Table Thoughts: Free Folk Faction Update 1.5

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 While Free Folk didn’t receive many direct changes in the 1.5 update there are quite a few alterations to game mechanics that benefit the faction. Some of the most devastating moments for Free Folk in 1.4 were rolling double ones on panic tests or having any moral debuff on your unit. In 1.5 we are only losing D3+1 after failing, minus other debuff shenanigans, so the average time a unit sticks around increases. This change does hurt our better moral units like Savage Giants and Cave Dweller Savages as they become the better target for moral debuffs and potentially take a bit more damage in 1.5. 

Auto wounds can no longer always be counted on.

One of the other core rule changes only affects Mance Rayder – King Beyond the Wall but is worth noting. NCU’s can now give up their activation even if there is a place for them to claim on the tactics board, and your opponent can wait to do this until after you’ve played Wilding Diplomacy. We are losing the ability to trap our opponent into taking a hefty amount of auto wounds so Wildling Diplomacy is now mainly used to control the tactics board. It always feels bad to lose a tool but we get a few other things to make up for it.

Varys’ influence will not be felt as heavily beyond the wall now.

 Neutral units like Lord Varys have made some of our tactics difficult to execute since Lord Varys took some massive hits with 1.5 every Free Folk player should rejoice. Varys is not only more expensive but he has to choose to stop tactics zones or NCU abilities as soon as the opponent activates now, as a result, this makes Endless Horde, Feinting Maneuver, and Jarl’s Scouting Party more manageable.  Varys no longer gets to know you’re wanting to play a tactics card now before he spends an order token; this combined with a 1pt increase means that he’ll be less troublesome than int he past.

The understanding was that Lannister, Stark, and Neutral would be the focus for this run of updates but we did see one change to our perennial benchwarmers, the Free Folk Spear Wives, the reduction to four points rather than 5. Does this get them off the shelf? For some lists I think it will, as at the five-point level they competed unfavorably with the Cave Dweller Savages. The change to panic keeps them around longer, they become cheap semi-consistent beaters and can open up some points if you want to leave the Cave Dwellers at home. For now, and my unchanged opinion from 1.4, I will drop a couple of these in a Harma led list.

Faction: Free Folk

Commander: Harma – Vanguard Commander

Points: 40 (0 Neutral)

Combat Units:

• Thenn Warriors (6)

 with Harma – Vanguard Commander (0)

• Free Folk Spearwives (4)

 with Spearwife Matriarch (1)

• Free Folk Spearwives (4)

• Free Folk Raiders (3)

 with Raid Leader (1)

• Free Folk Raiders (3)

• Cave Dweller Savages (5)

• Free Folk Trappers (4)

Non-Combat Units:

• Styr – Iron-Fisted Tyrant (3)

• Ygritte – Kissed By Fire (3)

• Craster – Ally of Convenience (3)

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The extra points I get from the drop in Spearwives is funneled into putting Harma in a unit that can hang out in the middle of the table, giving the list an elite feel while still having a boatload of activations. Harma benefits from an increased activation economy, hence the three NCUs, but you could drop one to try and wiggle another unit in or some different attachments. By draining three activations early you can force your opponent to move into place for some big Superior Flanking charges with the Spearwives; if they do heavy damage on the first strike you don’t have to worry about being in combat without Sundering for long. We still bring a unit of Cave Dwellers for the Speed 6 flanking unit and then, as is tradition, have a few raiders to pump up those activation numbers.

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