This article gives a bit of background on the development of one of my favourite armies – the Night Goblin horde of “Bishnak Fatgutz da Yella-toofed”, warlord of the “Grinnin Moonz” tribe. The article has been updated a little since its first appearance a couple of years ago. At that time, the army was my most ambitious, as far as number of figures and character for a single army. My ‘usual’ 2000-point army consists of some 400-600 figures, depending on what the details of the composition are for any particular game or tournament. I used the army solidly for about 18 months on the Australian Tourney scene, and have used it periodically since then, since its still one of my favourites.
Over the years I have refined the composition and tactics, improving steadily on the whole. I first took the army to the Brisbane Grand Tournament in 2001, where I did dismally in my games, but did take out the ‘Best Army’ award (which I was very pleased about to say the least!). 15 months later I placed 3rd overall at the Sydney GT, winning all but one of my games - so it is possible to place even with gobbos! My aim in this article, however, is to go through the considerations I went through in putting together the army and in determining its composition. The tactics I’ve learned along the way may appear in a Night Goblin ‘tactica’ at a later date, so tactics will not really be covered here.
The Grinnin Moonz is without a doubt my favourite army, and the one I have had the most fun building and playing with over the years. It always helps to love an army if you are going to dedicate significant time and effort on it. I always choose an army because I like the ‘theme’, ‘feel’, ‘look’ or ‘background’ of an army, rather than how it will necessarily perform on the games table. The Grinnin Moonz army is a prime example of this philosophy. It is (very) challenging to win games with, because it is not particularly strong on the tabletop, but the army theme is very strong and cohesive, and above all FUN!!
The initial army of about 400 figures took me about six months to build and paint (because of its sheer size), painting on average for a couple of hours per night. Many people ask me when they see the army “didn’t you get sick of painting gobbos?”. Well, the answer is, surprisingly,“No”. I can honestly say there is enough variety in the new plastic regiment boxed sets that all of your troops (even 600+ of them) can be individuals! This is especially the case when the boxed sets are mixed together. My Night Goblins boast parts from the Common Goblin, Skaven, Dwarf, Zombie and Skeleton boxes as well as the standard parts from the Night Goblin box. I love the plastic Night Gobbos so much that I never tire of them. Perhaps this is some kind of mental sickness?
Anyway, on with the process by which the army took shape. When I decide upon an army, I always read and ponder the background of the army, as provided in the army book. All armies have a distinct feel to them, and I always try to get a sense from the book of what the army should be like (in my interpretation anyway). In my opinion Night Goblins, along with Skaven, are probably the most distinctly Games Workshop created race, so there is a very strong background for them to draw upon. I have always loved the random nature and crazy troop types the Night Goblins can field. I also love their rather simple but wicked nature. Your lowly gobbo and his mates have the basic mentality of a race of football hooligans with weapons, and the huge numbers I could potentially take especially inspired me to play this extremely characterful and fun army.
My other driving force in choosing an army is that I have an extreme love of ‘horde armies’. I just love the look of lots of painted and converted figures. “Lots of troops” has always been my army building philosophy - the more troops I can field the better. The 6th edition Warhammer rules and army lists have put emphasis back onto core-troops, making them more viable in the game than ever before. An army fielding only core-troops can realistically expect to do better than average these days. The night gobbo’s day has come!
da Grinnin Moonz tribe takes to the field. Not much detail in the photo here, but I had to take the photo from well back to give an idea of the size on a 6’ x 4’ table (about 500 figures here!)
With this, I built my army theme. The army would be based around a traditional Night Goblin horde, residing somewhere in the World’s Edge Mountains. They spend their lives fighting their mortal enemies, the Dwarves and Skaven, in the tunnels. They also launch occasional raiding forays against other races (all of which are handy enough to the mountains to attack). I am a bit of a fanatical ‘purist’ when it comes to my armies. I do not like to mix all kinds of unlikely troop types in my armies that do not fit into my overall theme. This was to be a Night Goblin Tribe, so it would consist of Night Goblins and Night Goblin-specific troop types only. This basically meant restricting myself to troop types from the Night Goblin Horde back of the book army list, although I would in fact use the standard Orc & Goblin list restrictions (since most tournaments for example don’t allow the back of the book armies).
When sitting down to plan the army, I looked at the night gobbo’s strengths and weaknesses, as I saw them. The strength of the army I think is in the cheap troops and the Night Goblin special troop types. Its weakness lay in their (extremely) poor leadership and poor combat ability. I would try to play to the army’s character and theme, but also try to
maximize its strengths and minimize its weaknesses. My thinking went something like this:
Gobbos are the cheapest troops you can get in the game of Warhammer. Your standard Night Gobbo with a hand weapon and shield weighs in at a miniscule 2 points! This meant I could have lots of them – a true horde in every sense of the word. I decided that I wanted my horde to have a visual impact as well as the ability to overwhelm the enemy through weight of numbers. This is a classic ‘quantity over quality’ army. No matter what, I wanted to have as many gobbos as I could possibly get for my points, and still have a decent fighting force with some other troops, characters and a couple of Night Goblin special magic items for variety. Being naturally puny and cowardly creatures, Night Goblins need the security of numbers to overwhelm their foes and build some kind of mob-courage.
To maximize the impact of the gobbos’ numbers, I wanted to make sure they could not easily get flanked (therefore losing rank bonuses and causing panic tests). I figured that with such cheap troops, they could stretch from one end of a six-foot table to the other pretty easily, without any room for the enemy to outflank them. When I did my calculations, I found that it was achievable. I needed a frontage of about eighty gobbos (give or take a few), which in the optimum fighting depth of four ranks meant a minimum of 320 gobbos. At only 2 points each this was still only 640 points of my available 2000pts!
6’x4’ table - edge to edge, baby,
decided to make my main fighting units as big as possible in order
to minimize the number of animosity tests the ladz would face and
to minimize the impact of missile and magic casualties causing
panic tests on the units. With such dismal leadership, it is vital
to do everything possible to avoid taking panic tests – so big
units it would be. I bulked my depth up to five ranks, and decided
to go with two main units of gobbos, with a 16-man frontage, 5
deep – 80 gobbos in each unit! I also took four supporting units
of 40-strong as flanking and secondary fighting units. The boyz
would feel safe enough in those kind of numbers. To panic each
unit, the enemy would now need to inflict a whopping 10 or 20
missile (or magic) casualties in a single phase on the one unit (ie.
On the 40 and 80 man units respectively). I also took four
20-strong units as flanking and screening units. At 40 points for
a 20-strong fully-ranked unit these are some of the most dangerous
‘throwaway’ and decoy units in the game.
Other advantages of the huge units include avoiding panic caused
by outnumbering enemies, avoiding fear caused by units of elves I
don’t outnumber 2-1 (they would need 40 or more elves in a
unit), and having less standards for the enemy to capture when my
ladz invariably flee! All of these important factors led to my
decision to have fewer, but much larger units than normal.
One of the three major clans – “da Yella
In my theme, the big units would form the main clans of my Night Goblin tribe, supported by a number of smaller sub-clans. Each clan of course needed a unit standard, musician and a Boss to lead them. The smaller sub clans were not given standards, since through experience I learned that it becomes too expensive to lose them all! I do however include standards in the rear ranks purely for recognition purposes (they often have differing numbers of fanatics), and because they look cool! In typically simple gobbo fashion, the units were named simply after their banner devices. They have such names as the “Yella Moonz”, “Red Moonz”, “Cursed Sunz”, “Red Eyez”, “White Handz” and “Blue Batz”. All of the characters, and even unit champions, were named in order to help get into theme. Examples include “Gaalik Stinkbreff”, “Nibblik da Shank”, “Hogschnoodle Wartblat” (that’s what comes of allowing your wife to name one of the characters), “Sollit da Spika”, and “Aztreggs da Gall”.
Musicians are especially important for Night Gobbos because of the vital +1 to Leadership they give for rallying the ladz after they inevitably run away. Despite their poor combat skills, the man units would therefore normally start with a +5 combat resolution for any combat, with +3 for ranks, +1 for a standard and +1 for outnumbering the enemy (I pretty much assumed that no one else would be lunatic enough or have cheap enough troops to field units with a unit strength of 80!). This means that any enemy has to inflict over 5 casualties more than my unit can just to win the combat. This is the best possible odds I can give the boyz – the rest is up to them, and my prayers to Mork and Gork! But in case the mighty
greenskin gods don’t come through with the goods, they also have spears, netters, and fanatics to improve the odds again…
To lead the tribe I needed some characters. My tribe’s fearless leader is “Bishnak Fatgutz da Yella-Toofed”. I find it important to name all my generals (normally after myself in some fashion – its an ego thing!) to establish a personal, and also somewhat humorous bond with my army. My opponents also love to hunt and kill my characters if they are named after me. (“Oh well, Bishnak has been cut down like a mongrel dog ….again!!”). Bishnak was originally to be a Night Goblin Warlord, but had to be downgraded to a Big Boss, in order to take the Shaman Lord I wanted to include (see below). He would still be big and bad enough to keep the boyz in line, although sacrificing the warlord’s massive Ld of 7(?!) for an even lower 6 was a very hard decision to make. My fearless leader would turn out not to be overly fearless at all!
The fearless warlord “Bishnak Fatgutz da Yella-Toofed” (royal-purple hat) brandishes his captured dwarven great axe, and urges ‘da ladz’ forward. He is accompanied by his right hand man, and drinking partner “Snottok da Squirrel Grippa”, who carries the army standard (da Bad Moon banner of da Grinnin Moonz tribe). Bishnak normally leads ‘da Yella Moonz’, his home clan.
I wanted to take a Shaman Lord to be able to take the powerful ‘Big Waaagh’ magic spells, with the magical punch it gives the army. I also believe the background of the Night Goblins leads them to using Shamans, with their fungus potions and magic mushrooms. I therefore took a Shaman Lord, “Belcha Brewboy” and armed him with the essential “Ditto’s Double Doin’ Dooh
Great Shaman “Belcha Brewboy”.
Spiritual leader of the tribe, intermediary with Gork and Mork,
and brewer of all manner of fungus potions.
Sometimes, Belcha is supported by his apprentices, Mad-Cap Mudlik (guess what he carries?!!), and Katweesul. These guys give a bit more option for spells, but more importantly generate more power dice for Belcha to use. Gork’s Warpath is lethal when you can cast it twice per turn with the dooh-dahs – the minor shamans provide the dice to be able to do this.
Shaman “Mad-Cap Mudlik”, apprentice to Belcha. (his name and the mushroom he is waving around should give his enemies an idea of what he carries, but no one seems to take the hint!)
Another of Belcha’s apprentices – the Shaman “Katweesul”.
Next to him is the chieftain of “da Cursed Sunz”, “Gaalik Stinkbreff” (with great axe)
To help the boys as much as possible with a re-roll, I also took a Night Goblin Big Boss with an Army Standard, “Snottok da Squirrel-Gripper”. To Snottok I also give the Bad Moon banner, simply because it is the only ‘Night Goblin Only’ banner. The roll for being ‘stubborn’ also occasionally pays off too (testing on the big unmodified Ld of 6!). Opponents get very surprised when more often than not the lowly night gobbos get beaten in combat, but stick around on an unmodified roll of 5 or 6. Once hard hitting units like knights get bogged down into combat, our numbers can start to come into play, and grind them into the dirt (hopefully).
To support my mobz, I wanted some of the Night Goblin-specific troops – particularly Squigs. These are a uniquely Night Goblin unit, and a must have for a Night Goblin army, I think. I normally take a huge unit of squigs, which comprise my third main fighting unit of the battleline (along with the two 80-strong units). WithWS4, A2, S5 these guys are far better fighters than gobos, and when used with heaps of herders (I typical use 64), will stay under control and give you a unit with full combat resolution except a banner. On the charge, these guys can take on almost anything.
Bishnak’s resident Squig Herd, “da Toofy Clawboyz”.
As an important Night Goblin Warlord, Bishnak needs the biggest herd he can get.
Night Goblin Fanatics are another lethal and uniquely Night Goblin troop type, as are Netters. I decided I would try to have the maximum number of Squigs, Fanatics and Netters I could within my available points. The normal variation in my army normally just consists of differing ratios of each of these troop types, varying from none of any one kind to ‘maxed-out’ in that type, or anywhere in between.
I also often try to give my main fighting units spears to enhance their combat ability (fighting in two ranks). Archers do not fit in with my game plan or fighting style, and bows in my opinion are too expensive (costing the same as a half a gobbo!). Besides, Night Goblins are terrible shooters, and with only a very short range, the archers are next to useless. The use of bows by a tunnel dwelling people is also dubious in my opinion. All this leads to the decision to have no bows.
The rest of the units are equipped simply with hand weapons – a bit of a drama since the figures in the regiment boxes come with the option of spears or bows only. This meant I have had to do over 400 conversions to give my boyz hand-weapons. Luckily each Night Goblin sprue comes with an arm holding a sword, and a snotling who has a very nice spiked club, which can be cut off and clued to a suitably trimmed spearman’s arm. These provided some of the weapons, with the remainder taken from Skaven, Dwarf and Undead regiment boxes, all of which are easy to use. This huge number of conversions in itself gives me a unique army, which I am very pleased about.
And how have the gaming results been? Well, having now played hundreds of games (most of which have been at tournaments) with the army, I find I am really getting much better results with it. The army is by no means easy, and requires some patience and tactics. It’s well worth it though, in learning to use a ‘weaker’ army than most that are seen at tourneys. Initially I lost my games badly, but I have found that having spent a long time working out and balancing an army’s composition, it is normally better not to change it too quickly. Instead, you should continue using the same army, and learn how to use your tools better, rather than blaming them for failure and trading them in for new ones. Fine-tuning over time is better than wholesale changes all the time, so I played on with the army mainly unchanged, and the results have improved.
As I expected, the large units are very hard to panic through missile or magic casualties. Even artillery-heavy Empire armies do not bother large units of 80 gobbos! Similarly, many spells can simply be ignored – they just do not cause enough casualties to take notice of. This is how I see a horde commander thinking – with so many troops, why worry about the odd dozen? (which would normally be a major loss to other armies).
The boys are adequate in hand to hand, but really take their chances every combat. Because of their enormous frontage, the units often end up fighting several units at once. This can either be good or bad, but I do have fond memories of the 2001 Sydney GT, where the spear-boyz of the Yella Moonz simultaneously beat and broke three units of their ancient Dwarven enemies in the last turn, and pulled out a draw for me!
The biggest weaknesses the Army has are poor leadership (obviously) and poor
maneuverability and speed, due to the huge mass of troops, and the fact that they are all infantry. Avoiding terrain is important, as is a good knowledge of the movement and
maneuver rules. Bishnak’s cunning battle plan relies largely on where the Squig herd will be deployed, and in which order the gobbo units will be arrayed across the deployment area. Other than that, it’s just “line ‘em up and move ‘em forward!”. Well not quite – as I said earlier once you play with them for a while there are many subtleties and tactics that can be employed. The ‘taktiks’ a gobbo warlord uses should always be simple anyway. Too many
maneuvers and the first few animosity tests will see you undone…
Overall, I’m very happy with the army. It plays and feels like a horde, and I love having so many nasty little troops to push around the table. I am planning to stick with it for a while, learning how to use the ladz better, and perhaps reinforcing them with a few other troops that will fit into my theme. At Dogcon2, for example, I won a Forgeworld large-scale Troll (pictured below), that with some conversion has fitted into the army quite nicely as a suitably Night Goblin themed Giant I think?
“Stoney” the Giant (with handler on board).
Stoney occasionally helps out, in return for some tasty prisoners …
I’ve also done up some wolfboys to use as scouts. These are converted from Night Goblin miniatures to fit in the army, and their poses make them look like they are suitably poor riders (as Night gobbos should be). I’ve also got some Stone Trolls to paint up which may slip into the army on occasion, so there are plenty of variations of troop types to use as Bishnak sees fit.
A small unit of mounted scouts fielded occasionally - “da Wulfboyz”.
Being Night Goblins, and not having access to many mounts, Bishnak’s troops have only very limited scouting
So in conclusion, to all those players out there considering a horde army, and especially Night Gobbos, I say:
“Mork and Gork be with you, may all your mushrooms be magic, and all of your squig bites be non-fatal!”. But most of all I say “go for it” , and…..
Bishnak issues the traditional Night Goblin one-fingered salute, and launches the ladz into the assault!!
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