Trenchers began as an experiment by Cygnaran generals to see if hard training could shape surly or insubordinate youths into skillful warriors and every trencher endures a harsh regimen to be forged into a soldier capable of enduring the horrors of war. These steadfast soldiers embody the courage of young Cygnaran patriots, each aware that on any given day he or his friends may return home in a box. Trenchers are armed with heavy rifles ready to be set with trench knife bayonets, and they carry hazer smoke grenades that emit thick, grey clouds of smoke to obscure their position from the enemy. When the time is right, trenchers charge forth from their ditches to decimate the enemy with bayonets and rifles.
Over the years many retired veterans have answered the call back to duty to train the next generation for war, eager to teach recruits their first lesson: “Once a trencher, always a trencher.”
By the standards of the modern Cygnaran army, the Trencher Infantry do not boast particularly impressive gear, having the cheapest outfit of any unit, including the more numerous Long Gunners. This is not to say they are provided with poor arms, but rather they are often expected to make due with standard equipment, and to endure and fight even when supply lines are stretched thin or when posted far in advance of the regular army.
While the Trencher Infantry work closely with the Long Gunners, they have been scornful of the “elite” orders of knights: the Sword Knights, Stormblades, or Stormguard. These are considered men born to privilege and overly reliant on fancy equipment. Trencher companies take pains to always be first into battle ahead of the knights, and enjoy harassing them when these armored figures finally arrive. Despite this friction, in the end these soldiers work together, both regular and armored infantry, to take the battle to Cygnar’s enemies.
Their military rifle is a reliable and trusted weapon, not significantly changed from those borne by men wearing the Cygnus in the Thornwood War of 510-511 AR. These rifles sacrifice some accuracy at range in exchange for stopping power, and are more easily humped across the battlefield than the oversized repeating rifles of the Long Gunners. The ability to move quickly into battle and a preference for carrying an assortment of gear to ensure self-reliance in the field has impelled the Trenchers to eschew the traditional weighty sword which has been the close-quarters weapon of choice for most soldiers in Cygnar. By 580 AR, the Trenchers had entirely put aside longer blades in favor of the simple trench knife, a heavy dagger adapted for quick attachment as a bayonet to the military rifle. The trench knife serves well for close quarter fighting, and the Trenchers have drilled extensively with these weapons. When moving against they enemy they are trained to lay down a volley of rifle fire as they approach and then deliver a crushing charge against the enemy line with bayonets.
Similarly, the armor adapted by the Trencher Infantry has been an evolved compromise between protection, ease of movement, and the need to live inside the armor for extended periods without relief. The role of these soldiers is to advance and dig in with their short-handled shovels, assuming a low position to benefit from cover. For this reason they wear their heaviest armor on the upper portions of their bodies; those areas visible and vulnerable to enemy fire while entrenched. This includes a heavy helmet, layered armor shoulders, breastplate, and armguards. The trencher’s lower body is more lightly protected with metal knee plates and a skirt of chain built into their heavily padded greatcoat, most important for the warmth it provides in the cold and wet weather these soldiers endure over extended periods. The thick hood worn beneath the helmet can be buckled to shield the soldier’s face in these same conditions.
The most famed signature tool of the Trencher Infantry are their smoke bombs, an essential part of their tactics. These simple devices contain a pair of normally inert alchemical substances which mix to produce heavy volume of obscuring haze. Trencher attack tactics involve throwing smoke to cover advances on the enemy, the smoke making it dif cult to pin down a target before the Trenchers find a position. Once they dig in for cover, they can employ more smoke to cover the advance of Long Gunners and other forces to advance on the enemy, meanwhile providing harassment fire from their own rifles.