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Goblins are not a very good roster. Even elves will regularly outpower them while dwarves will slaughter them. However, they are reasonably fast and unpredictable and have access to some fun, cheap Stars.
Dodge, Stunty and MA 6 (and also TTM) mean that, if you are willing to take a few risks, Goblins can get almost anywhere. (How much you can do when you arrive is another question.)
Nobbla is a very cheap Star who is potentially quite powerful and will draw a lot of the opponent's attention away from your regular players. Ripper is also a handy reasonably priced option.
Everyone is ST 2, except the Trolls, who are stupid. Everyone is AV 7 (and has Stunty, which makes injuries worse), except the Trolls, who are stupid. Everyone has access only to Agility skills (which aren't especially good), except ... (You get the idea.) Also, Stunty players are poor at passing, so while Goblins rely on movement and evasion, they also have to rely on only hand-offs to transfer the ball.
In addition, the Goblin wild card of TTM is extremely unreliable. Of all the teams that can TTM, Goblins are the worst at it, since Trolls have to pass so many rolls (Really Stupid, Always Hungry, the throw itself) just to get a Goblin in the air.
First of all, if you really want to play the gobbos, then you have to realize that this game is all about having fun, and the Goblin team is all about creating chaos. It's takes a different strategy to play with goblins and it's hard. On the other hand, it takes a different strategy to play against goblins too. Ok, now that you know that, let's go over to buying the team.
Personally, I would go for the second variation when creating my goblin team. That apothecary is really needed when you're playing stunty teams. Further on, you don't want to lose a troll. Catching up that loss would take forever.
If your income after the first game is low, then buy a goblin as a third substitute. I've discovered that 2-4 goblins gets a casulty against them during the game and it's good to know that a BH is a 'good' deal, comparing to what could happend to the poor flings.
Concentrate on buying one more re-roll and goblin so the total would be 4 re-rolls and 14 players. That's enough for most of the time. Actually, when the goblins are getting skills, then you wont need 4 re-rolls, but it's a safety net. Re-rolls are good when you have to dodge from players with the Tackle skill. Do also buy extra assistant coaches. You wont really need this when you got 4 re-rolls, but you won't be giving your opponent a free chance to get a re-roll. Ok, I would rather see that you retired your smashed up gobs with niggling injures.
When you reach this goal, freeboot wizards. By doing that, you won't increase your TR so much while your goblins are getting more skills. As example, I had 150 in TR after 16 games. More and more skills, by the way? The only way that they can get is from touch downs. They wont get that many from completions and casualties. They also tend to die very easily, remember that.
Always have 10k-20k left after you freeboot your wizard. If you have 40-50k gold left, then you should consider freebooting a (non-turn-over-causing) Star Player, like Nobbla. Nobbla is good for blitzing and committing fouls.
Now we can go over to look at the team. What are it's strengths and weaknesses and how can you use it for defensive and offensive strategy?
I can tell you right away that this team suffers from turn-overs all the time. You have to think ahead, doing the non-risky moves first and then do the main move for that turn. The three different main moves are; blitzing the ball carrier (often with one die, do I hear "4 re-rolls"?), picking up the ball or doing the full movement with the ball carrier and then handing off the ball.
Spread tackle zones all over the field. Don't put two goblins beside one another. Make the other coach blitz once per turn and give him no chance on blocking. Use your trolls to hinder the opponents players, by blitzing or blocking and then stepping into a bunch of players and making them either block or dodge from the troll.
If the your opponent is going to do a TD in the next turn, try to put as many goblins next to his non-block-players, luring him into blocking you. There's always a chance that the double skull-block-dice appear. This is also good for eating his re-rolls. This is especially effective against teams lacking Block. However, it's suicide vs Dwarfs and the like.
If one ST 3 guy is standing besides two of your goblins, put a third goblin in there, block, and then move the unused goblin to another place. If the block is successful, do a follow-up so that the other coach can't use that player next turn, but push the player so only one goblin is in an adjecent square. Most people will be satisfied with just standing that player up and that means that you will take out a ST 3 player with a ST 2 player.
I suggest this following setup when you're kicking and if the rival team hasn't got a big 'un.
T g T
There's little chance that you will let the opponent through this setup, without dodging through at least one tackle zone. It's even worse (for your opponent) when some of your gobbos got Sidestep.
Take your turn in following order.
Do not depend on skills, like "it's just a 3+ roll with a skill. I can do that first of all". Always do all the safe moves first!
Do not throw your goblins, if it's not a crisis situation. They are quick enough so that you can manage to do touch downs anyway. Besides, just look at the figures. It takes 2+ on three rolls (really stupid, always hungry, pass action) to even get that goblin in the air and not causing a turn-over if the goblin got the ball; if the goblin doesn't, failed TTMs do not cause a turn-over. And then I'm not counting in the hand-off to the goblin that stands beside the troll.
Throw goblins only if it's no other chance to prevent or to complete a TD!
Troll: When it comes to trolls, the only thing you can talk about which skills that you should choose from when you roll a double. For me, choosing Block is a nobrainer. Blocking is what trolls do and Block also makes the troll less vounrable. Pro is always handy for re-rolling really stupid rolls, ugly block dices and sometimes even botched throws. Block + Tackle is very handy, so you can blitz those catchers, but Pro has so many advantages over other skills. When it comes to the normal skill rolls, I have to hand it over to 2007 Minor Edit.
(2007 Minor Edit: Normally Guard would be chosen. Personally i like Break Tackle as a second option, but then again, i like playing elfball. On doubles you now choose between Block, Pro, Pass, with Dodge/Frenzy as second doubles...)
I just want to throw in that Guard seldom helps, unless you are the kicking team, which gives the goblin between the trolls ST 4. Break tackle increases the manouverability and sometimes you really want to dodge to blitz with your troll.
Goblin: Catch on all players.The more catch players you got, the less predictable will your tactic be for the opponent. When you get your first Catch-goblin, use him to receive passes after a kick-off to get completions (that's why you got so many RR). It's importent that all goblins gets at least one point, so that they can take a skill when they get a MVP. After the throw, use Catch to do hand-offs all the time. By doing this you can move from one side to another and finally tear his team apart, so there's only 2-3 of the opponents players on the same side as the ball carrier (create this effect by locking up the opponent's players with your trolls and standing in the way with your goblins). When that happens, move forward and always put some gobbos between the ball carrier and the opponent's players.
After Catch is taken, pick Sidestep or why not Pass Block (a double)? Sidestep is really annoying when the opponent is blitzing, sometimes even if your goblin eats the dirt, because you put something in the way to block the opponents moving path. Decrease the ways the other coach can move his team. Use your tackle zones to do that, and do it wisely with Sidestep, often by placing one gobbo outside the first path blocking gob's tackle zone. The more caged his team is, the more you can use your trolls.
Don't take skills that are useful against the opposing team - people tend to pick Diving Tackle, but the opponent rather block then dodge out from a goblin (if you play in Ranked, the Stunty leage is abit different). Just protect yourself and mind your own playing. Pass Block is good because that gives the goblin three extra squares to move. If it's obvious that one players is going to recieve the ball, don't do Go For Its to reach him. Let Pass Block take care of that. Also Catch and Pass Block is a good combination.
If you roll a double on your first skill, pick Dirty Player. Have at least two DP in your team. It's not like you don't have substitutes, if your DP kids are benched by the referee. :) Use the DP to make the other coach use his apothecary, so that you can block the more importent players with your trolls. If you roll a third double, why not take Kick? Sure Hands and Strip ball are also good doubles choices.
(2007 Minor Edit: Actually, 1st skill catch on the first 2 players to skill, and then Side Step on the 3rd, and Diving Tackle on the 4th. Then when the 3rd and 4th skill a second time, reverse the skills. 2 SS DT defenders can terrorise most catchers in your deep end, which then forces your opponent to play more defensively. After that, diversify your skills, and try to have a Sprinter with Sure Feet to surprise your opponent, and to get to that extra square when essential, (not forgetting the threat factor of course))
I don't agree with the Diving Tackle tactic (unless you're in the Stunty league). Catch is an essential skill for the strategy that I described and goblins dies (or gets seriously injured) very easily. If you don't have catching gobbos, the main strategy will lack. It will take "ages" for a goblin to get a skill, so if you loose one you can't play with that strategy for a while. And more on, having a lot of catching gobbos makes your tactic on the field less predictable.
(Commentary on Goblin skill selection: I don't agree with Catch on everyone at all - and I don't know of any Goblin coaches who do. I can see the value in taking at least one Catch (for SPP gathering and as a preferred TTM guy), but not on every Goblin. Yes, being able to hand off and switch flanks is very useful: but you shouldn't have to do this turn after turn after turn. If it's going to pay off, once should be enough - which means it's a task for a team re-roll (not a skill on every player which is adding little or no other value).
((Commentary on the commentary Like I wrote - Catch on several gobbos decreases the chance of predicting your play in this style. It will take at least two rounds to tear the other team apart by shifting side, mostly because you have to lock the opponent's players with your trolls or the opponent's players movement with your gobbos. If you're not going to use this strategy, then I agree with what you're writing.))
Side Step and Diving Tackle are the skills of choice. (Note that Diving Tackle can be taken without Side Step - the trick is only to mark up in situations you've created where the opposing player has no option but to dodge (or to bring in someone else to blitz). Even so, I would generally choose SS first and more often.)
The important thing to remember is this: all Goblins with only normal skills suck. Compared to basic skills from other categories like Block or Guard, agility skills (except Dodge which you have anyway) add very very little to the capability of the player. Side Step and Diving Tackle are the best of the bunch but they're still not very good. If you develop a (relatively) high TR Goblin team where most of that TR is invested in normal skills, that team will get slaughtered by everything it meets - because their normal skills are far far better than yours. On the other hand, if you can develop a high proportion of stat ups and doubles, you may stand a chance.
Thus, the thing to remember is that that three-skill Goblin with SS, DT and Sure Feet is not a prized asset - he's a disposable one. His skills suit him for this task too. Put him next to a bunch of players and SS so that they keep on blocking him. Either he ties down lots of players (great) or they kill him (an overskilled Goblin off the roster - also great!). Then buy a replacement, and persuade this one to roll something more interesting than normal skills ...)
Good luck with your goblins!
/2007 Minor Editor chooses to remain anonymous, who will update this page at a later date also when he has more experience with Goblins