Hunter’s Mark Article IV: Where the Stones Have Fallen
by Hoppydapunk · Published · Updated
Where the Stones Have Fallen
The mysterious fog of Mark 3 has finally been lifted and the “All New War” is fully under way. In this article I’ll be taking a look at where things landed for Circle. I’ll highlight some of the more significant changes between the editions that affect the faction, give some thoughts on who our new top tier casters are, and grant some insight into the direction I’ve been heading with my list pairing.
Faction Defining Changes:
Forests: Eyeless Sight and Hunter no longer ignore forests and models must now be completely within them to take advantage of the provided benefits. As a faction with a lot of means to generate forests, this is a really significant change to us. Sentry Stones are finding their way into many lists for forest generation, Wurmwood seems to be the default Circle caster now, and Baldur1 is even seeing some action again.
Shifting: The placement from Shifting Stones changed from within to completely within. This change is significant enough to take the Stones down a notch. In Mark 2, aside from the tightest eMorv lists, you almost always saw the 5 point package loaded into every list. With the changes, they’ve become considerably less “mandatory” and far more of “do you need a 3-5 point filler?”.
Lightning Strike: A lot of people had a feeling this would be where we would see some changes. While the Warpwolf Stalker did keep the animus, the change to range: self stops a lot of the movement shenanigans that we Druids had become accustomed to using and abusing. On the bright side, the subtle change on the wording means that it can be used after killing things, so it is far more flexible on the Stalker than previously.
Druids of Orboros: Love them or hate them, these guys are probably the most significantly changed unit in our faction. Force Bolt and Counter Magic are just gone. Vortex clouds now disappear when a Druid dies. Camouflage has been replaced with Prowl. All in all, they’re still a niche utility toolkit, but a very different one than before.
Geomancy: No longer able to cast upkeeps spells through Geomancy as well as they now use their own Magic Ability stat.
Acceleration: No longer exists as an Animus, which makes some fun interactions we had at the end of MK 2 no longer viable.
SPD Debuffs: No longer affect being able to charge, trample, slam. The single largest thing this changes is Krueger2’s feat and it’s a fairly significant nerf to it. Some other abilities changed by this are Stone Skin, Spirit Fang, and Weight of Stone.
Rising From the Ashes
Amongst all the other Circle MKIII changes, a mixup of our top tier warlocks also occurred. In MKII, I would’ve considered our three top tier warlocks: Morv2, Krueger2, and Bradigus. Each of them caught some portion of the nerf hammer in one way or another and I’d say they lost their S ranks. Morv2 and Krueger2 remain competitive, but Bradigus has fallen to the bottom (at least until we see some theme lists). With the death of our top tier, both new and old faces have begun scrambling to take their place.
Wurmwood, without a doubt has taken over the throne for Circle. You can’t look at anything Circle related without seeing him pop up and for good reason. The bump in fury, Cassius now being an independent channeler model, and the changes to forests all help to make Wurmwood our new most popular caster.
Tannith, the new battlebox caster, is already beginning to leave her mark on the faction. She has an awesome and unique spell list that brings a whole different game to Circle. From my few games with her so far, she feels like a high skill, high reward caster. As more people pick up the new battlebox, I’d anticipate seeing a lot of her for quite some time.
Baldur2 is now making his way back into lists through, almost exclusively, the changes to the Woldwrath, although the heavy gunline meta may also be influencing that. The changes to Geomancy affect him very little aside from the bonus of Megalith bumping up to Magic Ability 7 for the occasional Crevasse. Baldur brings the classic high ARM attrition game that threatens to win on all fronts.
Krueger1, while I haven’t seen a lot of traction on him just yet, feels like a diamond hidden in the rough. Gale Winds is an incredibly strong spell in a high DEF faction like Circle and with cloud effects being the notorious go-to tool for blocking LOS. The changes to Electro Leaps are a nice buff to Lightning Tendrils, increasing the amount of targets you can apply the spell to. I wouldn’t have thought the death of infantry spam would spell something positive for Krueger1, but he seems like he will thrive in the new meta.
Wurmwood has probably the most impressive, versatile spell list within Circle. Hellmouth for infantry removal, Curse of Shadows for unjamming and debuffing, Rapid Growth for LOS denial and a Prowl trigger, Stranglehold for extra denial, and Dark Path to yank Cassius or Wurmwood where you need them. Wurmwood has the tools to deal with almost anything in the game, but you need to be acutely aware of all the threat ranges of your opponent’s models. Even at a potential ARM 21, things can turn quickly if something is able to actually threaten him.
I’ve chosen the Warpwolf Trinity (Stalker, Feral, Pureblood) with a Wild Argus as my battlegroup. I’ve tested a lot of different options here, but I’ve really come to like this one the most. The Stalker is the normal Pathfinder beat stick as always, the Feral brings Primal and the natural threat of any 3 initial MAT 7 beast, and the Pureblood is the flexible heavy capable of trading up or clearing infantry. The Wild Argus has a lot of utility with Doppler Bark, particularly with a list that has a mass of inaccurate sprays. He’s a lot better into Hordes, but even the most Jack heavy list will have something to Bark at. I’ve made Wurmwood Bark at a poorly placed Haley3; its cute but it can happen.
Gallows Groves are in the list for obvious reasons. Between the 3 arc nodes, your opponent will have a very difficult time preventing you from getting spells where you want them. On a caster with potentially 10 Fury that is quite significant, let alone one with the spell list of Wurmwood. Most opponents will dedicate some serious resources into removing these as quickly as possible.
The Blackclad has had an interesting role in the list. Typically, he’s returned to the classic “fire and forget” piece he was before Acceleration existed. Some interesting situations can come up, however, through Doppler Bark and Curse of Shadows. I’ve had some fun with the Battle Wizard, using it to threaten Critical Knockdown Sprays far farther than should be allowed.
Sentry Stones are truly awesome in Mark3 and even more so with the Tree. When combined with Rapid Growth, the Stones can create a 10″ wall of forests that most lists will have fits to deal with. At ARM 18 with 8 boxes and an easily triggered Prowl, they’re not removed lightly. Your opponent will have to dedicate fairly high quality attacks to remove the Stone and even then it can be difficult. Once you remove a chunk of infantry with a newly placed Manniken that gets an aimed spray into some back arcs, they’ll quickly gain a healthy respect for them.
I’ve cycled between Reeves, Bloodtrackers, Bloodpack, and Ravagers but nothing feels as solid as Reeves with Wurmwood. They’re incredibly flexible with target selection with the ability to take several shots at high DEF models or put 2 POW 19 shots into something heavier. The feat turn allows you to get them where you want them without much fear of retaliation and then they have their mini feat to add even more protection. Once your opponent finally manages to jam into them, you can simply apply Curse of Shadows and walk them out. They’re also great for feeding souls to Wurmwood; I’ve popped more than a few with Cassius to create a forest or to feed the soul-machine.
I tried to run without the Shifting Stones for a while, but I kept running into the same issue of not being able to get Wurmwood where I wanted him. He really does require at least a unit of them and, while I’m not nearly as fond of them as I was, they’re still an incredibly solid unit. By adding Shifting Stones into the list, you are a lot more flexible with where you can place Cassius.
Wurmwood has become my new generalist and anti-ranged warlock. In any two list pairing format tournaments, I’m pairing him with Kromac2, since he’s generally a better answer to some of the heavier battlegroup lists.
Stalker and Feral as the default starting pair for all the same reasons as above. One cute combo I’ve had come up is Warp Strength, Primal, and the Feat all are one round duration, so when your Warpwolf with Vengeful gets hit you get to swing back with something like a MAT 8-9 POW 21-22 hit (hopefully they didn’t remove your Mind or Body in one swing). I’ve taken a liking to the Goats with Kromac. The Riphorn is designed to in theory trade up at an insane MAT 10 POW 19 with three initials and a Chain Attack. While the Riphorn doesn’t always get to deliver on his theoretical damage, sometimes this goat’s only job is to throw some decent damage into a target and keep it away from my other heavies. At an innate ARM 19, he’ll take some punishment that I’m more than willing to accept if it’s keeping my Warpwolves safe. The Gnarlhorn often buddies up with Kromac to look more menacing than he really is, but ultimately his job is to provide Big Mac with Earth’s Blessing. Kromac likes to play almost as far forward as his warbeasts and at DEF 14 ARM 18 he’s very well capable of handling himself there. Many assassination attempts live and die on an attempt to knock a warcaster down, removing that from the equation as a whole can really limit your opponent’s options.
Lanyssa Ryssyl is just a cheaper costed Hunter’s Mark. Winter’s Storm and Ice Bolt are situationally useful, but normally she fires Hunter’s Mark for 3 points instead of 4. The list really wants Hunter’s Mark, not just for the added threat extension, but the free charge really amps the damage potential of everything but the Riphorn.
You’ll notice a theme with my lists and it’s double Sentry Stones. They really are that amazing and, if you don’t own two units, you’re missing out. Their goal in this list is to block LOS to at least 2 heavies and clear out things blocking charge lanes.
I’ve had a lot of luck with the Bloodtrackers with Kromac2 in Mark3. They’re every bit as fast and deadly as they were previously. They work under Kromac2 as an excellent flank unit that actually benefits significantly from Carnage. Nuala giving them the Quick Work tactic which means that they can charge something 10″ away at potentially MAT 10 POW 11 with a RAT 8 RNG 7 throw following up behind it. I’ve wiped Banes, Satyxis, Stormblades, and Winter Guard right off the table in a single turn with these girls.
Kromac2 has been my default drop into anything that looks like too much meat to chew through for Wurmwood, which usually is something like Khador jack spam, Skorne beast bricks, and the like.
Two Warpwolf Stalkers, a Feral, and a Wild Argus compose the battlegroup. I really like having a second Stalker in this list over some of our other choices due to his innate pathfinder and the 2″ reach. The Feral adds Primal, is reasonably beefy when warped for Protective Plates, and can close the gap incredibly fast when warped for Speed. As always the Wild Argus is your other MAT fixer and means to shut things down with Doppler Bark.
The benefits Wrong Eye and Snapjaw is two-fold. First they provide another layer of protection through Star-Crossed for more mixed battlegroups should they decide to try and get into melee with you. The second is with Submerge, they’re completely immune to ranged and magic attacks. Meaning that even if you somehow suffer catastrophic casualties from ranged attacks, these two will still be alive. Snapjaw is no slouch in melee and can get some serious work done should you start to lose Warpwolves.
Tharn Bloodtrackers once again make the cut as an excellent flank unit that doesn’t mind having Lightning Tendrils. With the changes to electro leaps and electric immune models, they’re a great target for the spell. Threatening a 12″ charge with electro leaps gets pretty nasty, especially if they get the kill with the charge attack generating a Swift Hunter throw.
Shifting Stones were added as a 3 point filler. You could swap this out for some of our Minion/Merc options, but they won’t benefit from Gale Winds and this list offers very little protection outside of that. The Stones are still solid for blocking charge lanes, eating Frenzy attacks, managing fury, healing, and of course shifting a model.
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