Welcome back, dear readers! Today’s article covers the ins and outs of all the different options Circle players have at their disposal. I’ll examine each unit as it sits in a vacuum, as well as in comparison to other options, and also in relation to which casters best support, or are supported by, each unit. Unlike Circle’s beasts, in which most any heavy has a definite place, and can more or less hold their own, many of Circle’s units have specific uses. And some of them, frankly, are vastly outdone by many other, similar units. As always, questions, concerns, and general condescension are welcome in the comments.
Druid Stoneward and Woldstalkers – The stoneward and woldstalkers are a phenomenal ranged unit that can excel at taking out either hard to hit infantry, or damaging higher armor targets. The key to using them lies in the orders zephyr and concentrated fire. Zephyr allows the woldstalkers to move 3″ and still gain the aiming bonus, or back up 3″ and shoot things that had ran to engage them. It’s great for getting that extra ranged threat too, allowing the unit to move 9″ and then shoot, giving them a very long ranged threat. Their power is high enough that heavy infantry will be reliably threatened, and with concentrated fire, they can even increase it by +1 for each hit that a prior member scores. Often times, the woldstalkers (or woldshrimp, as many prefer to call them) can take out systems on light and heavy beasts or jacks without too much effort. Their point cost is equivalent to that of bloodtrackers + Nuala, and so many people have a hard time deciding between the two. With character restrictions more prevalent now, it’s often include 2 units in one list, and bloodtrackers + nuala in the other. Also, their long ranged threat is superb coming on the side in reinforcement scenarios. I’ve come to rely on the woldstalkers more and more often now, even replacing the bloodtrackers in several of my lists with them. They are a requirement for Baldur 1’s tier list, which is surprisingly amazing for a tier list, and as such are excellent with him. He can provide protection from blast damage, which could pose a problem to them. Other than Baldur 1, Kromac’s warpath loves them, Krueger 2 can help protect them (and Krueger 1, but many prefer the option of bloodtrackers + lightning tendrils with him). They offer excellent support in any reinforcement option, and really don’t have any casters in Circle that they couldn’t perform in. Recommendation: 9/10.
Reeves of Orboros - The reeves of orboros are one of, if not the, most hated units in the game. The models look superb. Everyone would love to use them. Unfortunately, they are overcosted and outshone by another unit Circle has access to, the Nyss hunters. I’ve never used them, and outside of perhaps Kaya 1’s tier or with Morvahna, I can’t see a good reason (other than aesthetically) to include them in your army. I’d perhaps consider them more if they cost less, or if they had better base RAT…or power…or if we had casters who could buff their ranged abilities in some way… Recommendation: 1/10.
Sentry Stone and Mannikins- This unit is a rather bizarre one, in my opinion. I picked it up as part of Baldur 1’s tier, and that remains the only thing I’ve used it for. I honestly, for the life of me, cannot come up with a use outside of forest creation for Baldur’s forest walk. The sprays are too short and have too little RAT to be effective on more than one model, and even though it has two melee attacks, I think I’d rather just have a forest to slow down enemy units and jacks. Outside of Baldur’s tier list, I’d really hesitate to use these guys. Recommendation: 2/10.
Shifting Stones - Shifting stones are the MOST important unit in any Circle army. This unit is super important to so many things that Circle does. I’ll break down each really briefly. First off, stones are immobile and so are auto hit in melee, and almost always hit on anything other than snake eyes to range and magic…unless you bring the unit attachment, who makes them stealthy, which is really, really good. Always bring him with one unit. Also, always bring two units. Eventually you’ll thank me. Stones also have serenity, which sucks off a fury from any beast nearby at the beginning of the control phase. Further, stones have three actions they can perform on their activation. The first one is healing field, which heals D3 damage to any friendly faction model nearby. This ability can be used to heal our construct warbeasts, as well as any multi wound infantry like skin walkers or Morraig, and even casters. You’ll use this option fairly often. They also can shift anywhere within 8″ of themselves. That means that you can measure from the front edge of the base out 8″, then put the back edge down, effectively getting 9″ of space (small models are roughly 1″). Now, without the unit attachment, stones are only going to be in a small area. With the UA, however, they can spread out as far as they can shift, thereby not only spreading serenity and healing field…but also threatening a larger part of the battle field with teleportation. Teleportation allows you to shift another friendly faction model within 8″. Pro-tip Base to base is technically within the area, and the shifting stones always form a triangle, even in a straight line. This means that you can spread out your shifting stones and have one heavy beast base to base with one stone, then teleport that beast 8″ plus the nearly 2″ base size. The only down side is that models that are teleported must sacrifice their movement. If you’re teleporting a model that has a gun (like Krueger), then they CANNOT gain the aiming bonus, as you are already sacrificing your movement to the shifting. Note that you can still be double teleported. The double teleport assassination run will always remain one of the most amazing ways to catch opponents off guard and win early. I may devote an entire article on how to properly utilize shifting stones later. Recommendation: 11/10.
Tharn Bloodtrackers – Bloodtrackers are another excellent Circle unit. They have innate stealth, which is an excellent combination with their already high defense. They have advance deploy, and are pretty speedy. They have weapon master on their short range spears, and some nifty additional abilities. Bloodtrackers have the prey rule, which means that before the game starts they declare one unit of the opponent’s army their prey. They have +2 to hit and +2 to damage against that unit, and gain +2 speed while within 10″ of a model from said unit. This really helps them take out those higher defense troops, and do really good damage to somewhat high armor troops as well. The character unit attachment, Nuala, grants them one superb and one nifty additional rule. First, they gain reform while she is in play. This allows them, after their activation, to move 3″. They can therefore walk, shoot, and retreat back out of threat. Awesome. Also, she gives them quick work, which allows them to make one ranged attack after they kill a model in melee. Now, there is some debate about whether your bloodtrackers should ever even attempt to use this ability. Most people consider them a ranged unit that can make do in melee if they have to. The problem arises in that many times, one bloodtracker will remain engaged by multiple models, or models with reach, or all of the other targets in their range are also engaged. Therefore, it is my suggestion to not let your bloodtrackers get engaged, unless it’s on the charge…and against things they can almost assuredly wipe out. Bloodtrackers can be an effective target for lightning tendrils with Krueger 1, perform well with non-tier Kaya 2 and Baldur 1, and are excellent with Morvahna. They really aren’t ever a bad choice, no matter what caster you’re playing, but with character restrictions, it often isn’t worth bringing them without Nuala. Recommendation: 10/10.
Tharn Bloodweavers – Bloodweavers are dagger wielding Tharn that perform a variety of nifty uses. They are pretty speedy, and have high defense and stealth. They also have the gang rule, which gives +2 to hit and damage while another member of this unit is engaging the same target. As opposed to their bloodtracker sisters, who deal high damage, bloodweavers are more of a toolbox unit. They solve problems that opponents attempt to present to you. They have 3 seperate options when they make attacks. First, they can use blood burst, which causes the boxed living enemy to explode in a large AOE and damage his buddies. This is excellent if you happen to get it off on a beast and actually kill it, as it can nail the squishy support hiding behind. It also takes care of large clumps of infantry very handily. It can also use blood spiller, which grants an additional die on damage rolls. Finally, it has dispel, so it can remove that pesky arcane shield or iron flesh. Personally, I’ve never used this unit, but after writing this little blurb, I have a sudden desire to try them out. They would probably be very useful with Morvahna, Grayle, and Krueger 1 (who can give them reach and make gang easier to achieve). Recommendation: 7/10.
Tharn Ravagers – Tharn ravager’s are one of Circle’s two medium based infantry choices in faction. They are much maligned due to their really bad defensive stats. Not only are they hit very easily, but they also die to pow 10s remarkably quickly. They are average speed for normal infantry, making them fast for heavy infantry. They do have a good ability to damage enemies if they manage to make it in on a charge, gaining +2 to hit while doing so. Their high base strength gives them solid damage output. They also have the ability to clear out several infantry each, with reach and the ability to buy additional attacks (or boost a to hit or to damage roll) with heart eater. Finally, they also have tree walker innately, granting +2 defense in forests, and movement through other models while within said terrain piece. The unit attachment gives the unit +2 to damage on charge attacks, further boosting their damage output. He also gives them advance deploy, allowing them to get the jump on combat more quickly. The weapon attachment gives the unit a minor ranged threat and an extra body for attacks. Overall, despite the potential for solid damage output, their defensive stats are so lackluster that they almost never will make it into combat with the enemy. A minimum sized unit with UA and WA might be an interesting reinforcement option, however…I’d consider them most useful with Kaya 1, Grayle, and Morvahna. They could potentially be alright with either Krueger (who can help a bit keeping them alive against shooting). Recommendation: 3/10.
Tharn Wolf Riders – Tharn wolf riders are a light cavalry option. They have an amazing natural speed, solid defensive stats, and can seriously threaten most any model in the game. Things of note are primarily their unaided threat of 16″ plus light cav move of 5″ after. They operate supremely well on the flank, and have several special abilities. First, they have assault, allowing them to charge a model and still use their ranged attack. If they do happen to kill their charge target, they can redirect their melee attack onto another model. This is most useful against harder targets like beasts and jacks, as they will often take some good damage from your weapon master (with reroll missed shot!!!) assault, then even more with the charge attack damage. They can also ignore forests, concealment and cover when drawing line of sight or making their ranged attacks. So, you’ve got reroll missed and you ignore the defensive buffs of terrain features. Hey, that sound’s pretty awesome. Oh, and there’s more. Like the bloodtrackers, they also have prey. So if you’re targeting your prey target you also get +2 to hit and +2 to damage. Wow, these guys are awesome, you might find yourself thinking. Why doesn’t everyone use them all the time? Well, unfortunately this really boils down to maximizing damage output. The wolf riders get a max of 5 shots, and the bloodtrackers get 11. While the wolf riders are, individually speaking, significantly more likely to hit (and therefore kill) their targets, you are likely not going to kill enough of them to make up for the extra 6 shots bloodtrackers would get. Still, they are an excellent flanking force and work as an excellent reinforcement choice. Good casters to use them with could be Kaya 1, non-tier Baldurs, and anyone on reinforcement options. Recommendation: 7/10.
Warpborn Skinwalkers – The warpborn skinwalkers are, unfortunately, not as awesome rules wise as their models might suggest. They are our heaviest, in-faction infantry. That’s not saying a whole lot though. Most medium infantry in other factions laughs at how easily skinwalkers die. The problem lies in the fact that Circle doesn’t have much in the way of infantry buffing. If Circle could toss out arcane shield or iron flesh, these guys would be solid (really good, actually). Unfortunately we don’t have that option as of now. They are on medium bases with low defensive stats, and lowish armor, that gets +2 while engaged. The real root of the problem is that they often don’t make it into melee, as most anything with a gun will shoot them to pieces way before they get engaged. Once engaged, though, they cause terror and go up to a much more respectable armor stat. They are also fearless, so you can send them against an enemy terror causing unit. They also have +2 speed if one of them is injured, which helps to get them into melee faster…if they didn’t all die first. They are a requirement for Kaya 2’s theme, and help hold the line in scenarios to keep her contesting zones. Otherwise, Kromac’s buff could help them and they can protect him being medium bases, and either Krueger’s defensive buffs can help against the shooting. Baldur can also toss out some good buffs for them too. Unfortunately, other than the Kruegers and Kaya 2, any other target for those spells would likely benefit more. Recommendation: 4/10.
Wolves of Orboros- The wolves are Circle’s cheapest, most expendable infantry option. They excel at little more than being cannon fodder. Fortunately, with the UA, they are able to seriously threaten heavier targets with their mini-feat, which grants them an additional die on damage rolls. They come with an innate MAT buff on the charge, so they hit reliably by themselves. They also have combined melee attack, allowing them to gang up on the harder to hit and damage targets. In my humble opinion, however, they should primarily be used to take the enemy’s attacks and block good charge lanes with the threat of reach free strikes. For 8 points, you get 12 bodies. Also, just as a note, if you choose to bring Morraig (more on him next time), you need to bring a minimum unit of these guys too. Trust me, it’s worth it. These guys go thematically best with Grayle, but other than his feat and elite cadre, he really doesn’t help them at all. And his feat is really, really tricky to get the hang of. None of our casters really buff their damage at all, and most have minimal buffs to their armor. Of note, are Mohsar for a cheap sands of fate target, Morvahna, and Kaya 1 who can give them stealth to help them make it to the scenario quickly and relatively unscathed. Recommendation: 6/10.\
Alright fellow Circle players, there lies our current state of units. It’s remarkably more difficult than I thought to pair these up with casters. Also, many of the units would be relatively safe choices in many different lists, and would depend on the other units and interactions within the list to make a more reliable and accurate assessment. Let me know how you feel about the list, the ratings, any obvious things or synergies I may have excluded or omitted.