Goblin Fanatics Tactics

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Bongiorno, Amici! Che cosa? I trust you are well and are ready for the next in our ongoing series of discussions on the art of warfare on a small scale. As always, please drop me a line at John Bianchi for requests for topics of future columns, tactical questions, or information on where to dine when campaigning in Tilea or the eastern parts of the Inland Sea.

Today, we are extremely lucky in that my good friend, Il Gran Homunculo Fabulouso (perhaps you know him by his English name - the Fabulous Orcboy) has agreed to share the fruits of his experience in employing practitioners of the art of ingesting hallucinogenic mushrooms and swinging a big, iron ball around their heads. I've seen his fanatics turn the proudest of Brettonian knights to a worthless canned jelly, the haughtiest of High Elf spearmen to very fancy greaves and sabatons with only the feet still in them, and the scariest undead hordes to a fine, powdery mist. Orcboy has perfected his pitiless tactics on a thousand fields of battle; every time I see them, my healthy respect for their destructive power is renewed like a desperately sought-after though unread library book.

When you talk about fanatics and the highest evolution of their use in battle, you can only be talking about the legend that is - THE FABULOUS ORCBOY!


Okay. I wanna make dis real simple. The only reason I'm tellin' youse humies any a dis is 'cuz Count Ferderigo, he's a pal o' mine. He might drink weak humie piss-water and have more hair and frills than his frikkin' horse, but he comes troo when ya need him, y'know? Well, 'cept for that time in da plains of Zhatan...and also dat time when we wuz facin' off against dem undead down in Khemri, but I guess dat time don't count cuz we wuz outrunnin' his boyz fer da hills...

So anyway, Ferdy, he comes to me and he says "Hey!", he says. "Hey, oh most wise and cunnin' Orcboy, most nasty and ruthless of all goblinz..." Well, he talks like dat. After I let 'im know I wuzn't innerested in hirin' nobody right now, and dat took a while cuz if you know Ferdy you know he likes ta talk, he sez, no-no, he wants ta pay ME so's that I'd go and tell da world about not just how bad-ass my boyz are, but also WHY dis is so.

Lucky for him he talks quick, too, cuz I wuz about to stuff those frills and curls up where...well, anywayz, I ain't a violent guy, but a feller's gotta keep secrets, right? Specially in the name of military security. But Ferdy points out, it's a whole heckuva lot easier to not fight than ta fight, and if everybody and his uncle out dere knows just what a bad idea it'd be to mess with us Gobbos, den we can more or less live in peace and concentrate on the important things, right? Well, I figgered dat made a whole heckuva lotta sense, so here we go.

In case you ain't figgered it out yet, I'm a goblin (dat name, Orcboy, it's just a nickname). That means dat I'm just as pathetic and weak as one of you humies, only I'm shorter and greener and don't have no hair. It also means dat most o' da time, we gets pushed around and bullied by Orcs, who're bigger and nastier and tougher den a pathetic humie, plus bigger. No hair either, but who cares, dat's what Hair Squigs is for. Anyway, an army of gobbos is just about the mos' pathetic frikkin' sight you could ever imagine. If ya wanna keep da odds from bein' too one-sided, den there's gotta be a lotta us out dere, but dat don't mean nothin' cuz most Gobbos would just as soon run back home than hang around and get hisself and his carcass carved up by a buncha frikkin' loonies who figger that war is all noble or fun or somethin'.

But not all Gobbos tink dat way. And I remember da firs' time it came ta me. Back den I wuz just a subchief in a goblin tribe what wuz bullied by bigger and nastier Orcs - I wasn't even a 'made' goblin. But I remember, the frikkin' homicidal maniac Orc what wuz in charge o' dat Waugh, he got himself a tribe of Night Goblins to come fight, and da Night Goblins had brought along a coupla dere Fanatics. I tell ya, it wuz like dis light went off in my head, and I knew that I'd found somethin' that could even da odds against ANYTHIN'. You name it - Knights, Dwarves, Bestigors, Ogres�heck, even Dragons and Giants. Alla dem guys, dere real bad-asses. And dere ain't a gobbo in da world dat really got a good chance ta take one down. But dat day, I saw dem Fanatics take out THREE ogres, plus dey wiped out a unit a frikkin' heavy armored knights, too.

So I got me a coupla of da boyz in my tribe, and we decided we wuz tired of being pushed around by Orcs, and pretty much everbody else, so we took off and convinced a coupla da local Night Goblin tribes to come join our little collective. And after we had discussed matters with some of the local competition (a Fanatic makes a VERY convincin' argument), people started to get the idear.

But I noticed dat dere's plenny a' people out dere what heard of us and figgered dey could do da same ting. And dere havin' problems and're askin' themselves, "What da heck is goin' on? Ain't Fanatics supposed to be the Great Equalizer? Shouldn't folks be backin' off and treatin' us Gobbos wit' more respect?" Well, if yer havin' problems, it's cuz you only have half da equation. Once you GOT the Fanatics, you got ta USE dem right.

Okay, so yer a young gobbo warboss, and yer havin' troubles witcher neighbors and wanna explain ta dem, it's a bad idea to underestimate youse jus' cuz yer Goblins. Well, first, if you wanna use Fanatics as parta yer diplomatic message, ya can't skimp. Dere ain't no less den eight units of Night Goblins in my standin' force, and ALLA dem got Fanatics. If yer gonna do dis right, ya can't have no half measures. Fanatics is nasty, but one thing they ain't is predictable. You need LOTS.

Da second ting is, Fanatics ain't reliable. Dey always much too eager to start spinning and throwin' demselves at the enemy, and bein' as how dere so juiced up on 'shrooms, a Night Goblin unit can't sit on dem ferever. Eventually dey gonna come out, and more'n half da time, they won't have enough momentum to smack into the enemy. Den dey get shot the frick up, and ya end up standing around like some doofus jus' before you get chopped to pieces by some very peeved fellers what didn't like your approach to diplomacy.

So what's da trick, ya say? Simple. Ya gotta ENCOURAGE yer Fanatics to build, and maintain, dere momentum. And da simplest way to do DAT is to bounce them into a closer unit first, and let them shoot outta da OTHER side, into your enemy.

Fanatics, dey need encouragement. Once they start smackin' tings up, they like to keep smackin' tings up. As long as everyting is lined up, dey'll keep moving. In fact, you wanna give dese guys a lotta room to work. In fact, somethin' ta keep in mind is dat the new breed of Fanatics out dere, dere not only more plenniful, dey got more momentum moving troo units. A coupla years ago, you wuz lucky if a Fanatic would smack inta more than one unit if dey wasn't already right nexta each other. Nowadays, Fanatics got dis extra little bit dey'll give, which means dat yer enemy gotta keep his units at least two inches apart, or dey'll get smacked up real good.

Now because having the enemy nearby tends to send Fanatics into dat uncontrolled frenzy, yer probably askin' yerself, "Orcboy, are ya sayin' dat I gotta be sending dese frothin hopped-up madboyz troo my OWN units of gobbos?". An' da answer is, "YES!". Course, it always ain't a bad idea having some Snotlings around, too, to p ut out front to use first in dis manner, but it's a real pain collectin' enough Snotlings together and tryin' to get da idea in dere little heads dat you wants 'em to move forward instead a to da side� Anyway, eventually ya gotta rely on yer Gobbos to do the shuttling of Fanatics into da enemy for ya.

Now some of youse is prolly thinkin', "How do I sell dis to dose Night Goblins?" And da answer is, you don't have ta. Really! Every tribe of Night Goblins always got its share of hotheads what think it's fun to hang around Fanatics and chew mushrooms and carry a long frikkin' spear, and dey always tink dis battle plan is da greatest ting. Don't ask me why, dey just do. 'Course, most of dem ain't as high on 'shrooms as da Fanatics, so if dey get smacked up too badly, or see a group of their buddies get smashed up, they sometimes turn and run. Dey ain't nothing you can do about dat. Dat's just gobbos. If you wanna fight wit' gobbos, ya gotta realize dat we're pretty frikkin' pathetic.

So some of youse with a little more grey matter den da rest already got dis figgered out, but now I'm gonna spell dis out fer the rest of youse. Y'know all dem pretty humie and Chaos and Ork and Dwarf armies out there? Da ones dat achully got decent units what'll kick yer ass if you let 'em? Dey spreads out in a big line, so none of dere guys'll get in the way of anyone else. Well, Gobbos ain't got no decent units, except for a very few, and if yer using Fanatics you definitely don't wanna spread out. So here's what ya do.

First, always pack up. Yer dead if ya spread out. Yer guys are GOBBOS, fer Gork's sake, ya don't wanna fight yer enemy unit-to-unit.

Second, don't worry too much about having big units, or da best equipment. If yer dudes got 'em, spears and shields are nice, an' I've actually done a few things with Night Goblins units armed wit' bows, but in da end, it's da Fanatics in da unit dat matter da most. Standards, Musicians, Bosses, even Netters - dat's all secondary. It can be useful, and I bring some along because ofdat, but too much is jus' needless expense. You want just enough guys to keep da Fanatics alive until you need 'em. More'n twenty, twenty-five gobbos a unit is really unnecessary.

Third, and dis is da REAL secret ta my success, pack in depth. Dat means ya gotta be at least two layers (of units) deep. The front layer of units is what is dat "booster" for the Fanatics in the back layer. You want just over six inches or so between the front of the front layer, and the front of the back layer. Dis gives you pretty guaranteed Fanatic delivery when the enemy gets near.

Yeah, if you didn't get dat already, don't lead from da front. I know dat I don't. I'm a goblin. I know my frikkin' limitations.

Da thing is, two layers don't always seem like a lot, but when you pack them in that tight, it makes a diffrince. Plus, three layers sometimes gets a bit much. Ya end up wit' TOO much depth, and ya never achully reach some opponents. If dey got lotsa bows or guns, dat's a real bad thing. But when I can, I try and put a unit a snotlings up ahead uv everyting else. Dat way, I'm pretty sure dat da Fanatics in my Front units of Gobbos will do some damage. But usually I don't worry too much about dat. See, dis is where all dis Strategery dat Ferdy keep talking about, dis is where it comes in.

Cause most guys, dey ain't gonna just run atcha and heck wit' da Fanatics. Brettonians tend to do dat if dey ain't never met Fanatics before, and same with Chaos Knights. Den, of course, tings is easy and you got nothin' ta worry about. But ya can't assume dat da enemy'll always be so accomodatin'. Most of da time, dey got skirmishers or light cavalry dat dey'll send out to lure out all yer Fanatics. Sure, da skirmishers and light cav'll all die. But other armies, dey got REAL troops, remember? Dwarves, for example, dey don't care if you outnumber 'em four or five ta one, dey'll still kick yer gobbo butt. And Elves - half da time, yer average Gobbo is scared spitless of an elf.

So ya gotta realize dat yer enemy is gonna try and neutralize dat big equalizer you got, yer Fanatics. So you gotta have yer own neutralizers, 'cuz if ya bring nothing but Fanatics, you ain't gonna beat nobody that's got any kinda strategery. But if ya bring light cavalry of yer own, then ya got somethin' there. You send YER light cav to deal with HIS light cav. Worse comes ta worst, you can bounce fanatics through YER light cav into his, or even into his army. Heck, I don't recommend it, cuz it's tough finding more wolfriders sometimes. But every so often ya got no choice, y'know?

But you don't need ta bring a whole lotta Wolfriders. Just a dozen or so should do da trick. Two small units got speed to run around where dere needed, and won't all die or run away at once. Most enemy don't have more den a couple skirmishin' units or light cav demselves, so you might lose some Wolfriders and release a coupla Fanatics a little early, but that's not too big a deal. Jus' remember you can release dem any way you want - like sometimes you'd rather send dem toward da main enemy units, instead of at da enemy skirmishers or light cav what just released dem.

Da thing ta keep in mind is, Fanatics tend to make people rethink dere essential position on things, y'know? Units dat release Fanatics stop movin for the turn. Period. And, sometimes yer Fanatics'll deal with'em (after all, ya got three with every unit of Night Goblins), and sometimes they won't - but at that point you can send yer Wolfriders in ta (hopefully) mop up. Most units just won't be able to bring out more den one set of Fanatics every turn. So long as you got most of dem still available when you get to yer opponent's main lines, yer good.

Now da biggest problem dat anyouse gonna run inta is dat the young Night Goblin punks you recruit gonna have a whole lotta enthusiasm, but dey ain't exactly what you'd call disciplined troops. Most of dem'll have to learn about things like marchin' in formation and workin' as a team from you, and not only they got all kinds of stupid frikkin' rivalries goin' on, but dey ain't what you'd call the bravest bunch on the planet. Heck, yer average Goblin got more guts than yer typical Night Goblin, which is sayin' a lot. So if yer gonna do dis Fanatic bit right, ya gotta do two tings:

1. Learn ta live wit' da fact that dere's gonna be rivalries and animosity. Every so often, all da strategery in the world ain't gonna help none 'cuz everyone'd rather fight wit' each other den with the enemy.

2. Be as inspirin' as possible. This is very, very important. Yer gonna be losing a lotta guys even on a good day, because da best way to get the most outta Fanatics is ta send them through yer own units into da enemy, and when ya do that, you lose guys. Plus, a lotta da time Fanatics'll get all turned around and head back yer way - and cuz yer own formation is pretty tight-packed, you end up getting hit for a lotta damage when dat happens.

Dis means datchu end up spendin' a lotta time convincing the guys what are left to keep movin' forward, and Night Goblins bosses ain't exactly known fer dere public oratory, if you know what I mean. Me, the only way I get any half-decent performance outta my guys is with a little magickal assistance to my speakin' skillz, and a Night Goblin general is gonna have his work cut out fer him.

Yeah, if you didn't realize, I ain't a Night Goblin.

I figger eventually some Black Orc is gonna figger out what a sweet deal this whole Fanatic gig is, and do it 'Right'. Heck, if anyone could keep a whole buncha gobbos organized and disciplined, it'd be a Black Orc. But so far I ain't met one what wants to hang around with a buncha goblins. Me, I'm perfeckly happy wit' dat.

Heck, dat's really it. Dis ain't no sophisticated concept, but what it is, is simple. A coupla tribes of Night Goblins to supply the young punks and the Fanatics, and den some Wolfriders to keep yer Fanatics from poppin' out before you get close enough fer dem ta do some real damage. Surprisingly, dat'll deal with just about most things. 'Course, bein' as how dis is such a crazy messed-up world, it never hurts taking a few extra precautions:

Like shamans. Me, I ain't too hot on shamans an' dat whole Mork-Gork-Dork-Fork bit, but even if dey ain't never gonna do a whole lot demselves, dey usually can keep magick from messin' witcher own strateegery too much. And dat's important, cuz like everything else, yer average Elf or Chaos or undead spell-slinger can really make yer whole day miserable. Maybe a gobbo shaman (or two) ain't in the same league, but what he CAN do is bring a coupla scrolls along (or squigs, or runes, or powders, or whatever yer local shaman uses) dat'll keep dat magick harmless for a bit. Hopefully long enough fer yer Fanatics to explain dat you don't figger it's all dat fair to try an' influence a mature, diplomatic exchange wit' all dis magick nonsense.

Den dere's War Machines. Me, I used to be a big fan of Doom Divers, but den I realized dat da Night Goblin tribes I work wit' don't have so many of 'em anymore. Prolly cause most of da 'shroom stoners would rather be Fanatics. Heck, I don't mind, it seems like in recent years dat Doom Divers ain't been as effective. Guess they don't train 'em like they used ta. But Boltas - now that's anudder thing. Dere easy to make, light enough ta transport witcha, and can really mess wit' da plans of an enemy general what invests heavily in war machine or big critters.

Now, dere ain't nothing' wrong with relying on yer Fanatics ta do the job, but dey ain't always dat effective against big nasties and solid metal-and-wood jobs. Sometimes dey'll do damage, but just as often, dey'll bounce off harmless-like. But if ya got a battery or two of Boltas (and two batteries is always at least four times as good as just one!), then yer enemy is gonna be worrying a bit more about Shish-kabob Ogre or minced war machine crew. And dat ain't a bad thing.

Then dere's all da other goofy stuff dat yer tribes might have lyin' around. Some folks got some half-friendly Trolls who might tag along. Others got a Giant or two who's happy to beat things up. And dere's lots of Night Goblin tribes what got Squigs and Squig Hunters (and da occasional Squig Hopper) - and doze little guys are all kindsa nasty! Heck, maybe youse even got some spare coinage lyin' around, and youse can hire some mercenary-types. Dat's how I met Ferdy. And it even makes sense sometimes to have dis stuff, cuz it ain't always a bad idea ta have a unit or two of reliable (or at least really really nasty) troops dat can head in an' mop up after da Fanatics - or better yet, go off and crunch some stuff (and distract yer enemy) while yer busy getting' closer with yer Fanatics. Keep in mind dat you don't want too many of dem, though. Not only do dey tend to be expensive, but dey won't always take being hit by Fanatics too well. And like I said, one thing a Fanatic ain't is reliable.

An' finally of course dere's always Orcs, but dey ain't always reliable for other reasons - like dey tend to keep trying to take over. Plus, just like all da other fancy stuff, dey don't deal well with getting hit by stray Fanatics. It don't matter much if ya lose a few Night Goblins here and dere, but it starts to hurt when you lose a bunch of Orcs or Squigs.

Which brings us the last and most important point. Most armies wanna have lots an' lotsa open space to fight. Dey got dere army set out in a long line, and dey wanna make use a' alla dem. Youse goblins, onna odder hand, wanna set up tight to take advantage of alla da Fanatics ya got. And dere ain't no way you wanna stroll down da middle and let yer opponent throw everything he got at ya. Fanatics is just equalizers. You gotta use strategery if ya wanna do good.

Dat means dat ya wanna use da terrain to yer advantage. Take a look at what I mean.

Here is what yer average general would consider a pretty good place to kill things. You don't got any trees in da way, and you got nice hills for yer war machines and missile troops to set up on. Plus lots and lots of open space in the middle for fightin' and maneuverin' and stuff. And while yer Fanatics can do good when fightin' on battlefields like dis, you really want somethin' different to take advantage of what yer dudes can do.

This is someplace you'll do much better. See, the battlefield's just been divided into two parts, and dere ain't no convenient hills fer his war machines and stuff. Yer enemy is gonna have to decide which side ta set up in, and either side of the field ain't gonna be convenient for him. Plus, if he decides to split up, you'll only be facing part of his army wit' alla yers. If he decides ta bunch up, yer Fanatics are gonna have a field day when they get to his army, bouncin' around from unit ta unit. Either way, yer clever strategery means ya now got da advantage. Jus' remember to stay a little ways away from da woods so yer Fanatics don't pop out too quick if he gets units close by on the other side. Oh, and never try and pull dis "woods in the middle" trick on Wood Elves, either. Yer just gonna get slaughtered. Try and use giant frikkin' rock formations or somethin' instead.

So, that's about it. No clever hints on how ta beat me or nothing. But now youse guys all know how nasty Gobbos are. Right? So do like Ferdy sez - go away, don't bother me none, and don't make me have ta prove nothin', neither!


Mille grazie, Mi amico, Orcboy!

Well - that was instructive, humorous, grisly, and threatening all at the same time, now, wasn't it? Keep that in mind the next time you face what look like about 200 demented smurfs and it will give you pause. I can tell you, the old Count has had his onions fried but good on the occasions when we've been unlucky enough to face the Orcboy's green tide across the battlefield - much nicer to be on the same side, let me tell you!

Next time - We look at the different ways to use missile weapons in your army's basic strategic approach.

Until then - Ciao!

Created by: ZiggyQubert. Last Modification: Sunday 25 of January, 2009 01:18:58 PM EST by ZiggyQubert.

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