This month’s D&D Attack Wing organized play is right around the corner, and there’s going to be a big change from the first month’s structure. Instead of a 120-point build, you’ll be arriving at the event with a 90-point one, then given a blind booster containing one of five units that you’ll use to assemble your final 30 points. In order to get the most advantage out of the blind units, you’ll want to be sure to understand what they are, what they want to do, and how each can complement the army you’re bringing.
To prepare you, this week’s post will look at three units from the blind booster: the ranger, druid, and fighter units, with a second part coming that will cover the mage and paladin!
The ranger occupies the same space as other sniper-style units like Eshaedra, the sun elf troops, and the dwarven ballista — namely, the ability to project force over a substantial area of the board. The most notable feature of Talon Everhale, though, is her ability to retain an unspent action token from round to round. This is unique thus far in D&D Attack Wing, with the closest any other unit getting is being able to stack an extra action through use of the Leadership upgrade on a higher-level unique unit. You have no such hoops to go through with Talon.
This is a very powerful ability and not one to be dismissed lightly. It’s not just giving her the option to cash in on two tokens, which is already solid (think the Artillery Master upgrade for the ballista to see the strength of two Target tokens being cashed in). It also gives her the ability to use action tokens she might not otherwise be able to get, such as a Target action. Carrying one of those around with her will let her use it if a higher-level unit then moves into her substantial firing arc after she’s already moved, or after undertaking a feint or turnabout.
If you’re a fan of positional play and range attacks, you’ll be quite happy to open up the ranger.
For upgrades, she has a few solid options.
Manyshot effectively gives her a selective area-of-effect attack (AOE), hitting up to three units or soldiers in her range. Here again you’ll be happy to be carrying a second action token, to help boost a second attack roll.
Precise Shot is a passive upgrade which lets you shoot through obstacles and interposing creatures without penalty. Further, it removes the bonus that defensive die targets will get when at Range 4, which is where Talon wants to be shooting from anyway. For 1 Legion Point (LP), I love this one.
Favored Enemy is another intriguing option whereby you can get an extra attack die for the duration of the game against a single specified target. This makes Talon’s first and second turn more productive and important than most. Typically you begin to move your units into position and engage the enemy at the start of the game, but many units won’t make much of the Concentrate token they’ll frequently take at the start of the engagement. Talon can either stick a Concentrate token in her back pocket for later use, or fire off Favored Enemy, since it’s effectively a permanent buff from that point forward.
Brilliant Energy Arrows gives you a choice typical of many of these upgrades: make a normal attack, or make a weaker one with a special effect. In this case, the “weaker” attack is just a regular one (potentially weaker because it costs her an action to trigger the upgrade instead of picking up a Concentrate or Target token). In exchange, her next attack bypasses armor. It’s a one-shot use, but can be just the ticket when up against one of the larger dragons.
Silence is what you might call a “sideboard option,” something very good against some builds and completely useless against others. Having an AOE dead magic zone can be situationally effective, but there may be better uses for her divine upgrade slot that will be consistently better. Finally, Darkleaf is Talon’s named equipment upgrade, a set of enchanted leather armor. In addition to granting an Armor value of 1, it lets Talon reroll one of her defense dice when attacked by another unit’s primary weapon.
For OP2, opening Talon I’d probably look to kit her out with Favored Enemy, Precise Shot, and Brilliant Energy Arrows to make 30 LP. I like Favored Enemy, but it’s not as widely applicable since it only affects one of your opponent’s units.
Continuing with our sylvan subtheme, we next come to the shape-changing druid. Unlike the offensive-minded ranger with a wicked, long-range bow, the druid takes on a more survivalist-inspired utility role. The stats bear this out — amongst the five different blind booster units, Dragonfly is tied for highest agility (alongside the ranger) and ranks only behind Rezmir, the half-dragon fighter, for health. Take note too of Dragonfly’s special ability, which kicks in on the defense, rerolling 1 blank result. Clearly, this is a unit meant for sticking around during the course of battle. Given the druid’s poor primary weapon value (PWV) — the only other unit to have both the named and the generic in the lower half of the PWV standings is a mage — that’s a clear sign that its focus lies elsewhere.
Indeed, within Dragonfly lies one of the game’s first true combos. Sure, you could argue that the “chaser” or “kicker” effects most dragons have in tandem with a breath weapon are combinations (i.e. Searing Blaze), but this is the first time both halves of a combo are valid standalone options that happen to synergize when used in tandem.
I’m talking, of course, about the Control Weather/Call Lightning two-turn pile-on. Control Weather is a divine upgrade that lasts for two turns and drags anything in its effect radius to the ground. This is situationally useful on its own, helpful if you are up against a lot of flying creatures or are ground-unit heavy. Not to be overlooked is the fact that the creature can’t take flight again until it has left the affected area: in most cases this means it will be using an inferior and less-maneuverable dial. In a game where positioning is critical, being able to better predict your opponent’s moves can put you in a great position to strike, making Control Weather a useful debuff.
Call Lightning, on the other hand, is a straight damage spell in the vein of fireball. A 3-dice, armor-penetrating burst attack is already worth the arcane slot, but when the Burst token for it is placed within the area of effect of Control Weather, that electric blast gets a 33% supercharge in the form of an extra attack die. So in short, drag the dragon to the ground one turn, then light it up like Christmas the next. Against a 1-Agility beastie like Balagos or Eshaedra, that translates into a sweet spot of 1-2 hits 63% of the time, with a further 18% chance of landing a third.
The druid isn’t just disruptive to forces in the air, either. The Entangle spell drops a zone onto the battlefield that punishes ground-based forces for passing through it by restricting their movement to 1. Not only that, but they roll 1 less attack and defense die in combat as well. Although we start to enter the world of best-case-scenario mentality here, the idea of a pair of druids locking down the battlefield with Control Weather and Entangle is not an unattractive prospect. Whether or not that’s an optimal use of 41 Legion Points, though, remains to be seen.
The druid’s remaining upgrades are self-buffs. Barkskin offers the prospect of an additional point of armor for a limited amount of time, but with an intriguing twist. At the end of the spell’s duration, you must remove 1 armor token — but it does not specify that the removed token must be the one you added when you cast the spell. Why is this relevant?
Well, let’s say you’re playing Eshaedra, and you get rocked by a boulder flung by Jarl Horn so hard that you draw the Shattered critical hit and must flip one of your armor tokens over to the damaged side. Barkskin effectively allows you to “heal” this damage, because after Barkskin runs out, you simply choose the damaged armor token to be the one discarded. Voilà, back up to full armor!
In Eshaedra’s case, this upgrade would cost a whopping 6 LP, and if all it did was heal damaged armor it would be a waste of LP. However, the option to add another point of armor can be useful when you’re getting ready to fly into the teeth of the enemy and are hoping to come out the other side.
Staff of the Woodlands gives the game another staff option for casters, alongside Nymmestra’s Silver Staff. Both the red wizard and druid units come with one, and the druid’s buffs your melee attack while giving you the option to prolong the duration of any spell you cast. Although the PWV buff doesn’t seem all that effective on a unit that already has one of the worst PWVs of the set, it ties in nicely with the druid’s final upgrade, Bear Form.
On the downside, your spell and equipment upgrades are considered disabled, further indicating the proper role of Bear Form is for channeling wild fury and going primal. Still, it opens up interesting options to the one-man combo machine. Yank ‘em from the skies, go Bear Form and Charge!
If you’re looking to go 30 points off of Dragonfly the Grey, that gives you an extra 7 LP for upgrades. That’s just enough to favor one of the two aspects of the druid over the other. Want to rely on some extra muscle on the battlefield? Grab Bear Form (3) and Staff of the Woodlands (4). If you’d rather play a more controlling option, Control Weather (3) and Call Lightning (4) fit the bill. As useful as Entangle can be, though, there’s just too many all-flying builds out there to make the upside worth the risk.
THE HALF-BLACK DRAGON FIGHTER
It’s only fitting for Rezmir, one of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen’s main villains, to sit atop the stat charts for the blind booster minis. While she shares top honors with a PWV of 3, she is without peer at 5 Health — as sturdy as Eshaedra! The generic dragon cultist loses 1 point of Health, making it “only” as solid as Galadaeros. In addition, Rezmir gets to carry 2 equipment and 2 heroic upgrades, and she can Target, Dodge, and even Charge. Finally, Rezmir is more resilient to exhaustion than most, being able to shake Exhaustion tokens off even on a white maneuver.
All this value for 23 LP must surely carry some downside, and it does, in the absence of a ranged attack. Rezmir carries a greatsword and nothing more, though as we’ll see she is not without recourse against enemies too cowardly to land and fight her one-on-one.
There are two ways in which Rezmir can target airborne enemies. The first is with her breath weapon, minor acid breath. This is simply a weaker form of the dragon breath we’ve already seen, doing less dice (2) at a shorter range (3). Regardless of armor penetration, a 2-dice attack is fairly weak, but it is the most reliable way for Rezmir to impact what’s happening above her head. The other way is a bit stronger, but she has to jump through a hoop to get it off. Indeed, it’s actually more up to your opponent than you!
Hellish Rebuke is an arcane upgrade that turns Rezmir into something of a hedgehog, letting her counterstrike an opponent after it’s damaged her — provided that it’s in her forward arc. Not only does it also penetrate armor with a 3-dice attack, but it also doesn’t count as her attack for the round. There’s no altitude criteria on it either, so if the unit that triggers Hellish Rebuke is flying, it’s still a valid target. That’s useful, but it still leaves the decision whether or not to take the attack up to the opponent rather than you… though I imagine more than a few games will go to time with a flying opponent weaving around Rezmir, desperately trying to find a chance to attack her from flank or back to avoid the free attack.
Now for the next hoop. Did you notice that Hellish Rebuke was an arcane upgrade, a slot Rezmir doesn’t have? In order to allow Rezmir to carry a spell, she needs to be equipped with Hazirawn, her custom two-handed weapon (though any other evil unit with the right upgrade slot can pick it up for almost double the LP cost). In addition to a free arcane upgrade, Hazirawn grants its wielder an additional attack die for her primary weapon melee attacks. You’ll be glad for the extra die when using her Cleave upgrade, which lets her make a primary weapon melee strike against every creature within range in your forward arc.
So if you find yourself opening one of these three, you might now have a better idea of how to integrate them into your army to improve your chances of success. Since you can’t predict in advance which unit you’ll get, being aware of their strengths and weaknesses will be a considerable advantage as you adapt on the fly!
About the Author
Jay Kirkman first sat behind a DM screen at 9 years of age, and he’s never looked back. In addition to gaming and D&D Attack Wing, his passions include his family and five children, the mighty Glasgow Celtic, and operating his business, Moonlite Comics. Located in the capital, Moonlite has been at the heart of gaming in the Bluegrass for over a generation. They are proud to add D&D Attack Wing to their stable of fully-supported games.