The Art of Warbands03/10/2005

Swords of Damocles
The Art of Warbands

Swords of Damocles
Evermeet Wizard
Githyanki Renegade x2
Halfling Ranger
Ialdabode, Human Psion
Moon Elf Fighter
Assembly Tile 3
Mushroom Triangle
Spike Stones Cave
Treasure Room

Mobility...a dream to many a general, a nightmare to those who must face it, and one of Chaotic Good's greatest strengths. With mobility, your opponent must live under the constant threat of never knowing when and where the next attack will come. One of the ultimate expressions of mobility for Chaotic Good, and the constant threat it poses, is the 200-point warband, The Swords of Damocles.


If possible, allow your opponent to set up first. Place the Mushroom Tangle to slow down your opponent and separate her faster creatures from the slower ones. Place the Treasure Room to block line of sight if her warband is stronger in ranged attacks than yours. Place the Spike Stones Cave to break up her formations and diminish any numerical advantage she may have when melee is finally joined.

At some point in the tile placement process, place one of your tiles, usually the Treasure Room, deep into your opponent's area along the same outside wall as your assembly tile. If you do so casually, she may not realize what you are doing until it is too late. Then, during creature placement, use the Halfling Ranger's Scout ability to place it on that tile.

Place the rest of your creatures on the outside opening of your assembly tile, unless your opponent has ranged area of effect attacks such as fireball. In that case, place them out of sight behind the wall.


The Swords of Damocles places several constant threats over your opponent that forces her to make some unpleasant choices. The first of these is what to do about the Halfling Ranger. If she moves her force against it, she increases the number of rounds of ranged attacks she must endure from your primary force. (You can increase this more by moving your creatures along the bottom of the map so that they end up in the corner opposite the Halfling Ranger.) If she moves her creatures against your main force, she must endure a constant peppering from the halfling. If you play the Plunder or Pillage scenarios, she must endure the halfling constantly wracking up victory points. And if she divides her warband to attack both the halfling and your main force, the main force can defeat the enemy in detail.

Your opponent's next problem is the dimension door ability of your Githyanki Renegades. If she ignores it and moves her main force against you as quickly as possible, she leaves her back line troops vulnerable to the githyankis' powerful attacks. If she doesn't ignore the threat and moves in a protected group, her warband will slow down, allowing you to soften it up more with ranged attacks.

The final threat posed by The Swords of Damocles is the combined effort of all of its creatures. This band has an amazing number of options when combined with the Moon Elf Fighter's Tactics commander effect. You can dimension door one of your githyanki into the midst of the enemy and have the Evermeet Wizard benign transposition it with the other githyanki, thus allowing use of its Whirlwind Attack before your opponent can respond. The Evermeet Wizard can summon a creature into the enemy's midst at the end of the turn, then use her benign transposition on one of the githyanki at the beginning of the next turn for a similar effect. You also have many choices for screening troops with the Evermeet Wizard's summon spells.

These constant threats from The Swords of Damocles will weigh heavily on your opponent. Sooner or later she is going to make a mistake. Watch for it, then strike.

Important things to remember are:

  • Because the dimension door ability of the Githyanki Renegades is a spell, they cannot attack the same round they use it. It is best to use this spell as the last activation of your turn. If you win initiative on the next round, the githyanki can attack before your opponent can react.

  • The Githyanki Renegades are strong offensively, but their AC and HP are low for their price. To compensate for this, have them cast their blur spells on themselves as early as possible.

  • The Swords of Damocles works best when you have more activations than your opponent. Because you start with only six creatures, you need to compensate by summoning more as soon as possible. If you start with the same or more activations than your opponent, the Medium Earth Elemental is a good choice. Its burrowing ability works well with benign transposition. If you need a few more activations or your opponent is using fire attacks, summon a Medium Fire Elemental and Hyena or Dire Rat. The Medium Fire Elemental's speed and mobility also make it a good option for benign transposition and for racking up points in Pillage scenarios. If you need a lot more activations, summon four or more Dire Rats. If you need a lot of tougher activations, summon six Wolves.

  • Use Ialdabode's mind thrust to attack creatures with 10-20 HP and low saving throws.

Strengths:The Swords of Damocles is strongest against warbands with spellcasters, archers, and other easy-to-kill support troops; those that rely heavily on a single commander; and slow-moving warbands.

Weaknesses:The Swords of Damocles is weakest against highly mobile warbands and those with only a few, very tough creatures.


  • To boost the capabilities of your Githyanki Renegades, replace the Evermeet Wizard with the Crow Shaman. Spend the remaining points on cheap creatures to give you the activations you need.

  • To speed up this warband even more, replace Ialdabode with a Catfolk.

Copy and paste the following into our Warband Generator.
200,Swords of Damocles,2,12,6,155,157,159,160,216,216,4,1,9,18,22,''
Or launch Swords of Damocles 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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