Hunter’s Mark Article III: What Does MK3 Mean For Circle?

Unless you’ve been living in a hole somewhere, you’ve probably heard the recent announcement from Privateer Press that Warmachine & Hordes is officially moving into the next edition: MKIII. For those that hadn’t heard about this, I’ll give you a moment to recover from the mind blowing explosion that was just delivered. There’s a lot of wild speculation as to what is coming with the new edition, since all the information we have is from the Teaser Video and the most recent episode of Primecast. With almost everything still unknown, I wanted to give my own thoughts and speculation on where Circle is going and a little of where I’d like to see it go.

Casters:

pbaldurpBaldur: This guy managed to get a sweet looking resculpt scheduled for July. It’s difficult to say what changes I would like or expect to see to pBaldur with so little out there. The Stonecleaver already has two unique spells, Rapid Growth and Earth Spikes, so we may or may not see any changes there. We do know that PP wants to shift gears towards larger battlegroups. It’d be great to see pBaldur be able to run a wold heavy list that actually has some punch behind it. If we see a buff to most of the Wolds, pBaldur may not need to change much (or a model that potentially interacts with wolds, such as a Blackclad Stoneshaper); if we continue to see wolds as they exist now, pBaldur would need some changes to make them more viable in my opinion. As he stands currently, pBaldur is good but most of what he wants to take or do just isn’t good enough to justify using over some of our top tier casters (Bradigus, eMorv, eKrueger).

eBaldur: The original Circle brick list caster. I really liked what eBaldur brought prior to the era of Bradigus, but as he exists now there are very few reasons you can justify bringing him over Bradigus. Prior to Brad, what we saw was the tier list and some snowflake builds that seemed interesting. I think he suffers from some of the same things as pBaldur, where he is good but just not good enough when compared to what else is in faction. I think that PP needs to push him in a new direction that is separate from what Bradigus brings; his brick isn’t as strong and his assassination game feels weaker as well. The Stonesoul already has the unique spell, Roots of Earth, and some unique abilities so I don’t foresee a lot of changes there.

Bradigus: I don’t play Bradigus. Hopefully most of you haven’t closed out the tab with that sentence. It isn’t that I don’t like him or find him boring. He’s just common in my meta and 99% of players here build around him (we also seem to have a fairly high population of Skorne who really just tear Brad up). A lot of people are scared about the possible coming changes to Brad. I can’t blame them, after all there isn’t a lot of reasons to run 8 Woldwatchers outside of his theme list. Brad faces much of the same dilemma that I think eMorv faces. Wolds in his list are actually incredibly strong, but outside his list they’re fairly lackluster. I would love to see some of our Wolds get some love in MKIII, but I don’t think that will come without some heavy handed changes to Brad. Losing Synergy seems a bit too much as that seems to be a large portion of who he is as a caster, although if they remove it from the game entirely that could be interesting. Mystic Wards is Brad’s unique spell, so we’ll have to see if it stays. Overall, I’m certainly expecting MKIII Brad to be very different from who we know now.

CassiusWurmwoodCassius: I’m not even sure where to begin on this guy. He doesn’t have any unique spells, so perhaps we’ll see some changes here (or maybe he can steal Hellmouth from eDenny). Cassius embodies a unique place in Circle, which is probably why he sees such a love-hate relationship with how people feel about him. I’ve got no speculation for what PP might do with him. For wishlisting, seeing a bump in his FURY stat would be nice. Even with souls, FURY 6 is still pretty limiting. Being able to channel spells between them would be great. I think that his biggest weakness is just that he’s fairly easy to assassinate if you can get anything to him, so some additional defensive tech would be great. I don’t have a lot else to say for this guy, but excited to see if anything changes with him.

Grayle: If there is absolutely anyone in the faction who should be excited about MKIII, it’s this guy. He is unanimously Circle’s most lackluster caster and has been a contender for one of the worst in the game. The Farstrider is just really underwhelming in every aspect. He has no unique spells or abilities, so we should at least see some changes there. I’m expecting some major changes to his feat and spell list. He’s an infantry caster that can’t support infantry. If he got some assistance there, I could see him being more worthwhile. The Elite Cadre benefit he brings needs adjusted to something like Gang to actually be effective. On paper, Grayle seems like he wants to be in the fray, killing models all over using Side Step and Sprint, but the reality is he’s just not great at it without Storm Rager (even with it he’s not that great at it). Without Reach, Side Step just doesn’t usually carry you far enough. Placing SR on himself can help dial him up a little, but then it’s not doing work elsewhere. Cycling spells on a FURY 6 caster can be ball busting. His defensive stats aren’t solid enough for him to not be in danger when he is doing work himself (DEF15/ARM16). All in all, I really think he just needs some spell list changes and a little buff to the feat to become more relevant. I think pretty much everyone in Circle is expecting to see some changes here.

pkayapKaya: Almost every Circle player’s first caster and the first one to get dropped for something better. Spirit Door is pKaya’s unique spell and she’s had it since MKI, so I don’t know that we’ll see any changes there, although it was quite a bit stronger in MKI. I think pKaya’s biggest issue is that she’s a one-trick pony and the one-trick she has just isn’t that great. She is strong in smaller point games, but as you progress into the higher tiers of play she loses what little edge she had. I’m not sure what I would like to see for her. I think, if we see some buffs to things like the Pureblood or Brennos, she could potentially start to see more play.

eKaya: She suffers some of the same issues as her first incarnation, where she is a one trick pony but the trick doesn’t usually work that well. I think if we suddenly see more incentive to bring some of our other living warbeasts, there could be more justification for taking her. Her biggest issue is that Circle is in general a low MAT faction and she brings absolutely nothing to fix that. She no longer has a unique spell thanks to Una the Falconer, but she does come with Laris and that may qualify as unique enough. If we get some additional animus or some stat buffs for our other warbeasts, I think she would become viable.

kromacpKromac: A warlock who was wildly popular before we saw the meta shift towards the ARM skew that is often seen today. I think PP could take pKromac in a lot of different ways. As he stands currently, he’s a beast warlock who wants something to trigger Warpath. His feat is almost purely a venue for assassination of anyone unfortunate enough to end within his rather large threat bubble. He already has a unique spell, Bestial, so we might not see anything new there. What I would like to see is a reverse of what he currently does. I’d like to see the Tharn King gain something to make Tharn more worth taking (outside of Bloodtrackers). We learned recently that Tharn will be cheaper, gained vengeance and the Chieftain will have a mini-feat overtake, which will definitely help them see some more table-time, but I still want Kromac to take these guys to the next level. An Elite Cadre for the Ravagers or Blood Pack would be great. pKromac was quite good previously, but as things moved into a different direction what he was most relevant against started to fall out of favor. It’ll be interesting to see how much the changes affect him directly versus how much the game changes around him and which will have the larger impact. I’d love to get an excuse to start playing pKromac again.

eKromac: This guy is the answer to all that ARM skew that slowly crept up. For a long time, Circle had no clear answer to the ARM skew lists and it was a struggle. Our Champion of the Wurm fixed that little issue with Circle’s only damage buffing feat. If you’ve read my previous article on eKromac, you’ll already know that I’ve a deep love for this warlock. I’m still exploring different spaces with him. I don’t really have any complaints for him. I think he is an answer to something very specific and if we see that disappear there might be very little reason to play him. PP has made it clear that they want larger battlegroups and MKII eKromac loves playing into large battlegroups. I’m curious if they’ll change Primal Howl to something different to compensate for the lack of Terror or just leave it with -2 to attack rolls. The battlegroup changes appear to be a boon to those who want to play eKromac, assuming he stays the same.

kruegerppKrueger: Circle’s champion of killing light infantry. There was a time when pKrueger shined, but that meta has long since passed and with it the Stormwrath’s time to shine. pKrueger actually has a quite unique spell list with Skyborne, Tornado, and Lightning Tendrils. I think all he really needs is a feat change to make him more relevant. If some of our non-reach infantry or warbeasts see a buff, that would be great for pKrueger. The biggest thing he suffers from is a lack of a way to deal with anything high ARM. If MKIII shifts the focus away from the ARM saturation that we saw creep over the last few years, then maybe we’ll see a resurgence for this guy. He also has some of the best synergy with the Storm Raptor, so any buffs to that guy could be great for pKrueger.

eKrueger: Without a doubt Horde’s best control caster due to his feat, Hurricane. He has a great spell list and his signature spell is Storm Wall. I think a lot of people are expecting to see changes to some of those top tier casters. I don’t really want to cast predictions one way or the other on that, but I would say that if we do see significant changes to the powerhouse control casters we should expect to see the same for this guy. I’ve never had any complaints about this guy and can’t even in good conscious ask for more on him. I think everyone is just waiting to see if he’ll be hit with a nerf to bring him more in line with other casters.

Mohsar: Outside of Grayle, this is next guy in line to receive some much needed love from the new edition. Mohsar probably has the most underwhelming feat I’ve ever seen. In part because it is only relevant to half of the game (hordes) and also because it isn’t even that ball-busting against hordes. He has two unique spells, Salt Pillars and Sands of Fate, so we’ll have to see how many changes are made there. The explosive popularity of Croak Raiders was also an indirect nerf to Pillars of Salt, since their fire type weapons are able to deal with them fairly trivially. They may change Pillars just because the rules for structures are obscure but honestly, I think the feat is all that needs changed here. A lot of people that play Mohsar feel he’s good, but just doesn’t have a great way to close out games. A new feat might give him the boost he’s been waiting for since his release.

pmorvpMorvahna: Another caster with a unique spell list that includes: Harvest, Regrowth, Eruption of Life, and Restoration. She’s a caster I’ve not really done a full dive into, merely toyed with here and there. I can’t think of any changes that really need to happen for her to become more relevant. She reminds of eKromac, where she was very clearly designed as an answer to something specific and she answers it well. Assuming she stays the same and we see some buffs to our infantry, those would be buffs directly towards her. If PP plans on shifting the meta towards larger battlegroups and that does take hold, pMorv doesn’t do much for an answer to that. I’ll be interested to see if she gets a redesign to account for the meta changes or if she stays mostly the same.

eMorvahna: I have a lot of mixed feelings about eMorv. One part of me absolutely loves the way she works now. Scales of Fate is a beautiful, beautiful thing, Imperishable Conviction is so sweet, and her feat is simply amazing. I really can’t say enough good things about her. The other part of me is also aware that as long as she exists as she does now, she limits how good our infantry can be. That is, eMorv is so good things are partially designed/balanced around her existence. She’s without a doubt one of Circle’s best casters and could be an arguable contender for the very best, so it’s hard to say that I want to see her changed. With all that being said, some of what we do know is that every model has been revisited to be more unique and she has no unique spells. She does have a unique ability with Scales of Fate but who’s to say they won’t add a spell too? Personally, I won’t be devastated if she catches some slight nerfs to bring her more in line with our other casters, especially if we trade it for better overall infantry.

I’m going to break our warbeasts into separate categories to discuss them in groups more easily.

Living Light Warbeasts:

argusArgus: Every Circle player seems to have 2-3 of these guys floating around somewhere. They’ve probably been collecting dust since you left the battlebox games. It’d be great to see PP give show these guys some puppy love. The point size increase in the game may finally allow for these guys to be more accurately costed, as they’ve always felt just a little over where they should. I’d also be more than happy to see Doppler Bark change or even get thrown out entirely if it meant making them cheaper. They’ve never really needed much to be competitive. Their biggest issue is that they have to compete with the 4 FURY Gorax who also carries Primal.

Argus Moonhound: He’s largely fine as he is. Point reduction to keep in line with the Argus and I’ll be happy with him.

Winter Argus: I’m not a huge fan of self animi, so I wouldn’t mind seeing some changes to that. Keeping in tune with the other Argus, he just needs a point cost adjustment to actually be useful. He’s just a little too expensive for a small self buff animi and RAT terrible spray.

Rotterhorn: This guy is amazing. No complaints here. This is what a light warbeast should look like. Please make more like this PP.

razorwingRazorwing: I’m really hoping to see a buff to Power Attacks, since there’s only very rare occasions to use them currently. If not, an animus change on this guy would be nice. At his current utility value, I see him as over-costed. His biggest asset is that he can mulch light infantry. Unfortunately, he’s doing it in a faction that already excels at mulching. I think some slight changes like a new animus or +1 SPD would help make him relevant enough for him to see play.

 

Scarsfell: Point cost adjustment is what he needs the most, as he’s drastically over costed. A better animus might make him more relevant. In the current game, there really just isn’t a place for him. Combat lights aren’t really a thing. He looks like a solo hunter, but he costs quite a bit more than his prey. I would love to see some changes that allow for taking one or even two, but I’m not sure what form the change would have to take to make that the case.

goraxGorax: My favorite light warbeast and one I think a lot of people are curious about. He has no equal in-faction for light warbeasts and at 4 points barely an equal in the game. His animus is so strong that Circle seems to be balanced around it. I’ll be curious to see if Primal stays or goes with MKIII. On the one hand, the animus is so good, cheap, and comes on a great warbeast it’s hard to complain about. On the other hand, it’d be great to no longer need it. Also, most of the other light warbeasts can’t find a place in any list, because the default starting point for 99% of our casters is Stalker+Gorax. Without some larger changes taking place, I can’t imagine the faction without Primal. I also have a hard time imagining much changing in terms of beast loadout if Primal is left on the Gorax. Probably the beast I’m most anxious to see in MKIII.

Leader of the Pack

Circle’s biggest problem with living lights is that they tend to feel over-costed for the utility they bring and they have to compete with the Gorax/Primal for space. Most lists are going to bring the Gorax for Primal. That is just a reality of playing Circle in MKII. So these lights aren’t even competing with the Gorax, so much as trying to find a place after he’s already in the list. The only other light who manages to squeeze their way in is the Rotterhorn and he usually does it under the discount of Una. These two are clearly the best of our lights and the others just don’t have the goods to compete with them.

Living Heavy Warbeasts:

warpwolfFeral: I think everyone is fully expecting some changes to this guy. He has without a doubt the worst animus in the game. It is so bad most people wouldn’t recognize it by name and there are many Circle players who probably can’t even remember what it does. The lack of a real animus and innate pathfinder are probably the biggest things weighing this guy down. Aside from those two complaints, his largest issue is that he’s 9 points and the Stalker is 10. Given the choice between the two, you’re going to reach for the Stalker every time. I’m hoping PP gives us a reason to start fielding this guy again.

Pureblood: I would love to see some changes to the Pureblood to make him worthwhile. I’ve still got one of the old metal sculpts and it is awesome, but I’ve seldom had a good enough reason to use it. He, like most of our heavies, suffers from the “not a Stalker” syndrome. He is good at what he does, but he isn’t quite Stalker good. He also competes with the Feral and Riphorn, who are both really great single target beatsticks, but who also don’t see much table time. I’d really like to see some different warp options to add some more thematic-ness to bringing something like the “Trinity” (Stalker, Feral, Pureblood). A boost to his RAT certainly would be nice or at the very least some increased melee potential. The Pureblood currently occupies this space where he isn’t really great at clearing infantry with the spray and isn’t very good in melee. Being mediocre at two things doesn’t make for a great warbeast.

WarpwolfStalkerStalker: The centerpiece of the Circle faction and the de facto when it comes to warbeasts choices. Excluding Bradigus, every one of our casters can start with Stalker+Gorax as their beast choices and be ready to go. Reach, Pathfinder, Lightning Strike, and incredibly flexible warps make it difficult for any other heavy to compete. There really isn’t another heavy that boasts the potential to kill infantry and/or other heavies like the Stalker. He’s also our only non-character heavy choice with Reach, which is a huge deal. I’m honestly expecting to see the Stalker take some hits. People of all mindsets within the faction have said it time and time again, but the Stalker is just without a doubt our best beast. The Stalker is so good he outshines our character beasts and that’s kind of insane. I’m not sure what changes PP will deliver to him, but I’m expecting (and maybe even a little hopeful) that they will make it so that the Stalker isn’t so necessary in every list.

Ghetorix: Our other reach heavy and best ARM cracker. Ghetorix comes into every list with usually one goal: utterly destroy an enemy model. I’ve had him one round a Stormwall with eKromac (POW 23 is a thing). All of that gushing aside, that’s all this guy does. He’s slightly more difficult to kill than the Stalker, but not by that much (watch what happens when he gets knocked down). Gheto usually finds a way into one of my lists in my pairings and he is by no means underwhelming. However, what I find interesting is that he only finds it in after the Stalker is in place. The lack of Pathfinder hurts this guy so much and at 11 points he’s a pretty serious investment. I don’t really see much needing to change with him, but I’d be ecstatic if this guy could catch Pathfinder in the new edition.

gnarlGnarlhorn: An 8 point, pillow-fisted, utility heavy. The Gnarlhorn has an excellent animus; threat extension that doesn’t rely on hitting anything and a slight accuracy buff on the attack it helps create. Somehow he seems to only finds his way into the occasional eKaya list. The biggest issues I see with him is that, while his animus is good it’s still somewhat situational and he is never going to trade up (you’ll be lucky if he manages to trade evenly). Also, Circle just happens to be the one faction that isn’t reliant on SPD or MOV buffs, not with Shifting Stones available. The 8″ shift + base size + attack range more often than not allows you to place your models in better positions than charging vast distances does. There are certainly times when the charge is better, but if you can orchestrate placing your beast in another model’s back arc prior to its activation that is simply too good to turn down. The POW 14s and 15s this guy can dish out just aren’t usually enough to really crack into those thick shelled Jacks and MAT 6 doesn’t do well against the higher DEF beasts. Paying 8 points for a good animus is just too steep a tax for most lists to pay, particularly when for just 2 points more you get the always great Stalker.

Riphorn: Pound for pound our best beatstick in faction. He’ll crush any heavy that gets in his way. The only issue is that heavies are no longer the only thing that you have to worry about in the game. Collosals and Gargantuans are pretty standard in the meta with the latest wave of Gargantuans being released. As is the common theme of all heavies in Circle, he gets compared to the Stalker because if you’ve got 9 points to work with you can probably find 10. No reach, pathfinder, and the lack of flexibility makes it hard for him to edge out the Stalker. I don’t really expect to see a lot changing here. The Riphorn is a great tool, but the Stalker is just better. If we see some changes to the Stalker, this guy might find himself in more lists. Wishlisting I’d like to see him be a little cheaper just to separate him more from the Feral/Stalker.

Shadowhorn SatyrShadownhorn: The judo goat. Another utility heavy and our cheapest one at 7 points. His animus is OK, although I don’t find myself using Power Attacks all that regularly. Much like the Gnarlhorn, he’s got pillows for fists and he’s not sitting on the best defensive stats (although reversal can be hilarious when it works). His biggest inclusion is for “alley-oop`ing” something to another beast that can actually kill things. Most lists are just too tight on points to pay for that, however. A lot of things could be added to make this guy good enough to be included in some lists. Wishlisting, I’d love to see some Brennos + other goats synergy especially with a piece as fun as the Shadowhorn. A buff to Power Attacks might make this guy usable. He’s a model that is a lot of fun, but jank and jank usually isn’t reliable enough to actually work regularly.

Brennos: Of all the warbeasts that need some love, this guy may need it the most. He’s really not that bad off, though, as some very minor changes would make him better. Being able to cast multiple animi a round, making Goats in his control better in some fashion, ROF increase on the gun, or something along those lines. If his rules don’t change, then he needs to be cheaper as the utility he brings isn’t strong enough to warrant not taking something in his place.

King of Beasts

The greatest problem Circle heavies face is actually incredibly similar to the problem Circle lights face. They’re all compared to where they measure up against the Stalker, who without a doubt just doesn’t have an equal in the faction. No other heavy offers the flexibility of a Stalker. The other factor is that Lightning Strike is really damn good in Circle and the Stalker happens to be the one with it. “I put that shit on everything” could be Lightning Strikes motto, because we have so many good targets for it. I think everyone who plays the faction is aware of this and I think most of us wouldn’t mind seeing that change. It would be really awesome to have a reason to bring some of our other heavy living warbeasts. The unfortunate side of this is that the Stalker will likely face some negative changes in order to facilitate this. I won’t be too upset to see these, if our other beasts get some much needed love. I’d be ecstatic to see our faction escape from the low MAT plague through some caster-agnostic means. It would decrease our reliance on Primal as well as help make more interesting beast choices. Overall, I expect there to be some very interesting changes here that will really shake up how the faction is currently played.

Wold Lights:

Woldwatcher: Prior to Bradigus, the most you saw of this guy was a Shield Guard bot for eMorv or eKru and with the eBaldur tier list. It’s difficult to say what should be changed about the Woldwatcher. He suffers the same problem as every other Wold, which is fists of pillows and not stones. That problem unfortunately doesn’t exist in a vacuum and as long as Brad exists, he can’t be buffed without going overboard. I don’t have a lot of complaints about the Woldwatcher. His point cost is a little high, but he brings strong defensive tech so it feels like a decent trade. If we see Brad change, I wouldn’t mind seeing a +1 POW to the Woldwatcher.

woldwyrdWoldwyrd: I’ve never actually fielded this poor thing, although I actually own 2. I use Druids in a lot of my lists and I’m a really big fan of them in general. This guy doesn’t play well with Druids. So right off the top he’s got that working against him. 5 points just seems too expensive for a RNG 10 POW 10 ROF 3 gun on a model with RAT 6 and only 3 FURY. Purgation sometimes makes this a little better, but even then that’s not something you can totally rely on. He wants to play pretty close to the front lines due to Witcher Hunter, Arcane Suppression, and RNG 10 but his defensive stats see him removed fairly trivially. For the same cost, you could get the Woldstalkers and have 5 RNG 10 POW 12 guns that are often aimed. It’d be nice to see a little further RNG on the gun, maybe an ARM buff with something like Stone Form, or a discounted cost.

Rock Soldiers

I’m only just realizing that there is only 2 light warbeast Wolds in Circle and now I’d like to see some additional ones get released sometime. Wolds lights are just incredibly niche and singular in purpose. You bring them to do one job and hope that it’s relevant in the game you’re playing. Unfortunately, that’s not usually enough incentive to bring either of these choices (outside of certain tier lists).

Wold Heavies:

Woldwarden: This is a heavy I’ve always wanted to fit into lists to abuse, but just never makes the cut. His average MAT, low POW, FURY 3, and mostly not relevant animus make the argument for him difficult. He also has Chain Attack: Smite, but it’s difficult to use as you don’t often want to slam away what you’re trying to kill. You’re almost always bringing him purely for his Geomancy abilities and that’s a steep 9 point tax. Which stinks because I love the conception of the Woldwarden. Having army of spell slinging stone wardens just sounds so damn cool. The actual execution of it just isn’t as great on a FURY 3 model. You’re often paying two fury for the boosted Geomancy, which leaves the Woldwarden strangled from doing much else. I think a small boost to any of his lacking areas would make the Woldwarden see more play. MAT 7 and FURY 4, for example, would make for a decent case to bring him. When we heard the announcement for a new Wold caster (Bradigus), I was really excited for the Woldwarden as I thought we might see some awesome potential for him. Instead, it turned out to be the shining moment for the Woldwatcher.

Megalith: The upgraded Woldwarden. For 2 points you get +1 MAT, +1 ARM, +1 POW, +1 FURY, Weight of Stone on the fists, and an incredibly strong animus; you basically get a reason to never take a Woldwarden again. He has everything you wish the Woldwarden had and more. I have no complaints or wants for Megalith. Please don’t take him from us PP.

woldguardianWold Guardian: The Wold Guardian fills an interesting place in Circle. He’s our tankiest heavy, with two knockdown-on-hit fits, anti-ranged animus, and can always be transferred to. His biggest downfalls are MAT 6, FURY 3, SPD 4, and range self on the animus. While the average MAT does become irrelevant once the Guardian hits, it can be frustratingly difficult getting there at times particularly on a FURY 3 model. The Guardian also basically requires Stones in order to keep up with the rest of a Circle. Flesh of Clay is good for many of our squishy casters, but the range self breaks the possibility of abuse. That would be my biggest complaint with the Guardian is range Self on the animus.

Giants of Stone

The biggest issue with Wolds is that we have so few ways to support them. Baldur and Bradigus are the only casters who have any direct buffs for them, while Cassius and Mohsar can provide a pseudo-buff in the form of Curse of Shadows. Outside of those, our casters have very little to offer to them. Druids have been begging for a long while for some form of a support model for Wolds and we may finally be getting it with the Stone Shaper. I think that would be all the Wolds need to see some more play. Aside from Megalith, these guys are just on the edge of being good enough but still come up a bit shy for what they cost. I’m very curious how Wolds will take shape in MK3 and am hopeful that I can have an army of stone giants outside of Bradigus.

All in all, I’ve been having a blast playing Circle and I’m looking forward to playing as a Druid in MK3. Let me know your thoughts on who you think will be getting big changes.

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