At the most southern tip of Westeros sits the land of Dorne, sun-bleached and deadly. And ruling from the city of Sunspear is the noble House Martell, with famed heroes and leaders like Prince Doran and Prince Oberyn Martell, the valorous Areo Hotah, and the ever-scheming Ellaria Sand. Now House Martell is the newest army to join the ranks of A Song Of Ice And Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game. We've previously covered the game, including new releases from last winter, and new releases this past Spring, and now CMON Games sent us along a batch of Martells to check out, so read on for our thoughts!
A Song Of Ice And Fire Tabletop Miniatures Game - House Martell Starter Set
Like previously released Starter Sets for A Song Of Ice And Fire Tabletop Miniatures Game (ASOIAF:TMG), this set contains everything a player needs to jump into the game (aside from an opponent and their own opposing army). Based around the Martell family and their followers, supporters, and legions of warriors, the set includes the following:
- 1 Rulebook - Core Rulebook for the game
- Cards: Combat Units, Attachments, NCUs, Tactics, Sieges, Missions, Objectives and more
- 1 Measuring Stick and Cardboard Tokens
- 10 Martell-colored d6 dice and 1 special six-sided d3
- 55 Miniatures and Movement Trays including:
- Doran Martell
- Ellaria Sand
- Areo Hotah
- Oberyn Martell
- 11 Sunspear Dervishes, 1 Dervish Bannerman, and 1 Dervish Captain
- 22 Spearmen, 2 Spearmen Bannermen, and 2 Spearman Captains
- 12 Sand Skirmishers
Each of these miniatures comes pre-assembled and unpainted, but as you can see from the photos they're resplendent in a sun-soaked yellow-orange plastic, making them stand out on the battlefield even when unpainted. I love the way CMON handles the miniatures in ASOIAF: TMG. While we love building our own models in other wargames, it's so easy and quick to get them onto the tabletop, and the bright orange coloring (each house has their own colored plastic for their minis) feels really aligned to the personality of the army.
How Does House Martell Play In A Song Of Ice And Fire TMG?
The House Martell army is focused on one thing: movement. They move fast, they shift around the battlefield, and their dancing blades are never quite where you'd expect them to be. If the Lannisters in the game are all about having the best equipment and being devious, and the Starks are about staying resolute in the face of near-defeat, then the Martells are all about the strike and fade. Let's take a look at how each of the new units plays, including the Non-Combat Units.
A Song Of Ice And Fire TMG - House Martell Spearmen
The House Martell Spearmen make up 50% of the fighting force in the starter set (which includes two sets of 12 models). They move with a speed of 5" (which is average for the game), and attack with their spears hitting on a 4+ roll. They're decent, sturdy fighters with only moderate defense and average morale, but they have two useful Orders (special abilities that can be triggered once per round).
First, they have the order: Set For Charge, which simulates them lowering their spears like a wall of thorns against an incoming charge by letting them perform an attack action on the charging enemy before the enemy attacks. They also have the order: Tactical Reposition which lets them shift a friendly unit in short range of them 3 inches. If you add their Spear Captain onto their board, they can use the order: Threaten, which scares their enemies, weakening an enemy unit within long range of them.
All in all, these are the solid basis for your fighting forces. They're straightforward, are hard to get the jump on, and stay relatively strong as they lose units in battle.
A Song Of Ice And Fire TMG - House Martell Sunspear Dervishes
The Sunspear Dervishes are, as their name implies, whirling, slicing harbingers of death. With a movement speed of 6", they attack with their dervish blades hitting on a 4+, and have a defense of 4+ which makes them fairly hardy in the face of the enemy. But what makes them so special is their mobility which comes in the form of their orders and special abilities.
The order: Swift Retreat allows them to perform a free retreat action after an enemy completes a melee attack on them, and this combos nicely with their Elusive Escape ability which allows them to re-roll any Retreat Distance Dice (you need to roll a die to see how far back your unit can retreat when attacked by an enemy. Also, if an enemy unit should disengage with the Dervishes, they can't pivot (pivoting is crucial in this "rank and flank" wargame, where all miniatures sit on a larger shared base) and are Weakened (which places a token on the enemy unit that you can spend to make them re-roll attack dice).
Adding the Dervish Captain grants this unit the Sow Discord order which can potentially remove all abilities from an enemy unit, and will also give the Dervishes the Disrupt ability, which makes them harder to hit while engaged in melee combat with an enemy. These are fast striking units who can get in, deal damage to a key unit, and get out of the way quickly.
A Song Of Ice And Fire TMG - House Martell Sand Skirmishers
The Song of Ice and Fire House Martell Sand Skirmishers are the only units in the army (as of right now) with ranged attacks. They have a move of 6", a defense of 4+, and they strike with precision with their Skirmisher's Bow, hitting on a 3+. If they need to get into close combat, they're also armed with Skirmisher's Blades which hit on a 4+.
They have two very tactically useful orders that should keep your enemies on their toes. First, they have the order Quick Fire, which allows them to perform a Ranged Attack after completing a Maneuver or Retreat action, and they have the Scout Opening order which can activate on another friendly unit's turn, as they scout the battlefield for weaknesses in the opponent allowing their friendly unit to re-roll attack dice and automatically deal wounds. Rain down arrows on your opponents with these Skirmishers while providing support to your other units, and before you know it you'll have your enemies in total chaos.
A Song Of Ice And Fire TMG - House Martell Heroes
The heroes of House Martell add another layer of deep strategy to the game. First, let's look at the two "on the battlefield" heroes. Areo Hotah can be added to a unit of infantry as a powerful named character, or taken in conjunction with Doran Martell if you choose Doran as your commander (normally commanders must be on the battlefield, Doran in his wheelchair is a special exception to this rule). As commander, he'll give the unit he's attached to bonuses while charging, and his unit heals a wound when passing a morale test. As a named character added to a unit, he can search for specific tactics cards in your tactics deck or mark an enemy making them vulnerable.
Fan favorite Oberyn Martell can serve as your army's commander, applying a new poison card to an enemy unit he successfully attacks which slowly drains their health, and automatically makes an opponent his unit attacks weakened and vulnerable. Taken as a named character and not commander, he can either deal +1 wound to a unit he's attacking, or (on a roll of 3+) automatically destroy an attachment on an enemy unit (an attachment is a named character like Oberyn). This ability is massive, and completely game-changing.
The two units who stay off the battlefield are Doran Martell and Ellaria Sand. Doran, as mentioned above, works in conjunction with Areo, and as commander he can allow Areo's unit to make bonus movement or retreat actions when he claims a space on the noncombat board. As a noncombat character, he gains tokens depending on where he moves on the board, and automatically uses those tokens to gain victory points after round 4.
Finally, Ellaria Sand removes negative condition tokens from friendly units when she controls a zone on the noncombat board, and can place negative condition tokens on enemy units if she claims a specific space on that board. All of these abilities combo nicely with their tactics deck, which is full of cards that weaken your opponents, force them to move from powerful spaces on the noncombat board, and even parlay for a moment in the heat of battle.
What Are Our Final Thoughts On A Song Of Ice And Fire TMG - House Martell Starter Set?
The Song Of Ice And Fire TMG - House Martell Starter Set is a really fun, vibrant, and tricky addition to the game. These units are very slippery on the battlefield and are truly hard to pin down (which is something a lot of the other armies in the game rely on doing to secure objectives and cause mass casualties). I absolutely love the design of these models, they're so dynamic and full of character, and the bright orange plastic really makes them pop unpainted on the tabletop. This set also has me so excited to see what else is coming for the Martells (we've received the Sunspear Royal Guard and the Martell Hereos 1 box, but haven't jumped in on those yet).
Should I Buy A Song Of Ice And Fire TMG - House Martell Starter Set?
If you're a fan of these Dornish heroes, this is an obviously amazing place to start getting into A Song Of Ice And Fire TMG, with enough models here to get you well on your way toward a decent little army. Time will tell how competitive they are as a faction as more models are released, but this is definitely a strong start for this army.
The copy of A Song Of Ice And Fire TMG - House Martell Starter Set used in this review was provided by the publisher.