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Mighty Empires mod

Goblin Units and Characters

by Avian

This article will cover those Goblins that briefly (in 6th edition) went under the name of Common Goblins and are now just plain Goblins. It also covers Forest Goblin Spider Riders, who are essentially Common Goblins, even if they look a bit different and cannot get light armour. The designers seem to be having trouble in making the common Goblin foot soldier worthwhile as in 4th / 5th edition they were just the same as other Goblins, but did not have any of the fun options that Night Goblins got, while now in 7th edition they suffer from worse basic gear than Night Goblins. Only in 6th edition, when the common Goblin got +1 Leadership while Night Goblins got +1 Initiative and more fun options were the two types reasonably equal. Here's hoping for an improvement in 8th edition!






Special characters



There are many particularities concerning the common Goblin. Sadly, though, most are either disadvantages or only minor advantages.



Annoying as it can be, you will probably not want to place very many Black Orc characters in Goblin units to prevent Squabbling, so Animosity is just something you'll have to live with. On the good side, Animosity is not as critical for Goblins as it is for Orcs, so it is less problematic if they stand around doing nothing for a turn. This is partially because Goblins are so cheap that you can aford to take quite a few units of them, and so it is less of a problem if one Squabbles for a turn. It is also partially because Goblins are rather bad fighters, so being the one that is charging and hence striking first is less critical - a quite a few gobbos and few enemies will die regardless of who goes first. In effect, though, Goblin units will tend to move slower than Orc units, despite them both being Movement 4.
For Fast cavalry units, Animosity can be deadly, as a unit facing a nasty enemy unit close up has a one third chance of getting them killed when taking Animosity tests (one sixth chance of standing still and getting charged and one sixth of performing a suicidal charge). However, when they are a long way away from enemy units, Animosity is less of a problem - if they Squabble they are unlikely to get charged and if they move forward it is just a bonus.
However, because Animosity makes Goblins so unpredictable, it is not a terribly good idea to make Goblin units very expensive or vital to your plans. Several cheap(ish) units are better than one very expensive one. A liberal spread of Big Bosses is also good, since they are effectively doubling the bonus you get when Waaagh!ing.
Remember also that a unit smaller than 5 models don't have to test for Animosity, so if a single Wolf Rider out of a unit of 5 is killed, then not only will the unit not need to test for Panic, but it also does not need to test for Animosity anymore.



The Waaagh! ability does very little for Goblins, unless they are led by the General, in which case it can be quite handy. A large Goblin unit with a Big Boss will move forward on a 4+, compared to 2+ for a large Orc unit with a Big Boss, which means that while Orcs will be running ahead, Gobbos will often be left behind. On the bright side, taking D6 wounds is not much of a problem for the average Goblin infantry unit.
It is a problem, however, for Goblin Fast cavalry units, who don't get a rank bonus and come in rather small units. I have had Wolf Rider units wipe themselves out due to Squabbling during the Waaagh!, which is somewhat annoying.


Size Matters

Being almost as small and insignificant as you can get means that Gobbos don't take Panic tests due to fleeing or destroyed Snotlings (not much of a bonus, really), while everyone else bigger than a Goblin will only stand and laugh as the small greenies die or run. The Size Matters rule therefore makes it advantageous for other units to have Gobbos around, while not being an advantage for the Gobbos themselves. Thus it is very good for a mainly Orcish army to have fast cavalry units that don't cause Panic in them and reasonably cheap infantry that can be sacrificed without a second thought, but it is much less an advantage for a mainly Goblinoid army where the support units can cause Panic in the main units.


Fear elves

This is a slightly silly rule that has been hanging around since 3rd edition (possibly even longer) and quite frankly it has very little effect. Usually the Goblins will come in sufficient numbers to not Fear elves and even if they don't, you are generally using the higher Leadership of the General anyway and so you are not affected. I was a bit surprised that they didn't simply drop the rule in the 7th edition army book - I doubt anyone would have noticed any difference - but at least it is clear that it works based on Unit Strength and not the actual number of goblins / elves.



Common Goblins get better Leadership than Night Goblins, but worse than regular Orcs. On regular units, this makes little difference, as both Night Goblins and common Goblins are more likely to fail a Leadership test than they are to pass it, and thus you hope they never have to take a test using their own Leadership anyway. Goblinoids who have to test should keep within 12" of the General, where their own Leadership value is irrelevant.
The boosted Leadership of the common Goblin doesn't really make a difference until we get to Big Bosses and Warbosses, where it starts to approach okay. A common Goblin Warboss is the cheapest character you will get with a Leadership of 8 and isn't all that bad.
Remember that common Goblin characters may also join Night Goblin units and thus you may for example have a common Goblin Shaman joining a unit of Night Goblins to boost their Leadership. This is not a terribly great advantage (and you pay for it), but it is worth noting.


Light armour

Much to the annoyance of older greenskin players, your basic Goblin (whether on foot or on a wolf) now comes with light armour included. Now, light armour itself is no better than a shield and on infantry it is worse, because the shield gives an extra +1 to your armour save in close combat, but when combined with a shield it gives you a model with an armour save the same as an Orc's, for rather less cost. Admittedly, Orcs get a lot of other advantages over gobbos, but a 4 point model with a 4+ armour save in combat, or a 14 pt cavalry model with Movement 9 is quite good when compared to what most other armies get.


Wolf mounts

As the only type of greenskin, common Goblins are allowed to ride wolves, and with a Movement of 9 it is my opinion that anything with a wolf is worth it. The fact that we can have Core models with Movement 9 (when they are not Squabbling) is a huge advantage and should always be used.
For characters that do not intend to join Wolf Rider units, the wolf is less handy and mostly a means to get around the battlefield. This is unlike the boar for your common Orc character, which is always handy for the increased armour save and S5 attack when charging. Thus buying a wolf for a character that just intends to sit in a goblin infantry unit all battle, the wolf is nothing special (and you need to fiddle with the unit a bit to make it rank up properly).

Of the other mounts Gigantic Spiders are only available to Spider Riders, and so are covered in that unit entry. Gigantic Spiders will be covered in my article on Misc. Big Stuff.



Make no mistake - there are few characters more weedy in the game than a common Goblin. If you ask me, the only really useful one of the whole scruffy lot is the Big Boss, who can ride around on a wolf with a nice selection of cheap but nasty magic items. The others have nothing really to offer that you cannot get either better or cheaper with Orcs or Night Goblins, respectively. The problem with Goblin characters is that while they may cost an appropriate amount of points, they aren't really worth the Lord or Hero choices you spend on them - if you want a Warboss then you might as well either get an Orc Warboss which is actually good, or an Orc Big Boss, which is pretty much equal to the Goblin Warboss, but who takes up a Hero choice instead of a Lord. And if you just want a cheap option, a Night Goblin is even cheaper than a common Goblin. Such is sadly the fate of the common Goblin in this edition.


Goblin Warboss

At 5 pts less than a common Orc Big Boss, the Goblin Warboss gives you about what you pay for - in other words not a whole lot. On the bright side, he is actually a semi-competent fighter if you only pit him against rank and file enemy troopers, he is allowed to take up to 100 pts of magic items and there are quite a few nice Goblin-only ones. To make sure you don't have to risk getting splatted by a nasty fighter character right away, I can heartily recommend taking a Boss in any unit you plan on having the Warboss join, to accept any challanges you don't feel like accepting with your General. The downside is an unimpressive Toughness of 4 and an inability to get much in the way of an armour save (the best possible involves taking the Enchanted Shield and mounting a Wolf Chariot). Goblin Warbosses are not completely hopeless, but are not usually something you want to take unless you are going for a Goblin-themed list.
Magic item-wise, the Horn of Urgok leaps out as very tempting in an army with low Leadership and even if it will probably end up doing no more than drawing out Dispel dice, it is at least worth considering. The Amulet of Protectyness can be a decent alternative since you cannot get much of an armour save yourself or you can consider the Best Boss 'At if you are feeling less lucky. The Tricksy Trinket may be tempting if you intend to tangle with nasty enemy characters, but I would advise that you did your best to avoid these situations. When it comes to weapons, the Akk'rit Axe leaps out as ideal for a character that has a decent number of Attacks, but who is lacking in Weapon Skill and Strength and I would recommend it. The Best Basha does more or less the same, though it is generally a bit worse unless you're facing many enemies with WS5 or 6 or if you think you will be involved in combats that last for many turns.
On foot: Including a Warboss in one of your Goblin infantry units (for example a 30-git unit with hand weapons, light armour and shield), transforms this into a quite defent fighting unit and it will still be quite cheap. You need to be more careful that the unit is not charged by anything too nasty, though, so this unit should be backed up by a couple of support units, such as Wolf Riders, Spider Riders or Trolls. Being on foot means that you will need to stack up on protective items a bit more, but also gives you the option to go for a great weapon and save a few points on not taking a magic weapon.
Mounted on wolf: Having a much greater choice in where and who to fight is great when you are a mere Goblin, and if you are not expecting much in the way of enemy firepower, then having your Warboss ride around with a nice, large unit of Wolf Riders is not such a bad idea. If you decide to go down this path, then remember that your General is quite likely to go zipping around the table at high speed, so any slow units that need his Leadership to comfort them are likely to be in trouble. Thus, if you want a wolf riding Warboss, it can be a good idea to go for a mostly or entirely mounted army, which is certainly possible with the greenskins.
Mounted on Gigantic Spider: Since a unit of Spider Riders is far from a very safe and (I believe) effective place for your Warboss, I would not recommend taking this route if you want a General on a Spider. On the other hand, though, a Warboss on a Gigantic Spider in a unit of Goblin infantry is not such a bad idea. You are adding quite a bit of punch to the unit and since the Spider goes on a large base than the Gobbos, fewer fragile greenskins have to be in a position where they might get stabbed by something large and nasty. This is, however, not exactly a cheap option and comes with the downsides of both being on foot (little choice in who to fight, no bonus armour save) and being mounted (great weapons are only +1 Strength), so I do not consider it a terribly good option.
Mounted in Wolf Chariot: Having a General in a chariot supporting a mainly infantry force (he cannot march, so the cavalry will outpace him) is neither particularly clever or particularly stupid, but the main advantage is that it (seems to) get you an extra Wolf Chariot you don't have to use up a Special choice on. If you do have a Special choice to spare, then mounting the Warboss on a Wolf, placing him in an infantry unit and having him charge alongside the chariot is probably a better option, as it gives you another pursuit roll in case you win and being less than Unit Strength 5 means that no other unit has to take a Panic test if you should be destroyed or flee. It has been argued that having a chariot able to negate rank bonuses of enemy units it charges in the flank is a great advantage, but I am dubious as to how many opportunities for flank charges you are going to get when you cannot march. You also make a rather big target of the Warboss, but you can get a better protection than any other Goblin Warboss can have without stealing it from the enemy. Obviously this is not a recommended tactic against armies that have a decent amount of war machines with Strength 7 or more.


Goblin Great Shaman

In contrast to the Goblin Warboss, which is really only someone you want to include in an all-Goblin army, the Goblin Great Shaman is also tempting in a mixed army. He is not terribly cheaper than the Orc Great Shaman and the reason to take him lies more with gaining a level 4 Wizard with the Little Waaagh! lore, a lore with a lot of useful spells which are sadly somewhat difficult to cast for a mere level 2 shaman. In addition, being a level 4 Wizard means the chance of being stuck with spells that are not always useful and thus wasting expensive Power Dice is much less. Speaking of level fours: Always, always take the 35-point level upgrade unless your intention is to go all defensive with the Staff of Sneaky Stealin' and two Dispel Scrolls (or four scrolls and no staff).
What you are not getting with Goblin Great Shamans is the extra Toughness the Orc ones have, which can be a bit problematic if you Miscast or if you are shot at, but over all this is not too great a problem. If you Miscast, then only a roll of 5 or 6 is more dangerous for a Goblin than for an Orc, and if shot at then quite often an Orc would be dead as well.
Item-wise it can be very tempting to buy a Talisman, in which case you basically have the choice between the Amulet of Protectyness and the Best Boss 'At. The former can be very helpful if the poor git is attacked in close combat, though it will not protect from damage caused by Miscasts, something the Best Boss 'At will.
As with all greenskin shamans, the question is where to place him. In a unit he risks being caught up in a Squabble and unable to cast spells for a turn, while on his own he is more vulnerable to being shot. My advice is to keep the gobbo on his own as much as you can and only join units when you have to.
On foot: There are no great reason to go for anything other than the foot-slogging Great Shaman - his spells generally have a good range so there is no great reason to get places quickly. On the other hand, while on foot, the gobbo will have a 360 degree arc of sight, compared to a 90 degree arc of sight when mounted. As half the spells in the Little Waaagh! lore requires line of sight, this can be very useful.
Mounted on wolf: As the wolf does not give the Great Shaman any great bonus to his armour save and does not fight very well, the main reason to take a wolf is to get out of trouble quickly. At a cost of eighteen points, though, I don't rate it very highly. Even if on a wolf, there is next to no reason for a Great Shaman to ride around with a unit of Wolf Riders, a unit of Wolf Riders is much harder to hide from missile fire than a single character riding around.
Mounted in wolf chariot: There are a great number of reasons why you would not want your very expensive Great Shaman speeding across the battlefield and into combat. I cannot imagine this option being very wise.


Goblin Big Boss

A quite useful little character with a number of advantages, the foremost being his very low cost, a good selection of available magic items and the ability to ride a wolf for only twelve points. The biggest disadvantage, on the other hand, is spending your quite limited Hero choices on such a weedy little creature when you could have had a much better Orc Big Boss instead (for twice the points, though). There are many uses for the Goblin Big Boss, and I shall list some of them.
On foot: A Big Boss is a cheap and useful boost for a unit of Goblin infantry, both because he can fight a bit and because he boost the unit's Leadership a bit (note that I write "a bit" and not "a lot"). A great weapon and the Amulet of Protectyness (unless any other gobbo has called dibs on it yet) is quite sufficient and actually quite effective. Alternatively, you can give him Maad's Cap, some cheap weapon and/or protective items and go hunt fragile targets (i.e. war machines).
Mounted on wolf: A Gobbo on a wolf can be added to a large unit of Wolf Riders with spears and shields (don't even think about giving them any other equipment options) to boost them in the same manner as a Bog Boss on foot boosts a unit of infantry. Give him Porko's Pigstikka and against a large unit (of not too tough foes) he'll get six Strength 5 attacks, which is very good. Alternatively, you can field the hugely amusing Goblin Suicide Bomber by giving him the One Hit Wunda and the Brimstone Bauble. Such a character will hang around somewhere safe (such as in a nice, big unit of Orc Boyz led by a Black Orc Warboss) until he is ready to charge out on his own. With an 18" range, he can take out war machines and other fragile targets, or you can charge him at much tougher opposition where he will whack some of them, probably get splatted in return and take even more of them with him when he blows up. Cheap thrills, but can be surprisingly effective - mine once chased a unit of Chosen Chaos Knights off the table with only a small amount of luck.
Mounted on Gigantic Spider: Considering how fragile Spider Riders are, a Big Boss riding around with them is a lot wiser than having a Warboss do the same. Amusingly, the Spider costs more than the rider and fights about as well (not to mention that they have the same Leadership!). Give him some cheap magic weapon - such as the Akk'rit Axe - and lurk around in woods. Another option would be to join a unit of Goblin infantry instead.
Mounted in wolf chariot: As with the Warboss in a chariot, the main reason to go for this option is because it gets you an extra chariot which you (apparently) don't have to spend a Special choice on. Effectiveness-wise, though, I believe that a Big Boss on a wolf charging alongside a Wolf Chariot is better than a Big Boss sitting in a chariot (the only actual advantage is the often talked about but less often seen flank charge).


Goblin Battle Standard Bearer

Greenskin armies do well with a Battle Standard and a Goblin one is amongst the cheapest BSBs you can get and that by itself makes him worth considering. Okay, so with a maximum armour save of 4+ (with light armour in a wolf chariot), he probably needs some kind of Talisman to keep him alive, but with a basic cost of 60 points he is well worth it.
On foot: The cheapest way of using the BSB is to have him on foot, lurking behind your battle line. If you can stay out of the enemy line of fire, then you really don't need to give him any gear at all, and with a 12" range he can still be very useful. If you intend to give the BSB a magic standard and you are not fielding a wolf rider army, then I would suggest you use him in this way and keep him alive. Of course, that neatly rules out all the magic standards apart from the Big Red Raggedy Banner, but giving him the Spider Banner and putting him in the front rank of a unit of Goblins with spears is just asking for someone to go and splat him. A more better way of using a Battle Standard Bearer on foot is to give him a cheap Magic Weapon, a Talisman and use him to boost a unit's combat result by a combination of an extra standard and a dead enemy or two.
Mounted on wolf: If you are intending to field a support-BSB then giving him a wolf so he can quickly get to where he is most useful (or quickly get away if anything dangerous comes along) is a good idea. The other obvious use for a wolf-mounted Battle Standard Bearer is in a Wolf Rider army, where the high speed of the army means that the BSB can generally avoid getting into combat with anything too nasty.
Mounted on Gigantic Spider: Considering that being mounted on a monster does not improve your armour save, the Gigantic Spider as a mount for a Battle Standard Bearer makes him even more of a target than he already is. For that reason this setup is strongly discouraged.
Mounted on wolf chariot: Some players I know who use more elite (i.e. non-goblin) armies prefer putting a Battle Standard Bearer on a chariot, as they get a quite tough model that is difficult to shift and which can also do quite well in combat. This does not apply to Goblins and having your Battle Standard speed ahead and crash into the first and best target that presents itself is not really a good idea.
More thoughts can be found in my generic tactics article on Battle Standard Bearers.


Goblin Shaman

Unless you are motivated by theme, the decision of whether to take a common Goblin or Night Goblin Shaman comes down to a wider choice of mounts versus a wider choice of magic items. Additionally, the common Goblin Shaman has one point better Leadership, which is a bit irrelevant, though he can join a unit of Night Goblins and boost their Ld from 5 to 6 if you think that is useful.
As far as spellcasting goes, Gobbos suffer a bit from most of their spells being quite difficult to cast and having few ways of getting more dice (unlike Night Goblins, who can have Magic Mushrooms), which means that they will be having some problems in casting the more useful spells. It may be tempting to get the Shaman some protective item, but with T3 a better idea would be to keep him out of combat as much as possible.
On foot: The basic choice is a gobbo on foot in a unit of gobbo infantry or (if the opponent has little to shoot with) running around on his own, each with its own problems. On his own he is quite easy to take out, since both the easy spells require line of sight, while in a unit he will not be able to cast if the unit Squbbles and he has a chance of getting involved in a combat and getting splatted.
Mounted on wolf: As characters outside units can now be targeted anyway and can be prevented from marching, this option just got a bit better. Basically the wolf option lets the Shaman get out of trouble quicker. Including him in a unit of Wolf Riders is a bit useless, as such a unit is quite fragile and two of the Shaman's six spells are magic missiles and cannot be used if the bearer is in close combat.
Mounted on wolf chariot: If you are just taking a Shaman with a pair of Dispel Scrolls or the Staff of Stealin', then this can be considered a way of getting an extra chariot without spending a Special unit choice on it, an option my mounted list took more often than not. One problem I found with this guy is that he would occasionally get stuck in challenges. Not only was this often fatal, but being in a challenge meant that the other crewmen on the chariot could not attack. Contrary to a lot of other players, I do not think that a unit strength 5 chariot is a good thing, as it can cause Panic in other units if it breaks and flees.



One of the good things about common Goblins is the wide variety of units they have, which means that you could feasibly construct an all-common Goblin army if you want, and it would not be all that bad.



To be honest, the only time I would take common Goblin infantry over Night Goblin infantry is when I intend to equip them with hand weapons, shields and light armour and then it is only because Night Goblins cannot take this combo at all. In all other cases, being burdened with compulsory light armour just makes the gobbo unit more expensive than what is useful and not recommended unless you are making a themed army, in which case effectiveness is secondary anyway.
The main benefit I see in Goblins is the ability to get a reasonably resilient unit reasonably cheaply. Not a terribly resilient unit and not a terribly cheap one, but a decent unit that can do not too dangerous jobs. Good examples of this is as filler units in your battle line in between the Orc units. If something charges the Orcs and stays locked in combat, then the gobbos can flank charge them next turn, something that will usually mean that you win the combat decisively. Gobbos can also fight against not too dangerous enemy units on their own, probably not winning decisively, but at least holding the enemy up for a while. Support units such as this should be around 20 to 25 models strong and not take any command options other than the musician.
The other way of using your Goblins is to place a (Goblin) Warboss or Big Boss to lead them, give them a Standard bearer to boost it's combat score and a Boss to accept any challenges the character does not want to get into and use it as a combat unit in its own right. If you do this, then it is probably worth including some more Gobbos to soak up missile fire and so 30 to 35 is a good unit size. In this way you can have a unit that costs about as much as an Orc Boyz unit and will about as good in combat (though admittedly it will cost you a Hero choice).
Spears: Unless you intend to take shields as well (and that quickly becomes very expensive), there is nothing a unit of common Goblins with spears cannot do that a Night Goblin unit with spears cannot do equally good or better as the Night Goblins can choose to use hand weapons and shields in combat if they choose. Not really a good option.
Short bows: Here Night Goblins with short bows are one point cheaper per model and in a large unit that quickly adds up. There is thus very little reason to pay more to have a measly 6+ armour save, which is very unlikely to make any difference at all (at that cost it being better to spend the points on more warm bodies).
Shields: The common Goblin with a 5+ armour save against ranged attacks and a 4+ armour save in combat was very much underpriced in 6th edition and is still very good value for the money. If you are going to take Goblin infantry, this is the unit you should choose.
Command options: A musician is dead cheap, can be quite useful and is therefore always recommended. At only four points, you'd be a fool not to take it. The usefulness of Standard bearers and Bosses depend on whether you want to make a combat unit (take a standard) or a support unit (don't take a standard). Even when taking a combat unit, what you are mainly paying for with the Boss is the ability to get involved in challenges, letting your Warboss or Big Boss beat up the rank and file enemy troopers instead. It is therefore only useful to have a Boss in a gobbo unit if you are also including a character, as 8 pts for an additional WS2 S3 attack is a bit steep in itself.
See also my article on the Uses for Goblin Infantry.


Goblin Wolf Riders

These guys are great and I heartily recommend taking three units of these in the average army, just because Core fast cavalry units with Movement 9 are so good. Okay, so they suffer from Animosity and bad Leadership, but you cannot have everything. The primary uses for Wolf Riders are war machine hunting, baiting large, nasty units so that you can charge them with your infantry or diverting that same nasty unit so that your infantry don't have to fight them. With their excellent speed, Wolf Riders can also threaten with flank and rear charges and set up traps so that fleeing enemy units run through them and die. They are also great when deploying, as they are fast enough to redeploy quickly and so you can place them as your first units a fair way out on the flanks while revealing nothing of your clever battleplan. That way your opponent will have to start deploying important units before you do and your much slower infantry units can be placed in the best position. If that leaves the Wolf Riders out in the middle of nowhere, they can rapidly get back to where the action is or speed around the flanks to take out vulnerable enemy target.
As mentioned, Wolf Riders are somewhat unreliable, not to mention rather fragile, so take multiple units. Recommended unit size is 5 or 6 for fast cavalry and around 15 (or 14 plus a Big Boss) for non-fast cavalry.
Spears: You cannot go wrong with spears. Even on a cheap throwaway unit it is only a few points you may end up wasting and when charging with your Wolf Riders, spears give the Goblins a handy boost and will almost double their effect agains weedy targets (and let's face it, weedy targets are pretty much the only ones you will charge with Wolf Riders anyway).
Short bows: Somewhat lower in usefulness than spears, short bows are not terribly good and should be considered more as something to spend spare points on than as something actually useful. Occasionally they may do something (it is great when you get lucky and kill a Chosen Knight), but over all you don't take Wolf Riders to shoot things with. On the good side, Wolf Riders can shoot even when marching and when rallying after a voluntary flee, and since they can get really close to their target, they will often shoot as well as a much larger unit of Goblin infantry with short bows. Never, ever take short bows for Wolf Riders with shields. As non-Fast cavalry you lose pretty much all of the few advantages of putting bows on Wolf Riders. Similarly, you should never give short bows to units you intend to field in two ranks, as you are wasting a lot of bows. This should be redundant, since fast cavalry are not useful in ranks anyway, but there are always some people who want to field Fast cavalry Wolf Riders in units of 10.
Shields: In the latest version of the army book it is shields and not light armour that stops you from being Fast cavalry, much to the annoyance of all those players who have their previously Fast cavalry units with shields. In any case, cavalry with a Movement of 9 and that can get a rank bonus for 14 pts per model is quite good (it was very good in last edition, when the price was 12 pts). If you give a unit shields then you will also want to give them spears and you definitely do not want to give them short bows. There is also little point in taking a unit that can get a rank bonus and not getting one for them, which is why Wolf Riders with spears and shields should be fielded in larger units than Fast cavalry Wolf Riders. As mentioned above, 15 models in a unit, where one might be a Big Boss (there are a lot of nice magic weapons for this guy) is a quite good unit, but very expensive. In my all-cavalry army I would habitually field a couple of units of 10 wulfies with spear, shield and full command and they did quite well, provided they did not have to make tests on their own Leadership of 6.
Command options: Wolf Riders tend to flee quite a lot and thus always benefit from having a musician. If you are fielding a Fast cavalry unit, then that is also all I would take - the unit is not hoping to (and often not capable of) winning difficult combats and so the other two options are less attractive. In some cases it might come in handy, but I do not see the risk and cost of the Boss and Standard bearer to be worth it in a Fast cavalry unit. In a non-Fast cavalry Wolf Rider unit, however, all three options become useful and can be recommended. You are looking at fighting a lot more difficult combats and so the extra attack of the Boss (and the ability to issue and accept challenges, if you include a Big Boss in the unit) and the +1 CR of the Standard can make a difference.


Forest Goblin Spider Riders

On the whole, Spider Riders are not as useful as Wolf Riders (unless you are used to playing with a lot of terrain on the table) and should therefore not be seen as a replacement for them. Instead, Spider Riders have the very rare (in a greenskin army) and quite useful ability to move through difficult terrain unhindered, which makes them good in a couple of situations where Wolf Riders are not as useful. As a complement to wolf-riding gobbos, the Spider Riders thus bring a few new options to the army and I can recommend a unit or two of Spider Riders to work alongside your three or so units of Wolf Riders.
The first good use for Spider Riders is the extra places you can happily deploy it. With Animosity, placing one greenskin unit in front of another can be quite risky, as a Squabble result for the first unit will usually mean that the unit behind is stuck there for a turn as well. The good thing with Spider Riders here is that they can be deployed in or behind areas of difficult terrain, places where very few other units in your army want to go, as normal units will be moving very slowly until they are out in open terrain again.
Obviously, the second good thing about Spider Riders is that you can zip through any terrain as you go, making the unit quite useful for lurking in woods and pouncing on fragile enemy units. They also benefit from being harder to hit with normal missile fire when within cover while not being slowed down by it, and with good positioning you can be almost concealed from view while still being able to charge your full 14". The Spiders themselves are also a bit more hard-hitting than Wolves, though not by all that much and not against foes with good armour.
As Spider Riders are always Fast cavalry, the ideal unit size is 5 or 6 models. Take any more than that and you would probably be better off taking an additional unit instead - there is next to no situation where a single large unit of Fast cavalry is better than two small ones. You can include a Big Boss on a Gigantic Spider to lead this unit if you wish, but it makes the unit quite expensive and it's a bit risky.
Short bows: As with Wolf Riders, this should really be seen as a way of spending a few spare points, and in this case the actual value of the short bows is even less than in a Wolf Rider unit. This is because the unit will more often be lurking so that only a few models can see and be seen by the enemy, in which case most models in the unit will not be able to shoot. Additionally, the lower Movement rate of Spider Riders means that you are less likely to be within short range and therefore less likely to hit anything.
Command options: I must admit that I find all options apart from the always-useful musician to be a bit dubious. For the price of the Boss you can (almost) get another Spider Rider, which will generally be better and as mentioned for Wolf Riders, a Standard bearer in a Fast cavalry unit is a bit risky.


Goblin Wolf Chariots

Cheap thrills, the Goblin Wolf Chariot can do a very impressive amount of damage for its cost, provided you can keep it from getting shot at. If you do take some missile damage, then instead of hanging around and waiting to get shot completely to death next turn, consider charging the best target in range instead. Back when these excellent vehicles were 1-2 per Special choice I used to take a pair in nearly every battle and they were some of the best things in the army. They can take out war machines, work together with fast cavalry units to break and run down much tougher units than themselves and even kill some knights if you have a bit of luck with the dice. However, now that they each take up a Special unit choice, I find that I more often take Orc Boar Chariots, who are much more resilient, even if they are somewhat slower. As a replacement for the Wolf Chariots as a fast, hard-hitting unit I have found that I take more fast cavalry instead. The wolf- or spider-riding gobbos are somewhat less hard-hitting, but even faster due to being able to make march moves. If you take any chariots you should take more than one, as they are quite fragile and a lucky hit from a small magic missile can take out a Wolf Chariot easily enough. Should you run out of Special choices then more Wolf Chariots can be gotten by choosing them as mounts for Goblin characters.
Extra crew: Dead cheap and not too hard to convert, this option is recommended for all Wolf Chariots.
Extra wolf: This option is really only there for those veteran players who have Wolf Chariot models from the old days when extra animals was an essential upgrade. It is not a good option as it doubles the size of the chariot (it has to go on a 75 mm wide base), which makes it easier to shoot it and more difficult to squeeze it in with other units when it charges something.
See also my article on Greenskin Chariots.


Goblin Rock Lobber

A quite good weapon against very hard infantry, especially those on small bases (i.e. Dwarfs) which greenskins have trouble dealing with in close combat. Though not terribly accurate, the Rock Lobber can do a whole lot of damage if they manage to hit anything. It certainly helps if you are shooting at something that doesn't move around much (again: Dwarfs make great targets). Having Strength 8 with a central hit they can also smash enemy chariots to kindling. Realistically speaking, the Rock Lobber is probably slightly overpriced against most armies, but not excessively so. One important thing to remember with the Rock Lobber is that they ignore armour saves and can inflict multiple Wounds with even a partial hit, and not just with the big Strength 8 central hit.
Bully: I tend to buy a Bully for my Rock Lobbers, mainly because it means I don't have to worry about my (relatively) expensive war machine having its crew run off the board as a unit of Wolf Riders flee past. It should not be considered a compulsory choice, but every now and then you will be very glad you spent those extra five points. The enhanced fighting skills of the Orc does not very often make a difference.


Goblin Spear Chukka

Another semi-compulsory choice. 70 points and a Special choice for two Bolt Throwers is an excellent deal and the Spear Chukka the primary anti-knight weapon in the greenskin arsenal. As they are so cheap, Spear Chukkas can be deployed wide out on the flanks, hoping for a nice flank shot on a unit of Inner Circle Knights and forcing the opposing player to divert a (usually) much more expensive unit just to go over there and earn a few miserable victory points. Alternatively they can be deployed behind and between infantry units, as they only need a very narrow line of fire to their target. Another thing they do well is shoot large, terror causing flying monsters right out of the sky with their high Strength and ability to inflict multiple Wounds. On top of all this they don't even Misfire. Some people recommend four Spear Chukkas as standard in a greenskin army, but personally I find that a bit excessive unless you know you are facing someone with a knight-fetish.
Bully: Considering the usefulness of Bullies (not amazingly great) I don't usually bother with them for anything as cheap as Spear Chukkas.


Goblin Doom Diver

Having some of the same uses as a Rock Lobber and some of those of the Spear Chukka, the Doom Diver is really something you include because you have no Special choices to spare and want another artillery piece. This is in itself not a bad thing, as there is usually a lot more competition for the Special choices than the Rare choices in a greenskin army. Doom Divers are usually quite accurate, though, and can even be used to kill skirmishers and single models with a little luck. Personally I find one of their most pleasing features to be the option of correcting the shot even if you have hit the spot you guessed at - very handy when your guess was only an inch or so short of the target. Doom diver are a bit more dull in 7th edition than they have used to be, with no special Misfire chart anymore. For some reason they have even lost the option for a Bully.


Special Characters

As far as Goblin Special Characters go, there has never been anyone apart from Grom, unless you count odd ones made up for a single campaign or similar.


Grom the Paunch of Misty Mountain

Harking back all the way to third edition (when he didn't have a chariot and the little fatso had to walk around on his chubby legs), for the last decade or so Grom has been suffering from the lack of wisdom of sticking your Warboss and your Battle Standard Bearer in the same chariot. This really is not a wise setup, never has been, and Grom is really a character that should be avoided. At least these days his axe is actually better at chopping up elves than it is at splatting dwarfs.
The Good: Grom has effectively both a 5+ and a 4+ Ward save, due to the Lucky Banner and his Regeneration. Getting a Ward save for a chariot is not a bad thing. Against Elves, four attacks that wound on a 2+ with Killing Blow on a 5+ is quite nice. Not having to worry about Fear of elves is, if not especially great, a nice benefit every now and then.
The Bad: A great weapon, even a magical one, is not a terribly great thing for a mounted model as it only grants +1 Strength but still strikes last when not charging. The Battle Standard is lost if the chariot is destroyed, which is rather easy to do. Grom is very expensive and I have problem seeing how he can be worth 50 points more than Skarsnik.
The Dull: Niblit is now a complete wimp with the fighting skill of a stunned humie! One WS 3, Strength 3 attack? What were they thinking?


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