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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Circle Orboros Theme Forces - Part 2


Assessing the value of theme forces

Quantifying the value of a single model is difficult in the context of hundreds of other models, multiple factions, and a three dimensional gaming board. Therefore, quantifying the value of an entire theme force is even more difficult. However, I will attempt to provide such an assessment here.

This assessment will be built upon several variables: firstly, it will take into account the overall "theme" of the theme force. Each theme force has its own play style. How much that theme force facilitates its overall theme will be considered.

Secondly, the assessment will examine "ball and chain" units - that is those units which are obligated for the theme force but which don't directly fit into the overall theme or which require multiple instances to move to the next tier. Sometimes, the cost of taking such a unit outweighs the benefit the theme force provides. However, sometimes it does not.

The third factor which will contribute to a theme force's worth will be its flexibility. Flexibility is largely measured by examining the variety of models available to the player after the theme force obligations are met. For example, if you are playing a 50 point game but a theme force requires 45 points to reach tier 4, that list would be rather inflexible. Likewise, if the theme force allows you only two unit options but only requires 25 points to get to tier 4, that would also be an inflexible list because even though you have points left over, you don't have options.

Rock of Orboros Baldur, the Stonecleaver

Baldur's theme force is exactly what you'd imagine it to be: constructs everywhere. What you might not expect is the innate speed this list provides. Almost all of the requirements in this list Advance Deploys (except Baldur and Woldstalker units). With Advance Move on the Woldstalkers and a first turn Forest Walk, you will have your whole army controlling the middle of the board by turn one. If you want to feat first turn, you're looking at an enemy army that is bogged down and is relatively ineffective at shooting you.

The Theme's Theme: Attrition With the Druids, Baldur, and the focus on construct warbeasts, this list has a lot of board control and denial aspects. But the real value here is its access to high ARM models and loads of healing. With terrain generation, denial, and healing high ARM models, this list is attrition, Circle Orboros style.

Minimum Points to Tier 4 19 points (including Baldur's warbeast discount).

Overview - Excellent Overall, fairly flexible with limited ball and chain models (i.e. low points), a decent variety of choices, and low minimum points. This list does a great job at executing exactly what its models do best. It augments innate model-to-model synergy with a minimal amount of bogging down due to obligations.

Optimal Tier 4 - 35 points. At this level you're getting all of your requirements and beginning to customize your list. 50 points is preferred for decking out the Druids of Orboros unit and all of your warbeast options, but this list is entirely playable at 35 points.

Tier 1 - This tier offers some substantial benefits with very little in the way of restrictions. Sentry Stone & Manniken units become slightly more potent.

Tier 2- This is the intermediate stopping point for this list if you don't want to take duplicate units. You gain a great advantage to your battlegroup here.

Tier 3 - This is very much an stepping stone tier. I really don't see anyone intentionally building a Tier 3 list.

Tier 4 - With a model you were going to take anyway, you're getting a massive benefit. Definitely worth it.

Lost Hemisphere
Cassius, the Oathkeeper

Cassius's theme force is tricky. It's one of those lists that you can take because it offers some fun benefits but not because it's particularly competitive. Alternatively, it's one of three lists which are non-restrictive enough at low tiers to justify taking them there just for the benefits. At Tier 4, this list will hit fast and hard right out of the gates with the very real potential for a turn 2 assassination run if done properly.

Optimal Tier 4 - 50 points. You really need to be at 50 points to make this theme force work at Tier 4. There are simply too many points tied up in expensive models to fuel Cassius's need for souls.

The Theme's Theme: Alpha Strike This theme force is rather ambiguous but if it has a theme, that theme is striking first. The list has a high percentage of advanced deploy models. Combine that with a deployment zone extension and first turn Stealth all around and you've got a decent potential for seizing initiative early in the game.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 19 points (including Cassius's warbeast discount)

Overview - Good Cassius is a selfish warlock. He really requires a list which caters to his own needs. Unfortunately, this list lacks the models needed to sustain his play style. Therefore, the alpha strike is key. If you can't end the game by turn 3, you're probably going to lose with this list because of a general lack of offensive potential. That said, this force gives a player access to a fairly decent range of models and has a low enough points investment to make it worthwhile to run. Still, there are better ways to run a Cassius list.

Tier 1 - With relatively minimal restrictions, Cassius is getting access to additional War Wolves. While this may not seem like a huge boon (and it's not) it does allow the player to field a swarm of these models. These cheap solos can be instrumental in boosting the output of models like Reeves of Orboros and Reeve Hunters and offer Cassius cheap souls.

Tier 2 - With multiple Skinwalker units, Cassius' force can begin a little closer to the enemy. Since Wurmwood has Advance Deploy, you can get upfield pretty quickly.

Tier 3 - By taking a solo that you should be taking anyway, you get some souls on Wurmwood right away. That's a massive benefit for early game attacks.

Tier 4 - If you take a Warpwolf Stalker, your list gets Stealth on the first turn of the game. That allows you to safely run your force forward and not worry about enemy shooting (most of the time).

Claw and Fang Grayle, the Farstrider

Grayle's theme force is everything you'd expect from the Wolves of Orboros themed warlock. The list combined the deep bench of Wolves of Orboros themed models available to Circle Orboros with several theme force bonuses. This may very well be one of the most "infantry-machine" oriented list of all of the Circle Orboros theme forces.

Optimal Tier 4 - 50 points There are some substantial ball and chain models in this list which force players to go to higher points to both fill out the tiers and maintain competitiveness.

The Theme's Theme: Swarm Without another clear theme, this list really ends up being about getting a ton of models on the table. Models, however, won't win games. So Grayle offers his list some additional first turn mobility, a little denial, and a very real assassination threat. Consider that the swarm is the mode of delivery for Grayle himself.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 19 points (with Grayle's warbeast discount)

Overview - Mediocre While this list has a nice hook at 50 points (which is described in part 1), it really lacks the cohesive, synergistic focus of other theme forces. Like Kaya, Grayle doesn't help his infantry much. Therefore, it tends to be necessary to bring unit attachments, solos, and a good mix of units to make your infantry tick. That said, Grayle and the theme force benefits sort of make this a "jack of all trades" list which might be a benefit in and of itself. Consider, though, that you can pretty easily get to 40+ infantry models in this list at 50 points. That's a lot of room for tarpits to bog down key models and enable Grayle to assassinate the enemy warcaster / warlock.

Tier 1 - For taking only models in the theme force, your UA's are unlimited. This isn't a huge deal for Reeves of Orboros, but throwing out multiple Power Swells in a single game can be game winning.

Tier 2 - With multiple units, you gain free War Wolves. These solos are a great way to throw out supplemental P+S 13 attacks. Even if you're throwing them at enemy models to slow them down, it's all cool since they're free.

Tier 3 - With Morraig, you can advance deploy something. In my part 1 example, I think the best choice here is Reeves of Orboros since you can get a first turn strike against your enemy.

Tier 4 - With a number of Arguses, you gain an extended deployment zone. While the Arguses are easily the worst ball and chain of this list, you can justify it by knowing that your first turn strike has even greater range.

The Wild Hunt Kaya, the Wildborne

Kaya doesn't help her infantry a whole lot. Mostly, they're on their own when they accompany her. Thankfully, Kaya's theme force offers her infantry a little incentive to come fight with her. Therefore, I think Kaya's tier 4 list is pretty good for her, especially if you're playing larger games. The truth is, though, that Kaya isn't at her best at games above 25 points. She really shines in small games with her battlegroup and some support models. That said, this can be a fun theme force to run. I'd like to not that her theme force and Grayle's theme force overlap considerably. For a player on a budget, this might be a good place to start for collecting theme forces.

Optimal Tier 4 - 50 points. Kaya requires a host of support models to really make this list work. At 50 points, you're finally filling out everything she needs and supporting them properly. This list isn't exceptionally fast for Circle lists, but Kaya's mobility makes up for that.

The Theme's Theme: Alpha Strike / Hit and Run This list includes many fast models and offers a deployment zone extension. It is entirely possible to have most of your army at the middle of the board by the bottom of turn 1. This list includes some of the longest threat range models of the faction. Therefore, your objective should be to strike early and use your more mobile models to hit and run.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 18 points (with Kaya's warbeast discount)

Overview - Mediocre While this list has a fairly cohesive theme, it really isn't the best way to run it. Kaya struggles in high points games and really shines in Tooth and Claw matches. The advantages you gain, lower points Reeves, advance move and extra War Wolves are too fragmented to really allow for any meaningful shenanigans. If you really want to run Kaya at high points games (above 25 points) this is a great way to do it. But you don't bring this list because of the Theme force, you bring this list because it's the best way to run Kaya with infantry.

Tier 1 - Reeves of Orboros are costed properly (finally) and War Wolves become more abundant. This isn't the reason why you take her theme force, but it's a pretty good help. Minimum Reeve units are best in this list.

Tier 2 - For taking Morraig, a great solo, your Wolves of Orboros are a little faster. This is pretty handy in getting them upfield where they can kill things. I'd suggest maxing out the unit and taking the Chieftain & Totem Hunter with them.

Tier 3 - Reeves of Orboros plant some forests for themselves. Kaya loves to dance around forests. So increasing the woodland area on the board is always a benefit.

Tier 4 - Your deployment zone is extended because you brought heavy warbeasts. You're going to bring the warbeasts anyway, so Tier 3 was never really an option. If you've made it this far, you've got a pretty tightly themed force. But, really, the benefits here aren't anything to get too excited about.

Doomed Intentions
Call of the Wild Kaya, the Moonhunter

Sometimes theme forces write themselves. For some reasons, there are some theme forces which offer substantial benefits for taking models you were already going to bring to the table. The Call of the Wild list is one of those lists. You were already going to bring a pack of heavy warbeasts with Kaya. You were already going to bring Druids of Orboros, because they're awesome. You only really are forced to bring Skinwalkers, and let's face it, this list makes them a pretty awesome deal. There's really no reason not to go straight to tier 4 with this list.

Optimal Tier 4 - 35 points. You can literally fill this list out at 25 points for tier 4, but you'll lack substantial support pieces. 35 points is really where you'll have all of the tools needed to win quickly.

The Theme's Theme: Alpha Strike / Hit & Run Several aspects of this list contribute to facilitate both the Alpha Strike and a Hit & Run game. The Alpha Strike aspects come largely from the theme force itself. Skinwalkers get to move early, your battlegroup gets Advance Deploy and the Druids can easily have Advance Deploy. That's a very fast list on the first turn. The Hit and Run game comes from Kaya herself on her feat turn. Combine the ability of this list to hit first and disappear behind clouds and Skinwalkers is very hard to counter. This is a solid list that allows you to effectively Alpha Strike twice in the same game.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 21 points (with Kaya's warbeast discount)

Overview -Excellent As mentioned above, just about every aspect of this list synergizes to facilitate its themes. The ball and chain unit, the Skinwalkers, are a substantial investment. However, the tier 4 aspect of this list effectively gives you a discount on your list. So at 35 points, your Skinwalker units may yield you 3-4 free points. This list doesn't have to be terribly flexible because Kaya doesn't run loads of infantry well. Instead, she has access to all of the warbeasts she could ever want and the few support pieces she needs to do that well. There really isn't anything else that Kaya needs to do her thing well.

Tier 1 - This makes Tooth & Claw games with Kaya brutal. The last thing your opponent wants is to start the game closer to your warbeasts. In 15 point games, this tier is silly good.

Tier 2 - This is the stepping stone tier where you take your "deadweight unit". Although, to be fair, this isn't much of a deadweight tier.

Tier 3 - Again, stepping stone. If you've gotten this far, you had might as well go to tier 4. But getting a bonus to your starting roll isn't a bad benefit for taking a unit you were probably going to take anyway.

Tier 4 - This is where the rubber hits the road. By the time you've gotten this far, you're getting benefits for a list you would probably have run anyway - but now it's even better.

Wake of Destruction Krueger, the Stormlord

Sometimes you look at a theme force and the internal synergy and possibilities blow you away. This list is one of those lists. The No Quarter theme force for Krueger is everything you need to pull of an insane assassination run each an every game.

Optimal Tier 4 - 50 points This list really ends up with some amazing combinations at 50 points. It's possible to run a 35 point version, but 50 points provides you with all of the tools you need to fish an opponent's warcaster or warlock out of his ranks and kill him dead.

The Theme's Theme: Assassination Everything in this list is built around movement manipulation, board control and taking down individual models. This list has a singular focus to the that a canny opponent can feed you his army piecemeal, wearing you down and taking out your key pieces. Attrition is the biggest problem this list faces.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 29 points (with Krueger's warbeast discount)

Overview - Excellent This list is an example of how a high minimum points and limited flexibility of models can be overcome by huge amounts of internal synergy. While there are only a few infantry units and solos (and four warbeasts) available to this list, they all work together excellently to accomplish the theme of this force. If you ever want to go for an Executioner badge in Hardcore, this is the list to do it with.

Tier 1 - You have the option of gaining Advance Deploy on your warbeasts. But more importantly, you can take Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios! That's an amazing boon for any Circle warlock...but is almost too good to be true with Krueger. This theme force puts him on par with some of the best warcasters in the game.

Tier 2 - This is the ball and chain level. While the unit in question is expensive, the benefits of tier 4 make it worthwhile.

Tier 3 - With minimal investment, you gain a moderate advantage. This really isn't one of those things that make this list amazing. Nevertheless, there are instances when it might be helpful.

Tier 4 - Like many Circle theme forces, you can gain an extension to your deployment zone. This is helpful considering that a huge portion of this list can advance deploy.

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