The Art of Warbands07/08/2004


Faerie Fire



Faerie Fire
1x Centaur
1x Devis, Half-Elf Bard
1x Elf Pyromancer
1x Vadania, Half-Elf Druid
4x Wolf
Rubble Assembly Tile
Rubble Room
Mushroom Tangle
Shrine

At first glance, the Chaotic Good faction in the D&D Miniatures game may appear to be one of the weakest in the game. That's an illusion to trap the inexperienced. While CG should not wade straight into the fray and stand toe-to-toe with some of the other factions' big boys, it makes up for this shortcoming with versatility from spells, speed, and arrows. One 100-point warband that exemplifies all three of these strengths is Faerie Fire.

Let's examine this warband's creatures.

Vadania

Vadania is one of the more under-appreciated commanders. She's not as powerful as the Moon Elf Fighter or as impressive as the Copper Samurai, but her spells and Beastmaster ability make her a deceptively good buy.

Strengths: Vadania's best spell is cat's grace, which is most effective when cast on a strong, versatile archer such as the Halfling Outrider or Copper Samurai. Do not overlook her produce flame spell -- it is almost as good as a magic missile. It should be used to force a morale check on weakened units or to pick off a screening unit that is blocking your better ranged attackers from a good target. Beastmaster, however, is Vadania's most useful ability. It will be discussed further when we get to the Wolf.

Weaknesses: Vadania's primary weakness is her minimal combat ability. She can't stand much of a fight. Don't throw her into melee until she has cast most of her spells, especially flame blade. Her commander rating is low, but having a large Warband helps make up for frequent initiative losses. One final weakness to keep in mind is Vadania's slow speed. If she casts spells while moving, she will fall behind the rest of your warband.

Elf Pyromancer

Offensively impressive, the Elf Pyromancer can be tricky to play because of some quirks in the D&D Miniatures rules.

Strengths: First and foremost, the Pyromancer's most obvious strength is his fireball spell. This spell can win or lose a game by its usage -- remember that you can only target the nearest enemy or ally with it. The pyromancer's other offensive spells are also effective but only at close range. Use lesser fire orb to pick off weak creatures that are getting too close and scorching ray to force morale saves on tough opponents.

Weaknesses: The last thing the Elf Pyromancer wants to do is get dragged into melee. If you can't rescue him with your other creatures, his best option is usually to risk an attack of opportunity and withdraw to cast a spell, though this is obviously never a pleasant choice. It is critical to always protect him. Cover is very important to the pyromancer -- he can cast spells as long as he has it. The second-to-last thing the Elf Pyromancer wants is to see creatures immune or resistant to fire in the opposing warband. Your saving grace here is that most warbands don't consist wholly of fire resistant creatures, and the pyromancer's resist elements and protection from elements spells will help the rest of your warband survive fire and other energy-based attacks from the enemy.

Centaur

The Centaur is a good multifunction figure that can be very effective.

Strengths: The Centaur's biggest strengths are speed and a powerful ranged attack. These combine to make a deadly archer that is hard for the enemy to catch. The Centaur is also respectable in melee, and a 20-square charge can ruin a spell caster's or weak commander's day.

Weaknesses: Only the Centaur's low Armor Class and Hit Points prevent him from being a truly universal creature. When bolstered by such spells as cat's grace, magic weapon, bless, or especially blur, the Centaur holds its own in melee against most other creatures in its price range.

Devis, Half-Elf Bard

Point for point, Devis is one of the most versatile creatures in the D&D Miniatures game. He should never be overlooked in a CG Warband with six points to spend.

Strengths: As noted, Devis is cheap and versatile. His relatively high AC and HP make him a good screener for more expensive troops. His cure light wounds spell is good for bolstering creatures that are suffering from ranged attack attrition. Lesser confusion can slow down weak and moderate strength units; if cast on an enemy commander, it can put the entire opposing warband out of command for a turn. Best of all is Devis's Counter Song ability. Many warbands are built around commander effects, so negating those effects can cripple such warbands.

Weaknesses: Devis's primary weakness is that he must get close to use his abilities, so he will die quickly unless protected. Unless nullifying the enemy commander's effect is crucial to success, Devis should be considered an important but expendable part of your warband.

Wolf

The Wolf doesn't look like much of a buy with its Difficult 20 ability, but in a warband with a Beastmaster, it becomes one of the most cost-effective creatures in the game. Remember that the Beastmaster ability completely negates the Difficult ability of creatures it affects as long as the Beastmaster is in your warband. This allows Difficult creatures to be put under command normally (even by a non-Beastmaster commander) and still lets them rush when out of command.

Strengths: The Wolf's biggest advantage is its speed. Being able to move 10 and still attack means that flanking is not difficult. Being able to move 20 lets it catch unwary opponents in the process of positioning troops. The Wolf's low cost means you can bring lots of them to bear on a single creature very quickly. Further, its Stunning Attack should not be overlooked, because it can delay an enemy spellcaster or commander enough to gain local advantages.

Weaknesses: Outside of its Difficult 20 when not teamed with a Beastmaster, the Wolf's primary weakness is its low AC and HP. This relegates it to the role of a screen for your more powerful units. The wolf's short lifespan also means that you want to use its Stunning Attack as soon as possible -- preferably on a charge where it has the most chance of success.

Setup

Place the Mushroom Tangle in front of your opponent's starting tile to slow him down while providing a clear line of sight. Place the Rubble tile in the middle of the board or in your opponent's area to slow him down and give him minimal cover. Place the Shrine near the back of your side to bolster your attacks and counter DR, and face the long-walled side toward your opponent to make the area more defensible. Unless you are up against a ranged attacker, you want the enemy to come to you. The idea is to give yourself a defensive position with a clear field of fire.

Set up most of your creatures on the outside rubble of the assembly tile, with at least two wolves closer to the enemy than either Vadania or the Elf Pyromancer. Place the Centaur so that it can quickly move to the Shrine, and place Vadania adjacent to him. If at all possible, you want the Elf Pyromancer in a position that allows him to cast his fireball at the enemy assembly tile on the first turn of the game.

Tactics

Casting the Elf Pyromancer's fireball early is crucial. If you haven't cast it by the third turn of the game, you probably won't get to cast it at all. If the Pyromancer can cast his fireball on the enemy assembly tile in the first phase of the game, he will probably catch the entire enemy warband, especially if your opponent wasn't paying attention during his own setup. If the enemy uses cheap screeners to prevent you from targeting the fireball optimally, your best tactic may be to run one of the Wolves into the middle of the enemy, make sure that Wolf is the closest visible ally to the Pyromancer, then target it instead of an enemy creature. You will lose the Wolf unless you had a chance to cast resist elements or protection from elements on it, but it is an excellent sacrifice if you catch the majority of your opponent's warband with the fireball.

Have Vadania cast cat's grace on the Centaur, then move the Centaur out to the Shrine immediately to start sniping at the (we hope) fireball-weakened enemy units. The Centaur's speed should guarantee a shot with him every turn. Save Vadania's produce flame spell until it can force a crucial morale check or remove a single screening unit that prevents the Elf Pyromancer or Centaur from attacking juicier targets. If you have the time, bolster some of the Wolves with magic fang, but make sure those Wolves end their turn next to Vadania. That way they can move off fully once she has cast the spell.

Use the Wolves and Devis to screen your other creatures. If your opponent leaves a vital but weak unit open while moving, use the speedy Wolves to rush in and make him pay for that mistake. Always leave one or two behind for protection.

The first few turns of the game are important to Faerie Fire. If you haven't noticeably weakened your opponent's Warband by the time it closes, you are unlikely to win. If you can eliminate the enemy commander early, this will slow down the enemy and give you more time. Once the enemy closes, protect Vadania and the Elf Pyromancer with your Wolves, Devis, and the Centaur. Take advantage of the Wolves' and Centaur's speed to set up flanking attacks or to bypass your enemy's screeners and go straight for his commander.

When the opposition includes strong ranged attackers, close with the Wolves and Centaur as soon as possible. When fighting small warbands with a few tough creatures, avoid melee as long as possible. Slow down the enemy by sacrificing some of your Wolves. When facing high AC enemies, you must rely on spells to win.

Strengths:Faerie Fire is very effective against warbands that use swarms of weak creatures, ranged attackers, slow-moving creatures, and creatures vulnerable to fire.

Weaknesses:Faerie Fire is weakest against warbands with fast-moving, high saving throw creatures such as monks and creatures with fire resistance or immunity.

Variations

  • To slightly increase the melee punch of this warband, replace Devis with an Elf Spearguard or Regdar, Human Fighter, or replace the Centaur with the Xeph Soulknife.

  • To increase the speed of this Warband, replace Devis with an additional Wolf.

  • To increase the number of screeners you have in this warband, replace Devis with two Gnome Recruits (this will slow you down slightly).

  • To increase your melee punch and ability to defend against ranged attacks, replace Devis and a Wolf with the Thri-Kreen Warrior (this will decrease your number of screeners).

Copy and paste the following into our Warband Generator.
100,Faerie Fire,2,12,8,17,20,22,29,37,37,37,37,4,3,4,5,9,''
Or launch Faerie Fire in our online Warband Generator.

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.

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