Rollin’ Down the River (of Vomit) – A Beginner’s Guide to Grimgut by Ben Redmond
Let’s begin by saying that Grimgut is a divisive champion in Godtear. He tends to have what we Brits refer to as the Marmite effect – you either love him or hate him. And that is reflected both in the model and in the gameplay. I am a fan of both (which is weird, because Marmite is something I find, in defiance of the marketing campaign, I can take or leave). Back in my Warhammer days I was a big Nurgle fanboy, and Grimgut is definitely rocking some of that vibe, but it’s in his gameplay where I think I appreciate him most. I first encountered Grimgut in a game against SFG senior developer and known Grimgut fanboy, Jamie Perkins (boom! Name drop!) and he screwed with my very perceptions of how the game could be played. Since then I have added him to a lot of lists that I’ve played and have got to grips with the subtle nuances in his play style. He’s not without his issues. There’s been several times I’ve contemplated dropping him, but as (Banner Bearers podcast co-host) Elliot keeps telling me – I play him really well. Apparently. So here goes with a beginner’s guide to Grimgut…
Slow… slow… slow… FAST!
Let’s start by talking about the negatives, and perhaps the most glaring is his movement. With a move of 1 in both phases you would be forgiven for thinking him a painfully slow champion. However, he has easy access to a movement boon, and can use his roll to really cover ground in the clash phase. That’s not saying his mobility isn’t a problem, and you need to get your head around how he works to get the most out of him. Here’s some tips I’ve picked up from playing him:
Tip 1: Make sure you have the movement boon for the clash phase
It’s in the clash phase you need to be most flexible with movement, so it’s worth making sure you have the boon there at the start of your activation. Usually this means activating the retchlings after Grimgut in the plot phase, but in the late game there might also be the option of not moving in the plot phase, especially if you’re in a decent place to plant your banner then spew out a wall of retchings to protect it.
Tip 2: Keep your lanes clear and options open
The big surprise Grimgut give your opponents is the distance he can cover with his Roll skill. However, if you’re not careful you can end up blocking yourself in, so be VERY careful where you place your models, especially when you’re spewing out retchlings. If your opponent is aware of these potential lanes of movement, they can also block them up for you. You need to think about how you can clear these blockers out of the way with your other champions and followers, but also making sure you’re not signposting what you’re intending in the process.
Tip 3: Go late, or go early
One of the strengths of Grimgut’s fast move is the ability it creates to deliver a long-range banner crush or threaten an important minion with Nom, nom, nom. I am assuming here you are playing against a good player who is mindful of trying to block your rolling lanes, so going late allows you to leave your later activations with other members of your team to clear him a path after your opponent can do anything about them, then once the lane is clear you can roll along and do what you intended. The flip side of this, is that you most definitely should not miss an opportunity to get the activation off and provide your opponent with the chance to block him off. If the chance is there, take it, otherwise make it your end-or-turn plan to free him up and roll him to where you need him.
Tip 4: Keep your options open, and use them to bluff
It is quite often that you can telegraph your intentions with Grimgut by trying to clear out movement lanes for him with other models. The best situations I’ve found myself in with Grimgut is where there have been two decent options for him in different directions. By committing to clearing one lane of travel, it can trick your opponent into thinking that that’s what you intend to do with him, and then countering that play, leaving the alternative play open to him.
The Bigger they are, the Harder they Fall
The other, perhaps less obvious, elephant in the room when discussing Grimgut is his relative fragility. With 2 didge and 2 protection he is very easy to both hit and damage. Yes, this is backed up by 9 health, but a lot of other champions have 8 health with much better defensive stat lines.
However, it’s not all bad. Unless he’s being targeted by a high-damage attack (such as Rangosh’s Jaw Breaker), that 9 health does tend to take 3 attacks to get through. The trouble is, those attacks can come from anywhere – most minion attacks, and the generally weaker attacks from guardians and shapers, can all whittle him down slowly yet reliably. And that means your opponent can reliably time when they want to kill him to best effect.
One thing to bear in mind with Grimgut is the classic slayer “banner trap” play, where the slayer plants their banner and waits for a target to come to them. Whilst Grimgut can be a great potential banner crusher, you need to be very mindful of these slayer traps. You need to carefully weigh up whether his activation is worth the 4-step swing for the banner, of if he’d be better off going for a large minion and killing them for 3 steps instead, especially if he’s already taken some damage and the slayer would likely be able to finish him off for 5 steps in return.
To be honest, I’ve not found a reliable way to avoid this problem of him being easy to kill, other than trying to strike a positioning balance between keeping him safe and keeping him relevant to scoring minion kills and crushing banners. He works much better in scenarios like quest, change and death where the objective hexes are split up and so you can often try to keep him away from the enemy slayers and damaging minions. In some matchups the retchlings can nicely form a protective wall for the enemy to try and get past, but there’s a lot of champions available that can get around that, by moving them around, killing them with maelstroms or just shooting over them with ranged attack. I think you should factor in that he’s going to get knocked out at least once in the game, though, and make sure when he does you can get him back into a decent position quickly enough to keep him relevant.
Feast or Famine
So what is it that Grimgut brings that is worth including him in your list? Well, his deceptive potential movement in the clash phase can make him a decent banner crusher, but I’ve talked about that already, let’s explore his attacking options – he is a maelstrom after all.
Between Nom, nom, nom and his ultimate, Buffet, Grimgut has the most powerful unmodified attack in the game, the trouble is that you have to target minions with it. At 7 attack and damage dice it gives you a much better chance of removing those dodge 5 goblins and armour 5 dwarves. However, it’s real strength comes against large followers with multiple health points to chew through. This puts him at over 50% chance of one-shotting Virtues and Abyssal Hounds, and about 35% against Landslide and the Young Dragons. If you can put the odd point of damage in on those tougher followers before Grimgut attacks, or apply an armour blight with another member of your team, those odds go up, and each kill is 3 steps on the battle ladder. Buffet is particularly great if you can manage to get three of them in range, and as it can be used in the plot phase, you probably should be looking to do so as much as possible.
I’m not touching that!
The Retchlings are another surprise package. The fact that they don’t give up steps when they’re killed means that people quite often ignore them and underestimate their offensive potential. You might find a player with a maelstrom will invest some time into killing them for the bonus points alone, but generally if your enemies are attacking them they are denying themselves more steps elsewhere.
Worthless, useless, globs of snot
So, let’s take a deep-dive into the Retchlings…
I think when most people think about playing Grimgut they get caught up with the ability to throw the Retchlings out as a big string of five single models, potentially blocking off multiple routes for enemy champions and forcing them to devote actions to killing them off. However, I think this misses the real strength of the retchlings – Slimed! I would much rather put them down in a block of 2 and 3 in each hex so that I can have two strong(ish) attacks from them rather than stretching them out in a long line and not having much effective left to do with their own activation.
It Slimed Me!
So, let’s have a look at Slimed. With a block of 3 and a block of 2 you can have a 5/5 attack and a 5/4 attack that both target each minion in the hex, and it’s at range 2. They might not score you bonus points for each kill, but they can clear out a lot of minions if you need them to.
I’ve discussed Grimgut a fair bit with Dave Martin, and he dismisses Grimgut as he can’t threaten other champions, and a lot of Dave’s play is focused on taking down and controlling enemy champions. Whilst Dave is correct about Grimgut himself, I think he is missing the potential that the retchlings have in this area. They’re attacks are about as effective as most shapers and guardians, so they can contribute to that overall game, and provide that extra few chips of damage that your slayers like to see so that they can finish off their targets.
In the plot phase, the retchlings hand out movement boons. This is probably all they will do. Try to make the most of this by having them close to two friendly champions, but remember they can always give it to themselves. Yes, they will lose it if you spew them out with Grimgut (because the last follower model in the unit was removed from the board), but in the late game it can give you some surprise options in the clash phase. With a movement boon they can be move 2 in the clash phase. This can allow you to much a group up into a 3 and have that 5/5 attack at an even greater threat range.
What have I missed?
Just to finally hit upon Grimgut’s plot phase skills, Flu Spew and Goo Spew, as these are the only parts of him I haven’t mentioned. I don’t think I have used these more than once or twice in all the games I have played with Grimgut, and whenever I have, I’m pretty sure it missed.
In the plot phase, your actions with Grimgut are much better spent moving into position, planting your banner or spewing out the retchlings. And whilst Flu Spew might be an option against some low-dodge targets, the idea of a dodge blight having only 4 dice of accuracy makes it pretty pointless other than as a low-odds chancer move in desperate circumstances, or when there’s nothing else worth doing with your second action.
Grimgut is a decent champion with a lot of surprises in his package. I think he’s one of the harder characters to play well into experienced players, but has some good game into large minions and is a decent banner crusher. He has his place in my tournament 4, but is more a situational pick into certain scenarios and against certain enemy champions.