Strategy Guide: 200 point Arena

In the penultimate part of this five-part article, Moraturi gives valuable strategy tips for my personal favorite format: 200 point Arena (5 creatures, small maps). Hopefully the warbands listed in this article will inspire interesting new designs for the Map Design Contest that's underway. Thank you again to Moraturi for the analysis! -Ira

200 Point Arena Format

The Arena format uses a base of 5 activations and is played on small maps. Unlike the Gladiator format, you can go higher than the base of 5 activations by using specific creatures, most notably the Mercenary General (Desert of Desolation 21/60, Rare, 42 pts) which can be used to get up to 6 activations. The biggest difference between Arena and Assault is that with fewer activations, there are less points to use on Fodder creatures so your main creatures in the warband will be a little more powerful as you can devote more points to them. You can still add in support creatures, but the Technical creatures become just a bit more vulnerable, so be cautious. Additionally, given the synergies and the slightly higher point values per creature, a number of Arena warbands will also be competitive in a 200 point Assault environment.

On small maps, the first round of engagement between opposing warbands tends to happen early, even as soon as round 1. More than a few good Arena warbands are actually designed to deal damage to the opponent’s creatures with their first activation. Map choice here becomes very important. You will want to choose a map that plays to your own warband’s strengths. With fast or ranged attackers, you will usually want a more open map. If you have a primarily melee focused band, you will want lots of hiding places to use before you can close in on your opponent’s band. The most open maps are the Crossroads map and The High Road. The maps which limit the sight lines the most are the Haunted Quarry and Windswept Precipice. The other small maps will generally fall between these with regard to how open they are. The small Mountain Lair map, for example, has a few open “corridors” for sight lines, but with the walls and forest terrain also has some hard-to-see positions which can be used. Likewise, the Tract of the Tarrasque is very good at preventing alpha strikes (one side protected by forest, the other by smoke terrain), but is wide open in the middle of the map. (Editor's Note: Currently the Tract of Tarrasque map isn't legal for tournament play, but it was in the past, and may be again in the future.)

It is difficult to successfully play a Titan build in the Arena format. Most players will opt to run with either 2 or 3 main creatures and a few support/filler creatures. A good starting template for an Arena warband would be one Champion (which will also fill the dual role of a Hitter or Tech), 2 Hitters, 1 Technical support creature, and either a low point Tech or low point Fodder creature to fill out the activations. Often the Tech will be downgraded to Fodder and the primary support and synergies will come from the Champion (or sometimes 2 Champions fulfilling different category needs). Every now and then you will encounter an Arena warband with 4 main creatures and either a Fodder or Tech creature to fill it out. Examples of each of these can be found below.

What follows is a list of a few of the 200 point Arena warbands that have appeared over the past few years in some tournaments. Some of these will be more competitive than others, and some will be more thematically based. There are simply too many good Arena warbands to list all or even most of them, but these should provide a reasonable set of examples from which you can derive your own warbands.

Graz’zt (Savage Encounters 19/40, Rare, 141 pts), Shadow Demon (Dungeons of Dread 16/60, Uncommon, 42 pts), Gnaw Demon (Against the Giants 17 pts) (Borderlands)Graz’zt is an interesting choice for a Titan build, given his damage reduction. In an Arena format, he will have fewer enemy creatures to eliminate, and you can typically force the location of the engagement by waiting to bring in his demon allies until later rounds.

Elminster of Shadowdale (Underdark 16/60, Rare, 100 pts), Raistlin Majerie (Night Below 14/60, Rare, 26 pts), Mercenary General (Desert of Desolation 21/60, Rare, 42 pts), Warhorse (Desert of Desolation 13/60, Uncommon, 16 pts) x2, Human Sellsword (Starter Set 3/5, Fixed, 14 pts) (Civilization)This is a strong warband and has consistently done well in major tournaments (1st at DnD XP in 2010, and 2nd in another major Arena tournament).

Rockfire Dreadnought (Savage Encounters 29/40, Rare, 98 pts) x2, Goblin Runner (Against the Giants 21/60, Common, 4 pts) (Borderlands)Low on activations, but excellent on a map with lots of walls.

Hill Giant Barbarian (War Drums 49/60, Uncommon, 78 pts), Wulfgar (Night Below 25/60, Rare, 54 pts), Warpriest of Hextor (Deathknell 45/60, Rare, 52 pts), Worg (Harbinger 80/80, Uncommon, 11 pts), Goblin Runner (Againts the Giants 21/60, Common, 4 pts) (Borderlands)Always a threatening warband to face. The Hill Giant can engage in melee on the first round and deal out a staggering amount of damage. Wulfgar makes another powerful Hitter on his own.

Gold Dragon (Deathknell 7/60, Rare, 70 pts) x2, Dwarf Battlemaster (Starter Set 1/5, Fixed, 31 pts), Delver Sergeant (Night Below 5/60, Common, 15 pts), Cleric of Yondalla (Harbinger 2/80, Uncommon, 14 pts) (Civilization)There are a few warband variations which use the Gold Dragon, but this is one of the more focused.

Large Deep Dragon (Underdark 52/60, Rare, 67 pts), Yochlol Tempter (Legendary Evil 40/40, Rare, 63 pts), Ambush Drake (Deathknell 30/60, Rare, 58 pts), Drow Assassin (Demonweb 20/60, Common, 7 pts), Blue (Giants of Legend 29/72, Common, 5 pts) (Underdark)One of my personal favorites and, I think, one of the strongest Arena warbands, this warband has a lot of synergies and tricks and can deal out extraordinary damage.

Death Knight (Deathknell 33/60; Dungeons of Dread 7/60, Rare, 65 pts), Specter (Deathknell 42/60, Rare; Savage Encounters 36/40, Uncommon, 44 pts), Skull Lord (Demonweb 27/60, Rare, 41 pts), Shadow Flayer (Demonweb 21/60, Rare, 40 pts), Plaguechanged Ghoul (Against the Giants 28/60, Uncommon, 10 pts) (Underdark)A fun Undead themed warband.

Red Wizard (Archfiends 37/60, Rare, 63 pts), Yuan-ti Halfblood Sorcerer (War of the Dragon Queen 60/60, Uncommon, 51 pts) x2, Kalastar Bodyguard (Night Below 9/60, Uncommon; Players Handbook Heroes 2 4/18, Fixed, 35 pts) (Civilization)This is an interesting Wizard themed warband which can have a pretty good showing, if you can get all of the boosted line attacks off.

Caller in Darkness (Unhallowed 49/60, Uncommon, 53 pts) x3, Skull Lord (Demonweb 27/60, Rare, 41 pts) (Underdark)Another strong Undead warband which is hard to take down since the Callers take less damage and you can move the hit points around. A variant of this warband replaces one of the Callers with an Earth Archon Rumbler (Legendary Evil 14/40, Rare, 49 pts) and a Zombie (Harbinger 58/60, Giants of Legend 40/72, Common, 4 pts) in order to exploit the synergies.

Moon Elf Fighter (Archfiends 20/60, Uncommon, 49 pts), Arcane Archer (Harbinger 15/80, Rare, 48 pts), Elf Arcane Archer (Against the Giants 60/60, Uncommon, 47 pts) x2, Mialee, Elf Wizard (Archfiends 10/60, Uncommon, 6 pts) (Wild)A variation on the Arcane Archer warband.

Moon Elf Fighter (Archfiends 20/60, Uncommon, 49 pts), Elf Arcane Archer (Against the Giants 60/60, Uncommon, 47 pts) x2, Qualinesti Defender (Players Handbook Heroes 2 11/18, Fixed, 39 pts), Mialee Elf Wizard (Archfiends 10/60, Uncommon, 6 pts) (Eversmoking Bottle) (Wild)Another archer variation with just a bit of ranged protection using the equipment.

Thrall of Blackrazor (Unhallowed 57/60, Rare, 43 pts), Mercenary General (Desert of Desolation 21/60, Rare, 42 pts), Shadow Flayer (Demonweb 21/60, Rare, 40 pts), Wand Expert (Angelfire 27/60, Uncommon, 33 pts) x2, Merchant Guard (Desert of Desolation 12/60, Common, 8 pts) [Greater Healing Potion] (Civilization)This is a strong warband with both melee Hitters and good ranged support. It has the capability of using targeted surgical strikes to take out important enemy creatures. It can also control activations.

Thrall of Blackrazor (Unhallowed 57/60, Rare, 43 pts), Mercenary General (Desert of Desolation 21/60, Rare, 42 pts), Skullcleave Warrior (Against the Giants 24/60, Rare, 39 pts), Oni (Dungeons of Dread 11/60, Rare, 38 pts), Wand Expert (Angelfire 27/60, Uncommon, 33 pts), Human Sellsword (Starter Set 3/5, Fixed, 14 pts) (Civilization)A variation of the previous warband with more melee and less technical creatures.

Some winning Arena warbands from previous years are listed below.

From the Europe 2013 Arena Tournament, held at the European Championships (12 warbands played):
Manshoon (Lords of Madness 28/60, Very Rare, 94 pts) [Sirokan's Seventh Sigil ( 8 ), Fenrir's Fabulous Fixative (4)], Nanamat, Ancient Lich (Dungeon Command, Undead, Fixed, 85 pts) [Fenrir's Fabulous Fixative (4), Mirror of D'Mitrios (4)] (Civilization) (on the Tract of Tarrasque, played by Peter Scott)

From the GenCon 2013 Arena Warbands (8 warbands played):
Beholder Lich (Unhallowed 31/60, Rare, 64 pts), Solamith (Demonweb 16/60, Rare, 58 pts), Foulspawn Seer (Legendary Evil 19/40, Rare, 55 pts), Rot Scarab Swarm (Desert of Desolation 32/60, Common, 19 pts), Skeletal Legionnaire (War Drums 39/60, Common, 4 pts) (Underdark) (on Monster Lair, played by Ira Fay)


alepulp's picture
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7 July 2011
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Just a note, it wasn't actually my warband that won - Antti Lusilla's won. He has an acid based warband.

Moraturi's picture
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I think my records of the finishing order are incorrect, then. I have lists for all of those, but apparently in the wrong order.

So I take it that the winning warband was:

Onyx, Glistening Death (DraCS 66), Shadow Flayer (DW 40), Digester (NB 39) x2, Shardsoul Slayer (DW 15) (Underdark on Spiderhaunt Vale)

alepulp's picture
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Yes, that's the one

kellywilson's picture
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