D&D Miniatures
Secrets of the Champions, Part 1
A Primer for the 2006 Tournament Season
By Michael Derry

'Metagame' refers to the game outside the game. For Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures (DDM), this includes not just the personalities of the players and their approach to the game but also involves the full spectrum of creatures and maps and how these are distilled into warbands and strategies. The DDM metagame evolves constantly but shifts most significantly with new set releases. This series provides a snapshot examination of the current state of the DDM metagame just before the DDM 2006 Constructed Qualifier season.

While many discussions, like this one, imply that the metagame is global, it is not. The metagame a person needs to prepare for varies with every tournament. Your goal should be to prepare for each specific metagame you will face. Any choices correctly made for that metagame are absolutely valid, regardless how they match the global perspective.

Metagame 2006

Welcome to the 2006 edition of the State of the Metagame series for DDM. This is the second year the Wizards site has hosted this four-part series in support of the Constructed Qualifier season. Brian Mackey, the DDM 2004 Constructed Champion, wrote the first series in 2005. His analysis stills provides interesting information and is worth reading. You can find links to that four-article series below.

My goal with this series is to present warband information that helps you decide what warband to bring to the Constructed Qualifiers this year. The warbands presented here should have the best overall odds of winning every match they face. This means sacrificing capability where the warband is already strong in exchange for adding capability to assist in matches against those warbands that are hard challenges or poor matchups. Of course, no warband wins by itself. All of this assumes skillful play on your part!

The warbands and ideas in this series are solid, but a warband is good for you only if it fits your play style and capability, and you have experience commanding it. Practice has no substitute. Develop your warband early and play with it a lot. Even a second-rate warband with which you have lots of experience and that you know intimately is a better choice than a 'top tier' warband that you assemble at the last minute.

Regardless of what choice you make, the actual warbands and players you end up facing at your qualifier will have the most impact on your success. No warband in DDM has great matchups against every other warband (which is a good thing because we don't all want to play the same warband). Your goal should be to find a warband you are comfortable with that has good or reasonable matchups against the opposition you expect to face. That's the proper way to play the metagame.

We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.

-- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

Jason Lioi, the DDM 2005 Constructed Champion, was unable to devote the time necessary to write this series for 2006, so the task fell on me. Although I am named as the author, this series of articles is the result of the collaborative effort of many of the best DDM players.

Some of those providing the most feedback include (with their board names) Guy Fullerton (guyf), Jesse Dean (doubtofbuddha), and Matt Hoskins (amish). Peer-reviewers included Marc Bolduc (labete), Francis Delisle (Phrank), Pat Ellis (PatEllis15), Chris Groves (ChristopherGroves), Patrick Hanberry (DaemonKain), Robert Hatch (Dagni), Jason Kean (millygoat), Peter Lee (Temperance), Jason Lioi (Fenris), Pat Lynch (lynchpt), Brian Mackey (Kiddoc), Sven Myrin (smyrin), Sam Santos (lalato), Brad Shugg (bshugg) aka Felipe Ortega (but who looks like a Brad Pitt/George Clooney hybrid), Dwayne Stupack (Tried), and the California Bay Area DDM Discussion group. Anyone benefiting from reading these articles should give thanks to all those who shared ideas and concepts prior to the qualifier season.

The information in this article is not just based on thousands of forum posts, emails, and league night conversations. Many games were played with these warbands by top players in both casual play and at tournaments. Those who reviewed this series shared the information in various databases they use to track results of every match they have information about. The collaboration that helped prepare this article will continue and result in a shared, comprehensive database and significant other content.

Using that data, I developed a table that calculates a warband's chances against other warbands. Sharing the table allowed it to grow through the combined efforts of many.

Because I am competing this year, you may wonder why I am writing this series and revealing these secrets. The real answer is can be found in the high standard of cooperation and sharing in the DDM community. My collaborators are many of the top DDM players, and they too are not shy about revealing information that could help others while impacting their own chances to win at qualifiers. The free flight and prestige of winning first in a qualifier is still something each of us wants. This sense of community and cooperation between all players is a big reason I love DDM.

Despite the general openness, in the weeks leading to the Constructed Championship, the top players will become more cagey and secretive (which only makes the game and the championship more interesting). Even with that slight secretiveness, you will still see most of the top DCI-ranked players continuing to post and share ideas on forums at maxminis.com and wizards.com.

The structure of this series is to present the most promising warbands, covering the following information for each: variations and alternatives, suggested map, how to play them, how to beat them, and a matchup comparison. Before discussing warbands in this first article, let's quickly review the currently available maps and the most basic strategies.

Map Selection

Which map to use could be an entire article by itself. Jason Lioi has already written some insightful articles specifically analyzing a few of the maps, and we hope to see more. See the links below for those articles.

Magma Keep
Mushroom Cavern
Hellspike Prison (Jason Lioi)
Hellspike Prison map pack (Rob Heinsoo)

The commentary below provides limited ideas regarding maps and current game conditions. They should help you decide which map matches the needs of your warband and counters the challenges of opposing warbands. You can choose a defensive map that minimizes your warband's weaknesses (Dragon Shrine map, for example). Remember that just because you bring a certain map does not mean you need to play on it. You can always choose to play on your opponent's map if you prefer.

The newest maps -- Dungeon of Blood, Kings Road, and Kings Castle I -- offer an opportunity to players who picked up early copies. In an early qualifier, your opponent may have little experience with a new map. This alone is not enough of a reason to choose one of these maps, but if the map complements your warband, it's one more point in your favor.

It's worth noting that most warbands in this series list the Dragon Shrine as the favored map. In a metagame filled with creatures that do elemental damage, the Dragon Shrine map provides critical leverage that can make the difference between a win and a loss. This capability is unmatched by most other maps. Unless you have a strong reason to choose another map, think very hard before turning down Dragon Shrine.

Broken Demongate: The key feature of this map is the difficulty of getting to a victory point area and the long lines of sight. This map provides significant opportunities for ranged warbands because of the line of sight down the main hallway and the ease of redeploying to cover the other approaches. Warbands that have flying beaters can often get unopposed charges against opponents at the main gate. Because of the limited access between the two sides, it is pretty easy to block the main gate if you have vulnerable but critical support.

Dragon Shrine: See comments in the introduction to this section for a strong suggestion to use this map as a defensive counter to the many warbands in the metagame which are impacted in a meaningful way by this map. Even if you loose side initiative against Chraal, Helmed Horror, or similar warbands, you should be able to get at least one creature of yours onto the appropriate area. Consider fighting the battle in that elemental defense area, if you can arrange it.

Drow Enclave: The key feature of this map is the summoning circle. If you have a warband that has summoning, consider using this map. Because few tournament warbands have summoners, I would be surprised to see this map at a tournament. If your key creatures are Speed 6 or less, this map does have engagement areas that you can fight in and from which your creatures will not rout off the board in one round, but your opponent's faster creatures could. Multiple large bases can fight reasonably well on this map, too.

Drow Outpost: Triple Helmed Horror warbands, especially those with the Rakshasa, and Soth Beholder warbands can benefit from this map, because enemy creatures can be slid into the pits (save or die, DC 15). While commonly seen as a map for Quad Chraal, opposing Rakshasa can significantly impact the match by sliding the Chraal into a pit or away from their commander, exposing it to destruction. The narrow bridge can allow you to protect vulnerable supporting creatures and score VP area points at the same time.

Dungeon of Blood: The line of sight opportunities on this map are quite good and present interesting opportunities for magic and ranged warbands, especially since the victory point areas are very exposed. One downside of this map is the prevalence of immune critical creatures in the metagame, which significantly diminishes the value of the Bloodrock. On the other hand, if you use mostly immune critical creatures, it might be worth looking at.

Fane of Lolth: This was the map for the 2005 Constructed Championship. If you played in that event, you probably have plenty of experience on this map. This familiarity could be used to your advantage. The map provides victory opportunities for most warbands and most strategies. On the downside, this map offers little unequal leverage to use against your opponent. Your opponents are likely to be familiar with this map.

Field of Ruin: This map provides surprisingly good lines of sight (LOS) despite all the debris on the map. Ranged warbands and skirmishing warbands can use that to advantage. The center victory point area provides better access for slower warbands than most maps. Non-fearless creatures are vulnerable because of the proximity of the exits to the engagement areas.

Hellspike Prision: The smoke dominating this map provides a competitive advantage for creatures with blindsight such as Lord Soth (first round abyssal blast), Helmed Horror, Grimlock Barbarian, and others. Creatures with Blindsight can charge through smoke, which is a significant advantage against creatures that cannot. The broad access this map provides allows warbands without vulnerable support to engage the vulnerable support of opposing warbands.

The Kings Road: The forest provides interesting cover opportunities for both melee and ranged warbands. Because forest provides cover, archers in the forest can move away from a basing enemy without receiving an attack of opportunity. Cover benefits high attack warbands and high AC warbands. Flyers are astoundingly mobile on the Kings Road, because they aren't slowed by difficult terrain and the cover lets them flit through enemy lines without receiving attacks of opportunity. Make sure to review the latest clarifications about forest terrain on Guy Fullerton's page.

Kings Castle I: This map provides opportunities for fast warbands because it offers the potential to block off access to the victory point areas. Because the VP areas are centrally located, wandering monsters will be in a useful location from the very beginning of the match.

Mithril Mines: Quad Chraal warbands need to protect the commander, and Mithril Mines provides one of the best maps for this purpose. Mithril Mines has a number of locations where a single large-base creature can prevent access (barring melee reach) to the protected commander. The ability to offensively use the minimum number of Chraals while protecting the commander, while swapping the Chraals around, makes this by far the best choice for Quad Chraal. The main downside of this map for Quad Chraal is the difficulty of keeping all the Chraals under command in some situations. Gauth and/or Beholder warbands can exploit this map's narrow approaches and quickly redeploy if the enemy uses another line of attack.

Magma Keep: This was the map for the 2005 Limited Championship. Like the Fane of Lolth map, you can benefit if you prepared for that event. The map provides victory opportunities for most warband types and most strategies. A nice thing about this map is the narrowness of key battle area and the ability of large-base titans to control that area. This map has some victory areas outside that key battle areas, so with some warbands and concepts (such as two titan warbands) you may have trouble accessing your victory point areas while preventing your opponent from getting victory area points.

Mushroom Cavern: The victory point areas in the gap between the two starting areas provide easy access for slower creatures. A fast warband that cuts off access to the VP areas has difficulty controlling how the engagement occurs. Warbands that have few extra creatures and need to fight near the victory point areas can use this map to avoid the VP area denial problems that are common common on several maps. Mushroom Cavern also diminishes differences in speed while still allowing reasonable protection of vulnerable support creatures. Burrowing and flying creatures provide great opportunities for outmaneuvering your opponent.

Teleport Temple: Even if you do not pick this map, you need to be prepared for it. Try to get a dozen or more matches on this map prior to attending a qualifier -- otherwise you may suffer some unpleasant surprises. Speed 8 and 10 creatures can take advantage of the teleporters from either setup location on the first round. Speed 6 creatures can be at a significant disadvantage if they get the side with all the teleporters more than 12 spaces away from the starting area. Initial setup on this map is more significant than on most maps, so be careful and plan ahead. For example, in some situations you may want to set up your creatures to be able to base opposing creatures who use the teleporters to reach your side of the map. With Speed 6 creatures, if you set up poorly, you might not be able to reach the enemy. The Teleport Temple also provides opportunities to withdraw and refuse combat with creatures that are near death.

Tomb of Queen Peregrine: Another good line of sight (LOS) map that's been mostly replaced by newer maps providing good LOS and limited access. A challenge with this map is protecting vulnerable supportting creatures and engaging far enough away from the exit to not rout off in a single round. Like Hellspike Prison, this map allows broad access to the supporting creatures of both players.

Regardless of which map you choose, the mantra remains the same: practice, practice, practice. Getting out-maneuvered or fireballed on the first round on your own map because of inexperience is not a growth opportunity you want to have.

Basic Strategies

Before we get to the warbands, let's cover three of the most basic strategies that will be discussed in this series. The main reason for bringing these up is so you can understand what is meant when I posit a particular match outcome by citing the strategy used to achieve that outcome. An example of what I mean is a Gith Monk warband against Quad Helmed Horror. The expected result is a win for the Helmed Horrors, but that could be altered by opportunistically killing only one Helmed Horror, then disengaging and pursuing a point denial strategy for the rest of the match (while still scoring victory area points).

All Out Attack/Offense: This strategy is pretty self-explanatory. Fundamentally, this warband prefers engaging and attacking with all creatures that can fight, holding little in reserve. Concentrting all your beaters able against your opponent's beaters one at a time, while limiting their ability to concentrate against your beaters, is the way to succeed with this strategy.

Point Denial/Turtling/Defense: This strategy hopes to limit losses through high AC, healing, and/or limited engagement. Often these warbands lack strong melee capabiliy and rely on their beaters and blockers to buy time for the rest of the warband to deliver the kills required to win. By limiting the number of points you give to your opponent, the points you need to win is also low and within the capabilities of your creatures with strong defenses. A defensive strategy can give creatures such as Beholders, archers, spellcasters, etc., enough time to eliminate the opposition. With point denial and turtling variations of the defensive strategy, you focus on killing a few creatures to generate a points lead, and stay unengaged and undamaged otherwise.

Hybrid/Opportunistic: Attack and defense strategies often have simpler execution than a hybrid or opportunistic strategy. When you're fully engaged in an all-out attack, you don't have a spare beater to seize opportunities or threaten surprise moves against opposing warbands. A defensive strategy that limits your exposure also limits your opportunities. The hybrid/opportunistic strategy relys on flexibility and dynamically changing your approach to the problem presented by this specific match.

Chaotic Good Warbands

The tournament warband choices for Lawful Good were limited a year ago, and the viable tournament warband choices for Chaotic Good are still limited now. At this time last year, CG transformed from "the consummate whipping gal" to "the belle of the ball."(1) Sadly, the party was short, the whip is out, and now CG lacks the attractiveness of the other factions. Does that mean a faction with plenty of interesting and competitive creatures and concepts no longer has a competitive place at tournaments? I hope not, and the best options of the community I talked to are offered below. Even so, the warbands below generally lack the competitiveness of the warbands in other factions. Take the challenge yourself and see what Chaotic Good warbands you can develop that can beat the best the other factions have to offer.

Archmage Warbands

Pat Ellis took third place with an Archmage warband at the New England Open in April. Archmage warbands have some advantages against titan warbands, and we are currently in titan era. (Titans are creatures with high cost, meaning you can only have one or two of them in your warband, as opposed to the more common situation of having three to five beaters in a warband.) Archmage warbands are one of the hardest warbands to play in DDM because the penalty for making even one mistake is often a match lost because of the loss of the Archmage.

Inspiring Marshal
Archmage
Half-Ogre Barbarian
Graycloak Ranger x3
Timber Wolf (minion) x3
Xeph Warrior
Total 200 points, 10 activations

Alternative Build 1 Alternative Build 2
Inspiring Marshal Cleric of Corellon Larethian
Archmage Archmage
Pegasus Pegasus
Graycloak Ranger x2 Graycloak Ranger x3
Timber Wolf (minions) x2 Timber Wolf (minions) x3
Xeph Warrior x2
Total 200 points, 10 activations Total 200 points, 9 activations

Suggested Map: The Kings Road because of the good LOS, forest cover, and limited approaches.

How to Play: The first, second, and third rules of Archmage warbands are, do not make mistakes -- especially not placement mistakes with the Archmage. You must have a plan! You will often need to make your moves in anticipation of where the enemy will be next round. During play, focus on using fodder and your beater to block access to your back field, where both the Archmage and the Inspiring Marshal will be sheltered. The Teleport Temple map magnifies the vulnerability of the Archmage. Careful use of the Inspiring Marshal's Grant Move Action can allow the Archmage to move, cast Mordenkainen's sword, move again, and then dimension door away, all in a two-activation sequence. Most Archmage strategies rely on having enough time for your Mordenkainen's swords to eliminate the target enemy creature, so another key part of winning is to play fast enough to complete enough rounds for the targeted creatures to be eliminated. If your opponent stalls or plays slowly, you must immediately ask the judge to help facilitate a reasonably full resolution for your match.

Despite the effectiveness of the two uses of Mordenkainen's swords, don't dismiss the Archmage's other spells. Banishment in particular is forgotten by many players. Common targets include the Tiefling Captain, Couatl, Rakshasa, Rikka, and the Githzerai Monk.

How to Beat It: Against most players, you only need to keep an eye out for any mistake, even a minor one. Mistakes involving the Archmage can allow you to base the Archmage and eliminate him. Most players who bring Archmage warbands to tournaments, however, are very skilled and will not make such mistakes. One of the best ways to beat players running Archmage warbands is to conduct an all-out attack, focusing all your efforts on eliminating (usually by basing) the Archmage. Play cautiously, but be ready to take a chance for a big payoff. Holding creatures back in an attempt to avoid ranged attacks or 15 damage from empowered magic missiles only plays into the Archmage's hands. Instead, expend your support creatures carefully to prevent your beaters from being targeted by the Archmage's spells and from absorbing attacks from the Archmage's support creatures so that your beaters can focus on eliminating the Archmage. All the points earned by the Archmage player for killing your support creatures will add up to less than the Archmage's cost, so don't be overly worried by being behind on points before you kill the Archmage.

Favorable Matchups: Aspect of Moradin Dual Justice, Rikka Snake Eye, MCB, Nentyar Ranged, Triple Justicator, HGB Dual Ravager

Neutral Matchups: Arcane Ballista, Shuluth Chraal, LE Quad, DS Dual HGB, TS Dual HGB, New LRB

Unfavorable Matchups: Beholder, GAS, Triple Frenzy, Quad Chraal, Triple Helmed Horror (Dark Naga or Rakshasa), Quad Helmed Horror, CE Quad

(Complete warband list with names for the 2006 series can be found at the D&D minis forum.)

Nentyar Ranged Warbands

Ranged warbands seem unable to win any tournaments. I am unaware of any ranged warband even doing well in major events. Because of this, prejudice remains strong against the tournament viability of ranged warbands. The arrival of the Hill Giant Barbarian raises the impact of the Graycloak Ranger, and the strong capabilities of the Steelheart Archer create interesting possibilities for new ranged warbands. The Nentyar Hunter version below tests reasonably well against some warbands but suffers against other, commonly seen, competitive warbands. Hybrid ranged warbands like this one have performed OK in the past, and another variation could again.

Nentyar Hunter
Steelheart Archer (SHA) x5
Centaur Hero
Total 200 points, 7 activations

Variations: Swap a couple Steelheart Archers (SHA) for Graycloak Rangers (GCR) and their Wolf or Timber Wolf minions.

Suggested Map: Broken Demongate, for its great LOS and the ability to snipe at unintentionally exposed enemy creatures.

How to Play: Against most warbands, the key goal is to use your ranged ability to put substantial damage on the enemy beaters. Normally you use the SHA (or GCR) to clear away the fodder covering the main targets and end their move within 6 squares of the Nentyar. Once a primary target is the closest target in sight of the Nentyar and most of your warband is within commander range of the Nentyar, you activate the Nentyar to shoot twice and allow her followers in range to also shoot. Because the Nentyar does not really need to hit with her attacks, the Centaur Hero can be out front as a blocker, as can the Steelheart Archers. Remember that the SHA fightreasonably well in melee, too, but they don't get the extra ranged attack from the Nentyar if based, so put them in melee only if you need to protect the Nentyar. Despite the Nentyar generally not getting to move, the rest of the warband can be very mobile to react to enemy moves and distract the enemy from engaging the Nentyar.

Manage the psychology of your opponent by emphasizing the ranged threat and difficulty of engagement. Lots of movement and a dynamic defense can discourage engagement by the enemy (because they cannot base or engage your entire, dispersed warband, they may feel they have no solution). Do whatever you can to encourage your opponent to be tentative and not attack all out. Watch for any opportunity to snipe enemy creatures that your opponent thought were out of LOS. Finally, make sure to earn victory area points if they will help you win the match.

How to Beat: Be careful in your use of cover, but close with the enemy quickly. Focus your efforts on the Nentyar Hunter. She is the key in this warband, and its firepower drops to dramatically if she stays based. If you have the Nentyar sufficiently engaged, try to maximize the number of archers based by your warband so they have difficulty concentrating their attacks.

Favorable Matchups: Moradin Dual JA, HGB Dual Ravager

Neutral Matchups: Arcane Ballista, Rikka Snake Eye, Triple Frenzy, LE Quad, DS Dual HGB, TC Dual HGB, New LRB

Unfavorable Matchups: GAS, MCB, Archmage, Quad Chraal, Triple HH, Quad HH, Triple Justicator, Shuluth Chraal

Frenzy Warbands

Inspired Frenzy (IF) Warbands dominated the metagame for a short time, and their threat had to be planned for even longer. (In the 12 activation era, a common IF build was the Inspiring Marshal, two Frenzied Berserkers, and Graycloak Rangers.) The arrival of the eight activation era opened the door for having three Frenzied Berserkers, which seems even better. Now the presence of the Hill Giant Barbarian (HGB) limits the viability of 50-point beaters in CG, especially the Frenzied Berserker. In a metagame with few well-run HGB warbands, Triple Frenzy warbands can have a (limited) competitive place.

Inspiring Marshal
Frenzied Berserker x3
Devis
Elf Warrior x2
Total 199 points, 7activations

Alternative Build
Warchanter
Frenzied Berserker x2
Warforged Barbarian
Elf Warrior x3
Catfolk
Total 200 points, 8 activations

Variation 1: Swap Wemic, Frenzied Berserker, and Warforged Barbarian as desired.

Variation 2: Drop leader for Rikka, Elf Pyromancer, Wizard Tactician, or archers.

Variation 3: Drop beater for two of Rikka, Elf Pyromancer, Wizard Tactician, or two archers

Suggested Map: Dragon Shrine as a default defensive choice

How to Play: Review Brian Mackey's article for tips on how to run IF. Triple Frenzy warbands are the most direct, action-oriented, in-your-face ones to play in DDM. The burnout of the Frenzied Berserkers does not allow for indecision or delays. Burnout for a Frenzied Berserker is very meaningful and significantly impacts the choices you have with the Berserkers. The main differences between how to play this warband compared to a year ago is the introduction of the Hill Giant Barbarian. You now must be very careful how you execute the Grant Move Action and FB attack. Because contact will occur on round 2 on most maps, and each HGB hit does 40 damage to a FB, you have to be careful to not let one of your Frenzied Berserkers get hit twice by an HGB before it activates -- and then dies immediately.

How to Beat: The main way to deal with the FB is to focus everything on killing one at a time. The more damage is distributed among the beaters of the warband, the longer each one survives to do damage to your warband. Because the AC of the FB is so low, calculations of how much effort will be required to kill one are pretty straightforward. A traditional strategy to deal with the Frenzied Berserker is to base each one you plan to not engage yet with a high damage fodder creature, such as a Wild Elf Raider, Quaggoth, Orc Warrior, etc. This is called 'egging', and the goal is to prevent the FB from moving to engage one of your beaters with the threat of a cheap, damaging attack of opportunity. You cannot rely on Burnout to provide significant leverage, but be aware of how much damage each Frenzied Berserker will automatically have in the current and upcoming rounds.

Favorable Matchups: Arcane Ballista, Archmage

Neutral Matchups: Moradin Dual JA, MCB, Nentyar Ranged, Triple Helmed Horror, Triple Justicator, TC Dual HGB, New LRB

Unfavorable Matchups: Rikka Snake Eye, GAS, Quad Chraal, Quad Helmed Horror, Shuluth Chraal, LE Quad, DS Dual HGB, HGB Dual Ravager

Additional Options

Before doing anything else, read the toolkit articles.

Leader Choices

Inspiring Marshal: The Grant Move Action (GMA) special ability of the Inspiring Marshal is one of the most compelling and competitive features for Chaotic Good. As the metagame has shifted toward beaters with high hit points and Fearless (or high enough levels to nearly be so), the effectiveness of GMA (once known as 'game winning action') has dropped. The strong performance and ubiquity of Inspired Frenzy warbands provided significant education on how to react to and play against the GMA. Despite all this, the Inspiring Marshal remains the most significant leader for Chaotic Good.

Warchanter: A newcomer to competitive play is the Warchanter. Prior to the Wardrums rule changes about leaders and movement, a single, fragile leader such as the Warchanter was not acceptable. The loss of a leader no longer has such a significant impact on winning a match, especially for a Triple Frenzy warband. Until the Warchanter is eliminated, the +4 save commander effect and the Improved Countersong special ability offset some of the problems with many Chaotic Good warbands. The Warchanter has significant capabilities and should be considered as an alternative to the Inspiring Marshal.

Beater Choices

Warforged Barbarian (WFBarb): As an alternative to the Frenzied Berserker, the Warforged Barbarian provides high AC (preventing it from being egged), DR, and (most importantly) Bloody Rage (automatic 5 damage). While that seems small, it can be the difference between forcing a morale check or not, or a figure living or dying. As a living construct, it has valuable immunities such as immune paralysis.

Wemic Barbarian: The main advantage the Wemic has over the FB is its large base. The Hill Giant Barbarian (HGB) is the bane of CG beater warbands, but the HGB does not get +2 to hit. large (or larger) bases. This might cause an attack to miss the Wemic that would have hit a medium or small figure. With the potential to become Fearless as well, the Wemic warrants consideration.

Celestial Pegasus: At only 32 points, you might be able to include two of these in place of one, more expensive, beater. With DR, Spell Resistance, immunities, flying, and high Speed, the Pegasus provides a lot of capability for reasonable cost. Smite Evil makes the damage of the Pegasus respectable, at least initially. Its high level and high HP make it decently resilient, too.

Tech Choices

Aramil, Adventurer: Aramil brings up to three uses of the key spell ray of enfeeblement, which significantly degrades most enemy beaters with no save. These three spells could also be magic missile for eliminating fodder or guaranteed damage. Sacrificing an effective offensive creature such as a heavy hitter or a Celestial Pegasus is not usually worth getting Aramil, but sometimes the discretionary points left over when building your warband allow including Aramil.

Healer: Sixty points of cure spells (15 x2) + (10 x3) can provide a round or more of extra life for a beater and allow that beater to deliver more victory points than the healer costs. The Healer also allows you to have some impact on the burnout of the Frenzied Berserker and mess up your opponent's calculations.

Devis, Half-Elf Bard: Provides Countersong to cancel beneficial commander effects from many commanders. Don' miss opportunities to have Devis provide flanks and attack enemy fodder.

Mialee, Elf Wizard: Provides a cheap magic weapon for one beater in your warband. With the prevalence of DR in the current metagame, the extra expense on one beater may still be worth it, especially since Mialee also has one magic missile and can grab victory area points.

Filler Choices

The Medium Astral Construct, Wild Elf Raider, Elf Warrior, and Xeph Warrior make good filler choices. Each has specific strengths for their cost. The Medium Astral Construct (MAC) is Fearless, has Speed 10, and 30 HP. This allows the more expensive MAC to more reliably seize and hold a victory point area and win battles against less costly fodder. The Wild Elf Raider (WER) is usually Fearless and has high damage (for CG filler.) The WER provides an inexpensive flanker and fodder/leader/support killer. The Elf Warrior provides ranged capability that can clear fodder and provides something useful to do with middle-round activations. The Xeph Warrior is cheap and fast, making it a great VP area grabber.

In Conclusion

Because of the challenges CG faces in tournaments, the warbands in this article may seem a bit weak. Take the challenge yourself and design a better Chaotic Good warband than those presented here. Post your results to the forums.

Worry not, though, because the warbands in the rest of the series have solid potential and could win a qualifier.

Treat this information as conventional wisdom, heavily slanted by my viewpoint, and definitely not the full spectrum of all competitive possibilities. This article series may skew what you see at the qualifier, but each qualifier will have a different mix of warbands. You will definitely see some interesting new ideas not covered in this series. Make your own choices. Use this information to assist the development of your warband and strategy, not to provide the final answers.

Regardless of what warband you take to a tournament, a key element of your success will be your experience with that warband, so decide early and practice as much as you can with that warband. Make sure to attend one (or more) qualifiers, since they are not only great fun but also an opportunity to meet other members of the community. Have good luck at your qualifier -- see the 2006 Constructed Qualifier Factsheet.

Endnotes

Brian Mackey (Kiddoc), Primer for the 2005 Tournament Season:
Chaotic Good
Chaotic Evil
Lawful Good
Lawful Evil

About the Author

Michael Derry (board name: derry) is a Wizards delegate, tournament organizer, and D&D Miniatures Senior Judge. He started the California DDM Open and the Western DDM Open. While seemingly a competitive player, he does a great job of earning DCI points at championships for his local players to farm. In his copious amounts of free time, he designs a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game focusing on social interaction within a complex, multi-layered society.


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