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Friday, January 6, 2012

Circle Orboros Theme Forces part 3

This is the final installment of my Circle Orboros Theme Force review. Please note that I will be going to once a month updates at the beginning of the year. I need to take some time to work on a book I've been meaning to write and to work on some professional stuff. I'll continue to write about Hordes and will hopefully be able to produce better quality material with the lighter schedule.

Hour of Reckoning Baldur, the Stonesoul

Privateer Press
Baldur is back and he's pissed. This list bears a significant resemblance to primal Baldur's theme force. Like Baldur the Stonecleaver's list, this list focuses heavily on construct warbeasts and an initial burst of speed on turn 1. The main variable here is Baldur himself who has gone from a board control warlock to a sort of denial warlock. This list should enable you to get up-field quickly and then lock into position.

Optimal Tier 4 - 50 points. If you really want to take advantage of every tier benefit in the list, you'll need at least 50 points to do so.

The Theme's Theme First turn speed. This is a fast list out of the gates, but beyond turn 1, the list is fairly slow for Circle. This list is really all about getting your durable models up-field early to seize momentum.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 21 points with Baldur's warbeast discount. You may ask, "does this list really need 29 points of support pieces?" The answer is, "at least 29 points."

Overview - Excellent This really is a pretty fun theme force to run. This list manages is consolidate around getting pieces into position early and presenting a fairly durable list. Baldur has always been about attrition and the Stonesoul is a continuation of that theme. With the right mix of pieces, you can shut down a number of strategies which currently dominate competitive play. The restrictions of the theme force are easily compensated for by the advantages the list brings.

Tier 1 - This gives an extended deployment area for Shifting Stones and Gallows Groves units. This is fun for Shifting Stones but essential for Gallows Groves as they are relatively slow. It is entirely possible to score hits from both the Stone Keeper and arced Crevasse spells on turn 1 if your opponent moves first.

Tier 2 - This is the closest thing the theme force has to a ball and chain tier. The real question is, "do you really want to bring a Celestial Fulcrum?" If you do, it can be up to the 25" mark on the board by the end of turn 1. This gives you great positioning for second turn alpha strikes.

Tier 3 - Baldur was bringing Megalith anyway, now you can move faster on turn one. This is the most essential for Wold Guardians who really need the speed to get up field early. But keep in mind that your Wolds can Trample for free. This means that you can effectively Trample with a Woldwarden or Megalith and then force it to put Roots of the Earth on itself for the same distance and Fury that you would have gotten had you run.

Tier 4 - Before you balk and bringing multiple lights, remember that the discount means that Woldwatchers are now only 4 points. While Woldwyrds are a good choice too, I think that Watchers are better. Stone Form & Earth's Blessing synergize better with Roots of the Earth and Baldur's feat turn can see you with multiple ARM 24 light warbeasts which only cost 4 points each. That's some serious durability.

Storm Front Krueger, the Stormwrath

Storm Front is an excellent example of what can go horribly wrong with a theme force. Without a unified theme and with too few options, this list ends up bogging itself down in superfluous requirements which offer little or no overall benefit.

Optimal Tier 4 - 75 points. You really need to be maxing out your overall options with this list in order to make it work. What is more, most of your duplicate / triplicate models / units might not be useful in other Circle Orboros armies.

The Theme's Theme - First turn momentum. This list offers you some advantages to ensure that you can get up-field early in the game and focuses on models which can Advance Deploy or which are especially fast. The results is that you have a fairly good chance at moving first and getting to the center of the board early.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 - 26 points with Krueger’s warbeast discount.

Overview - Poor - Krueger, the Stormwrath, is a single handed infantry killing machine. His ability to simply wipe enemy infantry off the board typically allows players to put points into their Battlegroup or into support pieces. However, this list dramatically limits the pieces you can field. As such, you are stuck filling requirements to gain benefits which aren’t terribly helpful. There is a way to run this list that can be fairly decent. A player could focus on fielding multiple Feral Warpwolves, maximum Wolves of Orboros with their UA, and Druid Overseers with their Druids of Orboros. The result is an amazingly fast Battlegroup and some decent support infantry. Running a Warpwolf 20” is pretty disgusting. With the right combo, you could have a Feral with a 19” threat range on turn 1. Still, the uses for such speed are limited by the list’s ability to exploit it

Tier 1 - Gaining access to extra Druid Overseers is good. Extra Blackclads is not so exciting.

Tier 2 - Morraig is a decent solo with a decent benefit. Not too shabby but also not a huge incentive.

Tier 3 - Here’s the ball and chain tier for this list. This is a fairly big investment in points and few players will have multiple units anyway. The benefit is small as well.

Tier 4 - This is the most appealing of all of the benefits as well as being the most palatable of all of the requirements. It’s a shame that you had to make it through tier 3 to get here.

The Devourer's Host Krueger, the Stormlord

Bell of Lost Souls
Before Wake of Destruction, this was my favorite theme force. Really, when you make this thing work, it’s pretty sick. I’ve gotten first turn charges off against Khador warjacks with this list then feated to prevent retaliation. People might dis the reliance upon Ravagers in the list, but it’s really not so bad.

Optimal Tier 4 50 points. You really want to max out your main Ravager unit and have a large Battlegroup as well. That’s a decent points sink.

The Theme's Theme First turn alpha strike. Everything in this list makes it about hitting first. It does a pretty good job at accomplishing it as well.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 29 points with Krueger’s warbeast discount...though you’ll need a lot more points to really fill out your strategy.

Overview - Excellent This list does exactly what it is meant to do. Every model, every requirement, and every bonus works together to accomplish that goal. You really want to run a max Ravager unit with the Chieftain and Shaman to be as mean as possible on turn 1. Feating on turn 1 is an option - especially with Advance Deploy heavy opponents. Going second is probably a good idea with this list as you can count on having some charge targets on the first turn.

With this list, your main Tharn Ravager unit can charge up to 27” from your board edge with MAT 9 and P+S 15...oh and they have corpse tokens. Basically anything that has moved out of your opponent’s Advance Deploy zone is going to be fair game for these guys.

Tier 1 - Not such a huge advantage for the restrictions the list offers. I wouldn’t recommend stopping here.

Tier 2 - This is an optional stopping point. If you play Circle, you already love the Lord of the Feast. Now he’s giving you corpse tokens. Keep in mind that this list has been errata’d to include Ravager models in units.

Tier 3 - Here’s the ball and chain. It’s not too bad, but it’s a financially expensive ball and chain as opposed to a points intensive ball and chain.

Tier 4 - And here’s the rub. After all of that building you toss in a few Warpwolves and things get crazy. A SPD boost like the Storm Front list would have been nice, but moving early is nice too.

Heart Eaters Kromac, the Ravenous

Brian Valen Zuela
Kromac’s list is probably the most themed theme force for Circle Orboros. That said, it’s fairly effective but not overwhelmingly so. Kromac is one of our most versatile warlocks and runs best when optimized with a number of support pieces which this theme force denies him. Still, don’t underestimate this list, it can be potent in its own right. The addition of Kromac’s character warbeast Ghetorix brings this list to a new level of good.

Optimal Tier 4 - 50 points. Kromac is playing with expensive infantry, expensive warbeasts and with few Warbeast Points. You’re going to want to go overboard with models.

The Theme's Theme - Kill everything! Seriously, this theme forces theme is kill your opponent as quickly as possible and in as many ways as possible. It has Berserk models, heart-eating models, prey models, and high STR models. Everything in this list is all out offense with speed to make it possible.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 - 22 points with Kromac’s warbeast points. But you really need a lot more points to take advantage of what this list is capable.

Overview - Excellent With Ghetorix this list just became all sorts of awesome. Basically, you’re going to want two maxed units of Tharn Ravagers with Chieftains and Shamans and you’ll want at least 3 Tharn Ravager White Manes. That’s going to enable you to run two huge units of advanced deployed Ravagers and two advanced moving heavy warbeasts. With your support pieces, you might want a Gorax and some other Tharn units such as Bloodtrackers (for ranged support), Bloodweavers (for anti-upkeep help), or Wolf Riders (for mobility) to round out the list. Ghetorix and a Stalker make a great combo as they compliment each other well. Ghetorix makes for a great heavy hunter. Unyielding & Inviolable Resolve gets him to ARM 21 and Primal & Warp Strength gets him to P+S 21. Hyper Aggressive and Warpath make him insanely fast while Snacking and Regeneration mean that he can heal damage alarmingly quickly. The Stalker benefits the most from Wild Aggression. When coupled with Berserk, Warpath, and Lightning Strike, the Stalker can clear out light infantry with brutal efficiency and Sprint back to safety. You can easily hunt / tie down heavily armored targets with Ravagers while the White Manes and Stalker take care of light infantry.

Tier 1 - You’re not taking this list for this tier, but it offers some key benefits which will help you later.

Tier 2 - Bring multiple Ravagers and you can get multiple Chieftains. This is key to getting both massive units of Ravagers up-field early in the game.

Tier 3 - White Manes can help you get Advanced Move on your warbeasts. This can make the list extremely fast and multiple White Manes will eviscerate enemy infantry extremely well.

Tier 4 - The Lord of the Feast will help the White Manes while also contributing to your solo count (for tier 3). Your Battlegroup is hard to shoot which lets you be a lot more bold on your turn 1 move.

Sandstorm Mohsar, the Desertwalker

Deviant Art
Sandstorm is the type of list which has broad options with minimal restrictions and moderate advantages. Many players may run a Sandstorm list without intending to. As such, the early tiers end up being the most beneficial. Mohsar is a great warlock and can really dominate the board. By sacrificing a few models which might augment Mohsar best, players can gain some very fun benefits. This list suffers most from the addition of Gallows Groves to Circle’s arsenal. Since the list denies you access to Gallows Groves, players may be reluctant to run it.

Optimal Tier 4 - 35 points. This list fits comfortably into a 35 point army but excels at higher points values or without going to tier 4.

The Theme's Theme Unknown. The benefits of this list are varied and really apply no direct theme through either restrictions or benefits.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 - 28 points.

Overview - Good This list has a significant ball and chain at tier 3 but little benefit from either tier 3 or 4. If this were the only factor, it would score poorly. However, the list is much better at low tiers where the player can customize their force to maximize Mohsar’s strengths.

Tier 1 - With only a little bit of denial (no Minions, no Megalith, no Wolves of Orboros, no Gallows Groves), Mohsar’s battlegroup can essentially move a small distance forward at the beginning of the game..

Tier 2 - Woldstalkers are a unit which you typically take anyway with Mohsar based on his access to Mirage. They can redeploy at this level, giving you the ability to deploy deceptively.

Tier 3 - This is the ball and chain tier. You invest 14 points to gain a 2 point benefit. It’s costly and not terrifically helpful.

Tier 4 - Mohsar is probably taking these warbeasts anyway. But the range for the Pillars of Salt is not significant enough to really make it worthwhile.

Harvest of Blood Morvahna, the Autumnblade

Brian Valenzuela
Morvahna’s theme force is perhaps one of the most unique to Circle Orboros. Whereas other theme forces use restrictions to modify what would otherwise be standardized Circle tactics, Morvahna’s theme force pushes players to develop an entirely new way of approaching the faction. Her theme force has been recently given a significant boost with the addition of two new light warbeasts. But the fact remains that the Harvest of Blood list is perhaps the most challenging theme force to utilize.

Optimal Tier 4 35 points. Morvahna can run this list comfortably at 35 points without too much in the way of limitation. However, her 50 point theme force is significantly better.

The Theme's Theme Infantry swarm. Morvahna is Circle’s only real infantry warlock. Her theme force capitalizes on this and forces you to bring even more infantry than you would otherwise bring. To further push you toward infantry, this list eliminates heavy warbeasts as an option as well as several of the hardest hitting infantry options. The result is a challenging yet rewarding theme for the list.

Minimal Points to Tier 4 - 21 points.

Overview - Good The lack of heavy warbeasts really is this list’s Achilles heel. Without heavies, dealing with high ARM targets becomes difficult. However, this list has multiple options for handling heavy warjacks / warbeasts / infantry. The theme of this list is consistent and the restrictions are not overwhelming. A good player can utilize this list to consistently win games, but it is not balanced enough for tournament play.

Tier 1 - Some Tharn units become basically unlimited. Not amazing but helpful later on.

Tier 2 - You can get Nuala, the Huntress, for free. She is a fairly helpful solo and Quick Work synergizes well with Morvahna’s feat.

Tier 3 - With a couple Bloodweavers Morvahna can have her upkeep spells out early. This is much less helpful with Hordes than it is with Warmachine. Without access to Gallows Groves, Morvahna doesn’t have access to first turn spell slinging either. However, her full collection of upkeep spells costs 9 fury, so it is helpful.

Tier 4 - Morvahna’s deployment zone is extended. This is key for models like Bloodtrackers and Wolf Riders which utilize short range weapons but hit hard. The Wolf Rider requirement is irrelevant since they can compensate for not having heavy warbeasts.

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