Night’s Watch Starter Set Overview: Taking the Black with Carl BlackBy Carl Black from Roll’em If you Gottem
Stalwart defenders of the realms of men, the A Song of Ice and Fire the Miniatures Game’s Night’s Watch Starter Sets come with all the tools necessary to ensure victory on the battlefield. In this series of articles, we’ll be looking to ensure that you not only survive your time at the Wall but are victorious on the battlefield as well!
The base units found in the Night’s Watch Starter Set have good offensive and defensive capabilities paired with average movement and above-average moral. With capable core units, the Night’s Watch likes to capitalize on their versatility and various abilities to heal. Where the Nights watch lack as a faction is in their abilities to have big-play abilities and their units having a high point cost, and in order to achieve success you will need to learn to play around this challenge. Fortunately, the plus side of an elite army is that a high point cost army is friendly on the wallet since you do not need to purchase 47 units of free folk raiders.
We’ll explore the starter set commanders in a future article, first let’s break down the units that will be the backbone of your fighting force.
The Sworn Brothers are the cornerstone of most Nights Watch armies. With the Night’s Watch Starter Set you get two units of these vow-swearing men of the wall! Coming in at six points with an above average to hit of a 3 with critical blow and sundering all the while with an average defensive save and a slightly above average moral stat it’s hard to find a better bang-for-your-buck in all of Westeros!
Next we have the Brutes of the wall….
The Veterans of the Watch
At first glance these grizzled men in black look a little pricey at eight points, but when you take into account the free attack you can get from counterattack when played correctly, the above-average attack profile and moral stats, and the 3+ to save, they make a perfect place to house a commander that needs to survive a battlefield!
The Ranger Trackers definitely have the steepest learning curve of all the units in the Night’s Watch starter set. When used correctly these guys can cause real havoc for your opponent. On the contrary, when used incorrectly you get to watch your horses and archers rolled right off the battlefield! In addition to their cavalry free maneuver, the Ranger Trackers Boast a 6” movement, and an order that does not require the Ranger Trackers activation. Having short range on a unit that is very dependent on staying out of trouble can be worrisome at times, but handing out a free vulnerable token to a unit that is about to take some Sworn Brothers to the face, it would seem the reward outweighs the risk. One of the highest skill ceiling units in the Night’s Watch Starter Set, they are not uncommon to see in high level play. [Editor’s Note: You can find Gary Luther’s 3rd place Adepitcon 2019 list at the bottom of the article here.]
To conclude the available units in the starter set is the “Goodest of Boys,” Ghost.
Crowning Ghost the best of the direwolves in Westeros is no understatement. When used in tandem with Jon Snow’s ability “Bond,” Ghost can get in two unblockable hits and not only block your opponent’s ability to use tactics cards for Ghost’s attack, but also with the activation that will follow from Jon Snow’s unit. Jon Snow’s unit does not need to target Ghost’s target to benefit from this ability such as Summer needs to be able to attack Brans attacker. The con to Ghost is that he requires Jon Snow in the army and that becomes a little harder to justify once you graduate past the starter and into the Nights Watch Heroes box, but we will address that in later articles.
The Nights Watch Starter comes with two dedicated NCU’s and one that can only be used as long as he is not your commander.
Jeor Mormont – The Old Bear
Jeor has a commander option, but as a NCU is a pretty list specific choice. Coming in at four points, his influence ability allows the unit he is influencing to act as if he controls all zones on the tactics board for any vows attached to that unit. He works best in an army that is utilizing at least one watch captains so you can still play your NCU’s where you need them and not have to focus on activating your vows. For example, In a perfect world, you would play Jeor on the Maneuver zone to activate a Watcher On The Wall vow while influencing a unit with a The Shield That Guards The Realms of Men and The Sword In The Darkness. A play such as this would be like activating three NCU’s all in the same turn as far as your vows are concerned. [Editor’s Note: specific breakdowns of all the units tactics cards will be in a future article]
Maester Amon is a Wonderful four point NCU. He allows you to claim the zone and also heal a unit. The strength of the deal is dependent on how much damage has been done to the unit. He heals one wound plus one more for each destroyed rank. So an infantry unit with three wounds would restore one wound whereas a unit with nine wounds would restore three wounds. One thing to consider when taking Amon is that in a list with a lot of cavalry or war machine units they will not benefit as much from his healing abilities because they naturally have fewer ranks.
Finally, a great three point NCU option for the Nights Watch, Bowen Marsh. It is hard not to consider Bowen an auto-include in any Nights Watch list. He, like Amon, has an ability that allows him to still benefit from the claimed zone while utilizing his card. When Bowen claims a zone on the tactics board you can draw two cards from your tactics deck, choose one to add to your hand, and the other card goes to the bottom of your tactics deck.
The only non-character attachment in the Nights Watch Starter is two Watch Captains. The Watch Captain has two benefits. First And Now My Watch Begins allows you to draw three cards at the beginning of the game and as long as you draw a vow card you can attach it to their unit. If you are using Watch Captains in two units they can each do this. You draw, select, and shuffle for each Watch Captain separately. Secondly, Unbreakable Vows allows for a unit to have two vows attached to it. It is important to note that vows with the same name do not stack.
In our future articles, we will be discussing the tactics cards, commanders, and some additional units to utilize for synergies within the Nights Watch. Until then, remember your vows and I’ll see you on the wall!