House Lannister: Tactics Deck, NCUs and You
A Lannister Player’s Guide to
Crushing Enemies and Influencing People (to run away)
Hear Me Roar
With the Lannister predilection towards panic, this card combined with an NCU like Cersei or units like the Mountain’s Men can ruin an opponent’s day. As a result, Hear Me Roar ends up being one of the better damage inflicting cards in the game. Take this scenario: before you is a unit of Night’s Watch Veterans (morale 5+) holding an objective in Dance with Dragons. You draw cards and see Hear Me Roar. A smile spreads on your face when you see the unit of Mountain’s Men in charging distance. With first activation this round, you place Cersei on the crown and target the Veterans. You flirt with the idea of playing Hear Me Roar, but you know it’s not yet time. At a -3, they pass the test. Next activation, you charge the Mountain’s Men into them. They manage 4 wounds on the charge. Now, it is time. With a triumphant flourish, you throw Hear Me Roar on the table before they make their panic test. That strong 5+ morale now must take the test with a -2 from Cersei, a -2 from Vicious, and an additional -2 from Hear me Roar. And a panic token (from Cersei holding the crown). When the dust clears, you take the objective token as a spoil of victory from the battered and terrorized Veterans. Remember, panic inflicts direct WOUNDS, so this card will often secure a death blow on a damaged unit – no matter how brave they are. Controlling the crown is a theme in the Lannister tactics deck, and many cards gain a bonus when you have it claimed.
Fealty to the Crown
Here you have what is potentially the best healing card in the game. Depending on how bad your opponent whiffs their panic test, this card could heal as many as 10 wounds. Important note: It only heals infantry, and only heals wounds for MODELS removed from your opponent’s unit. Therefore, even if you deal three wounds to a cavalry unit if only one horse is removed it only counts as one model for the card. If at all possible; we want to target low morale infantry units with our big panic checks and use this card. Free Folk Raiders and Trappers are a great target. This card stacks well with the Bolton Flayer ability, Prey on Fear, meaning that if the unit is engaged an additional 2 models can be healed on top of the card. Controlling the crown and using this attachment adds an automatic 4 heals. Don’t sleep on this card, but if it’s in your hand look for opportunities to position damaged units near low morale enemies and watch your opponent’s hard-fought gains disappear.
Wealth of the Rock
A potent tool in the Lannister defensive arsenal. Many Lannister troops have average or better armor and this card will further assist their survivability. The D3 blocks from the wealth zone bonus are also key, as it can prevent wounds from attacks that don’t allow defensive saves (i.e. Greataxes/Pyromancers). Keep in mind that when a unit blocks all hits, it automatically passes the panic check, as a result, your units with Lannister Supremacy would auto-trigger the ability. I would save this card for armored troops as it will not make as much of a difference on units with 6+ saves. But, in a pinch, it can be a lifesaver.
Intrigue and Subterfuge
Opposing NCUs are a pain. Wouldn’t it be better if they didn’t have abilities? Use this card when you need to declaw a particularly bothersome enemy NCU. It’s essentially one half of Varys, but without the dice roll or need to expend an order token. Think about all the pests other factions put on the board. Styr and his automatic D3 wounds? Pest. Aemon’s crazy healing? Pest. Catelyn removed tokens and injecting steroids into some Starks. Pest. You need to exterminate these pests, and Intrigue and Subterfuge is your ready-made pesticide. Breathe easy and pest-free for an entire round after playing it. The secondary effect is nearly as important. If you control the crown, your opponent must randomly discard one card. Fewer cards for them means less of a chance of a nasty surprise coming your way, as well as the chance that you may have disrupted their strategy by eliminating a crucial card.
A card with a situational usage, there are times it can swing a game to your favor. While it can’t be combined with Hear Me Roar, Cersei and corpse piles can help further the morale deficit. You can remove a nasty attachment for the round, but don’t forget the wounds. This card can be used as a “sniper” to finish a unit off, kill a solo, significantly weaken a unit poised to strike, or soften up a unit you want to kill. It’s always worth playing just to try to get the wounds. Don’t treat it as an auto-discard, try to play it.
A Lannister Pays his Debts
I generally don’t like cards that depend on a unit to die as that’s not really an ideal situation for Lannister. With no wolves or cheap, insignificant units all of your activations count. When your unit dies you get to make one unit panicked and one unit vulnerable (you can choose the same unit). Inevitably in the course of a game, there’s a good chance one of your units will pass to the great beyond, so if you have this card in hand you might as well take advantage of it. Panic tokens are always useful, and this is a rare source of vulnerable for Lannister. Where the card really shines, in my opinion, is its bonus. Lannisters have access to supremely powerful cards, and bringing the right one back can swing the game 180 degrees in your favor. I don’t think it’s as powerful as some other faction’s cards that trigger on a unit’s death, but its value is not to be underestimated.
Counterplot is the pinnacle of the Lannister deck. This card, above all others available, will make your opponent’s cry those sweet, sweet tears. There are so many game-changing cards available to every faction, and Lannisters have the only tool available to straight-up cancel an opponent’s card. It’s our ace in the hole and can be the difference in the game. Do not waste it on a play that won’t make a huge impact!!!
My earlier article covered the starter NCUs, and we have touched on Cersei’s influence compounding cards like Hear Me Roar, but let’s talk about the other NCU’s and their synergies.
Pycelle- Grand Maester
Pycelle is a 3 point NCU and often that holds enough value on its own. But when combined with his ability he’s a deal. Many Lannister troops are defensively oriented, so weakening an opponent’s powerhouse units improves survivability that much more. Wealth of the Rock partners naturally with weakened, and between the two there is a great chance of bouncing an attack entirely. Look for opportunities to use this combo on units with Lannister Supremacy, as it’s always nice to trigger it without burning a captain’s order or rolling.
Joffrey Baratheon – Lord of the Seven Kingdoms
As noted above, the Lannister tactics deck relies on control of the wealth and crown zones to trigger bonus effects. But when taking the crown isn’t optimal, we can hail the one true king!. Regardless of the placement zone, the effervescent and benign Joffrey will guarantee you crown control. Place the boy-king on the wealth zone and all secondary effects are covered. He does give your opponent the opportunity to drop a panic token on one of your units, but we can work around that. I believe his upside far outweighs the downside, and if your army includes kingsguard attachments (to be discussed in a future article) Joffrey is almost an auto-include.
Tywin Lannister – The Great Lion
Tywin’s recent stat boost means The Rains of Castamere will now shut down a unit’s abilities, attachments, and drop all 3 condition tokens on them. It’s a one use per game ability but is the Song equivalent of dropping a tactical nuke. Use Tywin in one of two ways. Defensively he’ll shut off a nasty unit about to wreck your face and turn them into helpless peasants. Offensively he’ll shut off defensive abilities and allow your hammer to smash them at full force (and possibly in one shot). At Gencon, I called the Rains of Castamere on Eddard and his Honor Guard then killed them with one attack. I’ve also used him to destroy Snow and his vets, Tully Sworn Shields, and enemy Knights of Casterly Rock. It’s hard to leave home without Papa Tywin and he makes a case for inclusion in any list, if only for the insurance policy.
LOrd Varys – The Spider
Lord Varys is a neutral NCU who fits the Lannister style of trickery and denial like a glove. With 4 order tokens triggering off a 3+ dice roll, there’s a good chance he can shut down at least one of your opponent’s key moves. Interestingly, Varys’ trigger occurs AFTER the opposing NCU activates, which means you could use Intrigue and Subterfuge for a no-holds-barred full NCU shut down. A Night’s Watch player expecting to heal 6 wounds with Aemon might just heal 0, and make the world a happier place. Use his order tokens wisely, and always have a contingency plan, as his dice will fail you on occasion. But, even though I’ve had games where I fail all 4 rolls, I still find him a solid choice. The psychological effect of Varys on your opponent is often enough to prevent the attempt at big tactics board plays.
Petyr Baelish – Littlefinger
Another amazing Neutral NCU, Petyr can claim a zone and replace its effect with that of an empty zone. The only NCU better at crown control is Joffrey. Slap Littlefinger on the crown and then use a zone for which you have a need, and you’re still set for crown control. He can also set-up a zone “double-tap,” creating situations your opponent must react to. If he claims a zone and then uses the empty free attack, an opponent is almost obligated to abandon any other plans and claim the sword zone themselves to prevent a second hit. This goes for the tactics zone as well. If your opponent allows you to draw 4 extra cards in one round and get those extra tokens as well…. it could be really bad for them. In addition to the double-tap, use Petyr to block zones your opponent needs. If a Night’s Watch player has the Shield of the Realms of Men vow on a unit, grab the wealth zone to prevent their D3 blocks. I really like Petyr and I believe his value has only increased with the growing importance of zone control.
Roose Bolton – Lord of the dreadfort
Roose Bolton is a Neutral commander NCU whose cards focus on panic and control (see the neutral article for a breakdown of his cards and abilities). His ability replaces zone effects by dropping panic tokens on 2 enemy units. You can utilize this for zone control, for instance blocking Starks or Free Folk from taking the maneuver zone. Pair Roose with Cersei for a beautiful kind of ugly, as his Panic tokens will make those modified morale tests even scarier. Since one of his cards depends on the enemy failing a panic check, the Cersei and Roose combo becomes even more dangerous. Add in Hear Me Roar, the perennial Lannister favorite, and plop panic token you had to expend to play his card right back down! In addition to his natural synergies with Lannister, he is also a ‘free’ NCU, which can be a significant list advantage in game modes that don’t favor battlefield commanders.
The High Sparrow – Father of the faithful
The High Sparrow is Lannister’s other option for an NCU commander. Due to his cards and ability, he’s commonly used when many Lannister players start with the faction, but the effectiveness of his strategies means experienced players will run the Sparrow just as often. His influence buffs the frequently ‘average’ morale of Lannister troops, helping them stick around longer or trigger Supremacy without the need of a Guard Captain. His cards are well-rounded (one offensive, one defensive, and one healing card)merely requiring you to pass a morale check he can assist with for the best results. Additionally, he makes the Warrior’s Sons and Poor Fellows exponentially better by triggering morale checks and jumpstarting their faith tokens. An all-around solid choice for a commander.
By understanding the Lannister tactics deck and NCU options; you can capitalize on the available units and employ their denial and control tactics. Remember the card’s secondary effects claim the zones when possible, but don’t be afraid to use them at their non-optimal either.. And as always, make sure your opponents hear you roar!!!