By Brett Lanpher
My fellow lions; it has been far too long since we discussed ASOIAF strategy. Here we are in 2021 and the much-anticipated update has been delivered. The 2021 update has brought core rulebook changes as well as a totally different landscape for the Lannister’s. Allow me to preface this article and be very blunt. We will not be cross-referencing the new rules to the old ones. There are several reasons for that, but the biggest reason is that we want to focus on how you can lead Lannister’s to the top of the pack. Reflecting on the past will not help.
So what sets Lannister’s apart and why do I think they’re fantastic? Let’s have a look.
Panic! At the Disco.
The Lannister’s are the premier panic faction in 2021. Their units, tactics cards, and even some NCUs all tend to lean towards causing panic damage. Additionally, every single unit has some way of focusing on panic damage. They accomplish this in a few different ways.
- Multiple attack possibilities
- Auto wounds
- Tailor-made attachments
- Reactive and proactive abilities that massively modify enemy morale
Pyromancers and Mountain’s Men both have vicious as an ability (the latter needs the defender to have fewer ranks, but that shouldn’t be difficult to do). Kingsguard can use a Baratheon Banner to add vicious to an attack (plus an extra wound for failing panic). Vicious is capable of causing even the most Stalwart units to flee the battlefield. Lannister’s can double down on the effectiveness of panic damage by adding more modifiers to the test AND adding additional wounds when a unit fails. Panic damage counts as direct wounds so it is one of the best ways to defeat highly defensive units. Combine the additional wounds from “Hear me Roar” and Joffrey – Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and you can push out a respectable d3+2 wounds with a single panic check.
Multiple attack actions are yet another way Lannister’s can force more panic checks and as a result, multiply the panic damage. The most obvious example is the Lannister Halberdiers. When they are charged from the front or flank (if unengaged), they perform a melee attack before the charging unit resolves their attack. Their hefty attack profile ensures that the attack is likely to cause a wound and thus force a panic test. This makes the halberdiers a very tough target because the attacker can actually lose ranks before resolving their attack.
A more subtle example is the card “issue commands” which allows one unit to activate and decline any actions to give another unit a free charge or attack. When set up properly, this can cause a devastating unit to attack multiple times in a round. Ouch.
Forcing automatic wounds with an attack will always generate a panic test. Precision is one way to generate automatic wounds and it just so happens to be an ability granted to the Poor Fellows. While it can be easy to scoff at their attack profile (5,4,4 and hitting on a 5+), the Poor Fellows can use a Faith Token to gain rerolls and precision. Rerolling every attack die that isn’t a 6 gives you 8 or 10 opportunities to roll a 6 and force a panic test. If you do this enough times, a failure is inevitable and the attack will suddenly generate a rank-destroying attack.
The Lannister’s have several attachments who have perfect synergy with certain builds. Specifically, the champion of the faith brings “War Cry” to the party. This will not only trigger a morale test for faith tokens for Warrior’s Sons and Poor Fellows; it will also generate a panicked and vulnerable token. The panic token, specifically, will really help push maximum panic damage.
Finally, we will address the reactive and proactive abilities that will force severely punishing panic modifiers. When viewing the Red Cloaks, they may seem underwhelming, but a closer look reveals that they can be used to force A LOT of panic tests with modifiers. When you consider the other resources available to add additional wounds; you can see that armies without high morale value will simply crumble. The reactive ability, Lannister supremacy, adds a modifier as well as additional wounds based on the ranks remaining in the unit triggering it. It is also very easy to trigger, requiring only the unit to be attacked. This is an ability that has to be respected and has to be played around or the enemy will find that their entire army has fled the battlefield.
How will you choose what to bring? You’re gonna have to stop salivating at all the possibilities and focus on synergies and a game plan. Lannister’s have so many options and all of them can accomplish the goals you wish to accomplish. You don’t have to play them aggressively, but they have the tools to be one of the most aggressive factions (I’m looking at you, Gregor). A nice balance is probably the best approach if you may potentially face a variety of lists, but specialized lists could be incredibly fun. The heart of every list will be the bunker for your commander and Lannister’s have no shortage of great options. Warrior Sons with their high morale and ability to block hits seem to be a premier commander bunker. Halberds have the ability to attack when charged (if they were unengaged) and they can end up being a no-go zone if your opponent can’t afford to weather that attack. Lannister Guardsmen punish enemies so badly for attacking that a lot of generals will avoid them at all costs. Pyromancers aren’t particularly defensive but they are oh so spicy with Gregor the Mountain and his 2 auto wounds every time he attacks. Poor fellows are cheap and their high morale provides some level of defense. They are probably not the best bunker unit, but they are great value for their points if you want attachments elsewhere. The Kingsguard are just phenomenal but only available if you’re running Joffrey Baratheon – First of his Name as your commander. House Clegane Mountain’s Men are a solid mix of defense and offense and could be a decent bunker in the right list. I don’t see much value in placing any commander in Lannister Crossbowmen. There are neutral options who work well with Lannister’s, but we will cover this later.
After deciding where to place your commander (every commander is good and we will break them down later), the next step will be to build the supporting cast. Again, Lannister’s will primarily focus on panic and some manipulation (it could be a lot of manipulation if you run Tyrion or Tywin) but Lannister’s can really do nearly anything. They have builds that focus on mobility, ranged, healing, resilience, and raw offense. You need to decide what your play style will be and you can be sure the versatile Lannister faction will be able to provide many options to accomplish this. They’re even capable of running a mob/horde of common folk (Poor Fellows). I will list just a few of the options available to a Lannister general.
- Faith militant
- Militia style (Halberdiers, Guardsmen, Knights of Casterly Rock)
- Marauders (House Clegane Mountains Men and some Neutral allies)
- Heavy defense
- Panic, panic, panic
- Royal guard (Kingsguard, Knight of Casterly Rock, Guardsmen)
I look forward to getting into much more specific builds, but for now, I hope this article has you pumped to play House Lannister! 2021 is all about the possibilities and validity of every build and unit. I look forward to exploring these options with you in future articles. Until then, make sure your opponents hear you roar!