Since the first expansion to the D&D Miniatures Game, we've tried to continually enhance gameplay, not only in our premier, 200-point constructed format but also in Limited events such as draft or sealed events. When examining the Limited format, we realized the significance of commanders -- primarily because two randomly selected boosters would frequently not contain a commander or would have only one who wasn't useful with the other figures. Some of the changes introduced in the War Drums set, such as the elimination of the "speed 2 when out of command" rule, helped to alleviate this issue. At the same time, War Drums boosters were packaged in such a way that every booster should yield a commander as one of its three uncommon miniatures.
For the next D&D Miniatures set, we're taking this a step further. Starting with Blood War, the sets are arranged so that each booster will contain a commander as one of its Common minis. Each of these common commanders are a reasonable choice for leading a Limited warband if you didn't pull or draft one of the half-dozen other Uncommon or Rare commanders. Each Common commander also has the Willing to Follow ability, allowing them to benefit from the commander effects of other commanders in your warband. This, combined with their relatively low point costs (25-27), make these three useful in more than just your local Prerelease event.
But enough of my blathering about commanders -- on with the blathering about this week's minis!
Our Lawful Good entry was inspired by much of the art of the Harmonium factioneers of the 2nd edition D&D Planescape setting. Given the planar war theme of the set, Blood War is an opportune time for us to throw a bone to the planewalkers among our fanbase.
The Harmonium Guard simply wants everyone to get along, and he'll use charm person to enforce it if he must. Canny skirmish players will note that the word "Guard" in this mini's name makes him an interesting choice to pair with another low-cost LG commander -- the Village Priest from Angelfire. Through a combination of spells and commander effect, the Village Priest could raise the Guard's attacks to +17/+12 without flanking and his save to +10. The Harmonium Guard's only real disadvantage is his low speed of 4 squares per turn. A key component of our Lawful Good faction flavor is high AC, which we capture by giving the Harmonium Guard a commander effect that grants a +1 bonus to AC, or +3 if the follower hasn't yet activated during the current round.
Free League Ranger
It should be pretty clear where the art concept for this archer came from -- the Free League Ranger will make an excellent proxy for a certain half-elven ranger until we get a proper Unique out there.
The Free League Ranger provides your opponent a disincentive to keeping everyone under command, because his commander effect grants followers a +2 bonus against any creature that is under command. He also has a +10 ranged attack of his own that can hit a Lawful Outsider for up to 15 magic damage (thanks to Lawful Foe and Outsider Foe). With his fast speed, he should be able to choose his shots, while his Initiative Surge ability (+4 to Initiative once during the game) helps him reposition if he's overextended at the end of a round.
Another Planescape-inspired mini, the Doomguard is a great stand-in for any dual weapon-wielding rogue type. She's either ready to either carve the turkey or carve some enemies.
Of the three common commanders, the Doomguard may be best suited for dishing out damage -- if she can find a nice, soft target. Though she inflicts a respectable 10 damage per hit, she's even more dangerous when she connects with both of her swings, because her Rend ability adds another 10 damage to the second slice.
The Doomguard maintain that everything is moving steadily toward ultimate destruction, and the Doomguard miniature's commander effect promotes that concept by speeding along the injured to their inevitable conclusion -- followers gain +5 damage against wounded creatures. This means that two Doomguards working together could deal up to 80 points of damage in a round without crits!
Next up? -- Something's been bugging me for the past few weeks. We'll see what I can do about it in the next preview. Until then, knock yourself out ID-ing this guy.
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer in RPG/Minis R&D, Lead Developer for the D&D Miniatures Game, and has worked on a variety of D&D game products, including Monster Manual IV, Tome of Battle, and Magic Item Compendium. He is the author of the upcoming Eberron super-adventure Eyes of the Lich Queen.