An Economic Guide to Hordes: Circle Orboros
by Micah Walker · Published · Updated
Today’s article will discuss the strange and wild powers of Circle Orboros. Once again, I will be analyzing the financial cost of playing this faction and its various themes. This article continues the discussion of overall faction cost and warlock cost covered in my first two articles.
I hope to continue the trend of listening to community feedback. I reached out to Will Pagani himself for help with this post, as I needed a more experience Circle player to highlight what’s good in the faction. The Circle thread on the WMH Reddit Discord also contributed list ideas. I want to extend a hearty thank you to everyone for their participation and feedback. Writing for such a positive and responsive community is indeed a pleasure.
Let’s get started, shall we?
The Circle roster consists of 17 different warlocks. The most expensive Circle warlock costs $35, and the cheapest Circle warlocks cost $10. Because the extremes are reasonably close together, I will be using the average of all the Circle warlocks’ costs, which is $20.41, for my theme analysis.
Active Duty Roster
Tanith1, Kromac2, Baldur1, and Mohsar1 make up the Season 7 Active Duty Roster for Circle Orboros. The ADR comes into consideration when playing in the Champions or Masters competitive formats. The cost of this season’s ADR for Circle totals to $98. Remember that the total cost accounts for the $40 starter box that Tanith is exclusive to. I focus on the ADR in each faction because it provides a digestible cross section. The farther I delve into unknown factions, the more I will need to anchor myself on a few casters. I will always highlight other casters as well, especially those that dominate the meta.
Circle Orboros currently fields four different character warbeasts as a faction. Three of the casters bonded to these beasts are on the Season 7 ADR, and the Call of the Wild theme includes the fourth warbeast. The Devourer’s Host theme allows Kromac’s beast, Ghetorix. Bones of Orboros similarly fields Baldur’s Megalith. Loki remains the only character model unavailable for play outside his bonded warlock, Tanith. Considering all of this, I will include the relevant data for all Circle character warbeasts.
Circle Orboros has five themes, which is relatively high. The faction gained an additional theme by separating out their battlegroup theme into two different theme lists. The option between living warbeasts and constructs also plays out in the Tharn theme. I think this design decision adds a lot of flavor to how this faction can be built, and I will investigate any impact it will have on the cost of playing Circle.
The first column here represents the average cost of a warlock model (I use “caster” as my generic term). Bradigus cannot play in the second two themes, so his price is removed from the pool. The “CPP” columns represent the cost per point of battlegroup, core, and filler, respectively. “Core” encompases the models and units that contribute toward free cards. This is lower for battlegroup themes because the warbeast points also count as Core. The “Filler” points show the number of points needed to reach 75 after Core. The “Free Cards” column shows the number of free cards (usually 3, 4 for Call of the Wild) multiplied by the average overall cost of those cards. “Overall cost” and MSRP mean the same thing in this article.
I will continue my typical analysis of themes. That means I will revisit Field Allowance as needed, point out the most and least expensive models per point, and highlight some of the more commonly used models for each theme. Since I am not a Circle expert, I requested assistance from Will Pagani to help me with the last point of analysis. Just to save time, each theme analysis will be done assuming the lists are built to achieve maximum free cards. I will point out any economically relevant theme benefits, but if you want to see a full list of theme benefits for Circle, I suggest that you consult the official theme document.
Bones of Orboros
Wold constructs and their blackclad caretakers compose the Bones of Orboros theme. Many Circle players consider Bones to have the most competitive potential of all the Circle themes. A recent graphic for the upcoming ATC shows that 13 of 32 Circle lists from that event are in the Bones of Orboros theme. Call of the Wild comes in a close second at 10 of 32. Circle Orboros fields strong battlegroups, leading to the success that the two themes have found. Bones builds around the idea of a solid central battlegroup very well, and the theme’s core consists of the wold warbeasts and the battle engine. Continuing the construct motif, the theme only permits construct units as well. Blackclad solos round out the theme and represent the free card selections.
The two most expensive models in this theme to field are the Gallows Grove solo and the Stone Keeper attachment. Similar to the choir and vassals in Protectorate, these models play a support role in the army and hold the potential to be in any list. The highest CPP in this theme registers at $6.25, which I do not consider criminal by any means. The Woldwyrd lives at the opposite end of the economic curve at $1.11 per point. That places second for overall cost to point economy in the entire game as it currently stands! It seems most wolds mimic this cost efficiency, as the core CPP for this theme is incredibly low at $2.17. Similarly, the overall list cost for this theme averages just under $300. I predict that this will be the lowest theme cost in the entire game.
Bradigus Thorle runs Bones of Orboros exceedingly well. In fact, Bradigus may only take constructs in his battlegroup, making the theme a natural fit for him. The limited battlegroup will come up a few more times with this warlock. Pagani chose Bones as the prefered theme for Baldur1 and Mohsar1 as well. Baldur provides some sweet buffs to wolds that pair well with the theme benefits. Megalith, Baldur’s personalized Woldwarden, is available for all casters in this theme, but his bond with Baldur and his interactions with the other Woldwardens make him an incredibly tasty option. My wife plays Circle, and she loves playing Woldwyrds with Mohsar. The only thing more terrifying than Woldwyrds would have to be Woldwyrds with access to armor debuffs. I should also mention that Baldur2 fields a very powerful version of Bones of Orboros, especially with the Woldwrath gargantuan.
Call of the Wild
Representing the counterpoint to Bones, Call of the Wild fields only living warbeasts. Because of that, Bradigus cannot play in this theme, or in Devourer’s Host, for that matter. Living warbeasts comprise the core of Call of the Wild, and the theme only lists one allowed unit, the Shifting Stones. This support piece also qualifies for a free card slot, which means you may acquire all your support models through free cards. Call of the Wild will be the first theme that we target 100 points of core and 4 free cards. If you love warpwolves and all their feral forest friends, this theme was made for you.
Brennos the Elderhorn and the other Satyrs make up the most expensive group of models in this theme. Technically, the solos and the stones have higher CPP, but you will more likely take them as free cards. Considering their place on the curve, Satyrs have a rather reasonable CPP at $2.92 (Brennos is $3.24). Warpwolf Stalkers place as the cheapest model in this theme, the silver lining for their high point cost. All the warpwolves have relatively low CPP for heavies, averaging $1.94 per point. Playing a mostly warpwolf list used to be a poor tactical decision, but Call of the Wild makes it a valid option again. Another warbeast making a comeback is the Scarsfell Griffon. This light warbeast typically appears on the table in flocks, although a single Scarsfell strikes effectively as well. These 8 point birds only cost $19 per model, which makes them economically feasible to spam.
Kromac2 in Call of the Wild puts the warpwolves back on the table in a big way. Between his feat and melee oriented spell kit, Kromac2 fans the primal flames of the living warbeasts into a blazing rage. I have been on the receiving end of Kromac’s insanely hard hitting wolfpack, and it looked like a very good time for the other guy. Call of the Wild provides a roost for Una2 and her griffons as well. After ups and downs in early MK3, this theme gave Una the edge she needed to fly down the table again. It would be a shame to not mention the Kaya trio here. All three iterations of Kaya love living warbeasts and excel in this theme.
I purposely skipped this topic earlier, but I want to return and point out the cost of free cards. If you max out free cards in this theme, the cost of the free cards will total to around $51. Thankfully, the core of the theme rests below the average CPP for battlegroup themes by an estimated $.50 per point. This basically absorbs the cost of the free cards, oddly enough. Typically speaking, more free cards means more dollar cost to play the list. Call of the Wild maintains a reasonable price per free card already, at $12.75 per card, but the theme manages to stay more economical than I would imagined it would be. $325.93 per list should be under average for a theme, especially for a battlegroup theme.
Tharn and living warbeasts compose the ranks of the Devourer’s Host. Our first infantry theme for this article includes all five Tharn units as well as the Death Wolves character unit. Devourer’s host includes Ghetorix as well. If you desire a list that literally eats infantry, look no further, and be sure to be well stocked on corpse tokens. Speaking of corpse tokens, the cheapest unit per point in the theme hardly makes use of them. Tharn Blood Pack have few positives going for them beside their $3.06 per point price tag. I don’t think it is controversial at all to say they are the weakest unit in the theme as it is, but like the Bastions from Protectorate, the Tharn are said to be going into CID this year. The highest CPP of units in this theme belongs to the Tharn Wolf Riders at $4.72 per point. This cavalry unit has a near average overall cost at $85, though. They also do not require the tuneup that the Blood Pack needs. The other three Tharn units come in between $3.25 and $3.44 per point. The average free card costs about $15, which so far appears to be a fairly typical price. Most small or medium based blisters run between $10 and $20.
When I asked Will Pagani what his favorite Devourer’s Host warlock was, his response was Una2. I was a bit surprised by that, but there are a lot a great Hand of Fate targets in this theme. Pagani mentioned a popular build, and I tried to find just one specific build online but could not. That is a good thing, believe it or not, because it means one warlock in one theme can be built several ways successfully. If anyone thinks they know what the best Una2 build in Devourer’s Host is, send it to me. Honestly, I prefer other warlocks to her for this theme, but I would love to know what I am missing here.
I would choose Baldur1 as a good entry caster for this theme. I have played against several versions of Baldur1 Devourer’s Host at tournaments, and my wife currently uses this build. Kromac2 can also be used in Tharn theme. Besides providing solid melee based buffs, Kromac can benefit from the free corpse tokens provided by the theme. He uses them to great effect as he prefers to get wild and do things himself.
Our second infantry list is the Wild Hunt. The Wolf Sworn fill the ranks of this theme and provide the core points. This theme has some interesting benefits, such as Ambush for one unit of Wolves of Orboros. Wild Hunt allows both living and construct warbeasts and grants them Tracker. The Wolf Sworn have fewer infantry units than the Tharn do, but the theme allows for a lot of interesting battlegroup configurations. No matter how you build it, the Wild Hunt should include Wolf Lord Morraig, the dragoon solo. Morraig grants Veteran Leader to his fellow Wolf Sworn and gets a lot of work done on the combat side of things. He costs only $30, dead average for an 8 point dragoon.
The unit choices for Wild Hunt provide some interesting contrasts. For instance, the Warpborn Skinwalkers have the lowest CPP for units at $3.00 per point. However, their command attachment, the Warpborn Alpha, has the highest price for a CA at $22 or $5.50 per point. Wolves of Orboros cost $5.00 per point, and their CA has a similar cost. Just to round it out, the Reeves come in at $3.44 per point and own the cheapest command attachment. One trend I am beginning to see between factions is that command attachments often have a higher CPP than their units.
Tanith commonly runs Wild Hunt for her theme as she fields Reeves very well. The Affliction spell plus the rate of fire 2 crossbows can prove especially deadly. Pagani picked Morvahna1 as his favorite caster for this theme. Morvahna requires some skill and practice to play well, but the unit combinations of Wild Hunt make very good use of her infantry oriented spell kit. I have also seen Wurmwood run Wild Hunt from time to time, mostly to take advantage of the ambushing Wolves and the souls they provide. I should also mention that Grayle1 is the Wolf Sworn warlock, and if you enjoy making lore inspired lists, he is your guy.
Secret Masters baffles me, but I will do my best to go through it. To start, this theme requires the inclusion of a Minions unit to take advantage of the Sacrificial Pawn theme benefit. I asked the Discord which Minions unit they would take, and the response was the Gatorman Bokor and Bog Trog Swamp Shamblers, or Shamblers for short. This 10 point unit costs $75 overall, but it makes very good use of the theme benefit. Taking the Shamblers is not a requirement by any means, but Minion units should be considered when playing this theme.
In regards to actual Circle units for this theme, Secret Masters lists only two along with the ever present Shifting Stones. The Druids of Orboros and the Druid Mist Riders contribute to the Blackclad core of the theme. These two units cost around $3 per point, but the battle engine pushes up the average core cost at $4.47 per point. However, the Celestial Fulcrum’s per point economy ranks better than most other battle engines. In respect to Secret Masters, the Celestial Fulcrum provides incredible value with its Veteran Leader: Blackclad ability. All things considered, the inclusion of a Minions unit determines a considerable portion of the cost of this list. The Minions unit may also make it impossible to get three free cards from theme benefits. Even though the Circle options for this list appear slim, the Minions choice opens Secret Masters up to a variety of builds.
Pagani also chose Morvahna1 for Secret Masters. Minions models cannot take advantage of Morvahna’s spell list or feat, but she supports Blackclads very well. The Celestial Fulcrum generates fury under her Harvest upkeep effectively, but Blackclads do not do as much with her feat. If Druids of Orboros get into melee on her feat turn, they will get a lot of work done between the eruptions and Battle Wizard. Once again, a list like this requires a fair amount of practice and skill. Baldur1 with a Woldwrath and Celestial Fulcrum runs a fun Secret Masters list as well. Druids of Orboros become very accurate with the battle engine’s passive aura and the gargantuan’s animus, and Baldur’s spell kit can make them nearly impossible to kill at range.
Winners and Losers
Warbeasts (average $2.43 per point)
The Woldwyrd gained a lot of attention in early MK3 for its ability to punish buffs and upkeeps. This light warbeast still stands as one of the most feared and respected models in the game. Fortunately for Circle players, the “shrimp” ranks as the second cheapest model per point in the entire game. I predict that this model will stay popular and powerful for quite some time.
The Wold Wight is the new kid on the block for Circle, and Pagani told me to keep an eye out for this model in 2018. The Wold Wight runs middle of the pack for Circle at $2.40 per point. This model shores up the defense of many Bones lists as a cheap shield guard, but its unusual offensive abilities make it worth looking out for. I wonder how much of an impact this little wold will have on the Circle meta.
The Woldwrath owns the highest price tag and CPP of all the Circle warbeasts. I dislike calling it a loser, though, because the Woldwrath possesses extensive in game value. Brennos places second for CPP at $3.24 per point, but the majority of Circle warbeasts cost less than $3 per point. Circle may have the most economical battlegroups in the game, though Legion may challenge that.
I should add a living warbeast to this list. Thankfully, a community member reminded me to mention Scarsfell Griffons. Una2 is back, and the Scarsfell spam is real. These lights cost $2.38 per point, and Una2 usually brings 6 to 8 of them. $2.38 is just under the average cost of a living warbeast.
Solos (average $3.71 per point)
Pagani repeatedly mentioned the Blackclad Wayfarer as a notable free card selection. This druid appears in nearly every theme and provides extensive utility with its Hunter’s Mark and Stone Spray spells. The Wayfarer also costs just $13 and looks sweet as hell. I also recommend picking up this model.
The Druid Wilder has the third lowest model cost in the game at $8. She also places as the cheapest solo per point in Circle. Although Bones of Orboros allows her to be taken, Call of the Wild and Secret Masters make the best use of Circle’s warlock attachment.
War Wolf solos rank as the most expensive per point in Circle. At $6.50 per point, the price could be a lot worse. This continues the theme of the worst models for Circle still place higher economically than their counterparts.
Units (average $3.74 per point)
Wolf Sworn units price higher per point than any other infantry in Circle. Personally, I expected Tharn to be more expensive than they are, yet they have the best economy. Tharn Wolf Riders show the highest overall price tag, but their in game cost neutralizes that.
When I wrote about Protectorate, I pointed out how their support models had rather high costs. Fortunately, Circle’s Shifting Stones run only $12 for the unit. Their command attachment is far less economical, but the unit does not actually need him in most lists.
Circle’s warlock roster includes four large based models. Together with Kromac1, these models cost between $30 and $35 dollars. Considering that this represents the expensive end of the roster, Circle once again ranks well economically. Kaya2 with her buddy Laris sells for $25, and the rest of the roster sits under the $20 line. I would list the costs of some of the popular warlocks, but I do not see the point. Circle warlocks run pretty cheap individually, though the entire roster (minus Tanith) adds up to $302.
Economic Advice for New Circle Orboros Players
I actually researched this ahead of time instead of editing it in on the fly. Circle Orboros has two excellent packages: the MK3 battlebox and the MK3 All in One. I highly recommend purchasing both for several reasons. First, the warlocks provided by these boxes are Tanith1 and Kromac2. Not only are these warlocks on the Active Duty Roster for the current season, but they are also competitively strong. The combination of the two boxes yields a great Call of the Wild list as well. Blackclad Wayfarers and a Druid Wilder complete the list, and one of the Shifting Stone units fills a free card slot. Kromac2 leads this list better than Tanith, but the addition of Loki makes it a compelling list for her as well. Together, the two boxes cost $180 and provide 109 points of models in addition to the two warlocks. That is $1.65 per point!
Beside these two packages, the Bones of Orboros theme represents a good starting point for a fledgling Circle player. Not only are wolds cost effective, they are also easy to use and competitively strong. The theme can be run by nearly every Circle warlock, and a lot of warlocks that are new player friendly like Baldur1 prefer this theme. I am not sure I can recommend infantry as a good starting point for a Circle player. A lot of the Circle faction identity revolves around their battlegroups, and their two battlegroup themes provide the economical and mechanical accessibility that I want for new plays. I personally feel that a new Circle player could have a lot of fun and success with just these two themes. If I had to pick an infantry theme, I would recommend Devourer’s Host. Not only are Tharn economically feasible, they also show strong potential into the current overall meta of the game.
Upkeep and Updates
I want to thank Will Pagani for his help with this article. Jerick and Quasipotent Mapadabe from the Discord server provided the sample lists as well. Jonathan Kallenbach was my local Circle expert and helped me understand how Secret Masters works. He will be back again next article to talk about Retribution, his current love. A special thank you to Conflict Chamber for the ATC graphics and the example list graphics.
Thank you to Chad Lathrop for reminding me to mention Scarsfell Griffons. I was planning to, but I whiffed on that opportunity. Thank you Preatordave for your consistently good feedback, this time reminding me that Morvahna’s feat is melee only. Thank you Elshinare for pointing out my graphic headers were off. Whoops. Thank you Und_ed for asking for more of an explanation of terms. I hope the new paragraph helps out with that. The community requested more discussion around the ATC lists, and I assure you I will do that in upcoming articles. I had already collected a lot of material from the community, and I wanted to be sure it got used. I just ran out of space.
If there was anything I missed or that you think I should have included, please let me know. As always, I keep an eye on social media for a few days after posting, and your feedback is what helps me succeed at providing good content.
Let’s keep those dice rolling!
Wargamer, miniature painter, and now blogger for Midwest Wargaming. I love crunching numbers, and I can nearly guarantee that my articles will be the most boring, but you will learn something, damn it!
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