Exigence Week: Circle, according to Solon

exigenceThis week we’re taking a look at Exigence, faction by faction (though not in book order, because that would be just crazy). Continuing the trend of making the Lost Painters use words instead of brushes, today Lost Painter Solon shares with us his thoughts on the releases for the Circle Orboros. Between painting, starring in videos for Warmachine & Hordes tutorials over at Party Foul (yes, that’s a link) and all that real life stuff, it’s a wonder he found the time, really.

solonavatarEXIGENCE – CIRCLE RELEASES

Its Christmas time for Hordes but the big question is; what do you get the Faction that already has everything? I’m going to start off by saying that if you were looking for another epic Morvahna quality, meta breaking, earth shaking model/unit you will be disappointed.

If instead you want some cool new toys to shake the cobwebs out of your typical pairings you will be pleasantly surprised! Lets take a look:

bradigus

BRADIGUS THORLE:

Some said Synergy in Hordes would be the most broken thing ever but what they didn’t count on was PP’s ability to make it work without being auto-crush! With only Wolds in his battle group (almost universally considered sub par to their wolf counterparts) Bradigus is hobbled from the get go. Doubly so, as he doesn’t have Elemental Mastery and needs to rely on Shifting Stones or his repair skill to keep the rock robots trucking on. That doesn’t mean he’s unplayable or not a quality third lister but he won’t be usurping King Krueger or Queen Morvahna anytime soon. Still he has quite a bit more depth than you would think at first glance, and a lot of potential assuming you can unlock the right combination.

Defensive stats and tech:
Bradigus’ 14/16 block and large base leave much to be desired but he has access to a number of defensive Animi and spells that should keep him pretty safe from ranged and magic assassination:

A. Shooting: Bradigus will be sporting more than one Wold Watcher to catch bullets for him and failing that he will have the Wold Guardian’s animus most of the time to fall back on. Alternatively you can pop a forest with the Wold Warden’s animus and back out of it to be out of LOS.

B. Magic: Bradigus’ main defense vs magic assassination comes in the form of his Mystic Wards spell. At first glance this seems like a Poor Man’s Purification as it only affects his battle group, but I think the main purpose is to create bubbles of no-magic-or-channelling that can keep Bradigus safe. Placement will be key but he will almost always have a very large battle group to facilitate a good sized protective bubble. Alternatively you can use this psuedo-offensively to shut mid-line casters down, although doing that and not ending up with some dead Wolds will be tricky.

Offensive output:
Bradigus isn’t going to anchor any games without a hefty dose of Synergy backing him up, but he does bring a POW 13 ROF 3 range 8 gun with Beat Back. This gun is good enough that I think there is plenty of opportunity to snipe out the odd model or pull off a Teleport/feat ranged assassination vs vulnerable casters, especially if they have been head butted or slammed down before hand. Also of note is his melee weapon which also has Beat Back, although once again if you’re using it you had better be putting the enemy caster into the dirt!

Spells
Bradigus has a pretty limited spell list but all of them are decent. Synergy will be up from the get go as his sad little rock robots need a lot of help hurting things! Mystic Wards is situational but Rift and Battering Ram are great Geomancy spells and Bradigus himself might even throw one off on feat turn.

Feat
Bradigus’ feat lets you push his battle group up to 5″ towards a table edge and then at the end of the turn they are pushed away from it, again up to 5″.
Initially this seems like a very powerful control or assassination feat but I think it’s a lot more complicated to use than that. It’s a push, so you have to make sure nothing is going to stop the model from sliding along. Secondly you have to go towards and then away from the same table edge in a direct line. This limits the amount of insane scenario and control play the feat can have.

Additionally, the feat only pushes Bradigus’ battle group, which gives it a quantity of value equal to the number of models in his battle group. Normally that will be a lot of little rock robots but once again it’s effect magnifies with numbers. Alternatively you can look at it as an advance move for your battle group and pop it early. Sadly Bradigus seems to do little to nothing for the Wold Wrath, which makes everyone sad. If there was someone who should have made the magic monkey tick you think it would have been Brad. Synergy really makes you want to bring as many rock men as you can and not one huge one.

Theme Force
Bradigus’ theme force gives you some options; you can go to tier 3 and still be able to take stuff like blackclads, death wolves and gallows groves or go full rock robot to tier 4 and just have a big fat battle group with lots of stones! Tier 3 gets you some potentially game changing options. Most importantly, Shifting Stones become FA 3 as do Sentry Stones. This can open up some very janky triple teleports to get a Synergy tail where it needs to be, but I strongly suspect that the extra stones will be mainly doing serenity duty. Bradigus just can’t keep his rock men running cool enough and the whole engine overheats very quickly without some additional fury management. Also of note is that Sentry Stones start with 3 fury, increasing their functionality.

Tier 4 gets you a free Watcher but you can’t have any other living models besides Bradigus. This means no Shifting Stone UA, Gallows Groves or Blackclads, it’s just a big pile of rock men! Oh, and another sad note, no character wolds in his tier, so no megalith. Personally I think the loss of all the utility pieces isn’t worth the free Watcher but time will tell. Stopping at tier 3 may be key.

Conclusion
Bradigus is a very different caster than either version of Balder, and offers something with potentially more depth. His feat, Beat Back and Battering Ram will let you push things around on the table; it’s not Krueger levels of control but it’s something. He won’t take a punch as well as a Balder list, but he will do more damage and he can probably pull off an assassination better. His theme force is totally legit but I suspect that you won’t want to run him all the way to tier 4 as that’s relying too heavily on Synergy in a list that won’t have any reach models and in which the cheapest cog is a 5pt light. Tons of potential as a third list caster is my prediction.

moonhoundrotterhorn

NEW LIGHT WARBEASTS

Outside the Gorax, Circle lights don’t see a lot of competitive table time. General opinion is that they are too expensive and too corner case to warrant the investment. The two new additions in Exigence are cheaper and have abilities and animi that are more general purpose and useful.

First off is the Argus Moonhound. At 4 points he’s affordable, and with his Hunting Howls and Mark the Target abilities he has tons of utility in any list that has guns or wants to kill stealth models at range. His Animus, Hound, seems a bit weird at first but I don’t think it’s intended to be used with the beast, mainly because he’ll have trouble hitting anything with defense higher than 10. It has many more applications if you use it with your warlock as it gives them a limited form of Admonition. Upshot is the animi is gravy as its abilities alone make the Moonhound worth its points in the Circle ranged game.

Next we have the Rotterhorn Griffon and he is also a good addition to much of Circle’s game. Again he’s 4 points, 3 with Una, and he brings limited combat power but has a cool star ability. Shrill Shriek does a boostable POW 8 to models within 2″ of him. This is particularly useful at eliminating high def models or doing damage to models who can’t be targeted for some reason. The really interesting thing about this bird is his animus, Acceleration, which allows the model targeted to perform a star action at the end of their activation.

This opens up a wide range of not only interesting interactions but also game altering ones. Blackclads can now advance, Hunters Mark or Stone Spray and then Phase Jump back to safety. Woldstalkers can Concentrated Fire and then Zephyr or even Zephyr twice. Epic Balder can lay the beat down with a lethal dose of Wurm tokens and then use Ritual of Renewal to prevent himself from dying. The list goes on and this little winged critter will see plenty of experimentation as a result. Very good addition to the Circle stable!

brennos

NEW HEAVY WARBEAST: Brennos the Elderhorn:

I’m going to be upfront here and tell you at first glance I’m not sure how I would use this guy. That’s not to say this rule rich model won’t be unlocked by someone with more insight and smarts than me but you’re paying heavy warbeast pricing for mediocre combat ability with a pile of support/situational abilities.

First up, he’s only MAT/RAT 5 with unimpressive defensive stats: 11/17. His melee attacks are pillow fisted to say the least, even if he is a weapon master vs spell casters. He does have a good ranged boostable magic gun with Thunderbolt to boot, which is a welcome sight, but you’re paying a heavy price tag so his other abilities should be utilized to get that investment back. Lets take a look at those abilities:

Affinity Morvahna: Basically, Morvahna heals a point of life every time her goat buddy destroys an enemy model or is hurt by one. Modestly helpful in match ups where Carnivore is useless.

Primal Magic: Can use other friendly warbeasts animi, situational at best.

Animi: Rites of Dawn: Reduce warbeast animi by 1 in his command. Mildly interesting, your caster can use it and make Brennos use it for free and then you have a huge bubble of cheap animi. Is there really a list that runs that many beasts who want to spam their animi? Maybe, but I’m skeptical.

All of these abilities seem situational and limited in scope. The fact that a warbeast can only be forced to use an animus once means Brennos can’t be spamming cheap lightning strikes or do some cool toolbox-of-animi thing. Don’t get me wrong, cheaper animi is good, but is it really worth the price tag? Overall I think he is a cool looking model but I’m not yet convinced he’s worth the points.

deathwolves

NEW CIRCLE UNIT: The Death Wolves

Okay, I love these guys… but that said, I also love Grayle and not because he wins games. The idea of savage, terrorist humans ninja-ing their way through hordes of the enemy just grabs my imagination! Problem is, these dudes (and dudette) suffer from a couple of hindrances:

1. Damage output: Being the character unit everyone will compare them to the Withershadow Combine or the Great Bears and they just don’t have the damage potential that either of these units have. Nor do they have the awesome support abilities that the Withershadow have when they aren’t removing enemy warjacks. Gang is awesome but it isn’t weapon master. Also Skoll is the only reach model which means overtaking around like you want them to do will be more difficult.

2. Reliance on living enemy to fuel them. Its great they start with a Corpse Token and Cannibal magic is super awesome but I don’t think that will be enough to make them multi purpose.

That’s not to say that The Death Wolves won’t be useful. There will be enough stories of them eating through entire enemy units on the interwebs or standing defiantly in front of heavies while Cannibal Magic keeps them alive to fuel interest but to me that doesn’t change the fact that they pack a high point cost. Their offensive output simply isn’t as good as the other top character units,  and they don’t seem to offer you something different that will tempt you to use other casters out of the top tier. They are cool though, and that counts for something. Some testing required.

una

NEW CIRCLE SOLO: Una the Falconer

Una has been out for a while now and she is a solid addition who will most likely be making her way into a number of competitive Krueger2 lists. She’s a Junior Warlock and suffers from the same malaise that other Juniour Warlocks suffer from: You have to take warbeasts with them, so unlike Junior Warcasters you can’t really use them as solos as they need a source to replenish fury.

They can also be hard to keep safe, with warbeasts needing to be in their small control to be forced they either need support beasts or ranged beasts. Lucky for Una she is small based, has a great gun and has access to a fantastic and cheap support light warbeast: the Rotterhorn (aka the quicken chicken!)

Paired up with Kreuger and Druids, Una is pretty safe from ranged and magic attack and can happily peck enemy infantry with her bird gun(s) and have her Rotterhorn(s) spam accelerate onto Blackclads and Shrill Shriek anyone who gets too close. She’s great, and will see the table with caster who can keep her not dead.

DID WE WIN?!?!?

Everyone always wants to know who won the book, did Circle get it this time? Well no, but I don’t think anyone else did either, unless you consider the fact that Minions got new toys and that always makes them a winner! Circle did okay, getting some strong additions to the light warbeast arsenal, a junior to help run one of them, a caster with some strong potential and some other stuff that the die hards can spend plenty of hours trying to make work. All and all a good haul!


One Response to Exigence Week: Circle, according to Solon

  1. The most broken thing in Hordes would be Unearthly Rage…