Saturday, March 28, 2020

ASOIAF: Getting Started With Army Building

That Throne didn't build itself in a day.

I don't know about you folks, but building army lists and theorycrafting is one of the biggest draws for me when it comes to a miniatures game.  I just absolutely adore designing my own army with a theme that I appreciate and then playing them on the battlefield.  If I was to timebox it, I would say that at least half the time I spend with the hobby is designing armies to play and the other half is actually playing them.  Yes, that's correct.  I spend almost all my time playing the game, writing about it, and building army lists.  What about painting?  Well... that's another story for another time!

The first tool you will need when designing armies for this game is the ASOIAFBuilder.  The second tool you will want if you want to build army lists on your phone is War Council.  Both of these army builders are super useful for you to get an army up quickly and start playing the game.

Ah yes, so what do you do first when you want to build army list?  Well, picking a faction will be a good start.  If you read my previous article when I gave an overview of the Starks and the Lannisters, you'll know that the two factions are very different mechanically.  You need to find the house that best cater to your personality and what kind of playstyle that best suits you on the battlefield.  For a lot of fans of the show, you must have a favorite house by now right?  What I think would be pretty safe is that if you have a favorite house that is not yet in the game, it might be worthwhile for you to explore similar traits associated with those different houses in the ones that do currently exist.  For example, I would say that the Tyrells share many of the same traits as the Lannisters while Targaryens are more similar to the Starks.  Might as well start prepping for the future because sooner or later, those houses will come out.  If you're still hungering for those Dragons or upset the Greyjoys are not raiding the game yet, then I don't know what to tell ya, you're missing out on an otherwise great minis game.

Each Commander's Tactics Cards are different!

So back to business:  Once you find a faction that you like, it's time to pick a Commander that suits your playstyle.  There's a ton of Commanders in the game and all of them are free.  Most of the Commanders in the game will want to lead units from the front, but there are also some Commanders who like to take command from the back lines or maybe even issue orders from Court.  Yes, there are NCU Commanders and all of them are 0 points!  You just need to find one that best suits your playstyle and what you want them to do.  Each faction comes with 14 generic Faction Tactics cards (7x2) and each Commander adds 6 more to that, 3 of which are unique and will change the dynamics of your army.  For example, if I was looking at Lannisters and I was to pick The Mountain for my Commander, I know that my army will be using tactics cards geared for bloodthirsty aggressive vs. someone like Tyrion Lannister, who will be more cunning with plenty of tricks up his sleeve.  Just remember this, whoever you choose as a Commander will change the playstyle and layout of the rest of your army.  This means that whoever you choose will likely influence your choices for NCUs, your units, and which game modes they will be most effective in.  To get started, check out one of the army builders I linked above and look at the Tactics cards of the different Commanders your faction can take.  Look at their tactics cards and read the special abilities on their card and see if that jives with what you want to run.

Even Jamie as a Commander works wonders in a Guard unit!

With your Commander selected, the next thing you want to do is build a 40 point army list.  This is the most commonly-played points range and a large portion of all competitive events and tournaments are ran at this.  One of the things I advise players to do if they want to get serious with the game is getting very familiar with the points range that the meta, your LGS, and your tournament events play at.  It's a very different game going from 30 points to 50 points for example, and you want to get familiar at the one that's most commonly played.  Treat this as your 2K points of ITC and stay at this point range for your first couple of games.  Each of the Core sets has just enough for you to get a taste of the game and that's well and good, but I don't think I've ever played a minis game that you can get full satisfaction from the game by just playing with what's in the starter box.  I've been playing minis games for a long enough time that when I first started with this game, I did a ton of research into looking into the meta, and what I thought were some competitive options.  Trust me, it will save you an epic ass ton of time and money if you do a little bit of research ahead of time and see what's currently out there and what looks fun and interesting to you.  That's what the army builders are for, and that's for theorycrafting and proxying some of the units you already have before you go out there and buy them.

Alright, now with 40 points as your gold standard and a Commander to lead the army, you now have to add units.  For the purposes of this article, I will briefly go over unit selection as well as NCUs (Non-Combat Unit) even though I feel that NCUs deserve their own article.  There is a lot to cover for them, but I will say that from what I read/talked/seen being played is that at 40 points, you want 2 NCUs in your army.  Most NCUs cost points and those points directly contend with your units on the battlefield so you really have to think carefully about how you want to spend your points.  For example, a unit of Guardsman costs 5 points while someone like Tywin Lannister as an NCU costs 4 by himself.  That's 1 point less than a unit that has actual battlefield performance vs. an NCU who has an amazing once-a-game ability but also has the ability to claim zones on the tactics board.  Without getting too deep into the tactics board and NCUs, I will say that in some cases, the NCU might be better because they have better synergy with the rest of your army.  Just realize that 1. NCUs cost points 2. They can sometimes contribute to your battleplan more than actual units and 3. Count as an activation.

Another great attachment option is the Guard Captain!

When it comes to units, you really want units that jive with your commander.  You want to be able to amplify the Commanders' strengths rather than mitigate their weaknesses IMO.  There's a couple of reasons for this but the biggest one is that there are units in the game that will play very nicely with your Commander's tactics cards and if you have units that don't utilize these tactics cards, you won't be able to use them as effectively.  That's what I recommend doing first, and that's finding units that play well with your Commanders overall battleplan and takes advantage of their tactics cards.  For example, if you take a unit like the Lannister Guards above who already have an excellent 3+ defense save and pair them up with Jaimie's tactics cards, not only will you have a unit that will be even more difficult to take down, but you will also get tactics cards that allows you to parry/riposte and make up for that lower damage curve (6/5/3).

Hell, there's just so much to talk about when it comes to this game that I haven't covered yet when it comes to army building.  Tomorrow, I'll go through some Lannister and Stark list construction so you can take a look at some of the army lists I've been playing with.  I'll talk more about unit selection specifically for the Lannister and Stark armies as well as unit attachments, NCU choices, activations, and other good synergies.  Like I said, army building is one of my favorite aspects of the hobby and I can geek out for days about it.

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