Bannermen! We return for another look at the upcoming 2021 Updates.
Michael Shinall here, and as we continue our Faction Focus 2021 series we have arrived north of the Wall, to the land of the Free Folk!
If you haven’t checked out our other Faction Focus Articles, you can find them here:
“Good men and bad, heroes and villains, men of honor, liars, cravens, brutes ... we have plenty, as do you.” -Lady Val to Jon Snow
The Free Folk play-style can be summed up with one word: Horde. More than most any other faction, the Free Folk have access to numerous cheap options when it comes to the battlefield. Another key element of the Free Folk is Diversity. Each tribe brings its own style to the fight, and properly utilizing the various strengths, while mitigating weaknesses, will separate the best Free Folk players from the rest.
This time, instead of showcasing off a particular Commander, we’re instead going to talk about the numerous Combat Units the Free Folk have available, as well as their potent Attachments:
FREE FOLK TACTICS CARDS
The Generic Free Folk deck focuses on hordes- but not just in the sense of “I have more units than my opponent”, but also other elements, such as out-ranking them, having various allies in close proximity, sharing resources, or in some cases, deploying additional units entirely. At its core, however, playing against the Free Folk should instill a feeling of fighting against an innumerable wave of adversaries that keep crashing against you.
Let’s take a look at how that plays out:
COORDINATION TACTICS: This card rewards you for having a diverse offering of Combat Units, allowing them to share Abilities when it matters most. Used offensively, you can make use of the various Weapon Abilities such as Sundering or Vicious. Defensive plays are also possible with the sharing of effects such as Stand Your Ground or even Insiginificant.
REGROUP AND REFORM: A primary “Support” card for the Free Folk, this allows you to shift around Wounds between units. More importantly though it allows the moving of Attachments- key since you have Adaptive in the basic Free Folk Raiders.
THERE’S TOO MANY!: Allowing just additional raw damage, this card allows the Free Folk to target an enemies Morale (through Panic). Combine with Panic-focused elements such as Followers of Bone or The Weeper for added effect.
DIVERSION TACTICS: Clever use of Activation Order is also an important facet of the Free Folk. Knowing when to sacrifice a unit to keep others alive is a strategic choice that a savvy Commander can play upon.
OVERWHELMING ASSAULT: Not all cards are reliant on having just more units. This one is the first example of simply outnumbering an opponent via ranks as well.
SURROUNDED AND EXPOSED: As with Overwhelming Assault, this card focuses on rank-play. While the former gives raw combat bonuses, this one is more tactical via Condition tokens.
THE ENDLESS HORDE: Always have back-ups. The Endless Horde allows the redeployment of a previously destroyed Infantry Unit. Should you draw it early, however, it can also just be used to bring an additional Free Folk Raider unit onto the battlefield. Given that there are two copies of this card in the deck, that means, at the very least, 8 points worth of “free” Free Folk Raiders should you get and play both.
TRIBES NORTH OF THE WALL
As originally stated, we’re forgoing looking at a specific Commander in this Faction Focus. Instead, we’re going to take a look at the numerous cheap Combat Unit and Attachment options available to the Free Folk.
When evaluating the faction for the 2021 Update, we wanted to really push them into the “horde” role even further. In prior iterations, however, there was a bit of a gap between the base-line Free Folk Raiders (coming in at a “technical” 3 points but requiring two units) and some of the more “expensive” (by Free Folk standards, anyway) options of 6+. To better represent the horde mentality, most Combat Units that originally were 6+ points have seen a shift downward to 5 points. Meanwhile, some of the cheaper options have seen an increase in points (but with some cost-saving effects, eg Adaptive, added in). This has the effect of making your unit selections- both Combat Unit and Attachment options- exceedingly important when it comes to play-style and army construction.
THENN WARRIORS: The “tank” of the faction, Thenns boast the best defensive stats of any of the 5 point Free Folk options. While not overly impressive by other army standards, their Order: Taunt Ability can force enemies out of position when needed. Combined with the right Attachments or Commanders, and you can have a solid, but still quite cheap, bunker unit.
SPEARWIVES: Spearwives can perform a variety of roles. They pack more punch than your standard Raider unit, but don’t carry the flashy/impressive keywords of other assault units. In the army their role exists as “opportunists”- they probably shouldn’t be the first into the first, but they are an annoyance that your opponent will have to deal with eventually.
FOLLOWERS OF BONE: Your Panic-inducing specialists, this unit gives you the tools needed to cripple your opponent’s morale in the scenarios when punching through armor/defense isn’t the most viable option.
CAVE DWELLER SAVAGES: The flip side of the Followers, the Cave Dwellers are your anti-armor/defense specialists. They have poor defense, which is saying something even for the Free Folk, but their Morale is good… Unfortunately, they also self-damage when Attacking… But even that is a mixed blessing as they only become stronger upon taking damage.
FREE FOLK RAIDERS: We’ve shown these before but placing them here again because they really do function as the “backbone” of the Free Folk army. While never a “mandatory” choice in army construction, their cheap cost combined with their Attachment cost-reduction make them an attractive choice. Clever combinations of the Generic Tactics Cards also increases their versatility in bolstering the rest of your army.
In addition to cheap Combat Units, the Free Folk have a plethora of cheap Attachments as well. While many of the Character-options bring a host of unique Abilities, today we’re focusing on the various 1-Point Attachment options available (not saying these are all the 1 point options- just everything we’re showing is just 1 point!)
RAID LEADER: Speaking of buffing your allies, the Raid Leader does exactly that. One of the rare examples of additional dice being available, Gang-Up benefits not only the unit the Raid Leader is attached to but also all friendly units engaged with the target as well! Spread the value around!
CHAMPION OF BONE: Place them in a unit of Followers of Bone to further increase their Panic-potential, or into any other unit that you want to boost in the Morale-effecting department. Remember that, like the Raid Leader, this “buff” isn’t limited to just their own unit, but affects any Morale/Panic Test engaged enemies take, regardless of source.
CHOSEN OF STYR: If you need an objective-holder, the Chosen of Styr is your go-to option. An obvious choice is, of course, the Thenn Warriors, but with the… Let’s call it “poor” defense of most Free Folk units, any additional protection is welcome.
SPEARWIFE MATRIACH: Your go-to when you need mobility, this attachment allows you to set up positions as well as gain access to some key mobility tricks. Combine with Spearwives (duh!) or Thenn Warriors to create some potent plays.
CAVE DWELLER ALPHA: If a unit needs more raw damage then the Alpha is your choice. They also provide a level of sustain, and since the staying power of most Free Folk units isn’t the best, being able to maintain a level of offense throughout the unit’s lifespan is a welcome addition.
With that we’re going to wrap up this week’s Faction Focus. Of the previewed units, which of the Free Folk tribes do you connect with the most? What is your favorite personality North-of-the-Wall?