Making the Most of Your Night's Watch Vows

Carl Black
Night's Watch Faction Specialist

“Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.”

-A Game of Thrones, Chapter 48, Jon VI.

The Night’s Watch is built upon the sacred foundation of their Vow. Sworn Men of the watch take the Vow upon their official induction.  

In the Song of Ice and Fire: The Miniatures Game, vows operate as a tactics card mechanic. Many of the Night’s Watch cards have an initial effect, then a secondary Vow effect.  After the card is played it can be attached to a Night’s Watch unit as a vow, typically requiring control of a Tactics Board zone to trigger. As mentioned above, only sworn men of the Night’s Watch have taken vows, thus any Neutral units or Night’s Watch Conscripts in a list cannot benefit from the vow mechanic. It should be noted that War Machines and Ghost are all applicable targets, however. (Editor’s note: I’d just like to point out here that not only is Ghost a wolf, a species not known for their language skills, he’s a wolf known for silence. It breaks my brain that he’s allowed to benefit from Vows.) 

The Vows

Sword in the Darkness

The Sword in the Darkness is a simple and convenient Vow. The trigger will not often need to be forced since melee attacks are common, and the Combat zone is a frequent Tactics Board target. 

Watcher on the Wall

The Watcher on the Wall is where the vows become more tactically complex. Newer players are often confused regarding which unit the Vow is attached. The attacked friendly unit is not the target of the vow, rather it’s the unit performing the free maneuver or march that can attach the card. This card requires careful positioning for optimal use, Generally, you’ll want to have an unactivated unit ready to target and use the card to march them into position for a devastating surprise attack or surprise objective grab.  Since the Maneuver Zone is a situational priority for Night’s Watch you might not find as many organic opportunities to take advantage of this Vow, however, the free retreat does create a tactical advantage and might warrant a maneuver zone target.

Fire that Burns against the Cold

The Fire that Burns Against the Cold is often a one-time benefit since it’s discarded after use unless the Crown (an uncommon zone for Night’s Watch) is controlled. Even if so, canceling a condition token can be pivotal (not to mention the sour look it leaves on your opponent’s face) and placing a token, even if only once, is always beneficial. One instance where this card shines is in a Roose Bolton led Night’s Watch army. Roose is dependent upon panic tokens, and more of them on the battlefield means more opportunities to trigger his cards. Also, it does not hurt Roose to claim the Crown Zone since he will likely be replacing the effect anyway to push more Panic tokens onto opponents. 

The Horn that Wakes the Sleepers

While the Horn that Wakes the Sleepers is the easiest vow tactics cards to trigger, it requires substantial set up to utilize properly. The Tactics zone is a favorite of Night’s Watch players, but knowing when to cycle vows and then use this card to recycle them back onto the playing field is knowledge that can only be gained from experience. The Horn that Wakes the Sleepers should become a familiar moment if you want to master the Night’s Watch Vows.

Shield of the Realms of Men

The Shield of the Realms of Men is another easily played and used vow. The trigger will happen in almost every round and blocking D3 hits is useful for any unit from the tanky vets to the squishy ranger hunters. Also, with the wealth zone being commonly sought after by Nights watch players, blocking D3 hits every time a unit is attacked can be very useful. For an added bonus use this vow to bolster the  Night’s Watch Veterans’ counterattack. 

Jeor Mormont’s Duty to the Watch

Finally, the only commander specific Vow, Jeor Mormont’s Duty to the Watch. This card bestows assistance on a morale test when played, and the vow allows one guaranteed morale test pass. The standard tactics card aspect of this card is useful, but since Night’s Watch morale is typically above average chances are you might swap the Vow for a more useful one before using it. 

On today’s special episode of ‘Karl “the Peacekeeper” Kersten Presents,’ Karl weighs in on a few practical use cases for vows.

Now that Carl has walked us through the vows, what assets can we include to boost the effectiveness of the Vow mechanic? 

Here are a few potential Vow boosters. 
  1. Jeor Mormont

Jeor Mormont – The Old Bear  – although some might argue his 4 point price tag drives a hard bargain, his ability will enhance your vows.

Jeor Mormont  – 997th Lord Commander

His attachment possesses another recycling capability, along with another vow tactics card, which can make for very flexible vow play. 

  1. Petyr Baelish – Littlefinger

Another 4 point NCU, another tough choice. Petyr’s ability requires more thought but impacts your vows in a similar fashion. Many times while playing Night’s Watch you will claim zones because you need the zone effect, and the vow effect is a bonus. Baelish allows the flexibility to trigger the wanted zone effect while controlling the vow effect zone 

  1. Watch Captain attachment

 2 points bring this guy to the field. In exchange for those 2 points, you can start the game with a vow on a unit, and increase the total number of attached vows allowed to 2. Even if the Watch Captain has his effects canceled, the vows would remain! Some amazing possibilities here, especially seeing as vows have no way of being discarded by opponents!  

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