It seems that every four months, I end up with a new favorite set of Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures. War Drums is yet another step up in terms of painting and sculpts. A couple of our best-looking commons and uncommons, not to mention the rares, can be found in this set. As a Starter set, War Drums is a great blend of many classic D&D monsters and representatives from our campaign worlds and recent products.
Starting with this article, I take the virtual baton from Rob Heinsoo and assume responsibility for writing these previews. I'll show you something new each week, with an eye toward a given mini's skirmish abilities and occasional insight into the design and development process. To kick off the War Drums reviews, we'll look at two minis that could have been right at home in Underdark.
Ever since the Duergar Warrior's first appearance in Archfiends, fans have clamored for a version of the dark dwarf that shows him in his usual fighting stance: enlarged! Now you can set up an encounter with a number of Duergar Warriors or Duergar Champions from Underdark and then swap them out when they get big and angry!
As a skirmish piece, this uncommon, large dwarf is beefier than his smaller, Warrior brother. With 45 hit points, this 15-point mini will stay around for a while, as long as his conceal 6 helps him avoid any 25- or 30-point strikes. His size also grants him melee reach, and he truly brings the hammer down on his foes, hitting for a solid 15 points of damage. He's one of two creatures in this set with Overwhelming Size (Melee attack +2 and melee damage +5 against Medium or smaller enemies).
All in all, the Large Duergar is a very solid skirmisher whose only real drawback is his speed. At Speed 5, he's only a step faster than the Duergar Warrior, and his large-sized base makes him less maneuverable. He'll be very good at taking out fodder, but don't expect him to hold the line too long.
It's small, it lives underground, and it's entirely insane. What is it? Not a svirfneblin (they're normally sane), but a derro! Part dwarf, part human, all crazy. While the Monster Manual doesn't have an illustration of this mad little guy, if it did, it would look exactly like this common miniature's sculpt.
The Derro's skirmish stats reflect many of its abilities as presented in the MM. Sneak attack? Check (melee sneak attack +5). Spell-like abilities? Check (Conceal 6 for darkness and a casting of sound burst). Spell Resistance? Check. His high AC (for Chaotic Evil) and conceal mean that he's a pain to get rid of, and he can be a reasonable screener for spells with his Spell Resistance. Just don't expect him to hang around very long once battle begins.
Three Derro versus two Large Duergar provide for an interesting fight, considering the points are about even. Of course, by "interesting fight," I mean that the derro need to rely on their Conceal and some failed saves vs. sound burst. Each hits the other 55% of the time (assuming the derro get a flank or stun to use sneak attack), but the derro have a better chance of overcoming conceal thanks to Blind-Fight. One hit from a large duergar, though, and it's all over for our squishy little madmen.
Next week: Getting Started with War Drums!
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer with RPG/Minis R&D and is the lead developer for D&D Miniatures starting with next July's War of the Dragon Queen. He's also helped develop many exciting upcoming D&D products, including Player's Handbook II, Monster Manual IV, Tome of Magic, and Tome of Battle!