Tuesday, 29 October 2019

The Gob-Off: Chapter 1

In the wild, eastern fringes of the Border Princes, in the shadows of the World's Edge Mountains, something terrible stirred. Rumours spread of a nameless evil, ancient and malevolent. They spoke of the doom of the world...

But we're not here to talk about that. In far less ominous news, the Goblins were restless. The tribes were on the move, and their collision was certain to spark great rivalries of pettiness, spite and unwarranted ambition.

It began with an unfortunate farmer, who had been growing some rather interesting mushrooms in his fields...

The night goblin camp was haphazardly arranged, right across the trail. Well, "camp" was a strong term for it. Really they had all just collapsed in the shade under some nice big trees, desperate to hide from the daylight. They lay about in small clusters, moaning about their eyes and the burning hot sun, hidden though it was behind considerable layers of cloud.

The shaman of the tribe, Mush the Magnificent (the last two words were silent), sat on a rock at what had been the head of the column. He sighed, squinting up at where the sun might be, as though it could somehow tell him the time. This was the third time they had stopped, and he was starting to let his impatience show.

Nearby, his brother Room was still on his feet, although he had dumped most of his gear against another rock. He was huffing and snarling as he did his best to look intimidating. He flexed his scrawny goblin muscles yet again, encouraged by the small gasps and wails that came from others as they lay nearby. Room was intent on winning this show of power against this opponent that had the temerity to stand up to him. Unfortunately, this opponent was in fact his own reflection, showing dimly in the beaten metal shield he himself had recently discarded. Room apparently hadn't noticed he was competing with himself. Mush sighed again. Room was an imbecile.

Room's posturing was in fact partly Mush's fault. It was his idea to give his brother the Shrieking Blade he had found, and Room had immediately noticed the frightening aura he seemed to have around other members of the tribe. Even now, sheathed at his hip, its menacing presence could be felt by those who had collapsed nearby. He was far too dim to realise it was actually the blade that made the others scared of him, and it had done wonders for his self confidence. 

Of course, now Room was convinced that he ruled the tribe, and Mush had to work overtime to ensure that he didn't so something truly stupid like issuing orders. That was why he had also given him the honour of carrying the tribe's battle standard. The flapping banner was just enough distraction that Room would be in little danger of having any ideas of his own. 

With Room under control, Mush basically had the leadership of the tribe to himself. Which was great, if only he could get the sluggards moving again. This was meant to be a raiding party: they were on their way to steal the curious mushrooms that had been spotted growing in a farm nearby. But this raid was taking forever, and Room knew if they had heard about the mushrooms, others might have as well. They couldn't afford to be this slow.

He sighed yet again. He admitted to himself that for all that he was the brains of the operation, he had trouble whipping the troops into line. Room's aura of intimidation did have its uses.

"Room, we needz ta moov," he suggested to his brother. "Better show 'em who's boss eh?"

Room gave an unleaderlike squeal of excitement at this invitation to show his authority, and forgot for the moment about besting himself in a flex-off. Snatching up his banner, he began shouting at those nearby, who howled and scrambled to their feet, desperate to stay away from his inexplicably scary person.

Mush smirked as he watched his plans in action. With his level of cunning, nothing could stop them.

***

The goblin column marched quickly through the trees, the clatter of ramshackle armour and weaponry occasionally accompanied by a snarl from one of the wolves loping alongside. Anyone familiar with the chaos of a goblin advance would have been astonished by the discipline being displayed; these goblins almost behaved like proper, obedient soldiers. It was most unnatural.

At the head of the main column was their proud leader, Skuzzbutt. He sat atop his huge, hairy spider Fuzzbutt as it scuttled along the path. He did not steer; he did not need to. And he didn't know how. But that didn't matter, because he and Fuzzbutt were one, and they moved with one mind (most of the time). 

Skuzzbutt's troops were a model of goblin military prowess. He had spent many moons watching the humans and stunties at work, and he knew what could be a achieved with practice, equipment and the careful feeding of dissenters to a very large and always-hungry spider. He knew his army was unmatched among goblin-kind. 

And now they were on a mission to teach some manners to the uppity human farmer that lived in the foothills. The fool had recruited help from the nearby village and attacked Skuzzbutt's wolf riders as they were helping themselves to his sheep. Well, he would learn the error of his ways. And then the villagers would pay too. They had no idea who they were messing with, and their pitiful defences would offer little protection against Skuzzbutt's noble goblin legions. They would all pay, and Skuzzbutt's fame would grow, inviting more to join his cause. It was inevitable. Nothing could possibly go wrong.


The Gob-Off

An all-goblin campaign in Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition (with selected tweaks).


Chapter 1: The Fungus Farmer

Right, so Tim and I have been talking about doing an all-goblin campaign for a while, and we had the opportunity to set it all in motion on the weekend. I won't pretend it was really carefully planned, but the intent is to chain together a series of games with a narrative theme, so we can show the world who is the supreme goblin, and all that guff. We deliberately started with a very small game and not a lot of special toys, so show that these are petty, up-and-coming rivals rather than proper, established warbosses. We also capped magic items at 25 points.

Skuzzbutt's Goblin Legion

  • Skuzzbutt - Goblin Warboss on Gigantic Spider with Sword of Might, Gambler's Armour, Shield
  • Ballitch - Goblin Shaman (Level 1) with Itchy Nuisance
  • Razzie - Goblin Big Boss with Additional Hand Weapon
  • 20 Goblins with Light Armour, Shields, Full Command, 1 Nasty Skulker
  • 20 Goblins with Light Armour, Shields, Full Command, 1 Nasty Skulker
  • 10 Goblin Wolf Riders with Light Armour, Shields, Spears, Full Command
  • 5 Goblin Wolf Riders with Light Armour, Short Bows, Musician
  • 5 Goblin Wolf Riders with Light Armour, Short Bows, Musician
Behold, my mighty goblin legion. Honestly this was a "what does a goblin army look like with no big toys, artillery, or night goblins" type of effort. And yes, there is a naked hero in there. He filled up the points nicely... Also you can see how lowly my shaman is by the fact that he's represented by a basically naked war machine crewman. I really need a better painted common goblin shaman...

Mush and Room's Musty Horde
  • Mush - Night Goblin Shaman (Level 2) with Talisman of Protection, Itchy Nuisance, Sneaky Stabbing
  • Room - Night Goblin Big Boss with Battle Standard, Shrieking Blade, Light Armour, Shield
  • Max Club's Jabbas - 20 Night Goblins with Spears, Shields, Full Command, 1 Fanatic
  • Clasha's Stickas - 20 Night Goblins with Spears, Shields, Full Command, 1 Fanatic
  • Jabba's Stabbas - 22 Night Goblins with Shields, Full Command, Netters
  • Shifty's Arrers - 20 Night Goblins with Short Bows, Full Command
  • Mad Bounders - 10 Squig Hoppers

Tim is a brave man. He decided he would go all night goblins, and then decided to have twin heroes leading the army, before giving the BSB to the fighter so the shaman could be in charge. That gives his general a leadership of 5. That is heroic. Granted, he gets a re-roll. But my leadership of 8 (without a re-roll) was looking pretty good...

So there you have it. Can a few units of wolf riders negate the threat of a couple of fanatics? Let's find out.

Deployment
We played on a 4x4' field given the tiny size of the armies. This battle was for control of the farm. Whoever held it at the end of the 6th turn would be the victor!

 Max Club's ladz went hard on the flank, with the Squig Hoppers lurking in the forest.
 That's Mush the shaman on the right end of the unit, with his brother Room next to him.  
 Shifty's archers took the other flank.
 On my side of the field, wolf rider archers held the flank.
 Skuzzbutt sat amongst the trees, as you do when you're on a spider and can disrespect such things.
 Razzie and Ballitch each led a unit of the infantry.
Vanguard moves saw my forces creep around the flanks. I then won the roll for first turn, but gave it to Tim, figuring I'd like to charge the archers in the first turn (which I couldn't if I went first, due to vanguard)...

Turn 1
Despite their mangy wolf riders approaching around the flanks, the enemy seemed strangely hesitant to engage in battle. Mush had no such qualms, and ordered his forces forward. Room immediately parroted him by howling a general advance and waving his flag around maniacally, and this prompted the mob actually to actually do what Mush had intended...
The archers were an exception, as they had spotted the advancing wolf riders and unleashed a volley of arrows in their direction...
Results exceeded expectations, as 3 of the riders were knocked from their mounts and the remainder lost their nerve and turned with a yelp to flee.
The squig hoppers burst from the trees with wild enthusiasm, launching themselves madly toward the nearest wolf riders (15" dontcha know).
The rest of Mush and Rooms' forces could hardly keep pace with the squigs, but they advanced steadily toward the farm. 
If the gnashing teeth of the squigs concerned them, the wolf riders didn't show it. Instead they were seized by a moment of wild (and ill-advised) enthusiasm, ignoring the orders being shouted by Skuzzbutt from the trees, and charged headlong into the bounding squigs. 
The other wolf riders backed away from the approaching night goblins, wary of the threat of fanatics, and began a fruitless campaign of trying to shoot them to death (well, to panic)...
The wall seemed a likely defensible position, and so Skuzzbutt settled in behind it, accompanied by Razzie's troops.
The fleeing wolf riders recovered from their moment of panic, safely hidden as they now were  behind the hill. The other goblin regiment attempted a swift reform, but the efforts of their musician were frankly atrocious, and they ground to a halt.
What happens when 5 wolf riders charge 10 squigs? The details are too graphic to be included here, but suffice to say it was pretty horrific. They did manage to take down a squig before they went, however. 

Turn 2
Mush cackled as he listened to the chainsaw noise of the squigs going through the hapless wolf riders. Everything was proceeding as he had foreseen...
Having dealt with the wolf riders so easily, the squigs turned and leapt at the flank of the goblins, who until now had thought themselves in a solid position behind the wall. At the same time, Clasha's Stickas charged in from the front, buoyed by the looks of panic on the enemy faces as the squigs bore down upon their flank.
As they moved, the night goblins ejected their hidden fanatic out of their midst, ensuring his lunatic twirling would not interfere with their charge.
On the flank, Max Club continued to urge his ladz toward the sneaky wolf riders, waiting for the change to release their own fanatic...
Brandishing his enchanted blade helplessly on the sidelines, there was little Skuzzbutt could except shriek encouragement and threats to help keep his warriors in line. 
As the lines crashed, a cloaked goblin pushed his way to the fore, brandishing wicked daggers in either hand. A nasty skulker! With a howl he threw himself at the squigs, and before they had time to even gnash their teeth, he had... done nothing. Turns out he was a pillow-fisted nobody. You are right to hide beneath that cloak. Shame on you!   
The carnage that followed was once again pretty unspeakable. Goblins died in droves as the squigs chowed down on them in a big way. Those that survived fled with high-pitched screams, the utterly disappointing skulker among them. But that's OK, because the squigs ate all of them as they fled.
Skuzzbutt did his best to ignore the devastation that had occurred right next to him. Instead he watched as the victorious night goblins refused to pursue their victims and instead broadened their line to defend the wall. 
They didn't have long to wait, as the second regiment of goblins immediately charged in alongside the spider as Skuzzbutt urged it forward into combat.
The fight was brief, but the presence of the warboss and his spider proved decisive. The night goblins fled, with Skuzzbutt in pursuit. The goblins held their position, wary of the enemy reinforcements lurking around the corner.
The fleeing night goblins were ridden down mercilessly, but there were plenty more where they came from...

Turn 3 
Mush giggled as his minions fled. Yes, they were broken. But the enemy boss was right where he wanted him. He didn't even need to prompt Room this time. He was already howling a bloordcurdling shriek as he led the troops into the fray.
Meanwhile a fanatic was becoming one with nature. 
The critical showdown between Skuzzbutt and Mush (who brought his brother and 22 of their close personal friends as moral support). 
 If Skuzzbutt held his ground here, the enemy flank beckoned.
This would normally be a really bad situation, but this is actually after the squigs had hopped closer. You see, the goblin shaman Ballitch had cast Itchy Nuisance upon them, and crippled their movements. Hopefully this would be all the time the goblins would need to dispose of their shifty robed cousins. Of course, as you can already see here, it didn't work.
Mush, Room and the gang were already reforming to face their would-be assailants... 
...as Skuzzbutt fled through the enemy lines to safety.

It's worth noting that Tim made a decision for the sake of the game here. When that combat happened, the obvious move was to challenge with the champion. But given he was about 6 combat res up already, there was not much chance of Skuzzbutt (who also got netted) fighting his way to victory. And it would have been pretty lame to just let the champion take the fall. So instead he let Skuzzbutt lay into the unit. He was rewarded when I rolled maybe 2 wounds anyway. Karma, maybe. Also, how the hell did he restrain pursuit on leadership 5, even with a re-roll? I would have had a flank anyway without that roll. Clearly Mush was a better leader than the numbers suggested!

Mush's gloating was cut short as the howl of wolves heralded a new threat. With the fanatic out of the way, the wolf riders raced across the field and plunged into his regiment's flank as the goblins pressed home their charge over the wall.
It had been a long, gambled charge and one of the wolf riders didn't make it through the trees intact. But it was exactly what Mush and his ladz did not need.
Oblivious to this turn of events, Skuzzbutt continued his headlong flight toward safety. What a leader. What a guy!
At this critical point, the nerve of the night goblins failed them. Attacked on two fronts and with another nasty skulker flailing around in their midst, their resolve collapsed. They turned to flee, with Mush and Room both disappearing in the stampede as they tried and failed to elude the pursuing enemy.
Now leaderless, the night goblins would have to rely upon their own leadership value of 5... So everything was pretty much the same as before then, I guess.

Turn 4
One general had fallen, and the other was fleeing shamefully from the field. This was goblin generalship at its finest.
Clearly believing his flight to be a ploy, Shifty's archers reformed to face him in a deep, combat-oriented formation. The squigs continued to bound after the enemy, their speed having returned to them once more. 
On the flank, responsibility for controlling the farm was quickly falling to Max and his spear-wielding companions. Realising they would never catch the wolf riders, they focused upon the mission instead. 
With the position of the swamp, the wolf riders saw their opportunity. The fanatic couldn't get in the way without drowning, so they charged. Unfortunately they also were not as good at doggy-paddling as they thought. Two of their number immediately sunk into the mire, and the rest found this sufficiently unnerving to abandon their charge, and instead turn and immediately flee the field! Somehow I feel I got comprehensively baited there...
Aha, Shifty was right! Skuzzbutt did indeed rally at the last moment, and the wolf riders were now looking ominously at the rear of the archers... 
Control for the farm is looking a little dicey at this point. Well actually, with those squigs there, the night goblins surely have it.

Turn 5
The goblins still had a nasty skulker up their sleeve and they had turned to face the squigs. Maybe they could hold this time? No, I didn't think so either... 
But what is this? The squigs decided to chance a longer bounce and went instead through the forest and into the flank of the wolf riders as they menaced the archers! This was another gamble, but the night goblins had gotten away with it.
On the other side of the forest, the goblins breathe a sigh of relief and try to ignore there being 1 more turn after this...
The wolf riders disappeared in a cacophony of yelps, howls and chomping noises, but eyes were now on Skuzzbutt, who was charged by the fully ranked up mob of archers. Again, Tim decided to play the gentleman and elected not to challenge, leaving it up to Skuzzbutt to do enough to keep himself on the field. In the end he cut down 4 night goblins, meaning he was beaten by the gong. Literally. The night goblin musician had a gong, and that was how much he lost by. Thankfully he managed to hold his ground this time. There was hope!
Stupid random-moving skirmishers! How are we meant to escape them?? Well, I know how. Do you..?
Itchy Nuisance again! But wait, what sort of casting roll is that? That is appalling! No, the spell did not get through.
As the Ballitch and his mates failed to grasp at straws, Skuzzbutt was getting into the swing of things against the archers. He now had the upper hand and they fled, however they also outran him as he pursued. At least they were unlikely to rally.
The battle was almost over. But it all rested now on the squigs slowing down and failing to make it to the rear of the goblins, or else they would face the same fate as their brothers...

Turn 6 
The sun's gettin' real low...
Defying expectation, Shifty's ladz rallied to block Skuzzbutt's efforts to get back into the fight. Now if only the squigs would fail to...
Damn it. Oh well, I had a nasty skulker. Maybe something amazing would happen. 
As it transpired, something amazing did happen. For once the squigs didn't just eviscerate everything they touched. The skulker did actually manage to knife one of them, the goblins  brought down another, and they practically drew the combat. I say practically, because they didn't actually draw. They still lost, and had to take a steadfast break test on leadership 6. Impressively, they rolled a double 1 and held their ground! Didn't manage to turn to face their assailants though...

The end was nigh, and the bitter struggle continued. The nasty skulker brandished his daggers frantically, bringing down another squig as they chewed on through his allies. The other goblins fought back desperately, and another squig fell. There was almost nobody left...
The fight had ground down to almost nobody. 2 squigs against 7 goblins, a shaman and a nasty skulker... However, the squigs were still in the rear, so they still had the advantage.
The situation was marginally improved by the return of Skuzzbutt, who had finished off the archers and was now in a position to encourage his troops once more. 

And so it came down to a steadfast break test at leadership 8. With a re-roll it sounds ok. Without one, not so much. Nevertheless, the goblins held their nerve and their ground. Which meant the battle was a draw, as both sides had a unit contesting the farm.

Result: Draw

The goblins and night goblins glared at each other as the lines slowly parted. The survivors glanced at each other, then at the huge, strange mushrooms sitting right in front of them, then at the enemy. Skuzzbutt's eyes narrowed as he realised why the enemy were there. Then he smirked and raised his sword, chopping one of the mushrooms in half.

The goblins on both sides hissed, glancing about. Then  all of a sudden they erupted, hacking and stomping at the mushrooms in vindictive glee. The message was clear. You can't have them. And if I can't have them, nobody gets them.

The frenzy of destruction only ended when every last mushroom had been utterly stomped and ground into the dirt. There was nothing left. The enemies glared at each other once more, separated, and slowly stalked away in opposite directions.

***

Some time later, Mush and Room finally managed to lift themselves out of the muck into which they had been trampled by the fleeing and pursuing forces. Everything hurt, but they were still alive. Room sobbed when he looked down at his beloved banner lying in the mud, trampled, torn and bloody. Mush sobbed when he looked at what was left of the mushrooms. What had happened? The mushrooms had been destroyed! He had needed those!

Mush's cursing was cut short as a loud bang sounded, and something whistled past his ear. Looking around, he realised the human farmer had returned, and brought with him the soldiers from the village. Then he realised that they were shooting at him and Room, and it was time for them to leave.

That idiot goblin on his hairy spider would pay for his interference.

You can find the next part of the campaign here.

14 comments:

  1. I love reading your narrative reports. Highly entertaining. Thank you! Looking forward to reading about more gobo bumbling.

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    1. Bumbling! What are you saying? All our gobbos are trained professionals...

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  2. Brilliant stuff and great to see you playing 8th again.

    A mate and I managed to get in a 7000 point game last week.

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    1. It's been a while since we played a big game, but who knows? Maybe this campaign will lead us there.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading that, from start to finish.

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  4. Great write-up - goblins are always good fun. Lovely to read about an 8th Ed battle again too.

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  5. Really enjoyed the read, looking forward to more!

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  6. Oh, that takes me back! Smashing stuff!

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  7. This is the best thing I’ve seen on the internet this year. Looking forward to seeing how they all get on.

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    1. Man, you need to look around more. There's got to be something better than this! :P

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  8. Couldn't agree more. Like really. I tried, but I just couldn't.

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