Bannermen, the flames continue to burn, and today we’re here to talk about the next round of updates for A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniature Game. Back in December we released our 1.5 Updates, covering the Core Rules, Game Modes, as well as Updates for the Starks, Lannisters, and Neutral factions. We mentioned back then that Night’s Watch and Free Folk would also be receiving updates in the future, and that future is coming soon.
While both factions did receive some minor adjustments then, we held off on releasing the full scope of them to better focus on the initial three factions. This was partly to keep from just flooding with information, but also because, while all these changes were worked on as a complete package, we wanted to gather additional data specifically in regards to both Night’s Watch and Free Folk. Having been released much later than the initial factions, the overall flow of the game was still being largely defined not only by the emerging game-meta and player-base, but also just the level of experience people had compared to Starks, Lannisters, and Neutrals, as well as the raw number of options and releases.
We’re now ready to roll out the updates to Night’s Watch and Free Folk, which overall are much less in number than their predecessors but are just as exciting. Just like when we did those updates, we’re going to have a series of article leading up to the official release, going over some of the specific changes, as well as the design philosophy behind said changes.
Before we get into talking about some of the specifics, one additional item we’re going to address/mention is that, despite not releasing at exactly the same time as the others, we’re still wrapping these faction updates into the same “Update 1.5” umbrella as the others. Primarily, this is because these two factions are all that is being further modified, and moving the entire document set forward to a “Version 1.6” on account of this just seemed counterproductive, so you can treat this as a “Update v1.5.1” if you’re really a stickler for version control. Of course the actual Night’s Watch and Free Folk documents will note their changes accordingly with version control for now, just so players are aware they have the correct one.
That all being said, let’s take a look at two of the units receiving updates:
Conscripts are your cheap filler option for Night’s Watch, and while they filled that role just fine, they had two elements working against them. First off, their stats are absolutely abysmal- which they should be. They are, well, conscripts, forced into service of the Night’s Watch rather than rotting away in a cell and/or being executed. The only ones who would ever care about them are the Watch, and that’s just because they are desperate for bodies. Still, their role in the army was to be herded into an enemy and/or objective while the real soldiers did actual work. Good idea, but usually just ended in a free Victory Point for the opponent. Minding this, we’ve given the unit the Insignificant rule, removing any benefit to the enemy for destroying them. While it is true that the Night’s Watch does need more manpower, losing a group of thieves and murderers isn’t the largest blow - you can always find more.
In addition to this, we have removed the Uninitiated rule from the unit. While this was a thematic rule, it was another hinderance in a unit that already suffered in numerous ways. More importantly, it also removed this unit from playing with the key feature of the faction: Vows. Night’s Watch already have to make tough choices in this area with Neutrals (since they cannot take Vows at all) and they didn’t really need any further in-faction limitations - If you’re playing a faction for their cool mechanics, they should be able to utilize those cool mechanics. So essentially the “time-table” for the Conscript unit got pushed to “Ok, you’re initiated. Now get out there!” whereas previously it was more “Welcome to the Wall! Now get out there!”
FOLLOWERS OF BONE
Meanwhile, for the Free Folk lets take a look at some scary men who want to hurt you: the Followers of Bone. Conceptualized as an “elite” (by Free Folk standards) shock-troop, the Followers play off of Panicking the enemy. Unfortunately, while Horrific Visage did get a boost in the 1.5 ruleset, Followers were just still not performing where we wanted them to be. This actually was a victim of their interplay within the Free Folk more than anything else, where 6 points can be considered a massive investment- a sentiment that doesn’t really apply when comparing to any other faction (and just another example that cross-faction comparisons aren’t very healthy to do, given other options, tactics card interactions, etc).
With the Followers, we really wanted to push the Panic theme as well as the fact that they should be one of your absolute go-to units when it comes to dealing raw damage. Horrific Visage covered the unit dealing damage even when being attacked, so we instead looked at their attack potential. Not only have we increased their Attack Dice in both their second and third ranks, but we have also added Vicious to their attacks, so now they can decimate their foes on the Panic front on both the attack as well as on “defense”. Combine this with the Champion of Bone attachment, which gives them access to Prey on Fear and you have a very steady potential to constantly restore Wounds, keeping the unit around to further slay your foes.
And yes, the Bonelord’s Chosen have also received some modifications - but we’re going to keep them for a later look.
And that is going to complete our initial look at the Free Folk and Night’s Watch updates, loyal Bannermen. We’ll be continuing our article series with an individual focus on each of the factions, giving specific spot-light into faction identity and how these updates roll into those concepts. Until then!