The difficulty in building a monster deck is the tradeoff between variety and challenge. More of the same monster means more challenge, but less variety. More monsters in the deck also means the need for more minis.
Castle Ravenloft: 30 Monster Cards
3x Wolf (melee, 1 xp)
3x Zombie (melee, 1 xp)
3x Rat Swarm (melee aoe, 1 xp)
3x Kobold Skirmisher (ranged, 1 xp)
3x Blazing Skeleton (ranged aoe, 2 xp)
3x Spider (melee, debuff, 2xp)
3x Ghoul (melee, debuff, 2xp)
3x Skeleton (melee, 2 xp)
3x Gargoyle (melee aoe, 3 xp)
3x Wraith (melee, 3 xp)
Average xp value: 1.8. Total different monsters: 10
Wrath of Ashardalon: 30 monster cards
3x Snake (debuff, 1 xp)
3x Cultist (melee, defuff, 1 xp)
3x Kobold Dragonshield (melee, reinforce, 1 xp)
3x Orc Archer (ranged, 1 xp)
3x Cavebear (melee aoe, 2xp)-
3x Duergar Guard (melee, reinforce, 2 xp)
3x Grell (melee debuff, 2 xp)
3x Orc Smasher (melee, 2 xp)
3x Legion Devils (melee aoe, 3xp)
3x Gibbering Mouthers (ranged aoe debuff, 3 xp)
Average Xp Value: 1.8. Total different monsters: 10
Legend of Drizzt: 26 monster cards, plus 4 events
3x Goblin Archers (ranged, 1 xp)
3x Goblin Cutter (melee, 1 xp)
3x Hunting Drake (melee, 1 xp)
3x Hypnotic Spirit (melee aoe, 1 xp)
3x Drow Duelist (melee, 2 xp)
3x Spider Swarm (melee aoe, debuff, 2 xp)
3x Water Elemental (melee aoe, 2 xp)
1x Drow Wizard (ranged aoe, 3 xp)
1x Goblin Champion (melee, 3 xp)
2x Feral Troll (melee, 4 xp)
1x Dinin Do’Urden, Drider (melee, 4 xp)
Average xp Value: 1.85 Total Different Monsters: 11
2x Hunting Party
I like the Legend of Drizzt mix best; it has a variety of multiple and unique monsters.
My solution is a deck that is mostly 2 copies of a card. Double monster flips won’t come up as often, but they still will occur, and it allows for a decent mix of monsters. Now to figure out the most interesting monsters.
1 xp monsters:
All of the main sets have 3x each of four different monsters. I instead pick 2x of 6.
My picks: Hypnotic Spirit, Rat Swarm, Wolf, Kobold Dragonshield, Hunting Drake, and Orc Archer.. (It’s a tough call between that and Kobold Skirmisher for the ranged minion slot.)
Next, the level 2s. Again, I go with 2x of 6.
Cavebear, Water Elemental, Blazing Skeleton, Duergar Guard, Grell, Spide
The level 2 decisions are tougher. Spider Swarm is a fun aoe, but there’s already 3 others.
I tend to like all the threes.
I go with: Gargoyle x2, Wraith x2, Gibbering Mouther x2, Drow Wizard x1, Feral Troll x2, Dinin Do’Urden x1
I also add both Hunting Parties. Mwah ha ha!
My monster deck is 36 cards. 34 of those are monsters with an average xp value of just over 2. Also, 2 of the monster flips will be double monsters. Good hunting!
There are 22 different Boss Monsters. Some have very large figs, and there’s not quite enough room for all of them. Some of them are also rather boring. Most of the bosses are also double sided, so if you include one, there’s (mostly) no reason not to include the one on the other side.
Count Strahd, level 6, Awesome
Gravestorm, Level 6, Awesome
Young Vampire, Interesting, Semi-Weak
Zombie Dragon, Interesting
Flesh Golem, Interesting
Klak, interesting but weak
Howling Hag, interesting, dependent on crypt tiles.
Ashardalon, level 6, Awesome
Gauth, level 6, interesting
Rage Drake, interesting but fiddly
Yvonnel Banere, okay
Artemis, mostly boring
Balor, meh (and really big)
So the best ones are:
Young Vampire/Zombie Dragon
The bosses are packed pretty tight at this space, so there’s no room for any more large enemies, which eliminates a couple of options. I want to keep some more space in for weaker bosses that can be encountered with hordes of enemies. I add Methil/Artemis, Kraash and Meerak, and just Klak (no room for a Flesh Golem),
To cut down on setup time, storage space, and such, I’m cutting down the number of characters. With the three sets, there’s a massive choice of characters- 18 of them. I’m limiting the characters to one per class. However, they get to use the powers of the unused characters of that class. Will this make things more interesting? Probably. Will it increase set up time? Maybe. Needs playtesting.
Vistra, Arjhan, Bruenor Battlehammer
Arjhan’s Dragon Breath and Defender are probably the most fun. Vistra’s are useful but not terribly assertive. Bruenor is a bit too funky. Arjhan wins.
Immeril’s Lore is more useful than Heskan’s Mage Hand, hands down. Heskan’s dragonbreath is cool, but Fey Step is also very useful. Immeril wins.
Kat, Regis, Tarak
Regis has a strong ability (too-strong?) but he suffers from his at-will limitations. The question is: which is cooler: Kat’s Sneak Attack, or Tarak’s Furious Assault. Sneak Attack, bitches. Kat’s trap disarming is icing on the cake.
Quinn’s Saving Grace is much more interesting than Thorgrim’s Aid, and giving Quinn Thorgrim’s at-wills will make him more of a force to be reckoned with. Quinn breaks our streak of all Ravenloft characters.
Let’s face it, Drizzt is way overpowered. (His Expert Combatant is also poorly worded, which might possibly allow him to do 2 non-combat actions.) Allisa’s Scout kills him and takes his stuff, and while she’s at it, she get’s Cattie-Brie’s powers too.
These are all characters that are a class unto themselves. As mentioned before, CattieBrie gets the axe.
I’m going to try giving the Barbarian powers (many of which deal with being tough and healing) to Keyleth, the Paladin. Her ability is somewhat weak, but she now has an even better selection of powers to choose from. Also the cards are both light blue.
Jarlaxle and Artemis both have interesting powers. Together it’s a decent mix. I like Jarlaxle’s focus on items better, so he get’s Artemis’s powers.
Finally, there’s Athrogate, Battlerager. He just gets the cut, leaving us with 7 heroes, a decent mix.