Goblins and horses

23 May, 2010

Last Thursday I got over to John’s again for some SBH. I’d based quite a few figures over the previous weekend and worked out a number of warbands: goblins, a vampire and his minions and an angry mob. I’d also reworked my two Byzantine warbands and created one of ‘average’ figures: none with factors better than 3.

In preparation for these encounters John had reworked his warband of knights, making them all slow to reflect their armour, dropping one of them and reintroducing his two archers. I decided to face them with the goblins, who consisted of quite a horde:

1 Hobgoblin Boss Q3/C4 [42 points]
Evil, Savage, Greedy

1 Large Goblin Shaman Q3/C1 [40 points]
Evil, Magic User

2 Hobgoblin Overseers Q3/C2 [28 points]
Evil, Overseer, Greedy, Coward

3 Hobgoblin Warriors Q4/C3 [24 points]
Evil, Greedy, Gregarious

1 Large Goblin Standard bearer Q4/C2 [17 points]
Evil, Greedy, Gregarious

12 Lesser Goblins Q4/C1 [6 points]
Greedy, Gregarious, Coward

Overseers were treated as similar to Beastmasters, but only able to affect figures of lower points than them of a related race. This allowed them to affect the Warriors, the Standard Bearer and the lesser goblins, but not the Shaman or the Boss.

We used the terrain placement rules from SDS, which led to  quite a lot of terrain on my side of the board, as I was the defender. I deployed with three groups of a warrior surrounded by four lesser goblins, each the maximum for a group move. Behind these were the two Overseers, and the rest of the warband. As we advanced I found one knot of goblins ended up separated from each other when they tried to move without an order and one of them failed an activation. Very quickly Woodsman Wayne got within range and started popping of lesser goblins, fortunately without any gruesome kills. Nervous about the effect of such a kill I hurried to get the goblins into contact, but was betrayed by dice and repeatedly had only two actions for the two groups (even though as gregarious in range of a leader they were 2+. This stopped me from actually hitting any of the knights and only meant I was in range for them to hit me. It wasn’t long before the goblins had to make a morale check and started to scatter.

Woodsman Wayne shoots his first goblin. The two clusters of goblins can be seen advancing. The boss and standard bearer are close behind, while the overseers keep a safer distance from the from line. One group is stranded on the base line, as is the shaman, whose failure to activate had prematurely ended the turn!

Luckily they could regroup on the standard, but they were not making progress and the attrition on the lesser goblins was growing. I had one point where I surrounded one knight and killed him, but when I tried to get the boss to move into contact with a neighbouring knight, the useless slug managed only one action. In fact, he never used his weapon in the whole fight, as after that turn a knight inflicted another gruesome kill and it was all over, as the goblins scattered in all directions, with another morale check as they went under 50%.

The casualties start to mount as the goblins regroup after the first morale check.

This was an interesting encounter as we saw how dross performed. I’d had high hopes of a group of five goblins descending on a figure, surrounding it and causing a gruesome kill, but things didn’t go so smoothly. I often only got a pushback or fall and then didn’t have someone to exploit it. Also three mobs proved too unwieldy with only two overseers, and against quality troops the shaman would have been lucky to transfix anyone (he only got to try once). I’d not been expecting the archers, who proved very discomforting (I should have put the wood in the way of them! Next time a little less dross and perhaps some shooters might help. And of course better dice!

One aspect of the rules we were unsure of was fleeing near evil leaders. Can the fleeing figure move to avoid the evil leader or must it head past it if that is the most direct route? We played that they could seek to avoid the leader.

The next encounter was using the Byzantines again, and we decided to use all of them to make a warband of 500 points:

Isaac (Leader) Q3/C3 [100 Points]
Leader, Long Move, Mounted, Shooter (M)

George and John (Kavallarioi) Q3/C3 [2×68 Points)
Long Move, Mounted, Dashing

Alexius and Michael (Turkopouloi) Q3/C3 [2×70 Points]
Long Move, Mounted, Shooter (M)

Attila and Arpad (Pechenegs) Q3/C2 (1/3) [2×64 Points]
Long Move, Mounted, Shooter (M), Sharpshooter, Greedy

They faced a group of Scots, led by Gordon:

Gordon (Leader) Q3/C3 [60 Points]
Leader (Gordon)

Duncan (Magic User) Q3/C1 [40 Points]
Magic User

Brian and Derek (Archers) Q3/C3 [44 Points]
Shooter (L)

Philip (Knight) Q3/C3 [68 Points)
Long Move, Mounted, Dashing

Malcolm, Donald and Fergus (Warriors) Q3/C3 [3×30 Points]

Gavin (Standard Bearer) Q3/C3 (2) [30 Points]
Standard Bearer

Angus, Rex and Lucky (Dog) Q3/C2 [3×40 Points]
Animal, Long Move, Dashing

This was on an open field, apart from a wood and a piece of rough in one corner. I got off to a terrible start, having moves end prematurely about three times in a row. At one point Isaac was stranded from the rest of the group due to a complete failure to activate and surrounded by dogs by whom he was lucky not to be torn to pieces. Gradually, after much loud lamentation and complaints the dice started to behave, and I abandoned group moves, though almost always rolling 3 dice, which did, however, allow me to leave the leader till last.

Gordon leads his men into the rough, while Isaac tries to circle around them.

In the middle of the game my two Pechenegs were soon killed, by shooting. An attempt to attack a shooter by charging and then retiring only got a push back (of which, in fact, there were an unusually high proportion in this game). After that I concentrated on the rest of the warband, killing Philip with some aimed archery and one of the warriors with a charge. I got a lucky break when Gordon failed an activation roll leaving himself in the middle of the field on his way to reinforce the fight as he advanced from the patch of rough. Quick as a flash Isaac fell on him and killed him. The Scots fell pack on their standard (Gavin’s horn), but without a leader their efforts were hampered. Soon they were down to only three after another morale check (though they did manage to use a dog attack on George when he fell to good effect). At this point these three were scattered and I was about to ask if John wanted to concede; however, one of the remaining figures, the archer Brian, had passed in his flight quite near Isaac, and took an aimed shot that toppled him. With that single arrow the tables were turned and the remaining Byzantines scattered, giving a narrow victory to the Scots.

This was an interesting game, in which I was sure at the start I was going to get slaughtered, as I couldn’t get any actions going. The mounted proved useful in their mobility, but vulnerable to archery, and I would have been wise to concentrate on the archers, although that would have taken me into the heart of his warband, so I ended up fighting the warriors that came at me. The Pechenegs were particularly vulnerable, and really needed to be sheltered.

Another tactic might have been to attack his dogs and seek to scatter them with a gruesome kill, though they were out of range of the rest of their warband, so this would not have affected the rest of his warband, and I was kept occupied with closer enemies.

Although this warband did fairly well, it is fragile, as none of the figures are cheap; This makes it hard to have any back-line troops, such as a standard bearer, even though one is really needed, as their long move in flight is game-ending. I suspect a balance of foot and mounted might work better, but that really requires a larger warband. I also didn’t get to use the move-hit/shoot-retire tactic very much or to any great effect.

4 Responses to “Goblins and horses”

  1. Little Odo Says:

    Nice battle reports. I am tempted to buy the SBH rules set as it seems quite a bit of fun.

    I am currently trying to get a couple of 24AP Hordes armies together but it is slow going, so may do a bit of skirmish stuff first whilst waiting for them to be completed.

    Thanks for the inspiration, and I look forward to the next write ups.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Thanks. If you enjoy the style of HOTT/DBA, then I think you’ll like SBH. It’s also supported by a very lively and supportive Yahoo Group. I know about slow-going on painting up HOTT armies; I’ve only done one, the Goblins, and that’s recently been nibbled at for SBH! The other HOTT armies are either DBA ones with extensions, or just trial elements, of which the dwarves and a few others have been rebased for SBH, so I’m going backwards with HOTT at the moment.

  2. Stephen Says:

    Woodsman Wayne seems to have given a good Legolas impression. Would it be possible to add a few Psiloi types as cheap padding for the mounted group, otherwise you might downgrade the Pechnegs if they’re going to get shot so much.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      The odds were 4-1 or even 4-0 for an aimed shot, so it was a bit of a turkey shoot for Woodsman Wayne.

      As for foot with the Byzantines, I think they could do with some solid foot to retreat behind; this would reduce their vulnerability to archery. The Pechenegs are expensive because they are ‘mounted’ and have a long move’. The rest of their factors cost as much as these again, so it’s not really possible to get cheap mounted troops

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