Nord Trove Finds
Nord Trove Finds: An Evaluation
The goal of this article is to discuss the Nord Trove-finds. I’ve previously written an article (link) on the Dweghom artifacts. In discussing the Trove-finds, I’m going to be using a three tier rating system. A tier upgrades will tend to function well from game to game. B-tier upgrades provide a solid, but often lesser benefit, while C-tier upgrades are more narrative upgrades, at least at the moment. I have also placed one Nord artifact at the S-tier, because it provides an incredible ability for the cost.
S Tier: An upgrade that is very good and doesn’t require anything else to function. What it does is awesome and meta-shifting while being inexpensive.
Weapon, Vinda, the Dancer: You pay 40 points, but it works for both Clash and Duel attacks, and you gain the ability to combo this weapon with a number of other abilities. Putting it on a Blooded feels like an auto-include. You’re already Clash 4. In an inspired clash, you’re now at 5. You can add a point of Clash and an extra attack die by taking the Combat Retinue to Tier-3, leaving you with regularly delivering 10 Cleave-3 hits every turn. You’re not only very likely to kill anyone you duel, but in a clash, you’re crippling the enemy’s regiment. A strong, if not outright broken combination. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ability reworked, whether at the same cost but limited to duels, or having a fairly major cost increase. If you have a character who must survive and will be exposed to duels, consider taking the Expose Weakness mastery to counter this upgrade. The major drawback here is that if the enemy can shoot out the regiment that holds your Blooded, you also lose any benefit of this upgrade.
A Tier: An item that functions will independently of any other upgrades and artifacts. These artifacts will be useful in most games. Alternatively, an artifact that is absolutely amazing when you synergize it with other key upgrades.
Banner, Raven Messengers: One of the better Nord Trove-finds, and one that Para Bellum has encouraged us to try. Nords are low armor, typically, so they’re going to take morale losses and a lot of them. If you can push your character’s resolve to 5 in some way, usually by ranks in their own unit, then you can be certain to reduce the damage you take considerably. Furthermore, 12 inches is a pretty wide range from which to add your resolve bonus, where you might meaningfully have two regiments other than your own in range and engaged. Considering that Nord resolve is good, but not Dweghom-like, an important upgrade to consider.
Rjoda, The Red Bringer: +3 attacks on a high clash/cleave Blooded or an already high attack Jarl, which then adds to the impact attacks you generate with throwing weapons is stacking a lot of power. But what is bloodlust, and is it worth it? Bloodlust requires you to roll a die and compare to your resolve. If you succeed, you act normally. If you fail, you must charge if possible, or march by the shortest route possible to the enemy. A good thematic special rule! My sense here is that if you’re taking some extra stands and are at 4-5, you’re in decent shape. If you’ve positioned well and aren’t rushing through damaging terrain, then you might also be ok. But you’re also getting a lot off of +3 attacks. You don’t need much else for this upgrade to function, and the rest of your character can be built in a lot of ways to take advantage of 3 additional attacks. Solid, and maybe a little too cheap.
Talisman, Mistcaller’s Raiment: A solid upgrade that addresses a key Nord weakness. Nord units want to dart across the board, put pressure on the opponent, but ultimately succeed at charges and smash them. While on paper, this upgrade may not look impressive, consider that most ranged units have a base volley of 2. They might aim and fire for a value of 3. Or they might march and volley at 2 in order to maximize their dice. If they shoot at 2, 1s represent, on average, half of their hits. If they shoot at 3, then one third. And it really messes with something like the Vanguard Clone Infiltrator’s Snapfire that only hits on a 1. In short, you’re paying 25 points to shepherd more of your forces across the map where they can successfully clash and destroy an enemy unit.
Talisman, Golden Torc: The Nords love entering the board early and have multiple units with Flank naturally, and the Blooded warlord’s supremacy that generate flank to his entire warband. The Golden Torc guarantees that yet another unit enters the fray early and exactly when you need it to. This may be useful for a turn-2 entry of Huscarls with your Jarl, but will likely grow in importance as we see new units. A powerful ability at a good price.
B Tier: An upgrade that brings a solid benefit, but may be more situational or niche
Jarngreipr: Your character’s “to hit” actions in a duel count as two hits. The Nords love to and want to duel. Many of their artifacts are built around it, and their characters’ stat lines clearly indicate this as well. This is a solid upgrade. I’d consider it on a second or third character.
Armor: TyJokull, the Rimeheart: This armor shines best when the opponent is not outfitted for a duel, but is an otherwise combat capable character who could potentially kill you. Think of an Ardent Kerawegh Imperial Officer, or support style Noble Lord. The armor is there when it counts: the first roll. You want to kill their character, and survive the attack before this upgrade goes away. Furthermore, you can and should plan on stacking it with upgrades that add to your armor, such as a regiment of Huscarls with a Thegn. Against the right opponents, your character is living while the opponent’s is obliterated judiciously.
Armor, Massive Frame: As with TyJokull, I find myself on the fence. Ignoring the first wound might just be enough to allow you to survive the duel. Again, your primary benefit is against combat effective characters, but not necessarily ones built to duel. This is cheap, so if you need the points elsewhere in the list and come to the very end and just want to add a defensive upgrade, then perhaps Massive Frame is good when you have 10 points, and ToJokull when you have 15.
Weapon, Reyngeir, the God Spear: While adding Impact Hits is redundant with throwing weapons for the Nords, you do add the Brutal Impact-2 special rule. This has the potential to give a Blooded a couple of dice at a high clash value, or give a Jarl 3 dice at a medium clash value. By the time you reduce the enemy’s armor by two, you’re pushing more damage through on your charge. This isn’t amazing by any stretch, especially when it has to compete with Vinda, the Dancer, but it is a meaningful tally.
Weapon, The Broken Blade: A solid weapon that is versatile (Jarl, Volya), granting the extremely useful Cleave for cheap. If you’re out of points and simply cannot take a better weapon, then this one is solid.
Talisman, Prize Silver: The cheapest Trove find. A solid upgrade that doesn’t do much, but you’re basically putting on a secondary character because you didn’t know what to do with the 5 points. The simple fact is that it isn’t bad for those points. You may or may not have 6s, and you may or may not get a chance to perform Impact Hits. You may or may not actually get a hit out of the reroll. But then you didn’t pay a lot for the ability either.
Arcane, Heralds of the Storm: As I’ve walked the Path of Conquest for the Nords, I’ve found myself thinking about the Shaman and this item. I really wanted to mark it much higher, because the first thing that I think of is my Dweghom Sorcerer, and how powerful this item is against him, significantly reducing damage from spells for a turn, if not preventing them outright. Nords dislike losing units prior to engagement, and so they dislike both ranged fire and magic. But since not every list you face will have a caster, you’re basically running this upgrade as meta against Dweghom, and one of my first priorities for list-building is to evaluate how the list would do against everyone, not merely one thing. Honestly, I think Dweghom are powerful enough and Sorcerers are devastating enough to Nord units that I’d probably take this upgrade anyway, even if it did nothing against the Spires, but it remains an artifact that is extremely powerful against the right kinds of lists, and therefore niche.
C Tier: Bland. It works well in specific niche situations, or provides a lesser benefit at a less efficient cost than other upgrades listed in the first two tiers. It may also require a number of specific factors about your list or specific situations in which to function at its best. Some of these factors might depend upon what the opponent brought. These may also include narrative upgrades with an interesting backstory or story component to your list. Most of them are best ignored in a competitive environment.
Banner, Fearsome Reputation: A good cheap upgrade, but at this time, it isn’t completely clear how useful Fearsome will be. First, the regiment has to be broken, and then there has to be some benefit to it to rally. In my experience, a simple clash will finish off the regiment, regardless of whether it is broken or not. Cheap, but bland.
Banner, Coils of the Serpent: Both the character and the regiment gain +1 Evasion, but you pay 25 points for it, a bit pricy compared to how much the ability goes for elsewhere in the game. First, Evasion-1 on a D1 regiment is much more meaningful than in a Dweghom list, for example. All it takes is a little armor piercing or cleave and the opponent is auto-wounding you. Instead, you give yourself some chance of succeeding at your rolls to avoid damage. So on 12 hits, you might save 2-4, depending upon how high your resolve is. Remember, if you save the damage on defense or evasion, that hit no longer generates a further roll against resolve. Since most of the characters are defense-1, you’re also buttressing your character against enemy cleave-1 bonuses. You’ve got the further difficulty of it being a draw event, so any attacks that precede activating your character are unaffected by this skill. I am hesitant on abilities that force your activation order. You’re likely to find other choices for your character and list.
Banner, Figurehead of the Naglfar: For fifteen points, you gain the ability to make your regiment obscured (and any other regiment within 6 inches) when it enters the board as reinforcements. Within Nord strategy, the upgrade seems to envision a sequence where you’ve pushed your reinforcement line and are now bringing in your regiments in an advanced position, and from the flank where the opponent might immediately shoot you. This upgrade gives you the means to reduce that attacks against it so that you can clash and kill in Nord fashion the following turn. This seems like an upgrade that would take some practice and skill over many games to pull off successfully. Consequently, I’m going to rate it as satisfactory, but difficult for most players to use, and I think most players will opt for a more straight-forward upgrade in the end.
Talisman, The Horn of Hjoldgar: This item is limited to the Jarl Warlord and adds a Supremacy. This supremacy would seem to be a good match for following the Jarl’s other Supremacy. You spend one turn limiting their reinforcements, and then you smash them before they can bring other units on the table. Your character and regiment gain the Rapid Volley Special rule. This is meaningful because your Raiders have a 12 inch barrage, if you choose to use it, and your Stalkers have an 18 inch barrage, if you’re mixing your Jarl with a Blooded and Stalkers. This isn’t amazing, but if you’re already using a Jarl World, it might be a cool thematic list. It will simply require some practice, patience, and several moving parts that all have to come together just right in order to work.
Talisman, Heriolf’s Folly: For 10 points, you gain 1 Evasion. Appropriate for the price, but since its use is in dueling, you might not see much use and it might not save your character from a dedicated duelist, not nearly as much as Massive Frame or TyJokull. If you want to look ahead a little bit, the one primary place I could see it making a difference is when the Volya arrives and is warlord, because then you’re stacking Evasion to 3, which is meaningful.
Arcane, Runes of Wisdom: In the present, it isn’t clear why the Shaman needs to throw more dice. You pay 30 points for the ability, so generally, I want to see some kind of major game-altering effect from the spell at this level. This ability seems a bit tacked onto the list, rather than something designed with an explicit set of combinations in mind. I could see its most meaningful effect when the Volya gets here and starts wanting to cast Fruit of the Golden Tree on its own unit. It still feels an awful lot to pay for 2 dice once per game.
Weapon, Vanquisher of Monsters: Every faction seems to have some item that grants this ability. The Nords get a variant at half the cost of the Dweghom, perhaps with reason, as it could potentially have given Dweghom rerolls on ranged characters against Monsters. The present meta just doesn’t have a huge number of monsters, and with the opportunity costs of taking this item versus the others, I see it ultimately relegated to more of a roleplay item.
Arcane, Runes of Fate: This upgrade is just too niche to really fit in well. First, as an arcane upgrade, you need a caster to take it. Second, if anyone is committed to killing your character in a duel, a single wound probably isn’t going to save you. Furthermore, you have to roll a die with only a 50% chance of removing the wounded marker, so it comes in behind something like Massive Frame, that ignores that very first wound. This upgrade my go up in value if new abilities enter the game that start allocating wounds outside of duels more frequently. At the present, it just operates in an odd design space, though perhaps a Volya, who takes not enough damage to stay alive, but then heals back at the end of the turn with Fruit of the Golden Tree could use this better. Clearly, you’re in your best shape if you can keep using this upgrade to remove wounds. Until we get a Volya and a different meta, leave the upgrade at home.