You’ve picked up the Night’s Watch Starter Set and are ready to serve as the shield that guards the realms of men, but what now? Here are some tips to help you survive your first nights at the Wall in the form of a sample 30 point list using just the contents of the Night’s Watch Starter Set. Once you have a few games under your belt, you can use your experience at this level to make informed purchases and expand your collection to the standard 40pt mode of play.
Your First Night’s Watch List
Due to their elite nature, you may find yourself limited in your list building options as a new Night’s Watch player, as your units are expensive but effective. However, this makes expanding your forces into the 40 point range achievable with minimal additional purchases.
The starter set provides you with two options for commanders, Jon Snow and Jeor Mormont. Note: Jeor Mormont – The Old Bear, Ghost, Sworn Brothers, and Bowen Marsh – First Steward have been updated in the 1.5.1 update – so your cards may no longer be accurate!
For our 30pt, straight out-of-the-box force, we are going to be fulfilling our vows under the leadership of Job Snow – 99th Lord Commander.
Night’s Watch STARTER SET LIST
Commander: Jon Snow – 998th Lord Commander
Points: 30 (0 Neutral)
- Veterans Of The Watch (8) with Jon Snow – 998th Lord Commander (0)
- Ghost (0)
- Ranger Trackers (6)
- Sworn Brothers (7) with Watch Captain (1)
- Aemon – Maester Of Castle Black (4)
- Bowen Marsh – First Steward (4)
You can view this army and copy it to your ASOIAFBuilder profile here.
In this beginner list, we have attachments in both our infantry units and getting the feel for maximizing their abilities, as well as their synergies with the vow mechanic should be your early focus. The extensive Veterans of the Watch can be switched out for other elite units, or points can be made available by downgrading to Sworn Brothers or even Conscripts.
Jon Snow and Veterans
For this list, you want your hardy Veterans to tank most of the damage that your opponent throws at you. Veterans of the Watch have seen it all and will not crumble to any ol’ average unit due to their 3+ armor value and above-average moral stat. Their order Counterattack allows them to, once per round, reflect damage back at their opponent, providing a way to deal damage outside of the unit’s activation, thus increasing the overall damage capabilities of the unit. During deployment or early game positioning, look to square off again enemies with high volume attacks and low armor. This unit is a forgiving one and beginners may find the threat of being tied up by less valuable enemies more a threat than physical damage. Make getting them on an objective early a top priority.
Warning: Such a resilient unit is not without weaknesses. Watch out for units that do auto wounds, or units like the Free Folks Savage Giants who can ignore your armor.
When lead by the indomitable Jon Snow – 998th Lord Commander, damage that does pass through your Veterans defenses, can be mitigated with his order: Indomitable. Thanks to the Veterans high morale stat and Counterattack ability, it is not uncommon for an enemy to suffer more damage from their attack then they manage to inflict and, on occasion, you may actually come out with more Veterans in the unit than you had at the start of the attack!
Ghost, the Goodest of Bois
Jon Snow does not travel alone and his Direwolf companion brings your force another skill to master. Ghost may be used to either grant an additional activation, activating and moving on his own, or he may activate in tandem with Lord Snow, launching into an attack immediately before or after Jon’s unit of Veterans.
While experienced players maximize their activations through the use of Ghost, for your early games, be mindful in running him as a support piece, staying relatively nearby his handler. Seeking opportunities to practice making the call on when to use Bond will help you develop your sense of when to use this combination. Typically, when you know you can trade activation advantage by dealing a mortal wound to an enemy unit, or if you are worried that your opponent may have a retaliatory tactics card with a trigger like “When a friendly combat unit is attacked.” Shadowing Veterans, Ghost can lead an attack, with Jon and his Veterans following into the grey with no fear of your opponent pulling any tricks. Ghost can also be great for babysitting objective markers, away from combat, and is just all-around man’s best friend.
Aemon – Maester of Castle Black is a strong non-combat unit (NCU), especially in an elite 30pt Night’s Watch list. He can be used to deny your opponent their preferred tactics zones, but his real strength comes in forcing your opponent to adapt to you. New opponents will quickly learn that they need to prevent Aemon from claiming the Wealth Zone, helping you dictate your opponent’s actions. Healing a unit 3 wounds from the wealth zone in addition to the effect of Aemon’s Maester’s Healing, Aemon can restore an impressive 6 wounds. Enough to bring back a unit from its last rank to full ranks in one activation.
Bowmen Marsh – First Steward allows you to further take advantage of the Night’s Watch unique Vow mechanic. His ability allows you to mill your deck for useful cards. We’ll explore the power of these cards after reviewing the other combat units that make up your Night’s Watch expeditionary force.
The Night’s Watch core infantry choice, Sworn Brothers, are capable of threatening elite units with their combination of a solid attack profile, Critical Blow, and Sundering. While not quite as durable as the Veterans, their offensive output can be a defensive quality in its own right – opponents are much less threatening when they are dead (with the notable exception of rumored Others from beyond the wall of course!).
Ranger Trackers are a high-skill-ceiling unit, limited by the short-range on their recurve bows. During your first forrays into battle, focus on making use of their order Mark Target to set up your unit of Sworn Brothers. The Sworn Brothers’ critical blow and laundering, when combined with Mark Target’s Vulnerable token, allows the unit to cut into even the most resilient units.
In their direct combat role, use the Ranger Trackers cavalry keyword to position them outside of your opponent’s front arc. Hiding in your opponents’ flanks, or firing into units already engaged in combat is when Ranger Trackers are at their best. In a pinch, firing into friendly combat can also help provide an opportunity to trigger Jon Snow’s Indomitable ability.
Taking your Vows Seriously
Warriors of the Night’s Watch live or die by their unique Vow mechanic. While other factions’ tactics cards are expended when resolved, Vows have an immediate effect with a second effect that attaches to a unit, continuously remaining in play.
The Watch Captain, attached to the Sworn Brothers, provides opportunities to enhance your unit depending on the threats they face on the battlefield, and, with Bowen Marsh, you can constantly mill for vows. If you are caught early in a round, use the Watch Captains Oath of the Black to trigger vows effects even if you have not yet claimed the appropriate zone.
Jon Snow’s Tactics Cards
Jon Snow‘s tactics cards, coupled with smart Vow play and Aemon’s healing can give your units incredible staying power. For the Watch! allows you the choice of effects, (unless played on Jon Snows’ unit in which you get to be greedy). Selecting an increase to movement is best if you need to advance or retreat into position, to cross rough terrain, or just want to ensure your unit will succeed a charge. Night’s Watch units are hardy and, when they are able to get onto an objective early they can be hard to dislodge. Selecting +1 to hit gives your infantry a chance to hit on 2+. One of the strengths of hitting on 2+ is that, if you can reroll your attacks such as off a charge, you can confidently reroll hits in an effort to fish for critical hits. Finally, restoring wounds and removing condition tokens keeps your forces topped off and effective.
Stand United, Brothers! long-range heal is a punishing support card as long as you keep your units within range of each other. Opponents who do not consider the order in which they want to attack your units can be in for a nasty surprise, and with Jon Snow in your Veterans you can rely on his self-healing while supporting your Sworn Brothers.
Finally, the infamous …It Shall Not End Until My Death! allows you to bring a unit back from the brink of death. With the Jon currently being dead in a Dance with Dragons, this is a very interesting card indeed …
Of note, the morale test for this occurs when the unit is destroyed. If the unit takes enough wounds from an attack to destroy it, elects to trigger It Shall Not End Until My Death!, and passes the morale test, it remains in play with 1 wound remaining. The unit would still then need to pass its morale test from the attack, potentially failing and killing die. This makes it excellent for keeping or units with high morale alive, such as Ghost or Veterans of the Watch.
We hope this sample starting list, as well as a brief discussion of some of the ways you might approach your early battles, helps lead your forces to victory. Let us know on Twitter or Facebook how your initial matches go, any adjustments or rules questions you have, and, in the meantime, we hope you get your miniatures…On the Table.
Your Next Steps
Where do you go from here? There are lots of ways you can expand your enjoyment of CMON’s A Song of Ice and Fire the Miniatures Game!
Looking to get your Night’s Watch forces painted up, but don’t know where to start? Be sure to check out Mike Meeple’s A Song of Ice and Fire Painting Guide for Night’s Watch Veterans
Additional Expansions and Tactics
Check out Big Top Gaming’s tactics talk for Alliser Thorne from the Night’s Watch Hero Box 1 Expansion! The Hero box is a great addition to provide you with new and exciting ways to lead your Night’s Watch into battle.