With the Golden Company landing on our shores and making an underwhelming impression, I have felt invigorated to imagine a world where pure Neutrals are a faction that can stand on its own feet. It is common knowledge the faction is the weakest to a point where CMON themselves said they aren’t a real faction. So how can we fix them so that they can compete?
What is better than bringing Neutrals? Bringing Neutrals in any other faction. The special rule that makes Neutral Units and Characters so valuable is the main selling point. You can have your Neutral Units no matter what faction you play (sorry Free Folk). This offsets the reason to bring a pure list of Neutrals. Say you’re bringing a Bolton themed army; it would be better to take them in a Lannister army for all their bonuses to Morale.
Neutrals are also limited in some respects, for example there aren’t that many NCUs especially ones that are cheap to keep your activations high. The Commanders are not amazing either, however they do become great in other decks, for example Roose performs very well with Lannisters and recently Vargo is doing very well with the Night’s Watch. The basic Tactics Deck isn’t too substantial and doesn’t play into any of the playstyles of the Commanders.
The Tactics Deck
So, we need a Tactics Deck that helps the faction we are playing. I do believe we have already seen the solution here, and he is the tallest Commander in the game, Mag the Mighty. Mag’s Deck replaces the entirety of the Free Folk Deck with a full Deck of Mag’s cards. Most of these cards are all for Giants and Monsters showing the type of list you should be making to have the most benefits from the cards. Applying this to the Neutrals having a full deck of cards that benefit Bolton Units and play style will help pure Bolton Neutral armies perform better than the alliance between them and the Lannisters. Stormcrows, Bloody Mummers, Golden Company all should have a deck.
Golden Company looks very bad, none of the units shine other than the Elephant however the price cost to bring the monster is too much to warrant its inclusion. Perhaps a whole deck helping with their shortcomings might change their position in the game, but for right now it’s all over before it has begun from the mercenary sellswords. Many have theorised the Golden Company Commander will cheapen the units which will make them worth it.
The List Building
The Mother of Dragons box brought with it a list building card which is now removed from the game. The card used to allow you to reduce the cost of each dragon you bring if you bring all three. Turning 24pts of dragons to 21pts resulting a dominance of the list design for a while in tournament play. Could this happen for Golden Company? Could this be applied to other Affiliations?
The best activation list you could do with pure Golden Company is 4x 7pts units any combination of Swordsmen and Elephants then 3x 4pts NCUs for a 7-activation list. Adding the Crossbows in would reduce it by an activation, to increase it back up you will need to bring in cheaper units that are not GC. Say the Commander reduces the cost of each unit by 1pts then you could likely only fit in one extra unit by swapping out an NCU. You would also have a few left-over points to customise with Attachments or costly NCUs.
However, this discount design would be crazy good with Boltons and Stormcrows, a little unsure if it would change the game massively with Bloody Mummers though. 5pts Bolton Blackguard, 4pts Bolton Cutthroats and 7pts Flayed Men sounds way too insane to be real, however it would certainly bring the Neutrals back from the dead and straight to the top. Stormcrow Mercenaries at 4pts, Archers at 5pts and Dervishes at 6pts also seem crazy, but again may be a powerful way to patch the holes in the faction.
The only thing that may suffer is mixing units, whilst the lore lover in me prefers this, not all players are playing the game purely to recreate moments from the show and books. But is there any other way? A mass change to every unit could fix it but you now need to balance them with other factions being able to take them. We will need to fix this issue whilst not touching the units specifically.
There are whispers amongst the community wanting a Neutrals Heroes 3 box which does feel missing from the game. I do think we could see a Neutrals Starter Set soon, either for a release of a new sub faction like the Brotherhood Without Banners or the Freys. Or CMON will continue their model update spree after the Lannister and Stark starter by updating the Boltons (the other faction in the kickstarter). This would align perfectly with new decks for the Commanders and list design cards for pure Neutral lists. It would also be a perfect opportunity for new Units and Heroes boxes. Imagine a spearmen unit for the Golden Company to match their sigil which has a spear piercing a pile of skulls since no Golden Company unit has a spear. A third Mummer unit? A Stormcrow Cavalry unit? A Bolton Bowmen unit for the Greenfork? On foot Hedge Knights? The possibilities are endless.
Either way, the next update from CMON should address Neutrals as a faction and find a way to patch them to be usable.
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