While my river slowly takes shape night after night, I was free to get in some gaming. This time, we broke out A Song of Ice & Fire Minis to get in our first game in quite awhile. I’m focusing on Lannisters and was excited to try out some of the Kickstarter figures I hadn’t been able to put to the table due to all the learning games I played at home and at Gen Con.

The main reason I wanted to play Lannisters is the traditional “armored knight” look they have in their sculpts. Being A Game of Thrones, every army will likely have a variation of that theme but so far, the Lannister sculpts capture that aesthetic the best to me. I was severely torn though as I liked the mechanics of the direwolves in the Stark army as well but ultimately, the thought of playing The Mountain That Rides as a solo massive brute so just too tempting. And they’re red. I like red.

While CMON’s War Council army builder app gets a bad rap on some of the social channels, I found it worked out fine. It had an annoying issue where it would let me build anything I wanted, even if the unit wasn’t in my collection and only tell me with a little symbol at the top of the screen that the list wasn’t valid with what I actually owned. All-in-all though, I liked the app and had fun crafting this 40 point list.

My friend’s list (from memory) was an Eddard Stark list with Honor guard, Brienne leading Tully Shields, a Crannogman leading some Bowmen, some Umber non-greataxes, and a generic Stark Swords. Catelyn Stark was my opponent’s sole NCU so we’d see if giving me most of the tactics board ever came out to bite him.

We played up the “Game of Thrones” scenario via random role and we were off. As with most minis games, the first round was the “dance” where we jocky for position. I’d played some Lannister cavalry at Gen Con and muffed up my deployment by finding that they were not in the right position at the start of the game. Apparently, I learned nothing as I had set them up again in a rather dumb position.

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While it may not look terrible, both The Mountain and the Heavy Cavs are pretty pinched in their lanes by being flanked by infantry groups. This meant I either needed to charge them out and own the field or hang them back and attack at the best opportunity. I chose the latter and while maybe neither option was that great, I definitely feel they could have been used better

I marched my Halbardiers out on my left flank to get ready to take the closest objective (a nice one that forced panic attacks at the end of the round). My Cav slow played while my Bastard Dogs and Tywin-led Mountain’s Men marched out as well. The Mountain was confused as the lane I created for him was too narrow to do anything useful so he took a hard right and went in behind his Men, hoping to get a good shot at the approaching Umbers.

The Starks solidified my left side by marching the Tully’s out to threaten the 2 VP objective. They would be backed up by a very scary Bowmen group. I decided early on that I would forfeit that area physically and instead attack it hard with Cersei and a constant stream of panic tests. The Honor Guard then strode out into the middle and I realized that each of us would get the two closest objectives next turn but since the Starks start round two, they would also take the middle objective as well. My friend learned from our first game where I took the objectives first and rode in to an easy victory.

Since the Honor Guard are fearless, Cersei is useless against them as are the corpse piles stacked around the center. Only force was going to dislodge that unit and instead I decided to shore up my right side and pummel the Umbers. It’s their own fault as they got the jump on me in turn 2 and took the farthest objective (from them). They didn’t get them memo that that objective was mine. I sent Tywin in with his Mountain’s Men and battered the hell out of them with a vicious charge. I then realized that I screwed up my placement of the Mountain and his fat ass couldn’t get far enough up the field to maneuver then charge. What a waste.

I ended up removing the Umber unit later in the turn by hitting the combat tactics board spot, having Tywin and Co. bash more heads. The Bastard Girls arrowed the remaining Umbers to open up the objective for Tywin. I was lucky that they whiffed their defense saves as I couldn’t do a follow up charge with the doggies since I screwed up their placement as well and could charge the Umber’s flank. Just bad all around but at least I was going to snag two objectives and got a VP for killing the Umbers.

The Starks were having none of that so once I dropped the Umbers, Eddard threw out a command card that let him activate and charge. His only target was a set of nervous heavy cavalry who were set to charge this turn but hadn’t had the chance yet. The Honor Guard slammed into them and dropped a horse but then panic set in and did four more damage to the unit, dropping another horse. The unit was decimated and engaged, two things that did not bode well for the Lannisters.

The left side dug into their respective objectives and the round ended with Starks at 4 VP and Lannisters at 3 VP.

Round 3 saw me pick off the Stark Swords and decimate the Tully shields through repeated panic tests. The Shields were still up enough to score VPs off their objective but then fell to the subsequent panic test. At the end of the round, things were looking good for me, board-wise, as I had 4 of my units still up and the Starks were down to 2 units. They were up on me still with victory points 8 VP to 7 VP but I was confident this round would swing that into my favor.

Starks started Round 4 and destroyed my remaining Heavy Cavalry. 8 points and I squandered their use at every turn. How sad. Even worse was their charge was mitigated by a useful weakened token but the panic test bested me in the end. Unfortunately, I had Tywin’s full unit stuck on an objective and out of range to engage the Honor Guard so it was up to The Mountain and the Bastard Girls. I realized quickly that I had to kill that unit to win.

I finally used the Bastard Girls as intended with Bronn but their ranged attack did absolutely nothing. Their follow up charge did a bit better and took down 4 figures. The Mountain came in on their flank and took down another 4 figures.

With only 4 figures remaining, I had to choose between re-attacking with The Mountain or the Bastard Girls. 4 dice from The Mountain hitting on 3+ with 6s dealing double damage and all converting straight to wounds or the Bastard Girls throwing 8 dice (thanks to Bronn) hitting on 3+ but the guard get to defend on 3+ as well. I went with The Mountain and he rolled a dismal 4, 3, 1, 1. Two more figures die and their panic test is avoided.

There was basically no hope for me at this point. Stark Bowmen took the double VP objective and they would have 11 VP at the end of the game to my 9 VP.

We run through the end game and I force the archers to run a panic test and they take a bit of damage and then die to their own objective’s panic test. I end with 10 VP to the Stark’s 11 VP. Had I abandoned the attack on the Honor Guard and sent the Bastard Girls to take that other objective, I would have had 11 VP at the end as well and we would have done another round with things highly in my favor. A good close game filled with a lot of mistakes on my side and some iForgots ™ on the Starks’ side.

After ASOIAF, we threw down a game of Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault.

I was playing the Stormsires in blue while my friend took the shades in green. This was the first time we were trying the new Underworlds magic system. The system was interesting but not really that thematic. It was basically like using ranged or melee effects but you rolled new dice to try to succeed on the action. It was fun as it added new options and helped diversify the options of the minimal Stormsire group.

Ultimately, I won this one due to the shades forgetting they could knock my critical figure backwards and deal enough damage to kill him. That kill would have destroyed my objective plan and cost me 4 glory points, which is the bulk of the points I could score in that objective deck. But it didn’t happen and I ended up steamrolling the shades with a 10-4 victory.

Overall, I think the new Underworlds starter is better with more interesting warbands in the box, each offering unique takes on the magic system and both being interesting in general. The first starter seemed pretty lackluster on with the Steelheart’s Champions feeling very lame in most games I’ve played (winning or losing).