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Goblins (or Gobbos) have always been one of the more 'fun' teams to play in Blood Bowl and with the addition of secret weapons to their starting roster they are now more entertaining then ever! A game featuring Goblins will always be filled with wacky events and will often be total mayhem!
However, as with all Stunty teams Goblins can be very difficult to win with, and a less experienced Coach should take this into consideration before just diving straight in. They may be chaotic and quite fragile, but in the hands of a particularly cunning Coach Goblins can at least give the higher tier teams a run for their money!
Skip to the end for a guide to Secret Weapons!
The First Rule of Playing Goblins is to Have Fun!
If you really want to play Gobbos then you have to realize that this team is all about having fun and creating chaos! It takes a different strategy to the norm to play with Goblins and it can be difficult at times. You will probably lose a good number of games, and you will probably lose a fair amount more of your players as well! If you don't think you can get into this mindset then you may want to reconsider playing Goblins.
Still here? Ok, now that you've accepted Nuffle hates Gobbos and you're ready for the chaos let's discuss your starting options.
There are 3 build examples on the Goblin Team Rosters page giving you a few of the possible ways to build your initial Gobbo team. Regardless of what you finally decide upon most Coaches will agree with the following bare minimum structure to a Goblin team:
Total Cost: 810K
This build fills you to the minimum of 11 players, gets your both Trolls, a reasonable 3 Re-Rolls and an Apothecary (mainly as backup insurance for the Trolls which will be costly and painful to replace if one dies). This also leaves you with 190K to fill out the team. Whether you take a couple of Secret Weapons, the Pogoer, more Goblins, another Re-Roll, etc. is all personal preference.
Whatever you DO decide upon it is also recommended you aim for a roster of at least 14 players, Ideally 15. Goblins break easy, and you will need a deep bench once the injuries start rolling in. If your income after the first game is low then if you can just buy one more Goblin. You can expect to receive around 2-4 dead/injured Goblins per match, with even more KO'ed on top! It isn't a bad idea to fill out all the way to 15 or 16 players, and when things start to get rough you'll be glad you have those extra Gobbos sat in Reserve.
An extra Re-Roll (taking you to 4) is also not a bad idea early on. Later when your Goblins have some skills it won't be as important, but early on (especially against players with Tackle) the extra Re-Roll can be invaluable.
Now for a closer look at the team:
Goblin teams are described in the original rules as a team for experienced players, and this is true. A lot can go wrong for a Goblin player. The team will mess up a lot, you will be at the mercy of your Trolls and Secret Weapons, and sometimes the whole team will self destruct and leave you swinging in the breeze!
The FUMBBL Strategy & Tips section is more relevant then ever where Goblin teams are concerned, and you must always think ahead, doing the non-risky moves first and then your 'main move' for the turn. The three different 'main moves' you will most likely be doing are
Spread Tackle Zones all over the field. You may be tempted to put two Goblins beside one another for protection but don't! The opposing Coach will just move to attack them individually anyway.
Make the opposing Coach work for every Block & Blitz against a Goblin. Keep your distance from opposing players whenever possible. As you will generally be out-muscled don't stand next to players when you don't have to. Make the opposing Coach have to Blitz once per turn and give him no chances to Block a Goblin if you can.
Use your Trolls to hinder the opposing players. Blitz or Block the Troll into a bunch of players so they have to either Block or Dodge to get away again.
If your opponent is going to be able to score a Touchdown in his next turn reverse your attitude and try to put as many Goblins next to his non-Block skill players as possible, hopefully luring him into blocking you. There's always a chance that the double skulls/both downs will Turnover and save your bacon for one more turn! This strategy is also good for eating his Re-Rolls, and you'd be surprised how often Coaches can be led into two dice Blocks with no Block skill. However this is not viable against Bashy teams or players with an abundance of the Block and/or Tackle Skills.
If one ST3 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, and be sure to push the player so only one Goblin is in an adjacent square. Most people will be satisfied with just standing that player up and that means you have neutralised a ST3 player with a ST2 player.
Here is an example of a decent set up when you're kicking and if the rival team hasn't got a Big Guy:
T g T
There's little chance that you will let the opponent through this set up without dodging through at least one tackle zone. It's even harder if you have Side Step and can re-position to remain in your opponent's way!
Against agile, ball-handling teams simply smashing your way through the centre whilst selectively gang fouling anyone of value or otherwise on the ground is a fair strategy!
Get the ball and then use a combination of Caging, Boxing & Screening to make your way down the middle of the pitch and then either wait for an opening or the chance to make an opening and score the Touchdown. Don't attempt a Foul unless you can get the Armour down to 7 or less with your Fouling assists. If getting the boot in be sure to focus on positional players first, but failing that a Linesman will do. Just make a note of how you will be left if your Fouler is caught and sent off- don't make a Foul that would leave a gap in your defences! Roll your screen/cage/box as efficiently as possible, using your Trolls to do the heavy hitting along the edges of your position.
The second strategy which is perhaps the best way of facing down Bashy teams like Orcs is to form a wedge up one side and then blast your way up the wing.
Start this by setting up one Troll in the centre and one on a wing (one spot behind the line in case of a Perfect Defence). From here use the Troll on the wing to Blitz an enemy player and start the wedge, slipping as many more players past and into a screening formation as possible. Against these Bashy teams gang foul positional and other noteworthy players only, never Linesmen. Keep 2 Goblins back with your ball carrier in case things get messy and when you are ready advance with them as a group. Prepare to switch sides if the opponent looks like he is over-committing onto your initial wedge. Maintain some presence in the middle with that centre Troll you deployed on the line of scrum, just in case you need to make the switch.
A Goblin Team's actions each turn should be considered in the following order:
1. 2 dice (your choice) Blocks with your Goblins to free up any extra Goblins. If you spend a Re-Roll don't risk any more Blocks unless you have to.
2. Move all your free Goblins, with 2-3 Goblins loosely covering the ball carrier. This is to ensure you don't get into a situation where all of your Goblins are stuck in a Tackle Zone and you have no "safe" move to start the turn.
3. Take actions with the ball i.e pick up/hand off, whichever is necessary.
4. Block/Blitz with your Trolls. Aim for 3 dice Blocks where you can to keep things 'safe'. If you cannot do this move them to provide a protective screen or front for your ball carrying convoy of Gobbos. If you want to move in for an attack do so against either a single positional or two Linesmen. Try to keep a Goblin 'assistant' with them to negate Really Stupid whenever possible. Don't ever Go For It with a Troll unless absolutely necessary!
5. Consider Dodging all remaining Goblins in enemy Tackle Zones and repositioning them. Consider the risks of failure for each individually or in some circumstances if it would not just be better to keep the Goblin marking the opposing player. Remember the less Blocks the better!
As is always the case, assume you will fail all dice rolls and look at how it will leave you if your action would cause a Turn-Over before taking that action!
Do not throw your Goblins unless its a crisis situation or you're going for a one turn Touchdown on Turn 8. Just look at the figures- it takes 4+/2+ Really Stupid, 2+ Really Hungry and 4+ Pass Action to even get that Goblin in the air! There's also the chance of a failed landing causing a Turnover if that Goblin has the Ball. That's not even taking into account the hand-off to the Goblin that's standing beside the Troll!
Throw Goblins only if there's no other chance to prevent or to complete a Touchdown!
Guard will instantly help with the survivability of your Goblins and is pretty much a no-brainer for your initial standard Troll skill. Break Tackle will allow your Trolls to become much more mobile, giving them an effective AG5 when Dodging for the reposition/Blitz. Any regular skills after this point are extras. Stand Firm will help the Troll's task as road block, and Grab will help clear the way to allow your Goblins to break through.
Doubles are always excellent on Trolls, and you will most likely be spoilt for choice every time. The best immediate choices are Block and Pro. Block is again a no-brainer, vastly improving the Trolls Bash power/defence. Pro is also a fairly strong choice though, and can be used to help negate bodged Negatrait rolls. Re-rolling Really Stupid or just as a personal Re-Roll not effected by the Loner trait is very handy!
Stat increases are a bit tougher. +1ST is great and if you get that then take Multiple Block next (2x 2 dice Blocks a turn against ST3 opponents)! Perhaps +1MA is the only semi-decent stat boost otherwise, with +1AG and +1AV being too slight to make any real difference on the Trolls.
The first skill on a Goblin should be either Side Step or Diving Tackle. Side Step gives you a touch more Defensive capability, allowing you to push out of trouble, reducing unwanted Blocks and Tackle Zones on your Gobbos and generally get in the opposing player's way. Diving Tackle on the other hand is more offensive, taken with a mind to bring down ball carriers, although the skill won't come into its own until you have several players with the skill to crowd the carrier and make dodging very high risk, or unless you can manage to get the ball carrier into a position where he has no choice but to dodge from the Diving Tackle player. Its particularly good against AG4 players who would be otherwise difficult to stop. Simply put Side Step turns you into a nuisance. Diving Tackle increases opposition Turn Overs.
Catch can be a decent first skill for a Goblin besides Side-step and Diving Tackle. Catch can make moving the ball around the field easier by handing off. It can also be useful for your first Goblin skill as to help with Throw-Team Mate for the one turn touchdown. This is complimented by Sure Feet, giving more safety and ability to move further.
Finally Sneaky Git. While Sneaky Git is considered a lame skill by most other teams it gives a major benefit to Stunty Coaches- assurance. You are only going to be sent off if you actually crack armour. This makes it quite a worthy skill for an expendable Goblin, as you can be sure that if you DO get sent off you at least Stunned a player whilst doing so! This is a fair first skill choice for one of your Goblins. There's no need to spam this skill though, and so no more then one or two Sneaky Gits should be needed.
Block is the first skill to take for a Goblin player on a double roll. Dirty Player could be potentially powerful (certainly fun) but you are never guaranteed to make the most out of it. Block however always provides you with a safe player to Block with and with Goblins any form of reduced risk is a significant boost!
If you are fortunate enough to get +1AG then keep this Goblin exclusively for offence as he is golden to your Goblin team (seriously, with AG4 the Goblin can Dodge in/out of any number of Tackle Zones on a 2+, with Dodge)! Never try to throw him (Trolls LOVE the taste of AG4 Goblins) and use him as your primary ball carrier (picking up on 2+ never felt so good). Besides the Trolls, this is the only Goblin on the team who should be reserved Apothecary rights! Similarly +1MV and +1ST also make good Goblin ball handlers.
The important thing to remember about skills is this: all Goblins with only normal skills suck. Compared to the 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 your Goblins. Side Step and Diving Tackle are the best of the bunch but they're still not very good. If you develop a (relatively) high TV Goblin team where most of that TV is invested in normal skills, that team will get generally 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. TV management also comes into play here- if you lack doubles/stat ups and have an enormous amount of regular skills, consider firing the more bloated Goblins with the aim of staying within the 1300TV or very early 1400TV range. A three-skill Goblin with Side Step, Diving Tackle 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 Side Step so that they keep on blocking him. Either he ties down lots of players (great) or they kill him (a bloated, useless Goblin off the roster - also great!). Then buy a replacement, and persuade this one to roll something more interesting than normal skills ...
Ah the secret weapons! This was a unique and distinctive quality of the Goblin roster even in the LRB4 rules and right back at the start of 3rd edition. Now with the CRP rules its considered a defining trait and central to the Goblin team. Here I will discuss the fundamentals to the weapons, their match ups and strategies.
In LRB4 the Goblin meta-game (if one could call it that) was to play an unusual hybrid of basher and agility with an aggressive fouling game to gain a numbers advantage in a brutal battle of attrition. With a bench in their back pocket it was likely that any Goblin team could endure a reasonable amount of damage while still being able to risk send-offs and come out on top numerically. If a match up looked unfavourable or you wanted more bash power you would invest 40k of your own treasury for a weapon appropriate for that match up.
Since LRB5 to CRP this has changed dramatically. Now with new (and old) Goblin coaches having access to all the weapons as part of the roster but only for a single drive before being sent off it should be compared to the likes of a race. Instead of attempting to gradually grind down the enemy in a battle of attrition, your objective now with a full arsenal of weapons is to play hyper-aggressively and do as much damage as quickly as possible before your weapons are sent off, utilising everything at your disposal. This should lead to a numerical advantage and leave your opponent's line up in shambles with the weapon wielding Gobbos having done their job. That is the idea anyway! In practice however it tends to make the Goblin roster significantly more vulnerable to the whims of Nuffle due to the pendulum performance of the weapons. There is no denying however that it can be a lot of fun!
There are a few different approaches to handling the weapons and your roster.
1. Begin the match as the kicker, keep all weapons initially off pitch and score on turn 8/8 to keep ALL the weapons for the second half. This is highly dangerous if you don't know how to field a good defence with Goblins! If you take some casualties and then you or your opponent scores early you may be forced to field some or all weapons late in the first half with very little chance to really use them, leaving you high and dry going into the second half with no secret weapons! Not advisable but should be considered as an 'all or nothing' approach.
2. Begin as receiver and throw every weapon onto the field. The inverse of strategy #1. This is again an 'all or nothing' approach. Just as before this is incredibly risky and will end in one of two ways. You will either destroy your opponent and leave his team staggering or your weapons will all malfunction and end up ruining your offensive drive, leaving your roster considerably drained for the second half. There's rarely a middle ground and these first two strategies are considered the most aggressive.
3. Begin as either receiver or kicker and field the weapon most appropriate for the drive while keeping the other two or one on the bench. Looney and Bomber can be used for either situation whilst the Fanatic is generally seen as a LOS nuke best kept for receiving. This is considered the safest, most common approach for Coaches with decent knowledge of the Goblin roster.
The catch as mentioned earlier is that a cunning opponent will attempt to grind your normal Goblins down and then score to force your weapons onto the field. Goblins aren't as weak as Halflings or Snotlings but Av7 is Av7 and casualties are to be expected. This is where the big problem comes in and when the weapons are forced on/off, the Coach can often feel like a fish out of water and cannot field either a defence or offence due to solely depending on the weapons and not the core of his team. This scenario is awful when it occurs but can happen fairly often to weapon-heavy Goblin teams.
It is best to try to get a good grip with your Goblins and Trolls first, with weapons taking a back seat to your overall strategy. It's an extremely common mistake for new Goblin Coaches to rely heavily on their weapons to do their job successfully! As the weapons are unpredictable at best this attitude will rarely have any success. New Goblin coaches most likely will be playing the team for fun so this advice is less relevant, but for experienced Goblin coaches looking for "optimal" play, it is important to keep this in mind.
Regardless enjoy the carnage and fun the Goblin roster has to offer and good luck on the pitch! -Wolbum