State of the Faction (3/5): Circle Units

Prologue:

Circle's units are, almost universally, much maligned. They tend to be expensive, pillow fisted, and not capable of taking a hit from a Gunmage.

If we ever get a faction wide CID, units are going to be the first thing I hope to see Privateer Press revamp, followed shortly by Warbeasts.

Deep breaths, here we go.

Ratings Scale:

5.0: S-Tier BS, meta bending model or unit, a crutch of the faction. 

4.0: Extremely useful model or unit, high game impact, strong into many other factions and lists

3.0: Excellent meta choice, very strong into the correct matchups but not consistently good. 

2.0: Super niche, ADR model that will occasionally do something cool but is more often not. 

1.0: Nigh unto unplayable garbage, will not see the table in day two of a competitive event. 


I will always give a bit more context than just the rating, a quick paragraph or two describing how I think the beast plays out with the casters that want them the most. For units, this scale will be based off of internal faction balance as it is too hard to do cross faction comparisons. As always, the comments mean as much or more than the numbers do.

The Death Wolves:

Overall rank: 2.0

These guys have one place - the Tharn tier. Having lost both the ability to deliver themselves with their initial corpse token AND their natural prey (units), these guys don't have any real reason to see play outside of the one theme that allows them to start the game off already primed. 

I can see them played with Una 2, Tanith, and maybe one of the Kruegers or Baldurs in the Tharn tier. Other than that, you shouldn't feel hounded to play them as they'll likely be your death. 

Druid Mist Riders:

Overall rank: 1.5

Expensive, pillow fisted, and with no targets in a high ARM meta, these models are beautiful additions to anyones bookshelf. Careful though, they've been known to cause mildew in paperbacks.

Druids of Orboros and CA:

Overall rank: 2.0

Man these guys got the short end of the Mark 3 stick. They lost countermagic, they lost their fishing pulling spell, and they ALSO lost Advanced Deployment. 

In addition, their Clouds giving enemy models -2 to hit in them is almost a non-factor with the sheer amount of 1 and 2 inch reach running around, cannot trigger Prowl on anything with the changes to terrain rules, and lost Camouflage. Oh, and they don't fit in any theme lists. Whoof. 

The command attachment gives them Apparition, which is nice, and also the ability to be immune to elemental damage, but he's often not worth his points. 

They don't have a ton of good fits anymore, with notable exceptions being Krueger 2 for that sweet KD tech and Baldur 1 out of theme for their synergy with the Woldwrath and Druid's Wrath (subtle much PP?).

I can also see them getting a bit more love once the Celestial Fulcrum's new rules go live, but since they can't be taken in theme, that still seems unlikely. 

Reeves of Orboros and CA:

Overall rank: 3.5

Probably the best "big" unit Circle has now, these guys are extremely versatile and can toggle between infantry clearing and denting heavies with ease thanks to ROF 2 and CRA.

The CA gives them Go to Ground, which is a once per game ability that gives the unit cover and immunity blast damage, which is money, and he also allows them to CRA into melee, which is an even bigger deal.

After Sentry Stones, these are my highest recommendation for picking up, and anyone that does so and plays them with casters such as Tanith, Baldur 1, Wurmwood, and actually basically anyone playing the Wild Hunt theme will reeve their rewards in short orboros.

Sentry Stone and Mannikins:

Overall rank: 4.0

These were the breakout unit at the beginning of Mark 3, and they're still (post nerf) the rock upon which most Circle lists are built. The mannik build up of anger towards them pre-nerf, while perhaps unwarranted, led to a much more balanced unit, and they are still capable of more than earning their points back every game. 

With the ability to boost, recur endlessly, and stay relevant late into the game, this unit guards the highest spot on the Circle infantry totem with very little in the way of contenders. They're one of the few ways we have to proc prowl outside of table terrain, they keep casters safe, and they kill solos and infantry while maintaining the ability to dent heavies if they need to. 

They're going out of style a bit with the many themes that cannot take them, but they're always sentrily located in my battlefoam whenever I take a bunch of models to game night with no clear idea of what I'm playing. 

Shifting Stones (and CA if I must):

Overall rank: 3.0

Circle's fury management! Seriously though, these used to be the defining feature of the faction, increasing the threat range of most of our heavies by about an inch and allowing us to do some truly unique things. 

Now, with the shift to completely within 8 inches for their teleport, they are nowhere near as useful for threat extension as they used to be (except with Loki). 

Now, though, they're excellent fury management and healing, all for three points. 

Don't bother with the CA unless you're playing Kaya 3 or Morvahana 2, as Prowl is nowhere near as good as Stealth, and he will keep on looking pretty on your shelf. 

Stoneward and Woldstalkers:

Overall rank: 1.0

Take a Woldwyrd. Take two units of Sentry Stones. Don't let your warcasters offspring become wards of the Circle by playing this unit. They're bad, and I never consider them, preferring to stalk my bag with other models. 

Tharn Blood Pack:

Overall rank: 0.0

I can't think of a reason to play this unit, and tharn't enough good puns to make out of them to unpack an entire paragraph of text to cover it. 

Tharn Bloodtrackers and Nuala:

Overall rank: 2.5

I'm going to draw a lot of criticism for this, but I don't think this unit is very good either right now. They die to a stiff breeze, Stealth mitigation is everywhere, and without Reposition (formerly reform), they just don't track with their point cost.

Furthermore, the meta has really shifted away from infantry and towards armor skew, meaning that there's less punch behind boosted POW 9s or 11s compared to mark 2.

I take them with Baldur, Wurmwood, and Mohsar, and these are all occasional at best. Their only real saving grace is for the Tharn theme list, where they are the best way to get free points without paying points for garbage models.

Tharn Bloodweavers:

Overall rank: 2.0

These guys lost basically everything interesting about them in the transition, and now I take them solely as souls for Wurmwood, Sands of Fate targets for Mohsar, or as a way to apply Grievous Wounds if I haven't managed to weave Alten or a Nightwitch into my list. 

They kill infantry really well, but so does everything in the faction. They're speed seven, but with a half inch melee range they threat a static 10.5 inches - hardly anything to get the blood up. 

Tharn Ravagers and CA:

Overall rank: 2.0

I am aware that there's a Tharn theme list out there with two units of these, and for the life of me I can't understand why it does well at all. Anti-infantry is so good right now, and these guys have paper thin stats on the defensive end. 

When they do manage to 1) get across the table and 2) make it to a unit or light warbeast, they'll tear through them just fine, but topping out at PS 13 (15 with a couple casters) is just...not great. 

I'm definitely going to get ravaged for this one, but I just cannot recommend these guys the vast majority of the time. 

Tharn Wolf Riders:

Overall rank: 2.0

Hey look, Tharn that are niche and not great! What else is new? 

These guys are fast, moderately accurate, and have decent output against their assaulted target. That being said, they're PS NINE. I'm not interesting in paying 3.6 points PER MODEL for a PS 9 weaponmaster attack with garbage defensive stats. 

And defensively, 14/14 is not going to save these from basically anything that wants to shoot at them, and annoyance is a cute ability, but again, a warbeast just needs to boost to hit and then pretty much auto kill on damage. 

Warpborn Skinwalkers and Alpha:

Overall rank: 3.0

Probably the best heavy infantry in Hordes, these guys are still a bit disappointing. Trading off rapid strike for gang is...interesting at best, awful at worst. The small attack volume is a serious drawback, especially when the unit costs as much as a pricey heavy when the CA is included in the cost. 

Relentless Charge is nice, and if often means that they're charging forward every turn rather than running up the table, definitely not warpspeed by any means. Hyper-regeneration walks their survivability up a touch, but, like most healing effects in this game, there has to be a model on the table still for it to matter. 

I like them with both Baldurs, Morvahna 1 and 2 if you're interested in playing with them, and Grayle if you're going to play him in Wild Hunt. 

Wolves of Orboros and CA:

Overall rank: 2.5 to 3.0

Before the Wild Hunt theme, I would have given these guys a solid 1.5, but with the addition of possible Ambush, suddenly this is a unit to be feared in the right scenarios. 

I still find it a little (a lot) silly that their fluff blurb describes their spears as capable of "piercing the thickest of Armor" when the models are PS 9 with only one turn of weaponmaster a game. 

CMA helps with that a touch, but these guys get one turn of decent-ness before fading back into pillow-fisted obscurity. They, like most of Circle's units, have victim defensive stats and won't survive long once they're engaged. 

Conclusion:

Out of all of the main frustrations I have with the faction, our limited, nay, nonexistent infantry choices for competitive play remains the biggest thorn. 

Is it any wonder that Circle lists all feature 60 ish points of battlegroup? (not that that's saying much, that's basically three beasts)

We need a serious slew of releases OR a dedicated Circle infantry/beast CID in order for this to change anytime soon. Nothing short of that or the game randomly swinging 100% back to infantrymachine is going to change that.