What We Learned Playing ASOIAF at Adepticon

Scott and Dan traveled to the frozen suburbs of Chicago to play A Song of Ice and Fire at this year’s installment of Adepticon! They’ve returned, hung up their many medals, and are here to spread a little bit of wisdom about this game they’ve come to love.

Dan: A Song of Ice and Fire, or Soibois as we call it (from the oft-used “ASOIAF” abbreviation), is truly a magnificent game. It’s got an easy-to-understand ruleset, it’s tactically deep, and it’s significantly cheaper than most of the other wargames we play. Plus, terrain comes in the starter sets and all the models come assembled, so it’s one of the most accessible games out there, too. Scott and I are total marks for anything ASOIAF-related, and we wanted to have a chat about the nature of the game, and what some of the most important things to know are as relative newcomers.

Scott and I got into Soibois at the same time, somewhere in 2021-22. Since then, it’s been mostly a backup game for us, something lighter to pivot to when 40k is bumming us out. However, in the intervening years, the depth and customizability of the game has fully drawn us in, and we’re keen to continue exploring the more competitive side of the game. Before Adepticon, I had only taken part in two organized Soibois events: last Adepticon’s random commander friendly, and last NOVA’s friendly. Both were 3 rounds and extremely casual. I can’t say I learned much from either event, but that’s not the case here!

Scott: Honestly, I wasn’t even planning on Soi’ing this hard until Dan invited me to Adepticon to be his Soi’est boi (doubles partner). I ended up playing 11 games over the weekend, which is pretty crazy considering I had probably only played around 20 games of Soi before Adepticon. We both played in the Chimera and Doubles events on Thursday and Friday, and I solo’d it up in the Soibois Adepticon Championship. Although I thought I had completely mastered Soibois from my basement games with Dan… to my surprise, I also managed to learn something across these events.

Dan: Last thing from me before we get into it: this article isn’t meant as a “trip report” like we often do here at Goonhammer. Instead of going through each game, we’re going to distill the important takeaways we gathered from the events as best we can.

Your erstwhile Soibois.

The Events

The Chimera

Dan: Let’s begin with the Thursday event, the Chimera. It’s a 40-point, 3-round event where each player brings 3 lists with 3 different commanders. Additionally, each list must have at least 10 points worth of unique units or characters that don’t show up in the other lists. I have Greyjoys, and here’s what I brought:

List 1: Victarion and Nute

  • Silenced Men w/ Victarion (commander)
  • Harlaw Reapers w/ Nute
  • Reavers w/ Baelor Blacktyde
  • Blacktyde Chosen w/ Euron
  • Balon NCU
  • Erik NCU
  • Wendamyr NCU

List 2: Roose in the Hoose

  • Harlaw Reapers w/ Roose Bolton (commander)
  • Silenced Men w/ Ramsay Snow and Reek
  • Blacktyde Chosen w/ Euron
  • Reavers
  • Balon NCU
  • Moqorro NCU
  • Rodrik NCU

List 3: Asha’s (hopefully) Unkillable Unit

  • Ironmakers w/ Asha (commander) and Qarl
  • Silenced Men w/ Dagmer
  • Reavers w/ Baelor Blacktyde
  • Ironborn Bowmen w/ Euron
  • Balon NCU
  • Erik NCU
  • Beron Blacktyde NCU

I really like this format, as it pushes people out of their comfort zone. Everyone who plays Soibois has an A commander and a B commander, but this event forces folks to dig their C commander out of their army box and try to remember how to use them. The 10-point rule is also very interesting, as it stops some of the more egregious spam you’d find normally.

So, how’d I do? I went 2-1! I lost a 9-8 nailbiter in my first game with Victarion against Targaryens with Danaerys, Queen of Mereen. It was my first game against Targs, and no one told me that this Dany has Counterplot! A couple of key uses of that card and I was on the ropes! However, my opponent was super chill and we had a really good time. 2nd game was against a Stannis/Melisandre combo with Lightbringers. I’m intimately familiar with that type of nonsense, so I dialed in Asha and set to pass some Panic checks! Fortunately, I was on the money and managed to win the 9-8 game this time! The third and final game was against a 6-activation cavalry and Kingsguard Lannister list led by Joffrey. I had to use Roose and Ramsay, here but it turned out ok. While Gregor and Knights of Casterly Rock did manage to cause some serious problems, a lucky (for me) failed panic test and some surprisingly resilient Blacktyde Chosen allowed me to table my opponent for the Crushing Victory!

Scott: As Dan mentioned, my Chimera lists consist of two commanders I was fairly comfortable with, and a third commander that I was absolutely forced to bring. Through my games playing Dan before Adepticon, I got fairly comfortable playing commanders that brought powerful rules to the units they were leading. You can see that reflected in my selections of Stannis, The One True King and Renly, Lord Paramount. You can slap both of these commanders in a powerful unit, and you don’t really have to think past that. The other bit I was hot on going into this event was getting Precision worked into Stag Knights. In Soi, it seems like if you can reliably get three keywords stacked into an attack, you got yourself a really solid combat unit.

List 1: Stannis, The One True King

  • R’hllor Queen’s Men w/ Stannis (commander)
  • King’s Men w/ Andrew Estermount
  • R’hllor Lightbringers w/ Davos Seaworth
  • Dragonstone Noble
  • Cressan NCU
  • Melisandre NCU
  • Alester Florent NCU

List 2: Renly, Lord Paramount of the Stormlands

  • Stag Knights w/ Renly (commander)
  • Rose Knights w/ Thorn Watch Sentinel
  • Baratheon Sentinels w/ Brienne the Blue
  • Thorn Watch
  • Olenna Tyrell NCU
  • Margaery Tyrell NCU
  • Eldon Estermont NCU

List 3: Renly, The Charismatic Heir

  • Highgarden Pikemen w/ Renly (commander)
  • Rose Knighs w/ Thorn Watch Sentinel
  • Stag Knights w/ Loras Tyrell the King’s Squire
  • Thorn Watch
  • Elden Estermount NCU
  • Margaery Tyrell NCU
  • Cortnay Penrose NCU

Just like Dan, I ended the day 2-1. I started off by getting absolutely crushed by my hated rivals (Martels) using what I considered to be my strongest list (Renly, Lord Paramount). Round 2, saw a victory delivered directly to me with Lightbringers on the Feast For Crows mission against a Renly led Baratheon force. I finished off the day with a victory using Renly, The Charismatic Heir into some Night’s Watch. I honestly can’t remember much about my third game besides the fact that Loras Tyrell and his Stag Knights went absolutely buck wild (pun intended). I distinctly remember him one-shotting two units that game between the Stag Knights’ combination of Critical Blow, Precise, Sundering, Vicious, and Expert Duelist. Turns out my strategy for winning at Warhammer (rolling 6s) also works in Soi.

Did I learn anything from this event? Absolutely not, no personal growth was achieved here. Man, it was fun though… I came out of it as in love with my Stag Knights, Rose Knights, King’s Men, and Lightbringers as I went into it. Bad habits were reinforced, and no good habits were formed.

Soibois Unite! (Doubles)

Dan: The next morning, Scott and I rolled in to play in the Soibois team tournament! For this event, both players had 50 pts to spend on their lists, 25 + 25, and one player could donate a point to the other to make it 24 + 26 if they wanted to, which we did. Here’s our list:

Victarion-Pilled Aggrochads

  • Silenced Men w/ Victarion (commander)
  • House Harlaw Reapers w/ Ramsay and Reek
  • Stag Knights w/ Stannis, The Rightful Heir (commander)
  • King’s Men
  • Lightbringers w/ Justin Massey
  • Patchface
  • Moqorro
  • Balon

Our doubles list in action!

Dan: The idea here was to play as aggressively as possible. Stannis can output a truly harrowing amount of damage with his Tactful Approach Card, and we could use Moqorro and Harsh Conditions, another Rightful Heir tactics card, to turn off Orders and enemy tactics. Patchface was there to pull out Counterplot, Intrigue and Subterfuge, and whatever else we needed. Justin Massey has the ability to discard two cards to go find one, and with Tactful Approach, Rush of Aggression, and What Is Dead May Never Die in the deck, he proved his usefulness immediately. Combine all that with the Greyjoy melee power and Balon’s resurrection, and we had a nice little gameplan.

So how’d it go? We finished 1-2, which is not ideal, but both of those losses could have swung either way. Our first game was against some relatively new players and we…maybe kinda stomped them. Sorry, fellas! They had a combo of Baratheons and Lannisters, but I was able to Rush of Aggression charge Victarion into solo Gregor, and that started off a chain of events where Victarion’s unit ended up killing 5 of the opponents’ units. Pretty Wild! The next two matches were a lot closer, but we ended up losing by 2-3 points in each one. The Aggrochad lifestyle did us well, I think, but in the third game we definitely overextended.

Scott: I need to note here… the Aggrochad Stannis build was a COMPLETE 180 from what we were previously planning on bringing. Originally, we had a much more conservative idea with Renly, Lord Parmound in Stag Knights, combined with some Rose Knights for a Hammer/Anvil concept, but Dan, being the inspiring and charismatic chadbro that he is, convinced my impressionable ass that we should full send the aggrochad build. We honestly misplayed all day because we were so committed to the bit… but, through the ruins of our aggro-induced misplays I learned a very important lesson for the next day: Aggrochad Stannis rips shit. More importantly, if you aggro hard enough, you’re absolutely allowed to misplay when your dice bail you out. Readers, pay attention. That right there is the most important lesson to learn in all of tabletop games: SKILL DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU ROLL REALLY, REALLY GOOD.

Dan: One thing to mention: after the dust settled, Scott and I managed to bring home the Best Appearance medals for this event! While we didn’t do all that great on the table, we managed to bring home some gold anyways!

Soibois Champs

Scott: Given the very important lesson I learned from our games yesterday… I took all of my previous experience and tossed it out the window. I decided that when Stannis becomes The One True King, rather than the Rightful Heir, he sucks and isn’t deserving of my time anymore. I was previously planning on running the One True King List I had for the Chimera event, but after doubles the Day before, I swapped to aggro-max Stannischad so I could have maximum opportunity to roll big dice and do big damage.

List 1: Stannis, The Rightful Heir

  • Stag Knights w/ Stannis (commander)
  • R’hllor Lightbringers
  • Baratheon Wardens w/ Justin Massey
  • King’s Men w/ Andrew Estermount
  • Axell Florent NCU
  • Patchface NCU
  • Davos Seaworth NCU

List 2: Renly, Lord Paramount of the Stormlands

  • Stag Knights w/ Renly (commander)
  • Rose Knights w/ Thorn Watch Sentinel
  • Baratheon Wardens w/ Bryce Caron
  • Riders of Highgarden
  • Olenna Tyrell NCU
  • Margaery Tyrell NCU
  • Eldon Estermont NCU

I ended the champs 3-2. I took my losses in rounds 2 and 5. With some distance from the event, the aggro induced bloodlust has worn off and I can confidently say, with a clear and sober mind: I absolutely took my two losses because I was leaning too hard into the aggrochad mindset (no regrets). Also my opponents were like… way better than me at the game (unimportant). Throughout the event, I played my Stannis list all five games. This was because of the bloodlust. In my three wins, he did a ton of work. The combination of token generation, Lightbringer panic, and the Stag Knight’s and King’s Men face melting damage output just resulted in threat overload that my opponents couldn’t handle. In my losses, my opponents were able to outmaneuver my army and force my star units to fight at 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 odds, oftentimes with key debuffs. In hindsight, I think I would have been better served in both of these matchups with my Renly lists.

Faction-Agnostic Lessons Learned

Dan: The most important thing I learned from this event was how to better manage tactics cards. Tactics cards are obviously a huge part of every game, and managing them correctly can earn you a win, while managing them incorrectly will probably net you a loss. Here’s what I learned:

  • In list-building or at the beginning of the game, identify what cards are critical for your win. For a Greyjoy player like me, What is Dead May Never Die tops that list, but so does We Do Not Sow and if Victarion is my commander, all of his cards.
  • Conversely you need to identify the cards you don’t need to succeed. These are the cards you discard or play at the first opportunity to get them out of your hand so you can keep drawing. Remember, you have 20 cards. Ideally you want to cycle through most or all of them in a game for peak efficiency. Once again, as a Greyjoy player, I’m playing Finger Dance and Raiding Call as soon as they hit my hand, and if I draw Bless With Stone, Bless With Steel or The Iron Price Early game, they’re almost certainly going to get discarded.
  • Once you’ve identified your critical and unimportant cards, now you have to figure out how to get them into and out of your hand. Some factions have access to the Battle Plan order, or can dig through their discard pile, or something else. If a card is vital enough to your winning strategy, then it might behoove you to take some of that in your list. Otherwise, you’ll have to get to those cards honestly, through taking letters, playing and discarding cards.
  • Don’t hold on to cards! Play them or ditch them unless they’re absolutely critical to your battle plan. It’s obviously better to get some type of value from a card you don’t need, so don’t hesitate to play a card whenever you can. Like I said earlier, there are 20 cards in your deck, don’t be stingy.

Dan: The next lesson I learned is when to engage. As a Greyjoy player, I have always been ready to get stuck in sooner rather than later, but after playing some extremely canny players, holding off until the right moment is key. Broadly, I think waiting until round 3 to commit your forces is the best idea. This is not to say “never charge before round 3,” but to set up your forces for a supported series of engagements by round 3. Here’s why:

  • If you wait until round 3 to start The Big Fight, you can see more tactics cards. Whether you’re aggressively discarding or playing them piecemeal, more cards will have passed before your eyes than on earlier turns. It is obviously beneficial to engage the opponent with the best combo of cards for your forces, and having a little patience will go far.
  • At the beginning of the game, choose to go first! If you go first in round 1, you go first in round 3. Simple as. You really want to be able to set the tone for round 3, so choosing the first go in round 1, which is almost always just a set-up round, gives you the initiative when you need it.

Dan: Finally, you need to know how to play around your opponent’s bullshit. Each faction has some dumb thing that they get to do that’s either going to win them the game or stop you from winning the game. You need to identify what that is. The best way to do that is to try and familiarize yourself with each faction’s base tactics deck, and then have an idea what each commander does.  For real, this is hard. I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about Free Folk or the Night’s Watch except that sometimes one of them has giants and the other has a NCU that can shoot at you. However, I could tell you that Lannisters have a way to stop not only tactics cards, but can turn off NCUs as well! That’s very valuable info and you need to know how to play around it if you’re gonna win.

Scott: Honestly, Dan covered most of what we talked about in our late night post-mortems here. One last minor note I got from playing in the Champs: when you’re playing in a tournament, it seems like most people have a ‘primary’ list and an ‘offhand’ list. Because soi has folks bring two lists to a tournament, most people are headed into an event with a list they are very comfortable (primary), and another list specifically designed to fight factions that are going to be tough for their ‘primary’ (offhand). Given my experience at the Champs, my ‘primary’ going forward is probably my Stannis list with some minor tweaks. I feel like that list is weak to Martels and Lannisters, meaning my ‘offhand’ list needs to be specifically built to help in those matchups. I think most factions are going to fall into this dynamic. Speaking with Dan, he’s also got a similar situation going on; Victarion being his ‘primary’, while debating between Asha and Baelor as his ‘offhand’.

Greyjoy-Specific Lessons Learned

Dan: The first thing to note is the importance of the Balon NCU resurrection. Balon is the best NCU in the game right now (it won’t last!), and his ability to bring back a unit once per game, with pillage tokens and attachments intact, easily outstrips every other NCU. He functionally allows Greyjoy players to play with a 45-49 pt list while everyone else plays with only 40 pts. He’s an auto-include, but you need to be on the lookout for abilities that turn off NCUs! Olenna Tyrell is not your friend, here!

Next, Ironborn Reavers are one of the best 5-pt units in the game. So good that unless you’re leaning into morale BS with Roose and Ramsay, House Harlaw Reapers probably aren’t worth it. While they might look great on paper, their lack of Sundering and the prevalence of morale mitigation make them a lot softer in practice. In comparison, Reavers are 1 pt less and are even kill-ier with inbuilt re-rolls and Sundering. In most lists, I think Reavers will not only outshine, but also give you list versatility.

And finally, I just wanted to mention a couple of attachments I really like: Dagmer and Daario! Battle Scars is wildly good on Reavers and Silenced Men, so Dagmer fits in perfectly in either unit. And Daario turns Reavers into a 6-pt blender with Furious Charge, Sundering, Precision and Critical Blow. That’s ridiculous! And with 2 pillage tokens on the unit, Daario’s self-harming downside is thoroughly mitigated.

Baratheon-Specific Lessons Learned

Scott: There’s some pan-galactic brain level play available in this faction, and I’m nowhere near there right now. Aggrochad Stannis definitely has his place, and honestly… he’s probably a good commander for me right now. He might kind of be a mid-table king. It seemed like as soon as I started hitting the best of the best, they’re able to just pick the list apart; a lot like playing against Imperial and Chaos Knights in 40k.

Through Stag Knights and King’s Men, Baratheons have a ton of ways to get upwards of 3 special rules on their melee attacks. Combined with good armor and token generation, Baratheons seem like they’re always trying to set the conditions for a good, honest fight. We definitely struggle with someone who is more mobile, and getting 2-to-1 fights on units like Stags and King’s Men will see them fall off over the course of a turn.

Going forward, I’m going to be focusing a lot on my Martel and Lannister matchups. Throughout the whole weekend, I felt like I was getting controlled HARD from the deck and NCU board. To compete in that space I’m looking at some Penrose based lists.

Final Thoughts

Scott: I’m really excited to continue to grow as a Soibois player. It’s a great game with a ton of depth, a low entry price point, and tons of meaningful decisions packed into around 90 minutes of gameplay. Had a blast at Adepticon, thanks to Dan for inviting me.

Dan: Adepticon was a ton of fun, and these Soibois events have really fanned the flames of my enthusiasm for this game. I really do think it’s the best tabletop game in town these days, and exposure to players who are better than I has done a lot to expand my understanding of the game. I can’t wait to play more and experiment with the new Greyjoy unit, Stony Shore Pillagers.

Thanks for reading, folks! Got any specific questions or are interested in us covering any specific topics? Drop us a line at contact@goonhammer.com!