Bannermen! Season 4 will be upon us soon, so today, we’re here today to give a rundown over what to expect with the upcoming patch-cycle!
Michael Shinall here, designer for A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game. It's January and that means the new year, and just like every year, that means its time for our Seasonal Update for SONG, launching at the end of this month, January 29th. In the meantime, I am here today to give a general rundown of the major focal-points of this season and the major/minor areas that we have tackled. I will present these in no specific order, and again this isn’t a comprehensive look at what we’re changing, but more the overarching themes and mindset behind what we’re looking to achieve this season.
Combat Units, NCUs, and Tactics Cards
First thing to talk about is the central focus of Season 4’s updates, and that is underperforming Combat Units and NCUs first-and-foremost. While some choice units did receive nerfs and reductions, overall, the majority of changes you will see are to units that just weren’t meeting expectations. Some of these changes are slight number boosts and modifications (Such as Stormcrow Mercenaries and Dervishes), while others range to full reworks (House Karstark Loyalists). While we of course want to limit the number of raw reworks that happen, sometimes a unit just doesn’t mesh as expected with the overall faction emphasis at its time of release, so rather than number-tweak it, which can just result in a unit with good stats but no synergy, we evaluated these cases and shifted them into a new form to better suit our original design intents.
Aside from Combat Units, numerous NCUs received some modifications as well. This is a bit more broad to explain that the case with Combat Units, but one theme you will see is emphasis on those NCUs whose abilities/effects typically relied entirely on your opponent to do something. Eg, ones where the owner had no agency in when or how they utilized the NCU, completely relying on their opponent to trigger its own effect (A lot of Targaryen examples here). That is not to say that all of these were reworked, some of them were functioning just fine, but of the various “categories” of NCUs this was a sub-type that saw changes. This, of course, is in addition to any numeric or small tweaks that we felt were better to reign in some of the overperformers (or, likewise, boost some of the underperformers).
Finally, some key Tactics Cards were modified here as well. Typically, this occurred to generic Faction Tactics Cards (Targaryens, Baratheons, Night’s Watch, though not limited to only those) rather than Commander Tactics Cards. If a Commander Tactics Card was modified, it was typically because it imparted an Ability that likewise received modification.
Commanders and Attachments
With the above being said, I wanted to also mention that, overall, very few Commanders and/or Attachments saw changes this patch. We are keeping those to the mid-year evaluation to see what arises with the combined changes we’re making elsewhere. In the event that an Attachment or Commander was modified, usually it was due to one or more of their Abilities being designed or modified across the board (Battle Scars being a prime example). During the Mid-Season the focus will be on Commanders and Attachments overall, but we want to roll out the rest of these changes and see how things are impacted before including these.
Core Rules and Game Modes
No major changes to any core rules, but I wanted to mention that we are slightly tweaking the Beginning of Game steps when it comes to First Player/Deployment to make the choice a bit less “I will always choose to do this”. Another minor addition is the inclusion of “Battlefield Layouts”- a third method for players to determine Terrain (minor thing but still cool and worth mentioning to me). Additionally, we are adding a new Game Mode as well as a variant 3-List-Tournament method for organizers to utilize. Be sure to check out the new Tournament Documents on full release.
With all that being said, I’m now going to give a quick bullet-point talk for each faction expressing some of the relevant things to expect in Season 4. IMPORTANT to note this is in no-way comprehensive of changes, just what I would consider to be some of the major talking-points for each of the factions. See the full release notes and changelog for the in-depth and comprehensive changes when it is released alongside Season 4!
• Numerous Combat Units tweaked and/or reworked. Examples of reworked units would be House Karstark Loyalists, House Moremont Brusiers, and House Umber Greataxes.
• Various other units received small numerical tweaks to bring them more in-line with other options (House Mormont She-Bears, House Karstark Spearmen).
• Few overall changes. Kingsguard received a notable boost, but otherwise fairly minor changes, with some reworks to choice NCUs such as Qyburn.
• Mechanical changes to Night’s Watch Tactics Cards. Without going into full details, essentially each card is becoming a split-trigger card, with an initial option to play it as a typical tactics card, or a secondary option to “equip” it to a unit to gain an ongoing benefit (which has specific parameters that can cause it to be removed, should your opponent do so). This will be seen as a major change depending on your definition, and I am sure it will have a mixed reception among players, but overall, this move is being done to introduce more dynamic choice and strategy to both Night’s Watch players as well as their opponents.
• NCU Focus: There was typically a two-tier system when it came to NW NCUs: Those that saw constant play and those that did not. Changes have been made to bring everyone more towards the center, usually with modifications to the lower-tiered choices.
• Due to the changes to the core Faction Tactics Cards, any Attachments, Commanders, and NCUs that played off these typically saw some form of change.
• Night’s Watch Solos (Coldhands, Watch Marshal) received special attention.
• Minor boosts to select Combat Units. Most changes here were strictly numerical, with little Ability modification across the Faction.
• NCUs: Much like NW, there was a divide between NCUs that were taken and those that were not. We have worked to bridge that divide here as well.
• Free Folk will most likely see the largest number of tweaks in the Mid-Season when it comes to evaluating Commanders and Attachments.
• Stormcrows and Bloody Mummers received numerical buffs to make them a more attractive choice compared to other Neutral options.
• Select NCUs slightly tweaked (Petyr Baelish, Littlefinger) and one rework (Walder Frey).
• Stormcrows received some numerical buffs, as did other units we felt were not performing to standard (Freedmen, Hrakkars, as examples).
• Focus on Faction Tactics Cards to ease up their triggers and subsequent effects, all done in an effort to make playing the deck a bit smoother.
• Numerous NCUs reworked to have a more defined role and function when taken in a list (If you cannot pronounce their name, assume they are on this list).
• Numerous Faction Tactics Cards reworked to give them a bit more punch and useability.
• Stannis Loyalty: Reworks of King’s Men, Queen’s Men, R’hllor Faithful.
• Renly Loyalty: Rainbow Guard reworked.
• Coming off the end of Season 3’s rework, minor tweaks to stats and some Ability reworks across Combat Units (Ironborn Trappers, House Harlaw Reapers, Silenced Men, to cite a couple examples).
• Boosts to some key Faction Tactics Cards (Finger Dance, The Iron Price, Raiding Call).
• Small boosts to undertaken NCUs.
• Very limited number of changes appearing here.
House Bolton (Mini-Faction)
• Neutrals restriction lifted.
And that about sums things up as to what to expect in this patch. Some final bits of information that I will leave you with- and these are important so do not neglect to read them, is that we intend to launch the patch at the end of this month, cross-platform on both the website as well as the War Council App, meaning aside from everything being in the War Council App, which is always the source we recommend you utilize for list-building (and do not neglect its Army List Printing feature), we will also have the full update available as a single Master File as well.
While we likewise strive to make sure everything goes up smoothly, we are also advising for anyone that prefers to print off their items to wait before immediately doing so. We are imparting a small grace-period to make sure all files appear in their correct forms on the website and, due to new methods in file generation we are trying, some unexpected graphical anomalies might happen. While the chance of that occurring is low, we don’t want anyone taking the time to print out materials that might see corrections in the days immediately after launch. We will make an announcement when we are satisfied everything is proper.
Launch Date for Season 4 is on January 29th, 2024. See you then, Bannermen.