Well, the cat doesn't have my tongue. Not yet, anyway. Not all the minis in today's preview are directly cat-related (though the last one's probably eaten a few felines at some point), but they each represent one of the Chaotic factions. As a special holiday gift, today's preview will look at three War Drums miniatures -- one common, one uncommon, and one rare. I'll let you figure out which is which (maybe someone will start a poll on our message boards). I will give you a hint: the rare mini has more than four limbs.
Let's get down to business:
For starters, let's look at the hunting cougar. It's pretty basic, as cats go -- a perfect animal companion or nature's ally for a druid and a reasonable danger for low-level adventurers. This cat's very fast, covering up to 16 squares per turn, and has close to a 4:1 hit point/cost ratio, making it a thrifty investment to grab assault points in the early game. Without an allied Beastmaster, it doesn't have much offense, but it does possess the Natural Soul ability, so it gets an attack and damage boost if a Beastmaster is on the cougar's side. Now if only there were a Beastmaster commander in this set … You'll have to wait to find out!
For a change of pace, how about a classic D&D monster? You may have seen Mat Smith's note on the Chimera, so here's a different classic not normally thought of as such: the Wemic Barbarian. Back in 1982, the wemic made its appearance in a set of Monster Cards for AD&D, and also around that time in the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual 2. This half-human, half-lion, kind-of-centaur creature reappeared in Monsters of Faerun, a Forgotten Realms supplement from the early 3rd edition days, and again more recently in Races of Faerun.
In the D&D Miniatures game, the Wemic "Don't Call Me Kitty" Barbarian is a significant force for Chaotic Good, providing significant and reliable damage in a durable package. He doesn't do as much damage per hit with his nonmagical spear as the Aspect of Kord (from the Underdark expansion), but he does have two attacks per round. He can outrun the Cougar in a straight sprint, and while speed is sometimes a liability if a mini fails a morale save, the Wemic Barbarian could very well end up Fearless if an enemy routs first, thanks to his Bravado ability. He should last longer than the similarly-priced Frenzied Berserker, providing an interesting choice for builders of CG quick-strike warbands.
If you dislike all things catlike, don't despair. Our third figure is a nonfeline core D&D monster. Straight from the pages of the Monster Manual (pgs. 126 and 127, with a brief stop at pg. 107) steps the Fiendish Girallon. It's tall, it's wide, and it has four nasty claws just itching to rend your PC to pieces. Many a character has perished on the claws of these four-armed monstrosities, and now that the mini is available, many more will meet their end in a similarly messy fashion.
Because it's fiendish, the girallon picks up a few minor abilities from MM 107 -- spell resistance and a couple of energy resistances (I think it also got its tail from the same page). What really matters here is its Rend ability. Remember the Large Duergar from a couple previews ago? If the Fiendish Girallon lands two attacks, that duergar is off the table. If the first attack hits, the second attack is 40 points of magic damage waiting to rend.
Design/Dev note: The Fiendish Girallon is an example of where we've taken the spirit of the D&D statistics of the creature and applied them to the minis game, instead of a straight conversion of the stats. In an RPG game, the girallon has four claw attacks (with rend) and a bite. Here, we've simplified matters by reducing its number of attacks to two while keeping the significant flavor of the girallon's rend ability by piling the damage of its other attacks into the rend damage. It also means we can keep its cost down, because a straight conversion would give four attacks at +12 for 10 damage each, with a rend for 15 -- that's damage potential of twice the mini's current cost. If we had costed the figure to match its potential RPG damage, it would feel very much like a glass cannon. It wouldn't have enough staying power to make it worth its purchase points.
That's enough for this week. Next week, we'll look at some minis that highlight aspects of our campaign worlds, and I'll let you know which of the above miniatures is a rare!
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!