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

September 26, 2005


Treading new ground in the D&D Miniatures fan site frontier I present to you the inaugural podcast of the Miniatures War Collage!

For those of you interested, I also have a new podcast friendly feed.

One of these days I will adjust my template to add the link, but not today.

September 19, 2005

Enslaved to Numbers

The stats for the Balor have finally come out last Friday. The Balor has one of the more game-changing Commander Effects in the game: Ensalve (Each enemy that fails a morale save must immediately make another morale save; if the second save fails, that enemy counts as eliminated for victory points, is no longer routing, and is a member of your warband for the rest of the skirmish).

Just how useful is it? Well, it's more useful against weaker creatures than more powerful creatures. You have to fail two consecutive morale saves, in addition to figuring in the creatures level you should figure in the level of the commander it is under the effect of. For any decent warband anything that wouldn't be smashed in one attack would have a net morale save of 10 or greater. This places the chance of enslavement at about 20%.

There is also a great deal of strategy involved in enslavement as well. Clearly you are not going to want to whack a fodder piece with the Balor and watch the poor creature go splatter all over the battle mat. Not when you could steal it! A savvy player will engage with a lesser creature against the fodder, one with an attack that will just barely force a morale save.

This also makes Tyrannical Morale a suprisingly good commander effect to have in this instance. You don't need to use it on the first save but you always use it on the second save. This suprisingly fits the pragmatic evilness of the LE faction: If I cannot have it no one can.

September 12, 2005

My Thoughts on Changing the Command Rules

For those of you who have been in the dark, starting when War Drums is released the command rules will have their most significant changes since the game began: out of command units no longer limp along at speed 2. To be honest, the old "Speed 2 Rule" felt to me to me like it was a hold over from the some of the other wargaming rules that reflected larger scale battles. When simulating hundreds to thousands of combatants, especially in Napoleonic style engagements, command really is that important. But the D&D Miniatures Game is about heroic battles, not just any old heroic battles but heroic battles done D&D style. Heroic battles with adventuring parties full of independent thinkers encountering strange and dangerous monsters. Most importantly these heroes don't play around with jigsaw puzzles just to pick the field of battle.

But what effect will the rule change have? I feel that the speed 2 rule has had the most overwhelming effect of lost or poor command in the current rule, to the point of overshadowing the other and more strategic uses of command. What are some of these other aspects of command that are still important?

Rallying -- Unless you are under command you cannot rally from a rout. This is a bigger issue in 100pt play, which I fear may disappear from all but sealed play. But in 200pt play you can count on losing some morale saves some part of the time. Without the ability to rally those basically become "save or die" rolls.
Initiative -- Clearly a better commander lets you pick your time to act. The new 8 figure limit reduces the impact, but there will always be times that going first will always be better. Also, Commander 0 beats no commander in a tie. Would a Commander -1 beat no commander?
Command Effects -- These can turn a mediocre sealed band into a fearsome constructed cross-faction beast. They can also be the tech that turns a competitive constructed band into a champion.
Morale Bonus -- This is more an advantage for the Lawful factions, with their financially accessible commanders with ratings of 5 or more. This can turn a 1 in 4 shot into an even money bet and turn some of the better creatures that will almost never find a route to rout off the board.
Terrain and Setup Initiative -- Not only are the command rules changing, but the setup rules are changing to speed up play. Now players will roll initiative to pick the field of battle and then again to pick their initial positions. Controlling this aspect of the game can turn the tide as much, and possibly more than, crippling the speed of the bulk of your warband.

There is also some spill over to Independent creatures and those with Improved Coutnersong. While the Speed 2 rule seems to be the most overwhelming reason to bring creatures with Countersong into play the new rules really don't break the real benefits that much. Almost anytime you could place anyone under a Contersong sphere they could just Rush to you anyway, defeating the speed 2. It's the lack of morale bonuses and preventing of rallies that provide the real secret power of Improved Countersong. With the new rule Independent creatures can still rally without a commander. This makes those creatures merely overcosted for that ability. But since independents were overcosted anyway the rule is just firing a fresh arrow in the corpse so to say.

And remember, we don't know what the disposition of the Rush rule is. It could be gone, or it could be required when not under command.