With only two scenarios left to go, I was hoping the last ones from the Goblin Town box set close things out strongly. This scenario was another intriguing one since the good side is limited to just Gandalf and Bilbo and the goblins not only have their king but Grinnah as well. Did fewer models equal more fun? Let’s find out!
Pre-Game Thoughts – The board is pretty simple with mostly open ground and once again, so is the goal. Reunite the wizard with the burglar! With that said, The Swarm rule is in effect (with the nice clarification that goblins must come in from a board corner this time). A broken test is also in place so that ten dead goblins means courage tests for the rest of the game. Since this is meant to be a beginner game that teaches you the rules, I think the addition of the rule here is a nice touch.
So what was the good side’s strategy? Honestly, I had never used Gandalf before but I was expecting his spellcasting to give Thorin’s Company the best chance to win. Using terror to keep the pesky goblins away would help and sorcerous blast in a pinch would hopefully be helpful as well. As you’ll see, I quickly learned what Gandalf is and is not good at which will hopefully help in future scenarios! Bilbo had the ring and would pretty much have to use it to try and get to the other side board. There are a lot of new rules in this scenario to learn but I was excited for that challenge.
Speaking of new rules, I would have to come to grips with the Goblin King in this game if the evil side was going to do well. I decided to match him up with Gandalf as him picking on Bilbo didn’t seem quite fair or to fit the events of the movie. Grinnah went after Bilbo instead and I split the goblins up evenly. I wasn’t sure how the Goblin King would match up to Gandalf but I figured the more he can charge Gandalf and chuck goblins at the old wizard the better!
Battle Report – With the opening priority, the goblins decided to charge forward to put the squeeze on Gandalf and Bilbo. It is worth noting that the goblins are not able to charge Bilbo or Gandalf on the first turn, but the Goblin King can with his six inch move. That is why I would advocate towards house-ruling that the King cannot be near Bilbo.
Feeling the pressure from Grinnah and company, Bilbo popped on the ring and charged the nearest goblin. Gandalf was charged by the Goblin King as the remaining goblins stayed just out of range. Gandalf cast Immobilise on the Goblin King to reduce his fighting abilities and the Goblin King tried to resist using two will points but failed by a single point! In hindsight, I may have been better off just letting Gandalf cast that spell and hang onto the will later in the game, especially after Gandalf burned a point of might to tie the duel but rolled a one to wound. In another close fight, Bilbo barely managed to beat back the goblin and a wild swing with Sting ended its life! Three goblins entered the battle field from the bottom-left corner thanks to The Swarm. I decided this would let the evil player control the middle of the board and make Bilbo and Gandalf’s path as complicated as possible.
The good side grabbed the priority with a sigh of relief but Bilbo fell prey to Sauron’s will (which I incorrectly used in this game, more on this later!) and charged Grinnah. Gandalf cast Terrifying Aura and charged into the nearest goblin after not faring well against the Goblin King. A single goblin charged into Bilbo and only the Goblin King had the courage to help the goblin against Gandalf.
Bilbo managed to surprise the overconfident goblins and stab another goblin. Gandalf predictably lost his duel to the Goblin King and lackey but the goblin failed to wound and Gandalf burned all three Fate points to avoid a single wound. Not the luckiest rolling there but at least he hadn’t suffered any damage thus far. While I forgot to take notes on it, based on the picture below, it looks like five goblins stormed onto the battlefield thanks to the Swarm.
The good kept priority and it was starting to already look like a tough task for the old wizard and Bilbo to reunite. Bilbo resisted Sauron’s nefarious will and hoofed it past Grinnah. Gandalf used Command to move the Goblin King away and then charged the furthest goblin to make as much progress towards Bilbo as possible. Without terror, the other two goblins charged the old wizard with ease. The remaining goblins tried to get between Bilbo and Gandalf as much as possible.
Bilbo lost to Grinnah and used each of his Fate points to prevent any wounds. Gandalf won but failed to harm any of the goblins facing him. The wizards inability to kill any goblins was becoming a bit frustrating and surprising! Five goblins entered the battlefield the middle of the battlefield started to look full.
The good side won priority yet again and it was turning out that maintaining priority was really helping them stay in the game with a chance to win. Much to his annoyance, Gandalf rolled a one to give himself a terrifying presence and then burnt a second point of Will to get the spell cast successfully. The spell ended up being key as it kept all of the remaining goblins who could charge him, cowering in fear! He and Bilbo could see each other across the cave and were getting closer to reuniting.
The Goblin King decided to launch a nearby goblin at Gandalf in frustration after being moved away. Against the odds, the goblin hit Gandalf squarely and wounded him. Gandalf was also knocked down and after using a bit of heroic might to win the duel, he pushed the goblin who charged him away and managed to get back on his feet. A single goblin entered the battle thanks to The Swarm rule at the end of the turn.
The goblins won the most important priority roll of the game thus far much to the dismay of Thorin’s Company. Gandalf got absolutely swarmed and would be trapped in combat without some heroics but Bilbo avoided all goblin charges and could pick his target this time which ended up being a goblin near where he was going to be move anyway.
Bilbo lost the duel against the goblin and to his surprise, the goblin’s blind swipe hit him. The burglar had already exhausted his fate and was now breathing heavily with only a single wound left. Gandalf let loose a sorcerous blast which knocked down all of the goblins in combat with him and killed two goblins! (I want to note here that I made a significant rules mistake and Gandalf cannot cast magic when charged. As I will discuss later, this made a major impact on the game and nullifies the result.)
Thanks to Gandalf’s duel roll of one, all of the goblins in the fight stood back up. It is worth noting that the one goblin who was knocked out of the fight by the sorcerous blast was not so lucky and would remain prone until the following turn. Three goblins arrived ready for a fight at the end of the turn but unlikely to actually get into any scraps at this late stage of the game.
The good stole back priority ready to force a reunion between Bilbo and Gandalf! Using his remaining Will, Gandalf blasted a goblin away to give him room to sprint towards Bilbo. The goblin survived but it didn’t matter because prone models do not have a control zone which allowed Gandalf and Bilbo to reunite in the middle of the board!
Post-Game Thoughts – The game pretty much went down to the wire and Gandalf’s spellcasting prowess was just enough to see the two reunited! Although having said that, Gandalf was pretty darn poor in combat and was way less effective than I had anticipated. The ending of the scenario is kind of funny because even though the two are back together, where are they going to go with so many goblins already amassed around them? Another thing that seemed like it might not have been completely thought out were the goblin town platforms which are basically just dressing for the table as there is almost no reason to make use of them in this scenario. Regardless, I thought this scenario was a blast to play. I might have utilized the Goblin King even better but then again, I goofed up on The One Ring rules and applied Sauron’s Will to Bilbo when that rule should have been ignored. This probably slowed down the good side from reuniting by a turn.
If you play this scenario, I think you really have to approach it in a narrative sense. The Goblin King could probably charge in and crush Bilbo if you let him line up in that corner. In the future, I would be curious to see if setting up all of the goblins with the Goblin King could overwhelm Gandalf as Grinnah tailing Bilbo is a serious enough threat on its own. Grinnah’s higher courage makes him slightly more likely to actually charge Bilbo too. This is a pretty short game in terms of turns but because there are a lot of rules to learn and keep track of, it takes some time if you’re a newish player like me. I know I made several mistakes while playing but I think on the whole, they mostly evened each other out. I had enough fun that I’d certainly give this one another go in the future to see if the evil side could do better. If you want some heroic wizardry and bravery from a little Hobbit, you can’t go wrong with a scenario like this!
Post-Post Game Thoughts – I didn’t want to heavily edit this because the experience I had was fun and it illustrates that even when you make a mistake, you can have a great time playing this game. With that said, I want to acknowledge that I made a rules mistake that tilted the results to the good side. Thanks to Voyager360, the owner of the awesome Wayfaring through Middle-Earth blog, for catching my mistake. As I noted in the battle report, Gandalf should not have been able to cast magic once he had been charged so he was well and truly trapped. I’m almost certain unless to rolled a six that he was a goner and that the evil side was on their way to winning this game. I will try this scenario again in the future and see how it goes with everything I learned from this game.