In this instalment of Circling the Drain I’m going to look at preconceived notions that the community as a whole has about the Circle stable of options and how we, as a community, need to shake these out of our heads and open our minds and play time to new and exciting options.

Let’s head down the Drain!



This wouldn’t be complete without a disclaimer that not everyone has these preconceived notions about our stuff but as a whole I think we’ve all been guilty of being overly fixated on rating casters and models and building up a not overly accurate understanding of how our tools can be used. I was very much victim of this thinking until recently, and it took my to a rather dark and unhappy place.

Thinking that Circle has only 3 competitive warlocks when in fact we have 17 (and yes I think all of them are competitive options given the right time and place) is not helpful or useful thinking for a number of reasons. First it makes you unhappy as you feel pigeon holed into a very narrow band of choices, like going to a buffet and only getting to eat the french fries. Second, it makes you predictable, and predictable is a very bad thing to be when you’re trying to be competitive. Finally, you rob yourself and your community of a wider, more balanced and stimulating gaming experience. Let’s be clear, I’m not saying you should SUS it up, what I’m saying is THERE IS NO SUS, there is merely experimentation and opportunity exploitation. If you decide to try Morvhana 1 you are getting valuable learning about another tools capabilities and offering your meta valuable experience with a caster they may not normally see.

This is the most important shackle you need to break before you can start playing warmachine and begin to “make a game of it”.  There are NO bad models or units, there are only bad times, bad places or bad ways in which to use them. If you have trouble making this leap, that’s okay, it’s not easy to shake those old attitudes, we’ll work on that as we go.

I just want to stress that as we go on and look at General Challenges and Specific Challenges facing Circle we need to look at ALL the options, no matter how poor they may appear at first.

2. A POPULAR MYTH- You have to win Cons for your opinion to matter

I’m not going to list my warmachine pedigree and I don’t think it matters. I play games, I do alright and more importantly I can “make a game” almost all the time. Do I win all my games? No, no one does. Does that mean you should listen to me or take my opinion at face value? No, but I can promise you that if you take these steps to developing an Open Mind you WILL have a better time playing this great game and if you work with me to examine all the options and possible solutions to our challenges you WILL surprise yourself.

I want to stress that I DO want to hear your opinion and I do want to consider them and work together to surmount our faction challenges. That said, “Circle Infantry sucks, beasts are over priced, Faction needs CID”, is not an opinion, it’s a mental disease and I’ll just ignore it for the negative voodoo it is while I continue to try and administer the cure.

3. POPULAR MYTH- A good list pairing should cover all your match ups. 

There was a time when you could make a pairing that covered all your match ups, or more accurately Circle had such powerful Meta bending casters that we didn’t have to worry about bad match ups. We controlled the list picking portion of the match so strongly we had our choice of what to play.

Those times are gone, and thank god it is. Now we have to live like other factions and if you go to a tournament you will probably have to play at least 1 bad match up that day and that’s a good thing. Why? Because it’s a true test of a good player and it makes for a better game. Remember the goal is to be able “to make a game of it”, not “Crush enemies, see them driven before you.” Yes, you want to win, go ahead, win, as hard as you can, but I’ll be happy to make a game of it, because that’s what I enjoy, the game, the puzzles, the challenges.

So, be aware, internalise it, there is NO ideal list pairing. There is NO optimal list build and that’s a good thing as you can be creative, learn, grow and develop new solutions to new challenges.


I used to think that this was the way to be competitive; pick two optimal lists and play the shit out of them and learn all your matches and master them. There is some wisdom in this BUT I think at it’s core, the assumption is hopelessly flawed.

First off, there are no optimal lists. Second, muscle memory is as bad as it is good. Finally by focusing on a narrow range of options and committing heavily to an inflexible model actually makes you LESS competitive as it makes you predictable.

Good players and great players play their entire faction and don’t stick with 2 super practised lists. Good players are flexible and adapt, bad players are inflexible and are slow to adapt.

That said, there is value in having some plan and consistency in your play practice but I think it’s more valuable to have that centre around a warlock and try numerous variations and permutations with that caster. You should be altering, adjusting and trying new things with that caster until you feel comfortable with their strengths and vulnerabilities. Once again don’t be afraid to try options you consider “poor” as long as you have a plan for their utilisation, they will sometimes surprise you, and your opponent!

5. A POPULAR MYTH- Rock beats Scissors

Some of the super competitive players in our meta have this attitude that they know how a particular match up will play and that this list beats this list or Caster A beats Caster B. So much so that occasionally when they meet up with each other at a tournament they don’t play the game and instead “ship captain crew” for the win.

This attitude is cancer. It is cancer to a community and it is cancer to your personal growth as a player. First off, if you’re playing properly, all lists should not be identical. Second off, every game IS A GAME, where there is a chance to win and a chance to lose. This isn’t a computer program, people make mistakes, terrain is always different as is scenario, what you had for lunch and whether or not you got a good nights sleep. It is always worth playing the game, it’s why you go out to tournaments for gods sake!


So those are the pre-conceived notions you need to clear out of your head before we continue to examine Circle and the challenges they have in the current Meta! Please, by all means contact me, message me, leave contacts, look me up on FB and shoot me your thoughts and ideas, we (as a faction) are in this together and we’ll only solve our challenges together.

Next article I will examine those challenges in more detail and start to get into devising potential solutions!

Remember as we circle the drain;