War of the Dragon Queen builds on the 500-point skirmish game known as Epic play. What's Epic play, you ask? Some background …
When we first set out to include Huge minis in a D&D Miniatures expansion, we were already up against a point-cost ceiling established by previous minis. For example, the Large Silver Dragon (from the Archfiends expansion) came very close to hitting the 140-point cap for a single mini in a warband, but we knew that the Huge Gold Dragon (in the Giants of Legend set) needed to feel significantly better and more powerful. Not only is the Huge Gold bigger than the Silver, but Gold is higher on the metallic dragon hierarchy. The Huge Gold needed to occupy a space significantly higher than just 140 points.
So when the first Huge set, Giants of Legend, was released, we introduced a new format called Extreme!!!! (maybe it didn't have all the exclamation points). The point limit for such games was raised to 500, and we statted many of the Huges with that game in mind.
The problem was, there wasn't much variety to initial Extreme matchups -- or at least, not as much variety as in the continually expanding D&D minis game. So we began adding more creatures to the 500-point 'gamespace', starting with creatures that appeared in the Underdark expansion. The normal creatures could be used in any game, but the Epic versions of these creatures were playable in 500-point games. Now every set has Epic versions of some of the more powerful minis, and some older sets have received Epic cards for a few of their creatures (these cards are available as handouts in league kits at retail stores and can be downloaded from our website). As more and more Epics become available, the 500-point game will become a more diverse playing environment, which increases the amount of fun for those involved.
In War of the Dragon Queen, every Huge mini you pull from a booster has an Epic stat card and is playable in 500-point Epic games. In addition, we've included Epic versions for a quartet of medium and large minis in the set. These Epics give you a sense of how powerful the creatures could be in a typical D&D game. Two such Epics are on display here.
Tordek, Dwarf Champion
If you happen to have an Epic Level Handbook in your D&D collection, open it up and turn to page 11. There you'll see the inspiration for Tordek's new look. Pretty much every detail is captured, from the dragon emblem on the shield to the brilliant energy blade of Tordek's battleaxe.
Epic Tordek is mighty. Of course, for nearly half of your 500-point warband's cost, he should be. This guy eats Hill Giant Barbarians for breakfast, with an effective 31 AC against attacks from Giants and an amazing 50 damage per swing twice a round (three times if he cleaves). While the damage might be elementally enhanced, it's still very good. His level of 14 is enough to ensure that with some commander aid, he'll not run off the board once he takes the 135 points of damage needed to provoke a morale save -- though he isn't immune to the Auras of Fear that some of Huges bring to the table.
The non-Epic version of Tordek, Dwarf Champion brings another upper-mid-range beater to the Lawful Good faction. As 30 percent of your warband, Tordek provides accurate attacks (for 20 total damage each), a solid 22 AC (even better against giants), and a three-digit hit point total. He still swings his brilliant energy battleaxe, providing comfort to those who complain about missing too many Incorporeal rolls. Another item in Tordek's gear helps make up for the biggest drawback to dwarves -- he wears boots of striding and springing which boost his Speed to a pedestrian 6 squares.
This creature comes from the pages of Monster Manual III. The slaughterstone constructs were originally exemplars of a combination of dwarven craftsmanship and magical power. The body of the eviscerator is crafted from a single block of stone, and four deadly blades are poised and ready to strike.
The Epic Slaughterstone Eviscerator lives up to its name, as it swings with each of its four whirling blades each round, providing up to 60 points of damage to its unfortunate target. A target, by the way, that can be up to 5 squares away at the start of its turn, thanks to the Eviscerator's Melee Reach and a new ability called Enhanced Mobility 3, which lets the Eviscerator move up to 3 squares and still make all of its melee attacks. It might take a while for the damage to add up, but with DR, fearlessness, and the other construct traits, coupled with Resist 10 to all but sonic energy, the Slaughterstone Eviscerator will stick around long enough to significantly affect the battle.
For 200-point play, the Slaughterstone Eviscerator has a home in dwarf bands, especially since it requires a dwarf commander (unless you're playing a Limited game). There are plenty of reasonable choices for that commander, with dwarves such as the Battle Plate Marshall from Underdark or the Aspect of or Warpriest of Moradin from War Drums. Ponying up 36 points for a 55-hp construct with four attacks isn't bad, and the creature keeps most of its abilities from the Epic version. Only three other LG faction minis at that point cost or lower have the potential to inflict 40 points of damage in a single round (barring critical hits) with an unassisted, full attack.
That's it for this week. Next week: Yth vor darastrix!
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!