Chaos Kiln Warband
1x Clay Golem
1x Drow Sergeant
1x Large Red Dragon
8x Orc Warriors
1x Tiefling Captain
Rubble Assembly Tile
Red Dragon ... these two words have struck fear and exhilaration into the hearts of D&D players for three decades. For those trying to recapture that feeling in D&D Miniatures, it's tricky to make a good warband around a single creature that takes up 83 of those precious warband building points. Plenty of possibilities open up, however, in 200-point play.
Chaos Kiln is a 200-point warband designed to take advantage of the Large Red Dragon's strengths.
If you win terrain initiative, place the Rubble Assembly Tile against the long edge of the board to minimize the starting distance to your opponent. Your opponent might try to slow down the Clay Golem by placing a Mushroom Tangle in front of the closest exit from your tile; if you can, preempt this by placing one of your own tiles there first. If your opponent beats you to the punch ... well, that's why you're using a starting tile with two exits.
Place the Abattoir where you think the main battle will be fought. This is usually near the middle of the map. Place the Treasure Room and Broken Wall to provide cover for your creatures as they advance and to channel enemy creatures to where you want them.
The Clay Golem's placement is critical. Because it is so slow, care needs to be taken to maximize an unobstructed path to the enemy. Place your Orc Warriors and commanders behind the Golem in a protected area. The Large Red Dragon (LRD) can be placed just about anywhere, thanks to its ability to fly and move quickly, but you still want to minimize the distance to your opponent.
Despite its obvious ability to dominate melee, the key to success with the LRD in Chaos Kiln is in using it as a first strike, hit-and-run unit. Under optimal circumstances, your goal is to double move the LRD toward your opponent so that it lands amongst her creatures as the last activation on turn 2, when enemy figures are (we hope) still disorganized and moving into position. With the LRD in the enemy's midst, its breath weapon can wipe out vulnerable support units before flying back to the safety of your own lines at the beginning of turn 3. With 12 activations and an initiative modifier of +4, this is an achievable goal. Once your LRD has retreated, you are ready to engage the enemy directly -- an enemy who has lost many support troops (some before they had a chance to use their support abilities) and has had other units badly damaged, while your LRD had to suffer only a few Attacks of Opportunity in return.
Meanwhile, advance the Clay Golem as quickly as possible. Take care when moving your other creatures so they don't block any of the golem's full speed of 8 squares on a double move. It can't afford to waste a single movement point.
Under most circumstances, the Clay Golem should lead the way because it is immune or resistant to many forms of ranged attacks. In the rare case where this is not true, such as when facing a Gauth, use the Orc Warriors as screeners. If possible, engage the enemy with the Clay Golem and Orcs on the abattoir or within six squares of the Tiefling Captain, since neither creature suffers much from critical hits.
Once you have engaged the enemy with the Clay Golem and Red Dragon, it's time to unleash your third surprise, the MegaOrc (see Matt's Place's article, The Power of Cheap Creatures. A single orc, benefiting from both the Tiefling Captain and Drow Sergeant's commander effects, can hit even a buffed Gold Champion 10% of the time and inflict 25 points of damage when it does. Multiply this by eight and you have a truly scary 24-point creature, one your opponent may not see immediately because she is too focused on your LRD and Clay Golem.
Important things to remember are:
- Placement of the Large Red Dragon's breath weapon is critical to the success of this Warband. Don't forget that you can start the cone at any of the 9 intersections the dragon's large base contacts. The LRD is immune to its own breath weapon, so it doesn't matter if it is caught in it.
- Use one of your commanders -- usually the Drow Sergeant because of its speed -- to keep the Red Dragon under command, but only via line of sight. Preserving the LRD's mobility is more important than giving it a Commander Effect.
- Never risk more than one of your commanders. Losing both probably will cost you the skirmish because of the Clay Golem's Requires Instruction special ability.
- Keep your orcs spread out until you are ready to close in for the kill. The MegaOrc is vulnerable to Area of Effect attacks.
Strengths: Chaos Kiln is strongest against warbands with spellcasters, archers and other easy-to-kill support troops, those with a large number of weak creatures, those that rely on one or twd heavy hitters, and those with few hit points.
Weaknesses: Chaos Kiln is weakest against highly mobile Warbands and those with a large amount of fire resistance.
To improve your speed and eliminate your weakness to loss of commanders at the cost of resistances, replace the Clay Golem and two Orc Warriors with a Chuul and two Abyssal Maws or Orc Spearfighters.
To add magic weapon to the LRD and get some cold attacks, replace the Tiefling Captain, Drow Sergeant, and an Orc Warrior with the Drow Wizard and two Abyssal Maws or Orc Spearfighters. This increases your weakness to commander loss, so it works best when combined with the Chuul variant above (a warband known as Boiled Snow Crab).
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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.