Elf Warrior x5
Goliath Barbarian x3
Half-Elf Bow Initiate
Rubble Assembly Tile
The combination of Frenzied Berserkers plus Inspiring Marshal is very popular in 200-point games these days, but the Burnout ability of the Frenzied Berserker limits their tactical choices. One option that provides more flexibility but still retains much of the strength is Go-Go-Goliaths.
You have two basic tactical choices with Go-Go-Goliaths -- Fast Strike and Entrapment. Fast Strike is the tactic used by traditional Frenzied Berserker bands. It is best used against ranged and spell-based warbands. Entrapment is an option best used against melee-based warbands. Even before placing your first tile, you should look at your opponent's warband and decide which tactic you are going to use.
For Fast Strike, your first objective is to create a safe haven to strike from. The Treasure Room works best for this, so place it in enemy terrain with the walls facing your opponent's starting tile and the openings toward yours. Make sure you can get to the tile before you opponent can. When playing Assault or Plunder, place the tile completely on your opponent's side. Your second objective is to block LOS from his assembly tile to yours. Use the Treasure Room, Shrine, and your opponent's own tiles to do this, while ensuring difficulty in making first turn ranged attacks by putting the Mushroom tangle against the opposing starting tile.
For Entrapment, place your tiles to hinder movement and to maximize LOS, especially to your opponent's starting tile. Using the Mushroom Tangle for LOS is better than using it just to hinder movement, but using it for both is best. Place the Shrine on your side of the board opposite the starting tile, with the open section facing your opponent.
With either tactic, place your creatures on the outside edge of the assembly tile with the Inspiring Marshal on or near the corner so that the entire warband is under command. Estimate where your opponent might go, then place your archers so they can move into a shooting position if they aren't in one already. The great speed of the Goliaths makes their placement forgiving of mistakes, so they can set up in less opportune spots.
The basic principle behind Fast Strike is to move in quickly and strike before your opponent has much opportunity to either strengthen her figures or weaken yours through the use of spells, special abilities, or ranged attacks, and to catch her off guard while she's still maneuvering. Against ranged and spell based bands, quickly move the Marshal, Goliaths, and Wolf to the Treasure Chamber while your archers harass your opponent. If she has very strong ranged attacks, it may be best to simply keep everyone but the Graycloak Ranger out of site, even if this means they can't attack. The Graycloak Ranger's Hide ability allows it to attack with impunity as long as it has cover. If placed properly, the Treasure Room should allow you to get near your opponent's warband while keeping your troops under cover.
When using Entrapment, the goal is to force your opponent to come to you while you wear her down with ranged attacks, and then spring a trap when she gets near enough. Quickly getting a good firing position for your archers is key to this, but also make sure you spread them out. Move the Goliaths forward. They should be no more than one move from your main body of archers and out of LOS of your opponent. Keep them slightly spread out and on opposing sides of the area where you think the battle will be joined.
With either tactic, use of the Inspiring Marshal's Grant Move Action (GMA) is critical. The basic idea is to wait until the enemy is within one move. Near the end of the round but before your Goliaths have activated, use the GMA to base your opponent's creatures, then activate the Goliaths to make full attacks before your opponent can respond effectively.
Go-Go-Goliaths proved its worth at a recent Championship Qualifier by placing second in a field of 24. Its one loss demonstrated its major weakness when using the Entrapment tactic. The fight is likely to take place near the middle of the board or even on your side. If the Goliaths fail their morale saves, they are as good as destroyed because of their speed. The further you can push the battle onto your opponent's half of the board, the better off you'll be. (This is a good principle in all cases but especially so when using fast figures such as Goliath Barbarians.) Hand-in-hand with that goes keeping your commander out of harm's way.
Important things to remember are:
- The GMA is not a Commander Effect, so your creatures don't need to be within 6 squares of the commander to use it. They do need to be within LOS.
- Even though the GMA's primary strength is in placing the Goliaths in an optimal attack position, don't forget that you can reposition your archers at the same time.
- Creatures are allowed unlimited Attacks of Opportunity each round but only one AoO each turn. When using the GMA, all of your creatures are moving during the Inspiring Marshal's turn. Once an opposing creature has made an AoO, all the rest of your creatures are immune to further AoOs from that creature during the GMA.
- The low AC of the Goliaths guarantees that they won't remain in combat for long. Because of this, there is seldom any reason to save their Reroll ability on a missed attack. Reroll greatly improves the Goliath's chance of hitting, especially against creatures with Conceal and Incorporeal. Use it before you lose it.
- In Assault and Plunder formats, the Wolf is a great tile grabber. Moving up a few Elf Warriors to protect the Wolf with crossfire makes it harder for your opponent to deny that tile point.
Strengths:Go-Go-Goliaths is strongest against slow-moving warbands, warbands with low-to-moderate ACs, spell-based warbands, and ranged warbands without melee protection.
Weaknesses:Go-Go-Goliaths is weakest against highly maneuverable warbands, warbands with very high ACs, those that force multiple high-DC saves, and warbands that can hinder ranged attacks.
To give this warband some spell punch and resistance, replace a Goliath Barbarian and Elf Warrior with the Elf Pyromancer and Gnome Recruit.
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About the Author
Bill W. Baldwin lives on the Space Coast of Florida with his gaming family of a wife, two daughters, and assorted pets. He started playing D&D in 1974 and was a wargamer and miniatures gamer even before that. Bill has been published in Dragon Magazine and does freelance work for Wizards of the Coast.