News Archive | 11/12/2012
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Dungeon Command Strategy
Peter Lee, Chris Dupuis

Now that Dungeon Command has 3 faction packs out (Heart of Cormyr, Sting of Lolth and Tyranny of Goblins), Designers Peter Lee and Chris Dupuis decided to set aside an afternoon for some constructed warband battles using 4 of each set.

Before the Game

Pete: I love the idea of a couple of distant drow leading a force of expendable goblins. Since both drow and goblin favor Dexterity, most of the cards in my order deck revolve around that ability. I knew I wanted to do a swarm of creatures that made lots of little attacks, so Faerie Fire was a natural addition. It works well with lots of little attacks, so I made sure to grab a few Quick Jab and Quick Shot cards. Since I have a bunch of little creatures, I started off with 16 creatures: 4 more than my minimum. Nothing would be worse than having a winning game and not being able to deploy any final creatures!

I decide to use these tiles: Drow 1, Goblins 2, Drow 3, and Goblins 4. I chose these tiles as I feel a confining space with lots of walls would be a good defense to any form of area attack. Finally, I choose Tarkon Draal as my commander to stop Chris from cowering too much.

Chris: I’ve created what I call a “bruiser” warband, because there aren't a lot of low level creatures. I’m only going to have 1 or 2 creatures out for the first few turns, but when they hit, they're going to cause a lot of damage. I’m a bit worried that I’m wasting space in my deck with 4 Mortal Wound cards; however, with a creature on the front lines doing 40+ damage, it might be worth it to have some extra copies. Plus, I have 4 Dwarf Clerics to remove the card and keep the creature alive.

The goal of this warband is to hit Pete’s creatures hard and fast, so he doesn’t have a chance to regroup. If I can keep Feral Trolls and Dragon Knights alive, I can keep pushing him back. Because I don’t have any smaller creatures, I’m mostly going to be ignoring treasure spaces and hoping to cut Pete off from any treasures I pass. I’m also using the following tiles and hoping to play outdoors because of my larger creatures: Hero 1, Goblins 2, Goblins 3, and Goblins 4.

During the Game

Pete: I was caught off guard by Tough as Nails -- I forgot that we put it in the Tyranny of Goblins faction pack, as it was something I think we originally designed for the Blood of Gruumsh pack! When Chris was able to play that card to discard my Faerie Fire, the effectiveness of my swarm attack was greatly reduced; not only was I not dealing more damage, but my damage was being further reduced by Tough as Nail’s Block 10!

The Feral Troll was slowed by difficult terrain, so I did have a slight advantage controlling the board. As he only had two or three creatures at a time, I could send my Goblin Cutters to gather gold. I gained an early morale advantage, but it didn’t last.

Chris approached with his Feral Troll and his Bugbear Berserker. I was able to maneuver around his Troll with a Nimble Strike, and I was able to land a final blow to his Bugbear with a well-timed Piercing Strike. Meanwhile, his Troll was slowly driving me back to my Start area. I just didn’t have a way to cut through the Troll’s defense: the Goblin Cutters couldn’t deal any damage unless the Troll was tapped, and the Troll had no reason to tap.

Near the end of the game, he boxed me into my Start area with his Troll and had a Dwarf Cleric hidden in back -- trouble! I was able to move a Wolf through the wall with a Secret Passage. That tapped the Cleric. A Stalk allowed me to move my Drow Blademaster into position to deal more damage, and I eventually finished off the Cleric with a Quick Shot from my Drow House Guard. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save my skin -- we were each down to about 3 morale, and I had an undamaged Troll with Block 10 at my front door.

The last round of the game I drew a card that I thought might just save me: Faerie Fire! One of my drow played Faerie Fire on the Troll, and I was fortunate that Chris didn’t have a second Tough as Nails. I surrounded the Troll and attacked with everything I had, but one Patch Up healed his Troll. In the end, I was only able to land 100 damage, and Chris was able to finish off one of my Drow Blademasters to win the game.

Chris: It was interesting that we both chose Tarkon Draal as a commander. I guess we both felt like leaving everything on the table. No cowering!

Both games were very close. We went 1-1, but I felt that if Pete would have had more Feint or Sneak Attack cards, he would have decimated me. Only, we then got kicked out of our meeting room and vowed to tweak our decks and come back later, geared up for a final match. My warband worked well together, and my plan to create an unstoppable Feral Troll wall worked for one game.

In the game he won, it was because I wasn’t able to support the Feral Troll quickly enough. My reinforcements were just too far back to jump into the game. That’s the interesting thing with big bruiser warbands; you feel like you need to have smaller creatures to fill the gaps in your leadership, so you don’t have 2 big creatures using all of your available resources with no one moving up to support them.

Revising our Warbands

Pete: We had 2 hard fought games that came down to the wire. For the next game, I made a few minor changes: I added two Sneak Attacks, an additional Feint, and an Uncanny Dodge. Sneak Attack allows me to power through tough creatures, Uncanny Dodge gives me improved evasion on my big creatures, and Feint will let the Goblin Cutters deal their bonus damage. I needed to make sure my deck remained at 30 cards, so I cut 2 Parry cards, 1 Piercing Strike, and 1 Narrow Escape.

Chris: While it was a good idea to go 4x on many of my cards to make sure I drew them, I’ve now seen which cards jam up my hand with this warband. For example, I had too many immediate cards that I was using, so I had 3 Patch Up cards at the end of the game. Also, there were moments when I would have done anything for just a little more maneuverability. Too bad the Curse of Undeath and Blood of Gruumsh faction packs were off limits for this battle!

I needed a little more versatility in my deck in case Pete found some clever way to counter my Feral Troll wall strategy. I added the Half-Orc Thug since he can use the level 3 Strength cards in my deck, and I threw in 2 Quick Shot cards for some extra ranged surprise. I also tweaked a bunch of Constitution and Strength cards.

We Meet Again

Pete: I win initiative for the last game, so I choose the more restrictive Dungeon map. I have far more medium-sized creatures and Secret Passage cards, so that I don’t think mobility will be much of an issue. My big worry is his Trolls, so I try a different strategy this game: luring away his troops and splitting up his forces.

At the start of the game, I spread out to gather as much treasure as I can. Chris moves up with his Troll, followed up next round with his Bugbear. As Chris advances, I pull back to give me time -- I still haven’t been able to deploy a drow creature for my Faerie Fire. Eventually I am able to put down one of my Driders, and that makes it time to strike.

As I have a lot of low hit point creatures, the Bugbear Berserker terrifies me. I try to take it out with a Sneak Attack, but he’s able to block the damage with Mortal Wound. The next round I advance against his Troll and use Faerie Fire, but as I suspected, he's able to shrug it off with Tough as Nails. I lure his Troll away with a little Goblin Archer, and then move up towards his Start area to concentrate on his recently deployed Half-Orc Thug and a second Bugbear Berserker.

I’m able to make short work of his reinforcements, but then Chris brings out two more Trolls. Since his original Troll with Tough as Nails is off in the corner playing with a doomed Goblin Archer, I can concentrate on his new Trolls. He moves up and destroys my Goblin Wolf Rider, which I immediately replace with a Wolf. In my next turn, I strike with my Wolf. I am pleasantly surprised when he deals damage -- the Troll is now tapped due to the Wolf’s ability. I unfortunately don’t have an Order card to capitalize on the situation, but I do attack with everything that I can. My Goblin Cutter deals additional damage and I’m even able to bring up my Drow Wizard into the fray. Even though the Troll has cover, it can't dodge the Drow Wizard’s attacks due to being tapped by the Wolf. In the end, I take the Troll to about half his starting hit points.

With no Tough as Nails in sight, I’m able to continue the attack on his Troll in the following round. The final blow comes from a Goblin Wolf Rider that I deployed last round: his rapid speed with the assistance of a Stalk minor action allows me to transverse most of the map and land the final blow of the game.

Chris: I definitely liked the variety and versatility in my deck in this last game, but I still saw places where I could improve it. For example, Invigorating Smash and Feral Vitality are too close to each other to both live in this warband. I probably would cut the Invigorating Smashes and stick with the Feral Vitality, since the Dwarf Cleric can use it.

It was a very close final game; Pete got my morale down to 2, but I had 3 Feral Trolls on the battlefield. Unfortunately, due to the lack of immediate cards in my hand at the end of the game, he was able to focus on a single Troll after luring one far away from the battle. He won this match, but I’ll be back for a rematch when the Curse of Undeath faction pack is released!

We hope you enjoyed reading about our afternoon skirmish, and hopefully it has inspired you to create your own warbands for an afternoon of fun! If you would like more information on constructing a warband, you can check out an earlier article here.

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