In this article I am going to look at some of the main extreme ranged threats circle faces and then a more detailed look at circle options and their potential to play into these challenges.
I will also look more generally at the casters ability to mitigate ranged attacks against your army. Finally I will look at the various themes currently available and some other factors that can lessen ranged threats to your army.
Cygnar almost always offers some form of ranged threats but their arsenal of extreme ranged casters is actually fairly small:
Sloan: long ranged, hyper accurate and very powerful focused damage output, Sloan can generally hit what she wants, when she wants and threatens a strong ranged assassination. It is very important to be able to protect your crucial pieces against her.
Nemo3: nemo offers a strange ranged threat as a lot of it is not dependent on directly hitting your things. His feat combined with electro leaps tears apart medium armour and he can do it all by shooting his electrical immune models if he wants. This is a caster that is extremely difficult to hide from. High armour (20+) or electrical immunity are some of the most reliable defences.
The protectorate suffered a hit to their ranged game with battle no longer buffing accuracy, but they are still capable of putting together some decent, if not entirely reliable, extreme ranged lists:
Sevy1: if you stack eye of menoth, the jack marshal Aim ability and battle from the choir, you come up with some impressive ranged numbers. Redeemers get up to Boostable RAT 4, pow 17 with pow 11 blast damage. Reckoners get to RAT 8 POW 19. The numbers look decent but the armies ability to feed the jacks with focus and to come up with credible volume of fire are questionable.
Sevy2: between awareness and the ability to spam ashes to ashes, sevy 2 can put together a list that threatens to shred infantry or scalpel out heavies and there is almost no way to hide from him.
Kreoss1: pop and drop is still a thing and with access to dwarf mortars it will still murder anything it can see and knock down.
Currently Khador poses a substantial threat at ranged with rifle corps, rockets, mortars, behemoth and more. Stealth offers a decent amount of protection against Khador shooting but be wary of the second non theme list that could have reinholt or the like in it. Likewise a victor will remove stealth from select targets and it excels at killing sentry stones.
Khador shooting can be exceptionally accurate with Joe, Signs and portents, and CRAs from the rifle corps. Word is Khador might be seeing some heavy errata at the end of the summer so their ranged power may take a hit.
Vlad 1: signs and portents turns Khador shooting into a nightmare. Super accurate and exceptionally powerful. He can also run a strong battle group with excellent threat projection under feat to keep you off his guns. Normally seen in winter guard theme, vlad lists are typically more susceptible to stealth issues but compensates with a high volume of blast damage that is powerful enough to kill most circle infantry.
Butcher 1: What B1 lacks in accuracy he more than makes up for in overkill. His feat turns every gun in his army into a weapon master and against DEF 12 or lower there is no ARM that he can’t crack. Against high DEF he can knock it down with marauders and then it’s dead.
Sorcha 1: being stationary makes you a very easy target and you will see sorcha lists that are built with an extreme ranged assassination threat in mind. These lists are almost always out of theme and include numerous merc solos to facilitate killing your caster or scalping out important pieces. Mass stealth and immunity to stationary on key models helps.
Issryia: most issy lists are fairly balanced but her feat turns even a balanced lists shooting into extreme ranged. Between true sight and signs and portents it’s a tough opponent for conventional circle lists.
Kaelyssa: similar to issy in that she tends to bring more balanced lists, kae bae brings danger zone shooting every turn in the form of her true sighted gun and spammable phantom hunter. It may not be the volume of guns that issy brings to bear in her feat turn but kaelyssa can selectively remove your most important pieces turn after turn or threaten your caster with a brutally accurate assassination.
Ossyan: in his current form ossyan brings a more accurate version of Butcher 1 but with the added bonus that Ozzy himself must be up the table to effect the damage buff. Lacking any stealth outs, it is possible to face this effectively with mass stealth.
Llyth 3: while all the llyths offer their own version of ranged pain, llyth 3 is especially terrifying as her personal threat range is exceptional and coupled with her feat she can assassinate or stationary key heavies for her battle group to finish and her battle group will threat a little farther thanks to battle host.
Dominar Rasheth: old tubby has a mean feat that synergizes well with ranged elements. Couple that with easy access to eyeless sight and Venator reivers threating 22″ on mini feat turn and you have something very close to extreme range.
Ossrum: no one runs gun bunnies like the general, making them all but impossible to engage, fast, hard to hit and one or two shoot extra far with snipe. His mortars and battle engines are brutal with Fire for effect. It’s a brutal recipe and now has a stealth out in the battle engine. It has some vulnerability to incorporeal but can bring things like TAC to deal with that. Combine with energizer and bulldoze and it a gun line you can’t gum up. Also the bunnies excel at hammering high def models with medium armour.
Every single caster in circle offers you some spells or feats that allow you to reduce casualties from ranged attacks. A short time ago I believed that wurmwood or Balder 2 were the only options for playing into extreme ranged. While it may be true that these two casters may offer you some of the best ways to mitigate ranged attacks, they are not the only options and in some cases are disadvantaged in particular match ups.
I will rate these casters in a very general sense from Poor to Fair to Good but it is important to remember that ability to handle extreme range should not be solely devised from their rating. Taking a poor caster with a list filled with models and units with innate abilities that help against range can be a better option than an excellent caster with models and units with no innate defences against range. One should always take the complete range of abilities and spells into account when deciding if that caster is right in the particular situation you are trying to resolve. So let’s take a quick look at all the casters and see what they have to offer.
- Baulder the stonecleaver: Balder 1 brings a good suite of spells to mitigate ranged attacks; Rapid growth is excellent for anchoring off of existing terrain to created LOS blocking walls, to proc prowl with or to combine with elevation for a decent DEF. Solid ground prevents blast damage making him a good pair with stealth models like blood trackers. Finally, stone skin can combine with naturally high armour or buff stack with spiney growth to create reasonably high armour values. His feat grants FF models cover, which is excellent when combined with elevation against even some of the most accurate shooting.
GOOD option vs extreme range, as his spells and feat are almost entirely focused on delivering his army.
- Balder 2: if armour cracking is an issue for your opponent then B2 is definitely the solution you are looking for. Roots of the earth, his feat and his ability to make cover on demand are a wet dream of armour and defence stacking. His main issue is if the opponents extreme list includes any degree of blessed weapons or has access to wraithbane. When that is the case his armour stacking advantage loses a lot of steam. He is a decent option into gun bunnies and cygnar.
GOOD option vs extreme range, watch out for nagas!
- Bradigus: at first glance it would appear that brad doesn’t have anything that helps mitigate ranged attacks but if you look closer there are a couple things that help. First off his feat makes his army threat pretty far which will give your opponent less time to blast away at you, it’s small but it’s something. His earth magic ability also makes the wild growth animus on the wardens very affordable and can keep him personally safe against most extreme ranged threats.
POOR: Bradigus’ abilities only offer a token amount of protection for his army. He can do a decent job of keeping himself safe but you will take casualties on the way in, luckily his melee threat is significant and wolds are hardier than wolves or goats so those casualties will hopefully me minimal.
- Grayle: Grayle has a good suite of anti ranged options, coming with wind blast, death march (vengeance can be a deterrent to shooting) and a feat that grants army wide stealth. He is capable of delivering his army in the right circumstances!
FAIR: This quickly rises to good if the opponent has shorter ranged guns and a vulnerability to stealth. Yes, he’s not going to excel into Sloan but she can be dealt with in other ways.
- Kaya 2: If mass stealth helps then Kaya 2 has the answer. Other than that she jams well being able to run laris, spirit shift to him and feat to jam the crap out of enemy gun lines. Considering this has a 21″ engage threat with a 2″ melee warbeast, it’s actually fairly viable.
POOR: Grayle at least has wind blast but Kaya 2 completely relies on stealth.
- KAYA 1: Occultation and spirit door are Kaya 1’s anti range tech. You can occultate a unit of mist riders to create a cloud wall and move a beast out of LOS block, kill something and spirit door it back to safety.
POOR: not terribly effective but moves to fair if your opponent struggles with stealth and clouds.
- KAYA 3: Fog of war and her feat are the totality of her defenses and that is actually more than you would think at first glance. She can do a fair bit of stealth proc’d by FOW and the defence stacking can end up being fairly high. Feat+concealment+elevation is a 6 point shift and that cranks even def 13 up to 19 (17 without concealment), which can even cause Sloan some issues if done en masse. The feat also allows for deeper jamming of guns.
FAIR: IMO, the best Kaya for anti range tech as the suite is deeper than stealth.
- Kromac 1: Inviolable resolve is pretty much it, maybe bestial if you consider magic part of the ranged threat. Having 1 armour buff doesn’t really do a lot IMO and Kromac struggles into guns.
POOR: You really need to build other tech into your Kromac1 list to compensate for his lack of tech, probably the weakest circle caster into guns.
- Kromac 2: Hyper Agro and an arm buff via the feat. Like his prime version, Kromac 2 is pretty weak on the anti gun tech and you will almost certainly find yourself feating defensively very early on against extreme ranged lists.
POOR: Hyper Agro is really not the best tech and one turn of +2 arm will only go so far, avoid guns if you can or build a list that compensates!
- Krueger 2: Windstorm is good stuff, unfortunately a number of the extreme ranged lists threat a lot further than kruegers control range or can advance and still shoot stuff. Lightning storm is a spell that can deny infantry based ranged attacks a landing spot so don’t completely disregard that.
FAIR: This might be surprising but I think K2 is Grayle levels of anti ranged tech. In a lot of ways wind blast has more denial that wind storm.
- Krueger 1: Gale winds and feat. This guy can do some good defence stacking but like Baldur 2 you need to watch out for blessed weapons. His feat is a good way to eliminate or deny landing zones for infantry based shooting as well.
FAIR: This can get into the good range but he is a lot more susceptible to blast damage than say Baldur 2.
- Mohsar 1: Pillars, his feat and to a lesser extent his ability to vaporize enemy infantry on a whim. Pillars are pretty piss poor ranged defense but they are there and get better the longer the game goes on and the less relevant activation’s your opponent has. The feat has a decent effect on gun lines that rely on power up for max effectiveness and his ability to pop around with sands of fate and burninate enemy infantry at will helps against ranged lists that have infantry based ranged threats.
POOR: He has some stuff but he will need a lot of help to manage extreme ranged lists.
- Morvhana 1: Feat, Eruption of life, regrowth, restoration and her own personal resilience to guns. That looks like a lot, and it is but it is a fairly complicated suite of abilities that takes a good degree of mastery to pull together in the face of extreme ranged threats. That said it is a very deep range of abilities and I think Morv1 in combination with some other units, is one of our best anti ranged casters.
FAIR: This can get into the good range very quickly with the right build or theme.
- Morvhana 2: Feat, Fog of war are her money makers and they do a decent job at protecting and then jamming gun lines. She loves the tharn theme for that reason alone but can run wolf sworn quite effectively. She doesn’t stack defence as effectively as K1 or Kaya 3 but she brings a decent set of abilities. Her main downfall is she lacks any personal defence, now if there were only a theme that helped with that…
POOR: She has some stuff and this can get up to fair with the right build that maximizes prowl or into an opponent that struggles with mass mid def.
- Tanith: at first glance it looks like she has nothing but affliction can very effectively deal with infantry based ranged threats and she personally has prowl. Not an amazing range of abilities but its something.
POOR: she really needs to have her army help her a great deal in this department.
- Una 2: Wind wall and twister plus a bit of feat. Wind wall is an amazing spell but it doesn’t protect against blast damage so take that into consideration. Twister can be used to make cloud walls and her feat can be used to jam deep into opponents gun lines.
FAIR: She really does have a decent range of abilities and can get even better with the right build.
- Wurmwood: Feat, Rapid Growth, curse of shadows. No one denies LOS like Wurmy does but be careful of mage sight casters! on top of that he can curse a screening unit to get to guns if need be.
GOOD: probably one of the better choices and certainly one of the best into legion gun builds.
BONES of ORBOROS: Bones can naturally be a good anti extreme ranged choice just due to the natural higher arm and higher boxes available to wolds. A lot of gun lines can hit high def but struggle when encountering anything above arm 20. If your caster helps leverage that up then you can have a decent time. Also a theme that allows sentry stones which are generally good into gun lines.
DEVOURER’S HOST: There are a lot of native stealth options in this theme and it is entirely possible to build an almost completely stealth army with the right caster. On top of that tharn mulch enemy infantry hard and will literally devour infantry based ranged lists that lack a stealth out.
WILD HUNT: 1 ambushing unit and availability of reeves, who are decently resilient with their mini feat can prove very effective with the right caster into extreme ranged threats.
SECRET MASTERS: This one is new but the option of having a stealth cloud wall, that is elemental immune with sac pawn to tough shramblers behind the wall is enticing to say the least. Not to mention that it’s not a terribly overwhelmingly expensive package, 31pts, means you can play it with a lot of blackclad casters and still have a good pile of points for battle group. Sure there are extreme ranged lists that ignore clouds and stealth but not all of them do!
All the other things listed in the general article on ranged threats still apply to this article (check it out here):
-terrain, LOS blocking, stacking defence or armour, jamming, anything you can do to mitigate the ranged threat, is just as important as your caster and your list.
That is, by far, the most important thing to remember; this is a package deal. Not only will you need to have tools available from your caster and units but how you deploy them and move them within the bounds of the terrain and scenario matter. In short, you may need to outplay your opponent, because skill matters a great deal and match ups are not just decided by lists.
Something else you need to recognize; YOU WILL TAKE CASUALTIES TO GUNS. I know it hurts and doesn’t feel fair but frequently you will take a lot of casualties to ranged lists BUT you have to close fast and reduce those guns effectiveness. I have played games where I have lost half my army to guns on the first couple of turns only to push through a win as I jam in and eat up the guns. NEVER give up, use dead ground and cover as best you can and close with and destroy the enemy!
Finally, you need to embrace the challenge, don’t get scared or frustrated, instead focus and become calm, Circle does have answers and it’s up to you to skillfully apply them with the cunning of the wolf and rapacious hunger of the wurm!
Till next time: