News for June 2010
Follow the Leader 13
A strategic look at Commanders and Leadership Cards in Battles of Westeros
Battles of Westeros | Published 23 June 2010

Battles of Westeros will be on store shelves very soon, so it’s time to take a quick look at the different kinds of strategies that players can employ as they lead their House into battle. War is a brutal affair, and it takes expert leaders to navigate their men through the carnage of the battlefield. In Battles of Westeros this kind of leadership is represented by commanders and Leadership cards. Let us take a closer look at how to use them.

Commanders take the form of important military figures from the A Song of Ice & Fire book series, and they are assigned to each side according to the battle plans. Alternatively players can choose their commanders in a skirmish. When playing a skirmish, choosing your commander comes with its own strategic choices.

As mentioned in designer Rob Kouba’s preview of skirmishes, your commander selection will directly affect your available troops for the skirmish. The commanders with higher Command Limits (we’ll get into this later) also have the best troops on their card. When a player selects a commander for the skirmish, they will return that commander’s setup card to the box, meaning they will not have access to those units for the skirmish.

As an example, let’s look at Robb Stark and Maege Mormont. Robb has a great Command Limit of 3 and all of the units on his card are red rank. Meanwhile, Maege Mormont has a restricting Command Limit of 1 and a unit of green rank Northmen Archers and blue rank War Hosts of the North and Stark Kennelmasters. If the Stark player chose to take Maege as a commander, that means her card would be returned to the box and Robb’s card would be shuffled back into the remaining Skirmish Setup cards. The Stark player would then have the chance of possibly drawing Robb’s card while assembling units, giving him three red rank units for the skirmish!

One thing to remember when making this selection is that your commander’s Command Limit will often restrict you from ordering units with Leadership cards, so even if you manage to field the best troops, they might be harder to command. At the same time, with a higher Command Limit and inferior troops, you might face quick annihilation and weak defenses, depending on your enemy’s force. These are factors that you should weigh in when choosing your commander for a skirmish.

Each commander also adds their own set of five Leadership cards to your Leadership deck (remember these cards can be played on ANY of your commanders, not just the one pictured). You should familiarize yourself with these cards, studying the abilities and tactics listed on each. Depending on the luck of the draw you might be able to hold back certain cards to prepare for a deadly string of Leadership card combos. As an example, let’s look at the tactic available on Addam Marbrand’s Leadership cards.

Like all commanders, Addam Marbrand has his own unique tactic on all five of his Leadership cards. Tactics can be activated if the listed conditions are met when playing that particular Leadership card. In the case of Addam Marbrand, his tactic can be activated if Lannister morale is green or better. So to use this tactic, the Lannister player just needs to keep an eye on their morale and not let it drop too low. Also, Addam’s commander ability lets him always attack as if he were flanking. Take advantage of this!

When using Addam’s tactic in combination with his Warrior of Ashemark passive commander ability, you can create a vicious circle of flanking Lannisters. Assuming you can get Addam in a position where he is engaged with an enemy unit (since he is able to flank attack when engaged) and one or two friendly units are within his Zone of Command (ZOC), you could play the pictured Command card to order two units to flank attack the enemy unit engaged with Addam with +1 attack die. This strategy could single-handedly destroy an entire unit!

Now, let’s look at Rally cards. These can be your best friend or your worst enemy. There are two Rally cards (per House) in the core set, and if you happen to pull both on the same turn, it can really limit your options. But you’ll want to keep one around, since rallying can effectively turn the battle around. When using commanders with a Command Limit of 2 or less, cards that can rally troops are often ineffective unless you either have enough order tokens to order the rallied units or your rallied units are in the ZOC of another friendly commander. However, commanders with a Command Limit of 3 can easily order units, then rally, then order more units as long as command tokens are available.

The commander’s presence on the battlefield presents a number of tactical decisions, one of the main being: Do you want your commander’s unit on the frontline or supporting from the rear? Commanders like Gregor Clegane (with a capture rating of 4) make great frontline fighters. They can lose their entire unit and still be a formidable fighting force. However, commanders like Kevan Lannister provide great support from behind. His ability gives frontline fighters two dice in exchange for his attack (this turns archers into power-houses and gives red units a deadly six attack dice). Regardless, losing a commander too early in the game can be devastating, so don’t unnecessarily risk them.

Another thing to pay attention to is your commander’s commit ability. While you will quickly become familiar with your commander’s passive ability, their once-per-game commit ability can sometimes slip your mind. These abilities can save your skin and/or cripple your opponent if used at the right time. A good example of this is Gregor Clegane’s ability to flip his card after his unit eliminates another unit, then rolling 4 dice to possibly increase Lannister morale. This can be a good way set up another tactic on the same round.

Finally, players should definitely remember to check for instant win conditions and rout victories as according to their scenario or skirmish. This will inevitably influence your in-game decisions and strategies. Some of the instant wins are more difficult, but with battles like “Whispering Wood” and “Riverlands Rescue” the instant win is very attainable.

Check back often for more Battles of Westeros strategies!


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.

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Comments (13)

Old Dwarf
Published: 6/24/2010 6:31:42 PM

Well  there  are those of us who do want information on BoW so carry on.

Published: 6/24/2010 11:53:27 AM

I'm not so sure frag. I think there is room for both games. Just like there is Runebound, Descent, Runewars and now Dungeon Quest. I have been (and still am) one of the people disappointed that BL hasn't grown in the way a lot of us hoped since the DOW days. But I don't think BoW and BL have to be mutually exclusive games. Seems there is plenty of people to support each game and even a lot that will end up liking both. We just have to see what FFG has planned and what the future holds for both.

Published: 6/24/2010 11:15:04 AM

The more I see of the different Commander Cards and the less known Leadership Cards, the more I can see that the outcome of conflicts will depend very heavily on using the Commanders in the most efficient way.  All conflicts will be subject to the randomness of dice rolling, that can't be avoided, but this looks more and more like Commander control.  That sounds great and quite proper, but we can't tell 'balence' effects until we try the game.  Morale looks crucial too, so keeping an eye on that track could mean the difference between getting an enhanced critical attack set up, stopping your opponent doing it, or not.  Can't wait!  Well, actually I can.  After a 6 month wait to play, a couple more weeks is a doddle!  Cheers!

Published: 6/24/2010 9:53:46 AM

@StalkingWolf: If you want more BL, then you shouldn't be looking forward for BoW. These two games antagonize each other IMO. So if you really like BL, don't bother with BoW.  If BoW sells well then kiss BL goodbye. There is no chance that FFG will continue supporting both lines.

Just friendly advice. ;)

To get back on-topic: We want previews {and more importantly news} about the real BattleLore, FFG not "BattleLore".

Published: 6/24/2010 9:44:13 AM

I agree frag. We need a bit of...hordeculture.  Although I am looking forward to BOW I still want to see more plans of what FFG is doing with BL.

Published: 6/24/2010 1:30:36 AM

Yes, more Horrific Horde less Battles of Westeros please.

BoW has 3-4 previews already and Horrific Horde had only one just to calm down the BL fans. I don't really care at all about BoW but I do care and want to know more about Horrific Horde.

Published: 6/23/2010 10:57:56 PM

Actually, summer started June 21, at 7:28 AM EDT, so LannisterGold is actualy correct.

master yoda
Published: 6/23/2010 9:17:18 PM

@LannisterGold where have you been. They have been showing us preveiws. And if you notice the sooner the release date the more previews. Also Spring is now( late spring) Wizarding world of harry potter said spring of 2010 also. Are you going to let them know they dropped the ball too. There is also a tab called "upcoming" that updates the production of a game.

I will second a video. I always love them.

Even though I'm not color blind and do like that the cards are no going to be cluttered up with more symbols. I do feel for all the gamers out there that will pass on the game because of it.


Published: 6/23/2010 6:58:10 PM

 "Battles of Westeros will be on store shelves very soon, so it’s time to take a quick look at the different kinds of strategies that players can employ as they lead their House into battle. . ."

So will Horrific Hordes, yet FFG has been almost silent about its release.

Published: 6/23/2010 6:46:41 PM

An advantage of core BattleLore over this, especially after reading the ruleswith core BL, most of the different colored units of the same type have different sculpts (Green vs Blue vs Red infantry, for example). I understand that different sculpts make the game more expensive (and likely part of the problem with reprinting the base game), but when I first compared the cards for Maege and Robb, I saw a red banner and two blues for Maege. For those of use who are color blind, this is going to be a rather difficult game, since I likewise didn't see anything on the banners shown in the rules to help differentiate beyond the colors. My interest in this had been growing, but now I think I'll just stick with regular BL, since it looks like there's going to be a continual color differentiation issue here.


Oh, and as for the shipping date, I know those are always variable, simply d/t production issues, the trip across the ocean, customs, etc. So you can never really have a date until it actually starts shipping to distributors.

Published: 6/23/2010 4:38:51 PM

It looks like all those effects {leaders, unit traits, scenario goals, commander cards, tactics etc.} will create a chaotic battlefield. I'm concerned about balance. I believe that it's impossible to balance all those factors. I'm prepared to hear a lot of comments ans criticism about game balance after release...

Published: 6/23/2010 4:01:45 PM

Just for some constructive criticism... you as a company should start being more accurate with your release dates. I've heard that this releases in two days but your website still says "Spring 10". Are you thinking this will be a small release that no one is excited for and won't purchase? How about a formal announcement of a release date? You seem to be shipping it so that seems like something to get people psyched up about yet no news.

Kinda disappointed in the marketing department. Some information is essential and yet isn't even thought to either update your site or just putting a post on it.


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