BattleLore is the game of choice for me these days; I’m constantly
seeking for ways to pull it out and play it, and it stays fresh and
enjoyable for me each time. I like the diversity of the War Council,
and how there are multiple strategies that can be employed using the
same scenario. Dwarves and Goblins are two races that are employed as
“mercenaries” in the basic game, and I loved the models and the
special rules they had. But really, it was very basic, with Dwarves
essentially being always-bold units and Goblins being often-frightened
and quick to rush into battle. I was therefore eager to check out the
Specialist packs that were upcoming. And finally, the first two are here!
The Goblin Skirmisher Specialist Pack (Days of Wonder, 2007 – Richard Borg) was the one I was really keen to see, if only because I have a
soft spot for my sorely beaten upon goblins. And this expansion
really came through – I now feel that the goblins have a fighting
chance, if not possibly an edge when it comes to combat. Bring on
those slow dwarves – they’re not the only ones who are bold anymore!
Let’s look at what the expansion pack includes (and by the way –
putting both of the specialist packs, Call to Arms, and Epic in the
same box now has my box bursting at the seams. You’ll need an extra
box to get anything else in.)
- Two new scenarios are added, The Sounds of Water and Riding Down
the Spear Bearers. Both of these are normal scenarios with War
Councils included, but are intriguing in that they allow all of the
new units to be used. Normally a player (using the Call to Arms
expansion) can only have two specialist cards, which means that not
everything new can be used; but these scenarios give a balanced force
for a fully fledged mostly goblin army to fight against. Using a
tricked-out goblin army is lethal, to say the least.
- The Goblin Band: There are three goblin drummers and one goblin
bass drum figure included in the set with white bases to make them
easy to pick out on the board. Interestingly, the Goblin Bass Drum is
my favorite model in the game currently – and he’s useful also! A
specialist card allows a player to place a green Goblin Band in
reserve. This unit fights as normal (with no bonus strikes), but is
interesting in two ways – it is bold and also provides half the
support to every friendly unit in the same section. This is
incredible for a couple of reasons. One, it provides half the support
a unit needs to be bold – whether it is goblin or not, as long as it
is in the same section! Secondly, if you get the unit onto a space
that covers two sections, it will affect all units in both sections.
This allows the goblin units to move in groups of two, effectively
becoming killing machines, as they are now fast AND bold. The
opponent may want to hunt down the band unit, although they will hover
in the back, drumming up support for the whole army. I shudder to
think of what an army would be like with two units, although that
would require two of the Specialist packs; and I doubt many would buy
- Goblin Drummers: The player can instead “embed” a goblin drummer
into three different units, replacing one of the units of that type.
This drummer makes that unit bold, which is an amazing feature for a
Goblin unit, as long as the drummer stays alive (it cannot be the
banner holder, so it’s the second last to die). While this allows a
player to have an easy three bold units on the board (red spearmen
come to mind), I think I like the band unit better, since it has a
higher potential to effect more units.
- Goblin Slingers: The player can use a specialist card to replace
one unit with two Goblin slinger units. These green units only have a
range of two but can roll two dice regardless of whether they moved or
not. I found this a nice addition, getting rid of a single human
green foot unit and adding in the two slingers. It gives the army
more ranged power, and these quick units can harass the enemy constantly.
- Spear Bearers: One specialist card allows a player to replace two
blue banner units with two red banner hobgoblin spear bearers. While
I don’t understand why these units don’t get a bonus against cavalry,
they do get an extra die when battling back, which makes putting a
drummer into them an obvious pick. Regardless, the ability to replace
two blue units with two red spear units is HUGE, and I have a hard
time not picking this card for every scenario.
- Components: The figures for all the new units look good; and if
nothing else, give you more goblin figures to wield an almost all
goblin army, if that interests you. The cards are nice, and banners
and flags are included to allow a player to use the units in either army.
I’m not sure the casual BattleLore player needs to pick up this
expansion (although they’re probably not reading this review anyway),
but anyone seeking to make the goblins a lethal force will get
sinister delight from this pack. I wish one could take more than two
specialist cards, but currently I’m fairly happy with the Spear
Bearers and a band in my army – although I’d gladly take the slingers
and/or drummers also. Dwarves, be warned – the goblins are coming –
and are taking no prisoners!
“Real men play board games”