Tactica Time: Tanith, the Feral Song



Tanith was the first new Circle Warlock coming into mark 3, and man is she a strong one. The Circle Battlebox is amongst the strongest of the battleboxes, having, unlike many of the others, an extremely high skill ceiling based solely off the Warlock.

I've been asked to write a specific tactica about the list I have been running as of November 2016, and I will do that at the end of this article.

The bulk of this article will look at Tanith in general, her abilities, tricks, and synergies with the faction. Again, this article was written in November 2016, and the likelihood of changes based off the January 2017 errata, while not particularly large for her, still exist.


Stats and Abilities:


Tanith has an extremely average stat line. Speed 6, MAT and RAT 6, DEF 15 and ARM 15 with 15 boxes says solidly middle of the road. She also has an average FURY stat at 6.

For other defensive tech, she has Prowl, which gives her Stealth while she has concealment. This is actually not too bad with easy access to clouds (Gobbers) and the general decrease of models that ignore Stealth out there.

She will die to virtually any dedicated assault in the game, which makes playing her extremely tricky because she really, really wants to utilize the most important part of her card....

Jaws of the Earth

This weapon looks fairly unassuming based solely on the front of her card, and indeed were it a normal RNG 10 POW 12 magic gun, it wouldn't be great.

Fortunately, it has two incredible abilities. First of all, this weapon ignores the defensive benefits of concealment, cover, and elevation. This is huge, making her RAT 6 seem like a much less useless stat.

Second, and more important, if this weapon directly hits an enemy model, it centers a 4 inch AOE on top of that model. Any ENEMY model touched by that AOE suffers Shadow Bind for a round (-3 Defense and cannot advance except to change facing).

I cannot begin to describe the various applications of this weapon, but I will try to hit a few extremely relevant points.

First, it is absolutely bonkers against Shield Wall units. I have used it to successfully stop 5 of 7 Cetrati from doing anything but sit there for multiple turns in a row. I've caught 6+ Temple Flame Guard with it, rendering them completely impotent as they sat a mere inch outside of the Zone they desperately wanted to contest.

Second, it is truly absurd against models with any of the following abilities or spells on them: Dodge, Counter-Charge, Admonition, or Enliven. It also completely messes up Vyros 2's feat.

This has been relevant for me innumerable times. I've shot Warpwolves with Admonition on them to enable my own beasts to finish them off. I've used it on Man O' War Drakhuns to prevent them from countercharging my models as they go in. I've hit Menoth jacks with it to prevent Enliven from saving his heavy.

Third, it lowers DEF by 3, which is a huge deal in a world where arguably Circle's best beatstick is a Warpwolf Stalker at MAT 6. There are lots of heavies in the game the Stalker is capable of killing without Primal...if he can connect, and this really fixes those problems. I've found myself almost never casting Primal with her since I rarely need it between her gun and the spell Scything Touch (I'll get to that in a minute). It also enables some pretty legitimate Assassination runs, which is awesome.

If Circle ever, EVER gets a model with Far Strike as an animus, Tanith will immediately become one of the top Warlocks or Warcasters in the game based solely off of this weapon.


Spell List:

Tanith has one of the absolute best spell lists in the entire faction. She has a DEF debuff, an ARM debuff, Admonition, and two nuke spells.

I'm going to list these spells in the order I value them, there's not a real rhyme or reason to this.

Admonition:

this spell is so wrong in Circle. I played a lot of games with a 4 heavy version of her list where basically I threw a Feral with Admonition on it at an enemy heavy, and then sent in a Stalker to finish it off with Scything Touch and then Sprint out. The opponent would generally have to dedicate two heavies to kill the Feral because the first one would trigger Admonition and the Feral would dance away. He'd send in the second heavy to murder it, and then I'd kill his three heavies easily with the remaining Feral, Stalker, and Ghetorix.

The other application this spell has is a massive threat extender. This often comes up later in the game when your opponent sends a heavy after your Admonition target to jam things up. Instead of Admonitioning back, you can easily Admonition your heavy forward. This is most useful if your opponent has next to nothing left to activate.

I've gotten free assassinations off of this tactic as my opponent parks their warcaster 12 inches away from my Pureblood, only to run random dudes to jam me at the end of his turn and watch my Pureblood Admonition TOWARD his warcaster, only to get buffed up the next turn and murder them. It doesn't have to be on Warcasters either. A Pureblood (the most pillow fisted Warpwolf) with Scything Touch and Primal is MAT 8 PS 20, and that will fairly likely one round most other heavies in the game.


Scything Touch: 

This spell is such a big deal, especially with the new melee range clarification. For those that don't studiously read infernal rulings, the new melee range ruling means that any model within whatever RNG the longest melee weapon on a model with Scything Touch has will get -2 ARM from Dark Shroud.

For example, a Stalker with Scything Touch can kill something, Sprint away, and turn its back arc to an enemy model to give it -2 ARM without engaging it so that other models can shoot it for example. This could be especially important if you take Reeves or Bloodtrackers or....well any shooting model to be honest. It synergizes well with Sentry Stones and Pureblood Warpwolves too, although only because it now affects a larger area of the board than it did before.

What this spell does is let Tanith play without crutching on Primal, unlike so many other casters in Circle. As a result, your opponent has to worry about your whole army all the time, which is something that people playing against Circle are pretty unused to.

But what about a hit fixer? (I hear you wondering how a MAT 6 Warpwolf Stalker can actually kill anything) Well outside of her gun, which is a pretty darn good one, she also has....

Affliction: 

This is a relatively straightforward spell, and one that I don't end up casting in about half of my games. This offensive spell reduces the DEF of a model/unit affected by 2, and also stipulates that if an attack directly hits an affected model and fails to break ARM, the model still takes 1 point of damage.

This spell is a big part of the reason Tanith is so flexible. She can play easily into infantry swarms, while simultaneously taking on big ARM lists thanks to Scything Touch. I have used Affliction and two-three Mannikin sprays to single handedly eliminate an entire unit of Horgenhold Forgeguard in Wall of Steel and under Ossrum's feat (Effective ARM of 20+).

You won't actually cast this spell every game, simply because there isn't always going to be a target that you desperately need to swing -5 DEF on or there isn't a unit of infantry that you need to mulch through, but when it's good, it's absurdly good.

The Nukes:

Tanith has the obligatory crummy nuke spell or two in the form of Bleed and Rift. These are corner-case to cast, and I realize that's a controversial statement in many ways, but I believe it is true.

The "dream" is to use her Feat to reduce the cost of bleed to 1 and then KD a warcaster and use boosted Bleeds to kill the warcaster in question. In my experience, this is almost mathematically impossible into most warcasters, and isn't worth the time. At best, use Bleed to remove an annoying model in the way of your soon to be charging heavy.

Rift, on the other hand, has a few more applications by nature of leaving an AOE 4 of rough terrain. This is a huge deal against certain factions (Menoth in general and much of Khador and Cygnar jacks) where you can use a Mannikin as a target for a Rift in front of your army to really neuter your opponents' threat ranges. If they don't have pathfinder, this spell is far more useful for its controlling aspect than it is for doing damage.


Feat:

Tanith's feat lets her channel through models in her battlegroup and reduces the casting cost of friendly fraction models' spells by 1 in her control, to a minimum cost of 1 (important note).

This looks pretty underwhelming, but it actually gives you a lot of flexibility. Upkeep Scything Touch somewhere, charge in, activate Tanith, cast Affliction for one and boost, cast Scything for one, cast Primal on something, and camp a couple is a typical feat turn.

It also makes Wraithbane on the Pureblood cost 1, and Primal on the Feral and Gorax cheaper as well.

There are supposedly times when the correct thing to do is to use her feat to assassinate.

To that I say....seriously?

Take Nemo 1, DEF 14 ARM 15, 14 boxes. Say he has no focus.

If he's not KD, I'm going to have to boost every Bleed I put into him. An unboosted bleed does 2 damage, and I'll get three of them.

If he IS KD, then I get 3 boosted bleeds, which do 16.5 damage on average, so sure, he's dead there, but if he's camping even 1 focus, this doesn't work, and Nemo 1 has among the worst defensive lines of any warlock/warcaster in the game.

I'm not saying this is never an option, just please don't go into the game expecting to use this as your primary win condition. It's much better to toss around cheap animi and Afflictions.

A Quick Note on Fury Management:

Tanith wants to use her Fury, a LOT. She wants to be up in the middle of the table shooting things so that she can affect the game. 

How can you do this without dying? There are a couple of ways. 

You can use your Sentry Stones to literally do nothing but create a mobile screen with her, and some games, this is exactly what you want to do with them. 

You can also keep her relatively safe by clouding up around her with the Gobbers, since many lists won't have ways to ignore Stealth. If you pre-measure correctly, you shouldn't have to worry about melee threats. 

A final way is to put Admonition on her, so that should anything come after her she can dance away. 

Model Synergies:
Image result for nature synergy

Sentry Stone and Mannikins:


If you don't have two of these in your list right now (Nov 2016) then you're playing a sub optimal list. They hunt solos incredibly well, prey on high DEF/low ARM or low DEF/High ARM single wound infantry, and can even assassinate pretty well now with the way focus has changed in mark 3.

Add to that an ability to create a six inch movable forest wall with which to hide Tanith behind, and you really start to get a unit that is worth its weight in gold.

Their best synergy with Tanith comes from Affliction making their sprays into RAT 6 auto point attacks, which is pretty incredible into Shield Wall or Wall of Steel units like Sentinels, Halbardiers, Forge Guard, Iron Fang Pikemen, Karax, etc. I've used Affliction plus one unit of Sentry Stone Mannikins to wipe out a ten man unit in one activation easily.

Also important, you can use them to keep Tanith in the middle of the table without too much fear of reprisal by building her a forest wall every turn. This is massively important for her, since she wants to use her gun every turn if she can.

Reeves of Orboros:

You want infantry clear? These guys will do it no problem. With Affliction, they all become RAT 7 auto point shots with two attacks each, for 20 attacks on the base unit or 22 with the CA (You should always take the CA if you can).

It's also great fun to put 22 damage onto a Heavy Jack with a bunch of POW 8 shots and then kill it with a Scarsfell Griffon/Stalker/Pureblood spray/Mannikins on the charge.

They also have Combined Ranged Attack, giving them the potential for two RAT 17 POW 19 shots, which is going to do about 1/3 of an average heavies health on it's own with no support whatsoever.

I have drifted away from this unit simply because Sentry Stones tend to clear the infantry well enough with Affliction that having Reeves feels redundant, but they are definitely a strong choice.


Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew:

Yeah these little dudes are kind of an auto include for Tanith. They give her stealth, they give the Stalker stealth, they add to the LOS denial with the Sentry Stones, and they're high enough def that they can contest moderately well.

Add to that their incredibly cheap cost (2 points!!) and the fact that they have a weapon now, and I don't see a reason to ever leave these two at home.


Bloodweaver Night Witch:

If you're not bringing Reeves and still want to slaughter a unit without using your Sentry Stones, consider this 4 point mini Madrak. With Affliction and the ability to boost to hit, this lady has chewed through entire units of Dawnguard Sentinels, Temple Flame Guard, and Iron Fang Pikemen for me. Sure she only threats 10.5 inches, but that can be a big deterrent for zones and flag control.

Natural Stealth is a plus.


Druid Wilder:

Tanith wants to upkeep at least 2 spells every turn, and that can get pricey fury wise. The Druid Wilder helps out with that immensely, leaving Tanith an extra fury to boost a hit roll with or to camp. She can also force warbeasts outside of Tanith's control range which has randomly been useful, and she can heal or leach fury from beasts, another big deal in a faction with such finicky fury management.


Gallows Grove:

This is not an auto-include, but can be very strong with her. Very often, you'll want to arc an Affliction after her feat turn, and it is frustrating as all get out when you don't have a bark node in your list. While they're not mandatory, they're definitely a good option.

Also they stop Imperatus from triggering Phoenix Protocol within 5 inches, so that's always a good thing right?


Scarsfell Griffon:

This model is in the spotlight right now, and for good reason. It is Circle's answer to the question "How do we piece trade effectively?"

With Tanith, this guy can be MAT 8, PS 16/15/15 on its initial attacks. That's not going to kill a Khador heavy (average dice on a charge against a Khador heavy says 22 damage without hunters mark, and 26 with) but it will scrap any ARM 18 heavy in the game (average dice says 27 damage without hunters mark and 32 with it) assuming you get Hunters Mark on it.

Since I use Tanith primarily as my Circle drop, this is of extreme value since I can pretty reliably trade an 8 point light for a 17-19 point Warpwolf.

Also note that their animus gives them dodge, and I've had games where my opponent misses one attack on a unit that charges the griffon, allowing me to dodge away from the rest of his unit and take no damage whatsoever. Also a useful animus on Tanith.


Warpwolf Stalker:

Tanith can make this guy incredible. Any time you do NOT have to Primal your heavy hitters is amazing, and Tanith, thanks to Scything Touch and her pair of defense debuffs, allows the Stalker to hit accurately and at PS 20 even without Primal.

Add in a hunters mark, and this guy will do 39 damage to a Khador heavy with just his reach attacks, meaning he probably has one fury left over to cast Lightning Strike and Sprint out.

The other thing is that his melee range is 2", and with the recent infernal ruling, he spreads Scything touch to within 2 inches of him EVERYWHERE.

That means that if he is facing away from a model, he's not engaging it but it is still getting -2 ARM for your Reeves to shoot up or for Tanith to tag with her gun. It's a big deal, and he can cover a large swathe of the table. Even more importantly, if he kills whatever he goes into and can sprint out, he can apply Scything Touch in two places in one turn. Efficiency!

Also, native pathfinder is a big deal in this era of heavy terrain on boards.



List Building:

Tanith is a hard warlock to build lists for by virtue of....well she can kind of do anything. Need a -5 DEF swing? On it. Need an ARM debuff? Here ya go! Need to murder shield wall units? (Something Circle traditionally has a hard time with) Easy peasy.

I've played her multiple ways, so I'm just going to give you three general ways to build her and then give you my sample list.



The ARM cracker:

This build focuses on 2 important spells - Scything Touch and Admonition.

I play it with four heavies (two Ferals, Stalker, Pureblood) and the idea of the list is to chuck a Feral at something while it has Admonition on it, and then follow up with a Stalker with Scything Touch to kill it and Sprint out.

Your opponent then has to deal with an Admonitioned heavy in their lines, usually requiring 2 heavies to kill since you just scoot away from the first one.

The following turn, you get to go in and kill two more heavies, and your opponent is down 3 heavy warbeasts/warjacks for the price of a Feral (who might not even be dead, DEF 14 is a thing).

This is great against any Warjack heavy list outside of Karchev and his Mad Dogs, and it's also fairly easy to play.

Sample List:

Tanith
- Wilder
- Pureblood
- Feral
- Feral
- Stalker
- Scarsfell

Lanyssa
Gallows Grove
Alten Ashley

Sentry Stone x2
Swamp Gobbers



The Circle Drop:


Cuz this is Circle right now

When I've been playing Tanith of late, she's been paired with Wurmwood. As a result she has become my Circle, Ret, and all around "cover Wurmwood's weaknesses" list.

The list runs 3 Scarsfells, and was originally piloted by Tom Guan. I was already running something similar, but he had the stroke of genius to replace 2 Griffons (I was running five at the time) with Wrong Eye and Snapjaw.

Let me tell you how amazing DEF 15 models under Star-Crossed are. They're bonkers. Boosted NINES are a 45% ish chance to hit with that spell floating around, and that's what most Warjacks need. Couple that with Dodge, and these birds take a ton of resources to kill.

This list preys on Wurmwood/other Circle lists, most Ret builds, and can be dropped into many Wurmwood counters like Rasheth with a million Shamans with success.

Placement and activation order are very hard to nail down with a list like this though, and only after about 20 games did I really feel like I understood the list.

Tanith
- Stalker
- Pureblood
-Scarsfell
-Gorax

Una
-Scarsfell x2

Wrong Eye
-Snapjaw

Sentry Stone x2
Shifting Stone
Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew



Other options:

Tanith can be built so many ways. Literally stick models in her list and go, and she'll probably perform okay.

A common (ish) alternate build I've seen with her is taking double Reeves to capitalize on Affliction. The math is pretty gross actually. 44 Auto Points if they all get shots is enough to kill any heavy in the game and to severely cripple even the toughest colossal. At that point your Stalker goes in and mops it up pretty easily.

While I don't know I'd really recommend picking up a second unit of Reeves just to do this, I can say that it certainly is an interesting idea.

Other builds I've seen are the 6+ Scarsfell lists, but with the release of 2Una, I seriously don't think Tanith is the one to do that with anymore, as 2Una's griffons do far, far, far more damage than Tanith's do.

What NOT to play her into:

Tanith has a really, really hard time with gunlines, especially those that ignore Stealth. Specifically, I'm looking here at Caine 2 and Sloan, since against Issyria, DEF 15 is still hard for unboosted shots to hit under feat.

This is a common problem among Circle casters, and a big, big part of why you'll see Wurmwood in most Circle pairings - he really punishes those gunlines by not letting them do....well anything really.

She also has a really hard time with massive amounts of Spell Ward on High Arm infantry like Precursor Knights or Banishing Ward onto Karax or Flameguard.


Conclusion:

I absolutely love Tanith. She plays super cat and mouse with your opponent, laying traps and springing them with Admonition and Shadow Bind. She can play into literally anything in the game with the right build, and ADR with her is just disgustingly good.

If you don't own her yet, try her out. If you lose with her for the first little while, don't get discouraged! She's immensely hard to play well, as every single turn has a massive amount of options and ways in which to approach it.

Thanks for reading!