It’s been my longtime policy not to post analyses of the stat blocks of unique villains on this blog, because I’d be a fool to think players don’t read it, too—in fact, I’ve encouraged them to—and going through every part of a BBEG’s kit is about as spoilery as it gets. Which is why the tactics of archdevils and demon lords are content exclusive to MOAR! Monsters Know What They’re Doing.
But there’s a problem, isn’t there? The content of MOAR! Monsters, at this point, is locked in, and it refers to the archfiends and their stat blocks as they’re described in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. The only place you’ll find updates reflecting the changes in Monsters of the Multiverse is right here. However, all the archfiends are changed in some way or another, and I can’t ignore them.
To resolve this conflict, I’m taking two measures:
- I’ve placed every section of this post and the next referring to a particular archfiend behind a spoiler box, which you have to open to read. There won’t be any accidental spoilers.
- As much as possible—and with more assiduity than I’ve bothered showing in my prior Monsters of the Multiverse updates—I’m going to confine my comments to precisely how these tactics differ from those in MOAR! Monsters.
With that out of the way, let’s start with the archdevils.
Titivilus suffers some losses in the spellcasting area, most notably greater invisibility, which he can no longer lead with. Fortunately, however, he retains mislead, and he can use it for largely the same purpose. This substitution seems at first to lessen the usefulness of Ventriloquism—you don’t need to throw your voice to make the illusory double of mislead speak on your behalf—but if you think about it for a bit, it simply lets Titivilus play a different set of games. He can still remain invisible, and he can still throw his voice around hither and yon, and if his enemies have already figured out that his double is fake, that doesn’t mean he can’t keep using it as a security camera while he makes them guess at where he might be instead. Plus, Frightful Word doesn’t do much for him if his foes can’t see him. (Does it work if they see something that isn’t Titivilus but that they believe is Titivilus? RAW, maybe not, but I’d say heck, yes.)
Feeblemind is also off the table, but that’s all right: Titivilus simply sticks with his Multiattack. Confusion and bestow curse are no longer on the list of B-list spells, but since they were the last two on the list, Titivilus should be fine, especially with his three additional Hit Dice and the damage type of his Silver Sword changed from slashing to force.
Bael’s Dreadful bonus action has been supplanted by a passive trait, Dread, that effectively does the same thing without requiring a bonus action; the one difference is that he can exempt non-devils of his choice if he wants to. Aside from this change, some damage reduction to his Hellish Morningstar and the replacement of the Awaken Greed legendary action with the more versatile Fiendish Magic, the only other significant change to Bael’s stat block is the loss of counterspell and inflict wounds. Simply delete them from the list of options.
Hutijin, it turns out, loses only three spells: heal, symbol and animate dead. The only upshot of these losses is that he can’t goose his hit points back up when he falls below 130 hp. The only changes to his stat block aside from this one are to the damage types of his weapons. Call it a win for Hutijin!
Moloch loses five spells: animate dead, burning hands, geas, flame strike and symbol. Burning hands and flame strike are the two that previously had parts to play in his tactics. Obviously, they’re out now. He still has confusion, but because it requires his concentration, which he has other plans for, it still fits poorly with the rest of his strategy.
Geryon loses geas and symbol—no big deal. He also loses divine word, which is a bigger deal. But divine word was always somewhat problematic for him anyway, because it’s most useful against a large number of badly wounded enemies, so the timing of it was difficult. As compensation, he gains a single, personal, non-lair-bound use of banishment, allowing him to eliminate a serious threat early on whether he’s in his lair or not, albeit at the cost of his concentration. And devoting his concentration to banishment means not devoting it to invisibility or wall of ice.
The calculus surrounding this use of banishment is the same as it is for his lair action that does the same thing. However, if he’s in his lair, it makes little sense for him to spend an action on his once-daily casting of this spell when he can use the lair action instead.
Poor Zariel, socked with a deduction of 11 Hit Dice! What did she do to deserve that, other than be totally evil? They took her Javelin away, too. The nerve.
By now, we expect that the changes to Spellcasting will affect her tactics the most. Only … she doesn’t lose any spells! In fact, she gains one: major image. I don’t know how much of a gain it actually is, at least in combat, but hey, she is a spellcaster first, so I’m sure she can find something to do with it.
Nope, it turns out that it’s the freaking javelins that make the biggest difference, because she doesn’t like to get within reach of her opponents’ weapons if she can help it, and polearms have a 10-foot reach. She can finesse this issue by timing her attacks so that another creature always takes its action after hers and before her polearm-wielding opponent’s, allowing her to use a legendary action in between to Teleport a safe distance away. Alternatively, she can also mess up ye Wēldere of ye Longe Stikke with one or more of her top three hurty spells, which is almost certainly her preferred solution.
Next: demon lords of the Multiverse.
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