D&D Miniatures03/16/2006

War Drums Exclusive
Commander's Notebook
By Jason Lioi, Bill Baldwin, Michael Derry, and Guy Fullerton

We've assembled a team of four talented warband builders, and each will get the chance to challenge his compatriots to build their best warband around a particular miniature or theme.

Bear in mind that what you're reading is not a primer on how to win tournaments. It's an intellectual puzzle in which the contributors may not always be given the best material to work with. The challenge is to make the most of the starting conditions.

This week's topic was chosen by Guy Fullerton.

War Drums, like every new DDM set, brings its own complications to warband builders. This week's installment adds a twist to the usual limited format challenge -- the whole set can be used but with some alignment restrictions.

My challenge is to build a 200 point, eight-creature maximum warband from any two adjoining factions using only War Drums creatures. That is, a warband can be Lawful (LG and LE), Chaotic (CG and CE), Good (LG and CG), or Evil (LE and CE). Be sure to pick a battle map as part of your warband, too.

Basically, if you had the good fortune to get exactly what you wanted from a War Drums draft event, what would you build? This is a slight spin on the some of the previous Commander's Notebooks that challenged folks to build constructed warbands from just one set.

Michael Derry

Brass Samurai (56 pts)
Warforged Barbarian (49 pts)
Blood Ghost Berserker (37 pts)
Orc Wardrummer (19 pts)
Troglodyte Thug (11 pts)
Quaggoth Slave (10 pts)
Howling Orc (15 pts)
Total = 197 points, 7 activations

This warband is built around the Brass Samurai and its commander effect of providing Whirlwind Attack. Creatures like the Steelheart Archer are great support pieces but do not synergize well with this commander effect because they are not intended to get into melee combat. I want to maximize use of the Brass Samurai's Whirlwind Attack commander effect. The Combat Medic and Warforged Bodyguard have exciting possibilities, too, but I'm more excited by large amounts of damage in a round.

Few creatures in this set have area-of-effect damage, and only three have line attacks. Six creatures have fire resistance -- two at resist 5, one at resist 15, and three are immune. The Brass Samurai's line attack for 20 fire damage at DC 15, combined with the Warforged Barbarian's Bloody Rage 5 (5 automatic damage to an adjacent enemy), provides powerful automatic damage and significant leverage for the Orc Wardrummer and the Troglodyte Thug to exploit (with their lowered saves and morale checks.)

Despite many creatures in the set with high AC, I have more concerns about dealing with creatures with modest ACs and loads of hit points, such as the Blood Ghost Berserker. To counter these creatures, I rely on low attack, high damage support creatures making Whirlwind Attacks. Even with the Wardrummer and commander 4, this warband has some fragile morale, but the three heavy hitters are very capable and well supported.

As a final consideration, this draw could actually happen in a draft event because does not include an unusual number of rares. The only tricky draft creature is the Orc Wardrummer -- it's very desirable and would be difficult to get in a draft.

Bill Baldwin

Brass Samurai (56 pts)
Hill Giant Barbarian (78 pts)
Howling Orc (15 pts)
Quaggoth Slave x4 (40 pts)
Troglodyte Thug (11 pts)
Total = 200 pts, 8 activations

The idea behind this warband is simple. Combine the Brass Samurai (and her Whirlwind Attack commander effect) with as many creatures with a limited number of powerful attacks as possible. This is especially effective with large creatures that have Melee Reach, because reach increases the number of potential target squares from 8 (medium creature without Melee Reach) to 24. When combined with CE, the Whirlwind Attack makes up for the Hill Giant Barbarian's lack of Cleave and allows him to make more attacks at +12. The Troglodyte Thug improves hitting chances and decreases enemy morale saves when properly positioned. Proper placement overall lets you inflict huge amounts of damage in a single round. Even if your opponent is too smart to let this happen, the threat of it will keep him from grouping together and ganging up on your creatures.

Jason Lioi

Aspect of Moradin (93 pts)
War Troll (69 pts)
Large Duergar (15 pts)
Warforged Scout (8 pts)
Shieldwall Soldier (7 pts)
Skeletal Legionnaire x2 (8 pts)
Total=200 pts, 7 activations

In sealed events, "titan" bands can perform much better than they do in constructed. Often only one or two units in an opposing sealed band will offer a significant threat to the titan piece, and if it can be destroyed first, the titan band usually wins. In this dream draft band, I've included not one titan but two: the Aspect of Moradin and the War Troll. This presents a serious problem for opponents, because bringing down either of these units usually requires the attention of an entire warband, leaving the other titan unmolested. Also, many opposing titans in War Drums are of the Giant type, making the Aspect a particularly devastating hitter.

Including a Warforged Scout as an assault point grabber allows the band to take its time engaging, giving several opportunities to use the hefty ranged attacks on the titans before moving in for melee. The Duergar presents a reasonable secondary threat, hitting at +9 (25) under ideal circumstances. While the Skeletons and Shieldwall Soldier are not particularly exciting individually, their Phalanx Fighting ability can sometimes make them an annoying distraction for your opponent.

About the Authors

Jason Lioi is the 2005 D&D Miniatures champion. Bill Baldwin is a regular contributor to the website via his Art of Warbands articles. Guy Fullerton is well known as "the rules guy" on the miniatures forums, and Michael Derry is a Wizards delegate, tournament organizer, and D&D Miniatures judge.

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