ASOIAF Miniatures Game Season 4 Update: The Goonhammer Hot Take

CMON recently announced that the Season 4 update for ASOIAF will be released on the 29th of January. This came out of nowhere and has all of the community a buzz with hopes and dreams of an even better game for 2024. During this announcement the developers also gave us some details about what to expect so I’ve compiled that info and my hot takes on the reveals about what’s coming up.

Karstark Spearmen – Credit: CMON

What You Need to Know About this Update

The central focus of Season 4’s updates is that it’s about underperforming Combat Units and NCUs first-and-foremost. While some choice units did receive nerfs and reductions, overall, most changes CMON have done are to units that just weren’t meeting expectations. Some of these changes are slight number boosts and modifications, while others range to full reworks. The developers have said they want to limit the number of raw reworks that happen, sometimes a unit just doesn’t mesh as expected with the overall faction emphasis at its time of release, so rather than number-tweak it, which can just result in a unit with good stats but no synergy, CMON have evaluated these cases and shifted them into a new form to better suit their original design intents.

Numerous NCUs received some modifications as well with the focus being on those NCUs whose abilities/effects typically relied entirely on your opponent to do something or ones where the owner had no agency in when or how they utilised the NCU. This is in addition to any numeric or small tweaks that CMON felt were better to reign in some of the overperformers and underperformers.

Lannister Heroes 1 – Credit: CMON

Tactics Cards were modified as well. Typically, this occurred to generic Faction Tactics Cards such as Targaryens, Baratheons, and Night’s Watch rather than Commander Tactics Cards. If a Commander Tactics Card was modified, it was typically because it imparted an Ability that likewise received modification. This is due to the last update focusing on Commanders and the future Mid-Season update revisiting this area.

There will be no core rule changes, but we can instead expect some shake-ups to how the game is played as a result of new rules for terrain set-up, a new Gamemode, and even a new tournament list style. There’s a lot to look forward to here.

With that out of the way, here are my initial impressions from the announcement:

Karstark Spearmen – Painted by Tim Whitney – Instagram: tim_paints

  1. Starks Will be Strong this Season

The biggest obstacle to the Starks performing well is their Units being lacklustre. A good example would be the House Umber Units falling behind the rest of the game due to being early additions to the game. The quality of a 6pts and 7pts Unit has developed over the years but the Stark Faction has not kept up. Greatjon Umber is a fantastic Commander, but his Units let him down.

CMON have confirmed there will be numerous tweaks and/or reworks to the combat Units of House Stark including Karstark Loyalists, Mormont Bruisers, and Umber Greataxes. They also mention that some got smaller tweaks to bring them in line with other options including Mormont She-Bears and Karstark Spearmen.

Mormont She-Bears – Painted by Tim Whitney – Instagram: tim_paints

Last update saw a massive change to some of the vassal Commanders of the Starks such as Rickard Karstark and Maege Mormont, but they have not been able to show off what they can do due to their respective Units not being in a great state. This update should change that and give some new diverse lists for the Starks to use, bringing them into a much better state.

Depending on the quality of the changes, Starks may become a big threat for anyone playing against them as it doesn’t look like any of their previously good stuff is getting a change. Keep an eye out for the dark horse that is Starks in Season 4.

Rickard Karstark – Painted by Tim Whitney – Instagram: tim_paints

  1. Season 4 Will Feel Like a New Game

This might be the first time the base game mechanics have changed or expanded for ASOIAF, and due to this I do believe the game will feel much more different than any other update from the game. Most updates change up the meta and Faction building for the game but leave the foundations the same. Last update saw the inclusion of Pass Tokens, but this has rarely been as big of an impact than it was likely intended for.

Stannis Baratheon – Credit: CMON

For the first time there will be changes to the beginning roll off for deciding who goes first and deployment, this will make the choice a little harder to pick from. There will also be Battlefield Layouts added to the game which I assume will be something akin to Warhammer 40k with where your army can deploy but it does lead onto a new method of placing terrain so it could be to do with that instead. All of this comes alongside a brand new Gamemode.

No matter what, this changes every single game you will play and could result in different play styles or even Units considered for it. I hope it will be as impactful as it sounds.

Free Folk Raiders – Painted by Tim Whitney – Instagram: tim_paints

  1. Free Folk Players Will Lose Interest

I believe Free Folk Players will dwindle in numbers post Season 4 update. It is rare to see some Free Folk Players in droves with varied lists as most play Mag the Mighty due to the low effort by high fun factor the list brings. This will continue with the addition of the newly released Giant Spear Throwers, but the update looks to offer very little. Can the minor changes and Harma’s Vanguard keep Free Folk Players playing?

Frozen Shore Bear Riders – Painted by Tim Whitney – Instagram: tim_paints

CMON have said Free Folk will most likely see the largest number of tweaks in the Mid-Season when it comes to evaluating Commanders and Attachments. They will get a few slight changes in values within stats of Units and some changes to NCUs to dismantle the divide between auto-takes and those which rarely see play.

I don’t believe this will maintain or increase the pick rate for the Faction, and it will be down to the new release to keep the Players engaged. There will always be Mag Players due to the niche design of the army, but Harma’s return to the top could be round the corner with these changes plus her new Unit. I don’t hold out much hope as Players may want to expand into other Factions that have had interesting changes and releases.

Hawlaw Reapers – Painted by Jonathan Paul Pfund – Instagram: wavecolors.tabletopart Website:

  1. Greyjoys Will be One of the Best Faction

Although we don’t have all the details of what the update will bring, there is little mention of changes to the Golden Company Units and nerfs to some of the best pieces in the Greyjoy Faction. The top Greyjoy lists from this Season have all included Silenced Men, Drowned Men, Balon NCU, and one of two different Golden Company Units. This list design has kept Greyjoys a float and propped up the Faction in high standings.

Greyjoy Starter Set – Credit: CMON

There is no mention of any changes coming to the Golden Company Units as Stormcrows and Bloody Mummers were specifically called out on their own. For Greyjoys it conveys more buffs on the way rather than reworks with the mention of minor tweaks to Units, boosted Tactics Cards, and small boosts to NCUs. The only sign of the top lists being addressed is the minor tweaking to Units.

Why do these Units need changing? Overall, you can see that CMON recognises there is an internal balance issue and are thus going to fix that to bring diverse list building back to the Faction filled with auto-includes. However, if this does not come alongside some of the best pieces tuning down, then you will see the Faction only trump more they come across.

Hawlaw Reapers – Painted by Jonathan Paul Pfund – Instagram: wavecolors.tabletopart Website:

It seems like Balon NCU won’t be touched at all though, which is a huge deal. Balon is incredibly strong especially with the aggressive playstyle of the Greyjoy forces of late. It removes the punishment of overextending a Unit and when that Unit is incredibly strong like the Silenced Men the value only increases. Who could have guessed an elite Greyjoy list would be the most powerful?

Watch out for Greyjoys in Season 4, they are likely to be one of the bigger hurdles to overcome.

Bloody Mummer Skirmishers – Painted by Stefan Mielcarkiewicz – Instagram: mitch.scribbles

  1. Neutrals Receive the Final Phase in Becoming a Faction

For the longest time, Neutrals have always been the butt of the joke about not being a proper Faction due to their rules not aligning well with the rest of the game. With the Neutral percentage dropping significantly last season, alongside their Base Tactics Deck rework, and with NCU points changes for better list building, they have finally become a Faction of their own with the Bolton Mini-Faction gaining the “Not really a Faction jester hat.”

Stormcrow Archers – Painted by Stefan Mielcarkiewicz – Instagram: mitch.scribbles

In Season 4, Stormcrows and Bloody Mummers will see improvements to their stats to make them a more attractive choice compared to other Neutral options. There will also be some tweaks to the NCUs. Couple this with the newly released Neutral heroes 3 that made waves with its powerful and bizarre rules, and the Neutrals look to be vying for the title of a great Faction.

Stormcrow Unit buffs alongside Jokin and The Widower could result in a powerful Stormcrow themed list for both Neutrals and Targaryens. The same can be said for the Bloody Mummers in Neutrals and Boltons (more on that later). The Units at their disposal aren’t bad, and some of these changes can make them very good and maybe even rival the Golden Company for your Neutral Unit in other Factions.

King’s Men – Painted by Ste Norris – Instagram: ste.norris

  1. The Return of the King – Stannis Overhaul

It is no secret that out of the two brothers Stannis has been falling behind in relevance after the huge nerf to the Mel-Jaquen Nukes from the Tactics Board. Stannis has had to call upon Neutral support in the form of the Golden Company to help pick up the weight of the army and overlooks many of his specific loyalty Units for non-loyalty and Neutral options.

King’s Men, Queen’s Men, and R’Hllor Faithful will all see reworks alongside some Tactics Card reworks for some more punch and useability. Stannis is still a good side of the Baratheon roster, and if these changes are substantial will see him back on top and in form once again. Stannis Loyalty will be the best of the two, and we will see more and more Baratheon armies declaring that the night is dark and full of terror.

Caterly Rock Honour Guard – Painted by Ben Phillips – Instagram: your_average_painter_guy

  1. New Tournament Build Will Shakeup Events

CMON has announced there will be a variant 3-List-Tournament method for organisers to utilise. We have seen CMON make variant ways to build your army in the past with a different way to construct your force. This generally gave a few more points for Attachments and was an interesting experimental way to make a List, however it did not catch on and has for the most part been dropped.

Pyromancers – Painted by Ben Phillips – Instagram: your_average_painter_guy

The same thing could happen here if it is not an interesting enough change to warrant its constant inclusion, and also whether it is worth the ASOIAF-Stats Team to write the code for it on the website. It could be as simple as you now bring three lists instead of two when going to an event allowing you for better options depending on Gamemode or opponent. This would likely result in a better determined result of best Faction since you will have a better chance at bringing the best list for what you are playing against.

I truly don’t know what else this could be unless it is coupled with some other restrictions like a Highlander Style which limits you to one of each Unit and you cannot bring the same thing twice in both lists. It could be for the one-day events where there are only three games and you must use each list once throughout the event, but I cannot see this catching on as it limits you too much. We will just have to wait and see but it could change all events in the future.

Martell Spearmen – Painted by Stefan Mielcarkiewicz – Instagram: mitch.scribbles

  1. Meta Intact + More Armies Can Compete = Best State the Game has Been in

We don’t know the full extent of the update and what specifically is changing in each Faction. But it looks like some of the leading Factions in Greyjoys, and Lannisters won’t see many if any nerfs to their best lists. Golden Company have not been hinted at for some changes, and Martells are again only getting a limited number of changes. Night’s Watch are the only ones that look to be getting a significant change. So for the most part, the strong Factions will remain so.

With the Season 4 update, these Factions are getting boosted with some reworks and tweaking, and the other Factions are seeing some updates that may bring them into the fold for leading the way. Starks are sounding like they will have a huge overhaul to their Units which they desperately need. Stannis is getting a full rework to his unique Units perhaps bringing him further into the spotlight. Targaryens are receiving changes to their terrible Tactics Deck and numerous NCUs which with some of their Unit changes could see them perform better. Neutrals are also getting an overhaul to some of their Units also.

Mountain’s Men – Painted by Ben Phillips – Instagram: your_average_painter_guy

Night’s Watch, Free Folk, and Boltons, are all in a neutral understanding. Free Folk are seeing little changes here which will likely see them out of favour with the playerbase. Boltons could still be stuck at the back of the queue with the inclusion of Neutrals however that could all change with a few choice power picks in the Golden Company Swordsmen and Baelish. Night’s Watch rework could result in anything.

If all the Factions are brought up to the same power in the new season as some of the leading ones in the current season, then the game is likely to be in its best state it has ever been. Currently, there are several internal balance issues preventing diverse lists for Factions like the Greyjoys and Starks. The announcement indicates that this is where things will improve the most. Although we don’t have details, it is looking promising at this stage.

Bolton Cutthroats – Painted by Tim Whitney – Instagram: tim_paints

  1. Bolton’s May Perform Better, But Not by Much

The Neutral restrictions for the Mini-Faction of House Bolton will be lifted with this update. This is great news for those who have Neutrals and can use their full range when building a list especially with it not making sense with some Neutral Units not being allowed. Although I have been an advocate for the Neutrals to be a part of Boltons, I am unsure if there will be any drastic changes without breaking away from the Bolton stuff.

Bolton Bastard’s Girls – Painted by John Bone – Insta: jboneds

Golden Company Swordsmen will show up in lists due to how powerful they are, and whilst they may get another update there is no word of this in the announcement article. Bloody Mummers on the other hand are getting some tweaks which will pair well with some Bolton cards and new characters like Skinner and Sandor Clegane.

This will be more like an alternate version of the Neutral Faction, and I would suggest allowing Neutral Players to be able to mix in a Bolton List otherwise Players may still continue to play pure Neutrals. But people will play Boltons for the sake of it, for the lore, for the fun, and having more things at their disposal will improve their standing, but by how much we will need to wait and see.

Ranger Hunters – Credit: CMON

  1. Dethroning the King – Night’s Watch Rework

The Night’s Watch have been a problematic Faction since the reign of Mance Rayder not too long ago. I strongly stood up and said that Jon Snow’s Night’s Watch, especially with the Ranger Hunters, are an issue, and when they were not addressed in an update, they then became the shining problem with the game. With the spotlight on the Faction, it was revealed to not just be this Commander and Unit alone but several areas of the roster, and it was never more apparent than when they got a lot of buffs in the last update.

The bell has tolled for the Night’s Watch Faction and the rework hammer has fallen hard upon their endless buffs. The mechanic from their Base Deck of gaining a buff followed by equipping the Unit with an endless buff for the whole game was too much. You would often find yourself chucking cards onto Units just because you could and it was better to have them and not need them. The stacking of this would result in a crazily stacked Unit that can take out anything even with a few models left.

Jeor Mormont – Painted by Tim Whitney – Instagram: tim_paints

To combat this, CMON have decided to rework the Tactics Deck to introduce more dynamic choice and strategy to both Night’s Watch players as well as their opponents. Each card is becoming a split-trigger card, with an initial option to play it as a typical tactics card, or a secondary option to “equip” it to a unit to gain an ongoing benefit which has specific parameters that can cause it to be removed, should your opponent do so. This will bring more tactical decision making and reintroduce some engagement between both players. I truly believe that both players will benefit greatly from this rework.

NCUs are another big area that was way too powerful. Often the NCUs would bring an incredible ability that doesn’t replace a zone on the Tactics Board, whereas in other Factions there would be this limitation. There are also several auto-takes that shut down any hope for other NCUs unless they too were incredibly strong. We have seen the likes of Aemon, Bowen, Donal, and Qhorin be present in so many lists whilst Jeor, Craster, Yoren, and Denys have seen little to no pay. CMON plans to change this, and I hope they have chosen wisely.

Sworn Brothers – Painted by Jonathan Paul Pfund – Instagram: wavecolors.tabletopart Website:

The changes don’t end there. Several places in the Faction that affected the Tactics Card have had to have a rework to match the new version of the Faction. The overbearing solo that is Coldhands is receiving special attention alongside the severely underused Watch Marshal.

This will be a new dawn for the Night’s Watch for both the players of the Faction and those that have experienced their dominance for a while now. Hopefully honour will be restored to the overbearing Watchers on the Wall to achieve the best state of the game to date.

See You Next Week

The full rules release will be dropping on CMON’s website and War Council app on the 29th of January. We will be going into detail with several articles once it has been released, so keep an eye out for them next week.

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