Ten Years of DDM: The Decade in Retrospect Part IV: The Guild Era
The retrospective continues with Part 4, Beginning in 2009. By now, the Guild was firmly in control of the game, and was facing the challenges assocaited with the more limited miniatures release schedule, and with balancing the metagame to make old minis new.
Product Releases for 2009
Feywild was announced as a set to be released, but was never published. Some of the figures originally intended for Feywild appeared in later releases like the Players Handbook Heroes sets. (The DDM Guild would later release a smallish set of 15 cards with the similar name Feymire.)
The Players Handbook Heroes I set was released. This set was released in 6 different booster packs each of which contained 3 figures. All figures were visible and the set had fixed packaging (it was non-random). There were a total of 18 figures in the set, with no differentiation of rarity. Four of the miniatures were repaints of previously released miniatures.
May 19th (originally scheduled for May 1st by WotC)
Dangerous Delves was released in booster packs which contained 5 figures (2 Commons, 1 Uncommon, 1 Fixed and 1 Rare). This was the first set to have a visible miniature in the packaging and 4 random figures in the booster. There were a total of 40 figures in the set, including a total of 8 Commons, 8 Uncommons, 8 Fixed and 16 Rares.
The Players Handbook Heroes II set was released in booster packs which contained 3 figures. All figures were visible and the set had fixed packaging (it was non-random). There were a total of 18 figures in the set, with no differentiation of rarity. Five of the miniatures were repaints of previously released miniatures.
Legendary Evils was released in booster packs which contained 5 figures (2 Commons, 1 Uncommon, 1 Fixed huge and 1 Rare). Legendary Evils contained Huge figures, all of which were packaged as the visible, fixed miniature. There were a total of 40 figures in the set, including a total of 8 Commons, no Uncommons 8 Fixed huges and 24 Rares including 12 large figures and 12 either medium or small figures. The set saw the coming of the Beholder Ultimate Tyrant, a controversial titan.
Savage Encounters was released in booster packs which contained 5 figures (2 Commons, 1 Uncommon, 1 Fixed, and 1 Rare). There were a total of 40 figures in the set, including a total of 8 Commons, 8 Uncommons, 8 Fixed and 16 Rares.
The sixth World Championship was open to anyone who wanted to participate. If a player had played in a qualifying event and placed highly enough, that player was afforded some number of byes into later rounds. Around 40 players participated in a single bracket. A maximum of 3 specific named figures per band was allowed (that is, a player could not run 4 or more of a single figure sharing a name), and there was a map rotation of Temple of the Unseeing, Fallen Fortress and player's choice (player's choice of map was limited to: Broken Demongate, Dragon Shrine, Magma Keep, Fane of Lolth, The King's Road, and Dwarven Outpost).
First place was won By Shayne Lindeman in the Wild faction and included the Cleric of Garl Glittergold, Catfolk Wilder x2, Free League Ranger, Xendrik Champion x2, Unicorn, Celestial Dire Badger, and Kenku Sneak.
Other popular figures included the Ambush Drake, Galeb Duhr, Gold Dragon and many of the previous year's figures.
Personally I played Ambush Drake, Cleric of Garl Glittergold, Catfolk Wilder, Xendrik Champion x2, Unicorn, Wild Elf Warsinger, Elf Warrior, and a Ravenous Dire Rat
The Metagame for 2009
In July, the Eternal Blade was temporarily banned (and so did not make an appearance in this year’s Championship. As WotC continued to produce miniatures, albeit at a slower pace (40 figure sets instead of 60), more figures started to filter into the metagame environment. Civilization continued to be a strong faction, but the Wild and Underdark factions also produced a number of viable warbands, as evidenced by the winning Championship warband.
From Dangerous Delves, a number of figures were experimented with, but none seemed to fit into the current, already powerful metagame for the 200 point assault format. Some figures saw more play in other formats like 500 point (in which the War Devil was a good choice, for example).
It was not until Savage Encounters that different creatures started to appear in the metagame. For a short time, the combination of Vampire Guildmaster, Adult Purple Dragon and support figures produced a warband that could destroy an enemy warband without leaving the start area. Going into 2010, revisions to the Vampire Guildmaster changed that strategy. There were also a few other specific card revisions made for creatures that had some game play issues.
Savage Encounters also saw the appearance of the some more usable Gith, the Goblin Skullcleaver, Graz'zt, and the Nightwalker Sinister as powerful creatures.
Product Releases for 2010
The Gargantuan Orcus figure was released as part of the Icons line.
Castle Ravenloft boxed set was released
Lords of Madness was released in booster packs which contained 8 figures (4 Commons, 3 Uncommons, and 1 Rare). This was a return to the random packaging of earlier sets, and also contained huge figures. Lords of Madness was the first (and only) set to introduce the rarity designation of Very Rare. There were a total of 60 figures in the set, including a total of 8 Commons, 18 Uncommons including 5 huge Uncommons, 22 Rares including 4 huge Rares and 12 Very Rares including 4 huge Very Rares.
This month also saw the DDM Guild release of the set of Epic Mages, which were high point value statistics for previously released miniatures.
Beholder Collector's Set was released
The seventh World Championship was open to anyone who wanted to participate. If a player had played in a qualifying event and placed highly enough, that player was afforded some number of byes into later rounds, although few qualifiers were held. Around 30 players participated in a single bracket.
First place was a warband by Joel Broveleit (demetrios) in the Wild faction and included the Gnoll Demon Adept, Solamith, Catfolk Wilder, Healer, Xendrick Champion x2, Worg, Kenku Sneak, and Gnoll x2
Personally I played an Underdark warband including the Large Deep Dragon, Ambush Drake, Drow Enforcer x3, Delver Sergeant, Twig Blight x2, and Warrior Skeleton x2
The Metagame for 2010
In 2010, the only major release was Lords of Madness towards the end of the year, so the metagame remained relatively consistent. However, there were some fun variations of warbands that appeared at GenCon this year. These were made possible because of the single major change in 2010: the DDM Guild released revised cards for the Catfolk Wilder, Delver Sergeant (2nd revision), Eternal Blade, Solamith, Vampire Guildmaster and Witchknife. This opened the playing field for many alternatives.
The DDM Guild also continued to be active with the release of cards for the creatures in the Dungeons and Dragons based Heroscape figures which did not already have DDM cards (the Beta card versions were available in late 2010).
The Delver Sergeant was revised the first (of 2) times. An original figure, it proved too restrictive to the overall design space for future miniatures, and its original superior uses had to be restrained.