Getting the most from your Bolton Blackguard in A Song of Ice and Fire the Miniatures Game
The Bolton Blackguard (6pts)
In the dark corners of the North rumors have long swirled of the House Bolton Blackguard. Swirled since, say, the Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game Kickstarter. Originally conceived as a punchy unit with Vicious and Spiked Armor (1 auto-wound to the attacker for each defense roll of 6), the released version has a more defensive profile, inflicting a panic check on attackers before their attack hits (Horrific Visage). Combined with the Blackguard’s 3+ armor, and slightly better than average morale(6+), the Blackguard will fill a needed niche for Neutral players, a unit with the ability to stick around on the board. They’re not the hardest hitting unit around, but played right they’ll certainly make their presence known.
And for that little extra bit of nasty that House Bolton loves, the Blackguards come with a new 1 point attachment, the Bolton Flayer. After attaching the Flayer to a unit, that unit will heal 2 wounds every time an engaged enemy fails a panic test. And if you’re playing Neutral, and your opponents are NOT failing panic tests, then your game-plan has likely gone seriously awry.
How will the Blackguards fit into your Neutral lists? As snug as a Bolton knife in a Stark back. The Blackguard provides a needed heavy infantry unit that gives you a cheaper objective holder than the 10 pt Flayed Men. Stick the Flayer in them and they can tarpit your opponent’s heavy hitters, holding them for your other units to attack them in the flank or ignore completely in pursuit of your opponent’s vulnerable underbelly. Use them as a commander bunker for Ramsay and utilize Theon’s panic tokens and Ramsay’s Flay them All ability to inflict multiple panic checks per round. Even the oft-ignored Dreadfort Captain could find a home in them, spreading panic across the battlefield like a malignant Tinkerbell, chortling with glee as he waves his magic mace and sprinkles panic tokens with abandon.
Now, because we don’t want to introduce a new unit but leave you skinned on some potential uses, try out this Ramsay Snow commanded list:
RAMSAY’S LIL’ SLUGGERS
Commander: Ramsay Snow – The Bastard of Bolton
- House Bolton Blackguard (6) with Ramsay Snow – The Bastard of Bolton (0) and Theon Greyjoy – Reek (0)
- House Bolton Blackguard (6) with Roose Bolton – The Leech Lord (3)
- Bolton Cutthroats (5) with Bolton Flayer (1)
- Bolton Cutthroats (5) with Dreadfort Captain(1)
- Bolton Cutthroats (5)
- Lord Varys – The Spider (4)
- Petyr Baelish – Littlefinger (4)
Simple in design, potentially lethal in usage, Ramsay’s Lil Sluggers provides you with two tanks to keep your enemy in place and three mobile Cutthroats to swarm your opponent’s flanks and generate failed panic tests (and a lot of wounds). With Ramsay in one Blackguard, and Roose in the other, each Blackguard can generate the panic tokens to provoke failed tests. Hold them down, then skin them from the sides. The Blackguard will also make an excellent target for Ramsay’s card ‘Our Blades are Sharp,’ which will increase their hit chance from 4+ to 3+, with 9 dice and Vulnerable. And the more expendable cutthroats will be perfect for Cruel Methods. The Flayer will help keep your Cutthroats slitting necks longer, and the Dreadfort Captain can either throw out more tokens, or be swapped for another Flayer for added durability.
Now, for those looking at how the Blackguard will fit into other factions, check out this brief rundown for a few ideas.
The Starks don’t tend to focus much on panic damage, and it can feel awkward to fit the current neutral units into their lists. This holds true for the Blackguard as well, although perhaps less than the other options.
- Cheaper than the Sworn Shields while filling the same niche
- Work well for holding flanks and objectives.
- Slow speed can be mitigated by tactics cards, much like the Greataxes and Sworn Shields.
- Try them out with Brynden Tully – The Blackfish as your commander, and use them as your bunker. He’ll give them Tully synergy, and his abilities and tactics cards will increase their durability. Not to mention Set for Charge, which will give the Blackguards a free attack with panic check, weaken them, and then inflict ANOTHER panic check before their attack.
- If you enjoy using Shaggydog, the Blackguard with a Flayer will synergize well. Engage your opponent with the Blackguard and then hit them in the flank and rear with Shaggydog. Heal wounds. Rinse, repeat.
- Additionally, the Blackguards can make your Ramsay led Stark lists more durable.
The Night’s Watch:
Like the Starks, the Night’s Watch are not a faction that relies on panic.
- Blackguard can be a cheaper defensive unit in place of your Veterans, although the Blackguard’s morale is slightly worse.
- As usual, they’ll work well whenever you wish to use Ramsay or Roose as commanders.
- Three of the commanders from Night’s Watch Heroes 1 will all work very well with the Blackguard: Othell Yarwyck, Donal Noye, and Aliser Thorne. Of the three, I like Aliser Thorne the best, especially when using the Blackguards as your commander bunker. His cards can inflict condition tokens, auto-wounds, and negative stat modifiers on your opponent, and he grants the unit he’s attached to bonuses to hit as their opponent loses ranks.
- Bolton Flayer vs Watch Recruiter – NW will now have two different one point attachments dedicated to healing up their units. The Flayer will heal 2 wounds when an engaged unit fails a panic test, while the recruiter will heal 1 wound from a failed attack or panic test (2 wounds within a single attack action if opponent loses models from the attack and the panic test). It really depends on the composition of your army here, but the conscript is likely the better choice. You’ll almost always take out a few units on the attack to get at least 1 wound back, but unless you’re running very specific lists panic won’t be your primary damage source.
Neutrals? We don’t need no stinking neutrals!
House Lannister is probably the faction with the most neutral synergy at the moment. Like the Boltons they have multiple sources of vicious and negative modifiers to your opponent’s morale.
The obvious starting question is why would you choose the Blackguard over the cheaper guardsmen with their Lannister supremacy? The Blackguard’s attack profile is only slightly better, and the guardsmen are one point cheaper. If you’re looking at a purely defensive option, Guardsmen with a guard captain might be the better choice. The Blackguards will give you the choice to be a little more proactive however, and unlike the Guard Captain their Horrific Visage is not an order, allowing it unlimited use during a round. I’d also argue that the Blackguards’ 6+ morale makes them a safer home for commanders and valuable attachments.
The obvious choice here is Cersei. Keep her influence on a unit engaged with the Blackguard and they are more likely to drop models with every attack.
Blackguards could make a good commander bunker for Tywin, as an attacking unit will be forced to make a panic check before the attack and after, assuming you pass the morale test to trigger Lannister supremacy. Combine that with Cersei and the Blackguard have a chance of completely debilitating an opponent on their attack. The Warrior’s Sons have a better chance of triggering supremacy, but unless they already have a faith token their 4+ armor could let a lot of damage through. Not to mention the Blackguard is 2 pts cheaper.
Assault Veterans are another good attachment option for the Blackguard. You’ll want them engaged as often as possible, and the Veteran will provide a significant bump to their damage output.
Both Cleganes will also work well with the Blackguard. Gregor’s Commander version will drop a panic token on the charge and allow them to inflict d3 wounds, and his attachment +2 dice and sundering. Sandor, on the other hand, will allow you to inflict two additional wounds whenever an engaged enemy fails a panic test. Both will also give you Clegane affiliation for your Gregor Lists.
The Flayer might actually be more valuable to the Lannister player than the Blackguard, however. Placing him in your Pyromancer’s and Mountain’s Men can increase their survivability on the battlefield and keep them punishing opponents longer.