Top Ten Creatures in Dungeon Command

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Top Ten Creatures in Dungeon Command

There are fifty different creatures in Dungeon Command over the first five released sets. The rules allow a warband to contain up to four creatures of a given name, with a minimum of 12 creatures required per warband. Naturally, the discussion turns to what creatures are the “best” in the game. This is my not-so-humble attempt to rank the top ten creatures in Dungeon Command. I also give some Order card recommendations to back up my reasoning, but these will change based on your overall warband composition. Feel free to post your own top ten with reasons for the ranking.


One tendency to avoid when considering the “best” creature is to assume larger creatures are better than smaller creatures. Of course a Horned Devil will curbstomp a Drow Wizard by himself, but we’re not playing 1v1 creature battles. When I write “best creature”, I mean the most viable & valuable creature in a warband. How does a creature synergize with its warband? Can it work in many different warbands? What Order cards can the creature use? What terrain can be used to its advantage? How does your creature fit with a given Commander? It’s not a simple question to answer, and we should be grateful for the discussion it creates. No two people will have the same list of top ten creatures, nor will they create the same warband. Variety and customization are two of the strengths of Dungeon Command.

Without further ado, my list of top ten creatures:

d10-1



Vampire Stalker
Level – 4
Ability – DEX, CON, CHA
Damage – 30
HP – 80
Speed -- 6
Special – Life Drain: Whenever a target takes damage from this creature’s melee attack, this creature heals 10 Damage.

The Vampire Stalker has solid damage output for his level, but his Life Drain ability is what truly makes him a valuable creature. His combined melee attack and healing ability makes Vampire Stalker a strong tank piece. He is an attacking piece, so Life Drain acts as a wonderful passive ability to keep him alive. Furthermore, there are just three creatures with triple abilities (Bugbear Berserker, Dwarf Cleric, Vampire Stalker), so it comes as no surprise that all three made the top ten. Access to Order cards improves the stock of your creature, and the three abilities (DEX, CON, CHA) possessed by Vampire Stalker make him useful in most warbands. More appropriately, his three abilities make the Stalker the centerpiece of most warbands. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two INT cards, “Cloud of Bats” and “Vampiric Touch”, are Vampire Affinity cards and very powerful in their own right. The above reasons are why I consider Vampire Stalker the “best” creature in the game. Take a look at some of the Order cards he can commonly use:

DEX -- Riposte, Near Miss, Close Call, Quick Jab, Piercing Strike, Spring Attack, Stealth, Shadowy Ambush, Sneak Attack (with assist or Leveled Up)
CON -- Patch Up, Defensive Advantage, Tough As Nails, Unbreakable, Defiant Stance,Undaunted Surge, Regenerate, Reckless Attack, Feral Vitality, Victorious Surge
CHA –- Warning Shout, Call to Battle, Death Sentence, Hypnotic Gaze, Strength in Numbers,
Terrifying Revelation (with assist or Level Up)
INT –- Cloud of Bats (Vampire Affinity), Vampiric Touch (Vampire Affinity)
ANY -– Magic Short Sword, Level Up (to gain Adventurer keyword), Heroic Surge (with Level Up), Sacrifice


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Drow Wizard
Level – 2
Ability – DEX, INT
Damage – 10 melee, 20 ranged (10)
HP – 30
Speed -- 6
Special -- none

The Drow Wizard will not cause your opponent to gasp in terror when deployed, but he is THE glue piece in the game. He’s low in level, gives you ranged attack, and provides the all-important DEX-INT ability skillset. He has the “Adventurer” keyword, which allows you to use Heroic Surge. Throw an Arcane Ritual on the Drow Wizard and he’ll get you a card per activation. Many players would be hesitant to list a “squishy” creature so high, but his versatility makes him stand apart. He’ll help you fill any warband that uses DEX or INT because he doesn’t take up space and gives you more in return almost all the time. No creature in the game is viable in more warbands than the Drow Wizard. Consider these common Order cards with Drow Wizard:

DEX –- Riposte, Near Miss, Parry, Quick Shot, Spring Attach, Stealth
INT –- Arcane Ritual, Shield, Web, Faerie Fire, Blast of Force
ANY –- Heroic Surge, Behind Enemy Lines, Sacrifice


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Drow Priestess
Level – 3
Ability – DEX, WIS
Damage – 20
HP – 60
Speed -- 6
Special – Summon Spider: Deploy any spider within 5 squares.

Drow Priestess was a solid piece before the release of “Blood of Gruumsh” because of her ability to forward deploy Spiders and being the only creature able to use “Lolth’s Blessing”. The DEX and WIS abilities gave her access to many useful Order cards. the release of Gruumsh was a total gamechanger; two cards, “Beastmaster” and “Change of Plans”, turned Drow Priestess into a card-drawing engine that also buffs your beasts melee attack. Now the Priestess had access to Change of Plans (draw card), Scheme (draw card) and Lolth’s Blessing (draw card) to cycle through your deck. Beastmaster (a minor!) allows her to increase the melee attack of more than ten creatures with the keyword Beast, most notably Demonweb Spider, Giant Spider and Shadow Mastiff. So this one piece can both actively and passively give you hand advantage over your opponent as well as launch spiders straight into battle with increased attack power. Wonderful. Consider these common Order cards with Drow Priestess:

DEX -- Riposte, Near Miss, Parry, Close Call, Quick Jab, Spring Attack, Shadowy Ambush, Stealth, Sneak Attack (with assist)
INT –- Web (Drow Affinity)
WIS –- Beastmaster, Change of Plans, Cure Serious Wounds, Scheme, Lolth’s Blessing, Overseer’s Whip
ANY -– Secret Passage (for quick getaways), Reinforcements, Sacrifice


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Dwarf Cleric
Level – 3
Ability – STR, CON, WIS
Damage – 20
HP – 60
Speed -- 5
Special – Healing Touch: Tap – This creature or 1 adjacent ally heals 10 damage or removes 1 attached Order card.

Perhaps the most useful Special in the game, Healing Touch saves your precious Order cards and makes your enemy work harder to kill creatures adjacent to Dwarf Cleric. Resources are tight in this game (Morale, Leadership, Order Cards). Any time you can force your opponent to use more Order cards than you, that’s a good thing. Untapping at the beginning and end of your turn means the Cleric can heal up to 20 points in a game turn. The three abilities (STR, CON, WIS) give the Cleric access to many Order cards intended to support your warband. He is the top defensive creature in the game. Below are some useful Order cards for Dwarf Cleric:

STR –- Seize the Opportunity, Unexpected Resistance, Forceful Strike, Bone-Chilling Rally Cry, Hacking Frenzy
CON –- Patch Up, Defensive Advantage, Tough As Nails, Unbreakable, Defiant Stance, Tactical Block, Undaunted Surge, Reckless Attack, Victorious Surge
WIS –- Change of Plans, Beastmaster, Cure Serious Wounds, Scheme, Overseer’s Whip
ANY –- Heroic Surge, Sacrifice


d10-5



Bugbear Berserker
Level – 4
Ability – STR, DEX, CON
Damage – 20
HP – 90
Speed -- 7
Special – Whenever an adjacent enemy creature is destroyed, untap this creature.

Like the Vampire Stalker, the Bugbear Berserker possesses three abilities (STR, DEX, CON). His passive special has tremendous potential when combined with Order cards and supporting creatures. If you’re playing Bugbear Berserker, then he is your tank. Warband design is centered on getting Berserker into battle, then destroying creatures around him to untap and attack a second time. The Berserker has access to a wide array of Order cards than make him tough to kill and a heavy hitter when he swings for damage. Below are some useful Order cards for Bugbear Berserker:

STR -– Seize the Opportunity, Unexpected Resistance, Forceful Strike, Bone-Chilling Rally Cry, Hacking Frenzy, Invigorating Smash
DEX -– Riposte, Near Miss, Parry, Close Call, Quick Jab, Spring Attack, Stealth, Shadowy Ambush, Sneak Attack (with assist)
CON -- Patch Up, Defensive Advantage, Tough As Nails, Unbreakable, Defiant Stance, Undaunted Surge, Regenerate, Reckless Attack, Feral Vitality, Victorious Surge, Stomp
ANY -- Secret Passage (for quick getaways), Reinforcements, Sacrifice, Magic Short Sword


d10-6



Orc Chieftain
Level – 5
Ability – STR, CON
Damage – 30
HP – 90
Speed -- 6
Special – When you deploy this creature, you can reveal an Orc creature card of Level 3 or lower from your hand. If you do, gain Leadership equal to the revealed creature’s Level and immediately deploy that creature.

If you are running Orc Chieftain in your warband, you are running an Orc warband. Superficially the Chieftain appears to have limited viability, but take into consideration that four different creatures can be used with his ability (Orc Drudge, Orc Archer, Orc Barbarian and Orc Druid). Bonus leadership on the board with any of those four creatures will be useful, even if his HP is low for a level 5. Dual access to STR and CON abilities mean the Chieftain can either throw around some serious plus melee damage or add defensive CON cards to keep him alive. Going all-out for leadership, Bone-Chilling Rally Cry will further help increase your creature advantage on the board. Order cards:

STR -- Unexpected Resistance, Seize the Opportunity, Hurl Rock, Disrupting Attack, Forceful Strike, Bone-Chilling Rally Cry, Hacking Frenzy, Killing Strike
CON –- Patch Up, Defensive Advantage, Tough as Nails, Unbreakable, Defiant Stance, Undaunted Surge, Regenerate, Victorious Surge, Stomp
ANY -– Sacrifice, Secret Passage, Magic Short Sword, Fury of Gruumsh, Reinforcements


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Half-Orc Thug
Level – 3
Ability – STR, DEX
Damage – 20 melee, 20 ranged (5)
HP – 90
Speed -- 6
Special – Explosive Bolts: Whenever this creature makes a ranged attack, it deals 10 Damage to each creature adjacent to the target.

The Half-Orc Thug is one of those versatile supporting creatures in your band, much like the Drow Wizard. He will be a front line attacker, racing in to do moderate damage with repeatable “free” attacks via multiple activations. He is right at the sweet spot level (3) for STR and DEX. As a bonus, he is both melee and ranged, with a special ability that encourages you to use Quick Shot to hit enemies positioned adjacent to one another for splash damage. Being able to also use Bone-Chilling Rally Cry and Unexpected Resistance adds an extra level of pressure on your opponent. Did I mention the Half-Orc Thug has the Adventurer keyword? He has the Adventurer keyword. That means Heroic Surge is available to use. With so many activations and access to the shift-laden DEX cards, the Half-Orc Thug is a disruptive force on the board. Here are some useful Order cards for the Half-Orc Thug:

STR -- Unexpected Resistance, Seize the Opportunity, Forceful Strike, Bone-Chilling Rally Cry, Hacking Frenzy
DEX –- Quick Jab, Quick Shot, Riposte, Near Miss, Parry, Close Call, Spring Attack, Stealth, Shadowy Ambush, Sneak Attack (with assist)
ANY–- Heroic Surge, Secret Passage, Behind Enemy Lines, Sacrifice


d10-8

Demonweb Spider
Level – 1
Ability – DEX
Damage – 10
HP – 20
Speed -- 7
Special – Scuttle: This creature shifts when it moves.

When you’re deploying a creature, you should always consider how this creature will help you once it hits the board. What is this creature going to accomplish on the board? Will it benefit me (net Morale win vs. my opponent) or be a drain on my resources (Morale, Order Cards)? The Demonweb Spider is a net positive almost all of the time. The turn after deployment (or on the turn of deployment with Snig as Commander), you’ll likely send the Spider to claim a Treasure. Now at even Morale cost, anything you can do to increase your Morale (more Treasure) or hinder your opponent, that’s a net positive. If you can manage to sneak into your opponents side of the board to swipe a Treasure, then all the better. Or you could use the little guy to base one of your opponents larger creatures, buying you time. The low level and high maneuverability are assets of the Demonweb Spider.

Speaking of low level creatures, there is at least one Level 1 creature in each set (Elf Archer, Halfling Sneak, Goblin Cutter, Goblin Archer, Orc Drudge, Zombie). So why choose the Spider over other Level 1 creatures? While many Level 1 creatures are viable in competitive play, the Demonweb Spider jumps to the front because of the “Beastmaster” combo and his Scuttle ability. Orc Drudge certainly has merits, and is worthy of honorable mention on the top ten list because of his dual abilities, but said abilities are too low level to use the bulk of great STR and CON cards. Similarly, the Demonweb Spider is limited in usable Order cards because of his low level, but they are effective nonetheless. In a game that values activations over your opponent to gain an advantage, The Demonweb Spider is a heat-seeking missile with the DEX cards to do that last bit of unpreventable damage or harass your opponent. Order cards commonly used by Demonweb Spider:

DEX – Deep Wound, Piercing Strike, Narrow Escape, Quick Jab, Nimble Strike
ANY – Sacrifice, Secret Passage


d10-9



Dracolich
Level – 6
Ability – INT, CHA
Damage – 30 melee, 20 ranged (5)
HP – 110
Speed -- 6
Special – Large, Flying, Lightning Breath: Tap: As a standard action, make up to 3 ranged attacks. Each attack must target a different enemy creature.

I’m reticent to place anything so huge on this list because the high level can become an albatross around your neck, but the Dracolich is an exception with three ranged attacks for 20 melee damage. Similarly, I would not consider a large base creature for this list without some sort of terrain assistance, but flying addresses the issue. This makes the Dracolich not only a flying tank in certain warbands, but also a power pressure piece with his ability to use “Arcane Ritual”, “Call to Battle” and “Terrifying Revelation”. The INT and CHA abilities have some of the strongest cards in the game. Those cards force an opponent to target the creature using them, because you can’t allow someone to continually draw cards or gain Morale unchecked. If you’re planning to use Dracolich, never use more than two in a warband. No one can afford to have their creature hand clogged with unplayable cards. In a game with so much variety, you need to be flexible in your approach. Dracolich forces your opponent to react in a big way – even in their approach to attacking you because they can’t afford to take 60 damage divided between three creatures. Some common Order cards for Dracolich:

CHA – Warning Shout, Death Sentence, Fear, Hypnotic Gaze, Terrifying Revelation, Strength in Numbers
INT -- Shield, Cloud of Bats, Faerie Fire, Arcane Ritual, Fireball, Vampiric Touch, Gout of Fire.
ANY – Secret Passage, Reinforcements, Sacrifice


d10-1d10-0



Umber Hulk
Level – 5
Ability – STR, DEX
Damage – 30
HP – 100
Speed – 6
Special -- Large, Burrow, Confusion Gaze: Choose 1 enemy creature within 5 squares. Slide that creature 3 squares. Make a melee attack that deals melee damage.

If you want board control, Umber Hulk is your creature of choice. The Burrow ability allows him to duck under walls and avoid difficult terrain. Confusion Gaze increases his effective range by five squares to break through defensive formations and counteract the effect of being based by other creatures. The Umber Hulk has a long reach and hits for a solid 30 damage. The dual STR and DEX at level 5 effectively allow him to use the full complement of Order cards save for “Sneak Attack”. Much like the Dracolich, you don’t want to use more than 2x Umber Hulk in your warband because the high level can be prohibitive. He also makes tiles with doors and rooms more viable because you don’t have the same worry about terrain. Strongly consider using tiles that have hazardous terrain given his ability to push creatures around the board. The extra damage can mean the difference between winning and losing. Some common Order cards for Umber Hulk:

STR -- Killing Strike, Unexpected Resistance, Seize the Opportunity, Forceful Strike, Bone-Chilling Rally Cry, Hacking Frenzy, Invigorating Smash
DEX -- Riposte, Parry, Close Call, Quick Jab, Piercing Strike, Nimble Strike, Spring Attack, Stealth, Shadowy Ambush, Sneak Attack (with assist)
ANY – Sacrifice, Reinforcements


Almost. . .





Wolf
Level – 2
Ability – DEX
Damage – 10
HP – 40
Speed -- 8
Special – Whenever a target takes damage from this creature’s melee attack, tap the target.

Wolf should be considered for the top ten for the same reason Demonweb Spider made the top ten: he is a cheap, rangy piece with an nice special. The Wolf is not a primary piece in the game and he does not grab attention the same way as an Umber Hulk or Disciple of Kyuss. However, the function he provides is essential to controlling the board and setting you up for the kill. That makes him useful in many different warbands and for dealing with whatever terrain your opponent throws at you. Six creatures in the game have a speed of 8 or more (Wolf, Gravehound, Skeletal Lancer, Shadow Mastiff, Goblin Wolf Rider, Drider). Only the Gravehound matches Wolf speed for level, but the Wolf’s ability to tap creatures can’t be praised enough. In this game, a tapped creature during an opponents turn can mean death. So much of the set-up during your turn is to isolate a creature, get it tapped, then throw enough damage that your opponent would rather lose the creature than take the Morale hit. Wolf is the “1” in the 1-2 punch. He can be used in a “Beastmaster” warband and/or combo with the Goblin Wolf Rider. He is viable in any DEX warband. Some common Order cards you can use with Wolf:

DEX – Riposte, Near Miss, Parry, Quick Jab, Piercing Strike, Deep Wound, Nimble Strike, Stealth
ANY – Sacrifice, Secret Passage



Honorable Mention:
Disciple of Kyuss
Earth Guardian
Hobgoblin Sorcerer
Hypnotic Spirit
Orc Drudge
Orc Druid
Orc Cleric of Gruumsh
Shadow Mastiff
War Wizard


What are you top ten creatures and why?
Since you mentioned that the Orc Warchief is for an orc band, wouldn't it also be fair to mention the Lich Necromancer for an undead warband?  Being able to deploy undead creatures adjecent to him is a huge advantage especially if you're lucky enough to draw him early.  His INT and CHA are very useful not to mention his 80 hitpoints.  
I like the orc archer too because I believe that he's the most powerful archer unit in the game thus far.  It's so easy to harrass the enemy with a range 10 and a damage of 20.
Other than that, I would agree with your list; it's clear you're very well experienced with Dungeon Command. 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Khaysun, I think you raise a good point. His combined abilities and forward deploy look so tempting, but I've yet to see or create a viable warband centered around the Necromancer. If instead of forward deploy he had the Chieftain's ability to raise Leadership when deploying undead creatures, then I'd be singing a different tune. It doesn't help that he is an INT/CHA and the smaller creatures are CON (Zombie, Warrior Skeleton, Skeletal Tomb Guardian) and DEX/CON (Gravehound). Only Hypnotic Spirit aligns with the Necromancer in CHA. The rest are heavies that combined with Lich Necromancer's high level, make it prohibitive to play them together. That can hurt warband synergy.


Still, I'd very much like to see a strong Lich Necromancer warband. I think it's a cool miniature and a nice piece. He may be better suited for faction vs. faction play rather than custom warbands. Plenty of industrious warband creators out there. Let's see what they can create!
Copied from my post in the warbands thread, this was before Orcs faction, still not sure what best commander would be for this, I used to have Delthrin, but that was mostly useful because I faced quite a few goblin swarms. Anyway:

My current deck that has been treating me very well (background info being that I own two of every set, no more, no less):

Commander

??

Creatures (12)

Warrior Skeleton x4
Skeletal Tomb Guardian x2
Disciple of Kyuss x2
Lich Necromancer x2
Dracolich x2

Orders (32, because I can't decide which 2 to ditch):

Patch Up x3
Hulking Attack x4
Defensive Advantage x4
Reckless Attack x2
Feral Vitality x2
Warning Shout x3
Death Sentence x3
Unending Horde x2
Arcane Ritual x2
Fireball x2
Vampiric Touch x2
Gout of Fire x3

Lich Necromancer is by far the preferred card for opening hand, preferably along with a skeleton bodyguard. Failing that a Dracolich will do. Once you get a few kills in the Leadership bonus for commander kicks in and that's why this deck consists of higher average level than most decks I've played so far (if not all). I might have problems against a very defensive enemy like a turtle adventurer deck (haven't faced that with this deck yet). A couple of Strength in Numbers might help. These are wonderful if you draw them in opening hand, but completely useless further on in the game. Just about every card is more useful being drawn in the end game than Strength in Numbers so I left them out (for now, if I feel I am consistently struggling with Leadership in early game I might still add them).

As for the rest of the Order deck, it's a healthy mix of Con and Int/Cha. Half the deck consists of Con Orders that will protect my 6 skeletons or help them hit harder (with added advantages of drawing cards or gaining morale). The other half of the deck consists of Cha and Int cards that are all usable by my 6 Int/Cha ranged creatures. Basically my Int/Cha creatures lead from the back and aid the Skeletons (Unending Horde, Death Sentence, Warning Shout) while occasionaly laying down some fire themselves (Gout of Fire, Fireball). Vampiric Touch is there to make sure that my Leaders survice direct contact with enemies a bit longer, should any get to them.
Hi guys, I've just started playing and using my undead and kormyr boxes, I can't tell yet which are the "best" creatures but good info here Laughing !!!