Occasionally, we feel the need to revisit past miniatures. Sometimes it's because we want to see a creature updated, such as the Hill Giants we included in War Drums (after the first introduction of the Hill Giant in the Archfiends set). Other times, we see a specific role in the skirmish game that we'd like to provide new options to fill. We know that certain types of creatures are common to a majority of D&D games, and we also know that we continue to get new players involved in D&D Miniatures, either as skirmishers, role-players, or both. We want to provide those new players with those standard options for their games.
This week we look at both types of updating with an Uncommon and a Rare miniature from the upcoming Unhallowed expansion.
Vampire Dire Wolf
It's been a couple years since the Dire Wolf made its debut in Giants of Legend. As one of the more commonly used monsters in the D&D game, we knew that we'd need to provide a new version. The name of the miniature might include Vampire, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't fit in perfectly as a normal Dire Wolf.
Players frequently comment that they'd like monsters that normally appear in groups to be easier to collect. Because Dire Wolves are typically pack animals, we followed this logic and made an effort to include this version of the Dire Wolf as an Uncommon miniature instead of the previous Dire Wolf's Rare status. We can't do that with every creature that might appear in groups, but rest assured that such concepts are definitely considered throughout our process.
In the skirmish game, the Vampire Dire Wolf provides a very fast, undead beatstick with a solid attack at +14 for 25 magic damage. Its Damage Reduction and Life Drain abilities extend its hit points beyond the seemingly low starting number of 75. Throw in a couple of resistances to cold and electricity and one attempt at a Stunning Attack (our way of implementing the wolf's trip attack), and you have a serviceable hitter in your Chaotic Evil warband. Undead makes it Fearless, which means its level of 6 doesn't hurt it so much, though it tends to run off the board when faced with a Turn Undead attempt -- keep a few expendable undead in front of it when facing enemy clerics.
Presented as an upgraded werewolf in the Monster Manual, the Werewolf Lord is the result of adding a dire wolf into the lycanthrope template. He also fits well into the horror pseudo-theme represented in the Unhallowed set. This miniature is Large and in charge, representing the hybrid form of the creature, ready to rip open his next unsuspecting victim.
Mechanically, the Werewolf Lord revisits one of Chaotic Evil's more popular (in its day) hitter/commander combos -- the Eye of Gruumsh (from the second D&D minis expansion, Dragoneye). Like the Eye, the Werewolf Lord is a melee monster, with two attacks at +15 that can each deal 25 damage. They are both fast, moving up to 8 squares, though the Large size of the Werewolf Lord will limit its maneuverability. The Eye had Immune Flanking, but this lycanthrope has DR 5 and a few extra hit points. The Eye's popular commander effect (orcs get +5 damage) is probably still better than the Werewolf Lord's, which gives its own Bloodlust to animals and shapechangers. Because of that difference, the two suggest slightly different warband builds. With Blind-Fight and Cleave, the Werewolf Lord is distinctly better than the Eye in a toe-to-toe fight -- one could say about 20% better, because that's how much more he costs to put in your warband. Despite these differences, I think the Werewolf provides a slightly different look at the same core concept upon which the Eye of Gruumsh was built.
Will the days of the beater-commander return? Time will tell, but one thing that is certain is that Chaotic Evil has another intriguing choice. Oh, yeah -- Bloodlust makes a creature Fearless if it destroys an enemy with a melee attack. In case you were wondering.
Next week, we'll highlight a possession that should really grip you.
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.