|Battles of Westeros | Published 07 July 2010|
In honor of the release of Battles of Westeros, Fantasy Flight Games would like to present fans with a special series of battle reports. Join us to witness the forces of House Stark and House Lannister face off in a number of battles from the Battles of Westeros Core Set. Now, into the fray!
Welcome to episode one of The Ravens’ Report, the first in a series of battle reports for Battles of Westeros. Today Battles of Westeros designer Rob Kouba pits his House Stark forces against the Lannisters, led by FFG staff writer Brady Sadler. Starting with the first ("Clash on the Kingsroad"), Brady and Rob will lead their chosen House through the first three battles of the core set over the course of the next several weeks.
To kick things off, let’s meet the competitors!
Brady: Hail, Lannister loyalists! I am still relatively new here at FFG, but I am no stranger to the Seven Kingdoms. Having read Martin’s brilliant saga multiple times, as well as being a seasoned BattleLore player, I jumped at the chance to take part in The Ravens’ Report. I chose to pledge to House Lannister because, well...I just don’t want to be on Gregor Clegane’s bad side. I plan on quelling the rise of this so-called King in the North once and for all. For Casterly Rock!
Rob: As the design of the game has taken form and many games [especially of the first scenario] have been played throughout the office, I have hopefully not given away all good first battle strategies to my colleagues as I take up the mantle of my favorite House from the books, House Stark. Hopefully my loyalty to the Old Gods will help me triumph over this marketing upstart who dares to start trouble in the Riverlands and I look to introduce his neck to Ice. Winter is coming!
(Brady and Rob prepare to do battle!)
Clash on the Kingsroad
This first battle features two objectives along the river that represent strategic positions. House Lannister must take control of these objectives while the Stark forces need to prevent their enemies from gaining that ground. If Brady can manage to take both objectives and hold them until the end of round 5, then Lannister wins the day. However, Rob’s defensive starting position will certainly make it a trying task.
Brady: At first glance, this scenario looked very imposing to me as a Lannister player, mainly because of that pesky river between my troops and sweet, sweet victory. However, I quickly noted the four different fords, which present many different options for my advance. Looking at my available units and commanders, I quickly rethought my opening moves.
Addam Marbrand starts off with four green rank Casterly Rock Cavaliers within his Zone of Command (unfortunately far from the river). Given this was an objective point battle, their movement of 4 looks very promising. Four units of cavalry rushing around the battlefield is a fun prospect. But unless I rolled several green order tokens and drew some “Order 3 units” Leadership Cards, I was sure I’d have to split the cavaliers up. So I figured I should plan for this anyway.
My starting strategy is to push my Lannisport Guard forward toward the further fords, praying to the Seven that they don’t fall victim to Stark archers. Then I can hopefully rush two of my Cavaliers to hold off the blue Winterfell Rider near Maege while Addam and the other cavalry ride toward the lower fords. Hopefully this will keep them out of reach of Maege’s War Hosts and those dastardly archers. If my Lannisport Guard can cross the river and engage the archers fast enough, my cavalry might be able to move in to clean up.
Rob: Having already set up a defensive posture, I look to play a mainly reactive game since I have a winning position from the start of the battle. However, as momentum awards me advantage, and therefore the first action, an important decision must be made that depends heavily upon my initial rolls and draws during the Marshaling Phase.
Rickard and the archer units function as the core defense of my interior (on my side of the river with the Victory Objectives). While it is important to form up the defense, I do not have to turn my attention to this during my first turns. I can leisurely take the hill position and the forest position to harass his units. I tend to move Rickard last of all in case he is needed to augment Maege’s forces to the south.
In fact, Maege’s forces hold some of the key early decision points. I personally think it comes down to one piece: the blue rank cavalry. I need to decide whether to leave this guy east of the road or how I want to incorporate him into my defense during my first turn. If I roll tokens that can order him, do I use one at the outset or do I use Maege’s precious one command to reform my lines and brace for a possible attack via the road?
Another thing that I will need to keep in the back of my mind is Addam’s ability to negotiate over terrain which is a useful checkmate ability in this battle. If I have any chance to engage him, I will probably take it in hopes that I can capture him and further hamstring the Lannister advance by taking away the ability to play cards to him.
Rickard, with his Toughness will be a difficult obstacle to get around although not impossible. I need the Lord of Karhold to be able to hold the frontline as I pick his forces apart at range. His nemesis will be Kevan Lannister whose support ability could prove dangerous.
In the end, I need to pull a Spartan defense of two choke points although the beginning maneuvers will be indicative of how the battle will unfold.
Let the ground be watered by the blood of worthy opponents.
During the first Marshaling Phase of the game Brady rolled a decent set of Order Tokens (2 greens, 1 red, and 1 blue) to help get his cavalry moving. Meanwhile, Rob rolled a superior 2 greens, 1 blue, and 1 morale. Rob immediately put that blue token to use by playing it to order his lone unit of Winterfell Riders, moving them directly behind Maege and her surrounding War Hosts of the North.
Kevan Lannister saw the timid move as a weakness and Brady thoroughly agreed, playing an “Order 3 units” Leadership Card on the trusted captain in response. The two front units of Lannisport Guard marched forward to meet their cowardly foes, with Kevan Lannister’s unit following suit.
Rob grinned knowingly as he watched those foolish Lannisters advance. Maege reacted swiftly (with an “Order 3 units of the same rank” Leadership Card played by Rob) and commanded her War Host of the North units to move forward, ready to pounce on any Lions trying to sneak their way into the ford. Brady then heedlessly spent one of his blue Order Tokens to order his remaining Lannisport Guard unit toward the lower fords, lining his men up perfectly for a volley of arrows from across the river...
Brady: I thought I’d take a chance here, since my Lannisport Guard are blue rank and Rob’s archers are both green rank and Off-Balance. This means they will only get to roll 1 die to attack if they move that turn. And they will need to move if they hope to secure stronger positions.
Rob: The Lannisters movement to the river bend between the two fords was good news for my commanders as there was no immediate threat to either ford. Although his cavalry could still ride down to engage me, the Lord of Karhold was able to form his archers up at his leisure on the river’s bank. Set up at the midpoint, Rickard’s forces could wheel and protect either side.
Seeing Brady’s rash decision, Rob discarded a green Order Token to ready his archers, moving them into the relative safety of the woods. Since his Northmen Archers are Off-Balance, they only benefit from 1 attack die (opposed to their normal 2). However, Rob managed to roll a blue shield with that one die, picking off one of Brady’s Lannisport Guard.
Brady: Lucky roll.
First blood had been drawn, and Brady decided to get his cavalry into the action. He played an “Order 3 units” card on Addam Marbrand, who gladly kicked his mount into gear and sent one of his Casterly Rock Cavaliers into the fray while he and another unit rode to back up Kevan and the Lannisport Guard units. The charging cavaliers engaged the frontline War Host of the North unit.
Rob: A foolish move, young lion!
Brady placed one of his engagement tokens between his cavaliers and the war host unit to mark the melee, rolling a hit on one of his two attack dice. Unfortunately, Maege and the other War Host of the North unit supported their allies, giving the injured unit the Stalwart keyword (allowing them to counterattack). Rob rolled his two attack dice and fortune favored him once more: 2 hits! Two Casterly Rock Cavaliers fell against the Stark’s stoic defense.
Brady: Rob is rolling way too well. Curse those northern dogs and their underhanded Old Gods!
As Lannister blood still seeped into the land, Rob used a green Order Token to move another unit of Northmen Archers to the nearby hill. From there he attempted to do more damage to Brady’s lone, weakened Lannisport Guard unit. This time the dice failed him, and his arrows fell short.
After Brady spent another green Order Token to move another unit of cavaliers, Rob played an “Order 1 unit and 1 unit adjacent to that unit” Leadership Card to move Rickard and the remaining unit of archers forward. Moving just into range, Rob’s archers took a shot at the Stalwart Lannisport guard across the river, rolling a morale result on his single attack die. But, finally catching a break, Brady’s stubborn Lannisport Guard ignored the morale result and did not flee (since defending Stalwart units can ignore one morale result).
Finally, Brady spent his last green Order Token to move his remaining cavalier toward his allies. After that, both sides consecutively passed, ending the Command Phase of Round One.
After marshaling, Rob began the next Command Phase with the following Order Tokens: 3 morale, 1 valor, and 1 green. Brady held an awkward pool of 2 red, 1 valor, 1 morale, and 1 green. Rob maintained advantage from the previous round since he had the most unspent Command Tokens on his Command Board, so he acted first.
Rob: Although my tokens did not yield a good assortment, I was pleased with the 3 morale tokens which I knew would be a big part of my strategy this turn.
For his fist trick, Rob played a Rickard Karstack Leadership Card on Maege, allowing him to order 2 units. Additionally, the card’s ability allowed friendly infantry to score hits with valor results against cavalry (valor results are normally ignored when infantry attacks cavalry). Maege ordered the unengaged frontline war host forward one hex while her own unit moved up two hexes to fill the new gap. The war host flank attacked the lone Lannister cavalier, and even with his reroll (provided by flanking) and ability to hit on valor symbols, Rob’s dice did not agree with him and the cavalier survived. Maege was much more fortunate, and she cut the rider down, opting not to advance into the now empty hex.
Addam Marbrand saw the butchery from afar and bristled. Brady played one of Addam’s Leadership Cards on him (giving flanking attacks +1 dice so long as Lannister morale is green or better) and he ordered his adjacent cavalry to swarm the northerners. They both charged toward the already weakened war host (since he was no longer Stalwart and could not counterattack). The first engagement scored 2 hits, while the flanking cavaliers rode down the last standing figure to eliminate the unit. Choosing to utilize his cavaliers’ Pursuit 2, Brady moved the unit that scored the killing blow up two hexes to engage the other war host, scoring one hit.
Despite the massacre of his war host, Rob smiled knowingly as he discarded a valor Order Token to order the rank blue Winterfell Riders behind Maege that the Lannisters must have overseen. They rode in to flank Brady’s engaged cavaliers, scoring three hits on the first roll, destroying the entire unit! The following pursuit let Rob engage the other unit of cavaliers, scoring three hits again! Two full units of Casterly Rock Cavaliers fell before a single, well-ordered unit of Winterfell Riders.
Rob: A conservative first move with my cavalry yielded good results when I allowed them to run amok in the battlefield taking the Lannister heavy horse by surprise. Although I expected to do damage, I did not quite expect the Winterfell Riders to ride through the sea of crimson so easily.
Kevan Lannister would not sit idle after witnessing such a slaughter. Brady played an “Order 3 units of the same rank” Leadership Card on him and moved all adjacent Lannisport Guard units up, maintaining their formation with Kevan bringing up the rear. The first attack on the war host resulted in a single hit, but the following counterattack forced the Lannisters to retreat. Instead of attacking, Kevan Lannister used his passive ability to give up his attack to an adjacent friendly unit. The unit of Lannisport Guard threw a whopping 5 attack dice, but only scored 1 hit and 1 retreat. Brady chose to advance into the vacated hex to prevent the Starks from making more units Stalwart.
Surrounded by lions, Rob kicked Rickard Karstark into action, playing an “Order 2 units” to move Rickard’s own unit to the ford to block the approaching guard and open fire with his archers on the hill. The archers scored a morale result on their attack, pushing the Lannisport Guard back a hex. Rickard managed to score 2 hits and a retreat on the guard, and then pursued to obliterate the rest of the unit. Finally, to add insult to injury, Rob used Rickard’s Commit ability (flipping Rickard’s Commander Card over to rally his own unit and all adjacent cavalry). Now Rickard and the adjacent rank blue cavalry were ready for another attack!
Rob: I find Morale results extremely valuable in this battle in particular. As the retreat forced his infantry to be removed from the ford, it would force Brady to order that unit back in (and then stop) before reaching the objective. In fact the morale scored by Rickard was too good to be true as it freed up the space needed for me to effectively use my Commit ability.
Seeing the high road was now blocked, Brady played a Leadership Card on Addam to move his own unit behind Kevan and his depleting guard (granting the frontline units Stalwart) and move his remaining green cavalry to the lower ford, engaging the forested archers and scoring 2 hits.
Rob decided to play another “Order 2 units of the same rank” on Rickard to move both remaining cavalry units back across the river to back up his wounded archers. Running out of options, Brady spent a valor Order Token to push his lone guard unit onto the ford, followed by Rob using a green Order Token to attack the cavaliers engaged with his forested archers (scoring 1 hit).
Brady: I have a crazy idea...
With a morale order token left, Brady decided to take a morale hit and rally the guard unit on the ford. Rob discarded a morale token as well, but only to push Brady’s morale down even further. Running out of time, Brady discarded 2 red Order Tokens to move forward with his rallied Lannisport Guard and attack the archers on the hill. The tired soldiers managed to take out 2 figures. Afterwards, Rob discarded another of his morale Order tokens to further deplete Lannister morale.
Brady had no choice but to pass, but before ending the round, Rob discarded his last morale token to bring Brady’s morale only three spaces away from an immediate rout victory for Stark.
Things were looking very bleak for Addam and Kevan’s Lannister forces. And to make matters even worse, Rob still held on to his advantage, getting the first turn of the round. But it would only take one more turn to put an end to this battle...
Rob played a well-reserved “Order 3 units” Leadership Card on Rickard, ordering Rickard’s own unit and his remaining archer units. Rickard moved in to flank the engaged Lannisport Guard. The first attack came from the archers in the woods, causing the cavaliers to retreat. Rickard then eliminated the entire Lannisport Guard unit in one swipe (moving Lannister morale down one space), quickly pursuing to take out another cavalier and forcing another retreat.
Rob: The retreat result from be archers in the woods slapped me in the face as one of the units I needed to eliminate for a rout win was now out of range. Or was he...? Rickard’s stepping up and being able to pursue really helped although he also caused a retreat.
Finally, with the lone archers on the hill barely in range (and their Line of Sight not blocked by units, thanks to the hill terrain’s ability), Rob picked off the remaining Casterly Rock Cavalier before he could retreat to safety. This pushed Lannister morale off the track giving Rob an immediate rout victory!
Brady: What a shameful display, Lannisters! Tywin will not be pleased to hear of this! I think I lost this battle from the very beginning. I should not have fooled around trying to take the higher fords while the lower ones were such a nicer target. This battle was not about kills or even fighting for my part - it was about securing and defending the hexes beyond the river. Also, I totally neglected to watch my morale. Rob prepared for his imminent victory very well, although at the time I couldn’t do much to stop him. Rob taught me a lesson today, and I shall repay the favor greatly. A Lannister always pays his debts...
Rob: The ability to form Maege and her units together and advance as one really helped. Usually there is a slow down if Lannister infantry attempt to follow the bank toward Maege’s unit where I get to lob volleys of arrows and multiple Morale results can just be devastating to that plan. I do have to hand it to my troops that performed better than anticipated. However, I look forward to the next battle against the lousy Lannister lions!
Don’t miss the next episode of The Ravens’ Report where we find out whether Rob or Brady will Pay the Piper!
Set in the rich and vibrant world of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, Battles of Westeros is a board game of tactical battlefield combat for two players. With scenarios that include beloved characters and settings, players can recreate the most significant battles from The War of the Five Kings.
I enjoyed the article. I thought the action was a little hard to follow because of the zoomed in view. I constantly had to refer back to the starting positions to get a clear idea of the situation. I'd like to suggest a smaller global map be used to show the movements of troops in the future. A video playthru with text highlights might even be better. Thanks!
This was a fantastic article to help us glean some great strategies for our games! Rob and Brady are fantastic guys, and they were really personable when we met them during the Terrinoth event! Thanks so much for the great conversation about this game's development, Rob, and it's as great as we thought it would be! Congrats! I'm sure George R.R. is proud!
Of course Rob would win....
Cool article, keep it up guys!
This kind of articles are amazing and very helpful for newbie of the game like me!