The State of the Free Folk (Your Thoughts Wanted)
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Thread: The State of the Free Folk (Your Thoughts Wanted)

  1. #1
    Newbie, please be gentle sacrilege83's Avatar
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    Default The State of the Free Folk (Your Thoughts Wanted)

    So I'm keeping hearing mixed reviews on this faction. I've picked them up but yet to play some games with them, likely will be a while. Mostly what I hear is that they under perform but can still be effective by a player that skillfully uses them.

    I would like to know peoples experiences in using this army or others they know using this army and how they fair in gaming communities and tournaments. Details on why they fail or succeed when they do.
    When I get around to playing them myself, I'll post my own thoughts on them.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by sacrilege83 View Post
    So I'm keeping hearing mixed reviews on this faction. I've picked them up but yet to play some games with them, likely will be a while. Mostly what I hear is that they under perform but can still be effective by a player that skillfully uses them.

    I would like to know peoples experiences in using this army or others they know using this army and how they fair in gaming communities and tournaments. Details on why they fail or succeed when they do.
    When I get around to playing them myself, I'll post my own thoughts on them.
    It's a combination of many factors, but in the games we've run with them, Giants were key in anything that worked.

    Free Folk are made to overwhelm the foe with numbers; their tactic deck is loaded with benefits when you "double up" on an enemy. One of the greatest challenges i had was to make those numbers pull their weight.

    The Raiders are key to the "outnumbering" factor, and if 2 engage an enemy, they can do quite a bit in theory. The problem is that in practice...these units rarely last long enough for this potential to work. The raid leaders are there to help making those "double-tap" occur but to add insult to injury, the raid leaders have a chance to lock your 2nd unit out of combat if the 1st unit fails to charge and attack, dooming both units usually. It did not need this "random failure". I expect some changes on how these work.

    Then you have the "elites" who are regular troops by Westeros standards, but having too many of these will jeopardize your "outnumbering" factor, and they do give up VPs.

    Followers of bone are a mess thanks to horrific visage being poo. The ironic affair is that the only faction against which horrific visage might be worth it slightly reliably is other Free Folks.

    What works the most? Giants. 2-3 of them seemed about right. They really suffer from "loose all abilities" though, and they don't have a way to counter these, but it rarely dooms the giant, and basically make them waste an attack.

    The fact they don't have access to neutral NCUs is a bit of an issue (mostly in the case of Varys...but that might be an hint that it's Varys who'se the problem).

    I've some Free Folks game planned, will see how the new commanders work (most of my experience is with Tormund and Mance)
    Last edited by Oakwolf; 11-27-2019 at 01:01 PM.

  3. #3

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    Free Folks are strong if you play the horde list - a heap of Raiders with maybe some Cave Dwellers/Thenn on the side

    Giants are strong against anyone who doesn't know how to deal with them, and very weak against anyone who does.
    They're pretty easy to counter once you figure them out. Ignore and tarpit them, or hit them with automatic wounds to kill them quickly. Blanking their card and attacking them twice usually kills them easily enough as well.
    With the new Panic changes, Cersei + Vicious will be causing a lot of problems for Giants too.

    Overall, I find FF to be pretty strong, but fairly bland. If you want to do well there's a very limited variety of lists you can run.

  4. #4

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    What commander have you used in those lists?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oakwolf View Post
    What commander have you used in those lists?
    All of them lol
    I play FF exclusively

    [caveat] I find mance super boring and pretty much never use him

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by AutumnLeaves View Post
    All of them lol
    I play FF exclusively

    [caveat] I find mance super boring and pretty much never use him
    So, which ones work well with the lists you run?

    I'm curious about Mance Rayder...i found him a bit underwhelming. I could see the "cluster" of Morale 6 Raiders and Trappers, but outside of that, i've had more effectiveness with Tormund.

  7. #7

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    Imo the Weeper is our strongest commander
    Harma and Tormund are both great
    Styr and Mance are okay, but a bit too reactive for my liking.
    Rattleshirt is fairly mediocre.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by AutumnLeaves View Post
    Imo the Weeper is our strongest commander
    Harma and Tormund are both great
    Styr and Mance are okay, but a bit too reactive for my liking.
    Rattleshirt is fairly mediocre.
    Do you use the Followers of Bone at all with the Weeper?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oakwolf View Post
    Do you use the Followers of Bone at all with the Weeper?
    Sometimes. They're not very good, but at least it's a bit of variety occasionally.
    Imo Cave Dwellers are still strictly better, but at least with the new Panic changes FoB got a bit of a buff.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by AutumnLeaves View Post
    Sometimes. They're not very good, but at least it's a bit of variety occasionally.
    Imo Cave Dwellers are still strictly better, but at least with the new Panic changes FoB got a bit of a buff.

    I think FF in general got a decent buff with the new panic changes

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Codfather View Post
    I think FF in general got a decent buff with the new panic changes
    Sure, but since the faction as a whole got a buff, it means that Followers of Bone are still kinda bad compared to other FF units.

    Raiders etc got a buff with the new panic rules, but it's kind of a nerf for Giants - Cersei and Vicious is really lethal for them now.

  12. #12

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    I've played 4 games with Free Folk under the 1.5 rules over the last week. At 50 point games of Game of Thrones scenario I beat the Night's Watch twice, once close and once pretty convincingly. At 40 points on Game of Thrones scenario I lost to Night's Watch once and might have beat Lannister (we weren't able to finish the game, but I had pretty good chances at 8 vp vs opponent's 3). The Lannister opponent had never played before and I got some good rolls in, so I count that one as mostly luck/experience.

    Here are my thoughts:
    I find them very powerful at 50 points, because you have room to fit in two groups of raiders (12 pts) plus some things to do damage (a couple giants, a couple units of followers of bone, etc.).

    Harma is basically an auto include as an attachment in a unit of Raiders
    Styr's NCU ability Fury of Thenns on Giants is one of my favorite combos

    On my two 40 point games I tried out a Chosen of Styr in my unit of Trappers. It didn't work well, because I typically was activating my trappers late in the round after weakened tokens would have come in really handy.

    Mance is a very boring commander. I never did get many of his tactics cards in my hands, so I'm not sure exactly how it will feel, but I don't know that I "get" his play-style yet.

    At 40 points it is really tough to put anything together if you take 12 pts of raiders since you don't really have anything on the board that can last more than 1-2 rounds in combat. My followers of bone got wiped off the face of the earth from a single charge from Sworn Brothers.

    Cersei + Crown bombing raiders is still terrifying. She can melt a unit of raiders pretty fast.

  13. #13

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    Utterly crap.

    Seriously they are a joke. Their tactic cards have far too little pay of for a large investment to achieve, compared to other faction cards they are out of sync.
    The main heavy hitter in the faction can be easily countrered by simple not attacking it, as it will do 2-4 wounds when it attacks... which can be easily healed by either a Tactic Card or a place on the political track... also it costs 7pts, 7pts for 2-4 wounds is simply laughable. On the flip side the same model can be removed far too easily without getting to do anything. The Savage Giant, incase anyone was wondering which model I was on about. I see wat CMON aimed for with the rules for this monster. However it simply doesn't work, in all my 30 years of gaming I have never encountered a unit that can be countered by simply not attacking it.

    For the record I play mainly against Stark, and Nightswatch, so the panic shenanigans that are all to common with the Freefolk do very little. Both factions can hit a lot harder than the Freefolk can, and can tank against me very easily. Oh, and they can take Neutrals, which again not having access to limits the Freefolk, sure it makes sense thematically, however give the Freefolk something to make up for this handicap.

    In all honesty, I started with Freefolk, but I may just quit this game, which is a shame as the core mechanics are fantastic. However the gaming experience is ruined by the Tactic Cards. They are nowhere near balanced, just go look at the Freefolk ones and the Nightswatch ones. I once had a game where it was advantagous to attack Ghost with a unit of trappers, I caused 1 wound due to his power armour save. The Nightswatch player had a card that then allowed a nearby unit to heal 3 wounds because I attacked his unit. Which meant a Tracker returned to a nearby unit. So my attack rewarded my opponet more than it did anything for me. This has so far been my experiance with the Tactic Cards.

    I wish I wasn't so negetive about the game/Freefolk, as the core system is very nice, but starting with the Freefolk has put me off, I think I've managed to win 1 game, most games I lose by 8-10 victory points. Sure winning and losing aren't the aim of a game, but after a while getting kicked that badly on a regular basis makes the game not fun.
    Last edited by stonehorse; 12-29-2019 at 08:10 PM.

  14. #14

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    Free Folks are harder to use than most factions, and their tactics deck does kinda suck, but honestly I think they're one of the strongest factions once you get the knack.

    I mostly play against Starks and NW too, and after I worked out how to deal with their shenanigans I've been mostly undefeated.

    Giants aren't great, but they're decent objective holders and anchors. It's true they're less effective if your opponent never attacks them, but you can set up situations where your opponent doesn't have a choice.

    Cave Dwellers really help too. They hit really hard, and can help put down problematic enemy units. Against NW you have to be careful of their healing tricks (and against Starks, be mindful of The North Remembers) but you should have a massive activation advantage so you can time your attacks to minimise their opportunities to heal up and counterattack.

  15. #15

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    The Tactic deck is abysmal, especially as the second game mode gives all players the ability to return destroyed units back. That is one of the few good cards of the FF tactic deck, in that mode it is rendered pointless.

    There is no situation where an opponent has to attack a Giant. Simply retreat. As for holding objectives, that can work, just beware of the objective that does automatic wounds. The Giant is meant to be the heavy hitter of the faction, in a faction that has hordes of infantry that can't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. The reality is that they are a waste of points. 7 points is far too high for them, 5 points would be more realistic.

    How can I be aware of their cards as the cards in hand are hidden information, so there is no way to know how to time attacks. Yes the FF will and do have a large activation advantage, but my experience is that it counts for little... I will admit that the changes to panic do help the FF, prior to the change, most units evaporated after combat, now they tend to have a few models left.

    Cave Dwellers are good, used them with Tormund and yeah, they wreck face. No complaints about those guys.

    I think I may just shelve my FF till CMON release an updated set of FF tactic cards, or do a game mode where tactic cards are not used... however I won't put good money on either of those happening any time soon.

  16. #16

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    Sounds like we've had the opposite experience with the faction haha
    Maybe free folks aren't for you

    As an aside, imo Endless Hordes is a trap card, and is one of the worst cards in the deck.
    Some of our cards are excellent though - Surrounded And Exposed is fantastic, and Swift Advance is great too. A lot of our commander's cards are also really strong.

    But yeah, I get the feeling your mind is made up about FF.
    Maybe a different faction would suit you better? Just avoid Baratheons, their tactics deck is worse than ours haha

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by AutumnLeaves View Post
    Sounds like we've had the opposite experience with the faction haha
    Maybe free folks aren't for you

    As an aside, imo Endless Hordes is a trap card, and is one of the worst cards in the deck.
    Some of our cards are excellent though - Surrounded And Exposed is fantastic, and Swift Advance is great too. A lot of our commander's cards are also really strong.

    But yeah, I get the feeling your mind is made up about FF.
    Maybe a different faction would suit you better? Just avoid Baratheons, their tactics deck is worse than ours haha
    I have to strongly disagree on the Baratheons having worse Tactic cards, of the basic faction deck the only stinker is Stag's wit.

    Given how expensive this game is here in Europe, I'm not tempted to pick up a second faction.

    You seem to be good with the Freefolk, so what tips would you suggest to get the faction to work? You after all claim to be mostly undefeated against both Nightswatch and Stark. So, what do you do to beat them.

  18. #18

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    I would love to hear Autumn Leaves tips about lists and line setups with FreeFolk that work against NW, where I really struggle.

    I agree the changes to panic help out the FreeFolk, but the changes to charging (room for 50% align or bust) really hurt the Free Folk.

    If you think of a pair of raider units with one raid leader as a single unit, at 7 points I'm not sure they compare with other seven point units like Sworn Brothers, especially because charges from two units in thw front are trivially easy to defend against.

    I do think that playing on a table bigger than 4x4 is almost a must for FreeFolk, because it lets you realistically threaten flanks work a wide deployment.

  19. #19

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    There isn't really a single magic bullet to winning with free folks, but positioning & timing really matter. You want to limit how often they're able to attack your units, and try to draw enemy units out of position or away from objectives wherever possible.

    You don't really need to be able to kill things to win as a free folks player, so much as you want to make sure you're getting ahead on VPs faster than they can. Insignificant is massive here - you can happily throw Raiders into the meat grinder and it doesn't matter if they die, so long as they've delayed the enemy.
    The most important thing imo is being able to get onto objectives while having more units in front to body-block or tie up the enemy.
    Cave Dwellers + Styr really help deal with problem units too, as they can hit hard and fast enough that you can clear enemies off objectives without too much retaliation, especially if you have a pair of them ganging up.

    Against NW, while SB are certainly more dangerous than 2 units of Raiders, they're also not especially hard to kill. Claim Wealth early to limit the auto-blocks on the turn you're going in to attack, and take them down before they can heal up again.
    Alternatively, just feed them a Raider unit, they don't hit hard enough to reliably kill a unit in one go, especially if you've blocked the Combat zone and dropped Weakened on them, and if they spend several turns killing a Raider unit then you're functionally ahead, so long as you've been able to take and hold objectives instead.

    For lists, I usually run something like
    4x Raiders
    2x Cave Dwellers
    Styr
    Mance or Val
    and then 11-12 points of other units depending on how I feel.
    Chosen of Styr are awesome, spamming Weakened really helps keep Raiders around. Harma is great for getting Giants or Cave Dwellers into position. Rattleshirt is fantastic with Styr in Cave Dwellers for repeatedly benefiting from the Combat zone.
    Thenn are really decent too, tho just taking more Raiders is also a solid option.

  20. #20

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    In terms of predicting tactics cards - knowing what 'problem cards' are in the opponent's deck really helps.
    Against Starks, if they're being super aggressive with positioning and have an open NCU, then you can often expect they've got sudden charge.
    If they're over-extending a cheap unit after activating something scary like Cavaliers or Greataxes, they've probably got The North Remembers.
    Sansa is a pain in the ass too, and means they can always tutor for these things, so playing as though they can always play TNR can help haha - this often means trying to finish units off at the start of a round before they activate anything key, to minimize how effective TNR can be, and always assuming that they're capable of getting a free charge from an NCU activation and positioning your units accordingly.

    Likewise against NW, blocking Wealth and Combat at the right times really helps. If they've claimed Wealth, or if you leave it open and Aemon hasn't activated yet, then attacking their units can be a waste of time. Likewise, if you need to make sure you keep a Raider unit around, grabbing Combat early on to limit how much work they get out of The Sword In The Darkness can be really, really important. Even if it's not optimal for you to use the zone effects, denying them to the NW player often matters more. Plus, if means you get Mance out debuffing something

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