D&D Miniatures02/28/2008

Know the Terrain
2008 Limited Championship Maps

The 2008 Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Limited Championship will be held at the D&D Experience in Arlington, Virginia, and $5,000 in cash is up for grabs!

If you're there right now, then good luck in the competition. We know that not everyone can make the pilgrimage, however, so here is some analysis of the maps that will be used as consolation for all of you stuck at home, or work, or in school.

Whenever building a warband, map choice is a crucial decision as the right map can make or break a warband. Talk to any competitive player and they will tell you that winning map initiative is the single most important roll of the game and can dramatically swing the balance of a match. To equalize the far-reaching consequences of that one dice roll, map choices for the championship are preset -- each round, everyone will play on the same map. For the 2008 Limited Championships, the maps are:

Round 1: Market Square
Round 2: Frostfell Rift
Round 3: Ratfang Sewers
Round 4: Hailstorm Keep
Round 5: Market Square
Round 6: Frostfell Rift
Round 7: Ratfang Sewers
Round 8: Hailstorm Keep
Top 8: Jungle Temple

The Limited Championship is a 200-point Assault sealed pack format (2 sealed Desert of Desolation booster packs per player). After round 4, all the players will be given two new sealed Desert of Desolation booster packs to build a new warband. The top 8 will be a booster draft (2 Desert of Desolation booster packs per player). The Top 8 players after the swiss rounds will play single elimination until only one player is left standing, the Champion!

Each map will be played twice during the swiss rounds (once per sealed build). This article looks at the maps that will be used for this event.

Market Square

Size: 21" x 30"
Terrain: Difficult, Market Stall, Statue, Wall
Released: D&D Fantastic Locations -- City of Peril, March 2007

A bit of trivia: The Market Square map was also used for the 2007 Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Constructed Championships and is the only map from that event making a return to the Limited Championships.

Market Stall Terrain: Market Stalls are similar to forest with two major differences. First, market stalls do not provide cover. Second, they block line of effect. That's right -- a tree won't block a lightning bolt, but some poor merchant's place of business will. The DDM Errata/FAQ file has the latest wording on how this terrain works (see Market Square, Market Stall). Be sure to read and understand it before playing!

Statue Terrain: The Animated Statue has one friend here, conveniently located near both victory areas. Get as much use out of him as you can on this map because, until the Jungle Temple map in the Top 8, you won't see any other statues.

Start Areas: Both sides have two large start areas on their edges of the map. This allows for careful positioning of creatures and for multiple large bases. Either start area should be big enough to hold most or all of your warband. It is possible to gain first-round line of sight between portions of the A and B start areas, so careful positioning is needed to prevent early losses. The larger of the start areas for Side A contains difficult terrain, so be careful when setting up to avoid stalling your creatures unnecessarily.

Victory Areas: Only two small victory areas are marked near the center of the map, one for each side. They are separated by a large statue and market squares which prevent 'the' wandering monster (Gelatinous Cube) from easily accessing the opposite victory area. Both victory areas are bordered by Market Stalls that provide protection to creatures occupying the victory areas.

Exits: Both sides have a three-square exit area abutting one of their start areas. It's a good idea to not place any creatures in the start area near your exit squares if you are concerned about their ability to make morale saves because of the possibility of first-round attacks targeting your start area.

Main Contact/Combat Area: The two centrally-located victory areas are where most, if not all, combat will occur as both sides vie for control over these small but enclosed areas.

Frostfell Rift

Size: 21" x 30"
Terrain: Difficult, Pits, Slippery Surface, Walls
Released: D&D Fantastic Locations -- The Frostfell Rift, December 2006

Pits and Slippery Surface Terrain: These two terrain features heavily channel where creatures fight on this map. The risk of falling into a pit is critical. High-level creatures are treasured, because they are less likely to fall. Creatures that can push enemies (the Elf Conjurer, Dwarf Bully, and Ogre Brute for example) are highly valued. Be aware that if your creature is pushed into a pit and makes its save, it can exit the pit to the closest legal square. If there's more than one closest legal square … that presents options, doesn't it? Flying creatures have a distinct advantage on this map, because they can fly over pits. Be sure to check the Errata/FAQ for the latest wording on slippery surface.

Start Areas: Both sides have three start areas on their edges of the map with one large area and two smaller areas. As the smaller areas are only 3 x 2 squares for both sides, only one large creature can be positioned in each. Both of Side A's smaller start areas can easily gain first-round line of sight to Side B's larger start area, so careful setup is required for Side B. You don't want to make any slipups in positioning!

Victory Areas: The map has five victory areas, two for each side and one shared. All victory areas are adjacent to pits and contain slippery surface. Occupying victory areas on this map is a risky exercise! All the victory areas are exposed. Creatures have little to no chance to hide or get cover while occupying them.

Exits: Both sides have exits located in their larger start areas. This is an issue for Side B, because its larger start area is exposed to potential first-round line-of-sight effects. The pits channel movement such that any creature failing its morale check has a high probability of being forced to run past enemies and taking attacks of opportunity along the way.

Main Contact/Combat Areas: Range-based warbands can find good lines of sight, allowing them to hang back near their start areas and pepper foes as they approach. Both sides have a sniper platform near their start areas that force enemies to run the long way around to gain access; non-flying foes, at least. Melee often takes place on or near the shared victory area, as it is the closest victory area for both sides.

Ratfang Sewers

Size: 21" x 30"
Terrain: Difficult, Sewage, Secret Doors, Walls
Released: D&D Fantastic Locations -- City of Peril, March 2007

Sewage Terrain: Well, this stinks -- literally! Only non-living creatures do not suffer a penalty from sewage (the Animated Statue, Boneshard Skeleton, Guardian Mummy, and Ravenous Ghoul in this case). Watch out for the small rivulets of sewage as they pour into the sewars -- as the artwork crosses the center of their squares, they stink just as bad and are treated as sewage squares as well. Positioning is vital on this map, with players trying to avoid placing their living creatures on sewage wherever possible.

Secret Door Terrain: Secret doors are a boon on this level, because they prevent line-of-sight attacks into starting areas. Remember that a creature can always move through a secret door, it just can't end in one.

Start Areas: Both sides have two start areas on their edges of the map enclosed by walls and secret doors. All the start areas are relatively large, so you should be able to place most or all of your creatures in a single start area.

Victory Areas: This map has only two victory areas, and both of them are completely filled with sewage! Why anyone would consider these areas strategically important is beyond me, but it is not for me to question, it's for you to conquer. Both victory areas are within easy striking distance of the enemy's start areas. Count on your creatures having to wade through sewage in order to claim those muck-crusted victory points. Don't expect them to thank you for it!

Exits: Both exits are small (just 3 squares) and are located between each side's start areas. Given the small amount of difficult terrain on this map and the relative ease of access to the exits, high-speed creatures are frequently able flee the sewers immediately if they fail their morale checks.

Main Contact/Combat Areas: The two victory areas and the difficult-terrain chokepoint between them are where the majority of combat takes place. Be ready to get down and dirty on this battle map!

Hailstorm Tower

Size: 21" x 30"
Terrain: Difficult, Sacred Circle, Walls
Released: D&D Fantastic Locations -- The Frostfell Rift, December 2006

Sacred Circle Terrain: Given that the only sources of magic weapon or magic fang are from the Yuan-Ti Malison and the Snaketongue Cultist, this sacred circle can prove to be very valuable. The +2 bonus to hit is nothing to sneeze at, either (unless your creatures picked up a cold on their way to this location).

Start Areas: Both sides have two start areas on the edges of their side of the map, but these are smaller than on most other maps. All the start areas are only two squares deep except for one of Side A's start areas, and that is tucked behind walls and away from the action. Warbands with multiple large creatures will have a hard time setting up on this map. An odd corollary to this, however, is that they have a greater chance of overflowing their start areas and thus being allowed to set up adjacent to but outside a start area, putting them closer to the action. Side B has an advantage in that it can gain first-round line of sight from its right start area to Side A's left start area very easily! Watch out!

Victory Areas: This map is slightly unusual in that neither side has its own victory area. Two central, shared victory areas must suffice. Creatures from both sides must prize the relative warmth of the indoors, and no one wants to be left out in the cold. A massive sacred circle (4 x 4 squares) comprises the first victory area. A smaller victory area sits against the map edge. It is almost impossible to hide from line-of-sight effects and attacks between the two areas. Both are difficult to get to, given the amount of difficult terrain and long paths from start areas. Flying creatures will earn their keep on this map.

Exits: The exit areas are on opposite sides of the map from each other. If there is one small blessing, it's that it takes so long to move to the victory areas that creatures fleeing from battle are unlikely to make it off the map in a single go, giving commanders a potential opportunity to rally the troops. On the other hand, the preponderance of walls creates a high risk that routing creatures will be out of command. Side B's exit area is a little closer to the victory areas where the majority of combat takes place, creating a slightly higher risk that Side B's creatures will rout off the map in a single sprint.

Main Contact/Combat Areas: The victory areas, especially the main one with the Sacred Circle, are likely point of contact for melee. There are plenty of walls for creatures to hide and snipe from, so be prepared for that as well.

Jungle Temple

Size: 22" x 34"
Terrain: Blood Rock, Difficult, Forest, Healing Font, Statues, Walls
Released: D&D Miniatures Game Starter Set, April 2008

The top eight players from the swiss rounds will advance to the final three single-elimination rounds. The map that has been announced is the Jungle Temple map from the new D&D Miniatures Starter Set. This map depicts the forest reclaiming an ancient, blood-soaked altar of the Yuan-Ti. We don't want to give away too much, so if you can't come and see the map at the championship, you'll have to wait until it's revealed online!

About the Author

Jason Sallay lives in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) with his wife Carolyn and two young boys. He first started playing D&D in 1987 and hasn't stopped since. He works in the IT industry in desktop support. Jason originally started collecting D&D Miniatures for his tabletop game and then began playing the D&D Miniatures game "to get more use out of them."

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