Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Wilder's Guide to the Circle Battlebox

I've spilled much ink about this topic already in other manuscripts. My writings are my assaults upon the established traditions of other members of our Order. Every stroke of my raven-quill is a sword strike in an eternal campaign against complacency and unfounded bias. In our success we have become lax. This laziness has led us to discard or discount the weapons which are available to us. In the coming days, we will not have the luxury to choose our weapons at will. We will be forced to use those weapons which are readily available. Therefore, it is important that you, the newest members of our order, be well versed in every aspect of our arsenal.

Privateer Press
Battlebox Comparisons

Since the induction of mark 2, there has been a lot of lamentation about Kaya, the Wildborne, and how she was "nerfed". Let's just set that aside now. Mk 2 Kaya is not Mk 1 Kaya. If you expect them to be identical, you will be disappointed. Mk 1 Kaya was broken. This is even more true when you consider what she would have had access to in Mk 2. So let's focus on what we have in her rather than what we don't.

What is the Circle Battlebox? The battlebox is Kaya, the Wildborne, a Feral Warpwolf, and two Arguses. The total value of the box is 11 points (17 points - Kaya's Warbeast Points). This puts the Circle Battlebox at the average points value for all of the battleboxes.

I once did a ranking system for all of the battleboxes. The system was based on speed, defense, offense, vs Hordes, vs Warmachine, assassination potential and then ran through the various other min / maxes (highest armor, longest threat range, etc). On these lists, the Circle battlebox came out on the middle to bottom on almost every category except speed, threat range and melee accuracy. Knowing this in advance will help you understand why the Circle battlebox is one of the best out there but that you can't afford to make mistakes.

Kaya, The Wildborne

Kaya, the Wildborne, brings several key components to the tabletop. The first of these is Pack Hunters. This ability enables Kaya's warbeasts to hit with melee attacks more consistently. It brings her Arguses to respectable levels and makes the Feral Warpwolf ridiculously accurate.

Kaya's spell list deserves mention as well. Occulation and Soothing Song are both circumstantial spells. Occulation can save you against shooty forces while Soothing Song aids you in Fury management. But it should be noticed that Occulation is only one model or unit and Soothing Song still won't get Kaya's warbeasts below frenzy range if they're all maxed out. So use them wisely but know that some games you may not use them at all.

Kaya's signature spell is Spirit Door. This is the spell that you will likely be casting once or even twice per turn. You should be casting this spell as often as possible to completely eliminate the potential for enemy retaliation. Timing is also key with Spirit Door. It should be used to reposition after attacking rather than before. This enables you to attack with a warbeast and then teleport it to safety.

Another spell of note is Spirit Fang. This is a damaging ranged spell with a moderate POW and a debuff. The debuff will prevent a target damaged by Spirit Fang from charging. Unfortunately, with Kaya's lowish Fury stat and the spells unremarkable POW, you may have to boost for both hitting and damaging to get the full aspect of the spell. Once you hit, it is likely that you won't need to continue boosting to hit, but casting the spell multiple times per turn is prohibitively expensive.

Kaya's feat enables her to access additional fury. Timing for the feat is crucial and you should carefully plan out your fury expenditure for the turn in order to get the most mileage out of it. Remember that six and six fury is different than twelve fury. This means that if you spend only five fury and feat, you'll only utilize eleven fury through the turn, not twelve. So be careful.

The feat may seem lackluster but in fact it's extremely versatile. Kaya's feat enables her to do obvious things such as casting Spirit Door enough to reposition her whole force or spam attacks to kill enemy casters. However, spamming Spirit Fangs can stop your opponent in their tracks as well or potentially kill opponents at range. Kaya can also feat and heal a lot of damage from her warbeasts (up to 13-15 points with regeneration) or herself. She could also use her feat to manage fury after pushing your warbeasts hard and leave herself with multiple transfers and clean warbeasts. Of course, Kaya can do a combination of all of this as well. This is where her versatility comes in. When playing small games, a versatile feat can be much more useful than a very focused one. And we're about to see that Kaya works very well in small games.

Kaya's ability to reposition her battlegroup makes her singularly suited for hit-and-run attacks. There are multiple ways to execute this. The most obvious is to use your two Arguses as your strike force. With combi-bite and a 10" range they can easily charge and boost damage to hit with decent output. Kaya can readily port the beasts way from your charge target (up to 15" away) to prevent retaliation. A few turns of this hit and run can leave your opponent with damaged models which can be isolated and destroyed by your Feral or even Kaya herself.

A second hit and run strategy is to slam your targets rather than charging. With this strategy you're sacrificing your Arguses damage output for the opportunity to knock your opponent back. This has two advantages. The first is that you are effectively putting extra distance between yourself and your opponent and the second is that you're making Warcasters spend valuable focus points if they want to have their warjacks stand up to attempt to come to grips. The disadvantages are that your damage output drops considerably and that the Arguses are not as efficient at slamming large based models.

A third hit and run strategy is to use your Feral Warpwolf as your charger and your Arguses as your reserve force. The advantage to this strategy is that the Feral has a longer range than that Arguses and a greater damage output. It is likely that a Feral could take out an opposing heavy warbeast or warjack in a single charge. However, this strategy opens your Feral up to damage early in the game should you not get him far enough from the enemy. The second disadvantage is that the Feral can typically only damage one model per turn whereas the Arguses can attack two.

You could go gung-ho and charge everything in but this leaves you in the position where you can only Spirit Door two models to safety. If your opponent is particularly poor at recognizing the threat your models pose, he may oblige you and set you up to attack with both Arguses and then have your Feral take out another model. In this case, it may be perfectly acceptable to redeploy your force around the Feral and let your opponent try to reconnoiter with fewer models. But this shouldn't be counted on as a viable strategy. In most cases, you opponent will turtle his army. Your objective is to get him to spread out.

Whatever the strategy you employ with Kaya, you need to realize that your opponent will probably get frustrated and extremely aggressive or competitive opponents will probably not be pleased. Dancing around, cherry picking charges and hiding behind terrain is what this battlebox is all about. For the Circle Battlebox, playing like you've got a pair means striking from the shadows and vanishing into thin air before your opponent can counterattack.

Feral Warpwolf

The Feral Warpwolf has long been a staple of Circle Orboros lists. With the introduction of models like Ghetorix and the Warpwolf Stalker, the Feral may finally be seeing his reign in Circle lists coming to an end. Still, there is nothing to complain about here. The Feral has a good DEF, a reasonable ARM, great SPD and great offensive abilities. His MAT, STR and three initial offensive attacks means that he will likely hit what he attacks and kill what he hits.

He truly capitalizes on Kaya's foundation of versatility. With a good STR, two open fists, and a long threat range, the Feral can perform throws, slams, or just offensive attacks with equal efficiency. He can buff his own ARM and, with Regeneration, can be fairly durable. The Feral can literally be where you need him when you need him and do whatever you need him to do.

While it might be tempting to make the Feral your alpha strike model - that is the model which you utilize to make the first strike against enemy forces. However, I'd suggest that the Feral makes a much better finisher model. As we'll see below, the Argus is a better choice for the alpha strike due to its expendability and your access to multiple models.


As much as I feel that Kaya, the Wildborne, may have been given a bad wrap with her Mk 2 incarnation, I feel that the Argus is perhaps our most poorly designed warbeast. The Argus has its advantages, for sure, but those are limited by its cost and its lack of a niche within the faction. I've said much about this elsewhere and if people are interested in continuing the discussion, I would gladly provide a more detailed discussion of the matter. However, suffice to say, the Argus could have been an excellent light warbeast if one of a large number of changes would have been implemented. Not the least of these are a point cost of 3, access to Gang [Argus], or Pack Hunters.

But we should focus on what the Argus can do. The Argus's main advantages are its SPD, its DEF, and its ability to combo-bite. These three advantages function in harmony to make the Argus a great cruise missile. It has a long range, a decent attack and is hard to hit. On its own, these advantages would probably be underwhelming if it weren't for Spirit Door and Pack Hunters. With Kaya, Arguses hit more consistently and offer you the opportunity to hit, rinse and repeat with their P+S 16 charges. Multiple charges of this nature, while denying your opponent the opportunity to retaliate, enables you to soften up enemy models or even disable some models before sending in your Feral to finish the job.

The Argus has other abilities as well. Doppler Bark has the potential to shut down enemy warbeasts or even drop the DEF on an enemy Warcaster or Warlock. The hardest part of this strategy is that the Argus's low RAT which makes it difficult to hit the enemy model. However, with up to two boostable attacks, it is possible that you could facilitate an assassination run with Kaya.


Using the Circle battlebox requires you to engage your brain and really think about your overall strategy. This doesn't make the Circle battlebox deficient, but it's important to keep that in mind while using it. You simply cannot afford to get pinned down by your opponent.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the essential components to a winning strategy is to separate your opponent's models from each other. The degree of separation differs depending on the list, but as a general rule assume it's 1.5 times the SPD of the enemy models involved. This distance will enable you to focus on damaging one or two exposed models and still putting enough distance between your models and any enemies.

How you execute this is dependent upon your opponent and how he's playing. Therefore you’ll have to adopt and evolve to match what he’s doing. As an example, I’ll walk you through an example deployment gambit which may help you trick your opponent into splitting up his forces.

Deploy like this. Kaya roughly in the middle of the board. The Feral to one side, about 9-10" away. The two Argus to the other side with the closest being about 8-9" away and the furthest no more than 14" away.


Warp the Feral for SPD and run. Rile each of the Argus and run them straight forward in turn. Kaya advances her full advance. Her control area should look like this:


Cast Soothing Song to remove the Fury from the Feral. Then cast Spirit Door and place Kaya behind the closest Argus.


What this does is it spreads your battlegroup way out. There's a bait aspect to this maneuver. That Feral is looking might tasty out there all by his lonesome. Few opponents will actually be able to really damage it this turn (assuming that you went first). Your opponent will have to decide if he wants to (a) spread his battlegroup out (b) go after one target. Either option is pretty good for you, though. If he spreads out, you'll be able to pick him off. If he goes after one target, he leaves the backdoor open.

So, depending on what your opponent does, you've got some options. Let's assume that he's going to spread himself out and send a single model to match the Warpwolf's position. He's assuming that since its out of Kaya's control area, the Feral is a minimal threat.

Start by running the two Argus to the left (toward the Feral). Kaya then casts Spirit Door to teleport herself to the closest Argus (the other should be out of her control area). Maybe she'll even cast Soothing Song to drop the Fury from running.


Suddenly that Feral can charge and is well within Kaya's control area.

On the other hand, if you opponent shifts everything to the Feral to counter (perhaps hoping to single out that lone warbeast), you still have options. Believe it or not, with careful positioning (and practice) that Feral should be right around 20" away from Kaya. That means that if it warps for SPD, it can walk into Kaya's control area.


Now, Kaya can Spirit Door it away from the enemy, walk forward, then have her Argus advance as a screen. Suddenly your opponent shifted to the wrong side of the board and you've got models close to his deployment zone.


This trick works really well against armies like Khador and Menoth where your opponent doesn't have the speed on his heavies to respond quickly to your actions. When you're moving a Feral 20" in a turn, even an 8" run from a Juggernaut or Crusader doesn't really stand a chance.

A second strategy which is essential to this list is proper use of terrain. Terrain is your life-saver and should be utilized like a shield. By placing Kaya behind or slightly behind terrain, she can Spirit Door her warbeasts to safety. Few battlebox models have pathfinder and none have hunter. The few that have Eyeless Sight are problematic but are the minority.

Kaya should always be hidden if possible. The Arguses can ignore terrain, if needed, and can confer that ability to the Feral. So charging through terrain isn’t a problem. Consider terrain as a way to extend your safety zone. Shooting can also be a problem for this list.

A third strategy is target priority. As mentioned above, shooting lists can absolutely destroy the Kaya battlebox. Your number one priority should be taking down enemy ranged models. Normally, ranged models will be held in reserve, making them ideal as isolated targets. But ranged models have a considerably longer threat ranges than melee models. Therefore, they can undermine that hit without retaliation mantra of this list.


As battleboxes are usually the starting place for new players, it is only fitting that we end with some suggestions for additional purchases in the future. Kaya really doesn’t work well supporting large numbers of infantry. However, Kaya’s theme force offers her infantry some innate advantages. Therefore, my primary suggestion to players looking to expand their force consider using Kaya’s theme force.

As if Kaya’s theme force wasn’t enough of an incentive, Grayle, the Farstrider’s, theme force is nearly identical to Kaya’s and even requires three Argus models. Therefore, you can get two for the price of one with these additions.

Important for Kaya & Grayle’s forces are Reeves of Orboros, Wolves of Orboros, War Wolves and Wolf Lord Morraig. Reeves of Orboros are probably best used in a minimum unit. Wolves of Orboros work well as a maximum unit with a Chieftain and Totem Bearer.

Kaya’s battlegroup really works better with a Gnarlhorn Satyr instead of the Arguses. The Gnarlhorn further extends the Feral’s already formidable threat range. The Gnarlhorn also offers a counterslam threat to models which approach too quickly. With only two models to tax the Spirit Door output of Kaya, you can maximize your damage output each turn. The Gnarlhorn’s Grand Slam also allows you to send key enemy models flying and take them out of action for a turn or two as they try to catch up with your redeployed force.

The Warpwolf Stalker is another excellent choice for Kaya. Lightning Strike, the Stalker’s animus, allows for additional hit-and-run mobility without requiring Spirit Door at all. The Stalker can also help Kaya’s list to deal with enemy infantry efficiently.

Finally, the new light warbeast, the Scarsfell Griffon seems custom made for Kaya. Long Leash allows for some truly insane Spirit Door tricks. It will take some playtesting to figure out how this works to her advantage.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...