Saturday, May 26, 2012

Meeting Engagement: Wood Elves vs. Goblins

So with Uruk-Hai month drawn to a close (I promise I'll get some good shots of Uruks in some of the upcoming informational posts), we're traveling northward to the woodland realms of Lothlorien and Mirkwood. I'm reading through the Lord of the Rings again in my spare time (only my third time, to tell the truth), and I really want to return to my first real Good army for this game. While doing the last few conversions for the spears, I'm looking to test each of the heroes and evaluate their performance. So, of course, I get my good friend Gaius and ask him to put together the most dangerous army he can from my meager collection. Naturally, he skipped the Uruks and even the Dwarves and turned to the Goblins for his answer. Here are the forces:

The Might of Lothlorien: 300 points

Haldir with Elf bow and armor - 80 points
6 Wood Elf Warriors with Elven blades and throwing daggers - 60 points
10 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf spears - 80 points
2 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf bows and Elven blades - 20 points
6 Galadhrim Warriors with Elf bows - 60 points

25 units, 9* Elf bows + 6 thrown weapons, 1 hero

The Denizens of Moria: 300 points

Durburz - 60 points
1 Bat Swarm - 35 points
16 Goblin Warriors with shields - 80 points
15 Goblin Warriors with spears - 75 points
10 Goblin Warriors with Orc bows - 50 points

43 units, 10 Orc bows, 1 hero

The scenario we will be playing is a Meeting Engagement game on a board that is 48" x 48". The game will be fought until one side is reduced to 25% of its starting size (6 Elves or 10 Goblins). If the side that is not at 25% has not been broken, a major victory is won. If both sides are reduced to 25% during the same turn, the game is a draw. We like this game because it's incredibly straight-forward and 25% of a fighting force isn't a lot of units (it's practically over at that point, right?).

The purpose of this game, of course, is to test the usefulness of Haldir, perhaps the best purchase for a unit at 75-80 points because of his Fight 6/3+, two shots each Shoot phase, Strength 3 bow, and Defense 5 (in this case, because we've equipped him with armor). The 3 Might points and Courage 6 also make him an excellent captain, capable of killing foes and keeping soldiers in the fight. Without archery protection, this game should be interesting.
The map has several woods (woodland terrain) and piles of rocks (normal terrain). A marsh sits on the northern board edge (difficult terrain). The Goblins won the roll off and have chosen to select the western board edge as their starting point (depriving the Elves of the two most valuable woods), ceding priority to the Wood Elves for the first turn.

Turn 1: First Blood (Priority - Wood Elves)
The armies move towards each other and the Goblin archers prepare to volley. 
During the Shoot phase, the Goblins landed three hits on the Elven battle line and succeeded in killing one Elf with spear.
Kill count: Wood Elves: 0/43, Goblins 1/25.

Turn 2: The Woodland Responds (P - Goblins)
The Elves are now within shooting distance, but the rocks in the middle of the map provide some cover for the Goblins. The Bat Swarm lingers in the trees but has moved up slightly, hoping to keep some cover between itself and the arrows and throwing daggers of the Elves.
In the Shoot phase, the Goblins volley again and score two hits, succeeding this time in killing an Elf with blade and throwing daggers.
The Elves respond with a fairly poor round of archery, but succeed in killing two Goblins with shields. 
Kill count: Wood Elves: 2/43, Goblins 2/25.

Turn 3: Heroic Orders (P - Gobbies)
The armies are now very close and the lines are drawing up for a hard battle. The Elves have split their company into three parts, focusing on each of the different divisions of the enemy (and each getting 3-4 shots into the enemy ranks).
Haldir calls a Heroic Shoot (I think my first ever) and has his three Galadhrim companions with bows leveled fire into the Goblin volley team. Their arrows stick on three targets and kill one of them. As a result, the Goblins become disorganized (unable to volley). The rest of the Elves, however, fail to take down their targets.
Kill count: Wood Elves: 3/43, Goblins 2/25. The score currently favors the Goblins, so I'm hoping that changes really soon.

Turn 4: A Swift Retreat, A Heated Pursuit (P - Goblins)
During this round, the only choice the Goblins have of avoiding throwing daggers from the Elves is retreat. So, in typical Goblin fashion, they charge headlong forward, hoping to run their enemy against the terrain. The Elves form up just outside of the next turn's charge radius and prepare to fire.
The shooting this round was, again, fairly poor. A Galadhrim archer and a Wood Elf with bow took down a Goblin with shield each and a Wood Elf throwing dagger killed another Goblin with shield. Haldir, in case you've been counting, hasn't killed anyone yet...come on, man.
Kill count: Wood Elves: 6/43, Goblins 2/25. The Goblins are 17 kills away from winning, while the Elves are 27 kills away...hopefully the archery gets better.

Turn 5: Precise Shots (P - Elves!)
The Elves dance away from the Goblins, moving 5" away to keep from being charged. In a future post (a very near future post), I'll discuss a few of the strategies of a skirmish army, but this one focuses on maximizing distance from the enemy and making sure that I'm not charged when I don't want to be. The Goblins, of course, stay out of throwing dagger range, since they couldn't charge me next turn anyway.
The Elves level another "deadly" volley: Haldir pays a Might point (sigh) to kill a Goblin with shield, while a Wood Elf warrior with bow shoots a Goblin spearman in the head. Come on...come on...
Kill count: Wood Elves: 8/43, Goblins 2/25.

Turn 6: Whittling The Enemy Down (P - Goblins!)
Ok, so I'm really happy the Goblins got priority this turn. The Goblins surge forward, knowing that I'm running up against the edge of the board. However, with the space I still have, the Elves dance backwards, staying in shooting range and engaging a few lone Goblins who have come out of the rock-work.
In the Shoot phase, the Elves kill two Goblins, including one who could have charged the Elven archers next turn (yaye). The other Goblin was killed by a throwing dagger, which successfully paid for the investment in throwing daggers.
In the Fight phase, the Bat Swarm defeated the two Elves it was fighting and killed one of them (yuck). The Elven archers won their fights, killing one of their foes.
Kill count: Wood Elves: 11/43, Goblins 3/25. The Elves are 10 units from breaking and the Goblins are 11 units from breaking...this would be really good if Durburz weren't here.

Turn 7: A Clash of Arms (P - Goblins AGAIN)
The Goblins move in close, but swoop in with the Bat Swarm to engage one of my throwing dagger Elves. This is a bummer, because I can give up on a comrade or risk open warfare (which should be pretty even at the moment). With a noble yell, the Elves throw their throwing daggers and charge (killing none).
In the Shoot phase, the Goblin archers killed a Galadhrim bowman...and the Goblin he was facing. Hehe... The Elves loosed their arrows and killed two, one shield-wielding kill for Haldir and one supporting spearman for a Galadhrim.
In the Fight phase, the Elves and Goblin on the right failed to kill each other (fine by me, just so long as I didn't lose anyone).
In the other fights, the Elves came out strong and killed three Goblins but lost two in return (to Durburz, who used 1/3 Might to kill his foe, and one to the Bat Swarm, who has nearly paid for himself after two rounds of combat down-handed).
Kill count: Wood Elves: 17/43, Goblins 6/25.

Turn 8: The Ground Is Stained (P - Goblins...really?)
The Goblins charge at the Elves and hope for a better round. Some of the Goblin archers prepare to shoot at more Elves who are, of course, in combat.
In the Shoot phase, the Goblins fire at an Elf who is fighting a Goblin with shield and land four hits...on the Goblins...who subsequently suffers lethal blows from three of those four hits...bummer. I had to look up the rules, because my next question was, " can my Elf shoot now?" The answer was no: models who are engaged in combat during the Shoot phase are banned from shooting that turn (p. 24 of the Mines of Moria rulebook). With no Elven archery, the Fight phase commenced.
Several of units died in the Fight phase: four Elves died and the Goblins lost one spearman and the Bat Swarm. With the fall of the swarm, the Elves have secured dominance in Fight value over ALL of the enemy units at ALL times, but consequently are very short on units. 
Kill count: Wood Elves: 20/43, Goblins 10/25. The Goblins are 2 away from breaking while the Elves are 3 units from breaking...this is going to be really close.

Turn 9: The Prowess of the Woodland (P - tied, Wood Elves)
The Wood Elves charge at the Goblins and kill one with a throwing dagger. All of the Goblins there have been engaged and three Elves are supporting in critical fights. The Goblins are busily trying to consolidate their force and gang up on the Elven archers. Nothing happened in the Shoot phase.
In the Fight phase, Haldir killed his man by using his last Might point (3/3) and his fellow Elves succeeded in killing three other Goblins (no Elves were killed this round). 
Kill count: Wood Elves: 25/43, Goblins 10/25. The Goblins are broken and the Elves are 3 units is currently very good.

Turn 10: The Toll Rises (P - ELVES!!!)
So Durburz (F4) is stuck in a sea of F5 Elves and he's the only hero they have. The Elves tactically withdrew from most of the foes and focused on Durburz and his three closest companions (and two other guys because of their control zones). The rest of the force could decide if they stayed or not. 
You can see here that five Goblins fled the field, putting the Goblins 3 units away from losing the game. My Elves are 3 units away from breaking and 9 units away from losing the game. Anything can happen, but not this round (as I could only lose 8 units).
In the Shoot phase, Haldir killed two Goblins (yaye - finally), shooting one through the head and the other through a loose link in his mail. The nearby Galadhrim grazed another Goblin, but failed to score a wound.
In the Fight phase, Durburz fought on strong, slaying both of the Elves assailing him without the use of Might. One of the Goblins nearby killed an Elf as well and one of the nearby Goblins fell to the Elven spears. With this death, the game was over.
BUT, the Elves weren't finished yet: in the other fights, they slew two more Goblins, further racking up the kills for the game. With a shout of triumph, the Goblins melt away, fleeing before the woodland's defenders.
Kill count: Wood Elves: 30+5/43, Goblins 13/25. Minor Victory for the Elves because their force was broken (barely).


Assessment by Tiberius:

So that was pretty close: the Goblins failed to take more than few archery hits each turn but ultimately failed to get into combat and capitalize on it until the end. At the close of the game, Durburz had two companions near him and were fighting off six Elves, which isn't a good match-up, but it's not a poor one if you have more units elsewhere on the board. The Elven archers did some heavy damage as the enemy closed on them and then backed up their archery with blade work. Haldir, though, was a bit of a disappointment, as he struggled to get 5 kills this game. Still, happy day for the Elves.

Assessment by Gaius:

Well, that was closer than I've seen Uruks (or Dwarves, recently) come, but that was interesting. To have nothing in the army except Goblins and a Bat Swarm is both challenging and very exciting. All told, I wasn't sure if the strategy would work, but it was nice to have lots of units to take the fire at the beginning. The Bat Swarm began as a real help, too, as he was able to kill two Elves before being mercilessly surrounded and bludgeoned. Oh well, next time. It was also nice to keep the Elves out of the woods, which traditionally keep the games from being close at all.

Stellar unit for the Wood Elves: Galadhrim Warrior with Elf bow

If you peg a victory star on consistency, the Galadhrim Warriors with Elf bows get it. From a distance and up close, they did a great job today, scoring 4 kills with their bows and 4 kills in melee. Though this only pays for four of them, one of these guys was "left behind" in the foreground and not only won every fight he was in, but also killed a Goblin while being surrounded by superior numbers. All told, I'm really happy I chose to buy these guys from Zorro and they truly are welcome additions to the army. I look forward to finishing them this month and exploring some of the possibilities of their supporting hero choices.

Stellar unit for the Goblins: Goblin Warrior with spear

I used to say I don't give these guys the credit they deserve, but lately, they've been getting most of the credit. I must admit, they can surprise me when they win (and then kill) their adversaries all by themselves. The Goblin spearman is one of the iconic Goblin units in the movies and certainly helps them be a viable army, as their low Fight value needs to be compensated with supporting attacks. An honorable mention is given to the Goblins with Orc bows, who succeeded in killing three Elves and two Goblins.


  1. wow. I think we have found an army even more cowardly than greenskins... ;)

    1. "Cowardly," perhaps, is not the right word. As all Elven players know, charging into a force that is larger than your own is a bad idea. In the upcoming post on skirmish tactics, I'll explain why this army in particular benefits from delaying the fatal charge until the melee can be close. In the meantime, this is just how the Wood Elves are supposed to be run.

    2. I know full well _why_ they don't charge headlong into battle. That doesn't mean I won't take the opportunity to rag on the daisy-sniffing pointy-ears. ;)