Friday, June 25, 2010

Goblin Chevauchee Battlelore session report

After a long layoff the Young General and the Old Warrior returned recently to their familiar battlegrounds at Battlelore.

This time we finished off the scenarios of the Goblin Marauder pack by playing the Goblin Chevauchee scenario.

This is an unusual Battlelore scenario because it features an army made up solely of Goblinoids on one side. As matter of fact, humans are only a little more than a quarter of the combatants present, as almost half of the Standard army is Dwarves.

The Goblinoids so far have not earned a good reputation with either of us, and they were fated to continue their losing ways again this day, although both games ended up being hard-fought affairs.

Young General started off commanding the Dwarven-Human standard army. As is his practice he took Level 1 lore masters in each of the four classes of Wizard, Cleric, Rogue and Warrior and a Level 2 Commander. This has worked well for him in the past. While he gives up a lot -- smaller hand size of lore cards, no level bonuses, no strongholds -- he believes that's made up for by never having to pay extra for whatever lore cards he uses. He has a small had n size, but every card he draws is useful, in his opinion. He doesn't believe the strongholds are worth the trouble and only a few cards have level bonuses. Old Warrior likes to have choices and likes to trick around with the Strongholds, so he selected a Level 1 Commander, a Level 1 Warrior and a Level 3 Rogue. The Spider rounded out the War Council. The Rogue's Den was placed in the center section between the two Goblin medium infantry and the woods.

The game started with some long-range Goblin archery that picked off a dwarf. Young General believes in offensive play so he came off the hills with his dwarves and started a push on the left flank, followed by offensives all along the front as the cards allowed. As usually seems to be the case, the Goblins came off second best in their encounters with the Iron Dwarves, who were unfazed by Rogue infiltration behind their lines or the unusual stoutness of the band-inspired Goblin infantry. While the Pennant army of Goblins jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, the Dwarves roared back to end up with a 6-4 victory. A key event was a 3-Bonus strike die roll that wiped out the Hobgoblin heavy infantry in the center. As usual the Spider didn't pull its weight, failing to do much damage before falling to a critical hit.

The side switch brought dire predictions of doom from Young general, who was sure that the Goblins would let him down as usual. As it turned out, though, it was a very hard fight. Unlike Old Warrior, Young General knew how to draw some good cards and he was especially aided by an early Mounted Charge and also a Forest Frenzy lore card that each managed to do serious damage to several units and kill outright one unit each time.

As usual Young General spread out his War Council, although the Spider meant he had to settle for e Level 1 Commander. Old Warrior continued in his quest to prove that the proper strategy was to have a Level 3 lore master -- in this case a Level 3 Warrior and a Level 3 Commander. This provided the largest possible hand of 6 Command cards and 4 Lore cards. The Training Camp and the Commander's Stronghold were both placed in the center section in front of the small woods, with the camp nestled between the hill and the trees.

The Goblins do play to Young General's aggressive style of play, and the stout dwarves and less stout men had waves of Goblins dashing against their lines -- and doing quite a bit of damage, too, especially in the center and Dwarven left flank. The humans on the right were able to clear their sector, however and for three full turns both sides were locked in a 5-5 tie hunting for that last Flag. Time and again a single-figure unit on each side escaped what seemed like certain destruction until, finally, a surrounded Hobgoblin Ostrich Rider was caught without out a retreat path when a pair of flags were rolled on him.

After playing one game of the Goblin Riders and a match of the Goblin Chevauchee, Old Warrior's preliminary opinion is that the new Goblin units are all useful additions to that mercenary army.

The Goblin band died early in its exposed position in the Goblin Riders scenario, but it was very usefully well behind the lines in the Chevauchee and definitely stiffened the Goblin center sector.

The Hobgoblin Ostrich Riders are a fairly useful unit, being fast and flexible, although as a green unit they don't have much hitting power. They didn't play a memorable role in the first scenario but they were in the thick of the action in both Chevauchee games.

The Goblin Hyena Riders were the star units of the new set, however. They played an important shock role in all three battles. Their flaw, of course, is the Goblin Run, but if used carefully they can do a lot of damage. Young General's Hyena Riders made very good use of the Mounted Charge and their 2-hex pursuit to chew up several Dwarve units on the flank.

While not a new unit, the Chevauchee scenario in the Goblin Marauder pack put the Hobgoblin heavy sword unit front and center in the action. In both games the hobgoblins went down, but not before doing serious damage in return.

The Chevauchee scenario, in particular, provided a good, hard-fought battle both times and is a scenario I can see returning to.

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