – Some things can’t be helped.
Bouncer – With skill and practice, you can hugely mitigate the threat that ranged attacks pose to Calandra. If you really can’t hack it, you could take a Bouncer, but be aware that its a crutch, and there is nothing it can’t do that can’t be done better with 5 points of other stuff and some smart play. At the end of the day, 5 points of other stuff is always more useful than a bouncer.
Slag Troll – Again, like the Pyre, the damage buff that is his main draw is a bit unnecessary with Calandra, but if you are guaranteed to be fighting jacks, his gun would do wonders on feat turn. Not the worst choice, but not the best.
Swamp Troll – The swamp troll takes Calandra’s extremely nice (under Starcrossed) DEF 14 and makes it an insane DEF 16. The only real problem is that his offensive output is weak, but if you can stand that, or are having trouble keeping Calandra alive, he really shores up her one big weakness.
Fellcaller – Yes please. The feat and Fate Blessed are mainly there to make sure you always roll 7’s. Sure, they can make you roll 8’s or 9’s, but mostly they just guarantee that you will roll at least average. That said, the fellcaller makes your base stat higher, so instead of needing that 9, you now need a 7. Combined with the feat, your attack rolls start to become a formality. He also packs a mean spray and can help your troops deal with terrain. He should be in most lists.
Chronicler – Calandra doesn’t stop long range shooting from hitting your troops, because Starcrossed doesn’t reach that far. However, this guy grants concealment, so the weakness is mitigated. Plus, in close combat he can help KD enemies. There is nothing my discouraging for an enemy than to finally hit one of your damned burrowers only to be KDed in return.
Champion Hero – As stated in the axer’s entry, under the feat he removes a 2” circle on infantry off the table, and does serious damage to jacks. With Fennblades, Warriors and Burrowers on the table, his CMD 10 is critical in removing the one last vestige of luck from your dice rolls.
Runebearer – His ability translates into a free reroll, which is always good. Calandra always needs fury, for rerolls, or spells, or transfers. On top of that, he can once a game arc Befuddle or Force blow at effective RAT 7, and either of those spells can drastically swing a game in your favor. On feat turn, he will hit most things in the game with ease, and she can always give him a hand with a reroll. Try your best to fit him in the list.
Skinner – The winter troll never lives alone, for he has a skinner sitting at his side. While it may be tempting to pretend that a DEF 17 skinner under starcrossed will never be hit by beasts, the skinner takes up critical points and is only worth his points in very specific circumstances. Do not take this model.
Horthol – Long riders aren’t the best choice due to their low model to cost ratio, low DEF, and tendency to be out of control range. As such, Horthol isn’t a great idea either, but if you insist upon taking Long Riders, he’s always a good idea.
Whelps – With Soothing Song and a propensity to run infantry heavy, whelps aren’t really all that useful. However, Annoyance becomes hilarious with Starcrossed, as the –1 to attack rolls is much more effective when you skew the probability curve. Maybe in a larger point game, or if you are running a strange list.
Janissa Stonetide – A wall template is better in most ways than a gobber cloud or a Swamp Troll. It physically prevents models from engaging Calandra from the front if you place it right. In addition, Befuddle + Tectonic Shift = 6” of enemy movement, which is crazy talk. Forcelock can keep models away from your fragile caster, though that’s only really viable if you go all in and take Runeshapers. Every army should try to jam in Janissa if they can.
Krielstone – Calandra rarely gets hit, spends at least half her focus each and every turn, and is running an army of infantry. Its not really necessary in those cases to field this unit, especially due to the cost she already invests in support if she takes burrowers. The UA is nice for getting a little more oomph out of your low P+S army though.
Kriel Warriors – I’m not personally a fan, I see Fennblades as superior with the longer threat range, especially on feat turn, where you want to get as many attacks as possible. However, they aren’t bad, and if you were leaving burrowers at home, it could be a viable choice. The WA and UA are highly recommended. Anything that prevents KD makes your opponent have to deal with Starcrossed all over again, which is just nasty.
Champions – Starcrossed almost makes champs into the DEF 14 champs of old. If you remember those days, you will know why champs with Calandra can be a stone around the enemies neck. They will bring the pain while receiving all the benefits that unit gets from Starcrossed and the feat. The UA is probably not necessary, but in a pinch it makes the champs a premier anti-everything unit. Excellent choice overall.
Bushwhackers – Almost totally eclipsed by Nyss Hunters, if you don’t own them or refuse to play mercs, they are a passable stand in for a ranged support unit. Just make sure to get the most out of the feat, and make sure not to leave the protection of Starcrossed.
Scatter gunners – No. I mean, if you really want to run them, you might as well do it with Calandra, who makes mountains out of overpriced molehills, but it’s a bad idea.
Burrowers – Read The Burrownomicon for my thoughts on the matter. Suffice to say that any Calandra list that you intend to win something with should have a full compliment of 10, no exceptions, ever.
Long riders – Again, they tend to roam far and away from Calandra’s control zone, meaning they don’t get much benefit from her. Unless you use them differently than me, it might be best to let the buffalo roam.
Thumper – Not the worst idea ever, as the gun is decently accurate, will hit its targets on feat turn, and can be rerolled if you really need that KD. That said, the competition for 3 point spots is huge right now, and these guys just rarely win that battle. Again, not a terrible choice, just not as good as the other ones.
Fennblades – A perfect unit for Calandra, they have threat range and the solid base stats that her feat loves. The thing that really takes it over the top is the UA and its benefits. On minifeat turn they can benefit from the feat and no outside support and still wreck havoc, which is good when you have two units but can only afford one fellcaller. And set defense. Wow. DEF 14 nearly guarantees that your opponent won’t be hitting your fennblades if he charges.
Scouts – A nifty unit, they do well, being DEF 13, and thus extremely frustrating to otherwise elite MAT 7 troops. They also work totally unsupported, which is good. If you need a terrain claiming AD unit, scouts are fine with Calandra, though they possess no special synergy with her.
Sluggers – A very strange unit to take with Calandra, they theoretically have a ton of attacks for the feat if they could aim, but frankly Calandra doesn’t make that any more likely. If you want to get the most out of them, there are other casters who do it better, and Calandra has no real need for them.
Minions of Note
Swamp Gobbers – If you don’t have a swamp troll, increasing Calandra’s ranged DEF to 18 is a really smart move. Better yet to totally block LOS. For 1 point you can’t go wrong.
Nyss Hunters – DEF 15 with starcrossed is nearly as tough to hit as Iron Fleshed winterguard or kayazy. As long as you are careful not to get them blasted off the table, they can move with near impunity into combat. On feat turn, their MAT and RAT 6 starts looking a whole lot more deadly, as their bows off ARM 17 infantry with ease, and their weaponsmaster charges deal huge damage. If you can afford them in a list, you should probably be playing with them.
Thrullg – The Thrullg is your only anti-spell tech, and why not remove that weakness if you can afford the 3 points. Due to his 3 base attacks, he has a ~12% chance of rolling boxcars at least once on feat turn, perfect for removing Iron Flesh from those pesky Kayazy. Against warmachine, the disruption he provides will leave jacks without focus, likely unable to hit him with any consistency, much less do real damage to your army.
Totem Hunter – Calandra needs too many other solos to really consider this 3 point bad boy, but if you can afford him he becomes a terror on the battlefield. Even though he runs far a field of Calandra, his stealth means that Starcrossed is likely still affecting those attacking him, which means that his DEF 14 is really working for him. If you really need a powerful flanker, take him.
Croak Hunter – This budget version of the totem hunter can be nice 2 point filler if you need it. On feat turn his damage output is pretty good vs. living models, and at DEF 13 he is a pain to remove for 2 points. Again, points competition is tight though.
Pendrake – Much like a Fellcaller, Pendrake’s extra die vs. beasts means that virtually none of the affected model’s attacks will miss a beast. This is very nice for models like Burrowers, who even at MAT 6 under the feat will still miss a few attacks against a Warpwolf Stalker or other DEF 14/15 beasts. In addition, his accurate bow and killer KD bola are a great addition to a Calandra force. A nice little solo in a hordes heavy environment, especially at 50 points.
Dahlia and Skarrath – Dahlia’s high DEF turns into wildly unhittable for those models that could even try (jacks and the undead). Skarrath benefits from this to a lesser degree, and his spray of doom gets even spray of doomier. As he can strike from behind troops, he is a nice beast to take, as well as giving you a little more bang in the form of boostable attacks, while not taxing Calandra at all. If you like your minion warlocks, this is the way to go.
This is the basic list that I use when I want to win. It is not a nice list and it’s not a good way to win friends. However, it will consistently win you games.
Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood (*5pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
Pyg Burrowers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (Leader and 1 Grunt) (1pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)
Stone Scibe Chronicler (2pts)
Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Trollkin Champion Hero (3pts)
This is essentially a burrower list. I would read the Burrownomicon before playing it. Essentially, your main offense is burrowers, which you support with your copious support solos. The Fennblades play cleanup and the Bomber clears out high DEF stuff that you can’t hit, or boosts damage to cripple heavies. The game ends on scenario or in a quick attrition grind.
So, you want to have a non-burrower list, because you have some small measure of fairness and honor. Okay, another winning list. We will take it up to 50 points to compensate for the lack of burrowers.
Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood (*5pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (Cylena and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (Leader and 1 Grunt) (1pts)
Trollkin Fennblades/UA (Leader and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
Fellcaller Hero (3pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)
This is a slightly friendlier list. Fennblades are your massively first striking unit with the UA, and the feat and the Fellcaller mean that they will crush most opposition. The Nyss strike from the sides, picking off support on the feat turn and generally being a pain with Starcrossed DEF 15. Mulg follows in the back, slowly, inexorably making his way toward the caster to pummel them in the face. Janissa plays guard duty for Calandra, and prepares to dive into combat to forcelock any flanking threats. Its slightly experimental, because Janissa and the UA aren’t out yet and I’ve only gotten a few games in with them, but I’ve run the list with 5 other points in their place (hero and chronicler) and the theory is sound.
When you sit down across the table from an opponent, there are a variety of models you should on the lookout for. These models are more dangerous to Calandra than most, and should be the very first things you kill. Some of the threats are obvious, as are some of the counters, but its better to be reminded of something you already know that to forget it when it counts.
Calandra is normally extremely resilient to assassination. One miss and she’s gone, and with DEF 14 and Star Crossed one miss is not that hard to come by. The problem is that Bullet Dodger is a 2″ move, so a model with reach can, if it moves into base to base, miss one attack and still be able to make more. This drasticly increases the likelyhood of you dying, or at least eating a ton of sharp things. Heavies with MAT 7 are of particular threat, because 7’s on 4d6 drop lowest is pretty easy to get.
Dedicate your army to killing the model. Most reach heavies outside of Molik Karn have to play on the front lines to even get a chance of basing our darling caster. This should leave them vulnerable, and even if you make an uneven trade (Mulg for a Scythean, for instance) its still worth it if you remove the only real threat to the caster.
Play further back than normal. This is another simple answer, but it must be said that if the enemy needs to base you to kill you, it might be a good idea to play 2″ back from where you normally would.
Janissa provides some superior support in this manner, providing a rock wall that enemy models cannot end thier movement on. Place it right in front of Calandra, and then must base you from the side in order to get a decent kill chance. Furthermore, Forcelock and decent positioning can prevent the attempt from coming from a side of your choice, as magical lockiness keeps the enemy from moving any closer.
And finally, in a last ditch effort, Befuddle the damn thing. If a jack runs into base with you, befuddle it, then move away, delaying the inevitable for a turn.
Moreso than most casters, Arc Nodes are a big problem for Calandra. First, Bullet Dodger does nothing for magic. Secondly, the arcing caster is likely out of Starcrossed, so base DEF 14 is all you get. Third, even though you can transfer, thats some serious damage to the army.
Bait it out. Calandra doesn’t need to spend her fury, she just likes to. With a Runeshaper its easy to end a turn with 4 fury on Calandra. If you leave her out in the open with 2 or 3 fury, BDoger and Starcrossed up, many people will try to pelt you with some magic to weaken you. Let them, then kill the arc node with whatever is at hand.
That tactic relies on the opponent making a mental error, so perhaps defense is a better idea. Arc nodes and magic are the reasons we take Janissa, the Swamp Troll and Swamp Gobbers. Sometimes you just have to climb to DEF 16/18 and keep a few transfers. There aren’t that many great options for arc nodes.
Flat increases to hit rolls are one of the biggest threats to Calandra, because she keeps her army alive via DEF tricks. An enemy fellcaller/Finn/Kovnik Joe/Rhadhiem will likely outright negate any benefit that Starcrossed would have provided. There isn’t a specific counter to this, but you need to prioritize these models first, before most other things. Its better to kill a fellcaller than it is to kill half the unit. 5 models with a fellcaller will hit 5 of your models, but 10 models without a fellcaller have a reasonable chance of only hitting 3 or 4. If the unit is MAT 5, kill the buffer. If its MAT 6 its a wash, and if its MAT 7 its better to kill the unit. With shooting units, always go for the buffer, as the Chronicler can give our units DEF 14 at the least, which means its a wash at RAT 8 and a bonus for anyone lower than that.
This also applies to models with DEF debuffs, though that is rarer.
The same reasoning as the fellcaller equivalents, but uncounterable and in a wide zone. The only thing to do here is to try and hold a decent portion of your army back, out of range of the feat. Force them to pop it defensively, so that you will still have an army when the feat is over. Burrowers are the best recourse for this, if you keep getting housed by Kreoss, make sure to start taking burrowers.
Bullet Dodger is the main thing keeping Calandra safe from melee, so don’t forget that even though the Thrullg might not be a problem on its own, if it strips your spell, any old thing can just walk up and kill you. Same goes for eEyriss or anything else with a dispel effect. Tactics vary by model, but ‘kill them’ and ‘stay the hell away’ are perennial favorites.
All casters have a printed theme force, but not all theme forces deserve to be considered. Luckily for Calandra, hers is not one of those. You can at least rationally think about taking it from time to time.
(Name of the Theme Force)
*Beasts-All lights and Earthborns.
*Units-Kriel Warriors, Krielstone, Scattergunners, Scouts, Pygs.
*Solos-Fell Caller, SSC, Runebearer, and Whelps.
T1. +1 to starting roll.
T2. For every 2 trollkin solos you take 1 unit gets +2 SPD first turn.
T3. For every Scout or Pyg unit you take 1 warbeast gains AD.
T4. 2+ Earthborns = -1 cost per Earthborn
+1 to the starting roll is a huge deal. It means that you won’t lose the starting roll 1/3rd of the time (you tie 1/6th or win 1/6th), which translates to a much larger number of games where you go choose to go first or second. Thats obviously huge in scenario play.
Granting units +2 SPD is also a big deal, usually equivalent to 4″ of extra movement on the first turn, especially if you go first (which you will control more often with this tier list.) Unfortunately, in this list only the scouts or kriel warriors care all that much, so its not super helpful.
Granting warbeasts AD is nice. Earthborns 6″ upfield, always positioned opposite thier optimal target, are very, very good. Axers that far up are huge frontline threats. Its pretty much awesome with anything. You will likely be taking at least one unit of scouts or pygs anyway, so you shouldn’t have much of a problem triggering this.
-1 Cost per EBDT is pretty silly. They cost 10 points, at max you are taking 2, so the tier 4 benefit might as well be ‘save 2 points’. Thats terrible. Just skip tier 4.
The units aren’t the best. Burrowers are of course good, and Calandra has almost all of the support you’d want (sadly lacking the hero), but without Fennblades or champs, you are stuck with kriel warriors, which are good but not this posters go to unit, especially now that the Fennblade UA has been spoiled. You can make due however.
While the EBDT, if you could only take one melee heavy, is likely the melee heavy you would take, it means that you don’t have access to the Bomber, which means you can’t really do all that much at range. Sure, you can make massive pyg CRAs, but thats not all that awesome (if it was, you would see it more).
Calandra really likes her minions, for their high DEF values, their abilities and her ability to buff them nearly as much as faction models. Nyss Hunters are so very valuable, as is the Thrullg and the totem hunter. Even the feralgiest and the swamp gobbers really help her out. It is a significant drawback, moreso that with most other casters theme forces.
Its actually pretty good. You could conceivably take this in a tournament and do alright, especially with the +1 to go first. Its not gimmicky like most other theme forces, and its pretty well rounded aside from the lack of any ranged heavies. Better yet, you don’t really need to purchase models to play it, as most people who don’t care about tier 4 already have the required models in their collections. At the very least, it is fun to whip it out of the box from time to time, just to play with AD warbeasts.
Play Calandra. The Dark Mother cares little for odds, averages or balance. Your opponents will hate her but you won’t regret your time with the Oracle.