When I first started this site, I intended it to be a WIP blog but I quickly found that I was spreading myself too thin and that I can’t update the site as quickly as I can paint. I also didn’t seem to be getting as much interest as the other places I share my painting progress with so I stopped writing articles. I never intended to fully disappear or quit updating the site though. After a lot of hobbying, I have gotten to a place where I can play a fair number of scenarios so I will be documenting my Battle Reports here. I hope that my battles in Middle Earth will inspire others to play this fun game and enjoy the hobby as well.
About the Battle Reports – I will be playing these solo because I don’t have a regular opponent and I think narrative games are well-suited to single player in many instances too. The evil player often is at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of heroes and playing the good side is often more fun in narrative scenarios. I try to play the evil side with a similar cunning and strategy as they would have in the movies to make it as thematic as possible. I also want to have a good game and a good time as well. I’m not a rules expert and am new to Hobbit SBG so don’t be afraid if I make some mistakes along the way.
Pre-Game Thoughts – The story for this scenario is that the four dwarves are sent to scount ahead in Goblin Town and are spotted and need to quickly escape. Not the most plausible scenario considering the way the book and movie were written but it is not out of the realms of possibility either. The goals are pretty straightforward. The dwarves are trying to escape to the other edge of the “board” and the goblins want to either kill a couple of dwarves or stop them from escaping in ten turns and presumably swarm and kill the dwarves.
Unlike most scenarios I will be discussing in the coming weeks, I have actually played this one before so I knew a bit about how it would go. GW recommends using a really stripped down version of the rules for the Escape From Goblin Town scenarios and I think that this is actually going to frustrate new players. If you take away heroic combat and marches, the dwarves will really struggle to punch through so many recycling goblins unless the evil player rolls terribly. For this reason and because I wanted to learn the full game, I played with the full rule set.
As far as strategy goes, the dwarves need to use their might effectively to be able to wade through so many goblins in a quick manner. Rolling well in combat will certainly help too! The goblins can return up to 3 goblins a turn and have a captain to help bolster their forces. With that said, the goblins best chance to do damage is using Chittering Hordes rule which lets them act as if they have spears and two goblins can easily attack one target. If nothing else, the evil side is trying to slow down the dwarves as much as possible and throw as many speed bumps as they can to grab a win.
Battle Report – Knowing that time is of the essence, the dwarves used priority to surge forward knowing the goblins will charge them right away. Two goblins were able to make contact with the dwarves on each short walkway but both were quickly dealt with by Oin and Gloin.
In the ensuing turn, both forces charge towards each other with opposite goals in mind. Being braver than smart, Oin was dangerously charged by two goblins who caused two wounds on him. Fortunately, Oin’s sole fate point meant one goblin merely scratched him. Sensing a comrade in danger, the dwarves grabbed priority and surged forward to eliminate the goblins facing Oin. They managed to cleave two of the goblins but one still lurked dangerously nearby. Oin wisely stayed in the back and let the other dwarves fight on his behalf the rest of the scenario.
At the start of turn five, things were already looking a bit grim for the dwarves as they were not even halfway across the board and a ton of goblins waited for them on the bridge, ready to deny them. Sensing the moment for heroics had arrived, Kili killed a goblin being supported by a fellow foul creature using Chittering Hordes. Gloin declared a heroic combat to kill a goblin blocking his way and then surged into another and slaughtered him. Fate had suddenly reversed and after initially bringing a goblin back into game on one of the earlier turns, the evil player realized that a break test was looking very possible. Could the dwarves’ bravery cause the goblins’ courage to collapse and allow them to win the day?
While a cunning evil player might have retreated at this point in an attempt to bring back more goblins and avoid a break test, that didn’t seem to fit the spirit of the scenario, nor did it fit the movie, so the goblins scampered forward hoping to weather another round of combat. Gloin burned his last point of Might to call for another heroic combat. Crucially, he slew the first goblin with his axe and charged into another that was fighting Kili. As the lifeless goblin fell off the walkway, the remaining goblins looked nervously around with a break test coming.
In the following turn, things were looking up for the dwarves but a couple of goblins had returned on the far board edge and they still had a captain who might help them maintain courage just long enough to cause the dwarves to lose. In the most pivotal roll of the game, the goblin captain took his break test first and rolled snake eyes! He fled the board and was promptly followed by three other goblins. Gloin charged one of the remaining goblins who had maintained their composure and quickly killed it. On the following turn, the dwarves surged forward thanks to a Heroic march by Fili. At the end of turn 9, a couple of goblins returned to the board edge but it was too late to stop the dwarves. In the final turn, the dwarves called another Heroic March and ran past the confused goblins who arrived late to the party but had their lives spared as a result! The goblins could not prevent this scouting party from returning to the rest of Thorin’s Company and bringing news of what they had discovered.
Post Game Thoughts – The first time I played this scenario, the dwarves lost because I didn’t play with all of the Might abilities like GW recommended and the game wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be. I was pleased to see that the dwarves can win with those rules added in and I had a great time playing this go around. The break test was also a fun and thematic moment which made sense in the narrative. The dwarves’ bravery was rewarded and just in the nick of time! While Kili was certainly useful, Gloin is a powerhouse in this scenario and the one character you have to use well to ensure victory. His three attacks are too much for even two goblins using Chittering Hordes to withstand! Oin really is a support character and really isn’t useful in anything other than one-on-one combat even against goblins. I quickly realized that he was not someone I should use much in this scenario and was lucky not to pay for that mistake!
Overall, this was a really fun scenario even if it doesn’t take place in the books or movies. It looks a little simple at the beginning but the Good Side has plenty of tactical decisions to make. The goblins do have a real chance to win this scenario too. With a little less luck, the dwarves would have struggled to make it across the board in time. The Breakthrough is a fantastic way to learn the rules and because you get all the terrain you need in the box set, I think this is an optimal way to start playing HobbitSBG. I look forward to trying the next few scenarios and I hope they present even greater tactical opportunities!
For my next report, I will try to take more and better pictures. I didn’t even think about the fact that I never showed the front of the dwarves in my pictures. Also, while my black table fits the scenario well, a black battle mat would be even better and lead to better photos with less reflection. I’m not sure if it is worth purchasing just for these scenarios but I will certainly consider it!