|I only use this picture now cuz it bugs Bret :D|
For those of you who haven't seen the first four articles, I highly suggest that you read them. You can click the links for Warlocks, Warbeasts, Units, and Solos.
Now that you're back, the big question - what now?
It's a bit of a grim time to be a Druid, I will not lie. We have dwindling answers to the scary lists out there thanks to a combination of nerfs to our models and extremely strong theme forces coming out for other faction.
Jaws of the Wolf, the new Khador theme force, gives us fits by removing our Advanced Deployment and incentivizing and rewarding Khador players for putting eight to ten heavies on the table, often with Harkevich for speed boosts and pathfinder.
Oracles of Annihilation is one that we can actually fight fairly well if we bring a Wild Argus, but without that most of our other answers just do not work, and Neraphs trivially remove Warpwolves from the table.
The Exemplar Interdiction theme force has given new rise to Vindictus (oops...mah bad guys) and his insanely fast Cavalry are going to pose a serious, serious problem for Circle.
Add to that the ever-present threat of Cygnar, Ret's new and improved model selection and theme forces, and Skorne suddenly out threating, out tanking, and out muscling us, and Circle suddenly feels extremely vulnerable.
Finally, the changes in SR 2017 making Scenario wins much, much harder and making all of our placement effects more difficult to use with the probable restriction on movement markers (if you follow those guidelines), and we are in for a rough few months here.
Part of the problem is that we just don't have a faction identity with any real coherence.
We're supposed to be the fast faction right?
I present Skorne and Khador, that can get speed 6-8 heavies without too much work AND give them pathfinder, which, by the way, we don't have hardly any of.
We're supposed to be the terrain manipulation faction?
Well..we have a unit that makes a 3 inch forest and a crappy heavy that makes a 4 inch forest, hardly what I would call terrain manipulation, especially as, once again, we don't have pathfinder on most of our beasts.
We're supposed to play hit and run?
Well....we have the Stalker and Loki for that...and that's basically it. Without access to Sprint on all of our models like we used to, we have to commit to piece trades, and we have to do that with our insanely expensive heavies. Our Shifting Stones no longer extend our threat ranges, and outside of Hunters Mark and Dogpile, we don't really have any threat extenders.
The biggest problem with all of these aspects of our faction identity is that when they're powerful and relevant, they're massive negative play experiences.
Being constantly outthreated is no fun whatsoever, and we as Circle players have had to experience that for quite a while now.
Sitting across from Tiberion and realizing that I have the same or less threat range than he does depending on terrain and if he's with Xerxis 2 has been incredibly frustrating at times.
Knowing that I get no chance at all to avoid getting shot at changes my game plan significantly, and with the shifts in Scenario for SR 2017, I expect gunlines to be even better.
Circle used to be incredibly difficult to play against because of our odd threat ranges. Stalkers with Kromac 1 used to have a 15 inch nonlinear threat thanks to Shifting Stones and Warpath.
Double porting Ghetorix into your opponents caster was fairly common, and had little to no counterplay.
Just look at the uproar over Wurmwood and I think you will understand that this ability has no chance of ever getting balanced properly with the current terrain rules. If you could burn forests down or trample through walls with colossals etc., then I think giving Circle more terrain generation and manipulation abilities would be just fine - they'd shield our squishy models from incoming fire and still be removable with effort.
As it is, I doubt we will get too much more in this vein until the terrain rules themselves change.
Hit and Run:
Anyone else remember Morvahna 2 charging in 11.5 inches, killing a couple things, sprinting out 8 and then light cavalry moving back 5? Yeah that was miserable to play against, but it was also how Circle survived with expensive heavies.
We've completely lost the ability to move in, cheat a trade, and then move out again without using Stalkers or Loki, and there's been no counter adjustment to our models' point costs.
Moving forward, there will be lots of innovation required of us to remain competitive, and that's going to be tricky as both our models and our themes are largely lackluster. I'm thinking that since we don't get too much benefit from our themes anyway, we might see a return to early mark 3 Circle with DEF skews backed up by Star-Crossed on Wrong Eye.
For what it is worth, here is a short wish-list of changes for any eventual CID. I've given these some thought, and discussed them with the Leyline cast in various capacities.
Either we need ways to bring more points to the table (which is a design feature I hate) or we need theme forces that give our models interesting granted abilities. An interesting idea would be to give our infantry Force Barrier for example, or perhaps to universally grant our beasts Pathfinder.
I would like to see less of free points being the main way to measure the power level of beasts and more of theme forces adding unique rules to the models in the theme force.
Baldur 2: Make his feat impossible to ignore by blessed weapons again. This was a big rules change that left a sour taste in most Circle players mouths and basically made him unplayable into Menoth.
Bradigus: I can't even begin to understand how to make this guy playable, there are so many things wrong with him. Mostly making the Wolds better would go a long way, but his spell list is pretty terrible.
Grayle: Give him Field Marshal [Wolfsworn] - Done.
Kaya 1: Changing Spirit Door to "models placed by Spirit Door must sacrifice movement" would give her some really powerful ways to go for assassination. Giving her a battlegroup wide spell or feat for pathfinder and an extra point or two of movement would also be an excellent way to set her apart.
Kaya 2: Fury 7, done.
Kaya 3: Change her current charge for free spell to Dog Pile.
Kromac 1: Give him Blade Shield, this will help him not randomly die to guns and also not be overpowered.
Krueger 1: Give his feat the ability to disrupt Warjacks and we could be talking. I'd also like to see him have a damage buff of some sort.
Krueger 2: This is a bit silly, but I'd love his feat to have the "no charge" clause attached to it again. Don't think he really needs it, but it would certainly be nice.
Mohsar: Tweak his defensive stats a bit. Give him Cloak of Ash or something similar. Also give the man a real feat, something like enemy warjacks cannot be allocated focus, cannot power up, and enemy models cannot leach fury.
Morvahna 1: Give her Mark 2 Regrowth.
Morvahna 2: Put Scales of Fate back to control range,
Una 2: I'd be interested to see if it would be too good to give Sprint to her control range now that her feat doesn't last a round.
Brennos: 14-15 points, maybe let him remove multiple fury.
Feral: 16 points, probably good there.
Ghetorix: Drop down to 19 points, give Pathfinder
Gnarlhorn: Up to fury 4, Pathfinder.
Loki: Drop to 18 points.
Pureblood: Drop to 15 or 16 points.
Razorwing Griffon: Give it the three initials the Scarsfell has, and let it use the POW of its wings to its trample rolls.
Rip Horn Satyr: Fury 4, Pathfinder.
Rotterhorn Griffon: Make it the Mark 2 Rotterhorn again please, exact same everything but with the new defensive statline.
Scarsfell: Drop it to two initials and give it back Long Leash.
Storm Raptor: Either Range 14 on it's gun, or give it Reposition 3 like the Archangel. Give it 2-4 more boxes, make it MAT 6.
Stalker: 17 points or 18 points and MAT 7.
Winter Argus: Rat 6, Spray 8, 7 points.
Wold Guardian: Fury 4, 15 points, give him his old animus back. Drop Shield Guard.
Woldwatcher: 8 points, Shield Guard. I'd also be interested to see a version of this guy where he has Wold Primal, something like "Target Friendly Faction Construct Warbeast gains +2 to melee attack and damage rolls for one round and cannot be forced next turn."
Woldwarden: 13 points.
Woldwyrd: Possibly should get bumped up to 10 points.
Death Wolves: Start with a corpse always, 8 points.
Mist Riders: Initial shot is POW 12, Magic 7, can put Summon Vortex clouds on anything within 6-8 inches. Voulge goes to POW 11, unit reduced to 18 points for max and 11 for min.
Druids: I'd just like mark 2 Druids back honestly.
Shifting Stone Keeper: Granted: While this model is in play, this unit may use Shifting to place a friendly faction model completely within ten inches rather than completely within 8 inches.
Stoneward and Woldstalkers: 7-8 points.
Blood Pack: Let them use corpses for ranged boosting, start the game with a corpse. Unit cost reduced to 16 for max and 10 min.
Nuala: Granted: Reposition 3.
Bloodweavers: 6 points or additional die vs. living and stay 8.
Ravagers: Give them back Brutal Charge, decrease point cost down to 14 points max unit, 10 points min.
Wolf Riders: Make their melee weapons PS 10 or 11, reduce point cost to 16 points max, 11 10 min.
Skinwalkers Alpha: Granted [Rapid Strike].
Wolves of Orboros: Always Weaponmaster, Officer mini-feat gives +3 strength.
Bloodweaver Night Witch: Range 1, 3 points.
Lord of the Feast: 2 inch reach, can spend Corpse tokens to boost ranged attack rolls, remove thresher and give him killing spree. (Might be too strong, but dang it he should be cool).
Reeve Hunter: Give his Crossbow Armor Piercing.
Ravager Shaman: 4 points.
White Mane: 6 points, straight up Grievous Wounds, Crit Decapitation.
Wolf Rider Champion: Stay as is and become 6 points, or alternatively give Wolf Riders Jump and stay the same.
Una 1: Field Marshal [Long Leash].
Morraig: Rapid Strike, Weaponmaster always.
Circle is in a weird place. We're falling behind in theme force viability, we're short on playable models, and the ones that we do have that play well often get denounced as overpowered and unfun to play against.
Privateer Press is going to have to think long and hard about how to rebalance the faction over the next few years, because as it is most of the models aren't any fun to play and the ones that are good enough to play competitively are no fun to play against.
I'll be updating this in November or December with any new models, changes we've received via errata, and expect to see more battle reports, random strategy guides, and baseless speculation out of me between now and then!
Oh also, if you want a sweet look at a similar idea but for Protectorate, have a look at Chandler's blog - menothtnc.blogspot.com
Thanks for reading everyone!