Brothers in Arms: Baratheon Starter Tactics

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The Baratheon faction is a relative newcomer to the still maturing A Song of Ice and Fire Miniatures Game, and as a result many players are unsure of their strengths and weaknesses. My local meta often compares them to the more established factions and finds them wanting. I am an avid wargame enthusiast, and a rabid Stannis fan to boot, so I took that as a challenge to see how I could find success with them. Here are my findings.

Overview

Their Tactics Cards support this as well, as most of their more powerful cards (such as “Ours is the Fury” and “Counter Charge”) trigger when your opponent attacks one of your units and allows you to counterattack activation-free. I find myself aggressively pushing Wardens onto objectives towards the center field in the hopes that my opponent feels the need to shift them, allowing open side lanes for retaliation with the heavy-hitters.. These cards are game-changers, and the best path to accessing them is through seizing the Envelope on the Tactics Board, which provides additional rewards for several of their cards as well as Shyra Errol – Lady of Haystack Hall. The Crown is important for bonuses as well, and coupled with a steady flow of Panic tokens can provide reach to a faction lacking in ranged options.

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This faction is quite young, having only a Starter Set to draw units from, meaning that ultimately they have few options for creating a winning gameplan. The most obvious strategy, and the best in my opinion, is to focus on an attrition-based strategy, utilizing tanky Wardens to absorb charges and then set up retribution through your primary damage units, the Stag Knights and Sentinels.

These lads have their weaknesses. First is poor maneuverability, the fastest any of their starter set unit’s move is 5″ and they have no incentive to take the Horse zone beyond the free maneuver. This means that your opponent is likely to get the first charge if they outspeed you, but ensuring your units are in range to support one another can mitigate this risk. Second is poor card access. As it stands currently, they lack options to churn through the tactics deck, and as your cards are often reactive to what your opponent is doing, it can get very hard to get necessary cards when you need them.

Commanders

Currently the BaraBois only have 2 options for commanders, Stannis and Renly. They both support an attrition gameplan, but they each approach it in a fundamentally different way.

Renly’s abilities are about mitigating losses through proactive buffs, decreasing losses from Panic tests by boosting Morale, and keeping a unit hitting harder for longer through his attachment ability. Protecting Renly’s uit becomes paramount, as both his Aura and the bonuses from his Tactics Cards are critical to peak efficiency for his forces. His Tactics cards all have the ability to heal. Renly armies, therefore, have the edge when it comes to unit maintenance, and can grind out front line slug-fests.

Stannis, on the other hand, is all about breaking parity through buffing his units and debuffing his opponent’s. His attachment bonus prevents the application of condition tokens to his unit while adding Critical Blow to a key damage unit. His Tactics cards further reflect that through 2 additional ways to increase the sheer amount of damage a unit can pump out through cards attached to units, similar to the NW vow mechanic. Then there is the “Will of the One True King”, which allows you to place one of each condition token among your opponent’s forces. This card is one of the most powerful in the deck, as it allows you to set the lines effectively, dropping a Weakened token on the unit most poised to inflict hurt, while setting up future effective charges with the Panicked and Vulnerable tokens.

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Units

Wardens (5)

These are your bread-and-butter, the beefy deer men who will win you your throne. With a 3+ Defense and 6+ Morale, they are resilient. They have a serviceable attack, throwing 7/5/3 dice at a 4+ to hit, have the ability to place Weakened tokens when their target rolls 1’s for saves and can use Weakened Tokens as Vulnerable tokens. Their biggest detriment is a paltry 4″ move, which makes them a tough unit to position perfectly. They match up well to Lannister Guardsmen and Stark Sworn Swords from an efficiency standpoint, but their Attachment potential and synergy with the Tactics cards push them ahead in defensive potential. Attaching Stannis can further increase their ability to operate at peak efficiency, as they can leverage the Unyielding buff and the “Tactical Approach” card quite well. A better alternative I find is to use the Master Warden attachment with them for 1 point. His order to ignore Charge, Flank, and Rear bonuses makes their job as charge absorbers incredibly easy; even damage mainstays pumped full of Tactics Cards and bonuses, like the slightly declawed but still dangerous Flayed Men, will find them to be tough to chew through. Both Renly and Stannis supporters alike will find great use in setting up lines of engagements with them.

Sentinels (6)

Sentinels require a bit of work to make useful. Their double hammers roll 8/6/4, and have Sundering, which means they can pump out damage quickly when they are healthy. The problem is that their 4+ Save and 7+ Morale makes them a  target for ranged and panic damage, and they can be neutered quite quickly. Renly makes the most of them, as all of his abilities and Cards synergize wonderfully to ensure that they keep ticking. Stannis can also help maintain efficiency by combining Critical Blow with Sundering, but does nothing to mitigate their poor morale beyond preventing Panic tokens. The in-faction attachments synergize quite poorly with them, Stag Knight Noble will make them be churned through quickly. The Master Warden can help keep them alive; however, I find that if your sentinels are getting charged, you are already losing because you have not set the battleline properly. Brienne, Maid of Tarth works pretty well, as she mitigates their poor morale while buffing their sweeper potential on a marked unit. Roose Bolton (while horribly unfluffy) is also a pretty nice option, as he applies additional Panic tokens for Stannis’s forces to abuse while providing another way to keep them healthy.

Stag Knights (8)

These absolute chads are the reason you wanna play this faction, with a perfect aesthetic and excellent rules. They ALWAYS roll 7 dice that hit on 3’s, meaning that your opponent can’t try to clip their wings to mitigate damage. In fact, as they lose ranks they become even more powerful, gaining Critical Blow, Sundering, or Vicious for each rank they have lost. They have middling resistances, with a 4+ save and a 5+ morale. This unit is your blender and will make your opponent weep as they tear through their lines. The only downside is their price point, 8 points pre-attachment is a lot to commit to a single Infantry unit, so I find myself usually taking one brick of them when making my lists. These are a unit that must be killed in one fell swoop, which will usually require resources and planning to accomplish, especially when screened by Wardens. Renly does little for this unit, as healing them will actively decrease their damage if you go up a rank, and will only provide additional attacks when they are technically at their least powerful. Stannis on the other hand, turns these lads into one of the most efficient damage pumps in the game, as removing the option of condition tokens to mitigate them is HUGE, and his Critical Blow lets them use all 3 of their potential bonus rules at 1 rank. The Stag Knight Noble is also a potent option, these guys want to attack often, and the Order will make your opponent think twice about taking a “free” charge on them This unit’s positioning is more important than any other, as you will usually take just one, so losing them before they can take a bite out of the enemy will usually be a devastating loss. Clever placement of them, however, can result in your opponent having to react significantly and somewhat predictably, giving you quite the information edge when sequencing activations.

Non Combat Units

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Shyra Errol (3)

This NCU is one of the best 3 point NCU’s in the game. Her abilities are hella synergistic when it comes to the attrition grind, allowing you to place a condition token when healing through Money Bags, and remove one when refilling your grip with the Envelope. Control of the flow of Condition Tokens is critical to making sure your units deal and tank more damage, and helps both Commander options quite well. I’ve found in my typical Stannis build, placing up to 5 condition tokens a turn with NCU’s can be backbreaking.

 

Alester Florent (4)

Alester’s value is subtle but immense. Twice per game, he can change spots when claiming a zone. This order might not be flashy for 4 points, but it offers unparalleled control of the Tactics board for either ensuring control of zones for your tactics, or denying them for your opponents. Proper use of Alester has a learning curve, as timing his activation and order for max denial requires a lot of insight into what your opponent is up to, and what potential cards they have, when they will try to maximize their resources, when you can maximize yours, etc. A very nice utility NCU to be sure.

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Conclusion

The House of the Stag can be quite powerful when you take a holistic approach to evaluating them. The Wardens getting in the thick of things and locking down units will be imperative to success. As long as you project a flank charge with power units like Stannis Stag Knights or Renly Sentinels, you can provide difficult roadblocks to overcome, while having some decent brooms to sweep theirs away. I hope I provided some additional insight for my favorite faction in-game and out, and that you might be able to show those lesser claimants that Ours is the Fury!

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