Morale has always been one of Chaotic Evil's biggest problems, often snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Traditional high speed, low save, 'beater' bands can run off the board almost before the morale save die stops rolling. The Orc Wardrummer not only minimizes this problem, it allows an astute Chaotic Evil player to turn morale from a deficit into a weapon. The 200-point warband Drum Beaters is one way to do that.
|Drum Beaters Warband
Ogre Ravager (DE, 38 pts)
Orc Champion (AF, 39 pts)
Orc Wardrummer (WD, 19 pts)
Orc Warrior x3 (Ha, 9 pts)
Red Samurai (DE, 40 pts)
Ryld Argith (Ab, 55 pts)
Dragon Shrine map
Total = 200 pts, 8 activations
Drum Beaters uses Ryld Argith's +8 initiative bonus to give it some specific advantages. First are map and side selection. Dragon Shrine is usually the best choice, but Teleport Temple and Hellspike Grotto are also good.
On Dragon Shrine, choose side A for your setup area (if given the choice). This forces your opponent to engage you closer to the exit squares, prevents him from getting fire resistance to protect against the Red Samurai, and gives your troops some protection against the Red Samurai's breath.
Place either the Red Samurai or Orc Champion so that they can reach a victory area on the first round. Place the Ogre Ravager and Ryld next, with a careful eye to where the battle is likely to take place. The idea is to have all four of your beaters reach the battlefield at roughly the same time.
Drum Beaters is a very aggressive warband. Close, attack, and deal damage as quickly as possible. With no ranged attacks or buff spells, there is no reason to be cautious and plenty of reason to keep your opponent from making ranged attacks and casting buff spells. Once you engage the enemy, keep the pressure on until his forces break.
On the first round, move the Red Samurai or Orc Champion into a nearby victory area. Follow up with an Orc Warrior to take their place on round 2. On Dragon Shrine, leave the Orc Wardrummer behind to get Fire Resistance 5 for your warband. On other maps, move him toward a safe location and/or victory area. He is key to the success of this warband and should be kept safe for most of the battle. Advance him only if you see a compelling need for his Countersong ability. In most situations, use his Intimidating Drumbeat on the first round. Advance the rest of your pieces quickly to engage the enemy as near his exit squares as possible. If the opponent's Speed 4 creatures must rout off the board without a chance to rally, this evens up the disadvantage fast creatures have when they rout.
The second round is likely to be the round of first engagement. The Red Samurai, Orc Champion, and Ogre Ravager, in that order, trade off decreasing attack bonuses for increasing damage. Which one is more important depends on your opponent. Against high AC creatures, the Red Samurai is most useful. Against high HP creatures, the Ogre Ravager is most useful. Keep all of this in mind when deciding which creatures to attack and which beaters are most expendable. Use your initiative advantage and strong damage output to force early morale saves on key enemy creatures. Because the Wardrummer used Intimidating Drumbeat the previous round, it is still active and makes routing much more likely. After you make your attacks, and it appears likely your opponent will force morale saves on your own creatures, activate the Wardrummer and switch to Resistance Drumbeat to give +8 (with Ryld) on your morale saves.
Ryld should be the last of your four beaters to bring in on the initial contact. You want him around until your other beaters make their morale saves. Set him up with flank attacks to maximize his damage potential. Use the Orc Warriors to grab terrain victory points, pick off enemy fodder, and create flank opportunities for Ryld and the Ogre Ravager. Use the Red Samurai's breath to clear away fodder and force morale saves on support pieces.
Against warbands that rely on one or two expensive creatures, such as giants and aspects, concentrate all of your attacks on one target until you have routed or destroyed it.
Important things to remember are:
- The Ogre Ravager's Aura of Fear stacks with Intimidating Drumbeat giving a -6 penalty to enemy morale saves. Position the Ravager to make best use of this when forcing those saves.
- The Ogre Ravager isn't a Humanoid, so it is the only follower in your warband that can't benefit from Ryld's commander effect.
- None of the creatures in this band have DR or high ACs and all can make good use of the bonuses (especially the Ogre Ravager and Orc Warriors) that Sacred Circles offer. Having two of them in a critical combat area is one of the reasons Dragon Shrine is the best map choice. Use these advantages as much as possible.
- The Ogre Ravager's Fire Resistance 10 greatly minimizes the effect of the Red Samurai's breath. This sometimes makes it the best choice for a target when using the breath.
- Because the Orc Champion's Cleave ability uses the same attack bonus that destroyed the previous enemy, pay attention to the HP of potential targets. It's better to score a kill with the higher attack bonus so that the Cleave attack has a greater chance of success. Against a target that needs two hits to kill, use the +8 attack first, then follow it up with the +13 attack.
- Deciding when to switch from Intimidating Drumbeat to Resistance Drumbeat is important to the tactics of the warband. Pay attention to when opposing creatures are likely to roll their morale saves and when yours are.
Strengths: Drum Beaters is strongest against low damage and low save warbands.
Weaknesses: Drum Beaters is weakest against warbands with a large number of very high AC creatures and/or Fearless creatures.
- To increase the speed and average attack rolls of this band, replace the Ogre Ravager and Red Samurai with two Orc Champions.
- To add more 'fire' power, replace the Ogre Ravager and Red Samurai with two Redspawn Firebelchers.
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About the Author
Bill W. Baldwin lives on the Space Coast of Florida with his gaming family of a wife, two daughters, and assorted pets. He started playing D&D in 1974 and was a wargamer and miniatures gamer even before that. Bill has been published in Dragon magazine and does freelance work for Wizards of the Coast.