Posted by : David Guyll September 18, 2011

In case you were not aware of it, not only is Wizards of the Coast going to start producing minis again, but they also opened up a public playtest for a new minis skirmish game (well, public insofar as you need to have a D&D account and join the D&D Playtest group).

In case you did not play the original skirmish game, it somewhat followed Warhammer rules: you set a points value for warbands, bought creatures as close to the points cap as you could, and then had at it using a rule-lite version of D&D combat. I vaguely recall there being a limit on creatures, whether it was a maximum points value, number or something, but that was a long time ago. Despite normally playing it purely out of boredom, I did find it interesting because I could create themed parties of simplified monsters. My main complaints from things I can actually remember was that many cheap creatures ended up being completely useless, unable to hit things higher than their level--and doing dick even if they could--and/or dying as a side effect from a higher level creature doing something only tangentially related to fighting.

Hit points, a stick, and nudity are no match for Swallow Whole.
While the game follows the same concept of two opposing factions fighting each other, it mixes things up with a gold vault and action card deck. The gold vault allows you to reinforce your faction at the end of your turn, allowing you to deploy creatures of a higher level than 3, while at the same time giving you a chance to react to threats and situations. While some creatures have abilities built into their own cards, the action deck provides you with a bunch of attacks and abilities that can be used by a variety of creatures, which can give you an expected edge and make your creatures more flexible. Using an action card requires a specific ability score and level, though creatures can assist each other, combining their level to meet the requirement. To me both of these additions make the game more dynamic and exciting.

Kind of like Magic: The Gathering, but you keep your arms and legs.
Currently there are only two decks, drow and hero. The drow deck emphasizes well, drow and spiders, though there is also an umber hulk and shadow mastiff for variety. The hero deck is much more racially diverse, including humans, elves, halflings, dwarves, a half-orc, a gold dragon, and even an earth elemental.

Though the drow are pretty diverse even without the spiders.
So far the game has gone through a few rules revisions to specify which creatures are Large, as well as to add terrain features such as difficult terrain, damaging terrain, and treasure spaces. I am curious if Wizards of the Coast plans to make an official version of the game to go with their new minis line. It would make sense given from what I have heard they are going to print thematic sets. Mostly I would like to get actual cards so I can avoid hitting up Kinkos to get them printed on card stock so that they are more durable.

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