Tactics Talk: House Umber Berserkers, Greataxes, and Greatjon ‘‘Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth’ Umber

Scott Smith
Contributing Writer

 In our last A Song of Ice and Fire: The Miniatures game Stark Tactic’s talk we discussed Robb Stark and the hearty Stark Sworn Swords. Let’s turn it up a notch, and bring House Umber into the mix. If the Sworn Swords are your mainline troops then consider the Umber Berserkers the shock and the Greataxes the awe troops of the Northern armies. Fast, hard-hitting, devastating. All enemies of the North fear the wrath of House Umber and their Lord, the Greatjon.

Just looking at those stats makes it obvious Berserkers are not meant to hold the line. They are a lightly armored, fast-moving, offensive powerhouse who gain in strength as they lose ranks. The berserkers are meant to charge the flanks or roar in after the initial assault to mop up the survivors. But, be careful not to overcommit them, because even though hey gain dice as they lose ranks, you still don’t want to serve them to your opponent on a silver platter. 

The principal  berserker attachment is the Umber Champion, which grants Fury Unleashed. If you haven’t already noticed, their ability was changed in an update, now granting +2 dice and Vicious, and inflicting d3 wounds on the attached unit after the attack. He makes the already beastly Berserkers downright monstrous. Berserkers on their last rank with an Umber Champion  swing with a total of 12 dice on the attack while also inflicting vicious and sundering on the defender. On a charge with rerolls there are many times you can one-shot a unit at full health.

While the Umber Berserkers will teach your opponents fear, the House Umber Greataxes will teach them the pain. 

Trading speed for more armor and a single, massive axe, the Greataxes put the fear of the Old Gods into enemies of the North. Although the Greataxes lack the berserkers’ raw dice output,  their abilities turn foes into kindling. 

First, let’s talk Mighty Cleave. It’s your charge attack since their other ability, Executioners fury, can only be used if you start the turn engaged. Mighty Cleave’s unique capacity for destruction generates an additional hit for every failed defense save. Ideal for one-shotting low-armor units, combine this attack with the Stark tactics card Northern Ferocity for Sundering and watch units melt under the assault. Best case, although statistically unlikely, scenario you could potentially inflict 16 hits. If you want to turn it up to eleven, use Rodrick Cassel’s NCU influence to throw critical blow on there as well. In a standard use case though, this ability helps mitigate  unfavorable rolls by generating extra hits. Once you’ve split a few skulls, your great axes will switch over to executioners fury. 

Executioners fury, aka the can opener. It’ll use fewer dice than Mighty Cleave,  but does not allow defensive saves, meaning every hit is a kill. And since it hits on a 2+ you’re not likely to miss often.h. Since this wouldn’t be an Umber unit without gaining power as they die, on the Greataxes’ last rank Executioner’s Fury gains Critical Blow on 4 attack dice. So if you get lucky and spike a roll, you could do  8 wounds. Toss Catelyn on them to bump the attack back up to full and up your damage potential. While Executioner’s Fury might not have the raw damage potential of Mighty Cleave, it’s useful for guaranteed damage when engaged, as well as carving through heavily armored opponents like the Flayed Men. House Umber laughs at steel suits.

Now that we’ve discussed the troops of House Umber, let’s sit down with their leader, Greatjon Umber, Lord of Last Hearth. His Umber Rage will pop a few tokens on your opponent to maximize their damage, followed by the now standard d3 self-inflicted wounds, and he’ll also grant any unit housing membership in the Umber clan. Which means they’ll receive the full benefit of his tactics cards.

Speaking of…

Greatjon’s approach differs from the strategic Rob Stark. Tactical retreats are not the Umber way.  Hitting like a brakeless freight train going downhill with a full head of steam, that’s the Umber way.. His tactics cards are Last Stand, Lash Out, and Berserker Tactics


Did your opponent have plans after they killed your unit? Too bad, cause the Greatjon just punched them in the mouth. Last Stand is one low-down, dirty trick of a card. And you until you play two of them, your opponent is going to be forced to assume you might have one in your hand. Or that Sansa might choose this very moment to ruin his success. Which means, do they finish off those near death Berserkers and risk devastation in return? Sometimes, control of a point or finishing off a key unit comes down to that last desperate attack, and Last Stand guarantees that your opponent will pay for killing yours, with blood.


Not only will the Greatjon punish opponents for destroying a unit, but even a simple act of aggression merits instant, lethal retaliation. 


Sometimes, you may not need the devastating haymaker, but rather the swift, elegant jab. In typical Stark fashion, you can inflict quick kills on a unit for the cost of the same amount of damage in return. D3 may not seem like much, but it can be the difference between a unit hitting you at full strength, controlling an objective, or finishing off the last guy standing  your attack couldn’t quite kill.

It’s easy to see the difference between the way the two commanders play, even if fielding exactly identical armies. So don’t think you’ve got a handle on everything a unit does if you haven’t seen what another commander can do with them.

When not in command, the Greatjon can be attached as the “Fierce Bannerman.” HIs order, Fury of House Umber, gives you another strong offensive tool (at the typical cost of D3 wounds).  If you claim the attack tactics zone, you can make a free charge instead of an attack, letting Greatjon’s unit cover ground and possibly catch a foe unawares.


Here is a list you can build with a few purchases outside of the starter box. Another unit of House Umber Berserkers and two House Umber Greataxes will field the House Umber Berserker Barrage. Your strategy is straightforward in this list. The Greataxes go straight up the middle while the Berserkers flank from the sides. Threat saturation is the plan because sometimes(and particularly with House Umber) the best defense is a good offense. 


Faction: House Stark

Commander: Greatjon Umber – Lord of Last Hearth

Points: 40 (0 Neutral)

Combat Units:

  • House Umber Berserkers (7)

  with Umber Champion (1)

  • House Umber Berserkers (7)

  with Umber Champion (1)

  • House Umber Greataxes (7)

  with Greatjon Umber – Lord of Last Hearth (0)

  • House Umber Greataxes (7)

  with Robb Stark – The Young Wolf (3)

  • Grey Wind (0)

Non-Combat Units:

  • Sansa Stark – Little Bird (3)
  • Catelyn Stark – Lady of Winterfell (4)

Made with ASOIAFBuilder.com

Force your opponent to make the hard choice of who to attack. Does he deal with the Berserkers first  to avoid their charge and then hit the armored forces or try to deal with the great axes and risk a Berserker charge to the flank?. We also see our friend Robb appearing as an attachment, boosting the speed of a unit to ensure you  get those axes right where you want them.

Sansa will guarantee you have the key tactic card to punish your opponent and Catelyn will ensure your offense is rolling maximum damage. The latter works great on your Berserkers since they don’t gain maximum attack dice till they are at death’s door.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.