House Greyjoy rule the Iron Islands. Viking esque raiders who field the Iron fleet and have been at odds with other houses even before the War of Five Kings. Worshipping the drowned god and flying the Kraken banner as they pillage the Northern coast and the Tyrell lands. The Greyjoy starter set gives you everything you need to field a Greyjoy army and includes two of the best known Greyjoys. Asha and Victarion Greyjoy. The daughter and brother of the Iron king himself. You also receive four units of Greyjoy footmen including two units of warriors, a unit of bowmen and an elite unit of reapers. The Greyjoy’s are unique in that they field no cavalry at present although they can still gain access to cavalry through the neutral/mercenary units that every army can field e.g.(Hedge Knights, Flayed men, Zorse riders etc).
In terms of playstyle the Greyjoys are initially a weaker force. Their unique faction mechanic is focused on looting to gain power. Their units start off weaker but as they inflict casualties, they gain plunder tokens which enhance their abilities. This is similar in part to the Stark playstyle but is focused more on inflicting casualties rather than suffering them. It does however mean that if you can gain momentum then you can snowball but if you get cut off early then you can be stuck with a weaker force. This makes match ups against high defence forces such as Baratheons feel fairly one sided and you really have to maximise every flanking/ncu bonus to break even against them. They do however benefit from high mobility and if you can draw first blood and get some plunder tokens built up then you have a very powerful force. This means they are especially effective when they come up against ‘trash’ units with low defence and morale as by depleting ranks they can quickly level their plunder tokens up. This also applies against high healing foes and can act counter intuitively as the replenished rank can be farmed for additional plunder. This mechanic is mostly unique to the Greyjoys but has appeared on one other unit so far, The Lysene Sellswords and is quite fitting for the mercanery/pirate nature of the troops.
To dive into some of their units in more detail. The standard Ironborn Reavers are a solid frontline troop for 5 points. They also have sundering by default and gain extra hits for each pillage token for a potential 9 hits a turn with sundering if the dice favour you. They are however on the weaker side of the armour with a defence of 5+ and a leadership of 7 which for 5 points is a tad steep. A nice feature of the starter set however is that it comes with bowmen. An unusual feature but a welcome one as this fills the cheaper unit role and adds some ranged offense. They do however feel weaker than other ranged units which is understandable given their cheapness and lack of any pillage mechanic for themselves bar giving allies extra pillage tokens instead. A hybrid unit that will take some careful positioning to be truly effective. They do however make excellent flank harassers if you can keep them clear of the melee. The final troop choice is the Harlaw reapers which fill the elite troop role in the box. These are a heavy hitting unit with Vicious and gain extra wounding power from pillage tokens. They do suffer from the same weak armour as the rest of the units but have better leadership and some baked in self-healing. They are a unit that can grind down an enemy unit and will take a concerted effort to destroy if they are able to gain any pillage tokens at all.
In terms of style, the Greyjoys are depicted as a fairly low fantasy group of Vikings. They have axes, dark age helmets/armour and cloaks aplenty. This is more in line with their depiction in the books as seafaring raiders. It would have been nice to see Victarian Greyjoy as he is portrayed in his full battle plate but instead, we get him as he appears in the Kings Moot with mail and helm. This is however a small quibble and some of the finer details are crisp and appreciated such as the additional Kraken on his axe head and the individual tentacles on the helm. It seems to be an army that would be quite fun to paint as you get a good combination of armour, leathers, cloth and cloaks which will take highlights and shading well. They also have a good base plastic colour of a slightly greenish grey which will make priming them more forgiving (Looking at you Baratheons…). The NCU’s are also both good minis with Rodrik and Damphair making a nice contrast to the horde of charging raiders. Aeron provides some much-needed healing when he influences a unit with a small instant heal and a chance to heal more when destroying enemy ranks. Then Rodrik allows some milling of the hand in exchange for drawing a greater number from the deck. A very useful addition to avoid being stalled with a bad hand. Both useful additions for only 4 points each.
To conclude, the Greyjoy starter is a great way to jump into this faction at a cost-effective price. You receive a lot of material and several possible army loadouts. It is an army that is tricky to play however and may not be the best jumping in point for the entire ASOIAF Miniatures game for that reason. From experience you really need to maximise their pillage mechanic early on if you want to stand a chance with them and some lineups are truly against your favour such as Night’s Watch, Baratheons, and Boltons when they bring out the heavy cavalry. Despite this there is something very satisfying about playing a band of Vikings and looting your way through the battlefield. It is also worth mentioning that the current state of the meta does put the Greyjoys as one of the weakest forces at the current stage. Due however to the active rebalancing of the game and continued support from CMON this will likely be rectified to make them more competitive in the next update. It is also worth getting the official mobile app for this reason to keep up to date with all the tweaks that they have received. But if you want to command a horde of angry bearded fellows and live the Iron code then this starter is the one for you.