The blackclads are few in number, but their work is constant and endless. Only a small handful of these druids can be devoted to any single task at a given time. But the masters of the wilderness are cunning. They have woven a web of many debts among the inhabitants of the wilderness, whom they can call upon to fight on their behalf.
- For the core rules on how Theme Forces work, see this article.
An army made use the Secret Masters theme force can include only the following Circle models:
- This army can also include any number of Minion solos, Minion units, and Minion battle-engines that will work for Circle.
- These models/units can be included even if they have the Partisan [Circle] rule.
- Minion units can have non-Ranking Officer attachments
Full model list
The models allowed in Secret Masters
This list was last updated: 2021.10 (Edit)
- Most Circle warlocks
The warlocks that aren't
allowed are: [Show/Hide]
- All non-character warbeasts
- Other character warbeasts can be taken, but only if they have a bond and they're in their bonded model's battlegroup.
- Any number of solos
- Any number of units
- Any number of Battle-engines
You can spend each Requisition Point on either:
- One Circle command attachment
- Two Blackclad Stoneshaper solos
- Three Gallows Grove solos
- One other small- or medium-based solo with a point cost 5 or less
- Note:This can be a Minion solo or a Circle solo.
- Blackclads gain Sacrificial Pawn [Minion Warrior Model]
- Sacrificial Pawn [ Minion Warrior Model ] - When this model is directly hit by an enemy ranged attack, you can have one friendly, non-incorporeal Minion warrior model within 3" of it directly hit instead. That model is automatically hit and suffers all damage and effects. The Sacrificial Pawn special rule can only trigger once per attack roll.
2021.10 - Krueger0 released
2021.10 Mega Update
- Sac Pawn gains a clause to say "once per attack" so you can't chain multiple Sac Pawns together to move an attack halfway across the table.
- Wurmwood added to the allowed models.
- The free solo now has to cost 5 points or less.
Thoughts on Secret Masters
Secret Masters in a Nutshell
This is a minion infantry theme with Blackclad support and Blackclad guns to roast infantry. Your mainline infantry will be multiple Farrow or Gatorman units (Farrow Valkyries, Farrow Brigands, Farrow Slaughterhousers, and Croak Raiders). Also this is the theme where you can play Archons and (Riot Quest) minion solos as much as you like.
This theme has three selling points:
- A cloud wall to hide your beasts behind. Other factions do it better, but it's still fun to have one of your own.
- It lets you mix living and construct warbeasts and take a Blackclad Stoneshaper to support the constructs.
See also this Insider article for the Developer's opinion on it.
In terms of what Circle models are available, there's a lot of overlap with The Bones of Orboros and Wild Hunt, so any of the three themes are a good option to start a new Circle collection.
- Your Blackclad infantry does no armour cracking; the strongest attack your warriors can make is POW 12. Bring heavy beasts
- Certain builds are better off as a Bones of Orboros force, namely if you're thinking of a Celestial Fulcrum plus construct beasts. Bones also has better in-faction skirmish units.
- Farrow models need an update. As of the time of writing (2019.06) they haven't been touched since the start of Mk3.
List Building Tips
The most expensive requisition points are the three Gallows Grove solos and the minions i.e. Alten Ashley, Hutchuck, Ogrun Bounty Hunter, and the Totem Hunter, also as more and more Riot Quest solos are released you get more and more options to choose from.
If going for sacrificial pawns the Gatorman Bokor & Bog Trog Swamp Shamblers can be really effective. Especially if you are double-dipping the bodies with Morvahna the Autumnblade and Regrowth.
The main draw of the theme is being able to take powerhouse minion models like Malvin & Mayhem, Death Archons, Kogan the Exile and Scythe and supply them with a Blackclad support engine and a powerful friendly faction agnostic caster, aka Krueger2, but casters like Tanith1 or Una2also have game here. Krueger protects your army from shooting, applies Telekinesis where needed and has a feat that lets you take an alpha twice, so the above models can go to town and hopefully win you the game.
- The Well of Orboros is a powerful gun platform that also buffs Krueger's already large control range, buffs construct beasts and distributes corpses to Crock pots, Death Archons and Kogan. It also summons a non-character friendly faction solo once per game.
- Chuck Dogwood is a vital source of Veteran Leader and hands out Puppet master.
- Blackclad Wayfarer - Hunter Mark is also faction agnostic.
- Shifting Stones let your Circle models teleport around the battle field.
- Kogan the Exile - Star Smite on a Tharn Axe and Heart Eater is pretty good and he get fuelled by Croc Pots and the Well. Run him with a caster that protects him going in.
- Death Archon - this is arguably the most powerful option in this theme, 2 of them make the start of a lot of lists
- Dhunian Archon - they heal and protect key models.
- Primal Archon - a straight up beater with knock down on the fists and shadow bind within 3" of itself. Really loves a caster that cranks up its damage.
- Boil Master & Spirit Cauldron - An extra Puppet master and free corpses for any takers.
- Scythe - She loves hanging out in forests and is a real threat with her bow.
- Hermit - Ever useful, a once per game damage negate, an ARM debuff or an accuracy buff for magic.
- The Wastelander - He is an excellent anti-gun piece able to protect more important models from incoming fire. Once he gets there he also does a ton of damage with his sword.
- Farrow Valkyries - Three Shield Guards ready to protect important models, such as a Storm Raptor.
- If going for sacrificial pawns the Gatorman Bokor & Bog Trog Swamp Shamblers can be really effective. Especially if you are double-dipping the bodies with Morvahna the Autumnblade and Regrowth.
Starting a 25 point Brawl force
In 2019.03 Neonchameleon came up with this list as a cross-over list for Circle players who want to start a Minion army or vice versa. It consists of Circle stapes plus several Minions that are useful in a Will Work for Food list (which is a Minion theme force).
- Tanith1: [+31 WBP]
- Blackclad Wayfarer: [3 pts]
- Gallows Grove [2 pts]
- Lynus Wesselbaum & Edrea Lloryrr [5 pts]
- Farrow Valkyries [8 pts]
- Farrow Bone Grinders (Max unit): [7 pts]
Total RRP: USD $214 (based on PP's online store prices 2021.05)
- Since the 2021.10 point reductions you can add any solo with a cost up to 5 points as a requisition option.
In 2020.10 Phillip Melvin, one of the LOS authors, put together this list for the Brawlmachine format. He even wrote about it's playstyle and expanding it beyond 25 points, which you can read here.
- Tanith1: [+31 WBP]
- Primal Archon: [8 pts]
- Scythe: [6 pts]
- Chuck Dogwood: [free] (4 pts)
- Shifting Stones: [3 pts]
- Farrow Slaughterhousers: [7 pts]
Total RRP: USD $215, or $203 if you can find a Circle starter box (based on PP's online store prices 2021.05)
For more Brawlmachine list ideas, see Category: Brawl List
Casters of Note
Released in the themeopolcalypse (2017.09)
Other Circle models/thmes
Rules Clarification: : Sacrificial Pawn and/or Sucker! and/or Grim Salvation (Edit)
(Click Expand to read)
- Sacrificial Pawn is optional.
Grim Salvation and Sucker are not optional.
- Grim Salvation only works vs basic attacks, not special attacks, power attacks, chain attacks.
- Spells are not basic attacks, because they are not "made with a weapon". (Infernal Ruling)
- CRA and CMA are basic attacks. (Infernal Ruling)
- If a Special Attack generates an additional attack (such as Multi-Fire), the second attack will be basic and as such can have Grim Salvation used vs it. (Infernal Ruling)
- Sacrificial Pawn & Sucker! don't work against melee attacks.
- None of them work vs magic attacks (spells).
All of them work against Magical Ranged attacks, though.
- The model the attack is transferred to is always hit, even if they have an ability that makes them automatically get missed (such as Stealth).
Automatically missing is determined earlier in the timing sequence than when the attack is moved. (Infernal Ruling)
From here down, the terms Sacrificial Pawn, Grim Salvation, and Sucker! are interchangeable
- Using Sac Pawn moves all damage and effects onto the other model.
- The new model hit may use any abilities that trigger on being hit/damaged by an enemy attack (such as Vengeance and Shock Field).
- Sprays and AOEs
- With reference to the timing chart in Appendix A: placing a spray template down occurs at Step 3. Using Sacrificial Pawn occurs at step 6. Placing an AOE template down occurs at step 7.
Therefore if you use Sac Pawn vs a spray, the placement of the spray template does not change. If you use Sac Pawn vs an AOE, the placement of the AOE template does change.
- A model indirectly hit by an AOE attack cannot use Sac Pawn vs it.
- Since a spray template doesn't move, it may cause the Pawn to be hit twice by the same spray. So you then resolve two damage rolls against it.
- When/if you shift an AOE template, the original target may be clipped by the edge of the AOE anyway (depending on how far apart the original target and Pawn are).
- Quick Draw vs Sacrificial Pawn (Edit)
- If enemy "Model A" shoots you, and then you use Quick Draw against "Model A", but they use Sac Pawn to move your Quick Draw attack to "Model B" then ... Quick Draw has no effect (or rather, it affects "Model B" who isn't currently shooting you so is irrelevant). Point is, "Model A" can continue shooting you.
- This won't happen with Shield Guard though (outside of a very low-probability scenario) because Shield Guard can only be triggered during an enemy turn.
Rules Clarification: Theme Forces (Edit)
Themes that change a model's Faction [Show/Hide]
- Many themes swap which Faction a model counts as. They're slightly inconsistent with how exactly this is worded. Despite this inconsistency - whenever a model is considered a different faction to normal, it will not be its original faction. (Infernal Ruling)
- For instance Lukas stops being a Crucible Guard model when taken in an Infernal army, and as a consequence he cannot take Toros or Vanguards in Infernals. (Infernal Ruling)
Rerolling the starting roll [Show/Hide]
- You cannot use the theme benefit to reroll if it is a draw. Instead both players reroll until there is a loser, and then the loser can use their reroll benefit (if they have it). (Infernal Ruling)
- If both players have a reroll, first the original loser uses their reroll.
- If the original loser still loses, fine.
- If the original loser now wins, the other player can use their reroll.
- If it is now a draw, both players reroll until there is a loser. Then the player that hasn't used their theme benefit reroll can still use it, if they want.
Warjacks/Warbeasts with bonds [Show/Hide]
- A warjack/warbeast with a bond can always be included in a theme force, whether or not they're in the list of allowed models, but only if they're controlled by that bonded model.
- This applies even if that bonded model isn't a full warcaster/warlock (changed as of 2018.06).
Including Mercenaries [Show/Hide]
Number of Mercenaries
- If your "up to one Merc" ...
- ... can take warbeasts/warjacks, then you can add warbeast(s)/warjack(s) (without exceeding your "up to one" allowance)
- ... comes with a Companion model, then you'll get that Companion (without exceeding your "up to one" allowance)
- There is a bug in Warroom that allows you to not only take one Merc solo/unit, but the entire FA of that Merc solo/unit. It's a bug.
Mercenaries and Ranking Officers
- Adding a Ranking Officer to a Merc unit doesn't increase the number of Merc units you can take.
- See also the section on Partisans
Including Partisan Mercenaries [Show/Hide]
Partisans & Theme Forces (Edit)
- Partisans are Mercenary/Minion models, so there are two ways you can add them to a theme force:
- Freely: If the Partisan is on the list of allowed models, then you can take as many as you want plus another Mercenary unit/solo. (Infernal Ruling)
- They can be explicitly allowed (for example Jaws of the Wolf allows "Kayazy models/units" so Partisan Kayayz can be used freely).
- They can be implicitly allowed (for example Scourge of the Broken Coast allows "living Cryx models/units" and Partisan Cephalyx fit that criteria, so they can be used freely). (Infernal Ruling)
- Limited: If the Partisan isn't on the list of allowed models, it does use up your "Up to one Mercenary/Minion" slot, so you can only have the one.
- Whether you used option 1 or 2 above, once they're in your theme force they count as a Faction model and so:
- They can be taken as a Requistion Option (if they fit the Requistion description).
- For example Lanyssa can be taken as a free solo in the Legion of Dawn theme. (Infernal Ruling)
- They will get any theme benefit that they fit the description for.
- For example Storm Division gives all Cygnar models Immunity Electricity, so Partisan Mercs in that theme get immunity too.
- For example Nemo4's Mechaniks get Reposition  in Heavy Metal. (Infernal Ruling)
Requisition Points [Show/Hide]
- You can choose the same Requisition option as many times as you like, as long as it doesn't put you over a FA limit.
- You can't mix and match models from different options. Say one option allows 3 Machine Wraiths and another allows 3 Necrotechs. You can't use your Requisition Point to get 2 Wraiths and 1 Necrotech.
- If you have an option that allows one other solo, you can't use it to get something already on the list. For instance, Ghost Fleet allows 3 Misery Cages (which are FA 4) for one Requistion Point, and it allows 1 other solo. That "other solo" can't be a 4th Cage.
- If your theme allows "3 weapon attachments" as a Requistion Option, you can spread them into different units. (Locked Thread)
- Models with the Man-Sized rule count as small-based models for the purposes of being a Requistion Option. (Locked Thread)
Free models and Specialists (ADR) [Show/Hide]
- If your theme only allows one merc solo, you can't have one in your main list and a different one in your specialists.
Unit Attachments [Show/Hide]
- If a unit is allowed in a theme, any-and-all of its attachments are allowed too. Exception: Ranking Officers are not allowed unless explicitily mentioned.
- If the theme force gives a benefit to a specific unit, any-and-all attachments to that unit will benefit too. Even if it is a "generic" attachment like the Void Leech. (Infernal Ruling)
For example, a Trollkin Sorcerer will gain Serenity if its attached to a Dhunian Knot unit in a Power of Dhunia theme force.
- If your theme allows "3 weapon attachments" as a Requistion Option, you can spread them into different units. (Locked Thread)
- A non-character unit with a character attachment (i.e. Captain Karli) still counts as a non-character unit. (Infernal Ruling)
When to apply theme benefits [Show/Hide]
- With reference to special abilities that themes give to models, Ranking Officers, adding new models, and/or taking control of models:
- Theme force benefits are applied when you construct your list or put a new model into play. A model already in play will not lose or gain any theme benefits mid-game based on any changes of faction status or otherwise. (Infernal Ruling)
- However, if the theme gives a benefit to models "at the beginning of the game" (such as Devourer's Host letting models begin the game with 1 corpse token) then this benefit does not apply to new models that are put into play mid-game. (Locked Thread)
- Example 1: Sons of the Tempest says "ATGM units in this army gain Pistoleer". If your opponent takes control of one of them, it keeps Pistoleer while under their control even though it's currently not "in the army".
- Example 2: Storm Division gives Immunity:Electricity to "Cygnar models in the army." If you include a Mercenary unit with a Ranking Officer, they will get the theme benefit and also keep it even after the Ranking Officer dies.
- Example 3: Stange Bedfellows gives solos Swift Vengeance. If Nemo4 creates a new solo mid-game, that solo will have Swift Vengeance.
See also these Theme-Specific Rulings [Show/Hide]
Rules Clarification : Black Industries (Edit)
- The entry which allows "Cephalyx models/units" only applies to Partisan Cephalyx. That's because the theme's rules start off with "this army can only include the following Cryx models". Partisan Cephalyx are the only ones that fill that condition.
- The Cephalyx Agitator also works for Cryx and can go in Black Industries but, because it is not a Partisan, it will use up your Mercenary solo slot.
- (Infernal Ruling)
Rules Clarification : The Creator's Might (Edit)
- Elias Gade is allowed in Creator's Might. (Infernal Ruling)
- You can spend the "Two Vassal solos" requistion option on one Vassal Mechanik and one Vassal of Menoth. Warroom has a bug and tells you that you can't. (Infernal Ruling)
Rules Clarification : Flame in the Darkness (Edit)
- You can take any number of Mercenary jacks. You can also select two additional jacks from Khador and Cygnar in any combination you like. Character warjacks with a bond don't count against this limit of 2. (Infernal Ruling)
- There is a bug in Warroom that allows you to take two Cygnar and two Khador jacks.
- Morrowan Battle Priest:
- If your warcaster is a Cygnar model that makes every unit you take a Cygnar unit, and Battle Priests can be attached to any unit.
Warroom has a known bug where it doesn't allow this interaction.
- If your warcaster is a Mercenary or Khador model, though, the only units the Battle Priest can attach to are the Morrow ones.
- If you attach the Battle Priest to The Devil's Shadows Mutineers then it can be returned via Blood Bound. (Infernal Ruling)
Rules Clarification : The Bones of Orboros (Edit)
- Una1 cannot be taken in this theme (yet) due to the conflict between the theme's "Only Construct warbeasts allowed" and Una1's "Must take warbeasts with flight". There are no construct warbeasts with flight (yet). But if/when there is, then Una1 can be taken in this theme. (Infernal Ruling)
Rules Clarification : The Devourer's Host (Edit)
- Bradigus1 is not legal in this theme. The theme only allows living warbeasts, his rules only allow construct warbeasts, and you can't just 'skip' his battlegroup - you have to spend your warbeast points.
- If you create a new model mid-game (ie with the Well of Orboros and that model can have corpse tokens, that model does not enter play with a corpse. Because it's not the beginning of the game. (Locked thread)
Rules Clarification : The Wild Hunt (Edit)
- The animus benefit doesn't apply to enemy warbeasts. (Infernal Ruling)
- The animus benefit doesn't stack with the Druid Wilder's Herding ability. (Infernal Ruling)
- When it comes to other things that alter COST (such as Lamentation), follow basic maths: Double/halve first, then add/subtract.
Rules Clarification : The Exalted (Edit)
- If a Construct model loses the Construct advantage mid-game, it keeps the theme benefit anyway. (Infernal Ruling)
Rules Clarification : Band of Heroes (Edit)
- Boomhowler2 uses up your Minion slot. His Fell Calls ability is not enough to make him a "Fell Caller model/unit". (Infernal Ruling)
- Boomhowler3 does not use up your minion slot on account of having the Champion keyword.
Rules Clarification : Magnum Opus (Edit)
- If Mosby is attached to a Mercenary weapon crew unit, they would gain 3" reposition and would not lose it if Mosby is no longer in the unit. (Infernal Ruling)