Getting Started with House Stark in the A Song of Ice and Fire Miniatures Game Starter Set
winter is coming
Residing in the North, the Starks are one of the most ferocious factions in A Song of Ice and Fire: The Miniature Game. Hardy fighters, firm in their beliefs, these soldiers control the battlefield through strength in arms, tactical maneuverability, and the willingness to fight to the bitter end. And in the case of the Greatjon, sometimes beyond.
The Stark vs Lannister Starter Set will provide you with the core units of the Stark battle line. Included are two units of Stark Sworn Swords, one unit of Stark Outriders, and one unit of Umber Berserkers. To command your Starks the set comes with two commanders, Robb Stark the Wolf Lord and Greatjon Umber, Lord of the Last Hearth. Robb, who can be fielded with Grey Wind, focuses on maneuverability and tactical retreats, while Greatjon punishes opponents with vicious counterattacks and auto-wounds. Both of these commanders can also be fielded as regular unit attachments (and yes, Robb keeps his free wolf), along with the two Sworn Sword Captains and Umber Champion included in the starter. Rounding out your starter set are your two NCUs, Catelyn Stark, Lady of Winterfell and Sansa Stark, Little Bird.
The key to winning games in ASOIAF TMG is not just understanding the capabilities of your units, but more importantly how they synergize with their comrades, commanders, attachments and NCUs to become a focused, deadly battlefield force. Experience is the best teacher, but in the style of Ser Rodrick Cassel (who you can find in Stark Heroes #1), we’ll do our best in this article to make sure you don’t hit your first battle unprepared.
Stark Sworn Swords (5 pts)
The Stark Sworn Swords are the backbone of many Stark armies. They are cost-effective and flexible, and while other units are better suited for specific battlefield niches, the Sworn Swords are your versatile multitool.
The keyword to keep in mind when looking at Sworn Sword stats is average. They don’t excel in any one area except morale, which at a 6+ is slightly better than average. Compared with their Lannister counterparts, the Guardsmen, they are slightly faster, with a 5 speed vs the Lannister 4, have the same to hit stat of 4+ while rolling more dice, and a 1 point worse defense. A key element of the Sworn Swords is their Stark Fury ability, an effect that allows them to hit on a 3+ and gain Critical Blow. Rolling 8 dice with critical blow and hitting on 3+ gives this 5 point unit an attack on par with some of the strongest units in the game. And since it’s not an order, it can be used on every attack the Sworn Swords make during a round. Of course, something this powerful does not come without a price. For every attack made using this ability the Sworn Swords take D3 wounds. When they’re on their last rank (4 remaining models), Stark Fury can be used without penalty. Stark players often use this ability when the unit is either at full ranks, or on the last, but often the decision to use it needs to be purely based on the current state of the battlefield. For instance, if you have a chance to hit a unit with a devastating flank charge that could potentially take if off the battlefield, then it might be worth it to use that Stark Rage even if it could potentially reduce you to only two remaining models.
The last stat that hasn’t been discussed yet is Morale. Sworn Swords have a Morale of 6+ which is average for the Stark forces and generally speaking better than most units in the game.
House Umber Berserkers (7 pts)
If the Stark Sworn Swords are your backbone, then the House Umber Berserkers are your devastating haymaker. While powerful, the Berserkers will require a careful balance of offense and positioning to remain on the battlefield.
Unlike the Sworn Swords, the Berserkers are characterized by extremes in their stat profile. A good place to start is their movement of 6. Very few infantry units in the game are this fast and coupled with their strong attack, potential attachments, and the Stark tactics cards it gives the Berserkers an enormous threat range.
The Berserkers attack profile is also unique, increasing their attack dice as they lose ranks. Their 3+ to hit starts with 8 dice at full ranks, then 9 dice at two ranks, and finally 10 dice on their last rank. When coupled with their Sundering ability (-1 to defense), the berserkers attack stats mark them as an offensively-focused unit.
Although designed for aggression, their 5+ defense save can make prolonged combat a dicey proposition. While it does allow the unit to quickly gain its last rank and 10 dice attack, they are unlikely to survive another hit after. Their elite 4+ morale save helps mitigate their poor armor to a degree, as it is rare they’ll take any meaningful damage from a failed morale test.
Use the Umber Berserkers maneuverability to position them for devastating flank attacks on engaged opponents, and alpha striking exposed enemy units from across the board, but try and avoid leaving them exposed too early in the game.
Stark Outriders (7 pts)
Stark Outriders are the first cavalry unit available to the Starks. They are a medium/light cavalry unit designed to threaten opponents with their mobility and hit and run tactics. Outriders are often useful in harassing ranged enemies and charging engaged units in the flank/rear.
Stark Outriders fall somewhere in the light to medium cavalry range. Their 6 speed them faster than heavier cavalry like the Lannister Knights of Casterly Rock or Tully Cavaliers at the sacrifice of armor. Don’t forget, like all cavalry the Outriders have a free maneuver action at the start of their activation.
The Outrider’s stat profile is similar to the Stark Sworn Swords, mostly average. They hit on a 4, have a defense save of 4+, and a slightly better than average morale at 6+. Since Cavalry only contains two ranks their attack profile goes from 8 dice at full to 5 dice on the last rank. While they can dish out damage, they’re unlikely to be a devastating offensive tool, so don’t rush them into the heat of battle as a frontline combatant unless absolutely forced to do so.
It’s their order and ability that set them apart. The Outrider’s order, allows them to make a free retreat when targeted with melee. Never underestimate the benefit of a tactical retreat, whether you’re setting yourself up for a charge on the unprotected flank of a vulnerable enemy, pouncing on a free objective, or simply surviving to fight another round it’s an important tool in the Stark arsenal. It also combines well with their Rapid Assault ability, which allows them to make a free charge when targeted by the maneuver zone on the tactics board. Creative use of these two tools can turn the Outriders into a perimeter nightmare for your opponent, darting in to cause damage and then escaping destruction to attack once again.
Stark Sworn Sword Captain (1 pt)
Your starter set comes with two Sworn Sword Captains, a 1 point attachment that can be attached to an infantry unit. The captain’s order, Martial Training, allows you to make the enemy the attached unit is engaged with vulnerable after attack dice are rolled. It’s fairly basic, but not to be underestimated, as a well-timed Vulnerable token can make a big difference in a melee.
Umber Champion (1 pt)
[Editor’s Note: The Umber Champion’s ability was changed after the v1.4 update, and the attachment card in the starter box is out of date. – Chase]
The Umber Champion is a beast of a 1 point attachment. It’s native ability, Fury Unleashed, gives the attached unnit +2 attack dice and Vicious on its melee attack. Like most of the angry Stark faction attacks, this does come with a penalty of d3 wounds to your unit after the order is used, but it’s more than worth it in the right situation.
Catelyn Stark (4 pts)
The Lady of Winterfell, Catelyn Stark provides an immeasurable amount of value to the Starks. When she takes a zone on the tactics board, you can then influence a unit and remove any condition token, as well as allow the same unit to attack using its highest die value regardless of the remaining ranks. See that almost dead unit of Sworn Swords with only two models left and a weakness token? Not much of a threat, right? Slap a little Catelyn on them then all of a sudden you’ve got a unit that’s no longer weakened, hitting at full force, AND can use Stark Fury without penalties. Full rank unit of Umber Berserkers attacking with 8 dice? Sprinkle a fine coat of Catelyn on those bearded monsters and you’ve got a Berserkers hitting at max power in the first round. Learn her, love her, cause you’ll find a good use for her in many of your armies.
Sansa Stark (3 pts)
At first, Sansa might not seem quite as effective as Catelyn, beyond the always nice benefit of a cheaper NCU. A once per game ability that only lets you grab a single card? Using Sansa effectively requires a little experience with the game and a good knowledge of how your cards interact with the current battlefield. But once you do, she might very well be the single deadliest NCU available. Her ability can be used at any time. Anytime. That’s huge, people. No matter what, if there’s a card you need to make a huge play and it’s not in your hand, it can be! And not only can you pull it from your deck, but from your discard pile as well. Don’t underestimate this little bird.
Building Your First Army
When building your first Stark Army (40 points) you should try to have 2-3 units of Sworn Sword units to create a stable backbone, followed by 2-3 specialized units. The list below uses the Berserkers as it’s main flanking and support unit, buffed with the Greatjon, and a unit of Outriders, who synergize well with Robb’s tactics cards. Remember, your specialized units should have defined battlefield roles, and will likely suffer if used incorrectly. Be sure to use your NCU’s, and remember that Stark’s tend to prioritize the maneuver and attack zones of the tactics board.
YOUR FIRST ARMY
Faction: House Stark
Commander: Robb Stark – The Wolf Lord
Points: 40 (0 Neutral)
- Stark Sworn Swords (5)
with Robb Stark – The Wolf Lord (0)
- Grey Wind (0)
- Stark Sworn Swords (5)
with Umber Champion (1)
- Stark Sworn Swords (5)
- House Umber Berserkers (7)
with Greatjon Umber – Fierce Bannerman (3)
- Stark Outriders (7)
- Sansa Stark – Little Bird (3)
- Catelyn Stark – Lady of Winterfell (4)
Made with ASOIAFBuilder.com
****This list does not contain any units outside of the starter box other than one additional Sworn Sword Unit.
Starks are a fun, aggressive faction that has all the tools they need to inflict some serious damage on your opponents. Our future articles will continue the discussion on the Starks with a deeper look into their basic tactics deck, NCU options, and units.