Designer Jonathan Tweet
month, Jonathan Tweet offers
a preliminary look at building a warband for the upcoming D&D
Chainmail game. Tweet, perhaps best known as the lead designer
and author of the Player's
the new edition of the D&D game, serves as the lead designer
for D&D Chainmail and is an avid participant in the
in-house playtest league. Get a leg up on the competition with his tour
through the basics of warband construction.
Wizards of the
Coast: Where do you start when building a Warband?
Tweet: To build a warband, you first have to determine what kind of
warband you'll need. This simple-sounding step involves important decisions
like what the maximum point total for each warband will be and what kind
of games you're going to be playing in. For example, it's unlikely that
a warband tailored to play in two-player head-to-head matches will fare
well in a four-player free-for-all.
are several general questions you'll need to answer before building your
warband. Here's a sample list:
the point cost?
terrain will be used (and will any custom terrain be allowed)?
scenarios will be used?
players will compete at once?
the players compete (allies, free-for-all, etc.)?
the first season of our organized play program will use 50-point warbands
and the scenarios and terrain from the basic set. This set of parameters
heavily influences warband design.
Once you've determined the play environment, what do you choose next?
The first question you need to answer is, "What model do I most
want to use?" There should be one model, either a powerful single
figure or multiples of a cheap troop type, that serves as the backbone
of your warband. This choice will dictate many of your strategic decisions,
and almost has to begin with your excitement about using the model's abilities
in a game.
players will be tempted to pick a faction and then try to use all of the
faction's "best" figures, but choosing only one model is a better
angle since it gives focus to your subsequent choices. A thorough understanding
of why you picked your key troop type will make many of the strategic
decisions that arise during gameplay easier.
How do you select a key model?
As with most point-based games, when you build a warband in D&D
Chainmail, you're looking for a way to spend your points efficiently.
Mostly, it's choosing a model that you like. For beginners, simply choosing
a model that looks cool is a fine place to start. As you become more familiar
with the game, you'll find models that seem particularly effective against
different strategies, develop favorite tricks of your own that work best
with certain figures, and become better and determining what models will
shine in the environment you're playing in.
How do you select support for your key model?
That depends, of course, on the key model that you've selected.
chosen a powerful model like the abyssal ravager or skeletal troll, you'll
probably want the ability to put that figure under command or give it
special orders. That means a compatible, competent commander.
chosen a cheaper model, planning to use multiples, you'll need to decide
how many of that figure you're going to use. Deciding how many of the
same model you are going to use determines how focused your warband is.
Support troops can, in this case, take away from your strategy. If you
have one model in melee, it's almost always better to have other models
running in. If you choose ranged combat, massed fire is almost always
better. The cost and abilities of your main model determines what level
of support you can add. Just like the example above, a commander is the
most obvious type of support.
protecting important models with a "screen." A screen model
simply moves ahead of the important individual or group, taking the first
charge, first barrage of arrow fire, and so on.
You mentioned terrain earlier. How does terrain affect warband construction?
In D&D Chainmail, terrain choice is an integral part
of warband design. In most standard scenarios, players each bring two
pieces of terrain, giving them the ability to modify the battlefield their
warbands' advantage. There's a very logical correlation to what kinds
of terrain favor certain warbands. Warbands that concentrate on melee
combat will need terrain that blocks line of sight, minimizing the effectiveness
of opposing ranged attacks. Warbands that focus on ranged combat will
want terrain that slows movement without blocking line of sight. This
choice, although less complex than model selection, allows you to accentuate
your warband's strengths and make up for its limitations.
What warband do you play in the in-house league?
I play a Naresh warband that features the abyssal ravager. I chose the
ravager because of its powerful melee abilities. The in-house league is
full of dwarven warbands, making the ravager a strong choice. The ravager
has a very high attack bonus, making it one of the few models that can
easily hit dwarven troops, who of course have very high armor values.
Also, the ravager's a great-looking model and a lot of fun to push around
I chose a demonic gnoll adept and a cross-faction halfling sneak. The
gnoll is primarily in the warband to let me put the ravager under command,
but it also provides some minor spell support. The sneak (which won't
be released until November) provides a very long ranged attack and provides
an excellent advantage over warbands with no ranged capability.
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