ASOIAF Tactics – Riverlands Initial Review, Part One: The Starks

CMON has completed their second ASOIAF campaign for a new skirmish version of the ASOIAF: TMG, and late pledges are now open. ASOIAF Tactics spans across multiple eras of George R. R. Martin’s world, where previously their game was restricted to the War of the Five Kings. One thing that is lacking from the campaign is an introduction to the characters you may not know, and in this pair of articles, I will give you an introduction to these characters, their lore, and their design in both aesthetics and rules.

Point of the Article

Previously we looked at the Battle of the Trident set, then the King’s Landing set, and today we will be diving into the Riverlands set that takes place during the War of the Five Kings. This set is specifically about the beginning with some very early characters and designs around characters being the focus.

One thing missing from the campaign is an introduction to the characters you will be playing with. Some have sparked high levels of excitement such as Robert Baratheon since people know who that is. Since this is the main time period, people are aware that there won’t be too many characters that need an introduction, but there are some rare names in here.

My aim is to increase the sentiment and engagement of those interested in this set by introducing them to the story of unknown characters whilst fueling a further passion in a story driven game. Tactics is more personal than the main game as you focus on a smaller conflict, a small set of characters, and all their quick decisions. Everything matters in skirmish games, including who each member of your warband is.

The Starks

Catelyn Stark - Painted by sergio.minotaurostudio

Catelyn Stark – Lady of Winterfell

Model Design – Catelyn has been a phenomenal model in the Starter Sets of the main game and recently saw an update in the Stark Starter Set, but this version takes that to the next level creating a truly center stage model for the Stark Faction. The best thing about this new version of Catelyn is the pattern work on the gown which would normally only appear freehand from talented painters. This detail moulded into the model allows all players to paint the detail elevating Catelyn to the high standing she deserves. Excellent direction on the design.

Rules Design – Family. Duty. Honour. The words of House Tully personified into three rules for Catelyn Stark. Everything Catelyn does in the story is influenced by these words and showcases her priorities when making decisions that affected the wider conflict. Family gives a model a move towards Catelyn which is a great callback to the other Tully model in Hoster Tully also giving out free moves. Duty allows a model nearby to reroll a miss on one of their dice, almost in a way that encourages those to follow in their duty and oaths made to her House. Honour seems to do some healing although we cannot see the full wording.

Motivation Design – The design of this Motivation reflects what happens to Tyrion in the story. He is captured and it furthers Catelyn’s play in the game, but they do end up being released. Within the rules of the game, two Gold for five VP is not that bad and could be worth doing, however the caveat is that the captured model might be brought back to a dangerously good position. It might be worth saving this near the end of the game so that the opponent cannot capitalise on it. Targeting the least impactful hero will be safer and since they come back anyway there might not be a point in targeting a strong hero.

Catelyn’s rules are steeped in influence from the lore, from the rules to the motivation to the model itself. It is a perfect interpretation of Catelyn Stark that we would not be able to have in the main game, which is one of the main benefits and draws to the Tactics game. Rules designs like Catelyn are why I play miniatures games where so much character is shown in the playstyle.

Arya Stark – Painted by sergiovilchesminiatures

Arya Stark – Fugitive Child

Model Design – Arya Stark is another model that has now had a few versions with one representing her time in King’s Landing training under Syrio Forel, and the second when she is wandering the Riverlands with The Hound. This model fits better for her time with Sandor Clegane, and the model from the Neutral Heroes 3 should be the early Riverlands stuff that Arya got up to before The Hound. The reason I mention this is that Arya did more of her lessons when travelling with Sandor than any other point. I really like the heavy detailing gone into loads of simple aspects to show a survivor in the middle of the war. Best Arya model to date.

Rules Design – Arya has one of the best attacks in the game due to being able to hit on a 3+ however it will only ever do a wound. But the main point of the attack is to inflict debuffs on them. Coupling this with denying a bonus for attacking her and the teleporting about, she is a real nuisance and thorn in the side for the opponent. To think this is literally what Arya does during the second book and season of the story causing problems within the walls of Harrnehal.

Motivation Design – Arya’s motivation is slightly different from all the other motivations in the game since it does more than just score you VPs in terms of a benefit. Marking specific targets that on death could get Arya into a better position to strike herself is interesting. For a Gold and 1-2 VPs with a teleport mechanic, this is a fantastic way to represent this assassin in training. Valar Morghulis.

Robb Stark – Painted by sergio.minotaurostudio

Robb Stark – Dutiful Son

Model Design – Robb has had quite a few models. The first two were very similar but different poses from the Two Player Starter Set and then Kickstarter Exclusive, this was then updated with a fantastic model in the Stark Starter Set and followed up with a king version in Stark Heroes 3. Out of them all, this model is familiar with the Starter Set version but whereas that one is more of a commanding pose, this is more of a combat pose, it is like the difference between the Two Player and Exclusive mini. This is a more refined different pose version and thus there aren’t huge changes but there is slight extra detailing that elevates it slightly.

Rules Design – This version of Robb Stark is not a leader, and thus he does not have a motivation. Essentially Robb’s motivation is so well known and aligns with the entirety of the North that it didn’t make sense to provide him with such, which I don’t entirely disagree with. His rules are built for combat due to the number of dice he can gain. You also need to watch out for his threat range since his Daring Dash ability has him ignore penalties for being engaged. But to showcase his tactical prowess in the War of the Five Kings, he can provide rerolls to another model with the Bolster ability.

We have seen multiple versions of Robb in the main game that focus on his ability to command an army with incredible mobility playing a huge factor, but we have never gotten a model with rules showing his personal skills on the field. Tactics gives an opportunity for this which is exciting to not only see but play. A duel must be done between the Kingslayer and the Young Wolf.

Bronn – painted by BigChild Creatives

Bronn – Discrete Sellsword

[As you can see in the art below, yes, it is “Discrete” Sellsword, not Discreet. –Ed.]

Model Design – Bronn has a couple of models, one from the Neutral Heroes 2 set and then another from the Hand of the King Kickstarter Exclusive Set. Both are not far from each other but standout as a Neutral model not aligning with any specific faction. This model takes his initial allegiance in the story for the Starks and turns it into a physical form. I like this design for its slight differences and early look at the merc. The little detail of Tyrion’s coin purse is an awesome little easter egg.

Rules Design – Bronn has a truly awesome ability for his combat statistics. You can funnel coin after coin into this ability to make it godly and I just like the thought that Bronn can do anything if you have the coin for him. It calls back to his famous line in the books of “Without question? No. I’d ask how much?” I also love that he does have Expert Riposte which is a rule featured on many characters as a badge saying they are skillful duelists. Bronn is super fun, and I can’t wait to use him in a game.

Greatjon Umber – Painted by BigChild Creatives

Greatjon Umber – Giant of a Man

Model Design – What a crazy model for Greatjon Umber! It feels like the step up the model should have had between the Two Player Starter Set and the Stark Starter Set. Greatjon has had three models, again the two from the Kickstarter are just different poses, and the third from the Stark Set is a more reserved upgrade. This is a huge difference especially in the face and weapon details. I cannot see myself using any other model as this is fantastic. I personally would have not included this warhorn so prominently as the designers like to and instead would have looked for something else to have it further standout in comparison to the other versions. An excellent step up for the character.

Rules Design – It is a shame, but we cannot see any of Greatjon’s rules. We do see that he sports an impressive defence save which I assume is akin to his massive stature being tough to bring down. I look forward to seeing what Lord Umber can do.

Rodrik Cassel – Painted by miguelminis

Rodrik Cassel – Beguiling Traveller

Model Design – Rodrik is often overlooked and forgotten in the main game since he isn’t the biggest or most important character in the story. I am happy that he has been given a new model to represent him since he does have a solid impact in the early story of the war. It is an upgrade in the sense that it is the same design and concept but made at two different periods in a designer’s career where you can tell which one was made with more experience. They might not be interchangeable as they are so similar, but damn is Rodrik’s facial hair magnificent. An ideal upgrade for Cassel.

Rules Design – Rodrik has a decent combat statistic that can top any average jane/joe that walks into his way, whilst it is no match for the better duellists of the game. However, the amount of dice and an okay to hit value could see him do some unsuspecting damage when the moment comes for it. His Drilling and Discipline ability is a great tech piece for the force allowing you to recover from some conditions inflicted upon your troops. Further supporting his rules in the tech role, he has another ability that allows for some bonuses to defence saves.

Rodrik is going to be a jack of all trades with being able to dish out some decent damage whilst providing some high-quality support. An auto included in my force for sure.

Willis Wode – Painted by sergio.minotaurostudio

Willis Wode – Landed Knight

Lore – Willis Wode is nothing important and is more like a background character that got a name. In the Game of Thrones Show he was changed to by a knight of House Whent who were the ruling House of Harrenhal at that time. I would say this is to give some more insight into the lords of the Riverlands since explaining landed knights would be pointless.

In the books however, he and his unnamed brother are landed knights of House Wode and sworn to House Whent of Harrenhal. Willis is stiff-necked and stolid. He wields a spiked morningstar. He owns a helmet with a thin slit for his eyes and a long black silk plume. Just like the Show he is the first to stand and declare loyalty to Catelyn in the Inn at the Crossroads. He remains at the Bloody Gate upon the party’s arrival in the Vale of Arryn, and that’s the last we hear of Willis.

Model Design – For a relative nobody with a sentence for description, the model designers have outdone themselves in bringing something fresh to the range of ASOIAF Miniatures. The helmet, the plume, and the morningstar, are all standouts not really featured elsewhere in an impactful way. The Maces of the Mormont Bruisers are the closest thing to a morningstar we have had but Willis has the best. I also like how low key the model still is to represent that he is just a knight amongst big names. Brilliant work as always.

Rules Design – Willis comes with Spiked Morningstar and Convenient Honour abilities. The morning star has the capability to reduce a character’s defence save but also it could prevent all defence abilities like Aftermath. It makes Willis perfect for cutting open heavily defensive characters. His honour ability allows him to have a better Morale than his terrible one whilst near a hero. This is more of a flavour thing for lore’s sake rather than anything crazy. Overall, though, he has a great defensive stat and combat stat in comparison to a lot of other characters out there. I love the rules design here.

Stark Sworn Sword – painted by BigChild Creatives

Stark Sworn Sword

Model Design – With the recent update to the Stark range the models for the Sworn Swords have been vastly improved and with these models no mold is broken to bring an incredible piece. I see these models as new poses that will quite easily blend into the existing Sworn Sword models you own. However, a great paint job signifying them as the unique sculpt may have them be perfect Sworn Captains if you need more of those.

Rules Design – The Sworn Sword is a worthwhile combatant in the force sporting an impressive combat statistic bolstered by an ability that can make them one of the best models for it, beating a lot of named characters. I see this model being a problem depending on how many you can take since a swarm of these might be too much to handle.

Tully Sworn Shield

Model Design – Considering the Tully Sworn Shield sculpt is just as old as the original Sworn Swords, it is crazy to see how good the design was when the overall look of the Shields is not being changed with this release. The change in posing and slight details show how far the designers have come since the beginning. As someone who loves theme above all else, it has been annoying to make a pure Tully force with very few additions to represent one of the Seven Kingdoms in the Riverlands. However, with these new sculpts that could stand in for Tully-themed attachments from the Stark range, customisation might be something worth exploring without sacrificing theming. Brilliant models that showcase how different sculpts are just as valuable.

Rules Design – The Sworn Shields’ rules follow the same defensive design of the unit in the main game being a tough opponent to shift. Tully’s follow this design since they were the last bastion of the Northern/Riverland Alliance under Robb Stark that were difficult for Goldhand to shift. We get a lot more detail into the Riverlander style with some decent melee followed by fantastic defence that can stun your opponent if you do not kill the Shield. Be careful when fighting a Tully Sworn Shield, rip them out root and stem otherwise it will hurt.

Stark Bowman – Painted by sergio.minotaurostudio

Stark Bowmen

Model Design – One Unit that was left behind in the Stark update was the Stark Bowmen that looks bad in comparison to other models in the entire range. The new version of the Stark Bowmen is an incredible leap in quality and detail from the original. I beg CMON to release a full Unit of this model due to the outstanding changes done. Might be one of the best in the set based on this alone.

Rules Design – We cannot read the rules clearly for the ranged attack of this model, but from what we can gather it looks like it is something like the main game counterpart since it is called Longshot. Perhaps this is an extended ranged attack for the model?

Check back Tuesday for part two, where Carly goes through the Lannister side of the box set!