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Further discussion of strategic issues can be found on the Wizards D&D Miniatures Forum and the Maxminis Skirmish Forum.

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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Dual HEBI Builds and Future Metagame Predictions

Recently a thread entitled "Dual HEBI Warbands" was started by Niccolo on the Maxminis Skirmish Forum discussing the potential of dual Half Elf Bow Initiate (HEBI) builds. Many people were discussing the pros and cons of the band and soon it was revealed that several people had been testing HEBI bands and having tremendous success with it. Here are some of the builds, dual and single HEBI, that were revealed:

You got a, uh, HEBI? by ktatroe (webmaster of Hordelings.com)
Valenar Commander
Half-Elf Bow Initiate
Cleric of Kord
Elf Pyromancer
Evermeet Wizard
Krusk, Half-Orc Barbarian or Elf Warrior x4

ktatroe says: "I've done well with this around here, only losing one game -- to another HEBI-based warband, with the sneakiest of changes to the usual HEBI line-up, piloted by my brother".

No word on what the "sneakiest of changes" was.

HEBI Variant By Nixlord
Inspiring Marshal
Frenzied Berserker
Evermeet Wizard
Graycloak Rangers x2
Wolf Minions x2
Elf Warrior
Gnome Recruit

Nixlord says: "So far they are actually faring quite well against CE trifekta and non-LSD LG warbands".

Malice HEBI by Shadow_Fox
1 Ryld Argith
1 Evermeet Wizard
5 Elf Warrior

I stated: "In one game against Trifecta I was able to set up in a way that denied him his last tile placement and his only cover was his own corridor placed between his assembly and my mushroom tangle in the center. There was no choice but to come out into the open and try to beat me down before I could shoot him down. The Wizards summons were integeral to victory as they tied him up and allowed me to tear up his hitters. Orc Warriors fell to Elf warriors at range and summons alike. There wasn't much left to him when he finally broke through my fodder and he had to contend with a healthy ryld, 2 HEBI, and an EW with 2 transpositions left. Game over".

I also stated: "I played a game yesterday where I dropped an LRD (I was playing against Malice LRD) before it even made a single melee attack. It based a HEBI by double moving 2 turns in a row. I then ran ryld up to swing for 15 and finished up all my elf warriors (being the last to activate in the turn). I then won the next init and got to do 2 more activations. I transposed out the HEBI with the EW and used that HEBI to finish off the LRD. Game over after that as my opponent had only one LRD with 100 hp and a drow wizard vs my whole warband".

What Does This Mean?

What we have found is that HEBI has the ability to punish CE for one of its primary weakness, low AC, more than anything has been able to before. The ability to throw out 30 damage a round or 60 a round with dual HEBI, at range sight with a high attack bonus, is extremely powerful. It denies CE's heavy hitters the ability to hit hard while being hit for large amounts of damage themselves. When teamed with abilities like the Inspiring Marshal's Grant Move Action to set up timely full attacks, Rylds Improved Initiative to dictate how the game progresses, and/or the Evermeet Wizards support spells, the HEBI can dominate many of the top tier bands.

The Future Metagame

Abberations just may have set off a chain reaction that will change the entire metagame. I predict that these things will occur:

1) Dual HEBI arises as the new "band to beat" as it can stop Trifecta, Trifecta clones, Dual LRD, and many similar bands.

2) LSD builds emerge as a potential counter to HEBI builds. Here is an example LSD band that synecdoche used to win a 200 point constructed tournament at Gencon SoCal:

Forward Turtle by Synecdoche

1 Large Silver Dragon
1 Cleric of Order
1 Formian Worker
1 Aramil
1 Mialee
1 Hill Dwarf Warrior
5 Man at Arms

This band was designed to take advantage of the Assault format's tile points rather then being a traditional "buff and beatdown" build. Whether or not LSDs "forward turtle" strategy can consistently counter HEBIs strengths remains to be seen as this matchup hasn't been tested much by anyone yet. Synecdoche did defeat a band dual HEBI band at that tourney:

Synechoche:"His band consists of two Half-Elf Bow Initiates, Cleric of Corelleon Larethon, Crow Shaman, a Greycloak Ranger (and wolf minion), and a handful of other archer types."

This was a Dual HEBI band but it didn't have any of the components I feel make it Tier 1. The obvious lack of Evermeet Wizard, Ryld, and/or Inspiring marshal probably led to this persons defeat.

3) With the removal of fire resistance in HEBI's defeat of Malice LRD and Trifecta, the patiently waiting Gauth gets his day in the sun. Here is a sample gauth band I devised that could hit LSD where it hurts by ignoring its super high AC/save and exploiting its vulnerability to fire:

3 Gauth
1 Urthok
8 Baaz Draconian

This band can put down 60 fire damage a round on an LSD. Baaz Draconians boost this band to 12 activations and can be used to clutter the field and make it hard for the large sized LSD to get to the gauth. Urthok lends his commander 5 to init and morale. Unfortunately for Gauth, HEBI bands have access to the Elf Pyromancer and Medium Fire Elemental (through Evermeet Wizards summon spells) to stop its fire rays.

4) Aspect of Loth bands make a rise. They will have their 15 minutes of fame but then it will be found that HEBI, and Gauth can handle these bands. But perhaps, with the help of the Orc Druid's Warp Wood spell, CE might have a chance to neuter HEBI builds. Here are two sample Aspect of Loth bands I devised as an example:

2 Aspect of Loth
1 Tiefling Captain
1 Abyssal Maw
8 Orc Warrior

1 Aspect of Loth
1 Drider Sorcerer
1 Tiefling Captain
1 Orc Druid
1 Cultist of the Dragon
3 Abyssal Maw
1 Orc Warrior


Dual HEBI bands packing Evermeet Wizard, Ryld Argith, and/or the Inspiring Marshal seem to be the winning combination. I suggest everyone start testing against these builds as they are quite possibly the new king of the hill.

But what about a 100pts war band, would HEBI still be as strong? So far, I'm doing well with my Green Dragon and Achaierai. With their Speed, HEBI has bearly time to do anything...
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