Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Theorycrafting some 9th Ed. Eldar lists

Drafting up some lists again.

With 9th Ed. hot on our heels and with a good amount of information out there already, I figured I'd get down and dirty with some list building and theorycrafting. As most of you already know, I'm a huge fan of Mechdar and that's pretty much all I play when it comes to my Eldar armies. Every single one of my armies is filled to the rim with vehicles and flyers and I've become increasingly proficient with this playstyle over the years. With the return of Obscuring terrain that block LoS, this means that good positioning and focus fire will indeed bring the pain again. The only thing that truly sucks is that now if you Fall Back, you can no longer shoot anything.

Great, so with that said, let's talk about some lists. Out of curiosity, I've started building lists with -250 points from my 2K lists to prepare for that eventual points hike. That means every list I'm going to show you here is 1750 points, mainly because I'm taking a guess that we're going to see ~12.5% increase on average. Like I said before, points are the biggest unknown out of this entire thing. I have no idea exactly where they're going to bump the points, but I don't think they're going to alter CWE or DE too badly. GW has a tendency to target over-performing units that utterly shake up the meta, but they already took a stab at that pre-9th in the last CA. With both Crimson Hunter Exarchs and Ravagers nerfed with points, I don't expect GW to go after them again. If they do, well, then I get sad and we'll have to adjust the list some.

Either way, here's the first of the two lists I've been working on. You'll see a very familiar sight in the form of my mechanized Dark Eldar list.

Friday, June 26, 2020

A closer look at Raiding Force and aircraft engagement

Let the list building begin!

Dark Eldar got previewed today and there's some good stuff here. Raiding Force rules got shown and this is pretty good because it allows us to mix detachments without taking a hit in CP. You get a +4 CP bonus when taking 3 Patrols in the army, so if each Patrol costs 2 and you get a +2 CP bonus from having your Warlord in one of the Patrols, this means you'll still get 12 CP if you're playing a 2K game. Sure, you have to take 3 HQs in total, but look at how much flexibility you get in terms of unit choices. I can for sure see an army with 2 Kabal:1 Coven Patrol ratio.

Our first look at Patrol.

In my article yesterday, I talked about how the DE book is actually 3 armies in one. When it comes to the 9th Ed. meta, I seriously think that DE armies with Meat Mountains will be really impactful for the metagame. There's not a lot of things in the game that can deal with tons of Grots and Talos, both of which are expected to be really good in the new edition. If you can easily take a large unit of Grots, some Talos with Haywires and fill the rest with vehicles/Ravagers. The Meat Mountain can act as your mid-field control and literal meat-shield for your Ravagers in the back.

Get ready for shenanigans.

Another good rule for us is confirmation that you'll be able to disrupt enemy movement with your flyers still. The line to pay attention to is: ".. but it cannot end the move on top of another model (or its base), and it cannot end the movement within Engagement Range (1") of any enemy aircraft." Imagine this for a second: Let's say that you're fighting against Genestealers who can Advance and Charge and moves 8" on average. This is an average of 12" of move, so you measure 12" out from the lead gene and then plop your plane down sideways in front of them. Check out this awful Paint drawing, but you will get the point easily.

Check. Your move.

In this diagram, you plop your plane down around where the opponent's units' max distance will be. The larger the unit, the more you can disrupt them because they are forced to go around the base since they cannot end their movement on top of your base. This means that the larger the unit, the less chances they have to go directly through your base with all their models and end up completely clearing the 1" engagement bubble around the aircraft. Congrats, you basically extended your opponent's charge range substantially. This will make them auto-fail most, if not all of their charges as long as you execute correctly. Needless to say, Eldar aircraft with Wings of Khaine makes this much easier.

Cool, today was a good day overall. Raiding Parties increases our list building capabilities and makes splashing Meat with vehicles quite easy. The aircraft shenanigans means that with good execution, you can make charges a nightmare for the opponent, thus making all-vehicle lists all the more powerful. GG.

9th Ed. 40K and how it affects all Eldar

Bring on 9th Edition.


It's about that time folks. If you guys have been following 40K news in the last couple of weeks, you'll know that 9th Ed. is right around the corner. For a quick recap of everything that's been going on, I suggest you go to Auspex Tactics and catch up. Yes, I'm plugging that dude's channel because he's insanely active and posts updates literally minutes after articles themselves get released. I'd rank him among the top dudes I watch on YouTube.

Without too much mumbo-jumbo, let's get right into it. I'll lay it out the best I can in the only way I know how: As real as it gets. I will warn you ahead of time though, I think Eldar (all races) are not going to do too hot come 9th. There's a lot of rules here that'll take away from the Eldar identity and give it to the other races and are generally harmful to the playstyle of the army. Now, before you get super triggered and go off on me saying that the book's not out yet and we don't see all the rules, I promise you: I don't need to see all the rules to see where this is going. We have a lot of information in front of us already and I've been playing this game for over 20 years now. While the Eldar will get some noticeable benefits, they will be challenged heavily with some pretty stark negatives. Just a head's up, I don't plan on covering Ynnari as I don't consider them a full army yet with just WD rules.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

First post in a long time

Can't wait for Eldar to come to AI!

Well, what can I say? I've been gone a long time. The last time I posted on the blog was over a year ago, covering ASOIAF. Since then, a lot has changed: Work got busy, got a kid on the way, COVID, and the craziness that is 2020 keeps on coming.

I'm not even sure who even follows the blog anymore so I'll try and keep this brief, just to test the waters. To keep everyone honest, there's a lot of content out there that talks about 40K these days. I stopped writing and started listening more to podcasts, watching others play games on YouTube and reading other blogs out there that are really informative and interesting. While I still play the game, I just haven't been writing as much because well, there's not that much need to.

The games I still play are:
  • Warhammer 40K (yup, still playing.. since 3rd lol)
    • All Eldar - DE primary, then E, then Harlequins
  • Age of Sigmar (fairly recent)
    • Hedonites of Slaanesh
  • Aeronautical Imperialis (just built my Tau, waiting on Eldar, still haven't played a game)
    • Tau, until Eldar come

Games that I have currently retired:
  • X-Wing (sold all of it after FFG rebooted/destroyed it)
  • Armada (packed up and sitting in the garage, just got boring with no new content)
  • ASOIAF (packed up as well, just couldn't find any interest nearby or in my immediate playgroup)

Since I promised to keep this brief, I'm just going to leave it at that. If anyone is still following, let me know if you want to see some content on 40K, AoS or AI. I know with 9th Ed. coming up, there's going to be plenty for me to write about. I also don't see a lot of content out there for Aeronautica for some reason, maybe that can be something I can get into.

Stay safe everyone :)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

ASOIAF: Deployment and Activations

Get ready for some hard lessons.

One of the best things about this game how in-depth alternate deployment and activations work.  All of this is outlined really well in the main rulebook, but I want to take a moment to stress the importance of how greatly this affects overall gameplay.  A lot of this harks all the way back to my WHFB days where "drops" and chaff really meant something when it comes to deployment.  Having more drops than the opponent allows you to see where their most crucial units get placed so you can better deploy against them.  Keep in mind that when it comes to "drops", this is strictly limited to combat units.  It doesn't matter how many NCUs you have when it comes to deployment, but this will matter when it comes to overall activations.  Activation order and the number of total activations matter because the more you have, the more you can "force" your opponents to activate their units so you can better counter them.

Alright, so let's dive into deployment first.  Going forward, I'm just going to call these drops because I'm an old-school WHFB player and you're just going to have to deal with it.  I'll start by using my Robb Stark list vs. the previously posted Ramsay list.

Faction: House Stark
Commander: Robb Stark – The Wolf Lord
Points: 40 (4 Neutral)

Combat Units:
• House Umber Greataxes (7)
  with Robb Stark – The Wolf Lord (0)
• Grey Wind (0)
• Stark Sworn Swords (5)
  with Bran and Hodor – Protector and Ward (3)
• Summer (0)
• House Umber Berserkers (7)
  with Sworn Sword Captain (1)
• Stark Outriders (7)
  with Brynden Tully – Vanguard Infiltrator (3)

Non-Combat Units:
• Sansa Stark – Little Bird (3)
• Lord Varys – The Spider (4)

Made with ASOIAFBuilder.com

vs.

Faction: House Lannister
Commander: Ramsay Snow – The Bastard of Bolton
Points: 40 (20 Neutral)

Combat Units:
• House Clegane Mountain Men (6)
  with Ramsay Snow – The Bastard of Bolton (0)
  and Theon Greyjoy – Reek (0)
• House Clegane Mountain Men (6)
  with Dreadfort Captain (1)
• Bolton Cutthroats (5)
  with Assault Veteran (1)
• The Flayed Men (10)
  with Gregor Clegane – Mounted Behemoth (3)

Non-Combat Units:
• Tywin Lannister – The Great Lion (4)
• Lord Varys – The Spider (4)

Made with ASOIAFBuilder.com

Before we talk about anything else, keep in mind that after the battlefield is set up, you roll a die with your opponent and you see who gets to pick their deployment zone (winner chooses or passes).  The player who does not choose their Deployment Zone will the First Player.  The player who chooses the deployment zone puts down their first combat unit.

As you can see in the example lists above, Robb's army has a total of 6 drops compared to Ramsay's 4 drops.   This is one of the best things about the Stark Dire Wolves and that's because it comes with good 0-point chaff that are combat units.

If you choose Deployment and therefore starts deploying first, it would look like:
  1. You put a wolf down
  2. They put down a combat unit
  3. You put another wolf down
  4. They have to put another combat unit
  5. You put down some Stark Swords
  6. They put down another combat unit
  7. You put down some Berserkers
  8. They have to put down their Flayed Men with Ser G
  9. Now you counter-deploy your Greataxes to meet his knights
  10. ...and you can put your Outriders somewhere that best suits your needs

Hell, if you count his drops ahead of time, you can even choose to Outflank with your Outriders because you know the drop advantage is yours.  Always count the number of drops your opponent has and take note of any units of significance.

Do you see the power of having more drops than the opponent?  This is actually one of Stark's most powerful tools and that's the free Dire Wolves with Robb and Brann.  Once Shaggydog gets up in here, it's going to be a hoot.  Even having one drop over the opponent can mean a big difference because it allows you to better set up your slower moving speed-4 Greataxes somewhere that's going to scare those Flayed Men.  If you end up tieing with your opponent when it comes to drops, consider letting them choose deployment so they drop first.

Activating in the most optimal order is key.

Next, let's talk a little bit about activations.  For the most part, I'll try and keep things as generic as possible.  Knowing the when and why you activate your units will mean the difference between victory and defeat.  This is where most of the complexity of the game comes from.  By understanding that your NCUs count towards total activations and directly interact with the game through the tactics board, this greatly enhances how you play the game.  While most units interact directly with tactics cards, there's also a ton of ways to cheat out free actions.  To explain all of this is going to be really complex because it's simply impossible to predict any and all events that are going to happen in a game.  No worries though, I'll try and give out some hints based on the games I've had so far.  Keep in mind that who is First Player also matters greatly.

Here are some helpful tips:
  • NCUs tend to activate first to either stifle the opponent's zones or take advantages for themselves.  For example, as First Player, taking the Tactics zone can be super useful, or robbing the Stark player of free maneuvers can also be strong, especially when there are plentiful objectives on the board.
  • Whenever you interact with the tactics board, you should first consider if you're planning to give a direct benefit to yourself or to disrupt the opponents' plans.  Every decision you make should be deliberate and has a significant impact on the game.
  • When units are already engaged,  claiming the Combat zone is very strong and should be claimed if you have First Player.  This is essentially a free combat action, which is just incredible.  Anything that gives free anything is highly-sought after.
  • Activating your Dire Wolves first before your main combat units allow you to better move units in response to what the opponent is going to do.  They have to activate their units and cannot choose to just pass.  They can, however, put an activation token on the unit and just not do anything.
  • Always look for low-risk activations first if you want to bait your opponent into doing something so you can counterplay it.  However, you need to prioritize high-value activations if you absolutely need something to go in your favor.  This is how tempo is set by the player:  If everything you're doing gives you an advantage some way or another, you will always be ahead.  An example of this could be deciding to put an NCU down first to disrupt the opponent or to activate a unit.  You want to choose the one that will put you ahead while leaving the opponent unable to respond.  The best type of activation is getting to do something that gives you advantage while the opponent gains nothing.
  • As the game progresses, this is where the true chess element of the game comes in:  Choosing the wrong activation order can literally mean victory or defeat.  Everything is a risk because both you and your opponent has a hidden hand of tactics cards, and with NCUs being different every game, there's always going to be calculated risk.  This is why Varys is one of the strongest NCUs in the game currently:  He has 4 tries to foil your opponents' plans with the tactics board or their NCUs.
  • Once combat is joined, the focus of the game shifts a bit from NCUs to actually fighting the battle.  Otherwise, you risk skipping pivotal combat and your opponent might just tactics your unit into the ground before you get a chance to swing.  If you see the opportunity to inflict damage, it's almost always worth it to take it unless you have the appropriate counter.  Look for unit activations that will give you the battlefield advantage.  NCUs are not the ones fighting over objectives.
  • Typically when you're a couple of turns in and the battle is joined, you should look for opportunities for free actions first, then combat, then NCUs in that order.  There are many factors that will change this order around, but that's completely up to you to analyze the opportunity cost.  Since there are a lot of things to keep track of once battle is joined so it's important for you to get comfortable with your units, your commander, your NCUs, and your tactics cards.  Else, you risk missing vital opportunities or triggers that can win the game for you.

Alright, that's pretty much all I have to say about activations.  There are just a billion examples and each one of them is unique.  However, I think mastering your activations is the most difficult, most complex, and most rewarding part of the game.  It's probably the biggest factor in identifying player skill and experience, so it's definitely worth practicing.  Good luck!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

ASOIAF: 40pt Boltons with Ramsay

You know it's real when everyone else is in armor and you're naked.

I've been dying to write this piece.  Beknownst to some, while Tywin is my favorite character of all time, I also really like Roose Bolton.  I think of him as the Tywin of the North because they're so alike in a lot of ways.  In fact, when you dig down a little deeper into the origins of House Bolton, you will find many disturbing and interesting things about them.  Mechanically, I think they play very close to their book representation and that means a lot of death and terror.  For now, I think Boltons' are the strongest when paired with House Lannister because of a lot of their tactics cards and toolkits synergizes with Lannister control elements.

Let's jump straight into a list that I've been messing with lately.  Since I'm going to turn this into a 2-part show, let me start with something that I've had quite a bit of success with.  To say it's pretty freaking brutal is an understatement.

I mean, lol, look at this guy.

Faction: House Lannister
Commander: Ramsay Snow – The Bastard of Bolton
Points: 40 (20 Neutral)

Combat Units:
• House Clegane Mountain Men (6)
  with Ramsay Snow – The Bastard of Bolton (0)
  and Theon Greyjoy – Reek (0)
• House Clegane Mountain Men (6)
  with Dreadfort Captain (1)
• Bolton Cutthroats (5)
  with Assault Veteran (1)
• The Flayed Men (10)
  with Gregor Clegane – Mounted Behemoth (3)

Non-Combat Units:
• Tywin Lannister – The Great Lion (4)
• Lord Varys – The Spider (4)

Made with ASOIAFBuilder.com

Just so you guys know, I absolutely hated Ramsay in the show.  I still can't decide who I actually hated more, him or Joffrey, and that's an achievement in itself.  To make things short and sweet, Ramsay's a battlefield commander through and through.  He likes to get in there and chop people to bits to spread fear directly.  When he pops his Order to Flay Them All! after a unit fails a Panic test, another unit within Long Range has to take a Panic test.  This is a great mechanic to have in a unit of MM because of the Vicious inflicting a -2 modifier.  The affiliation to House Bolton is something we will talk about once we take a look at his Tactics Cards.  Before we forget, let's talk about poor Theon who Ramsay brings along with him.  Having Theon dragged around with you basically allows Ramsay to auto-panic an opponents' unit every turn, but the downside there is that if you roll a 5+, Theon dies.  Boohoo, I guess.

Everything is made for killing.

The biggest weakness to this list is the low activations and deploys, but outwitting the opponent isn't something I'm going after.  I'm looking to get in there and murder the enemy in every way possible.  When you look at cards like Our Blades are Sharp, you will see that's one of the most damaging tactics cards in the entire game.  If you attack a Panicked enemy, your attack gains +1 to hit and +2 dice on the attack.  If you're a House Bolton unit, the defender also becomes Vulnerable.  This is why I have 2 real House Bolton units in the game and a MM with the House Bolton affiliation.  Make no mistake:  This one card absolutely sky-rockets your units ability to deal damage.  With a plentiful amount of Critical Blows, Vicious, and 3s to hit across the entire army, you will have plenty of chances to inflict maximum hurt on the enemy.  Cruel Methods is activation cheating, simple as that.  You play this card at the start of the round, regardless of whose turn it is and you get an out-of-turn free attack action.  Sure, there are downsides to this card if you don't manage to destroy the enemy unit, but with 3 House Bolton units on the field using max dice and re-rolling misses, you better do some work.  An amazing target for this is your Bolton Cutthroats with Assault Veteran.  If you pop this on them and that unit is already engaged with something, you will be rolling 10 dice, hitting on 2s with re-rolls, making the Vulnerable, and they have to test Panic with Vicious.  If it's going to be your unit activation, you can just cap the Combat zone with Varys and go again if that unit is somehow still alive and your guys are still around.  I'm telling you, it's bananas.  Lastly, we have Sadistic Games, where at the start of a friendly turn, your opponent has to pick either to have 2 of his units to be Panicked or suffer D3+2 automatic hits.  If he understands Ramsay at all, he'll go for the extra hits because at least he has a chance to save them.  Having 2 units being Panicked just sets them up to be abused later by Our Blades are Sharp.

Madness.  Madness and Stupidity.

Let's talk about the unit selection super quick:  Mountain's Men should be pretty straight forward.  You have Critical Blows and Vicious who works great with Ramsay's tactics cards.  Bolton Cutthroats with Assault Veteran is a match made in heaven, and having a Dreadfort Captain on the MMs help spread Panic whenever the opponent fails their Panic test (which should be often due to Vicious).  The giant elephant in the room is the fat-stack of The Mountain + Flayed Men.  Let's get one thing straight here:  This is 32.5% of your army and in most cases, can be considered a deathstar.  Now, I normally don't like to do this kind of thing, but I think Ser G + Flayed Men are one of the strongest units in the entire game by far, especially when you have them in damage amplifying list like this one.  For me, the best way to get value out of these guys is to take them in a list that will almost guarantee they make their points back.  If you think about in terms of points:  A 13-point unit better kill at least 13+ points to break even or be considered a unit well-spent.  This is, after all, 2 more units of Mountain's Men or even close to 3 units of Cutthroats or Lannister Guardsman.  It's a huge investment and I need people to realize that they do have weaknesses, that you can play around them quite easily, that mission objectives do matter, and there are plenty of tactics cards and combos out there that can stifle their damage or end them entirely.  I do not consider them over-performing at all, but they are nasty.

So why did I bring them?  Well, for one, Gregor applies free Panic that unlocks Our Blades are Sharp automatically and also automatically deal D3 wounds.  The fact that you can play Our Blades are Sharp on this unit is something out of this world, because now, on the charge you have 10 attack dice, hitting on 2s and re-rolling, Critical Blows + Vicious, Panic + Spread Fear, you make the unit Vulnerable, and you deal D3 extra wounds from The Mountain just because you can.  If that doesn't roll over many people, it will reduce them to almost combat ineffectiveness status and they will then try to retaliate against a unit with 2+ save.  If you wipe them out or start the round with Cruel Methods, you can then Overrun into another unit with a free Charge action to start the chaos all over again.  I don't know what to say, this unit with Ramsay is absolutely absurd considering how many extra, free combat rounds you can get from it, all the while spreading Panic tokens around because of Spread Fear and Vicious.

Yes, the unit above is ridiculously strong and I would say almost designed for Ramsay to take advantage of.  However, it's hugely expensive and that's why a unit like that doesn't perform well in objective-based game modes.  With only 4 combat units, one of which is a 13-point unit from hell, you can't possibly dedicate it to capturing points.  What you need to do if you're piloting this list is to use that unit to smash everything in its way to smithereens.  However, this will require you to have the right cards in hand which is something you should never build your strategy around.  Before I forget, that unit, as mighty as it is, has one giant flaw that needs to be called out:  It is hugely weak against anything that can blunt the initial assault.  A lot of the damage comes from the Abilities that the unit has attached to it so if you take those abilities *cough, Martial Supremacy, cough*, it's pretty much a declawed cat.  You can then trap the unit by engaging it from multiple sides (such as Grey Wind) and apply Greataxes to face.

Finally, I'd like to mention that Tywin as an NCU is still amazing.  In fact, I think he has one of the best once-a-game abilities in the game because it completely makes an enemy unit worthless for a round.  Funny enough, Tywin is also probably one of the best counters to something like the Gregor Flayed Train of Death.

Friday, February 22, 2019

ASOIAF: Rodrik Cassel 40pt Army

Let's get down to business.

Winter has come.  While there are some people out there that prefer to go maneuver-heavy with Robb or face-smashy with Greatjon Umber, I like going Rodrik Cassel.  The reason why is because his tactics cards are absolutely bonkers and making units Vulnerable just makes a smashy faction even smashier.

First, let's take a look at Rodrik Cassel and see what he offers to our army:

A true soldier.

As you can see, Rodrik is a soldier who has an Order to make the opponent's unit Vulnerable after Attack dice are rolled.  The timing for this is exceptionally important because it's what Sworn Sword Captains have as well and it's considered one of the best 1-point attachments in the game.  Vulnerable is huge for someone like Rodrik because it unlocks his Tactics cards and skyrockets the damage potential of all your units.  Having Vulnerable on something after you charge it would mean you re-roll all hits and your opponent has to essentially re-roll all their successful saves.  It pretty much means the Stark army will obliterate units that have low saves or punch through tougher targets that can normally deflect their blows.  Peeling ranks off enemy units will also keep your units around longer as the enemies' damage potential will decrease.

Let's take a look at Rodrik's tactics cards:

All that martial goodness!

Martial Superiority is one of the best defensive tactics cards in the game.  It triggers off when the enemy unit attacks and that dice rolls less dice AND loses all abilities until the end of the turn.  Now, it isn't as powerful as some of the silences we've been before where it lasts until the end of the round, but this card doesn't need any conditionals like expending condition tokens or anything else.  You cast it, boom, and most of the opponent's plans are foiled.  This card is amazing at stopping something like Gregor + Flayed Men from rolling a unit while you set up for a counter-attack.  To make things even more interesting, if you're going after Rodrik's unit, good luck.  Having Weakened on top of this card pretty much means Rodrik's units going to stay around.  Combat Prowess is a great follow-up card when used with Rodrik's unit or with any unit under the influence of Vulnerable.  What if your opponent rolls poorly and you don't need to spend the Vulnerable token?  Guess like he's being silenced and unable to respond with any defensive tactics cards.  It's really fierce when used on the charge as there are fewer things in the game that interacts with that timing window than when a friendly unit attacks.  Lastly, we have Press the Advantage.  This is another one of those cards that trigger off the attack so you can't use a Sworn Sword Captain's Orders and then play this card because it escapes the window.  What this card does is kick your opponents when they're already down because of the Critical Blows on an already Vulnerable target.  That's why I have taken a unit of Tully Sworn Shields with Rodrik because it makes them one of the tankiest units in the game while giving them the opportunity to do bigger damage than their stats suggest.

Here's the list:

Faction: House Stark
Commander: Rodrik Cassel – Master–at–Arms
Points: 40 (4 Neutral)

Combat Units:
• Stark Sworn Swords (5)
  with Sworn Sword Captain (1)
• House Umber Greataxes (7)
  with Robb Stark – The Young Wolf (3)
• Grey Wind (0)
• House Tully Sworn Shields (7)
  with Rodrik Cassel – Master–at–Arms (0)
• Stark Outriders (7)
  with Brynden Tully – Vanguard Infiltrator (3)

Non-Combat Units:
• Sansa Stark – Little Bird (3)
• Petyr Baelish – Littlefinger (4)

Made with ASOIAFBuilder.com

Let me try and explain some of these choices super quick.  The Stark Sword Swords are simply one of the best offensive units in the game for the cost.  With Stark Fury and 8 dice on a 5-point unit and the ability to make someone Vulnerable, the damage potential for this unit is huge.  Great Axes deal a huge amount of damage and can definitely wreck heavy cavalry if they're already engaged with them.  Robb Stark as an attachment makes them regular infantry speed and gives you the ability to launch yourself out there on a Maneuver trigger on the tactics board.  This makes two units that can do it in the army and that will surprise your opponents a lot!  The fact that Robb (and Bran) come with their Dire Wolves is one of the best things about Starks.  These free wolves not only come with great abilities, but they're a free activation and deploy to be used in battle.  Grey Wind is especially good because he is able to apply Vulnerable onto a unit if already used, or apply it beforehand so it can be consumed using Rodrik's own ability or tactics cards.

I already explained a little bit about the Tully Sworn Shields above, but with Rodrik's tactics cards, this unit becomes a very jack-of-all-trades unit.  It's already super defensive with Shield Wall and 3+ save, but cards like Martial Superiority just takes it over the edge.  While the defensive stats normally lower damage expectations, Press the Advantage and Vulnerable tokens in general greatly increases its damage potential.  As for Stark Outriders, I think they're a great, solid unit at 7 points.  With Brynden Tully however, they can be one of the most annoying units in the game thanks for their great flanking ability and healing on retreat.  A lot of the Stark tactics cards play incredibly well with Outriders as well thanks to their unpredictable damage potential.  Just remember that with 7-point units, you can also decide to trade out the Sworn Shields for a unit of Berserkers if you want some more face-smash.

"And yet you betrayed me.."

As for NCUs, I really like Sansa Stark with Rodrik because of her ability to recycle or tutor for exactly what is needed right then and there.  While we all try and anticipate everything that is going to happen in a game, Sansa offers us extra insurance that if an opponent rolls a 6 for a long ass charge you didn't anticipate and is rolling in with crazy Tactics cards in support, you always have a way to Martial Superiority him into the ground.  For my next NCU, believe it or not, I think Littlefinger is a solid choice for the Starks.  It's just comical that I'm taking both Sansa and Littlefinger in the same list, but his ability to claim Combat/Maneuver that unlocks the secondary capabilities for your Stark tactics cards while still reaping the benefit of other unclaimed zones is amazing.

Try out the list and let me know how you fair!