Night Goblin Units and Characters
Night Goblins are often and quite rightly regarded as the most fun of the greenskin breeds. Whereas the common Goblins have units that resemble those of actual historical armies (fast outriders, artillery, etc.), Night Goblins are pure fantasy; lots of odd rules, randomness and high potential for damage - to either side. Every type of Night Goblin unit can have Strength 5 attacks and has rules that no other unit in the game has. On the downside, every Night Goblin unit is quite random, suffers from a horribly low Leadership and tends to have low Toughness and very little armour. Fielding Night Goblins of any type is a calculated gamble and you will just have to accept that every now and then the army will refuse to cooperate.
- Size Matters
- Fear Elves
- Hate Dwarfs
- Lack of armour
- Magic items
- Night Goblin Warboss
- Night Goblin Great Shaman
- Night Goblin Big Boss
- Night Goblin Battle Standard Bearer
- Night Goblin Shaman
Even more so than for common Goblins, the attributes of Night Goblins tend to be disadvantages.
Annoying as it can be, you will probably not want to place very many Black Orc characters in Night Goblin units to prevent Squabbling, so Animosity is just something you'll have to live with. This is particularly annoying for those units that really want to prevent Animosity (Squig Herds and Hoppers), as those units cannot be joined by characters at all. On the bright side, Animosity is not as critical for the normal Night Goblin units as it is for a lot of other units in the army, as these units tend to do about equally badly regardless of which side charges, and since they are so cheap, you can afford to take lots of them. In effect, though, gobbo units will tend to move slower than Orc units, despite them both being Movement 4. As with common Goblins, including a scattering of Big Bosses in your units to get that extra +1 to your Animosity test when the Waaagh! is called is a good idea.
For the more expensive and nasty Night Goblin units (i.e. the Squigs), Animosity can be a real problem which can be difficult to compensate for. These units can hit very hard with their multiple attacks at Strength 5, but if they end up being charged (being Immune to Psychology, they cannot flee from a charge) their Toughness of 3 and no armour save means that they tend to die in high numbers. The solution to this is often to place the Squig units a bit out on the flanks, where they have a chance of charging enemy units from an angle where they cannot be charged back in return.
The Waaagh! ability does very little for Night Goblins, unless they are led
by the General, in which case it can be quite handy. A large Night 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 Night Goblin infantry unit.
It is a problem, however, for Squig Hoppers, who don't get a rank bonus and come in rather small units of expensive models. For them, Waaagh! is no advantage at all and a roll of 1 can cripple the unit.
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 Night 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 reasonably cheap infantry units 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.
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. Two out of three Night Goblin unit types are Immune to Fear and the last tends to come in large enough numbers to not really worry about it. 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.
Considering that all Dwarfs hate all greenskins and how good that can be for them, it is nice to have a breed of Goblins that hate the stunties right back! For your average Night Goblin trooper Hatred is not much of an advantage, but it is great for characters and Squigs, all of whom can actually fight. Two Strength 5 attacks that hit all Dwarfs on 4+ with a re-roll to hit per Squig tends to mean a lot of dead dwarfs and a much greater chance of breaking the accursed beardlings. On the downside, Hatred forces you to pursue a fleeing foe, but nearly all the time you would have wanted to do this anyway - as Dwarf units tend to be expensive and easy to catch - so it's not really a problem.
Night Goblin Initiative start at human level, which is an okay little perk, but Initiative is hardly the most important characteristic in the game and with the low combat-ability of the average goblin, it rarely makes a difference. It can be quite handy for Squigs now and then, as they hit very hard but die easily if the opponent gets to attack first, but other than that it's not a big deal.
Night Goblins have the worst Leadership of any greenskin breed, apart from Snotlings. Whether this is a disadvantage or not depends on how you construct the army. In a mixed army led by an Orc, then you will want to keep both Night Goblin and Goblin infantry units close to the General anyway as they are both more likely to fail than to pass a Leadership test. Thus the +1 Leadership that common Goblins get is not a significant advantage over Night Goblins. In a mainly Night Goblin army, on the other hand, you will start to feel the difference, with units failing noticeably more Leadership tests and spending more time running away. You do not take a Night Goblin Warboss or Big Boss for his Leadership qualities, when the common Goblin equivalent is only 5 or 10 points more expensive.
On the bright side, both types of Squig units are Immune to Psychology and tend to win their combats (unless they are charged, that is), so a Leadership of only 5 is less of a problem for them. They can even be deployed more than 12" away from the General, something you would otherwise be hesitant to do with such an expensive unit with Ld 5.
Night Goblins of all types struggle to get much of an armour save and particularly the Squig units are very vulnerable to getting shot, since they have no armour at all. In close combat, the Night Goblin infantry units can compensate for this to a great extent, since they have the option for nets, which tends to work better than light armour in combat. Nets also have the great advantage that any Strength reduction for the enemy unit also protects any characters in the gobbo unit, effectively improving their Toughness and armour save by 1 most of the time. This makes up for the fact that Night Goblin characters tend to be limited to a 5+ armour save (light armour and shield).
Interestingly, the basic Night Goblin is better armoured than the basic common Goblin (since a shield gives a higher save in close combat when combined with a hand weapon), which is a lot of the reason Night Goblin infantry is a bit better than common Goblin infantry.
Night Goblins are the only breed of greenskins that have magic items that are unique to them: The Magic Mushrooms (risky), the Pipes of Doom (lame), the Mad Cap Mushrooms (sneaky) and the Bad Moon on a Stick (useless). Access to these items are in many cases the reason why you want to go with a Night Goblin character over a common Goblin one, the lower cost not really being a reason to forgo the higher Leadership of the common gobbos. Not all are useful - the Bad Moon on a Stick would have been much better if it could be carried by a unit instead of a character with a 6+ armour save - but both types of mushrooms are worth considering.
Night Goblin characters tend to be overlooked in favour of common Goblin ones, unless you want to theme the army, you want one of their unique magic items or you are playing against Dwarfs. You can save a few point in taking them over common Goblins, but the extra point of Leadership the common Goblin characters get is more than worth the few points you can save. Thus if none of the first three reasons matter to you, take common Goblins instead.
A fighter-leader Lord that can't really fight and can't really lead either.
Not a model you really want to take unless you are theming to give yourself a
disadvantage. The problem with the Night Goblin Warboss is that he doesn't
really have any strong sides - none of the Night Goblin magic items are really
suitable for him, as you want to stock up on protective items and a decent
magic weapon, when fighting against Dwarfs his Hatred doesn't weigh up for the
number of extra Panic tests you will tend to fail and he isn't really cheap
enough compared to a Leadership 8 common Goblin Warboss to make him
interesting. Heck, if you are fine with a General with Ld 7, you might as well
take a common Goblin Great Shaman. This guy is actually worse than an Orc Big
Boss, yet he takes up a Lord choice.
Mounted on Great Cave Squig: While the Warboss' double-sized magic items quota allows you to create a much nastier Squig Hopper character, he will also be considerably more expensive, and that is not really a good thing for such a random model.
All things considered, the common Goblin Great Shaman for 5 points more and with Leadership 7 probably wins out over the Night Goblin Great Shaman. With such an expensive character you don't really want to gobble Magic Mushrooms, which might quite easily blow up your chief spellcaster. As you essentially get nothing from his Hatred of Dwarfs, you are essentially saving a few points for worse Leadership and no option for mounts. The Leadership isn't that important - you probably want another character to be the General anyway - but Ld 7 is significantly better than Ld 6.
Considering that for five points more you can get a common Goblin Big Boss
with +1 Leadership, there are few reasons to take this git, especially
considering that he can only take two of the four Night Goblin-only magic
items. One reason is of course theme. The second reason is a Hatred of Dwarfs
and a Night Goblin Big Boss with Maad's Map and a great weapon is a decent war
machine hunter when fighting against the stunties. Just be a bit careful where
you move him and don't ever get shot at by an Organ Gun. Stone Throwers make
great targets, as they cannot shoot at him if he is within 12" and will
have a quite low chance of hitting him even if he is outside that distance. A
Night Goblin Big Boss should really be considered to be a slightly better type
of unit champion, rather than a character, which should illustrate why it is
difficult to find enough reason to field him.
Mounted on a Great Cave Squig: The third reason is to have a cheap guy riding this, the strangest mount any character in the game has ever ridden. It must probably also be classified as a 'fun' option and is probably not particularly effective but if you really feel you must try out this combo, then a Big Boss is at least a better rider than a Warboss. See the entry for Squig Hoppers for tips on how to use this guy; incidentally a unit of Squig Hoppers is probably an okay skirmish screen for him. Useful equipment for such a git is probably Warboss Umm's Best Boss 'At along with light armour, a shield an one of the cheap magic weapons. You could also try giving him Porko's Pigstikka - being US4 he will not negate enemy rank bonuses, so even charging in the flank (as you should), he will still get all the extra attacks he would get from attacking in the flank. The bouncing idiot will probably not defeat an enemy unit on his own, but if teamed up with a unit of Squig Hoppers (he cannot join them, but that is not really a problem, as two units are often better than one) he can add a couple of vital points of CR.
The cheapest Battle Standard Bearer of any official army list, which is
pretty much all the reason for letting a Night Goblin carry your precious
Battle Standard. As should be pretty obvious, a BSB is a highly useful addition
to any greenskin force, though a bit less so to an all-Night Goblin army, as
the chance of passing any Break test - even with a re-roll - is pretty slim.
However, in a mixed greenskin army you get get a BSB for as little as 55 points
if you don't give him any extra gear.
Considering how fragile they are, Night Goblin BSBs should probably not be directly involved in any fighting. Stick him somewhere reasonably safe behind your lines, give him some useful magic item (the Big Red Raggedy Banner or the Horn of Urgok, for example) and you will get quite a useful little git. If you really do feel that you must place him in a unit that has a good chance of getting into a fight, then at least issue the unit with nets to boost the BSBs chance of survival.
Finally: While it is theoretically possible to get something useful out of the Bad Moon on a Stick, probably involving Skarsnik and a unit that is wide enough so that few models can attack the BSB, this Magic Standard is not really recommended.
Mounted on Great Cave Squig: The weediest BSB in the game, in a position where he will have a very high chance of being shot at or attacked in close combat. Exactly the opposite of where you want him to be.
More thoughts can be found in my generic tactics article on Battle Standard Bearers.
Unless you are taking a Night Goblin Shaman for reasons of theme, you are
either doing so to save a measly five points (woo-hoo!) or you are doing so to
gets your paws on on of the three magic items he can have which a common Goblin
Shaman cannot. Both are okay reasons, and it can be fun to field a second-level
Night Goblin Shaman with five pieces of Magic Mushrooms, just to see how many
he can eat before his head explodes. A level one Shaman with the Staff of
Sneaky Stealin' is also a cheap way of getting two extra Dispel dice per turn,
while reducing the number of Power dice your opponent has by one. Against an
opponent with a low to medium amount of magic, this should keep the damage it
can do to your army at a manageable level.
Night Goblin Shamans are also decent carriers of Mad Cap Mushrooms, though only in those cases where their own unit is not directly in harm's way.
I must say that I am quite disappointed with greenskin magic in the new book and especially the Little Waaagh! spells suffer from being difficult to cast, which comes in addition to the new rule that stops Wizards from lending each other their Power dice. It seems to be just a bit to easy to end up in a situation where there are few useful spells you can cast, because your Shamans either have the wrong amount of Power dice or the wrong spells or both. And the basic spell for Goblins is effectively half a Bonecruncher spell (from the Ogre Kingdoms list), while actually being more difficult to cast!
As if that wasn't enough, few of the greenskin magic items will do much for your spell casting, unlike the old book which had several very tasty magic items. Nowadays they are all either overly expensive, overly risky or overly dull. More often than not, I find myself going all-defensive with my magic, trusting in the Staff of Sneaky Stealin' and/or Mork's Spirit-totem to keep enemy magic at bay. This is in stark contrast to the fun, old days of fifth edition, where I would habitually field three level one Night Goblin Shamans, safe in the knowledge that heads would pop, both on the opponent's side and on mine.
As opposed to Night Goblin characters, who are a bit sub-par, all three types of Night Goblin units are interesting and worthwhile additions to any greenskin army.
I consider Night Goblin infantry to be marginally better than the common
Goblin variant, due to their better equipment. Starting out with shields makes
the basic Night Goblin better than the basic common Goblin and when the best
gobbo is a cheap gobbo, this makes all the difference. Being Goblin infantry,
Night Goblins can either be fielded in a smaller unit to support larger units
in combat, or as a proper fighting unit in their own right, though they will
probably need to be led by a decent fighter character in order to achieve
anything. Fielding expensive Night Goblin units without characters to add that
extra bit of punch and Leadership is generally asking for trouble and not
something I would recommend. Due to their horrible Leadership, these gobbos
should be kept close to the army General if at all possible.
Recommended unit size is 20 to 25 gits (at 3 points per git) for support units and 30 to 35 gits (at 3 or 4 points per git) for main combat units.
Spears: Not really a very good option, being too expensive for a few extra WS 2, S 3 attacks. You need quite a few gobbos in the unit before it has a chance in combat anyway, and at that point you are paying for a heap of spears only a few of them will get to use.
Short bows: I wouldn't call a Night Goblin unit with short bows great (or even good), but twenty guys with bent sticks and string for sixty points cannot really be all that bad. The option to swap shields for short bows used to be one point per model and is now free; if you ask me that is still a bit too expensive, as the basic Night Goblin tends to do better. See also my article on Greenskin Archery.
Nets: A worthwhile option for a decently large fighting unit, but far too expensive for a cheaper support unit. Nets tend to be better than light armour in close combat, but offer no protection from ranged attacks. On the bright side they also protect any characters in the unit, which can be very useful for Night Goblins, who tend to be somewhat fragile. They can of course backfire, but the chance is not too great and -1 Strength is not that much of a problem for Goblin infantry, who cannot fight well anyway. At worst you have wasted thirty-five points.
Command options: As with any cheap troops, I heartily recommend that you buy the equally cheap musician. Bosses cost too much for the extra WS 2, S 3 attack they get, but have a useful role in issuing or accepting challenges if you include a fragile character in the unit (Shaman or Battle Standard Bearer or to some extent any Night Goblin character). If you are running the unit without a character then spending the points on a couple of extra gobbos is probably more useful. Standard bearers are only recommended if you are kitting out the unit to fight (i.e. you are including a Warboss or Big Boss in the unit), otherwise you are just increasing the points your opponent can get for smacking around a unit of wimps.
Fanatics: I have an entire article devoted to Night Goblin Fanatics. Summing that article up in just a couple of lines, I suggest that you vary the number of Fanatics from unit to unit and from battle to battle, to keep your opponent guessing. At the same time, if the cost of Fanatics in a carrier unit is more than half the cost of the unit itself (including any characters in the unit), I believe you are making it too easy for your opponent to get a heap of Victory Points from a weedy pushover unit.
See also my article on the Uses for Goblin Infantry.
I used to hate Squig Herds in 6th edition, because they always seemed to
fail a Leadership test, leaving me with a dozen Squigs that had to be moved
individually each Compulsory Movement phase. Thankfully that is no longer so
and I am much happier with them in this edition.
For 120 points you get a unit that hits as hard as charging Black Orcs, don't need to take Psychology tests, can have a full rank bonus and has a decent chance of getting the outnumbering bonus once combat is done. Excellent, yes? Well, mostly.
With Animosity and a Movement of only 4, it can be a bit difficult to get the Herd to charge anything and if anything charges it (being Immune to Psychology, it cannot flee from a charge), then a Toughness of 3 and no armour save means that you will probably lose some Squigs, which in turn means that the chance of losing the combat is increased, and a Break test on Leadership 4 or less is not something you want to contemplate. Because of this, you really want to keep the Herd within 12" of the army General, as even if they don't have to take Panic, Fear or Terror tests, they really need something to boost their horrible Leadership if they should happen to lose a combat. Happily, they are Immune to Psychology, which means that baiting enemy units with Wolf or Spider Riders who then flee from a charge and let the Squig Herd counter-charge in your next turn, is pretty safe. You can happily send the fast cavalry fleeing through the Squig Herd, which will be much to busy with their own troubles to care about a handful of fleeing gobbos.
For a proper fighting unit you will probably need four or five hunting teams. This gives you a unit that is quite resistant to missile fire (you will just have to accept that these guys will be a priority target for your opponent) and gives you a quite high static CR bonus, while still keeping the unit reasonably cheap. You can also use units of only one or two (preferably two) hunting teams as smaller support units for bigger units, deploying them in between units of larger greenies and using them to charge exposed enemy flanks if the opportunity presents itself.
It is even possible to field units of just a single hunting team, with the intent of using the Wild Squigs rule as the primary way of causing damage with them. What you do is march the unit right up under the nose of the enemy and either charge them or let them charge you. To prevent all the Squigs from being slain by the enemy unit, leaving none left to go wild, I would suggest that you field the Herd only two models wide and place the two gobbos in the front rank, with the Squigs going in the rear. Enemy units charging the Squig Herd in the front would then only be able to kill the Gobbos. It might seem odd and inefficient to place the models who are actually able to fight in the second rank where they cannot do so, but the Squigs will do about the same amount of damage to the enemy unit when they go wild as they would do if they were attacking normally, and when going wild they will also do the same amount of damage to all other units within 2D6" as well. This tactic is only recommended against armies with next to no missile fire as anyone else will just shoot the unit to death early on, where only your own units would take damage from the wild Squigs.
A final note: The way shots that hit the unit is randomized means that the Squigs get a disproportionately high share of any missile fire directed at the Herd. Every now and then this means that you are left with a Herd consisting of a few very relieved gobbos and no Squigs. When this happens, make an effort to withdraw the remnant of the unit from the fighting. That little handful of Night Goblins is worth half the points value of the unit and if they go and hide somewhere quiet it will deny quite a few Victory Points to your opponent. The unit cannot fight well without the Squigs anyway.
The only skirmishing unit in the army; people ask for a unit of skirmishers
all through 6th edition and they just had to go and give us something
really weird. Squig Hoppers became a lot more interesting in 7th
edition, when their movement was increased by 50% and their price went down.
Previously they would move around as individuals and with a Movement of only
2D6, you had to bounce them off your other units if you wanted to get anywhere
and individual Hoppers never achieved anything much. I consider the Squig
Hoppers to be one of the few things the designers managed to get just right in
the new edition.
On the downside you also get the unit that is most vulnerable to enemy firepower - having a Toughness of 3 and no armour save for 15 points per model. Being skirmishers with a Unit Strength of 1 per model helps a bit against normal missile fire, but any kind of magic missile or other missile weapon that doesn't roll to hit is the death of these poor gits. At least they don't have to worry about Panic tests if they get shot at.
Due to their random movement and inability to flee from a charge, Squig Hoppers tend to do better a bit out on the flanks of the army. There they can hop through difficult terrain without being slowed down (since they are skirmishers they ignore terrain penalties) and by charging other units in the flank you limit the chance of being charged if you roll just to short to get into combat. Squig Hoppers are quite dependant on luck to get a charge off - a bad Animosity or Boiiing! roll can really ruin your day - and if they get charge they tend to be in deep trouble. If they get the charge, however, they can munch through quite tough units that cost many times more than they do.
I reckon that the ideal unit size is around 7 Hoppers. You need that many to get a decent chance of defeating a proper enemy unit and seven is also often the maximum number you can get into combat with a normal-sized enemy unit. Smaller units can be used to discourage enemy Scouts and other sneaky bastards and larger units can be fielded to have a unit that it a bit more resilient to missile fire (though if you believe you will be facing a very shooty army, I would not recommend Squig Hoppers at all).
There has only ever been one Night Goblin special character and this is he.
I find Skarsnik to be a quite interesting character, and considering how much
I normally think of special characters, that is saying something. Quite often
special characters end up being somewhat dull, and you are able to create a
more efficient and cheaper character using the normal army list. Not so with
this gobbo. He has a good selection of unique abilities and magic items, he is
quite affordable and he actually contributes something useful to the army. Due
to his Tricksy Traps and how his Prodder works, you naturally want to build the
army around this character, by including quite a few cheap units of Night
Goblins to act in the way of fast cavalry units and provide zap for his spells.
Skarsnik himself should be placed in a large unit of Night Goblins (hand
weapons, shields and nets are recommended), with a full command group and
possibly also a Battle Standard Bearer.
The Good: Leadership equivalent to a common Goblin Warboss (back in 5th edition he had Ld 9!). Very high number of Wounds. Quite nasty Bound Spell (though all it is likely to do is drain two enemy Dispel dice per turn, if your opponent know what's good for him). Quite good combat stats with four Strength 5 and four Strength 6 attacks, all at WS 5. His Tricksy Traps rule helps reduce the problems of low gobbo Leadership. A Unit Strength of 3 makes him immune to Killing Blow. The way his Sneaky Schemes work means that you will always know which units your opponent has before you start deploying (if you and your opponents are in the habit of informing each other of this anyway, then there is obviously no advantage).
The Bad: Only a Toughness of 4, almost no armour and a very wide base means that a lot of attacks will be directed his way in close combat and he has a quite high chance of losing Wounds. Therefore you should always give his units nets (even if they may backfire and reduce his Strength) and be ready to get the most out of the challenge rule (there is no shame in overkilling a unit champion). Sneaky Schemes might actually be an advantage for fast enemy units, as they can enter the battle anywhere they like along their own base line and cannot be shot at if the greenies get the first turn.
The Dull: Unless you get very creative it will be difficult to use the model for anything else. Killing Blow for Gobbla is of limited use, considering his already high Strength.
Other related articles
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