Journeyman's Guide - Circle Oroboros

BY BRET (CHOCOBSESSED)

Welcome to the Journeyman's Guide! This article is intended for new players or for old players who are just picking up a new faction. Instead of focusing on optimizing your Journeyman tournament lists for the best potential to win, we are going to focus on picking up models that work well as extensions to the base battlebox, but also give you a breadth of options for the faction. Instead of duplicates or model spam, we will focus on giving you a good taste of what the faction has to offer. The final list is not likely to appear at the final's table of a major convention, and that's okay.

For this format, we are going to be following the rules for a standard journeyman league. Specifically, you play for six weeks, expanding to preset point levels each week that build off the previous weeks. You start at 0 points with a starter battlebox, then go to 10 (but still only warcaster with warjacks or warlock with warbeasts), then adding units and solos for 25 points, 50, 65, and finally ending at 75 points. There is an optional caster swap half way through, but we won't cover that. Also, if your league organizer changes some of the rules, like allowing solos at the 10 point level, adjust your plan accordingly.

As you play, take note of weaknesses in your army and bad matchups, then start theorizing how you can improve your lists to beat them in the future. Talk with your opponents and always ask for feedback on what they think of how you played or on your list. The Warmachine community thrives on open communication on strategy and tactics. Once your Journeyman League is over, play with your group at the regular game nights. Practice, try new things, and have fun! And when you show up at tournaments, give as good as you get. Win or lose, have a blast playing the game.

And now, let's get to the battlebox!

In this Journeyman’s guide, I’ll be walking you through my recommendations of how to play the Circle battlebox, and how to expand it in such a way that you end up with a solid list for all 6 weeks of the journeyman league, while only buying models that will be used in a wide variety of post-Journeyman lists. I’ll also consider Warlock swaps in week 4, with an eye towards warlocks who are easy enough for new players to enjoy, run a list similar to what I’m recommending for the journeyman league, and powerful enough to use long after the journeyman league ends. Most of all, remember that the journeyman league is about new experiences - introducing new players to the game or introducing old salts to new factions - so be sure to play with an eye on learning the game/faction and growing the community. Also, remember that these are simply my recommendations based on less than 3 months of experience with the new edition - so please feel free to disagree with anything I say, and go the way that your meta and your experience pushes you towards.

0 POINTS - THE BEGINNING BATTLEBOX

  • Tannith the Feral Song
    • Gorax Rager
    • Wild Argus
    • Pureblood Warpwolf

Gorax Rager

Alright, let’s save the best for last and start with the Gorax Rager. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The gorax isn’t particularly bad (it still has two open fists, it still has Primal, it still has Pain Response, and it is still extraordinarily cheap). It is marginally useful in battlebox games, but it has no place in a list with living warbeasts that can afford the Feral Warpwolf simply because the Feral Warpwolf brings the same Primal animus with a lot more effectiveness. If your Event Organizer lets you swap out a model from your battlegroup, you should jump to replace the Gorax with the Feral when possible.

Wild Argus

The Wild Argus is flat amazing now, which is incredible since its statline kind of got worse across the board. But simply by giving it Pathfinder and changing its DEF debuff effect from a RAT 4 spray to an auto-hitting pulse animus that also works on undead, the Wild Argus should perform a valuable role in nearly every game. Worst case scenario, he chips in another boosted pow 16 (18 with Scything Touch or Primal, 20 with both), and best case scenario he barks his animus at your opponent’s warlock/warcaster and wins you the game since DEF 5 warcasters rarely survive. He should show up in plenty of lists and is absolutely a worthwhile purchase.

Pureblood Warpwolf

Pureblood Warpwolf. While this heavy may not seem impressive on paper, I find myself reaching for him more and more in this edition, and he certainly will perform in battlebox games. What you need to remember is that he’s not a mainline tank (unless you’re skilled at using Admonition), but he is faster and hits as hard or harder than most jacks. Also, as the game expands you’ll find yourself very happy to have access to the Wraithbane animus, which allows you to deal with magical armor bricks without having to lose a turn to Primal. He is currently in almost all of my lists for these reasons.

Tannith, the Feral Song

Tannith the Feral Song. Wow, this is a caster I very seriously underestimated - it turns out that being able to reduce defense by 5 with Affliction and Roots of Shadow on her gun, and armor by 2 from Scything Touch, all by herself is extremely powerful in Circle - and the ability to ignore infantry armor with Affliction and to avoid retaliation with Admonition is just a bonus. You may complain about FURY 6 and a weak feat that has limited effect, but that only encourages you to play safely enough to keep her alive with her fragile 15/15 statline. And trust me, a feat that simply casts Primal 6 times in larger games is more powerful than you'd think.

Overall, the battlebox plays in a fairly iconic way for circle, relying on Pathfinder and control or movement tricks to make sure that the fight only occurs when and where you want it to, allowing you to overcome your numerical disadvantages. Fortunately, most of the choices will see play after the journeyman league, which makes this an easy box to recommend to veteran players, though I probably still don’t recommend Circle to brand new players as it can be very punishing.


10 points (battlegroup only)

  •  Scarsfell Griffon
  • [2 points unspent]

This point tier is super weird, but fortunately there’s a pretty good choice for Tannith - the Scarsfell Griffon. This cheap model is surprisingly hard to kill with Stealth and his Dodge animus letting him move every time an attack misses him, surprisingly deadly with his six total attacks (three initials and three bought with fury) and overall very useful with Tannith. He can easily trade up against arm 17-18 heavies with Primal and Scything Touch, and he’ll see play in a handful of post-journeyman games, especially with the Kromacs. He’s also a good way to teach yourself the usefulness of power attacks, especially throws and slams, which is especially important to playing Circle.

25 points

  • Sentry Stone and Mannikins
  • Sentry Stone and Mannikins
  • Druid Wilder
  • Lanyssa Ryssyl, Nyss Sorceress

Sentry Stone and Mannikins x2. Normally I wouldn’t recommend duplicates of anything during a journeyman league, but these units are so ubiquitous and so powerful (I have two of them in every single MK3 list I’ve ever built) that you should rush out and buy them right now. They’re usually enough by themselves to wipe out the reduced numbers of infantry in MK3 with support from Affliction and are some of the best tools in the game at sniping out powerful solos. Oh, and they’re extremely difficult to kill, and they create a pair of forests to keep your caster and solos safe. Seriously. Two of them. Every list. Buy them now.

Druid Wilder. This model is really just 4 points to give you a free upkeep - and for a lot of casters, including Tannith, that extra fury is extremely important. If you can remove a couple fury from a beast you're running too hot or heal during the game, that’s just a bonus.

Lanyssa Ryssyl. Free charges are strong, especially for Scarsfell griffons who rely on a large number of attacks and need a threat range boost. She is both cheaper, and arguably better, than our in-faction source of Hunter’s Mark. She’ll be in many many Circle lists and very strong in the journeyman league.


50 points (warlock swap allowed)

  • Ghetorix
  • Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew
  • [2 points unspent]

Ah, the most freeing week of all - 25 full points to spend, and even the possibility of picking up a new warlock if you want. 

If you’re looking for a new warlock that uses the same list we’ve been building up until this point, I highly recommend Kromac2. Kromac1 is also fine, but the difference in WB points between him and Tannith screws up this week’s purchase. Kromac2 is an absolutely beautiful model, who is extremely fun and plays almost exactly the same list as Tannith, but instead of being a tricky armor breaker, he’s a straightforward bruiser that powers up over the course of the game. If you’re an experienced player who simply wants the most powerful choice in the faction, I have to recommend Wurmwood. The tree is extremely difficult to play, but very rewarding, and can play pretty much the same list as the previous casters - and the sooner you start learning how to play it, the better.

No matter what, the purchase I recommend at this points jump is Ghetorix (especially the amazingly beautiful resculpt). Ghetorix is the choice because he just brings so much - infantry clearing and assassination with Warp: Murderous, survivability to both your warlock and itself with Spiny Growth, and the ability to take out heavy targets with 5 pow 19 attacks before getting any outside buffs. He’s extraordinarily strong in journeyman league, and will see play in many lists (especially with the four warlocks I’ve recommended so far)  - he leaves you with 4 points in Tannith which you should fill with Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew to trigger Prowl, and save the rest.


65 points

  • Reeves of Orboros (Leader and 9 grunts)

Max Reeves. Using one of the leftover points, at this point I recommend investing in a full unit of reeves. These models are insane - two range 12 shots after moving 6” per model are just incredibly good. I don’t care about the low POW - it’s actually a bonus in some cases, since it encourages you to massively CRA up. Having ten RAT 7 POW 10 shots, two RAT 15 POW 18 shots, or 20 shots to abuse Affliction is simply amazing, and a steal at 16 points. They are in a ton of Circle lists, and are useful against basically every target - either to soften up heavies/colossals or to obliterate infantry.

75 points

  • Reeves of Orboros Officer and Standard    
  • War Wolf
  • Alten Ashley

At this point, you’re basically filling in the last couple points with powerful solos and useful choices. If you have a ~10 point option you like better, you probably understand Circle well enough to make that choice by now. Here are my recommendations for the most useful purchases for after this last week of the league.

Reeve CA. The Reeve CA brings survivability from Go to Ground and the surprisingly useful ability to shoot CRA shots into melee, which is especially useful for taking advantage of Scything Touch, and for working well with War Wolves. They make many lists that have Reeves, which is quite a few.

War Wolf. Speaking of which, you should try out one of these Wolf Sworn synergy models - They’re cheap and can get a very accurate POW 13 anywhere you’re shooting with Reeves, and are a great Scything Touch target. They’re marginally useful, and a great way to fill out the last 2 points.

Alten Ashley. I like this solo a lot, in a lot of situations. He's got a very accurate shot at a very long threat range that applies the very useful Grievous Wounds ability, stopping Tough, Repair and other healing, as well as killing solos from far away while being very hard to kill himself. Also, if you find a Gator heavy, you can take out its mind on roll of 2 on 1d3 and it can’t heal it next turn. Amazing. Should show up in several lists, and not that expensive if you don’t end up using him.


The Final List

  • Tannith the Feral Song
    • Gorax Rager
    • Scarsfell Griffon
    • Wild Argus
    • Pureblood Warpwolf
    • Ghetorix
  • Reeves of Orboros (Leader and 9 grunts)
    • Reeves of Orboros Officer and Standard
  • Sentry Stone and Mannikins
  • Sentry Stone and Mannikins
  • Swamp Gobbers Bellows Crew
  • Druid Wilder
  • War Wolf
  • Alten Ashley
  • Lanyssa Ryssyl, Nyss Sorceress