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The Miniatures War College
Advenio paratus. Egressus melior paratus.
D&D Miniatures strategy and analysis.

January 26, 2005

Large Warbands, what are the advantages?

Why do so many successful warbands have such a large count of figures? Unless the pack a real large wallop any competitive band will have at least 8 figures, and some even go up to the tournament maximum of 12. But why do this? The reasons are many...


One is to provide a "barricade" or a meat shield between you and your opponent's figures. Two 100pt warbands excelled at this: Snowballs from Hell (CE with Cultists of the Dragon summoning Abyssial Maws) and Too Many Puppies (CG with Greycloak Rangers and Wolf minions and Evermeet Wizards summoning Wolves as well. The strategy here is to take advantage of two Skirmish rules. First, barring special movement modes, you cannot move through an space occupied by an enemy. By creating tight corridors where the battle would be fought and flooding them with a large number of creatures protecting the core of the warband the pilot of such a warband can reduce the risk to the most valuable pieces, usually spellcasters.

These was much more effective in the 2003-2004 season, because the second rule it abused was that summoned figures and minion figures didn't score victory points for the opponent. For most of the exisitng summons and minions the point value was for the most part already figured into the creature cost, if you consider that they were costed aggressivly for the core figure plus the additional creatures. However, seeing the abuse that this created in the 2004-2005 season WOTC decided that eliminated minions and summoned creatuers now score victory points. Hence wading through 13 wolves to get to the ranger and wizard will net you 65 points, which is halfway to your goal.

Bait Targets
Another reason to use lots of figures addresses another quirk in the Skirmish rules: Whenever you target something by default you have to use the closest available target. Given the recent glut of dual Half-Elf Bow Initiate Bands this can become quite an issue. You don't want to have your main melee muscle beaten up before they engage the enemy, so you run them behind less expensive figures that will need to be removed before the big bad HEBI can force your high cost figures to make a morale save while advancing.

This is also useful for special abilities and spells. For example an Azer Raider, with it's immunity to fire, should always be the closest creature to the Gauth so it cannot target the rest of your warband. Also a figure that is at least 6 spaces from any of your other figures but is the closest figure will make an opponent thing twice about flinging a fireball to take out a single figure.

Increasing the Odds
Sometimes many small shots can be more effective than a couple of larget ones, especially whne command effects come in to play. Consider the Trifecta warband, this is the warband that Brian Mackey piloted to victory at the 2004 Championship Tournoment. In additon to big hitters like the Orc Champion and Ogre Ravager he filled out the band with a platoon of 6 Orc Warriors. What is interesting is that it out does likes of 2 Orc Brutes, which hit better and do more damage and are comperable in point cost. On average, against a creature with a 19 AC the warriors, as a group, will do 15 points of damage a round. The brutes, even though they will hit more often and do more damage, will do on average 12 points of damage. When you add in a commander like the Drow Sergeant which will give each a +5 damage the effects multiply. The brutes will do 16 and the warriors will do 18.75 points.

Obvioulsly you can't ever do three quarters of a hit point in damage, but when you consider that damage will come out in discreet quantities you will see that the warriors will more reliably get at least some damage off and the brutes will leave you empty handed more often. And with a single creature, like a Minotaur, the numbers get worse with 11 HP damage, and that's with two attacks of 20HP each.

The most importiant reason however is to gain a reliable large block of activations at one time. Since I have already written alot for one blog post I will deal with that in a later post.


  • This is also useful for special abilities and spells. For example an Azer Raider, with it's immunity to fire, should always be the closest creature to the Gauth so it cannot target the rest of your warband

    In fact, tha gauth can target the 2 closest figures. So you will need 2 azer raider...

    By Anonymous, at 1:35 PM  

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