The Starks are flush with options once you expand past the starter set. From the powerful Umber Greataxes to the stalwart Tully Sworn Shields, there’s an answer for any playstyle. Something you might want to add quickly to your lists, however, is ranged support.
The available Stark ranged units offer decent variety, as they use different attack vectors from maneuverable units intended for short-range combat or longe range units intended to inflict damage on your opponent with less fear of repercussion.
There are currently 3 ranged units the Starks can field: The Stark Longbowmen, Crannogman Trackers, and Bolton Bastards Girls.
The Stark Longbowmen are the most ranged focused option. With a long-range attack and the ability to shift two inches before attacking, the longbowmen can REALLY reach out and touch someone. With their arrows. The Bowmen, however, get a hefty bonus if they DON’T shift. So if your opponent gets within long range, you’ll want to stand still and unleash hell. They should have an easier time with this than other ranged units since they ignore intervening models and terrain when firing. So, grab a spot, nock, draw and loose!
Being so heavily on the ranged attack side, the bowmen do NOT want to be in melee ever. If these guys are making melee attacks, something has gone horribly wrong. They’ll die to a stiff breeze and harsh language so screen them with another unit and let them do their job of raining down arrows.
On the other end of the spectrum are the Crannogman Trackers. The Trackers move a little faster and hit a little harder than the bowmen but suffer for it by only having a short-range attack. They do have the quickfire order which allows them to make 1 free ranged attack after completing a maneuver OR retreat action. Combined with the maneuver tactics spot on the board, or various Stark Tactics cards, this will allow the Crannogmen to shoot and scoot in and output arrows where you want them. Their attachment, the Crannogman Warden, lets them reroll misses against non activated units. This gives you some increased accuracy but also puts you in danger of reprisal from that same unit. Though the Crannogmen hit about as hard as the bowmen in melee, they have an even lower armor score of six. The frogmen from the neck need to stay out of melee at all costs. They are a guerrilla force and should be used as such. The good part of this is that they only have a 5 point cost to field, so if they do end up in a tragic death situation you’re not losing a large point investment.
The other option for the Starks is their sometime ally, the Boltons. The Bolton Bastards Girls are the in-between unit of the ranged options. The Girls are a unit that doesn’t hit especially hard in ranged OR melee but have the ability to do both in the same activation with their “sic em” order. In typical Bolton fashion, this means you’ll be spamming panic tests as long as you kill a model with both attacks. Their hunting bow also gives a chance of inflicting the vulnerable status on a defender to really help make that follow up charge hurt. Since they attack at long range, you can soften up a unit from safety before you unleash the hounds of hell!
With all three units, be sure to look for opportunities to make use of the attack tactics board space as well. The ability to pepper the enemy with multiple shots a round can go a long way towards hobbling an opponent before the fight begins in earnest, and it can clear a unit off an objective point even if you can’t quite reach it yourself. Sometimes, the game comes down to that last point and a dead unit contests nothing.
Hero box two is less about commanders and more about interesting attachment choices. I’d say it’s less of a must-have but if you plan on having a Stark family reunion, you’ll need it to complete the set. The Stark children all bring something a little extra and like their brother Robb, center around being tactical and making the best use out of them at the right time.
Where you go from here is up to you, but while it might be tempting to buy everything you can get your hands on (let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that), you should probably have a plan.
Now, some of my fellow creators might sacrifice me to the Lord of Light, but I have a confession. I”m a dirty, filthy, “casual” gamer. My lists aren’t typically optimized to meet the meta or coincide with the latest tournament winning lists. MY lists usually revolve around a theme or story and this game has TONS of both to pull from. One idea I’m fond of is the Blackfish leading a Tully army out of Riverrun supported by his niece Caitlyn, her daughter Arya and the “late” Walder Frey. To flesh that out, you’ll want to get more Tully’s to your side.
The Tully Sworn Shields bring a little something you don’t get right off the bat with the Stark intro units and ‘a solid defensive line. The North is a harsh land that builds strong men who favor aggressive tactics, but the Tully’s of Riverrun are who you want when you need to claim and hold an objective. Ther defensive line ability combined with the Stark tactics deck means you get one tough nut to crack that can be slippery as an eel. If you get your Stark Hero 2 box, I’m fond of sticking Syrio Forrel with them just to make the idea of attacking them a little less appealing. Between his defense buff, the fish knights naturally high armor, and that shield wall, your standard enemy troops are going to struggle to get a hit through.
To round out your Riverrun Raiders, you’ll need to get some fish on horseback: The Tully Cavaliers. They hit like a truck on the charge and buff the morale of surrounding troops.. They also maintain the high armor value common to the Tully forces. Then, there’s the horror that is the Tully Ride-by-Attack from the mounted Brynden Tully commander tactics deck. A 9 dice with sundering charge to the rear of an opponent can change the battle’s outcome faster than you can sing “YOU MUST BE SWIFT AS A COURSING RIVER!”
Tully is just one house allied under the Stark banner. You can grab a few boxes of Umber Greataxes so you can field an army of fully armed, fully filthy, and fully angry Umbers. Stick the Reed children from hero box 2 on ranged units and you have an army that punishes your opponent every time they advance within long-range under the watch of Howland and his Crannogmen. Lets not also forget that House Bolton sometimes serves the Starks and any of the neutral units and commanders can find a home in a Stark Army. I myself run a Stark list led by Ramsay Snow called “The Big Bad Wolf” that combines Stark speed with Bolton hitting power. Our Tully force from above would also benefit from the Bolton Blackguard +3 armor marching with their scaley brethren.
You’ll need help in the wars to come. In winter, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives. Buy the boxes that appeal to you the most based on your preferred playstyle as well as what you like seeing on the table.