I made my way down to Lisburn Gaming Club this week to lead my goblins into battle once more, taking on Roger's mighty ogre army for a game of Fantastic Battles. Now, my goblins are not the ideal army to take on something as monstrously tough as an ogre army, but I wanted to try out the new optional horde rule, so goblins it was.
The armies were very different in composition: my goblins had 23 companies - so a breakpoint of 12; the ogres had only 15 - so a breakpoint of 8 - but clustered in a few large units. The centre of the ogre force was a unit of four elite companies with the monstrous, doughty and heavy melee weapons traits - so 32 Resolve in a single company! My hoard of six irregular companies only had 18 Resolve!
Mishaps were negligible for both armies - one of my two units of wolf-riders enthusiastically moved forward, and the spider-riders and a giant on the far right were diseased. Among the ogres, their unit of cannoneers were delayed (behind a cyclops). Roger also kept a unit of yetis off the table on a flank march.
The opening moves saw both forces try to close the gap. Given the small size of the orge army, the goblins tried to apply pressure across the front, whilst sending units around both flanks. I wanted to pin the nasty elite unit in the centre, and pick off the weaker units. Of course, the term 'weaker' is all relative. Every orge unit had more resolve than anything in my army!
Early in the second turn, the yeti's arrived on the battlefield, arriving on the goblin right flank and hampering any thought of a wide outflanking manoeuvre on that side of the field.
On the left flank, the two units of wolf-riders were more successful, making a swift run around the far side of the settlement there. The ogres sent their cyclops to try to pin them in place, but he is slowed down passing through the settlement.
As the wolves continued their long march, the goblin battle-wagon trundled into the settlement to take on the cyclops.
On the right, the yetis charged into the flank of the spider-riders but were, in turn, outflanked by the giant.
The spider-riders were very quickly scattered - taking the flank's captain with them - but the giant managed to cause the yetis significant harm.
In the centre, pitiful shooting from the goblin horde left them little alternative than to charge in against the elite ogres. Charging into the front of the ogres, the horde was supported by a giant who charged the ogres in the flank; sadly the giant was then charged by the ogre hand-gunners.
In the tight spaces of the centre, the ogre mercenaries fighting for the goblins prepared to square off against their cousins, while the goblin king on his wyvern flew in to spew poison into the rear of the enemy. An impetuous unit of goblin redcaps had been vacillating between the yetis and the battles centre, but at least they too managed to get some ill-aimed shots off. Hard to see in this shot, a unit of goblin bat-riders flew over the elite goblins to drop down for an inconclusive fight against the unattached ogre warlord.
Roger's unengaged ogres attacked my own to the centre right of the battlefield, but the great battle in the centre continued to be inconclusive. The resolve loss was stacking against the ogres, and both the goblin horde and the giant were holding on - but only just. The goblin king flew his wyvern into the elite ogre's other flank, while the goblin bat-riders and rogue flew on to attack the ogre artillery to the rear and the wolf-riders finally made their approach for a rear attack.
As the goblin horde and their giant ally finally scattered, the wolf-riders charged into the rear of the elite ogres while the trolls slogged into their front. To the right, the yetis also managed to best the other giant, but were then charged by the goblin madcaps.
On the left, the goblin battle wagon and the cyclops continued to smash up the village, but eventually the cyclops got the upper hand (literally) and the wagon broke down.
On the right, the madcaps finally earned their rations by scattering the awful yetis that had so messed up my battle plan.
In the centre, both sides were counting up the resolve loss...
... and then the accumulated casualties proved too much across the battlefield. The elite ogres scattered, as did the ogre artillery, bringing Roger's ogre army to breaking point. However, the ogres and trolls fighting for the goblins also broke, bringing the goblin army to breaking point as well.
The battle was savage, and exciting, and I was sure the goblins were fighting a fool's battle against such a tough foe, so I was delighted (perhaps unreasonably so) with a bloody draw.
Over on the neighbouring table, Dave and Chris were also testing out the horde rule in a Celts vs Dark Elves battle. I wasn't following their battle too closely, but the Celtic horde proved a touch more successful than my own goblins.
All players agreed that the horde rule is certainly viable as an alternative way to use irregular companies - it grants an added resilience and strength, but also weaknesses; it is in no way are they overpowered. Hordes are, in short, here to stay!