Pondering about zombie trolls

I have been thinking about building a new kind of undead army. Instead of the to-go units (soul reavers, wights and wraiths) I would like to capitalise on a strength of the undead army: the ability to field a lot of staying power/nerve and flood the board with them.

Other than using rev cav (still very resillient for their point costs, even with the clash '20 nerfs) of the units that can be used well in this context are zombie trolls. As it happens, I own three hordes of them.

The idea is to combine as much nerve and defense as possible with reasonable hitting power and surge tricks to flood the board with units that take some hitting power to kill. A baseline of revenant cavalry and zombie horde chaff supported by goreblights and zombie trolls.

The zombie troll should have been an ideal candidate for this kind of army. (it was more or less designed with the zombie troll option in mind) but in my playtests they fail more often than they succeed. While, on paper at least, they should do 6 damage to def 5+ and 7,5 damage to anything else, they bounce too often for my liking.

While 6 damage is a bit on the light side (needing a “10” to rout an average elite regiment) , they too often fail to do even that amount. As soon as terrain or ensnare enter the fray, their average damage drops to 4, which is neglible. Also, the 4+ to his is very swingy. I’ve had good rolls, but too often they underperform on that charge that I really want succesful.

I mainly chose this option (over soul reaver infantry troops which do the same damage at fewer points) because their defensive stats. It appears that -17 is not enough nerve to stick around when you need them. A normal cavalry regiment (16 attacks, TC 2) has a decent chance of routing them after a wound or two or when charging along a fighty hero.

In KoW2 they were 165 points (but def 4+), for that amount they were great. For that point cost, I could accept them fluffing their attacks on in a while. In KoW3, for 25 points more, not so much. They do not hold up when compared to Soul reaver infantry (who would?) or wights. Both these options are available to an undead general too, so that means my two hordes of zombie trolls in the list will probably be replaced.

Am I missing something or do I just need to accept that Z-trolls are not worth it, at least until the next Clash?


There isn’t anything wrong with zombie trolls - it’s just the alternative options in the undead list are better. I would expect a little help in November.

-/17, lifeleech 1 and shambling v 14/17 and regeneration 5+ when compared with regular trolls is a solid exchange.

Remember that they benefit from the vicious aura that the necromancers can take, which help mitigate the me4+


I’m waiting for them to get better. I’m no competetive gamer, but they seem underwhelming compared to other choices. I’d really like to field them because I’d love to see my Goreblight and Zombie legion acompanied by a horde of ZTs. Let’s hope they receive some love in the next CoK. They said they wouldn’t nerf anything, so there is a reasonable chance that Zombie trolls get better.


hehehe, maybe I’m a bit impatient.

That said, for the time being I’ll try switching out the 2 hordes of Z-trolls in my army for 2 additional ghoreblights. The defense is the same and the difference in attacks is (IMHO) more than compensated by the smaller and square base. If it works, I’ll have to make two more.

the process of creating an army is always kinda organic. I’ll playtest a few times.

Just as a matter of interest: How would you buff the Z-trolls?

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Not very fitting for an everliving Undead to be impatient. Time is on our side!:wink:
I haven’t really thought about Zombie trolls. The Necromancer’s aura is an obvious choice. You could go with the Hammer :hammer: of measured force if terrain and ensare are problems, maybe? Not sure.


Measured Force is wasted as they have cs2 - remember it’s always wounds on 4+, not hits on 4+


True, mixed that up.

Hehe, a sword of measured sriking (always 4+to hit) would be nice. But more so on a zombie legion than the zombie trolls, so I can imagine why this is not a thing.

That said, for the time being the Z-trolls are a sub-optimal choice. Maybe Cash’ 21 will shake this up. We’ll see.


Zombie trolls are actually undercosted. I would be quite surprised to see them get a buff in CoK21. They will likely go up in points in CoK22.

Take three hordes and run them together as a front line with a necro with the vicious aura and Sacred Horn (if points allow). Get the extra damage you need either from (1) bane chant, (2) drain life from liches/Mhorgoth or (3) double charges with another Ztroll horde.

The thing with Ztrolls is that they are a budget hammer so that means you need to invest in three of them (or two and a Goreblight) where you would only take 2 SRI or 2 wights. But with Def 5 now they are a very strong frontline unit. I would still mix in 1-2 hordes of wights just for a consistent premium hammer in the list, but Ztrolls are amazing.


Thats interesting. In my playtests (granted, only 3 of them until now) they have not lived up to this observation. Their damage is too little (see above, 6-ish wounds against def 6+, 4-ish when hindered/ensnared) and their nerve is too low to sustain a charge from a dedicated hammer. Def 5+ is great on paper, but in practice most rolls against them have (at least) +2 to damage, so most damage is still on a 3-up. -/17 nerve means 9 wounds to be in trouble and most hammers are able to do this.

Teaming up as you describe looks great on paper, but getting 3 hordes to work in tandem is harder than it looks. Also 3 hordes + a horde zombies (chaff) + necro (inspiring/buff) = 775 points, which is quite a lot.

So while I do agree with you they look great on paper for their role, I cannot get them to work on the battlefield. As undead have other options which have more bang-for-their -buck, I cannot agree with your assessment that they are undercosted. (only when comparing to regular trolls, but these are also very bad)

Finally, Clash '22 will not have nerfs, so Z-trolls will not go up in point. The question remains if they will be buffed and if yes, how.

That undead as an army don’t need too many buffs, I can agree with, I just hope that fielding something but the obligatory double soul reaver infantry and wights becomes viable.

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To be fair, virtually all LI and LCav units would struggle against this attack profile - and the trolls are both at the cheaper end of the scale, are fearless and have regen


Zombie trolls don’t regenerate. :slight_smile: Apparently, not being alive does hinder the regenerative capabilities of their bodies. It’s sad that being dead does wonders to their intelligence, but leaves their physical prowess wanting…

Other than that, I fully agree that defensively they are on the same level as other elite regiments / normal large infantry hordes, but most of these units have significantly better damage output.

My point is that they have a bit too little offense to be used as an effective hammer and a pip nerve too little to be an effective anvil. This leaves a hybrid unit that -on paper- should do very well, but in reality suffers. In KoW2 they were the same attack profile @165 points (but def 4+) and I liked them much more.

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True - LiveLeech, which find more reliable than rolling 5+ :wink:

Yeah, they are a touch halfway house unit - which can equally be said about all of the troll types across the armies

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I think zombie trolls need to work alongside regular zombies.
People say their foes target zombie trolls with high crushing strength units…
So give each unit a zombie regiment escort. When the enemy is lining up something with crushing strength throw/surge the zombies in the way. That crushing strength is now wasted and you can get grinding away.

It’s silly to say oh my defense 5 units aren’t good because there are units with high crushing strength. There are ways to counter the counter to your unit!

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Thats not what I said /wrote. :wink:

I feel CS (2) or likewise comes up very often for all but the most dedicated anvils. If a unit is designed to hammer, it’s gotta have that +2 CS or better. (using bane chant, items, or whatever) . This means that nerve is worth far more than defense and why infantry hordes generally are a lot better for soaking damage than large infantry hordes.

It’s also why zombies are so much better than skeletons. See also the discussion here.


I agree that zombie trolls don’t work for your original idea @Vince. They don’t have the hitting power to be the main hammers of an army. They are a hammer anvil hybrid, meaning they don’t do both exceptionally well.

I think they could work as a second line unit, there to smash whatever makes it through your tarpit or to act as a surge threat to flyers who jump over the main line. I could see 3 hordes of zombies, 2 goreblights, and 2 hordes of trolls potentially working. Zombies up front with goreblight between, trolls behind and a necro/king to support.

As I’m still in the process of designing such an force (see first post) I’ll try this out.
*2 hordes of zombies (3 is too much, they take too much table space. 2 work well. This I found out in my first playtests) = 230
2 hordes Z-trolls = 380
2 Goreblight = 350
Necro, inspiring talisman, zombie aura, surge, bane chant = 110

Total 1070
And this might make a decent center (my gut feeling is I need more hitting power, so I will probably add a vampire on a steed or one on an undead pegasus) leaving me 1,230 points to spend on the wings and support.

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Everyone could use a Pegasus vampire, but why mount the one used to support the main line? Following that logic, why not a cursed pharaoh (better defence and surge for support)?

For the increased height. A mounted vampire can see over (and often charge around, due to nimble) intervening infantry. Also, movement is much better.

Mounted vampires can often charge (and kill!) individuals hiding behind a battleline. Free pivot + nimble make for seemingly-impossible charges.


yeah Vampire Lords on foot either fight regiments worse than other options, or fail to catch individuals all game. mounts are good! pegasi are better. going to try out the Wings soon, just to have even more flying vamps.

I feel like you’d want to support your line of zombies with as many Necromancers as you can fit, and maybe even a Liche. Also, no regiments for chaffing and/or table corners etc?