“The Boltons have always been as cruel as they were cunning…”
Bannermen, soon, we shall see the release of our first mini-faction, the notorious and deadly forces of House Bolton! Today, we shall be taking a look over the various units that comprise this group of men so terrifying that their very banner is that of a flayed man.
A Flayed Man Has No Secrets: Units of the Deadfort
House Bolton is not new to the game, having existed as Neutral options since the game’s inception. Among these options, the groundwork for the mini-faction was set, but in choosing to play exclusively House Bolton, you gain access to some unique units of the Dreadfort variety as well.
First up, we have the basic infantry of the faction: House Bolton Cutthroats. Entirely focused on offense, this unit carries little in the way of survivability, instead relying on aggression, fear, and violence to get the job done. Boasting a 3+ to Hit, decent attack dice, and a full host of Abilities (Vicious and the ability to not only reroll dice, but cause Vulnerable as well), this unit has one purpose: kill their target at any cost. Of course, given their cheap cost, a commander should not feel bad throwing this 5 point unit directly into the frontlines towards much larger threats.
Joining the Cutthroats, we have the first of the exclusive Dreadfort units: the Dreadfort Spearmen. While the spearmen do bring slightly more defense to the table, this is still not their role. While the Cutthroats take the offense to 11, Spearmen trade that almost-excessive offense for a few defensive tricks in the form of Order: Set for Charge, as well as granting you the ability to cause Panic among your enemies. A semi-decent line-holding unit, these are for the commander seeking a middle-ground between Cutthroats and the next unit on our list.
For those seeking a true defensive unit, look no further than the House Bolton Blackguards. The backbone of the “defensive line” available to House Bolton, Blackguards boast a 3+ Defense Save, Vicious on their attack, and most importantly, the Horrific Visage Ability, which forces all attackers to suffer a Panic Test before initiating their attack, possibly losing them ranks (and thus offensive might) each time they dare to attack this unit. This has the key effect of making the Blackguard the perfect Commander bunker for those seeking a more safe-guarded option.
Next up, we have the ranged option for this mini-faction: the Dreadfort Archers. While they don’t have a ton of mechanical abilities about them, they are a solid, Long Range, 3+ to Hit archer unit. Their one ability, however, should never be overlooked. Ruthless Volley ignores units and terrain when determining line of sight, and while that’s a situationally useful skill, the next part of the attack, which grants you Precision and rerolls, really ups the damage-potential of this unit considerably… Of course, there is a small cost associated with using that skill in that it requires the enemy to be engaged with one of your units, so tie them up with expendable Cutthroats or durable Blackguard and unleash hell from the sky!
Its time now to unleash the hounds with the House Bolton Bastard’s Girls: Ramsay’s personal cadre of attack dogs and handlers. This swift unit pushes offense to the max by giving you a free Charge after completing a ranged attack. A fairly straight-forward combo, the ranged attack has the chance to make their target Vulnerable shortly before the hounds rush in and deal their damage. Combine all this with quick speed and mobility and you have a skirmisher unit that can hit hard and fast where needed.
Speaking of hitting hard and fast, the final unit we have to discuss are among the most feared cavalry in the Seven Kingdoms: the House Bolton Flayed Men. Heavily armored and intimidating, the Flayed Men sow terror across the battlefield. Exemplifying everything that makes House Bolton deadly, the Flayed Men bring a quick and mobile source of Intimidating Presence to the battlefield. Combined with the Vicious and (on the charge) Critical Blow qualities of their attack, you have a deadly force that makes the entire battlefield their personal playground.
Faces, New and Old (And sometimes not your own)
When it comes to the Attachments and Characters available to House Bolton, you are going to have quite the selection. Starting with the minor Attachments and Characters, which are available through both the starter box as well as Bolton Heroes #1, you first have your choice of the generic Attachments in the Bolton Flayer and Dreadfort Captain, granting your units additional healing and fear-inducing capabilities, respectively. Simple, but effective.
Joining them, you have the plethora of options in the form of the Bastard’s Boys, a collection of Ramsay’s “best”. Each of them shifts their unit to a unique playstyle, whether it be increasing their survivability, upping their damage, or just giving them a unique trick to play. Sprinkle these throughout your Cutthroats and other cheap units as desired.
On the NCU front, the starter will give you Walda Frey, Jeyne Poole, and NCU versions of both Roose and Ramsay. Complete your collection with the addition of Tybald and you will have the full roster available.
Each NCU brings a devious trick to the table, whether it be Tybald forcing your opponent’s NCU activations (lest they suffer the consequences), Walda buffing the Zones she Claims, or Jeyne granting your units a much needed morale buff (along with some skullduggery thrown in with messing with the First Player order). Meanwhile, Roose, as an NCU, remains as he was in his Neutral version, but Ramsay gains a brand-new version in the “Red Helm” NCU, which bestows Fueled by Slaughter upon a unit, giving you some healing options where needed.
Finally, rounding off your list of Characters, we have your Commanders, and House Bolton offers you three: Roose, Ramsay, and the newest addition (found in Hero Box #1) of Steelshanks. Each of these brings a unique play-style to the table, whether it be the controlling and manipulative methods of Roose, the sheer brutality and fear-mongering of Ramsay, or the brutal martial skill of Steelshanks, there is sure to be one that fits your bloodthirsty style.
Overall, it is important to remember that House Bolton is a faction based around using whatever means are necessary, and sacrificing whomever is needed, to achieve victory. Everything and everyone is expendable if it means furthering the overarching goal of victory. So, keep this in mind as you take control of your new forces, and remember that your Blades Are Sharp and a Flayed Man Has No Secrets.
When your armies march to war, all around them, both enemy and ally alike, should quake in fear and speak of you in only hushed whispers and unspeakable rumors. You are a commander of the Dreadfort, and it’s time to remind all of Westeros who you are.