Previews Archive | 7/9/2012
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Dungeon Command Preview 5
Chris Dupuis

D&D Game Day takes place later this summer, on July 21-22. This year, the event celebrates Dungeon Command. Designed for two or more players, this head-to-head skirmish game will have strategists assembling war bands, taking to the battlefield of their choice, and attempting to crush the enemy!

In today's preview article, Chris Dupuis—one of the designers behind this latest tactical miniatures game for Dungeons & Dragons—takes us through the workings of the game. You can also always download the rulebook for a complete look at the game:

(14 Mbs PDF)

We’ve spent the past few weeks previewing Dungeon Command and letting you travel behind the curtain to see how we developed the game you’ll see on shelves July 17. Today I want to talk about the next step after you’ve purchased the game: Deckbuilding.

There’s a section under Advanced Play on page 15 of the rulebook called “Building your own Warbands”. It lists the following rules if you want to combine multiple Dungeon Command faction packs to create your own unique Warband:

  1. Your warband must include at least 12 Creatures (cards and minis). You can have up to 4 copies of each.
  2. Your warband must include at least 30 Order cards. You can have up to 4 copies of each.
  3. Your warband must have exactly 1 Commander Card.

The Order Decks included in the faction packs have 36 Order cards, so the first thing you can do is cut out cards that you don’t like to create a more efficient deck. You can then add another faction pack to really kick your deckbuilding skills into high gear—either with a duplicate pack, or blending together different packs with shared abilities.

Deckbuilding Guidelines

The only way to test if a deck works is to play it! But here are some general deckbuilding guidelines to keep your first attempt from unraveling.
  • Begin with your Creatures (You must have at least 12)
  • Start with one or two creatures that you want to play with, and build a Creature deck around them. Once you’ve trimmed your creatures down to a deck of at least 12, figure out which abilities are shared between the most creatures. Those are the Order cards that should be prevalent in your Order deck. For your first deck, focus on one or two abilities.

  • As you collect more faction packs, you can focus on the tribal links between the creatures in your warband. For example:
  • A Spider warband with the Drow Priestess leading the charge.
  • A Goblin/Drow warband focusing on DEX creatures.
  • An Adventurer warband (I’ve highlighted an Adventurer warband you can create with both of the first 2 faction packs below).
  • Or an Undead warband with the—wait, I can’t spoil that yet!
  • Move onto your Orders (You must have at least 30)
  • There are 3 different types of Order Cards:
  • Standard Order cards bring the pain by boosting damage and pushing back your opponents.
  • Minor Order cards keep your warband moving and agile, giving your troops plenty of tools to use.
  • Immediate Order cards are off-turn actions that will keep your opponent guessing.
  • As a rule of thumb you should start with a third of your Order deck set aside for each of the 3 types of Order cards. As you become more experienced with your warband you can tweak those balances until they feel right.
  • Select Your Commander
  • Select a Commander whose power compliments your warband. For example, if you’re playing with a Drow/Spider deck, then don’t use Valnar Trueblade as his “Versatile” power only works with Adventurer creatures.

  • Make sure the total levels of the creatures in your warband are more than the starting morale of your Commander (don’t forget to include some leeway for treasure tokens you’ve collected as they will increase your morale). You don’t want the game to end early because all of your creatures died but you still have morale left!
  • Select Your Tiles
  • Select tiles that suit your warband’s abilities. For example, if you have a creature that deploys into Magic Circles, make sure your tiles have magic circles. If you have Fire Trap in your Order card deck, make sure you are using tiles with Hazardous terrain!
  • Practice and Tweak
  • The only way to test out your warband is to play! After a few games, you’ll get an idea of which cards are working. Focus on those and cut out some of the cards that keep sitting in your hands.

Valnar’s Strike Force: My DEX/STR Adventurer Warband

We recently started an R&D Dungeon Command League with custom warbands built from one of each faction pack (Sting of Lolth and Heart of Cormyr). For my Warband, I chose to build a DEX/STR Adventurer group, and I’m playing the Commander role of Valnar Trueblade.

12 Creatures:

Lvl 1 Elf Archer (DEX) X2
Lvl 1 Halfling Sneak (DEX)
Lvl 2 Dwarven Defender (STR CON) X2
Lvl 2 Drow Wizard (DEX INT)

Lvl 2 Human Ranger (STR DEX)
Lvl 3 Half-Orc Thug (STR DEX)
Lvl 3 Dwarf Cleric (STR CON WIS)

Lvl 3 Drow Blademaster (DEX)
Lvl 4 War Wizard (INT)
Lvl 5 Dragon Knight (STR CON)

33 Order Cards:

Standard (11 Cards)

ANY
Sacrifice

DEX
2X Piercing Strike
2X Deep Wound
2X Spring Attack

STR
2X Power Attack
Invigorating Smash
Killing Strike

Immediate (10 Cards)

DEX
2X Near Miss
2X Riposte
2X Uncanny Dodge

STR
2X Defend Ally
2X Seize the Opportunity

Minor (12 Cards)

ANY
Behind Enemy Lines
Secret Passage
Level Up
Healing Potion
2X Healing Surge

DEX
2X Stalk
2X Quick Shot

INT
2X Faerie Fire

The deck isn’t 100% optimized yet, but it’s getting there. Here are a few key decisions that helped me build this deck.

Creatures:

The creatures were fairly easy to fill in as the Drow Blademaster and the Drow Wizard are both Adventurer creatures in the Sting of Lolth faction. However I had 6 choices for the 4 non-adventurer creatures I wanted to add to the deck. I eventually went with 2 Dwarven Defenders and 2 Elf Archers and left the Drow House Guards behind for now.

Both the House Guards and Archers are Humanoid and can Level Up to become Adventurers (see the Level Up card below), but my Warband already had plenty of level 2 creatures. I only had one level 1 creature: the Halfling Sneak. The Elf Archers may not seem like they do much damage, but if you keep them protected, their 10 points of damage per attack can really add up. Plus, having some Level 1 creatures in your hand allows you to have a steady flow of reinforcements coming onto the battlefield.

Orders:

Faerie Fire is the one card that still has me wondering if I should add the Drow House Guards instead of the Elf Archers. I have 2 Faerie Fires in the deck at the moment, and they can be used by the Drow Wizard, War Wizard, and the Drow Blademaster (thanks to Drow Affinity). Time and playtesting will tell if I should tweak the Creature deck to allow more creatures to cast Faerie Fire, which is a very strong card as long as your opponent doesn’t have a Saving Throw.

Level Up allows me to either turn an Elf Archer or Dwarven Defender into an Adventurer (so I can take advantage of my Commander’s “Versatile” power), or it will allow me to make a creature in my group a bit beefier by giving them 20 extra HP and a free level.

Heroic Surge lets an adventurer untap—thus allowing him to take another standard action in that same turn. This will be a huge surprise to my opponent!

Behind Enemy Lines is a card that can be played in a few different ways. Sometimes you deploy the Adventurer just to run him back to your start zone for the Morale boost. Sometimes you deploy him to surprise your opponent and take out a protected enemy. Sometimes you do a little of both where you surprise your opponent and get a quick few hits in, then race back to your start zone. No matter how you play it, Behind Enemy Lines is a fun card, especially when you draw it at the right moment.

Sacrifice and Uncanny Dodge may seem odd at first since you have to discard another card to use them. However, I like having them at this stage because I have a lot of situational Order cards. Rather than being sad about having unplayable cards, those cards can now be used to help me play Sacrifice or Uncanny Dodge.

That’s just a quick overview of deckbuilding in Dungeon Command. I can’t wait to see what sort of crazy combinations everyone starts building once this game hits the shelves!

Visit your local game store on July 21st-22nd (check your local store for the exact date/time) for D&D Game Day to try the game out and pick up an alternate-paint version of the Drow Wizard (in cool Adventurer colors!). Heart of Cormyr and Sting of Lolth will be released on July 17, Tyranny of Goblins will be released on September 18. Keep checking www.wizards.com/dnd for more info on future Dungeon Command faction packs!

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